VIDEO Not So Bad After All – Standing Firm in a Pagan World

Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Acts 17:6

Paul TenHaken is the mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s also a vibrant believer. When he was a local businessman, he felt a persistent inner prompting to run for office. He ran for mayor and won. Recently TenHaken said, “Everybody—Christian or not—wants a leader with a core set of beliefs, a leader of character. I believe I’ve gotten to the point with people where they realize, ‘Paul’s an outspoken Christian, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to bring hate to our city. He is a compassionate leader.’ The only way they get past that is by seeing your actions. …Now people are seeing, ‘Okay, maybe this guy isn’t so bad after all. He’s a Christian giving out free bus rides to the poor in our city.’”[1]

God wants to use you to turn the world upside down in a good way. He wants you to run and win. Build on what He’s doing in your life. Walk according to His Word. Wait on Him, then watch Him work through you. And soon people will say, “Okay, maybe this person isn’t so bad after all!”

I’m a man of faith…. That’s where my heart is. I like that people know that about me.
Mayor Paul TenHaken


Adrian Rogers: Standing Firm in a Pagan World [#2456]

No Misunderstanding

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28

Alexa, Siri, and other voice assistants embedded in smart devices in our homes occasionally misunderstand what we’re saying. A six-year-old talked to her family’s new device about cookies and a dollhouse. Later her mom received an email saying that an order of seven pounds of cookies and a $170 dollhouse were on their way to her home. Even a talking parrot in London, whose owner had never bought anything online, somehow ordered a package of golden gift boxes without her knowledge. One person asked their device to “turn on the living room lights,” and it replied, “There is no pudding room.”

There’s no such misunderstanding on God’s part when we talk with Him. He’s never confused, because He knows our hearts better than we do. The Spirit both searches our hearts and understands God’s will. The apostle Paul told the churches in Rome that God promises He’ll accomplish His good purpose of maturing us and making us more like His Son (Romans 8:28–29). Even when because of “our weakness” we don’t know what we need in order to grow, the Spirit prays according to God’s will for us (vv. 26–27).

Troubled about how to express yourself to God? Not understanding what or how to pray? Say what you can from the heart. The Spirit will understand and accomplish God’s purpose.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What’s on your mind right now that you should share with God? How are you encouraged by the truth that He knows and understands what you’re facing?

Thank You, God, that You know my heart. I love You for that and many other reasons. Help me to express my thoughts to You and to trust You to understand

Worship God Only

James 4:4-8

When reading in the Old Testament, we might not understand why people would bow down before idols they had made. But we make a similar mistake, placing too high a value on things like money, relationships, appearance, and power. Though not bad in themselves, these can become objects of worship if we prioritize them above God. That’s why He is jealous for our heart.

There are two reasons the Lord doesn’t let His children’s devotion stay out of balance. First, He deserves the glory, and second, He loves us and wants the best for us. Praising God above all else is actually in our own best interest, so when our heart does not belong solely to Christ, He disciplines us. This might mean He allows challenges to remind us who is the one and only God. Hardships are not pleasant, but we can be encouraged that God is making us complete in Him.

This week, notice where you spend your time and money and what dominates your thoughts. Even if your pursuits seem good on the surface, ask the Lord to reveal whatever has become an idol in your life. Confess any misplaced affection, and ask for help in making God the object of your devotion.

Purified Seven Times

“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” (Psalm 12:6-7)

The preservation of the divinely given words of Scripture is incomparably superior to that of all other ancient writings. God has not allowed any of His words to “pass away,” for Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). They are, in fact, “for ever…settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

Although the original “autographs” of Moses, Paul, and the other human writers have long vanished (perhaps they have even been translated to heaven with the Ark of the Covenant—note Revelation 11:19), God saw to it that dedicated Hebrew scribes and Christian scholars meticulously copied the writings through the centuries so that we still have God’s Word to guide us today. Although there are variant readings in different manuscripts, the original words are there somewhere. Very few real questions remain about any of these, so we have the original Greek and Hebrew words to a high degree of accuracy.

The fires of anti-Christian persecution, caviling humanistic philosophies, literary criticism, scientific skepticism, pagan pantheism, cultic distortions, and apathetic indifference have sought to destroy God’s Word, but all have failed. It is the bestseller of all time, translated into more languages than any other writings.

No matter what forces are directed against it, it always emerges brighter and surer than ever! Even this present generation will fail in all modern attempts to defeat the Holy Scriptures, for God will “preserve them from this generation for ever.” HMM

Deliverance From Death

I love the Lord because He has heard my appeal for mercy. Because He has turned His ear to me, I will call [out to Him] as long as I live. The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the torments of Sheol overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”… For You, [Lord,] rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living (vv. 1-4, 8-9).

I’ll never forget the day I discovered that our senior editor at Singspiration Music, Norman Johnson, was terminally ill. I watched him cope with the vicissitudes of suffering for eight years as he battled Lou Gehrig’s disease. About a week before he died, he called and asked me to represent the music industry in making some comments at his funeral. He died while listening to Handels Messiah. The “Hallelujah Chorus” was beautifully and victoriously rendered at his memorial service in an arrangement he penned. My dear friend Norm went out in a blaze of glory!

Once you’ve stared death in the face, it is no longer the fearsome specter that lurks in childhood dreams. In fact, at that moment, God’s reality and ultimate victory over death is never more evident.

The bad news of this psalm is that the psalmist, nearing death, was overcome with self-pity and defeat. Briefly, during this episode, life was the pits. The good news is that he didn’t rely on human resources to pull him through. Though there is a place for medicine and Christian ministry to the hurting, this psalmist went beyond all such aid and directly into the presence of the Great Physician, the Wonderful Counselor. Furthermore, the Lord heard and answered, choosing to demonstrate his graciousness and compassion (v. 8-9).

A certain responsibility accompanies great deliverance. For the rest of his life, this psalmist wont forget God’s loving mercy. Adversity has enriched his life. Suffering has purged him of superficiality. Like Job, he can say, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 NIV).

Personal Prayer

O Lord, I don’t have to experience serious illness to know your mercy and grace. You are the Lord of my life… and the Victor over death!

The Helmet of Salvation

I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ.—2 Corinthians 11:3

The second piece of armor that is not tied or fixed to the body but that a Christian soldier has to take up and put on is “the helmet of salvation” (Eph 6:17). The helmet worn by a Roman soldier was usually made of bronze or iron with an inside lining of felt or sponge. In some cases a hinged visor added frontal protection. When a Roman soldier saw an enemy coming, he would take hold of his shield, put on his helmet, take his sword in hand, and stand alert and ready to do battle.

The figure of a helmet immediately suggests to us that this is something designed to protect the mind, the intelligence, the ability to think and reason. Just as the breastplate of righteousness protects us from emotional distress, the helmet of salvation protects us from mental distress. This helmet can help us keep our thinking straight and preserve us from mental confusion.

Has there ever been a time in history when we needed something to keep our thinking straight more than we do now? Politicians vacillate and oscillate between despairing pessimism and unrealistic optimism. Just think of the staggering complexities of the issues we face in our current generation—AIDS, violence, nuclear missiles, international tensions, economic instability, inner-city slums, and so on. The intelligentsia of our day confess to being utterly baffled in dealing with the problems with which human society is confronted. Where can we turn to ease the pressure on our minds? The only answer is God—in the helmet of salvation that He provides.


O Father, I am so grateful that You have provided freedom from that most terrifying of human problems—mental distress. Teach me all I need to know in applying Your truth to the important area of my mind. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Eph 4:1-17; Rm 8:7; Col 1:21

How were the Ephesians not to live?

How powerful is the influence of the mind?

Christ’s Prayer for Us

John 17:17

When John Knox was dying and his wife brought the Bible to his bedside, she asked what she should read. “Read where I first cast my anchor—the 17th of John,” he replied. Early or late, one may cast an anchor in these profound depths and be sure the anchor will hold.

Here we are permitted one of Scripture’s rare glimpses of communication between members of the Godhead. Here we have the sinless Son of Man, who comes not by grace (as we must) but by right. A sacred hush hangs over John 17; one wants to take off his shoes on this holy ground.

The anguish of Gethsemane and the agony of Calvary will follow within hours, and Jesus knows it, but His peace is undisturbed.

But when a man has access to God, what shall he request? Sadly, some of us do not seem to know. Our prayers are, as a result, for things—a far cry from the praying in which our Lord engages.

For our sakes He “sanctifies” Himself (John 17:19). The term here means not to cleanse—Jesus did not need any cleansing—but to consecrate, to dedicate to the divine purpose. His coming was for us; His dying was for us; His praying is for us as well. To think—Jesus spent time in costly caring for me. Robert McCheyne said,

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

The heart of this Calvary-eve appeal is that we believers might be sanctified (John 17:17, 19). The “uttermost salvation” made available through such intercession is not only quantitative—salvation for all time and eternity—but qualitative—a complete salvation, a pervasive cleansing of the whole personality, a sharing in the wholeness of the divine nature limited only by the finitude of the man who receives it. Jesus is earnestly asking that for me, every day. The purpose of the cross is not only to pardon, but to purify.

If Jesus, in such an hour of crisis, asked the Father to sanctify me, ought I not to seek it for myself? May I not make His prayer my prayer, with assurance that God will answer?

Jesus’ prayer, breathing out its blessing, is my assurance that this may be my experience, yes—shall be!

Edward Read, Burning, Always Burning