Ripple Effects

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Last Monday I was in Washington DC, and had some spare time before my later-in-the-day flight back home, so I visited Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s quite a sight —  the burial ground for our nation’s soldier heroes.  400,000 bodies sleep there — gravestones as far as the eye can see.

Some say, “What a waste of precious human life!”

“A man dies … only a few circles in the water prove that he was ever there. And even they quickly disappear. And when they’re gone, he’s forgotten, without a trace, as if he’d never even existed. And that’s all.” — Wolfgang Borchert, The Outsider

But on my way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I saw engraved into a wall these words of Robert F. Kennedy:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Then I was soon staring at the polished sentinel guarding his countless, nameless, sleeping comrades.  They’d made the ultimate sacrifice to keep free and safe my wife and her babies.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).

Bobby was so right.

Thankful for daring heroes who know it.

 

 

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Dear Congressman, Regarding Plans to Draft My Daughter…

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A father in our church penned this letter to his Representative.  Don’t miss the last paragraph.

Rep. Huizenga,

I am a taxpayer from your district writing to you because I’ve read in the news that a bill has been introduced to the House considering a requirement for women to register for the draft.

I want to encourage you to oppose any requirement for our daughters to register in the Selective Service.

The truth is that God created men and women differently.  Men and women are physically and mentally suited to excel in different areas. 

The Declaration of Independence evokes “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” in its preamble.  Nature itself, via physical endowment, and Nature’s God, through His Word, have assigned to men the roles of protector and provider.  I am trying to teach my sons that it honors God and honors women when men live out these assignments, imitating our Protector and Provider in Heaven.

It would be wrong for our government to force fathers, husbands, and brothers to abandon their God-given duty to protect their daughters, wives, and sisters from harm.  The role of fighting is for men.  To force families to give up their daughters to military service is a form of discrimination against Christian people who are attempting to order their lives according to the revelation of scripture.

I believe that God gave me a daughter as a precious gift, and it is my God-assigned duty to protect her and provide for her.  I want to protect her from being shot at by enemy troops.  I want to protect her from being sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers. 

If drafting women is something that the Congress finds inevitable, could you a least include a provision that would allow a father, such as myself, to go and serve in the stead of my daughter, should she be called upon?  I would rather die fighting myself, than send her to war.  It’s my duty, not hers. 

Sincerely,

Matt Potter

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Better Than My Pillow

pillow

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

Charles Spurgeon:

I know of nothing more delightful to the believer than every morning to commit the day’s troubles to God and then go down into the world feeling, “Well, my Father knows it all.” And then at night to commit the troubles of the day again into the great Father’s hands and to feel that He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” It is sweet sleeping when you can have a promise for the pillow at your head!

You know, perhaps, the good old story which is told of the woman on board ship who was greatly afraid in a storm, but she saw her husband perfectly at peace and she could not understand it. Her husband said he would tell her the reason, so, snatching up a sword, he pointed it at her heart. She looked at it, but did not tremble.

“Well,” he said, “are you not afraid? The sword is sharp and I could kill you in a moment.”

“No,” she said, “because it is in your hands!”

“Ah,” he replied, “and that is why I am not afraid— because the storm is in my Father’s hands and He loves me more than I love you!”

A little child was at play in a lower room and as he played away by himself, amusing himself, about every ten minutes he ran to the foot of the stairs and called out, “Mother, are you there?” and his mother answered, “Yes, I am here,” and the little lad went back to his sport and fun—and was as happy as happy could be—and until again it crossed his mind that his mother might have gone.

So he ran to the stairs again and called, “Mother, are you there?”

“All right,” she said, and as soon as he heard her voice again, back he went once more to his play.

It is just so with us.

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Dear God of Creation . . . Could you Possibly be of Some Help?

God of Creation

Is it a waste of breath to pray?

Austin Pryor, who contributed to the January 6 “The World and Everything In It” broadcast, gives us perspective:

“God is a loving Father to His children. If you’re facing challenges, financial or otherwise, He can help you just as He helped me. Trust Him. The story is told of the young Christian student who was distraught because of an argument he had with his girlfriend. He made an appointment to see the youth minister of his church for advice. When he arrived, his wise friend began their meeting with this prayer:

“Dear God of creation, who created the universe from nothing, scattered billions of stars at a mere word, engineered every favorable condition necessary to support life on this blue planet, populated the oceans and the lands with creatures of unimaginable variety and complexity and made man their master . . .

“God of Moses, who turned the mighty Nile into a river of blood, sent hordes of frogs, swarms of lice and flies, a plague of disease and boils, devastating hail, locusts that covered the sky, and the death of Egypt’s firstborn in order to answer the prayers of his people for freedom. . .

“God of the disciples, who on Pentecost received Your power, spoke in other languages so 3,000 were baptized on one day, and then turned the world upside down for Christ . . .

“Father of Jesus, who made the blind see, the lame walk, lepers whole and the dead to rise, and gave His life to rescue those who were hopelessly dead in sin and made them alive to righteousness and eternal life . . .

“God of creation, God of history, God of the Bible, God Almighty . . . could You possibly be of some help with this young man’s girlfriend? Amen.”

You can read Austin Pryor’s entire blog post on Trusting God to Work All Things for Good here:

http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/trusting-god-to-work-things-together-for-good-1311042.html

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Ohio to Citizens: Your Gambling Vices are Chemistry, not Character

gambling

The Ohio Lottery has a new website, and fresh comfort to its statewide gambling addicts: “It’s not your character, it’s your chemistry.

Albert Mohler aptly stated in today’s The Briefing:

”It seems that the forces behind the lottery in Ohio have come to the place where they are now arguing that if a citizen of Ohio or where else that’s involved in the lottery has a problem with gambling in terms of what might be described as an addiction or a dangerous pattern of gambling, the problem is not an issue of character, it’s of chemistry. One of the things we have to not in terms of the moral landscape around us, is the increasing tendency to blame everything on chemistry, particularly on brain chemistry or on some kind of medical reason or rational for bad behavior.”

“What we have here is another attempt to evade the issue of character. One of the issues behind this is the worldview of biological reductionism. A worldview that’s gaining in terms of the academic elites in the United States. A world view that argues that we are basically just a mass of atoms and chemicals, and the chemicals are responsible for our behavior. It’s not reducible to a moral issue, it is—to use the statement on this website—a matter of chemistry, not of character. Notice the precise claim that’s being made in the motto. I quote it again,

It’s not your character it’s your chemistry.

“In other words they are saying very straight forwardly it’s not character at all, it’s all chemistry. This is one of the rarest most pristine forms of this kind of biological reductionism that I’ve ever seen. . . .”

The Columbus Dispatch explains,

The focus of the campaign is on the estimated 5% of Ohioans for whom gambling is a compulsive addictive problem which can result in financial, family and health issues. They may skip a car payment to gamble, lie to their spouse about missing money and even consider suicide. . . .

“Let’s go back to that website, It’s not your character it’s your chemistry. Just as an experiment, let’s assume that we share the worldview that is behind this. That worldview would say, it’s chemistry, it’s not character, but then how in the world does a state put citizens at risk if in deed the problem is even their chemistry if not their character? After all of this is their chemistry, they can’t change their chemistry, so the state of Ohio is seemingly ready to write off about 5% of its citizens because it wants the income coming from legalized gambling. . . .”

“But returning back to thinking from the Christian worldview, there is no reason why Christians will deny that chemistry might be an issue. In a fallen world, as Genesis 3 tells us, we should expect that even our body chemistry, the chemicals in our brain will reflect the damage of the fall, but that doesn’t relieve us of personal responsibility, it doesn’t remove the issue of character.”

“The biblical worldview always has character right at the front and it never leaves the scene. Just imagine how this kind of logic will be transferred to other areas of moral importance. Just imagine a parent correcting a 5 year old from misbehavior for dishonesty or disobedience, and the 5 year old says, hey mom, hey dad, it’s not my character it’s my chemistry. Just imagine someone standing before a judge charged with a very serious crime who says, it’s not my character it’s my chemistry, but wait just a minute, those kind of arguments are already being used, and that shows the moral meltdown of a society.

Once we buy into this kind of biological reductionism, eventually character does disappear, and there is no personal responsibility. That however is a society that gives itself over to moral irresponsibility and moral anarchy, but that’s the kind of society that also allows itself to become increasingly dependent upon the kind of tax income that comes from gambling. That issue of character goes all the way to those most responsible for government, elected officials, and they have no right to say, it’s not character, it’s chemistry. We know the reality. It’s character, it’s character in the capital, it’s character in the court house, and it’s character in the casino.”

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

You can find Albert Mohler’s entire treatment on The Briefing here:

http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/10/08/the-briefing-10-08-15/

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Planned Parenthood is Pro-Life? Spare me!

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In the wake of videos discussing baby crushing over luncheon salad, Dana Milbank, along with other liberal pro-abortionists, have scolded pro-life Republicans for seeking to defund Planned Parenthood.  He claims such defunding would in the long run result in more abortions due to the loss of Planned Parenthood’s widespread and virtuous dispensing of abortion averting contraceptives. He writes:

Senate Republicans this week, teeming with righteous indignation, introduced S. 1881, “a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”

Here’s a better name for it: the Abortion Promotion Act of 2015.

No doubt the authors of the legislation think that anything that hurts Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortions, would further the pro-life cause. But their proposal — defunding all Planned Parenthood operations in retribution for secret videos showing the group’s officials discussing the sale of fetal organs — would do far greater harm to fetuses than anything discussed in the videos.

There already is a ban on federal funding of abortion, with rare exceptions, at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. The federal funds Senate Republicans propose taking away from Planned Parenthood are used largely to provide women with birth control. And because there simply isn’t a network of health-care providers capable of taking over this job if Planned Parenthood were denied funding, this means hundreds of thousands of women, if not millions, would over time lose access to birth control.

Take away women’s contraceptives, and a greater number of unintended pregnancies — and abortions — would inevitably result.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/senate-republicans-accidentally-promote-abortion/2015/07/31/765cacf6-377f-11e5-9d0f-7865a67390ee_story.html

Ross Douthat takes to task Milbank and his ilk with razor precision:

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quiteso prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/there-is-no-pro-life-case-for-planned-parenthood/

Prov. 24:11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.

Prov. 31:8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

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Come On, Have You Ever Really Read the Declaration of Independence? Good Day for it!

The Declaration of Independence thoughtfully read in a compelling video.

Well worth the minutes spent.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uE-tqe0xsQ

A cover letter, dated in Philadelphia, July 6, 1776, was attached to the Declaration of Independence, as it was sent to the British authorities, wherein John Hancock states:

“Gentlemen, Altho it is not possible to forsee the consequences of human actions, yet it is nevertheless a duty we owe ourselves and posterity in all our public councils to decide in the best manner we are able and to trust the event to That Being who governs both causes and events, so as to bring about his own determinations.

Impressed with this sentiment, and at the same time fully convinced that our affairs will take a more favorable turn, The Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve all connection between Great Britain and the American Colonies, and to declare them free and independent States as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you.”

So began the journey of the thirteen former British Colonies toward a lasting union of Independent Sovereign States.

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The Gospel in a Capsule

The Gospel brilliantly presented in 5 minutes by a rapper named Propaganda (Jason Emmanuel Petty) of Dare2Share Ministries.  Lyrics provided.

My favorite line: “Wrote a check with His life, but at the resurrection we all cheered, cause that means the check cleared!”

Propaganda

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhe5qLju3h4

It’s the full story of life crushed into 4 minutes. The entirety of humanity in the palm of your hand crushed into one sentence. Listen its intense right. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life. The greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told. God. Yes. God. The maker and giver of life. And by life I mean any and all manner and substance. Seen and unseen. What can and can be touched. Thoughts, image, emotions, love, atoms and oceans. God.  All of it his handy work. One of which is masterpiece. Made so uniquely that angels looked curiously. The one thing in creation that was made with his imagery. The concept so cold. It’s the reason I stay bold, how God breathed in the man  and he became a living soul.  Formed with the intent of being infinitely intimately fond. Creator and creation held in eternal bold. And it was placed in perfect paradise til something went wrong.  A species got deceived and started lusting for his job. An odd list of complaints as if the system ain’t working and used that same breath he graciously gave us to curse him. And that sin seed spread though our soul’s genome. And by nature of your nature, your species, you participated in the mutiny. Our. Yes. Our sins. Its nature inherited, lack in the human heart, it was over before it started. Deceived from day one and lead away by our own lusts. There’s not a religion in the word that doesn’t agree that something’s wrong with us. The question is what is it? And how do we fix it? Are we eternally  separated from a God that may or not have existed? But that’s another subject. Let’s keep grinding. Besides trying to prove God is like defending a lion homie, it don’t need your help, just unlock the cage. Let’s move on how our debt can be paid.  Short and sweet. The problem is Sin. Yes. Sin. It’s a cancer. An asthma. Choking out our life force. Forcing separation from a perfect and holy God and the only way to get back is to get back to perfection but silly us, trying to pass the course of life without referring to a syllabus. This is us. Heap up your good deeds. Chant, pray, meditate but all of that of course is spreading colon on a corpse.  Or you could choose to ignore it as if something don’t stink.  It’s like stepping it dog poop and refusing to wipe your shoe and all of that ends with how good is good enough. Take your silly list of good deeds and line them up against perfection, good luck. That’s life past your pay grade. The cost of your soul you ain’t gotta big enough piggy bank. But you can give it a shot. But I suggest you throw away the list cause even your good acts are an extension of your selfishness. But here’s where it gets interesting. I hope your closely listening. Please don’t get it twisted. It’s what makes our faith unique. Here’s what God says is Part A of the gospel. You can’t fix yourself. Quit trying it’s impossible.  Sin brings death. Give God his breath back. You owe him. Eternally separated and the only way to fix it is someone die in your place and that someone gotta be perfect. Or the payment ain’t permanent. So if and when you find the perfect person, get him or her to willing trade their perfection for your sin and death in. Clearly since the only one that can meet God’s criteria is God. God sent himself as Jesus to pay the cost for us. His righteousness, his death, functions as payment. Yes. Payment. Wrote a check with his life but at the resurrection we all cheered cause that means the check cleared. Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood stained son of man. Fullness forgiveness free passage into the promise land, that same breath God breathed into us God gave it up to redeem us. And anyone and everyone. And by everyone I mean everyone who puts their faith in trust in him and him alone can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness. And here’s what the promise is, that you are guaranteed full access to return the perfect unity. By simply believing in Christ in Christ alone. You are receiving life. Yes. Life. This is the Gospel. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.

Jason Emmanuel Petty – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_(musician)

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I’m Just Sick and Tired of Trying to Help Ungrateful People

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This from a new book by Crossway: Counseling and Pastoral Headache.

“Life is hard enough with my own problems.  Why am I taking on other people’s?”

I have to admit, this thought passes through my mind more regularly than it ought. It usually finds me at some low point in ministry, then kicks me.

The situations that bruise a pastor most are those that come when you’ve spent countless hours delicately untangling complex issues and setting people on a trajectory of growth, only to have everything collapse in an instant. The people give in or walk away, but not before delivering a parting kick to your shins.

Walking with people in the complications of their lives will increase your heartache. There’s no use pretending otherwise. If you arrange your schedule to take on some counseling, you are creating opportunity for greater heartache. Why bother?

https://www.crossway.org/blog/2015/05/counseling-and-pastoral-heartache/

Right!  Many pastors have been burned so many times, they just get gun-shy.  “Forget it!  I’m done!  Not gonna make myself vulnerable again!”  Many Christians can relate.  “Often I try to help people, but it blows up in my face.”

But we can’t let self-preservation stifle risking our lives in love for others.

In 1953, Jim and Elisabeth tied the knot before a judge in Quito, Ecuador. After a honeymoon to Panama, the couple returned to Ecuador and set up their tent among the Quichuas in the town of Puyopungo until Jim could get a house built for them. Having lived separately in the jungle, both Jim and Elisabeth knew just how demanding this life could be. It consumed all one’s strength, time, and resources to keep the dense jungle, and the diseases it harbored, at bay.

The end of the spear

While diligently serving the Quichua Indians, Jim was drawn to the challenge of reaching a savage group of Indians among whom no white man had ever set foot and lived, known then as the Aucas (and now as the Waoirani). Realizing he could never accomplish this monumental task alone, Jim surrounded himself with four men who shared his vision: Nate Saint (a pilot with Missionary Aviation Fellowship), Roger Youderian (a missionary with Gospel Missionary Union—now called Avant—to the Shuar Indians), Ed McCully (a former classmate of Jim’s at Wheaton), and Pete Flemming (another Plymouth Brethren missionary serving alongside Jim).

For months they poured over maps of the Ecuadorian jungle. They also researched a similar attempt to reach a savage tribe in Bolivia in 1943, which ended tragically for all five New Tribes missionaries. This dream was not pursued on a whim; it was carried out in direct response to what the men believed to be the will of God for them in that place at that time.

When all of their meticulously engineered efforts ended in all five men’s deaths along the Curaray River in January of 1956, this was not the end of the story. It was merely the beginning. Out of their deaths came everlasting life for the Waorani people, through Elisabeth’s willingness to take her three-year-old daughter, Valerie, with her to live among the very people who had speared her husband to death.

The freedom of forgiveness

For five years, Elisabeth and Valerie (along with Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel) slept in hammocks, cooked over open fires, read by candle and lantern light, bathed in the river, and dissected the Auca language.

http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2013/october/elisabeth-elliot-pioneer-and-prayer-warrior.html

One might think it common sense for Elisabeth and her 3 year old daughter to take the next flight home to a safe refuge in the USA, bidding good riddance to the people who so viciously spurned Jim’s overtures of love.

In her book, Through Gates of Splendor, one can search high and low for Elisabeth’s justification for her outrageous choice to stay among her husband’s murderers.

All she provides is a quotation from Revelation 5:9: “You are worthy, for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood from every tongue, people, and nation.”

Since Christ poured out his blood for us Hell deserving sinners, we must be willing to pour out our lives for the same.

Enough said.

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Bruce Jenner Needs our Prayers, Not our Applause

jenner

David French, National Review Article on Bruce Jenner’s surgery:

A surgically damaged man appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, and the applause is mandatory. There are some who call this latest turn in the sexual revolution “radical” or “transformative.” Yet, in reality, the only thing radical about Bruce Jenner’s transformation into “Caitlyn” is the harm to his body, inflicted in a desperate quest to be something that he’s most assuredly not: a woman. . . .

To those who say that Bruce Jenner’s body is his own — that he can do what he wants with it — realize that during this process his many children lost a father, and his wife lost a husband. These losses occur during every “transition,” as the sexual revolution demands — upon pain of shame and banishment — that family members treat fathers as mothers, sons as daughters, and husbands as wives. The Jenner/Kardashian clan has expressed support (though Kris and Kylie Jenner are still obviously struggling), but really, what other option did they have? For people who inhabit the pop-culture tribe, you disapprove of sexual radicalism at your own– very high — professional risk. . . .

There is no single person who can shift an entire culture, much less materially restrain cultural drift, but we can each do something. Increasingly, that “something” means resisting the temptation to stay silent, to acquiesce in absurdities for the sake of temporary social (or social-media) peace. Intimidated silence advances the cause of sexual radicalism every bit as much as enthusiastic acceptance. By refusing to speak, we contribute to the notion that even conservatives understand that something is wrong — something is shameful — about our own deepest beliefs.

Why does the intolerant Left so vigilantly police speech — introducing even a Twitter “bot” to automate the scolding about the “correct” gender pronoun to use in reference to Jenner? Because they know speech — including simple pronouns — matters. Don’t consent. Laverne Cox is not a woman, and neither is “Caitlyn Jenner.” He is a man with breast implants. He’s always been a man, and he will always be a man. Yes, he’s deeply troubled. Our hearts go out to him in his pain, but the answer is not found in radical self-regard, and it’s certainly not found in surgical mutilation. He is a man created in God’s image, yet a man experiencing deep anguish about his very creation. He needs our prayers, not our applause.

You can read French’s entire article here:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419210/bruce-caitlyn-jenner-needs-our-prayers-not-our-applause-david-french

Here are some interesting quotes from The World and Everything in it podcast June 5:

A Whitehouse President Obama spokesman:

“The president does believe that Caitlyn Jenner has a tremendous courage as, uh, she has undergone this transition in a very public way, and that’s worthy of our respect.”

John Stonestreet (Colson Center):

Anyone who’s struggling with an identity crisis at that depth, that’s willing to do the sort of surgical procedure he’s willing to do to find relief, is certainly not someone who’s doing well.  And data shows that going to the other side doesn’t bring the kind of comfort or relief he’s looking for. . . . My prayer is that he’ll find his identity as created and redeemed in Christ. . . I wonder what people would do if he came to his senses. . . . Ryan Anderson has been mentioning on national media about folks who’ve transitioned, and then transitioned back.  Those are stories too.  One would wonder what would happen if that happens with Bruce Jenner. . . . This is a very sad story.  Clearly he’s not okay, and we know he won’t be okay now that he’s made this transition, because you can only deny reality so much before you reap those consequences, and that’s where he’s headed.”

“A lower named celebrity said something less than supportive (about Jenner) and he was immediately shamed.  Chuck Colson’s last appearance three years ago spoke of the ‘spiral of silence’ coined by a German thinker to describe the fact that most people actually did not support Hitler, but most people were silent, allowing the few to rule the many.  This is the case again. . . .”

You can hear the entire podcast at http://www.worldmag.com/podcast/

May the Lord kindly and graciously bring soul healing to Mr. Jenner.

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