From Dr. Jim Denison:

Evangelicals classified as “extremists”

Courage is especially vital for those who follow Jesus in our post-Christian (some would say anti-Christian) culture.

A Marine Corps officer warned Congress this week against classifying Christians in the military as “religious extremists.” Mike Berry, who is also general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, noted that a US Army Reserve training presentation on religious extremism lists al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan as “groups that use or advocate violence to accomplish their objectives and are therefore rightly classified as extremists.”

However, Berry added that evangelical Christianity and Catholicism were also included in the presentation as “extremists.” He stated, “The Pentagon cannot possibly believe that because Evangelical Christians and Catholics hold fast to millennia-old views on marriage and human sexuality, they should be labeled as ‘extremists’ and deemed unfit to serve.”

And Jack Phillips is back in the news. The Colorado baker who won a partial victory at the Supreme Court three years ago for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple went on trial Monday in yet another lawsuit. This one involves a “birthday” cake for a transgender woman.

“Antibodies to the virus of indifference”

Courage has always been at the heart of Christian discipleship.

When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, she replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She would risk her marriage, her future, and perhaps even her life to obey God’s call. And the world would forever be changed by her courageous service. (For more, please see the video I recorded yesterday: “How to have the power of God to fulfill the purpose of God,” embedded below.)

Service often requires such courage, but it always makes a difference that transcends its cost.

In Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis responds to the coronavirus pandemic by applauding healthcare workers who died fighting the disease: “They did not prefer saving their own lives to saving others’. So many of the nurses, doctors, and caregivers paid that price of love, as did priests and religious and ordinary people whose vocation is service. We return their love by grieving for them and honoring them.

“Whether or not they were conscious of it, their choice testified to a belief: that it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call. That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door who have awoken something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching.

“They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves: not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service.

“What a sign of contradiction to the individualism and self-obsession and lack of solidarity that so dominate our wealthier societies! Could these caregivers, sadly gone from us now, be showing us the way we must now rebuild?”

When faith comes at a cost

Are you paying a price to follow Jesus in our fallen world? If not, why not?

We don’t need to encourage persecution, of course, but we should not be surprised when it comes. Jesus told us, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Notice that he said when, not if.

When our faith comes at a cost, we can ask Jesus for the courage we need to be faithful. We can ask for the strength to love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We can ask for the compassion to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).

Scottish theologian and minister John Baillie prayed: “As I lean on his cross may I not refuse my own; but rather may I bear it by the strength of his.”

Will you make his prayer yours today?

NOTE: This is the final week you can request my book, Blessed: Eight Ways Christians Change Culture, which includes the new, bonus Blessed Small Group Study Guide. This special resource focuses our attention on the eight Beatitudes, and the goal of exploring these timeless principles is simple: to align our lives with their truth so fully that they define our character—and empower our influence as culture-changing Christians. The Blessed book and study guide is my gift to thank you for your donation to help more believers discern the news differently. So please request it before time runs out—and accept my deep thanks for your generosity.

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Dr. Jim Denison is the CVO of Denison Forum

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I’m standing with Jesus and Cheering for Oral Roberts University!

Oral Roberts University’s basketball team has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with stunning wins over No. 2 seed Ohio State and No.7 Florida. ORU is only the second 15 seed in NCAA tournament history to get so far.

ORU Coach Paul Mills put things in perspective and brought in the gospel message at the same time.

“In 100 years, none of us will be here. And what our guys need to understand is we’re really not that important. And you need to know that,” Mills said in a press conference.

USA Today Columnist Calls for NCAA to Boot ORU for Biblical Beliefs

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