Sunday, May 8, 2016

How A Christian Music Station Affected Me

The greatest thing just happened to my hometown of San Diego.  K-Love Christian Radio came to town!!  Do you know what this means?  We are no longer a Christian music wasteland.  We have “positive and encouraging” contemporary Christian music 24-hours a day. 
What’s the big deal?  Can you believe it? In my lifetime, San Diego has NEVER had a Christian Music station.  We do have a small station with a 1000-watt transmitter located on the outskirts of town but you had to be within a few 100 feet of the transmitter to hear it clearly. 
If I wanted to listen to Christian music in my car I had to rely on my CD collection, and when I forgot to bring a fresh set of CDs I would listen to sports talk radio.  It was awful.
But K-Love, the largest contemporary Christian music network in America, bought the tower of an old secular rock station (102.1 FM) with a powerful signal that can be heard clearly throughout our great city.  Yea.
Let me tell you how it has affected me. 
First, it expanded my knowledge of Christian music.  Before K-Love came to town, I would listen to my favorite Christian songs and listen to them over and over and over.  My Christian music knowledge became very limited.  Good music, but very limited.    
Second, since I have been listening to K-Love regularly a plethora of Scriptural principles have been permeating my mind throughout the day.  Without thinking about it, biblical principles became a part of my thoughts, discussions, and choices. This morning I woke up humming "Grace Wins Every Time."
Third, subconsciously I began using these biblical principles and phrases, as I counsel people online throughout my workweek.  This past week, I literally was texting responses to a friend who was struggling with the frustrations of life with advice such as “Keep on living for Him."  "God isn’t done yet."  "He’s making your struggles into diamonds.”  Without realizing it, each phrase I used replicated the exact lyrics or biblical principle of a song I had recently listened to.  
Sometimes I hear friends complaining that K-Love doesn’t vary its playlist enough. I respond, "If you don’t enjoy their playlist, find a station that fits your tastes better.But I love their playlist because it helps me memorize so many songs and principles that radiate in my soul. 
This station has given my wife and me a whole new perspective on spiritual living.  We are constantly singing, thinking, and communicating biblical principles.  It’s like we have rediscovered The Christian Music Challenge that I have been teaching all these years and it has brought a renewed joy to our lives.  Really.  
Note: I'm not "selling" K-Love radio.  I am simply advocating that you listen to a contemporary Christian music station in your area that helps you focus on life from a biblical perspective.  As you listen throughout the day for 30-days it will change your perspective on life because it can help you focus your mind, heart, and soul on Jesus Christ.  And Isaiah 26:3 tells us that when we focus our mind on Him, we will know His peace. 
Are you experiencing the peace and joy of the Lord in your life?  If not, why not take The Christian Music Challenge for 30-days.  What do you have to lose?  Thirty days?

This is NOT intended to be ad for K-Love.  They didn't pay me to say this.  I don't think they even know who I am.  I'm just excited that they were able to buy a broadcast tower in my little area of the world.

Find a Christian music station in your area

Thursday, April 28, 2016

If God is Dead...What Then?

By Patrick J. Buchanan, Published in Human Events Wednesday - April 27, 2016

In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation.
The vast majority of leading conservative writers ... have a secular outlook on life. ... They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to."
These secular conservatives may think that "America can survive the death of God and religion," writes Prager, but they are wrong.
And, indeed, the last half-century seems to bear him out.
A people's religion, their faith, creates their culture, and their culture creates their civilization. And when faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people begin to die.
Is this not the recent history of the West?
Today, no great Western nation has a birthrate that will prevent the extinction of its native-born. By century's end, other peoples and other cultures will have largely repopulated the Old Continent.
European Man seems destined to end like the 10 lost tribes of Israel — overrun, assimilated and disappeared.
And while the European peoples — Russians, Germans, Brits, Balts — shrink in number, the U.N. estimates that the population of Africa will double in 34 years to well over 2 billion people.
What happened to the West?
As G. K. Chesterton wrote, when men cease to believe in God, they do not then believe in nothing, they believe in anything.
As European elites ceased to believe in Christianity, they began to convert to ideologies, to what Dr. Russell Kirk called "secular religions."
For a time, these secular religions — Marxism-Leninism, fascism, Nazism — captured the hearts and minds of millions. But almost all were among the gods that failed in the 20th century.
Now Western Man embraces the newer religions: egalitarianism, democratism, capitalism, feminism, One Worldism, environmentalism.
These, too, give meaning to the lives of millions, but these, too, are inadequate substitutes for the faith that created the West.
For they lack what Christianity gave man — a cause not only to live for, and die for, but a moral code to live by, with the promise that, at the end a life so lived, would come eternal life. Islam, too, holds out that promise.
Secularism, however, has nothing on offer to match that hope.
Looking back over the centuries, we see what faith has meant.
When, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the West embraced Christianity as a faith superior to all others, as its founder was the Son of God, the West went on to create modern civilization, and then went out and conquered most of the known world.
The truths America has taught the world, of an inherent human dignity and worth, and inviolable human rights, are traceable to a Christianity that teaches that every person is a child of God.
Today, however, with Christianity virtually dead in Europe and slowly dying in America, Western culture grows debased and decadent, and Western civilization is in visible decline.
All the Western empires are gone, and the children of once-subject peoples cross the Mediterranean to repopulate the mother countries, whose native-born have begun to age, shrink and die.
Since 1975, only two European nations, Muslim Albania and Iceland have maintained a birthrate sufficient to keep their peoples alive.
Given the shrinking populations inside Europe and the waves of immigrants rolling in from Africa and the Middle and Near East, an Islamic Europe seems to be in the cards before the end of the century.
Vladimir Putin, who witnessed the death of Marxism-Leninism up close, appears to understand the crucially of Christianity to Mother Russia, and seeks to revive the Orthodox Church and write its moral code back into Russian law.
And what of America, "God's country"?
With Christianity excommunicated from her schools and public life for two generations, and Old and New Testament teachings rejected as a basis of law, we have witnessed a startlingly steep social decline.
Since the 1960s, America has set new records for abortions, violent crimes, incarcerations, drug consumption. While HIV/AIDS did not appear until the 1980s, hundreds of thousands have perished from it, and millions now suffer from it and related diseases.
Forty percent of U.S. births are out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the illegitimacy rate is over 50 percent; for African-Americans, it's over 70 percent.
Test scores of U.S. high school students fall annually and approach parity with Third World countries.
Suicide is a rising cause of death for middle-aged whites.
Secularism seems to have no answer to the question, "Why not?"
"How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure," wrote Samuel Johnson.
Secular conservatives may have remedies for some of America's maladies. But, as Johnson observed, no secular politics can cure the sickness of the soul of the West — a lost faith that appears irretrievable.

Editorial comment from Al Menconi:  
Wow!  I encourage you to reread Patrick Buchanan's editorial.  The truth of what he wrote didn't penetrate my thick skull until the third time I read his article, then hit me like a club!  Our nation is dying because we live as if God is dead. Let's pray that our nation will come to its senses.

We may not be able to stop our national self destruction, but we may be able to slow it down somewhat if we can become a catalyst for spiritual renewal for America.  The purpose of our Christian Music Challenge is to help Christians become catalysts for spiritual renewal.  Please join us in prayer as we are putting the final touches on a new Christian Music Challenge for this coming school year and 2017.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I am N book review

I just finished reading a book that all Americans – especially Christians – should read.    Say the title out loud – I am N. -- and you’ll understand why I had to explain the title every time I told someone what I was reading.  It's a tongue twister but worth you time.   
N in the title is the Arabic symbol for Nazarene, which represents all Christians to the radical Islamic terrorists.  If the Muslims paint the symbol for Nazarene on your home, it means that you are marked to be killed, raped, and/or taken as a slave.  Some have the option to leave before they are killed.  Others don’t have that opportunity.   
I am N is an accumulation of nearly fifty stories of Christians who are being tortured, raped, kidnapped and killed by Muslims in Muslim countries around the world.  This is a book of present day Christian martyrs.
I am N gives the details of the tribulations these Christian people have endured. It reads like a news report that presents the who, what, where, why, and how that American newspapers and the electronic media are not reporting.  The story of each martyr provides a name, location and description of the situation he had to undergo because of his faith in Jesus.  Most were given the option to deny their faith before they were killed or otherwise persecuted, but each stayed faithful to Christ like the heroes of the faith in Scripture.  The names of some survivors were changed so they would not again be targeted for their faith. 
It took me nearly a month to read this book because it was very difficult for me to absorb more than 2 or 3 mini stories in an evening.   I stopped and reflected extensively after  each report.  My prayer life became stronger each day as I began to dialogue with God about atrocities endured by His people. Each story, though detailing a different circumstance, offered a similar scenario -- a Muslim converting to Christianity or identifying with Christ in some way, but then the parents, family, and/or community  turning against him simply because Christians, who refuse to  revere Muhammad, are despised in Muslim countries. 
I kept thinking of the insistence of our political leaders and the media that Islam is a religion of peace.  Consistent persecution of Christians for no reason does not reflect a friendly, conciliatory religion.  Although many of the stories illustrated the brutality of Islam terrorists, the majority of the abusers and killers were everyday Muslims who lived in Muslim controlled territory. The book clearly demonstrates that locations where Muslims are in the majority or near majority, they believe it is their right and responsibility to kill or persecute Christians simply because Christianity is an affront to Islam. 
One story describes how a group of men invaded the home of a Christian and sliced him to death in front of his family because he had the audacity to share the Gospel in the town center.  In a couple of stories young believers were locked in their home and beaten by their parents because they “brought shame” to the family by their identification with Christ.  Others tell of Christians who were unable to find a place to live or work and the struggles they endured because of their faith in Christ.
One of the most violent killings happened in a little Nigerian village. The local Muslim ethnic group had been getting more and more radical and violent until one day they rushed into the village with guns and started shooting people who had identified as Christians.  The surviving Christians hid in the largest building in the village, but the Muslim group simply burned down the building and shot anyone who came out.  The next day at the mass funeral, the gunmen attacked again shooting the mourners who were Christians.  Although the local pastor lost his whole family he quoted Job.  “Job lost everything but he did not turn his back on God. His story has helped me, not only to deal with the situation, but even to remain who I am.”  Please continue to pray for Pastor John who continues to serve God in that village. 
Fortunately, this book chose not to describe the violence in detail, but I am N is a poignant reminder that we are living in the Last Days.  These stories were a real eye opener for me as to the hatred Christians experience daily in many countries of our world today.  We may hear a twenty-second TV news report that whole villages were wiped out by angry Muslims and forget that it happened to real people YESTERDAY by the time the weather report is given.  I am N reminds us that our Christian brothers and sisters are being tortured and killed for their faith today, tomorrow and every day.        
I am not sharing this to get you politically charged against Muslims, it is just a fact that it's only Muslims who indiscriminately kill Christians.  But this problem is really a spiritual issue that can only be won on our knees before our God.  We must pray for and reach out to these martyrs as best we can.  This book is written by the “Voice of the Martyrs” mission agency that helps persecuted Christians around the world.  You may wish to support them directly, or maybe you just want to encourage your church to get involved in foreign missions in Muslim countries. We are so fortunate to live in a country that is relatively safe and secure that we should take this opportunity to help the poor and needy as well as the persecuted people of the world. 
Christ and the New Testament writers warned us, “In the last days people will hate you because you are Christians.” The detailed accounts contained in this book suggest that this is only the beginning of worldwide torture and persecution.   There was nothing special about these martyrs.  They were just like you and me.  Most had a family, a home,  a job – and none were looking to be killed and persecuted.
I urge you to read this book, then share it with a friend who needs to understand that there is a war against Christians around the world.  As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Our God is able to rescue us, but even if He doesn’t, we will never bow down to your god.”  How about you?
The title of this book is a constant reminder that our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are being killed daily for their faith.  Do you care?  If it were a crime to be a Christian in your community, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  The furnace is built, and they are assuredly starting the fire.  What will you say when they come for you?
You can buy I Am N where you buy new Christian books or on Amazon at this link:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why You Will Enjoy Miracles From Heaven

I just returned from viewing Miracles From Heaven, starring Jennifer Garner.  You probably saw the TV commercial for it – a little girl gets an incurable illness, then falls from a tree and miraculously gets well.  Before watching the movie, I thought the producers made a big mistake by telling the “whole story” in the commercial trailer.  Frankly, I was expecting the typical “religious” film: maudlin, trite, and corny, with actors who barely had their lines memorized. Boy, was I wrong!
Before I go any further, I want to be the first to say that Jennifer Garner deserves an Academy Award for acting.  She showed us exactly what a mother in crisis looks like and feels.  When she was pleading with a reluctant doctor to examine her daughter there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. 
My wife remarked that one could tell that Garner is a mother in real life; she couldn’t be so convincing if she wasn’t.  She used every ounce of her motherhood experience to demonstrate that she is also a terrific actress, and the rest of the cast supported her admirably.  This truly is a very enjoyable, satisfying, and entertaining film.
Personally I would have preferred more of a direct emphasis on “the four spiritual laws” and the plan of salvation, but that would have made the film everything I don’t like –predictable and preachy.  And that probably have limited its audience to “preaching to the choir.”
Miracles had enough God, Jesus, faith, heaven, and potluck dinners to leave no doubt as to its Christian perspective. But this film also made one think.  How do believers handle the struggles, the doubt, and the anger of real life?  This was a family just like us – messy Christians trying to make it through a dreadful situation. 
I could actually see myself attending their church.  The attendees were regular people, not the Hollywood versions of Christians.  The pastor was a normal, thoughtful, rather effective leader of his flock, preaching, visiting the sick, making announcements at the potluck dinner, and having fun with the children.  It’s the first “Hollywood movie church” that I would attend – particularly since Mac Powell from Third Day was the worship leader.  You are going to love the worship songs. 
Obviously, the thrust of the film focuses on the events between the daughter getting sick and then falling out of the tree.  How could a loving God allow people to suffer?  Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?  Does God really care about our pain?  This family managed to grasp a vital spiritual truth:  their daughter’s healing was only a single event in their spiritual walk, for God was displaying the miracles of His love for them (and us) every day.    
Bottom line, if you enjoy a quality story without sex, violence, and profanity, you will thoroughly enjoy Miracles From Heaven.   And don’t forget to bring your Kleenex.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Are You Frustrated With Our Political Choices?

I have read emails from my readers who are frustrated with our political choices for president. My question to everyone is this: Why are you surprised? 

Please read Romans 13:1 to 4.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good.

Read that passage again.  Paul is speaking to Christians living under ROMAN rule!  And he called the leader of the land “God’s minister for good.”  Why?  Because God will direct us through the leader He has put over us.  No matter how bad we believe our choices are, they are a heck of a lot better than Nero. 

I definitely have my favorite candidate who I’m voting for.  I’m looking for a person with good character who believes strongly in biblical principles.  But, frankly, I don’t think “my guy” will win. But if you’re wondering whom YOU should vote for, try to think of this coming election like a job interview. 

How can we “hire” someone to do evil on our behalf?  That will eliminate at least half of the candidates.  Would you hire a proven liar? How about a bully who doesn't play well with others? Would you hire a candidate who supports killing pre-born innocents? Our choices aren't easy are they?

This is something that I've struggled with for months and then God reminded me that I’m “just passin’ through." While I will be a good citizen for America, we as Christians know our true citizenship is in Heaven.  This election just reinforces my understanding that I’m just a temporary resident representing my Savior and true Home.  I’ll vote for the candidate who will allow me to the most freedom as Christ’s ambassador, but my top priority is to carry out my assignment to the best of my ability (2 Cor 5:20).  WWJD is more than just a catchy saying on a wristband.  As Christ’s ambassador, I have to continually ask myself, what would Jesus do?

We have to remember “the church” expands during times of trial.  I’m not a masochist.  I don’t want to suffer, but we have to remember that the Christian church in China flourished during the past 65 years under repressive communistic rule. Today, there are more Christians in China than there are Christians in America! Think about that!

I want a simple easy life and “suffer for Jesus at the beach,” but I know difficult times are coming for us and are already here for most of the world. Time is short and I must focus on the eternal rather than the temporal.  A new president isn’t going to change much of anything.  I’m trying to see this from God’s perspective.  What are a few years compared to eternity? 

This is why I believe The Christian Music Challenge is so important for the Christian community. It will help believers keep their minds and hearts focused on Christ and biblical values which will lead to a life of peace (Isaiah 26:3).