Get Back to Church, America! By John Collins , CP Guest Contributor

It seems America has lost its way. Amid the din and chatter in  the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, on the heels of Aurora, and between the  lines of everyday news stories of earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters,  there is a gray cloud darkening over our nation.

The rain is coming. Surely, the rain is coming!

The promises from our politicians have never been emptier, never more vain.  We stagger from one disaster to the next, looking for answers. We used to ask  “Why?” Now, we simply ask “How?” How do we move forward?

Hundreds of ideas are offered. Thousands of voices speak. Most people look to  government for immediate solutions. Their hope is that Uncle Sam will save the  day through better social institutions in education  and health. America will be better when she “makes” herself better and safer.  Together, they will say, we can create a better home by lifting our collective  selves up by the bootstraps.

But that is not, nor has it ever been, the strength of our nation. Our  government has a greater workforce with greater tools, serving larger  institutions in health and education than ever in our history. Yet, they have  failed to curb the hostile events of madmen and nature.

America has lost its way, not because we lack resources or ability, but  because we have forsaken our spiritual center. For all of our history, the one  institution that has been at the very core of our national being has been the  Christian church! Certainly churches came in different shapes and sizes, with  varying creeds and traditions, but it was the place America turned to when  crisis visited our shores.

From the night Paul Revere hung that lantern in the steeple of a church in  Boston, people have symbolically looked to that institution and her leaders for  hope beyond politics, beyond  economics, beyond the theorems of university professors and social pundits.  America looked to the pulpits of her churches and to the pages of Scripture to  maintain its core values.

Alexis de Tocqueville once said of our nation:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors,  her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for it in the fertile fields,  and boundless prairies, and it was not there. I sought it in her rich mines, and  vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of  America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the  secret of her genius and power.”

Over the past several weeks, millions have cast their eyes and ears on the  heart-wrenching scenes that flowed out of Newtown: little children in little  caskets, with mourners in great sorrow overflowing churches. We all  participated, in a fragmented way, in their church services and shared in their  sorrows.

While that was healing and healthy, the question remains, did we go to church  the next Sunday? There is no doubt that someone can have a relationship with God  through Jesus outside of church attendance, but that relationship is meant to  grow and blossom within the embrace of God’s people.

America needs revival and we would do well to begin it by getting back to  church. It is there that God’s shepherds can guide us with comforting words of  Scripture, to convict us when we stray from God’s paths, and instruct us on who  God is and what He has done for us.

It’s time, America, to get back to church. That is where true community can  be realized. That is where lonely boys and girls can find friendships and values  to shape their world. That is the place where hope can be restored and lasting  joy realized. Churches still come in different shapes and sizes, with different  creeds and customs, but if they are offering salvation through Jesus, teaching  the Scriptures faithfully, and expressing their collective faith in ways that  bless the downtrodden and honor God-then there is a seat in that house, God’s  house, for you!

Yes, the rain is coming. But there is shelter from the storm. It’s time to  get back to church, America!

This September, we will be hosting a live event in thousands of churches  across our nation. It’s called Harvest America. On that day, we will declare the  essentials of the Christian faith and invite thousands to come into a  relationship with Jesus. It will be an opportunity to come back to church and  turn our nation back to God. I hope you’ll join us.

Who Will Help?

“How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you” Isaiah 30:19

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story my son told me about taking his family to see the stage production of The Lion King. A good time was being had by all until the play turned to the point in the story where the young lion, Simba, wandered into the dangerous valley and right into the trap of his evil uncle, Scar. The plot goes like this.

In order to usurp the kingdom from his brother Mufasa, Simba’s Dad, Scar arranged for a group of hyenas to chase the wildebeest into a stampede that would endanger little Simba and lure his father, Mufasa, to the rescue. At which point Scar would kill Mufasa and begin to rule as king. After the stampede ended, little Simba looked up, all alone, to see his father lying dead on the ground. In the quietness of that moment, with the dust and smoke still swirling on stage, little Simba began to cry, “Help, help, help!” It was at that point in the hushed theater that my three-year-old grandson stood up on his chair and shouted, “Why doesn’t somebody help him?!”

It’s a reminder of a sobering truth. Each day, scores of people within the reach of our resources are hurting and desperately in need of someone to rush the stage of their life and help them. And here is the issue for us: Will we just sit by and watch like detached observers in comfortable theater seats? Or will we get engaged and do something about it? We are called to be the extension of the hand of God to the needy and helpless that are within our reach.

The Old Testament is filled with accounts of God’s people crying out for help. Although their trouble was often self-imposed due to the waywardness from God, I’m amazed by the fact that He was still eager to come to their aid. In the midst of a lot of self-inflicted bad news brought by the prophet Isaiah, he assured the people that “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. . . . How gracious He will be when you cry for help!” (Isaiah 30:18-19).

What great news, and better news yet is that God’s ultimate act of grace and compassion came in human flesh, in the person of Jesus. It was His nail-pierced, bleeding hands that redeemed us from our self-inflicted desperate situation once and for all. At the cross, Jesus took the heart of God into His own hands.

And now, as recipients of His grace, we can do no less for others who are in need. Listen for that cry of help, rush the stage of their need, and let God extend His compassion through your helping hand today.


  • For the believer, God has canceled hell and guaranteed heaven. In what other ways does God “rise to show compassion”? How have you experienced this truth in your life? Be specific, and try to think of at least one occasion when His grace was made evident to you.
  • Recall a time when you needed someone’s help. Did the person respond to your crisis? If not, how did it make you feel? If so, what do you think would have happened without that person’s help?
  • Are you willing to take the heart of Jesus into your world? Read Isaiah 58:5-12; Matthew 25:31-40; and Colossians 3:12. Then ask God to show you who needs His touch through you today.
  • Is there a local ministry where you can assist in bringing the hope and healing of Jesus to those around you?

Am I Looking To God?

Look to Me, and be saved . . . —Isaiah 45:22

Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says, “Look to Me, and be saved . . . .” The greatest difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and His blessings are what make it so difficult. Troubles almost always make us look to God, but His blessings tend to divert our attention elsewhere. The basic lesson of the Sermon on the Mount is to narrow all your interests until your mind, heart, and body are focused on Jesus Christ. “Look to Me . . . .”

Many of us have a mental picture of what a Christian should be, and looking at this image in other Christians’ lives becomes a hindrance to our focusing on God. This is not salvation— it is not simple enough. He says, in effect, “Look to Me and you are saved,” not “You will be saved someday.” We will find what we are looking for if we will concentrate on Him. We get distracted from God and irritable with Him while He continues to say to us, “Look to Me, and be saved . . . .” Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God.

Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him. “Look to Me . . . .” Salvation is yours the moment you look.

One Giant Leap

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.’” — Exodus 14:15–16

This Torah portion for this week, Beshalach, is from Exodus 13:7–17:16 and Judges 4:4–5:31.

Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, is one of the best known biblical characters who is hardly mentioned at all in the Bible itself! In fact, even today in Israel you may hear the term nahshoni, which means ‘to be like Nahshon.’ Who was this Nahshon and why should we be like him?

The Sages give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the most famous moments in history. We’ve all seen the movie: Moses (as portrayed by Charlton Heston) standing on a cliff with the anxious Israelites behind him as he majestically speaks of God’s greatness and then parts the sea. The children of Israel walk through on dry land, and then the sea collapses upon the Egyptians who pursue them.

But here is how it really happened according to Jewish tradition. The children of Israel were panicking — the Egyptians were behind them and the sea was before them. Where would they go? Moses stood in prayer. Meanwhile, while everyone else was deciding what to do, a man named Nahshon walked straight into the sea. He stepped out in faith, completely confident that God would take care of him.

Tradition teaches that Nahshon kept walking until the sea was up to his nostrils. At that point God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?” The time for prayer had passed and the time for action was at hand! God said to Moses, “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” And so he did.

The Sages teach that the sea didn’t part so that the children of Israel could walk through; first, a child of Israel (Nahshon) walked through, and therefore, the seas parted.

What an incredible lesson in faith. So many times we sit and talk and deliberate and pray about a decision or an action that we have to take. Will we be successful? Will the money be there to support me? What should I do? Where should I go? It’s like we are waiting around for the seas to part so that we can easily walk through!

We can sit around and wait forever while life continues on. Or, we can step out in faith – we can leap forward as Nahshon did with full trust that God will guide us. Remember, friends, God parted the sea for Nahshon! What can He do for you?

Be a nahshoni, be like Nahshon – take that step, make that leap, and trust in God. Follow Him in faith, and He will faithfully lead you through.

An Enduring Wrong

The New York Times got the story wrong from the very beginning. “The Supreme Court overruled today all state laws that prohibit or restrict a woman’s right to obtain an abortion during her first three months of pregnancy,” its front page reported on January 23, 1973. “The vote was 72,” the Times continued.

In a historic resolution of a fiercely controversial issue, the Court drafted a new set of national guidelines that will result in broadly liberalized abortion laws in 46 states but will not abolish restrictions altogether.

What the Supreme Court had actually done, through the combined effect of Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was make abortion legal at any stage of pregnancy for any reason, which is a considerably more liberal policy than that encoded in the law of any state or supported by public opinion then or now. The next day the Times ran an editorial that repeated both the three-months spin and the news story’s implicit prediction: “The Court’s verdict on abortion provides a sound foundation for a final and reasonable resolution of a debate that has divided America too long.”

Nineteen years after Roe, the Court confronted its frustrating failure to resolve the issue in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The Court explained that when it makes a ruling like Roe, it “calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division.”

Yet still the controversy endures. No matter how many times pro-lifers have been authoritatively invited to put down their placards and accept the slaughter of innocent unborn children as one of our founding ideals, they have refused — sometimes patiently and politely, sometimes angrily, always firmly.

Now 40 years have passed since Roe, and nobody pretends that our division is ending. Time just ran a cover story declaring that “abortion-rights activists” have “been losing ever since” 1973. Nearly half of Americans think of themselves as pro-life, often a larger percentage than considers itself “pro-choice.” State governments are passing what protections for unborn children they can, given the Court’s hostility. The number of abortions has been dropping, if slowly, for years.

Pro-lifers are not winning: The suggestion is obscene. Nearly 56 million human beings have been killed in the womb since Roe, a toll that rises another million each year. The pro-life movement’s achievement is a witness, not a victory. We have maintained resistance to an injustice rather than vanquished it.

Who Stole MLK? That is, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr By Paul de Vries , Special to CP

We live in a time of magical secularism. Right before our eyes the Gospel truth is ripped off, stolen, or at least seriously “dumbed down.” For what reason do we allow fables to replace facts – even when the marvel and splendor of the facts far exceeds the secularist’s ingenious fabricated fables.

Barely a year ago the majestic memorial to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was dedicated in Washington, DC. Just prior to that dedication, I paid a visit to admire the park area, the inscribed walls and monumental creative sculpture, themed from Rev. Dr. King’s sermonic reference to the need for a “stone of hope.” (That is me in the picture talking with a park ranger in front of the Stone of Hope.)

How very grateful we are that there is such a memorial to a Christian giant who so positively impacted America and the world with his overtly Biblical values! He belongs in the company of Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington and F.D. Roosevelt, all of whose stately memorials stand nearby.

I speculate that the Lincoln Memorial is behind the monument to Rev. Dr. King because President Lincoln had his back, in a way of speaking. The monumental Rev. Dr. King is also staring forward, in the exact direction of the Jefferson Memorial, across the Tidal Basin. Is it his forward, hopeful perspective? Is it a grateful glance to the author of “All men are created equal” and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” great words that had also inspired and empowered Rev. Dr. King’s leadership and ministry? Or perhaps is it a critical, disappointed look toward the historic, slave-holding Jefferson who was notably inconsistent in living those great words he wrote – and who never resolved the continuing crisis of his conflicted conscience? Or perhaps it is both divine gratitude and great disappointment. So I think.

Interesting as these artistic speculations are, everyone should be deeply disappointed in the complete absence of any reference to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Church or his ordination – all absolutely central to Rev. Dr. King’s awesome leadership. The entire monument area also ignores even that Rev. Dr. King was a Gospel minister. The nearby memorials include numerous references to the Lord, so the standard of telling the whole Godly truth was established long ago. Why suppress the most essential Truth about Rev. Dr. King –who was much more than an activist, but a church pastor for 14 years of his brief life, a Bible expositor, and an accomplished theologian? Public money has been spent to tell the truth about Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln and their sincere trust in God – and their frequent references to determinative dependence on our Creator. What pathology suppresses the truth when we honor someone with an even more explicit God focus – a model pastor and Christian thinker? That same magical secular pathology eliminates the true Rev. Dr. King in most approved school textbooks and teaching modules allegedly about the man. What keeps the rest of us quiet?

Why ignore that he was an ordained minister? Why pretend that he did not have a seminary degree from Crozer at age 22? Why disregard as well his PhD degree in systematic theology from prestigious Boston University when he was a young 26 years old? Why not a single mention that he was a professional theologian, minister, pastor and preacher? Why make the special effort to select fourteen quotes from Rev. Dr. King without a single acknowledgement that he drew his prime inspiration from the Bible? Why no mention of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Father, or the Gospel, or Church or any one of his other significant spiritual anchors?

There is even a lovely waterfall at the memorial, but someone nixed the Bible verse (Amos 5:28) to go with it. Why keep the waterfall?

Why did the designers of the monument not even include a word about his extraordinary name that explicitly references Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546), another monumental minister of the Gospel, transformative theologian, courageous civil-rights hero, and profound and passionate preacher.

And how did the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. get that unusual name? This story needs to be told. He was originally named Michael King, Jr., the eldest son of Rev. Michael King, Sr. (1899-1984) and Alberta Williams King (1906-1974). “Michael King, Jr.” was his name on his birth certificate. It is how he was first introduced to the world. His father and mother were proud of their first child. Everyone called their precocious child “Mike.” Mike King’s parents were also very bold in their efforts to transform their world toward the goal that all people would be recognized for their Divine human dignity and God-given inalienable rights.

Then the plot thickened. All this changed when Mike King, Jr. was five years old. Rev. and Mrs. Michael King, Sr. took a tourist trip to Germany, seeing a variety of sites over a few days, including visiting famed Wittenberg. That is the town in Germany where Dr. Martin Luther, a pastor and theologian, in the face people wanting to murder him for it, courageously took a stand for the Bible, for the Gospel, for the civil right to choose faith and to worship God as God guides. Luther had his flaws, but he was an articulate minister of the Gospel whose words so transformed the world around him that we all continue to benefit – especially in terms of religious choice, free market, and open access to the Gospel of God’s amazing grace. Rev. King understood that palpable courage of Luther. He already embodied it, and he and Alberta wanted to raise their children to have such Godly bravery, too.

Then the plot really thickened. Rev. Michael King, Sr. was so deeply moved by the Luther model that he decided to openly embrace the paradigm – in the most public statement possible. When he and Alberta returned home to Atlanta Georgia, he brought his son down to the courthouse with him to have both of their names legally changed! In an instant he became Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and his five year old son became Martin Luther King, Jr. What a statement! Can you imagine a precocious five year old being told that he and his father are now walking monuments to Gospel clarity, human liberty and divine courage? Names matter so much. An official name change matters even more – especially to a young, impressionable, brilliant child. And by God’s amazing grace, the walking human monument Martin more than lived up to the awesome name change.

In one of the most stressful and dangerous times of his ministry, in the aftermath of leading the successful, lengthy Montgomery bus boycott, in 1957 the Lord spoke to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth. God will be at your side forever.” Three nights later someone bombed his home. No one was injured – and Rev. Dr. King was amazingly calm. Later he wrote about this crisis, “My experience with God had given me a new strength and trust. I now knew that God is able to give us the interior resources to face the storms and problems of life.” So he reported in his Strength to Love, 1963, at the end of one of 15 great sermons, “God is Able.”

We do not need a public acknowledgement of the Lord’s ministry through Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King for God to be present at the Martin Luther King Memorial. However, I am sure that Rev. Dr. King would then be much more pleased. And so would the Almighty.