A Horrifying Picture

By | Blog

 

I was sitting in the parking lot outside the gym this morning…looking over my Facebook feed, of course…when I saw this horrifying picture and article.

By way of contrast: The Cubs won. The election is next Tuesday. Bills need to be paid. Work needs to be done. The news isn’t good on many fronts.

But then there is Jessica, the 4-year old girl with terminal cancer in this gut wrenching picture and article.

I talk to God when I encounter these kinds of things. My words are usually jumbled as I approach His throne with my questions…my complaints…and finally, my contrition.

She will be in His presence within days. The cancer will be gone. She will be free and happy and healed. Her father and mother and family and friends will be left behind with a gaping hole in their hearts.

Do they have Christ to lean on? To question? To yell at? To find hope and healing in? I don’t know.

The pain and brokenness in this world is hard to take in. Hard to process. Hard to put to bed. But God has given us answers. Not all of them, of course, but enough of them. It helps to ease the pain, but doesn’t eliminate it.

He didn’t promise us an immediate way out, but a way through. He told us there would be trouble…heartache…and death. He told us that He could be trusted with all of it if we had the faith to believe. That someday, it would all make sense. That someday, all of this mess would be replaced by endless majesty.

Sickness? Banished.
Pain? Banished.
Heartache? Banished.
Disappointment? Banished.

Joy? Everlasting.
Happiness? Everlasting.
Fellowship? Everlasting.
Peace? Everlasting.

I cling to this hope everyday. Some days it is in the distance…a warm glow that I feel when I turn towards it. On other days…darker days…I cry out for it in quiet yet resolute words and longings and prayers.

By faith, I choose to believe. He has made His case, made it plainly, and it is strong. My intellect understands it. My emotions rest in it. My will chooses it. It’s not always easy…but yet, it remains.

Toda,y I will thank Him. Today, I will pray for Jessica and her family. Today, I will pray for a boy named Harrison and his family as they battle childhood cancer. Today, I will try to be a loving husband, father, friend, teacher, and radio host. Today, I will lean, once again, on my loving Savior, Master, and Friend. Today, I will trust Him with my tears and questions and frustration and pain. And today…like yesterday…and tomorrow…He will be there for me.

I hope you know Him, too. If not, let me know. I would be honored to introduce you to Him.

 

A Noble Vote For Trump

By | Blog

 

A Noble Vote for Trump

 “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t” is a phrase that comes to mind as I approach the day when I will actually vote for a man like Donald Trump. “Damned if I do” because I find him to be a fairly reprehensible person and a serious gamble if he were to become the President of the United States. “Damned if I don’t” because if I throw away my vote on a write-in like Ted Cruz (more on that later), or choose to ignore the top of the ballot completely, I am fulfilling Edmond Burke’s quote about evil being able to triumph because good men choose to do nothing.

In the final analysis, there are three main reasons why I am giving Trump my vote:

  1. Consequences…of a Hillary presidency.
  2. Conscience..not occurring in a vacuum.
  3. Character…and the need for pragmatism.

Consequences

 There is absolutely no question in my mind that a Hillary Clinton presidency represents a clear and present danger to the future of America. Hillary has a well-documented history (minus a few emails) as a big government, tax and spend uber-liberal socialist who’s dream is to see open borders and open trade not only across North America, but around the world. Her socialist leanings will congregate more and more power in the hands of fewer and fewer people who most certainly will seek to transform America into a progressive utopia, which of course, is a contradiction in terms.

With respect to her ultra-allegiance to the killing fields of Planned Parenthood and its insanely evil founder, Margaret Sanger, Hillary Clinton represents what is worst in human depravity as one who enthusiastically endorses and champions the cause of baby murder. Her undying devotion to this butchery will drive all of her judicial nominations, and while the American people grow more pro-life each year, the true power in the land – the federal judiciary – will grow increasingly more evil with each Clinton appointment. Additionally, she will use executive orders to utilize every federal dollar that she can to help pad the bottom line of the bottom-feeding abortion industry. Our tax dollars hard at work ripping unborn babies limb from limb.

The Clinton’s institutionalized corruption will obviously continue and increase as they BOTH regain control of the Executive Branch. The “pay as you play” legacy of their foundation’s cozy relationship with foreign countries and leaders will come full circle as the Clinton 2.0 White House works with two sets of books – one for us morons in the general public and one that will make sure that every back alley Clinton Foundation debt is paid.

The other part of the consequences question for me is the reality that if I don’t vote for Trump, I am actually using my vote to lower the barrier between Hillary Clinton and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Many conservatives argue that their NO VOTE for Trump is NOT a vote for Hillary – and I understand their disgust at the thought, but if they have regularly supported conservative candidates in the past, they are mistaken.

I have voted for conservative candidates in each election for the past 30-years. As a result, my vote could be ASSUMED to be in the wall that separates every liberal candidate from the office that they seek to hold. If I were to write-in a presidential candidate this time, or vote third party, I would be REMOVING my always-in-place brick from the anti-liberal wall and placing it in another pile, thereby lowering the wall of separation between Hillary and the Oval Office. So, to all of my #NeverTrump friends out there who have always voted for conservative candidates – which is the majority of you – the same rule applies. You are lowering the wall of separation by one brick: your own.

Conscience

 I have a great deal of respect for my fellow Christ followers who are basing their #NeverTrump stance on their refusal to violate their conscience. That being said, there is one fact that all of them seem to be overlooking: their conscientious objection to voting for Trump is not taking place in a vacuum. Other people, like my children and their children, will be stuck with the bill for this seemingly morally superior position.

Every Christian should be quick to stay true to their conscience, insofar as it aligns with the teachings of Scripture. Don’t go with the guys from the office to the strip club. Don’t have an inappropriate relationship with that co-worker. Don’t have a third glass of wine. Don’t stay in that movie with the terrible content that you weren’t expecting. In all of these cases, your conscience is essentially occurring in a vacuum that only involves you and the Lord. With regards to voting for Trump, that is a decision that could impact millions of people, both born and unborn, for years or even generations. Most of the time, your conscience can be your guide, but when other people will have to shoulder the burden for your decision, following your conscience can end up being a terribly selfish decision.

Finally, I think it bears noting that my conscience is leading me to an opposite conclusion from that of my #NeverTrump friends. Is mine somehow flawed while theirs is more holy? Hardly. I truly believe that mine is taking me down a road where I am trying to love my neighbor well by doing my part to help stop or at least slow down the advance of an evil agenda like Hillary Clinton’s. The conscience argument goes in both directions, which is why every Christ follower needs to put away the condemning talk about other Christians that have come to a different conclusion on the Trump question.

Character

 Hillary’s character is obviously not an issue here. She doesn’t have any. Donald, sadly, doesn’t fair much better in this department, although it is worth noting that his deep character flaws have not impacted nearly as many people as Hillary’s, and that by a factor of millions. To be brutally honest, I find Donald Trump to be the most inarticulate, successful businessperson I have ever heard speak. His command of the issues is sophomoric and he appears to have no deeply seated moral center or compass. His well documented history of disparaging and degrading comments is truly deplorable. He has amassed at least part of his fortune by investing in businesses like casinos and strip clubs that exploit the sinful nature of man for profit. Donald Trump is not a man to be looked up to, but rather, a man that needs our prayers and the radical transformation that only comes through Christ Jesus.

Character does matter. It always has and it always will. However, this election process has lead us to a choice between two deeply flawed individuals, and because of reasons previously stated, it is simply not a deal-breaker for me. Every choice in this fallen world that comes down to picking one person over another is essentially a “lesser of two evils” decision. One person can be “better” than the other, but from a biblical perspective – which is the only perspective I try to have – we have to acknowledge the truth spoken by the Prophet Jeremiah that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

Again, I totally agree that character does matter, but in this case, we are choosing between the devil we know well and the devil we don’t know very well at all. We are choosing between a person with a 30-year track record in public governance and one with a much less public track record in business and NO track record when it comes to elected office. I can build a much better case condemning the character of Hillary than I can against Trump, simply because there is FAR more evidence to do so. I wish I had a different and viable choice…but I don’t.

Thankfully, at least Trump has chosen to bring some very godly men into his circle of influence and I know for a fact that they are sharing the gospel with him as well as calling him out on his sin. Will he take any of their advice? I don’t know, but at least they are there and they are talking to him, and that gives me at least a little bit of hope. Sadly, this is not the case with Hillary Clinton. I have yet to see her bring a single serious and biblically faithful Christian leader into her inner circle, and I doubt she ever will.

Conclusion

 A recent study revealed that only 14% of eligible adults voted for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the primaries. Apathy and ignorance indeed come at a high cost and we are certainly getting what we have (or have not) paid for. Sadly, we are left with two of the most unpopular options in the the history of presidential elections, but those are the dates we brought with us to this dance.

In the end, this all comes down to what it should: Can I lay my decision to vote for Donald Trump at the feet of my Lord and Savior? He certainly knows that my vote is no endorsement of Donald’s sinful activities. He certainly knows I am not being selfish or prideful in my decision, but rather, trying to do what is best for the future of my neighbors and their children, as well as my own. He certainly knows that I did not arrive at this decision lightly. He certainly knows that I am refusing to allow the opposite conclusions of some of the finest Christians I know to interfere with our unity in the Gospel.

Yes, the Lord knows my heart on the matter of my vote, and in the end, my conscience will be as clean as possible when I fill in the oval next to Donald Trump’s name. Does that make me a bad Christian? It does not. It makes me a serious Christian facing a terribly difficult decision in the midst of a seemingly desperate situation…all the while thanking God and praising Him for the fact that my ultimate citizenship is not in the broken land called the United States of America, but in my Father’s perfect and everlasting Kingdom.

 

 

Steve’s Election Picks 2016

By | Blog, Breaking News

 

FEDERAL

Donald Trump, President

Michael R. Pence, Vice President

Richard Burr, US Senate

Sue Googe, US House District 4

George Holding, US House District 2

STATE

Pat McCrory, Governor

Dan Forest, Lieutenant Governor

Buck Newton, NC Attorney General

Chuck Stuber, NC Auditor

Steve Troxler, NC Commissioner of Agriculture

Mike Causey, Commissioner of Insurance

Cherie Berry, NC Commissioner of Labor

Michael LaPaglia, NC Secretary of State

Mark Johnson, NC Superintendent of Public Instruction

Dale Folwell, NC Treasurer

John Alexander, NC Senate District 15

Eric Weaver, NC Senate District 16

Tamara Barringer, NC Senate District 17

Chad Barefoot, NC Senate District 18

Ray Martin, NC House District 11

Bill Morris, NC House District 34

Chris Malone, NC House District 35

Nelson Dollar, NC House District 36

Linda Hunt, NC House District 37

Marilyn Avila, NC House District 40

Chris M. Shoffner, NC House District 41

Gary Pendleton, NC House District 49

Kenneth Gardner, Board of Comm. District 4

John Odom, Board of Comm. District 6

Laura Riddick, Wake County Resister of Deeds

JUDGES

Bob Edmonds, NC Supreme Court – Assoc. Justice

Phil Jr. Berger, Court of Appeals

Bob Hunter, NC Court of Appeals

Richard Dietz, Court of Appeals

Valerie Zachary, Court of Appeals

Hunter Murphy, Court of Appeals

Graham A. Shirley, NC Superior Court District 10F

Bryant Paris III, District Court Judge District 10

A. (Woofer) Davidian III, District Court Judge District 10

Jefferson Griffin, District Court Judge District 10

Dan Nagle, District Court Judge

Marty Miller, District Court Judge District 10,

Michael Denning, Superior Court Judge District 10C

WAKE CO. BOARD OF ED.

Donald Agee, Wake County Board of Ed. District 1

Peter Hochstaetter, Wake County Board of Ed. District 2

Gil Pagan, Wake County Board of Ed. District 8

SOIL & WATER

Matthew Hebb, Soil & Water

 

My LGBT Dinner Dates

By | Blog

I got the call a few minutes after my radio show ended. There was a crew from Fusion Television in town filming a show called “Breaking Bread” that brings opposing views to the same table over a meal to hopefully have a civil dialog, despite the deep differences of opinion. The topic would be the controversial North Carolina “bathroom bill” HB2…but the cast wasn’t quite complete:

The Jewish Host/Producer – Dan

The Gay Activist – Ben

The Trans-Man (female at birth) – Calvin

The Trans-Woman (male at birth) – Candice

The Republican Strategist – Matthew

The Conservative Christian – ???

I wasn’t the first or second or even fourth pick. Others had agreed and then backed out. Would it be a fair fight? Was it a set-up to make conservatives and Christians look like henchmen of the Devil himself? Was I up to the challenge? Could I hold my own? Could I maintain my composure? Awkward media settings and having a mic shoved in my face is nothing new after 12-years of my Called2Action life…but this was an entirely new setting and one that I have been longing for more and more as my faith has deepened. Would I be willing to break bread with “the sinners” like Jesus did? I dropped my son off at basketball and prayed my way over to the location.

The restaurant was trendy. The room was well lit. The gear was in place. The cast of characters was assembled and quite diverse, to say the least. Before we got situated they motioned for me to step outside. The Republican Strategist wanted to know if I was ok with the set-up. It was essentially 2 on 3 with the assumption that our host was most likely liberal-leaning, making it 2 on 4. “I’m totally fine with that” I replied. I didn’t know where Matthew stood with the Lord, but I knew where I stood:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  – Deuteronomy 31:6

I was pretty sure I knew from what direction every argument would come, and I certainly knew what my talking points would be on the HB2 bill, but “winning” that debate was not my primary concern…and not an achievable goal, anyway. For me, as a biblical follower of Jesus Christ, all of these cultural debates can be boiled down and fit nicely into the confines of the first chapter of the Book of Romans. For the sake of time, both yours and mine, here is the “skinny” on this concept:

  1. People who have yet to be born again don’t really like to hear about God and His teachings because it makes them feel judged and condemned.
  2. As a result, they instinctively do what they can to dull the noise…to blunt the assault…to turn off the hot spotlight of judgment.
  3. Some simply choose to ignore it while others choose to try and explain it away via science and philosophy. Some seek to re-define what the “Good Book” says, while others work diligently to silence every source via the rule of law, the court system, and/or outright intimidation. Sadly, they are unaware of the spiritual reality of their actions.
  4. The “noise” can be heard in every utterance of biblical truth, but especially when it comes to hot button issues like abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and now…gender.
  5. As a biblical follower of Jesus Christ, I know that I represent the source of that noise at the very least…and express it boldly at the very worst…and that is why so many people don’t like me or feel uncomfortable around me or avoid me.

I call those my “Five Points of the Culture War”, and I believe they capture the essence of the phenomenon at it’s base spiritual level…and that is the level that matters far more than the political ramifications. In the end, it ALL boils down to the fight over life and death…light and darkness…heaven and hell. In other words, the Gospel itself.

So what was my goal? It was two-fold and simple: Image Christ well and get the Gospel onto the table. A line I like to use these days, especially when dealing with the secular media, is to say, “I want to be the last uber-conservative Christian you ever expected to meet.” Invariably, the media person will ask, “What kind is that?” With a big smile on my face I reply, “Likeable!”

To you that may sound rude – like I’m agreeing that every conservative Christian actually IS a jerk – but to the outsider, who’s opinion matters more than yours at the time, it sounds curious. Winsome, even. Additionally, I have found it to be quite disarming, but it does bring with it the potential for failure. What if I become that jerk in the course of the ensuing conversation? Remember: The only people Jesus actually hammered were the religious bigmouths of the day. It took me years to figure that out, but thankfully, and by God’s grace, it has a huge impact on how I speak to the outsider now.

Back to the dinner table.

It was remarkably civil, but oftentimes uncomfortable and a few times it became downright awkward. Imagine that? “They” made lots of points that at first blush seemed quite powerful, but as my intellect kicked in, tempered by the wisdom and compassion of the Holy Spirit inside of me, their attempts to label the HB2 bill as hate-filled and discriminatory fell flat…at least from the perspective of the Republican Strategist and the Conservative Christian. By the way, Matthew, the Strategist, really knew his stuff on the legal and legislative side of the discussion and that was a great help and blessing to me. Knowledge truly is power and two have a better return for their work (I read that somewhere).

By God’s grace and power, I stood my ground (His really), and hopefully, did it with humility and gentleness and respect while having to give answers that I knew would upset the three people on the other side of the table. While the other five focused on the positions represented at the table, I continued to bring two people into the discussion that had no voice in the discussion: my 11-year old daughter along with the registered sex offender. One could pay a remarkably high price because of the depraved nature and activities of the other, fueled by the increased opportunities an open-bathroom environment would bring with it, and as much as it pained me to have to add to the rejection of the transgendered community, I had to choose to protect “the least of these”.

You see, the safety of the 30,000,000 girls 15 and under across America, including the nearly 1,100,000 in my home state of North Carolina, of which two are my daughters, HAD to trump (sorry) the rejection and awkwardness that the transgendered people would experience as they had to deal with the bathroom choice on a deeply personal level – something I have no way to relate to but that I am commanded to be compassionate about. My position, of course, was not accepted, but I did appreciate the calm and respectful way in which they listened and chose to respond…or say nothing.

The most powerful moment for me, however, was not some point my Republican Strategist friend (Matthew) or I made about the bill itself, but the opportunity God gave me when our host, Dan, showed us a viral video of an altercation between several police offices and a trans-girl or boy, I don’t recall, attempting to use the bathroom of their choice. Tempers flared. Harsh words were exchanged. A physical altercation seemed imminent. “What do you think about that, Steve?” Dan asked, seeming to imply that these scenes would increase and become dangerous as a result of the passage of the HB2 law. I placed my shaking hand out over the middle of the table and said in a quivering voice with tears welling up in my eyes…

“My hand isn’t shaking because I’m nervous or afraid to be here. After twelve years of being in the media this isn’t a hard environment for me to operate in. My hand is shaking because as a follower of Jesus Christ my heart aches over the brokenness I’m seeing in this video. Every single person on the earth is broken and in need of a Savior. The cops are mad. The kids are mad. Nobody is willing to have a calm conversation and nobody appears to have any regard for the other side. This drives me far more than the bathroom bill or any other issue we are discussing tonight. People need to be reconciled to their Creator…which is the only hope of them being able to be reconciled to one another. That is why I am here tonight. That is at the core of my message.”

With that I placed my shaking hand back in my lap and regained my composure. It produced one of those “awkward moments” I referred to earlier, but hopefully…God willing…it was the most eternally impactful moment of the night. You see, If I had been a jerk…if I had been argumentative or condescending up until that point in the night…my Gospel words of compassion and concern and love would probably have fallen on deaf ears. Instead, and by God’s grace, I believe they fell on softened ears…at least, that is my prayer.

As the evening wrapped up it was quite friendly…even fun. I gave out my radio show business cards and invited my “enemies” to join me on the show someday, soon. At least one of them probably will. We took some pictures…shook each other’s hands…and departed back into our respective corners of the ring. Did I prove anything? Did I win? Did I put them in their place? Did I force them to reconsider anything? I have no idea…but then again, that’s neither my problem nor my responsibility. My job is to be faithful and leave the fruitfulness to God, and that is what I am trying to do just 13-hours on the other side of the most awkward and interesting 3-hours of my life as a follower of Jesus Christ. I pray that YOU have some of that awkwardness in your life, too. Jesus certainly did.

 

 

 

Boys in the Girl’s Room (a.k.a. “love”)

By | Blog, Christian News

The North Carolina “Bathroom Bill” controversy is insane. How can any loving person want to deny a basic human right to another? How can you say you should “love your neighbor” and then turn around and put that neighbor to shame because of who they are? What’s next? Separate water fountains for LGBT people? It feels like the 1950’s all over again, but this time the Klan is wearing Jesus t-shirts, holding up “God hates Fags” signs and singing “Amazing Grace”.

Welcome to the Divided States of America 

Obviously, most Americans agree with the common sense goal of the controversial “bathroom bill” in North Carolina, but most Americans don’t control the media, the educational system, the entertainment industry, or corporate America. As a result, the average American’s idea of “common sense” has become antiquated in the minds of the aforementioned culture shapers, and to make matters even worse, those same culture shapers have successfully re-defined the terms of the game.

Yesterday’s ideas about traditional marriage have been exposed for the “hate” they represent, as well as the “haters” like me (and hopefully you, too) who support them. Additionally, those of us who believe protecting the safety and right to privacy of over 30M American girls under the age of 14 (plus the 126M women over that age) are also “haters” who need to be dealt with for the moral good of the country.

Forget the FACT that there are over 840,000 registered sex-offenders scattered across the nation who would be tempted to take advantage of so-called “gender neutral” and “inclusive” bathroom/locker room policies in order to prey on America’s 156M women and girls. Forget the FACT that in North Carolina alone there are over 1.1M girls under the age of 18 who look like “red meat” to many if not most of the 16,870 registered sex-offenders that currently live in our state (the ones who have been caught, anyway). FACTS no longer matter in the Divided States of America. 

Feelings are the new Facts 

If a woman feels like bringing a baby into the world would ruin her life, then it’s wrong to deny her the right to have said “fetus” removed from her body. In fact, it’s hateful. If two people of the same sex feel like getting married, then it’s wrong to deny them that. In fact, it’s hateful. If a man feels like he is a woman and wants to use the the ladies’ bathroom or locker room, then it’s wrong to deny him that. In fact, it’s hateful. If a 30-year old adult feels like having consensual sex with his or her 14-year old lover, then it’s wrong to deny them that. In fact, it’s hateful. If a depressed 50-year old feels like ending their life, then it’s wrong to deny them that. In fact, it’s hateful.

On and on it goes…and where it stops, only God knows

As a follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings, all of this madness is painfully logical to me. In FACT, I can “name that tune” using just one book of the Bible.

In Romans chapter one we see that although people know God exists (sorry to all you atheists out there), they refuse to submit to Him. As a result, they replace His truths with their lies and in doing so, they pay the penalty for their self-deception (look up those heart-breaking FACTS yourself). What’s unnatural becomes natural and plain facts are replaced by feelings.

In Romans chapter eight we see that those who set their minds on feelings over facts are indeed hostile to God. In FACT, they will not and cannot submit to His truth. So when God says that every life is precious from the moment of conception and worthy of protection – they raise their voices and scream, “Hater!” When God says that marriage is between one man and one woman for life – they raise their voices and scream, “Hater!” When God says that He created both male and female and that it really is that simple – they raise their voices and scream, “Hater!” When God says that faith in His Son is the only way to get to Heaven – they raise their voices and scream, “Hater!”

As a result, people like me (us) can organize, boycott, Tweet, Share, Like, and all the rest of it…but none of those things are enough to overcome the FACTS presented in the book Romans, chapters one and eight.

Electing the right leader’s matters, but it isn’t the solution. Speaking the truth matters, but it isn’t the solution. Standing up for unborn babies, the institution of marriage, the safety of our women and children, and now even gender differences, matters, but it isn’t the solution.

The only solution for a sickness this deep is a solution that runs even deeper. The only solution for a culture that has traveled this far down the road to perdition is a solution that has traveled even further. The only solution for the 200M+ Americans who have rejected God’s truth and replaced it with their own lies is a solution that cannot actually be replaced because it is the very definition of Truth itself. “What is Truth” you ask?

Truth has a name…and His Name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. 

Hashtag that. Tweet that. Post that. Share that. Because…it is the only FACT that has the power to turn this situation around.

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