Sometimes things occur so quickly that you barely have time to register what is happening.
I was sitting on my deck, enjoying the Colorado blue sky, sparkling air and the butterscotch smell of the ponderosa pines. I had a turkey sandwich in my right hand and in my left I was reading an email on my red smartphone.
Out of nowhere, a hummingbird appeared, hovering in front of my nose. I could feel the wash of air from its wings and hear their familiar buzzing… louder than usual because we were eye to eye. It then darted to my sandwich, hovered for a second, then back to my nose. Pausing only briefly, it then flitted to my red phone, hovered, and then in the blink of an eye, thrust its beak down the earphone hole. Just as quickly, it pulled out and was gone.
I sat there with my mouth hanging open.
I am sure I will never see anything like that again. It couldn’t have taken much more than five seconds from beginning to end, but it will last forever in my memory.
These are times you just have to thank the Lord for the experience. There are no photos, no video, no witnesses… just the humming bird and me brushing up against each other in a moment in time in a creation that defies explanation.
I have often thought of the exquisite design of the hummingbird. They are remarkable in their flight capabilities. Not only can they hover, but they can dart up, down, left, right, forward and backwards (the only bird that can do so). They can fly just as easily upside down. They can spot potential food targets and zoom in, pull up, hover, sample, and exit in the blink of an eye. They remember every flower (and phone) they’ve every sampled and they seem to know how long it takes the flower to rejuvenate the nectar they’ve taken. They have a third set of eyelids that act as flying goggles to protect them as they zoom around, sometimes as fast as 65 feet/second, which is about 45 miles per hour. Now you may not think that is not all that fast because you can drive faster than that, but they reach those speeds almost instantly… and they can stop almost instantly, hover, and then zoom off in another direction. They have been clocked at 60 mph while diving, with the same ability to stop on a dime. They beat their wings up to 200 times per second… that’s why they “hum”.
They are the tiniest bird in the world and they can flash their colors or hide them at will. Their hearts beat up to 20 times per second and while at rest, they breathe four times per second.
Their wings can rotate in a full circle.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird has been known to travel across the Gulf of Mexico to breed…. 500 miles and 20 hours of flight time.
Job 12 counsels us to ask the birds and they will explain it all to us.
“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breathe of mankind?” Job 12:9
The hummingbird’s favorite color is red.
Buy yourself a red smartphone and go sit on your deck and learn from the creation.
I am writing to let you know about two very important updates for our Truth Encounter Community.
As you know, it has been my vision to continue the biblical worldview work that God began in my life years ago, beginning with New Geneva Seminary, Summit Ministries, the Truth Project, Cross Examine, Who Is Jesus and other worldview teaching, including the new release February 23 of the film, “Is Genesis History”. Launching this site was a big step in our ongoing work. And now, we are taking another big step. Let me share the details.
I'm very excited to announce that Marc Fey, who led The Truth Project team with me at Focus on the Family, has joined me full-time to help us realize the dream God laid on my heart in 1992. As the team leader, Marc was instrumental in developing and launching the project, including our work with Cold Water Media to produce the DVD content, develop website resources and conference trainings and manage our relationships with Truth Project leaders, partners, and key organizations.
This is indeed a pivotal time for us, and I am thrilled to be reunited with Marc to build what we pray will be God's movement in the hearts and minds of His people--on His terms and for His glory.
Second, with Marc's addition to our team, you should expect regular communication from Marc and me, updating you on our progress with The Engagement and The Restoration, the next two series to follow-up the worldview teaching we have done up to this point. After many years of stops and starts, it appears God is moving people and resources into place for us to resume in a more concentrated and strategic manner the work of The Truth Encounter.
So, with me please welcome Marc back to the team. And more importantly, please consider renewing your prayer efforts for God's work through each of us, for we all have an important role to play in realizing this God-inspired vision-- a movement in and through God's people in our generation.
On Election Day, at lunchtime, I was at a park in Colorado Springs. On one corner of the park sits one of our big high schools. It was a nice day (normal for the Springs) and the students filled the park, several making out lying on the grass. On the opposite corner stood a young man, conservatively dressed, holding an American flag and a Trump sign. He had a radio on the ground, not very loud, but playing a conservative talk show. I sat at a bench near the young man because I was curious about what I saw happening.
As the students walked by, they shouted obscenities at him and Trump. I am not willing to repeat any of it, suffice to say it was as filthy and vile as you can get. Some spit toward him. As it was getting close to the end of their lunch hour, a group gathered in front of him and pummeled him with profanity and obscene gestures. One girl was screaming at him. I suppose even worse was that after they would shout their obscenities, they would then howl in laughter pointing at him as if he were a joke. Of course, in the world of child-like behavior, this is considered the cruelest of all taunts… to make another seem like a worthless outcast… insignificant scum.
Although I couldn’t hear what the young man was saying, he remained calm and would sometimes turn and wave at cars that would supportively “beep-beep” as they drove by. As I write this, I’m not sure if I was right or wrong to not jump into the middle of it. I was committed to offer help if it looked like it was going to escalate beyond words, but for now it was free-speech being played out, though admittedly disgusting.
After the lunch crowd had returned to their classrooms, I approached the young man and our conversation went something like this:
“Students were pretty rough on you.”
“Yeah. A lot of nasty stuff.”
“I’m impressed you remained calm through all of it.”
“Well, I kept telling them that obscenities didn’t add to the conversation and just encouraged any of them to simply enter into a civil discussion with me.”
“I’m sorry they didn’t do that.”
“Me too. I really wish we could just talk about the issues like adults.”
I think it was the “adult” word that helped frame some of this for me. I had, indeed, witnessed deep immaturity, with its pure emotional spewing and little to no rational thought.
I don’t go to the park all the time, but I’m there enough to occasionally hear their conversations. I remember one of the first times, next to a group of high school girls, in which I was dumbfounded at the filth of their language. I spent over 20 years in the military, and I’d never heard anything that matched it.
Where does this come from?
My heart sank as I experienced what was happening Tuesday. It was quite scary, actually, because I was not only looking at such deep expressions of hate and loathing, but I was also looking at the generation that is going to replace us all. It didn’t look good.
We woke this morning to the continued news that there are protests all around the country. Some have become violent and destructive. Interestingly, the chants of the protestors are much like those I heard in the park… quite childish, selfish and filled with hatred.
Where is all of this coming from? In the park, my first thoughts were to put the blame on the high school that was right on the corner, thinking that this was coming from their classrooms. But then something dawned on me after reading the list of “tweets” that went out from Hollywood and TV and music “stars”. They were all saying the same things, in “star” lingo, of course, but just as childish.
This is Cher’s mature tweet on the election:
“Trump will never be more than a toilet…”
Andy Cohen (along with all the other late-night talk show hosts):
“Did we just elect a snake oil salesman and his wicked court of terror…?”
“The worst day in America: 9/11. The second worst day: 11/9.”
Really? Worse than the Civil War? Worse than the trail of tears? Worse that Kennedy’s assassination… or Pearl Harbor or the stock market crash in 1929?
This is the mindless mantra of our “entertainment” empire. And it is here we find the prime tutor of our children.
The average teen consumes 9 hours a day of entertainment on their smartphone or TV. You may want to reread that or say it over to yourself: 9 hours per day of smartphone/TV entertainment. This domain of music, rap, video, shows, comedy, movies and gaming is cultivating a mind that is filled with sex, violence, obscene language and destructive ideas. It numbs them towards a true reality. It strips them of common sense. It erects in their heart, mind and soul a virtual world of all-about-me and my pleasure.
And if things don’t go my way, I throw my tantrums. I call people names. I stomp my feet and chant emotional non-sense.
And I demand. Like the 3-year-old girl I saw the other day stomping her feet, screaming at her mother, demanding her own way.
For 9 hours a day, our youth live in a non-real world where lyrics and scripts and rap words rhythmically and cinematically draw them into believing that the virtual world of the entertainment empire is the world we all ought to live in… the world we WANT to live in. It seduces. It hypnotizes. It frames a worldview that is totally self-centered and hedonistic.
And it is totally irrational.
It spews out the most hateful and vile stuff. It beats up people, destroys property, flips off the world and then smugly chants “love trumps hate”.
It is the la-la land of infants demanding to get their own way in their self-defined, virtual world.
The problem is that the infants are increasingly in adult bodies with lots of power.
Our addiction to entertainment will continue to stunt our culture's maturity. We must wean ourselves and our kids.
Here is what troubles me most, however. Immaturity, when it doesn’t get its way, will often erupt into a “make you pay” rage. I sense that is what we are seeing. But I fear it is only the beginning. We are going to be treated to a host of "See what you made me do!" and "This is all your fault!" and "You'll be sorry!" acts and situations and new stories and personal stories, ad infinitim.
Brace yourselves, for the revenge of self-centered infants who live in adult bodies and carry great wealth and power can, and will be, be scary.
Today is a day of decision.
Do not listen to whispers of the the enemy or the “World” to snuff your lamp.
Fight for life and marriage, for sexual sanity and religious freedom, for self government and constitutional law.
Fight to tame the Federal Beast which may soon rise to the height that it will consume everything.
I am also voting for religious liberty.
If anyone has any doubts about the next major pillar of American Society that is going to be pulled down, then you might have your head in the sand. The declarations are clear; the precedents are being set; the agendas are not hidden.
And don’t misunderstand this. Those who are pushing to eliminate religious liberty will tell you that they do not want to take away your “religious freedom” which they will define as “freedom to worship”. The critical element here is “worship”. You can “worship” in your church or home, but you cannot maintain “religious liberty” in the public square. You are “free” as long as you keep your religion “private”.
Let me give you an example. I wrote last year of Jack Phillips, a baker in Denver, who found himself targeted by the homosexual agenda. After appeals, the Colorado Supreme Court found him in violation of civil rights laws, even though Jack offered to sell them anything he had in his store, or bake them a birthday cake, a promotion cake, a celebrate Spring cake, but made the appeal to them that his religious convictions kept him from baking them a cake to celebrate a homosexual wedding. Jack wasn’t picking customers based upon their race, religion, or even sexual orientation. Jack would have refused his mother if she had asked him to bake something against his Christian convictions. It wasn’t about the customer; it was about what they wanted to force him to do. They wanted to breech his religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
This is a key battle that is at stake in this election and “sexual rights” will be the wedge used to tear down religious liberty. Progressively, beginning with Roe v. Wade, the flow has increasingly moved toward the notion that “sexual rights”, including abortion, marriage, the right to name your sex and your pronouns (gender identity) and the right of mandated health care to physically make sexual changes, supersede any supposed “religious liberty” in which one’s religious convictions conflict with sexual rights. Sexual liberty trumps religious liberty.
Consider this ruling from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey (1992):
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.
Here the court declared that the “heart of liberty” is essentially the individual’s right to define Truth. It is a very short step from here to say that the heart of liberty is one’s right to define their own gender identity.
What is interesting in this battle is that Congress has attempted, and failed, for almost 40 years to add sexual orientation as a protected class to the Civil Right Act. But today, “sexual orientation” as a protected class is being won, not in Congress, but through Federal Regulations and Executive Orders.
And as sexual rights becomes increasingly protected by the Executive Branch, so too is the increased effort to stem any appeals to “religious liberty”. Martin Castro, Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in September 9, 2016, makes religious liberty the bad guy and states: “We now see ‘religious liberty’ arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse…in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.”
Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs….have to be changed” when they conflict with abortion rights.
Frank Bruni, New Your Times, said that we must free “religions and religious people from prejudice… and [they] must rightly bow to the enlightenments of modernity.”
Mitchell Gold, prominent furniture maker and gay philanthropist says that church leaders must be “made to take homosexuality off the sin list.”
Tim Sweeney, former CEO, Gill Foundation, speaks of how they must fight “religious exemptions” even though it make take them twenty years to accomplish.
The money is flowing in for this in buckets, including the David Bohnett Foundation $150,000 grant to Columbia University to “gather together scholars to oppose religious exemptions” and the Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation $3 million spending to “target religious exemptions and other protections for religious freedom.”
More could be said about this battle, like the NCAA boycott of North Carolina because it enacted a law that preserved male and female privacy in bathrooms; photographers and bakers losing their businesses because they stood on religious convictions; Houston serving subpoenas on a group of pastors ordering them to produce sermons dealing with homosexuality or gender identity.
Make no mistake, this battle is huge and it isn’t so much about “sexual rights” as it is about destroying religious liberty. Those who hold to their religious conviction and beliefs are going to be increasingly labelled as haters and bigots. Religious liberty is going to be painted with horns. Hated. Despised. Rejected.
On the issue of religious liberty, the two party positions and their candidates are polar opposites.
I’m voting for religious liberty.
I encourage you to consider doing the same.