An Open Letter to William Bennett

Dear Dr. Bennett,  [William Bennett’s Wikipedia profile] [William Bennett’s web site]

Your 1992 book title, The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, speaks volumes just by itself.

Where has virtue gone in our country?  Why does it seem to matter so little to so many people?  More and more, people pursue success and pleasure – not morality.

You’ve spoken on many themes.  I wish you would return to this one.  It’s been almost twenty years since you published your book and the need for it is greater now than it was then.

God grant that we may return to more moral living.  That is, may He grant us repentance.  It’s not politics that will save us – it’s repentance that will.

Do You Love What Is Right?

Whose Approval Do You Want?

It’s a Salvation of the Soul…Not Circumstances

Sincerely,

Michael Gantt

America, Repent!

How many more signs do we need?  Is there evidence lacking that we have gone far astray from the morality to which our Creator calls us?

Proverbs 14:34 says that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.  As the prophet Hosea said (Hosea 8:7), we have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwhind.

Do not think that things cannot get worse.  If we do not repent of our sins, they will get much worse.

Repent, and turn to Jesus Christ our Lord!

A Call to Worship the Lord – Not Church

I love to read Brian LePort who blogs at Near Emmaus because he has a heart for the Lord in his writings.  However, today’s post provokes me to take exception because it extols church instead of Jesus.  He writes:

For those who are worshiping with others this morning, and for those who are not because you are experimenting with a “private religion”, let me share this thought from Eugene Peterson (A Long Obedience in the Same Direction , 175):

Among other things, Peterson says this:

“Membership in the church is a basic spiritual fact for those who confess Christ as Lord.”

By this logic, the Lordship of Jesus is denied and the kingdom of God is obscured.  Read the Sermon on the Mount and see that it is a call to personal morality, not churchgoing.  If gathering with the washed was what Jesus wanted to see, He would have extolled rather than excoriated the Pharisees.

Peterson also says:

“We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family.”

We produce righteous fruit if we walk in the light of the Lord and consider every human being as part of the family. However, if we separate ourselves to church and think that God’s family is a subset of the human race called church then we deny the full efficacy of His sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2) and make the mistake of the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14.

Jesus Christ is Lord over heaven and earth. May we all repent – today and every day – from our sins, that the judgments for them may not overtake us. The Lord wants righteousness from us, not churchgoing. This means purifying our hearts and truly living for Him instead of ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Related post:  We’ve Substituted Churchgoing for Righteousness

“Repent, and Follow Jesus Christ Our Lord!” with Each of the Words Defined

Repent, and follow Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Here are each of those words defined according to their use in this sentence:

Repent – turn, change, look to; forsake sin to pursue moral purity and integrity

and – don’t merely turn, change direction, look to

follow – trust, watch, imitate, obey, go along with, lean on, attach yourself to, believe

Jesus – Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament (and prophesied in the Old Testament)

Christ – the Messiah of Israel as described in the Old Testament (and confirmed in the New Testament)

our – the entire human race (i.e. ignore all divisions between Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, and so on)

Lord – God, ultimate authority, the great invisible One, omniscient One, omnipresent One, omnipotent One

! – This statement is the most important one I have ever uttered, or will ever utter in this life.  I soberly and solemnly dedicate my life to it.

This message is first and foremost for Christians.  Yes, Christians need to repent.  We have been following each other too long instead of following Him.  And there is much more to say about Him than this!  If you’re interested, see this expanded introduction to Him.

“One Nation Under God”

You recognize the phrase “one nation under God” as coming from the Pledge of Allegiance.  It seems our country’s citizens can be divided into two categories: those who like these words in the Pledge of Allegiance and those who don’t.  Both groups seem to feel strongly about their position.

Those who like the phrase think that its value speaks for itself.  For them, to remove the phrase would be an insult to God and victory for godlessness.  Those who don’t like the phrase often mention that it was added to the Pledge in 1954 and that it has the government in the business of promoting religion.

Irrespective of whether those words, or even the Pledge itself, continue to be uttered, however, this is a nation that is under God.  How do I know this?  Because every nation is a nation under God.  As it says in the book of Proverbs, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin brings disgrace.”  That is, our collective national welfare is dependent on our collective moral behavior.  God is the Judge of heaven and earth and He will always do what is right.  He will bestow blessings when we do right and curses when we sin. 

The reason that our country has enjoyed the blessings that it has since its inception is that God has judged us more worthy of blessing than cursing.  Sure, we have had both – but the blessing has far outweighed the cursing.  This balance of accounts is worked out for every country.  America does not have some unique charter with God.  America has been great because she has been good.  As she stops being good, she will stop being great.  We may have the greatest founding fathers a country ever had, but we’re going to lose our country if enough of us don’t live right in our time.

My purpose in this post is to call us to repentance in the sight of God.  If we don’t stop living immorally, we will suffer the loss of many blessings that our ancestors have left to us.  Therefore, it doesn’t matter so much whether we want to say the words “one nation under God” or we don’t.  God is not interested in mere lip service.  What He cares about is how we live.  The only logical thing for us to do is repent.  (For elaboration, see Judgment Is Upon Us.)