Posted in discernment, madison county, misuse, red raiders, scripture, separation of church and state

The Madison County Red Raiders Monument and scripture misuse

Last Friday, an issue blew up in our county. The Freedom from Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association separately lodged letters ordering the Superintendent and School Board to remove or modify a spots statue containing two scriptures. That is a lot of firepower for a tiny rural county in the foothills of the mountains in north Georgia. It was privately donated to the District and it was installed in front of the field house. The two scriptures on the statue, which also contains a ‘sword in the stone’ atop the 2-ton granite structure, are:

–Romans 8:31,“If God be with us, who can be against us?”
–Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” which had been shortened on the monument to read “I can do all things”, and, “strengthen me”

I’d written about the statue issue and the resulting outcry – from both sides – here:

The scripture laden Madison County Red Raiders Monument and the Humanist Association who wants it gone

In that essay, I had not discussed the legalities of the statue’s installation on public school because I’m not versed on those things. I did take issue with the statue, having come to believe it should be removed. Not because it violates the Constitutional Establishment clause, I don’t know if it does or doesn’t, but because it is an idol.

One thing I’d taken issue with is the pagan portion of the statue. The sword in the stone is from a pagan myth of King Arthur with a few Christian-y elements woven in. The other things I’d taken issue with is the stumbling block put in front of the young football players. They have incorporated it into a superstitious tradition, touching it for luck. In the essay I’d explained superstition, and how God hates to be manipulated.

Mixing pagan myths and Christianity, and engaging in superstitions, are serious to God. They are bad. Another issue I’d taken with the statue is the fact that the scriptures themselves have been ripped from their context and reduced in power to a motto in order to help kids win a game. This, also, is serious.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:17

Four days after the issue blew up in the print news and broadcast tv, an opinion letter to the editor of the local daily newspaper was published.

The Madison County High School Monument is Constitutional, by David Larkins

It is well-written by a local resident who also has a son on the football team in question. It addresses the Constitutional issue very thoroughly. In the letter making his case that the statue’s location is constitutional, the author also mentions the following:

The monument was paid for with a private donation, and it has no religious purpose. Its intent is to inspire the football team to play hard, and do their best, as they engage their opponent on the football field. The inscriptions on the monument are appropriate for that purpose, regardless of the original source of those inscriptions.

I am sure that Mr Larkins is a kind and good father and a proud resident of the County. He is obviously well-spoken. The opinion piece was well done. Which is what gives me the confidence to write this next part. A letter like that has a lot of thought that goes into it. It is edited, and thought over and it’s edited again. But it confirms exactly what I’ve been saying about using such scriptures in the sports arena, an arena that is all too often an idol-arena.

–“no religious purpose“? Yet the bible tells us that all scriptures have a purpose. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

–he write that the inscriptions however, do have a secular purpose, which is to ‘inspire players’ to play a game well and win. Is this how we ‘use’ the word of God? Our sovereign and holy God?

–“The inscriptions on the monument are appropriate for that purpose, regardless of the original source of those inscriptions.

What he just said is, disregard Jesus. The scriptures are useful, and the source doesn’t matter. Dismissing the source of the scriptures, using verses for a secular purpose and a favorable outcome, and unhitching them from their context, is blasphemous. It is not to be done. The source always matters!

This use of scriptures is no different than how false teachers use scriptures to twist them for their own gain.

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

It is no different than when a faith healer uses the word to get money from followers.

It is no different than when false teacher uses the word to promote personal prosperity or financial success.

It is no different than when any false teacher uses the scriptures to obtain a secular personal outcome (fame, book sales, accolades…)

When we see a Benny Hinn saying things like, “If you will come back and make that pledge, God will heal your heart tonight,” or, “God will begin to prosper you, for money always follows righteousness,” we tut-tut and say, ‘How dare Benny Hinn use the scriptures for such a craven purpose!’

Or when we see Joyce Meyer say things like “The Bible says right here John 10:34 . . . ‘and Jesus answered is it not written in your law I say we are gods.’ So men are called God’s by the law…”  we understand that she ripped the verse out of context in order to preach her unbiblical and heretical ‘little gods’ doctrine. When a heretic like Meyer uses verses we understand by the Spirit that most times, she is preaching out of context in order to promote a false teaching.

So why, when we see a scripture on a stone monument and it is stated to the public that it is not for religious purposes but there simply to promote good gamesmanship, do we NOT say it also is heretical, and unbiblical and a blot against God?

There’s misquoting God’s word, and there’s misUSING God’s word. Ben Irwin wrote about the most misused scriptures, that

Christians read (and quote) Scripture in tiny, artificial fragments all the time. And by doing so, do we alter the meaning without even realizing it.

Bill Hitchcock said in this piece, Philippians 4:13: Misused, Misapplied, and Misinterpreted,

It is important to note that a big problem often occurs when people pluck out a single verse from the Bible. The context and meaning of one or two sentences disjointed from its message can alter tremendously. Sometimes you have to read entire chapter(s) or more to get the meaning of one sentence. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It has become the battle cry of self willed. Here’s where the hiccup begins; “I”. The first and biggest problem that occurs is when folks make this passage about themselves. I want to do something that I have determined I want to do. And I am going to employ the power of Christ to accomplish My goal. Anything that is focused on self is worldly and is a sin.

And again, from The Cripplegate, Nathan Busenitz in his piece I Can Do All Things,

They have turned it into a slogan of personal empowerment—a declaration of self-achievement, ambition, and accomplishment. For many, this verse has been trivialized into some sort of motivating motto for material prosperity, career advancement, or athletic success. But in reality it is nothing of the sort.

They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Titus 1:11

Using scripture for personal advantage, in this case, to win a game, should never be done. Just as we should not rip verses from context to twist and use to gain money, or to gain healing, or to gain fame, or to gain notoriety, or to gain false converts, we should be equally aghast when it is used for sports in a terrible trivialization that we have unfortunately become used to and have accepted.

Jesus is the Word. He was with God from the beginning. He bled and died and rose again,  triumphing over death to reign in patience from heaven until the moment when the Father will tell His Son to get His bride. Scripture should reveal who He is, why He did this for us, and train us in righteousness. His word contains the glories of heaven, the revelation of the Father, the power of the Spirit, the record of creation, the promises of a holy future.

Why reduce it to a sports slogan? Why?

Posted in discernment, glory, jesus, monument, persecution, red raiders

Red Raider Monument: How God uses persecution

Last night I posted an essay reporting a new controversy that had erupted yesterday in our county. The public became aware that two anti-Christian groups had challenged the location (on school grounds) of a recently installed, privately donated sports monument because it contained two scriptures. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association separately had been contacted by local resident(s) and alerted to the alleged Constitutional infraction. The FFRF and AHA contacted our Superintendent of Schools with threatening letters insisting on immediate removal or modification of the offensive (to them) monument. The story I wrote is here:

The scripture laden Madison County Red Raiders Monument and the Humanist Association who wants it gone

Christians, wake up…

The TV news stations have already pounced, the newspapers are picking this up, and the county residents are inflamed- both ways. In Georgia, sports and Jesus are dearly held.

Persecution comes in various flavors. Hard persecution involves jail time, torture, physical violence or death. Apostle Paul knew all of those, first as the persecutor, then as the persecutee.

Other kinds of persecution involves social persecution. Early Christians were excluded from the guilds (and thus from employment). Christians can be marginalized or excluded. The Pharisees used this kind of persecution by throwing people out of the synagogues. (John 7:13, John 20:19, John 16:2). Mocking, bullying, shunning, legal threatening…all are a kind of soft persecution.

It is still early days, but I have been thinking of all the ways Jesus will use this Red Raider Monument issue for His glory, something I mentioned in the essay I linked to above. I’d like to spell out some specific ways I know He is already at work, and ponder some ways I suspect He is already at work.

Satan is god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He walks up and down upon it, (Job 1:7, Job 2:2) seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Not even heaven is immune from satan’s presence, (Revelation 12:10), though satan has a leash beyond which God will not let him go.

So what makes anyone in the Bible Belt states think there can possibly be one nook or cranny on earth where we would safe from satan’s attacks? He will persecute. Everywhere. Since Genesis 3 he always has, and he always will, until Revelation 20:7 is finished.

1. One way the Lord seems to be using this controversy is to remind us of that fact. Perhaps He is shaking us out of our complacent, casual Christianity. This would be a good thing, and to His glory.

2. He seems to be using this controversy is to make us face the possibility of persecution, and with that, to internally prioritize our potential response. I’ve been thinking over the last day, do I care about this monument? Would I fight for it? Do I want to use my energies or finances to expend on a legal battle? If not, then what would I fight for?

I think of Peter before the Council in Acts 4. Peter and John were arrested. They submitted to the arrest. Remember Peter fighting with his sword when they came for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? He lopped off the ear of one soldier. Jesus miraculously put it back on. This time, with the Spirit in him, Peter submitted to the arrest humbly. He didn’t fight. The Spirit used the opportunity to present the Gospel through Peter to all the Council of Jerusalem, a crowd that needed it more than anyone and yet a crowd that otherwise never would have heard it. God used the “bad” situation for His glory. and made it good.

Chinese Soldier,
Painting by William Alexander, 1793

Yet when the Council commanded Peter to leave but not speak the name of Jesus any more, Peter drew the line at submission to authorities. Peter knew just how far to go in that balance of submitting to earthly authorities but not infringing on his duties as a Christian witness with God as his ultimate authority. He said,

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

3. How far will I go to submit to ruling authorities and at what point would I rebel against them because I claim God as my Highest authority? Thinking these things through with scriptures to solidify a foundation for biblical action prior to persecution’s arrival is a good thing that is happening already.

4. Pastors and Bible teachers are preparing themselves for persecution. Mature Christians and spiritual Leaders know it is coming. It is the last days. Trouble in this world was promised to us by Paul, Peter, and Jesus. Though mature Christians always have their armor on, the mature Christians in our county are now tightening their belt of truth, adjusting the strap on their helmet of salvation, raising their sword of the Spirit a bit higher. Christians are on a battle field in a battle. Although a sentry is on guard, when long periods go by with nothing to report, their guard slackens a bit. If the sentry hears a gun cocking, his adrenaline rushes and he is suddenly on high alert. The letter from the AHA and FFRF were the sounds of the gun cocking. We are now all on high alert once again. This is a good thing.

The Golden Calf, watercolor, James Tissot, ~1900

5. Many pastors and bible teachers are already discussing this event with their congregants or students. They are preparing them in wise counsel and advising them in an appropriate behavior. This has given us opportunity to mindfully and biblically prepare a response in case of further persecution.

6. The controversy is causing people to speak up for Jesus. This is always a good thing.

7. It is causing people to search their hearts to see if what they believe is faith in the living God, or an idol.

8. It is causing fervent prayer on behalf of our leaders. I consistently pray for my spiritual leaders, but I admit I am slack in praying for our county and other government leaders. Yet we are called to do exactly that:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

I’m glad this came up so I could be confronted with my sin of failing to pray for government leaders.

Before I was saved, I was just as deluded as Ms Miller. I was stumbling along in the dark, rejecting Jesus and dwelling in my own depravity. I found out someone had been praying for me for a long time. I discovered this after I was saved. Now it is my turn to pray for the deluded, sinners, Christ-rejecters. It is a privilege.

Red Raider Monument unveiling.
Madison County Journal Facebookpage

Some ways the Lord may be using this event:

1. He may be preparing us for a harder persecution that is coming. No one likes to think about oppression, jail, or physical violence against Christians, but this may be the first volley to strengthen us for a next volley that will be harder. Through trouble in this world, we grow. Persecution always results in His glory. Through trials, HIS glory rests upon us!

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14).

As faithful Christians, we must learn to recognize the value of persecution and even to rejoice in it, not in an ostentatious way, but quietly and humbly because persecution has great spiritual value. Source
I remember the shock of September 11, 2001 and the four planes that were used as bombs on our buildings and our people. It was a shocking attack the nation has never recovered from. Who knows what is planned for tomorrow? On September 10, 2001 I never suspected for a moment that the terrorists were going to slam into our buildings and change us forever on the very next morning. Today’s little foray into a soft persecution might be the first step in the Lord’s preparing us for more trials to come. And they will come, the verse above says they will. I will be thankful that I had advance opportunity to prepare, by praying, reading pertinent scriptures, and encouraging others even as I was encouraged by my pastors yesterday.

2. Jesus may be working toward an upcoming salvation through all this! What price is a monument when a soul comes to the Lord! Wouldn’t that be wonderful if all this controversy somehow caused a person to look into their heart and come to the cross and be saved forever! What an exchange, a few dollars spent on an out-of-the-way rural sports monument that isn’t going to last anyway, in exchange for a glorious soul brought to Jesus forever! I hope that happens.

3. He may be using this controversy to rid our country of an idol.

4. Other ways I can’t even think of! In Isaiah 55:8, God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”

Jesus is always at work, as the Father is always at work. He uses any and all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. I can’t even imagine all the ways He will use a tiny controversy such as a scripture-laden monument on school grounds, but He is endlessly creative and His glory endures forever. It will be enhanced by this, not diminished.

Here is one last thought … satan. He is using this for his own purposes, too.

He is already causing some to be thrown into confusion and others to doubt.

He is using bible scriptures out of context, like he did to Jesus at the Temptation and like the ones on the monument.

He is causing arguments, anger, and division among brethren.

He is causing some to stumble in their Christian witness.

He is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10).

Don’t let him.

Godly brethren, adopt a wider perspective and think on the good things that God is doing through this.

As always, pray, read your bible, and by all means, tighten up your Spiritual Armor! We are not excused from the battle just yet. Do not be surprised it has come to our door. Certainly, don’t let the surprise be your reaction to it.


Further reading

Sermon: Persecuted for Christ’s Sake, part 1

Essay: How should Christians respond to persecution?

Posted in american humanist association, atheists, discernment, encouragement, monument, pesecution, prayer, red raiders

The scripture laden Madison County Red Raiders Monument and the Humanist Association who wants it gone

I had planned to write today about the wonder of butterflies. The local news has prompted me to pray, research, and write in another direction.

You undoubtedly have heard of the various anti-religion groups who make charges of infringement whenever a Christian scripture verse or Christian icon appears on or near a public building.  At graduations, we read about ceremonies that are challenged when the valedictorian or adult official led a prayer or used scripture in their speech. Prayer before, during, or after high school football games, as well as banners with scripture emblazoned on them, have been subject to challenges that make the news. Scriptures on government buildings such as courthouses are not immune from challenge either. At Christmas time we usually read in the news about Nativity scenes displayed on public property being challenged by such groups. We read about Christmas songs on the school musical program being quashed. And so on.

Local Nativity Scene. EPrata photo

There are several groups at the forefront of these kinds of confrontations. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association are two. The American Civil Liberties Union is also behind many of the challenges of public display of religion. It is usually just the Christian religion that seems to raise their ire, it should be noted.

We in Georgia are considered the Bible Belt, but the world hates the bible because it is the Word of God. The world hates Jesus, who IS the Word. So the challenges have increased here in our state lately. We’re not immune.

Last August,

A Georgia high school football program may have God on its side, but not the Constitution, according to critics who say prayer and proselytization have no place in the playbook. Football coaches at Chestatee High School in Gainesville are accused of quoting scripture on team documents and pre-game banners and regularly leading the War Eagles in prayer in a religious blitz the American Humanist Association (AHA) declares unconstitutional. “There’s really no defense for doing this,” AHA attorney Monica Miller told “It’s not even solely student prayer — it’s teachers and coaches praying with students. And we have reason to believe it’s not an isolated event.”

Well, the football team is an extra-curricular activity occurring after school hours and participated in by club volunteers who choose to be there. But I digress.

In a release by  the American Humanist Association, we read,

“When a teacher or coach leads or participates in prayer with students, the prayers become sponsored by the school,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a news release. “The cases make clear that public schools must not even give the appearance of taking a position on religious belief, yet in this program we see ongoing biblical verses and references to religion. This evidences a complete disregard for the First Amendment rights of all students.”

That Monica Miller sure is busy. Well, our little county, a sweet place nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, has had a challenge exactly like the one in Chestatee High School in Gainesville, an hour away. It is from the same people, the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the leader of the challenge is the same woman as mentioned in many of these challenges the AHA have lodged across the country, Monica Miller. Here is the short article from our local newspaper.

Groups aim to have Red Raider monument removed over Christian references

Two groups are seeking to have a Red Raider football monument with Christian references removed from the Madison County High School campus.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association have written the Madison County School District protesting the approximate two-ton monument that was placed on the MCHS campus between the new field house and the football field in August. The monument quotes Romans 8:31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The base of the structure is also inscribed with Philippians 4:13. Madison County football players have started a new tradition this year of touching the privately donated monument as they take the field on Friday nights.

In a Sept. 25 letter to the school district, the American Humanist Association states that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause “commands a separation of church and state” and the group writes that the government cannot “advance, promote, affiliate with, or favor any particular religion,” or “favor religious belief over disbelief.” “This letter serves as an official notice of the unconstitutional activity and demands that the school district remove the monument immediately or at a minimum, remove the religious references from the monument,” wrote Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association. “In the meantime, we ask that you cover up the monument until such removal takes place. We kindly ask that you notify us in writing within two weeks of receipt of this letter setting forth the steps you will take to rectify this constitutional infringement. Thank you for turning your attention to this important matter.”

Madison County School Superintendent Allen McCannon said officials are speaking with their attorneys on the matter. “We have discussed the situation with our attorneys and are in the process of responding to the entities and forming a plan to deal with the situation,” said McCannon Thursday.

Monica Miller again. I have to give her credit for pursuing what she believes is the right approach to good living. According to their website, the organization exists to “strive to bring about a progressive society where being good without a god is an accepted and respected way to live life. She certainly is vigorous in that regard.

I wish a lot of Christians were as single-minded and as diligent pursuing good as Ms Miller is in her pursuit of evil.

Because, rebellion against God is always evil. It is sin. This isn’t said to be mean or hateful, it is a simple fact that God is God- He deserves glory and worship because He is holy.

As for the AHA and their pursuit of ‘good without ‘a god’,” Christians know there is no good without God. Isaiah 64:6a says,

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)

The people behind the FFRA and the AHA will find ultimately that their lives had been pointless and their pursuit will be fruitless. It will never go anywhere except toward sadness, grief, and then hell. For any monument taken down, any prayer silenced, any Christian activity quelled, the pagans may celebrate victory but it is a temporary victory, very temporary. Jesus has already won, and He will call those who reject Him to account. We can and should have a great deal of compassion for these people, and show them love in the face of their hate of Jesus.

For local people who are up in arms about this issue I have a few thoughts to share. Some of these thoughts will not be popular.

Facebook Red Raider Photo page

The monument has a sword embedded in the top. This is a reference to (unwitting or not) to the pagan myth of the King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone, the sword being Excalibur. Wikipedia says,

In Arthurian romance, … Arthur obtained the throne by pulling a sword from a stone. In this account, the act could not be performed except by “the true king,” meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon.

Christian scripture and pagan myths do not mix.

Second, the scriptures chosen for display on the monument are a tragedy in themselves. There are two,

–Romans 8:31,“If God be with us, who can be against us?”
–Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” which had been shortened on the monument to read “I can do all things”, and, “strengthen me”

I am not impugning the motivations of the anonymous person who created this fine gift to our county. I like that he or she thought of gifting us with a strong monument with the holy scriptures on it. Any time the bible verses get into the public sphere it is usually a good thing. However, the choice of scriptures, in the context of placement on the field, seems to indicate that God is with us … in the football game. But the verse is actually talking about His sovereign election and predestination of His elect! A weighty matter that should not be trivialized in the context of a game field and leisure-sports entertainment.

The doing all things through Him who strengthens us verse is about the fact that because believers are in Christ He infuses them with His strength to sustain them until they receive some provision. In the context, Paul is talking about having nothing to eat or plenty to eat and knowing how to be content in all situations in which he finds himself. However, these verses are used frequently in stadiums and on sports monuments. Ben Irwin wrote earlier this year about the Philippians verse in the context of football. In his essay, Five Bible Verses you need to Stop Misusing, he said

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, New Revised Standard Version) What happens when we treat the Bible as a random collection of freestanding verses? Well, for one thing, as Tyndale House Publishers editor Keith Williams told Christianity Today, “Philippians 4:13 is going to refer to an athletic performance rather than perseverance through need.” For some, “I can do all things” means scoring touchdowns and clearing the bases. But that’s not exactly what Paul had in mind. Paul was sharing that he’d learned to be content no matter what his circumstances – rich or poor, hungry or well fed, in prison or out. What Paul was saying is not so much “I can achieve anything,” but “I can endure anything” – which, in his case, included prison.

And again, because it bears repeating,

As Dr. Eric Bargerhuff writes in The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, “[Philippians 4:13 is] not really about who has the strength to play to the best of their abilities in a sporting contest…. This verse is about having strength to be content when we are facing those moments in life when physical resources are minimal.” – Source

Worse, when the football players rush out of the field house before a game, they touch the monument for good luck. This behavior is idolatrous. In Georgia, football is already an idol, and to include a scripture-laden monument on the field used as a near-altar of stone hewn by human hands where people touch it ‘for luck’ is idolatry. Pure and simple.

Compelling Truth explains idolatry,

What the Bible categorically condemns is the use of superstition to gain the favor of God or any deity to bring fortunate results. Religious rites to draw luck from a pagan god are useless, as pagan gods don’t exist and, therefore, can’t act on behalf of anyone. And God so hates being manipulated by worship practices that He’d rather we abandon those traditions He put into place and worship Him from the heart than obey Him for the sole purpose of gaining favor (Amos 5:21-24). 

Compelling Truth again, explaining superstition

A superstition is a belief that an action, object, or circumstance can affect a situation even if they are in no way related. The cause and effect have no natural link, but are believed to be connected through magic or chance.

11Alive News

The power is not in the hewn stone, but in the word of God carried by the Spirit! Remember the story of Dagon, god of the Philistines. When the Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant, they put it in their temple next to the fish-god Dagon. Overnight, God tipped Dagon over so that when the Philistine priests arrived the next morning they saw Dagon face down before the Ark of God.

They righted the Dagon statue and went on with their day. Overnight again, the LORD tipped Dagon over, this time severing his hands and head. Only the body remained. God is serious about idols!

A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for.” (1 Peter 2:8)

We know God is using this for the good of those who love Him. I don’t know of course, but maybe God is removing an idol, for our benefit and to His glory. Something to think about.

Next, this is a ‘soft’ persecution. We should not be surprised. The Bible Belt is not immune to any challenge or marginalization of our religion. In these late days of human history, it is to be expected.

Christians are persecuted every day by being killed, tortured, maimed, or jailed. That is hard persecution. In America we have – so far – escaped hard persecution for our religious beliefs. But soft persecution exists here. People have to close their business or be forced to do something that violates their Christian belief. They go bankrupt in legal defenses of their religion. They can’t get a job or are fired from their job for their Christian beliefs. They are socially marginalized or ostracized. Children are bullied. Christian Clubs or churches are booted from their rental properties.

These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

John MacArthur preached a great pair of sermons about the persecution in Acts, and how God used it for His glory. Especially when Peter and John were hauled before the Sanhedrin, and the Sanhedrin men asked Peter questions, Peter gave them the Gospel! The men of the Sanhedrin never would have heard such an exposition of the scriptures otherwise, and God used Peter’s arrest for His glory! So all things work to the good and God is using this right now for His glory.

Well, as one of my pastors said today, perhaps this religious confrontation is to awake us, and energize us to speak His name in the public sphere. Or perhaps it is to apprise us that we in Georgia are not immune from challenge by the atheists who hate God.

Today in our county Jesus is all the talk. The local newspaper, which normally gets 3-10 comments on any given article, maybe 30 on a hot topic, so far has 140 comments on this article, and the number is climbing.

Whether it is removal of an idol, sparking us out of a sleepy Christianity, energizing us to prayer, or to cause a discussion, there are a myriad of ways God can and will use this for the good. We can’t even possibly think of them all!

In any case, the words on the monument are written on my heart. WE ARE THE MONUMENT! We, His children, are His witnesses and His ambassadors. They can take away that monument and it would not make a bit of difference in my Christian walk. I was a strong Christian before the monument went up and I am a strong Christian now and I will be a strong Christian if it is ever covered up or taken down. My faith does not rest in stone. I know His word and I know Jesus. I am supposed to be the living monument testifying of His grace and mercy because He is the Living God!

Our reaction to this issue is very important. We must submit to our leaders. We are blessed with godly leaders, and conscientious lawyers who are looking out for the greatest good and adherence to the law. Our Superintendent is a most Godly and kind, humble, professional and intelligent man. He is good. We have good people here. They will do the right thing. In addition we need to be gracious to each other in our discussions, be kind to those who persecute us (give them the other cheek!) and pray for our leaders, for the enemies of God, and for each other.

Finally, please think about this. Monica Miller is leading the charge with her association, the American Humanists. She is very young. She is in a great deal of spiritual pain, look what her bio says in part-

Monica is also an attorney for the Nonhuman Rights Project, working to obtain common law personhood rights for nonhuman animals.

Her mind is not right, OK? Isaiah 44:18 says this

They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

Romans 1:28-31 says it too

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Ms Miller is dedicating her life to rebellion against Jesus, and is in league with satan as his agent. The bible declares her foolish, ignorant, deluded, evil, a hater of God and is destined for eternal punishment.

Her world is very dark, very. Let’s be compassionate! She deserves it more than just about anyone I know! She is not the enemy. The Freedom From Religion Group is not the enemy. Satan is.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

The senior pastor of my church wrote,

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Jesus has already won. Pray about how we, as His followers, respond to those who oppose Him. It is God they are hostile toward and He forewarned us that this would happen. Matthew 5:16,44. What a great opportunity to show the world what Christianity is truly about! The love and grace of God.

John MacArthur preached about persecution, hard and soft recently. He said,

If you live a godly life in the world, you will be confronted, and you will likely be persecuted. Submit to that with a gracious attitude. Don’t retaliate. 

Know our leaders will handle this rightly, submit to the government and courts, have love and compassion for those who are challenging us, and trust the LORD to make it all work our for His glory and our good. Is your faith in a stone monument? Or is your faith in the Living God who sees all on the earth?


Further Reading

Large Crowd Attends Ceremony for Remade High School

From “The Friendly Atheist” At Patheos:
How Did This Christian Monument in Front of a Georgia High School Get There in the First Place?

Red Raider Monument Facebook page

When Jesus joins the huddle: Groups challenge mix of football and religion at Georgia high school