Break Every Christian Chain

Since I started using email in the late 1990s, electronic chain letters frequently show up in my inbox with the exhortation to “pass it on.” They vary from inspirational stories to virus warnings. Often these messages contain partial truths or false information. For years I received online petitions against Madalyn Murray O’Hair campaigning for all Christian programming to be taken off the air, even though O’Hair had been dead since 1995!
More recently, a couple Facebook friends posted a prayer request for a 22-month-old boy who supposedly shot himself in the chest with a nail gun and was near death. Upon seeing this, I started praying about the situation and immediately perceived it was an e-rumor. A search on revealed this prayer request has circulated online since 2010 (meaning the boy would be 8-9 years old now). The validity of this is in question since no places are mentioned or even the boy’s name.
I’ve also received emails containing valid information but try …

Suicide is Not a Solution

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield often joked that he got no respect. One of his famous one-liners was, “I called suicide prevention…they put me on hold.”
In real life, suicide is no laughing matter. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each year more than 32,000 Americans take their own lives. This past January, an eight-year-old boy in Cincinnati hung himself with a necktie in his bedroom. This happened two days after he was attacked in a school bathroom.
I can relate to people who contemplate ending their lives. During eighth grade, I experienced much name-calling and physical abuse from my classmates. Going to school had become so traumatic I wanted to die. If my father had a gun, I probably would have shot myself. I considered swallowing poison but fortunately was too scared to follow through with that.
A couple months before giving my life to the Lord in 1991, I was driving on the freeway one night when suddenly I had recurring thoughts of taking my own life. Two days la…

An Appeal for Unity (An Open Letter to Old Paths Baptist Church in Northfield, MN)

Dear Brothers in Christ,
I’m an evangelist who mostly does one-on-one witnessing in reaching individuals with the gospel. Still I appreciate brethren who step out to do open air preaching. It definitely brings a Christian outside his comfort zone particularly amongst audiences that sometimes become hostile.
This past Thursday night, the UNITE gathering led byPulse Movement took place outside US Bank Stadium.After doing some witnessing in downtown Minneapolis that afternoon, I arrived at the stadium early to get a seat at one of the purple tables across the street. My legs were tired from walking and would have preferred not having to stand while watching the service. Just before it began, your group set up a loudspeaker and banners in front of where I was sitting. Your subsequent preaching hindered me from hearing what was being said from the stage.
As I walked closer to the stadium, one of you offered me a gospel tract. Eventually I asked how he would feel if another Christian group hel…

Praying in Public

Once in a while I meet people critical of public prayer claiming it contradicts Jesus' teaching that praying to the Father should be in secret (Matthew 6:6). Christians do need personal time with the Lord. Still Jesus often prayed in public like when He multiplied the loaves and fishes (Luke 9:16) and when little children were brought to Him (Matthew 19:13). The reason Jesus rebuked the Pharisees' public prayers was because their motive was to be seen by men. 
Consider what has happened with U. S. public schools since prayer was removed from classrooms over 50 years ago. Darrell Scott, father of slain Columbine student Rachel Scott, wrote the following poem that he read before Congress... 
Your laws ignore our deepest needs,  Your words are empty air.  You've stripped away our heritage,  You've outlawed simple prayer.  Now gunshots fill our classrooms, And precious children die. You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"  You regulate restrictive law…

The Fig Tree

One sign often cited by Bible prophecy teachers that we are living in the last days is Israel becoming a nation again. This is interpreted through Jesus’ Parable of the Fig Tree in Matthew 24 (also mentioned in the gospels of Mark and Luke)…
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.  33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!  34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.  35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away
People have differences regarding how long a generation is in Scripture. Some have defined that as 40 years, 70 years, or 100 years. One fellow prophecy buff suggested it could last as long as the man’s lifespan during a particular time period.
Other Old Testament passages associated God’s people to fig trees…
“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man …

Pay Your Taxes

Every year by April 15th (unless that day lands on a weekend like this year), Americans are required by law to have tax returns filed for their previous year’s income. Occasionally I have met Christians who question the validity of paying taxes. One of them even promoted a website claiming that paying income taxes is unconstitutional.
Taxation has existed since Old Testament days. In Genesis 41:34, Joseph advised Pharaoh to impose a 20% tax on all food in preparation for a coming famine. God used the Egyptian government to save the lives of many people.
In Luke 3:13 when tax collectors came to John the Baptist to be baptized they were told, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Notice John didn’t tell people not to pay taxes.
In Matthew 22 the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus replied in verse 21, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to th…

Teacher of the Ear

There’s a popular bumper sticker that says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Most of us can recall having a favorite instructor while growing up. Mine was one I had as a high school sophomore in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Despite enjoying math during elementary school and junior high, I was never fond of geometry. Just before starting tenth grade, my parents and I met with a guidance counselor to discuss my schedule. Mom and Dad sided with my resistance to geometry but the counselor insisted I should take that subject.
During the first day of the 1979-1980 school year, I entered a second-floor classroom for my third period geometry class. After the bell rang, in walked 35-year-old Jace Lahlum. To my surprise, this teacher had an energetic personality unlike any I’d seen before. Halfway through that first class, I realized Mr. Lahlum looked and sounded like comedian Steve Martin. If he put on a white suit, dyed his hair and stuck an arrow through his head, Mr, Lahlum would closely rese…