Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Festivus For The Rest of Us

Since Bill O'Reilly proclaimed that there is a war on Christmas, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times wondered if and how an atheist would celebrate Christmas.  So he contacted two of the most influential Atheists, Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, and Richard Dawkins, the Oxford professor who opposes all belief in God as “dangerous.”   What Kennedy discovered is that both men do celebrate Christmas.  Harris has a Christmas tree in his house with ornaments and decorations.  Dawkins reasons that Christmas has been so divorced from any religious significance, that it ceases to be a "religious" experience.  Dawkins adds,  "I unhesitatingly wish everyone a Merry Christmas."

I guess I expected Dawkins and Harris to be consistent with their belief system and do what Cosmo Kramer and Frank Costanza did on Seinfeld.  Those two created their own un-Christmas-like seasonal celebration and called it "Festivus.” Instead, Dawkins simply reduces Christmas to a post-Christian observance and recognizes the times in which we live.  Ironically, Professor Dawkins complains that the holidays are over-commercialized and secularized to the degree that they no longer have significant religious meaning.  Dawkins shares this same opinion with many Christians who also find that the holiday has lost its spiritual significance in part or in whole. 

The dilemma for Christians is more significant than it is for an Atheist.   As Christians, are we living inconsistent with our belief system?  Are we going through motions out of tradition and missing the significance of the incarnation of Jesus Christ?  Has the birth of our Savior become more aesthetic than significant?  Is there any difference between how an Atheist celebrates Christmas and how you and I celebrate Christmas? 

We celebrate not just the Advent of Christ, but we use this time to refocus our lives on why He came.  "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  Matthew 1:21 NIV.

Ed Litton

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Crisis of Confidence

The number of unmarried couples living together has increased tenfold from 1960 to 2000 in America.  The U.S. Census estimates that about 10 million people are living with someone of the opposite sex.  That totals about 8% of U.S. coupled households.  Most unmarried partners who live together are between 25 and 34 years of age.  It was once stigmatized as "living in sin," or "shacking up," but now cohabitation has replaced dating.  It has become mainstream as a way to discover if
a person is a suitable partner for life.  While marriage as an ideal is not dead, it does seem to be staggering and falling into the ropes. According to USA Today, more than two-thirds of married couples in the USA now say they lived together before marriage.  The number of unmarried, opposite-sex households is rising dramatically.

A crisis of confidence exists among younger Americans, not just in the institution of marriage, but in the process of finding a suitable life mate.  The most divorced generation in history is struggling to trust the traditional courting process, choosing instead to dive right into the most intimate aspects of a relationship.  Thus, logic states that since divorce is a reality, it makes sense to measure compatibility, and what better way to discover compatibility than to do a trial run at marriage.  There is great confidence today in this new found process, but the question is, does it work?

In a groundbreaking study that examines the effects of cohabitation on the long-term quality of marriage, the Alabama Policy Institute (API) conducted a study of more than 1,300 married couples.  The results are eye opening.  The study shows that the longer a couple cohabits before marriage, the less satisfied they are with their marriage.  Dr. John Hill, API's Director of Research, states, "Specifically, couples who cohabit before marriage tend to be more depressed, more dependent and
are more likely to believe their relationship will end as compared with married couples who did not cohabit."  In times of stress and conflict, the API study indicates that they are more likely to handle their conflicts with heated arguing, hitting and throwing.  According to USA TODAY, couples live together about two years and then either marry or break up.

Marriage is more than who you sleep next to and with whom you may shares expenses.  It is the deepest sharing of the most intimate part of your life.  This is not easy to graph on a chart,  but every human soul longs for it.  God created us for intimacy and He  built an environment in which we can experience it.  Cohabitation has all the powerful elements that make up intimacy but lacks one major ingredient -  commitment.  Commitment is the fence that protects, the lock that guarantees, and the alarm system that insures that vulnerability is not easily compromised.  Marriage is a covenant of mutual protection,
devotion, sacrifice and love.  It is binding for this very reason.  It is not only safe for our most vulnerable moments but also for the most vulnerable people in the world - children.

When we remember what marriage was designed to do and who designed it, the contorted, sophomoric logic of those who conclude that living together is a good choice evaporates. It is not inconsequential that the loss of confidence in marriage coincides with a loss in confidence in God and the Bible.  The children and grandchildren of the sexual revolution need to examine what that revolution has caused:  a skyrocketing divorce rate and a frustrating loss of intimacy.    The best experiment may be to experiment with the ancient writings of a timeless God who loved us enough to construct a safe place called marriage in which to flourish.

Ed Litton

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thankful for a Nation Under God

This thanksgiving I am thankful for our nation.  It was founded and is sustained by God.  Our waywardness, while deserving of divine rejection, has been met with mercy and grace, even in our most troubled hours. We have always been a nation under God.  Some will respond to that statement with hostility while others will respond with embarrassed uneasiness, yet, the statement stands. 

We live in a time when hostility toward our founding faith is high. Wired magazine, in this month's issue, highlights "The New Atheism." Editor Gary Wolf explains that the New Atheists are not content to merely disbelieve in God.  They want to make belief in God socially disreputable - to make belief in God an embarrassment.  It seems that they are getting their wish.  Our culture and courts seem to be on a mission to remove God from the public view. 

On Thanksgiving, I think it is fitting to recall two significant events that remind us why we can be thankful and to whom our gratitude is directed.  Our Pilgrim founders expressed their reason and purpose in coming to this land with crystal clarity in the Mayflower Compact of 1620. "We whose names are underwritten...by the grace of God...having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith...a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

In summing up the national response to a quagmire of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address. "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

America's greatness can be traced to America's acknowledgment of our Creator as the source of our rights, well being and providential protection.  We must arouse our memory of our history.  We must teach the truth to our children and we will remain the most blessed nation in history.  I, for one, am very grateful!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Difficult Choices in a Brave New World

Parents are soon to face yet another choice that will involve a serious moral dilemma.  A vaccination for the human papilloma virus is expected to be available in late 2006 from Merck & Company. The virus called HPV causes genital warts and cervical cancer.  It can also be passed to babies and can cause serious life threatening problems.  The American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for a nationwide vaccination program among teens to fight the virus.  At first glance, protecting our children from disease seems like a good thing.  However, it’s worth looking at it from a different angle. 

Any vaccination has risks associated with it.   By inoculating every child, we are assuming that every teenager will be immoral and therefore must be vaccinated.  Isn’t there way to protect our children from HPV that doesn’t involve a risk?   Wait a minute, there is!   It is teaching, encouraging and promoting abstinence on the grounds that it can and will save your life. 

Our awesome God has set moral limits because He loves us and wants us to live full and meaningful lives.  Honesty and candor concerning sexual decisions have never been more necessary among parents and teenagers. 
The brave thing is taking the time to talk and inform our kids, not taking a chance on a vaccination.  If we continue to assume animal-like behavior,  our children will not know the power they have to
choose to live moral lives.  They will miss an essential struggle in
the human growth process called maturity.
- Reference: Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2005

Monday, October 23, 2006


In his book, Manliness, Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield makes a compelling case that our society should stop looking at manliness as a curse and start embracing it as a virtue.  It did not take long for the liberal media to begin howling at this rising moon with a clamor of protest.  According to Mansfield, manliness "seeks and welcomes drama, and prefers times of war, conflict and risk."  Manliness asserts itself, craves adventure, loves action and power in a distinctively different way than women.  Manliness desires the heart of a woman and seeks to protect and provide for her.  It is this manliness that benefits and protects our culture especially in times of danger and war.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that schools, parks and clubs across the nation that are removing diving boards from pools, and children are stopped from playing the game of tag.  Why?  The fear of someone getting hurt and filing lawsuits.  This may be what therapists call a presenting problem.  In fact, the culture is growing increasingly weary and suspicious of manliness.  Boys are full of recklessness on
playgrounds and this frightens leaders in our litigious environment.

Where will the lack of manliness lead us?  My guess is that it leads to a growing insecurity among males who find it confusing to even define “maleness” much less “manliness.” It leads to extreme expressions by males who have no role models of responsible masculinity. All too many males are acting in violence and predatory sexual nature both in reality television and reality. It leads to a timidity in leadership and a willingness to place an increasing burden on women to provide and protect themselves.

The ultimate expression of masculinity is Jesus Christ.  He refused to be passive, accepted responsibility and awaited a greater reward.  For the men who followed him, Jesus modeled what a man was to do in the face of violent opposition, and how a man was to stand firm in the face of overwhelming opposition.  He elevated and honored women like no man in history.  Jesus was and is the ultimate model of manliness for what He did when He died a shameful death in my place.  You can trust him as your Savior, and you can also trust him to show you how to be genuinely manly.

Ed Litton

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Impact of a Wedding Band

In an article entitled, “Marriage Gap Could Sway Elections,” USA Today reported that the wedding band could have the greatest impact upon congressional elections this fall. According to the 2005 Census, House districts held by Republicans are full of married people; Democratic districts are stacked with people who have never married. The article also sited the 2004 Presidential election as more evidence of this divide. According to exit polls conducted by national news organizations, President Bush beat John Kerry by 15 percentage points among married people and lost by 18 percentage points among unmarried people.

The most interesting part of this finding is not political, but what this says about the world view of Americans. What conclusions can be made from these findings? First, the impact of your family is greater than you tend to think. The health and survival of your marriage is critical to the nation, as a whole. Your belief about marriage and family impacts not only your family, but our entire culture. Second, those who are married with children tend to vote differently, because they see life differently. Due to their concern for their legacy to their children, they tend to be cautious about social experiments, such as gay marriage. When done right, parenthood is a self-sacrificing experience. The overwhelming experience of sacrificial love drives people to think less about their rights and more about future generations’ survivability. Third, I think we should find encouragement in this report. It says that living according to a biblical world view, though often lampooned in the popular culture, has a profound effect. (Remember from where the popular culture is broadcast. New York and Hollywood tend to be the most liberal and hostile toward the core values of the Bible.)

We can make a difference in the fly-over zone, as it is often called. We can impact the vast fruited plain of this nation, where normal people live, by living our lives according to biblical truth and love. If we will lead our families and vote, guided by our deepest convictions, we can make a difference.

I am encouraged by a recent report card on marriage in Alabama, published by the Alabama Policy Institute, which reported that we are making progress against the rising tide of divorce in our state. I am convinced we will see even greater progress in the culture, as pastors and people work together to develop strong biblical marriages and stronger biblical world views in our families.

Ed Litton

Monday, September 25, 2006

VeggieTales Meets the NBC Slice and Dicer

NBC executives have made a decision that reveals, yet again, their belief system. They bought the rights to the popular VeggieTales series, which is filled with distinctively God-centered content, and are now editing references to God out of the show. They have replaced Bob the Tomato's sign-off line: "God made you special and He loves you very much," with "Thanks for coming over to my house, kids. See you next week." After first insisting that the cuts were made to meet time constraints, the network finally admitted that they made the cuts, "because the network did not want to appear to be advocating any religion." VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer said, "Trying to change the show's Christian message runs counter to the show's expressed mission. It's a mistake to pitch VeggieTales as just values, because fundamentally it's about God."

According to The Los Angeles Times, Mr. Wurtzel said NBC did not believe it had deleted the show's religious message. He said the network had bought the rights to VeggieTales because of its positive religious themes; however, they asked for changes to comply with their standards. "We are not a religious broadcaster," he said. "There are universally accepted religious values that we do think are appropriate,” but “the promotion of any particular religion or a particular denomination" is not allowed. "Clearly the show has religious themes," Mr. Wurtzel said. "It puts forth some very specific religious values. We had to make a decision about where it went further than we considered appropriate."

Wow! What a shocking revelation: NBC is not a religious broadcaster. Help me understand exactly what particular religion and or denomination is helped by a simple reference to God. Most parents, like me, view VeggieTales as a fun, positive alternative to the kind of children's programming typically offered by the major media outlets. We have never viewed the content as a systematic theology. Positive themes and recognition of God is, at best, a mere support of what we teach our children. Bob the Tomato is not a kid's version of Billy Graham. LarryBoy is not a door-to-door apologist for the Christian faith.
This story reveals that NBC is willing to slice and dice some Christian vegetables and values for their own agenda. In fact, NBC is a religious broadcaster. They broadcast a brand of religion sometimes known as secularism, otherwise known as liberalism. Make no mistake; they are very religious. The same people, who want to puree VeggieTales, defend the network’s decision to run a "special" featuring Madonna mocking the crucifixion and sexualizing the holiest doctrine of the Christian faith, thus proving that Ann Coulter is right. In her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Coulter maintains that liberalism contains all the attributes of what is generally known as "religion.” The religion of the liberal elitist is their secular world view. Make no mistake about it. It is a religion and this move proves that it is a godless one.
NBC thinks we need vegetables in our diet; they just have to be godless vegetables. Even though this story is set in the trappings of childish things, it reveals once again the "values" of those who still believe that they control the media.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Christianity Under Intensified Fire

The spiritual strategy against Christianity is not merely found on the pages of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. We are watching a hellish belching of verbal, visual and physical assaults against biblical Christianity. Last week on the television program The View, Rosie O'Donnell made the bold claim that; "...radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America." In response to many Christians’ outrage toward Rosie's statements, ABC News felt compelled to show a film from a church summer youth camp in Oregon, whose theme was spiritual warfare, as an example of the militarization of Christian youth. Another assault occurred last week when a liberal guest on MSNBC’s The Situation (hosted by Tucker Carlson) made a similar statement; guest Sam Seder, co-host of Air America's Majority Report, announced that Jerry Falwell was “just as dangerous as Osama bin Laden.” Beyond this, NBC has decided to join in bashing the Christian faith by airing a Madonna special in November that depicts the "Material Girl" in a mock crown of thorns hanging on a crucifix, while she frees a saint from his sexual repression by seducing him. Madonna considers mocking the crucifixion of Jesus the highlight of her show and NBC agrees.

These American pop-culture attacks upon of our faith converge on the same week that many in the Islamic world took to the streets protesting, rioting, and burning churches, as well as the murder of a Catholic nun over Pope Benedict XVI comments on Islam. In a scholarly lecture given in Germany, the Pope referenced a 13th century quote about Mohammed. The quote set tempers flaming to the point that sharpshooters had to man the rooftops this week in Rome to guard the Pope from threatened assassination, during his weekly blessing.

What are we to make of these compelling news items? First, the spiritual war in our land and in our world is real. The lines are becoming clearly defined. It will be increasingly difficult for Christians to remain passive, ignorant and disengaged, in the world we inhabit. Secondly, the message of biblical Christianity is that Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. We cannot draw back from our mission to reach people in our community and the world with the liberating love and exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. Lastly, our Savior modeled how we are to handle hostility: we are to face it and confront it with love and truth. A Catholic nun named, Sister Leonella, who devoted her life to helping the sick in volatile regions of Africa, was likely murdered in reaction to Pope Benedict's comments. She whispered as she died, "I forgive, I forgive" and proved once again the clear distinction between a faith based in sacrificial love and a religion based upon fascism.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bold Moves from Ford Motor Company

I’m not sure which message I am supposed to take from the Ford Motor Company “Bold Moves” advertising campaign. The ad shows a family of four and their dog on an outing for the day. They seem happy and well-adjusted. The narrator announces that the new Ford Freestyle, Crossover edition, will travel over 500 miles on a tank of gas. Nothing confusing yet; that is important news for potential automobile buyers. Then the Freestyle stops and the father gets out, hugs his kids and thanks his ex-wife for allowing him to share this time. She benevolently smiles and says, "Sure," and drives away, leaving the father behind. 

Beyond the clear presentation of a divorced family, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what Ford is trying to say. The ad ends with this statement, "Bold moves happen every day." What is the bold move? It must be the bold message Ford is sending. Listen to the response of John Felice, the general marketing manager at Ford. ''It's a true reflection of the world today,'' adding that the company was not ''making any type of social statement.'' On the contrary, Mr. Felice; Ford is making a mighty big social statement.

The first social statement made reflects the marginalizing of males! A father is dropped off at a dumpy little apartment, while his family drives away. The dog is getting better treatment, as his tail wags all the way home. Mom is in the driver’s seat, while the father is simply along for the ride. This ad says that men are marginal at best, troublesome at worst, but necessary donors for the human race. Perhaps this arrangement is the father’s idea. If so, it represents self-centered masculinity at its worst.

My next problem with the ad is the glamorization of a lie! The myth of the good divorce is not new to Hollywood; but, it is pretty much ignored as a joke by anyone who has ever had to file for one. The only truly realistic part of the commercial is the uncertain look on the children's faces, as their father goes to his home alone. Once again, the myth of the well-adjusted child is portrayed to the hilt. The message is clear: kids are as durable as a Ford and they will make it through this “freestyle" and this "crossover."

In a really strained rationale, John Felice then defends Ford's "better ad idea," by suggesting that it is a "celebration of family" and a tribute to "the versatility of life itself, as well as the versatility of the Freestyle." Mr. Felice, you cannot be serious in suggesting that an answer to the divorce issue is a brand new Ford Freestyle. If you want to celebrate the family, then celebrate the couple who went to the brink of divorce and turned back--the couple who found help and strength to work through their issues and provide a better life for their family, not just a better vehicle in which to pass through life. 

Divorce is a painful reality all across this nation. Don't insult the tragedy of millions of Americans, by suggesting that a new Ford is a way to make the best out of a bad situation. Let me suggest that Ford should stick to engineering engines, drive trains, and body styles and resign as engineers of social change.

Ed Litton

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

The church in America is susceptible to different illnesses and diseases.  Near the top of the list is an infection that strikes the heart of her leadership.  God calls men to lead His church and He gives these men as gifts to the church.  These men are called pastors and must be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.  Since the church is God's witness in the world, it makes sense that our enemy the Devil will attack it by attacking God's shepherds.  The scriptures tell us to honor them, pray for them, love them and submit to their leadership.  All too many people feel the need to humble their pastors and criticize them, expose their every fault, and in general, make their lives and ministry a burden.  This kind of behavior weakens the church in her mission and is of no advantage.  This common malady is encouraged by worldly men and women who seek power and control.  Hebrews 13:17 says: "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." 

There are additional internal diseases that strike at the heart of leadership.  It seems to me that lately many pastors have forgotten that we fight a threefold battle with the world, our flesh and the Devil. It is our fleshly desire that often takes a greater toll and inflicts the greatest damage to the Kingdom of God.  In many cases, success has led us to adapt leadership styles that mirror the corporate world more than the model of Jesus.  In the film The Devil Wears Prada, the viewer is served a view of the ugly underbelly of the cutthroat, mean-spirited, and overbearing world of the fashion industry.  In that world, it seems that heavy handed, abusive leadership is common.

The model for leadership in God's kingdom is Jesus Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom.The pastor of the New Testament church is to be strong in the Lord. He is to be respected, but he must build safeguards against his own evil nature.  Money, sex and fame are all powerful temptations.  They require leaders who are fully armed for the battle against their abuse.  Our model of leadership is not on the big screen, but in the Good Book.  It is Jesus who came to both serve and lead at the same time.  His leadership is marked not by the latest fashion but by a servant's towel. 

There are other glimpses of glorious Christlike leaders in scripture.  David led mighty and courageous men into battle.  On one occasion, three of those men so honored David that they risked their lives to get their leader what they overheard him wishing for in a passing comment.  They brought him a drink from a spring in his hometown.  Men died and lives were risked to accomplish this task. This was an epic test, not so much of these men, but of David's character as a leader.  Would he drink it and graciously say, "Thanks guys!"  or would he look at the water and say, "What, no ice?"  No, David held it as if it were too holy to touch and poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord.

In the past few weeks, I have been heartsick at the news of several prominent pastors who have been caught in a snare revealing an abuse of power and trust.  Friends may justify this behavior, some will even excuse it. One thing is certain. We are in an all-out spiritual war and the souls of people are at stake.  Pray for your pastor, for God's grace and His protection.  If you are a pastor, seek the Lord and renew your focus on our biblical requirements.  First Timothy 3:2 states, "An overseer, then, must be above reproach."  Walk humbly before God and men.  And remember, the best perks of success in ministry are those given by the Lord when He says, "Well done!"

The Devil may very well wear Prada, but the pastor must wear the servant's towel.

Ed Litton
Painting by Ford Madox Brown 1852-56

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Courageous Pastor or Bad Theology?

I first heard of Greg Boyd a couple of weeks ago when it was reported over the internet that the Minnesota pastor had taken a courageous stand against the "narrow-minded" types in his church who were demanding his leadership and participation in the political system. His refusal to bow to their pressure cost him as he watched over one thousand of his members walk out, never to return.  As a pastor who takes tough stands, I was struck with an odd mixture of curiosity. Part of me wanted the challenge of hearing a view of civil activity very different from my own, while a part of me was drawn to what appeared to be raw courage. He is being championed as a hero by the media for his refusal to hand out voter guides, hang the American flag in support of our troops, or encourage participation in defending the sacredness of marriage against an onslaught of the same sex marriage movement.  He preached a series of sermons that have been published in a book entitled The Myth of a Christian Nation.   My curiosity demanded that I find out more about Greg Boyd. 

So I began an investigation of what defense this man offers for his convictions.  It seems that Boyd believes Christians should exclude themselves from political activity and are to give themselves only to "Christlike" service.  His argument sounds very biblical and even inviting.  We all know that political action is not the ultimate solution for the world's troubles; that neither the Republican nor the Democratic nor even the Socialist party  will bring about salvation; salvation through Jesus Christ alone is the solution.  Greg Boyd boldly asserts that it is a myth to state that America is a Christian nation.  He skillfully cloaks his argument in biblical terms, ignoring a clear command in scripture for believers to be like salt and light in decay and darkness. 

At this point I must assert a different perspective.  America was founded by people with a distinctly Christian world view who were not trying to bring in the Kingdom of God but were trying to work out a more perfect union based upon a Reformation view of the fallen nature of man and the value of the human soul and conscience.  Biblical Christianity has been the most dramatic influence in the course of the Western world. 

Upon further investigation I learned that Greg Boyd is a pastor of a large church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is a professor of theology at Bethel College.  He is a proponent of Open Theism.  Open Theists insist that true human freedom requires that God cannot know human decisions in advance. This view asserts a new way of understanding God's knowledge.  In other words, Open Theism is a belief that states that God cannot know all things actual or possible in the future.  God is just as open to changes in plans and human will as we are.  God learns and grows and yes, even makes mistakes in judgment, but He is a learning, growing and developing God.  Boyd's core beliefs strike at the very heart of the omniscience of God; the affirmation that God knows all things, past, present and future.  This doctrine of omniscience has been held dear by all branches of the Christian church throughout the centuries. 

All pastors must struggle with their role and the role of their flock in the world in which we find ourselves.  How Christians bring salt and light to bear upon that culture is not simple or easy,  nevertheless it is a worthy struggle.  As one pastor who has seen some small advances (and many setbacks) in the battle for the hearts and minds of people in my culture, I am comforted by the reality of an all knowing God who holds all things together by the word of His power.   Benjamin Franklin counseled the framers of our constitution to remember; "...the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”   Any involvement in bringing Christ’s love to my culture is comforted and guided by an omniscient God who knows how it all ends.

Ed Litton

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How the World Sees Us

I consider myself fortunate to have several American friends who live in foreign countries.  Three of them live in areas that are predominantly Muslim.  Recently, my friends have enlightened me to a very real problem.  They tell me that in their respective countries, Americans have a poor reputation.  That reputation is largely, if not entirely, due to the influence of American television and, more importantly, the images of American women and American religion.  In Islam, women are considered to be the more spiritual and holy in the family.  That is why their dress must be beyond modest.  (I am not ignoring the obvious reality of female subjugation in many of these countries.  Nevertheless, the ideal of womanhood is honored even if the systems themselves are repressive and even abusive.)  The problem is the perception of American women.  Far from seeing us as liberators, they fear us as corruptors.  The images of women dressing and behaving immodestly leads many Muslims to believe that all American women are like this.

The second media-induced image that my friends are concerned about are a few high profile Christian denominations that have embraced homosexuality.  Once again, the impression left is one of generalization and the belief that all Christians embrace this lifestyle and approve of  same sex marriage.   The truth is that most Americans reject the wholesale redefinition of marriage.  

If American Christians hope to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we had better realize that our culture here impacts the work of missions there.  We need to be concerned about the endless stream of profanity, nudity and lude behavior that represents us around the world.  We need to realize how it plays into the hands of radical Islamafacists who use our corruption as an excuse to kill our people.  We also need to wake up to the reality that standing firm on the redefinition of biblical marriage is impacting more than our culture; it is impacting the gospel around the world.  Never has a spiritual awakening mattered so much.  Our War on Terror could be won by God's people getting serious about sharing God's truth across the street and around the world.

Ed Litton

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Problem with Men

We now live in a culture that has managed to make  the masculine role model the most ridiculous character on the face of the earth.   When you watch television,  the hapless idiot is usually the father.  When you read the transcript of the California State Senate, you find that the word "father" is now a shameful word that must be stricken from public textbooks.  When you read a recent edition of Newsweek, you learn that today’s boys are dangerous and out of control.  The truth is that our culture is having an agenda rammed down its throat.  A small, self-appointed few believe that men are dangerous for a civil society. The truth is that this is a deadly strategy to remove the first line of defense for a healthy home, family and nation.

In fact, good men are essential for a civil society.  The problem with men is that they are far more vulnerable to these attacks than we imagined. Note these painful statistics which have led Dr. William Pollack of the Harvard Medical School Center for Men to state that the general health of American males is in a state of serious crisis:
         *The suicide rate for boys, young fathers and older men range from four to ten times higher than for their female counterparts.
         *Men, whose average life expectancy was formerly on a par with women, are now dying ten years earlier.
         *Boys have inferior reading and comprehension scores and lower graduation rates than girls.
     *In child custody cases fathers only get their children 10 percent of the time in uncontested cases and 15 percent of
the time in contested cases.  (This might make sense in a workforce dominated by men, but the number of men and
women in the workforce is almost evenly split.)

God gave the world the gift of manhood and fatherhood.  Masculine men are His creation.  In our fallen condition we have undeniable problems, but nothing that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot fix. So what is the problem with men? They are expected to be something that they are not. And when they are what they were made to be, adventuresome, wild and strong they are castigated. Recently, someone told me "to get in touch with my feminine side." I laughed and responded, "I don't have a feminine side! I have my wife, she is God's gift of femininity to me, and I'll get in touch with her anytime!"

Ed Litton

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Godless Constitution?

Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore have written a popular "textbook" entitled The Godless Constitution.  It is based on the idea that America was founded by Secular Humanists, Deists and Agnostics,  and not by people whose minds were shaped by the Reformation and scripture.  So widely accepted is this idea that most people embrace this proposed mindset of our forefathers without question.  Last Sunday, I posed the following question to my congregation:  "Of the men who made up the founding generation, who was the most atheistic, agnostic and deistic?"  Without hesitation, they answered, “Jefferson and Franklin.”  Amazing!

I am not declaring that Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson were Evangelical Christians by modern definition.  However, I will assert that upon reading their words, there are obvious indications that these two minds were shaped by the Reformation as profoundly as any peer in the founding generation.  Like Jefferson, Franklin struggled with organized religion.  Yet while his very own words indicate an influence from the Enlightenment, their foundation was based on the Reformation. 

On June 28, 1787, as the Constitutional Convention was locked in a power struggle over how large and small states would share this national government, a dark cloud covered the proceedings.  Franklin, the elder statesmen rose to his feet and read from a paper he had been writing on most of the day.  His words revealed a man convinced not that human reason would prevail, but as he put it, "...our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding."  What he requested from the fifty-five delegates was that they should pray.

"In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.

To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.

I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning."

If Benjamin Franklin was a Deist, this call to prayer of our founding generation was a serious lapse in his theology.  His clear statement that "God governs in the affairs of men," is deistic heresy.  Maybe, just maybe, history is a little more complex than some would have us believe.  Maybe Mr. Franklin deserves closer reevaluation.

The minds that gave us such an amazing document as the U.S. Constitution were more profoundly shaped by scripture than the Enlightenment.  Today, some point out that our Constitution never references God or Jesus Christ.  While this is true, this point is an undeniable oversimplification.  The Bible itself does not spend much time defending the existence of God.  It simply says that fools deny His existence.  In the founders way of thinking, some ideas are "self-evident."  It is possible that like those who wrote the Bible, the founding generation never dreamed that there would be a time when foolish men would be so bold as to openly deny the very God who they were convinced governs in the affairs of men and without whom we would not exist as free people.

Ed Litton

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Understanding Denominational Chaos

The scripture tells us that it was in the springtime of the year when kings go out to battle that David stayed in Jerusalem. In America, it is also in the spring and early summer that most mainline denominations have their annual conventions and meetings. When you see and hear stories in the news about these convocations, it can be slightly confusing. In the midst of great madness, let me try to help clarify

The Southern Baptist Convention wrapped up the 2006 convention in Greensboro, North Carolina last week. The meeting closed with the SBC facing some struggles of cooperation; but, in general the meeting was a time to clarify and unify our focus on world evangelization. Other denominations who met this past week are facing problems. The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA are deeply divided, but not over world evangelization. They are breaking apart over the ordination of openly homosexual priests and bishops, as well as an anti-biblical view of gender roles. Here is how Ruth Gledhill of The Times (London) reported the proceedings of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA: The Episcopal Church in America descended into chaos last night after leading bishops on both the liberal and conservative wings disassociated themselves from a last-gasp effort to avert a schism with the worldwide Anglican Communion. Just hours after its newly elected woman head preached a sermon in praise of "our mother Jesus," the Episcopal Church agreed to "exercise restraint" in appointing any more gay bishops after a tense day of debate and argument.

This is the kind of theological insanity and foolishness that has developed after a group, long ago, rejected God's Word as the absolute source of truth. We cannot allow our seminaries or colleges to slip into this well worn pattern of rejecting the truth of God's Word. In his new book, Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity, Dave Shiflett tells the story of one young seminary student, in a liberal denominational seminary, who found himself consistently at odds with his professors. Another student said to him, "We have figured out your problem. You're the only one here who believes in God."

Could this be why these same mainline denominations are in a decline nosedive? According to a 2000 study by the Glenmary Research Center, the Presbyterian Church USA declined 11.6% over the previous decade. The Episcopal Church lost 5.3% and the United Church of Christ watched as 14.8% of its members walked away. On the other side of the vast theological divide, most conservative denominations are growing. The Conservative Presbyterian Church of America [PCA} grew 42.4% in the same decade. The Christian Missionary Alliance grew 21.8%, Evangelical Free Church grew 57.2%, Assemblies of God increased 18.5%, and Southern Baptist grew 5%.

What lessons should we learn? First, God does not need denominations; denominations need God. The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ can be found in many different denominations and non-denominations. Denominations, at their best, are often wonderful examples of Christian unity in purpose. Together, we can do what few alone can accomplish in God's kingdom. Yet, we must guard our association with one another. We must be diligent to maintain fidelity to the inerrant Word of God. We must not allow ourselves to slip down the slope of theological liberalism.

Pray for our church to be “salt and light” in this decaying culture. Pray that we will offer hope to all people that can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ed Litton

Monday, June 19, 2006

Someone is Watching Us

It is called the Apology of Aristides.  It was written around 125 A.D., during the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian.   Aristide presented
this set of observations and defense of Christianity by giving a glimpse
of the lifestyle and behavior of early Christians.  The observations are clear and profound. 

"But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search,
have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have
come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the
nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of
earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other
god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they
engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the
world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor
fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in
pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother,
and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges,
they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of
man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them,
they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols
they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease
(lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their
enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their
daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren
after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever
one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to
his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if
they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on
account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to
his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free.
And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have
no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the
needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah
with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God
commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and
praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food
and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous
man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to
God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place
to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they
give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they
give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the
world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies
in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and
sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom."

Our greatest Christian apologetic is our way of life.  May modern Christians impact our generation with such powerful evidence of the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ignoring the Will of the American People

This week, 48 U.S. Senators voted against giving the people of the United States the opportunity to express their will to limit the institution of marriage to one man and one woman.  The failure to get 60 votes to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution is evidence that there are many in Washington who choose to ignore the
will of the American people.  I would rather not have to amend our constitution to declare what has been obvious for thousands of years, however, I believe we should do so because of the far-reaching arm of the courts to force the will of a few upon the whole.

This is a clear case of social engineering on the part of some in the courts. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona has indicated that he thinks this is an issue for the states to decide.  Well, Senator, what good does it do for a state to make such a decision only to have a federal court override the will of the people?  In Lawrence vs. Texas the Supreme Court overrode the will of the people of Texas and, in doing so, struck down every sodomy law in every state.

When Senators go back home for reelection, they will not likely make legalizing same sex marriage their top priority.  The truth is that they read polls and they know the mood of the country.  The deeper problem is that  the U.S. Senate refuses to hold the court accountable. By not holding the court’s power in check, they allow our nation to slip away from a democratic republic and slide toward an oligarchy.  In our Constitutional government, the United States Senate is the first line of defense against a tyrannical judiciary.  Many U.S. Senators surrendered their responsibility a long time ago.  They have allowed the courts to gain power and take a great many messy social issues off of their backs.  In doing so, some Senators won reelection and grew in influence and power, but the will of the people paid the price.  Mr. Lincoln, I am afraid that government by the people, for the people, is fading away.

Nevertheless, our duty is to hold our representatives accountable. Keep expressing your opinions to your Senators, holding them accountable and demand that they fulfill their constitutional duty to hold the courts accountable.  If they refuse find people who will serve the greater good and replace them through the ballot box. We did not really expect to win the Marriage Amendment the first time it went to the floor of the Senate.  We will need to go back again and again until it passes and the people have a right to be heard.

Ed Litton

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

God is Love!

I was traveling on Interstate 65, heading into Mobile, when a car passed me with a thought-provoking bumper sticker.  It simply read "Love Wins!"  My first thought was, “That really depends on your definition of the first word.”  I wonder how the guy behind the wheel understands the word “love”.  In English, we have one well-worn word for love, while the Greeks had several words for it.  They had a word for the love between fiends, love for close family and love in the sexual sense.  Then they had the cu-de-graw of words for love, “agape”, God's kind of love.

I have been somewhat philosophical lately, so forgive my mental gymnastics.  I started talking to the guy in the car in front of me. "Hey, what do you mean by love?  How would you define the word love?" Do you define it like the Ancient Greeks, who saw love as eros, erotic sexual love, brotherly love or family love?  (I know most normal people don't talk to the automobiles passing them on the interstate. I actually feel better about doing this now that everyone uses cell phones, because if someone sees me they are less likely to think me insane.)

The definition of love is critical to the bumper sticker’s truth. If it is a definition of any kind of love except God's agape love, it fails.  God's kind of self-sacrificing love always wins.  I once heard that all forms of human love can and are abused.  The only love that cannot be abused is God's kind of love.  It is also the only love that heals the abuses of the other kinds of love.

1 John 4:16 states, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."  Notice that John says; "God is love." I wonder, does love define God or does God define love?   I was traveling another road earlier this year to a speaking engagement.  I passed a church sign with a statement that was so wrong.  It said: "God is Love and Love is God!"  This is wrong because love cannot define God.  That phrase is not theologically interchangeable.  By whatever definition of love you choose, you can define God as a sexual god or a god of certain emotions.  If love defines God, then you can make God into almost anything, even perverted things.   We would not have an objective standard love with all of its depth and intensity, were it not for God's demonstration of love.  God defines love. 

When you doubt if anyone loves you, look to the greatest expression of love for you, the cross.  Yes, God is love, and we know what love is and rely on it, because God demonstrated His love for us in this, Christ died for us. God is Love!  I would not know real love or understand what little I do were it not defined by my awesome God!  Yes, my bumper sticker friend, "Love (God's kind of love) Wins!"

Ed Litton

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Hard Altar

Why did the Old Testament patriarchs build altars from stones?  The stones were gathered and piled for a place of worship.  You could theorize that it was a readily available material, and that may be true, but there is a deeper reason.  God insisted that the only suitable material for building an altar of worship were made by God, not made by man.  Exodus 20:25 states, "If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it."

There is something else about stones that is important, they are hard. When Jacob went to bed on his journey away from home, he use a stone as a pillow.  It was the ultimate metaphor for Jacob's situation, he was between a rock and a hard place. Stones are symbols of the hard things in our lives; hard problems and hard circumstances. Sometimes they stack up, and when they do we seldom consider them to be something that helps us worship the Lord. Yet, that is exactly what the hard things in life do for us. 

Stack your hard problems as a place of offering and worship to the Lord. While this is not your first impulse when it comes to trials, the scripture shows us to do it nonetheless.  At that altar you will offer the sacrifice of praise.  You will call upon the name of your Lord in tears trusting that He is the God of hard things and the God who uses our most crushing moments to release His greatest power and glory.  Get honest before the Lord and get busy stacking up the hard things.   You will meet the Lord at that painful place.

Ed Litton

Jacob hears the voice of the Lord Artist: SANDYS, Anthony Frederick 1881

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Jesus knows

Jesus preached what He practiced. I get to practice what I preach. To
be a preacher requires that, out of necessity, you preach truth that you
have not had the opportunity to fully live out. Like the prophets of
old, at times you say the truth and do not fully understand what you
are saying. Then there are rare and amazing moments when what you are
preaching is an echo of what you are living. You live with a constant
sense that Rod Serling will step out from around the corner and say:
"There is a place, beyond sight and sound, beyond imagination. Ed
Litton, a mild mannered preacher, is living a sermon he did not write.
Be careful as you pass the signpost up ahead, because this is the Grace

Our family is going through a challenging time right now. A fear has
been realized and Satan has made an attempt to kill, steal and destroy.
Thanks be unto our Lord Jesus Christ for His grace that is supervising
our lives in these days. We are grateful for a wonderful church family
and friends who know what it means to love and be real. We are
learning that God's grace is truly amazing as we face one day at a
time. As a part of the consequences of our trial, my son and I need to
travel by airplane on short notice. I have enough frequent flyer miles
to get us there under normal circumstances. What are normal
circumstances for an airlines these days? We attempted several
different ways to get the tickets within two days of our travel date.
The price was astronomical and the number of required frequent flyer
points doubled. I called the airlines and the person on the other end
said that it would be impossible to reduce the required amount. I
understood, but I asked if I could speak to a supervisor.

A few minutes passed and then a sweet sounding voice announced that her name was Nina. "I need to travel with my son who is in a crisis, but I
only have the normal amount of flyer miles. Can you help?" There was a
long pause. "Mr. Litton, do you still live in Saraland, Alabama?"
"Yes Ma'am?" "Well, sir about seven years ago, I took my daughter to a
drug rehab facility in your community and her life was forever changed.
As a matter of fact, she came to know Christ as her savior in that
facility and was baptized in your church." I was stunned and I knew
that God's grace was at work. "Mr. Litton, this is a highly irregular
request and we seldom do this, but I have the authority to reduce the
requirement, so let me book your reservations now." I wept. I am holding back the emotion even now as I write this. I am amazed by His grace and I see it everywhere I turn.

When and if your nightmares become reality, or when you think the other
foot will drop, do not fear. God is faithful and will provide His all
sufficient grace to you. If you are His child, He knows what you need
before you know. The Bible says that Jesus needed no one to tell him
what was in man (John 2:25). He knows. In Matthew 6, Jesus asked why
we worry about food, drink and clothing. "For the pagans run after all
these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."
(Matt. 6:32) The Lord knows what you will need and he knows how to make a way, even when there seems to be no way.

Trust His Grace!
Ed Litton

Monday, April 24, 2006

The End of Innocence

I am in no position to declare it for everyone, but I am convinced by the evidence before me that we are experiencing the end of innocence.  The gradual mainstreaming of adult-child sex, once unthinkable, is becoming acceptable in America.  How?  Beginning with Mary Kay Letourneau and followed by hundreds of cases from every part of the country, teacher-student sexual activity is now epidemic.  It seems that  more and more voices are calling for the decriminalization of sexual conduct between adults and minors. In one study there were 225 cases of teacher-student sex in New York.  Additionally, 159  coaches from the state of Washington were reprimanded for sexual misconduct.  A 2004 study shows that many school districts are making confidential agreements with abusers who agree to quietly resign.*  The "non-victimized" teen male leads the parade of double standards.  He is seen as a conquering male, not a victim of innocence theft.

Bruce Hornsby has written a masterful song that woefully laments the end of innocence.  His song raises many questions and offers a vagueness that requires your own imagination. Yet, his lyrics are painfully clear that the root of this epidemic which robs our children's innocence is in the home.
Remember when the days were long and rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world with mommy and daddy standin’ by
But happily ever after fails and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell on small details since daddy had to fly

I do not believe marriages that last “happily ever after" are the fairy tales by which we have been poisoned, but rather the idea that happiness is now found outside of marital faithfulness. I also believe that we have been poisoned by the fairy tale called the sexual revolution.  It's the strangest revolution I've ever studied.  All the rebels not only shoot their compatriots, but they shoot themselves as well.  They never lay siege on the real problem as they run rampant changing the definition of freedom into license, all the while calling it a revolution. 

Hornsby's song suggest we offer up our best defense. What is our best defense?  Get whatever help you can find and stay at the marriage until “happily ever after” returns.  It has proven to come back rather quickly to those who refuse to throw away their hope.  Show your kids that you've not been poisoned by a fairy tale, but invigorated by a dream that can still come true.

We must mount a defense against the madness of sexual perversion. We must put an end to our passivity with our leaders and demand that they are responsible partners with parents in the protection of the innocence of children.  They must adopt a creed similar to the Hippocratic Oath, "First, do no harm!"  Demand more of leaders who want to tolerate those who strip children of their innocence. Start by demanding tougher sentencing for child predators, and let’s not forget that female teachers who groom young boys and girls for sex are predators, not mentors.

Hornsby's lyrics wishfully claim, "I know a place we can go and wash away this sin.”  I have good news.  There is a place where sin can be washed away.  There are too many places where sin can be hidden, justified, excused and even encouraged, but only one where they can be washed away.  That place is at the foot of an old and rugged cross and the blood of Jesus has the power to wash the vilest sin and restore the sweetest innocence.

This is no fairy tale!
Ed Litton

*What's Behind Today's Epidemic of Teacher-Student Sex?  by David Kupelian, 2006, Whistleblower, March 2006.  WorldNetDaily.com  p.9

Art Work
Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer 1872
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Peace of God

If we are not vigilant, the Christian life can become little different
than a pragmatic experience.  God gives all of us powers of logic and reason, but we can easily slip into overconfidence of those proven tools.  Joshua and the men who led Israel are examples of such overconfidence.

Fresh on the heals of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at Ai,
Joshua encountered a strange group of people.  They appeared to have
traveled a great distance.  Their clothing, worn-out packs, near
empty water-skins and dry and dusty food provisions proved their
claim.    Joshua and his men investigated them to the full extent of
human logic.  They even tasted their bread.   However, these men weren’t from a distant land, but were, in fact, from a very close location. God had forbidden Joshua from making a pack with any nearby residents.

Logic cleared all the warning lights from their minds.  These men
claimed to be from far away and wanted to make peace with Israel.
The subtle nature of this claim seemed to puff up the pride of the
leaders of Israel.  A distant people had heard of their greatness and
longed to make a peace accord.  (It is interesting how Satan spices his
deception with just enough ego-pleasing information that we are ready
to bite.)  Joshua 9:14 says: "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD."

What distinguishes the child of God from others?  It is inquiring
of the LORD.  We have an intimate kinship with the LORD that allows and demands that we check with Him in the crucible of decision making.  Are you sampling the provisions of some claimant, testing them to the full extent of your logical powers, but stopping before you inquire of the LORD?  I do not know how God would have responded to Joshua's request had he prayed, but I am confident that He would have made Himself clear.  Sometimes God uses the simple lack of peace in a
situation to be a warning.  We cannot abandon the God-given tools of logic and reason, believing that God's will is more often reasonable than not.  However, we must not fail to inquire of the LORD.

Colossians 3:15 says:   "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be
thankful."  We get our English word “umpire” from this word for

Picture this:  there you are, standing on third base of a decision. You’re
reading the pitcher and the catcher.  The batter hits the ball to short
stop, and you bolt for the home plate.  As you run with all your might,
the ball is zinging through the air heading for the same place you’re heading.  You dive and your fingers slide across home plate the very moment the ball slaps the leather catcher’s mitt.  Who calls it?  The umpire! 

When you face a tough decision and you've sampled the provisions and read all the signs, remember you’re still not finished.  Pray and seek the LORD for His wisdom and will in the matter.  He can speak in any number of ways, but His voice is always accompanied by His peace.  Dissonance is a indication that either you are not ready or it is not God's will for you.  At that moment, you have to decide to trust His peace.

Phil. 4:7   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Ed Litton

Saturday, April 08, 2006

There Is An Arizona! 

I am a sucker for a good country song. My son Tyler and I were eating in a restaurant while a country hit from a few years ago played above us. When we got home that evening, I downloaded the song onto my ipod.  The artist's name is Jamie O'Neal, and her song is called "There Is No Arizona". It is a woeful melody of a young woman left in the big city by a guy who made a lot of promises about a new life with him in Arizona. In fact, as the song warbles, she fears everything is a lie. She receives postcards, but the promises never become reality. There are so many lies that she could fill the Grand Canyon with them. As you can tell,the only thing setting this country hit apart from the standard format is the absence of a brief time of incarceration. Nevertheless, I have had a hard time getting that song out of my head. One reason is that I have spent a lot of time in the places mentioned in the song; places like Tombstone, the Painted Desert, and Sadona. I found myself talking back to the broken-hearted girl singing the song and saying  "Yes, there is an Arizona.  I have been to all of those places. They are usually hot, but they are real and they are beautiful. 
The reality is that we live and work with people who are broken hearted. Sometimes they cover it well, and sometimes they wear it like a country song. We all know people who say they don't believe there is a place called heaven or that there is a God who truly loves. Their fear is that they could fill the Grand Canyon with perceived lies and broken promises. Sometimes they tear up the postcards of the gospel sent to them, but in truth, they really want to believe, but they are afraid. They are afraid that God might not love them because He knows what they've done.  

Pray for them and keep sending the postcards of the gospel. Keep telling them about a God who keeps His promises and who, as Paul the Apostle said, cannot lie. When Paul wrote a postcard to a man named Titus he said that his faith was based upon a knowledge and hope of eternal life... "...which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time." (Titus 1:2) 
Yes, Jamie there is an Arizona with a painted desert, Grand Canyon and Sadona, but greater still, there is a Heaven.  Most  importantly, there is a God who cannot lie, and He has a life planned for you. If you know this reality, send someone a postcard today! 
Ed Litton 

Monday, March 27, 2006

Why are Liberals Sweating?

Even though global warming seems to garner almost unending press coverage, that’s not what makes social liberals sweat.  What is making them sweat with worry?  Two events took place last week that could make liberals afraid, very afraid.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than 25,000 evangelical youth gathered in San Francisco for a rally to resist popular culture. Battle Cry for a Generation is led by 44 year old Ron Luce, founder of Teen Mania, a Christian Student Ministry.  Luce wants the Bible to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture. With very little national media attention, the group was met by protesters dressed in drag, demanding that the group leave the city. In an unprecedented move, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the teen gathering as an "act of provocation" by what it termed "anti-gay, anti-choice" organizations that aimed to "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."  Stop the press!  Did you catch that?  “... the most tolerant city in America?“  They are tolerant of every form of perversion, but not tolerant of a group of teenagers in love with Jesus.  The young people were met by protesters at a City Hall rally earlier last week.  The two groups were separated by barricades and six feet of neutral sidewalk in front of the City Hall that was the backdrop of gay marriages a year earlier.  On one side of the barricade was girl carrying a sign that said, "Instead of porn, show us Godly relationships." On the other, a woman held a sign that said, "I moved here to get away from people like you."

The second sign that liberals may be sweating like Richard Nixon's upper lip also took place in San Francisco.  Famed film producer George Lucas was in town to receive the "Global Vision Award" by the World Affairs Council.  In his acceptance speech, Lucas called for a "more worldly Hollywood."  (You've got to be kidding!)  Lucas was encouraging a new generation of film makers to produce films that reflect world values more than America's "provincial" values.   Lucas said: "An onus is on film makers to be careful with the messages they send, because they speak "with a very loud voice."   George is right.  The onus is on film makers to understand the power of film in influencing entire generations and cultures.

We need filmmakers to make movies that bring a compelling message of hope to their generation.  We need young people to take a stand and show the world that they will not tolerate the sick and perverted tactics of the proceeding generation.   We need people who will fight for their generation in order to save themselves from the self-serving clutch of their predecessors.  We need more than 25,000 Christian teen, but it’s a good start.

While these stories may have escaped mainstream media attention, I think they have not escaped the liberals. The response of the Board of Supervisors and Lucas may indicate the first signs of liberal perspiration.  They may have miscalculated a new generation of Americans and their willingness to resist popular culture.  Rise up, youth, and fight for your generation!  Do not be shouted down by those who see themselves as the most progressive and tolerant people in America.  They are neither and in their hypocrisy, they know it.

Ed Litton

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Whose Party Is It?

It has to be one of the most compelling stories ever told. It is often called the story of the “Prodigal Son,” but Jesus never called it that. In its context, it is much more than a story about a lost boy who finds his way back home. Jesus told this story in response to a group of Pharisees and religious leaders who were murmuring about the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. The religious leaders loved having control over the dinner invitation list. They were very picky about those with whom they ate and had fellowship.

You know the story; it’s pretty familiar to all of us. At its conclusion, Jesus told how the Father hired a band and killed the fatted calf in celebration of the return of his younger son. The older son returned from working in the fields, heard the celebration and smelled the barbecue. He soon learned that his sinful brother had not only returned, but was restored by the father. The party was in celebration of this fact. He was indignant and refused to go in. To some, grace is not amazing, it's irritating.

The Father went to the angry son and pleaded with him, but he refused to join the celebration. The older son then offered the Father a detailed laundry list of all of the younger son’s misdeed, and indicted the father for throwing a party to celebrate the sinful lifestyle and easy return of the son. He was wrong. The celebration was not for the lost son; not for the wasted years of his life. The celebration was the fathers. Luke 15:32 says: "But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' " The party was the father's party.

In the two earlier portions of this one parable, the Bible tells us that, like a lost sheep, when one sinner is found there is great rejoicing in heaven. When a woman found a lost coin, it says that there was great rejoicing in the presence of the angels. The party is God's party. He does not celebrate the failures of our lives, but instead celebrates the repentance of our lives. He celebrates when one sinner has his fill of “the pods that the pigs eat” and comes to himself. Heaven is full of rejoicing, but the “religious” seldom know such celebration.

Oddly enough, Jesus ended the story without a conclusion, as if to say, “If you want to know how the story ends, then write your own conclusion.” Will you be like the “religious”, who refuse to celebrate the repentance of sinners? Will you be like the Father who is compelled to celebrate. God celebrates when one comes to Christ.

My burden is that the latest statistics indicate that it takes 411 Southern Baptists per year to win one person to faith in Christ. That seems to be a high number of people standing outside with their arms crossed. Nothing, and I mean nothing invigorates your spiritual life like winning someone to faith in Christ. Maybe we have made the same mistake that the older brother made, and we started thinking that the celebration was about us. In fact it is the Father's celebration and we are invited! Come on in. It’s a blast!

Ed Litton

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Two-Man Nuclear Submarine

Life's lessons in finance and disappointment all came at the same time for me.  When I was a child, my brother and I were always looking for opportunities to have an adventure.  We played in our barn, swinging like Tarzan, and, unbeknownst to our parents, actually dabbled in several attempts at manned flight.  In between school and bedtime, most of our childhood was spent barefoot, running the green hills of East Tennessee.  When BB guns were introduced to us, we caused much trouble.   (We are still a little hesitant to share all of our adventures with our guns, because we're a little fuzzy about the Statute of Limitations in various states.)

With that background, you can understand why an advertisement on the back page of a comic book caught our attention. The page that usually showed the prizes one could win by selling Grit Magazine had a new display that was big, beautiful and inviting.    It wasn't some phony-baloney "Sea Monkey" or "Ant Farm" - this was real!  It was a true-to-life, two-man, Polaris Nuclear Submarine.  It was, it seemed, our destiny.  Our fertile minds, full of imagination, could see ourselves exploring the depths of the pond on our farm.  We could see ourselves negotiating rivers and hunting for lost treasure in our very own, two-man submarine.

Now, I have heard that in the development process of boys, there are certain portions of the brain that develop later than girls.  If that is true, then our frontal lobes were the size of half a peanut.  Here we were, living on a farm in East Tennessee, hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, believing that a truck would unload a two-man, mini submarine.  We didn't bother to tell our parents about our plans as we filled out the form and placed it carefully in an envelope, stuffed with $6.98, plus shipping in small, negotiable notes and coinage. We mailed it to the ACME "Fraud" Company of Lynbrook, New York.

At what point does a boy start to connect the dots of logic and reason?  We may never know the answer to some of life's great mysteries.  However, imagine the surprise on our faces when the package arrived with the full and complete contents of our two-man submarine. Although the package was fairly long, it was definitely too thin to contain what the picture on the advertisement had promised.  In such states of shock and awe, a person may tend to reason their way around the obvious disappointment.  "Maybe this small, thin box is just the nuclear guidance system,"  we reasoned.   Right!  We were still
cautious believers as we tore into the box.  It was only then that we discovered that not only did that cardboard box contain the entire two-man submarine, it was, in fact, a vital part of the vessel.  You see, to our grave disappointment we had purchased a cardboard, two-man submarine.

I make wiser choices in my financial life than I did forty years ago.  Life can be filled with serious disappointments, and in the financial world, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure, risk and danger.  Yet, one sure thing I have found is tithing.  When I give the tithe to the storehouse of my local church, I am investing in something far sturdier than a cardboard submarine.  I am, in a real way, participating in something that will last for eternity.  I can promise that you will make a huge difference in someone's life who needs Jesus.  Your giving now will make room for others in the future.  Your giving may help little boys and girls not only come to know Christ, but learn how to make wise choices.

Anchors Away,
Ed Litton

Monday, March 13, 2006

What Did We Expect?

One of the epic moments in American history occurred and passed like the tremor of an earthquake. I felt it watching the nightly news with my father. There were more aftershocks as I rode the school bus to my seventh grade class the next day. The really odd thing was that no one else seemed to feel them. My friends shrugged their 13 year old shoulders as if to say, “so what?” My pastor at church said nothing about it. My teachers dismissed my uncomfortable questions, and drew the attention of the students back to the chalkboard. I noticed that most other dads in our circle of friends along with fellow church members were not nearly as concerned as my father.

A moral earthquake hit the whole country in January 1973, and my father knew it right away. It was as if my father had his own seismic-sensing devise that alerted him to danger. The moral earthquake was the Supreme Courts decision known as Roe v. Wade. We are all now fully aware, or so we think, of the ever-widening implications of this judicial event.
I grew up in a home in which my father insisted that we talk about the most gut-wrenching issues of our times over dinner. This practice could seriously challenge one’s ability to digest properly. I have, more than once, been stopped “mid-chew” with a piece of very unappetizing information. It was at one of those meals that my father explained the possible impact of this decision upon future generations. He ended the conversation the way he often did by looking at his two sons and saying, “Boys, I fear for your future.” Thirty years later, his instinct seems prophetic.

One somewhat unexpected consequence of “Roe” is the impact on the American father. It left him with a drifting and aimless sense of “manhood.” Syndicated columnist Mona Charen points out that Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Michigan, was ordered to pay $500 per month in child support for a daughter he admits to fathering with his ex-girlfriend. He is now fighting the judgment in court arguing that it is unconstitutional to force parenthood upon him in a way that the courts cannot and would not force upon a woman. Those who survive Roe and make through gestation to birth now grow up to face a world where their self-centered sexuality is a “right.” Women become the sole-arbiters over the life and death of the next generation (often as a matter of convenience) and men bear little more than forced responsibility. Now Mr. Dubay and those who plead his case argue that this is “constitutionally unfair.”

The feminists may scream, but who will listen? They and their political policy-making partners have been codifying the rejection of responsibility for decades. As Mona Charen states: “It should come as no surprise that men are inclined to do the same.”

My dad did not have the privilege of a high school diploma because World War II came at an inconvenient time. Nevertheless, he had a biblical worldview. The Bible demands responsibility and promises ultimate consequences for those seeking to shirk it. Today, some would call that kind of document antiquated.

It is time for people to listen to those fathers who sit at those kitchen tables and bear a burden for their children’s future. The father must teach his children that there are severe and lasting consequences to every human action, especially those which violate what scripture holds sacred.

Ed Litton

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Have you seen the latest cable television show called Survivorman? It is a gritty reality show about a man named Les Stroud. Les goes into extreme situations with no food, no shelter, no water or tools and survives for seven days. Oh yeah, he is also a one-man camera crew. He lugs over fifty pounds of camera equipment, which means it takes him twice as long to walk out of harm’s way. He has survived swamps, rainforests, deserts, open seas and the frozen tundra of Canada. It is fascinating to watch him find drinking water, eat scorpions, escape from bears and peel a snake before eating it. You can learn a lot about survival watching Survivorman.

The natural question then arises, where do you go to learn about other kinds of male survival. What techniques will help the survival of several endangered species such as “Faithful Fatherman”, “Masculine Role-Modelman”, and ”Honest Man”? Can these survive? The answer is “yes.”

The ultimate survivorman to watch is Jesus Christ. Jesus does not show us how to just survive, but how to thrive. Les Stroud has immediate credibility with guys because he always “goes it alone.” It seems to be a pretty common daydream for men to see themselves in some dire situation beating the odds. While this may make for interesting television, it’s not the way of the Lord. Jesus refuses to let you go it alone. He is the ultimate model of manhood. He fulfilled God’s purpose, lived for his bride (the Church) and gave Himself away serving others.

Sure, it is impressive to watch Les eat an entire rabbit or grub for insects to survive. It is more inspiring to watch a man face down a thirty-year mortgage, explain sex to a thirteen year old without a hint of impurity, endure the trials of office politics, or hold the line of truth for a teenager who is testing the very material of that cord. Watching a man fight for his marriage, raise a family, or apologize to an offended friend is every bit as impressive as watching Survivorman. Hats off to the real survivorman that lives next door and never fails to load up a family on Sunday to go to church. He is the real survivorman.

If you know a man like this, tell him what you respect about him and encourage him to keep striving. The survival of many depends upon him.

Ed Litton

Thursday, March 02, 2006

America Needs This Kind of Miracle

What we need is nothing short of a miracle.  The current condition of the American family is dire.  The culture is a verifiable mess.  The hope for our future diminishes daily.  Yet, the prospect for change, real change, is here.  I refuse to give up hope for a reformation of the American family and father.  Why?  Because of what happened in the lives of my parents, Harry and Sue Litton.

They were married in 1956, and it did not take long for them to realize that their marriage was in trouble, primarily due to my father’s alcoholism.  Two boys and a mortgage simply added pressure to the inevitable explosion that took place ten years later.  Their marriage was on the rocks, my father’s drinking was out of control and the Litton family was soon to become a statistic. 

My father had been on an extended drinking binge.  My mother escaped
with my brother and I in tow.  Armed with a new perspective, she planned
to leave my father and start a new life.  We went home to get our
things and the plan was to leave him and head for California.  We found my father lying beneath a bed in our guest room.  He had been on a drinking binge that had lasted several weeks and was close to death.  He whispered a simple request for us to take him to  a man who offered him hope in Jesus Christ.  The man's name was Charlie Jones, the pastor of Kempsville Baptist Church in Virginia Beach.  In that pastor's office we watched a man slowly get on his knees and invite Jesus Christ into his heart.  He stood up sober, new and changed.  The dramatic change became increasingly  apparent as each new day dawned.  He was a new man.

As a pastor I am cautious not to build up false hope in hurting people.
However, I must tell you that what happened to us was neither simple nor easy, but it was revolutionary and it saved us.  Not every person who struggles with substance abuse has the same experience, but Harry Litton certainly did.  God changed his heart, his desires and his mind.  His appetite for God's Word was ravenous.  He grew and became a father to his sons.

This week we celebrated the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my father and mother.  In the presence of good friends, we took time to thank
God for saving the Litton family.  We also thanked Him for the years of
ministry my parents have had loving and leading people to Jesus.  The
salvation of one solitary man has had a tremendous impact on our
family, as well as countless other lives touched by my father and
mother.  I am grateful for the change that God made in one man's life.
I am also grateful for the hope that if one man changes, a family can
be saved and a community can be transformed and a nation can be
revived.  It happens one man at a time.

Ed Litton

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Powerball Lottery Winner

It is becoming so common that most of us pay little attention to it. The "it" I speak of is the national lottery craze that garners such media attention.  This time it was the largest lottery in history that gave Americans another opportunity to strike it rich to the tune of$365 million.  Some "lucky" guy won it all.

Why are so many fascinated by the opportunity to strike it rich?  Perhaps they believe the sweet promise of instant wealth because they think riches will satisfy the longing of their hearts.  They think wealth will cure their current struggles.  They believe there are quick answers to long term problems.  They are deceived.  In reality, the pursuit of riches robs them of the present in exchange for a distant and unlikely dream. 

Consider what the latest study indicates: seventy percent of those who win these big cash prizes go on to lead anything but an enviable life.  In short order, seventy percent wind up broke.  They experience what Jack Whittaker, who won $315 million in 2002, experienced.  He is now not only broke, he is in debt.  He has had repeated run-ins with the law and tragically lost his granddaughter to a drug overdose.  Bud Post calls the lottery he won "The Lottery of Death."  His life turned sour after winning $16.2 million. 

What happens to people who win the lottery?  Often, families sue one another.  Divorce becomes common.  One discovers long lost relatives previously unknown.  In fact, the best way to do a quick genealogy of your family tree is to win one of these mega-jackpots.  Why does all this happen?  It is too easy to label these winners as "poor suckers" or just bad money managers.  Yet, I believe there is a deeper problem. 

Jesus went straight to the issue.  A few years ago, a pseudo-theologian claimed that Jesus never addressed gambling or lotteries.  I beg to differ.  In Mark 4:18-19, Jesus told the parable of the four soils.  He described different receptions to the word of God.  "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." Spiritual growth is hindered by the deceitfulness  and the desire for riches; an obsession for things chokes out the good seed, the word of God.

In all the hoopla about big jackpots, I wonder if anyone will study the impact of money used to purchase an extra lottery ticket rather than milk for a child.  How many loaves of bread are not purchased  because a ”chance” was bought?  How many churches and charity groups will pay a power bill for a family in need due to lottery fever?  The Bible is clear; a father is the chief provider in the home.  A father must base his provision on honest work and faith in God when there is need. First Timothy 5:8 warns us, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Things are important and even necessary, but they are also spiritual distractions when we cannot be satisfied.  Jesus said that riches are deceitful.  Give thanks for what you have and in many cases for what you don't have.

Ed Litton