Bikini Atoll and Why Politicians Quote Scripture

Bikini Atoll was a quiet little island in the Pacific Ocean until America destroyed it with nuclear bomb tests.

What is little known is that people used to live on that island. 167 people lived there in 1946 when the US chose them as their target. Victorian-era missionaries had been through there before, so most of the residents of the island were “Christian.”

When the US showed up to tell them their island was to be toast, Commodore Wyatt gathered them all for a meeting right after church. The US had chosen a new home for them and needed them off of Bikini Atoll.

Wyatt chose Exodus 13:21 as his biblical text for his speech: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night

“It was under the guidance of God that the United States of America had constructed its own great pillars of fire and smoke, which could and would be used as a weapon if in the future any nation attacked the peoples of God,” was one historian’s summary of Wyatt’s speech. It continued.

“To make sure that such pillars of fire and smoke worked properly in the service of the Lord, it was now necessary to test them. To test them on Bikini. You have been chosen to help America develop something created under God’s guidance for the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”

America then put them on a boat and dropped them off on a smaller, more desolate island where they lived off the dole. Then they destroyed Bikini Atoll.

Without getting into the morality of nuclear weapons, I want to focus on the use of Scripture. This government official knew the people were somewhat familiar with the Bible, so he used that to his own purposes. He quoted Scripture, not for their edification, but to get what he wanted.

There is a special place in hell reserved for people who use Scripture for selfish reasons.

Let this be a warning to all who are familiar with the Bible:

If a government official is quoting Scripture, be 95% sure that he/she is doing so to manipulate you into doing the will of the government.

This appears to be the only time government officials use Scripture in public. Don’t fall for it.

The Bible was written to edify and build up, not to manipulate people into doing your bidding. Be very careful when politicians quote the Bible. Something is up. The Antichrist will have biblical quotes all over his speeches. If I would be around when he speaks, I’d put good money on that.

The Church Needs More Humble, Mediocre People

Private John Haley fought in 28 battles and skirmishes in the Civil War between August 1862 and June 1865. He came through them all without a scratch. That is amazing!

He was once asked how he managed to do that. “He was content to attribute his own remarkable record to having ‘achieved successful mediocrity.'”

I love that!

I like the humility and, no doubt, some honesty! People striving to do heroic things in battle often just get shot! Guys content to do their job have higher odds of surviving. Yeah, you may not get the awards or the spotlight, but you just might stay alive!

I love this. One of the secrets to success in Civil War battles were vast numbers of guys just doing their job. Thousands marched together into thousands of entrenched troops. You don’t win battles by one guy standing out doing the whole thing. David and Goliath don’t cut it in Civil War battlefields.

We love to talk about being little David taking out big Goliath. We love the story of the hero who single-handedly does it all. Perhaps that’s why The Church fails so often.

The Church will only work if every member of the body humbly does their job. As long as we are driven by personalities and celebrities, guys out front doing everything for the rest of us, we’re going to implode.

Humble mediocrity, just doing your job, is what The Church needs. Less superstar Christians, more foot soldiers following their Commander’s orders.

Humble, service done without fanfare. It’s a thing of beauty.

Retreating Troops and 7 Thoughts About “Christian Persecution”

I am reading a book about the common soldiers’ experience of major American battles–Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima. Rather than giving the generals’ view, the author focuses on the grunt, what the warfare was in experience for the guys doing the dirty work.

What a horrible thing war is. In one section talking about guys who couldn’t take it and ran away, the author says:

Dread of the unknown turned these otherwise disciplined infantrymen into a stampeding horde, proving the old military rule of thumb that it is always the troops in the least immediate danger who turn and run first.

Never having been in battle, not knowing how I’d react, I will refrain from disparaging the retreating horde. But I will make some points about church based on this:

  1. Persecution is good for the Church. It weeds out the fakers. It lets people know if they really believe this Christianity stuff, or if they’re just there for the doughnuts.
  2. Why is it that those whining the most about how persecuted they are, are generally those doing the least? People who need to tell you how hard it is for them to be them, know that they are making up for lack of work with a multitude of words.
  3. Retreat is always easier than looking and heading forward. Guess where the Bible tells us to look? Forget what is behind, press forward. No retreat. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
  4. The New Testament is very clear that Christianity done right leads to opposition, suffering, and trial. Don’t be surprised if the world hates you, it hated our Lord first. Suck it up.
  5. One thing that turns retreating troops around, is forward heading leadership. Our Commander is pushing forward. Follow Him. He wins the war, even while we lose the battle here.
  6. A good soldier of Jesus Christ does not entangle himself with the affairs of the world. Let go of this world, then there’s nothing anyone can do to hurt you anyway. Set your affections on things above. Treasure in heaven, people, treasure in heaven.
  7. Rejoice that your name is written in heaven, who cares what your name on earth is. This is the soldiers’ view–He fights for his commander, not for the history books. The man of the world runs, afraid for his life. The man of God puts on the armor and gets to work. Do the work, the Day of the Lord is just around the bend.

Faith Does Not Cancel Reality

I recently wrote a devotional for a group called The Back Row. It was about the “believe in yourself and you can do anything” line. Needless to say, I disagree with the line. I can believe in myself all day and there will be many things I cannot do.

Believing in yourself is fine if you are telling yourself you can do something you can actually do. For instance, if you are playing the piano in front of a group of people and you are nervous, it is appropriate to trust in your training and all your practice.

Unfortunately, what happens is we don’t practice and we don’t get training, and then we think that by believing, piano-playing skills will automatically show up.

Life doesn’t work that way. Modern education techniques tell kids they are smart and to believe in themselves in an effort to raise their performance in school. Recent studies show that our kids, while having some of the lowest test scores of any generation, at the same time have the best self-esteem about their smartness.

Many find this good. I find this evil, a lie, and of the devil.

OK, maybe not that bad, but it is dumb.

What is of the devil is when Christians use this same Jedi mind trick when it comes to our faith.

Christianity has borrowed, and possibly even invented, the idea that faith overcomes natural consequences.

Many Christians believe that, although they sin all the time, they are righteous. They believe that faith overcomes responsibility. Although I know I’m not righteous, I will believe I am, and thus God will have to accept me.

This is pretty close to foundational Christian doctrine at this point. God doesn’t see you, He only sees Christ’s righteousness in you. Is how I’ve heard it put.

Unfortunately for them, the Bible doesn’t say this. There is much deception on this issue by false teachers in the church today.

There are two verses in the Bible I’d like to point out that both begin with not being deceived. The reason why the writers of these verses said to not be deceived is because they knew there would be deception on this issue. Here are the two verses:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

Paul and John both knew false teachers would play on this personal accountability issue. They knew many people would succumb to the false teaching that you don’t really have to be righteous. That faith somehow replaces reality.

If you live in sin, if there is no growth in you putting it off and doing righteousness instead, you are not saved. That is the clear teaching of 1 John and of the Bible.

Yeah, I know hardly anyone teaches this truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s not truth.

Faith does not cancel reality. You can’t suddenly play Mozart on the piano simply by believing, nor can you fool God into thinking you love Him, if love for Him is not a reality in your life.

Faith does not cancel reality. Faith in Christ gives you a new reality, a new life from above, one lived in righteousness, with fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

5 Deceptive Substitutes for Assurance of Salvation

Assurance of Salvation is a subject that gets weird quick. Everyone wants to feel that they are saved. Satan knows this too. Therefore, his desire is to make the unsaved feel saved, and the saved feel unsaved.

In order to “get assurance,” people can go several avenues. These avenues of assurance seem to fit quite nicely with denominational distinctions.

–Charismatic churches tend to emphasize a spiritual experience: speaking in tongues, healing, dreams and visions.
–Legalistic churches emphasize conformity to The Group and following the Group’s rules.
–Catholic, Lutheran and other old school churches emphasize baptism, communion, or some kind of required church approved hoop to jump through.
–The Health and Wealth Gospel churches emphasize riches.
–Easy Believism emphasizes whether you said The Prayer or not.

Interestingly enough, 1 John, a book written to give people assurance that they have eternal life, never mentions tongues, riches, baptism, group conformity, Sinner’s Prayers, or anything remotely close to these issues.

The Bible says assurance is based on Christlike character, summed up by LOVE. If sin is dying out in you and righteousness is taking over (you’re becoming like Christ), you can know you are saved.

So why do churches emphasize these other things?

Quite simply because they are easier! Most of them depend on one-time actions. If not one-time actions, then at least repeating actions. It’s all based on doing a thing. Very much like Israel’s assurance based on circumcision.

Biblical assurance is not based on doing a thing at some point, but on becoming like the person of Jesus Christ.

What’s easier: speaking in tongues or acting like Christ? Being dunked in water or knocking off sin? Becoming like a group of fallen people, or becoming like the perfect Son of God?

Satan wants you to feel assured. He wants you to base your assurance on anything other than becoming like Christ. Satan’s temptations of Christ were all about shortcuts to Christ’s end of getting the Kingdom.

Satan wants you to have a shortcut to assurance. Don’t take it. Take the long way and arrive at actual assurance, confidence, and blessed peace.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”