Tragic Truth

The pedestrian bridge was designed by the brightest of engineers to enhance student safety at Florida International University. Cyclists and pedestrians would be able to cross a congested eight lanes of traffic without fear. But, yesterday, the bridge collapsed. Cars below were crushed. The lives of at least six people were lost in the Miami-area tragedy. Now people are desperate to find out what happened, and who can be held responsible.

How can we not think about the tower in Siloam? If you remember Christ’s words in Luke 13, Jesus asks – in regard to the news of His day – referring specifically to the eighteen people who perished when that tower fell and crushed them: “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” The implication is that Christ’s questioners expected Him to say that those who died deserved to die, while those who did not die also received what they deserved. In other words, the people anticipated that Jesus would say that the survivors deserved to survive. Jesus’ stunning response is: everybody deserves to be under the falling tower. We all deserve to be under the collapsing bridge.

The moral of the story, in the words of Jesus, is simply: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” I don’t need to tell you that this view of human “goodness” and the reality of human sin has fallen on hard times. I’m not even sure the church believes it anymore.

When you and I observe a tragedy, we ought to perk up and pay attention. It’s really a moment of grace, because it’s another chance to discard some of our mindless preoccupations and to focus our affection on the Sovereign God of the universe! We can embrace Christ as our only hope, or we can continue to meander aimlessly through the faux logic of this world and the meaningless assessments of trending news offered by most of the loudest voices in the media. We deserve eternal calamity, but there is still time to trust the Son of God.

People in South Florida need a refuge. So do we. When it comes to human depravity, there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between Miami and McCracken.

I tried to find “bridge” in the Bible. I couldn’t. The word is simply not there. Maybe it’s because we don’t really need one. We don’t need one because God doesn’t need one. He divides seas, remember? No bridge required. Not only that, but we must pass through the waters of difficulty (Isaiah 43:2). If we are His, Christ goes with us into those torrents.

And, even if we drown – because of Christ – we do not die (John 11:25).

We are humbled by falling bridges. We should be. We are no better than yesterday’s victims. No better, friends. But Christ still saves all who trust in Him.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts


“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50).

Eileen, Josh, and I are in Florida. Josh and his friends are enjoying Orlando. Eileen and I are attending the Ligonier National Conference. This year’s theme is “Awakening,” and we’re studying in-depth what God’s Word says about the spiritual fuel that is the necessary for revival. We’ve traced the great revivals of history in order to ready ourselves for revival in our generation.

It’s been great to catch up with some dear friends like Mac and Linda McKinley from SoCal. I won’t write much today because I have very little time, but I’ll send a couple of pics from the Sunshine State.

How do we seek God for spiritual awakening, even when we see no signs of it? You know by now how much I admire Joni Eareckson Tada. Well, Joni is here, and yesterday she unpacked for us the verse with which I began this blog posting. Despite quadraplegia, breast cancer, and excruciating pain,

Joni presses on for Christ. Joni assured us that each one of our trials, and each one of our tears, is used of our Sovereign God to ready our souls for revival: “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”

Perhaps you find yourself in a season of suffering right now. Difficult as it may be, this can be the sweetest season of your growth in grace. Trust the Lord, even now. Because Christ is risen, we know that God intends marvelous things for us! The awakening we need may be just over the next hill. So journey onward, Beloved.

50,000 people die, every day, without the hope of Christ. Oh, friends, how we need the Holy Spirit for such a time as this! Without Him, we have no evangelism, no discipleship, no fellowship, and in fact no power for Christian living on any level.

When Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones used to step into his London pulpit, he would say to himself: “I believe in the Holy Spirit! I believe in the Holy Spirit! I believe in the Holy Spirit!” Do we?

May His awakening come to us soon (Luke 11:13).


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

More Than Enough

Over seven generations of ministry. Well done. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).

As I write today, mourners have gathered in North Carolina to pay their final respects to the Reverend Billy Graham, after a week of tributes to “America’s Pastor.” Who among us has not been impacted by Billy Graham? I included a photo of my peeps, including my niece Briana who lives in Charlotte, while we were at the Billy Graham Library last spring.

Graham was only the fourth private citizen in U.S. history to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol. I am so glad. He represented Christ and our nation to the world. I was hosting a Romanian pastor for dinner last night, and he told me about a time when Graham preached in Timisoara. The Communists cut the wires to the sound system which was to broadcast the service to the overflow crowd, but the throng swarming outside the Orthodox cathedral began to sing and worship anyway.

For us, it is the end of an era. My grandparents were impacted. My parents. My generation, and my family. Both Eileen and I attended crusades years ago. While we lived in Raleigh, we were privileged to love a church full of people who loved Anne Graham Lotz. Anne – whom Billy called “the best preacher in the family” – had brought Bible Study Fellowship to our community. The men’s group met in the church I served as youth pastor. That’s when I remember seeing the Graham family up close and personal enough to know that they practiced what they preached.

Even my son likes to listen to excerpts from Dr. Graham’s sermons. Gen-Z Joshua is drawn to Dr. Graham’s strong, compelling voice and his simple gospel message.

More than any other dimension of his life and ministry, I think that what I admired the most about Billy Graham was his humility. He lived on a reasonable salary, by choice. He made himself accountable to others, including his beloved Ruth. Billy recognized that the best of men are men at best, and he made every effort to safeguard against a scandal that would bring the honor of Christ into question.

Perhaps the best way for you and I to honor Billy Graham’s legacy is to share the gospel of Christ. Never forget that right now is the right time to do that, because “the buses will wait.”

Now, for Dr. Graham, none of those dignitaries matters. The global heads of state and the American Presidents from Truman to Trump, they are yesterday’s news. Billy Graham has seen Jesus. And Jesus is more than enough.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Warrior, Me?

On one of our trips to the U.K., I was able to worship at Westminster Chapel in London. I was traveling with a friend who is a medical doctor, so it was particularly fun to visit the church pastored by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones from 1938 to 1968. You may remember that Dr. Lloyd-Jones, a graduate of the medical school at London University, served as “Assistant to the Royal Physician” before he became a pastor. I have always admired MLJ because he stood so strongly against theological liberalism at a time when it was nearly battering to death the church in England. MLJ was a warrior. Against the prevailing tide, Westminster Chapel has enjoyed a rich history of faithful gospel preaching for nearly two centuries.

Thinking back to that trip in 2008, my mind raced forward to First Baptist Paducah now, and our present opportunities to make a global impact for the cause of Jesus Christ! Like Westminster in Buckingham Gate in central London, we are positioned near the center of our city’s cultural and commercial enterprises. This puts us near the schools and businesses where we can make a difference. After all, if there is an “inner city” in Paducah, we are close to it. Most often the toughest living conditions can translate into the richest spiritual open doors. Near London’s poorest slums, Westminster stood out as a light of hope. Even powerful leaders like Lord Shaftesbury were impacted by the church’s relentless gospel impact in the city. Orphans were loved and accepted and helped by the church, and people without employment began to seek the church’s help in finding a decent job.

Over the years, Westminster Chapel remained in its central location, and held its gospel ground. Her people were gospel warriors. In 1904, a gifted preacher from Gloucestershire was called: Dr. G. Campbell Morgan. Dr. Morgan had traveled extensively in the U.S. alongside the famed evangelist D.L. Moody. On the other side of the pond, there were important gospel connections between D.L. Moody and J. Wilbur Chapman, who attended a Moody meeting in Chicago. It went on from there. Billy Sunday was influenced by Chapman, and converted at a street corner meeting at the Pacific Garden Mission. Billy Sunday held an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte in 1924. That led to the Charlotte Businessmen’s Club, which eventually became an invitation to Mordecai Ham to preach the gospel in 1934. And, you may have guessed it, that would lead to the conversion of Billy Graham on the first day of November that same year. (And who isn’t thinking about Dr. Graham this week?) I include all of this history simply to remind you that faithfulness to Christ always matters! Moody, Morgan, Chapman, Sunday, Ham, Graham … warriors!

Back to London for a minute … under Dr. Morgan’s leadership, Westminster began to shake up the city. The church made massive inroads into the neighborhoods of rich and poor alike. Overseas missions were sponsored. Effective social reforms were accomplished in the name of Christ. Young adults caught a kingdom-sized vision for something that would endure long beyond their own lives. (When I was at Westminster, the part that thrilled me the most was seeing so many young adults worshipping our Lord Jesus right in the center of a post-Christian culture.) Christian impact and influences expanded to the ends of the earth.

As you might expect – like any local church – Westminster has seen both ups and downs. It has not been an “easy” ministry by any stretch of the imagination. But God has done amazing things! He brought to the church faithful pastors like Dr. R.T. Kendall, a Baptist from America. Kendall was a warrior. Trained at Oxford, Dr. Kendall would – like MLJ before him – speak gospel truth into the heart of a society driven by materialism and secularism.

First Baptist Paducah, will we do it? Will we stand strong? Will we love with gospel truth, and will we embrace with gospel arms?

Perhaps Billy (Graham, not Sunday) said it best: “I despise all this attention on me … I’m not trying to bring people to myself, but I know that God has sent me out as a warrior.”


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Ashes to Ashes

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow. It is a horrible day for us.” Those were the words of Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, Florida, where a former student – armed with a semiautomatic rifle – opened fire at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as classes were ending yesterday afternoon. 17 are dead, including a beloved football coach who was attempting to shield students from the gunfire. Others are seriously wounded. No one will ever be the same.

The 19-year-old shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was taken into custody without incident. It was our nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This is starting to feel like an epidemic. Either that or a bad dream.

We’re still reliving the Marshall County shooting from our own backyard, and now we’re watching nonstop video footage of more students escaping into the streets as SWAT team members advance on their unsuspecting school. Apparently the shooter had a gas mask and smoke grenades when he set off a fire alarm to draw as many kids as possible into his firing range. Horrific. Just the sounds of bullets firing and kids screaming, captured on students’ cell phones, are enough to make you cry.

And the sadness permeates multiple levels of this story. We’re already learning that Cruz had lost both of his adoptive parents, was deeply troubled, and was left in the care of a family friend last November. That situation did not work out, and he moved in with a friend’s family in the area. Posts on social media have confirmed previous volatile behavior and disturbing threats on the part of this young man.

This morning, as you might imagine, nearly everyone with a public platform is aiming the attacks at political opponents. Again, I feel like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. You can almost predict everybody’s script, as well as everybody’s blame game. We know the playbook by now. But I am convinced that we rarely get the bottom of anything anymore, because we refuse to talk about sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That is an equal-opportunity indictment which owes no one political favors. America is seeing it up close.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. But, for the first time since 1945, Valentine’s Day was also Ash Wednesday. Historically, Ash Wednesday observances have emphasized two themes: our sinfulness before a holy God, and our human mortality. The prophet Daniel sought the Lord for the release of his people from Babylonian exile “with fasting and sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Later, in Jonah’s day, when the people of Nineveh repented, the king “arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes” (Jonah 3:6). Literally, in humility, that once-proud man sat down in the dust before our sovereign and mighty God.

Maybe we should sit before God and weep.

Like God told Adam, you and I are but dust, and to dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19). But, because of Christ, we know that a day is coming when God’s glory will again fill the earth (Habakkuk 2:14)! Gunfire will give way to peace (Isaiah 9:6; 11:6), and death will be no more (Revelation 21:4). We can barely imagine it now, clothed in these bodies of flesh, but soon we will be free from every reminder that Planet Earth is fallen.

I am so grateful that neither Ash Wednesday nor the season of Lent is the final word. The tomb is empty! “He is not here, for he has risen …” (Matthew 28:6). Sons of men and angels say, “Alleluia!”


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Let Freedom Ring

Nearly 227 years ago, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” Under that cherished amendment, two particular protections are enshrined. One we call the Establishment Clause, and it prevents the government from advocating a particular religion. The second we call the Free Exercise Clause, and it ensures freedom of belief and worship for every person.

Though we in America enjoy the most robust legal protections of any country in the world, are our fundamental religious liberties in jeopardy today? My short answer to that question is “yes,” and I will seek to explain. My aim is not to spark alarm as much as it is to spark worship, for we know – in the words of the old spiritual and American folk song – who’s still “got the whole world in His hands.”

When I was in law school in the 1980’s, and when I first became interested in constitutional law, any mention of “religious liberty” in the classroom seemed always to be within the context of limitations on the government’s endorsement of religious activity – à la the focus on “separation of church and state.” The U.S. Supreme Court in Stone v. Graham (1980) had held that state laws mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools were outside constitutional bounds as a violation of the Establishment Clause. Many evangelical Christians became concerned that America was “taking God out of schools.” It is my contention that such myopic unease became a distraction from what was really happening in American life.

The deeper problem was not that the government was failing to actively support a Judeo-Christian ethic. Would that our crises be so manageable! The problem, then in its more embryonic stages, was a subtle undercurrent in the psyche of our nation. Slowly but steadily – within academia, the arts, the media, and the political elite – more and more Americans were being convinced that a Judeo-Christian ethic is an actual threat to any intelligent civilization. As even the “know-ability” of objective truth claims was questioned at every level within America’s significant structures of power and influence, the unsuspecting masses were lulled into an understanding of “truth” that was neither sensible nor sustainable.

In due season, our courts would begin to reflect our cultural confusion and chaos. In just a few short years, we moved from requiring the government to justify any encroachment on religious freedom to requiring the individual to justify his or her departure from a thoroughly secular – yet government-endorsed – worldview. I say “worldview” instead of “ethic” because I believe that ethics are a practical impossibility when there is no commonly accepted and objective moral foundation.

I make no claims that balancing individual freedoms with compelling government interests is always a simple task, but I do want to highlight an important trajectory. The Supreme Court in Sherbert v. Verner (1963) strengthened religious freedom. But the Court in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) began to roll back the scope of protections afforded by the Free Exercise clause. That case involved the illegal smoking of peyote during a religious ritual, so perhaps many of us did not notice the constitutional drift, but suffice it to say that the train had left the station.

Fast forward with me to more recent history. The Iowa Supreme Court, drawing upon that state constitution’s equal protection clause, held that a law defining marriage as a relationship of one man and one woman is a distinctively “religious” understanding (2009). A federal district judge in San Francisco, striking down California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 with a stroke of his pen, made the same determination (2010). But that’s not all. Both cases characterized laws supporting traditional marriage as the byproduct of “animus,” which rendered such laws blameworthy and without any legitimate rational basis. Was there any doubt where the train would go from there? Once marriage is deemed both religious and hateful, it must be drastically redefined by any enlightened society.

Enter, stage left, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Led by Anthony Kennedy, five Supreme Court Justices followed the blossoming script and imposed same-sex marriage on the entire country. What concerns me more than the Court’s decision in that case is the cultural fallout from it: the further erosion of religious freedom in America. As the advocates of “sexual rights” have made clear in every jurisdiction where they have achieved victory, holdouts who resist their ideology are sure to pay a heavy price for it. If the gathering clouds are any indication of the coming storm, the conscience of the individual will be no safe haven from the assault. In fact, one’s publicly expressed religious convictions may be the modern version of the “Kick Me” signs which we used to tape to each other’s backs in middle school – minus the fun and laughter.

Now we anxiously await news surrounding the Court’s upcoming decision in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Will the conscience of a Christian artist be protected by law, or will Jack Phillips face the intolerance of a culture which prides itself on tolerance? Only our Sovereign Lord knows where we’re headed from here, and we can trust Him regardless of the outcome. Please pray for Jack. Pray for his attorneys, and for the Alliance Defending Freedom as an organization and as a gospel ministry. Pray by name for the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. When it comes to grace and truth in the public square, speak up. I’ll quote my friend, Josh Hershberger: “The best way to defend religious liberty is to use it.” Do so humbly, tactfully, and winsomely.

Adam K. Hersh writes in Stanford Law Review (January 2018): “The conflict between religious accommodation and nondiscrimination is fundamentally a conflict between two visions of government power.” Indeed. Sometimes the threats uttered by strong cultural forces capture our hearts – at least for a moment – and we fear the lion’s den. But then we remember the prevailing verdict: “And God gave Daniel favor and compassion” (Daniel 1:9). So fear not, sisters and brothers! Right now is the time for Christ’s Church to shine like never before. This is our moment. We are here, and Christ is risen.


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts



“Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.

When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’”

Can you tell that I’m blogging from Lexington? I always enjoy being back in the land of the Bluegrass. Those opening words are God’s words from Job 39:19-25.

Our God is so amazing that His glory is displayed in every creature He has made. How can we not see the Sovereign’s majesty and strength when we gaze upon a gorgeous thoroughbred horse? He moves with fearless energy, yet with gracious precision. He inspires awe and adoration among the toughest soldiers, and calms the troubled spirits of children with special needs. He performs like the grandest of machines while frolicking on the rolling hills of Central Kentucky.

“Aha!” I love that. It speaks to me of breathless wonder when I would otherwise be terrified. “Aha!” It speaks to me of unstoppable hope when others might see nothing but doom and gloom. “Aha!” It speaks to me of peace in the middle of my darkest night. “Aha!” It speaks to me of passion and power — Christ’s resurrection power — simply to do what I’ve been called and commissioned to do.

Maybe this is your “Aha!” moment. Maybe your race isn’t over yet. Maybe your finish line is within reach. Run!

The Lord who made heaven and earth spoke to Job “out of the storm.” The God who made the lightning bolt and the tropical cyclone is the God who calms the raging sea. Job would learn such wonderful truths on dry ground, and Jonah in the belly of a fish. Wherever we find ourselves, God is there.

With dangers, toils, and snares all around, the horse hears only the trumpet call. May we have ears to hear as well.


Pastor Charles


Posted in Blog Posts

Hope is Here

When slavery was legal in our land, many people could not imagine any other way of life, because slavery – as an institution – was so tightly woven into the fabric of our national psyche: socially, politically, and of course economically. It was hard for many people to see that it was wrong, because “that’s just the way it is.” We can translate that struggle into any chapter of history: when we’re in it, it’s difficult to see it clearly.

Maybe you’re depressed about life in America right now. Don’t be! There are lots of great things happening all around us. Our gospel is Christ’s gospel, and – as such – it is inherently full of hope. You and I must help people see not just the reality of what is, but the reality of what can be in our Lord Jesus Christ! The possibilities are endless regarding the many ways in which He might use us a light and salt in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Be encouraged!

A week ago today I was participating in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as many of you know from social media. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands gathered for the largest annual human rights demonstration in the history of the world. As we made our way from (roughly) the Washington Monument to the U.S. Supreme Court – passing the Capitol as you see in my photo – I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the pro-life movement in America. It is so much larger than simply making people aware of the horrors of abortion.

Followers of Christ are working passionately and strategically to honor God’s image in children and adults with disabilities, helping them thrive in the face of physical, cognitive, and even social difficulties. The body of Christ is actively engaged in the pursuit of racial reconciliation and social justice (in the purest sense of a term which has become highly politicized). Christians are pursuing gracious care for victims of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our sisters and brothers in Christ are working to restore fractured families, and to help moms and dads provide financial, emotional, and spiritual stability for their children in all kinds of less-than-perfect situations. I’m also really happy to report that God has called a number of Christ followers to love those women who have made the choice to abort. Ours is not a ministry of condemnation, after all, but a ministry of healing, redeeming, and sanctifying grace.

One reason why the pro-life movement is growing is that we have truth on our side. The fact that life begins at conception is now indisputable. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who presided over more than 60,000 abortions writes: “This person in the womb is a living human being and we could not continue to wage war on the most defenseless of human beings. Having looked at the ultrasound, I could no longer go on as before.”

I was particularly blessed by the ocean of young adults who walked with me. Young America, despite many other social problems, is increasingly pro-life. Sometimes I get the impression that many Americans view the pro-life movement as angry, militant, and ill-informed. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I observed, for hours on end, was a winsome, articulate, and joyful generation seeking to make a life-giving difference in the world.

As I came home to Kentucky, I was nearly immediately assaulted by the harsh reality of the Marshall County High School tragedy. We’re not “home” yet – that’s for sure. Our world is broken. But Western Kentucky is proving to be just as hopeful as Washington, D.C. – all you have to do is look around. Another ocean of young people is resolved to press on in prayer, unity, and – quite shockingly – gospel-centered forgiveness and grace. These are our neighbors and friends, and because Christ – the giver of life (John 10:10) – is alive and well, hope is here.


Pastor Charles


Posted in Blog Posts

Hope and Stay


Eileen and I have been binge watching The Crown. We started late, so we had to get caught up. We’ve overachieved. We’ve run out of episodes. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, it’s an original on Netflix, and the most expensive television show ever made. For the most part it is historically accurate within reasonable bounds. (I’ve Googled at a few points just to make sure.)

Each episode presents a different challenge in the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who assumed the British throne at the age of 25. I’ve particularly enjoyed the interactions with Winston Churchill, as both characters wrestle with the weightiness of their respective leadership responsibilities. (Don’t miss the one where the aging Churchill has to figure out if it’s time to resign. Rich with wisdom.) What has intrigued me is that no one is really “ready” for leadership – they just do it anyway. I suppose that the lesson for us is that leadership is learned in real time.

The Crown is a true tale of perseverance. Elizabeth (Claire Foy) is a lone female monarch within an established (to put it mildly) boys’ club. She is the epitome of virtue and restraint against the backdrop of a decaying culture and more than her fair share of womanizing fools. She presses on – contending with what must be a whole world of antagonistic emotions – as her private secretary brings her round after round of bad news, both nationally and personally.

Elizabeth navigates the deadly Great Smog of London (1952). She manages the international Suez crisis. She maneuvers around a revolving door of resigning prime ministers. She sticks with a husband who is at times more out than in – complete with nonstop rumor and embarrassment stemming from his shenanigans at home and abroad. And she consistently helps stabilize a sister whose life supplies enough drama for a whole troupe. Plus, nearly everybody has an opinion regarding how she could do it better. Elizabeth is velvet and steel.

One of the best shows features Queen Elizabeth’s friendship with the American evangelist Billy Graham. You can see on the Queen’s face that she is more than intrigued by Reverend Graham’s simple gospel message. Elizabeth happens to be in the throes of trying to forgive her uncle when Graham is in London preaching one of his famous crusades. We then see Graham preaching in Windsor Chapel, upon the Queen’s invitation, and then the pastor and Elizabeth discussing Scripture as it applies to the subject of forgiveness.

Quite astutely, and almost humorously, the Queen reminds the preacher that Jesus prayed for His enemies to be forgiven “for they know not what they do.” You can tell that Elizabeth is wondering if she has to forgive someone who sinned knowing full well what he was doing! She is obviously seriously pondering the claims of Christ on a personal level, which is not out of character for a woman whom we observe more than once kneeling by her bed for evening prayers. Though the head of the Church of England in title, role, and authority, the Queen clearly acknowledges in that episode that she is under the authority of Almighty God.

I appreciate The Crown’s respect for Christian morality, the traditional family, and even limited government. But what has drawn me in, perhaps more than any of the series’ other virtues, has been its emphasis on self-sacrifice. The crown worn by the Queen requires everything of her at one time or another. That’s just the way it is when you’re responsible. Since even a life of royalty is no rapid-fire succession of fairy tale chapters or even endings, The Crown is a beautiful reminder that we’re all in way over our heads.

Ah, Jesus! The sacrifice par excellence. “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.”


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts

Acts 29

We are witnessing something globally and eternally significant: the nation of Iran is experiencing its largest anti-government protests since the disputed presidential election in 2009. Just within the last few days, thousands have taken to the streets in several urban areas. The futures of of 80 million people are at stake, friends.

Hundreds of young people, along with some others who have challenged Iran’s power, have been arrested. At least 20 have died in clashes with security forces. And I’m sure that we don’t yet know the extent of the clampdown by authorities attempting to regain control – including dominance of the public and international narrative.

The demonstrations began in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city and the home of a famous Shiite shrine. Mashad is a stronghold of Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric who unsuccessfully challenged President Hassan Rouhani in last year’s election. Some notable analysts suggest that conservatives began the protests there as a means to pressure Rouhani, who appears to be a relatively moderate cleric within Iran’s theocratic government. How intriguing is that scenario as a backdrop for the winds of change?

An economy marked by widespread unemployment and crippling inflation seems to have sparked the flames of near-revolution. Whatever the initial impetus, cries for freedom are growing louder and louder – in a land where dissident voices are quickly silenced. But hard times for Iran may be prosperous times for the gospel of Jesus.

The Iranian government vigilantly enforces a prohibition against “proselytizing,” and compels evangelical leaders to sign pledges that they “will not evangelize Muslims or allow Muslims to attend church services.” Conversion from Islam to any non-Muslim faith is considered apostasy under Iran’s harsh Sharia law – and therefore punishable by the death penalty.

Particularly if you were here when my friends Rozik and Lazarus visited First Paducah, you likely know the backstory: the Iranian revolution of 1979 established a hardline Islamic regime. Over the next two decades, Christians faced increasing opposition and persecution, including the murders of several Christian pastors. Despite such intense pressure, the small Iranian church persevered. Today Muslims in Iran are the most open to the gospel among every people group in the Middle East. We’re witnessing a truly amazing moment, so let’s be part of it! (Want to learn some Farsi with me in 2018?)

The Iranian government’s harsh response to this wave of protests is a vivid reminder that the “Islamic Republic” is anything but free. The people of Iran are not free. The nation’s powerful clerics control who can run for office, and Iran’s censored “media” severely limit Internet access and communication in general. Street gatherings are prohibited unless approved by the government. Tehran’s official portrayal of Iranian culture, politics, and life rarely corresponds to the reality of what Iranian citizens suffer on a daily basis.

We should be much in prayer for such a pivotal time as this. “And He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).


Pastor Charles

Posted in Blog Posts