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I will not be shaken

It makes me sad, in a way, that we often need a disaster to “get right with God.” Foxhole conversions seem cheap, and I wonder if they’ll last.

But then, if I’m honest with myself, when I look back on my own life, I find that it was during the difficult moments—like when I was homeless with a wife and a little baby with birth defects, when our marriage was threatened, when I was hungry, when loved ones wrestled with addictions—that I grew in ways I did not expect.

While I wouldn’t wish any of those things on you, I look back on them and see only the kindness of God. These challenging moments in my life jarred something deep inside me—something that God was trying to get at, so He could show me who He really is.

And what emerged from these challenges is a beautiful vision of God. My cynicism was stripped away, and I realized that God Himself was the friend I had been searching for all my life.

I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I do pray that you will have life-altering encounters with God, and that you will emerge from our present crisis with your feet more solidly on the ground, and a smile inside that says, “I am in the company of God Himself, on a mission to bring good into many lives, and I will not be shaken.”

Much love from our home to yours!

Dwight

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What does God intend for you?

What does God intend for you in this crisis?

#1 He intends for you to have peace—the peace that surpasses understanding. (Philippians 4:7) Feeling worry, panic, dread? Please share those feelings with God. Please tell Him about it. Tell Him what feels true inside. Tell Him what this crisis dredges up inside you. Invite Him in, and then stop, look, and listen. Let Him bring to you the truth you need to set you free and leave you at peace.

#2 He intends for you to have wisdom—the wisdom that comes from above. (James 3:17) Navigating forward will require wisdom, and God wants you to have it. How do you get wisdom? You gotta value God’s voice above every other voice, including your own. You filter everything—the media, your thoughts, everything—through Him.

#3 He intends for you to triumph. (Romans 8:37) In most cases that means you will have health, healing, provision. In some cases, God will show you how to triumph even if you don’t have those things. God does not plan to diminish you. Rather, God intends to empower you to be a change agent for good in many, many lives.

Be encouraged!

Dwight

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Is COVID-19 a judgment from God?

Is COVID-19 a judgment from God?

The answer is no, of course, but I think it’s important to understand why the answer is no.

I’ll start here: When Peter (an early church leader) describes Jesus to a non-Jewish audience for the first time, he uses this description: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV)

What’s the mark of someone who has been with God? They do good, and they bring healing. If you read the Bible carefully from cover to cover, if you walk with God any length of time, you discover that this is the heart of God: to do good and to bring healing. When God gives out power, what is it to be used for? To do good, and to bring healing.

In John 9, we come across a man who was born blind. Immediately, the disciples look for someone to blame. They ask Jesus, “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?”

Jesus shakes His head, and, yes, I’m paraphrasing, but He essentially says, “You’re asking the wrong question. Stop looking for someone to blame. Instead, see this through God’s eyes. Here’s an opportunity to do good and to bring healing.”

Is God capable of judging people and nations? Yes. Does He have a right to judge? Yes. Will He judge? Yes, eventually He will. But that isn’t His go to. That isn’t where He starts. That isn’t where His heart is. His heart and the heart of His followers is to do good and bring healing.

Many blessings!

Dwight

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The 4 point sermon

Here’s a template for sermons, blog posts, and other Christian messages.

1. This is who God is.

2. This is who God has created and redeemed you to be (your true and real identity).

3. This is how someone with your identity lives.

4. If you are having trouble living in accordance with your identity, this is how you access the grace of God to overcome.

Hope this is helpful!

Dwight

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Do guilt trips work?

Okay, this will be a rant.

Sorry.

I’ve heard some variation of this sermon hundreds, maybe thousands of times. XYZ is a sin. You are probably committing this sin because I gotta admit I’m committing it. But you need to stop. Try real hard to stop, though you can expect to fail much of the time because you’re a sinner just like I am.

Inspiring huh?

I also see this played out: Someone makes a mistake. Mr. or Ms. Good Christian condemns his behavior. (You don’t wanna be soft on sin.) Instead of “repenting,” the offender gets even more entrenched in his mess.

So, do these guilt trips really work?

No.

First of all, they don’t work with people who don’t believe in God. And here’s why: Most unbelievers don’t believe in God because they look around, they see the mess of a fallen world all around them, and they conclude: If there is a God, it must be His fault.

In their minds, God is the sinner.

Trying to convince them that they are sinners is largely a waste of time. Here’s what they need to discover instead: God is good. And that discovery is a long, uphill road for most people.

But guilt trips don’t work with people of faith either. Here’s why: Trying to motivate people with a guilt trip ignores how people grow and change. The Bible says the kindness of God leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) The Bible teaches that repentance is not something we do, but rather something we receive from God. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

We grow when God opens our eyes to see who we really are and who He really is. We grow when our perspectives change. And the only way that happens is this: We need to bring our faulty beliefs to God and allow Him to tell us the truth.

What can we do to help each other change? We can show the love of God. We can listen, understand, respect, affirm, encourage, help.

Is there ever a place for calling out sin? Yes, there is. But don’t be too eager to be the prophet that meddles in someone else’s business. John the Baptist did that and got thrown in prison. I’m not saying he wasn’t doing God’s will. I’m just saying: Don’t be too eager. That kind of behavior has a way of rebounding and hitting you square in the face.

I’ll leave you with this short story: Several years ago a Christian friend came to me and admitted that he was in an adulterous affair. Everyone who knew was condemning him, and telling him what a terrible sin he was committing. So he asked me, “What do you think of me now?” I paused for a moment and then said, “I think you’re a guy looking for a solution, just like all the rest of us.” That eventually led to him taking a look at the problems he was trying to solve with his affair. As he started to get God’s solutions, the affair made less and less sense. He eventually reconciled with his wife, and they are by all reports happily married today.

Dwight

PS. I’ll be covering this in a little more detail in Inner Wealth on November 30, 2019.

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My prayer for our nation

Every day I pray the same prayer
for our nation.

I thought about explaining why,
but instead, I think,
I’ll just share this prayer with you.

Maybe you’ll want to make it your own:

Let truth triumph
over deception.

Let justice and mercy triumph
over injustice.

Let understanding, respect, trust, and love triumph
over polarization.

Amen.

Dwight

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Evangelical phobia

I recently read yet another article where the author’s biggest fear seemed to be that evangelicals would gain political power, and I feel like I need to respond.

Most people would classify me as an evangelical. Some would call me a fundamentalist. I don’t choose those terms for myself; I simply call myself a Christian. As such, I cannot speak for all evangelicals; I only speak for myself. But I think most evangelicals would read my words and nod their heads.

What are you so afraid of? I want to ask.

Are you afraid that I want to install a theocracy like the ayatollahs have done in Iran? I have neither the desire nor the ability. My Bible says only Jesus has the power to do that, and if He wants to do that, He certainly doesn’t need my help.

Are you afraid that I’m trying to establish a state church and force everybody to attend? Yuck. I want the right to believe what I want to believe, to speak freely about what I believe, and to practice my beliefs in a way that does no harm to others. And I want you to have the exact same right.

Are you afraid that I want to install surveillance in your bedroom to monitor your morality? That’s a laugh. Zero interest in that. Less than zero. Am I interested in legislating morality? Depends on what you mean. I do think rape and robbery are wrong. I do think that six year old children should not be molested. And, yes, I do want to have political power over those who disagree with me on that.

Do you think I’m a white supremacist eager to subjugate African Americans? Come on! Really? I mostly don’t notice skin color unless someone brings it up and makes an issue out of it. My mind goes to an occasion where I promoted a Black man (I honestly hadn’t even noticed he was Black), and my liberal white colleagues shot it down and chose a white man instead because “he looks like us, and he sounds like us.” Hmm.

Am I a pawn of the “Religious Right”? I don’t think I’m a pawn of anybody.

What do I want?

For starters, I want to help people who are in poverty to get out of poverty forever. And, no, I am not at all impressed with the Right or the Left in this area. Not at all. Read my book. I want quality health care available and affordable for all. Again, I’m unimpressed with the Right and the Left in this area.

It’s on my radar that Christians are actively persecuted in 50 nations in the world, and actively discriminated against in another 50 nations. I don’t want that here. I don’t want anybody to be persecuted whether they look and sound like me or not. I’m an anti-totalitarian because history teaches me that totalitarian states are very dangerous places for good people who just want to live a good life. I want good people to be free to do what they want to do.

And so, to those of you who are afraid of evangelicals: Why would these things make you afraid? What is it that I am threatening?

Dwight

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Why politics is not religion

Some make politics their religion. In other words, they define good and evil by their political position. All who agree are good. All who disagree are evil.

This is very dangerous.

I let my religion inform my political views and not vice versa. If the Bible disagrees with my political position, then my political position must change, not my interpretation of the Bible. This is my way of living in submission to God and acknowledging that He alone has the right to define good and evil.

Murder, robbery, rape, and assault are always evil. They are crimes, and they should be punished, no matter who commits these crimes—whether the perpetrator be Democrat, Republican, or of some other political persuasion.

Adultery, greed, betrayal, and manipulation are always evil. They may not always be crimes, but they are still wrong, no matter who commits these sins.

Respect, trustworthiness, patience, kindness—these virtues are good and admirable, no matter who practices them.

If we make our politics our religion, and if we define good and evil by our political views, then dissent becomes a crime. History teaches us: Millions have suffered greatly when dissent becomes a crime. When dissent becomes a crime, no one is safe. You might be part of the ruling class today, and tomorrow you could just as easily be on the list for liquidation. “Liquidation” a nice word for arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death.

We all feel strongly about our political opinions. But, as a people, let’s be very careful about where we go with political power. It can and sometimes does bite the hand that feeds it.

Dwight

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Winners and losers

For some reason, our culture is obsessed with winners and losers. In other words, you play my game by my rules, and, if you win, you’re a winner. If you lose, you’re a loser.

This is widely accepted as gospel, at least here in America. It fuels the great American love affair with sports. It’s pervasive in business and politics. It even finds its way into the church, especially in church leadership.

Some people are pushing back. There are no winners and losers they say. Instead, everybody gets a participation prize. You don’t need to learn how to read to get an A on the reading test. Everybody is a winner whether you win or not.

Hmm.

Could I suggest an alternative point of view?

Each person is a gift from God to all the rest of us. Each person is designed to win, but not everybody will win at my game playing by my rules. Maybe they weren’t designed to win my game. Maybe they were designed to win something else.

And maybe it helps all of us to help one another win at the game each is designed to win. Maybe it helps all of us when each of us becomes the best person we were designed to be.

And maybe we can get over our obsession with making other people lose so we can win.

Just maybe.

Dwight

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Christian dress up

For many years I played Christian dress up
pretend religion
good sounding words
that had nothing to do with how I experienced life.

Sure, I was heaven bound.
I was in.
I was part of the family.
But something was missing, and

I guess I just thought
that was normal.

When I found it,
when I learned how to experience God
in a way that made me
stronger
healthier
happier
forever transformed—

I was like:
Everybody needs this!

I went around trying to get everybody
signed up.

You can probably guess how that went.

Since then,
I’ve been writing book after book
trying to inspire
educate
cajole
encourage
people into a whole new dimension
of faith.

You can find my books at
https://dwightclough.com/books2/dwight-clough-books/

I figure some people will never buy and read my books,
so I post more good stuff for free
https://dwightclough.com/free-resources-2/

And I also post videos every week for my Inner Wealth subscribers.
You can learn about that here:
https://dwightclough.com/coaching-services/inner-wealth/

On top of that,
I created two online courses
which you can also find at my website.

I mention these things
because I don’t often talk about what I have available for you
if you want it.

Anyway, it’s all here if you want it.
Enjoy!

Dwight

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