Monday, April 28, 2008

MICHAEL REAGAN: Keeping the Legacy Alive

Michael Reagan is the oldest son of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing him last week when he was in Tyler to speak at a luncheon for Arrow Child and Family Services.

Because I don’t really listen to talk radio, I was unfamiliar with his influence among conservative Americans. His radio broadcast airs on over 200 stations in the U.S. and is heard by a daily audience of 5 Million Americans. He is also heard around the world on

Michael’s latest book, Twice Adopted, describes his life growing up as the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman. His “second adoption” was when he was adopted into the family of God as a follower of Jesus.

I found myself bonding with him almost immediately because we both share a similar experience. I was sexually molested by a high school boy when I was in the third grade. I never told a soul, and I completely blocked out that painful memory until I was in my forties and found myself sharing it with people in my church. My willingness to share that painful experience empowered other people in our church to feel safe in sharing some of their hurts and hang-ups. Like me, Michael was sexually molested by the owner of his after-school day care center when he was in the third grade. He kept that information buried inside his soul until after he became a Christian in his forties.

The most poignant memories he shares are about when he first discovered that he was adopted. At first he was proud that he had been “chosen.” But after the kids at school started calling him a bastard, it damaged his self-image. Even as a young child he knew that there was something bad in the Bible about someone who didn’t know who their real dad was. When he found the verse, it shattered his world and turned him against God for the next 30 years.

In Deuteronomy 23:2 he read, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” And yes, that’s the exact word that’s found in the King James Version.

As a child, he knew nothing about the Old Testament or the New Testament – and about how Jesus removed the curse of the Law. To him, it was just the Bible, and it turned Him away from God. From that day until he was saved he believed that God hated him and that everything bad that happened in his life was God just trying to make him more miserable.

From that point on, Michael incorrectly believed that God would never accept him, so he set off to do everything he could to “earn his way into hell.” When he used that phrase, I fully expected him to say, “earn my way into heaven.” But I guess when a guy thinks there’s no hope of heaven, he goes in the opposite direction. To get the whole story of his conversion, read his book – it’s WELL worth the price.

As I listened to Michael share his testimony, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How many hundreds (thousands) of people are there in East Texas who have the same mistaken ideas about God because they read a Bible verse out of context or someone told them something that turned them away from God?”

His journey back to God started when he married a Christian woman who prayed for him. She convinced him to go to church, which he did. But he attended for years before he gave his heart to Christ. He was at a church in California when his dad, Ronald Reagan, was President. People would always ask him, “How’s your dad?” Or “How’s Nancy?” Michael said not once did anyone at church ask him, “How’s Michael?” People just ASSUMED he was a Christian because he was sitting in church and opened a Bible – but he wasn’t there yet.

That part of his story also made me wonder how many hundreds of people attend our church (any church), and we make the mistake of assuming that they are Christians just because they show up. How many times do we ask hurting people about trivial things when what they really need is for someone to care enough to ask, “How are you doing, really?”

One of the greatest joys of my life is getting to meet really neat people, and Michael Reagan is certainly someone I’ll never forget. I’m thankful to know that we still have a Reagan around who is making a difference!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008


“The Shack” is a Christian novel written by William Young. It’s been quite a while since there’s been such buzz about a “Christian” book. As I read some of the reviews, I am finding that people either love it or hate it.

Eugene Petersen (Professor at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C. and paraphraser of “The Message") endorsed the book with this comment:

"When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!"
To read other positive endorsements you can click on:

While some love it, there are some who decry that it is dangerous. For instance, Tim Challies, author of “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment” writes a scathing review of “The Shack” that concludes:

“Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in 'The Shack.' It is not worth reading for the theology.”

To read his full review and the comments posted click on:

A couple in our church gave me a copy of “The Shack” a few weeks ago, and I was finally able to read it when I was flying to China. I’ve got to admit that I LOVED it. I gave it to Dale Pond, and he loved it. When we prayed we found ourselves talking to God as “Papa” in a very natural way.

I didn’t try to read “The Shack” as a theological textbook, but rather as a fictional novel that wove a tapestry of spiritual truth according to the creativity of the writer. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was a such a fantasy-story that it was a hit-you-between-the-eyes allegory. The allegorical truths in “The Shack” are much more subtle.

For someone like me who has believed in and taught about the truth of the Trinity for 38 years, I was fascinated by the relaxed, loving, inter-relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which Young constructed. Is it that way literally? I don’t know, but it sure helped me get a better understanding of the love and unity that surely exists within the Godhead.

Several people have asked my opinion about the book, and I told them I loved it. But I always add this caveat: I don’t believe 100% of the spiritual assertions in the book, but this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story itself. It’s like when I go to Brookshire’s to shop. I can’t stand to eat liver. Just because Brookshire’s sells it, I don’t boycott the store, I just bypass the liver! That works well when you’re reading books, too … especially fiction.

I recommended “The Shack” to a pastor friend of mine recently and I warned him that for those folks who are wearing their religious underwear too tight, it will definitely cause a theological wedgy! By reading the reviews, you’ll see that this is true!

So, I suggest you try the book yourself. See what you think. I’d be glad to hear your opinions.
If I get enough responses, I'll post your opinions in another blog.

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Monday, April 7, 2008


Of course Moses is dead – according to Deuteronomy 34, Moses died in Moab at age 120 and God buried him, and “to this day, no one knows where his grave is.” (Aren’t you glad that when God buries something – like our sins – nobody can exhume it?)

And now the guy who played Moses is dead as well. I liked Charlton Heston. Whenever I imagine Moses standing before the Hebrew pilgrims, I can’t help but visualize Heston’s character. I don’t know if he was a follower of Jesus Christ or not – only he and God know that now. However, he certainly marched to the beat of a different drummer than most of the Hollywood clan. He stayed married to his wife, Lydia, for 64 years and she was at his bedside when he died.

Most conservative Christians are aware that we are in a “culture war” in America. You may be surprised to read the following words from a speech that Heston delivered at the Harvard Law School Forum on Feb 16, 1999 entitled: “Winning the Cultural War.” In this speech, Heston doesn’t profess his personal faith, but he certainly shares some of the values that many Christians embrace. If you don’t glean anything else from this speech, at least you’ll admit that Heston wasn’t afraid to speak his mind! Here are excerpts from the speech:

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people." There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.
If you want the ceiling repainted, I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.
As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to reconnect you with your own sense of liberty, of your own freedom of thought ... your own compass for what is right.
Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, “We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you … the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is…
I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using language not authorized for public consumption!" But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys---subjects bound to the British crown.

If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.

A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so---at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"-every vicious, vulgar, instructional word. "I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF. I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF. I'M ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF. I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..." It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyrics brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore. Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said ,"We can't print that." "I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it." Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.

When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors ... choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment ... march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you ...petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month ... boycott their magazine and the products it advertises. So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.

To read the entire speech:

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