‘Christian Nationalism’ Isn’t Cultural Coercion, It’s A Moral Imperative

‘Christian Nationalism’ Isn’t Cultural Coercion, It’s A Moral Imperative

A governor of a highly populous Western state has erected billboards adorned with a verse from the Bible in other states advocating for specific policy positions. A U.S. senator running for reelection equates voting to “a kind of prayer for the world we desire” and defines democracy as “the political enactment of the spiritual idea that each of us was created, as the scriptures tell us, in the ‘Imago Dei’ the image of God.” 

Is this the sinister emergence of Christian nationalism — the right-wing, fascist, “Handmaid’s Tale” hellscape that’s supposedly lurking just around the corner? No, in fact, that’s far from the case.

The first vignette actually speaks to a recent push by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had pro-abortion billboards installed in multiple red states, with ones in Mississippi and Oklahoma featuring Jesus’ words from Mark 12:31: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” And in the second example, these words were spoken on the campaign trail by Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock.

The usual takeaway is to point out the hypocrisy behind the adulation that’s typically showered only on the left’s public use of Christianity. But the deeper point is that Newsom and Warnock both show that using Christian arguments and verses from Scripture for the purpose of securing political victories is unexceptional — and even good. As Stephen Wolfe argues in his pathbreaking and provocative book “The Case for Christian Nationalism,” Christians should follow suit, though certainly not in enacting those particular policies. 

Rigorously and relentlessly argued, Wolfe uses the freighted term “Christian nationalism,” a phrase often deployed as a cudgel against evangelicals, to rally Christians behind a positive conception of public life that is grounded on the rich doctrines of 16th and 17th-century Reformed theology and the American political tradition. He builds on the important work of ad fontes, or a return to the source, that Protestant scholars and institutions have undertaken in recent decades.

Above all, Wolfe aims to cultivate “a collective will for Christian dominion in the world” — a will that has been crushed by a combination of elite evangelical rhetoric that buttresses 21st-century pieties, a bicoastal ruling class that is hostile to orthodox Christians, a conservative movement that has mostly failed to preserve American institutions, and a suffocating psychological malaise that has gripped the West. He gives Christians the intellectual tools to break through the nearly impregnable wall created by a combination of “third way” politics, neo-Anabaptism, and unprincipled pluralism and reestablish a way of life that is conducive to Christian flourishing.

Christian Nationalism Explained

Wolfe’s simplest definition of the controversial term “Christian nationalism” is a “Christian people acting for their own good in light of their Christian nationhood.” It encompasses the myriad ways Christians should be working to establish Christian conditions not only in their homes and churches — but also in their villages, towns, cities, states, and, yes, nations. Key to this project is recovering the solid ground of what the Reformers and their heirs frequently called the book of nature, which they saw containing truths that were consistent with the book of Revelation. They understood that God gave us minds to act within the confines of the created order — that Christians do not need a positive command from the Bible for every action they take.

Wolfe teaches that the concept of the nation flows from man’s very anthropology. Standing with Thomas Aquinas and the New England Puritan Samuel Willard, he contends that even if Adam and Eve didn’t follow the serpent’s wiles, mankind would still have “formed distinct civil communities — each being culturally particular.” This is because weaved into man’s nature are social and political faculties that irresistibly “lead him to the fundamental things of earthly life, such as family formation and civil society,” writes Wolfe. “The nation, therefore, is natural to man as man, and the matured earth would be a multiplicity of nations.” 

Implicit in this argument is the Reformed teaching that while Adam’s fall infused man’s entire nature with sin, it “did not eliminate the natural gifts,” as Wolfe notes. This doctrine is popularly known as total depravity, the often misunderstood first point in the TULIP acronym (an anachronistic 19th-century pedagogical device). As Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck wrote, though “numerous institutions and relations in life of society such as marriage, family, child rearing” and “man’s dominion over the earth through science and art” have “undoubtedly been modified by sin … they nevertheless have their active principle and foundation in creation, the ordinances of God.”

The cornerstone of Wolfe’s project is the well-known theological doctrine that grace does not destroy nature but instead perfects it. In other words, Christianity does not overthrow civil order, the non-sinful traditions of the people, and general decorum — the natural sinews that preserve society for posterity. 

As John Calvin taught in a sermon on 1 Corinthians: 

Regarding our eternal salvation, it is true that one must not distinguish between man and woman, or between king and a shepherd, or between a German and a Frenchman. Regarding policy, however, we have what St. Paul declares here; for our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to mix up nature or to abolish what belongs to the preservation of decency and peace among us.

Grace elevates the natural gifts, completing them because they are now aimed at both earthly and heavenly goods. For example, once a husband puts his faith in Christ, he and his family receive baptism and his work is directed to his home and then outward to the temporal world, what the Reformers called the civil kingdom. Grace does not make him into an androgynous being or cause him to leave his family behind to live in a church with other autonomous Christians. 

One of the many controversial aspects of Wolfe’s project for modern readers involves his teachings on civil laws and magistrates. Laws should reflect the natural law, protect natural rights, and, as legal historian Timon Cline has taught, direct “men to virtue,” pointing him to “higher truths.” Though the civil magistrate “cannot legislate or coerce people into belief,” Wolfe argues that he can “punish external religion — e.g., heretical teaching, false rites, blasphemy, sabbath-breaking, etc. — because such actions can cause public harm.” In fact, he proposes that the magistrate can even point citizens toward Christianity as the true religion. 

For dissenting Christians, Wolfe counsels that “wide toleration is desirable.” While non-Christians should be “guaranteed a basic right to life and property,” he contends that they should not be allowed to undertake activities that could harm Christianity. 

Though these were standard features of Christendom throughout Christian history, modern Christian statesmen would need to exhibit careful judgment in applying them today.

Christendom and America

Wolfe’s project is not a theocratic endeavor, with the church lording its power over the civil realm. Instead, he writes that the “classical Protestant position is that civil authorities” should “establish and maintain the best possible outward conditions for people to acquire spiritual goods.” And these goods are acquired through the church, whose ministers preach the Word and administer the sacraments. This doesn’t imply that Christianity is naturally weak absent state support. Rather, it means Christianity should infuse all of life, causing the magistrates of all nations to guide their citizens toward the highest ends.

In fact, as Joe Rigney has noted, civil government favoring and promoting Christianity “has been the dominant position in the history of the church for the last 1500 years.” Key confessions and catechisms of the Reformed tradition, including the original Westminster Confession and the Second Helvetic Confession, teach the good of religious establishments and charge those in political authority to uphold both tables of the Ten Commandments.

Early Americans were influenced by this understanding of Christian political order. According to Davenant Institute President Brad Littlejohn, the Founding Fathers “were certainly ‘Christian nationalists’ by the contemporary definition — that is, people who believed it important that America should publicly describe and conduct itself as a nation within a Christian framework.” Most state constitutions privileged Christianity — in most cases specifically a Protestant kind — and featured mentions of God, religious tests for public office, taxpayer funding of clergy and churches, Sabbath laws and laws against blasphemy, and Christian prayer and instruction in public schools well into the mid-20th century.

Christianity in a Negative World 

What about the place of “cultural Christianity,” an important pillar of Christian nationalism that has been heavily criticized by public theologians such as Russell Moore and Ray Ortlund? Wolfe contends that the critics commit a category error because it was never intended “to bring about anyone’s salvation.” Having a robust culture infused with Christian themes and imagery instead prepares citizens “for the reception of the Gospel.” It is a social power that internalizes the normal patterns of life that revolve around regular participation in Christian practices. 

As Wolfe rightly asks, would these critics look to subject families to “relentless hostile social forces” such as drag queen story hours, transgender ideology being taught in public schools, rampant porn use, and worse? Are active hostility and open persecution — that is, the circumstances first-century Christians faced — the only cultural conditions suited for the spread of Christianity? The history of Christendom renders a rather clear verdict on these questions.  

Christians are not called to conserve mid-20th century Supreme Court rulings. Begging for the table scraps of religious liberty carve-outs will not suffice, and “prudence” that is actually capitulation to the regnant cultural ethos will only hasten our nation’s slide into anarchy. To appropriate a famous G.K. Chesterton quote, the business of Christians “shouldn’t be to prevent mistakes from being corrected.”

In a “negative world,” to use Aaron Renn’s useful taxonomy, in which our magistrates oversee an establishment complete with a “regime-enforced moral ideology” that is hostile to Christianity, Wolfe gives Christians a coherent intellectual foundation that can withstand the gale force winds of our age. But political theory cannot enact itself. Christians must have the courage, manliness, fortitude, and strength to lay the groundwork in the decades ahead for what will assuredly be a multi-generational effort.

Mike Sabo is the editor of RealClear’s American Civics portal. He is a graduate of the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College. He and his wife live in Cincinnati, Ohio.


“Daddy’s Here”

During our earthly pilgrimage, we all have an innate longing to be home with God our Father, Who created us to be with Him for eternity, in joy and peace.

I recently experienced a few unexpected days in a public hospital, following a routine medical procedure. A spike in my temperature later that day led to a visit to emergency, and subsequent admission to a ward for observation.

After a five-hour wait, I was wheeled on a bed to the ward and settled down to sleep. Sleep did not come easily that night as one of the patients in my room, talked loudly in his sleep. It seemed like I’d not been asleep for long before I was gently woken by a nurse at 4am.

She wrapped my upper arm in a blood pressure cuff, placed a clamp on my index finger to measure oxygen saturation in my blood, and stuck a device in my ear to take my temperature, the regular four-hourly obs (observations)!

I got off to sleep again and awoke the next morning to take stock of my surroundings. The small ward had four beds, each enclosed by curtains. Later, I was to discover who my fellow patients were.

My Fellow Patients

Next to me was an elderly Vietnamese man I will name Trang who never left his bed, and had to be spoon-fed his meals. I only heard him speak two phrases in English, “I want to go home” and “Thank you”.

Diagonally opposite me was another elderly man named Stefan. He was Croatian and very deaf. Whenever he spoke in person or on a mobile phone call, he was very loud. Nurses had to raise their voices when communicating with him.

Both he and his wife were living in a nursing home. His wife was suffering from a form of early dementia, and the separation from each other was very painful for them.

Directly opposite me was an Aussie woman named Janelle. Doctors were having difficulty diagnosing why her heart function and blood pressure were fluctuating so. She had been away from her three children now for nine days and was understandably anxious to get home.

She was finally discharged after her cardiac specialist brought her the good news that her condition was not what they had first thought.

Her bed was refilled by Claire, a young woman profoundly disabled by cerebral palsy. Her only communication was groans and cries as she seemed to struggle for every breath she took.

Helpless and Distressed

One day stretched into another. The doctors were concerned that I may have contracted sepsis, an infection of my blood. They wanted me to stay for at least 48 hours, to ensure that the blood cultures they had taken from me showed negative results.

On the third day, I was feeling well in myself. No infections had been detected in my body but I found myself becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the suffering of those around me.

In my past hospital experiences, God had given me many opportunities to share Jesus with fellow patients, but this time it was so different. I could only pray for those ‘confined’ with me in this ward.

It is such a helpless feeling to be faced with human suffering that you can’t do anything about. I considered the condition and needs of those near me.

There was Trang, unable to do anything for himself, “trapped” in his own body, who just wanted to go home.

Then Stefan, who cried often over being separated from his beloved wife, unable to be with her to comfort her.

Claire had been in real distress this morning as nurses tried to clear her clogged airways with a suction tube. By this stage, I was feeling quite miserable. I wasn’t without faith but I was experiencing anguish over the broken condition of humanity, and cried softly to myself, praying that all would know the saving work of Christ in their lives.

After all this distress, a light unexpectedly broke through the darkness I was sensing. Claire’s father came to be with her. He stood at her bedside, and I heard him speak the following words:

“Daddy’s here. It’s all right.”

The oppressive atmosphere of suffering in the room suddenly lifted. From being in a state of distress, I now heard different sounds coming from Claire’s throat. She began to coo and I almost perceived laughter in her vocal noises. Even her father asked her, “Are you laughing at me, Claire?” I couldn’t believe the change in her. Daddy was with her and everything would be all right!

Wonderful Truths about God

God was showing me some wonderful truths.

Like Trang, we all have an inbuilt need to go “home”, but it’s not our physical bricks-and-mortar home. Our true home is to be with our Father and for Him to make His home with us.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)

Stefan felt the pain of separation from his beloved, but this is only a reminder of the more profound separation that exists deep within us. God felt the separation between Himself and fallen, broken humanity. Rather than being overwhelmed, He did something about it.

He sent His Son Jesus to experience this for Himself. Through his death for us and His resurrection, Jesus destroyed this separation forever, and has brought us into an eternal union with our Heavenly Father.

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom 5:10)

Dear Claire reminds us through her disability, that we are all helpless to save ourselves. We are completely reliant upon God to do the work of salvation for us and in us. All of us need to rely fully on God’s grace and mercy every day of our lives.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Finally, Claire’s father reflected the voice of our Creator in these gentle words,

“Daddy’s here. It’s all right.”

If Claire in her physical condition could be calmed and given delight by the words of her daddy, how much more, when we listen to Father God speak His words to us, we will experience whatever trauma, distress or suffering we may have lifted off us, to be replaced instead with His love, joy and peace.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)


Photo by Pixabay.

Thank the Source

History Belongs to the Intercessors, Part 1: Our Need for Prayer

Prayer is essential for God’s will to be done, His kingdom to be established on earth as it is in Heaven.

Behind the greatest evangelist of the Second Great Awakening — Charles Finney — knelt a man of intercession: Daniel Nash.

Finney, through his passionate appeals for people to come to God, saw hundreds of thousands of conversions happen all over New York and beyond in the early 1800s. Unknown to most, this move of God contained a secret weapon. Nash.

Weeks in advance of an outreach by Finney, intercessor Nash — along with Abel Clary — would come, praying within the community, crying out and asking God for His intervention in the hearts of men.

Nash had been a burned-out pastor. But through prayer during an illness, he found personal revival with God. And through prayer, would go on to fuel a national revival.

History belongs to the intercessors — we are the ones who are really stirring up national revival and change.

A Nation in Crisis

We are now in 2022 — a long time past the days of Charles Finney and Daniel Nash. But our nation is in more need now than even then.

It has been 246 years since 1776 when our republic was born. The founders of this republic gave us a gift, and we have a responsibility to protect it and keep it.

In 4 short years, America will be 250 years old — the only democratic republic in history that has survived this long.

This is a pivotal moment, and we all know as Christians with discernment that America is at a crisis point. Will we make it to America’s 250th birthday?

When we think about America right now — the decay in our educational systems, media, entertainment, government, business ethics, and more, we must look ourselves straight in the face and realise that we, as believers in Jesus, are not having the greatest impact on our culture.

Why is that?

National Prayerlessness

I believe the root of this failure is our individual loss of a daily connection with God.

We don’t pray. We don’t spend time with Jesus.

We have many weaknesses in the modern Western Church, but none is as glaring as our national prayerlessness.

If we are honest, the last few years have been an eye-opener within the Church. We have been exposed by fear and unbelief and have seen our personal tendencies to run to anything but God in the middle of a national crisis.

If God doesn’t awaken the Church in this hour in history, we are in trouble.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Back to the Basics

Prayer. It is the first spiritual discipline that we all think we know and understand — but really, few of us do.

If we truly understood prayer and realised the value of it, we would prioritise it in our lives and in our local churches. Unfortunately, in our modern Western church culture, our prayer meetings are the smallest gathering on our weekly or even monthly calendars. They are obviously not sexy or entertaining enough.

A woman told me the other day that she is a member of a church with over 3,000 members and their weekly prayer meeting has only two people attending it.

Let’s take a moment to think about prayer in our local churches.

Does your church have a corporate prayer meeting? How often is the prayer meeting? How many people come to it?

Just those questions alone are exposing to the modern church. But when we pile on thinking about the reality of our own devotional lives, we can all see the weakness.

Prayerlessness is rooted in a key problem: We don’t really believe prayer works. 

If we really believed in prayer, the effectiveness of prayer would absolutely change everything in our lives. Our calendars, our priorities, and our goals. Everything!

E.M. Bounds — the famous 19th century Methodist Episcopal pastor — said this:

God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil… The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.

Prayer is a Real Commodity

Have you thought about prayer being a commodity of Heaven before? It is tangible and real.

Let’s read this:

Now when He (the Lamb) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)

Look at this powerful picture of the golden bowls full of incense — holding the real tangible prayers of the saints.

When we pray, God hears us, and He collects those prayers. This is an incredible picture of prayer that is something that we can get our heads around.

Prayer is a real commodity.

Just like we go to the bank and deposit a check — prayer is a deposit. Just like we look at our investments on our phones and buy and sell stock — prayer is a stock purchase. Just like we invest in our marriage by spending time with our spouse — prayer is an investment in relationship.

If the world is going to see revival — and better yet, another Great Awakening — we need to cry out to God. We need to ask Him to grow faith in our hearts to believe that when we talk to Him, He hears us. And that when we petition Him, it changes hearts and lives.

This is what the world needs in this hour of history.

The world needs a praying Church.

Prayer is Action — Not Just a Spiritual Buzzword

This is my personal mandate from the Lord for this season: “Go find the awakening church and plug them into simple habits of prayer, voting, and engagement.”

When our little team of politically active Christians started Christians Engaged a few years ago, we identified three areas of weakness in the American church that we felt called to strengthen:

  1. Habitual prayer for our cities, states, and nation including our elected officials.
  2. A call for believers to vote in every election and to vote biblical values, and
  3. Encouragement for Christians to engage in our culture and take action to be “salt and light” in every space of influence.

Prayer wasn’t just a spiritual buzzword that we picked to talk about something spiritual. No, prayer is the only thing that really matters!

What the World Needs Most

In reality, prayer is the only thing that can change our nation.

Hearts are only open to God through prayer. Cities are truly impacted through prayer. Systems can only be reformed by people of wisdom who are covered in prayer.

What does the world need in this important moment in history?

The world needs YOU! Your participation. Your heart. Your care. Your prayers. Your votes. Your engagement in the culture.

Your intercession.

What is an intercessor? We answer that in Part Two of our History Belongs to the Intercessors series.


Originally published at The Stream. Photo by Eduardo Dutra.

Thank the Source

The Project’s Persecution of Christians Shows the Bible Is True

By Samuel Hartwich

The vulgar joke by queer comedian Reuben Kaye on Channel Ten’s The Project has once again raised this issue: Why is Christianity the target of jokes, ridicule and even outright persecution? While at the same time, other faiths are not treated with the same disrespect?

Why the disparity?

According to the Rt. Rev. Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, in his Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, 80% of all religious persecution is directed against Christians. Yes, that’s 80%! Yet statically, just over 30% of the world’s population is regarded as Christian. This vast disproportionality between the rate of religious persecution versus the number of adherents is a startling fact. How can it be that Christians are the target of just so much religious persecution?

There are of course many varied and legitimate reasons that could explain this phenomenon.

Meek and Mild

Sky News host Paul Murray — a self-professed atheist — in an opinion piece puts forth the reason Christians are “soft targets” is because they won’t riot in the streets or turn violent.

Indeed, Jesus taught His disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Christians may tune out of the program, write letters of protest and call for an apology. But a joke, crassly spoken, will rarely elicit a more severe response than that.

Murray then comments about Reuben Kaye and his willingness to target other religions in this way:

“Let’s see what his reaction would be, and to his ‘bravery’, if he decides to do just a few words about Mohammad, maybe a costume or two. See what the reaction would be.”

As Murray wholeheartedly agrees, there is no room at any time to target people from any religion. “[A]nyone who uses their faith to repeat that hate on somebody from any community, well they are not going to get a champion in me.” And few would disagree with his comments here.

But is the fact that Christians are “soft targets” enough to explain the disparity?


Jesus taught that there was a deeper, fundamental spiritual reality behind the disproportionality. The night before He faced his own violent death, He prepared His disciples with these prophetic words:

“If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you…
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18, 20)

And as John would later write, “We know that… the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

It’s uncomfortable and flies in the face of modern society’s secular and naturalistic worldview. Nevertheless, Jesus and His disciple John point the finger at the condition of the sinful human heart and the evil supernatural realm as the real reason for the disparity.

This understood, the 80% statistic is actually an encouragement. It’s yet another reason to trust the Bible’s words: the situation is exactly as predicted. If the Bible really is what it claims to be ­– the very inspired words of the Creator God Himself (e.g. 2 Tim 3:16) — then isn’t the 80% statistic precisely what we would expect? It’s just as Jesus Himself said, “See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt 24:25)


Let’s consider the alternative explanation. Let’s say that Jesus was simply an obscure, deluded individual who thought of himself as Messiah and God incarnate.

What is the chance that such a crackpot could accurately and pinpointedly predict the religious persecution lay-of-the-land some 2000 years later? How could someone so deludedly wrong predict something so accurately right?

It beggars all rational belief.

It is difficult and confronting. But disciples of Jesus are taught to consider themselves “blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.” (Matt 5:11–12)

We can now add another reason to rejoice. The ‘80% statistic’ confirms the Bible is true. Our Christian faith handed down to us through Scripture confirms the words of Jesus our Saviour, the One Whom we love.

This should ultimately encourage us, galvanise us and keep us pressing on — no matter the cost and no matter our circumstances.

Just as Jesus said: “I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling.” (John 16:1)

May The Project’s disdain for Jesus further strengthen the righteous to be as bold as lions! (Proverbs 28:1)


Photo by Tofin Photography Creations.

Thank the Source

The True Beauty of Esther

Welcome to this year’s reflection on Purim.

Purim begins Monday night, 6th March, 2023 until nightfall Tuesday, 7th March 2023. In Jerusalem, Shushan Purim is celebrated on 8th March (Shabbat permitting).

In the Jewish Bible, we read of the story of Queen Esther in the Ketuvim (writings).  Queen Esther is a Jewish girl who becomes the queen of King Xerxes of Persia. She walked an unusual path, and her faith and courage were used by God to save her Jewish people from annihilation.

Date of Writing: The Book of Esther was likely written between 460 and 350 B.C.

You may wish to view my previous articles for more background on Esther: (1)(2)

Purim is still celebrated today in Israel and the diaspora. It commemorates the time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination through Esther.

Part of the celebrations includes dressing up in costumes, performing plays and even beauty contests.

When the Megillah (Book of Esther) is read, noisemakers (e.g. groggers) are used by many to blot out the sound of Haman’s name. Food is also a big part of the celebration with Hamantaschen, triangle-shaped pastries to represent Haman’s ears or Haman’s pockets. Also, food gifts are given.

The theme of this story and many other Jewish stories has developed into this saying: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!” And so it is for Purim, a celebration with traditions of its own, including food.


To give you a brief background to the Book of Esther, we find that Jerusalem had fallen to Babylon and the Jews were exiled, around 605 BC. Babylon had been taken over by the powerful Persian Empire in 539 BC. Daniel survived the transition to the new empire, maintaining his administrative role (Daniel 6:28).

By the time of King Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes in Esther, Daniel was gone and Haman had become the Prime Minister of Persia (Esther 3:1).

Let me introduce you to Queen Esther.

Esther’s name

Hadassah (Myrtle) was her Jewish name, but she assumed the name Esther to hide her Jewish identity. The three-letter root of Esther in Hebrew is s-t-r (סתר‎), “hide, conceal”. The passive infinitive is (לְהִסָּ֫תֶר‎), “to be hidden”.

As we know, Esther’s true name and identity were hidden, but also God’s name is not mentioned in the text, yet His work is evident throughout the story.

Esther’s qualities

  • Youth/Beauty

The scripture declares that she was young and beautiful — these were the conditions of the search made for the new queen for King Xerxes. Ahasuerus is evidently to be identified with Xerxes.

Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: Esther 2:2 (CJB)

… The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking… Esther 2:7 (CSB)

  • Wisdom/Humility

She was wise inasmuch as she listened to Mordecai and learnt what she had to do. There was favour and grace from God upon her life, but she also received the favour of the King.

Wisdom and humility go hand in hand.
The discipline of wisdom is fear of Adonai,
so before being honoured, a person must be humble.
~ Proverbs 15:33 (CJB)

Esther displayed wisdom when she gave her banquets to prepare the way for her requests to the King.

One could say that humility is dependence on the Lord and respecting others, while godly wisdom gives one the ability to discern and choose the best course of action.

When the Lord blesses a person with looks, wealth and His favour, it is not for the person’s benefit, but for the Father’s purposes.

Esther was loyal to Mordechai her cousin who acted as her father, and also to her non-Jewish husband. She moved with poise, based on her principles in the difficult circumstances of her day, and did not act irrationally but stayed the course to see a marvellous victory for her people.

At the time of Purim, we remember Esther’s courage in saving her people in Persia 2000 years ago, even though the circumstances were extreme.

When one fasts, there is a concept that we are untethering ourselves from earthly things and tethering ourselves to the Lord and heavenly realms. The Book of Esther does not specifically mention prayer, but it may be implied.

Esther trusted the Lord in her fasting and as a result, the King extended to her his golden sceptre.

Subsequently, we also see that the law of the Medes and Persians was altered to allow the Jewish people to defend themselves against the evil plans that had been put into place by Haman.

The Bible talks about when we fast, not if we fast.

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance.
For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” ~ Matthew 6:16

Fasting is the lifestyle of the believer awaiting the return of the Bridegroom —

“But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them,
and then they will fast in those days.” ~ Mark 2:20 (NKJV)

  • Jewish Culture

In the Jewish writings, Esther is called a Heroine, a Prophetess and yes, she was a stand-alone Queen. We can glean much from her life to enable us to stand against difficult odds, keep our eyes on the Lord and see Him break through our obstacles in His own inimitable way.

In fact, we, as Bible-believing Christians, have it within our ability to stand with the Father’s Beloved Chosen people to assist them through prayer, giving and going to the Holy Land to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. All are valid ways of supporting His Beloved Chosen People.

Now Esther was the daughter of Abihail, the uncle from whom Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter. And when it was her turn to go to the king, she did not ask for anything except what Hegai, the king’s trusted official in charge of the harem, had advised. And Esther found favour in the eyes of everyone who saw her.
~ Esther 2:15 (BSB)

Her life and identity were hidden. It was as if she was the Lord’s secret agent in this perilous setting. The Lord’s solutions come through a man — or a woman in this instance. The Father always has someone through whom He can bring solutions.

The King offered her up to half of his kingdom. Some people throw money at problems, but in this case, money was not going to solve the problem of the Jews being annihilated — something more strategic was needed.

Once Haman was out of the picture, the King, although unable to annul a formal royal decree, instead adds to it, permitting the Jews to join together and destroy any and all of those seeking to kill them. (Esther 8:1–14)

The King spoke to Esther and Mordechai, who then called the secretaries — new letters were issued:

The letters said that the king had granted the Jews in every city the right “to assemble and defend their lives by destroying, killing, and exterminating any forces of any people or province that would attack them, their little ones or their women or would try to seize their goods as plunder.
~ Esther 8:11 (CJB)

The shift had begun and —

“And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword,
and with slaughter and destruction,
and did as they wished to those who hated them.”
~ Esther 9:5

They needed to be able to fight for themselves, save themselves, and be given some rights to stand up and defend themselves.

At the same time as Purim today invites lighthearted fun, the battle became serious as the Jews killed 75,000 who were standing against them, causing others to feign Jewishness.

Behind the Scenes

Even though God’s name does not appear in the Book of Esther, we can see His work behind the scenes.

Miracles did take place — the Lord’s hand was at work throughout these days of His people in Persia.

Time to Take Action

I believe prayer is always the first step before doing a work for the Lord. At this time, we can pray for Israel and her national security.

Perhaps you are being challenged to view the plight of the Father’s Beloved Chosen People differently in this season. The approaching nuclear capability of Iran, their enemy is one of the greatest threats to the existence of Israel at this time. May we pray that Iran will not reach this nuclear capability, as their stated aim is to annihilate the nation of Israel.

You are welcome to join Celebrate Israel with our Zoom calls as we pray for the nation of Israel each month.
Or you may wish to contact me for further information

Soon after my conversion experience, I had a special moment when I heard a message stating,
“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

This message has stayed with me all my life and brought me to the place in which I now find myself, praying for and serving His Beloved Chosen People. May it be your moment as well.


Thank You, Lord, for bringing each one of us to a moment of realisation
of how we can pray for and bless Your Beloved Chosen People. Amen.


Painting: François-Léon Benouville, “Esther” (1844)/Wikimedia Commons

Thank the Source

Channel Ten’s The Project’s Crude Jesus Joke Controversy – A Christian Response

Earlier this week on the Channel Ten show The Project, comedian Reuben Kaye made a crude joke about Jesus on air and the hosts laughed along.

In response, many Christians and Muslims took offence and demanded an apology. Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris have issued a formal apology following backlash from the incident.

As Christians, there is a temptation to retaliate. To let those involved know how much offence and hurt they have caused. They were, after all insulting the One Who is most precious to us. As I watched the video, I wrestled with this temptation.

Some have raised their concerns about the fact that The Project is on at a time when families are gathered in front of the TV and little ears shouldn’t be exposed to crude jokes such as the one that was made, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Christ’s Example

Now, returning to the response that we should take. As I reflect on the journey of Jesus to the cross, I see a man who did not retaliate.

I see a man who took no offence. A man who prayed for the ones spitting on Him and hurling insults. A man who knew His own innocence and yet did not defend Himself. In the face of false accusation, He remained silent.

Jesus, in a moment of excruciating pain, gazing over at the Roman soldiers, the Jewish leaders and perhaps even His disciples in the distance, utters the words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

What amazing self-restraint and grace lies behind these words.

In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile towards Christians, we must reflect carefully on Jesus’s response to those from whom He faced hostility.

We have the opportunity to show the grace and love of Jesus to the very people who mock us; and we should, in fact, expect this hostility. In Jesus’ words, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

Divine Love

The human heart longs to experience true, unconditional love.

This love is exemplified in Jesus hanging on the cross, in our place, for the wrongs we have committed. The joke that was made referenced this very moment.

In an interesting twist, the very joke that was meant to mock the God I love, only brings more glory to Him. Because you see, the God Who has been mocked from the time He walked on this earth to this present moment knew that all humans would fail.

Fail to see Him as he is. Fail to worship Him as He deserves. And He still chose to be nailed to the cross.

Let us strive to exemplify this same level of love and grace to others, in the face of being misunderstood, falsely accused and ridiculed. Let us reflect our Saviour to a world that needs to experience a love that reaches beyond human understanding.

Thank the Source

Reflections on the Asbury Revival

I’ve been following the proceedings at Asbury University over the past week or so. First, there was the excellent coverage by a few other writers here at the Daily Declaration. Then I discovered a number of videos posted by certain people who attended, as well as some critics, most of those being people who weren’t there, and from opponents of anything with even a whiff of the Charismatic.

So a few days ago, I felt the Lord was impressing on me the importance of discovering what it was that acted as the catalyst for this.

For those unaware of what’s happened, a small number of students felt compelled to stay behind after their regular midweek chapel service, and ended up on their knees at the front of the chapel, praying and sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit in an unusually powerful way.

Then others who had left got wind of what was happening and hurried back to the chapel and joined the prayer and worship that had eventuated, and continued unabated 24/7 until the university leadership felt it necessary to step in and organise meetings at particular times of the day so that students who were involved in activities like leading worship could get back to their regular round of lectures.


To find out, I realised that I needed to watch the sermon which preceded this, because God was telling me that in that sermon were the seeds that were now sprouting.

But before we start, most people use the term “revival” to describe what’s happening. In my opinion, it has become a term that is so lacking in definition, as it’s applied to anything out of the ordinary. Instead, I propose the term used by Dr Barry Chant in this Canberra Declaration interview: “divine visitation”.

The first thing I noticed was that the preacher’s tone was devoid of histrionics of any kind, or anything that could be accused of being emotional manipulation. It is a truly ordinary sermon in the sense that it’s no different in tone or style to that in your average mainstream denominational service on any given Sunday.

In fact, the preacher himself thought so little of it that he texted his wife after to say that he’d preached a “stinker”!

So here are the excerpts from his sermon that I felt were significant in light of what happened after the meeting officially ended, and is still ongoing.

The sermon was a commentary on Romans 12:9-21:

“Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practising hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NASB)

True Love

The first point he drew was that this is “about love and becoming love”. He then asked the question, “Do you love me?” He explained it this way: “The problem with the word ‘love’ is that everyone says it or does it, but without Christ abiding in your spirit, receiving and giving, it’s actually not love. It’s wrong.”

He then noted the fact that there are 30 commands in those 13 verses. He challenged his hearers to weigh up how well they are loving those around them based on those commands. He also expanded that challenge to even consider how they love those who persecute them.

He said, “This is ‘agape’ love”.

He then contrasted that with love that is not genuine, which he described as “radically poor love… it should not even be called love”. He was referring here to any form of abuse carried out by people we may know, or particularly by loved ones.

In the light of what we’ve witnessed following this sermon, and the outpouring of love, with people prostrated before the altar, praying for others, and such fulsome glorifying of God through worship and witness, I see the rest of the sermon reflected in what continued after the meeting ended, and what I believe is at the heart of what God is doing there:

“I am happy to sit here and pray with people. If you have experienced that kind of love, there are leaders on campus who will stay in these seats and pray for you. If you need to hear the voice of God, the Father in Heaven, Who will never love you that way, Who is perfect in love, gentle and kind — you come up here and you experience His love. Don’t waste this opportunity.”

Then he broke off his sermon and prayed into that:

“Jesus, if there are people in this room that feel the weight of that perverted thing that one person called love, would you just alleviate that weight right now. Holy Spirit, would you just move through these rows and love on these people. Jesus, there are people who have experienced hypocritical love in the Church. Holy Spirit, move through these rows and alleviate that. Heal them, Jesus. Show them Your true self. Would they be bold and courageous to ask for further healing and further prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

He then referred to the verse, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”, and in relation to this, he said,

“Christian communities aren’t great at this. Rejoicing with those who rejoice feels like, ‘you can’t be prideful’. But what about celebrating one another… celebrating each other’s gifts? What about weeping with those who weep? Do you journey with them? Do you tarry with them?”

From what I’ve seen, this is one of the most significant markers of this visitation, where random groups of people have gathered around others to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep”, whatever the need may be.

In finishing, he said,

“You cannot love until you are loved by Jesus. The only way we can love is as in 1 John 4:7-21. So I want to say, ‘Stop striving… You’ve got to love because you’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God. You have been loved. You have to continually put yourself before Jesus and be loved by Him so you can love others… we must become love in action.

What is the purpose of your love? Who or what are you becoming through this expression of love? Some of us need to sit in the love of God. Some of us need to taste and see and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Because if you want to become love, if you really want to become love in action, you start by prostrating yourself before the love of God. If you want to become love in action, you have to experience the love of God.

Asbury, the world needs this kind of love. They need a bunch of Christians experiencing the love of God so they can pour out the love of God. Not through their own efforts, and not through their own knowledge, but because they are filled with His love… Become the love of God by experiencing the love of God.”

Again, the one distinctive above all in what has occurred after this sermon is the testimony of the Holy Spirit shedding abroad the Father’s love in such a gentle manner through the ministry of others, through those involved being “love in action”, becoming the love of God. But it appears that the first action was that they “prostrated themselves” before God at the front in prayer, worship and repentance. It was from this being a priority that the prayer groups then started, which had the effect of expanding this outpouring of love and intimacy.

Seeking God’s Face

And from my own perspective, as one who has experienced first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit in previous revivals, such as the overflow from Toronto in the ’90s, with the attendant power manifestations, there is something refreshing and fulfilling in what’s happening here.

And it’s because so many of us became enamoured by the manifestations of power in those revivals, which were in many quarters treated almost like a Charismatic parlour game, that I believe this is the reason why God withdrew His hand then. In that visitation, the power that was unleashed in the Body of Christ was meant to be used to draw those outside the church. Its purpose was to release things like prophetic ministry to the lost, healing and other signs and wonders, for revival to break out in the wider culture. This is, after all, the ultimate purpose of revival. It’s not for our benefit.

In fact, I recall a prophecy by the Canadian prophet Stacey Campbell at the time, where she spoke of the Father who would come home from trips away with gifts for His children, and after a while the children, when they would greet His homecoming, would rush to see what was in His hands instead of embracing Him. So the Father stopped bringing them gifts when He came home. She said the Father was saying, “Seek my face, not My hands”.

So in that respect, I believe that what is happening now is the Father responding to a group of believers who “seek His face”. And this is now spreading to other campuses in an ever-widening arc, with Asbury at the centre, and in the same spirit. If I knew nothing else about this 24/7 meeting, this alone would be enough for me to believe that God is moving to bring about a revival that impacts the broader culture through this kind of devotional intimacy.

In this respect, I’m reminded of the passage in the Song of Solomon 5, where the Beloved Bride is awakened from sleep by the King, and goes out in the streets to search for Him. When she’s accosted by the nightwatchmen who ask her, “What kind of beloved is your beloved, O most beautiful among women?”, she gives witness to His excellence and His beauty: “My beloved is dazzling and reddish, outstanding among ten thousand… He is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend”. (Song 5:10, 16 NASB)

This finds a parallel in 1 Peter 2:9:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

Here is the purpose of the kind of deep intimacy being preached in this sermon and subsequently manifested in the meetings. It’s that we tell the world about the excellencies of our Beloved, and our own journey from the darkness in which those in the world are still enmeshed, where they work so hard to find fulfilment that’s not possible to find in the fleeting pleasures of this life.

In his closing prayer, he prayed, “Do a new thing in our midst. Revive us by Your love.” I’m sure that anyone with an impartial mind who watched any of the worship videos from the past week or so would agree that the Holy Spirit has honoured that prayer request.

Last year I wrote three articles on revival (1) (2) (3), where I noted:

“God never uses the same kind of circumstances, and no two revival outpourings are similar. The one common denominator in all of them is a burning desire among God’s people to see God bring transformation to the whole culture.”


“This “burning desire” is actually the consequence of an alignment of our heart’s desire with God’s. So we need to understand that this involves two seemingly opposite manifestations. First, God’s grief, longing and mourning for those who don’t know Christ. Second, God’s passion and joy showered down on His beloved as a means of facilitating the first. We need to experience both.”

I believe it is the second that we are seeing in action at Asbury now. We wait to see when and how the first is addressed, so that it can move from divine visitation to a full-blown revival of the culture.

But beyond that, I feel it’s necessary to return briefly to the issue of those critical of this move of God, as there appears to be no shortage of those who, for whatever reason, believe all kinds of weird and wonderful things about this, but especially for those whose narrow theology simply doesn’t allow God to work in this way.

Whether it’s an opposition to women leading (for which I found the best refutation I’ve ever seen was in an article here by Trinity Westlake) or the source of the worship music, because it was from churches like Bethel, Elevation and Hillsong, or even Christians spreading vicious rumours that the leadership had been infiltrated by LGBTQI+ advocates, is irrelevant.

This kind of divisive, and even malicious and dishonest, commentary from people who at best visited to “rubber neck” or to confirm their own theological biases, or at worst hadn’t been there and were just repeating things others had said, should be roundly condemned.

There is no theological viewpoint that can instruct the Holy Spirit on how He can or cannot move within His Body. And there is definitely no theological viewpoint that allows for the spreading of slanderous rumours. Even going to the extreme that if it were true that there were people leading this with unresolved sin of any kind in their lives, it is wrong to call it out from a distance, as is being done by these rumour-mongers. In fact, they’re displaying the same form of abusive “radically poor love” that was referred to in the sermon.

Again, we can only hope that in time this visitation continues to produce the fruit that comes from the kind of gentle intimacy and passion that’s been the hallmark so far, and in this way, the critics are silenced.

Two things we should all be doing in the meantime. First, watch and pray. And second, be jealous for the same experience of deep love and intimacy that’s on display at Asbury.

That’s how visitation grows and becomes revival.


Photo: Relevant Magazine

Thank the Source

Revival and the Healing of Australia

Years ago, while travelling to our friends’ cattle property in Central Queensland, Fiona and I were struck by how dry and barren the countryside looked.

We imagined the wild animals constantly searching for water in that unforgiving environment.


Desperate Need

Without a doubt, our nation has experienced a desert-like environment when it comes to the sweet flow of God’s Spirit. And like those animals in the Callide Valley, so many people have desperately searched for a water source to quench their thirst and impart life.

Not knowing any better, many have hoped for relief in Satan’s paltry offerings.

They have sought satisfaction in empty entertainment, alluring drugs and alcohol, soul-destroying sexual pursuits, and ever-demanding materialism — all of which are cruel mirages that promise so much and deliver only emptiness.

revival needed

There is only one thing that truly satisfies the thirsty soul, and that is the presence of God.

Promising Signs

Today the countryside in Central Queensland looks very different. Barren fields have been replaced by green pastures, following significantly increased rainfall over the past twelve months or so.

Previously near-empty dams are now full. Residents in South-East Queensland are even being “encouraged to make the most of high water supply levels” by way of a $55 discount on their water bills.

Perhaps this significant change we are witnessing in the natural environment is an imminent sign of what is about to happen spiritually in this nation.

“But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.”
~ 1 Corinthians 15:46

On the back of cruel politico-pharma tyranny and medical segregation, social breakdown and imminent economic upheaval, there are signs that refreshing rains are coming and revival is set to break out in the churches.

Sweet Rivers of Revival

As evil increases and the world system fails, people become increasingly desperate for life-giving water and Divine intervention. History teaches us that they turn to God and look to the church.

Great Southland Revival

Responsibility falls heavily on the church at this time, and that is why we must have revival.

Our church meetings may be the last roll of the dice for many burnt-out, disillusioned travellers. It is essential that we are the life-giving oases that they are desperately seeking.

Our church gatherings must be refreshing springs. Our assemblies must be reservoirs of the living water that can transform dying souls into brand-new men and women!

Jesus Christ must be seen and heard in all that we do. He must not be hidden behind fancy trappings or empty religion.

We must have the presence of God in our meetings.

On the last day, that great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
~ John 7:37-38

Witnesses to His Power

There are incredible flow-on effects when just one life is mightily touched and transformed by the power of God. There is no greater witness to the life-transforming power of God, than the person who has just experienced it.

Jesus shared living water with a woman He met at a well and she went and brought the rest of the town back to get some!

woman at the well

From that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me all the things that I have done.”
~ John 4:39

Flow Mighty River, Flow

There is a mighty rushing river about to flow in this nation. It will come like a flash flood and it will come out of the church. It is the sweet Spirit of God — the yoke-destroying anointing that terrifies Satan to his core.

Satan remembers being exposed by the anointing when our Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth and defeated him at the Cross. And he remembers his oppressive kingdom being plundered when the early church flowed in that same anointing.

All through church history, the devil has been broadsided when the church is revived and the anointing flows through God’s people in great measure.

There is a River of Life that makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, that opens prison doors, and sets the captives free. And that River is about to flow out of us corporately — in a mighty way — for the healing of the nation.


Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?

I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The beasts of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the owls:
because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to My people, My chosen.

This people I have formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.

~ Isaiah 43:19-21


Images: Thiago Silva/Pexels; Patrick Kavanagh/Wikimedia Commons; BLM/Wikimedia Commons; Jim Padgett/Wikimedia Commons; Leo Rivas/Unsplash

Thank the Source


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