By / Nov 10

“If you continue to be a Christian, I will kill you now.”1“Laotian Front Line Worker Prays He Will Die Serving the Lord,” Voice of the Martyrs,

Nineteen-year-old Mee stared at the barrel of the gun pointed at her forehead by a Communist guard in her Laotian village. It had been three months since she’d encountered Christ in a dream and decided to follow Jesus. 

After a five-year battle with thyroid cancer, she’d been given three months to live. Desperate, she went to church with her sister who was a Christian and prayed a prayer as audacious as it was dangerous, “If you are really true, God, you heal me and I will serve you until I die.” 

That night in a dream, she saw two paths stretch out before her. One was darkened with shadows. The other was flooded with light, a man at the end saying, “Come with Me.” She chose the path of light. When she woke up, she told her sister that she wanted to believe in Jesus. A month later, a checkup revealed that her cancer was completely gone. God had answered her prayer and saved her life. Now, she was committed to serving him with every breath she had. But while she’d known persecution was possible, she hadn’t anticipated that three months later, instead of dying from cancer, she’d be faced with a choice—a choice between life and Christ.

“You can kill my body but not my spirit,” Mee replied to the guard. She’d made her choice. She wouldn’t back out now.

8,000 miles away

Several years later, 8,000 miles and an ocean and culture away, 24-year-old Jaelene Hinkle was also faced with a choice.“2This Pro Soccer Player Gave up the US Women’s Team Just so She Could Stand for Her Faith,” CBN News, A defender on the North Carolina Courage soccer team, her career was skyrocketing. In June 2017, she was invited to play for America in two international games. It was a dream come true and an incredible opportunity. Yet days before the event, it was announced that players on the American team were required to wear rainbow jerseys designed to honor the LGBTQ+ community for Pride Month. Jaelene’s biblical convictions on marriage and gender now clashed with her career, and she had to make a decision. Would she compromise her beliefs and wear the jersey or pull herself off the team and compromise her career?

A few years earlier, Jaelene had whispered a prayer similar to Mee. During the spring season of her junior year in college, she began having excruciating pain in her left leg from an extensive blood clot. In order to save her life, a stent would have to be put in—but that would mean she’d never be able to play soccer again. The night before the surgery, she desperately told God, “If you allow me to play soccer, this is going to be for you.”

The next day, her doctors discovered the blood clot was miraculously gone. Now, several years after God had answered her prayer and allowed her to play, Jaelene had a choice to make—would she place her commitment to God above her soccer career as she’d promised? 

After three days of seeking the Lord, Jaelene pulled herself off the team. She’d made her choice. She wouldn’t back out now.

She was slammed on social media and booed during games. She was called names by sports writers. When she tried out for the Women’s World Cup, she was cut from the team. Yet she remained faithful.

A call to courageous obedience

After Mee boldly proclaimed, “You can kill my body but not my spirit,” the Communist guard lowered his gun and walked away. Once again, God had brought her life back from the brink of death. She still lives in constant danger of persecution, but as her husband Vang says, “When you try to avoid what God says, you try to build your own kingdom. Either you listen to God’s Word, or you listen to the world. We must follow God and obey what God says we must do.”

Jaelene and Mee’s cultures and circumstances are worlds apart. The consequences for their actions are also vastly different. Yet even though their backgrounds and the dangers of their choices vary widely, their commonalities are a stronger tie than their dissimilarities—both young women based their actions off of a desire to be obedient to God, regardless of consequences. 

It’s tempting for us who live in the comfort and relative safety of 21st-century America to read a story like Mee’s and think it’s irrelevant to our lives. After all, we don’t usually have guns pointed at our heads because of our faith in Christ. Our decision to follow Jesus affects our lives but usually doesn’t endanger them. 

Yet in the midst of this mindset is the subtle idea that standing for truth doesn’t matter as much in the circumstances we face today. Like Jaelene, we are often daily presented with choices. Will we stand by God’s Word when it’s unpopular? Will we hold fast to what we believe when our convictions are challenged by a coworker, family member, or neighbor? Will we allow our biblical views of marriage, sexuality, identity, justice, or gender to be altered by the pressures of society?

Or will we look at these relatively small decisions and let compromise and subtle complicity into our lives with the words, “It’s not that big of a deal”?

Consequences vary, but the call to obedience remains. It would have been extremely easy for Jaelene to brush aside her conscience and wear the jersey. In instances where it’s not our lives, but rather our reputations, position, jobs, or friendships that are on the line, sometimes the lesser consequence requires the greater act of obedience. Those seemingly “small acts of obedience” prepare and strengthen us for bigger choices in the future. As I say in my book Stand Up, Stand Strong, “Perhaps one day we’ll face the same consequences our brothers and sisters in Christ have faced for centuries. Will we be ready? One thing is clear: we won’t be ready to face death or imprisonment for our faith one day if we’re not willing to be mocked, fired from our jobs, or called intolerant for the sake of God’s truth today. Standing strong starts now.”

The measure of our obedience isn’t found in the greatness of the act, but in how we stick to the Word of God for the sake of Christ. Every person has a different set of circumstances, but every person has the same choice to make: to be faithful to God—regardless of the consequences.

Jaelene viewed her decision to pull herself off the team as an opportunity to encourage believers to not waver on their convictions, but stand strong. “Maybe this was why [I was] meant to play soccer,” she said. “Just to show other believers to be obedient.”

Both Jaelene and Mee chose obedience. May God give you and I the grace to do the same.

  • 1
    “Laotian Front Line Worker Prays He Will Die Serving the Lord,” Voice of the Martyrs,
  • 2
    This Pro Soccer Player Gave up the US Women’s Team Just so She Could Stand for Her Faith,” CBN News,
By / Sep 9

One of the things I remember most from my summer in England was the excitement when, while touring Windsor Castle, we were informed by a raised flag that the Queen had come to visit. I wouldn’t get to see her, obviously, but the air around the castle seemed to change the instant we knew that not far away was the country’s monarch. For a young American college student with only a passing knowledge of the British royals, the trappings of the British royalty were fascinating. And as I was told repeatedly by my British friends, “You Americans can look on in fascination, but only we can have opinions about the royals. They’re ours.”  

At its heart, that is how a subject should feel about their sovereign. My classmates had critiques of the royals, for sure, but they also deeply loved them and what they represented. The royals were able to inhabit a world that was above the political fray and the partisan identity. The royals were an image of the ideals of what it meant to be British, an embodiment of the best of the nation’s values and hopes. 

Lewis’ royalty 

C.S. Lewis had similar reflections when he wrote of the crowning of the first king and queen of Narnia, Frank and Helen. Frank, a cabby, and his wife were not native to Narnia, and would have fit no one’s pattern for royalty. Frank himself is very concerned and asks if Aslan is sure. Aslan responds by asking a series of questions: Will you rule over the creatures justly? Will you protect them from their enemies? Will you work hard for your subjects? Will you raise your children to do the same? Will you be the first in a battle charge and the last in a retreat? Frank responds that he would do all those things to the best of his ability, which Aslan says is all that a King can do. 

The qualifications for a good monarch in Lewis schema is not that one be the best, but that one have the best character. The potential monarch must see their life as one of service to their subjects, doing all that they can to enact justice for their people. It’s a life characterized not by the excesses of money and extravagance, but by the inward sense of duty to the best interest of the nation and its people. Frank and Helen may not have possessed royal blood, but they possessed a royal character.

Queen Elizabeth II possessed the same sense of duty and love for her country and its people. To read accounts of her is to be struck by her desire to fulfill the obligations incumbent on a monarch. For example, in 1944 then Princess Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army where she was trained as a mechanic. She did not begin at a special rank but started as a lowly second subaltern. She was the first female of the royal family to serve in active duty of the British Armed Forces. At the time of her death, she was also the last surviving head of state to have served in World War II. 

The longing we were made for

This is not often what comes to mind when Americans think of royalty. We think of the banners flapping, swords raised in honor, and patriotic shouts of “God Save the Queen.” We lack language for the kind of grandeur and majesty that is embodied by a figure like a monarch. We don’t have a concept for a figure like Queen Elizabeth who has been the nation’s symbol for 70 years, while our presidents change every four or eight years. Just for comparison, her reign has been almost one-third of the entire history of the United States. And yet when we hear the British national anthem with thousands singing it, and see the military parade, and witness the pomp of a coronation or royal wedding, we understand just how unique this is and something within us stirs with longing. 

It taps into that part of us that longs for a monarchy and all the splendor that comes with it. Reflecting on her coronation, C. S. Lewis wrote in a letter that the Queen herself was “overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it.” The spectators were filled with “awe—pity—pathos—mystery.” Because in that moment, was the story of humanity: “humanity called by God to be his vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if he said, ‘In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding’. . . . One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendour.”

In monarchs we see small reflections of what we are supposed to have been as God’s rulers on this earth. Those who care for the world, steward creation, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before our God. If as an American I was to make a case for monarchy, my first piece of evidence would be the life and example of Elizabeth. Was she perfect? Of course not. But did she understand and fulfill her duty to embody for her citizens the best of the nation’s ideals? Certainly. And in the face of her own fear of inadequacy, she committed herself to trying because it was her duty. There are worse things to hold up in an age such as ours as a figure who committed her life to public service and the duty she owed the nation she loved.

By / Mar 10

“I need ammunition, not a ride.” Those words sound like they could have been taken right out of the script for Band of Brothers. Instead, they were supposedly spoken several weeks ago in the context of a present war by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he politely rejected an offer from the United States to evacuate him from his country ahead of Russia’s cruel and violent invasion. 

Zelenskyy, a former comedy actor, was elected president of Ukraine in 2019 on 73% of the popular vote. Presenting himself as an “everyman” and rejecting the pomp that usually accompanies high office, he was elected on the promise of eliminating corruption and negotiating peace in his country’s war-torn regions. In his mid-40s with a family that includes two young children, Zelenskyy seems the least likely candidate to be leading the military defense of his overmatched nation. No one would have blamed him for taking the offer to evacuate.

C.S. Lewis and the four cardinal virtues

It’s been nearly eight decades since the last large-scale ground invasion of a sovereign European nation by another nation. As Nazi bombs fell on his native land during that worldwide conflict, a university professor by the name of C.S. Lewis, himself a veteran of the First World War, gave a series of radio broadcasts that would later become the book known today as Mere Christianity

In a time of great uncertainty, Lewis’ voice filled the airwaves with a message of hope. In a world of violent division, Lewis offered his fellow citizens the opportunity for unity in the gospel of Jesus Christ. With his words he sought to construct a section of solid ground to steady the wobbly feet of a war-weary people. Those talks are still widely read today.

In his presentation of “mere Christianity,” Lewis briefly treated the four cardinal virtues — character traits that “all civilized people recognize.” These virtues are prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. In his brief treatment of fortitude, Lewis defines the virtue as “both kinds of courage — the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that ‘sticks it’ under pain.” He then writes, “You will notice, of course, that you cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing this one into play.”

The importance of fortitude (courage)

It’s this last point that interests me. How does fortitude, or courage, apply to the practice of all the other virtues? Lewis doesn’t elaborate further in Mere Christianity. If you want his deeper thoughts on the subject, you must turn to The Screwtape Letters, written during that same Second World War-period, in which the senior demon Screwtape advises his nephew demon Wormwood on how best to tempt human beings.

In letter 29, Screwtape references the war and turns his demented attention to the subject of how to use war to tempt humans away from God and virtue. Here Lewis writes, from the perspective of the demon, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky” (Mark 15:15).

Without courage, Lewis says, you can’t have any true virtue, because courage is necessary to persevere in any virtue through trial and danger. Without courage, our mercy will fail as soon as opposition arises. Without courage, our honesty will give way to deceit as soon as the pressure mounts. Without courage, we are victims to the whims of circumstances beyond our control. One needs courage or all virtue fails.

No one knew how Zelenskyy would respond in leading his country in the face of a demented tyrant with intimidating military power at his disposal. Thus far, the leader of Ukraine has shown the world that, contrary to what we’ve seen among many global leaders recently, virtue is not dead. In Zelenskyy, the world is watching courage on display, and he deserves our full support. As we mourn for the people of Ukraine, we should rejoice in the example of virtuous fortitude on display in Zelenskyy and so many others in Ukraine.

Cultivation of virtue depends on living pictures. We need to see examples of virtue being lived so that we will have well-trod trails in the wilderness of our own experience to follow. Christian people have always understood this. We know that we can only love and learn how to love by looking to the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Christ himself said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How does Christ love us? Courageously, all the way to the cross and beyond.

Christ embodies all true virtue perfectly, including the courage that holds it all together. But in the example of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we see an imperfect man willing to give his life for his country, and we are reminded that courageous virtue can still be found in unexpected places.

By / Jan 3

We live in a loud world, and it can feel like the one who shouts and throws around the snarkiest comments online wins. The other day I was scrolling on social media (my first mistake), clicked on a news story, and then read the comments (so many mistakes). The topic is not important, but the commenters split into two sides and were full of hate, fear, and anger. Many of the loudest voices identified as Christians. It sent me reeling for a few days. Is this what it means to be a Christian and live courageously in our day and age?

It seems many of us have lost sight of what it means to obey Jesus, especially online. There are those who claim boldness for Christ but reject his example of humility and self-sacrifice (Phil. 2). There are those who tell you God is in control one minute but then spend the following hour convincing us everything is spinning out of control (and that we better be mad about it). And there are those who try to sprinkle some Christian language on whatever agenda gets the most clicks and shares in that moment. It’s all very loud and disorienting. 

Learning about real courage from Romans 12

But here’s the thing: real courage is very often quiet. In a crazy, noisy world like ours, the most courageous and countercultural thing we can do is live with intentional calm. In a world where it seems like everyone around us is losing their minds, Christians are called to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). 

But what does that look like, practically? I’m grateful we don’t have to guess. Over and over again, the early church was given instructions about how to live as Christ-followers in the midst of hard circumstances (like living under the rule of the Roman Empire). For example, in Romans 12, Paul writes:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (vv. 17–21).

This quite opposite of the rage we see online, often perpetuated by Christians. Whether it’s a hot take about COVID-19, a defensive opinion about the latest politicized issue, or a mean-spirited theological debate, we have gotten into the habit of dishonoring Christ and his people in the name of “courage.” 

On the contrary, it takes real, Spirit-born courage to live the way Paul describes — to live peaceably and honorably when it feels better to be defensive and self-protective; to serve others faithfully, even those who wish us harm, when it’s easier to give up and hide from the evil around us; to trust that God is just and in control when it would be more satisfying to enact revenge; to be misunderstood, even by our brothers and sisters, but refusing to retaliate.  

What is most amazing to me about this passage is the last imperative: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Up until this point, Paul sounds a little bit to me, dare I say it, naive. These are hard words to live by in a fallen world. But he’s not naive. He’s reminding us that the gospel offers a new way of living that doesn’t just repay evil with more evil — it actually overcomes it with good. Amazing!


For centuries, Christians have read these words and taken heart amid pandemics, wars, famine, and persecution. These living words of God enable us to live with real courage and do the kind of humble, quiet, countercultural things that have eternal consequences. And if we are called to live this way toward our enemies (v. 20), how much more should we demonstrate kindness, grace, and good to our fellow believers? 

So let’s not be fooled by those who appear to always be taking a stand courageously but only seem to spread anxiety and chaos. Let’s not be egged on by the bluster that has us creating enemies and seeking revenge. Let’s not give in to the temptation to join such practices that are wicked in nature. And let’s not even come close to describing these things as “Christian.” 

Instead, let’s seek the simple clearheadedness necessary, born of a mind renewed by the Spirit in the Word of God (Rom. 12:1-2), to keep about the work God has for us. Just as the Thessalonians were instructed “to live quietly” and continue the daily work God gave them (1 Thess. 4:11), we won’t be distracted by noisy, secondary issues because we are too focused on moving the gospel forward. 

We have days and years ahead that demand a choice: will we choose the quiet courage that’s grounded in trusting a just and sovereign God, or will we get sucked into infighting, anger, and dishonoring the glory of God. I want to wake up each morning in 2022 and choose the better. Will you join me?

By / Apr 2

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript from Russell Moore’s engaging conversation with prolific author and pastor, Tim Keller. They discuss fear, suffering, and how the resurrection of Jesus infuses us with a real and living hope.

Russell Moore: Hello, this is Russell Moore, and you’re listening to Signposts. And here on Signposts, I invite you every time to pull up a chair and to listen as I talk to thinkers and leaders about a whole range of issues, always looking for what Walker Percy used to call “signposts in a strange land.” And I’m really, really honored to have my friend Tim Keller on today to talk about his new book called Hope in Times of Fear: The Resurrection and the Meaning of Easter. Tim, thanks for being on Signpost today.

Tim Keller: Well, it’s an honor to be here. Thanks.

Moore: I was finishing your book last night, and as I was doing so, I was thinking about the article that you wrote for The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago that really resonated with a lot of people, talking about, sort of, the things that you learned as you were being treated for cancer. And one of the things that really struck me the most in that article, and it showed up many times in this book as well, is how you learned through this time that you could find much more joy if you didn’t try to make a heaven out of the things that could bring joy. Could you explain a little bit about what you meant by that?

Keller: Well, yes, I can. I’ll do it existentially and then also maybe a little theologically. It, basically, my wife and I, Kathy and I, recognize the fact that we set our, we rested so much of our joy in pretty material things, and they were fairly different. I tended to, in some ways, we were a little bit a little bit like gender stereotypes here. I really did rest in ministry accomplishments. Maybe a better word would be, new institutions getting started, new organizations. New, I’m a starter, I like that. And I would just find that that’s what made life meaningful. My wife actually found, a lot of different places we lived there were certain places we, especially as we got older, we went to for certain weeks of every year that were extraordinarily important to her, and also certain aspects of the actual physical environment we were in. Sights and sounds and things that we could do. And we realized that when the cancer diagnosis came that these things were being taken away from us. Not only on my side, I can read and write and do things and I can actually talk on podcasts like this. But it’s not the same thing as starting a church or starting. I can’t I can’t do those things in a way. And I shouldn’t, actually, now. 

Now, Kathy also realized that we had to sort of die to the possibility of ever going to some of the places that we have gone to every year for many years. A place where she would get respite, where she would feel like she was getting her soul renewed. And we realized it was not God, it was God’s gifts that we were really looking to. And that when you make, when you try to make God’s gifts into God, you actually don’t get as much out of them. We realized in some ways we were never really satisfied by them. And when we, we said we died to all that last summer when we first heard about the cancer, we sort of died to that, we said we may never see these things again. And we started to go really after God in prayer, we came to realize we actually did enjoy what we were getting. A lovely day. We, I do see water here. There are many things about where we live that are lovely, and we realized we were enjoying life more than we had before. Now, theologically, what Augustine means by that is you reorder your loves. And what Augustine would say, contrary to the Buddhist or the stoic, which says you detach your heart from these things so they won’t hurt you when you lose them. Or, the modern person, who says you go out and, you know, you only go around once in life, so you grab for all the gusto you can. Remember that beer commercial, Are you old enough to remember that beer commercial? But what Augustine would say is you don’t want to love anything here less because these are God’s good gifts. You don’t want to harden your heart or detach your heart from them. But your problem is you you need to love God more in relation to them. And if you do that, then, if you love first things first, you’ll love second thing second, third things third. If you love second things first or third things first, you actually lose them. They don’t give you what you want. So we were, in a way, talking about something very old, something that Augustine talked about in the Confessions 1500 years ago. But I was able to turn it into an Atlantic article, basically.

Moore: I suppose there are probably many people who haven’t yet grappled with mortality, but who might wonder, how do I know if I’m putting second things first? How do I compare love for God, which often seems sort of unquantifiable and intangible, with my loves for these secondary things?

Keller: Ok, that’s a great question. I would say that if you even ask that question, you are making progress. If you even doubt yourself, you make progress. But I do think the reality is that there are some progress that you don’t make until something goes wrong in your life. There’s some of it you can do without trouble and difficulty. 

So, for example, I can, if I’m making an idol out of my career, can I really de-idolize it without something going wrong in my career? Can I actually say I’m working too hard, I’m too driven, and maybe you see some other friend of yours life blow up, perhaps, over the same thing and you say, I don’t want to go there. I see what he did, you know. He started to lie. He started to do things because it was more important that he be successful then he be honest or be virtuous. I don’t want to do that. I’m afraid of that. So is it possible for you to actually de-idolize your career without there being some big problem in your career? Maybe. Give it a shot. Because if it’s not sufficient, God will give you some problem that will force it on you

Moore: When you face those times of sort of forcing it, whether it’s mortality or something else, what about regrets? Often people will talk about looking back and seeing regrets. And I’m not talking about sins here. I’m just talking about in terms of, say, ministry accomplishments, you look back and you say, I wish I had done this or I wish I had not done that. Do you think that an experience like this clarifies those regrets in a way that it heightens them or does it does it, for you anyway, put them into perspective?

Keller: Oh, that’s a great question. I think, certainly, the perspective. I mean, I think, what I get from C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and people like that is that heaven will make amends for all. In other words, there will be no regrets when you get there. Or, another way to put it, is anything that you were actually trying to accomplish or reach in this life is just an echo of what you’re going to get in heaven. You’re going to eat it and drink it and it’ll be there. So, in a sense, there should be no regrets. Because anything you were hoping to attain you will attain. Nevertheless, it’s actually a good, I mean, Kathy and I both look back, we actually experienced quite a bit of it regrets in the situation where, in light of our mortality, which finally hit us, we look back and see all the opportunities and things that we didn’t make use of. Now, you console yourself with what I just said. That heaven will make amends for everything. And anything that you didn’t accomplish, well in God’s plan, and “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose,” in God’s plan that wasn’t something that was part of his plan for human history. But in the end, everything’s going to be made right. Everything’s going to be made right. 

I mean, I’ll give you a quick example, I’ll be real granular here. Is that I see other people, people my age and people I know pretty well, who have been much better at mentoring a younger generation of leaders than me. And I realize, and here’s my excuse, I realize the ministry that I was running here, we got so big, that I really, it took everything I could. I mean, had a hundred full-time people reporting up to you. And when your institutions get that big, you spend so much of your time running the institution. So actually, just an example, somebody like Mark Dever. You know, Mark has almost deliberately kept their church, because it hasn’t gone to multiple services and videos and all that, I don’t know whether he had the foresight to do this, but he’s just basically kept the church kind of the size it’s been. For a long time. Which enables him to put enormous amount of capital and time over the years into raising up other leaders and putting them out there. And he’s far more, far better at that than I ever was. And it’s because my church got bigger. So you look back and you say, OK, on the other hand, out of Redeemer spun all kinds of things. City to City, which is a church planting network around the world, has worked in now thousands of churches around the world. There would be no City to City if Redeemer hadn’t gotten big. There would be no Hope for New York. There would be no Redeemer counseling services. There would be no, you know, there’s all these things that have happened. And so you look back and say, God, he knows. And yet there are times where both Kathy and I look back quite a bit and say, in light of eternity, there won’t be regrets. But right now we have quite a few.

Moore: You mention in the book subtitle fear, or well, in the actual title Hope in Times of Fear, and I was kind of surprised when I linked to your Atlantic piece in my newsletter, I was hearing back from a lot of people for whom it sort of hit home. Who were in their early 20s and people that you would think wouldn’t ordinarily be thinking about long perspective sorts of things now. But I wonder if this year of COVID has not, to some degree, forced everyone to grapple with mortality and shortness of life and so forth, and with fear. And I wonder what you would say. Hebrews 2 says that we’ve been freed from captivity to fear of death, and yet, we’re all afraid of death. We’re not in slavery to fear of death, the Bible says, but why would those of us who know Christ, who follow Christ, still have this sense of fear when we’re thinking about death?

Keller: Oh, well, OK, there’s two levels, to answer your question. The first level is, I’ll talk about the Christians in a second, I think the first level is the pandemic was a little bit like, it broke through the denial. I mean, I’ll get to you, in one second I’m going to say, all people basically live in denial of their mortality. And, by the way, I quoted John Calvin in the article, in The Atlantic, which hasn’t happened recently in The Atlantic, I’m sure, where he actually says when you see a dead body, you philosophize about mortality but then you go off and you basically believe in your own perpetuity. In his little section in The Institutes where he talks about, you know, he has got a section on, which has been pulled out and it’s called The Little Book on the Christian Life, and Calvin actually says that meditating on your future mortality is extremely important. And that we’re all living in denial. And as a result, we make bad choices. We don’t turn to God in the right way. We actually make bad life choices. It’s very, very interesting. I think the pandemic, in a way, was a cultural moment in which people said, wait a minute, all those dystopian movies where a plague comes and wipes out a third of the world or where somebody hacks the into the infrastructure somehow and all the, you know, there’s a there’s a complete depression because the bank, all the banking system around the world collapses and nobody knows what anybody’s worth. Or somebody sets off a dirty bomb and destroys half of a country and, wait a minute, those things can actually happen. 

Because actually the pandemic is a very, as you know, it’s a very close shave. This is nothing compared to what could happen. And we really aren’t in very good position to say, oh, OK, we’ve got things set up so this isn’t going to happen again. Nobody’s saying that. And so I think in a way, for the whole world, especially younger people, there’s been a cultural shattering of your denial about our mortality as a human race, as a civilization, that is very similar to what happens when you’re told on May 14, 2020, you know what, you have pancreatic cancer. And most pancreatic cancer people die within a year and a year and a half once they’re diagnosed. It’s the same thing. So that’s why I said you can talk at two levels about why the pandemic has created a basically an attitude of fear, in general, out there. 

Moore: And, why, I think a lot of Christians, when they do come up against that sense of fear, wonder, does this mean that I’m inadequate in faith? Shouldn’t I, if I know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, shouldn’t I have this sense of rushing, rushing onward toward heaven without this sense of trepidation?

Keller: Sure you should. By the way, if you believed with all your heart, everything you profess with your mouth and your head, you’d be perfect. Just keep that in mind. In other words, if I fully trusted in Jesus, why would. What I always thought was fascinating about Martin Luther’s exposition of the Ten Commandments, Luther says you never break Commandments two through ten without first breaking commandment one. What he means is, he says, you would not ever lie unless you were making something more of a god than Jesus at the moment. So I lied because, oh, you know what, if I lie here, I could make a million dollars. OK, well, then money is your true God, your true security, your true success. And that means you’re breaking commandment one, which is have no other gods before me. And the reason you break commandment one all the time is because the fact is the love of God is not as real to my heart. It is not as real to, my faith is weak. My, the love of God is not as real to my heart as the love of popularity or the love of being considered a successful person. And so if I really did believe the things I profess, that I’m going to die and that I’m going to be resurrected and that Jesus’ love is what matters and all that, I’d be perfect and you’d be perfect. You would never sin, you wouldn’t have any reason to sin. So, yeah, of course. Of course, you should. Of course you should believe this, but we don’t. And that God continues to work with very broken people and people that need grace every day, every minute, every second.

Moore: I think about, often, I don’t know if you’ve ever said this or written this anywhere publicly, but in the book club that we’re in, one night, you happened to mention about, I think we were talking about Ecclesiastes, and you said if all that we had was Ecclesiastes, we would be tempted to just a sort of nihilism. Nothing matters. And if all that we had were Proverbs, we would be tempted to almost a prosperity gospel. I can do it. If I just do these things I get these results. But you need the interplay between the two that God, in his wisdom, put both of these words in the canon and they inform one another. I wonder if the same thing is true in terms of our sense of mortality. If we had a sense only that life is a vapor, we might think nothing really matters that I do. And if all that we had is redeem the day, redeem the time we might think this is all that matters is what I’m doing right now. But we have to sort of hold those things in tension. Do you think I’m on the right path there with that?

Keller: Yeah. Yeah, not only are you on the right path and that, by the way, that idea from the Old Testament came from my friend Tremper Longman, who, you know, is an Old Testament professor who actually said that the canon was put together by God so that we would have these balancing acts. But in the New Testament, the balance comes between, which is a big part of my book, by the way, is that when Jesus rose from the dead, he brought the future kingdom into the present partially, but not fully. And I think that already, but not yet, that we are redeemed, but we’re not fully redeemed, that we should not be cynical and think that we can’t see great things happening, but at the same time, we shouldn’t be naive and utopian. And so I think that balance what, you’re talking about, is not only in the New Testament, but it’s right in the centre of the New Testament, because the kingdom of God is already, but not yet.

Moore: One of the things you emphasized in the book is that by resurrection you’re not talking about metaphor. This isn’t wellness. It isn’t, sort of, the cycles of renewal in nature, but bodily historical resurrection from the dead. You interact with N.T. Wright’s great The Resurrection of the Son of God book a little bit at the beginning. And I’m wondering, if you’re talking to a skeptic, to someone who’s an unbeliever who doesn’t accept the claims of Christianity, would you start there with the historical reality of the resurrection and work outward? Or would you make that decision sort of case by case as you’re talking to the person?

Keller: Yeah, the second. Skepticism, you know, I was just talking to my sister, who’s got a grandson who’s, I guess 16, 17, who’s starting to go into skepticism. But his mother just died last year. And so he’s talking a lot about, the resurrection can’t really happen. He’s talking to his grandmother, and my sister is a Christian. He’s trying to say, oh, you know what, the resurrection just can’t happen. So, this is a pretty obvious example. No, I don’t think you give this guy, you don’t go after him too much on the intellectual side. You do some work, but you also realize his mom died last year and he’s having real questions about those things. And so I do think you have to be careful. If I see somebody who’s just pretty, pretty confident. It does look like the skepticism is pretty much just intellectual, mostly. That they’ve been around a lot of smart skeptics, but they haven’t been around a lot of smart believers. And it doesn’t look like their skepticism is being fueled by abuse in the past or bad church experiences and things like that, I would probably, yes, I would go, I think the resurrection is, especially in light of not only Tom Wright, but other people, there’s an awful lot of interesting stuff to give thoughtful folks right now. So if the person seems to be kind of fair minded and not being driven in their doubts by other things, yes, I would go there.

Moore: You mentioned the already not yet tension. And one of the things that you said in the book is explaining what regeneration is as a fundamental, I’m trying to think of how you worded it, a radical reorientation of life. And one of the things that I’ve sort of noticed anecdotally, at the beginning of my ministry, I think I met more people who were skeptical of the possibility of regeneration because they couldn’t believe in the resurrection. And now I tend to meet more people who are the reverse. They have trouble believing in the resurrection of Jesus because they’ve lost faith that regeneration could be true, for some of the reasons that you mentioned a few minutes ago. They’ve seen institutions fail that they trusted. They’ve seen people that they really trusted as spiritual leaders fall. And then they look at themselves and they say, how do I have newness of life when I seem to be so unchanged. What word would you have to someone who’s having difficulty there?

Keller: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, there’s no doubt that, Russ, I would always say to people that faith is a mixture of reason and experience. That, I say, for example, if somebody, let’s say I’m hiring an assistant and, mainly the way I hire somebody is I interview them. I look at their references. I see what everybody else is saying about them. And there’s a sense in which my decision to choose a candidate B over A and C is pretty rational. It’s baseless. But it’s mainly a probability, frankly. It’s like saying, well, it’s likely that this is the right person. But then I actually have to, I have to actually have faith enough to hire the person. And then in a year or two, if the person really works out, then I’m actually totally sure this was the right person. Though I have an experience that takes the kind of risk, of course, and commitment. Now, Tom Wright actually says that that outside of things you can you can prove in a laboratory, you know, like, you know, compound A boils at this temperature, at this, you know, barometric pressure and that kind of thing, is that apart from that, we really can’t prove anything. We can’t prove anything in history at all, if you want to talk about proof like that. But, he says, when it comes to the resurrection, there are, there’s tons of great evidence, as much evidence to believe in it as any other historical event.

But then, he would agree, that it’s putting your faith in it and going to Jesus Christ on the basis of it that creates that commitment and experience where you go from, I really think there’s really good reasons to believe this to, I know it’s true. I just absolutely know it’s true. And so I do think that when people are finding that their experience of the resurrected life is not very strong in them, in a way, Russ, when I was told I had pancreatic cancer, I would say I did feel a certain wavering in my faith. Why wouldn’t I? And at that point, I did go back to the, you might say, the rational and reread a lot of what Tom Wright said. And it was hugely helpful. So I guess I would say, you know, if the existential is flagging a little bit, shore up the rational. If the rational doesn’t take you all the way there, it can’t, take up the existential. But I really do want to say, by the way, I want to say and I have done this, I’ve had people say to me that I’ve walked away from Christianity because I had this very, I had these, you know, I was going to this church and I found out that the pastor who I really looked up to was having an affair, and was a total hypocrite, and was abusive, and I just walked away. And I said, look, I don’t want to be a, you know, I have to be careful here, if the person himself or herself was a victim of abuse, then I wouldn’t say this. But if the person was just disillusioned, I would say, OK, let me ask you a question. Does that person’s adultery mean that Jesus Christ couldn’t have been raised from the dead? And they’ll say, well, no. I said no, of course not. I mean, in other words, that’s a non sequitur to say, well, because my pastor was a hypocrite, Jesus couldn’t have been raised from the dead. The reasons for Jesus being raised from the dead are not ultimately, you know, the quality of life of every one of his followers. And I said, you really do have to go and ask yourself the question, why was I a Christian or why did I go to that church? Did I say, did you do the hard work of thinking these things out or were you just taken up with the social, you know, the social community? And so I think you have to go back and forth and it depends. Again, like, I’m glad you’re pointing this out, case by case

Moore: When we’re talking about fear, one of the things that comes up, of course, is just cultural sorts of fear. And I’m sure you saw yesterday Gallup released a survey showing that for the first time in their recorded polling, church membership is less than 50 percent of the American public, or in any house of worship, membership down to 47 percent. And that’s a dramatic fall over over 20 years. Things seem to be kind of cracking apart for a lot of Christians when they’re looking at this. If you had to predict, sort of, where this is going in terms of secularization and what is the church in America going to look like, say, 20 years from now? Of course, you’re not psychic, we know that. But what would you guess?

Keller: Ok, you know what, I, I really feel like you need to get Ross Douthat or somebody like that on to talk about the future of the Catholic Church. I just don’t feel like I can speak to that. And they are a pretty major part. You know, when we talk about Christianity in America, sorry, they are, they’re a big piece of it. But when it comes to Protestantism, here’s what I think is going to happen over the next 20 or 30 years. First of all, the number of nominal believers, that is, people who believe and are part of churches, mainly through cultural and social pressure or benefit. Which is how an awful lot of people in this country have been part of the church, In other words, there was either social pressure or social benefit to just being part of the church or family tradition. What happens is more nominal believers, they are being shed. And we’re going to get down to people who, basically, the religion is not inherited but chosen and it’s thought out. Now, when you get down to that group, you can have attrition there, too, but there’s much more retention. So a kind of a nominal Methodist who, family, who goes to the Methodist church every so often and they were historically Methodist, but nobody’s really all that strong in their beliefs. The idea that their children will grow up and say, I’m not Methodist, I’m not a Christian, the chances of that are very high. So the retention rate of a nominal is not very high. The retention rate of more conservative and orthodox of their children is way, way, way higher. So first of all, you’re going to shrink. Secondly, white people are far more secular and individualistic than non white people. Non white people are more religious and they’re more communitarian or communal. And non-white people’s birth rates are lower, immigration is going to come in and you’re going to see, I think, a shrinking of the church down to I don’t know where it’s going to be. It could be down to like 20 to 30 percent. And then it’ll start to grow again. It’ll be far more multiethnic and it’ll be far more orthodox. 

So, when I was growing up, there was a kind of evangelical conservative sliver. The majority of people who went to church were mainline Protestant. That mainline Protestant will be the sliver and the majority of people will be evangelical or Pentecostal or something like that, and it’ll be at least more than half non-white. My guess is, if the population is, say, 50 percent white 20 years from now or forty five percent white, the church will be more like 60 or 70 percent non-white and 30 percent white. That’s like it is in New York. If you come to New York, we’ve been planting churches. I mean, literally, the evangelical church in New York City has grown from about one hundred churches to over two hundred and fifty churches in the center part in the last twenty five years, which is amazing. But probably no more than a third of the people in those churches are white. So, my guess is that what I’m seeing in New York will be the future here. You’ll shrink down. You’re not going to see 75 percent, 50 percent church membership or church attendance and that sort of thing. But it’ll get down to like, it’ll get down to twenty five to thirty five percent. It’ll be, largely, it’ll start growing again. Secularization will actually bottom out in about 20 or 30 years. Islam will grow here too. So, because, for a lot of reasons. I don’t know if you find that interesting.

Moore: Yeah. But not to this inevitable sense of secularizing everything, the future is disenchanted.

Keller: No, no, no. As a matter of fact, I mean, ask anybody in demographics, the world is actually going to get less secular as time goes on. A lot of that has to do with birth rate and things like that. But also evangelism, you know, and that sort of thing.

Moore: If you were going to give a word to, I mentioned a few minutes ago how surprised I was at all the 21, 22 year olds who really resonated with with The Atlantic article, if you had to give a word of advice to that 22 year old Christian who’s a little scared, a little nervous about the future. And you said, here’s one thing you should really concentrate on as you go forward, what would you advise?

Keller: Well, you know what, this entire podcast I’ve sort of dodged all of your questions by saying case by case. I don’t know I can quite do that on this one. Well, OK, let me just say something that Kathy and I have talked to each other about in the last year. If Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead, if he really got up, walked out, was seen by hundreds of people, talked to them. If he was raised from the dead, then you know what? Everything’s going to be all right. Whatever you’re worried about right now, whatever you’re afraid of, everything is actually going to be OK. Because you got to remember, we’re not just talking about resurrected people. Jesus Christ is, and this is where Christianity is unique, we’re talking about a resurrected world. Meaning, there’s plenty of other religions that talk about a future afterlife, which is a nonmaterial world. In other words, you get a consolation for the world we’ve lost. Christianity says it’s not just your bodies are being resurrected, but the world is actually going to be a material world that’s cleansed from all evil and suffering and sin. If Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, then the whole world is going to be, in a sense, resurrected and everything is going to be OK. Everything. You don’t know how. I don’t know how, but it will be. So, and you know what? Actually, right now, I couldn’t possibly be convinced that Jesus was not raised from the dead, either intellectually or existentially. So whenever, and by the way, Kathy and I, listen, we cry. We cried a lot last night. Sometimes the reality of the shortness of what we have left here just overwhelms us. And we were just weeping together and crying. And then you say, if Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, it is going to be OK. And then you can wipe your tears, but you don’t stop crying. It’s like salt in the wound that keeps the wound from going bad. That keeps the wound from getting infected. But it doesn’t mean that until the end of, you know, until we actually meet Jesus Christ we still have our wounds. So they are going to be healed, but they’ll be healed by his. So, I think, I still could, yeah, I would still go back to if Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and he was, you’re going to be OK.

Moore: Well, that’s a good word on which to end. The book is called Hope in Times of Fear by Tim Keller. And I’m really thankful for you, Tim, and for the way that God uses you in my life. And I encourage everybody to read this book in a time of fear. Thanks for being with us today.

Keller: It was great to be with you, Russ.

Moore: And I would encourage you, if you would like more information on this book or other resources, just tap the cover art here or swipe it up. And there will be some show notes on that. And be sure also to send me your ethical questions that you’re grappling with, maybe something in your family or your church, and we’ll deal with it over on the solo podcast. And also be sure to send this along to someone you think would benefit from. This is Russell Moore and you’re listening to Signposts.

By / Dec 2

As a young woman, I felt the call to serve God overseas in a Muslim country. Like many students in a thriving college ministry in the early 2000s, the call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth was heard often and taken seriously. I remember being faced, for the first time, with the reality that God did not exist to bless me and make my life better, but that he blessed me so that his name would be glorified among the nations. 

I signed up to spend six weeks in a Central Asian country where my team and I would teach English at universities and build relationships with students outside of class. Our hopes were that God would allow us to share the gospel with them. Prior to leaving on this trip, I was actually quite terrified. I felt anything but courageous. I was leaving the comfort and safety of my Midwest existence and heading to a country whose religion caused fear in the hearts of many post-9/11 Americans. However, I was not scared of being in a Muslim country or being with Muslims; I was scared of God. 

Learning to rest in the gospel 

During my college years and for several years afterward, I had a poor understanding of the gospel. I thought I needed Jesus to get to the cross, but after I received salvation, it was up to me to be good and perfect and holy. This meant that I pursued the “most holy” thing I could do, which was going overseas for the sake of the gospel. And when I was there and struggling with a lack of desire to do what I’d been sent to do, I became fearful of what God thought of me. Surely, he would not love me unless I committed right then and there to spend the rest of my life living in the Middle East. 

Later on in life, my husband, 8-month-old daughter, and I headed overseas again. This time we were spending two years with the IMB working with a Muslim people group in Europe. I was less fearful this time, but I still held onto a low-level fear that God was somehow inexplicably disappointed in me each day. It wasn’t until I read a parenting book on grace that I finally understood that I was the heathen, not just those I was going to share the gospel with. Once I realized that I was in need of grace and understood that God had already freely given me grace for my sins, I was set free from the fear that had caused me to keep God at arm’s length. 

Today, we are living in time that causes a lot of fear for many Christians. I think many of us have either assumed or been taught, albeit subconsciously, that it’s up to us to be holy and prove our righteousness before men and God. Scripture even tells us to be holy as God is holy. But if we look at the whole Bible, we see how much emphasis is placed on God’s saving work on our behalf. 

Responding to the fears of our day

As we near the end of 2020, you may be feeling that the world has completely turned upside down. You could be fearful of a pandemic or a new government in the United States. You may be worried about job loss and the economic future of our country. Our subconscious Christian culture may have told us that these things should cause us to fight for our rights. But, I would like to suggest a different way to react to these things that, for many, are truly scary. 

As we look to increased COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, while also looking down the barrel of an uncertain political future and economic disruptions, the greatest thing we can do is embrace our fear and take it to God.

When I look back on my time overseas, I remember how scary it felt to share the gospel with a post-modern European who believed that all truth was relative and anyone who believes in a Middle Eastern carpenter who walked the Earth 2000 years ago is crazy. The largest mosque in Europe was just a few blocks from our apartment, and every Friday I saw droves of North Africans fill the neighboring streets so they could attend Friday prayers. At times, the spiritual lostness was so overwhelming I felt paralyzed to even know what to say.

I can even look to my life here in the states and see when fear has crept into my heart. I pray for my neighbors and the friends of my children. But what if God gives me an opportunity to really talk about my faith? Will I freeze up in fear, or will I trust that God can give me words to say?

What I’ve learned most about fear and courage in my 37 years of life is best defined by my friend Lori McDaniel who says there are four ways to deal with fear: 

  1. Pretend I have none: denial
  2. Remain in it: paralyzed
  3. Hand letter it and post on social media: facade
  4. Absorb God’s Word and move forward: trust 

As we look to increased COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, while also looking down the barrel of an uncertain political future and economic disruptions, the greatest thing we can do is embrace our fear and take it to God. Tell God what you are fearful about, not social media. Instead of getting angry and attacking someone on the other aisle of your beliefs, take your anger and frustration to God. He wants to hear what you have to say, and he wants to show you in his Word how he will take care of you. God can and will give us all the courage to be salt and light in this broken world. No matter what happens in the remainder of 2020, 2021, and the rest of our lives, we can be sure that God is on his throne, completely in control of everything happening. Be strong and courageous in the truth that God is God and you are not. 

Russell Moore’s latest book, “Courage to Stand,” is about how courage means embracing your fears. Check out his book here

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By / Nov 18

One of the most discouraging things in my walk with Jesus has been seeing Christian leaders fall. At this point in my life, I’ve seen it happen so many times that it is hardly surprising anymore. In fact, at times I feel numb to it. It seems like every year, and sometimes every week, there is news of a different Christian leader, on some level, who has fallen into moral failure. Most recently, it was the lead pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, who was dismissed from the church earlier this month due to an extramarital affair. Following the news of his firing, social media was filled with a range of responses. Some mocked Lentz for his brand of cool Christianity. Others expressed their disapproval and regret to see another Christian leader fall. But many who had been influenced by Lentz expressed emotions of hurt and confusion. 

Moral failure

Seeing some of those responses, particularly those reflecting pain and doubt in the wake of seeing a spiritual leader fall, made me think again about the issue of moral failure. Moral failure brings about a great deal of fallout. It marks the end of ministries. It marks the end of marriages. It devastates families. As the apostle Paul said it “makes shipwreck” of faith, but not only of the faith of the one who fell (1 Tim. 1:19). 

In the aftermath of a leader’s moral failure, great damage is done to those who looked to that person for guidance. This is because Christian leaders have much more than benign influence. For those under their spiritual care, such leaders are living pictures of Jesus. In their lives, words, and actions, they model what it means to follow Christ. And whether they intend to or not, their lives serve as a sort of validation of the gospel. Seeing some live in a way that demonstrates the authenticity of conversion and new birth verifies that Christianity itself is based upon something real and true.

It’s no wonder seeing a spiritual leader fall is so painful. At the very least, as a result of their fall, many begin to second-guess the things you learned from them. Were those things really true? Or were they simply expedient in some way you didn’t recognize before because you never thought to question them? And sometimes the result is much worse, leading not merely to doubts about the lessons that person taught but the faith he or she represented. Few things are more jarring than seeing someone who has shown Jesus to you fall into sins that repudiate the very things you most admired about them. 

Christian faithfulness

I’ve seen Christian leaders try to hedge against this problem by speaking regularly about their own brokenness. Reminding those under your care about your own humanity and fallenness is, in general, a good practice. A Christian leader who never admits to struggling with sin isn’t doing any favors to those they are leading for a number of reasons. All of us are broken and struggle with sin. And inevitably, even the most faithful among us will still fall short in ways that disappoint and cause pain to those around us. But simply reminding others of our own sinfulness is neither a remedy for our sin nor a bulwark against its effects. 

Faithful Christian leaders recognize two things at the same time. First, they know that Jesus alone is perfect. But second, they know that our fallenness is no excuse for unfaithfulness.

There is a reason the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians to follow his example (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul was an apostle. He was not a superhero. By instructing those believers to follow him, he was not setting up a precedent that the rest of us are just supposed to ignore. Instead, he was showing us what it looks like to follow the example of Jesus who instructed us to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19). A disciple is a follower. And though we are all called to be followers of Jesus, we learn what that looks like through the example of believers who are ahead of us in the faith.

Faithful Christian leaders recognize two things at the same time. First, they know that Jesus alone is perfect. But second, they know that our fallenness is no excuse for unfaithfulness. Christian leadership is a burden. This is the reason that James says that “not many of you should be teachers” (3:1). But those who assume the burden of Christian leadership really are expected to walk in a manner worthy of imitation. Our sinful nature does not lessen that burden. And knowing that, we should commit to memory the words of Hebrews 12, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

Keep watch

If the stories I know of Christian leaders guilty of significant moral failure are any example, none of us should assume that we are safe from future sin because our lives seem to be on track right now. The Scriptures are filled with warnings about the insidious nature of sin. Peter tells us that the devil prowls as a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Paul not only tells us to keep a close watch over our lives and doctrine, but admonishes us that anyone who thinks he stands should take heed lest he fall (1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Cor. 10:12). The point could not be more apparent: we are always in danger of falling into sin.

You might be tempted to explain away the moral failure of others. But what happened to Carl Lentz can just as easily happen to you. It may come in a different form, but temptation is coming for you all the same (Gen. 4:7). Sin is no respecter of persons. And the devil seeks your destruction. I’ve had to remind myself that numbness is not the answer to revelations of moral failure among believers. Nor is judgement. Instead, I have resolved that each time I hear about another leader’s failure, I will pray for them and pray for me. I will not ask how they could do such a thing, but ask that God would protect me from that which most tempts me. 

It is a weighty thing that the lives and faith of many believers are bound up with a leader’s ability to fight against sin. But they are. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christian leaders owe it to Jesus and to his people to fight against sin with all they have.

By / Nov 17

Jeff Pickering and Chelsea Patterson Sobolik welcome back ERLC president, Russell Moore, to the podcast to talk about his new book, The Courage To Stand, and what we can learn about truth and tribalism from the 2020 presidential election. The message of Dr. Moore’s newest book is timely for this fearful and anxious year as he helps readers see where Christ-empowered courage comes from, from the way of the cross.

This episode is sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of the advent family devotional, A Better Than Anything Christmas. Find out more about this book at

Resources from the Conversation

By / Oct 6

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 6, 2020—Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, released his latest book today, “The Courage to Stand: Facing Your Fear Without Losing Your Soul,” published by B&H Publishing Group.

In “The Courage to Stand,” Moore calls readers to a Christ-empowered courage by pointing the way to real freedom from fear—the way of the cross. In the book, Moore defines the way of the cross as integrity through brokenness, community through loneliness, power through weakness and a future through irrelevance.

Throughout “The Courage to Stand,” Moore inspires readers to discover real freedom from fear by addressing issues such as: 

  • Courage and Crisis
  • Courage and Anxiety
  • Courage and Integrity
  • Courage and Justice
  • Courage and the Future

“The way of courage, as defined by the gospel, is not the pagan virtue of steeliness and fearlessness, much less our ambient culture’s picture of winning and displaying, or strength and swagger. The call to courage is terrifying because the call to courage is a call to be crucified,” Moore says.

During a time when people are experiencing angst about the future, Moore illuminates for readers in “The Courage to Stand” how fear is rooted in the idea that we might lose our belonging in whatever tribe in which we seek safety, or simply, that we might have to stand alone. He calls readers to a Christ-centered courage that equips us to face our fear and keep walking toward the voice that calls us homeward. 

About Russell Moore

Moore is the author of several books including The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home,” which was named Christianity Today’s 2019 Book of the Year. This prestigious award was also conferred upon Moore’s book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel,” by Christianity Today in 2016. In addition to these titles, he has also written “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches” and “Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ.”

The Wall Street Journal called Moore “vigorous, cheerful and fiercely articulate.” He was named in 2017 to Politico Magazine’s list of top fifty influence-makers in Washington and has been profiled by such publications as the Washington Post, the New Yorker and the Weekly Standard. A native Mississippian, Moore and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.