Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi noted, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
When New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin fell in the women's 5,000-meter run Tuesday morning, American runner Abbey D'Agostino tripped over her and fell to the ground as well. Hamblin lay on the ground until she felt D'Agostino's hand on her shoulder. "Get up, get up! We have to finish!" Agostino said to her. "This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this."
The two finished last and next to last, but both will advance to Friday's final because they were tripped. Hamblin told reporters, "I am so grateful to Abbey for helping me. That girl was the Olympic spirit right there. I am so impressed and inspired by that."
Christians need more of the "Olympic spirit" these days.
The Washington Post reports that abortion advocates are becoming more proactive than ever. As Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards says, "We need to challenge or repeal every single restriction that's out there."
Meanwhile, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is expected to finalize regulations next month that would allow people to stay in homeless shelters based on their identified gender. The move pits LGBT groups against religious organizations that operate many of these shelters.
It also raises the question of security for shelter guests. John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, notes: "One of the guests at a rescue mission overheard someone on the street saying, 'Dude, if you go down to the rescue mission and tell them you're transgender, you can sleep in the women's dorm and even shower with them.'"
Here's a metaphor for our times: a fascinating article in The New York Times Magazine reports that Michelangelo's David has cracks in his ankles. If the statue is tilted even fifteen degrees, perhaps by an earthquake, it will likely collapse. Since there were 250 earthquakes in the Florence countryside just in December 2014, this is a very real danger.
Like Michelangelo's masterpiece, it may seem that little has changed in our culture—presidents come and go, the economy expands and contracts, the Olympics return on schedule. But when a tremor tilts us—a legal challenge to traditional marriage, a zealous leader of an abortion provider, a redefinition of gender—the ground shifts and the statue begins to collapse.
We are at such an inflection point now. Decisions are being made that will affect us for generations to come.
That's why it's more urgent than ever that Christians declare and defend biblical truth, using our influence in every way we can while we can. Joshua's declaration must be ours: "Choose this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Never underestimate the power of your words and actions to change your culture. You are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14)—there is no other. Both influence what they touch all out of proportion to their size.
So be confident in your Lord. When David was attacked by "ruthless men" who "do not set God before themselves," he could nonetheless testify, "God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life" (Psalm 54:3, 4). You can say the same today.
Note: My latest booklet, Half-full or Hopeful? Five reasons for optimism in a pessimistic day, is available on our website. I hope you'll read it and be encouraged by the good news of God at work in our world today.
Publication date: August 18, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.