We Need A National Revival, Part 1
This is part one of a two-part blog that will conclude next month.
In January 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention. Reporter Chris Sperry kept hearing everywhere he went, "John Scolinos is here." Sperry said, "Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy, who in the world was Coach Scolinos?
Coach John Scolinos was one of the featured speakers at that convention. He was 78 years old and had been retired for five years from a college coaching career that began in 1948. As Scolinos shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, he had a string around his neck from which hung a home plate — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about the home plate since he'd gotten on stage. Then, finally he said, "You're probably all wondering why I'm wearing a home plate around my neck," his voice growing irascible. The crowd laughed acknowledging the possibility. Scolinos said, "I may be old, but I'm not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I've learned in my life, what I've learned about home plate in my 78 years."
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?", Scolinos asked.
After a pause, someone offered, "Seventeen inches?", more of a question than an answer. "That's right," he said. "How about in Babe Ruth's day? Any Babe Ruth era coaches in the house?" Another long pause. "Seventeen inches?", a guess from another reluctant coach.
"That's right," said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?" Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. "How wide is home plate in high school baseball?" "Seventeen inches," they said, sounding more confident. "You're right!" Scolinos barked. "And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?" "Seventeen inches!" the crowd said, in unison. "Any Minor-League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?" . . ."Seventeen inches, the crowd said!" "Right! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate is in the Major Leagues? "Seventeen inches, they said again!"
"Seventeen inches!" he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. "And what do they do with a Big-League pitcher who can't throw the ball over seventeen inches?" There was a pause, "They send him to Pocatello (famous for its minor leagues from 1900-1993)!" he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. "What they don't do is this: they don't say, "Ah, that's okay, Jimmy. You can't hit a seventeen-inch target? We'll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We'll make it twenty inches, so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can't hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches."
He paused, "Coaches what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?
The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach's message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. "This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don't teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!"
Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. "This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people.
We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?" There was silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. "And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it."
"And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don't apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch."
"If I am lucky," Coach Scolinos concluded, "you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools, churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to ..." With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, and said, ". . . dark days ahead."
Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches. His message was clear: "Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are —your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."
Unfortunately, "home plate" has been widening in every area of our society. Instead of standards kept and moral principles revered, we are getting spiritually darker by the minute. Canada, so like so many other nations in our world, desperately needs a spiritual revival and a return to God.
The whole reason Jesus came to earth was so that people would no longer have to live in spiritual darkness (see Luke 1:77-79). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life (John 8:12)." Conversely, Jesus was saying, if we don't follow him, we are choosing to live in spiritual darkness and that darkness has consequences. Listen to what Jesus says:
There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed (John 3:18-20).
Why do people, nations and governments choose to live in spiritual darkness? First, Jesus said it was because their deeds were evil. Sin is attractive and alluring. We know this from our own experience. But the Bible also says that sin’s pleasure is only for a season (Hebrews 11:25). When it’s over, it leaves us bitter, and finally destroys us. Second, people who love to do evil do not want to come into Christ's light for fear their evil deeds will be exposed. Instead of repenting of their sin, and receiving forgiveness and healing, some people would rather stay trapped and imprisoned in the darkness of their sin and evil.
Jesus addressed the inner darkness of the human soul by using an analogy about our eyes, "But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!" Many people in our postmodern era would consider themselves to be "spiritually enlightened". Jesus would say to these people, "if you have any other "light" other than me, the light you think you have is actually darkness and that darkness is enormous." The darkness that Jesus refers to here is our sinful pride and rejection of God.
There is really no reason for anyone, let alone a nation or its government, to be in spiritual darkness, apart from their unwillingness to acknowledge God. Paul describes it this way:
There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand by what God has made. So, people have no excuse for the bad things they do. They knew God, but they did not give glory to God or thank him. Their thinking became useless. Their foolish minds were filled with darkness. They said they were wise, but they became fools (Romans 1:20-22).
Spiritual darkness always results when individuals, nations and governments choose to abandon God – "They knew God, but they did not give glory to God or thank him". When God is not acknowledged and worshipped, peoples' minds are "filled with darkness"; and darkened thinking leads to decisions, actions and lifestyles that do not glorify God.
By contrast, when we live in God's light, we will live in ways that will please God. This is why Paul challenged the Christians of his day as follows: "Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy (Romans 13:13)."
If we are living in the light of Christ, we will not participate in the deeds of darkness. If our governments were living under God's light, they would draft bills and enact legislation that would reflect God's glory and his righteousness.
In next month's blog, we will look at the stark differences between two of Judah's kings. We will see the difference between a nation governed without God and a nation governed under God. But for purposes of this blog, I would like to first point out why Canada needs a spiritual revival?
Over the last sixty years, Canada has had ten prime ministers. While each of these prime ministers and their MP's have governed our country – each with their notable achievements – helping Canada become a godly nation has not been one of them. This is not to say that our prime ministers or their MP's didn't have a spiritual life or that their public service wasn't appreciated. But rather, I am not aware of Canada becoming a godlier nation after sixty years of governance.
Some would argue that moral issues are not the role of government. I would argue that for the lack of godly morals, our government has spawned many policies and practices that have moved our country further away from Judeo-Christian values and into moral decadence.
One of the world's wisest leaders, King Solomon, knew the importance of godly morals and said, "Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) Indeed, Solomon knew the importance of governing the nation of Israel in righteousness and in godly wisdom; and as such, he prayed to God, "Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours" (1 Kings 3:9)?
Whenever we hear the words, know the difference between right and wrong, the subject of morals cannot be avoided. Some would argue, that the subject of morals is best left to preachers, churches and parents; and that politicians should only concern themselves with governing the country. I wish this dichotomy were that simple. But when governments continue to enact legislation that undermines over 2000 years of church teaching and God's holiness, then things are far from simple.
Biblical morality is not something our government usually considers when passing legislation. That's because they truly believe they are not to be in the business of legislating any morality, let alone biblical morality. But if moral neutrality was truly the position of our government, then we should expect them not to enact legislation that's immoral either. For governments cannot claim to be amoral on the one hand, while on the other hand they vociferously legislate immorality under the banner of liberation, rights, and freedoms.
For example, when MP's cannot vote for pro-life legislation because they are told unequivocally that they must vote pro-choice, then the government is certainly involved in legislating their view of morality. In this instance, our government pugnaciously assumes that all women should agree with their stance because there are no other women's views worth listening to.
Today's politicians are quick to extol their own version of diversity in their speeches or when haranguing others about their lack thereof, but their view of diversity never includes diversity of opinion. For example, in 2017, Liberal MP, Pam Damoff, was instrumental in barring Conservative MP Rachel Harder from chairing the House of Commons Committee on the Status of Women because of Harder's pro-life views.
In 2010, the Ontario Liberal government's school curriculum planned to teach early grades about age-inappropriate sex-ed topics. So strong was the backlash that then Premier Dalton McGuinty “shelved” the curriculum after only 3 days of public outcry.
The controversial curriculum was never given another thought by parents until October 2014. At this point, the new Ontario Liberal Premier, Kathleen Wynne, shocked the entire province by announcing she would reintroduce the despised sex-ed curriculum in 2015. Months of parental protests erupted across the province, but the Wynne Liberals feeling untouchable because of their majority, imposed the age-inappropriate sex-ed program on children, ignoring the views of parents entirely. The government in this instance just flagrantly pushed its own version of "morality" into the schools?
When Doug Ford's Conservative government was given an overwhelming majority on the promise to repeal this legislation, parents had hoped this curriculum would be removed from the classroom. But alas, the Conservatives brought it back to Ontario's classrooms as virtually the same curriculum! People are exasperated with duplicitous politicians that will say anything to get elected but are not honorable when they need to take a stand on moral issues.
Then, there was the Federal government's debacle over the summer jobs applications a few years ago. Churches and other organizations could not apply for summer jobs programs unless they admitted they were pro-choice. Here again, the government attempted to promulgate its own version of "morality" on Canadians. Thankfully, after a lot of pressure from church groups, and others, they rescinded that requirement on the applications.
Presently, our government is moving ahead with Bill C-8. This legislation criminalizes the act (called "conversion therapy") of helping a child identify with the body they were born with if they are in a state of "gender dysphoria". Meanwhile, the tragedy that escapes these politicians is that the only real conversion therapy that's happening is giving a child artificial hormones and plastic surgery to mutilate them for life. But our government defines this "moral" initiative as “gender affirmation". I believe it is immoral and unconscionable.
Perhaps our government was just following the "science" of the American Journal of Psychology. In October 2019, they published a paper titled, “Reduction in Mental Health Treatment Utilization Among Transgender Individuals After Gender-Affirming Surgeries: A Total Population Study.” As the title suggests, the paper claimed that after having had sex-reassignment surgeries, a patient was less likely to need mental health treatment. This made it sound like the most humane thing we could do to those experiencing gender dysphoria is to conduct sex-reassignment surgeries so that their mental health could be improved.
However, the authors of the study sought to "generate support" (in their words) for policies that ensure coverage of gender-affirming treatments, ignoring many elements of the data that invalidated this conclusion. In fact, an earlier, more rigorous, study of the same data had shown that the risk of suicide following sex reassignment surgery was over 19 times that of the general population. Thankfully, seven groups of scholars noticed the discrepancy and wrote critical letters to the journal pointing out the bias and weaknesses of the newer study. The corrected conclusion of the study was the opposite of what was initially reported. So, the bottom line: the largest dataset on sex-reassignment procedures—both hormonal and surgical—reveals that such procedures do not bring any promised mental health benefits.
In the UK, the hysteria over gender reassignment surgery has reached feverish proportions. It’s so bad, that in the spring of this year the UK Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, announced that the British government will be taking steps to ban children from undergoing sex-change surgeries before age 18. The United Kingdom has seen a breathtaking spike of children identifying as transgender over the past several years. The British government vowed to investigate why there was a 4,000 percent increase in children seeking to “transition” in less than a decade from 2009 to 2018.
Well, that was the government's position five months ago. As of this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backed away from their initial plans to ban sex-change surgeries for children under 18 and has instead launched an independent review that will be conducted by its National Health Services concerning its Tavistock Clinic– a clinic plagued with scandal and high-level resignations over their gender practices. 
The Tavistock Clinic recently changed its wording concerning puberty blockers. It once said that the treatments were, "fully reversible, and can be stopped at any time". Now the latest wording states, “little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria" . . . "it is not known what the psychological effects may be". . . "[and] it’s also not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones.” In light of these statements, the Government of Canada should put an end to this barbarity and experimentation on children and show some moral courage and outrage by ditching Bill C-8.
The British press also drew attention to the fact that many who have chosen to transition have gone on to regret their decision. In fact, a significant portion of the pushback to the transgender phenomenon and sex reassignment surgery is not coming from politicians (most of whom are far too cowed to take a stand anyhow) but from those individuals who have transitioned back to their biological sex. 
If Bill C-8 passes, it will have tragic consequences on young lives. When these children reach adulthood and want to identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, their hopes of ever changing or having a biological family will be permanently gone.
Additionally, Canadian parents run the risk of being jailed for simply trying to help their children accept their biological sex.  And this is not to mention what is going to happen to pastors, counselors and therapists who try to counsel a child's feelings to align with their biological sex. Bill C-8 is an immoral piece of legislation at every level. We can only pray and hope that our government will change its course.
I have mentioned all of these examples to indicate that governments are very much involved in legislating their own version of "morality". It is far from being an exhaustive list of our government's moral ills. Our government is not amoral, no matter how much they might protest otherwise. They are making decisions that are contributing to our nation's spiritual darkness.
When individuals or governments forget God, the Apostle Paul's words indicate the result –"Professing themselves to be wise, they became utter fools (Romans 1:22)." Our government will tell us that our nation is "enlightened, liberated" and "progressive", but the truth is, we are are darkened, enslaved and degenerated because we are showing a total disregard for Almighty God and his righteousness.
Our nation needs a spiritual awakening. It needs to return to God and biblical morality. This urgency has also been sensed south of our border as over fifty thousand people gathered at the Washington Mall to pray for their nation. A movement called, The Return 2020, led by Messianic pastor and author Jonathan Cahn, held a nationwide prayer gathering at the National Mall in Washington on September 26, 2020. You can see their site at thereturn.org. Another prayer initiative was also led by Rev. Franklin Graham on the same day. Their movement was called WashingtonNational Prayer March 2020 and you can see their website at prayermarch2020.com.
Our nation, like the United States, is in a state of moral decay. The Apostle Paul described what moral decay looked like in his day. He said, "Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him (Ephesians 4:18-19)." This is an apt description of Canada – so many have spiritually closed minds and hardened hearts. And this comes as no surprise, for, "Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Cor. 4:4)."
God has a better plan for each of us and for our nation. He wants to bring us into the light of Christ's love and good news. He wants us to renounce our sins and come out of spiritual darkness and into his marvelous light. He wants us to pursue his ways and not our own.
We need to pray for our nation. And remember when you pray, "Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world (Ephesians 6:12)." These powers are keeping people in spiritual darkness. Pray that the veil of spiritual darkness would be lifted form people's lives and they would see the radiance of Christ's love.
In my blog next month, I will look at the godly and ungodly leadership of two of Judah's kings. I will point out the contrast between a nation governed in darkness and a nation that experienced a revival under God.
 Adapted from Chris Sperry's story, "Stay at Seventeen Inches", found at http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/.  Daniel LeBlanc, "Trudeau now says all Liberal MPs must vote pro-choice" https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trudeau-says-all-liberals-mp-will-have-to-vote-pro-choice/article19218815/, The Globe and Mail, June 18, 2014.  Laura Stone, "Conservative status of women critic Rachael Harder challenges Liberal version of feminism", https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-conservative-status-of-women-spokeswoman-rachael-harder-challenges/, The Globe and Mail, July 2, 2018.  "Premier backs down on changes to sex-ed, https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/premier-backs-down-on-changes-to-sex-ed-1.504945, CTV News, April 22, 2010.  For a thorough overview of what the Liberal government was attempting to impose on Ontario schools as sex-ed curriculum, see Ontario's Radical Sex Ed Curriculum, https://www.campaignlifecoalition.com/sex-ed-curriculum.  Allison Jones and Liam Casey, https://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/05/08/ford-education/, The Canadian Press, May 8, 2018.  Alison Jones, https://globalnews.ca/news/5792416/ontario-new-sex-ed-curriculum/, The Canadian Press, August 21, 2019.  Jordan Press, "Liberals drop contentious anti-abortion test for summer jobs funding",ahttps://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberals-summer-jobs-program-changes-1.4934674, The Canadian Press, December 8, 2018.  "American Journal of Psychiatry Corrects Pro-Transgender Surgery Study", http://www.ruthinstitute.org/ruth-speaks-out/american-journal-of-psychiatry-corrects-pro-transgender-surgery-study?fbclid=IwAR307hwbiK_i2hfv_LPFKxh_MPs7ywGFiy_YyUacMajJgSLEYRzUV_lIHOE, The Ruth Institute, Sept 1, 2020.  Ryan T. Anderson, "Sex Reassignment Doesn't Work Here is the Evidence", https://www.heritage.org/gender/commentary/sex-reassignment-doesnt-work-here-the-evidence, The Heritage Foundation, March 9, 2018.  Ibid.  Jonathan Van Maren, “UK could shock the world if it bans sex-change surgery for children,” https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/uk-could-shock-the-world-if-it-bans-sex-change-surgery-for-children?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=05d1a31e49-ProFam_4_28_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-05d1a31e49-402396177&mc_cid=05d1a31e49&mc_eid=520815d62d, Life Site News, Monday April 27, 2020.  Jonathan Van Maren, "Spineless populist Boris Johnson backs away from plans to ban sex-change surgeries for children",https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/spineless-populist-boris-johnson-backs-away-from-plans-to-ban-sex-change-surgeries-for-children?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=b5ce66bf2c-ProFam_9_22_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-b5ce66bf2c-402396177&mc_cid=b5ce66bf2c&mc_eid=520815d62d, Life Site News, September 22, 2020.  "NHS announces independent review into gender identity services for children and young people", https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/09/nhs-announces-independent-review-into-gender-identity-services-for-children-and-young-people/?fbclid=IwAR3_QQDmS_E1tu-Qhol0S_799q95T5zPMga1o3oqR4VUyT-29waFE4eAs8Q, National Health Services, September 20, 2020.  See Jamie Doward, "Governor of Tavistock Foundation quits over damning report into gender identity clinic", https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/23/child-transgender-service-governor-quits-chaos, The Guardian, February 23, 2019, and Sue Evans, "Legal case to protect children from experimental medical treatment", https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/protect-children/?fbclid= IwAR2G6qXLeZdP0x7kSIbDPDWYo7dn6L4REq81JVKVVkIel7WR-RtIAiO6jBg, Crowd Justice, September 7, 2020.  James Kirkup, "The NHS has quietly changed its trans guidance to reflect reality", https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-nhs-has-quietly-changed-its-trans-guidance-to-reflect-reality/, The Spectator, June 4, 2020  Emer Scully, "Hundreds of transgender youths who had gender reassignment surgery wish they hadn't and want to transition back, says trans rights champion", https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7541679/Hundreds-youths-gender-surgery-wish-hadnt-says-head-advocacy-network.html, Daily Mail, October 7, 2019. See Jonathan Van Maren, “Those surgeons should be in prison: The pushback to the transgender agenda has begun", https://thebridgehead.ca/2020/02/05/those-surgeons-should-be-in-prison-the-pushback-to-the-transgender-agenda-has-begun/0/, Blog Post, February 5, 2020 and Sally Lockwood, "Hundreds' of young trans people seeking help to return to original sex", https://news.sky.com/story/hundreds-of-young-trans-people-seeking-help-to-return-to-original-sex-11827740, Sky News, October 5, 2019.  John Carpay, "New Trudeau law could jail parents who oppose gender conversion", https://www.jccf.ca/new-trudeau-law-could-jail-parents-who-oppose-gender-conversion/, The Post Millennial, March 11, 2020.