In just a few weeks, I will be in the beachfront city of Blackpool, England, preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hundreds of local churches have come together to invite unsaved friends, neighbors and family members to come to the historic Winter Gardens and listen to the only message that can bring lasting and enduring hope.
We are calling it the Lancashire Festival of Hope. Like people in our own country, the English people are facing challenges on multiple fronts, with the growing influence of Islam, unemployment and rising crime. In fact, Blackpool has been identified as a “crime hotspot” and has the fourth-highest murder rate in all of the United Kingdom. Sexual assault and domestic violence exceed national averages, and alcohol and drug abuse are a growing problem in a city where life expectancy is among the lowest in the U.K.
That’s why we were stunned when some of our advertising for the Festival was removed by the local bus company, whose double-decker buses carried our banners that read, “Time for Hope.”
According to news reports, the advertising was deemed “offensive” after several members of the LGBT community complained. “Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset,” a spokesperson said. “All buses carrying the advert will remain off the road until they have been removed.”
Apparently, all it takes to remove a simple statement of Gospel hope in the land of Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon and Lewis is the opposition of a few members of the gay rights community.
I can assure you that tens of thousands of people in Blackpool and across the United Kingdom are truly searching for real hope. Sex, drugs, money—even religion—none of these is the answer. I’m simply coming to share with everyone in Blackpool, Lancashire, and across Northwest England that there is One who can give us hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow and hope for eternity. His Name is Jesus Christ!
The same kind of twisted thinking we’ve seen in Blackpool has also made deep inroads in our own country, where sexual orientation and sexual freedoms have somehow managed to outweigh religious liberty in far too many instances.
It was so encouraging this summer when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of religious liberty in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The ruling upheld owner Jack Phillips’ right to refuse to decorate a cake for a homosexual couple because of his firm Christian belief that marriage is ordained by God between one man and one woman. Indeed, the nation’s high court held that the state of Colorado had been shown to be hostile to religion and the sincerely held religious beliefs of Jack Phillips.
Shortly thereafter, the court vacated a ruling against florist Barronelle Stutzman and returned her case (Arlene’s Flowers v. State of Washington) to the Washington State Supreme Court. The 73-year-old Barronelle had refused to make floral arrangements for a gay wedding due to her Christian faith. This decision makes it more likely that her case will one day be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.
One of the justices ruling in favor of protecting religious liberty in the Jack Phillips case was Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the Supreme Court in 2017 after being nominated by President Donald Trump.
Sometime very soon, the Senate will vote on President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement this summer. By all accounts, Kavanaugh, a justice on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, is a man of faith with a conservative background of protecting religious liberties.
The battle lines have been clearly drawn, and leftist liberals in Congress have mounted an all-out offensive to defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. They understand how the critical balance of power could shift in favor of conservatives—if he is confirmed.
It is my hope that Christians across the nation will make this an urgent matter of prayer in the coming days. A liberal court has done extreme harm to religious liberties in recent decades. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, we can look forward to our highest court defending and protecting sincere expressions of faith in the public square. This is a remarkable opportunity that could affect generations to come.
While I thank God for the distinct advantages that a conservative high court can bring to the United States—think what grievous damage we have suffered from rulings that outlawed prayer in school and legalized abortion and same-sex marriage nationwide—I realize the most critical issue facing America is our stubborn and rebellious heart toward Almighty God.
The Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Our nation has moved far away from God’s standards. We have become so prideful, arrogant, smug and self-sufficient that we have forgotten God. The fear of God—right reverence and humility before Him—is for many an archaic notion.
It is my hope and prayer that by God’s mercy, we will turn our hearts back to the Lord, humble ourselves before Him, repent of our sin and ask Him to truly heal our land. It can happen. As Jeremiah 32:17 says, there is nothing too hard for God.
With God’s help, I will keep preaching the Gospel to as many people as I can for as long I can. The Word of God is powerful, sharp and alive, and it can penetrate and transform resistant hearts.
Please pray for the Festival of Hope Sept. 21-23 in Blackpool and also for my upcoming evangelistic Crusade Oct. 5-7 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Pray earnestly and intercede for our president, our Congress and our state and local leaders. Scripture warns, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). As the church, we must seek to live holy lives, fearing God and trusting in His sovereign, wise and loving hand.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16, ESV).
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture Quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
The Scripture quotation marked ESV is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.