Born to Win Podcast - with Ronald L. Dart-logo

Born to Win Podcast - with Ronald L. Dart

Christian Talk

Born to Win's Daily Radio Broadcast and Weekly Sermon. A production of Christian Educational Ministries.


Whitehouse, TX


Born to Win's Daily Radio Broadcast and Weekly Sermon. A production of Christian Educational Ministries.




Christian Educational Ministries P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, TX 75791 903 839 9300


Close to God

When a person knows that God is there—but he can't touch him, can't see him—there should be a longing for God. Unless, of course, God is not in his thoughts. Then, if God is not in his thoughts, a man can walk through life with no awareness of God—no sense of God's presence, no awareness of the closeness of God. But when we are far away from God, whose fault is that? Has God left us, or have we just forgotten him? What you need to look for in yourself is not so much the presence of God, but the longing for God. When that returns, you will know you are not in the right place, and never will be until you are with him. Think about Job, who said, When I read that, I can't help thinking that I am where Job was. I have heard of God with the hearing of the ear, but my eye has not seen him. Don't get me wrong. I believe in God, but so did Job. I obey God, but so did Job. I pray to God, but so did Job. There is no act of righteousness that I have done that Job would not have done, and more. And that means that I am squarely where Job was. And that also means I very likely share his vulnerability. I want to tell you where this first began to dawn on me and what I think it means…


The Minor Prophets #4 - Amos

In the days of the Old Testament prophets, the gate of the city was like the county courthouse used to be. It was where the courts were but also where most business was conducted. It was the official gathering place for the town council—the elders in those days. Even today, if you’re going to foreclose on a piece of property, you have to go down to the steps of the county courthouse and auction it off, right there, on the courthouse steps. In Old Testament times it would have been the gate. In those days, that’s where the prophet went to pronounce his message, and that’s what you see as you read through the prophets and they talk about . They’re talking about the courts, they’re talking about the public arena; they’re talking about the place where the public comes together. So when you read in the book of Amos, a statement like, or , you begin to see what he is talking about. This is a time where you go down to the county courthouse, as it were, you put up your little box, and you get up on your soap box and preach. This is what Amos is about to do.


The Minor Prophets #3 - Amos

Therefore flight shall perish before the swift, and the strong will not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself: neither shall he stand who handles the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rides the horse deliver himself. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the Lord. What a thing to consider, all these things have to do with the warfare of the time. Men who were swift of foot who could run down an enemy if they had to do so, who could dodge an enemy if they needed to do so. The men who could handle the bow, the most and best long distant weapon any army ever had back in those days. The man who was fast couldn’t get away. The horse was the armor of the day, the tanks of their day. The horses were for war, not for agriculture, and in those days the fighting men of Israel like ours were among the best in the world. They were courageous, they would stand and fight. There enemy came out against them in a single column and ended the day fleeing in seven directions. The Israel to which Amos was sent was about to get a role reversal, and it wasn’t because God would make it happen. This is really an important thing to understand. You read the prophets and you almost feel like God is saying In reality what God is saying is, It isn’t because God made it happen, it was the natural end game on the board they were playing. How could that ever happen to a nation?


The Minor Prophets #2 - Amos

When men forget God their society heads for ruin. And so, at critical junctures, here comes a prophet to call us to our senses. That’s the good news—the prophet comes. The bad news is that people hardly ever listen to the prophets; they’re just like a voice crying in the wilderness. God rarely picks a Billy Graham to serve as a prophet. The reason I think is quite simple: it is the message that is the thing, not the messenger. Be careful not to despise the messenger. If God ever does decide to send us a message, it will likely come from someone we don’t respect. Take the prophet Amos as an example. He was about as unlikely a prophet as you would ever find. He was a sheep herder and a fruit picker with no formal training as a preacher. He had no degree after his name and no obvious qualifications for the job. It was just that, one day, God decided it was time to say something; so he reached into his toolbox and selected the man he wanted for the job. Amos began his prophecy with a fascinating theme. He used a Hebrew idiom: , and then he began to outline what was coming and why it was coming. I don’t know if the numbers are symbolic in this case or just a way of saying, It’s a passing interest that both three and four and the sum of these—seven—is suggestive of a whole. I don’t know if that was God’s intent but it’s clear enough what He was saying, because transgressions were getting out of hand and some important things were going to happen.


The Minor Prophets #1 - Amos

I can’t help wondering why Christians don’t read the Old Testament more than they do. Of course, I guess I could raise the same question regarding the New Testament. Some Christians just don’t read their Bible enough, period. I realize well enough there are parts of the Bible that are hard to understand but we can’t neglect a task just because it’s hard. I’ve always taken the approach with the Bible that when I find something that’s difficult to understand, something obscure, or something that doesn’t read right, I consider it like a stake in the ground that says . Oftentimes, those are the very places where you get a breakthrough in understanding the Bible, if you just take the time to dig a little deeper. It’s the things that we have to work for that often turn out to be of the greatest value. There are parts of the Bible that are hardly ever studied in any detail. Take the Minor Prophets as an example. The reason they are so poorly understood may be that no one has taken the time to explain where they fit in the overall scheme of things and what it is they’re talking about. Unfortunately, many people pick up the Bible and read prophecy to find out what’s going to happen. They think of prophets in terms of someone like Nostradamus, and that misses the point of the Biblical prophets completely. If you study the prophets to ask why things happen then you will be far closer to the prophet’s intent. The difference between prophecy and simple predictions of the future—as seers and fortune-tellers make—is that prophecies contain moral content.


Stay Safe

I recently saw a cover on with a picture of a prominent bureaucrat and the headline: I am going to answer this question for you in no uncertain terms. No! There is no man, no combination of Secretary, Vice-President, or President (and much less congress), that can keep America safe. You don’t have to be religious to realize that to place that kind of responsibility on any man or any combination of men is to imply God-like qualities—qualities that no one possesses. But the idea of being or has embedded itself so deeply in our national consciousness, that it dominates even media thinking. What is wrong with it is that it is unrealistic, and anyone who is paying attention knows that. Yet, safety is a powerful biblical idea—but not the safety that any human can provide. And I have two important things to say about it.


Living Together

There is something radically wrong with sex education as it currently exists in this country. It seems as though everyone has completely forgotten that sex is supposed to be an act of love. But perhaps the schools can’t teach love. They are teaching sex without morals because they have no absolute standard of morals. And as a result, they are teaching sex without love. I don’t know who to blame for all this, but whoever it is has set us on a slippery slope to oblivion. I don’t know if the trend can be reversed or not. But if it isn’t, the destruction of the family will ultimately lead to the destruction of society. Our kids have been sold a bill of goods by Hollywood and the music industry, and the schools have done nothing to correct it. How can they? They can’t quote the Bible to students. They can’t tell them that there is a Creator who designed man and told him how to build a civil society that will last. They can’t tell the kids that there is an absolute standard of moral behavior. They can’t tell kids that there is such a thing as sin, and it will eventually lead you to the place where you will be running an ad to find a man to help you with your kids. In a way, the problem is not that kids don’t want to marry and have kids and stay married until old age. When you ask them, they say that is exactly what they want. The problem is that they haven’t got a clue how to get from here to there. Part of the answer lies in good, solid religious teaching at home and at church. But you also have to overcome the stupidity that is being sold as an alternative lifestyle. Somebody is out there telling young girls that they can have their babies and do just fine as single mothers. It is a lie. They will not be just fine, and neither will their children. The truth is out there, all over the place, but kids have to be told—and told again and again. I came across an old article in the that presented a truth to me with a clarity I had not been able to explain, even though I knew right from wrong on the issue. The article was titled “How We Mate”, by Barbara Whitehead. Ms. Whitehead was writing about the profound changes that have taken place in mating habits among Americans of all age groups. What struck me in the article was not an argument. It was just a fact. And it wasn’t even a counter-intuitive fact, so I had no trouble accepting it. She wrote about the number of single mothers who think they will do just fine raising their kids by themselves. But she noted that some single mothers have a rude awakening…


Controlling Pornography

Is there really such a thing as sexual addiction? Some professional counselors say there is, and some say there isn’t. I don’t know who is right on this issue, but I have a feeling that people are disagreeing on mere semantics. They are talking past one another, where there really is no substantive disagreement. I will leave the arguments on that to the professionals. But I have to admit that there is a real problem in our society with something that looks very much like an addiction to sex. Thanks to the internet, pornography is clean out of control. Of all the kids you know between the ages of, say, 11 to 17, how many of them would you say would accidentally be exposed to pornography on the internet? The answer: 9 out of 10—accidentally. If I point out to you that there are 8,000 new cases of sexually-transmitted diseases among teenagers, every day, would you agree that we have a problem? No? What if I add the hard fact that 20% of ninth graders have slept with four or more partners. Then would you agree that we have a problem? It is true to say that pornography is out of control in our society—and in the world, for that matter. But when we say that, we raise the specter of . If we are to control it, who is the controller—the government? One of the things that is killing us is the way the courts are now interpreting the First Amendment. What is odd about it all is that for 200 years, we lived under the First Amendment and still managed to keep sex away from children. We kept it out of movies, radio, television, print—mostly. What do you suppose was the overriding social need that allowed us to interpret the First Amendment in such a way that we could control pornography? And why can’t we do it now? To answer that question, I have to change the subject for a moment.


Free Love

If you asked 100 people where the expression came from, I doubt you would find more than one person who knows. I surely didn't. I thought it originated back in the 1960s with the flower children. But I was wrong. The term originated in the 1850s in a religious commune in Oneida, New York. Called the Oneida Community by some and the Oneida Experiment by others, it was an experiment with sexual freedom under religious auspices, and quoting scripture for its justification. I'm not sure what sent me looking for this, but I found an article in magazine by Frederica Mathewes-Green called Initially, it sounds very strange. How can you hoard love? And how can love be a selfish attachment when it is the outgoing giving of oneself to another person? According to Ms. Green, Noyes Now, you may be way ahead of me on this, but it isn't clear to me how a can be like angels who don't marry at all. According to Noyes, As I read more on John Humphrey Noyes, I knew I had to talk to you about it; but I was torn. what is the story really about? Is it about sex? About love? About utopianism? And then I came to a paragraph by Lawrence Foster in an article titled … - Frederica Mathewes-Green - Lawrence Foster


The Music of Divorce

For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why your kids like that stuff they call . (I don’t understand why it isn’t music yet, but maybe that’s part of the story, as well.) But now, more than ever, I realize what motivates songwriters and, far more importantly, what touches the hearts and lives of the people who listen to their music. It doesn’t make any difference how angry and alienated a songwriter is. If no one buys their music, they will never be heard. People buy music because it speaks to them and echoes their lives, their fears, their hope, their anger. I don’t listen to rock because it doesn’t speak to me, my life, my fears, my hopes. But it is a mistake to dismiss rock or rap, because your kids are listening—and responding. Consider, for example, the following lyrics…


Covenant Marriage

For the first time in our history, married couples are in a minority. Married couples now only comprise 48% of the households of this country. Back when I was a junior in high school, going to the prom, and dating the girl who would become my wife—back in 1950—that figure was 78%. And as my wife and I approach our 49 anniversary, it is sobering to think that a marriage like ours belongs on the endangered species list. Lifetime, permanent marriage is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. And even marriage isn’t what it used to be. Since the advent of divorce in the 1970s (which sure seemed like a good idea at the time) divorce has increased four times over. For many people today, it’s not very different from cohabitation; it just has some legalities at the beginning and some legalities at the end. And increasingly, many couples are just forgoing their legalities and shacking up. We’re evolving as a society, but I’m not sure we’re going to like the we are creating. The effects of these changes on children are beginning to show up as they become adults, and no one knows how this is ultimately going to play out. It isn’t that we didn’t know the effect it was having at the time—that the information was available to us. The problem was that no one really wanted to know. There are now some efforts being made to turn back the tide. Some states have introduced something called . The idea is to give couples the option of creating a much stronger marriage contract. It features things like pre-marital counseling, waiting periods, established grounds for divorce, and even a trial separation to see what it feels like. Another thing that covenant marriage is bringing to the fore is that marriage is a contract—and a very unique one, at that.


Love and Sex

Now, I have the greatest admiration for the teaching profession. It’s an honorable one. But there’s a lot of experimentation going on in schools led by educators who are long on idealism and short on common sense. The objects of this experimentation are your kids. And the law of unintended consequences has seen your sons and daughters expecting babies, infected with disease, or carted off to the abortion clinic. The image of a couple of high-school girls in a science lab struggling to put a condom on a banana tells me that some wisdom is missing from the system. We should take more interest in what is going on in our schools, whether we are parents or not. These are good people teaching your children, but they need your help and involvement—giving the educational process a good dose of common sense. Meanwhile, from a parent’s perspective, is there something that might be taught alongside sex education that could make a difference? I have two important ideas from a Biblical perspective—one for sons and one for daughters.


Love and Marriage

If you think marriage is tough, try divorce. At least that’s what a friend of mine told me after about a year of divorce. Divorce is a nasty business, and especially nasty for the children. Back in the ’70s some states started passing no-fault divorce laws in a well-intentioned effort to take the acrimony out of divorce. Divorce rates rose steadily until, by 1990, about half of all marriages ended in divorce. The increase in divorces has leveled off, but only because the number of marriages has dropped off. People just don't bother with marriage; they shack up instead. Marriage and relationships have become, for many people, a market relationship. People enter the relationship for the benefits, and when the benefits are no longer there, they end the relationship. If I use one long-distance company, and another one comes along and offers me a better deal, I switch. People are doing the same thing with husbands and lovers. Now guess who wins and who loses in this situation?


Why Marriage Matters

I was driving by a church one day just as a wedding was ending. The bride and groom had emerged and the crowd was throwing rice (or birdseed) at the happy pair. I momentarily found myself a little surprised that people were still getting married and then I laughed at myself. , I said. Then I saw an article in magazine titled, . Well, of course it does, I thought, but then I remembered. Not everyone thinks it does any more. The article was an interview with David Blankenhorn who, in his newest book, argues against same-sex marriage—and for leaving homosexuality out of the debate. The interviewer asked: The author had spent an entire year studying what all the great anthropologists had concluded about marriage. He wanted learn whether there were any common features of marriage across human societies and cultures. He responded: What is always a core purpose of marriage, in every known human society? Here is the answer: Everywhere, marriage exists in large part to ensure that the woman and the man whose sexual union makes the child, stay together in a cooperative union to raise the child. […] This finding is widely shared—it is not really controversial—among the leading scholars of marriage in the modern period.


Expectations of Marriage

When on vacation, celebrating our 50 wedding anniversary, my wife and I happened to notice a magazine article entitled, . That was irresistible under the circumstances. Our marriage seemed to be one of those that had lasted, and would continue to last. Since we were now on a marriage that had lasted, we thought it might be interesting to compare notes. There were some surprises in the article. One of them was the cost of the average wedding in the US—$22,360. It took my breath away. That seems like a lot of money to pay for something that only has a 50-50 chance of making it. Would you pay $22,360 for a car that only had a 50% chance of lasting? Would you pay $22,360 for a car and then not change the oil? Because a lot people seem to think that a marriage requires no preventive maintenance. We figure our wedding cost something between $350–$500. Now, 50 years later, couples in the US spend $50 billion a year on weddings, and $25 billion of that is a bad investment. Along with a lot of sobering statistics, the article had a couple of important insights. We are no longer content with a reliable partner. We want a spouse who will make us happy. And there is no one who can do that. You can have a partner who is as dependable as sunrise, who will be there for you come hell or high water. But if this partner can’t make you happy, you will leave him and take the children with you, right? Well, that is what people are doing every day. All this helped me understand why the divorce rate keeps on climbing. People are entering marriage expecting something that no partner can provide. Happiness is a will-of-the-wisp. It comes and goes with circumstances and has more to do with what is inside you than it does with what your partner does or doesn’t do. If you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, you haven’t got a chance.


Beauty and the Power to Love

Sometimes important ideas can come from unexpected places. I came across an article in the journal by an architect who had been provoked by a piece on church architecture by another architect. I have no idea what would have prompted me of all people to read an article on church architecture but, having picked it up and read the first paragraph, I couldn’t put it down. The author wrote very well. He pulled no punches and he hit on something that has been nagging at my mind for quite a long time. He got me in the first paragraph. He said: It’s no secret that the state of religious architecture in America is bad—really bad. The American idea of inevitable progress runs into a brick wall when we compare the quality of our architectural output a century ago with the stuff we are building now. Nothing high flown about his rhetoric. He just calls it bad—really bad—and he speaks of the stuff we’re building now. He set out to discuss the problem, and I’ll come back to his argument, but first think about this idea: Nearly every form of art, music, and beauty has become seriously degraded in the past 100 years. To me, his complaint about architecture was only one facet of a massive societal change that has been going on for a long time and, particularly, has accelerated in the past 50 years. There’s been a terrible fading of beauty. Something has happened; something has changed. Something has gone out of our lives and, frankly, I’m worried that we will never get it back. I think we have sacrificed love on the altar of modernism. Having lost the power to love, men have lost the power to create beauty, for beauty arises from love. Referenced Works: - Catesby Leigh


Set on Fire

“If a man dies, shall he live again?” That’s the question, isn’t it? “Is this all there is?” People want to know. We are going to live out our lives here in misery, pain, frustration, aggravation, and irritation, and after that comes oblivion forever. Sometimes one thinks that oblivion might even be merciful after all of this. “If a man dies, will he live again?” It was Job who asked this question, and Job had a really good reason to ask whether life was even worth living or not. Here’s a man who had been wealthy and successful—I mean, everything the man ever did in his life worked, and all of a sudden, everything in his life fell completely apart. All of his children were killed when a windstorm came by and destroyed the house they were all partying in that particular day. A group of civilians came by and stole all of his livestock—every bit of it, leaving him with nothing. I don’t think they had insurance back in those days to pay for all that. One moment he was a wealthy man, and the next moment he had nothing. Not long after that, he began to notice the first signs of the appearance of boils on his body. Finally, he was covered with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, and there was absolutely no place he could get comfortable. Now, if you’ve been sick—and it may have been long enough since you were sick that you don’t remember real well—but when you’re sick, life gets to be a real burden. You don’t think clearly, you can’t sleep well, and it’s difficult to concentrate when the fever goes up or when pain is in your body. You think, “Well, I can just shovel it off to one side, and I can keep my mind clear at least, and I can keep my mind focused on what’s important. What I’m doing.” No, you can’t. As your pain begins to rack your body, and as fever begins to mount, your mind doesn’t work like it did when you were healthy and whole and feeling good, and everything was working. And this is why this man had no place to get comfortable—no place to really, you know, be able to get rid of the pain. The pain was with him all the time. And when he slept under these conditions, he could only sleep because of exhaustion. No peaceful sleep for Job in this period of time, and the only encouragement he could get out of his wife was, “Well, why don’t you just curse God and die?” I am sure that death was an option that might have crossed his mind, even if his wife had not mentioned it to him, maybe even suggested it to him, that he end his own life because life had become such a terrible, terrible crushing burden. And so, I think it makes a lot of sense that a man in Job’s position would want to know, “What is there in this for me to go on? Is life worth living? Should I keep on trying with this?”


Self-Esteem or Self-Respect?

Did you know there is a National Association for Self-Esteem? I had no idea. They feature the leading thinkers in the area of self-esteem and human potential. I think the self-esteem movement has its supporters and detractors as nearly any movement will have. It will have some practitioners who are sound, some who are off the wall, and some who give the movement a bad name. I'm not sure at all what camp the National Association falls in, but their website was…well…interesting. What started me thinking about this was an article quoting psychology Professor Jean Twenge. It said I'm no expert, but that analysis matches to a what I see in young people these days. Of course, what I think I see is only what I see. Can this be backed up somewhere? Twenge goes on to say Suicide was more common among middle-aged people, not young people. How things have changed? Boy, now there is a question. When you consider the kind of world they have lived in compared to the kind of world their grandfather lived in, good grief, why should they feel anxiety and pain? Well, let's look at some possible answers.


Who Do We Blame?

I think we need a divorce tax—say, $2000 to be paid by the partner at fault in the divorce. The very idea of a no-fault divorce is absurd. If two people agree that neither is at fault, then they should both pay $2000. Think about it—if no one has done anything wrong, why are they getting a divorce? Someone once said that if you want more of something, subsidize it. If you want less, tax it. Well, somewhere in our past we made divorce entirely too easy. And we made another mistake at the same time. We subsidized mothers for having babies out of wedlock. So we got more divorce, an explosion of little babies with no dads, and all the negative social consequences that entails. Now, I hope you understand that I have said all this tongue in cheek. Because there is really not much the government can do about social problems except make them worse. Politicians can rage back and forth, but the problem in this country is not with government, it is with the people. But, wait a minute, the people are the government, aren’t they? This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, isn’t it? It is, but in spite of everything, we like to think the government is someone else. The problem with marriage, divorce, single moms, illegitimate children, and a whole host of other social ills is not with government. It is a clear reflection of the moral failings of the people. And if you want to do something about that, Government is not the answer. The answer lies in the hearts of the people.


Stand Up for Christ

Remember prohibition? No, I don’t suppose you do. What did the nation learn from that? We learned that when people wanted to drink they would find a way—there would always be criminal elements to help them. The criminals would get rich and a lot of people killed fighting for turf. I am not suggesting that we legalize drugs. What I am suggesting is that it doesn't make much difference what the government does, one way or another. That the harder we fight drugs , the more people we will put in jail, period. And that is about it. The problem is the giant hole in the heart and soul of the American people where God should be. Every substitute we try from sex to entertainment, to drugs, comes up short. We are empty and we will never be able to fill the void. For how many generations now have we been knuckling under to the people who want a total separation of religion and state? They call it a separation of church and state, but that is a constructive lie. It is separation between God and public life that they are after. More than that, from some quarters, the eradication of God from American life. The government can go on putting people in prison for drug offenses and when they run out of prisons, build more. They can go on placing the children of these people in foster homes until there is no place left to put them. And will the government have won the war on drugs? No, they won’t. Because the war is a war for the human heart. And our government long ago abandoned the field in that battle.