Max Lucado: A Sovereign, Good God Can Redeem the Most Difficult Circumstances

For many, Christmas is the best time of the year. For others, it's difficult and challenging to get through. Pastor and author Max Lucado joined The Glenn Beck Program on Monday to talk about his new book, Because of Bethlehem: Love Is Born, Hope Is Here, and the hope found in a baby in a manger.

"Some of the people I know who have the most vibrant faith are those who have discovered that God can be the perfect father to them . . . it's kind of a mental switch. They say, Okay, I wasn't, for whatever reason, blessed with a good earthly dad, but I'm not going to let that slow me down. That is what it is. I'm going to press into God, and I'm going to see what scripture says about the kind of father he is, and I'm going to begin relating to him in that fashion," Lucado said.

The new book also has a companion Study Guide or DVD Study.

God knows what it’s like to be a human. When we talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, we have a friend in heaven.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Max Lucado is a pastor in San Antonio and an author. 120 million books sold, and people are still reading -- Max Lucado has a new book called because of Bethlehem. And also the Because of Bethlehem coloring book, which I think is fantastic. Pat had never even heard of an adult coloring book and has all the typical questions that I had when I first found out that we were making coloring books for adults. But now I love them.

Max is here with us now. Max, how are you, sir?

MAX: I'm great. I'm great. Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for letting me be on your program.

GLENN: You bet. I want to talk to you a little bit about Christmas from the eyes of people that don't necessarily find this the most wonderful time of the year. I know people who I would generally consider happy people. And I got an email from one of them the other day that said, "Christmas is the worst time of the year for me. It is so hard, and some of it is based on things that happened, and some of them is based on missed opportunities."

What do you say to those people?

MAX: Yeah. And as a pastor, I meet people like that quite often in between church services. Likely, someone will come up and say, "This is really a tough December for me." And when I ask why or explore why, oftentimes, it's something that happened this year, so this is the first Christmas since this -- you know, the funeral. The first Christmas since the divorce or the first Christmas since the job layoff. So what they would expect to be a happy season feels even heavier. And you're absolutely right. For some people, Christmas is a reminder of what they never received. And they assume or feel that everyone else did. Maybe a healthy family or wonderful parents or a great childhood. And so Christmas can be a reminder to them of -- of pain, and consequently, they just kind of slug through December and try to get it over with.

GLENN: And if you don't have a good family or if you -- particularly, people who didn't have a good dad -- you know, how do I look at, you know, God as a father and a loving father when I don't even know what that means? You know.

MAX: Yeah. And it requires some pretty exact discipline on the part of somebody's father whose father was anything but a father. And when they read in the Bible that God is our Heavenly Father -- and that conjures up images of betrayal or abuse or abandonment -- it's difficult.

But I have discovered this, Glenn. That there are those who say, "You know, I'm going to envision the perfect father, and I'm not going to blame God for my father's failure. My earthly father, my biological father's failure, but I'm going to trust God that he can reveal to me the image of the perfect father. And I'm going to let scripture, let the stories that the Bible tell me who my Heavenly Father is."

And some of the people I know who have the most vibrant faith are those who have discovered that -- that God can be the perfect father to them. And they make that -- it's kind of a mental switch. They say, "Okay. I wasn't for whatever reason blessed with a good earthly dad. But I'm not going to let that slow me down. That is what it is. I'm going to press into God, and I'm going to see what scripture says about the kind of father he is. And I'm going to begin relating to him in that fashion.

GLENN: I will tell you that Pat said to me at one point to consider -- he said, "It will change your life. Consider your -- consider God an actual dad. Envision him as an actual dad."

Now when I read scriptures, I know how I'm supposed to be a dad because I can see him as a dad. I can see how he is as a parent. He doesn't put up with crap after a long, long, long fuse. But he never punishes in -- in a bad way. He -- he lets you feel your consequences.

MAX: Absolutely, yeah.

GLENN: And he does it for your own good.

MAX: He does. He does. And I think that we are wired as human beings to need a father. We are wired to need a father. That's just the way we are built -- that's why the family unit is so important. And that's why the breakdown of fatherhood in culture is such a disaster. But it's not fatal. It's not fatal.

We believe in a sovereign, good God who can redeem the most difficult circumstances. And it's worthy of note that when Jesus taught us to pray, he said, "Pray like this: Our father who art in heaven." That's how he taught us to pray. We relate to God, yes, as a king, yes, as a Creator. But we can relate to him as our father.

And it's often pointed out that the way Jesus said that was the word our Abba. A-B-B-A. It was a tender colloquial term like papa or daddy.

I don't think anybody is ever so successful, sophisticated, or important, that they don't need a Heavenly Father with whom they can relate as a daddy, that since being able to crawl up in a father's lap and say, "I'm tired. I need help. I need strength," that we were made, Glenn -- I think we were made to receive that.

GLENN: Tell me about the book Because of Bethlehem. I'm just reading here. And I love this. Most of the players in the Christmas drama inspire us with our faith. This is about halfway through.

Mary who had great courage. Joseph who was obedient. The shepherds who came quickly and worshiped willingly. The wise men who traveled far and gave generously. Most of the characters in Bethlehem drama behaved like heroes. But there was also one who played a role of a villain.

Why is this -- why is this important?

MAX: It is important. King Herod. You know, what a story. Here's a king who was -- who was 10 miles from Bethlehem, who had wise men come from a distant country saying that they perceived through the stars that something miraculous was happening. And it could be in the vicinity of where King Herod was.

So he consults with his religious leaders. His religious leaders say, "Well, there is a prophecy in the Bible that says that the king will be born in Bethlehem."

And I think King Herod was so power-hungry, so jealous, that he couldn't bring it -- he couldn't bring himself to make the 10-mile hike to Bethlehem to see who this might be. And as we know, he actually ended up trying to kill the newborn Jesus because he tried to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem.

He's really a picture. In the book, Because of Bethlehem, I look at some of these characters and what they teach us. And I think that Herod is the picture of the man that is consumed by jealousy, by a lust for power, and how it just destroyed him, and how it prevented him from making what could have been a life-changing discovery in his life.

And so in the book -- I look at some of these characters, like Herod, or Joseph, or Mary, asking, "What can they teach us this Christmas? What can they teach us?" And I think he serves as a warning, that we shouldn't let ourselves get so arrogant and prideful that we don't feel the need to take moments to explore what supernatural interventions God might be doing right next door to us.

GLENN: You're not making these guys into movie stars. At one point, towards the end, you write, "Hollywood recast the Christmas story. Joseph's collar is way too blue. Mary is green from inexperience. The couple's star power doesn't match the bill. Too obscure. Too simple. Story warrants some headliners. Square-jawed Joseph, somebody like George Clooney. Mary needs a beauty mark and glistening teeth, Angelina Jolie-ish. What about the shepherds? Do they sing? If so, can we get Bono?

I watched for the very first time, what is it? The Nativity Story, I think. It came out about five years ago.

MAX: Uh-huh.

GLENN: And I was struck by how they cast everybody as simple, very young, very -- I mean, it seemed very, very real to me. And when you cast the story that way, you -- you really appreciate what Mary and I think -- especially Joseph -- did.

MAX: It's just a beautiful story, isn't it, Glenn? And it's so good for our spirit. I think it's good for our country right now, coming out of this difficult election, to let the Christmas story remind us that God loves every person. And he can use the simplest person. I can't imagine a person more simple than Mary. You know, she lived in a remote part of a remote country, on the margin of the Roman Empire. And yet she would be entrusted with what we Christians believe is the greatest miracle of all, and that is to bring God into the world.

And then there's Joseph. He apparently was a good guy. But he was a normal guy. He probably wouldn't have gone to the equivalent of an Ivy League college or been considered for Secretary of State or anything. You're just a regular old Joe. He was Joseph. And yet God takes these normal folk like you and me and says, "Just trust me. I can do a miracle for you. I can do a miracle in you. I can do miracles with you." And I think we need this reminder.

You know, in an increasingly secular society, we miss out on the surprises of God. We live with the mentality that says that all we -- all that exists is what we can hear or touch or see. But stories like Christmas remind us that somebody -- Almighty God is up to something really good. And he's bringing it about in the right way. And he's using regular folk like us to accomplish his purpose. And that's a refreshing reminder.

GLENN: I know we don't know this. But in your, you know, opinion as a man. How -- how much of Mary and Joseph's life was spent, do you think, thinking, I don't know -- maybe that was just a dream?

(laughter)

GLENN: Because they were people. How much of their life was spent questioning whether or not this was true. Because they were still cleaning dirty diapers and everything else. You know what I mean?

MAX: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we remember that -- that right at the core of the Christian gospel is the -- is the immaculate conception, you know, of Mary.

GLENN: Yeah.

MAX: And I believe it. I do. I know people dismiss it and disregard it. But I believe it. And if it is true, then Mary knew it was a miracle, right? I mean, she would have known.

GLENN: Mary knew. Mary didn't have as much a problem as Joseph did.

MAX: Joseph could have struggled. He could have.

GLENN: Yeah.

MAX: You know, I feel like the angelic appearances to Joseph and then just the testimony, the loyalty of his precious Mary, maybe the appearance when they took Jesus to have him set apart in the temple at the age of eight days, and he had that, you know, encounter with the people in the temple that said, "Something -- something is going on here. Something special." You know, there's no doubt he would have struggled. There's no doubt. We just don't know. We just don't know.

GLENN: Yeah, because we've all had -- now, we've never had angels appear to us, most of us.

But we've all had moments where somebody has said, "Boy, something is special." And then there's times, years later, that you're like, "I don't know." You get lost. And you're like, "I just don't know anymore." They are remarkable people because they were.

The name of the book is Because of Bethlehem: Love is Born, Hope is Here.

Max Lucado is our guest. He also has a Christmas coloring book out, which I didn't understand when I first saw them about four years ago. I'm like, "Come on. Are we really dumbing down -- adults need to color?

I think it is one of the most relaxing and mind-cleansing things you can do. But, Max, I appreciate it. And Merry Christmas to you and your family.

MAX: Merry Christmas to you, Glenn. All the best.

GLENN: God bless. Thank you very much. Max Lucado again. The name of the book is Because of Bethlehem.

Featured Image: Max Lucado (Photo Credit: MaxLucado.com

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).

Over the weekend, journalist Andy Ngo and several other apparent right-leaning people were brutally beaten by masked-gangs of Antifa protesters in Portland, Oregon. Short for "antifascist," Antifa claims to be fighting for social justice and tolerance — by forcibly and violently silencing anyone with opposing opinions. Ngo, who was kicked, punched, and sprayed with an unknown substance, is currently still in the hospital with a "brain bleed" as a result of the savage attack. Watch the video to get the details from Glenn.