Can God use Donald Trump for His glory?

2 Chronicles 7:14 and My people [d]who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Daniel 2:20-21 Daniel said, Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.

This blog was a reflection on my thoughts immediately following the 2016 election of Donald Trump.  8 years later, I thought I would repost  as we approach 2024 election. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 

Written November 12, 2016.  The Republican primary started with 16 candidates.  The least likely and most unqualified was Donald Trump.  It was a presumed publicity stunt for the Trump brand, but his unpolished, in-your-face, anti-establishment rants won him a fan base.  There was no way Donald Trump would survive against these other polished, qualified, well spoken candidates.  One by one dropped and Donald Trump won the nomination.  Polls said 60% of the Republicans could not stand to think they would vote for Donald Trump.  He could not seem to control himself and responded unprofessionally and improperly to criticism.  His opponents and the sitting president claimed he was unfit for the Presidency, he was a loose cannon and unpredictable.  His repeated gaffs, crazy antics and seeming inability to control his emotions made for great Saturday Night Live skits.  He offended nearly every minority group and was an embarrassment to himself and our political process.  NBC released recordings from Access Hollywood of his sexist, arrogant, ego maniac comments made about women.  Donald Trump is a deeply flawed person and candidate that is unfit to be President of the United States.  His opponent, Hillary Clinton, is also a deeply flawed candidate but immensely qualified, has the backing of the sitting President, media-elite, educators, rising minority population.  Hillary is well spoken, stays on message and seemed unstoppable. 

The stakes for the election are very high.  The next President will have the opportunity to appoint several judges to the Supreme Court which will shape the laws of our country for the next generation.  Our nation has lost it’s moral compass and secular humanism is driving social change where we have seen the “progressives” push for legalized marijuana, legalize same sex marriage, blurring gender identity, open borders and expanded abortion rights just to name a few. Our churches for the most part have remained silent, failed to effectively share the good news of great joy for all the nations, failed to live out the truth of Jesus to attract this generation to know the love, grace and mercy that God has for his people.  We are past the tipping point and on the fast downward slide of self glorification and idol worship of our culture.

But there is a remnant, a minority in our nation that still knows the God of the ages.  Behind the scenes millions of Christian Americans got on their knees and prayed for God’s mercy.  Considering the terribly flawed options presented by both parties, Christians prayed for God’s mercy on our nation.  Evangelical Christian leaders came together to pray for America and support and pray for the candidate that ran on the Republican platform.  According to the Washington Post 80% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump.  Against all odds and all predictions Donald Trump won the Presidency. 

The peaceful transition of government that is the beauty of American democracy has been initiated.  Donald Trump has appointed Governor Mike Pence, who is well-known for socially conservative policies, to lead the transition team.  It is notable and hopeful for our nation and evangelical Christians to see that Donald Trump is nominating men and women that are outspoken committed Christian leaders to the highest positions of leadership in our government.  Some of the names emerging for Trump’s transition team include former Governor Mike Huckabee and Governor Sam Brownback, a socially conservative Catholic, are being considered for agency posts according to Buzzfeed. Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at Perkins’ Family Research Council, is overseeing domestic policy for the transition team, according to Politico. Others that have stood for Christian values include Senator Jeff Sessions, Reagan aide and former Attorney General Ed Meese, and immigration conservative Kris Kobach. Other names that will likely serve in top leadership spots include Dr. Ben Carson, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Bachman. 

I do not identify as a Republican or Democrat, but an independent Christian that votes for those who stand for conservative Christian values.  I am hopeful that God will use Donald Trump and other flawed people to bring revival to the United States of America.  I am hopeful that God will act in a super natural way to change the hearts of men to know His love and follow Him.  I am hopeful that our country will have Justices in our Supreme Court that will uphold biblical truths that protect the sanctity of life and religious freedom for all people and religions.  I am hopeful that our country will again be a beacon to the values of liberty and freedom that give hope for all men to pursue life, liberty and happiness.  I am hopeful that the United States will support Israel and will resume as the world leader of hope.

Is it possible that God can use Donald Trump for His purpose and His glory?  As I struggle with the person of Donald Trump leading our country I reflected on the people God has picked to use for His glory. 

Abraham -Was old.

Elijah – Was suicidal.

Joseph – Was abused.

Job – Went bankrupt.

Moses – Had a speech problem.

Gideon – Was afraid.

Samson – Was a womanizer.

Rahab – Was a prostitute.

Samaritan Woman – Divorced.

Noah – Was a Drunk.

Jeremiah – Was young.

Jacob – Was a cheater.

David – Was a murderer.

Jonah – Ran from God.

Naomi – Was a widow.

Peter – Denied Christ three times

Martha – Worried about everything.

Zacchaeus – Was small and money hungry.

The Disciples – Fishermen who could not stay awake while praying.

Paul – A Pharisee who persecuted Christians before becoming one.

God did not choose people who were the “most likely to succeed” or the most popular and influential candidates, but worked supernaturally through the broken, the weak, the left behind, the sinners, the unreligious and the outcasts.  Those least likely to bring honor and glory to God He chose to represent Him and do great works that changed the world for His purpose and His glory.  Can God use an immensely flawed Donald Trump?  Can God use me or you?  Yes He can!  My hope is not in Donald Trump or in the people he puts in place of leadership, but in Jesus Christ.  My hope is that God has mercy on us and bestows His undeserving grace on our nation so that we may respond to His call to know His love, worship Him and love our neighbors.  God is still in control.  May God bless America!

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A Reversal of Roles, A gift of a few days with my son on the Yampa River

In 2011 I wrote a blog entitled Giving the Perfect Christmas Gift. Now 13 years later, I received the perfect Christmas gift from my son, Ben. Ben is 25 and works for the Larval Fish Laboratory at Colorado State University as a Wildlife Biologist. For Christmas Ben invited me to come to Colorado to see and experience the work and life he lives.  Ben has been a wildlife biologist since he saw his first creature and later declared he wanted to protect the animals in an elementary school program about what I want to be when I grow up.

It is late May, Ben picked me up from Hayden/Steamboat airport and we started our adventure at Echo Park in the Dinosaur National Park. Ben had spent more than 200 nights setting nets and sampling fish in the Yampa River during his first couple years with the Larval Laboratory. He showed me the campsite that he spent those nights, Whispering Cave where he would escape the heat to eat lunch, the petroglyphs in the surrounding rocks, and the amazing views of the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River around Steamboat Rock as we hiked along the river.  It is a magical place with stunning beauty, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sites, learning about the work he did and hearing the stories of places he had explored, the experiences he lived and the things he found in Echo Park.

Ben meticulously planned our trip, shopped for provisions, rigged and packed the raft making sure we had everything covered. The Yampa river is one of the few free flowing rivers in the U.S. and is fed from the snow melt at the headwaters of the Flat Top mountains.  In late May, the river was full flowing, and we could easily make the 33 mile journey in a couple days. We traveled 15 miles the first day down the Yampa River along farmland and into the canyons. As Ben navigated the river, he called out river mile markers and explained the work that he did at each spot. This is Ben’s second season on this long-term research effort doing targeted removal of invasive species and tagging and recording of native species. Ben will spend over 100 days on the river in the coming months. Our first day was cold, damp and windy. Stopping for a shore lunch was a welcome opportunity to add a couple layers, build a quick fire and warm up with Ben’s fabulous grilled Reuben sandwiches. It is a dream job for Ben but make no mistake this is not easy work. Weathering the early morning cold, long days, mountain winds, scorching sun, and ever-changing water and weather conditions would challenge anyone that does not have a passion for this work. I feel like a wimp working in an airconditioned office where a little traffic or rain seem to be my only hazards. I have a better appreciation for those in ranching, farming, construction or any work that is completed day in and day out in all environmental conditions.

As we completed our first day, we pulled up to a beautiful spot to set up camp and get a fire going. Ben cooked up “shakshouka,” a fabulous fresh warm vegetable stew, as the clouds gave way to a clear night sky.  We had time for a quick hike up the mountain to see the sunset before heading to bed for the cold night. I buried deep in my sleeping bag and awoke to find my water bottle frozen, but a toasted bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese and a bright sun made for a great start for the day. The warm sun was a welcome change as we snaked through the canyons talking about the details of the work Ben did with fish, career plans, and all things of life and creatures. We made a couple stops for lunch and exploring the narrow canyons seeing wildlife, more petroglyphs, and remains of many rodent, deer, and elk. Bald eagles, golden eagles, ducks and birds of many colors flourished amidst the river and canyon walls. What a difference to have calm winds, clear skies and warm sunshine.  We made another shore stop for Ben’s grilled Reuben sandwiches sharing our lunch with an angry killdeer chirping and dancing about showing her feathers. She was rightly concerned with our presence as we found she had 4 eggs just a few feet from our lunch site.

We finished our journey as the canyons gave way to farmland and took out at the same spot  where his team finishes their work day. It was no surprise when on the dirt road out from the river Ben stopped the truck and quickly jumped out to grab a snake. He has been doing this as long as I can remember. We returned to the cabins where Ben and his work partners live during the season. You can sure see how the team builds deep friendships and become family as they work long days together, share the shopping, cooking, eating, cleaning and living together for months at a time. It is a special place and a unique time in life to work hard, gain valuable experience and build life-long relationships. I encouraged all of our children to pursue what they love, and it is certainly rewarding to see Ben thrive in following his passions for wildlife and conservation.

For so many years, Julie and I have been the ones to plan the details, set the agenda, make the provisions and lead the way. On this trip, the roles have reversed. Ben made all the plans and all the preparations. He insisted on buying groceries, lunch at his favorite dive, and taking care of every detail. He was an outstanding host, and I could not be prouder of the man and servant leader that he has become. There are two things that make for a perfect gift. First, it must meet the need of the recipient. Ben’s gift to me of an outdoor experience, sharing his life, and creating memories is priceless. Second, a perfect gift must express the personality of the giver. Nothing could express Ben’s personality more and genuinely communicate how much he desired me to experience his world more than to join him for the only 4 days he had off in 24 days of scheduled work on the river. Thank you, Ben, for courageously pursuing your dreams and sharing them with me. I love you.

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Celebrating Life’s Major Milestones

Graduation from college is a significant accomplishment and marks another life transition. Each of our three children worked hard to have jobs lined up before graduation and found a few weeks following graduation to rest and celebrate this milestone.  It occurred to me that in the coming months and years there would be much competition for one-on-one time with my children and that I should seize this opportunity to take a “You and Me” trip.  I will forever treasure this limited time together and the memories that we shared.

After graduation from Auburn University with a degree in Industrial Design, Drew accepted a position in Edgewater, New Jersey to design consumer products. Typically you must plan a year in advance to book a float trip on the Grand Canyon, but the Lord provided a last minute cancellation and we were able to helicopter into the Grand Canyon to meet Arizona River Rafting for a fabulous experience. Our boat captain, cook, guide and entertainer was none other than Brian Dierker who has been rafting the Grand Canyon for 50 years and starred in the 2007 movie, Into the Wild. Following the rafting trip, we stayed an extra day and fished Lake Mead and killed the striped bass.

After graduation from Colorado State University with a degree in Wildlife Biology, Ben earned a coveted full-time position with the Larval Fish Laboratory at Colorado State University. Following his graduation, the Lord provided a last-minute cancellation at the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge for 5 days of amazing fishing, wilderness views and wildlife. Ben wanted to catch an Artic Grayling, Dolly Varden, Rainbow trout, Sockeye salmon and Silver salmon. We got’em all! We also shared the fishing with the bears and had a fabulous adventure.

Following graduation from Auburn University with a degree in Philanthropy and Non-Profit studies, Summer found a spot with a couple Auburn alum in Santa Rosa Beach Florida working at Array 30A.  They work with realtors to shoot photography and video of homes for sale or vacation rentals.  Summer had planned a trip with a couple friends to travel to London, Paris, Switzerland and Italy. Julie and I combined the trip with our 29th anniversary for a few days in northern Croatia and later met Summer in Split Croatia for a fun celebration.  We spent a few days on Stari Grad and did some hiking to ruins and had a private boat to tour the coast, hit some swimming holes, lunch spots, touring the small villages of Hvar, Istria and ended up in Dubrovnik. What a special time celebrating Summer.

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What is the difference between “making disciples” and “equipping the saints?”

Making disciples

In Christian contexts, the terms “making disciples” and “equipping the saints” refer to two interconnected but distinct aspects of ministry, rooted in the teachings and commission of Jesus Christ.

  1. Making Disciples: This process refers to evangelism and the initial and ongoing teaching that helps people become followers of Jesus Christ. Disciple-making involves sharing the gospel, baptizing new believers, and teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded, as outlined in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. It emphasizes reaching out to non-believers or new believers, guiding them to accept and follow Jesus, and nurturing their faith and understanding of Christian doctrines. The goal is to help individuals grow from being new believers to mature Christians who can then make disciples themselves.
  2. Equipping the Saints: This term comes from Ephesians 4:12, where Paul talks about the roles of different leaders in the church like apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who are given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” Equipping the saints refers to the development and training of already committed Christians to carry out various forms of ministry effectively. This involves teaching deeper theological truths, developing spiritual gifts, and providing practical training that enables believers to serve within the church and in their everyday environments. The focus here is more on strengthening and deepening the faith and skills of existing believers.

While disciple-making is more about expanding the number of believers and nurturing their initial growth, equipping the saints focuses on deepening the spiritual maturity and ministry effectiveness of those believers. Both are crucial for the health and expansion of the church, and they often overlap and reinforce each other within the life of a church community.

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Exegesis Romans 8:1-17

Overcoming the desires of the flesh
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Praying for Our Friends Children

I came across a card along with the names and birthdates of my friends kids that I sent over several years on their birthdays. These were the men that invested 16 years (2010 blog about these guys) during the time of early marriage and raising children that we retreated to Estes Park for a long weekend of reflection and planning for the coming year. We all talk about committing to pray for each others kids but I wanted the kids to know and be reminded each year on their birthdays that their fathers friends were committing to pray for them. The inside of the card tells the specific prayers that we are committed to praying. Most of our kids are grown and several are starting families of their own. A good practice to share with you and I can report to date have been 100% answered. Praise to the Lord.

3 John 1:2-4 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

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Celebrating Feast of Tabernacles 2023

Ephesians 3:9-11

… to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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Mezuzah Sosa’s Family Vision, Mission and Core Values

Occasionally I have the opportunity to meet men who have read Lead Your Family and used the resources to create a Vision, Mission and Core Values for their family. My friend Marlin Sosa is a father of a young family with a passion to lead his family to be a light in his community. I was so encouraged by his efforts, I wanted to share this on the blog. Enjoy.

Mezuzah Sosa Purpose: Vision

Bring Light to Darkness, Order to chaos, And peace to others.

““Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

Acts 26:15-18 NIV

What God did for us we will do for others: Mission

Producing life in our house and the people around us by being light and trusting that God will guide, provide and empower us.

Genesis 1:2–3 (NIV)
2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Core Values:

The Lord will provide.

God will always give us what we need for every circumstance.

Genesis 22:8 (NIV): Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

Genesis 22:13–14 (NIV): Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Stand on your feet.

We cannot be defeated, because the one that sent us cannot be defeated.

Acts 26:16 (NIV): 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.

2 Samuel 23:9–12 (NIV): Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated,

10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them.

12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

Being attached to the body of Christ:

Supporting one another, focusing in where God has me now and being faithful to all God has given me in my allotment.

Joshua 17:17-18 NIV — But Joshua said to the tribes of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh—“You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have chariots fitted with iron and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”

Rejected by some and loved by the Righteousness.

Not everyone will love who we are and as darkness flees from light, some will flee, some will love us.
Acts 4:11 (ESV): 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 1 Peter 2:4 (ESV): 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,

Our Family is a Sign to others.

We live by the example Christ gave us and we invite others to it.

We start being life at home first putting things in right order and then bringing peace to others around us. We will do this anywhere God puts us.

Isaiah 42:6–7 (ESV)
6“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

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Can I Tell You A Secret?

The secret of life
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

The Apostle Paul tells us that according to the commandment of God AND revealed by the Scriptures of the prophets AND the preaching of Jesus the Christ, the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past has been revealed to all nations. Romans 16:25-26 The secret has been revealed. 

What has been kept secret for long ages past? 

Since the creation of man, God has had a plan for man.  Through the writings of the prophets and according to Gods command He has NOW made this eternal mystery known to all nations.  What is this eternal mystery?  Through the sacrifice of God’s own Son and His defeat of death, God has delivered His redemption plan for man.  Paul has unpacked through his writings to the Romans and shared the secret for all men in such a powerful way.

  • First, the God who created all that is desires to have a relationship with us who He created. Colossians 1:16, Colossians 1:21-22
  • We all are separated from God because of our sin. Romans 3:23
  • The just penalty for our sin is death and eternal separation from God.  Romans 6:23.
  • Even in our sinfulness, our creator died for us that we may be restored to Him. Romans 5:8
  • We only need to believe in our heart that He conquered death and confess with our mouth that we accept Him as our Savior and Lord and we can be restored and saved from death. Romans 10:9-10
  • Therefore, we can know that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Romans 8:1

The secret has been revealed and the mysteries of God have been made known. What great news and great responsibility we have as stewards of this mystery to be faithful to share this to all people.

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Do You Fear Death?

“Do you fear death? This is not the typical question you get at a business lunch. The Sales Manager of one of our key material suppliers was visiting our facilities today. They are a major supplier and I have had the privilege to get to know him at industry best practices conference where he also has joined me at a small breakfast that I host to discuss the best practices in leading your company according to biblical principals with other industry leaders.

Today, I joined he and my team for lunch. After they asked me to give thanks for the meal, the conversation jumped to current events and catching up on family. We all have aging parents and the question was asked, “Do you fear death?” Quickly all eyes turned to me and the question was reframed, “Seriously, I am afraid of dying. Don’t you all want to hear what Jeff has to say about death?” Not prepared, I stumbled and fumbled around and came up with a few comments about fear of the unknown, missing loved ones, watching my grandfather in his last few weeks embrace the inevitable with grace and confidence, and my own confidence in the Scriptures. (Which I could not come up with off the top of my head) I thought about my clumsy response, reflected on my true convictions, and sent an email to clarify. This is what I wrote:


I did not do a good job explaining my reasoning for why I am not afraid to die. First let me admit that the other side of death is mostly unknown and would cause anxiety for everyone. The feeling of loss in leaving family, friends and world that we know behind is a significant factor.

BUT, the Holy Spirit has revealed to me in a real and supernatural way a faith, knowledge, and experience to firmly trust in Him for all aspects of my life, my health, my family, my career, His provision for my needs, and my confidence in His providence in the midst of suffering.  The Word of God given to us in the Bible is trustworthy. In the end, as death approaches, I believe that He is faithful to His Word and that I will be judged, but by the grace provided to me through the death and resurrection of Jesus, I will live with Him for eternity. He has been faithful to me for my entire life, how could I not fully trust Him with my future and, therefore, I am confident of the promises given to us in Scripture and do not fear death.

P.S. My faith has been tested as I faced a brain tumor, a pulmonary embolism, and melanoma that all brought me to recognize the brevity of life and the realization that death is immanent. There was a sense of regret or sorrow of what I would miss or responsibilities I would not be able to fulfill, but there was no fear. The emotion that was present was an overwhelming desire to communicate my love to my family.  Similar to those on the doomed flights on 9/11 when the planes were going down, the priority for those destined to die on those flights was to call their loved-ones to tell them they loved them.  Fear was overwhelmed by love.

Thanks for challenging me to think through this. A few Scriptures to contemplate. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Ecclesiastes 12:7, Luke 23:43, John 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Matthew 10:28, John 11:25-26, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 14:13, Romans 8:38-39, 1 Corinthians 15:22, John 11:25, John 5:24, John 14:6, Matthew 11:28, Romans 8:17,

Grace and peace,  

Jeff Applegate

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Book Review: How (Not) To Be Secular, Reading Charles Taylor by Jeff Applegate

Book Review How Not To Be Secular

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