Thoughts For My Fellow Christians on Election Day

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Today is an exciting and potentially historic day for our great nation. It is a day in which we once again have the privilege of exercising our right to vote and it is a day that many on both sides of the political aisle feel will have monumental impact on the direction of our nation. It is also a day that many believers have been anticipating with great fear and anxiety. While I have absolutely no idea what the outcome of this election will be today, I do know that God cares far more about how His people treat each other and represent Him than He does about a particular political party winning or losing. With that in mind, I have a few brief thoughts for my fellow believers that I hope will be considered on this election day.

You Are a Christian First

If you a follower of Christ, that identity supersedes all others. Before you are an American; before you are a democrat or republican, conservative or liberal; you are a Christian. You are a child of God and as such you are His representative. You a citizen of His kingdom with temporary citizenship here in this world. Your obligations are to him before they are to any political party or social cause. Many Christians are approaching this election with the claim that they are voting based on their faith and their beliefs, all the while acting in a manner that is absolutely contrary to Christian behavior. I urge you to consider not only the rightness of your stance (because you just might be right), but also the manner in which you are taking it. Christians cannot be mean-spirited, nasty, dishonest, fear mongers. It is sad to see so much hatred, ignorance and divisiveness among the body of Christ. Remember, today and every day, that if you bear the name of Christ than you must live in a way that honors him.

We Are All Americans

Somehow this particular election seems to have gotten even more divisive than usual. Those of us who are Christians must remember that while it has been a great privilege to live in a country that has largely supported our Christian values and lifestyle God has nowhere promised that it should be so. Being American is not about faith or specific political positions. In fact, the beauty of America is that we are a diverse people unified under the belief that we are all free to believe, like and live however we want. Those who stand across the political divide from you are just as American as you and likely love their nation just as much. Wherever we end up after this election, I can promise you that our nation will be much better off if we get over the “us and them” mentality that has dominated this election cycle and get back to being a unified nation of diverse beliefs and preferences.

God Is Still In Control

Regardless of who is our president or what political party is in power, God is still sovereign over this nation and His world. I want to urge my fellow believers to stop acting in fear as if God cannot handle it if certain people or parties are in power. God is in control, and the simple truth is that He might not want what you expect Him to want. There is no guarantee that he wants you to have religious liberty. There is no guarantee that He wants you to live in a nation that makes it easy to worship Him. There is no guarantee that he wants you safe or wealthy. We just don’t know. What we know is that He is in control and we must accept that His ways are not our ways. Trust Him. Rest in Him.

Prayer Is Our Weapon of Choice

With many Christians taking to social media to fight it out over their political views, I think we need to be reminded that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places(Ephesians 6:12).” The way we fight that battle is not through clever arguments or nasty rants on the internet, but by “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication (Ephesians 6:18).” I urge you today to be in constant, persistent, selfless prayer. Pray for your brothers and sisters who are voting and pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who never get to vote and are living in persecution for their faith. Pray for your current president as well as for the next one. Pray for your nation, communities and neighborhoods. Pray for your church family. Perhaps most importantly, pray also that God will give you a spirit that is in line with His; pray for a heart that sees this world and the people in it the way He does. Pray! Pray! Pray!

You Have Been Given Peace

Too many Christians are walking around these days worried and in a panic. They are troubled over the state of our nation and all worked up over who will be the next president. I can tell you this: if you as a believer do not have peace now, you will not have it when you get your preferred president either. That is because genuine peace cannot be dependent upon circumstances. Peace is an untroubled heart because of faith in Christ regardless of circumstances. Jesus said to His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27).” Peace is a gift from God, but we have to choose to experience it by trusting Him, refusing to dwell on the circumstances, and by being grateful for the blessings He has given us.

God is a Big God Who Deserves to Be Honored

My biggest concern is not for the outcome of this election, but for God to be glorified by His church regardless of what happens in the election. My heart’s greatest desire in all of this is that the church would stand up for what is right, while also acting right; that we would represent our Lord in a way that will make Him happy and not ashamed. While many people will be discussing the election and its potential outcomes and problems and so on throughout the day today, it is my desire to simply remind you that you serve a big God who is in total control. Don’t worry; don’t be afraid. In the words of Paul, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way 2 Thessalonians 3:16).”

 

Photo By Harley Pebley (Flickr: Prayer for USA) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sunday Supper November 1, 2015

 In a feature reminiscent of my childhood in which Sunday supper consisted of a smorgasbord of leftovers and a random assortment of other foods, I bring you an assortment of random items of interest from the past week.

 

“Ironically, a pastor can be so busy caring for his people that he never makes time to stop and pray for them.” – What Is the Most Common Ministry Priority Neglected by Pastors?

 

Mission Agencies Send No One – There is a big difference between a church that “has” missionaries (like a budget item) and a church that sends missionaries. Sending is purposeful and should be done with care.

 

Thresholds of Violence is a long but interesting article about the history of school shootings.

 

One of the sweetest attributes in an individual is gratitude, but it is not all that common. Here are Six Ways to Cultivate Thankfulness and Joy.

 

Here are some thoughts about the morality of Daily Fantasy Leagues.

 

Forgiveness Is an Act of Worship – “Forgiving is releasing the grievance and the offender to God’s all-knowing perspective and to the perfect balanced of justice and mercy. This honors God by placing matters into His hands and His timing.”

 

We all face seasons of difficulty and suffering in our lives. Here are 4 Ways to Live Faithfully While in Exile.

 

Enjoy this random collection of stuff and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading or watching that is interesting, enjoyable or helpful.

On War Room and Prayer

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I recently had the opportunity to see War Room, the latest offering by the Christian film-making team Alex and Stephen Kendrick. Despite making $11,000,000.00 (in just over 1,000 theatres) on opening weekend and doing quite well since, the film is pretty much getting hammered by movie critics and reviewers. (Here is one of the kinder reviews.)

I, however, am not a movie critic and no one is interested in my amateur opinion of the film’s quality. For the record, I enjoyed the movie just as I have the others produced by this sibling team. I feel that the movie is certainly targeted to an exclusively Christian audience and prioritizes its message above all other considerations. Though this has led to much of the criticism, I think most people who go to see this movie know exactly what they’re going to get and are ok with that.

I, for one, am willing to overlook some of the professional inadequacies and enjoy the movie for what it is – a well made plea for Christians to engage in spiritual warfare through prayer. Though the discipline of prayer is somewhat oversimplified, the movie does a fantastic job of challenging viewers to evaluate their own prayer life.

I am convinced that this movie strikes upon a serious deficiency in the Christian church today. We do not pray as we should. Though we claim to value prayer, we do not put into prayer the time and energy necessary to validate that claim. As I watched this movie, I was deeply challenged about my own personal prayer life. Here are a couple of my personal take-a-ways from War Room.

  • Prayer is work. I’m sure there will be a ton of marketing based around the idea of prayer closets and journals, etc., but one thing that this movie conveyed well is that true prayer takes work. It is an intentional effort to remove distraction and approach God. Prayer is also work in the sense that our flesh opposes us as we attempt to pray. We must work to overcome the flesh and we must also work to engage in and overcome the spiritual warfare that is going on around us. Many believers lack a strong prayer life because they just won’t put in the work.
  • Prayer works. Another clear truth that War Room will remind you of and hammer home repeatedly is that prayer works. I’m not sure it always works the way it does in the movie, but it does work. Yes, God has a plan and He is sovereignly working that plan, but somehow in his sovereign and infinite power He also allows for our prayers to make a difference. Prayer is not just something we do or talk about doing. Prayer actually works and we need to reclaim our confidence in going before God with our prayers. He wants us to pray and He wants to use prayer to change things in our lives and the world around us. prayer works!
  • We don’t pray enough. I am sure that most believers feel as if they do not pray enough. There’s something about prayer that can make even the strongest saint feel inadequate, but for some of us it is actually true. In my opinion and experience, most Christians don’t pray enough. We talk to others far more than we talk to God. We seek help from other sources far more often than we seek it from God. We whine and complain far more often than we pray. If nothing else, this movie challenged me to look at all of life as an opportunity to pray.

Charles Spurgeon once said that “Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.” I don’t exactly know how all of that works itself out theologically, but I do know that God is almighty and all powerful. I also know that He wants me to pray and he uses my prayers to make a difference in my life and in this world. I encourage you to take Him at His Word and begin to pray. Don’t worry about technique or location or verbiage – just pray! Pray and watch what God will do.

Photo credit to navalatanjjnn @ http://fav.me/d2n124t

Sunday Supper July 26, 2015

 In a feature reminiscent of my childhood in which Sunday supper consisted of a smorgasbord of leftovers and a random assortment of other foods, I bring you an assortment of random items of interest from the past week.

“The Bible gives us many motivations to do battle with sin and to persist in putting sin to death. We battle sin because of a newfound desire for righteousness. We battle sin out of love and loyalty to Christ. We battle sin out of hatred for the consequences of sin. But one reason Christians too often overlook is this: we battle sin as an expression of love for others.” – With Purity and Dignity

Prayer and the Ministry of the Word provides some excellent, biblical thoughts on the primary job description of the pastor.

“There are so many ways in which I feel my failure as a parent. There are so many things I hear other parents doing and find myself wishing that I was doing them as well. But in Paul’s words I am reminded that my primary task as a father is to simply expose my children to God’s Word.” – The One Thing That Matters Most

6 Things Christians Can Do About Same-Sex Marriage provides some wise encouragement on how Christians can show love while also making a difference in a social context.

Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer some pastoral wisdom and biblical guidance about the believer’s relationship to history in this 6-minute video – Are we on the wrong side of history? The link also includes a transcript of their conversation.

10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood is a statistical explanation of the Planned Parenthood organization as well as its work and impact.

“When we are filled with a personal joy, thanksgiving, and contentment directed toward Jesus Christ, then gratitude fills up all the available space in our souls, leaving no room for covetous cravings.”  – The Missing Ingredient for Sexual Purity specifically focuses on contentment and gratitude as the key to overcoming sexual sin; however, the principles given are relevant to anyone struggling to overcome any sin.

Theological Heroes and Villains reflects on the reality that even our greatest spiritual or theological heroes are flawed and often there is something to be learned from a theological villain.

Enjoy this random collection of stuff and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading or watching that is interesting, enjoyable or helpful.