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Desiring to build others up & give grace to those who visit

We Are Sinners But God Is Compassionate

If you’re not familiar with the Old Testament nation of Israel & its history of being shown over & over again miraculous signs & wonders from God yet repeatedly rejecting Him, Psalm 78 is a good overview of that history. However, while I was reading it this evening 2 verses stuck out in the midst of the psalm:

In spite of all this, they still sinned;
despite his wonders, they did not believe.
[...]
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
(Psalm 78:32, 38 ESV)

These verses are not only true in relation to the Old Testament nation of Israel; they are also true for us today in relation to Jesus the Christ. We see the wonders of God daily: the sunrises; the changing of the seasons; the growth of plants; the awesome variability of the flora & fauna; the growth of a human from the joining of sperm & egg into a little baby, small child, teenager, adult; and on and on and on. We also have the testimony of the Bible from the wonder of creation through the mighty works of God in the Old Testament to the miracles of the New Testament, & the ultimate of all wonders in God’s Word–the resurrection of Jesus from death!

In spite of all this, we still sin; despite all these wonders, we still do not believe!

And yet, God is compassionate! Even though we do not obey His Word. Even though we sin against Him. Even though we reject the Creator of all things. Even though we reject the Savior. Even though we do all these things to directly offend Him who is infinite & is perfect in all aspects of His character (which means He is infinite & perfect in both Love AND Justice among many other attributes). He desires to see His people saved!

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

God’s most basic laws show us that we are sinners & should make us realize, merely by comparing our individual lives to His standard, that we are incapable of obeying His laws of our own accord:
1. We love other gods (This means we love other things above God Himself, not necessarily that we love specific gods such as those of other religions, though it definitely means that as well)
2. We serve images & idolize things above God.
3. We use God’s name flippantly.
4. We do not set aside a day for God. We do not rest from our worldly pursuits & focus purely on Him.
5. We do not honor our parents (while under their roof or once on our own)
6. We murder (if not literally, than by our anger with others–see Matthew 5:21-22)
7. We commit adultery (if not literally, than by our lust of others–see Matthew 5:27-28)
8. We steal (there is no qualification here of the worth of the object stolen)
9. We lie about others.
10. We desire things that others have.
[from Exodus 20:3-17]

And if that was not enough, look at what Jesus says in Mark 12

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV)

Do we manage to uphold even these 2 things?!

And yet, God is compassionate on us wretched sinners who deserve His Just Wrath for our transgressions against His infinite character! Jesus came to fulfill God’s law & accept the punishment we deserve in our place as only one who was fully God and fully man could possibly do. He willingly laid down His life, & if He had done only that, it would be of no eternal consequence; it would essentially be meaningless. He also rose from the dead. He defeated Death! Because of that, we have hope!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22 ESV)

Jesus is the good news to the bad news that we have sinned against God and are deserving of eternal punishment. How does this good news, this Gospel, become your hope? Repent, turn away, from your sinful ways; believe in Jesus the Christ and what He accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9, 10 ESV)

Is God a Monster?

I posted a link on Facebook the other day to a blog post entitled “Why Does God Create People He Knows Will Go To Hell?” In the post, the writer makes the analogy that to argue that God is not merciful because He does not save everyone is the same as arguing that Schindler was a monster because he only saved hundreds of Jews rather than finding a way to save thousands.

In the discussion following my Facebook post, a friend commented,

Except Schindler wasn’t an omnipotent being. If Schindler could have easily saved more Jews without effort but chose not to because they were defying him and needed to be taught a lesson, then yes, he would be a monster.

It seems obvious my friend is saying that if an omnipotent God (such as the God of the Bible) exists, then He is a monster because He does not save all people even though He could:

  • If God is all-powerful, He can save everyone.
  • God is all-powerful.
  • He does not save everyone.
  • Therefore, He is a monster

This, however, is not the God that the Bible presents. The Bible presents God as being infinitely perfect. This means, in part, that God is not merely all-powerful or all-loving or all-knowing; it means He is the essence of power, love, knowledge, righteousness, justice, wisdom, etc. All of these things have their origin in Him.

Now, back to my friend’s comment.

Let’s consider for a moment, “Why does God allow some to go to Hell (since that is really what we are talking about when we ask, “Why doesn’t God save everybody?”)?

If I commit an offense against another person, I should be punished with a punishment that is commensurate to the offense committed & to the dignity of the one offended. [The following examples are assuming the crimes are committed in Ohio] So if I toss litter out my car window, it’s a $100 fine. If I am cruel to my animal, I could spend up to 90 days in jail & could have to pay a fine of up to $750. And if I commit aggravated assault against another person, I could be convicted of a felony, spend 18 months to 6 years in prison, & pay up to $5000 in fines.

I point all this out to show that the greater the inherent dignity of the one offended, the greater the punishment. The punishment for assault is not greater than that for animal cruelty because it is more serious but, rather, because humans have greater inherent dignity than mere animals.

This understanding helps to explain why it is just for God to condemn us to Hell. Even the apparently smallest offense is an offense against an infinite being; because God is infinite, his dignity is infinite. If we are guilty of a crime against one of infinite dignity, our punishment should also be infinite.

[Click here and here (page 21 at the top) for some things that were helpful to me in understanding this]

So, this helps explain why it is just for God to condemn sinners to Hell, but it still doesn’t answer our question of “why doesn’t God save everybody?” However, this actually approaches things from the wrong angle. What we should be asking is “Why does God save anybody?”

There are at least a few things to consider here.
1. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). This is, I believe, self-evident. One doesn’t need the Bible to tell us that we are sinners. Look in the mirror. Reflect on your life. Even if you do not believe in the authority of the Bible, you should at least recognize that at some point(s) in your life, you have wronged another person–i.e.-you have done wrong (if you say you haven’t, you’re a liar). If there is a God and you have done wrong, then you have sinned against Him & are deserving of infinite punishment (see above). What reason does He have to save you from that?

2. Your good is not good enough to make up for any bad you have done. Whatever good you might try to do to make up for your wrongs is not good enough because you are incapable of perfection or infinite good. Once you are marred, once you are imperfect, there is nothing you can do in and of yourself that can make you perfect again (assuming you were ever perfect which, of course, you weren’t). If God is perfect (which, I think, He has to be in order to be God. If He wasn’t perfect, He couldn’t truly be God; he would have to be some kind of lesser being), He cannot allow imperfection into His presence, else He would cease to be perfect.

3. But you might say, “If God is all-powerful, he could just make everyone perfect or just erase their sins at the wave of His hand.” Well, let’s think this argument through for a moment. For God to be God, He must be all-powerful (as above, if He is not, then he must be some lesser being). And if that were all there was to it, then the argument put forth at the beginning of this post would stand, & God would be a monster–no argument; hands down, he would be a vindictive, hateful, spiteful, evil God. However, this is not all there is to it. God is not merely all-powerful. He is also merciful, loving, omniscient, & just (among other attributes). But here’s the thing about God’s attributes…they are perfect. He cannot violate one attribute to serve another attribute. So, although He has the power to erase everyone’s sins, He cannot do so without violating His perfect justice. The sins of each person must be paid for, either by that person (which, as I pointed out above, can’t be done) or by someone else. There is no other human being who can pay the price for your sins against an infinite God because every other human in the entirety of history has sinned…except one.

4. That One is the answer to “Why does God save anybody?” That One fulfilled God’s righteous law (that everyone else has broken). That One paid the price that no one else could pay because only He was sinless. That One took on the punishment for each & every person over the entire course of history who looked to God in faith and repentance & believed in Jesus (either as we now know Him or in the promises made by God that the Savior would come).

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

[...]if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)

I am not good

I want to be a good father
I am not
I want to be a good husband
I am not
I want to be a good son
I am not
I want to be a good grandson
I am not
I want to be a good brother
I am not
I want to be a good cousin
I am not
I want to be a good employee
I am not
I want to be a good coworker
I am not
I want to be a good teacher
I am not
I want to be a good friend
I am not
I want to be a good leader
I am not
I want to be a good follower
I am not
I want to be a good servant
I am not

I want to be good
I am not

But…

Praise God!
Jesus was, is, & forever will be!
He is my goodness!
I am not.

Send Prayers But Don’t Just Send Prayers

A friend of mine retweeted the following on twitter: “If everyone who is “sending prayers” to OK would send some clothes or money instead, they could actually help.”

There’s some truth there even if it is a bit misplaced. As Christians, we should most definitely be praying for all those affected by the devastation caused by the tornado in Oklahoma. Pray for safety. Pray for healing. Pray for the missing to be found. Pray for comfort. Pray for peace.

But…let us also do. Let us care visibly for those in need. Let us love our neighbors as the Good Samaritan loved his (& realize that the point of that parable is that everyone is your neighbor not just those I lose proximity to you). Let us love others as God has loved us. Let us sacrifice for others as Jesus sacrificed his life for poor, undeserving sinners such as ourselves.

And continue to pray. Add to those prayer requests that God would be glorified in this tragedy and would make himself known through his people demonstrating his love toward others.

Do Not Compromise; Do Not Show Animosity

Dear Christian brothers & sisters, do not give in to culture, society, this world for the sake of avoiding conflict:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

But also, do not despise those who stand against you & harbor anger & ill will towards them:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

Remember. You were once like them. You once were an enemy of God so have pity on them. Show them mercy. Show them love. For your Savior has done as much (& much more) for you.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV)

Why Do We Fear the Direction This Country is Headed?

I haven’t written anything on here for quite a while, & I’m not really sure I’ll be able to adequately explain my thoughts on this subject.

But…

When I see conservative media outlets making doomsday predictions about what will happen to this country as our rights are supposedly slowly stripped away or as we slip into greater moral decline, I am not surprised; they are only doing what any good “news” source is supposed to do–keep their viewers (readers, listeners, etc.) coming back for more. However, when I hear Christians spouting the same talking points, it really grates on me.

Don’t get me wrong, I think part of our duties as salt & light is to try to preserve a moral society for the benefit of all & to expose those things that are evil, so I’m not opposed to pointing out & trying to change those things that we see as wrongs or abuses of this country’s laws. But it really bothers me when Christians take a secular-type of end-of-the-world attitude toward things the government & society are doing.

I have two basic thoughts on these matters:

1. (And this, I think, is the more important of the two) Why should we fear doomsday, end-of-the-world, apocalyptic predictions? Do you not realize or remember what the end of this world means?! It means Christ’s return! It means a new heaven & new earth! It means no more sorrows, no more heartache, no more brokenness! It means we will be like Christ & be able to see God face to face without being consumed! Is this not a wonderful thing? A glorious thing? A thing to be desired not feared?

2. If the end is not near (relative to what we can see of time) and the government does begin to openly oppose & oppress Christianity, so what? Yes, I think we should attempt to prevent that from happening if we can. But is the governmental oppression of Christianity necessarily a bad thing? An evil thing, yes, but all that is evil is not necessarily bad for us in this life. The oppression of Christianity in this country, should it happen, I believe would serve to refine the church as a whole as well as Christians individually. I think we would cease to see nominal Christians; those who continued to claim the name of Christ you could be fairly certain were truly Christians. That is not always true today. I think of other countries where Christians are martyred for holding fast to the Gospel, & I see a strength of faith that is largely absent in this countr]y (I include myself in that accusation). I WANT that kind of faith. I DESIRE to be so absolutely secure in Christ that I can completely, honestly say, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” I believe that there are many like myself who will have difficulty reaching that point unless we are forced to it by the stripping of our luxuries & distractions. This does not mean that I don’t believe God’s Word & do not trust in His promises, but it does mean that I struggle to live them out on a daily basis.

I believe; help my unbelief!

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accep[t its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

R.C. Sproul

God is Ever-Present; ALL Things are Under His Purview

If God is not ultimately in control over even the times of suffering & great tragedy in this life, then He is no real god at all.

We have a tendency, I think, to see God in the “good” outcomes, and yet, we fail to see Him ever-present even in the midst of trials because that is somehow easier for our finite minds to comprehend (at least at a basic level). However, if we think deeply about this, we will see that if God is not ultimately in control of ALL things, then how can we possibly trust Him to be able to save us or to keep the promises that He has made in His Word?

And if we do trust in His promises, then we have hope that one day all the evil of this present world will be gone. One day the world will be made new. One day we will have no sorrow, no suffering, no pain,  & no questions of “Why?” Jesus has secured this hope through his death & resurrection, & the Holy Spirit has sealed that hope in us for those who believe. There is no true hope apart from Christ Jesus; there is only wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is no hope at all.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.(Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

The World Is Watching, And They See Our Inconsistencies…Please, for Christ’s Sake & God’s Glory, Represent Him Well

A friend of mine posed this question with his analysis of it on Facebook today:

If God is in charge of everything … and Mitt lost … why are so many Christians angry? It poses a paradox to me. Either you don’t believe that God is in charge, or you don’t like God’s path.

He followed up in the comments with this:

I’m not really saying the original post in a snarky manner either. I just want to reveal the logic flow or thought process of all these angry, vitriolic rants on Facebook from self-professed Christians. Help me understand how these points are reconciled, if they are. Or is it only God’s Will if it abides by your agenda? It just seems strange that so many people who would be celebrating “God’s Will” if a Republican were elected are now spewing venom because things didn’t go their way. Isn’t it still God’s Will? Or does that only apply when they get what they want?

This:

It’s just that the angriest posts I’ve seen come across the feed have been people railing about “nowhere in the Bible is gay marriage okay” and how Obama’s election is sending us straight to Hell and voters should be ashamed. Just real anger. I’m sure there are plenty of non-Christian Romney supporters. I just haven’t seen the specific citation of any sort of ethos in their rants. Mostly they’re railing about specific issues that they disagree with but no explanation as to why. My original post is aimed at a) getting people angrily citing the Bible to think about how they arrived to their anger and/or b) show that thought process out. Kind of like “I’m anti-abortion but pro-capital punishment.” Okay, explain… Both are killing, so how do you arrive at the conclusion that one is okay, the other is not? I’m not attacking anyone or their beliefs. I just want to see how they get from point A to point B, and it’s still consistent with the core belief.

And this:

So my question is kind of like, you say God is driving the bus. It turns left. Now you say the bus is headed to Hell. So if God is driving the bus, then why all the anger? Isn’t God driving and he knows best? But if you’re angry because YOU think you know best, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you either don’t believe God is driving the bus or you think He doesn’t know what He’s doing? Which goes against the core belief. But you’re still angry.

I should not surprise me (& yet it did) that those outside of Christianity are so readily able to see how little many of us really understand our faith. This Facebook conversation (among other recent events) just solidifies the fact that those of us who are Christians need to dig deep & really strive to understand exactly what it is we believe. We need to take things to their logical conclusions & struggle with the hard things to ensure that we don’t mistakenly misrepresent our Savior & God. Heed the words of the apostle Peter:

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [emphasis mine]“–1 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV)

For the record, here was my response on the thread (please feel free to respectfully critique it):

It has been said that “The greatest single cause of atheism [or, in my opinion, agnosticism, rejection of Christianity, etc.] in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Your insight above at least somewhat seems to confirm this.

If God is sovereign over all things (& I believe that he is), then even the outcome of this election was not outside of His control. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t have concerns over President Obama’s policies. And it doesn’t mean they can’t be disappointed that he won because of those concerns. But at the end of the day, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, you should accept Romans 13:1 which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Even if you believe President Obama is evil, you should recognize that God has used many evil rulers over the course of history to accomplish His purposes (this is extremely evident through the Old Testament).

Also, rather than spewing hateful words at the President & his supporters, Christians should heed the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, PRAYERS, intercessions, and THANKSGIVINGS be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [emphasis mine]“

I think it is also important that we keep in mind the full text of Romans 13. Do not forget that Paul wrote these words most likely while Rome was under the rule of Nero–not exactly a friend to Christianity!

As Christians in this country, we have a right & responsibility to stand against those things that are wrong, those things that go against God’s word, but we must do it with respect. We have a right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to express that right, especially in an angry & hateful manner. Meditate on Proverbs 13:3, 15:28,&  21:23; and on Ecclesiastes 5:2.

For some wise advice on how to respond to the outcome of this election, I recommend Christians, Let’s Honor the President by Russell Moore.

Changing My Mind On the Election at the Eleventh Hour

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of links to blog posts from Thabiti Anyabwile regarding not voting in tomorrow’s election. Since that time, I’ve been strongly leaning toward not voting in this year’s presidential election. I’ve been becoming ever more tired of politics in this great country with each passing year. I’ve gone from essentially a straight-ticket Republican to a cynical, reluctant participant in the election process who thinks all politicians are the worst of liars & wouldn’t know what their constituents believe/desire if one was standing in front of them telling them exactly what he/she thinks.

I’ve flirted with voting for a third-party candidate because I feel like the two-party system is a farce & only serves to further polarize our nation. I don’t buy the arguments (generally) that voting third-party (or abstaining from voting) is necessarily wasting your vote as long as you have taken the time to be informed about the candidates, issues, & political climate. I’ve been intrigued by Gary Johnson (I’m pretty sure economically-speaking I’m a libertarian at heart) & have posted some things about & by him on Facebook, but there are a few issues that he supports that make me a bit iffy about him.

I don’t believe a candidate has to line up exactly with me on all issues, but there does need to be some similarities across a broad range of issues.

All of that to say this: I’ve changed my mind for this election. I will be voting for president from the only two choices who have a shot at winning the office.

What made me change my mind, you ask? Well, it occurred after carefully reading through the posts linked to in A Multitude of Counselors | the Cripplegate. (I warn you; one or two of the posts linked to there are quite offensive in tone, & while I don’t condone that tone, the overall arguments are worth considering)

It comes down, essentially, to two things: math & life.

Frank Turk at the Pyromaniacs blog shows mathematically how a third-party vote or a non-vote helps to ensure victory for Obama.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that I wouldn’t be voting for Obama? And it has nothing to do with the color of his skin, where he was born, thinking he’s the Antichrist, or any other craziness like that. I won’t vote for him because I disagree with the majority of his policies not the least of which are his views/policies regarding abortion.

The two most accurate national polls from the 2008 election currently have Obama & Romney between one & three percentage points from each other. For me, after reading Turk’s analysis, this is too close of an election to “make a point” by giving my vote to a third-part candidate–especially since I am one of those red-side voters he mentions.

The reason I now think this is so important is primarily because I believe in the sanctity of life–>from conception to natural death. President Obama & the Democratic Party do not come close to holding my views on this issue:

“On the issue of abortion, the Republican platform states, ‘we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.’ The Democratic platform states: ‘The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.’[...]One party claims that no abortions should be legal and the other claims that all abortions should be legal.”–Albert Mohler

Obama’s record clearly shows full support of abortions at any stage of development. And while you might question Romney’s pro-life stance, here’s what we do know (according to Dan Phillips):

  1. We know that, of all the folks he could have chosen, Romney chose a VP with an outspoken and 100% pro-life record.
  2. We know that Planned Parenthood loves abortion, loves Obama, hates Romney.
  3. We know that he’s convinced activist Gary Bauer.
  4. We know that Romney is supported by The Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee, the Susan B. Anthony list, National Right to Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and other groups.
You don’t like the exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. I don’t like two of those three, either. So supposing Romney succeeds in preventing abortions except for those cases. You do know that that means preventing more than nine out of ten abortions, don’t you? Whereas your only other alternative, Barack Obama, favors preventing zero abortions?
The other issue in regards to life that I feel I have to consider this time around is the issue of the Supreme Court. The court is currently mostly balanced with 4 left-leaning judges, 4 right-leaning judges, and 1 swing vote. There seems to be a significant potential for the next president to significantly affect the makeup of the Court depending on who might retire or pass away during his term. I feel much more comfortable with a more conservative-leaning court than with a more liberal-leaning court that would potentially be more willing too re-interpret the Constitution.
On these two points alone, I feel I need to vote for Mitt Romney & against Barack Obama. And that doesn’t even include considering Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility, attacks on freedom of religion, etc.
Listen, I’m not thrilled about voting for Romney; if there were a better choice out there, I’d go for it. But, as Kevin DeYoung, points out, the question we should ask ourselves when it comes to the election is “How can I, with my vote, best advance what I believe to be the proper role and goals of government?” I personally believe in this election that I can answer that question with a vote for Romney. There may come an election when I think I can best answer that question with a vote for a third-party candidate in order to try to change the status quo & break up the the two-party monopoly (and, actually, when it comes to the US Senate race in Ohio, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing), but I don’t believe this is the election in which to do that.
Now, keep in mind, I fully believe in Romans 13:1. I believe God is sovereign over all things & will use whichever man wins this election for His good purposes. BUT…God has also placed me in a country whose form of government includes the privilege of the people being allowed to vote, & so I will prayerfully do so.
I will leave you with a prayer from John Piper regarding elections:

Father in heaven, as we approach this election on Tuesday, I pray

1) that your people will vote,

2) and that they will vote with a sense of thankfulness for a democratic system that at least partially holds in check the folly and evil in all our hearts so that power which corrupts so readily is not given to one group or person too easily;

3) that we would know and live the meaning of

  • being in the world, but not of it,
  • doing politics as though not doing them,
  • being on the earth, yet having our lives hidden with Christ in God,
  • rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s;

4) that we would discern what truths and values should advance by being made law and which should advance only by the leavening of honest influence;

5) that your people would see what love and justice and far-seeing wisdom demand in regard to the issues of education, business and industry, health care, marriage and family, abortion, welfare, energy, government and taxes, military, terrorism, international relations, and every challenge that we will face in the years to come;

6) and above all, that we will treasure Jesus Christ, and tell everyone of his sovereignty and supremacy over all nations, and that long after America is a footnote to the future world, he will reign with his people from every tribe and tongue and nation.

Keep us faithful to Christ’s all important Word, and may we turn to it every day for light in these dark times.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Bible Study

[Originally posted as a note on Facebook on May 16, 2010]

This morning I had the privilege of teaching the Disciple Hour (Sunday School) lesson to the men in my church without a prepackaged lesson (for those who might be curious, it was on 1 Peter 4:12-19). I have no idea how well I did; I think I did an adequate job, but I really am not worried about it either way. It was a gracious blessing to me from God to be allowed that opportunity if for no other reason than it forced me to study God’s Word more in depth than what I am used to doing on my own. I have never been very good at studying, & when it comes to the Bible, I have often used the excuse that I don’t know how to study as a way to avoid really getting into God’s Word. Many times I feel like I don’t have time to put into it, but it is more likely that I don’t WANT to put in the time & effort that good Bible study requires. What I would like to happen is that I read God’s Word & He just blasts understanding into my mind; what typically happens is that I read a passage or two of Scripture, have some sort of basic understanding of what it means, & there is no carryover of what I have read into my life. I now realize (I think I’ve always know this) that in order to get much out of what I read of God’s Word, I have to put much into it (& I don’t mean adding to God’s Word). It requires both time & effort; for me, it requires the use of multiple sources & translations. BUT, the effort is worth it! I can’t expect to be able to breeze through the Bible; I am going to have to take small sections & spend days or weeks or months working my way through them. I plan to continue working my way through the Bible on a daily basis because I think I do retain some of it, and I can’t say that I’ve ever read it cover to cover before. If I improve my basic knowledge of the Bible, I think it will make it a little easier to gain deeper knowledge of it. However, I also now plan to spend considerable time in a small passage to gain a deeper understanding of it & a deeper love of God. For this effort, I will be praying the IOUS (see below), & I would appreciate any prayers that others would be willing to offer.

I–Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!-Psalm 119:36
O–Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.-Psalm 119:18
U–[...], unite my heart to fear your name.-Psalm 86:11b
S–Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.-Psalm 90:14

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