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Archive for the category “Christian Living”

I Want You

I have been thinking off and on lately about why I post the things that I do on Facebook/Twitter/this blog, and it seems to me that I ought to give a bit of an explanation. Obviously, my sports & other “entertainment” related posts are mostly just for kicks, and I don’t really have many (if any anymore) political posts (I pretty much try to avoid all these subjects for this blog). But what about what some might call my “religious” posts (which is exactly what this blog is for)?

Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. Some of what I post is directed specifically toward fellow Christians. These Bible verses, comments, & ideas are meant for the edification &/or comfort of fellow believers. They are meant to call them to action or increase their faith in Christ or comfort them in times of suffering. I hope that God uses my posts for these things.

More than that, though, many of the things that I post I do so in the hope that God will use them in some way to call sinners to Himself for their salvation & reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. I often wonder if they have had or ever will have such an effect, but that is not up to me. I only (hopefully) plant the seed; God gives the increase.

So here are my desires for those of you who might read my posts who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world:
-I want you.
-I want you to know the love that God has for His children.
-I want you to be reconciled to God so that you might avoid the punishment that is due to you for your pride & rejection of Him as the sovereign ruler of all things.
-I want you to know the peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that in the midst of otherwise unbearable trials can leave you still rejoicing with joy unspeakable.
-I want you to have the hope that I do that no matter what happens in this life, no matter how long or short my time is upon this earth, no matter what happens to this rapidly declining, degenerating body that I now inhabit, I will one day be resurrected to a new body to enjoy the presence of God on a new earth that is free from corruption & sadness & anything bad.
-I want you to be my brother or sister in Christ; in other words, I want you to be a part of my family & to be loved as family both by God and by those who would become your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

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One Little Phrase…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭4-7‬ ESV)

Isn’t it interesting that in the middle of these verses (right at the end of verse 5) we find this little phrase: “The Lord is at hand”? Right in the middle of rejoice–don’t be anxious–pray–be thankful–you will have peace–your hearts & minds will be guarded–right in the middle of all that Paul says “The Lord is at hand”. This is why we can rejoice always. This is why we do not need to be anxious about anything. This is why we should make our requests known to God with thanksgiving. This is why the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
We see this same thing in James 5 for why we should be patient:

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭7-9‬ ESV)

I am thankful to my pastor for pointing this out in James last week. If he had not, I may never have noticed that little, but so important, phrase in Philippians.

A Compassionless Society

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The above quote is an excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus which is engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. I quote it because it seems to me to be representative of one of the great pillars of this country from even before its inception–compassion–harkening even back to the days when the first Pilgrims came to these shores seeking religious freedom. But this pillar is tottering & may have already fallen. We now live in a country (and maybe even a world) that has no compassion–at least not collectively (I’m sure there are still those who are compassionate on an individual or personal level).

In recent weeks/months, I’ve witnessed news accounts & Twitter/Facebook posts that demonstrate just how callous we’ve become as a nation. I’ve seen busses full of children/families trying to escape conditions most Americans cannot even imagine blocked by an angry mob more concerned about how the children entered this country than what the children are running from or how desperate their needs might be.

I’ve seen a bill likely to be introduced into my own state’s legislature that would withhold state funding from communities that are willing to take in some of these refugee children.

    Do you realize that the current “immigration crisis” primarily involves children? Do you realize these refugee children are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world? Do you realize that we live in one of the richest country in the world, and that although these refugees may cause a significant financial strain to local governments, if churches and individuals would step up to care for them rather than leaving the care of orphans (& widows & the poor & the oppressed & the …) to the State, it cause nearly the strain that it currently might?

And I’ve seen people up in arms over bringing home a nurse and physician with ebola who have risked their own lives to help others. Forget that every conceivable precaution has been and is being taken (above and beyond what is needed even) to prevent that horrendous disease from spreading. Forget that those infected might want a chance to be close to family before they potentially die. Forget that death is not a certainty with Ebola or that they can receive the best possible care here in the US. Forget that the greatest threat for the spread of the disease is coming in contact with the blood or secretions of someone with ebola who has not been diagnosed. Forget that this desire to keep them out of the country may negatively impact people’s desires to serve those in need overseas.

No. Only remember that Ebola is a contagious disease that wreaks havoc (in spurts) on another continent that doesn’t have the facilities or resources that are available in this country to keep something like it from spreading.

    I saw an interview with one of the doctors at Emory yesterday morning regarding the precautions in place to prevent the spread of Ebola. Do you realize the room the patient is being cared for in was designed in conjunction with the CDC to treat SARS patients? Do you realize that SARS is much more contagious than Ebola? Do you realize Ebola is not spread through airborne particles but only through contact with contaminated blood/secretions?

I understand some concern about these things; concern is normal. But what I see, or what is implied whether intended or not, by these kinds of reactions is hate. Hate for one’s neighbor (before you try to argue that these people aren’t your neighbors, look over Luke 10:25-37). Hate toward anyone or anything that might upset our comfortable little lives.

You can deny that it’s hate all you want, but I think such an overt lack of compassion & love for others can be nothing but hate.

I think what really bothers me more than anything about what I’m seeing is that much of it seems to be coming from the “Christian” Right. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, then we, above all others, should be at the forefront of demonstrating compassion and love and caring for others in dire need. We should willingly be sacrificing our own desires, & even lives, rather than trying to save our comfortable existence in this world. Or have you forgotten this world is not our home & we are merely sojourners here? Have you forgotten Christ’s great love for us that while we were still sinners he DIED for us? Have you forgotten that we should love others BECAUSE He first loved us?

I have a recommendation for you if you are a conservative Christian: Pay greater attention to the Word of God through which you were saved than any of the talking heads in the media; they have their own agendas (or the “news” organization’s) to promote that are not God’s agenda.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬ ESV)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭36‬ ESV)

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭14‬ ESV)

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭33-35‬ ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬ ESV)

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (‭Exodus‬ ‭22‬:‭21-22‬ ESV)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬ ESV)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭7‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭41-46‬ ESV)

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

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

God’s Gracious Curveballs

“Either we believe Rom 8:28-29, or we don’t: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose; for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

What this means is that God is writing your life script. It means God is writing your story. And it means that your story is not without purpose – not your comfort, but your conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.

So when you wake up in the morning and something unexpected, surprising, horrifying, grievous, extreme, trying, terrible or shocking happens to you, you can know that it is coming from the hand of your good God. It’s a gracious reminder that you are not writing your life’s story. God is – the God who loves you so much that he sacrificed his son for your salvation. And the reason it’s a gracious reminder is that the greatest problem we have is that we spend far too much of our lives with self at the center, believing the lie that my life is my own, that I am in charge of my destiny, that I have life firmly in my control. These lies are just that – lies! And they only destroy us in the end.

So be thankful today for God’s gracious curveballs. They are the evidence that your loving Father is writing the story of your transformation from what you once were to all you were meant to be in Jesus.”–RW Glenn

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