It’s Time to Get Political

It’s Time to Get Political

Get political!

Did I just say that?

Absolutely!

Christians have often stayed away from politics. The process can be so negative, with all of the mud-slinging, each side seeming to slander the opponent with impunity. It often creates strife – even in families. When debate starts, people seem to dig in their heels on their point of view, and the divide gets stronger than ever.

When it’s so negative, some people just “stay out of it.” They want peace at all costs, so they just ignore the dialogue and pretend that nothing unusual is going on. After all, they say, “This is the world, not God’s kingdom.”

I have a different view. In fact, when I wake up every morning and count my blessings, one of the greatest is that I live in a free society. I don’t have to be concerned about the authorities stopping my Christian worship. I don’t have to dress a certain way, or limit the number of my children, or worry about my daughters and granddaughters being able to attend schools and pursue their dreams.

Because our nation has been blessed by God, there are many more perks we can list. Warm or cool houses, running water, electricity, good sanitation, ample food…the list goes on and on. We are truly a blessed people.

I’m quite sure that the reason for this is that our God has had His hand on our nation from the beginning. Even Christopher Columbus noted in his diary that He felt that Providence had miraculously allowed his small crew to make the journey to the new world. Later, when the first adventurers started coming to the new country, they were seeking a place where they could worship their Christian God freely. Then, when the first settlers signed the Mayflower Compact dedicating the new country to God, our nation was started in covenant with God Himself. What a significant foundation.

The ingenuity and creativity we have enjoyed, the entrepreneurial spirit we have demonstrated, and the standard of living we have come to expect, all have come from God’s blessing.  We have had His guidance and protection from the beginning.

So why is it so important to involve ourselves with politics? We have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility. In our free society, we have the right and responsibility to vote for the people who will lead us, make laws, and activate other decisions which affect our lives. For us not to vote, indicates that we don’t honor our freedom to do so.

And for us to vote the way God wants us to, we need to know what the candidates stand for.

Successful democracy depends on an educated populace. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and just hope that “God’s will is being done.” He is counting on us to pay attention and vote for His will.

So go beyond the surface,and find out what the candidates believe. Don’t just look at what they say, look at what they do.

As you do your research, ask yourself these questions. Do they honor this great country and the constitution, which many believe was inspired by God? Do they honor religious freedom? Do they honor all life – even the defenseless, like unborn babies? (Oops, I’m giving myself away). Do they want to provide opportunities for people to pursue their dreams, or do they want to control the process?

Listen to the debates,and take a look behind the rhetoric to assess the truth.

Then, make your plans to vote for God’s candidates in November. We need to exercise our right to vote. We don’t want to lose the privilege God has given us to live in this free country. A country which is free to strive for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Let’s look at what some founding fathers said about this.

John Adams

We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . . the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch. . . . It becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.

[John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from “‘U’ to the Boston Gazette” written on August 29, 1763.]

 


Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]

 

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.]

 


Matthias Burnett

Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutly oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.

[Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.]


Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]


Charles Finney

[T]he time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take [in politics].

[Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282.]

Thanks to www.wallbuilders.com for providing these documents.

Never forget how important your part is. Our blessing and our responsibility go hand in hand!

So let’s keep on Soaring!

 

 


Notes To a Young Intellectual

Notes To a Young Intellectual

As I scan across the internet and see what people are saying, I find certain themes are prevalent. Many – especially young people – are questioning the existence of God. Is He real? Does He speak to us? And what about Jesus? What is He all about? Is He a myth?

These questions are sometimes posed outright, but more often implied in the views which are expressed. Furthermore, peoples’ actions give them away. It’s obvious that the many distractions of our age, whether they are career achievements, sports, or social life, can dull the nudge within a person’s heart. Often it seems that people don’t care.

This saddens me, but doesn’t surprise me. There have been so many mistakes by those of us in “organized Christianity.” Hypocrisy, apathy,and in-fighting sometimes have made us poor role models. But the faults of others don’t have to determine your life. (more…)

Three Benefits of Being Ambassadors for Christ

Three Benefits of Being Ambassadors for Christ

Anthony Morgan left the Secretary of State’s office with a bounce in his steps. He could hardly wait to get in touch with his wife and give her the great news. He had been chosen to be the United States Ambassador to Glokwando. He would be representing his beloved country to the government of this far away land.

He and his family would live in the American Embassy in Glokwando. A beautiful, almost palatial complex from which he could conduct his business.

Now there was much work to do. He would have to learn the language and study the culture of these people. But more importantly, he would have to fully understand the mission. He would want to represent his country in an honorable way, so Anthony would need to study to be certain that he understood the United States position in dealing with these people.

The rules of engagement. The history of the relationship between the countries. And most importantly, the goals of his government in performing this mission.

He would certainly expect the full backing of the United States government as he carried out his duties.

Does that sound like a terrific assignment?

Well, I have some great news for all Christians everywhere. You, too, have been chosen to be an ambassador. An ambassador for Christ – representing God’s kingdom to all the people of the earth.

After we are born again, our home country is now God’s Kingdom, not just our earthly homeland.  Even though we are living on the earth, our allegiance is to One higher than the earth. Our allegiance is to our God. The Creator of all things.

As with any job, there are benefits and privileges – along with responsibilities.

To really understand this assignment, it helps to look at ambassadors in the natural realm.

First, they must be citizens of the country they represent. You wouldn’t see an ambassador of the United States being a citizen of Russia.  Obviously, they must be a citizen of the country they represent. A citizen in good standing and loyal to their home country.

To be a citizen of God’s Kingdom, one must be born again. I’ve talked about that in other posts. And to be in good standing, the person must be faithful to God and to His Word.

Second, a natural ambassador must learn about his own country. The history, the laws and customs, and the philosophy – the guiding principles of that country. In order to represent his own government to another nation, he must be faithful to execute the plans assigned to him.

For instance, a Russian ambassador and a Turkish ambassador to the United States would have different agendas and different perspectives on what they want accomplished. Each would represent faithfully the desires of their own countries.

So as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, we study His word and spend time with Him in order to represent Him well. We want His principles to be our guide for what we do.

We will get more into our mission statement later.

First let’s look at three important privileges we receive as God’s ambassadors. What can we expect as benefits?

And how do we appropriate them?

Deuteronomy 28 is a great place to start for understanding God’s promises – and even His desires for you. The first 14 verses list promises we can expect when we are faithful to the call of God. These promises are often referred to as the Abrahamic Covenant. Galatians 3:13,14 tells us that Jesus paid the way for Christians to inherit these blessings as well.

Looking at these scriptures and others, what can we expect?

First, we can expect God’s blessing upon our family.

Blessed shall be the offspring of your body… Deuteronomy 28: 4a(NASB)

The Lord will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6 (NASB)

All your sons will be disciples taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great. Isaiah 54:13 (NASB)

When we look at the faithfulness of God not only to Abraham, but also to his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, we see the picture of God’s desire to bless our entire families. For generations to come.

Now our part of the plan is to fully invest in God’s Word and apply it to our lives.

Second,  we  can expect provision.

An ambassador knows that he will be supported by his home country. Usually quite lavishly. In a similar way, as God’s ambassadors, we can expect provision from Him. This is not to say that there won’t be times when our faith is stretched to receive this provision. Yet God’s provision will be there – sometimes from the most unexpected places.

The Bible is full of words promising our provision, and giving us wisdom on how to receive these natural blessings.

The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hands to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Deuteronomy 28:8 (NASB)

The Lord will open for you His good storehouse the heavens to give rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 28:12 (NASB)

Philippians 4:19 And your God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

­­And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. II Corinthians 9:8 (NASB)

God’s Word is our instruction manual to let us know what we can expect, and how to appropriate His blessings.

We learn that our provision is linked with our obedience and our faith.

If you be willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19 (KJV)

Never does God want us to be selfish in receiving. In fact, He indicates that we reap what we sow.

Give and it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing shall men pour into your lap.

Now for the third benefit: protection.

A natural ambassador can expect the armies of his sending nation to promise security and safety. In a similar way, as ambassadors of Christ we can count on protection from God’s heavenly army: His angels.

A favorite reminder of this truth is found in II Kings 6:8-15

The king of Aram was attempting to conquer Israel, but Elisha the prophet had been thwarting their plans.

God had been showing Elisha what the Aramites were planning, and Elisha had been warning the Israelites. As a result, none of the evil plans were working, and the King became very frustrated. He decided to capture Elisha.

The king located Elisha in Dothan, and sent a huge army with chariots and weaponry.

Elisha’s servant woke up early and saw that they were surrounded by this evil army. Frightened, he ran to wake Elisha. They were surrounded, and there was no hope for them.

I love Elisha’s famous response.

So he answered. Fear not. More are they with us than they who are with them. II Kings 6:16 NASB

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. II Kings 6:16-17 (NASB)

Elisha prayed for God to strike the army blind – and the angels did it. Then Elisha led them away to another place where they received food and water and were returned to their own land.

Needless to say, they never came again.

This episode shows us that we are surrounded by angelic beings. We can’t see them, but when we are God’s people, we can count on them for protection.

When speaking of angels, Paul says:

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14 (NASB)

And there is this:

Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word. Psalm 103:20 (NASB)

When you and I – as ambassadors – speak God’s word, we activate our angels to accomplish what God has promised. They are part of God’s plan for us and our mission.

My husband had an interesting encounter several years ago.

Distressed about some things which were happening, Mickey was walking around our den, wringing his hands and thinking. Maybe praying a little.

Suddenly he had a vision.

He saw what looked like a hockey penalty box – loaded with angels. They were sitting, watching, and waiting for Mickey to speak the Word.

As he began to speak God’s Word, they rushed out of the penalty box and started to work. He knew they were performing the Word. And he knew that the answer was coming.

And the answer did indeed come – almost immediately.

There are many examples in the Bible of angels working on behalf of God’s people. They are there for our protection and deliverance.

So as ambassadors for Christ, we can expect many benefits. We can expect blessings on our family. We can expect provision. And we can expect protection.

The word of God is filled with wisdom on how to appropriate these many benefits. As we study God’s word and apply His principles, we will see the fruit of our labor.

What does our God expect in return? As God’s ambassadors, we have a job to do.

That message is for another day.

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You

Take Your Place in God’s Kingdom: Jesus and You


What does it mean, exactly to be a part of God’s Kingdom?

In an earlier post we talked about being Born Again. That is the Foundation upon which we build our lives as Christians.

It’s also what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. All religions have rules of good and evil. Principles for the supposed “Good Life.”

Only Christianity brings us a Savior who died for our sins, and who sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us. We are changed from within our hearts. Truly a miracle!

Though Abraham wasn’t born again, he can give us a picture hinting at our truth.

By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)

Something similar happens to us when we receive Jesus. We realize that we have been called to a new “place.” A new paradigm. We don’t know exactly what to expect, but we know that we need to know our God. And we know that His plans are better for us than our own plans.

St. Augustine, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries had this experience in a dramatic way.

He had lived a raucous life until he was born again. His life was drunkenness, fighting, and unruly living in general. After his born again experience, he changed completely, and went on to be one of the most important Christian leaders — greatly influencing early Christianity.

He was a prolific writer, grasping the significance of the Christian life.

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, 400ce

Every person on earth is looking for love and acceptance. Especially from God.

The interesting thing is that often people don’t know it. They may think that money will satisfy that restlessness. Or fame. Or beauty. Or sex. Or one more vacation.

But none of these fill the void. Otherwise, you would see all the famous rich people living joyful lives. Yet we know that this isn’t the case. Often they drink and drug themselves in order to dull the pain and restlessness they are experiencing.

There is only one thing which will fill that void. Or one Person.

When we meet Jesus — and receive Him as our Savior — we are changed. From the inside out. Not looking to outward things to bring happiness, but looking to inward, as our spirits come alive.

Several things change…

  • We become aware of God’s great love for us. We realize that He is not holding our sin against us, because Jesus paid that awful price for our sins.
  • We realize that Jesus is indeed alive — and His Spirit has come to live in us.
  • As we read the Bible, no longer do we merely see words on a page. These words seem to be written just to us and for us.
  • As we read and study, we come to know that we have entered a whole new realm. The Kingdom of God.
  • We will sense God directing us as we walk with Him.
  • We will be aware of God’s presence and His voice. Sometimes this voice will be audible, but not often. Usually it will be what we refer to as a “still, small voice.” Something like a gentle “knowing” from Him.
  • We will desire to share our new experience with others.

We have become citizens of a new country. The Kingdom of God.

In II Corinthians 5:16–20 (NIV)

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do no longer.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.

All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God has made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. The old is gone. The new is here.

We are Christ’s ambassadors. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

If you were to become an ambassador of your country, you would have to go through training. You would be expected to learn many things about your country as you prepare for your mission. The history. The methods. The plans.

It’s the same with God’s Kingdom.

God has given us a manual: the Bible. And an instructor: the Holy Spirit within us. As well as other teachers who help us glean the truths from God’s Word.

As born again believers, we read, listen, and learn about our Kingdom.

Just as any good ambassador, we don’t want to represent our own personal interests to others. We want to represent our country — and our King.

We present His plans, and not our own plans, to the world.

Instead of hate, we show God’s love. His mercy. His forgiveness.

Instead of selfishness, we show an attitude of giving.

We are ministers of reconciliation — sharing the love of God with the world.

Over the years, I have seen some of the meanest people turn into the most loving. Some of the most troubled changed to the most stable. Some of the most depressed turned into happy, productive individuals.

God is real and His Kingdom is real. When you and others enter that Kingdom, there are many benefits waiting for you. They are treasures we must dig from His Word and apply to our own lives.

In John 17:14–19 Jesus is praying for His followers down through the ages. He says, They are not of this world, as I am not of this world. But then he says, Don’t take them out of the world, but protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14–19)

He wants us to stay and be His representatives — His ambassadors — to the world. To represent His plans and purposes to those we know.

Thus, we must be listening to God, obeying his word, and allowing His Spirit to be big in us.

With Paul, we say…

II Corinthians 1:12 (NIV) We have conducted ourselves in the world and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and Godly sincerity. We have done so, not relying on worldly wisdom, but on the grace of God

We are representing a Kingdom which will never end. One which is higher than any earthly Kingdom. And one whose King will reign forever — with love, goodness, and power.

What a privilege!

Let’s do this!

Note: This series is an adaptation of a series Ambassadors for Christ, taught by Mickey Estes at Good News Church in Blue Mountain, MS.


The Greatest Mystery

The Greatest Mystery

A Christian life is a remarkable life – if we live it as God Intended.

Sadly, many Christians never realize what’s within their grasp. But when we pursue all that God has for us, our lives can be radically changed.

We will find out-of-the-ordinary peace. And joy. And wisdom.  And hope.

When we as Christians dig even deeper, we will find a closeness to God for every season. And our own individual purpose which brings an extraordinary richness and meaning to life.

So how is all of this possible?

It’s possible because of the greatest mystery of all time.

In Colossians 1:26-27, Paul speaks of this great mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but has been revealed to the saints. It’s this mystery which makes Christianity so totally different from any other religion in the world. Yet this mystery seems to be misunderstood even by many Christians.

So what is it? It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s right. The Holy Spirit of God dwelling inside your innermost being.

That’s what it means to be “born again.” God’s Holy Spirit brings life to you – and you are a New Creation.

You now have the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in the inner most part of you, leading you, empowering you, changing you, and growing you to reflect the attributes of God Himself.

All other religions have laws – lists of do’s and don’ts – which, if followed, are supposed to bring you into perfection.

But our faith is different. In our faith, our lives of sin are forsaken at the cross of Jesus. We accept His sacrifice for our sinful nature – and then we accept the empowerment of His Holy Spirit to  walk away from sin and into the life He has for us.

We walk away from that old nature, and we walk away from the shame and hurt it has brought us.

That’s why we know that we have power over the dark forces which try to hold us back. The “Greater One” lives on the inside of us and causes us to overcome the evils of the world…if we are relying on Him and not on ourselves.

If we will just live “from the inside out,” many of our problems will be solved. Our innermost part is where we hear from God, because His Spirit actually lives inside of us. We will not only overcome sin in our own lives and receive health for ourselves, but we will have wisdom to pray for those around us. We will have answers which will benefit them and God’s anointing to release them.

Stop and think about it.

Man is the only creature which has a choice about the way he lives his life. Animals instinctively know that they should find food, build nests or dens, mate and raise their young. They have no choice but to live from the inside out. They live from the dictates of their instincts.

In the beginning, man was created to communicate with God and to have His thoughts just as naturally as the animals were to have their instincts.. But an had a choice. Before man sinned, he lived from his spirit, not just from his mind. Then man sinned and he no longer had power over that sinful nature.

Until Jesus came and paid the ultimate price.

Now here we are today: born again and filled with His Spirit, the power is restored – but we still have a choice.

Will we live from the flesh, where there is no power? Or will we live from the spirit, where Christ resides as our Hope of Glory? The choice is always ours and we make it daily.

When Christians rise up to live from the inside out – from the spirit within – our world will be changed. Prayers will be answered more quickly, prophecies will be fulfilled, and the world will begin to see God’s true church rising to its place in the earth.

Therefore, If anyone is  in Christ, he is a new creation,

the old things are passed away; behold new things have come.

Now all these new things are from God. (II Corinthians 5:17-18 NASB)

The glory of Christ in us is what the world needs.

So what do we do to appropriate this power within us? We talk to our Father about it. We read His word and allow that to become part of who we are. We listen to good solid teaching which will help us to grow in our faith.

And we step out in faith, allowing God to do what He wants to do in our lives.

It’s a miraculous life, if we live it that way.