Archive for October, 2012

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During this Election: The Current Context of our Voting…

October 31, 2012

As Christians we are to reside in the world, but we are to be set apart from it.  That is what it means to be a holy people of God, to be set apart for the purpose of reflecting God’s glorious light amid a dark world.  This is the context of our earthly citizenship, that we are to love the Father but not the world or the things in the world.

1 John 2:15-17

15 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. 16 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

John instructs us in 1 John 2:15-17 that Christians,  “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.”  It is easy to put all our hope in the political process, we can easily trust that politicians have all the answers and that their ways are the only ways.  But Scripture is clear that we are not to be enamored with the ways of this world.  This world is fleeting, God’s kingdom is eternal.

We pray for our leaders, we pray for our governments, but we do so knowing that the world is passing away.  But if we do the will of God we will abide forever.

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During this Election: Who Should Christians Pray For?

October 30, 2012

Christians are called to a life of humble character far above and beyond what the rest of the world expects.  We are to keep our conduct honorable among unbelievers, so that we might live above reproach and so they may see our good deeds and glorify God.  Part of that honorable life is a life lived in submission to the earthly authorities and institutions that God has placed over us.  We are to do this for presidents, and governors not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the Lord.  We are to live as a people who are free, not just free politically but free eternally.  Therefore we are to honor everyone; love our brothers and sisters in Christ; Fear our God, and honor the emperor.

 

 

1 Peter 2:12-17

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

We find that in 1 Peter, Peter gives us the ethic that should inform evangelical Christians.   He says in chapter 2, “ Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Christians are to live as a people who are free.  We are not bound to political parties or constrained by ideologies.  We are to show honor to everyone, above that honor we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to fear God and we are to honor those he has placed in government above us.

So as you honor those above you, ask yourself, “Have I prayed this week for my president?”  “I am living subject to Human institutions, or am I trying to find loopholes in the system?”

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October 29, 2012

The Urban Witness

America is unique in that it is one of the only nations in the world where one can become ‘an American’ regardless of where you’re from or who you are. Everyone here is from somewhere else. We define being American not simply in terms of legal status, but also as a way of life, a set of ideals, principles and habits. Americans have a walk, a talk, and an appearance, which is recognized, throughout the world. Sometimes it is mimicked and sometimes it is mocked. These are the marks of citizenship.

Being a citizen is not simply a recognition of some sovereign power, but the lawful submission to that sovereignty in deeds as well as thought. When submission is absent, anarchy breeds and soon one could rightfully begin to question citizenship altogether.

Jesus calls us to be part of a new sovereign state, and He gives us the path to…

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During This Election: Why Should Christians Pray?

October 29, 2012

Image Credit: Here

Christians occupy a tense space between being a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdoms of this world.  While we are to have no other God’s above our Lord, we are commanded to show deference and respect to those that God has placed in positions of leadership over us.  That deference and respect is best manifested in prayer, prayer for those in governing authority over us.  For as God’s children living in our Father’s world we recognize that there is no authority over us except what God ordains.   Therefore, just as we pay taxes owed to the Government, we pay respect owed to those who God has placed over us. We pray in light of this truth, that God would grant us leaders who are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad; and that their character might reflect the One they govern under.

 

Romans 13:1-7

1 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. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not “a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul Instructs believers in Romans chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  We owe respect to those governing us, because they have risen to their position of power under the providence of God.  Paul encourages give respect to those who are owed respect, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”  The greatest way to honor those above us is to pray for them.  Regardless of whether they have received your vote, they should receive your prayers.

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C.S. Lewis on Love is…

October 25, 2012

C.S. Lewis and the Pain of Love

http://www.colourbox.com/preview/2175362-832703-a-cross-whith-nails-on-a-greek-bible.jpg

Below is a poem by our great friend Jack, Love is tears, fire, spring, and nails…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love’s as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green

Love’s as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts–Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering “Dare! Dare!”
To sap, to blood,
Telling “Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.”

Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.

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Charles Stanley on Walking with God Daily…

October 24, 2012

 

Noah walked with God, how do we walk with God today? 

This is a list of six points from Charles Stanley[1] regarding how we walk with God, I think that each point could easily be related to the Noah narrative. I have listed the points and then in parenthesis have included points of connection for the Noah narrative.

1. Commit to discovering and obeying the Father’s will. (Noah was favored by God and obeyed God when asked to do the seemingly impossible.)

2. Begin with faith—believing that God exists and that you have a new life in Christ. (Noah could have easily have written off God, and could have declined to build the ark, think of all the excuses he could have offered up, ‘you want me to build what?’ ‘what is rain?’ ‘but we’re not near any water?’ etc. but instead Noah believed that God existed and that there was life in obeying God.)

3. Pursue continual fellowship with the Lord, and seek to live in His presence daily—even when difficulties arise. (Think of the difficulty experienced by Noah and his family, the ridicule from the world as he built the ark and followed God. and yet he continued to walk with God.)

4. Walk in truth, obeying Him cheerfully, and your relationship with Him will grow more intimate. (You can not get anymore intimate than being one of the last eight people left on earth to have a relationship with God.  There is no sign from Noah of complaining or rebellion, he followed where God led and as a result received a covenant form God.)

5. Allow the Holy Spirit to work within you to bring peace, confidence, security, and joy into your life. (Following God may be difficult, but think that it always brings peace amid chaos, confidence in the face of complaint, security from danger, and ultimate joy.  Each one of these was experienced by Naoh and his family because they walked with God, they experienced peace confidence and security amidst the flood and ultimately the joy of salvation.)

6. Separate yourself from sin, and strive to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Rely on the Spirit to help you live in a way that pleases God. (This is what Noah excelled at, he separated himself from sin and followed God, even as the whole earth was under the sway of evil, Noah stood strong and separated himself following God, he called others to repent and believe, tried to make a difference.)


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On Biblical Morality in Modern Times…

October 15, 2012

Moses on the SCOTUS facade.

It is important to consider that morality, at its essence, is a core of beliefs that is acted upon by individuals. Legislation, is but the codification of morality with the aim of directing groups of individuals to/from that morality. It is impossible for legislation to be devoid of morality, because legislation is a codification of values. So whether it serves as a legal restraint for good or a license for evil, it is inherently moral.

For the world, morality is benign, it is neither good nor bad. Dictators can be moral, so can school children, but where the world fails is in determining what if anything is immoral. The secular world fails to recognize any common universal source for morality, an individuals core of beliefs is but a reflection of their own predilection toward one course or another. Therefore when you ask a secularist ‘can one legislate morality?’ they give you this puzzled look. ‘How can anyone legislate or put into legislation individual morality?’ they ask. They go on to say, ‘what may be moral for you, is not moral for me…’ etc. This is the dead end road of the secular worldview. Ultimately nothing has meaning outside the individual, laws are suggestive of desire but not determinate of performance. The end result of this is chilling words from the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king… Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)

For the Christian, morality is far less subjective. It is still a core of beliefs that is acted upon, but that core has a universal objective source. The source of human morality is God’s revelation in His word and in nature. Lodged within the narrative of history is the thread of God’s moral revelation. He reveals it implicitly in the general revelation of nature, and explicitly in the pages of His Word. Paul informs us in Romans that God has written His law on the heart of every man, so that whether they have received His written revelation or not they have within themselves a conscience that reflects their Creator’s image. For the Christian, morality is not benign, it is powerful. Morality is an expression of what one values and is given by God that we might value the right things. God gave His written law for the preservation of His people and the propagation of His glory. So for the Christian, laws and legislation become essential tools. God has created man to be ruled by laws. Whether Laws carved in stone or laws written on the human heart; it is man’s need to be governed by a moral code. The beauty of the gospel is that it redefines morality. Morality is now seen through the work of Christ on the cross. We are now given an opportunity to be governed by a law fulfilled in Christ. We are empowered to do greater works than were ever done before. What is moral becomes a reflection of Who He was and who we are in Him.

So there is great need on the part of the Christian to see that the laws of their lands reflect the redeemed reality of mankind. We must seek the goodwill of our neighborhood and our nation, and advocate for laws that protect and promote God’s design for mankind. But should the tide withdraw, and the season change, we must be prepared to live lives consistent with Christ’s example. Preaching the Word in season and out of season, as those around us “wander off into myths.” (2 Tim 4:4)