Archive for November, 2012

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November 26, 2012

Oh how God cares for us, in times of difficulty it is essential that we cast our anxiety upon Him.

The Urban Witness

1 Peter is one of my favorite books in the Bible, so rich and so full of powerful applicable theology.

One of the most powerful verses or sets of verses in the book come as Peter is concluding his letter to the elect exiles in Pontus, Galatia, Capadoccia and Bythinia, Chapter 5:6-7.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”

Believers must humble themselves under God’s might hand, regardless of how that hand is made manifest.  They might experience that hand in judgment through persecution, or deliverance through protection.  Regardless of how His hand is experienced, the believers response is one of humility.  They accomplish this act of humility by casting their anxieties on God.  Peter has provided the reader with the “what” (humility), and the “how” (casting)…

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Welcome to the Party: When Christians Put the Caucus Before the King…

November 5, 2012

 

Photo Credit: Here

Have you ever been to a thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that has erupted into shouting or anger looks over politics and political parties?  You would think that being in the presence of family these differences would subside.  And yet they often intensify.  It is not difficult to look across the political arena and see Christians at party conventions fighting and acting very un-Christian-like when it come to the party platform.  Should this be the case?  I would argue no.

If you are a Christian you are a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and your allegiance to that kingdom and your membership in that family should supersede any partisan differences that may exist between you and another person.  What you find with individuals who get caught up in political anger is that they have lost perspective and have come to primarily identify with their political party.  So when you attack that party and its stances, they interpret it as an attack on their very being.  For non-believers political stances may be all they have, and that may be their identity; but for believers we must locate and root our identity in Christ and our allegiance to His kingdom.  As Kingdom citizens, when our positions are attacked we should not return in- kind, in anger or in rage.  Rather we should respond with grace, humility, and honor, confident that our Kingdom is not of this world and our self-worth is not identified with a caucus but with a King who has reigned and will reign forever over the kingdoms of this world.

In his recent book How Christians Should Vote?, Tony Evans answers two questions regarding Christians and political parties, both of which are helpful as we navigate the desire to identify our political ideologies with our faith.

Q: In your book, you says Christians should be like NFL referees when it comes to politics in that they should represent a kingdom perspective rather than identifying primarily with a political party. How can we really know what God’s will is on issues like health care or immigration law?

A: “I believe that there are biblical positions on every issue, but no party fully represents all God’s views consistently on all God’s issues. Christians are going to vote differently because they will prioritize issues differently. My concern is that we’ve so aligned ourselves with the parties of this world that we’re missing the kingdom of God. The proof of that is that we’ve let political parties divide the kingdom of God. My illustration regarding referees is simply to say that while they sometimes vote for one team and sometimes vote for another team, they’re obligated ultimately to neither team, because they belong to another kingdom called the NFL. So, we should never let the party divisions interfere with the unity of the church, causing the church to lose its influence in the culture.”

Q: And yet, white evangelicals are very much identified with the Republican party and black Christians are often identified with the Democratic party. How do they come to such different perspectives on issues?

A: “It’s more priority of issues. For example, the white evangelical community will emphasize right to life in the womb. The black Christian community will emphasize justice to the tomb. For me, those both are one issue, whole life, not term. Since that is one issue with two different locations, Christians can agree on the whole life issue even though they vote differently, and come out with a whole-life perspective that if we were unified both parties would have to interface with and take seriously. Because they can split us up along party lines, we do not have a single voice on the issues that represent the kingdom of God.”

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Abortion: Finding Life, After Death…

November 2, 2012

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How do you comfort a woman in your congregation who has had abortion? How do you deal with friends who confess to you that they have, in the past, ended a pregnancy? These are not easy questions to be sure. Below is a very helpful suggestion from CCEF .(The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation)

Excerpted from a track available for purchase in full here.

“Imagine a woman who has previously had an abortion waking one morning with the realization that she has murdered her own child. She experiences guilt, grief and loss over this child, who will never be replaced. The death of her own flesh and blood is on her hands. Gripped with emotion she comes to you for help and relief. What will you tell her? How will you attempt to relieve this grief that inhabits her soul?”

“Approach her with love, compassion and hope. In this state the woman’s only hope in obtaining real peace is in a loving, forgiving, gracious God. This is the same God who sent His Son Jesus to die for us sinners on the cross as payment for our sin (John 3:16). As a result, even the killing of the woman’s child might be forgiven so that she could be reconciled to God. Hope is found in this wonderful salvation offered to us as a free gift (Rom. 6:23).”

“The biggest tragedy for this woman is that her sin and guilt have not only hindered her relationship with God and other people, but they have also prevented her from fulfilling God’s purpose and plan for her life. God has called us to holiness. When we recognize the ugliness of our sinfulness and the beauty of His grace, it should drive us to want to serve Him, to live in the radiance of His beauty (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 3:1-6). Help your counselee to find opportunities to use her gifts and talents to serve the Lord. She can share her story to help comfort and counsel others. She can serve at a crisis pregnancy center or in her church. Only God can sanctify our deepest distress and use the bad for good. One day your counselee may be able to sing, “Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame, grant my desire to magnify thy name.”

“As Christians we must address these women with a spirit of meekness, being compassionate and sensitive to her needs while speaking the truth in love. Some women will reject God’s plan of salvation. Others will begin a process of change and then resist further counseling. It is important that you take them as far as they will go in the processes of reconciliation, restoration, renewal, and healing. If necessary, warn them that following the way of the transgressor is hard (Prov.13:15); if you harden your heart, you will be suddenly broken (Ps. 29:1); and they may experience physical or emotional consequences due to sin (Ps. 32:3). Challenge those who will listen to use their remembrance of the past so that they might be gracious, merciful and helpful to others, humble in spirit, and able to rejoice in God’s goodness. Motivate them to use the remainder of their lives to serve and follow their forgiving God.”

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During This Election: The Future Context of our Voting…

November 1, 2012

 

As Christians we are to pray for our nation, we are to pray for our governments and our leaders, we are to give them the honor that they are due.  We recognize that no one comes to power apart from the sovereign providence of God.  While we hope that our leaders lead wisely, our ultimate hope is set on what is to come.  We are not; moreover we cannot place our hope in earthly things, but only in what is to come.  We set our hope fully on the revelation of Jesus Christ that is to come. (1 Peter 1:13)  At His appearing the kings of this world will bow and all that is wrong about the world will be made right.  So when you are prone to discouragement about the state of American and world politics rest in the knowledge that our systems are but a faint imperfect shadow of what is to come.

Revelation 21:1-5

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5. And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

John in his book of Revelation gives us a glorious picture of what the future will be like in chapter 21, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

There will come a day when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, the difficulties of this world will pass away.  On that day, our leader will be a Lamb, seated on a throne, whose only agenda will be to make all things new.  As we pray for America and for our leaders we must pray in light of that coming day of glory.