Posts in Category: Culture

God Will Still Be on the Throne After the Election, BUT

I’m so thankful to have heard it preached and written boldly that regardless how the vote goes tonight God will still be in control. It’s absolutely true and biblical. God is Sovereign. He created and sustains this world. His plan will never be thwarted. Therefore, as followers of Christ we can, as the comforting messages have promised, take refuge in the sake that God is not caught off guard or surprised — His Will continues.

When I’ve been in the audience for such a sermon, I have watched countenances reverse from despair to hope. The fear of the future melts away in the trust that God will remain on the throne the day after the election, the day after the inauguration, and the day the next Supreme Court justice is selected.

We, Christians, need this huge helping of God’s sovereignty. We need to remember He is God.

But even that fact of God remaining on the throne doesn’t mean that life will be a smooth ride. God doesn’t owe us, Americans, anything.

Although God remains on the throne regardless of the election — your 401(K) might tank. Our religious liberties might become a footnote in history. The economy might crash and the dollar may be removed as the world’s currency.  Babies will probably still be slaughtered. Policies may continue that increase perversion and unrighteousness in our nation.  Your job may disappear. Church as you know could drastically change. Our nation may continue to diminish on the world stage. Another world power could launch an attack on us.

Decisions have consequences. Votes have residual effects. Accepted policies and behaviors continue long into the future. Although God is God, He allows us to make mistakes, and we make them.

I share this not to take away the hope you have received in your heart when reminded that God is in control. We need that eternal hope and trust in His promises, but the fact that He is on the throne does not negate the possible disastrous aftershocks of this election.

God was on His throne during the Great Depression. He was on His throne during both world wars. He was on His throne during the many deaths of the American Civil War. He was on his throne when the world was flooded in Noah’s day. God was on his throne when the Assyrians and Babylonians took His people into exile. The Creator was on his throne when the disciples were martyred. He was even on the throne when His Son was nailed to a cross.

He will always be on His throne, but that doesn’t mean our lives and obedience to Him is a bed of roses. America has received far more grace and blessings than we could ever come close to deserving. That doesn’t mean God is done with us, but it does mean He does not owe us anything.

He is still on throne today when our Christians brothers and sisters in some places of the world face death or imprisonment for their faith. Others in the world face famine. Others live in great poverty.

God’s sovereignty means God is God not that America gets to remain a land of luxury and ease. God being on the throne means that His people are under His protection and win in the end, but does not mean the path is one free of trouble.

4 Biblical Voting Filters All Christians Need to Consider

Absolutely. There is no doubt that Christians should vote similarly. There should certainly not be the wide spectrum of voting differences among us, American Christians — for there is one Spirit, one Bible, and one truth. To think that it is acceptable for this variety of voting conclusions is to believe a lie.

Granted politics and voting shouldn’t be central to a believer’s life. Regardless of who is in the White House or in the Capital, we are to remain faithful and carry out our God-sent mission, but if we have been allowed the opportunity to select a godly leader then by all means we must take it that opportunity and take it seriously. It was for such an opportunity that the Apostle Paul made it his goal to witness to governors and political leaders. It was for this that Paul longed to take the Gospel to Rome for if the Emperor could become a follower of Christ then surely the Empire might follow.

So we should vote.

But our vote should not merely be our own preference for we have been “bought by a price and are not our own.” Scripture tells us that we have been made new in Christ, therefore we do not vote as the rest of the world around us. We are also told that we are ambassadors of Christ. An ambassador doesn’t vote his or her own will, but rather represents the desires of the one who sent them. That passage from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 about being bought by a price was in reference to after salvation the Christian’s body does not belong to them, therefore they are to follow the Lord’s design for sexuality. If our body is to belong to Him then so should our vote.

So we should vote as an ambassador of Christ. We are His delegate.

So if our vote is His then how do we know His vote? Voting should not be any different than any other life decision we make as a Christian. We shouldn’t decide by our own fickle hearts, but rather through the teachings of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible alone is sufficient in providing principles that should guide our voting, but we also have been given an indwelling Holy Spirit who guides and counsels. Therefore, ALL Christians should turn to those sources of truth; and therefore, the voting of ALL Christians would in turn be very similar.

There is one particular instruction in Scripture that seems to make it completely clear — Deuteronomy 17:14-15a, “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. Yes, that was Israel, but obviously that is still God’s heart for His people. He wants His people to seek out His choice.

So in turning to Scripture, I want to list for you a progression of four biblical voting filters all Christians need to consider. Place each candidate through these filters. Only if multiple candidates survive through those filters do I believe that we then have a preference, but even then our decision needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Biblical Voting Filter #1 – Is the Candidate a Born Again follower of Christ?

This sounds absolutely foolish to have to say, but the obvious first biblical filter should be that the candidate must be a follower of Christ. Why in the world would a Christian even consider electing someone to lead the nation who is not one of them?

For someone to vote and promote a candidate who is not even a Christian shows that voter does not value what Christ has done in their own lives. I personally only have a remote chance of being a good person and leader because I was transformed through salvation. We have to realize Scripture teaches apart from salvation we are dead to sin (Eph. 2:1); as well as, incapable of seeking righteousness, unable to understand, unwise, not good, liars, and swift to shed blood (Romans 3:9-18). In the Gospel of John, Jesus said apart from salvation that we belong to Satan.

We are given a “report card” for every king of Judah and Israel in Scripture in the books of Kings and Chronicles. There are political, militarily, and social achievements mentioned, but it is abundantly clear that God is mostly concerned with whether the leader did right in God’s eyes. Every king is judged whether they were good or bad on their character and their moral leading of the nation. They are all judged according to God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 17:18-20b, “… may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them… that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left…” Kings that kept God’s law brought blessings on their nations, but immoral kings brought cursings on their people. Actually, Scripture tells that evil kings stored up judgment from God.

So if it is crucial that our nation’s leader be upright and moral, and the only way someone can truly keep the laws of God is by being born again —

I know the objections are that we can’t judge anyone — that there is no way to know if someone is truly saved or not. You are right we can’t know completely, but Scripture says there will be fruit in their lives. Although it may take a while for that fruit to become apparent. It might take time of discipleship and spiritual growth. My question for you is why choose a candidate to whom there is no fruit or conflicting fruit?

Why would you choose an immature Christian? I also ask why not at least select a candidate based on the qualifications for a pastor or deacon? Don’t you believe it is ridiculous for Christian to vote for a candidate for president who couldn’t even be allowed to pastor their church?

 

Biblical Voting Filter #2 – Is the Candidate Actively Living Out Their Faith?

Not only should the candidate have a testimony and fruit of a sincere conversion, but they must be actively living that faith out. Look for spiritual fruit in their lives.

I believe one indicator of if the candidate reveres the Bible or not is their stance on Israel. It is impossible for someone to spend much time in the Bible and not see that God has a special love and relationship with Israel. So if a candidate will not stand with Israel then they are not standing with God’s Word.

 

Biblical Voting Filter #3 – Does the Candidate Stand Against Ungodly Social Injustices?

Much of the work of the Old Testament prophets were to speak against the kings of Judah and Israel. In those addresses to the nation’s leaders there was regular warnings about the morality of the leader, but there were also instructions to stand against social injustices of the day. God greatly cares about the afflicted in America. He wants social injustices peeled back. There is no way I can list them all, but I believe there are four that must be considered.

Abortion – There is no greater evil in the United States than abortion. I really have a hard time how someone could make it through filter #1 and still support abortion, but it is crucial that Christians support a leader who would end abortion. For any question of God’s thoughts on abortion we must realize that scripturally abortion in our nation puts us in the company of the pharaoh of Israel’s captivity and King Herod at the birth of Christ.

Redefining of Marriage – Again Duet. 17 stresses that God considers a leader good if they keep His commandments, a leader who supports a redefining of marriage is tearing apart the very fabric of God’s design from Scripture.

Promotion of Homosexuality and Other Immoralities – As abortion puts us in the company of some of the most evil enemies of God in the Bible, the open support of homosexuality puts us in undesirable company – Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of homosexuality, but rather the open acceptance of homosexuality was a symptom of the sinfulness of that city-state. Romans chapter 1 tells that wide spread acceptance of homosexuality is a fruit of an ungodly nation. Therefore, a candidate that promotes any immorality as acceptable is turning from the commands of God.

Religious Liberty – Christians are to be faithful no matter regardless of how freely they can gather, but why in the world would a Christian support someone who would take away religious liberties. And even if a candidate says that support religious liberty, but they also support gay rights then whether they realize it or not they are on a path that will hurt religious liberty. This has been proven in the nations that legalized same-sex marriage as now it is a hate crime to speak out against it.

 

Biblical Voting Filter #4 – Does the Candidate Govern with Biblical Principles?

Scripture is not merely a moral account. There is a large volume of principles of governing, finances, stewardship, etc. Why would a Christian select a candidate that does not practice biblical wisdom? Scripture has much to say about debt and faithful stewardship all of which is very applicable to the destitute situation American finds itself in.

 

Vote
Can you imagine the impact Bible believing followers of Christ could have on our nation if we sought God for our next president? If we turned to accurate interpretations of Scripture and followed the Holy Spirit our voting would similar — and powerful.

Take all the candidate options and run them through the filters. As you do this process pray for God’s guidance and purity of your own heart.

If miraculously multiple candidates survive these three filters put them before the Lord. Pray. Listen. Consider who trusted Christian leaders are endorsing and why they are endorsing them. I have a handful of nationally known Christian leaders who I value their opinions. Ask your pastor. Ask spiritual leaders in your life. Choose God’s man.

Vote like your ballot is not your own because you were bought with a price.

And the obvious objection arises — what if none of the candidates are born again Christians? There might not be in the general election, but there is now in the primary. This is why it is so important that you carefully filter the candidates in the primary and vote.

How to Fulfill Colossians 3:23

Like many preachers I have preached how Colossians 3:23-24 calls us Christian to be a witness through excelling in our jobs or career. The passage reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” The context of the passage deals with the work of a slave, but it seems to be fair to connect the statement to each Christian’s job.

Although this concept is regularly preached from the text, the text itself lends very little understanding on what exactly excelling at one’s job may appear to be. This leaves the instruction rather vague. Most Bible teachers teach that this passage is fulfilled by our jobs being done with excellence. No doubt this is included in the pathos of the passage, but surely that does not capture the entirety of “work with all your heart as working for the Lord”. Another common explanation is that the Christian worker fulfills this verse with integrity. Again there is no doubt this too is included in the intent of the passage, but even calling the Christian to perform their job with excellence and integrity remains a vague ideology. What does excellence look like? What does integrity look like in all phases of our job?

Those two answers alone should leave one unsatisfied on how they may truly “work with all your heart as working for the Lord”.

A friend gave me an opportunity to review a new book about thriving at work and building a successful career. Now I read a lot of books on Christian leadership and how to be a better minister, but I don’t read many about surviving in a corporation or receiving a promotion. So with hesitation I read Rick Whitted’s Outgrow Your Space at Work.

Yet after diving into Rick’s book I was shocked at how much it benefited me as a pastor. Here are just three of the benefits I gained.

First, Outgrow Your Space at Work took me into the segment of life that my congregation spends the majority of their time. Rick presents shocking stats of how that our work, our careers, take center stage in our lives. It is where we spend the most of our time. This is true even if one maintains a healthy balance with work and life.

Although pastoring and vocational ministry has demands and challenges I realized I was oblivious of a lot of the day in and day out challenges that my congregation face. Rick does a masterful job of capturing the tension and the realistic life on the floor of work. This outlook opened my eyes. There are many concerns and emotions that my congregation need addressed biblically that I have failed to realize. As a pastor I have failed to provide the instruction and biblical wisdom to the area of life my congregation spends most of their time.

Second, a pastor needs to develop many of the same skills used in a corporate office, factory, or out on the road making sales. This is especially true when it comes to working with a team. As a pastor, there were many areas in which Rick challenged me to improve in. I personally was challenged to pursue personal growth as much as a dedicated employee in a field that has high competition.

The third benefit I gained is closely related to the first. I was overwhelmingly convicted I needed to make sure I was providing biblical application for my congregation that would impact their jobs on a daily basis. In God’s providence I am preaching through Colossians. In a few weeks I will preach through Colossians 3:23-24. And as I have prepared I have been left unsatisfied with the material I have found on the explanation of that passage. In following the typical pattern of instructing my congregation I believe they too would leave unsatisfied. Instructing the Apostle Paul tells us to excel leaves us wondering – how? Instructing that he wrote that we should work with excellence leads us to asking – to what extent? Instructing that we should work with integrity causes us to say – duh?

That’s why I appreciate Rick writing detailed, practical, and biblical instruction on the best way to perform in the work force. His point is that working in this way leads to a promotion, success, and fulfillment in your job. But there should be no surprise that “working with all your heart as working for the Lord” would lead to that level of success.

Some of the practical advice includes in detail things like humbleness, appropriate perspective, mastering the basics, taking responsibilities, be willing to do the tough stuff, team work, a good attitude, seeking wisdom, strong relationships, loyalty, and forgiveness.

So for a more detailed understanding to how to practical fulfill Colossians 3:23-24 read Rick Whitted’s Outgrow Your Space at Work.

 

The Greatest Step of Faith is to Place Faith in Humans

Christians need to give credit where credit is due —those who believe that we can “save the planet” or alter the climate have the strongest faith of all.

Like many of you reading this I have been extremely angered by our President. While ISIS runs rampant in the Middle East and threatens us on our soil, he continues to preach that climate change is our greatest concern. Maybe on the one-hand he is right — what good are matters of national defense and human rights if the world is going to end anyway.

Those who would line up behind Obama on this matter would at least in practice be best characterized as secularists or humanists. They may have a religious bent, but for the most part they look at the world without the intervention of God. Therefore they preach and teach that if humans would change their behavior and take action the earth could be saved or in the immediate future the climate would not change.

Many would look at me and my fellow Christians and say we have great faith because we believe God is in control and that He can supernaturally intervene and save the earth if it was needed. Yet that is not that big of a stretch that the all-powerful, all-present, self-sufficient Creator could rescue and repair His Creation. Really if there is such a being then it is reasonable to thing he could handle such a task. The same could be true for Muslims. They view reality as having a transcendent Creator that has the power to solve such problems. Even for our New Age friends who believe that there is some transcendent force beyond ourselves, trusting that force could stop climate change is not that large of a stretch.

But for the secularist and humanist who believe that finite man can will themselves to change the very elements that they are subject to is an absolute step of faith. Those like President Obama who believe that through human effort God’s creation can be stopped or altered may have the greatest faith of all.

The ridicule which is heaped upon Christians for believing in the supernatural and the impossible needs to be redirected to those who are just delusional enough to think that they can transcend creation and become a god.

Those with such blind faith in the ever failing human race would take heed to hear the words spoken by God which are recorded in Job 38-42 that put Job and his friends in their place. Words like these:

“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? – Job 38:8-11

 

What if American Politicians were Football Coaches

Louisiana State University has the 5th best winning percentage in college football for the past 10 years. They are four wins short of their conference counterpart ahead of them on that list. For those ten years Les Miles has been the head coach. He has led the Tigers to a national championship with two appearances in the National Championship game. Along with three divisional titles and two conference titles. Miles has more former players currently active in the NFL than any other program. This current season Les’ team surged to #2 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. LSU is bowl eligible and will finish with a winning record.

Even after all of his success Miles is more than likely going to be fired in the next few days. Not just fired, but $15 million dollars will be spent to buy him out of his contract.

The reason for the firing as summarized by an LSU insider, “”In Louisiana, we expect national championships, and we’re not in it.”

Firing coaches soon after success is nothing new. Ask Jimmy Johnson who was pushed out of Dallas after winning back to back Super Bowls. Recently, the San Francisco 49ers pushed out Jim Harbaugh who had completely turned around the franchise. In four years as Head Coach, he led the team to three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. Auburn fired head coach, Gene Chizik, one year removed from a national championship. The list could go on of successful coaches who were fired instantly as soon as the program began to falter.

I take the time to share those stories to remind you of the excellence we demand in sports.

We demand excellence in sports, but are content with mediocrity or down right failure in politics.

We have given presidents, senators, representatives, judges, and agency chiefs the reigns to the greatest nation the world has ever seen and we are content for them to drive it in the ground.

We are fine that we have lost respect in the international community. We are fine with the gross mismanagement of funds. We are fine that we have become enslaved to debt. We are content that our military policies have created utter failures in our missions in the Middle East. We aren’t concerned that or economy has dropped. We are indifference that our ranking in education has plummeted.

What if our president and politicians were coaches? What would their records be? Would they still have jobs?

They sure wouldn’t be getting contract extensions.

Honestly they wouldn’t only be fired, but they would be sued and investigated.

It is absurd that we type away on message boards and call for the heads of coaches with winning records, while the greatest “program” in the world has been driven into the ground. In college football terms, the US which was had a 200 year win streak has now fell on hard times. After 200 consecutive National titles and bowl wins, we are not even bowl eligible. Our number 1 recruiting classes have been surpassed by other teams. We are in danger of being dropped from Division I (first-world nations).

A booster who loved their program would not stand for this demise.

A booster who had any common sense wouldn’t let the downward spiral continue.

Americans, we used to be Alabama, Ohio State, or Florida State now we are Florida International or Kent State. Actually we are headed to be pre-Bobby Boucher South Central Louisiana State University, and we aren’t firing our coaches.

America, what if our politicians were coaches?