Wednesday, November 14, 2012

David Platt's Convicting Call

The preacher whose sermons have convicted me EVERY TIME I have heard him over the last few years is David Platt--whose impact through his book, Radical, continues to be felt in many lives.  Here is the message he preached at Liberty University's Convocation in 2011.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Re-election of President Obama and the Future of America.

In my reading of people I respect and conversations with many around me about the election results, I have noted a larger level of disappointment and despair than I've seen in previous elections where a candidate favored by most evangelicals has lost.

Was the election a demonstration that we are no longer the nation of our founders or of the generation that won World War 2?  Cal Thomas thinks that is the case, and says so quite clearly here.  Maybe he is right.

One pastor writes passionately that to vote for President Obama was a wicked act because of his stated desires to continue all forms of abortion and make same sex marriage legal.  Further, he argues that America is not just wicked, but has been made collectively stupid because of our societal sins.  I found his powerful statement here.  Maybe he is right.

Of course, there are Christians, especially among the young, women and minorities if the polls are to be believed, who felt that the President's positions on abortion, same sex marriage, and limits to religious freedom were not reasons to vote against him, and that his four years in office provided enough reason to re-elect him.  Jim Wallis did not endorse the President in this post on religious consistency and hypocrisy in politics, but he gives the framework for those who might have done so by raising numerous issues the Bible addresses (poverty, care for children who are dying around the world due to what are curable diseases, and care for the strangers among us who are undocumented immigrants) in addition to those I've mentioned and saying we must weigh the importance of each and vote accordingly.

I disagree with Mr. Wallis in terms of what seems to be the moral equivalence he strikes. The deaths of 20,000 children around the world daily due to preventable causes is a genuine tragedy.  However, they are not all within the reach (or responsibility) of the American government, and the church is free to act and leads the way in caring for such children to prevent the deaths of many more.  Only the government of our country can prevent the legal murder of unborn infants here.  Therefore, as a moral decision, the abortion issue is more important when it comes to choosing government leaders.

But, I am  not here to rehash the arguments of the election.  I understand the disappointment of those who supported Mr. Romney and cannot believe that our country would, after watching the record of the last four years, re-elect the President Obama for another four years.  I congratulate those whose votes for President Obama overwhelmed all the supposed momentum for his opponent, even though I cannot actually rejoice in your victory.

What I want to say is this: America's future, while unknown to me in its specifics, will be the same as all the kingdoms of this world.  It will ultimately fall, either before the Lord's return or at that time.  The nation will be judged, as all nations will be, for its rejection of God's rule and God's ruler--Jesus Christ.  And it will not only be overthrown, it will be replaced by the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  Like many nations before us, we have been blessed by God in ways other nations of the same era have not.  And like those blessed nations who have gone before us, from the Babylonians with a humbled, repentant Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), to Persia with its God-appointed King Cyrus (see Isaiah 45), all the way to spiritually awakened Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, we will forget God's goodness, love our sin and ourselves, and bring decline as well as wrath upon ourselves instead of mercy.  That isn't very encouraging to patriotic Americans, is it?

God makes clear that there is one remedy that a nation can find that turns away his wrath, and it isn't conservatism, or progressivism, or libertarianism, or any other political -ism.  It is repentance.  Repentance can come quickly, and it can work powerfully to change matters.  However, it is a spiritual blessing that is sought by God's people for themselves and their nation.  Many Christians I know are ready to confess the sins of others, but we must confess our own as well, including placing our trust in men, in nations, and in politics.

Let me close with the reminder I shared with the staff the day after the election from 1 Timothy 2:1-4.  Paul tells Christians that our first obligation in corporate prayer is for all people, and then he specifically tells us who rises to the top of that large category--kings (or presidents in our case) and all in high positions.  Do we offer supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for our leaders?  We should, and when we do it allows us to rest in God's sovereignty and experience "a peaceful and quiet life" and to live in a "godly" way--which means living in the realization that God is always present and active.  We also live "dignified" lives this way--a life that is worthy of looking at with respect.  Exemplary lives are part of God's strategy to see people "saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Could fervent prayer for our leaders and repentance within the church be the key turning away wrath and an outpouring of mercy?

Perhaps a great disappointment is necessary to make many of us look at what really matters to us, and whether the troubled state of our nation or the lack of a powerful corporate Christian testimony to those who are perishing is the greater disaster.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Never the Same

For your encouragement, I share my friend Steve Richardson's video of the story of his family's ministry and its results.  Kathy and I had the privilege of meeting Steve's parents (featured in the video) and are so thankful for the continued faithfulness of Steve and Arlene as they lead Pioneers.  Watch and be blessed!

Never the Same from Pioneers-USA on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My thoughts on voting, and David Jeremiah's sermon on the election.

It's election time, and as someone who has always had an interest in politics, a passion for truth and justice, and a concern for my own nation's well being, I take voting seriously.  I also value God's kingdom over the kingdoms of this world, and my calling as a son of God and pastor in the Church over being a citizen of the USA.  I know how easily political passions are stirred, and how we can blur the line between political desires and biblical priorities.  What to do?

First, we bow before God's sovereign will, knowing that He will guide events according to his plan for the ages and while we must exercise our responsibilities and will be held accountable for our free actions, He is bringing all of history to its God-glorifying, justice-rendering, mercy- and grace-filled, conclusion.  And we are to preach the Gospel  of Jesus to the ends of the earth to hasten that day!

Second, we acknowledge that Christ is King over His kingdom, and while it is not here in its fullness, we who are its citizens are to live as such and demonstrate the difference it makes in our choices and in where our confidence lies.  

Third, we recognize that in a fallen world, we must often choose the lesser of two evils.  No one we could respect would argue that one candidate in our national election for president is God's man, while the other is the forerunner of the Antichrist!  They are both flawed men who hold positions and beliefs that do not reflect righteousness fully.  But we must still choose and should choose the lesser of the two evils (also known as the better of two alternatives).  I read a great post on that subject here.  The best reminder there: "Not only are the choices imperfect, but so also is the chooser."

Fourth, we should vote for the candidate that best reflects our understanding of biblical values.  I've said my peace about my prioritizing of those values in an earlier post.

David Jeremiah is one of the more well-known evangelical pastors of our day, serving Shadow Mountain Church in El Cajon (outside of San Diego), CA.  Before that he was the founding pastor of Blackhawk Ministries in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  And long before that, he was a charter member of Grace Baptist Church in his youth and during his time as a student at Cedarville College, where his father was the first Baptist president of the school.

We have a long connection with and respect for Dr. Jeremiah, and I was recently made aware of a sermon he preached on the upcoming election.  A link was sent to me, and as I watched the video, I was impressed at his attempt to frame the choice that Christians face in light of our answering some basic questions about the actions and views of both candidates.  He makes no "endorsement," but draws clear lines when it comes to issues such as demonstrating reverence for God, protection of life and liberty, and promotion of biblical family concerns and values.  I post the video so that you can watch and decide what you think about it.  Disclaimer: the video is from the AFA site, and I do not endorse all actions taken by the AFA, so do not assume otherwise.

And if you have been wondering how Dr. Billy Graham decided to urge Americans to vote for "biblical values" related to protection of the biblical view of marriage, the sanctity of human life in the womb, and protection of religious liberty and conscience, you will find out in the video.

One more thing: before raising the other issues related to biblical justice that are not addressed in this sermon and saying they are just as important, see my previous blog post here.

David Jeremiah on Vimeo.