Monday, January 4, 2021

2020 Elections and The Gospel of Jesus Christ

I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why am I writing a column on the 2020 election? Good question. That is precisely why. You will notice that there is no political candidate or party written here. That is intentional. I write, not from a political or legal perspective, but as a preacher of God’s Word.

Unless you live in an extremely disconnected world, I assume you are fully aware the presidential election is still being contested. Have you had a chance to dig into the allegations being made? Large numbers of voters casted illegal ballots in the name of dead citizens. Significant error rates are shown in computerized voting systems. Elected officials made alarming and illegal changes to statewide election laws that violated the U.S. or their own state’s constitution.

These are just three of the alleged election crimes. There are many more, and investigators have video, first hand witness accounts, images, documents and more as evidence.

I realize there are readers that have strong opinions on both sides of this issue. I encourage all of us to be a seeker of truth, regardless of our positions.

These alleged crimes are violations of God’s law, which supersedes our U.S. or state constitutions. Lying, stealing, deceit, manipulation and evil planning all lay at the root. Every incident fell short of God’s holy standard. These are acts of disobedience and condemned by Him.

God has strong words about lying, “all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).And those who steal equally come under divine judgment, “Thieves . . . will [not] inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:10).

To remain silent and say nothing, or give approval to those who engage in lying, stealing and deceit, is akin to tolerating evil. God will condemn us as a church and nation unless we reject sin and call for repentance, instead of justifying it for a good cause.

Read these words, written to a local church that was tolerating evil, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)

If indeed these alleged voting crimes did take place, and we see them but choose to remain uninformed and dismissive, it will have devastating consequences for us in the future as a church and nation. How can God hear and answer our prayers, if we turn a blind eye to that which makes Him angry? Why should He come to our aide when our lips cry to Him for help, but our hearts accept what is evil?

The cross of Jesus is both a symbol of justice and mercy. On the justice side, Jesus points to our disobedience. It hurts and is offensive. The offense is to humble us that we might more clearly see His mercy. For through the cross, our sins can be washed away. The shame and guilt can be lifted. As an individual, a family and even a nation, we are never without hope because Christ has risen. However, if we are led astray, refusing to seek the truth and allow evil to dwell without objection, then the hope of the cross becomes our condemnation. 

 A prayer for our nation - “Lord God, may the people of our nation not see candidates or political parties, but You, high and lifted up. Open our eyes to see truth and not be deceived. Move upon our hearts not to protest, but to humble ourselves before Your throne. Move us to pray and fast for our nation. Only You can save us. In Jesus Name. Amen.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Christmas and The Pursuit of Truth

“Passion for truth.” That is what I wrote down in my Bible some years ago after reading Luke 1:1-4. This is the beginning section of a detailed account of the life of Jesus Christ starting with a historical record of the Christmas story.

Luke, a follower of Jesus, captured my attention when he wrote, “. . . just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you . . . that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:2-4). Do you see how Luke’s passion for truth has provided us an accurate accounting of Jesus’ birth?

Truths are facts. Truth is accuracy. Certainty. It is not wide spread conformity or uniformity, but has a measure of agreeability by some. Luke’s eye witnesses of the life of Christ and the early Apostles were all agreeable. But the enemies of Christ disputed Luke’s claims as mere lies or legend. The thing about truth though, is it stands the harsh winds of criticism, while lies and legends collapse at the gentle breeze of questioning.

2020 has been a year for the battle of truth in many major news events, and Luke has been a great example in how to seek it out.

Covid-19. One group of infectious disease experts, medical doctors and scientific studies advocate for mask wearing, social distancing, quarantines and shut-downs to stop or slow the spread of the virus. Yet, there is another group of respectable experts, doctors and studies that question those and have differing information and recommendations. Who is right?

Racism. One group of black intellectuals argue that America is not a racist nation, does not have a systemic racism problem and that white police officers killing young black men is not a widespread problem. Then a different group of black academics’ counter that, condemning such conclusions and present their own case for otherwise. Who is right?

Election fraud. One group of experienced political analysts and lawyers site signed affidavits of personal witnesses, mathematical improbabilities and pole watchers being severely restricted as evidence of voter fraud. Another group of elected officials and legal experts look at all the data and are fully convinced there was no wide spread voter fraud and dispute all findings to the contrary. Who is right?

Luke did not rely upon public opinion or the thoughts of one or two people about the life of Jesus. He rolled up his sleeves and worked hard at digging up the truth. And His ultimate source of truth was God Himself working through His Holy Spirit guiding Luke as he wrote divinely inspired Words.

On Covid-19, let us not look to Dr. Fauci or our personal physician as a source of truth alone. On racism, let us not look to Dr. Thomas Sowell or Rev. Jesse Jackson as a source of truth alone. On election fraud let us not look to the Democrats or Republicans as a source of truth alone.

Let us roll up our sleeves and go through the hard work of seeking out truth for ourselves. Begin with prayer asking God to show you what is true and what is not, no matter where it may lead. Read God’s Word (the source of all truth). Ask questions of others. Respectfully challenge what some state as facts. Listen objectively. Research. Reflect on what you are learning. Pray more. Then take a position with confidence and humility. Remember, without this pursuit of truth we would not be celebrating Christmas.

A prayer for you - “Lord God, thank you for raising up Luke and using him to provide us the Christmas story. Help us to pursue truth as he did, and not be led astray by the opinions or pressure from others. Be our guide O, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.”


Thursday, November 5, 2020

How to be Thankful in America’s Chaos

The year 2020 will go down as probably one of the most cultural shaping years of the United States and world in recent times. It began in January with retired NBA legend, Kobe Bryant’s sudden death. News of his passing impacted the globe. In February, President Donald Trump became the third President to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. In March, shutdowns began sweeping across the nation in an attempt to slow the Covid-19 pandemic, which has contributed to over 200,000 deaths in the United States and financial devastation for many. In May, the killing of George Floyd set off a series of lawless riots in major cities for months. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act can be extended to offer controversial protections to lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual people, which will have massive implications for churches and Christian run non-profits, businesses and schools. And through all this upheaval there has been a tense and divisive political campaign season and presidential election. Plus, we still have December to go and none of this includes what has been happening in your own life and family.

Anyone, no matter where they stand politically or religiously, can agree that 2020 has been incredibly stressful due to so many significant and difficult events. Thanksgiving Day will be significant this year. Let me ask you this, “How can we be thankful while in the midst of all this craziness?”

Read this carefully . . . the evidence of true and genuine thankfulness comes not in a season of plenty, but in a time of loss and heartache. For that is when you look beyond the superficial and into the depths of what is truly important. Pain has a sobering effect on us, often waking us up to questions that help come to terms with life’s greatest priorities.

In the Bible it is written, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The man who wrote those words penned them while imprisoned unjustly for doing good to others.

The people in our nation’s history that gave us the origins of Thanksgiving Day, understood this concept of true thanksgiving. November 11, 1620, European Pilgrims, America’s new settlers, arrived on the shores of what eventually became Massachusetts. According to an American history website, . . .

The harsh New England winter was already well underway. Having no homes or shelter of any kind when they landed, before spring arrived, half of the 100 settlers had died. But that first year also brought unexpected blessings as some of the Indians in the area who had learned English were willing to help the Pilgrims by showing them many things they needed to survive, including how to plant Indian crops such as corn, and how to hunt and fish in that area. 

Out of the great blessing the native Americans showed the Pilgrims, came America’s first Thanksgiving. While each of the Pilgrims had experienced awful tragedy, they were able to lift their eyes heavenward and truly give thanks and praise to the Lord God, who they worshiped, for the grace He showed them through friendship with the Indians. They were able to find good in the face of pain and sorrow.

Where is the good in America right now? Like the Pilgrims, lift your eyes heavenward to the Lord God. Look beyond what you see physically to the unseen presence of a very real and holy God. Long ago He sent His only Son, Jesus, who came to die and rise again for the sins of the world. For sin is the cause of all that troubles our lives and world. Our disobedience to God and the disobedience of others, has brought much evil and destruction upon us. Yet, we are not left to ourselves. In Jesus, God has given us hope. We can be set free from our shackles of sin. The weight can be lifted. The darkness can be turned to light. The chaos can be transformed into peace. It is because of Jesus we can give thanks while the world falls apart around us. Let not circumstances determine if there is something to be thankful for. Turn to Christ. Let Him change your heart, then see the world and your life like you have never seen it before.

A prayer for you - “Lord God, I pray for the one who is troubled by all he or she is walking through. Open their eyes and heart to see you standing right there in the middle of the chaos. Let them see you as a Savior. Bring them to turn from their disobedience and seek you for forgiveness. In your holy name, Amen.”

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Pastors and Voting

Pastor and church leader, do you anticipate encouraging your congregation to vote in the general election on November 3rd? I hope every pastor and church leader will help make the Christian vote, the highest turnout among any group.

I understand churches may feel uncomfortable or even resistant to utilizing their church to encourage voting. Perhaps they think it smells of politics and want to get as far away from the odor as possible, especially with political tensions running too high in America right now.

What I am talking about is simply encouraging the act of voting. I do not want the church promoting certain candidates or political parties, nor turning Sunday morning into a political rally. This is just about encouraging followers of Christ to vote, and vote prayerfully and intelligently.

I see voting as an act of loving Christian citizenship when I read the Apostle Peter’s letter in the New Testament. His words are not specifically about voting, but about the Christian’s relationship to government. 1. Voting is honorable. It is written, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable . . .” (1 Peter 2:12). 2. Voting is good. The Scriptures say, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (vs. 15). 3. Voting is an act of freedom. The Bible says, “Live as people who are free” (vs. 16). In the United States men and women and people of all races and religions, or no religion, are free to vote. 4. Voting is loving our neighbor. God’s Word states, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (vs. 17). The candidates up for election are our fellow citizens, and in a sense, are our neighbors. It is an act of sacrificial love to them when we take time and go vote.

But what if some candidates are lacking the character or will not support Christian principled policies or legislation? That is a valid concern, but please do not let that keep you or your church out of the voting booth. Participate, but do so with greater attention to prayer, seeking the Scripture for guidance and learning about the candidates.

If you lead or are involved in a church that sees voting as part of the messy political process, consider a different viewpoint. Look at it through the lens of God’s Word and Christian citizenship. It is our opportunity to be salt and light in the community when we show up at the polls on election day. And when our votes are joined with prayer and fasting for the candidates along with our city, state and nation – election day can truly be a spiritually impactful time.

When it comes time to cast our vote, believers in Christ do so with a theological understanding of sovereign Kingship. Jesus died, rose from the dead and is alive today sitting at the right hand of His Father in heaven, waiting to come again. Christ is King no matter who is on the ballot or in political power. It is in Him whom we ultimately place our trust with the realization that no earthly power can thwart the purposes of our Lord and Savior.

A prayer for you - “Lord God, I pray you will give pastors and local church leaders wisdom and unity in discussions about encouraging their congregations to vote. Open the eyes of fellow believers to the biblical importance of voting. And I pray that our nation will turn toward you. We are in desperate need of a special touch of your glory and grace. Come Lord Jesus. In your holy name, Amen.”