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Archive for January, 2017

I am tired.
I am tired of hearing people talk about politics on Sunday morning.
I am tired of Gospel pulpits being turned into bully pulpits.
I am tired of hearing and receiving disrespectful,
and, sometimes, mean-spirited comments.

So, let me tell you a story.
He was rebellious and disrespectful to his parents (who, in spite of all this, thought he was a gift from God). He slept with a prostitute. He got ticked off at his father-in-law and, because of that, burned the fields and crops of innocent people. And, he was a mass murderer.

This is a Bible story.

He had issues. He was deeply flawed. You wouldn’t want him around your daughter. None of us, I assume, would invite him to preach on Sun morning.
The descriptions of him are that he was a violent, immoral, rebellious, arrogant human being.

And the Bible says that the Spirit of God stirred in him.

With all of his flaws, God used Samson to lead the nation of Israel out of oppression.

I am NOT telling this to say who to vote for.
I AM telling this to put the election and candidates into perspective…what I believe to be a Biblical perspective.

1. God uses deeply flawed individuals to accomplish His will. Always has. He will ‘til the end of time.

Samson is only one example.

King David was an adulterer and committed conspiracy to commit murder.
King Saul was homicidal, paranoid, and perhaps psychotic.
Saul-who-became-the-Apostle-Paul was accessory to a murder (and a Fighting Fundie, if there ever was one).
Peter denied Jesus.
Judas betrayed Jesus.
And the Bible tells us that God used them all. It is a reminder that each and everyone of us is deeply flawed. I am deeply flawed. You are deeply flawed. To think or say otherwise is to ignore the clear teaching of scripture.

2. Sometimes God uses those deeply flawed people to judge the nation-its wickedness, rebellion, arrogance, backsliding. There are several foreign kings who God used to punish the children of Israel. Whoever gets elected, we, as a nation, will have received exactly what we deserve.

3. In my opinion, ALL candidates are deeply flawed human beings. I see good reasons for people on both ends of the political spectrum, as well as in the middle, to be suspicious of the motives and abilities of any of the candidates. They are ALL deeply flawed. The two most memorable definitions of politics are not complimentary.

4. If we put our trust in ANY human being, no matter their background or talents or promises, I believe that we are ignoring what scripture has to say. I would hope that each of us has spent time reading party platforms, not just listening to sound bites; reading the Bible AND the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights); researching voting records and business deals rather than only paying attention to rhetoric and talking points. With all of that, may we never forget that God is on the throne.

5. My prayer is that more of us would be as passionate about Jesus as we are about politics. For once, I would love to see bumper stickers that say “I am with Him,” while pointing to the One who was never inaugurated, never crowned (at least not in any earthly kingdom), Whose crowds turned into lynch mobs, and Whose triumphal procession ended in a funeral procession. For once, I would love to see hats that read, “Make the Church Great Again,” while reading the portion of Acts that talks about the church of Jesus Christ turning this sin-sick world upside down by the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. My second prayer is that the Church would be aware that God is watching us, and judging us, and, by and large, our witness to Jesus Christ is not going well. How we are acting in the run-up to this election is simply one more symptom of our unwillingness to focus on that which matters most. We are to seek first God’s kingdom.

7. My third prayer is for revival in the Church. We are comfortable, and asleep, and apathetic, and lukewarm while the world is going to Hell, and going through Hell. And, we mostly don’t care. Before God vomits us out of His mouth, I pray that we will repent of our passion-less Christianity. I pray for a revival of prayer among God’s people. I pray for a rebirth of a burden for souls. We are called to be part of an army God has drafted to change lives, to change the world…beginning with what He does in us.

8. Finally, I doubt that any of this will change anyone’s mind as to who they are voting for. I deeply hope that it will change our hearts. I pray we long for a King whose kingdom is not of this world. I pray that we will remember that human hearts are desperately wicked. I pray that we would follow Jesus, Whose ways are not our ways, and Whose thoughts are not our thoughts. And, I pray that we will focus on the mission the Church was given nearly 2,000 years ago – making Disicples of Jesus for the transformation of lives, communities, and the world.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV
[1] I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— [2] for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. [3] This is good, and pleases God our Savior, [4] who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

O and O

Luke 9:59-62 NIV
[59] He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” [60] Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” [61] Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” [62] Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Observation: Jesus says to each one who would be his disciple, Follow me. Jesus claims our loyalty above everything and everyone else. Custom in our society, even in the Church, says family comes first. Jesus says you shall have NO other gods before me. Note, it never says that guy takes his hand off the plow. But, he looks back… back home; back to his former life; back to good old days, perhaps? He doesn’t quit. His hand is still on plow. But, his heart is elsewhere.
Application: What gods have place are more important to me than Jesus (even though I look like Jesus comes first)? Family? Food? Money? House? Reputation? Like this unnamed man, I am called to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Not follow the money, or chase skirts, or hunt for food or vie for recognition. I am to follow Jesus. And, nothing, and no one else is way. By most standards, I look good. But, would I give up this house-for Jesus? Would I give up my bank account-for Jesus? My pension? My wife? My children and grandchildren (Abraham was called to choose between God and the son of his old age, Isaac)?
How am I doing? If I honest, prefer ease over discipleship. I would rather comfortable the committed. Being a Methodist beats being martyr. I follow Jesus when is convenient. I am not O and O for Christ.* I am not sold out. I am not all in. I would rather sleep than pray. I would rather eat than study. I would rather spend than give.
Prayer: Lord, I look good on the outside. But, I know that I could easily be a white-washed tomb full of dead men’s bones. I look like I would follow you to death. But, would I lose my life to save it? Compared to the standards of this world, I am committed. But, You are my standard.
You know my heart. I would be sold out for You. I want to be O and O for You! “Set a fire down in my bones that I can’t contain and I can’t control.” May I love and follow You-no matter what! In awesome and loving name of Jesus, I pray.
*O and O stands for “out and out.”

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