For the past few days, it has been on my mind to write about the upcoming Presidential election. It would be easy to make this an opinion piece about the Election of 2012; however I shall not do so. It would not be difficult to be strident about one political ideology and place it over the other. Continue reading
A few days ago, I was searching for some blogs to read and make possible comments. As my interest leans towards politics and the Christian faith, I elected to see what other Christians were talking about. As this is an election year, I did expect emotions to run high.
I was looking for ideas of what to write, this week. I would love to say that everyone was engaged in a civil debate. However, this is sadly not the case on the few alleged Christian sites I visited. It seems some have forgotten who their brothers and sisters are and that we’re to love one another. Continue reading
In case you haven’t notice, the race for the Presidency of the United States is already underway. Aside from President Obama, there are 7 other people who’d like a shot at the Oval Office. I am not going to say who to vote for. As an American citizen, the decision is yours to make.
My goal is to urge you to begin praying for the eight presidential candidates and not wait until the summer or November. The best time to begin praying, is today. We, each have a candidate that we like. This is fine and a good reason to pray for him or her.
I would like you to go a step further. Ask God, the Father about these people. What is God saying about the candidates? Please remember, God is not a Republican or a Democrat. As God’s ways are not ours, please don’t expect an echo chamber. It is good to ask “Who is God’s man for the hour?”
Did you know that Scripture offers some advice on what to look for? For starters, there is Exodus 18:21:
21 Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
There is also Deut 1:13:
13 Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.’
Did you notice that God is telling Moses, to choose those who’d help him lead the tribes of Israel? Could Moses choose anyone? No, Moses had to choose people with very specific character traits. These traits are honesty, hate dishonest gains, experienced, godly, wise and discerning. Once chosen, God would appoint them, as leaders of the tribes of Israel.
We should want these same characters in our elected leaders. Why is this important? A person with these character will seek to do what is right, in the sight of God. They would not be so prone to popular opinions and resist pressure groups. Plus, they would not have the need to sign pledges.
A friend once suggested that we need statesmen and not politicians. I agree. A politician is one who worries about the next election and not doing what’s right. A statesman is a godly person, who seeks to do what is right and he is not worrying about re-election. Let’s ask God, to replace the politicians with statesmen.
How shall we know, if we have such a person? It is done through prayer and searching out the truth. Don’t be satisfied with what you hear on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. They are each pushing for their favorite candidates.
It is best to start with prayer. Ask God, the Father about how to pray for each person. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light of truth on what’s heard on the news. You can trust God to lead us, to all truths about each candidates. Here is an illustration of what I mean.
In the Election of 2008, I set my heart on praying for the presidential candidates of that time. While praying, I was drawn towards certain presidential candidates. Did I know or understand what the political issues were? No. Did I know where the presidential candidates stood on a given issue? No.
What did I do? I trusted the Holy Spirit to lead me, in prayer. Sometimes, I would pray about a personal item relating to a specific candidate. Did I get some special download where I knew what to pray? This may have happened; however, it was not my primary source of information. I would occasionally get insights on what to pray through cable news or the Internet.
Take care of what you listen to or read! Not everything is true. It is always good to talk with God and ask the Father about what you are hearing. Please remember, Jesus did say that the Spirit will lead us, to all truths.
Don’t be afraid to do your own fact checking. My personal favorite fact checking sites are Snopes and PolitiFact. On The Issues is another good place to learn about the candidates. These sites were a great tool for smelling out the manure.
I will finish with these two set of Scriptures:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding. [Proverbs 3:5]
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. [James 1:5-6]
Some time ago, I visited the site of a very conservative church in my area. I’ve already heard of these guys, from friends. Because this church was too conservative, I had no desire to go; however, I did wanted to be fair. Not surprisingly, they had a web site and naturally I could listen to previous messages.
I chose to listen to a relatively recent message and it was on Matt 16:11-13:
11 How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
As I listened, there was an uneasy feeling that came. “What is the pastor warning about?” “Why do I feel like there is an agenda?” These were the questions that came to mind. I have had the pleasure of being in a couple of conservative churches and seldom had my antenna go up.
One could ask, “Who’s the Pharisee, here?” What do I mean by this?
Who are the Pharisee? The Pharisees were the ultra conservatives of Jesus’ time. They were the proud disciples of Moses and they were strict observers of the Law. The Pharisees were not known for mercy, compassion and grace.
They were no friends of Jesus or the Apostles. Though the actual group had died out; their descendants live on. Today, we would call them, “the religious right”. Just like their ancestors, they are very legalistic about Scripture and sin. Like their forebears, they tend to forget the value of love, compassion and forgiving others.
This story is not about a specific church; hence their name is not mentioned. I have seen this, elsewhere. I grew up, as a nominal Catholic. As a kid, I could recall seeing the offering plate passed around. From what I recall, the Catholic church never gave any guidelines about what to give. You just put the money in.
In my adult life, I did visit a couple of Catholic churches in Phoenix. Yet, I do not recall any sermons or sales pitch to give. If there was one, I totally missed it. By contrast, I received a total education about tithes and offerings when I went to some Protestant churches.
I was being told, “Do not rob God! You are to give your tithes and offerings.” Wait a second! Am I suddenly under the Law? Am I supposed to go from freely giving to obligatory giving? I don’t think so!
I thought the Catholic church was supposed to be the ones with all the rules and regulations. Are you seeing the irony, here? Who are the Pharisees in this picture? Yes, the Catholic church does have a reputation for rules and traditions. However, it seems they chose to let the issue of money be between the person and God.
To be fair, I would like to share about two churches. One is a moderately conservative church and the other is moderately liberal. The leaders and members, of each church, are humbly and imperfectly seeking to follow Jesus. For them, it is not about rules and regulations.
Yes, Scripture is important to both and so is walking in love, mercy and compassion. Is it easy? No, it is not easy. It is both challenging and rewarding in the long run. This is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Who are the disciples of Jesus, here?
One day, there was a young man who lived on the outskirts of Dearborn, Michigan. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and he was heading to Calvary Chapel church for their morning service. He had been a Christian, for many years and was considering the parable of “The Good Samaritan” as told by Jesus. Continue reading