Monday, September 29, 2008

What are you thinking about?

In this time of economic uncertainty, with the resultant anxiety that many feel not only in this nation but around the world, is there a word from the Lord?

Indeed, there is.

Any time we open the Bible and read, we can receive a genuine word from the Lord. Here is the word that came to my mind today:

3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Someone may ask, “What do you think of this economic crisis?” “As little as possible” should be your answer. God will keep in perfect peace those “whose mind is stayed” or fixed on Him.

What do you think about? If your mind is fixated on the economy, your job, your home mortgage, your school loan or whatever, don’t wonder that you can’t sleep at night.

Fix your mind on God. How? Get in His word. Read it. Meditate on it. Think about God as He has revealed Himself in His word.

Another word from the Lord also comes to mind:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Through His apostle, God tells us what to do: Rejoice in the Lord, pray, and think on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Question: What is truly excellent and praiseworthy? Is it not those things that pertain to God?

What kind of person is it who fixes his mind on God, rejoices in Him and tells God in prayer all about his troubles? It is the person who truly trusts God. Remember the passage from Isaiah that I quoted?

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.” Why? “Because he trusts in you.”

Oh, my friend, if you are worried and anxious about the economy, you must seriously ask yourself if you are truly trusting in God. There is no real security except in our Lord. “Trust in the LORD…for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

In His hands

For some time, what with all the partisan rhetoric surrounding the Presidential campaign, a thought has been on my mind that I’ve wanted to voice. It is this: When it comes to the well-being of my family, my livelihood, my personal sense of happiness and wholeness, I have never felt that I have been either helped or hindered because who was in the White House.

For instance, there are many within the Black community who consider the Reagan years to be bad years for Black people (and, right now, unfortunately, George W. Bush might hold that distinction). Nevertheless, I can’t say I share this opinion. I started college during Ronald Reagan’s first year in office and finished graduate school during his second term. I graduated from the university debt free, my great-grandfather having paid my way through college with the savings bonds he had accumulated during the nearly 30 years he worked as a janitor. By the time Reagan left office, I was working my first teaching job, earning a decent teacher salary, and had recently purchased my first new car.

God graciously and abundantly blessed me during the Reagan years.

On the other side of the political fence, some within Evangelicalism consider the eight years President Bill Clinton was in office to have been a low point in this nation. Yet, I don’t have particularly bad memories of the Clinton years, either. During President Clinton’s tenure in office I received full ordination to the gospel ministry and had the privilege of ministering to many people within my former denominational circles. It was also during these years that Catherine gave birth to our two precious sons. During this era, God also provided for the needs of our growing family by providing a custom-made music position for me at one of the top public high schools in our area, and enabled Catherine and me to purchase a brand new house (in which we still live) and buy two new cars (which we still drive).

God graciously and abundantly blessed us during the Clinton years.

Even under the current administration of President George W. Bush, with much of the country genuinely anxious about the economy, God has supplied our financial needs. We don’t have a lot, but we have all we need. God has been so good.

Here’s my point: Who won or lost the Presidential election never had anything to do with the well-being of my family. We’re in God’s hands. He has not changed, nor has He failed.

For this reason, I can’t help but wonder why some Christians speak and act as if John McCain winning the Presidency would either be the best or the worst thing to happen to our country, while other Christians speak and act as if electing Barack Obama would either be the salvation or the ruin of our nation. Our nation, its leaders, and our lives, are in the hands of God. Why don’t we speak and act as those who trust God to work in all circumstances to accomplish His good purpose?

At this point, I’m 99% certain for whom I will vote in November. Yet, if my candidate wins, I’m not expecting miracles from him; I look to God to supply my family’s needs. And, if my candidate loses, it’s not the end of the world: God is still on the throne, my family and my future are in God’s hands and, because that's true, we’ll be all right.

So, I ask again, why don’t we evangelicals speak and act as those who really trust God?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What about the babies?

Where do the souls of aborted children go after they are killed in the womb? Although the Bible does not address this subject directly, I think most theologians would speculate that the souls of aborted children go to be with the Lord.

If this is so, then what is more important: rescuing the “un-born” who are going to be with the Lord, or rescuing children already born into broken families and crime-infested neighborhoods with failing schools? Think about it: If the child’s family is in a broken condition, most likely that family is also without Christ. If the neighborhood in which the child lives is filled with crime and unrestrained evil, in all likelihood that neighborhood is, to a great degree, also without Christ. And, if a child can’t read because the schools have failed to teach, then that child can’t read the Bible, either.

Why is it that Evangelicals fight so hard to rescue a baby yet to be born, but expend so little energy, in comparison, trying to rescue children already born who, apart from the intervention of Christians, will most likely spend an eternity in hell?

I am against abortion. The procedure is sinful and wrong. But, am I to believe that God is more grieved by the abortion of millions of babies who were never born, who now live with Him in eternity, than He is by the seeming disinterest that conservative Evangelicals have in the millions of children already born who, through no fault of their own, are caught in a vortex of urban poverty and deprivation?

It seems to me that we Evangelicals are more concerned about the price of gas than we are about the souls of millions of children who live in the inner city.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Imagine if Evangelicals really trusted God

Let’s imagine. Let’s imagine that Sen. Barack Obama is as bad as many conservative Evangelicals say he is. And let’s further imagine that Obama handily wins the Presidency of the United States.

Imagine that the ban on “Partial-Birth Abortion” is overturned by President Obama, and unrestricted access to abortion is codified into law through his authorization of a “Freedom of Choice Act”.

Imagine that the balance of the Supreme Court settles significantly to the Left with President Obama’s appointment of one or two liberal justices.

Imagine that “gay marriage” gets official recognition at the Federal level, upheld by a now-liberal Supreme Court.

Imagine that preaching against homosexuality gets branded as “hate speech” by the courts of the land.

Imagine that all the moral and family values that we Evangelicals hold dear are undermined and abandoned by liberal President Obama and the liberal Supreme Court justices that he appoints.

Does that sound like an awful scenario? It is! What would we Evangelicals do if this imaginary scenario became a reality?

Maybe we’d have to trust God.

We certainly don’t do that now. The Evangelical movement in the U.S. has become little more than an arm of the Republican Party. The Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1), but American Evangelicals earnestly desire political power instead. We believe more in political might than in mighty prayer. Maybe it’s because we have become spiritually impotent that we turn to carnal weapons like political power so as to force “the heathen” to do what our prayers have so far failed to accomplish.

It certainly doesn’t seem that the U.S. is in any danger of another “Great Awakening”. The fact that gay “marriage” could seriously be considered as a legitimate alternative says a lot about how far we as an American people have fallen morally and spiritually. But, if this country is going down morally and spiritually, whose fault is that? Maybe the reason this country has gone down morally and spiritually is because Evangelicals have failed to preach and live the gospel. Certainly, the fact that Open Theism, annihilationism, universalism and the rejection of penal substitutionary atonement have gained ground in some Evangelical circles says a lot about how far Evangelicalism has strayed.

For the record: I don’t believe for one moment that Sen. Obama is as bad as his Republican and Evangelical detractors say. Do I agree with all his positions? No, of course not. But I do know Obama cannot be the personification of evil that some of his critics portray him to be. After all, he’s not the devil. Can’t we disagree with another’s positions without having to resort to lying, slander and exaggeration? Strident verbal attacks, like some of those made against Obama by his critics, quite frankly, make me suspect racism is as much a factor in their criticism as is Obama’s political positions.

Personally, I could live with an Obama Presidency. After all, I lived through eight years of Ronald Reagan and eight years of Bill Clinton. I was no better or worse off under either President. After all, my life is not in the hands of the occupant of the White House. My life is in the hands of the Lord.

I am beginning to think that maybe the best thing that could happen is that we Evangelicals lose the “culture war”. We have become intoxicated with political power and have abandoned trust in the Lord in order to pursue fidelity to the Republican Party. Perhaps what we need is for society to turn against us to the degree that we become a truly despised minority in this country. Maybe then we will stop trying to fight spiritual battles (the so-called culture war) with carnal weapons (Republican Party politics) and learn to trust God again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Voddie Baucham speaks out

Voddie Baucham is the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. He has recently written a few provocative articles at his blog on the upcoming Presidential election, and the relationship between evangelicals and the Republican Party:
“Waking Up the Sheeple”

Read what Baucham has written. I guarantee it will make you think. In fact, it would be a good thing, indeed, if all Christians did a lot of deep thinking, praying and interacting with the word of God concerning this upcoming election.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Idolatrous Nationalism

I was bothered by something in particular which I saw and heard in tonight’s telecast of the Republican Convention. I heard some of what concerns me in Sen. John McCain’s nomination acceptance speech. Here is a small portion of what Sen. McCain said tonight:

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.

“I’m not running for president because I think I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.”

Does anyone else besides me hear anything idolatrous in these words? “I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s”? “My country saved me”? I’m sorry, but my country cannot save me; Jesus alone saves. My country doesn’t own me or have the right of lordship over me; I belong to Christ.

Believer in Christ, “You were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), and the United States of America did not, and could not, pay the price. Only the blood of Jesus could buy me.

What I witnessed on television tonight was a kind of idolatry. It was a flag-waving worship of the United States of America. And, many of us evangelical Christians are caught up in this idolatry. Let’s be real: That’s what it is! Is this acceptable to God? Idolatrous nationalism was on full display at the Republican Convention tonight, and it’s just not right.

The Republican Party may be “pro-life”, “pro-family”, and all that, but we are on the wrong road if we think of a political party or candidate as the hope for our nation. Be very careful, my flag-waving, Republican, evangelical friend. America is not first. God is.

Monday, September 01, 2008

“I am a debtor”

“Possibly he [Lloyd-Jones] had not yet thought much of the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians…’ (Rom. 1:14), but he felt their meaning and the sense of responsibility which they express. ‘A debtor,’ he once said in a comment on that text, ‘is a man who is conscious of certain pressures being brought to bear upon him. He is a man who feels that he has got something to which other people have a right. Paul is a man who has got something to give. He has been given it by the Lord. He has received it; he has got it. It has transformed his life, and he feels that he must give it to others.’”

Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939 (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982) p. 94.