Government Shut down

First and foremost, I feel the need to state the obvious. No matter who is in charge of our government, or what they do, Jesus is king. That being said, did you know that our government follows a distinct pattern that was standout in the midst of monarchys. The predominate style of government was a monarchy, but the Jews only king was God and then Moses had a system of judges who incrementally oversaw increasingly large numbers. These judges according to Exodus 18, were to men that were seen as wise and Godly men, they were not only responsible for upholding the law, but they were held to a higher and stricter standard. Rightly so, those who are to make and enforce the laws must also be subject to them. If they are not, they are setting up a ruling class of people who are above the law. God viewed His people as created equals with Him as their ruler. We are a Republic with Democratic tendencies, because all men are created equal.

More and more this seems to be what is going on in this country, that we are two classes. A ruling class of wealthy men who have their own agendas. Agendas that likely have nothing to do with what is best for our nation. Now, I am sure that it will not take much guessing for any of you to figure out where I stand on Affordable Healthcare Act, but that said if it is going to be the law, it needs to apply accross the board to everyone.

The problems that this nation is facing are so much bigger than just this act. We seem to have almost forgotten about the need to raise our debt ceiling again. This is also a huge problem. We have failed to cut costs and if we continue to fund, um everything, we will default. Funding Obamacare is just the tip of the iceburg. We need a huge scale back of our government. We are headed for disaster and I just don’t see how we get back.

Last year, when I got sick I was unable to work. I had to incur debt to pay for healthcare and related things. Shortly after, I was forced out of my full time job. During the last few months, I have had to cut my spending. Getting rid of things that were good and beneficial. What I need now is to increase my income. I could for a breif period of time use more debt to get through this, but that can’t continue. I can already feel the weight of lower income and higher debt. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if this pattern of borrowing to pay debt had been going on for years! Yet, that is how our government operates. It’s scary.

Now, I am not sure if shutting down the government is the best way to address these issues. I think that even the powers that be have forgotten what the fight is about, they just want to win. Meanwhile, the people suffer while the ruling class fight like petulant children.

We need to be on our knees praying for our leadership, clearly, they are in need of wisdom. Imagine if every Christian got on their knees and prayed for wisdom for our leaders. What if each one of us prayed for the revival of this land and begged God to forgive our national iniquities? Before we can have national holiness, we must first have personal holiness. We must work on having our own lives in accordance with God’s will and pray for personal revival and then let that fire spread through out our home towns, permeate our nation, so that we can have corporate holiness that the world will see, that will be so compelling that they can’t help, but to be part of it.

Christian Politics

There are few topics that stir hot emotions like the topic of politics. This is probably why it is a topic where we need to find our common ground and be sure that our conversations are respectful, the world is watching. As Christians, I think that many of us agree on the basic ideas, where we differ is in how to accomplish our goals.

For example, all of us would agree that Christ would want us to do our part to make sure that the poor, the fatherless, the widowed etc. do not go with out a roof and food. Where some of us part ways is how this gets accomplished. I am personally of the opinion that charity is not the place of our government. There should be fewer government programs and more private ones. Many of the ones the currently exist are run by religious organizations, but I do not in any way think that charity should be limited to religion.

Here is my reasoning for this line of thinking – the government needs to have funds to handle the things that the government is specifically supposed to be in charge of. Things like roads, military, police, and education. These should be the primary focus of government. right now, so much money is being spent on public welfare that the primary concerns of government are being neglected.

The second reason for this line of thinking is that if we become overly indebted to our government for our basic necessities how will we dissent we our government is too big? We will become a society afraid to bite the hand that feeds. Look around, this is happening. There is no free lunch. Everything has it’s price and the price is too high, because the price will be our freedom.

Third, as Christians we know that we are blessed by God for our generosity. Is it possible that individuals miss out on the blessing of God because we are allowing the government to do our job? I do believe that God blesses our generosity and that we can be generous even out of a little, but if the average citizen kept more of their income they would be better able to be charitable, I think they would be too.

The problem is that while I believe that we were a nation that was founded on Christian principles, we are not a Christian nation. We are democratic-republic. This means that all of the people have a say, Christians and atheists alike ( and all the others too) have the right to equal protection under the law. Charity shouldn’t be legislated, but morality can’t be either. I can’t say enough that we can not hold people who do not claim to be Christians to our standard. This is where the issues can be easy convoluted. Biblical standards are true. They are correct. I believe this with every fiber of my being, but I also believe in the right to believe as you choose.

Not all truth claims are created equally, but this does not mean that people don’t have the right to believe false truth claims.There are many who feel that we need to legislate morality. This includes laws like DOMA, as one example, I understand where that line of thinking is coming from, because I agree that the disintegration of the American family has a lot to do with the collapse of our culture. It is our job as Christians to be the light and the salt. It is our job to pray for those around us, to pray for our government – at every level, and to pray for our pastors, leaders, and churches. It is our job to make a difference within our circle of influence. True change, lasting change, only comes from within. We can’t legislate that. We can pray for it.

Tried and killed for his faith

This is the headline that will not likely be out there if Pastor Saeed Abedini is Martyred for his faith. His trial has barely seen any coverage and will soon be over. Pastor Saeed is an American and he is being held and tried for his faith in Iran. Iranian by birth Pastor Saeed has made many trips there in the past, but on this one he was imprisoned for his faith. Please pray for his release.

I turn now to each one of us. If any of us were to be imprisoned, jailed, beaten, for our faith would we stand strong for Jesus? Would we boldly say as Peter did in acts that “We can not but speak of what we have seen and heard”. We should pray as they did “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to to speak your word with all boldness. ”

Now is the time to praise the Lord and serve him with all your heart. Be bold and courageous in his name. Here in America we face only ridicule not death. Yet. The fields are white for the harvest, we must be his workers and reap this harvest, reflecting his light as moment by moment we draw near to him. Now we can no more wake the spiritually dead with our words than we can the physically dead, but we can be his light, and God will draw them in. We must do as God calls and trust him for the outcome.

A few post 9-11 thoughts

On this eleventh anniversary of the 9-11 I am contemplating diversity. Remember how most people you encountered were a little bit friendlier to those around them after this atrocity happened? For a few minutes we all became more tolerant of one another. Sad that it took a great tragedy to make it happen and that it only lasted a few days.

God made all of us. We are all family and we should treat each other that way. We should get to know someone who is nothing like us and maybe we can discover that we have more in common with each other than we can even imagine. We can not look at the people around us and see race or creed; we must see them as humans with value.

At a concert I recently attended, the passed out candles. The sight was amazing, the candles started to be passed and then after a minute the first one was lit, as each person received the flame you could see them look around to find someone who didn’t have it, they couldn’t wait to share. I saw the light and became anxious to have my candle lit and like those before me, couldn’t wait to share the fire. As about half of us had our flame, I could hear the music become lower and the words spoken, “there are two types of people in this world, those who have the flame and those who are waiting to receive it”. Awesome! What a beautiful picture of how God’s Holy Spirit lights a fire in us! Remember when you first came into contact with the Spirit? Didn’t you want to share that flame? We are all children of one God and all in need of allow Jesus Christ to become our propitiation, or covering, for our sins. Is your flame lit? If it is, you will want to share that flame that others may know the love and grace of our father.

Or, is your flame smoldering? Was it once lit but now you are not so sure? If so, I have great news! Jesus will not break off that smoldering wick. Mathew 12:20 tells that “A battered reed he will not break off, a smoldering wick he will not put out until he leads justice to victory” Fall on your face before the holy spirit, He will relight that flame so, that you can be a light to those who are within your circle of influence. One soul, one light at a time WE CAN CHANGE THIS WORLD!

I guess I apologize for the rant here. My intent was to start looking at how we change our world through our politics. With election time here, I still feel it is something I need to look at, but today, this was the message that was on my heart. I know many have already heard the phrase “each one, reach one”, but today I am overwhelmed that we have so many who are lost and dying around us. The burden on my heart for them is great our God is gracious and merciful, but the TRUTH is that Hell is a real place and there are people headed there. We need to be praying and asking God to use us in the lives of those around us.

Reflecting Him in our Thoughts

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; We are destroying speculations and every loftything raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

2 Cor 10:3-5

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Col 2:8

The battle for personal holiness begins in our minds and don’t believe for a moment that there is not a battle. The battle for our minds rages all around us.  There are a few basic things that we battle with everyday; our selves, our culture or the society around us, and the devil are all components of this battle. It is important that we understand what we are fighting against and how to win that battle.

The battle with our selves has to do to with our sin nature. We are all sinners both by birth and by choice.  Even Paul questioned his ability to the things he did not wish to do and inevitably end up not doing the things that he wanted to. It is a battle we all fight with our sin.  Being Crucified with Christ means that daily we chose to engulf our selves in the fire of his Spirit and renew our minds with His word (Romans 12:2).  Our mind works like a complex computer what goes in, is what comes out.  The children’s song that tells us to “be careful little eyes what see” is actually really good advice.  Be careful what you are exposing yourself to, and be prayerful, requesting God to give you wisdom and discernment. True discernment is the ability to tell the difference between what is true from what is almost true. Nearly anyone can figure out the difference between what is true and what is false.

This is why society is often our enemy.  Popular music, movies, and television will often fill your head with thoughts and ideas that are contrary to the truth of God.  His truth is reality and should be the paradigm through which we view everything around us. We must not be afraid to turn off things that are contrary to His truth.  The more falsehoods we let into our minds, the greater of a foothold these lies will take. The empty and useless philosophies of this world creep into our minds as we fill our heads with the garbage that is available to us at every turn, on television, billboards, movies, ect… At the end of the day, we act on what the beliefs that we most deeply hold.  When we look at our actions, they should align with the truth of God.  If they do not, we may be holding on to a lie. Every lie we hold onto, gives the devil a foothold in our lives.

Although, the Devil is a real entity, it is important to have a balanced belief about the him.  One that sees the devil lurking in every corner gives him far too much credit; however, a view that he does not exist, that he is irrelevant or powerless can be equally dangerous.  Our greatest fight against the devil is to simply resist him and draw near to God.

Holiness is something that we are called to.  It sounds like a big religious word, but it simply means that we are to be set apart. We must not be like the general society around us.  I was startled to read of many Barna Group statistics that reveal that the church lives, acts, and believes almost the same as those who state that they are not born again. This is a sad fact.  It would seem from the statistics that are out there, that we are not acting as though we believe any differently. Our actions should be speaking loudly about our belief system, and that begins with a pure thought life.

I do not believe we are accountable for that first inappropriate thought, but we are accountable for the choice to dwell on it. We are also accountable for the things we choose to put into our minds.  “Finally brethren, what ever true, what ever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, anything worthy praise, think on these things” phil 4:8  This is how we take our thoughts captive, if what we are thinking about does not fit into these categories, maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about it.

Jesus did not come to this earth God incarnate, so that we could go on living exactly the same as everyone else.  Sitting at Darien Lake, NY listening to Justin Lookadoo it hit me that he was right. We should not ask is it ok? We should ask is it holy? Let’s really give this movement momentum! Whatever you are doing, watching, listening to, ask yourself “is this holy” if not, then changes need to be made.

Reflecting Him in our Finances

Jesus told us to live and love like Him, but in reality it is hard to know exactly what that means. He loved us unconditionally, while we were yet sinners He died for us. It is in this context that I have struggled to understand how to reflect him. In our lives, because we have fallen so short of His great glory, we can never truly be the perfect reflection, but through the power of His grace we can be what he intended us to be. The first area of concern for me was charity. The question of who should provide for the poor is one that hotly debated nation and maybe world wide. I have strongly come to the conclusion that this is the job of every one of us as individuals, not the job of the government to tax and then use that money to provide programs.

There is not one topic that God has covered more than that of money. Wise use of our money will leave more for us to use for to help our extended family and others. I think we can all agree on a few things that the Word shows us in this area. One clear area in the area of our money is in the area of debt. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that the borrower will become like a slave to a lender. This is a pretty clear indication that purchasing things on credit is not something that God would have us do, or at least that it is not something that we should undertake lightly. My own personal opinion on this is that we should relegate borrowing to include only large ticket items like our house and our car. Most other items should be purchased only as we can pay cash for them. This is an opinion that it held by many top financial advisers.

Keynesian economists would have you believe that this is true on a personal level, but not on a large scale governmental scale. I come from a classic point of view that says other wise. I think that when you apply the idea of spending your way out of debt on a larger scale, what you get is a larger hole to build the people out of. The word build is used here with great specificity, because on no level or scale can a hole be dug out of. Continuing to dig will only make the hole bigger. This seems to me to be simple common sense.

The problem is that we have at some point given in to the idea that our government should be the savior for the heavy laden and down trodden. Some of our current programs started with excellent intentions, but they have spiraled way our of control. Going into debt to feed the hungry seems a lofty idea, but in the end as the debt increases we will find our selves with  too many to feed and too few to feed them.

All of that to say this: Use your money wisely. Spend less than what you have, live within your means. I was told by my pastor once to live on a 10/10/80 plan. This makes so much sense. With this plan, the first ten percent goes to God in the form of tithes and offerings, the second ten percent will go to savings, and then you live on the other 80 percent. When we live below our means and commit our selves to being charitable we will have money to give to help those around us. If we are faithful with the little God will bless us with more, if as many as can will do this those who are in need of help will decline.

When it comes to the poor, the hungry, the widowed we are clearly called as the body of Christ to go to them and care for them. These people are right here in your backyard and this economy I mean that rather literally. It is the job of the church to help the needy; any need for governmental involvement here is due to our failure to be the hands of feet of Christ.

The church should stand for something, but what the world sees when they look at today’s church is everything that we stand against. Jesus called us to love our enemies, pray for those that persecute us and this had nothing to do with whether or not our enemy was a sinner. By definition we all are sinners, but by the grace of God we would be as bad as or worse than those around us. I know full well what I am capable of and with out Him let us suffice to say, that it isn’t pretty. Jesus said feed the hungry, rescue the perishing, give water to those who thirst. He did not say to do this only of the perishing was a certain color, ethnicity, race, creed, or if they are sexually pure. He did not say come to me all who are good enough, he said to come in our filthy rags and he would make us clean. When Jesus was here in the flesh he spent time with thieves, and sluts, and liars. Why is it that the body of the Christ, the church, is too holy to do the same? Jesus loved the sinners and called them to be better. It was the church that Jesus was harsh with, they should have known better.

We need to keep ourselves constantly before Him and make sure that we are indeed holy as he is holy, but as far as the holiness of our brothers that is for us to pray for them and let God be God. Our role is to serve and to keep our own thoughts captive before the Lord. Our role is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, love our fellow man just as they are and trust the Lord our God to do His part. Charity is the place of the church; it is by our love that we are to be known, not by our judgments. What will one’s heart love with greater fervency than the people we have invested our time and finances in?

Reflecting Him in Christian Politics

It seems that the more I contemplate who I should vote for; I begin to really wonder what the Lord would have me to do. What is the role of the individual Christian in Government?  For some of us, God may be calling us to an active role in our government, but that is not likely the case for the vast majority. There are a few things that I am certain are the responsibilities of everyone who calls themselves a servant of the Lord in the world of government and politics.

The first among these would be to pray for our leaders. In order to pray for them, we must know who they are.  This means doing some research.  Find out who the local leaders are, what district you live in, who your assembly men, and congressmen are and then pray for them.  Pray for them by name.  The greatest need of someone who is in a place of power is wisdom.  Since all truth and wisdom come from God only God can provide a solid source of wisdom.  In James God tells us that if any lack for wisdom we need only to ask for it.  The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, therefore; the war is fought (and won) on our knees.

The second greatest need would be courage.  It takes great courage to not only know what is right, but to do it. Often, the right thing is not the popular thing; going against the flow is hard. How many times in the Bible does God tell us to “take courage” or “be of good courage”? God does not waste words, if the idea is stated more than once, it is for emphasis.   To stand your ground in the spotlight of the public arena can be difficult. Especially, when everything you do in your private life is scrutinized for even the slightest contradiction.

One of my favorite quotes is “If you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change, you do”, being in the political arena is dancing with the devil.  There are so many corruptions and special interest groups to entice the average Politian. There are so many opportunities to compromise who you are for what may even seem to be for the greater good.  It becomes so easy to say “if I compromise now, I will be in a better position later”, though it is likely untrue.  So pray, pray hard, pray often.

We also have a responsibility to vote at every election. Jesus said to give unto Caesar what is Caesars’.  We live in a democratic-Republic, a government for and by the people. We owe it to ourselves and our government to participate.   If you are praying for your representative by name then most of the research is done. Sometimes, it feels like the choices are bad or worse, but we must step up and make that choice. It can be tedious, but participation is the right thing to do, because it is supposed to be our views, our votes, our ideas that form our government.  A great place to get started if you are not sure who your elected officials are is at congress.org, this site allows you to put your zip code in and gives specifics about the officials in each area. Including what issues they had the opportunity to vote on, and how (or if) they voted

Finally, know what you believe and why. Where does God stand on the issues?  Is it holy? Christians are not nearly familiar enough with what the word of God says. We need to study the word and align our world view with what the truth of God says. When we seek the absolute truths of the Lord as our foundation, vote for the people who most closely represent those beliefs and then pray for God to give them wisdom and courage, it just may be the recipe for real change.