Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Should You Vote?

Polls show the majority now think the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Fear is everywhere. Debt Cliffs, Ebola Panic, ISIS War, Radical Islamic Terrorism, Economic Stagnation, Marriage Woes, Political Gridlock, Racial Division, Moral Chaos. People are flat out desperate for ANSWERS. Increasingly, people are looking to MESSIAH GOVERNMENT as the solution and provider. A few reminders may be helpful as you prepare to vote:

1. The Lord Rules
Increasingly, people want “God Bless America” and not “One Nation Under God.” However, you can’t have one without the other. Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His Sovereignty rules over all.”  The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One … no matter who the President is. Trust God ... He is in control. Really!

2. The Four Systems of Government
Under God’s rule there are four distinct realms: Individual self-government, family, church and civil government. Each realm has limited spheres of responsibility and jurisdiction. The most significant is self-government where individuals can choose to live individually under the principles of God and in the power of God (Eccl. 12:12-13). Family and Church government are critical as well. Civil Government is to support, not replace, the other spheres by keeping evil in check so good can flourish (Romans 13:1-4). Civil government was never created to be your parent or Savior. If the first three spheres of government break down and/or civil government grows beyond its divinely authorized scope, watch out for chaos. In the extreme, people end up with tyranny.

3. There are Two Kingdoms in Conflict
Make no mistake … Jesus is a King and He has a Kingdom (John 18:36-37). Believers live as dual citizens (Eph. 3:20). Jesus teaches and models how to bridge this divide. In Mark 12:13-17 members of the far right and far left came together to discredit Jesus and neutralize his power and influence. Jesus threads the needle with his famous reply, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” St. Thomas Moore said, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Our hearts and agendas must not be tied first and foremost to a donkey or an elephant but to a Lamb.

4. Humility or Humiliation
Whenever a government sets itself up as a God, some fireworks will come. God sits on the throne and laughs (Psalm 2). Remember Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from the throne for seven years until he humbled himself (Daniel 4). Whenever rulers drift away from God they set themselves and their countries up for a heavenly political action plan. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Dare we not think the USA is invincible.

5. Don’t expect Government to do what only Jesus can do
Chuck Colson said, “The danger with Christian political movements, per se, is that they tend to make the gospel hostage to particular political agendas. You may wrap the gospel in the flag, and make God a prop for the state. And this is a grave danger.” We mistakenly think the political process has the power to change the culture, change hearts and make the world what it should be. Notice the Iceberg Diagram.

We tend to place all our attention on the visible part above the water line: Abortion, Pornography, Violence, Adultery, Division, etc. These are merely the symptoms of a deeper problem. Below the surface is the raging philosophical issue of “What is Truth?” and deeper still is the fundamental issue of Jesus. Real change will come from the One who has the power to change human hearts—Jesus. May God help us see people not as enemies but rather as thirsty people and give us the grace to offer the Living Water, who alone can quench even the deepest thirst. People can make shocking decisions yet God still pursues them…it’s called Grace.

6. Be On the Right Side When You Vote
In Joshua 5 the people of God are preparing to fight the Battle of Jericho. General Joshua has a surprise divine encounter with the sword-carrying Captain of the host of the Lord. Joshua asked him,” Are you for us or for our adversaries?  His answer to paraphrase, “Neither. I’m not on your side or their side. I’m on God’s side.” He had not come to take sides but to take over. God will not settle for merely being a mascot for the Democrats or a mascot for the Republicans. God doesn’t come to take sides but to take over. Vote for the person that best represents the values of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Be informed, register to vote and then vote.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Retreat Sneak Peek

The first annual Grace Adventures Men’s Retreat launched the weekend of September 26th with 53 men in attendance. The vast majority of this Band of Brothers had never been on a retreat before. The teaching time pushed back on what culture analyst Skye Jethani calls the “Gospel of Consumer Christianity.” This is the upside down insidious false gospel that man is the center of everything and it is God’s job to orbit around us as a divine butler or a cosmic therapist. Self-indulgence is a predominant attitude in our land and it increasingly threatens our church culture. We approach God not for who He is but for what we can get from Him. As one person said, “Jesus has become our Duct-Tape WD-40 Combo Packet” who exists to fix everything. Sad isn’t it? The truth is, we are all tempted by consumerism.
“We are fiercely committed to making life work on our own berms, but the Father has rigged the world so it won’t work without Him.” ~John Eldridge
I focused my teaching so that the men could understand whose we are and who we are: the Character of God and our Identity in Christ. I prayed God would wreck our comfortable forms of faith and interrupt our lives. I am sick of malnourished men being suffocated by manmade Christianity and ending up thirsty for the real God. May men come to Jesus and hear Him say afresh, “Follow me.”
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” ~General Maximus
Later in the weekend we learned a lot from special talks from Dr. Fred Miller and Dr. Shannon Allison. Fred observed that most of us expect life (if it could be graphed out) to be up and to the right...especially if you work hard and honor God. However, reality is… life as a line is a curved line of ups and downs/peaks and valleys. He drew a straight line through the curved line that represented God as our constant. God can be counted upon no matter what. I'm stealing that from him and using it. Shannon taught us that fear and discomfort should not keep us from the will of God...in fact sometimes when we sense those things we need to step intentionally in those directions and get out of our comfort zones. Wow. Great stuff.  Now to live it.
“What comes into our minds
 when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.” ~Tozer
1. On the morning of October 7th I will be chairing a community event entitled “Leadership Revisited 2014: Unlocking the Keys to High Incarceration Rates in St. Tammany Parish.” We have a great group of community leaders speaking and expect about 140 leaders to attend. Please pray for this event.

2. Election time yields a lot of opportunities to speak to elected leaders and those running for office. Pray for those who choose to run and serve. Pray for leader’s families and the work of Jesus in their lives.

3. I am spear-heading a monthly North Shore Leader Forum comprised of key elected leaders. It will be launching next month. Pray for wisdom and favor.

4. Keep praying for Jonathan as he works Monday-Thursday in Chicago for three months. Pray for Patricia as well.

5. My dad just got out of the hospital and is recuperating at home.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” ~1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Betting the Farm on God,