People of the Book

January 2nd, 2017 15 comments

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I love to start the New Year with a focus on things that are weighty and foundational. After all, if the foundation is correct, you can build something really spectacular.

That’s why I felt the Lord wanted us to kick-off this New Year with a strong pastoral challenge to be “people of the Book.” That phrase is one I heard from John Piper many years ago but it has always stuck with me. He writes:

“We are a people of the Book. We know God through the Book. We meet Christ in the Book. We see the cross in the Book. Our faith and love are kindled by the glorious truths of the Book. We have tasted the divine majesty of the Word and are persuaded that the Book is God’s inspired and infallible written revelation. Therefore, what the Book teaches matters.”

What this BOOK teaches matters. It really matters. Perhaps that is part of the reason the Lord invites us, even woos us, to read His words and promises to us. Consider this amazing promise from the Lord to Joshua.

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
Joshua 1:8, NLT

What an incredible challenge from the Lord. Who doesn’t want to prosper and succeed in 2017?!

But God gives us conditions. We must become “people of the Book.” Study it. Meditate upon its truth. And most importantly, obey what you have read!

Since what the Bible teaches matters, really matters, we must become people who…

LOVE it!

LEARNit!

LIVE it!

Let me ask you a question. Does God’s Word matter to you?

If it does, you’ll have a plan. You won’t approach the Scriptures in a random or casual manner. Because God’s Word matters, we must determine what that really looks like on a practical level.

Here’s a simple, yet practical idea to get you started.

Commit to reading through the entire Bible this year using a Bible Reading Plan. I use the One-Year Bible. You can choose from a variety of translations. What matters is that you have a daily plan for immersing yourself in God’s Word.

Become a person of the BOOK. Why…because it MATTERS!

The 2016 National Election: A Nation of Ideas

November 2nd, 2016 1 comment

Presidential-Election-Predictions-2016

In his book, What I Saw in America, G.K. Chesterton insightfully observed that what made America exceptional and unique among the nations was her glorious ideals. “America’, he observed, ‘is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” We are not a nation of imperfect political candidates as much as we are a nation of ideas. And these ideas have consequences that bring blessing or destruction.

Thomas Carlyle, the eminent Scottish essayist, was once scolded at a dinner party for endlessly chattering about books. “Ideas, Mr. Carlyle, ideas, nothing but ideas!” To which he replied, “There once was a man called Rousseau who wrote a book containing nothing but ideas. The second edition was bound in the skins of those who laughed at the first.” Carlyle is making reference to the writings of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political ideas inspired the guillotines of the French Revolution. You see, ignoring political ideas can be deadly.

As I look at the two very flawed candidates who remain, I find it helpful to move beyond the candidates themselves to the political ideals they promote and the public policy initiatives which logically follow.

Let me offer the following as food for thought:

1. Platform vs. Personalities
Each party has a platform document which articulates their political philosophy and the policy priorities they work to implement. The Democratic and Republican platforms are like night and day. What emerges is two clearly different visions for America.

2. Life vs. Death
One party promotes abortion on demand for the entire nine months of the pregnancy. The other party wants to reverse the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.

3. Liberty vs. Tyranny

One party passionately promotes the LGBTQ agenda seeking to create a protected special rights status for homosexual and lesbian conduct. The other party will protect religious liberty and the first amendment rights of people of faith to express their beliefs in the marketplace.

When you compare other important issues such as marriage, federal judges, national defense, human rights, immigration, poverty, Israel, the rule of law, and the national debt – just to name a few – you quickly see the importance of IDEAS.

The French sociologist, Auguste Comte famously observed, “Ideas govern the world, or throw it into chaos.” We need to make sure we consider the ideas behind the flawed personalities. Principles are timeless and true, unlike the politicians who espouse them.

The 2016 National Election: Principles for the Poll Booth

November 1st, 2016 2 comments

Presidential-Election-Predictions-2016

1. Not Voting is never an Option. First of all, not voting should never be an option for the sincere Christian. Our dual citizenship means we must steward the freedoms our forefathers have secured at great price. This is a sacred duty we must perform as regents of planet earth and ambassadors for Christ in the realm of the common good. While we all affirm the sovereignty of God over all things, including elections, we must never assume that God’s sovereignty promotes human passivity. We must occupy until He comes.

2. Voting for the Sinless Candidate is never an Option. Some have labored to remind us that, “We are voting for a president, not a Savior!” We are all sinners. Only Jesus was perfect and He is not on the ballot! What usually follows is a rebuke to those who seek to uphold the Bible’s numerous commands to elect leaders who are of good character. “Get off your moral high horse you self-righteous idiot” or some similar admonition is offered to shake the religious out of their self-righteous stupor. While the vitriol is not helpful, the truth that we are electing imperfect people to lead us is instructive.

3. Voting for Evil is never an Option. We must avoid confusing the reality of imperfect candidates with the option of voting for “the lesser of two evils.” We all agree there has never been a “perfect” candidate and we all realize there never will be. But we are not simply discussing the character of a candidate. We are focusing on the public policy priorities of the candidate. As Christians, we are never allowed to support a candidate that promotes what God clearly calls “evil.” It is evil to kill unborn children. It is evil to pervert and re-define the institution of marriage. It is evil to turn sinful behaviors into civil rights. It is evil to trample God-given inalienable rights. When elected officials codify perversion, making it the law of the land, they stand in direct defiance of God and open the gates for His righteous judgment to fall upon our nation. Leaders who promote wickedness under the banner of the “common good” dishonor God and harm the people they are called to serve. Good government is always for the glory of God and the good of the people, in that order.(I Thessalonians 2:15)

4. Voting Third Party is currently not a Viable Option. Some have chosen to opt for a third party candidate as a matter of conscience. They cannot vote for Clinton or Trump given all the baggage that comes with them. Some feel it is a matter of voting for the lesser of two evils or succumbing to “political pragmatism.” To remain within the two-party system is to be guilty of biblical infidelity. Under the current political landscape, no third party candidate has even a remote chance of being elected. So while a third party vote as a matter of conscience is always a viable option, it is a vote of no direct consequence. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected as the next president of the United States of America on November 8th. That is the current reality.

So what shall we do this election??? That’s the topic of our next post.