politics

Wednesday Wisdom: Every Christian’s Role

The other day I was flipping around on Sirius radio. There isn’t a whole lot on there worth listening to, so I was fairly limited in choices. I came upon Family Talk Radio and started listening to an unfamiliar voice say some very interesting things. I found out later that the pastor was Dr. Robert Jeffress from First Baptist Church in Dallas. I do not know anything about him. What I do know is that this excerpt is certainly worth sharing with you. While Dr. Jeffress was specifically addressing pastors and leaders, his words are great wisdom for all of us.  I copied down a short section to share with you:

But preaching biblically based messages on controversial topics, encouraging your members to vote, challenging laws that violate God’s laws, are just some the ways that you can fulfill your role as a prophet.

Now at the risk of offending some, let me be blunt.  Pastor, you will never be criticized by the world for building a homeless shelter, you will never be criticized by this culture for asking your members to give sacrificially to build water wells in Africa. In fact, the culture will applaud you as a pastor for doing those things because that’s what a pastor is supposed to do: encourage nice people to do nice things. That is their idea of a pastor.

No one is going to criticize you for that. But if you dare stand up and point your finger at the culture and say “This is wrong, thus saith the Lord,” you’d better be ready to suffer. You may be suffering, not the loss of your life as the Old Testament prophets did, but be prepared to suffer the loss of  your reputation, your career, your livelihood.

That’s why Paul said in Second Timothy 4, verses 2 and 5, be prepared to endure hardship. Timothy was told that if he fulfilled his role as a prophet it was going to get hard at times. But that’s the pastor’s role, not only as a preacher but as a prophet. *

He’s right, we’d better be ready to suffer, because if we are willing to live and vocalize this kind of Christianity, we are not going to be very popular.  But, then again, we should be much more worried about what God thinks than what others think, anyway.

We need to pray for our pastors and leaders, for our families and our friends, that we would all stay strong in this tide of tolerance and relativity, no matter the cost.

 

*From the sermon entitled “For Pastors Only, Part 2” by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Wednesday Wisdom: Hell on Earth

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I recalled again Richard’s words: Hell is to sit alone in darkness remembering past sins. Old memories burned like fire. You had no defense – no books, no radios, no distraction, no place to go when they came buzzing at you. Here self-deception ceased. Theories about new moral concepts didn’t help. Here you knew that the new morality was the old lasciviousness. Helena’s remorse was terrible. I knew what she was feeling. 

Nearly every woman in prison felt similar burning remorse. Nearly everyone was religious in some degree. Outspoken atheists surprised themselves by calling on God. Everyone wished to have her prayer heard.

But their prayers were wrong. It was like praying that two and two should be something other than four. Accumulation of sins can only bring unhappiness and remorse. It was over sexual feelings-adulteries, betrayals, abortions- that regret was most poignant. Women longed to talk about it and ease the pain. I remembered the words of David who had committed such a sin: “Blessed is he…whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).  So covered by God that there is no need to uncover it before men.

This is from a book by Sabina Wurmbrand entitled The Pastor’s Wife. The book is Sabina’s story of her life and imprisonment under the communist regime in Romania. Her experiences are far beyond anything I could imagine. While she is at Labor Camp, a detestable and horrifying place, she tells of some of the women there who are without Christ.

As we read her reflections above, we can’t help but turn our thoughts inward. How about us? How would we fare languishing in prison or labor camp without any distractions? No iPhones, no computers, no TVs, no movies, no radios? Where would our thoughts turn when all we had to do was think during the dark, lonely hours in a room full of strangers? What sins would haunt us? What choices and decisions would we regret?

How would we find a spirit of gratitude and compassion amidst all of the turmoil and filth?  Could we sing praises in the midst of starvation?  Would we be thankful if we lacked almost every comfort we have now?  Could we maintain our Christian testimony while trudging over miles of plains to get to work and then baking in the hot sun, hoeing for the whole day, without any water?

And, as I read of her experiences, there was another question I had to seriously ask myself: How much of God’s Word would I remember if I were thrown into prison without access to a written copy? I felt ashamed to admit the truth.

I believe that in this day and age, we are so lost in our distractions. We drink and eat and take pills to medicate ourselves and our pain. We watch movies, read books, and go to concerts in an effort to escape our real lives. But what if our real lives – the lives we are living right at this very moment – is all that we have?  Sabina Wurmbrand goes on to talk about a society lady a few paragraphs later:

“What’s your conclusion?” she asked, brushing back her greasy hair with a gesture that belonged to her “smart-set” days. “You’ve seen it all- what do you think? For myself, I’ve only one thought left: if I could go free, I’d live happily on a crust for the rest of my life.”

Like many of her type, she had a deep sense of guilt for frittering her life away. Often she’s spoken to me hesitatingly, hinting at some inner torment that she’d like to reveal. 

Guilt for frittering her life away. Wow – that hit me hard.  Am I frittering my life away? Am I doing anything that matters with the time I have been given? This is such an important question to ask ourselves.

And, so, most of us sit here reading this thinking we would never find ourselves in prison or labor camp. This is America, after all. Who really cares?  How does this matter?  But I believe Sabina’s words beg us to answer two questions—

1. Am I deceiving myself?

2. What am I doing with my life that matters?

 

Are You Sure About That?

The headlines read “26 Years Later, Haven’t Lost Anyone”. The article went on to give the lawn company’s philosophy and why they never – yes, it said NEVER – have lost a customer. Having owned a lawn company for 25 years, my husband first recognized the impossibility of this statement. And then he started laughing as he realized that he was actually bidding some work for one of their unhappy customers. The credibility of that company and of the newspaper that ran the article was thrown into question after reading what we knew, firsthand, to be an outright lie.

Around this same time, our daughter was in a car accident with another driver, a young girl. There were not any witnesses of the incident and the young girl proceeded to lie about what had occurred. Our auto insurance is headed to battle over it, as the dents in the cars tell the true story and they believe they will be able to prove it was not our daughter’s fault.

We also had two incidents with buying mowers recently. In one, a verbal agreement was made and we were on our way to pick it up (a drive of several hours) when we were called and told that he had sold the mower to someone who had offered to pay him more. In the other case, we traveled to Philadelphia to pick one up, being told it was in mint condition, only to hear a tap in the motor.

So, what do all of these stories have in common? Integrity.

No longer do people feel it necessary to be truthful in advertising…to keep their word…to be honest in their interactions with others.  Instead they do whatever is to their own advantage, with no concern for the truth.

The lack of concern about the truth in this culture is truly frightening. But the lie that there are no moral absolutes has seeped its way into the culture so thoroughly, that now we are reaping the consequences. And they will be heavy consequences. You could see it happening twenty years ago. I remember a song in the 80s talking about this change in teaching absolute truth to our public school students. You could see it happening when TV sitcoms would (and still do) glorify and make light of someone telling a lie to get something they wanted. You could also see it coming, when parents started to set examples of lying on their taxes and being dishonest about sick days and why they couldn’t come to the phone. Another big red flag was when a person’s “happiness” became the ultimate goal for life.  You see, these things set the stage for a generation that has no respect for the truth, unless it is to their advantage.

So, as a Christian (and, hopefully, as one who practices telling the truth), what are we to do? Well, first and foremost, of course, is that we stand out in this culture by being honorable and trustworthy. We should tell the truth, no matter what the outcome (Proverbs 14:5). We also need to be unwavering and to set a godly example as we teach our children the importance of honesty and integrity.

Another important thing we need to do in this day and age is to listen to everything with the proverbial grain of salt .  Whether it is in the newspaper, on the TV news or on a reality show, or even hearing a story about someone else’s tragic circumstances from a friend, we shouldn’t be so quick to believe what we hear.  So many are the agendas and slants given to stories, that we need to be really careful in what we believe.

As I write on this topic, I find myself filled with sadness at the state of this culture. I could see it coming and now I realize that we are here.  I also know the inevitable outcome of a country that holds no respect for the truth. But, alas, here we are. And so it is our duty and responsibility to live the Christian life with integrity in a culture that holds no esteem for the truth.

 

 

Aggressive Goodness in a Pagan Culture

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Many of us have found ourselves absolutely disgusted by what is going on in the culture around us. Things that the Bible clearly calls sin have crept in from the world’s back alleys and dark corners and have come out into the bright daylight with the full approval of the masses.

What is a Christian supposed to do? Can we change a country by making laws to stop sin? What should a Christian’s involvement in the political process be? While I am not here to give a definitive opinion of that question, I do have a few thoughts about it.

First, I would like to suggest that we remember that this world is not our home. We are aliens traveling in a foreign land. That being the case, things around us are not going to generally feel comfortable for us (Hebrews 11:13-16). We are going to be mocked and scorned and persecuted (Matthew 5:11; John 15:20; 1 Corinthians 4:12). When this is talked about in scripture, it is not an “if” but a “will be”.  We will be persecuted. If we are trying to make our culture resemble heaven we are not in clear understanding of our place here in this world.

Second, many of us have forgotten just what is important in this fight for our culture. As believers, what are we fighting for? Clearly in scripture, our battle is for the souls of the lost. We are to love them, reach out to them with the Truth of God’s Word, and to spread the wonderful, glorious news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Sometimes we lose our focus and instead become entangled in a battle for the culture. I have news for you: that battle is already lost. That battle was lost the instant Adam sinned. We will never win the culture for Christ. But souls? Yes! Praise God that is a different thing altogether! God is still saving souls and changing lives all across this world in wonderful, miraculous ways! And sometimes He uses those souls to bring about some positive change in a culture. But that should never be our ultimate goal. Let’s remember that sharing the Gospel with lost souls and bringing God glory are our ultimate goals as believers.

And, third, by the methods we use to fight cultural battles, we often turn our mission field into our enemies. Think about how tragic that is for a moment. We have a whole world in front of us that needs to know Christ and because we are so caught up in the law-making and the politics, we turn those who need Him most into our enemies. Instead of insults and accusations thrown at those who blindly stand in opposition to God, our hearts should be filled with compassion at their lost and blinded state. We need to stand for what is right, but always with great love and mercy. It is only by doing this that we will make any difference for the cause of Christ.

No matter where we find ourselves in the battle for the culture, let’s practice aggressive goodness and compassion. Let’s fight with integrity, with genuine love for lost souls, and with kindness. And let’s never lose sight of our ultimate goal as believers: to give God glory and to share our message of hope with the world.

Most of these thoughts come from Part 1 of a series by John MacArthur entitled “The Christian’s Duty in a Pagan Society”.  If this topic is of interest to you, I would highly recommend listening to it.  Here is the link:

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/56-23/the-christians-responsibility-in-a-pagan-society-part-1

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