September 22, 2008

You Preached on the Election?

That is what someone asked me this past weekend. ‘The election? Republicans, Democrats? Obama, McCain? Was I asleep? I don’t remember a sermon on that.’ No, not that election. I preached on God’s election of sinners to salvation.

But the question got me thinking. While delving deeply into government affairs is neither the preacher’s calling (his interest is first of all souls) nor his line of expertise (if he is diligent in his day job) … the question made me think: ‘Souls are deeply affected by the politics and policies of modern American government. Huge moral issues do largely decide where many of us stand politically, and how our elections play out. So maybe I should say a little something about the election.’ Couple that with a biblical-voting-guide kind of question from this Wednesday’s Q and A session, and I thought maybe, over the next few weeks, I’d address a few items via the medium of this column.

How should a Christian think about his privilege of the vote? Are there any biblical principles that guide us in selecting candidates? What should we be listening for in the debates and speeches that will capture a nation’s attention in the weeks ahead? A few political principles for Christians (they'll go from general and innocuous to more specific ... and maybe more controversial as we go along):

1. Make sure you vote! Now everyone says this. After all, ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain’ goes the old saying. But believers in the Lord Jesus have an even far more compelling reason to vote (especially since our God does not permit us to complain whether we voted or not – Philippians 2.14!). Even though we are strangers and aliens in this country; even though America is not our true home, we ought to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you” (Jeremiah 29.7) and to “pray on its behalf.” So if you fail to vote, you are failing – not only to take advantage of a precious democratic privilege – but to fulfill a Christian duty. Seek the welfare of the city, state, and country God has placed you in. Vote!

2. Pray! Jeremiah already said it didn’t he? And Paul echoes the importance of prayer in 1 Timothy 2.1 … where he tells us to lift up our voices in prayer for our leaders. I think, by extension, that means we ought to pray for this election. And we ought to be praying for all four of the main players in it – that, should it be God’s will to place them in the White House, He will guide their hands, prevent them from folly, bless their wise decisions, and thwart their foolish ones. Are you praying that – even for the candidates for whom you will choose not to vote? I haven’t been nearly like I should. So I have some work to do. So probably do you.

See you again on this soon.

September 19, 2008

September 16, 2008

Psalm 29 in Real Time

3The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The LORD is over many waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is majestic.
5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve
And strips the forests bare;

A great storm. That is what David is describing. Thunder. Waters. Broken cedars. Lighting (hewn flames of fire). The wilderness shaken and the forests stripped bare. And David says it is all caused by “the voice of the LORD.” That is important to remember after what we experienced this past Sunday afternoon. We definitely saw broken trees of every sort. 70+ mile per hour winds. Frightening cracks above our heads. Flying debris. And all of it a reminder of how small we are … and how big God is. The voice of the LORD has shaken a large portion of mid-America this week.

Now in the midst of it all, there is a lot to do. We have been sawing, dragging, pulling, and hauling a whole heap of trash, leaves, and wood this week. And, on behalf of our fellow men in southeast Texas, there is a lot more hauling, cutting, repairing, and generosity ahead this fall. We have a lot of praying to do, too – for people who have lost their earthly all from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. And we certainly have a gospel to share. All of these things, I hope, leap immediately to your mind once the voice of the Lord is done heaving the winds and waves.

But notice what the Psalmist says. Yes, when the voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, we have to clean them up. Yes, when His voice is above many waters, we have to minister mercy to those whose homes and livings have washed away with the tide. But Psalm 29 reminds us that, in the midst of the restoration, there needs also to be adoration. What should we do in response to the LORD’s storm?

1Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name.
Worship the LORD in holy array.

Not just restoration. Adoration! Have you done that yet this week? Have you allowed the broken cedars to put you in awe of our “majestic”, “powerful” God? If not, before the memories fade away and life goes back to the routine and the mundane … make sure you pause to admire the power of God, and to ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name!

Ike Photos

From my in-laws in SW Louisiana? No, from right here in Cincinnati! Ike brought us little rain but 70+ mile an hour winds on Sunday afternoon. Our power came back on last evening, but hundreds of thousands are still without. Praise the Lord it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

September 1, 2008

Thoughts on Labor Day

As you sit back and enjoy the day ... think about how cool it is to get paid for doing nothing; to receive remuneration for resting. And then remember that, if we are in Christ, this is what we will be doing for all eternity. All of heaven, and all our future existence, will be one prolonged Labor Day ... happily enjoying wages that Christ, and not we ourselves, worked for. Those wages, in fact, are available today for those who will stop trying to earn salvation, and will simply rest in Him!

So make sure you rest today, and not just from your 9 to 5.