Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

Here are some thoughts from Bob Russell about the election.  Good stuff!

Giving Thanks In The Wake Of The Election

Obviously, I’m very disappointed in the results of Tuesday’s election. Some saw the election as a battle between Republicans and Democrats. Others viewed it as a contest between blacks and whites or rich and poor. I didn’t. From my perspective the spiritual issues were clearly defined and, in the end, the majority of Americans voted against life, marriage, freedom, Israel and fiscal responsibility. The people of three states approved gay marriage. Two states voted to legalize marijuana.
I’m tempted to be depressed and whine about all that’s wrong with this country. Martin Luther once said when he was angry he preached better. That’s not true with me. When I’m angry or depressed I overstate my case and wind up later apologizing for saying foolish things. Yesterday I wrote a negative harangue titled, “America is terminally ill.” I didn’t post it and today I’m glad I didn’t.
I am commanded in Scripture to, “…give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). So today, two days after the election, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I’d like to list some things I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful the election is over. No more negative ads. No more false accusations and grossly exaggerated claims. Yea!
I’m thankful that I live in Kentucky. I’ve never been prouder of my adopted state. Over 60% showed some common sense.
I’m thankful I don’t live in Ohio or Florida. Some of my preacher friends living in one of those two swing states (my son included) are frustrated that the thousands of churches in their state didn’t make more of a difference. Those preachers are asking if they did enough.
I’m thankful I don’t live in Washington State. Two friends of ours were visiting from Seattle this past weekend. They lamented that they were going back to a state that had approved gay marriage and legalized marijuana. They asked, ‘How would you like to raise your children in that kind of liberal environment?”
I’m thankful for bold preachers who took a strong stand. A number of ministers retreated from the fight. But some very influential ministers with national ministries and others who preach in small country churches were perceptive enough to understand the battle and took a strong, courageous stand in this election. They took some heat but I’m confident the Lord will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
I’m thankful my prayers have been answered according to God’s will. My prayers weren’t answered according to my will but I always pray the words of Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.” Most political analysts are convinced the timing of Hurricane Sandy helped sway the country toward re-electing the President. I’m going to accept that as God’s will.
I’m thankful that God’s justice prevails in His time. Maybe The Lord’s will is best understood according to Psalm 81:11-12 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devises.”
You know the result of Israel’s spiritual rebellion. The nation was soon divided, then overrun by the Babylonians and the people were taken into captivity. Maybe God is allowing us to follow our evil devises to our own detriment. A.W. Tozer wrote, “The wheels of God’s justice grind slowly; but they grind exceedingly fine.”
I’m thankful I don’t have to justify having a Mormon in the White House for the next four years. I didn’t like our choices this past election. I believe Mormonism is a false teaching. It would have been difficult to support a president while explaining the errors of his Mormon religion for the next four years.
I’m thankful that a president can just serve just two terms. Our president has made it clear that his goal is to, “fundamentally transform America.” It’s obvious that his vision for our country is to move toward socialism and a more powerful government. That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind and not what I want to see happen. I’m thankful a President can serve only eight years.
I’m thankful for our founding Fathers who set up a system of checks and balances. As powerful as the President is He isn’t a king. He isn’t a dictator. His powers are limited by the congress and Supreme Court. The liberal press is pushing hard for “Bipartisanship,” which in their definition usually means, “give in and let the president have his way.” The writers of the constitution sought to restrict power by creating three equal branches of government.
I’m thankful that my hope is not in the United States of America. I believe that America is very sick, maybe even terminally ill. Every nation in history has had a shelf life. I think we are fading fast. But my hope is not in this country but, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”
I’m thankful that I’ve been privileged to live in a wonderful period of our nation’s history. I’m almost 70 years old. I’ve seen so many incredible inventions and witnessed so many great accomplishments. America has been the most prosperous, the most “free,” and the most magnanimous nation in the history of the world. And I got to be a part of it.
I’m thankful for my family. I’m so thankful for my wife, my sons, my daughters in law and my seven grandchildren, all of whom know the Lord.
I’m thankful for the permanency of the church. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hades will not overcome it.” Nations come and go but the church still stands.
I’m thankful that Jesus is going to return soon. The Bible says when the Lord returns every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. When that day comes, I’ll be on my knees acknowledging that Jesus is King of Kings. So will Michael Moore, Bill Maher, John Stewart, Barbara Streisand, Whoopee Goldberg, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews” and any who sneer at God’s truth – all will be humbly acknowledging that Jesus is Lord. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
I’m thankful for the hope of heaven. I’ve been reminded again to fix my affections on the things above and not on earthly things.
I’m thankful God is patient and full of mercy. He can still forgive our rebellion and immorality. While Psalm 81:11-12 warns that God releases people to the consequences of their own evil desires, the next two verses promise, “If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!” (Psalm 80:13-14). A miracle-working God is patiently waiting for His people to repent.
I’m thankful for this day. “This is day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We have this day to live in freedom. We have this day to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s make the most of it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Should Christians Care About The Upcoming Election?

Wanted to share this from Bob Russell.  This is an important issue for many Christians.  Please read and consider.  May God guide us all.

Imagine you and your family are aboard a cruise ship sailing from Alaska to Vancouver. There is serious trouble on board. Valuables have been stolen. Several children have been molested. Two young girls are missing. Obviously some foul characters are circulating among you.

You register a complaint with the ship’s head of security and demand an immediate investigation. What if he flippantly responds, “It doesn’t really matter, you’re going to be docking in Vancouver and flying home in a few days”? That’s true, but the next three days are crucial to you and your family. You have an obligation to protect your wife and three children. You don’t want them to experience terror or be thrown overboard! You want the very best investigator to be appointed so that corrective action is taken quickly and your family can be secure and enjoy the remaining days of the cruise.

I’ve encountered an increasing number of well-meaning Christians who display an indifferent attitude toward American politics. “I may not even vote this year,” one disgusted seventy-year-old minister grumbled. “All politicians are crooked!” He argued that we shouldn’t be too concerned about who wins the upcoming election because politics is dirty business. After all, he insisted, God is in charge and He will accomplish His will regardless of who is in the White House.

The implication is that if you are deeply concerned about the election, you’re not really trusting God. Christians should have their focus on Jesus and be above politics. If you get hyped up about what’s going on in government you’re lacking faith because the Kingdom of God will be ushered in soon and Jesus will reign as King of Kings and all this won’t matter.

That view takes the doctrine of predestination to the extreme. While it’s true that God’s will always prevails – righteousness always wins in the end and evil is always defeated – it is hyper-Calvinism to imply that human decisions don’t matter in the interim. We are not puppets on a string. Sin is not programmed by God. Mistakes matter. Governments matter, leadership matters, decisions matter, wise choices matter. Solomon wrote, “When the righteous thrive the people rejoice, when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).

When Christian leaders condescendingly imply, “The election doesn’t really matter, after all God is in charge and He is going to accomplish His will regardless,” ask them if they would have the same attitude if they are shortchanged at the bank or if a schoolteacher mistreats their child. Those are minor irritations in the big scheme of things but they matter to you in the course of daily living. And they matter to God who notices when a sparrow falls.
Does it matter who leads the country?

Ask the prophet Samuel if it mattered to God which son of Jesse was anointed King. Samuel didn’t tell Jesse, “It doesn’t matter which of your sons we select. The oldest is an impressive physical specimen, he’ll do. God is more powerful than any king; He will accomplish His will regardless.” No, Samuel rejected Jesse’s seven oldest sons and insisted on bringing young David in from the pasture.

Ask the residents of Jerusalem in 70 AD if governments matter. When the Roman hordes burned their homes, confiscated their property, raped their women, kidnapped their children and murdered their babies no one in Jerusalem concluded it didn’t matter because one day the Messiah was going to return.

Ask Dietrich Bonhoeffer if elections matter. Bonhoeffer didn’t conclude, “It doesn’t matter if Hitler rules, God will see to it that he’s punished.” Bonhoeffer openly opposed the Fuhrer and conducted clandestine seminaries, because he understood as a Christian he had a responsibility to oppose evil and stand for truth. That stance cost Deitrich Bonhoeffer his life. Hitler was eventually defeated, but had more German believers been as courageous as Bonhoeffer, World War II might have been avoided and 55 million lives spared.

I visited Seoul, South Korea three years ago. While I was there I dialogued with a North Korean pastor who lamented the stark contrast between the two countries. South Korea is prosperous, bustling, growing. North Korea is poverty stricken, repressive and filled with terror for its citizens. In South Korea, Christianity is thriving. But religion of any kind is almost non-existent in North Korea, having been suppressed by an atheistic government.

Those two countries are in the same geographical area and the people speak the same language and experience similar climates. What’s the difference? One is ruled by an atheistic dictator, the other is a functioning democracy. Governments make a difference in the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
Do elections matter? Ask a number of respected evangelicals like Billy Graham, Al Mohler, Tony Evans, John McCarthur and others have taken a strong stand for what they call the primary issues that affect Bible-believing Christians: the right to life, the sacredness of marriage and the protection of religious freedom.

What do you think will happen to churches, parachurch organizations and Christian families in America if we continue down the present path of expanding abortion rights, endorsing gay marriage, overriding religious freedoms, mocking Biblical truth and calling darkness light and light darkness? God warns, “The wicked will be cast into the grave and all nations that forget God.”
Charles Colson was right when he said, “Our ultimate hope won’t come riding in on Air Force One.” America needs a lot more than a president who will stand for Biblical values. We need a spiritual revival at the core. However, one indication that followers of Christ are serious about their faith is an understanding that Jesus is Lord over every facet of our lives – including the way we vote, because elections have serious consequences. They matter.

Wayne Gruden, Theology Professor at Phoenix Seminary, recently released a book entitled, Voting as a Christian – The Social Issues. Gruden lists five erroneous views of the Christian’s role in politics and then suggests our view should be “significant Christian influence.” This view says that Christians should seek to influence civil government according to God’s moral stands and God’s purposes for government as revealed in the Bible. But while Christians exercise this influence, they must “simultaneously insist on protecting freedom of religion for all citizens.”

President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “… freedom is not a gift that tarries long in the hands of cowards: nor yet does it tarry long in the hands of the sluggard and the idler, in the hands of the man so much absorbed in the pursuit of pleasure or in the pursuit of gain, or so much wrapped up in his own easy home life as to be unable to take his part in the rough struggle with his fellow men for political supremacy,” He warned, “The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community. Their place is under a despotism.”

(For the full text of President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, see “The Duties of 
American Citizenship” at PBS.org)