Friday, July 27, 2007
This question can bring up some very strong political feelings, so rather than cover the political aspects of this question, we'll stick to the Christian principles. And to extend the question beyond just voting, let's also consider the question of running for political office.
Some Christians feel that there are specific lines that should not be crossed, specifically Christianity crossing into politics. However, no area of life should be regarded as secular, that is, divorced from God. The government is not a secular island that is free from the claims of Christ. Governments as well as all other institutions in the world are responsible to God. Some Christians believe that to be pure in spirit they must withdraw into their "private world," free of any political or social involvement.
What does God's Holy Bible teach us about being involved politically and socially? There are five* Biblical principles that clearly teach that a faithful Christian must be involved.
1) Rule the Earth for the Glory of God
"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
This mandate extends to all functions of government.
2) God Demands an Accounting
"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. 'Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.'"
This accounting is the beginning of a capital punishment system put in place to curb the violence. From this establishment, all other powers of government flow.
3) Godly Rulers Reigned and Prophets Warned the Government/Nation to Repent
Most every Old Testament saint was politically involved in the government. Moses was raised in Pharaoh's palace. Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel), became second in command behind Pharaoh. King Saul was continuously warned by Samuel about his unrighteous deeds. David was a King after God's own heart. Daniel counseled Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted two of his dreams. There are many examples in the Bible of Godly rulers and prophets that influenced political leaders.
4) Jesus Did Not Demand Men to Leave Military and Political Activity
"Tax collectors also came to be baptized. 'Teacher,' they asked, 'what should we do?' 'Don't collect any more than you are required to,' he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely -- be content with your pay.'"
While these activities are necessary, those in charge of the activities should conduct themselves in a just and righteous manner. Be honest!
5) Governments are Established by God
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. . . ."
Based on the above passage, we conclude that government cannot be considered inherently evil since God has established them. We should consider voting and/or political involvement as required service to God. In the United States, we have been enabled to control and direct our nation through the ballot and/or running for political office. We should do all we can to have our nation ruled by Christian principles.
A final note to consider is that if every American were a Christian, we would have no choice but to have Christians involved in every aspect of the political spectrum, from city and county governments, state governments, federal governments, and even international governmental bodies such as the United Nations. Otherwise, our system would fall apart. With the majority of Americans identifying themselves as Christians, being silent is really not an option.
* Ideas from Dr. James Kennedy's The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
My pastor put together this great outline for finding a church home. I hope you find it helpful.
Non-negotiable: Some traits you will look for are optional, but here are a few that aren't.
(1) Biblically-based. This is a must. A church can do a lot of things right, but if she doesn't stand on the Word of God, the other 'right' things pale in comparison. Does the church teach the Bible and practice it? Is the Bible the final authority?
(2) Loving/Friendly. A church that has the love of God in them will be friendly. Most churches think they are friendly. They usually are friendly to one another but what about toward the first-time guest? Jesus gave us the Great Commandment - we are to love one another as He has loved us.
(3) Evangelistic. The Great Commission is our Commander's marching orders to us. In order for a church to be obedient in the key areas, she must begin here.
(4) Full of Grace and Truth. The perfect Lord demonstrated the perfect balance between Grace and Truth (see John 1:14). If we lean too far toward grace at the expense of truth, the result is liberalism - anything and everything goes (thus the state of our Nation). If we lean too far toward truth at the expense of grace, the result is legalism - rules and regulations dominate everything. We must avoid the extremes. By the way, if you are looking for the perfect church, it does not exist. You may have additional "non-negotiable" traits, but this is my 'short' list.
Negotiable. If a church meets all the essentials, then you have a green light for some important personal concerns. That might include the style of music, the quality of the senior adult ministry or the student ministry, the preschool security, the educational ministry. Our stage of life often determines our personal concerns.
Begin with the essentials and then move on to the non-essentials. If a church doesn't pass the first test, move on. I'm confident that if you will depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He will lead you to a church. I'm also convinced that God calls people to a church. You need to find the place that He has chosen for you to 'fit'.
There are many great churches around. If you are currently looking for a church, ask the Lord for wisdom and He will guide you.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The Persian Period (450-330 B.C.)
For about 200 years, after Nehemiah's time the Persians controlled Judah, but the Jews were allowed to carry on their religious observances and were not interfered with. During this time, Judah was ruled by high priests who were responsible to the Jewish government.
The Hellenistic Period (330-166 B.C.)
In 333 B.C. the Persian armies stationed in Macedonia were defeated by Alexander the Great. He was convinced that Greek culture was the one force that could unify the world. Alexander permitted the Jews to observe their laws and even granted them exemption from tribute or tax during their Sabbath years. The Greek conquest prepared the way for the translation of the Old Testament into Greek (Septuagint version) in 250 B.C.
The Hasmonean Period (166-63 B.C.)
When this historical period began, the Jews were being greatly oppressed. The Ptolemies had been tolerant of the Jews and their religious practices but the Seleucid rulers were determined to force Hellenism on them. Copies of the Scriptures were ordered destroyed and laws were enforced with extreme cruelty. The oppressed Jews revolted, led by Judas the Maccabee.
The Roman Period (63 B.C. through Christ's life)
In the year 63 B.C. Pompey, the Roman general, captured Jerusalem, and the provinces of Palestine became subject to Rome. The local government was entrusted part of the time to princes and the rest of the time to procurators who were appointed by the emperors. Herod the Great was ruler of all Palestine at the time of Christ's birth.
Mary Magdalene = Follower of Jesus. First to see Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus drove 7 demons out of her according to Mark 16:9.
Mary, Lazarus' Sister = Typically known alongside her sister Martha, Mary knew when to listen. She poured perfume on Jesus' body according to Matthew 26:12-13.
Mary, Mother of Jesus = This Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and she is the Mary revered in the Roman Catholic Church.
In a recent conversation with a troubled Catholic, I found myself challenged when attempting to understand how she felt that "Mary had been watching over her." I asked her if she had a Bible reference to describe this ability of Mary to watch over her. She did not. Anytime something "new" comes to you in the form of doctrine, always ask for a Biblical reference. If there is no Biblical reference, you should treat the information as suspect until you can confirm or deny it according to the Word of God. Of course, Mary did play a very important part of God's plan of salvation. But she was a mere mortal, like you and me. God used her as His vessel. She was blessed among women for being chosen to birth the Savior of mankind into the world. As Elizabeth stated to Mary:
Blessed Among Women
"In a loud voice she [Elizabeth] exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear.'"
Please see this link to learn the many ways that Roman Catholics revere Mary: http://www.carm.org/catholic/mary.htm
I would challenge you to allow God to use you as His vessel. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and live in you. You will be amazed at the transformation in your life. Jesus Christ was born of Mary. He was God in the flesh and was crucified and died a horrible death for your salvation. Put your trust in Him today.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Friday, July 6, 2007
Religion literally means for man to "reconnect to the divine." So each of these aforementioned non-Christian religions has a set of tasks that must be performed to achieve entrance into heaven (or other stage of being).
Scientologists must work with an "auditor" on his/her hang-ups to achieve a state of "clear." Then progress can be made up the "bridge to total freedom." Salvation to a Scientologist is freedom from reincarnation.
Jehovah's Witnesses must be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. Eternal life must be earned by walking door-to-door recruiting. However, the number admitted to heaven is limited to 144,000.
Christian Scientists believe humanity is already eternally saved, and that sin, evil, sickness, and death are not real. The expression "mind over matter" comes to mind.
Hindus must be released from the cycle of reincarnation. Yoga and meditation help achieve this release; however, some people take many lifetimes to accomplish this release. Final salvation is the unification with Brahman.
Muslims believe people are basically good, but are fallible and need guidance. Eternal destiny of heaven or hell are determined by balancing good and bad deeds. God's mercy might play into the ultimate destiny, but the final destination is arbitrary and uncertain.
Jews. Praise God for the Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew, descendant of King David. Some Jews believe that prayer, repentance, and obeying the Law are necessary for salvation. Other Jews believe that salvation is the improvement of society. Messianic Jews are Christians that practice Jewish customs and are Christian believers. References to Jews in this discussion do not include Messianic Jews.
Mormons are resurrected by grace, but exalted to godhood by works. Eternal life is not possible without Mormon membership.
New Age followers need to offset bad karma with good karma. Meditation and self-awareness can help tap into supernatural power.
Buddhists' goal in life is the state of nirvana, achieved by eliminating all desires and cravings.
Each of the above systems are "works systems." Christianity is a "faith system." Christianity is actually an Anti-Religion, meaning that man cannot reconnect to the divine, but God reconnected with us through the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ. In the works systems mentioned above, each were founded by one person (with the exception of the Jewish faith, which includes Books of the Old Testament). No scripture ever prophesied that these people were coming onto the scene. Their graves are occupied today. They will never come back to earth.
Jesus was foretold by the prophets. Every Old Testament prophecy about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection came true. The odds of Jesus not being God's Messiah are billions upon billions to one (statistically proves Jesus was the Messiah). The last statistic I read was 10 to the 57th power (that's 1 with 57 zeros). No other religion in the world has one verifiable, believable prophecy. The reason is that man does not know the future. God spoke the prophecies through the prophets. Only He knows the future and is why the prophecies have come true.
Some of the Christian beliefs are as follows:
Man Is Spiritually Sick
"Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness -- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil."
None Are Righteous
"As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God."
Man Is Sinful
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Eternal Life Only Possible Because of Jesus
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18-19
Christ Died For Us
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Salvation In No One Else
Speaking of Jesus, Luke states, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Confess Jesus And Believe
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him for the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
God cannot allow sin into heaven. This means that if you have ever committed the slightest of sins, you will be disqualified from entering heaven. As stated in Romans 3:23, we have all sinned. Satan, the devil, is accusing you day and night to God the Father of your sins.
". . . For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before God day and night . . . ."
You will have to make a plea to God for your sins. There is no such thing as a not guilty plea. You are either guilty or innocent. For those unbelievers, you will be found guilty even if you attempt to plea innocent because the books of your life will be opened for all to see. Your life events cannot be denied and when you are found guilty, you will be cast away from God forever. Believers will plea innocent by the Blood of Jesus Christ, and that my friends will be the only way to enter heaven.
Repent and ask Jesus to be your personal Savior and Redeemer today. While you have the breath of life in you, there is still time to accept Jesus Christ, who is your only ticket to heaven. I pray you make the choice of life. We are not guaranteed another second on this earth. After you breathe your last breath, your time is up.