Economy Follows Character

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.40.25 AMAs a Pastor, I really do try hard not to publicly endorse any specific candidates, nor publicly denounce any specific candidates for political office.  No church I have ever been a part of has ever held a political rally in its sanctuary, nor invited a candidate to climb into the pulpit.  I find American Christians typically fall into one of two camps regarding these matters:

  • Avoid anything remotely political at all costs, or . . .
  • Go politically hog-wild to the point of near-idolatry.

I witnessed the first attitude last month at a conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  After a tremendous sermon by Dr. Russell Moore (President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC), we got to witness personal interviews with two presidential candidates – Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.  Hillary Clinton was invited but turned the opportunity down.  Mr. Rubio was streamed in via internet, while Mr. Bush was there in person to answer questions from Dr. Moore.  My wife later over-heard a middle-aged woman on the phone complaining that the conference got “too political” so she walked out on it.  The sad part of it all is that the lady obviously had missed the whole point of Dr. Moore’s sermon.  He was showing us from the Bible that we can never place our hope and trust in any government, but at the same time we should engage in the process to do all we can to ensure leaders of character are elected.  We must use these freedoms while we have them, dear Christians!  We can dialogue and protest peacefully and write letters and post blogs and call elected officials and publicly debate and the list goes on.  Christians can and should be involved in the political process to do our best to ensure we can live at peace and continue to freely proclaim the gospel of Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4).

I witness the second attitude almost daily.  I see friends and family and Christians pouring far greater time and energy into getting someone elected or debating every issue on the political agenda than they do sharing the good news of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  It’s sad.  It makes me wonder where their faith really is?  Do we Christians really think the ultimate answer to our nation’s woes is in an elected official?  A President?  A Congressman or woman?  A party platform?  Do we think America is ultimate?  If believers spent as much time, money and energy spreading the gospel as they do stumping for parties and candidates, not to mention bickering over temporal matters, the empty church buildings all over this land might fill up once again!  We must return to seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first, foremost, and always.  Our loyalty is only to One Eternal King ruling over One Eternal Kingdom.  As Dr. Moore said so well in the sermon mentioned previously, “We Christians are Americans best when we are not Americans first.”  Amen.  Far too many believers seem more devoted to the US Constitution than they are to the Bible.

God help us find the balance.

Now, with all that said, I want to urge any readers who are followers of Jesus to stop and seriously ponder who they are stumping for in the Presidential election and why.  I am growing very concerned at the number of professing Christians who are stumping for a candidate who may very well know economics, but has also said it has never even occurred to him to ask forgiveness from God!  His friends say he never says, “I’m sorry.”  His rhetoric is mean-spirited and obnoxious.  Rather than “Walk softly and carry a big stick” he prefers to “Stomp around and insult everyone.”  Christians, read your Bibles.  Character matters most in leaders.  And in the Bible, a nation’s collapse is nearly always associated with prideful, haughty, stubborn leadership.  Economy follows character.  

So rather than vote your pocketbooks, which belong to God anyway dear brothers and sisters, ask yourselves which candidate(s) displays true, Christ-like character.  In which candidate(s) do you see fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control?  Which candidate is likely to show aptitude for promoting the good and discouraging the evil, in accordance with God’s design (Rom 13:1-7)?  What standard is the candidate(s) using to define good and evil?

Yes, I know a President is not a Pastor, nor is a President leading a church or The Church.  But when it comes to leadership, wherever it is found, character matters most.  I dare say our American economy and culture is collapsing and will continue to do so not because of economic policies in and of themselves, but because of corrupt character.  The policies, after all, were enacted out of principles, whether good or evil.  And principles are derived from human hearts and minds.

Vote character.  For God’s glory and the good of our nation.

“The Most High is Ruler over the realm of mankind, and He bestows it on whom He wishes . . . I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:17, 34).

 

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Lisa King - This is great, Keith. I really wanted to be able to vote for Trump. I was shocked when he said he never asked God for forgiveness. Oh my word! That alone is scary. Add to that the fact that he’s as obnoxious as our current president & it appears we would be no better off with Mr Trump. He may be expressing how the people feel, but he could certainly express it in a much kinder, gentler way. If my children had spoken like this, and called people names, the pancake turner wouldn’t have been far behind! It saddens me that folks are okay with his pride & ego as long as he’s on “our side.” My prayer is that Cruz will rise in the polls. I loved it when, in the first debate, they asked the question “Have you heard God’s voice on which direction to take the country” (paraphrase) and Cruz replied, without missing a beat “I hear from God every day when I read my Bible! What a class act. He’s such a humble, sincere servant.

Creation declares the Glory of God

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.  Its rising is from the end of the heavens,  and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.  Psalm 19:1-6

This 5 minute video stirred my heart to worship our incredible creator.

 

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Sproul on God & Government

BA2274-001R. C. Sproul has been teaching sound theology to the Church for many decades.  I have been using his St. Andrew’s Commentary on Acts from time to time this year to help me prepare sermons.  Today, I came across this section in his commentary, which I quote / paste at length below without further comment.  Read it and you’ll know why!

Government and Christian Practice

I believe I am supposed to submit to the civil magistrates even when I disagree with them, so while I will not endorse a candidate, I will try to influence my congregation on how to vote. The Word of God has much to say that is instructive for how we vote. First, we have to understand what a vote is. The word vote comes from the Latin votum, which means “will.” We have an opportunity in our country to express our will by casting our vote in favor of what we want to see happen in the government. In a very real though invisible sense, the ballot is a bullet. Anytime you cast your vote, you are asking that certain policies and laws be enacted, backed, and enforced by the full magnitude of the power of civil government. We are to be careful and thoughtful in the process. The purpose of voting is not what we can get from the government for ourselves. We are to vote for what is right, not for our personal gain.

Today there is no shame in someone’s saying, “I’m voting my pocketbook.” However, in order for the government to put money in people’s pocketbooks, that money first has to be taken from other citizens in order for them to receive it. The government does not produce anything; in other words, the government cannot give to someone what it does not first take away from someone else. When you vote for your own largesse, you are asking the government to use all its force to take from your brother and sister their private property and give it to you.

Several years ago I lodged in Mississippi at a hotel that was hosting a convention of the Mississippi Pork Producers Association. Affixed to walls and bulletin boards all over the hotel were large pie graphs that showed how Mississippi pork producers were using government subsidies in their private business. Far and away the largest segment in the pie depicted monies used to promote and advertise pork as the meat of choice. The pork producers would have little success if they were to ask producers of beef to turn over a portion of their market share, so they ask the government to take money from the profits of the cattlemen and others of us and give it to them. The request is perfectly legal, but it is also immoral and unethical to ask the government for a special subsidy for private enterprise. It is sin, but it is the American way. Washington is filled with lobby groups that do this every day. The lobbyists ask for legislation not for what is right or good for the welfare of the nation but for their vested interests. Voting your vested interests as a Christian is a sin. I plead with you not to join in this activity.

Several years ago, I had dinner with the chairman of the Senate Financing Committee. During our conversation, I asked the senator why he wasn’t attending to various issues that clearly needed to be dealt with at the time. He agreed that the issues I put before him were all important concerns but said he could not address them during an election year. So I said, “Senator, is there anybody in Washington who is thinking about the next generation instead of the next election?”

Alexis de Tocqueville said that there are two things that can destroy America. First, America can be destroyed by the rich and powerful who buy their way into office and use their wealth and power to exploit the poor. Second, America can be destroyed when people discover that they can vote for personal largesse. Either of those will destroy a nation and turn it into the tyranny of the majority. When economics are politicized, when people are encouraged to vote their pocketbooks rather than their conscience, national destruction will follow.

I heard one candidate in a presidential race say again and again that he planned to create a tax relief program for 98 percent of Americans. What about that other 2 percent? Are they to be robbed for the financial gain of the 98 percent? That is not God’s way. The Israelite tithe was established on a level playing field. Everybody was required to pay the same percentage; there was no graduated or progressive income tax in Israel. Nobody can play politics with the tithe. Some paid one hundred times more than another, but all paid the same percentage. He would not allow somebody to vote a tax on his neighbor that was not a tax on himself. If you vote for a 98 percent tax reduction, you are simultaneously voting for a 2 percent tax increase on others, an increase that you likely do not have to pay. That is not justice. That is not equitable. It is legalized theft, and we do it every day.

For years in England William Wilberforce lost vote after vote year in and year out when he pled with parliament for the abolition of slavery, but slavery was so connected to the economic welfare of England that his cries of protest went unheeded. He kept arguing and pleading and calling upon Parliament to stop the ungodly activity of man stealing. Finally England’s conscience was moved and slavery was abolished. Slavery is the second worst ethical issue ever to divide the United States of America. Even more serious than slavery is the governmental sanction on the wanton destruction of 1.5 million unborn human beings every year in this nation. My book about abortion, A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue, went quickly out of print. Ligonier has provided educational materials for churches, but pastors won’t use them for fear it will divide their congregation. I say, “So what? Let it divide the congregation. We’re talking about the sanctity of life here.”

The Didache, one the most important extracanonical books of the early church, didn’t shrink from calling abortion what it is—murder—and said the church must never be involved in it. Today it has become part of the acceptable fabric of America, and nobody is crying foul. The church is not asking at this point for the state to become the church when we tell the state to stop sanctioning this holocaust. The church is asking the state to be the state, because the primary reason for the existence of the state in the first place is to protect, maintain, and sustain the sanctity of human life. When a state ceases to do that, it has become not only pagan but barbarian.

The primary issues in the presidential elections of today are involvement with the Middle East, terrorism, and the economy. Abortion is way down at the bottom of the list. Personally, I could not sleep if I ever cast a ballot for a candidate who supported abortion on demand. That trumps every other ethical issue of our time. I plead with you as Christians that when you walk into the voting booth, don’t leave your Christianity in the parking lot. Let your mind be informed by the Word of God. I have been studying theology all my life, and if I know anything about the character of God, I know that God hates abortion. There are other ways to deal with unwanted pregnancies than the physical destruction of the unborn. So I hope you vote your conscience, not your vested interest or your pocketbook. I hope you will vote for righteousness and justice as your conscience is informed by the Word of God. Until or unless we do that, God will give us leaders after our own hearts, which is a scary thing.

—St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary

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The Holiness of God

HolyofGodBookR.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is a modern theological classic. Sproul’s passion for holiness is contagious. I see how his life has been marked by this study, and I find that I want what he has. I want to be as excited about the character of God as he is. When I’ve read this book in the past it has always moved me to worship and I think it will do the same for you. Right now you can get your own copy of this excellent book for FREE by simply requesting it Here.

Here are just a few quotes from the book.

“Some modern theorists believe that the world was created by nothing. Note the difference between saying that the world was created from nothing and saying that the universe was created by nothing. In this modern view the rabbit comes out of the hat without a rabbit, a hat, or even a magician. The modern view is far more miraculous than the biblical view. It suggests that nothing created something. More than that, it holds that nothing created everything—quite a feat indeed!”

“The God we worship is the God who has always been. He alone can create beings, because He alone has the power of being. He is not nothing. He is not chance. He is pure Being, the One who has the power to be all by Himself. He alone is eternal. He alone has the power over death. He alone can call worlds into being by fiat, by the power of His command. Such power is staggering, awesome. It is deserving of respect, of humble adoration.”

“How we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the ‘religious’ aspects of our lives. If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. No part of the world is outside of His lordship. That means that no part of my life must be outside of His lordship. His holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance—everything with which we are involved.”

“Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy that the whole earth is full of His glory.”

Lastly here’s some thoughts from men who are far smarter and wiser than I am. Jerry Bridges said,”Every Christian who is serious about his or her growth needs to read The Holiness of God. I profited greatly from this book.” John MacArthur has said that “R. C. Sproul’s teaching on the holiness of God brought me face-to-face with the awful splendor of God’s majestic holiness in a new and fresh way. I was smitten with the realization that holiness is not merely a peripheral attribute of God; it is at the core of all He is and does. I realized then that this was precisely the message the church of our generation urgently needed―and still needs today.”

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Ironic Outrage

BA2274-001This week a video was released showing a lunchtime conversation with a high executive at Planned Parenthood.  In the video, she discusses the harvesting and subsequent sale of aborted babies’ internal organs.  She does this as she sips wine and nibbles at lunch.

The outrage has been quick and loud, as it should be!  I’m actually thankful God has used this video to further expose the depravity and evil of so many of those involved in America’s ongoing, taxpayer-funded holocaust.

But there is an irony the size of the State of Alaska here.  Our outrage over the organs being sold, well, it comes a bit late, don’t you think?  While I am sickened by the very thought of such a human organ harvesting business, I believe my outrage should be directed FIRST at the murder of that precious baby!  We would not be having this discussion about organ auctions at all if we did not allow human infants to have their tiny, beautiful heads “carefully”crushed.

Americans, where’s the outrage?  When will we as American Christians finally be outraged enough at baby murder that we:

  • Donate sacrificially to pro-life causes.
  • Refuse to cast one more vote for anyone not standing in absolute defiance against abortion.
  • Write, call, and meet with elected officials, insisting non-stop that they end this judicial tyranny of infanticide foisted on our country.
  • Volunteer at local pro-life pregnancy centers.
  • Join volunteers who witness on sidewalks outside abortion clinics, and beg mothers to re-consider.
  • Refuse to financially support businesses and organizations who fund Planned Parenthood (no matter how valuable their work may appear, such as the Susan Koman Foundation and Girl Scouts of America).
  • Love mothers wounded by an abortion enough to show gospel mercy and care for their bodies and souls.

When?

Please take 8 minutes to view this speech by a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.  May God increase his tribe!

 

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Michael Wood - This was a very powerful video from the senator and I agree, “May God increase his tribe!”

Michael Wood - I wanted to share this on facebook as well. This from the pastor’s blog of my church concerning the Planned Parenthood videos. I agree that our outrage is late, but I also say we need to let it show and let others know. There is a very powerful video at the end of a speech given in the senate. It is about eight minutes long, but it stikes a cord – who are we as a nation and where do we go from here?

Stephen Cox - Like the Word of our GOD, powerful, clear and convicting. SIN is a dulling thing is it not? It makes Devils of us all.

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