Flatland Church is doing a great new series on Christmas. Recently they linked to this video and a short devotional and story to go along with it.
Tomorrow is Election Day so make sure you go out and VOTE! I don’t care who you vote for – just go and VOTE. You’ve heard it before but if you don’t vote – you don’t have a right to complain. So VOTE!
Regardless of who wins this election, on November 5th, I will still be praying for our leadership. Isn’t that what all Christians should do? Pastor Jeff Leake has a great response when he is asked, Are you going to speak on the election? You can read the complete post at his site but here is a summary of his points:
- My hope for the future of the USA does not rest in this election.
- My primary concern is with the Kingdom of God and not with the United States of America.
- I believe that a believer should consider moral values, character, and vision when they make their decision to vote.
- My responsibility is to pray for and even bless governmental leaders, even when I disagree with their policies.
- I think at times we can over-estimate the election season.
- My passion is to represent Jesus well in the world. Partisan attitudes often divide.
- I want to protect the unity of the church (not just APC but believers all throughout this nation).
- I like to consider what Jesus did regarding politics when he walked the earth.
I really like one of his last statements, “I think it is safe to say that neither Obama nor McCain is the hope of the world. That is Jesus. It is also safe to say that neither candidate will be as much a threat as Nero, Herod, or Mao. If the Kingdom can expand under their leadership, I am confident God can continue to work no matter who is elected in 2008.”
Another Pastor that I read frequently is Mark Batterson. He pastors National Community Church in Washington D.C. His church is unique in that the livelihood of a lot of his congregation is dependent on the election. His church regularly goes through a change with each election cycle. He has a sermon series called the Elephant in the Church where he discusses issues that everyone knows are there but don’t want to talk about in church. This week is the Political Elephant. I urge all of you to listen to or watch his message. It is a great perspective.
So – I will be voting. I will be voting my conscience. I will be voting based on character, values and vision. When the next president is sworn in, I will commit to pray for his leadership regardless of who wins the election. My hope is in Christ – not the president. Besides, like I have said in other posts, I’ve read the book. I know who wins!
I just read an Open Letter to Tony Campolo by Drew Dyck of New Man Magazine. In it, he questions a couple of positions that Campolo seems to hold – 1) Muslims obtaining salvation apart from belief in Christ and 2) homosexuals shouldn’t have to change who they are to be saved.
These are two topics I have discussed in previous posts [Understanding the Emerging Church and Time for a discussion in the church about Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Issues or God's Grace - 101]. These attitudes are rampant in post-modern thought. We are living in a world where compromise is the norm and taking a stand for truth is abnormal.
I have been reading Lee Strobel’s new book, The Case for the Real Jesus. Although I am still in the first few chapters of the book, one point has been sticking in my mind as I read it. Over the years, in an effort to make Christianity more appealing to non-believers, the church has watered down it’s theology. As a church, we have stopped placing an importance on the redemptive act of Jesus’ death on the cross. In an interview with Daniel B. Wallace Ph.D., Strobel was trying to understand the authenticity of the scriptures in light of recent allegations that the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions and missing some books that teach something else. Dr. Wallace, in addressing a particular allegation said, “It’s disturbing that when it comes to the Christian faith, people don’t really want – or know how – to investigate the evidence. Christians are not being led into proper historical research by their pastors. I have been saying for some time that I don’t think the evangelical church has fifty years left of life to it until it repents.” Strobel responded, “In what way?” Wallace continued, “First, we have to quit marginalizing scripture. We can’t treat the Bible with kid gloves. We really need to wrestle with the issues, because our faith depends on it. And second, we need to quit turning Jesus into our buddy. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe, and we need to understand and respond accordingly.”
Isn’t that the crux of the whole situation we find ourselves in right now? As a church, we don’t teach theology so when some new theory comes along, we don’t have the knowledge or tools to defend our faith. Some things might even sound good so we compromise our beliefs because we don’t have a theological foundation to stand on. Then someone else comes along with some new special knowledge and we go along with that because we are already started down the road of compromise. We have faith – but we don’t have maturity. It is my opinion that today’s church has become what Paul described when he addressed the church in Corinth.
The Corinthian believers had become aware of the need to reorient their pre-Christian attitudes and actions along Biblical lines, but at first their transformation was incomplete, and they were just “babes in Christ,” to be pitied and nurtured in their immaturity. The Greek word sarkinos implies this infant stage.
However, as the years went on, they continued in their immaturity. By this time they should have grown to Christian adulthood, themselves helping others through the infant stage, but instead they had willfully and sinfully remained in their immature state. For this Paul rebukes them.
It is imperative that we continue to grow in Christ. Everyone needs to learn to emphatically defend their faith. We need to continue to help others through the infant stage into Christian maturity so when beliefs, such as espoused by Mr. Campolo are raised in the church, they can be debated with an argument based in knowledge and not feelings.
A good place to start would be our 21st Century Christian series or any other series we have posted at Grace Learning Center. Another resource that I enjoy is the online theology course at Reclaiming The Mind.
About a year ago, I wrote a post entitled, The Ultimate Doctrinal Question. It was a fun look at how cerebral some churches can get. At Flatland (formerly Grace) we want to be a church who welcomes everyone. We’re beginning a new teaching series called Why Should I Belong?, where we look at reasons why someone who questions the need for organized religion might want to be part of a church, and specifically, if you are in the Omaha area, why you might want to be part of Flatland Church. You are welcome to attend our services, Sundays at 9:45am and 11:00am, to find out what is happening.
The other day, I was reading a book that discussed objections that some people have for not believing in God. One of the reasons was that they couldn’t (wouldn’t) believe in a God that would send good people to hell. It’s hard to think about good people possibly ending up in hell. We all know people who, while they don’t especially believe in Jesus, they are good people. They do good things. This objection also comes up in discussions about “alternate” ways to heaven. Lately, a lot of people have been espousing ideas that although we have chosen Jesus as our way to God, they believe that there are other ways to come to God. The argument goes, who are we to know the mind of God? Could a Buddhist, or Muslim who is devout still go to hell?
On the first day teaching his class of 250 college freshmen, R. C. Sproul carefully explained the assignment of three term papers. Each paper was due on the last day of September, October, and November. Sproul clearly stated there would be no extensions (except for medical reasons). At the end of September, some 225 students dutifully turned in their papers, while 25 remorseful students quaked in fear. “We’re so sorry,” they said. “We didn’t make the proper adjustments from high school to college, but we promise to do better next time.” He bowed to their pleas for mercy, gave them an extension, but warned them not to be late next month.
The end of October rolled around, and about 200 students turned in their papers, while 50 students showed up empty-handed. “Oh, please,” they begged, “it was homecoming weekend, and we ran out of time.” Sproul relented once more but warned them, “This is it. No excuses next time. You will get an F.”
The end of November came, and only 100 students turned in their papers. The rest told Sproul, “We’ll get it in soon.”
“Sorry,” Sproul replied. “It’s too late now. You get an F.”
The students howled in protest, “That’s not fair!”
“Okay,” Sproul replied, “you want justice, do you? Here’s what’s just: you’ll get an F for all three papers that were late. That was the rule, right?”
“The students had quickly taken my mercy for granted,” Sproul later reflected. “They assumed it. When justice suddenly fell, they were unprepared for it. It came as a shock, and they were outraged.”
Like the teacher, God has given us the assignment ahead of time. Jesus said that He is the only way to the father. No one comes to the father except through Him. God is gracious. He demonstrated his grace by sending his son, Jesus to pay for our sins. If we ignore that grace and decide that there are other ways to God, then we decide (either consciously or unconsciously) to face His judgement.