Revisting the Formula for Healing the Nation

While growing up in suburban Baltimore, my mom, in her attempts to instill a sense of God’s ways in me, would often note that God does things in His own time and in His own ways.  The underlying message was that we can trust God to act on our behalf, but don ‘t expect Him to do it in the way we want Him to do it.  That’s a hard lesson to learn because we, in our human, linear reasoning, feel that we know the best way for doing things.  The problem, among others we have, is that we don’t have God’s perspective, and frankly we’re not that patient. Some time later, after reading scripture and listening to hundreds of anecdotes and testimonies by other believers, it became clear that the God who would use a prostitute in Jericho, Balaam’s ass, a terrorist named Paul, and a slew of other less-than-stellar personalities to affect His will, has a way of doing things that we humans, believers included, would never subscribe to.  Fortunately, God is not bound by our reasoning and strict “moral” guidelines.  As the scripture says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways,” declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In that scripture there lies a maxim that most people just don’t get.  Tragically, most Christians haven’t integrated into their lives either, and for that reason, the nation is seriously, at risk. When, according to the biblical account detailing the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, God provided a clear, unambiguous, instruction to follow if the land, crops, and people came under a curse from straying from His ways.  It seems pretty clear that God tied the righteous standing of His people to the earthly conditions of the nation.  He further provided an opportunity for redemption, if only His people would return to Him.  The scripture that exhibits this prescription is found in II Chronicles 7:13-15.  Most Christians are familiar with it, but most of those who use it to advance a political agenda rarely get the simplicity and potency of the message.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

Unfortunately, although many politically active and interested Christians quote this scripture to promote the way the nation can return to God, there are so many that quickly start pointing to those outside the faith as the focus of this scripture.  In other words, they have shifted the blame and responsibility for national moral decline on unbelievers, while the scripture plainly points to the spiritual condition of the Church.  Instead of directing attention toward the condition of the Church, issues like abortion, gay marriage, and socialism become the primary issues on the scale.  Some will argue the point, but all one has to do is look at the letters to the Churches of Asia Minor found in the Book of Revelation.  God wasn’t warning some nation about their moral condition, but instead, focused squarely on those who called themselves by His name.  But even before the birth of the Church, Jesus spoke to his disciples about how important the integrity and holiness of his followers were to the overall condition and survivability of the nation.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

So here’s the deal.  There are plenty of texts in scripture that describes the condition of the world. Generally, the world is full of sin, death, injustice, hate, and rottenness.  People are self-centered, liars, and desperately wicked.  Of course there’s more, but I think you’ve got the picture.  Now Jesus spoke these words to a bunch of uneducated, nontheologians who had been under his tutelage and would eventually turn the world upside-down.  In this passage, Jesus made it clear that his follow’s spiritual condition was critical to the preservation of the world and to reflecting His glory in the world.  Consider this commentary:

There are two broad approaches to seeking to shape values in society. At times the Christian community may feel it needs to confront a particular value, decision or priority adopted by the community.  But the Christian community is also able to influence values day in, day out through bringing a distinctively Christian approach to the people we come across as we go about our daily lives. This is what we mean by being “salt and light” in the world (Mt 5:13,14), where by living distinctively Christian lifestyles we seek to influence those around us, and through this the values, decisions and priorities adopted by our communities.


Jesus challenges us to be salt and light – to influence the world, and to be seen to be doing so.  You might like to spend some time reflecting on this passage :
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Mt 5:13-16

1. You are the salt of the earth. ·By beginning with You, Jesus emphasises to the disciples that they have both the calling and the responsibility to be influencers in the world.   Salt is a number of effects :
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a seasoning agent, it improves the taste of the food that it comes into contact with, and so as we come into contact with society our Christian values should improve the nature of that society.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)salt makes people thirsty – and as Christians we seek to create a thirst in people’s lives that can only be satisfied by Jesus, who said : “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me  me and drink” (Jn 7:37)
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)Salt is used to thaw ice on roads : so it can have the effect of warming hearts that have hardened against the gospel – over time the saltiness of Christians can bring people to know Jesus Christ.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a preservative, salt gives food an improved length of life. Ultimately, with enough salt, those who do know Jesus, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour will have eternal life.

2. Salt which loses its saltiness is useless. · Jesus’ teaching is challenging.  There is little room for those who are Christians, but who have lost their saltiness, or their “edge”.  Without the testimony of lives lived out with integrity and consistency with the principles that Christians claim to follow, the testimony of our lips is useless.  But be clear : this does not require us to be perfect : knowing our sinfulness, and knowing our need to confess it and be cleansed of it is a vital part of the Christian gospel. Then, as v16 says, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

3. You are like light for the world. · Light shines on dark things and exposes what is there. This is a call to the church to challenge evil within our society, however uncomfortable this may be. Having humility and servanthood within our character does not make us toothless and wishy-washy. The light that we bring, is not our own light – it is not who we are in ourselves, but rather the light of God shining through our lives as the Holy Spirit works through them. This doesn’t mean that we have to refer to God in every other sentence, but when the opportunity arises, we can share with another person the light that God has given us.

4. Don’t hide your light. · We hide our light when we stay silent in the face of discussion which is contrary to that which we believe. We hide our light when we fail to accept and conform with behaviours that are not in line with Jesus’ teaching. We hide our light when we don’t care for the needs of others, and walk by on the other side : since we have missed an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ compassion shine out in acts of kindness.  If we let the light of the Holy Spirit at work in us shine through, then we bring glory to God, and there can be no greater joy than being able to give glory to the Father as we go through our daily lives.

Sermon on the Mount

Now, as I pointed out in the first paragraph, God’s ways of doing things usually doesn’t jive with man’s way, that includes those in the Church.  It’s ironic that so many of those who claim a relationship with Christ, easily reject the “foolishness” of God and continue to think in a fashion no differently than the world who doesn’t even know Him.  Romans 12:1-2 informs us that things are to be different when we are “in Christ.”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here we see the caveat that warns Christians not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be changed in our way of thinking.  This text brings us full-circle to the place where in our hunger and desire to be like Christ, we start by having the “mind of Christ.”  To do so, involves renouncing the thinking of the world.  According to Phillipians 2:1-11, we see the contrast to worldly thinking.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:   Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What we see here is plain language that yokes the act of glorifying God with humbling oneself and having a servant’s heart.  This is consistent with the call to “humble oneself” before God. Without humility, God cannot exalt His Church in the eyes of the world.  When the Church is seen as arrogant, (as it often appears in the political marketplace)  not only does the world reject that contemptuousness and arrogance, but God does not support it as well.  The mechanics of worldy politics promote contention, factionalism, and a partisan spirit.  This is the polar-opposite of holiness, the opposite of God’s nature.  Christians need to remember the warning the apostle Paul gave regarding such attitudes.  In Galations 5:19-21 it says:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What most people see in this scripture is the sins of sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, and drunkenness.  They seem like they’re in bold print.  Sadly, what is hardly noticed, and often ignored during the political seasons are those other sins, like – hatred, discord, factions, dissensions, and the like.  The scripture is pretty clear, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Did you hear that?  They who hate their political opponents, create dissensions and factions along political lines are not living a life reflecting the nature of Christ.  I can’t believe how often I’ve seen believers, including pastors, come out of church and within a short time, are saying some of the most outrageous and slanderous things about those on the opposite side of their political views.  Name calling, something we tell our children not to do, is often a sport among Christians.  I wonder if they would do the same if Jesus, who gave his life for those they were slandering, would be sitting in the room with them?  Most Christians would probably hold their tongues.  I sometimes wonder how many children growing up in Christian homes hear their parents slandering political and cultural rivals,have their faith undermined by parents who promote the Christian tenet of loving one’s enemy, yet see something totally different in practice.  It’s no wonder so many children of professed believers leave the faith.  It’s no mystery.  They don’t see anything that reflects the nature of Christ, only talk.  While ministering and teaching children in a Christian high school, this dichotomy was often raised as a problem that truly undermined the integrity of  “Christian education.”

Fortunately, God always gives us a way to return to Him.  He wants us to come back to Him.  Like the father waiting for his prodigal son, God is waiting for us to return, with the heart of a servant. Try reading II Chronicles 7:14 again.  The words, “IF” and “THEN” are matters of cause and effect.  God promises that if we do one thing, He will do another relative to it.  If we don’t, He won’t.  It doesn’t matter who is president, congressman, or judge.  God’s rule trumps man’s devices.  As the scripture says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.”  This is a blueprint that has to start in the House of God.  No nation will ever be righteous if the Church is corrupted by being conformed to the world.

So where do we begin?  How do we change our thinking and take on the nature of a servant?  Well once again, the Word of God is not silent.  In 1 Timothy 2:1-6 we read these words which reflect the formula for praoctively changing ourselves and the world.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

Consider what Matthew Henry said regarding this passage:

2:1-7 The disciples of Christ must be praying people; all, without distinction of nation, sect, rank, or party. Our duty as Christians, is summed up in two words; godliness, that is, the right worshipping of God; and honesty, that is, good conduct toward all men. These must go together: we are not truly honest, if we are not godly, and do not render to God his due; and we are not truly godly, if not honest. What is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, we should abound in. There is one Mediator, and that Mediator gave himself a ransom for all. And this appointment has been made for the benefit of the Jews and the Gentiles of every nation; that all who are willing may come in this way, to the mercy-seat of a pardoning God, to seek reconciliation with him. Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace. He is a ransom that was to be known in due time. In the Old Testament times, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, were spoken of as things to be revealed in the last times. Those who are saved must come to the knowledge of the truth, for that is God’s appointed way to save sinners: if we do not know the truth, we cannot be ruled by it.

What is important to see in all of this is that God’s heart is toward reconciliation and the ministry he has given to his children is the same.  Being involved in political conflict puts one in peril of falling into the trap of being ungracious and imitating the “Accuser” instead of the “Advocate.”  If one follows the charge of I Timothy 2:1-6, they will find themselves conforming to the mark of a true Christian, loving one’s enemies.

On election day in America, many Christians see those who they voted against win the election.  For many, it is a moment of despair and anxiety.  Some ironically see it as a judgment on the nation.  Perhaps that’s true, but if it is, and the Bible gives us any direction, it is time for Christians to understand that in God’s economy, “judgment begins in the House of God.”  The fact is, the condition of the nation is a reflection of the condition of the church.  If we want to see a change in the world, we need to see a change in us.

Back in 1996, I decided to proactively act upon 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  I began to pray earnestly for Bill Clinton and other politicians I voted against.  In a short time, God began to flood my heart with love for these people, their families, and their staffs.  Even though it opened wonderful opportunities to minister directly to a few of these folks, what was amazing is what happened to me.  For one thing, I began to understand in a deeper way, how much God loves me.  I started to understand grace in a totally dynamic way.  As I continued to engage those who I could call, “enemies” with hospitality and grace, I began to see other areas where I could demonstrate God’s grace toward those Christ died for.  I started to see people in the light of the knowledge that Jesus had placed great value on them and had paid for them with His life.  How could I treat or consider anyone with less consideration that God has given them.

On November 5th, the people of the United States will have chosen a number of people to represent them in local posts, state offices, national positions, and the highest place of government, the presidency.  For many believers there will be joy and hope.  For others, there will be despair, concern, and even fear.  Nevertheless, no matter how we “feel” about whoever won or lost, we as ambassadors of Christ are to follow after the tenets of 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  God’s promise is “that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity for this is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”  It may not make sense to obey this biblical mandate, but that should be a clue.  It’s God’s way, not man’s.

Related Articles:

Salt and Light – P.G.Mathew

Works of the Flesh

Christians and Politics – Greg Boyd

On Facebook, join the group, No Strings Attached

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The Content of Jesse Jackson’s Character

Tell us what you really think Jesse!

For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal.” These were the words the Reverend Jesse Jackson used to apologize for what CNN characterized as “vulgar” comments made by Jackson against the presumptive Democratic nominee Barak Obama for a speech Obama made in a black church on Father’s Day. (Read the speech here). Jackson said he was “very distressed” that his foul remarks became public because he supports the White House bid of Obama, a fellow Chicagoan. It happened, he said, when a fellow guest on a Fox News show last Sunday asked him about Obama’s speeches at black churches. Fox News captured Jackson criticizing presidential candidate Barack Obama for talking down to blacks on the issue of fatherhood. Not knowing the microphone was still live, Jackson said,

See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off.

Apparently, not catering to Jackson’s style of bringing racial equality to the country creates a risk of loosing one’s family jewels. I know that Jackson is passionate about racial justice and all that, but he really needs to take a sabbatical or something. He went way over the top in these comments. Not only were they less than “reverend-like”, but I get the sense that Jesse Jackson’s discomfort with Barak Obama has more to do with pride and position than anything else. Some suggest it’s that green-eyed monster – jealousy raising it’s ugly head. One commentator noted,

It’s called jealousy. Barack Obama is everything Jesse wanted to be to America, but somehow came up short. Now, he has to watch a younger, far more talented, man of color take the reins

Face it, Jackson is yesterday’s news and with Obama within reach of achieving what Jackson couldn’t acquire in 1984 and 1988 when he ran for president, Jackson can’t admit his confrontational race-baiting style of politics has failed to produce the equality he says he seeks.

But are we to believe that all this “hate speech” by Jackson was jealousy, or his way of venting over Obama’s disassociation with Jackson’s race-baiting policies, or could it be even something more calculated and dubious? What I mean is it possible that this was really all set up between Jackson and the Obama campaign as a way to endear fence-sitting moderates and some conservatives to see Obama as a balanced statesman verses the “radical” Jesse Jackson? That image would surely be a definite benefit for Obama, seeking to appear more mainstream. As Newsweek commentator, Howard Fineman noted, “What better way to prove your mainstream bona fides with white conservative voters than to be criticized by Jackson?” (Read his article here). Even Biko Baker, an African-American journalist and activist suggested such a nefarious scheme. (Read his blog here).

Whatever the true reason for Jackson’s vulgar outburst, one thing I can’t help but see in all this is another facet of Jackson being untethered from the faith he claims. That is, the Christian faith. Although I think his commitment to social and racial justice is commendable and of the highest tradition of Christian activism, I would suggest that his faith is clearly adrift in a sea of unChristlike conviction, behavior and conversation. His fruit is showing.

In context, Jackson’s reasoning for saying what he said was that, while he agrees with Obama’s arguments that blacks must do more to improve their lot, “the moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care.” Let me get this right. So, because Obama, who has in fact, often promoted the broad moral message that Jackson insisted on making, didn’t quite say it the way Jackson would say it, that, somehow merits Obama deserving to be castrated? Anyone in their right mind, (not Jeremiah Wright) has got to notice that Jesse probably needs, at least, some anger management training. There is just no way he can legitimize or sanction his frustration at Obama’s apparent lack of a “broader moral message” by suggesting such a barbaric penalty. It was, pardon the pun, hitting below the belt. But not only was it that, but it was totally baseless. As Obama spokesman Bill Burton stated,

As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives. He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology.

What I find so disturbing about this whole deal is that it brings into focus how politics undermines the true gospel of Christ. The gospel is redemptive because it provides a savior who forgives, yet demands that we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.” Love of God demands that we are obedient to Him, showing our love for God by showing it to others, friends and enemies alike. If Barak Obama and Jesse Jackson really want to be witnesses of God’s grace, there’s no better time than the present to start practicing it.

My religion obligates me to be political, to seek to do God’s will and allow the spiritual word to become concrete justice and dwell among us. Religion should use you politically to do public service. Politics should not misuse religion. When the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, that’s called good religion. – Rev. Jesse Jackson

Related Articles:

Jesse Jackson takes One for the Team – Mike Gallagher

Has Jesse Jackson Become Irrelevant? – Jack Cafferty (CNN)

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rebuts Dad – Lynn Sweet

Jesse Jackson’s Liberal Jesus – LaShawn Barber

Before Threatening Obama’s ‘Nuts,’ Jesse Jackson Dissed Faith-Based Projects

Why Jesse Jackson attacked Barack Obama – Daniel Finkelstein of The Times

Jesse Jackson, Figure of the Past – Michael Reagan

Obama, McCain and the Ninth Commandment

The perennial dilemma I run into every political season is the conflict that comes with one’s duty to participate in America’s future by voting, while at the same time having to hold my nose over the choices. It’s a blessing to live in a democracy, yet a curse to have to choose between “the lesser of two evils.” Such is the case for me in this year’s presidential contest as well. As time passes through the summer months, and the last day of the Bush/Cheney debacle nears, (Check out the Bush Countdown Clock here) I’m not feeling very comfortable with what I’m discovering about both candidates and their campaigns. In the cases of both Barak Obama and John McCain, one can very simply find too many examples of misrepresentations, outright lies, and bearing false witness against each other. That last one, bearing false witness is #9 on God’s Top Ten list. You know… the Ten Commandments. Unlike lies and misrepresentations of one’s own actions, ideas and policies, bearing false witness is an act of free will that is meant to destroy the character, status, and future of another. McCain does it. Obama does it.

Although I won’t address any of the specific charges against these two men in this post, I prefer to focus on the Ninth Commandment and it’s application in daily life, and most specifically, in the realm of politics. To start let’s look at the commandment in its context. We find the specific commandment in Exodus 20:16 where it states,

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Many people assume the scripture is merely talking about lying. While there are many caveats against telling lies, this one has to do specifically with lies against another person. Contextually it fits well with the general thrust of all the other commandments and is congruous to the command that Christ gave when he summed up the ten commandments into two basic motivations. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:30-31) Although it is obvious that the ninth commandment applies specifically to our love of neighbor, it is thoroughly accordant to the love of god as well. As the Apostle John noted, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) Simply stated, our love of our neighbor is the tangible measuring stick to mark our love of God. It would seem by this standard that it would be hard to certify that Barak and John, both professing Christians, are passing the test of the kind of change (aka repentance) that is the required evidence of true salvation. It seems that political expediency has won the day over honest profession of faith. It’s pretty upsetting. If anything, Obama and McCain are bearing a true witness to their lack of credible faithfulness to the Word of God. One writer concerned with this contridiction noted it this way:

    …most of us are disenchanted with governing officials. Why? Because so many of them promise one thing on the campaign trail and then, once they’re in office, fail to fulfill their word. Not only do they make promises that, in all likelihood, they have no intention of carrying out, they spend a lot of their time and money bashing their opponent. Or if you will, breaking the ninth commandment of God. Just think, if the ninth commandment were in force what sort of changes we would see in the smear campaigns that pass for politics!

    If God’s law against bearing false witness were in full effect there would be no more ‘cover ups’. No group mentality where one segment of the populace, be it cultural, political, medical or even religious, felt it necessary to cover the facts in order to ‘protect their own’. Everyone would be honest and straight forward.

Good point. Nevertheless, it seems inherent in American politics that ad hominem attacks, smears, and personal bashings are the rule and not necessarily the exception. I’ve even heard professing Christians laud the use of such tactics, claiming the ends justify the means. If that were true, why do we need the commandments anyway. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Sadly, and I can’t pass this up, many Christians are actually doing the Devil’s bidding by engaging in and encouraging such behavior. In a word what they’re doing is EVIL. That’s right, evil. I use the word because I know what it means. (More about this in my next blog).

In a previous post titled, “Are You Doing the Devil’s Business” I submitted that a true test of whether God’s presence was having affect (CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN) in one’s own life was determined simply by which side of the blame game you fell on. As I’ve said before.

The work of Jesus was to be our advocate. The work of Satan is to be our accuser. Which one do you model?

In John 8:43-44 Christ says Satan is a murderer and liar. Jesus says of Himself that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). As a liar and murderer, Satan is the exact opposite of “the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ is the truth, Satan is a liar. Christ is the life, Satan is a murderer-one who takes away life. The thing about bearing false witness is that it is contrary to the truth and of the nature of Satan.

If our two major party candidates continue to claim a moral high road and specifically a relationship with Christ, then a good place to begin to show it is with how they characterize each other. They should continue to argue the facts of policy and account for their own political decisions. The same should holds true for their campaign surrogates and staff as well. That would really take some leadership. It’s the kind of straight talk and change I could believe in.

At this moment in history, or for that matter, any political contest, Americans should demand that their candidates exhibit respect for each other and a credible witness of civility. Moreover, Christian Americans, should not only demand it from their candidates, but of themselves as well. For many of them, that means that they will have to shut their favorite radio talk show hosts off and any other pundit or “prophet” who doesn’t show a commitment to the biblical axiom found in Philippians 4:8,

“whatever things are true, whatever things have honor, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.”

When you have a steady diet of Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly on the right, or Combs, Goodman, and Maher on the left, there’s no way you can be following the principles listed in the above verse. Listening to these folks on a regular basis will paralyze your faith. Like the children’s song says, “be careful little ears what you hear.” It’s simple and wise.

If there’s anything a Christian can do during this political season it’s this:

If you’ve been bearing false witness or propagating false rumors and gossip about any candidate, repent of it.

Pray for each candidate and their families. One of them will be the leader of the nation on January 20, 2009. Get in the habit now!

Write the candidates and their campaigns, urging them to abide by the highest ideals of civility, respect, and Christian brotherhood. Remind them of their role model responsibilities and their witness as professing Christians.

Send letters and cards which reflect your blessings on them. Tell them you are praying for them and asking God to protect them and bless them with His wisdom. And,

Encourage others to do the same (especially if your pastor or Christian leader isn ‘t doing it).

As I pointed out before, come January 20th of next year, either Obama or McCain will be sworn in as the next president of the United States. If you are a Christian, it is mandated that you pray for your leaders, whether you like them or not.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

If you actually believe the Bible is the Word of God then you may deduce from the scripture above that the reason we live less than peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness may just be because there isn’t much fervent and effectual prayer being offered up for our leaders (and others, as well). Instead, the contemporary church in America has chosen the path of least resistance to curse instead of bless. No wonder we’re in this mess.

For over 25 years now, many Christians have cited 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the remedy for the nation’s ills. Even though I see the value of this scripture as being axiomatic to healing the nation, I also believe that too many Christians have failed to see that the health of the nation is dependent on the holiness of God’s people, “those called by His name,” not those outside the faith. It’s pretty clear.

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Well, there it is in a nutshell. Our nation’s well-being, safety, and security are totally dependent, not on political figures or radio talk-show hosts, but upon the faithful being faithful. We should encourage each other to follow the model laid out in the scripture’s above. As on of my favorite verses directs,

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Let’s follow these principle’s and encourage our politicians to do the same. If we can’t stomach their policies, at least we can choose to love our enemies.

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Are you doing the Devil’s business?

When I was in the US Navy Submarine Force it was common in our parlance to boast that, “there is only two kinds of ships… submarines and targets!” For us bubbleheads, there was and is, no arguing the point. But of course, there were always some skimmer pukes (that’s what our surface navy brethren are affectionately called) who would provided a dissenting view. I wish I was able to keep some of the pictures of the ships I saw through our periscope. They looked great in the cross hairs!

Like most observable subjects, there are more than one facet to behold and many of our cultural, scientific, political, religious, and historical expressions and artistic styles resonate with the obvious contrast between these differences. We often attempt, and some times succeed (in some non-scientific degree) to pidgeon-hole most things observed. It seems from my unscientific survey that we default to a standard that insists that there are, much like my submarine tenet, there are only two kinds of …whatever the subject des jour. I know there are many who see more than just two choices or facets to be observed and considered, but for my “theme des jour” I’m going to reiterate a little proverb I’ve been broadcasting for a number of decades now, and I always thought it worked in every condition or culture. It simply goes like this:

The work of Jesus was to be our advocate. The work of Satan is to be our accuser. Which one do you model?

This adage has its basis in three scriptural passages.

1. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for ] the sins of the whole world. (I John 1:1-2)

2. War broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought the Dragon. The Dragon and his Angels fought back, but were no match for Michael. They were cleared out of Heaven, not a sign of them left. The great Dragon—ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, the one who led the whole earth astray—thrown out, and all his Angels thrown out with him, thrown down to earth. Then I heard a strong voice out of Heaven saying, “Salvation and power are established! Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah! The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out, who accused them day and night before God. (Rev. 12:7-12)

3. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matt. 7:12)

In sum these verses provide a foundation for developing a good self-image, ethics, and character. It also provides the basis for conflict resolution, reconciliation, and redemption. It’s simple. Try it out.

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