Some Simple Truths to Strengthen You

Elections are always very important. There is much at stake. But in truth, elections are always advertised as the most important election in human history that will change the trajectory of all things for eternity.

Here are some simple truths that strengthen me; God is still sitting on His throne. He never caught off-guard. He is not surprised or perplexed. He ALWAYS has a plan. And whoever becomes president, Jesus is still King.

As I am writing this article, the election is tomorrow. Obviously, I have no idea who will win the election. The 2016 election season was ugly, and the ugliness seems to only have increased ever since. 2020 has been a year to forget, that is for sure. By “ugly”, I’m not just talking about the political process, the political parties or the presidential candidates, I am actually referring to people in general, especially people who consider themselves followers of Christ. Social media has only amplified the ugliness and unkindness.

Political parties and candidates (all of them) will distort, manipulate, cajole, emotionalize, tug and whatever other tactics to sway our votes. Personally, I normally vote for/against issues and people, not necessarily by a political party. I follow Christ, not a political party. I’m an independent I suppose, but its more than just being independent to me. I try to be informed, be prayerful, be intellectually and emotionally honest, and then to vote my convictions. For me, Scripture is the basis of my convictions, as well as the basis of how I engage the political process.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, let me encourage us to respect our friend’s points of view, as they seek to live out and vote their convictions and conscience. I hate it when people make comments like, “How can you as a Christian vote for …” “If you were a true Christian, you would vote for …” There is no reason to demonize people who disagree with you. No political party or candidate has the corner on truth, good decisions, morality, or spirituality. There are scandals, poor decision-making, and fakes on all sides, and all political parties.

You can actually be friends and maintain a relationship with someone who disagrees with you. For those of us who are Christians, we need to agree the most significant aspects of our relationship are not our politics, our political views or our political affiliations but that we are connected together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Politics has its role, but Christ living in and through us should have the most significant role.

Our primary mission is to love God & love people, so do not allow your love for politics, ideology, philosophy or even theology to ever supersede your love for God and your neighbor, including neighbors who don’t share your politics. Biblically speaking, we are to be followers of Christ before we are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or any other political party.

Regardless of the outcome of the election process, it is likely going to continue being mean, dark and ugly for a while. Is this level of divisiveness, meanness, personal attacks, and violence our “new normal”? I sure hope not, but it just magnifies the fact that evil is rampant. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12).

Amidst all the chaos, let me remind us again to not forget God is still God, He is still on His throne, and Jesus is still the King of kings. For the person who does not believe in Christ that won’t make sense, and doesn’t seem to matter, but for the person who claims to have believed in their heart that Jesus is Lord, it should make complete sense, and it should be comforting too.

In a world of chaos and uncertainty, we know the One who holds the world in His hands. “He changes the times and seasons; he removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” (Daniel 2:21) “…for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God.” (Rom 13:1)

Just because you love Jesus does not mean your preferred candidate will win the election. People who are followers of Christ will vote for different candidates. If your preferred candidate wins or loses, at the end of the day, God is still on His throne, and as followers of Christ, we are still expected to be good reflections of Jesus.

We should grieve and be broken-hearted over all the stupid stuff people do and say. The political condition of America is direct reflection of the spiritual condition of America. All followers of Christ should be broken-hearted over the spiritual condition of our nation. We need a spiritual awakening. We need humble ourselves before God. No candidate can heal our land. The healing we need, the restoration, and reconciliation we need can only be done by the Spirit of God.

Someone is going to become President. We need to commit to lift our president in prayer. Pray for strength, conviction and courage. We need to pray for humility, patience, healing, wisdom, and God’s intervention in their lives.

My closing encouragement for all of us as we move forward; Be kind. Be humble. Be grateful. Avoid the drama and find things and people that make you smile. Place your trust in God regardless of who wins this election. And remember, God ALWAYS has a plan.

The Difference Between a Civil War Reenactment and the Local Church

Every year, thousands of people gather to re-enact scenes from the Civil War. They go all out. Every button is genuine. Every gun is polished. Every strategy is authentic. Every flag handmade. It is the kind of event where if you were to stumble out of the woods into one of these battles, you would think you had teleported back in time 150 years.

It looks real. It sounds real. It feels real. The canons are loud; the smoke is thick. The generals on horseback yell orders. The sweaty soldiers dive into ditches and wade through creeks. The flash of gunfire sparkles across the front lines. The canons, guns, and yelling create such a racket your ears ring.

It seems real. But it’s not. Nothing real is actually happening. Strategies are being enacted, but no ground is actually being won or lost. Soldiers are falling to the ground, but no one is actually dying or being hurt. It feels like a war; but it’s actually just a routine. They are play-acting. It’s all make-believe.

I wonder if the same could be said of our churches. If you were to stumble into one of our Sunday morning services, you would be impressed. Every aisle is vacuumed, every instrument tuned. Our clothes are pressed, and our smiles are wide. We preach, we sing, we shake hands. And it looks and feels exactly like church. But is anything real actually happening?

Is any spiritual ground being won or lost? Are any souls being saved? Are lives being touched and changed? If we are not careful, we can become so familiar with the routine of ministry that we find ourselves simply reenacting routines. Another service, another message, another song.

My guess is that far too many churches are merely play-acting week after week. Just going through the motions, getting through the list of duties and responsibilities. I think that is the sad reality for so many churches. Consider of the evidence found in the lack of growth or even decline, conflict issues, unhealthy structures, a lack of vision, loss of hope, little to no momentum, and lack of spiritual power.

But there is a huge difference between a Civil War re-enactment and the local church; the stakes are real, the battle is real, and our enemy is real. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Many who are reading this article are discouraged and feel hopeless. It’s okay to admit it. So to every weary pastor, every tired Sunday school teacher, and every faithful church member, I say; keep fighting the good fight of faith. Don’t give up. Not now. Not ever. “Don’t get weary in doing what is right, for you will receive the harvest at the proper time”  (Gal 6:9).

Dream with me about “the church” for a moment. What would a local church be like if its people were radically devoted to Christ….irrevocably committed to each other….and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God’s family with the gospel of Christ?