THE CHURCH AND POLITICS: Where do we fit in?! How Involved should ministries of the Gospel be?!

By on September 26, 2017

During this last election cycle, you’ve probably paid more attention to politics than you ever have before. For the first time, many Christians are finding themselves taking an active interest in what’s going on in our nation, politically. We read the papers with more interest; pay attention to the news with renewed zeal and pass on political emails to our entire list of contacts as soon as we can. We get into FaceBook arguments with friends and fellow Christians, and unfriend them if they don’t agree with us. A lot of Christians are more preoccupied with this world’s systems than they are in the Kingdom of God.

We all know we need to be salt and light in this world. We know that Christians should take advantage of our right to vote. But, on the other hand, if you’re like me, you might feel just a LITTLE uneasy with this new preoccupation with worldly politics that is gripping the churches.
You might not have realized it, but at the same time the Church is taking a new interest in politics, politicians are now taking a renewed interest in the church. The church and its leaders seem flattered and excited about it!

Then, there’s the whole issue of social issues and problems. Most of them involve PEOPLE. People whom Jesus gave His life for. What are we supposed to do? What has God called His people to do? Do we try to legislate people to the backside of the desert somewhere? (Where they’ll be lost) Or, do we reach them with the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we seek God for revival? Or, do we condemn entire groups of people? Do we seek the face of God for them?

That’s where the conflict comes in. The god of this world doesn’t want people to get saved. So, he gets God’s people preoccupied with straining at the gnats of legislation, voter organization, passing on emails filled with fake news, internet hoaxes and picketing and politicking, which are all ways to hinder us so that we won’t have time to seek God for these people’s souls!

The enemy of our souls (and theirs!) also knows that if we PRAY for these people and talk to them about their souls, they just might believe the Gospel and be saved. But, if we spend our time organizing political assaults against them, we can easily find ourselves mired in the politics of hate – while at the same time driving them farther and farther away from Jesus, who died to save them!

We are in midst of an incredible spiritual battle. The enemy doesn’t want us to love the lost, but instead, he wants us to hate them. He doesn’t want us to feel any responsibility for their salvation…he wants us to simply become preoccupied with our own way of life, so we can hate anyone who may threaten our comfortable lifestyles. That way, we’ll never minister to them.

One day, I was rebuked by a brother when I questioned his preoccupation with the politics of this world. He was so interested in shutting down other people. He said, (in the language of the spin master of the universe), “What’s the matter, Steve, are you afraid of appearing ‘politically incorrect?’

If there’s ONE thing I don’t care about is my own political correctness or lack of it. But it’s killing me, seeing my brothers and sisters being turned into political puppets by the god of this world.

When Jesus was asked about His disciples and their attitude towards the politics of this world, He answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, THEN would my servants fight…” Something stirs in my spirit every time I read these words. And, when I read my newsfeeds and watch the news, there is a part of me that just wants to “do something” about the world we live in. So, I pray. I pray for my leaders and those in authority.

I talk to men and women about their relationship with Jesus. Quite a few of them give their hearts and lives to Him. What I do doesn’t seem fast enough. Sure, I get impatient but I just wish I could do more and do it faster.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, satan had tried unsuccessfully to bring about Christ’s downfall by offering Him all the kingdoms of this world. Jesus spurned Satan’s offer flat out. Satan never again was foolish enough to try to get Jesus to use this world’s systems and methods to accomplish the Father’s work.

But, satan knows enough about the rest of the human race to know that WE have a built-in weakness for becoming more preoccupied with the kingdoms of this world than we are with the Kingdom of God. A weakness to want to wield power and influence in the halls of the politicians, even at the expense of personal prayer and our devotional lives before the throne of God.

Jesus didn’t spend even five minutes drafting legislation or organizing a protest. He simply spent Himself in showing them the circumstances of being lost and offering them eternal salvation. And, He DIED for them. He didn’t want their corrupt system at all…not even in a cleaned up, polished and polite form. He just wanted people to come to the Father and be saved.

Jesus saw that even at its best, this world and its systems are corrupt, condemned and decaying. And, somehow, each generation wants to turn from spiritual reform to legislative form. Jumping right in with this world’s brokers of power and influence, God’s spokesmen and women have clamored for positions of worldly recognition.

God tells His people to pray for their leaders and those in authority. We so readily criticize our leaders and those in authority. We forget that promotion cometh from the Lord and that the government is upon His shoulders. Elected officials do not direct the destiny of a nation. They never have. God Almighty in Heaven directs the affairs of the earth – He is sovereign.

Instead of using the God-given methods of prayer, intercession and evangelism, we’ve been suckered into trying to do God’s spiritual work by avoiding the spiritual and turning to carnal means. We’ve voted, picketed, chanted, sued and threatened. And still, revival hasn’t ONCE in history been brought about by such things. We’re guilty of going after Goliath with pea shooters. And we wonder why the God of Heaven hasn’t responded to our pressure groups and legislation.

And, like in every previous generation, the church is once again sidetracked and distracted from its primary job: prayer, evangelism, discipleship and worship. We focus on what the enemy is doing and minimize what God has done. We concentrate on the works of darkness and we are blinded to the Light. We try to control instead convert people to the Lord.

The world system that Jesus refused involvement in is now being hotly pursued by even His ministers and leaders, as though worldly power is a prize to be valued and admired. Even Pastors are charmed by every offer of worldly power, glory and influence. What Jesus coldly rejected without more than a sentence, multitudes of His ministers lust to get a chance to have an audience in.

We’d like to pretend that the founding Fathers of our country and the framers of the Constitution, were born again Bible loving Christians. We quote everyone from George Washington to Ben Franklin to Thomas Jefferson. We’ll exalt them as model Christians, the men and women from other generations whom we KNOW from history were not godly. It doesn’t seem to trouble us one bit to identify slave holders, adulterers and members of secret societies. We’ll call them born again servants of Jesus Christ. And then we challenge the world to follow our lead as we follow in the footsteps of these unregenerate politicians.

Who doesn’t remember from high school history class that Ben Franklin died of syphilis; or that Thomas Jefferson was a slave holder who fathered six illegitimate children by his black mistress – whom he possibly loved? Do we forget that Jefferson said that a Black American was only 3/5 of a person? Five Black votes under his system would equal three votes of white people. Do we think that the rest of the public forgets that the public school system was never intended for Black Americans? Do we know that it was a punishable crime to teach a Black American to read or write?
You might say, “But didn’t these men say some neat things about the Bible and God? Doesn’t that ‘prove’ they were born again Believers?” And I have an answer, “Yes they, or their speech writers DID say some things that sounded good…to the people whose VOTES they were after!” (Just like the current crop of politicians who are playing to an audience!)

Don’t many of us believe that it’s incompatible for a born again Believer to hold memberships in secret societies like the Masons? Yet a majority of the founding fathers were high ranking members of their Masonic temples. And we know it!! What could be wrong with us, that we openly hold up before the world’s people and say, “We want to have America return to the values that these men espoused?”

Yet, we unashamedly do this very thing. We don’t seem to let the whole truth trouble us, as long as there’s a chance that people will reward us with titles and recognition. The problem with dishonesty is that it’s contagious. It’s the reason we might present ourselves as being a bigger group than we really are. We’ll speak of our large constituency. Even though we KNOW we’re being less than honest.

We’re willing to fight a war to accomplish that which Jesus Christ Himself never felt was a pursuit worthy of His time or interest. It isn’t that what we’re fighting for doesn’t seem noble. At first glance, it DOES seem noble. And right. Plus, it IS challenging and offers more ego-gratification than does winning genuine victories by prayer and intercession. The sad thing is that we don’t see the hollowness of thinking that the world system can be made uncorrupted by legislative changes and restrictions on business.

We act as though Jesus needed someone in a high position to represent Him to the systems of the World – someone to whisper a reforming word into the ears of Pontius Pilate on Jesus’ behalf. We apparently doubt His ability to transform society by transforming individual lives; se we feel compelled to devote as much time as possible to learn the ins and outs of this world’s system, so we can sanctify what our Master expressed total disdain for.

The truth about our relationship to this world is this: we love it. So, we try to educate it, inject it with middle-class values and harness it for our own sense of power. We’re desperate for a sense of control and security in this world.

We want so badly to “Christianize” and make presentable the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If we could just force hogs to live like sheep then we wouldn’t feel so much like they’re not sheep at all. We wouldn’t feel like our mandate from the Lord to go into all the world and preach the Gospel was being neglected. (And, we wouldn’t sense the need to represent ourselves as something other than what we really are: miserable, wretched, poor and blind.)

We pray for revival, and wonder why God doesn’t just pour it out on us. We’re forgetting that attempting to spiritualize something that is inherently opposed to spiritually, is an attempt that is doomed to fail. It’s repeatedly been attempted and has just as repeatedly failed demonstrably throughout the history of the church. Societal reform has never been a substitute for genuine Heaven-sent revival. God is still a jealous God. And it’s quite possible that He’s becoming more and more jealous as we grow more and more in touch with Washington’s way of doing things and more and more OUT of touch with Heaven’s ways.

WEATHERING STORMS IN LIFE – Even in Hurricane season!

By on September 19, 2017

We are being reminded over and over again about the power of hurricanes and storms to destroy, pummel and even take people’s lives. In some areas, there is less damage than others, not because the storms are weaker, but because of how the buildings and houses have been built.

Jesus made a comparison about two ways a person may live his or her life. He said in Matthew 7:24 – 27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Not everyone who hears the words and teachings of Jesus puts them into practice. He talked about the two ways of basing our lives. We can either base our lives on our own ideas, experiences and what other people are doing, or we can base our lives on the principles that He teaches us. In the principles and teachings of Jesus we find the answer to every type of life-problem and situation that we may experience. One thing that He made clear is this: we all go through tests, trials and storms in life – there are no exceptions.

You might look at the people around you and think they have an easy life, that it’s all cupcakes and rainbows for them. But Jesus makes it clear: everyone has problems and fears and storms. The person that sits next to you with a smiling face might actually be dying inside. The happy-go-lucky neighbor or co-worker might be considering suicide or may be totally depressed. Jesus said that in this world we all have tribulations. That’s the way it is in this world and in life. John 16.33 says, – “…in the world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

To illustrate this principle, Jesus described two house builders. One of them didn’t bother with establishing a good foundation. The other spent extra time and expense to be sure that his house would be sturdy, strong and withstand any storms that may come along. He realized that even though he currently was having good weather, in the future there would be storms, winds and pressures that would absolutely shake his house to the foundation. He didn’t want to find out too late that what he had built just wasn’t enough to get him through the storms. You’ll always have problems because you’re on planet earth. Notice that both the home builders had winds, rains, downpours and gale forces coming against them. One house stood and one fell. Some who are reading this post will not make it when storms come. The one whose house successfully withstood the storm had built on the rocky layer that was a bit deeper beneath the surface. That is where he began his building. John 1.1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word…” – The wise builder made sure that he based EVERYTHING on the WORD – he built his life based on the Word of God – that’s what Jesus said. He not only KNEW the word, but he ACTED on it.

Many people know God’s words, but they don’t act on them. The Bible says “faith without works is dead.”

That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 7.24 that it’s not just about hearing the word, but DOING them. There is more to being a Christian than simply accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. There is ACTING on the Word of God, doing actions of faith. It is more than JUST accepting Christ – it is actually DOING things.

In 1 Corinthians :3, God says, “for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” He isn’t talking about just doing “bad things.” He isn’t talking about cigarettes, pornography, cussing or the lottery. He was talking about Christians who are living by their senses – what you hear and feel and experience – as opposed to walking in the Spirit. A person may be saved, but on the other hand isn’t truly a DOER of the Word.

A lot of people are like those people in Corinthians. They live their lives based on how they feel, what they feel like doing, what they felt pressured to do and on their impulses. They don’t live their day to day lives based on the principles of the Word of God. They depend on their moods and experiences which are guaranteed to fluctuate daily. Their ideas, words and actions are shaped by what goes on around them, by what they hear on the news, read online or hear on the radio. That’s what the Bible calls “walking carnally.”

In Proverbs 4:23, God tells us to guard our hearts diligently. “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” God tells us to guard our hearts, to be careful what we let in; be careful what we allow ourselves to think on and speak on. Whatever we allow to flow in will influence us. That is what the word “influence” means:to “flow in.” Jesus said that our mouth speaks out of the overflow of our hearts. Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

If you let circumstances rule your heart, and to control the words of your mouth, and that will be what sets the course of your life.

At our house, when it storms, my wife Linda makes sure the house windows are closed, and I make sure the car windows are closed and the shed and garage doors are shut. We don’t want those storms on the outside to come inside!

You need to know that NO ONE can make you DO or SAY anything. YOU choose what you do. You choose what you say. You choose what you think on and meditate on. You choose what you let in. You choose how you react. So, you need to be careful to guard your heart – what you let in determines what comes out and what happens in your life. What you believe is true affects what you do. What you allow come inside controls what comes out and your life and what you do.

Jesus says the wise person will act on His Word. Allow the Word of God to shape your life! Too many people let their feelings and responses keep them from the word. You can’t respond to EVERYTHING. Business people can put selves out of business by responding to what everyone else is saying and doing. Do what YOU can do and let others respond the way they want. No matter how negative the people around you are, you just keep doing the right thing because you know that you will be getting the right results. Build on the rock of God’s word and don’t allow those who aren’t living for God direct your path. Too many Christians live their lives only responding. When you leave doors and windows open and let the storm in, you’ll be cleaning up messes while others are dry, snug and cozy! When your house is built on the ROCK, it will go through those storms and remain undamaged.

The Apostle Paul was referring to this principle in 1 Corinthians 3.10.11 when he said, – “According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no one lay than the One that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. You are temple of Holy Spirit and will stand. There is no problem that the Holy Spirit doesn’t have the answer to and the strength for. There is no storm you can’t survive because Jesus is a ROCK. The disciples faced the storm, but the wind and waves obeyed Jesus! Get that: The winds and the waves obeyed the Word! Jesus can calm your storm.

When you read the Word of God, and listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you through it – and obey it, or ACT on it, your faith grows. Faith that can calm your storm, and you will stand!“By faith you stand!” What you acknowledge as true literally is the foundation of your life, whether it is the rock of the Word of God or the shifting sands of your emotions, feelings and carnal knowledge received by the five senses.

As a Christian, you acknowledge the Word of God is true – but what do you ACT on? See, that second builder listened and believed, like a lot of Christians do, but it didn’t shape what he did. Many believe – but they ACT on depression, politics, news, gossip, religious traditions, mood swings, bodily desires and anything else that is carnal. God lets us know that what you ACT on is what you REALLY believe is true.

You might sing that old chorus “Jehovah Jireh” but then say “I can’t pay my tithes or help anyone else.” Many Christians acknowledge their lacks instead of acknowledging what God has provided. And, when storms come, they fall. What do you believe about the power of JESUS IN YOU? He can overcome your temper, your bad habits, drugs, mood swings, addictions, habits and problems! What you believe about Jesus in you shapes your life. Jesus STRENGTHENS you. You might say, “I only talk like that when I’m mad!” Or, “I only give in when I’m lonely.” But where is Jesus when you’re mad? Where is He when you’re lonely?

Many people are like the umbrella that only leaks when it rains! If you believe wrong, you’ll receive wrong. If you believe you’re no good and have no potential, that’s the way it will be for you. Who told you that you’ve reached your maximum? Who told you that you can’t do any better? It wasn’t God! If you think you can’t do better, those storms will beat you down.

In Jesus’ short story, one person believed the Word and acted on it. The other listened and did what he wanted. The Word didn’t change him; he didn’t let it renew his mind. When you give your life to the Lord and get your mind renewed, you’ll think better, speak better, live better and most of all you’ll start receiving better!

The man who built his house on the sand didn’t change how he did things. He stayed carnal. His foundation didn’t hold and that caused his house fall. If you don’t do what Jesus says, you’re leaving yourself open to fail when storms in life come. Satan wants you to fail in every area of life. God has given us promises that many people will never get a hold of. When you start feeding your spirit the pure unmixed Word of God, you’ll learn that you’re not just barely holding on; you’re not going to go under and your life isn’t controlled by your circumstances. You stop accepting your present circumstances because you are too busy accepting Jesus!

Having a renewed mind will determine what comes to you and how you’ll deal with it. Jesus is your Lord, and you are more than a conqueror. You’re hid in Christ, the door is closed, you’re warm, and the storm doesn’t get to you. This is a word to someone – satan has been lying to you, and telling you that you’re going to fail. He’s trying to get you to evacuate the spiritual house that you have been building because it’ll fall. What you have built in the Lord is safe, it is secure and it will not fall! Keep your feet firmly planted on the Word of God and you will be safe and secure. The devil is a liar and he wants to steal your riches, he wants to take the spiritual treasures that are in your house. God has blessed you and the devil wants to rob you of your blessings. You have built on the ROCK and you and your possessions are safe in God! The storm doesn’t determine what happens – your foundation does.

WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DON’T HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO FACE WHAT’S SET BEFORE YOU…

By on September 12, 2017

I was reading about where Jesus was teaching one day, and there were 4,000 people gathered to hear Him. Then, Jesus called His disciples to Him, and told them that He wanted to FEED the multitude. Well, that’s normal. Jesus cares about people and wants them to be taken care of. But then, he sprung a BIG one on the disciples. He asked them how much food THEY had! He expected THEM to provide what He needed to feed the multitude!
If you’re like me, you can relate to how the disciples must have felt. It seems like Jesus expects us to do the impossible…and with so little to work with at times!

The disciples didn’t have very much to offer. They had exactly SEVEN loaves of bread. For 4,000 people. In fact, they KNEW they didn’t have what it takes to feed the multitude.

We feel like that sometimes; like we don’t have what it takes compared to the demands and expectations that are put on us. It gets to be too much. But they gave their 7 loaves to Jesus anyway.

And, when their little bit was put into Jesus’ hands, I noticed that Jesus was THANKFUL for that little bit. He blessed it and then it WAS enough to feed the multitudes…

When you GIVE what you have to Jesus…when you commit it to Him, He’s able to MULTIPLY it, and make it so that it MORE than meets the need.

Now, if the disciples had held onto their bread, there wouldn’t have been enough for the 12 of them. They had to let go of it, to take a chance with it. You have to USE what you have, and your need will get met, as well as the needs of those around you.

By the way, Jesus didn’t take their loaves and turn them into a bunch of New Testaments and pass them out to the hungry multitudes. Their need was food, and He gave them food. He meets you where your need is, not somewhere else. Later in the same chapter, Jesus and the disciples are making a boat trip. And the disciples forgot to bring bread. Then, Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

THEY thought He said it because they forgot to bring bread with them for their journey. (There was only 1 loaf on board.)

Jesus had made a statement, just a simple statement and the disciples immediately felt like He was criticizing them. They put themselves under condemnation. Just like you and I do.

So, Jesus asked them some questions. He asked them WHY they thought He was criticizing them. THEN HE ASKED THEM SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR VISION AND THEIR HEARING.

Here’s what He was saying, “Your LACK isn’t your problem. Your problem is with your SEEING and HEARING. That’s the problem – what you’re looking at and what you’re listening to. The problem WASN’T that they only had one loaf of bread. If 7 loaves were enough to feed 4,000, than 1 loaf was certainly enough for 12 disciples and 1 Master!

The problem isn’t with your LACK, it’s with your SEEING. With that you’re looking for…You’re looking for how short you’re falling, how much you’re missing it by, and all the bad things that are happening to you and the rest of the bad things that you see are heading your way.

Reminding them of when He fed the 4,000 with the 7 loaves, Jesus asked them, “Did we run short, or did we have enough and THEN some? YOU tell ME. How is it that you don’t understand? WHEN GOD IS IN SOMETHING, IT GETS BIGGER AND IT BECOMES WHAT YOU NEED IT TO BE. MY FATHER IS A GOD OF ABUNDANCE.

Don’t you know the law of the Spirit? Didn’t you learn that our God gives more than enough? More than the minimum? That MY God supplies your need according to His RICHES, not according to your need? That His supply ISN’T based on how small your need is and how LITTLE: He can get by with giving you, it’s based on HIS greatness and HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus!

Jesus is saying here, in light of the feeding of the 4000 with 7 loaves of bread, “Don’t you understand that your CIRCUMSTANCES aren’t what limits you? Didn’t you SEE that what happens in the natural is a RESULT of what’s happening in the spiritual? Didn’t it SPEAK to you at all when you heard me give thanks for the little that we had, and then I fed the 4,000? And, didn’t you understand why the Pharisees are so fruitless once you heard the way they talk?”

When Jesus took the 7 loaves, He wasn’t seeing that He didn’t have enough: He saw the abundance that there is in the spirit realm. He could see that even the little they had is ENOUGH, when it’s mixed with faith.

A lot of your problems can be coming from the way you see things – your life, your circumstances, the other people in your life, and even how you see God.

What you see is determined by what you are looking for and where you stand. When Adam and Eve were standing in the presence of the serpent, they were looking for what God had withheld from them and they saw that they were naked. They were in the middle of paradise and all they could see was what they didn’t have. The more you see what you don’t have, the less you’re going to have. Next thing you know Adam and Eve had nothing.

On the other hand, God told Abraham that if he could see it, he could have it. What you are able to receive is relative to your vision. (Gen. 13:15) God told Abraham, “All the land that you see, you can have…” That’s why God wants to increase your vision, to enable you to begin to SEE the possibilities, and then the opportunities that are before you. If you don’t SEE it, you won’t receive it.

That’s why where there is no vision, people perish…they SEE nothing, they receive nothing and they die. You might be dying right now. You just can’t see any way out, you can’t see how things could be any better. GOD WANTS TO TOUCH YOUR EYES AND GIVE YOU VISION…SO YOU CAN START SEEING AND THEN START RECIEIVING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN SEEING.