The Most Important Issue Of The Election

I’ve heard Christians say things like, “Abortion is important, but there are other issues just as important.  I don’t believe we should vote for or against someone simply based on their stand on this issue.”

I would agree that there are many serious and important issues to consider such as the economic crisis,  health care, education, terrorism, the war in the Middle East, and tax reform.

So why is abortion more critical than other issues?  The Bible, the very Word of God, our only infallible guide and ultimate authority for our lives, tells us God created human beings in his image and likeness.  Abortion destroys the image and likeness of God in a widespread and massive way.  Over a million times a year in this nation, the image and likeness of God is barbarically torn apart and tossed in the trash.  How can God bless the economic, educational or other policies of a person, party or nation that supports and promotes this horrific practice?

As critical as other issues may be, abortion snuffs out over 1 million innocent lives every year.  Is there any other issue in which 1 million children a year are slaughtered?

I checked statistics from America’s wars and I was shocked at what I found.

The total number of deaths in all of America’s Wars from the American Revolution to the present (Including the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the current one) is 657,894.

Astounding.  The total number of battle deaths in ALL of America’s wars put together does not even equal the number of deaths in ONE YEAR in this nation through abortion.

Over 48 MILLION babies have been slaughtered in the United States since 1973.  Is there any other issue that has killed 48 million Americans in the last 35 years?

The population of New York City is a little over 8 million people.  If every 8 years, a city the size of New York City were decimated, do you think the candidates would make that a priority?  Since 1973, New York City would have been wiped out 6 times.

We should examine both candidates’ and both parties’ statements and stands on abortion.  Remember, Presidents can appoint Supreme Court Justices who will either vote for or against the cause of life, and sign or veto legislation that either protects the unborn or promotes abortion.

Please watch this video on YouTube.  It is graphic and disturbing, but every Christian adult should see this.  It brings home the reality of what is at stake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLaai6o0O0A

Last Sunday I preached a message entitled “The Sacredness of Human Life: What Does God Have to Say About It?”  You can listen to it or download it at: http://www.sgcindianapa.org/resources/audio.php

Also, listen to or read John Piper’s messages on abortion at desiringgod.org.

And please pray that God will give us godly leaders who will stand and work for the cause of the unborn.

photo by Paul Goyette

Your Life In 500 Words…Or Less

If someone was to summarize your life in five-hundred words or less, what would they write? If the entire landscape of your life – your accomplishments, your spiritual highs and lows, your character traits – was boiled down to one page, what would be included? One thing is certain: every word would count.

The same is true of so many of the characters found in scripture. An entire life is stripped down to a few pages, or paragraphs, or sentences. Centuries occur between commas, and kingdoms rise and fall between semi-colons. With so much life crammed into so little space, every word, every phrase, every character trait highlighted is pulsing with importance.

Take Ehud for example. In Judges 3:15 we read:

Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man.

Don’t you find it odd that the author of Judges goes out of his way to point out that Ehud was left-handed? Of all the things that could have been said about Ehud, the author chooses to mention that he was a south paw. Why?

Or what about in Judges 15:15 when we read of Samson:

And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men.

We see Samson on a rampage, slaughtering thousands with a fresh jawbone. A bit odd, yes. But the real question is, why the specific mention of the jawbone? Is it just another interesting fact? I don’t think so. Remember, this is a man’s life condensed into a few juicy paragraphs. Every word counts.

Two simple things to learn. First, let’s pay close attention to the little details of scripture, because they matter…a lot. Second, let’s all go out and buy an ESV Study Bible so we can figure out why Ehud was left-handed and why Samson preferred to fight with bones.

Can Our Sins Mess Up God’s Plans?

Sin can really mess up our lives, not to mention send us to hell.

Our sins play havoc with us, and sometimes we wind up eating the fruit of our disobedience for years.  Sometimes it can seem like we’ve derailed God’s design for our lives and now he’s had to opt for plan B. But that is simply not true.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)

ALL things work together for good, including our sins.

God is in no way responsible when we blow it, for God is not the author of sin.  But somehow even our worst sins and mistakes fall under the umbrella of his supreme plan for our lives.

God is so awesome he can take our wickedness and use it to accomplish his purposes.  When Jacob duped his father and swindled his big brother Esau, God used it to fulfill his prophecy that the older would serve the younger.  When Joseph unwisely boasted of his dreams to his brothers, God used his foolishness to provoke his brothers to sell him to slave traders who dragged him to Egypt where God exalted him to spare thousands from starving, including his scheming brothers.

When Jonah fled in the opposite direction from where God commanded him, God used Jonah’s rebellion to reveal himself to pagan sailors on the ship he’d taken:

Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”  And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:8-10)

David began his relationship with Bathsheba with adultery, deception and murder.  Yet God gave them Solomon, author of Proverbs and one of Israel’s greatest kings.  Not even the worst sins can stymie God’s purpose.

Regret can easily slide into self-pity.  And excessive regret is an insult to God, because we are saying what Christ did on the cross was somehow not enough to remove all our guilt.  Excessive regret is also an insult to God’s sovereignty, because we are saying that our sins are too hard for God to turn to good.

Now DO NOT go out and sin, thinking God will use it for good.  For sin has painful consequences.  But if you believe your sins have ruined God’s plans for you, know that the cross of Christ and the power of God is infinitely greater than your offenses.  God hasn’t opted for plan B.

photo by spiicytuna

5 Surefire Ways to Ruin Your Devotions

Tired of having vibrant, rich, God-centered devotional times? Looking for something a little more dry and stagnant? This five step plan is sure to suck the life of out your devotional times in no time.

STEP 1: Do Your Duty Soldier

If you want to ruin your communion with God, it’s absolutely essential that you forget the gospel. Scripture and prayer must not be a means of knowing the all-satisfying God, but a duty, a way to get in good with God. Be sure that your hope isn’t in Christ, but in the fact that you’ve read your Bible for forty-three consecutive days. Duty is the key word here.

STEP 2: Wallow in Condemnation

When you’re feeling condemned for not spending time with God, make sure you stay there. Forget about the person who diligently intercedes for you. Forget about the Father who is eager to commune with you. Forget about blood spilled for you. These things will draw you back to God. Walloooooowww.

STEP 3: Forget Faith

Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” This verse is sure to breathe life into your communion with God. Those folks who really believe that God is eager to reward them tend to push hard after God. The solution is simple. Lack of faith.

STEP 4: Snooze Baby, Snooze

The snooze button is perhaps the greatest devotion-killer in the past fifty years. Fifteen extra minutes of sleep turns into an hour. You scramble out of bed, hose off, wolf down breakfast, and make the commute to work. God rewards discipline and diligence, so make sure you smack that snooze button as if it’s a blood-sucking mosquito. Do not, I repeat, do not, pursue discipline. You might find yourself experiencing joy.

STEP 5: Ride Solo

Whatever you do, don’t bring others into your devotional life. Avoid accountability at all costs. You can believe anything you want when no one is holding you accountable.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to a joyless, lifeless existence. For more info call 1-800-I-WANT-TO-BE-SAD.

Rivet Your Eyes on Christ

Recently a banker told me that our current financial crisis is the worst he’s seen in his lifetime.

A man in our church recently watched his investments plummet $20,000.  Another mentioned that retirement had been on his radar screen, but now it seems to have sunk into the horizon.

When billionaire Warren Buffet feels his blood pressure rising or his nerves on edge, he calms himself by looking at snapshots of his family or playing a game of bridge with his friends. (The Intelligent Investor, Oct 18, 2008)

Husband: Honey, we’ve lost everything.  My retirement’s gone, and our investments are down the toilet.

Wife: Here, dear, why don’t you look at some photos of your grandchildren?

Husband: Ahh, my grandchildren….Arghhhh! They’re doomed!  I got nothin’ for them!  They’ll be forced to work in sweat shops and stand in bread lines!

Whether it be our finances, a wayward teen, health challenges, or anything else that tempts us to fear, God’s Word has a much better solution than playing bridge or looking at photos:

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (IS 26.3-4)

To keep the mind stayed on God is to anchor our thoughts on God’s character and promises, to continually look to him, pray to him, and hope in him.  One way to set our minds on God is to worship him for his attributes.  For example, “Lord, I praise you, that you are all powerful – you can meet my needs.  You are unchanging in your faithfulness, mercy and steadfast love.  And even in this trial, you have compassion on me as a father on his children.”

We must keep our eyes on Christ, not our circumstances:

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” (MT 14.28-30)

As long as Peter kept his eyes fastened on Jesus, he was able to walk on water.  But when he shifted his eyes from Jesus to the wind, he began to sink.

If we’re always checking the market, the polls, or the paper more than our bibles, we’ll sink.  You’ll never hear a newscaster say, “The Dow Jones dipped 700 points today, but don’t worry, God’s in control!” Or, “We’re on the verge of a world-wide depression, but don’t fear, God feeds the sparrows; surely he’ll care for us.”

So rivet your eyes on Christ and He will guard your heart with his peace that surpasses understanding.

photo by paulperton

The Tsunami Of Grace

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (RO 5.12)

When Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and infected human nature, with devastating results.  It would seem like sin is the most powerful force in the world.  It’s the cause of all human misery: death, AIDS, cancer, World Wars, slavery, child pornography, the Holocaust, mental disorders, divorce, child abuse, rape, murder, drug addiction, alcoholism, and all injustice in the world.

In addition, sin severs us from God, and brings down upon our heads the judgment and the retribution of God against our transgressions.  Is there anything more powerful than sin?

Yes. The abounding, expanding, empowering grace of God in Jesus Christ.

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (RO 5.17).

Sin kills us, brings us into condemnation, and under its tyrannical reign.  But God’s grace in Christ comes in like a tsunami and restores us to life, enwraps us in Christ’s own righteousness, then lifts us up to reign with Christ in life and eternity.

Grace powerfully raises us from death to life, from the depths of sin to our original state of innocence before God.  But it lifts us higher still.  It clothes us with the very righteousness of Christ, his record of 33 years of flawless obedience.  Then the tsunami of abundant grace floods us with power to reign in life through Christ.

Jesus death “did more than simply provide a way for fallen mankind to be restored to the state of Adam’s original innocence. Jesus Christ not only reversed the curse of death by forgiving and cleansing from sin but provided the way for redeemed man to share in the full righteousness and glory of God.” –John MacArthur

Picture sin as a spider.  It sinks its fangs into us and poisons us and then we die.  And then it wraps us up in its web.  We’re dead, enslaved, and hopeless.  But almighty grace tears us free from the web, injects life back into us, then changes us into beautiful butterflies, and then into birds and then into angels.  Grace does so much more than merely restore us to our original condition.

What hope believers have!  God’s abounding, expanding, tsunami of grace rescues and raises and gives us the gift of righteousness and empowers us to reign with Jesus forever.  No matter what sins you’re battling, take hope – grace is far, far greater.

photo by watch4u

How Do You Plan?

Due to an insanely busy week which involved me reading large chunks of Systematic Theology, going to DC, and joining a secret club of ninjas, I no longer have any brains left for blogging. So today I want to for your help.

Here’s what I want to know. Recently I’ve been trying to grow in planning. I want to learn to diligently plan my days and weeks so that I can more effectively serve my family. In essence, I want to learn to organize my life more efficiently. My question for you is: how do you organize?

What tools and strategies do you use to organize your weeks, and your finances, and your fellowship, and your spiritual disciplines? How do you attack the week before it attacks you? Please help me out here. Point me to some good strategies, tools, articles, etc.

Mundane is Glorious

But we urge you, brothers, to [love one another] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thess 4.10-12

You probably won’t hear this verse read at many college graduation ceremonies. Keynote speakers usually encourage graduates to aspire to greatness, not to live quietly and mind their own affairs.

When I first believed in Christ, I dreamed of becoming a Christian performer, singing before thousands at Jesus festivals. I didn’t yearn to trudge off to work every day in the same office for the next 25 years, get married, have kids, go to Little League games, serve in the church, then die. That seemed so ordinary, pedestrian, and bland.

But there’s this little thing called making a living. So I became an elementary art teacher, bouncing among five different buildings, teaching buck-toothed kids how to cut out hearts, carve soap animals and make construction paper Christmas trees.

I got married, had kids, went to Little League games for 19 years, and served in our church, where I’ve worked in 2 offices since 1980.

Most Christians lives aren’t remarkable. Most of us aren’t speaking at conferences, writing books or rocking at festivals. Most of us work at rather humdrum jobs, or labor with little thanks in our homes serving our families. We faithfully plod away, going to care groups and serving our church.

If someone made a movie about most of us it would probably be rated “B” for “boring,” or “U” for “uneventful”.  But when, by God’s grace, we “live quietly”, and mind our own affairs, and work with our hands, God is honored.

He’s no more glorified by the pastor preaching to thousands than he is by the Mom trying to get her one-year-old to eat his Gerber peas for the hundredth time.

He’s no more blessed by the man who leads thousands in worship than by the dad who runs a high lift all day, plays catch with his kids after dinner, and falls asleep reading a Bible story to his kids before bed.

Mundane is glorious in the kingdom of God. Because it takes God’s grace to live quiet lives of faithfulness, serving, and loving.  Aspire to do all you do, no matter how commonplace, for God’s glory.

photo by Myrrien