It’s been a tough election year for most of us. Many feel it’s nearly impossible to whole-heartedly support either candidate. Personally, I’ve run the gamut of thoughts during and after the primaries, including, “I may not vote at all.” And as the process has gone on, I’m not any happier about the choices we have.
The question I’ve pondered is, “What is the right thing to do?”
Lord of All
I don’t believe our lives as a believers should look like a pie chart with a “business slice,” a “civic slice,” a “family slice,” a “social slice,” and maybe a “religious slice” where we keep God. God is God of all of life and He rightfully expects to be ruler over the whole pie.
Our faith and the principles of God should inform how we do business, how we love and raise our families, how we conduct our social lives and every other area, including how we carry out our civic duties.
Jesus taught that we were to be good citizens:
… “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Lk. 20.25).
Paul added to that idea in Romans 13:
¹ Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority (NLT).
And Proverbs 29.2 tells us:
When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
So, in a nation like ours where we choose our political leaders, we should do all that we can to see that godly people are in authority.
I’ve written often about “the goal of life” Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 5.9:
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
So what would be pleasing to God?
The Sovereignty of God
While I believe as Christians we should do our part to elect godly leaders, God is not limited by anything we do. He’s not limited by who wins the election or the kind of political system under which we live.
He has cared for His people through the centuries under even the most oppressive governments. In the first century alone, believers “turned the world upside down” (Act 17.5-6) under one of the most wicked and oppressive governments in history.
We also must remember that government is not our savior. It’s not the answer to the moral and spiritual problems our nation faces. We are the light of the world (Matt. 5.16). It’s our job to make disciples and teach others about God and His Word (Matt. 28.19-20).
Our culture will never change unless hearts are first changed.
We must remember, too, that it’s God Himself who raises one up and removes another from positions of authority (Dan. 2.21). But when the nation of Israel demanded a king like the other nations, He gave them one (1 Sam. 8.5). So we shouldn’t take our responsibility lightly, beginning with prayer.
My Voting Decision
So how did I decide?
I’ve always based my voting decisions on moral, biblical issues, so with all due respect to her supporters, I knew I could never vote for Hillary Clinton because of her stand on abortion and gay marriage, among other things. Not because I hate women who have had an abortion or people living a gay lifestyle, but because God forbids those things (Ex. 20.13; Rom. 1.26-27).
Our nation rightfully deserves God’s harshest judgment for the blood of the million plus babies who are murdered each year in the name of women’s rights and now we are trying to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that was ordained by God Himself (Gen. 2.22-25).
But I don’t agree with many of Donald Trump’s choices and attitudes either. So the real question for me was, “Would I vote at all?”
Then one day, as I went through the mail, a copy of Decision, a magazine put out by Billy Graham’s Ministry, found its way into my hands. On the cover was a picture of the two candidates and the headline, “Two Visions. Two Americas.” But it wasn’t the headline that caught my attention. As I thumbed through the pages, I came to an article comparing the two party platforms.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve probably seen similar comparisons. I know I’ve seen many of them, but reading the stands from each platform made me realize what I needed to do.
The article stated, “Many decisions are made at the president’s desk, but the major political party to which he or she belongs wields significant power over which domestic and international policies are advanced and what becomes law.”
I’m not naive enough to think that because any political party says they stand for something, that our elected officials will necessarily do what’s right or that laws will automatically be changed. But given the choices, I realized my responsibility was to vote for the one whose platform most aligned with God’s principles and pray for those who are tasked with carrying out those goals. Whether or not they do is ultimately in God’s hands and the candidates are accountable to Him.
Here are some excerpts on various issues:
Sanctity of Life
Democratic: “Democrats seek to repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment so that federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. The platform says, ‘We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.’ Democrats support ratification of UN efforts that affirm ‘the reproductive rights of women’ globally.”
Republican: “The GOP asserts the sanctity of human life and affirms, ‘The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.’ The party supports a Human Life Amendment making clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth, and it salutes states that require informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods and clinic regulation.”
Democratic: “‘Democrats applaud last year’s Supreme Court ruling that ‘LGBT people–like other Americans–have the right to marry the person they love.'”
Republican: “The GOP platform condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings that removed the ability of Congress and the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The GOP urges the reversal of those decisions, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.”
Democratic: “The Democratic platform says, ‘We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.’ The party opposes a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the country.”
Republican: “Republicans affirm that religious freedom in the Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. The platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect faith-based institutions and individuals from government discrimination.”
Democratic: “The platform says: ‘We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”
Republican: “The GOP platform states: ‘A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government.’ The GOP supports the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states.
Internet Safety and Decency
Democratic: “The platform supports ‘a free and open internet at home and abroad.’ The party would seek to strengthen cybersecurity while ‘protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.”
Republican: “The platform states: ‘The internet must not become a safe haven for predators. Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.'”
The article also covers each party’s position on:
Human Rights (the Democratic stand has mostly to do with LGBT rights, even forcing policies on other nations)
Law and Order
Israel and Jerusalem
So while I don’t have a high view of the candidate, because of his party’s stand on biblical, moral issues, I’ll be voting for Donald Trump in November. And I’ll trust God to do in our nation what only He can do.
I also know I need to recommit myself to praying more faithfully for our nation, its people, all the candidates, and whoever will become our next president.
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Like the fool who thinks he’s wise in today’s Proverbs reading, we were once dead while thinking we were alive. We thought we were free when we were in bondage.
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (2.1-3).
We look back at Eve and think, “How could she have been so easily deceived?” But what about us, as modern women, we bought the farm when it comes to being deceived!
We decided …
We should be “free” to work just like men.
We should be “free” to have sex just for pleasure with no commitment.
We should be “free” to have a career and a family.
We should be “free” to be attracted to women instead of men.
We should be “free” to get a divorce if we’re not happy.
We should be “free” to not have kids.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it is sinful for a woman to work or have a career, but I’m talking about the attitude that says we should be free to do whatever we think will make us happy.
We were not only “dead in trespasses and sins,” but blind and deaf and deceived and in bondage when we thought we were alive and educated and enlightened and free!
And for the gentlemen reading this, we women don’t have the market on deception.
Too many men have bought into the lie that they’re “free” to look at whatever they want on the internet.
That they don’t need to be involved in spiritual things. They can leave that to their wives.
That new toy or a new woman will make them happy.
That divorce is fine and the kids will get used it.
True freedom can only be found “in Christ” and as we discover that we can be free from the guilt and penalty of our sins. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.36). True freedom is the freedom to do what’s right. The self-proclaimed freedom to do whatever we want only leads to bondage.
Praise be to God, that we were once dead, but now are alive. We were once blind, but now we see! We were once slaves to sin, but are now free to be what God has called us to be!
12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? 13 And you forget the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth;
Matthew 10 says:
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
How much time we waste “fearing man”! It’s another kind of bondage into which we can easily fall. Not just fearing what they might do to us physically, but what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.
“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”
Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
Do we really want to trust in that which cannot save us? It’s really no different from those Old Testament people who trusted in idols they had carved from a tree trunk or formed with their own hands—gods who are not gods.
What do lions have to do with laziness and what is difference between “the prosperity doctrine” and true prosperity from God’s perspective? Also, read about some of the blessings we have when we are “in Christ.”
These two chapters continue to talk about the (then) coming Messiah. He would be a man—a human being—born of a woman (49.1) and a light not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles, as well (49.6). Though there would be a time of separation from the nation of Israel, God would not divorce her (50.1). Isaiah also said He would suffer torment at the time of His first advent (50.6-7).
There is an invitation to all who are in darkness to come and trust in the name of the Lord (50.10), as well as, a warning that man made religion will not work (50.11). We can do nothing to save ourselves; all our attempts at being good enough or finding our own way to God (“you who kindle a fire”) are futile.
Men and women have been trying to find their own way to God since the tower of Babel and, probably, even before then. But there is only one Way!
Verse 1, “… Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”
Psalm 1 expands this thought:
1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Unfortunately, the message preached in many pulpits is, “just come to Jesus and He will cause everything you do to prosper.” There is an element of truth in that idea, but without qualifying it with the truths found in these verses and understanding what prospering means from God’s perspective, people end up coming to Him as if He is a spiritual vending machine.
It’s the man or woman who fears the Lord, who doesn’t listen to ungodly advice, doesn’t hang around friends and co-workers who are up to no good, especially those who scorn the truths and reality of God, who will prosper. It’s those who delight in the things of God, meditate on those truths, and obey them, who will prosper.
Sadly, many buy into a superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, a message that sounds good to our selfish nature, but requires little of us in the way of change or growth. A large percentage of them will walk away from God at some point when it doesn’t deliver, sometimes mad at God when they do. Continue reading →
In chapter 47, the Babylonians thought they were strong and secure and untouchable. They trusted in themselves, their false gods, and their sorceries. They had set themselves against God and would soon be judged.
Like the Babylonians many today are busy enjoying their ease and success and power. Many of them have set themselves against God. They belittle His people as weak and God as merely a crutch. They want to make their own rules. Their first commandment is “Thou shalt not be intolerant of anything I want to do!” Even when they claim to believe in Him, they pervert the Word of God, twisting it to make it say the opposite of what it does.
They wrongly interpret God’s patience and tolerance.
“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine’” (Jer. 5.12 NLT).
Instead of seeing God’s patience and mercy as an opportunity to repent, they decide there will never be a day of accounting.
Wheat, Tares, and Hypocrites
Then in chapter 48, God speaks to those who call themselves His people. Though He continues to assure them that He will not utterly destroy them because of His mercy and grace, he promises to judge those who hypocritically claim to believe one thing while practicing another.
In the New Testament Jesus told “the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” He acknowledged there are many tares, unbelievers, growing alongside the wheat, believers. But he said:
“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matt. 13.30).
Many, even in our churches, are in danger of hearing the shocking truth when they stand before Him:
“‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7.23).
Paul said in our New Testament reading, “But let each one examine his own work …” (Gal. 6.4). And in his instructions for taking the Lord’s Supper: Continue reading →
There is so much in this chapter. Be sure to read MacArthur’s Daily Bible notes, especially the explanation of each of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.
But verses 19-21 contain another list:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Notice that contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions and envy are in the middle of that list! And verse 21 says, “… those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Continue reading →
Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words
We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we’re going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one … favoritism. We’ll also look at the need to view the blended family as one and how to avoid having a child-centered home.
In the last blog, I said the overarching goal of blending a family and for all of life is to please God (2 Cor. 5.9)—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God.
I also discussed the importance of biblically loving one another, rather than merely getting along or even liking each other (Blended Families Part 3). And last week I started discussing the priority of the husband and wife relationship (Blended Families Part 4). Today we’ll look at some specific ways we can strengthen the marriage relationship, even while handling tough parenting issues.
Joe’s & Liz’s Story
Do you remember Joe and Liz (Blended Families Part 4)? Week-ends were rough with the added dynamic of Joe’s son from his previous marriage. How might they plan to have a better week-end the next time Joe’s son is with them?
Praying Together for God’s Wisdom
James 1.2-8 says:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
God promises to give wisdom to those who ask in faith and have a heart that’s willing to obey. And later in his epistle James added, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (Jas. 4.2). Parents in blended families need wisdom and, yet, how often do we actually stop and ask?
Failure to ask for God’s help and wisdom is foolishness, at best, and more often a form of pride, since we’re really saying, “Lord, I don’t need Your help. I can figure this out for myself!” It’s so easy to think the way that seems right to us is the right way. But Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14.12). Whether we’re faced with a stressful, potentially mine-filled week-end or just day-to-day events, we should be praying regularly for God’s wisdom.
It’s important to see your family as one and your children as yours jointly and to prayerfully make decisions as a team. Practice taking time to talk over issues, in advance, considering the needs of all the children and your family as a whole. It’s especially important not to make special rules for children who aren’t in the household full time or to favor your biological children over your step-children.
Favoritism … The Other F-Word
Favoritism is quite possibly the biggest destroyer of the blended family. It weakens the husband and wife relationship, hinders the step-parent’s relationship with the other children, and leads to anger and bitterness. And, ironically, it often hurts the favored child as much as anyone else. Trust me on this one; it will create chaos and can drive a wedge between family members faster than you can imagine. Continue reading →
Could you be guilty of parental legalism? Parental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for genuine heart change and a personal relationship with Christ.
Also read about:
How and how not to communicate with a person who is acting like a fool.
And the foolishness of idolatry, even the kind you may be practicing.
I’ve been talking about legalism for several days now. Remember the Judaizers or legalists had come in trying to impose their brand of religion on the Galatians. As human beings we love having a set of rules to follow instead of allowing God to make a change in our hearts or the hearts of others.
Lou Priolo in his book The Heart of Anger talks about how we do this with our children. We make our rules (be in bed at 8.30; you can’t watch that TV show; no dating until you are 16; don’t talk with food in your mouth) on the same par with God’s commands (love God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself; do not lie; do not steal, etc.).
It’s not that children shouldn’t obey the rules their parents lay down for them (one of God’s commands is “children obey your parents in the Lord …” Eph. 6.1-3), but we must help our children understand that those are temporary rules for the household and not God’s law. Otherwise we run the risk of either making little Pharisees of our children or causing them to view Christianity as a legalistic religion instead of a relationship with Christ. Without that personal relationship with God, many of our kids will turn away from the things of God once they’re out of our homes.
Instead we need to lovingly teach our children to obey us as God’s temporary authority in their lives, while teaching them the truths and freedoms and principles of a genuine relationship with God and helping them see their need for the Savior. He is the only One who can ultimately change their hearts.
Verse 21, “… if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”
I touched on this a couple of days ago when I talked about how we are all legalists at heart. We are so prone to believe that if we are somehow just good enough, we can be right with God. So often when you ask people why they think they will go to heaven, they will say “because I’m a pretty good person. I’m not perfect, but I haven’t murdered anyone.”
But Romans tells us, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom.3.10). We cannot be right with God on our own. As Jesus told us in John 3, we must be born again by the Spirit of God. We must accept Christ’s sacrifice and payment for our sin.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).
Just as we are saved by grace through faith in the Son and what He did for us, so we are kept by the power of God, not by any works which we do. Ephesians 2.10 tells us that the fruit of a changed life will produce good works, but they cannot make us righteous. Good works flow from our righteousness in Him and our love for Him, but they cannot produce it.
Chapter 41 was written to warn those in Israel, who persisted in idolatry, but also to encourage and comfort those who remained faithful to the One True God. Chapter 42 contains many prophesies about the Messiah. Jesus quoted from this chapter in Matthew 12 speaking about Himself (Matt. 12.17-21). Continue reading →
The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its flip side, foolishness. In this series we’re looking at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.
Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 4
Friendships & Counselors
As I said in the first post (read it here), while I’m specifically addressing this to us as women, these truths are for everyone: young and old, men, women, and children.
Our foundational Scripture is Proverbs 14.1 which says:
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Our working definition of wisdom is, “wisdom is the right application of truth.” It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!
Friendships & Counselors
In previous posts we talked about our tongues along with wise listening and in the last post we talked about wise attitudes toward money and “stuff.”
In this post we’re going to talk about our associations, especially our friendships and who we listen to when we seek advice, either formally or informally.
Often we learn too late that going our own way or listening to the advice of fools leads to disaster and heartache. Could you be listening to advice that may sound good, but could take you farther from God and His purposes for your life? Could it endanger you, your marriage, your other relationships, or even your relationship with God?
The Bible has a lot to say about the person who tries to go it alone and never listens to anyone.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice (Prov. 12.15 ESV).
Wise advice is a great blessing, but bad advice can lead us over a cliff. It’s tempting to surround ourselves with people who think like us, rather than people who challenge us to change and grow. We like friends who will listen to “our side of the story” and sympathize with us … people who will tell us what we want to hear instead of what we may need to hear. Continue reading →