Rethinking Abraham

At the end of last year I felt both I & Soo and many of my disciples needed a reading plan for the Bible. And I hadn’t read thru the Bible in a while. Well 10 days in, so far so good. We’ve been reading an OT passage and a NT passage and it has been very helpful to see the correlation.

 

Also though i have read these passages so many times before, The Holy Spirit continues to illuminate and give fresh understanding.

 

I always used to think of Abraham a a mostly good guy who made a few mistakes… he had great faith, but struggled a couple of times… as a frail, gentle man who found it easy to submit to God… but perhaps i have had it all wrong, and he, like everyone else in the Bible is not just a flawed person, but a pretty awful person.

 

1st he put his life above his wife- not once, but twice. I never really got that, but more so now, it seems not only cowardice but so self-centered.

 

It is easy to think he was just a cowadly man by nature, maybe weak, frail – after all he was old- but was he? Even though 80 is very old now, and old to some degree then, he would live several more years, He fought in battle and was victorious.  So, his move to protect himself was not one of simple disadvantage but selfish self-protection.

 

He certainly did not express faith in God to protect him, despite all of God’s promises. He certainly did not act in righteousness to love and protect his wife. He was living for self and trusting himself

 

Then, he not only did this to his wife, but also took Hagar as a mistress- to the shame of his wife and bore a son. He did not honor his covenant with Sarai or with God. He again lacks faith in God’s promise. He again tries to take things into his own control. He was  trying to help God fulfill his proimise- but he didn’t need to.

 

See perhaps he thought he was helping God. Perhaps he thought this was God’s provision. But ungodly mean, or means not according to God’s will or plan is ultimately dishonoring God and lacking faith in God himself.

 

Furthermore, this act was unloving, selfish and disrespectful. This is not the way God leads. His decision wound up resulting in hurt to Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael, and all of his own descendents.

He tried to take a short-cut to God’s will and wound up further away.

 

Then not only that, but then he disregards Hagar. He lets her and his son go out into the wilderness to die…

Once again God intervenes. He rescues Hagar and Ishamel and ultimately Abram from the consequences of sin. God reveals Himself as One who sees, hears and rescues.

 

The hero of the story is not Abram but any means, God is.

 

We are much like Abram, we are selfish and self-centered. We care for ourselves more than others, even those we love. We may hear from God and want to follow Him, but we easily revert back to serving ourselves and trusting ourselves.

 

Abram may be seen as a man of faith, but more often than not he trusted in his own methods and his own plans and wisdom. Sometimes perhaps he thought he was doing the right thing, helping God out but ultimately was trusting himself.

We too  trust ourselves. We are not patient enough to listen to God and follow His ways. We think we know better than God or that our way is just as good.

We more love the prize or reward or blessing God offers rather than God Himself.

 

Jesus, however, fully trusted God. After fasting for 40 days He was hungry, and eating is a blessing God gives. Satan however tempted Him to turn stones into bread. He could do that, but it was not God’s way. Jesus came to build a kingdom and Satan offered it to Him without all the suffering God the Father called him to. Jesus however would not worship satan, he didn’t take the short-cut, He obeyed God to the end.

 

In the end Abraham would trust God and offer his son on the altar. He did this not because he was physically weak or timid, but even though he was strong and could have tried to fight or could have opposed based even on what God had promised- he trusted God. He submitted, he surrendered.

 

We too need to learn to submit ourselves to God. It is easy to say we trust God, but it is much more difficult to actually surrender.

 

When I address students they say they are surrendered, but when I bring up a particualr topic such as going on a mission or giving their lives to missions or giving money, or trusting God with their finances- they say they can’t do that. They have to protect themselves, take care of themselves, they have expectations to fill.

 

We easily delude ourselves, much like Abram. Satan tempted Jesus, he will surely try to decieve us.

 

We may think we are strong or smart, but we must humbly submit ourselves to God, look to the example of Jesus and trust in Jesus to direct our steps and paths.

 

We can rest in the gospel, recognizing that even Abram was a wicked, wicked man. And though we may fail, God will not fail us, He will always be faithful. And after each failure is an opportunity to trust God again. Our righteousness, our worth, God’s love toward us is not based on how good we are or even how full of faith we are- but in Christ and His work on our behalf.

 

Let’s keep walking with Him, and allow Him to correct us, and learn how to trust Him fully, completely

Amen

 

Dear God, I thank You that You are faithful and patient. You do not give up on me. You do not grow weary of me, but continually instruct me and redirect me and restore me. You cover my mistakes and my sins. You forgive me and give me another chance to obey and follow You. I confess i am selfish, self-centered and trust in myself, my ways, my plans, my methods more than You. i confess i seek blessing more than i seek You. Lord, teach me Your ways, guide me & help me follow You. Reveal Yourself and Your will that i may honor You and bless others. I submit to You and want to trust you, help me in my unbelief. Be glorified in me. Amen

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My best books of 2017

These are the best books I read (or finished) in 2017.  Didn’t read a ton this year, but most of the books I read were really good. And the authors were pretty diverse.

13. You are what you love by James K.A. Smith 7.5/10
I liked the main idea of the book- what you love is more important than what you know. It was pretty simple, but had a huge impact on my thoughts- see i think a lot- but i need focus on loving God and helping others love God, more than just know truths about Him. (the book was a little long and heady however)

12. Leadership As Identity by Crawford Lorrits 7.5/10
A very simple book. But much needed. Humility. Practice it. Something I want to go thru with up and coming spiritual leaders for sure

11. Now, you’re speaking my language by Gary Chapman 8/10
A pattern you may recognize- nothing profound, still very helpful.

10. The Man Christ Jesus by Bruce Ware 8.1/10
Amazingly profound. The first few chapters were amazing, things I hadn’t thought much about before. But some chapters seemed superflous. Gives a lot of thoughts about Jesus as a human and the implications for us. Highly recommended

 

9. The Gospel for Muslims by Thibati 8.3/10
I really liked this book. It is a pretty easy read and short. The main idea- the Gospel for Muslims is the same Gospel we need. We complicate it. They need the Gospel.

8. The Next Evangelicalism by Soong Cha Ra 8/10
I probably enjoyed the above books more, but this one was more influential. Read it with out team and it was a bit controversial. He does attack white people a lot in this book, probably more than deserved, but certainly something to consider. Since we are not white, Soo & I didn’t take offense, we just saw sin and areas we could grow. Certainly became an influence- and you will notice a lot of diversity of authors i read this last year

7. The Calling by Brother Andrew 8.4/10
My dad gave me this book 20 years ago, and i finally read it. Enjoyable. A lot taken from the mission field and applied to every day life. The biggest take away: Our primary Calling is not to a place, but to follow Jesus. Lot of good stuff

6. Counter Culture by David Platt 8.5/10
Hits big topics and addresses it with the Gospel. It is hard for me to not like David Platt

5. Multiply by Francis Chan 8.5/10
Good, foundational, fundamental. Really ingrains the idea of being a disciple. Started goign through it with my disciples. A lot of free resources available to go along with it- including the whole being available on an app!

4. More or less by Jeff Shinbarger 8.7/10
I read this at the beginning of the year, so it is not as fresh, but it hugely influential in deciding to pull the trigger on moving and challenging me to be more generous. (only $2.99 on kindle)

The top 3 books were in a league of their own

3. Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson 9.5/10
 A must-read. Eye-opening, challenging.

 

2. Dream with me by John Perkins 9.7/10
Shares a lot of the struggles for blacks in America. Balanced in speaking toward Black, Whites, Asians. A lot of real life stories. A lot of faith, and a lot of vulnerability.

Book is written with hope and authenticity and challenge. Reads like an autobiography.

 

 

 

 

1. Parenting by Paul Tripp 9.9/10
Even if you’re not a parent, you could enjoy this book. It’s all about the Gospel, how our kids need it, and how we as parents need it. It’s about trusting Jesus. It is authentic, it is visionary, it is encouraging, it is challenging, it is practical, it’s enjoyable, it is God-honoring. It was the best book we read this year!

 

Why did we move again?

Although, we moved in May, we just finished our 2nd month living in our new old house in downtown Muncie.

Finding this house, for the price, seemed like such a good deal, especially in March- it doesn’t have AC, but we’ll be ok. It has not been ok, it has been hot. There is one window AC unit, but it only cools one room, and there are no screens on the windows, so the place becomes unbearable in many ways.

The night we moved in, we had to evacuate because of carbon monoxide- the fire chief said it was good thing the detector went off or you would have died. We had further gas problems as we tried to get a washer & dryer installed, which took way longer than it should have and resulted in a lot of frustration, and still isn’t completely resolved.

The latest news comes as I saw a little furry creature skirt across our living room floor. It was kind of a blur… and as i searched, i couldn’t see anything. I hoped maybe i was imagining something… but sure enough there are mice in the house.

On the plus side, Halle said she saw it, and it makes her happy because it is so cute.

It is the only thing she likes about the new place.
Before we bought the place, the kids were excited. But now they hate it.

When we came back from Colorado, Josiah quipped “this doesn’t feel right.”

It didn’t. We had only lived in the house for 4 weeks before we left for the summer- meaning we actually lived longer in that apt in Fort Collins than we had in our “home.”

We travel a lot and spend a lot of time away from home, so that may seem where we live doesn’t matter that much, but actually it is reverse, we always want some place to come home to.

I miss our old home. As much as I hated it when we lived there. It was quiet, and had a back yard the kids could play in, nice neighbors,carpet on the floors, nice paint on the wall and AC, oh how i miss the AC.

So… why did we move again?

The quick answer is we moved here to have an influence on downtown Muncie, to help bring restoration, to help plant a church, and to glorify God.

We know that to be true, but that isn’t why i ask myself this question, and already started looking at zillow.

No, I ask these questions because what has happened since we moved.

  • We had the stress of pakcing up and moving
  • We almost died our first night in
  • We face unexpected problems and costs with the house
  • Our van got totaled while driving in the new neighborhood
  • The new van got keyed 2 days after we got it
  • Our kids complain about living here all the time
  • And now we have mice

On top of that is this- are we really making a difference? Were we the right people to do this? We haven’t really got out on the best foot with the neighbors.

I mean, after a long day of being with people all day, this introvert isn’t the best at meeting more people. Beyond that the kids demand time and drain energy. We don’t seem to have the time or energy, let alone skill or finances to really make our place look much nicer and improve the neighborhood.

As i read articles, i can feel discouraged that we are not skilled enough or good enough to do the work i want to do.

So, what should I do now? Give up? Make the most of a bad situation? Move? Maybe we’re not the right people for this.


What is happening here?

I was told when i take a step of faith, God would be faithful. God would be with me.

We may look at stories in the Bible and say look those guys took a step of faith and everything worked out for them- how come it doesn’t for me?

We read that Shadrach, Meshach and Abdenego say “Our God will deliver us and even if He does not…” or that Esther says “If I perish, I perish…” but in neither case do they suffer. They are delivered

The lie I have been fed to believe (And that i often may even promote) is once i take a step of faith, everything else will be easy.
The hardest thing is getting on the plane. The hardest thing is leaving behind. Then everything else will work out.

Certainly that first step is hard, in fact it may be the hardest thing- but that doesn’t mean the rest of the way is easy.

When i lived in East Asia i noticed this a lot. There was an attitude of, i took a step of faith to leave America and come here, now i don’t need to take any more steps of faith.

If we look at history and look at the Bible we’ll see this certainly isn;t the case.

Abraham had to leave his country, leave his home- which was hard. But his journey didn’t end there.

And yes when Abraham went to sacrifice his son, God did stop him and provided a lamb for him to sacrifice instead- yet that does not mean his journey was not difficult!

Paul was spared death repeatedly, constantly delivered. On the flip side he suffered all the more because of it. He was grieved by physical pain but also emotional pain.

Moses was a reluctant follower- and what was his reward? Basically everything he feared and worse. Rejection, new trial after new trial and constant criticism.

He appeared to Pharaoh and was rejected. In fact the first time he came instead of letting the people go, he made their labor even harder! The people of Israel he came to help, hated him.  He had to go to Pharaoh not just two or three times, but ten times(!) before the people were finally delivered. And even then Pharaoh again pursued him – and the people of Israel complained against him.

Moses then again delivered them but faced constant trials and troubles. After every miraculous deliverance, the people would find new things to complain about. It was never-ending. And the people made false gods on top of this, and continually rejected his shepherding.

The life of Moses is a good example of what a life of faith and ministry will likely look like for many.

So, i must ask myself why i am doing this?

Is it for a comfortable, easy life?
Is it for fame and respect and to build a reputation?
Is it to feel good about myself?
Is it to see something happen? To make a difference?
Yes, we came here to make a difference in Muncie, but ultimately that can’t be why we came. We moved to Muncie because we felt God leading us to move. We came out of obedience and faith and to glorify God. We don’t know if we will do things well or if we will make that much of a difference in people’s lives.

Yet, even if things are difficult, even if we see little fruit, even if it is uncomfortable- God is still faithful.
There are a lot of nice things to like about living here. We are super close to the kid’s school and our church. We can walk to the Y, which is nice for extra child-care. And we’re right next door to McDonalds- which may be good or bad. We and our kids are exposed to the realities of homlessness and there are opportunities to get involved in a community. Eventually this place will feel more like home.

 

But it will never be home. Christ is preparing an eternal home for us- and that home is with Him. He came to rescue me and you, and provided deliverance from sin and access to God thru His life & death and resurrection. My soul longs for rest and comfort. Jesus says come to ME and I will give you rest. He has sent His Spirit to be a Holy Comforter. And He is coming again to take me to an eternal home to be with Him forever.

 

So, what do I do now? I continue to walk by faith. I continue seeking to honor God. I rest in the Gospel. I take the next step. I hope in Christ.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16

 

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God[c] is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

 

The children may complain. The mice may pester. The heat may weary. I can rejoice in the Lord. I can find strength in Him. Serving the City, while Seeking the one which is to come.

The one when Prayer doesn’t work

Have you ever wondered if prayer actually works?

You pray and pray and see no fruit, no results. You’re still sick, you still don’t have a job, your child still isn’t married, you’re still single, still infertile, your friend still died…

You pray and pray and pray. You keep a prayer journal. You try striking deals. You fast. You beg, you cry, you are earnest.

Nothing.

Does it matter? I mean this world is full of trouble everywhere. And it seems to be getting worse.

Perhaps God is angry with us. Maybe He is too busy with other things to worry about my meager needs. Or maybe I am not doing enough, not praying hard enough, long enough.

Or maybe, maybe prayer just doesn’t work.

 

That may be right. Maybe prayer doesn’t work. I prayed for my sister to get better, and she still died from cancer. I pray for support to come in, and we still need a lot more. We pray for Josiah’s allergies, and he still can’t eat anything. We’ve been praying about health issues and it seems like God can’t do anything about it- the only solution is more drugs. We pray for laborers, and we get a few people, but not many. We pray for people to come to Christ, but only a few believe. Does prayer work?

Look at story of Elijah.

23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention (I Kings 18:23-29).

They pray, they plead, they cut themselves. And nothing happens.

Still like this today. In Tibet they spin wheels- big wheels, and small wheels in efforts to pray, to earn favor. They bow and prostrate themselves in effort to beg & plead.

Some places people dance, and scream and make huge gestures towards the sky.

And in corners of rooms, in churches across America- people offer penance.

Some think by their many words they will be heard- if they make it glamerous, say the right phrase- prayers will be answered.

Prayer doesn’t work.

IT is not our efforts, not our words that change things.
In fact is not even our sincerity and good intentions. It is God who changes things. It is God who works.
Prayer is a tool. God is the one who works.

I use a phone to talk to someone. But it is not the phone I connect with, it is the person on the other side. The walkie talkie allows me to communicate to my commander to someone who can help me. But it is not the walkie talkie that saved me- it is the person on the other side who delivers.
We are thankful for phones & walkie talkies, but careful not to love it.

The important thing is who we pray to. Not what we pray about or how we pray.
Prayer doesn’t work. God does. Perhaps it seems like semantics, but I think it can have tremendous impact on our heart, our faith, and on the world.

If we are praying to a false god, or praying to a god we make up, or to/for ourselves- nothing will happen. It is not about our intentions or sincerity. It is not our effort in prayer. It is about God.

God is not a genie who must act according to our whims. He is free. He is sovereign.
So prayer is not a magic formula or incantation. It’s not like we have to pray first or our meeting/planning is not blessed. Perhaps we can & should pray- but we still need to rely on God, not ourselves, not our prayers. Let us rely not on prayer, but on God.
Since it is God who works, then we can not and do not need to rely on our efforts in prayer, but simply plead with God. I don’t need to fear if I am too sinful, or not praying right. I don’t need to work harder in prayer.

When we pray then – we beg; we plead. God is the one who works. We communicate with Him as with a person. And we wait on Him.

Yet, since it is God who works- we can have confidence.

God knows what He is doing.
God is wise.
God is powerful
God has a plan.
God is faithful.

We pray trusting God. Trusting He will do what is best. Trusting He can do something about a problem. God will work all things for good, for His purposes, for His glory.

 

And so when we ask something and it doesn’t happen- what do we do?

  1. We thank God for His wisdom and goodness
  2. We seek to know God, seek His glory.
  3. We ask for understanding and direction.
  4. We keep praying, until we can’t anymore

 

Elijah prayed- and God answered

James tells us He prayed and it did not rain, he prayed again and it did.

Who was Elijah?
Bible describes him as Elijah the tishbite.
Not Elijah the prophet, the great man, the holy man, the spiritual giant.
Elijah was a man like us.
And the effective prayer of a rightesous man availeth much.
God works thru prayer.
He has designed us to pray

  • To show His faithfulness, power, glory
  • To build dependence on Him
  • To build our relationship with Him

And because of Jesus, we can come into His presence.

See,  in some ways it makes sense all the things the Baal worshippers did, that the Tibetans do now. I mean, how can we come into the presence of an Almighty God? How can we ask God to intervene?

Jesus paid the price with His blood, so we can enter His presence. Jesus intercedes on our behalf. And the Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray now.

What should our response be?

To pray

… even when we doubt or unsure
… even if we don’t know how
… even if we have prayed a long time already

We pray to a God

… who is all-powerful
… who exists outside of time
… who is sovereign over everything
… who hears our prayers
… who delights in us
… who is faithful
… who is good and loves us

Let’s Pray for

… for forgiveness
… for healing and help
… for laborers
… for God’s glory
… for God’s will|
… for the miraculous

  • Not just what we have seen
  • Not just for what we can do ourselves
  • Not just what we think possible
  • Not just what we can imagine

Pray for God to move & God to act.

This world needs help. I need help. You need help. God can help, so let’s pray, and ask him to work!

If God is Sovereign & Jesus is King, then what should we have to do with politics?

Back when I started walking with God I read a book called the Jesus I Never Knew. The author Philip Yancy noted how Jesus never seemed to care much about politics but about people knowing Him. He was not interested in an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one.

And with that,  I never cared about politics.
…Not that I cared for it much before that.

This year more than any other – perhaps because of social media, perhaps because of my age- politics seems to be more center stage.

Much is made about the religious right and then how you don’t need to be republican to follow Jesus… politics seems to be a big issue.

At other points many Christians have called upon others to vote – that is until the Christians voted for a candidate or policy they didn’t like…

And perhaps when things don’t seem to go right you hear people say,  Jesus is King. Or God is sovereign.

And that’s true. No matter who the president is, Jesus is still King. And no matter what happens- God is sovereign.

So if God is sovereign- does that mean it doesn’t matter? We don’t need to vote or we don’t need to care?

If Jesus is King, does it matter who president is?

What are we to do?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers or to have researched this topic extensively, but here are some thoughts

 

  1. Place hope in God
  2. People are more important than policies (or opinions)
  3. Pray
  4. Prepare yourself to make wise decisions
  5. Personally work to bring about change

Place your Hope in God

Jesus is King and God is sovereign. He is our Savior, our shield, our shelter, our strong tower. He is our help, our hope.

He really is the only one we can trust – in the sense of His trustworthiness, honesty & faithfulness – as well as in his ability to deliver.

Peter, addressing a group of exiles – people who were facing opposition because of the government and living in a culture that was not helping them writes this

set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Set your hope FULLY on the Coming King, on the Kingdom HE is going to establish.

If we’re honest we hope in many other things. We hope for many other things. We hope for relief from our trials. We hope in money or policies or our plans or ideas. We need to hope in Jesus and for Jesus.

He is the one we need to rely on, and look to.
This means we need to find our peace in Him and joy in Him.
And this means the thing we should be talking about most, pointing others to most, campaigning for is Christ.

There is Good News for us living in a broken world – Jesus.

This may seem like mere words, or at worst can lead to ignorance & uninvolvement. However, it is important for us to remember and constantly fix our eyes on Jesus. We need this to be foundational to who we are and how we live and act amongst others.

People are more important than policies and our opinions

We may think we know the answers, the solutions to our problems- but when we allow policies to be more important than people, we are neglecting God’s command to love others.

I’m not saying not to have opinions, but watch how we think of others or treat others.
If someone has a different opinion than you, do you seek to convince them they are wrong or to understand them?

Someone’s view on politics is a great opportunity to ask questions, to seek to understand. Why do they feel that way? Why do they want that policy?

As we consider policies, we must consider why do I want this policy? Is it to benefit simply myself or am I thinking of others?

We naturally will think about ourselves, and think what benefits me benefits others- but we are quick to assume often.

What assumptions are we making about others who hold a different opinion than myself?
Do we assume young people are lazy? Do we assume some people are greedy? Do we assume people are judgmental?

How can we love people?
I never want my opinions to become an obstacle to the Gospel or a hindrance to loving someone.
This helps also as we consider our values and our vote.

 

Pray

We are commanded to pray for kings and rulers. How often do we do that? We are more apt to complain about our government leaders than pray for them- even the ones we like.

Now there may be some we didn’t vote for. We may even consider them enemies of the Gospel – still we should pray for them. Jesus said to pray for our enemies. Even if we consider them enemies we need to pray for them. Pray for Christ to work in their heart, pray for them to turn to God.

More so we should pray for them as they lead our country. Since God is sovereign, they are there by His choice. They could not be in power if God did not allow it. So we should pray for them, that they have wisdom.

We should pray for wisdom ourselves as we vote as well.

God truly is sovereign, so that allows us to pray for our government. He has the power to change things. He is working things out for good beyond what we can see or understand. He may do things in our time that will utterly astound us- like He told Habakkuk or many of the other OT prophets. That does not mean God is not sovereign, that God is not good.

God truly is our only hope- so we should pray to Him to work for His glory.

Jesus said to pray Thy Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Pray for God’s Kingdom. Pray for God’s glory.

Prepare yourself to make wise decisions

I once wrote that I not only have the right to vote but also the right to not vote. And I do think if I am not prepared, then I am not sure if I should be voting.

While I don’t think politics is the most important thing in the world, it does influence our world- so we would be wise to consider the effects of politics. We would be wise to consider different policies and different candidates.

We don’t want to just vote how someone else told us to vote. Or based on a couple sound bites. Or our upbringing. Or even just one policy.

We may not make the perfect decision, but since God is sovereign (and we hope in Him) and has given us a mind, we can use that mind to make a wise decision and trust He will do the right thing.

In the end, since we hope in Him, even if what we wanted does not come to pass, we can be content in Him. We can care for people and live in peacable ways. And we can pray for those in authority over us.

Personally work to produce change

Be the person who brings change.

We can talk a big game, but do we follow up our talk? Do we walk the walk?

We say we are pro-life- how do we demonstrate that? How do we show we value human life?

We say we love others & care for the poor- how do we demonstrate kindness? What are we giving to? How are we helping and serving others?

James says

 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [o]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (James 2:16)

And John tells us

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his [g]heart[h]against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (I John 3:16-18)

We say we are for traditional marriage – but what is our marriage like? How are we promoting healthy marriages?

The church used to be known as a place that took care of the poor. The Romans were astonished by how Christians took care of the needy. Christians founded places like the Red Cross of the YMCA.

The church should be a place where people feel loved and cared for and come to for advice or help, for sympathy, compassion and empathy. Is it?

Some say they don’t want government interfering with us or the church – but what are we doing? Perhaps if we were doing more to help others- the government wouldn’t need to.

Then others want the government to interfere to prevent abortion- but what are we doing to build relationships with people to care for pregnant moms? To care for abandoned kids? To love single moms? To shepherd teenagers?

Ultimately our hope is in God. Jesus is our King and our Savior. People need Jesus, then we should make it our aim to help people know Jesus by loving them, caring for them and talking much about Jesus.