Talking Politics … To Be Continued?

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By Jeff Foerster

With the election over and family arriving for Thanksgiving dinner, is it time to lay aside all conversation relating to politics? I mean, we are told there are two things that should not be given voice at polite dinner conversation: religion and politics. Will I suggest to you the same? Well, no. However, neither will I prompt you to throw all caution (and common sense) to the wind and incite a verbal “throw-down” at the table or recommend requiring a political affiliation litmus test at the entry door of your holiday gathering.

In all candor, this piece isn’t really about Thanksgiving or dinner conversations, nor is it even limited to politics in particular. Now add to the mix that I don’t relish a world filled with “polite” conversation, two inches deep — chatting about the weather, “My, we have had a lot of rain over the last two months!” “Yes, that will certainly help us come next summer.” “I’d like to see the sun again.” “Yes, I like the sun too. Let’s be friends!” — Ugh, I don’t think I can take that kind of banter for very long.

So how do we engage in dialogue over passionately held beliefs? It’s relatively easy when you stumble upon those with whom you find a sense of simpatico. What becomes difficult is when you are face-to-face with a being not embracing the depth of your wisdom. Oh, what to do? I am tempted to reach outside my expertise and suggest conversational techniques that may win you friends and make you the life of the party and the envy of neighbors on both sides of the block. Instead, I’ll submit for your consideration a moment of reflection.

Check your heart before you enter the conversation. Ask yourself, “What is my motivation? Am I asking the opinion of another so that I can get to know that person at a deeper level? Am I wanting to refine my political argument with someone who is like-minded? Am I curious about a differing perspective? Am I engaging in conversation with the intent of ‘winning’ a political debate or argument?”

Here’s what needs to happen. We need hearts aligned with Jesus. We need to be filled with the love of God that He demonstrated in the cross of Christ — and then, and only then, should we speak, knowing we represent Jesus in His physical absence and engaging others at a deep level of conversation that first seeks to understand.

Politics and religion, as well as other topics that might fill our conversation, can help us understand someone’s story a bit better, if we have ears to hear. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good policy debate, when it’s healthy and not attached to one’s identity, but I don’t want to miss the greater opportunity to know someone at a deeper level, sharing the love Jesus has for us, right here, right now.

May the Lord of all glory bless your Thanksgiving and all your days!

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What Kind of Horse Are You?

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donkey3By Nate Champneys

The election is over! We now have a new President-Elect. As I sat back and watched social media during and following the election, one thing became very clear: No matter what side of the political spectrum people are on, everyone is tired of the way things are, and there is a lot of fear and unrest about the future. I totally get it. If you are feeling anxious or fearful, let me make it all better. Allow me to share one of the most used, sometimes misused, dare I say cliché verses with you. 🙂

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We love to quote this verse. I think we especially love to focus on the “rest” part and the “easy and light” part. We love anything that makes our life easier. I was reading this passage the other day and it occurred to me, “Wow, Jesus is basically asking us to be His horse.” This got me thinking about horses. Horses are magnificent animals, aren’t they? When I think of a wild stallion running free across the plains, it gives me a good feeling, like watching an old John Wayne movie. But as I thought more about this passage, I don’t think that this wild stallion picture is what Jesus is saying brings rest. He says, “take my yoke upon you.” What is a yoke? A yoke is what connects the workhorse to the load that it is pulling. It holds the horse in place.

Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes in the past I have read that passage and thought, “Man, Jesus’s yoke is neither easy nor light, and it is anything but restful!” This passage didn’t seem very true to me at all. Here’s the thing: if we believe the Bible is the Word of God, (which I am assuming you do) and we believe it is absolutely true without any error (which I also assume you do), then we can assume that it is true when Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is not a heavy one we have to carry. Logically, we can assume that when His yoke doesn’t seem easy or light and we don’t feel rest, then maybe it says more about us as the horse than it does about His yoke. Are you with me? When we feel like His yoke is actually difficult, scary, or painful, perhaps we have actually not taken His yoke upon us at all, or maybe we are under His yoke but fighting for control. Maybe it is us who have not learned (to quote the movie Shrek) to be a “faithful steed.”

Do you know what a horse’s job is, when it is yoked to a load? It’s actually very simple: to walk when the master says walk. To run when the master says run, to turn left when the master says turn left, and to turn right when the master says turn right. Basically, to do whatever the master says. It is the master’s job to know where they are going, to be aware of all the obstacles, and to carefully guide the horse to the destination in the best way possible. But it is literally the job of the master to provide for the horse’s needs, to protect the horse from danger, and to look out for the good of the horse. Presuming that the master of a horse is a good master and doesn’t push the horse too hard or overload the horse, the only time a horse experiences “a heavy burden” under the care of a good master is when it is fighting for control or not trusting its master. When a horse has a good master, it never has to worry about the destination; its job is literally to just put one foot (or hoof) in front of the other and obey the master. Then, and only then, is the yoke easy and the burden light. On the flip side, a wild stallion, though free to do what it wants, roams the prairies unprotected. It sacrifices the security, rest, and provision of being under a master for the freedom to be its own master.

I love this horse-and-master metaphor Jesus uses for our relationship with Him. God is a good, good master. The problem is that because of our sin, from the moment we are born, we have a deep-rooted desire to be our own masters. We tend to either run free and control our own lives as wild stallions or take on His yoke and fight it. What it means to be a disciple of Jesus is to make Him Lord and Master over us and every part of our lives. It’s on Him to direct us to the destination, to provide for our needs, and to protect us. All we are responsible for is to walk in obedience and put one foot in front of the other as He leads and directs. If you are having anxiety and turmoil in your life, it is most likely rooted in the fact that you are trying to be your own master. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Here he was referring to money, but this can be applied to anything, including ourselves. Either Jesus is our master, or we are. Almost every trouble we face in our lives can generally be traced to us, putting ourselves in the place of the master. It doesn’t mean that difficult things won’t happen in our lives. The apostle Paul faced many difficult things, but because Jesus was his master, he was able to say, “I rejoice in my suffering.” Even when things around him were in utter chaos, he found rest and peace, because he was under the yoke of a good Master.

As you look at every moment of your life right now, ask yourself these questions: Where are the areas I feel turmoil? Am I being the “faithful steed” and trusting and following the Master, or am I seeking my own way, trying to be my own master?

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EFCA UPDATE: A Call to Fasting and Prayer

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By Kevin Kompelien
President, Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA)

In less than two weeks, citizens across our nation will head to the polls to cast their vote in what has become one of the most difficult and challenging election cycles I can remember. On November 8, our votes will shape the make-up of national, state and local government institutions for the next several years.

Events in the past months have uncovered deep wounds in our land. The words and actions of people have revealed anger and fear in the hearts of some, along with a sense of confusion and discouragement in the minds of others. As we approach November 8, what should be the focus of God’s people?

Let me begin by calling us back to what we know and need to rest in now more than ever. God is sovereign over the affairs of the nations of the world. His sovereign will and plan will ultimately prevail resulting in His glory displayed among the nations. No matter who wins the election on November 8, it is our God, the King of kings, who will ultimately be victorious.

As we look back on biblical and church history, we see how the Lord has worked through both godly and ungodly rulers and leaders to accomplish His will. Wednesday morning November 9 will not find the Lord wondering what happened. Rather, He will continue to be at work to accomplish His will to His ultimate glory. The Lord calls us to trust Him fully and follow Him completely.

In preparation for Election Day, may we prayerfully and wisely evaluate candidates for national, state and local elections considering biblical truth and the righteous character of our God. Then, graciously allow others to do the same.

Reflecting on the challenges of this election cycle and the rapid cultural change going on around us, I find myself going back to the account in 2 Chronicles chapter 20 where the people of God were up against what seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. In response, King Jehoshaphat called the people to fast as he led them in a powerful prayer extolling the sovereign power and might of the Lord, calling on God to help and ending with these powerful words in verse 12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

In these days, my call to us as the EFCA is to come together to fast and pray for our nation. The EFCA national office staff will gather on Monday morning November 7 for a time of corporate prayer. Consider fasting for a portion of a day and gathering with other believers in your church to cry out to the Lord on behalf of America. We are in desperate need of the mercy and grace of God in our land. Will you join me in humbling yourself before the Lord to ask Him to accomplish His will in our nation to His glory?

For further reflection, please use this resource on 10 truths to consider during the election year.

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