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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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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What Did We Get Ourselves Into?

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By Martin Schlomer 

In this political season, cynicism, confusion, and fear reign among people from all generations. In my personal experience, the emotions and turmoil are unprecedented. How did we get here? More importantly, how do we, whose core identity is that of citizens and representatives of our Father and His Kingdom, navigate this political season? How do we live as salt and light at this time in history? We must begin with prayer!

Pray for discernment. As Christians, we need to be brutally honest regarding how we have arrived at this place. In my observation and opinion, the evangelical Church has unwittingly embraced a watered-down and corrupted understanding of discipleship. We have embraced what Kendra Creasy Dean and others call a moralistic therapeutic deism.[1] This has left this nation with far too many “believers” who are like the adulterated salt and dim lights Jesus warns against in Matthew 5:13-16. As a result, our voice has little to no credibility in the public square. Society readily points to the American Church’s corrupt leaders and hypocritical “followers.” More recently, voices from the public square are confronting evangelical leaders for an alliance with corrupt politicians in our effort to re-enter the halls of power. They’re asking, “How can you do this? How can you live with yourselves?” More and more, I’m asking the same question.

Pray for a repentant heart. The American Church must repent of its shallow, corrupted understanding of discipleship and rediscover its Jesus mission, which is to nurture passionate disciples who love Jesus, obey His teachings, and are eager to be transformed into His image. We must pursue holiness by becoming a people who love Jesus more than anything or anyone! Then we will be compelled to repent from our sins of rebellion; moral and sexual compromise; lukewarm hearts toward our God; broken relationships that are menaced by anger, unforgiveness, and slanderous hearts toward those who are made in the image of God; sick, dysfunctional marriages in which one or both individuals blame the other and resist taking responsibility for his/her actions; racism and misogyny … need I go on? Our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and peers see all this taking place. Peter admonishes believers, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17). Repentance must begin with the family of God, of which I am a full participant. “Lord, start with me.” This may be the start of a revival that may reverberate throughout our land.

Pray for the courage to confront our leaders and would-be leaders. Instead of the evangelical Church forming an alliance with corrupt, self-seeking politicians (with the misguided hope that something good and beautiful might come out of such alliance), we must call our leaders to account. We must call our political leaders to be men and women of sound character who have a moral compass they’re committed to, because character matters a lot! We must be willing to be like Paul, who spoke to the Roman governor Felix about issues of righteousness, morality, ethics, and the coming judgment. As Paul spoke, the Holy Spirit brought such conviction and fear upon Felix that he told Paul, “That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.”[2]

Pray for the Church’s willingness to persevere if/when those in power require the Church to compromise the gospel and accommodate government mandates. As we read the news, we already see the movement among government legislators and the courts to require accommodation from the Church, especially in the areas of sexuality and gender. The Church will need great wisdom and discernment in order to navigate these moral quagmires.

Finally, on October 30, I will address the question, “How do we think biblically about the election issues that are before us in our civic life?” We must wrestle with these issues. God has given us the privilege (for the time being) of having a voice in this process. In addition, we have scheduled two opportunities to pray for our Church and our nation. On November 1 and November 8, from 6-8 a.m., Elim will be open so that you can come and pray. More information will be forthcoming.

As we move forward, pray for our Church and our nation. Secondly, rest in our Father’s sovereign grace. His purposes will be accomplished, regardless of who occupies the White House. He always has and will continue to “turn the insanity of the nations to serve his purposes.”

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/this-is-the-best-of-times-and-the-worst-of-times

 

[1] Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling Us About the American Church, Oxford University Press, 2010.

[2] Acts 24:25 in The Message

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Political Leaders: Is This the Best We Can Do?

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By Martin Schlomer

I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching and repenting over the past few months. I find this political season very disturbing. We have one candidate who wants to give everything away and call no one to take responsibility for their own destiny, which will only push our national debt well beyond the current 19 trillion dollars, further bankrupting our nation. Another candidate may be indicted by the FBI, while another appears to be a reckless megalomaniac lacking any sense of decency. As Max Lucado writes,

He ridiculed a war hero. He made a mockery of a reporter’s menstrual cycle. He made fun of a disabled reporter …. He routinely calls people “stupid” and “dummy.” One writer catalogued 64 occasions that he called someone “loser.” These were not off-line, backstage, overheard, not-to-be-repeated comments. They were publicly and intentionally tweeted, recorded, and presented.

Where are those who aspire to be the leader of the free world who have a sound, moral core, practice wise judgment, respect the value of all people (including the unborn, the elderly, and the invalid), are passionate about moral and economic justice, refuse to be bought by special interest groups, and tremble at the account to which they will be called when they meet their maker?

So, when I look at the slate of viable candidates, I ask, “Is this the best we can do?” How should those who feel as I do respond? Most certainly, we should pray! In addition, I’ve also considered not voting for the first time in 38 years. I read the following article from Christianity Today entitled “Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?” This article has influenced my perspective. Russell Moore asks the central question many of us are asking:

What happens in a race where Christians are faced with two morally problematic choices? Should voters cast a ballot for the lesser of two evils? This unpredictable election cycle could go in any number of directions, and I keep getting asked this question.

I offer it here for your consideration as well. Please read this article and reflect upon it.

May God give us His wisdom as we engage this important issue and embrace this privilege.

Martin

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Red or Blue?

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By Jeff Foerster

Is the decision crystal clear? As easy as pie? Written in black-and-white? Some have stated that the differences between our two major presidential candidates are vibrant and would result in very different consequences, requiring sober judgment on Election Day. Others have said that the two major players on the electoral stage are strikingly similar; that they are merely the latest cosmetic face on the two parties which have brought us to the precipice at which we now stand.

My purpose here is not to provide an endorsement in this debate. You may believe that this election is the most significant one in modern times. Or, you may see it as indistinguishable from any other. Like you, I have opinions. Like you, I want to make an informed decision. Like you (I hope), I will be voting.

As the curtain is drawn on this election cycle, I look to my hope. I love this country and the ideals of freedom, opportunity, and justice upon which it was founded. I’d like to see these lived out by our citizens and by our leaders. I desire to see prosperity of all kinds blanket our nation. But this is not my hope.

I will not give my hope to man who cannot return it fulfilled.

My mother has often told me, “Remember, God is in control.” On many occasions has she repeated these words, a balm to my mind and heart in these uncertain times. Truly, no matter the outcome of this election our Hope is still secure. Join me in approaching this Election Day with neither anxiety nor anticipation, but with understanding and faith.

In this environment of shifting political sands, I need a Rock on which to stand.

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Christian politics

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by Luke Amos

I came across this quote from Christian author Bob Moeller.

“Those who consider themselves political and moral conservatives have a unique opportunity at this point in our nation’s history. One option is to play hardball politics and rejoice as their opponents stumble; the other is to display love and mercy in the midst of a highly polarized and angry culture. Is it possible to show gentleness and compassion to a person we might disagree with on so many issues? That’s both the challenge and the opportunity. The President thinks he understands the mind of a moral and spiritual conservative. He believes it’s filled with hostility, anger, and a desire for power. What are we doing to change his mind?”

The Bible is very clear as to what our attitudes towards those in power should be. Romans chapter 13 urges us to honor and submit to civil authority.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, and honor the king.” This was written during the reign of Nero. This is the Nero who ordered his mother and step-brother executed and fed Christians to dogs and crucified them.

And 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Proverbs 24:17 states “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”

I’m not saying all of this to say that Christians should be quiet in the realm of politics and force ourselves to hide in the background praying. I believe we have a moral responsibility and appointment from God to make sure our country is run in a way that glorifies him, shows love and compassion, and is morally just. Disagreeing with our leaders is not only the right given to us by the first amendment but required by God if they are violating what is right. Christians have the responsibility to oppose legislation and government initiatives that are not in America’s best interest. We should also criticize those making wrong decisions as it is a sign of wisdom to listen to those around us.

However, I feel that the vast majority of politically outspoken Christians are not doing this how God wishes us to. I think the Bible is clear in that God wants our criticisms to be done with love, mercy, forgiveness, and respect. We should pray for our leaders as the Bible urges us to. But temper our judgments with the love and respect that Christ-followers should exhibit.

This is not to say that the “other side” does not name call and slander the “right.” But that does not make it morally correct. In fact it makes us as Christians even more at fault because we know better. I did not vote for Obama nor do I support just about any of his administration’s policies. However, campaigning against him and his policies should be done respectfully.

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