I Wish American Christians Made A Bigger Deal Out of This Election

 

With all the chaos breaking loose over this election, I wish we were making a bigger deal of it as Christians.

So many of us believers are only making a big fuss about the candidates. This isn’t just about candidates.

Some of us are proclaiming that this is all just about party lines. This isn’t just about political affiliation.

There are some bold people extending their case to encompass the courts and court justices. This isn’t just about the justice system.

I’ve heard an increasing number of Christians crying out for the sake of the future of America. That is valid. But this is bigger than America.

This is about you, me, and our testimony before unbelievers, fellow believers, and God Himself.

The Common Enemy We’re Missing

When we make so little of something so important, we are not armed nor prepared for the battle at hand, even as we rush into it. We aren’t paying attention to what war this battle is part of. It seems we are clueless as to what cause we’re even fighting for.

We’re not even recognizing who the enemy is.

The enemy causing such perversion of sexuality, freedom, identity, morality, and goodness in a nation founded on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” wasn’t born in the 1940s.

This enemy inciting Christians to turn on and attack the very core of one another’s beliefs and character wasn’t founded as a political party in the 1800s.

An enemy threatening the future of world peace and life as we know it is not waiting for an opening in the Supreme Court to obtain power.

The enemy responsible for the outcome of the election and your great-great-grandchildren’s fate is not replying to your comment on Facebook.

Rather, the enemy we fight has been in action since before he first slithered up to the original couple and offered distraction from God. Our enemy is Satan. His deceit is sin- when we choose to dishonor God.

The Big Deal We’re Not Making

If only we were making a big deal about the very thing election hype is distracting us from: we know the God who remains good when so much around us seems terrible.

We know who wins the war when the enemy’s battle strategy is fierce and tempting.

That same God affords us an opportunity to obey and glorify Him, living lives worthy of Him, in the face of tribulation. He invites us to stand on the winning side of the ultimate war- the war against God’s way.

We have the joy of freely consulting with God Himself about the task of voting for His glory. We have the joy of freely trusting that as we participate, God is all the more involved. We have the joy of remaining calm and steady knowing that elections, though important, aren’t everything.

We know our freedom is guaranteed by God, not the United States. And through integrity we have the privilege of honoring God with the freedom He gives, using our vote.

Best of all, we have the peace of knowing that it is God alone who we are accountable to- for how we vote, how we speak, how we campaign, and how we represent Christ.

That’s a big deal. It’s also how we defeat the enemy.

Defeat or Victory: A Choice We Still Get to Make

It isn’t just a moral decline in America we’re witnessing. Rather, we’re watching the enemy persuade millions of souls that honoring our agendas is more important than honoring God.

When we live as if strategizing according to the law of “the ends justify the means” is representative of the Gospel, we are defeated before the battle begins. When we argue on the basis of choosing whichever we believe is “the lesser of two evils,” we walk defeated believing there is no good, only evil as an option, which means no victory.

In Beth Moore’s words: “Poor, poor God. He’s down to His last two options. And poor, poor us for having such a poor, poor God.”

Appealing to God’s historical use of godless rulers who were already appointed to leadership undermines the integrity of those who did and do suffer as respectful, godly citizens under such rulers. They didn’t have poor, poor options.

But in the United States, we have a choice. We are not yet defeated.

the-bigger-battleagainst-the-common-enemy-can-be-won-indeed-it-has-been

This bigger battle against the common enemy can be won- indeed it has been.

These lesser battles are also won through the big deal we’re not talking about right now: honoring Christ.

When it comes to honoring Christ, we always have a choice- and a good choice.

Our choice for victory this election season, this lifetime, this century, is to “present (ourselves) to God as (those) approved, worker(s) who have no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth?” –2 Timothy 2:15

Decide to proclaim this testimony before unbelievers. Select this testimony to speak before brothers and sisters in Christ.

Choose this testimony before God:

Finding our hope in You and our freedom in You and our faith in You, we unashamedly, confidently participate in this election process with integrity.

This is how you and I defeat the greater enemy.

Act with integrity and confidence that God’s way is the only good option. By maintaining our faithfulness and obedience to our God, we, as individual people, can win in the election and in so much more.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Valentine’s and Trash?

On our first Valentine’s Day together, my now-husband gave me a box of trash. I’m not kidding. He walked around our college campus and picked up recycled items, newspaper clippings, old discarded pen caps, those cardboard slips you put around coffee cups, etc. He crammed it all in a box he found by a trash can.

Romantic, right?

He wasn’t commenting on what he thought of me, but on what I thought of Valentine’s Day. I thought the holiday was rubbish. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day was just an excuse for people to spend money and manufacture sentimental feelings or moments.

The box of trash proved me wrong. (Or was it the guy I later married?)

When I opened that box there was no ounce of manufactured anything in my laughter or the fun we had rummaging through it and making jokes. I didn’t have to worry about him spending a dime on me since money was tight.

All that silly box cost him was effort.

Inside, he had also tucked a note. Or rather, a digital treasure hunt guide. It went something like “Google such and such. Write down the third word in the fourth result that pops up.” The words spelled out the sweet and simple message. “I love you- in HIM.”

The other message that stuck?

He knows my worth in Christ, and that makes me worth so much to Him. In spite of all the muck and yuck of sin and love and challenges and money and holidays and expectations, he thinks I’m worth the effort. Even when I don’t want to be.

Let me tell you, that’s a gift that we’re not all so willing to give.

“Dear friends, let us love one another,

for love comes from God.”

1 John 4:7

What love comes from God? A love that says “you’re worth the effort” in the big and the small. In the cross and the sitting down to explain –again- that parable, because they weren’t really listening.

I’m not saying that’s all that love is, but effort proves value. And I’d like to encourage you today to make the effort to love others, even if all you have to give seems like garbage.

Give the time, give the laugh, and give the message clearly: you’re worthwhile to Christ, so you’re worthwhile to me.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Is It Worth It?

In Sunday School we’re learning about Gentiles in a Jewish Timeline –like, what God’s been doing in Gentiles throughout history. One of the first points made was one that I’m always glad to be reminded of.

God’s work in the Israelites displayed His power to the rest of the world. God always wanted the whole world to know Him and to come to Him. He still does.

I don’t think that necessarily made the Israelites happy while the seven plagues were tearing apart the world they knew. Imagine their response to some challenges being drawn out so that the Egyptians would witness God’s glory: “the Egyptians?? But this is about our story, our freedom!”

We know Jonah wasn’t all that thrilled with God’s love and concern for others. He especially wasn’t pleased with his own role in sharing God’s love (i.e. Ninevah). Were his trials worth it to share the Gospel with those undeserving people? Frankly, Jonah didn’t really think so. He wished he was dead. He was angry. His story wasn’t just about him.

That’s a natural part of our sin nature.

Like Jonah, we know that God is a:

gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

-Jonah 4:2

When His grace and compassion on others (especially those we don’t value) is played out through us, our struggles hardly seem so worthwhile.

Our selfishness tells us that everything that happens in our own lives, good or bad, is to be about us in some way. When we take on trials of faith, the question we ask is “Lord, what are you doing?” What we mean is “Lord, what are you doing for me in this?”

We’re so egoistic that even in our humility, accepting difficulties with faith, the “purposes” we look for in the challenges must in some way be about God improving our own stories.

Poor health is acceptable if it teaches us dependency. Challenging job situations are from the Lord, we suppose, so that He can grow us in certain ways.

None of this is necessarily incorrect. God does use our trials to grow us and teach us about Him. The trouble is simply how “me-focused” we are even in our value judgments about the life of faith.

The truth is that our trials aren’t just about our own spiritual growth- they are about God’s power being displayed to others, too. Our situations might not be resolved in the way we’d prefer (see the Israelites again) because God is instead going to:

“show (His) power that (His) name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

 –Exodus 9:16

The Gospel isn’t just for you or I. Our stories, as a part of God’s story, aren’t written just for us.

The Bible characters we look to as examples knew this: their stories, messy and neat, were lived out for the glory of God –the glory of God that God wants everyone to witness.

Our challenges and our joys are gifts the Lord gives to us. But they are also gifts He uses to give others an opportunity to be drawn to Him. That –that eternal investment- is always worth it.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory
This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Bringing the Old Into the New

 

Living anew amongst old things is tough. Young people working in offices filled with pre-dominantly middle-aged adults know all about that. It’s hard to “be” the change when it seems nothing is changing around you.

But it’s also hard to have a set way and to adapt when newness comes along.

Middle-aged adults in offices struggle to work alongside young folks just starting out. It’s hard to feel like old news. It’s difficult to be set aside for the younger, fresher, and more exciting.

As the old adage goes, though: make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver and the others gold.

All throughout Scripture God demonstrated the importance of unifying what has been with what is current –and even future.

Jesus referenced the Old Testament with respect and as if it had authority, even as He brought a new covenant into being.

We are charged with the care of the elderly and the widowed.

Jesus explained the important of bringing the old up to the new in Matthew 5:17:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Something the Lord understands (as the creator of time itself) is that time builds on itself. History makes way for the future. The elderly must have existed for there to be the young.

Though newness in Christ, and in much of what He provides, is a blessing, we’re never to stop being grateful for all the long-past, well-loved gifts He’s given. We’re never to be fooled into thinking that the old, ill-fitted is worthless simply because it’s done it’s time.

About much more than just utilitarian value, our Lord places worth in fulfillment. That’s the Word He uses in reference to the melding of the new and the old covenants. It’s the word used to describe His relationship to the old prophecies.

Fulfilling is about bringing to completion that which was begun previously.

Young people in offices aren’t to destroy the foundation laid by older workers. Older workers aren’t to despise the youth.

As we set out in a new year, in new jobs, on new projects, with new friends and in new opportunities, the past isn’t to be forgotten. New good habits shouldn’t replace old good habits. New discoveries about the Lord shouldn’t push old truths aside.

That’s hard, too, isn’t it? We’re an all-or-nothing sort of people. In our pride, we place more value on things when they’ve come at the expense of something (or someone) else. My plan is only as good as how much better it is than his.

Humility. It takes humility to bring together the old and the new. Whether in the law, in relationship, at work, or in our faith, we can humble ourselves to give thanks for both.

Watch as He fulfills, step by passing step, making all the old new and all the new old until eternity is met.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.