Posts Tagged 'politics'

Purpose Driven Plus One: Citizenship

Purpose Driven Plus One: Citizenship Sermon Audio Here

Daniel 2:19-23; Romans 13:1-5

Purpose Driven Church has 5 ideals: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Evangelism. All great, but I think it misses a crucial part of life. It is Christian-focused. But what about the rest of the world? How do we interact WITH them?

H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture is one of the best examples on Christian Citizenship of the 20th century. He talked about 5 ways Christians have interacted with their culture:

  1. Christ Against Culture; {loyalty to Christ and the church entails a rejection of culture and society. Example~Amish/Mennonite}
  2. Christ Of Culture; {Jesus as the culture sees Him: “the great enlightener, the great teacher” etc. Problem: loyalty to culture trump loyalty to Christ, to the point the New Testament Jesus gets replaced with an idol that shares his name}
  3. Christ Above Culture (synthesis); {“both Christ and culture” as God uses the best elements of culture to give people what they cannot achieve on their own}
  4. Christ and Culture in Paradox {conflict between God and humanity is ever present~Christian lives between two magnetic poles}
  5. Christ as Transformer of Culture {all of culture is under the judgment of God, and yet culture is also under God’s sovereign rule. Therefore, “the Christian must carry on cultural work in obedience to the Lord”}

How Can We Be Purposeful Citizens?

Learn CORE of Authority ~
Daniel 2:19-23

  • 19/20 recognize power comes from God
  • 21/23 leadership from God; wisdom/knowledge as well; God puts political leaders in power (lots of people WANT to rule the world; only a few get that position. Why?)

Live CARE-full-ly ~
Romans 13:1-5

  • 1 God is in control; He’s the source of authority
  • 2/3 our response to authority shows our heart; what DRIVES your political stance?
  • 4 Odd thought: someone who doesn’t recognize God as the source of authority can be God’s servant! One need not be a follower of Jesus to be used by God
  • 5 we interact with government for OUR good; when we function as Christ’s servants IN it, we do so for the good of ALL

It comes down to this question: do we care about people or not? If we believe that the world is just going to hell anyway, is it Christ-like to just abandon people to that eternal fate? And if we believe that God wants “Thy Kingdom come on earth”, shouldn’t we be part of BUILDING that life here and now?

Snapshots from Mark: Cost of Confrontation

Snapshots from Mark: Cost of Confrontation Sermon Audio Here

Mark 6:14-28

This time of year, considering conditions, fender benders are more likely to occur. This is no surprise to us; but did you know that insurance companies have decided you’re statistically more likely to get into another accident if you’ve had a first? It’s all part of how they count the cost of our premiums. As we leave the old year behind, and prepare to face a new year, what will the cost of following Christ be for us?

As You Count The Cost To Confront, Consider: ~

Spiritual Power Provokes a Response
~ Mark 6:14-16

  • 14 “this” – Jesus & disciples healing throughout the land
  • 15 the common people know God is at work somehow
  • 16 Herod panics because of his past sin

Political Power Preserves Its Privilege ~ Mark 6:17-20

  • 17/18 John confronted sin in governmental leadership
  • 19/20 sinners can enjoy God’s truth without conviction

Personal Power Doesn’t Protect From Pressure ~ Mark 6:21-28

  • 21/25 historical background
  • 26/28 political power doesn’t protect from pressure

29On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

When we make the decision to be His disciple, it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. That Cross is an instrument of death, and just as John the Baptist paid the ultimate price, we too need to pay that price every day. That’s why we need You, Jesus.

A Pastor’s Response To Politics

This is an article I wrote for our church newsletter after last year’s election. I thought it might be worth capturing here.

Dear church family,

As I read through Facebook on the morning after the election, I realized I should say something. I don’t **need** to say something; there are others more eloquent than I am who have said many encouraging and hopeful things. I’m just one man.

However, I am just one man who has a responsibility to stand up for what is right. As a follower of Jesus, I am bound to follow His example. As a student of Scripture, I take seriously the promises found in the prophets that justice will roll on like waters, righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24, for those of you who like to fact-check.)

I pledge that I will stand up for the poor, the oppressed, and those who are getting the short end of the stick in today’s society. Do I support sin? May it never be! But I *will* let my guts be moved with compassion for those who receive judgment from those not qualified to judge. “Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious…” because boy, oh, boy, do we need God’s graciousness right about now. (Amos 5:15 for the reference)

As a pastor, I will preach and teach and admonish and encourage our congregation (and everyone who has ears to hear) that we must be full of grace and truth, that we must put on love and put off hate (Colossians 3). We MUST be willing to move beyond business-as-usual, and demonstrate over and over and OVER AGAIN that we belong to God’s Kingdom, and we’re committed to building His spiritual work right here. We are the both the workers AND the building materials for God’s house of worship (1 Peter 2).

We must stand with the poor, be counted with the unfairly treated, loose the chains of injustice, and do all this in all humility and gentleness of spirit, for it is God’s work we are to be about (Isaiah 58:6-10).

To finally borrow once again from Amos: Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say He is. (5:14) Let us seek what is good together, friends.

KFJ, Pastor Ed

 Vote Jesus

Thinking About Thessalonica

Thinking About Thessalonica Sermon Audio Here

1 Th. 2:1-8

Consider all of the tests available today: Meyers/Briggs Personality tests; MENSA intelligence tests, SAT/PSAT-NMSQT academic tests… what about motives? Last week, we looked for genuineness (testing thankfulness); this week, we’re measuring motive…

How Do We Test For Intent?

Watch What Is Dared ~ 1 Th. 2:1-4

  • 1/2 willing to risk sharing
  • 3/4 why willing? Because they know they’re called/entrusted

Check Why It’s Shared ~ 1 Th. 2:5-7

  • 5 flattery= like a politician who says whatever needs to be said to gain a vote
  • 6 apostles are enabled with authority, but don’t use it to gain glory (opposite of politician)
  • 7 nurture, not neediness

1 Th. 2:8 because we love, we want to give more than the gospel, but our selves. Give your SELF away!

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Luke 20:19-26

In this political season, congregations find themselves in tough situations. Should we speak for or against a specific candidate or issue? Should we ignore the political maelstrom? How do we live by God’s principles in a fallen world?

Guard Yourself Against

Twisted Motives – WHY This Issue?
Luke 20:19-22

  • v19 context: Triumphal Entry/Temple Cleansing – they’re TICKED
  • v20 they can’t morally best Jesus; they have to cheat
  • v21 1) they lie “we know”
    • 2) they tell the truth “you teach what is right”
    • 3) they set up the sting “you do not show partiality”
  • v22 the dilemma horns: YES =collaboration w/ occupying enemy; NO=sedition against government. Either way, Jesus will be hauled away out of public (which is the whole point)

Misunderstood Terms – WHAT Is Being Said?
Luke 20:23-26

  • v23 Jesus recognized their loyalty: not to KoG, but their masters
  • v24 Jesus uses elements from their kingdom to make His point
  • v25 Jesus makes a statement about ownership via image cf. Gen. 1:26 (who owns you?)
  • v26 their crafted dilemma didn’t take any other viewpoint into mind; Jesus wasn’t living by their rules, but by KoG concepts for which they had no answer

Those who wanted to trap Jesus tried to make the conversation about politics of the day; Jesus tried (repeatedly) to turn the topic to the Kingdom of God, pointing out that we ALL fall short if we try to create a system of right human behavior if we cut God out. It’s GOD’s kingdom; we just live here.

Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come

Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Luke 17:20-26

Let’s be honest: we pray every week for God’s Kingdom to be known on earth. Does the world in which we live remind you of life in Heaven? Why not?

We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When

We Watch For The Wrong Signs
Luke 17:20-21

  • v20 Pharisees used same words, but different meanings; they understood the Kingdom of God to be a political victory over opposinging forces
  • v21 Jesus sets them straight: the KoG is INSIDE, not outside; it’s about voluntary surrender to the King of Heaven, not forced submission to a stronger external force

We Want The Wrong Person
Luke 17:22-23

  • v22 “son of man” = perfect mediator between God and humanity
  • v23 “after THEM” warning about following the CROWD instead of following the LORD

We Wait For The Wrong Event
Luke 17:24-26

  • v24 His day will be when Jesus brings humanity and God together at last
  • v25 He did this at the cross
  • v26 He will do it again at His second coming; like Noah’s day, we won’t be watching

2 Kings 5:8-14 Just like Naaman was upset that the man of God didn’t kowtow to his own self-importance, most of humanity will miss the work that God is doing among us – the quiet surrender of Self to the Kingdom of God

Pastoral Prayer from Psalm 138

from Psalm 138

from Psalm 138

Pastoral Prayer (Psalm 138)

Lord, once again, it is our privilege to come before You and pray… and in those times when we just don’t know what words to say in prayer, we thank You that we’re able to turn to the Psalms, and pray Your word back to You.

We let the Psalms inform us; we let them fill our hearts and reflect our state. So, from Psalm 138 I read and I pray:

1I will praise You, O LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing Your praise.

I read those words, Lord, and I’m reminded of that little g “gods” in quotes, and I think of all the things that vie for attention in my life, that try to replace You.

It’s our honor and privilege to come before You in prayer, even over those things. When I feel that siren song to stay online for just a little bit longer; or to feed that personal addiction a little bit stronger; I can come to You and pray instead. I can even pray through it, Lord.

2I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.

Amen! Lord, I so agree with the Psalmist here that Your name and Your word trump everything. And when I get concerned about this life, and the issues that I face, and the information with which I’m being bombarded, I can once again reflect on Your name and Your word… and recognize that no matter what happens now, You win! I might walk through times of frustration in the the struggles of life, but at the end, You win! Thank You for that.

3When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted. 6Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar…

and I have to admit, there’s times when I get proud enough to try to drown You out. I don’t want my boldness and my strength to come from me, because that’s that’s fallen stuff, broken stuff… so God, I ask that You forgive me for my sin, for my pride, for my tendency to try to stand on my own and do it my way, and that just doesn’t work.

And yet, You lovingly and consistently and faithfully call us back to You. You forgive us; You restore us; and we’re so grateful.

7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me.

8The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever– do not abandon the works of Your hands.

So Lord, right now, we pray for those people who are in the midst of trouble. Your word says that You are the preserver of life, and so we pray– we lift up those who are struggling with physical illness. Of course we ask that You would be the healer; that You, Jehovah Rapha, would reach down and miraculously restore to perfect health those who are in sickness. Sometimes You do this, and we give You all the praise and glory, and it’s a huge shot in the arm for our faith.

And yet sometimes, You don’t. We don’t know why. If there were some formula that we could pray consistently, and make You intervene the way we want You to intervene every time, of course we’d pray it!

But that’s not how You work. You use this whole process of sickness and health and healing and even death to draw us closer to Yourself; that we would give You glory in all circumstances. So, Lord, we pray a very conflicted prayer: we ask You to heal. We have faith that You can; we see from Your word that You do; in fact, we’ve seen in our lives that You do, but You don’t always answer our prayer the same way — so we ask for healing and we also pray that Your will would be done.

In the midst of all of this, no matter how You answer, remind us that You do not abandon the works of Your hands. You are always there, always faithful; for this, we thank You.

4May all the kings of the earth praise You, O LORD, when they hear the words of Your mouth.
5May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.

We thank You, Lord that all things are subject to You. We pray for the leaders of our world; we pray especially for those who would be the leaders of our country, and Lord, through this din of political noise that so often rises, we ask that You would speak to them. May You prompt them, may You remind them that the leaders of this country are supposed to be kind and compassionate.

Strong, yes, but not hateful. Bold leaders, yes, but not leading us into foolish choices that only build their administration. Lord, our founding forefathers, while they may not have been as Evangelical as some of us would like, recognized Your hand at work in the founding of this nation. God, we would ask that Your hand would be seen again; that You would move Your people to rise up and be called by Your name, and to take their stand in the ballot box.

Not to vote for any one particular candidate, but to vote as You would have them vote; that we would bathe this whole election process in prayer, recognizing that You are King over a country who has no King. May we realize that You need to be present as we choose a president.

In all things, we look to You; we ask for Your help, and we thank You for how You will respond in Jesus name. You taught us to pray together this prayer of recognition of kingdom and surrender; hear us as we pray, Our Father…

Politics and Power

Politics and Power Sermon Audio Here

cruise ship in rough seas
Ecclesiastes 8:1-9

“A little boy wanted $100.00 very badly. He prayed for two weeks but nothing happened. Then he decided to write a letter to God requesting $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter to GOD, U.S.A., they decided to send it to the President. The President was so impressed, touched, and amused that he instructed his secretary to send the boy $50.00. The President thought this would appear to be a lot of money to the little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $50.00 and immediately wrote a thank you note to God that read, ‘Dear God, Thank you very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington, D.C., and, as usual, those devil’s took half of it.'” – from Politics And Religion May Not Mix But Government And Biblical Faith Must! By Michael Milton

How Do We Respond to Political Power?

Live Carefully
Ecclesiastes 8:1-5 written from the king’s viewpoint

  • v1 Listen to the wise
  • v2 obey because of your oath
  • v3 be careful of what you support
  • v4 be careful of what you criticize
  • v5 be aware of your timing (cf. 2 Sam.12:1, 5, 7, 13)

Live Purposefully
Ecclesiastes 8:6-9 written from wisdom’s viewpoint

  • v6 proper time, even in misery – don’t make hasty choices
  • v7/8 powerlessness: ignoring it is foolishness
  • v9 use of power can go bad quickly – be careful!

Live Well
1 Peter 2:13-17 written from subject’s viewpoint

  • v13 for the Lord’s sake (cf Phil 2:5-7)
  • v14 divine purpose of government: lift good & down evil
  • v15 “doing good” how does that silence the foolish? Compare old Greek limited gods with Lord ALL-mighty
  • v16 live free, but not wild
  • v17 difference between love (keep on agape-loving),
    fear (both reverence and dread – serious respect),
    and honor (consider the worth)

We live BY God’s Kingdom principles while we live IN the world.

Pastor Ed Backell

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