2016 Presidential Election – What’s a Christian To Do?

On one hand we have a candidate whose crude personality and vulgar words offend most Christians. Donald Trump seems unable or unwilling to moderate his demeanor. On the other hand we have a candidate who is a career politician who seems incapable of telling the truth. Hillary Clinton, has countless positions that are the polar opposite of what most Christians say they believe.

The one thing almost everyone will agree on is this — both candidates are less than ideal. Both are as far away from being an ideal candidate as a rattlesnake is from being an ideal pet. The more you think about the upcoming November 8th, dilemma, the more it makes your head and your heart hurt. What is a Christian to do?

Putting my thoughts into the written word regarding this year’s election is a first for me. I have always said, “Vote.” It’s our Christian duty. I have always said, “Vote your values.” But this year I’m having a hard time finding my Christian values in the lives of the two major political party candidates.

I have spent a lifetime trying to lead people spiritually as a Pastor Shepherd. I have avoided being overtly political and as I look back, I have no regrets. Changing the world one person at a time with the Good News about Jesus has been my calling and still is, but the political quagmire that presently exists requires some spiritual insights that focus on the candidates values rather than their personalities.

My thoughts about this year’s election are not a rationalization about which is the “lesser of the two evils.” I hear a lot of people saying that when you pick the lesser of two evils you are still picking evil. I get that. So I am attempting to go a little deeper than a cliche and break down the issues that are deeply held Christian values. I believe when you focus on values as they relate to the most important issues, you can see a clear right and a wrong that separates the candidates.

Spiritual value based voting is not about being a good Democrat or Republican. You have no chance at being an objective value based Christian voter if you get hung up on a party affiliation. You have to set aside the ugly bashing and 24-hour-a-day news cycles that demonizes both candidates. Both participate in negative ads because they work. If you allow it, these ads will depress you or skew the real issues that should be important to a Christian.

You can’t cop out and say, “I just won’t vote.” Your refusal to pick the lesser of the two evils is actually the commission of an additional and damaging far greater evil. By not voting for the flawed candidate that holds more Christian based values, you are by your abstention actually voting for the far greater evil.

I’m not saying you have to like whom you’re voting for. I’m not saying hold your nose and vote either. I am saying that there is a clear “righteous verses unrighteous” set of spiritual issues you can measure. That alone should be your litmus test. That alone should determine who you vote for. The following thoughts identify three important spiritual values that should matter to a Christian. I hope you will consider them as you are considering what to do on November 8th.

Issue One – The Sanctity of Life.

Hillary Clinton has spent a lifetime throwing her influence behind the abortion industry. She is constantly telling us that she is a defender of children’s and women’s rights. The contempt she has shown to the string of women who threatened her political ambitions by exposing her husband’s immorality would beg to differ with Hilary’s claims about being a defender of women’s rights. The murdered children of abortion would also disagree if they had a voice.

A vote for Hillary is a vote for abortion on demand. Not only will she stand before God and be held accountable for being a murderer of innocent children, but all who vote for her will share in her evil.

Donald Trump has flip-flopped on the abortion issue throughout his life. At one point he was for abortion. Now, there seems to be a strong opposition to the unrestricted slaughter of babies still in the wombs of their mothers. The validity of his change of position for the good, seems to have been affirmed by Trump’s choice of one of the strongest pro-life Governors in the country as a running mate. On this one issue alone this pro-life candidate holds the spiritually moral high ground.

Issue Two – Irresponsible Government

I have listed this issue as a spiritual value issue because the Bible is fIlled with instruction concerning the management of resources. The Bible says if a man will not work, he should not eat. Helping hands, not handouts are God’s plan. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution, it’s the problem.” It is immoral and irresponsible to pass the weight of national debt on to future generations which is funding much of today’s social engineering disguised as a welfare program.

Hillary Clinton will carry forward the practice of irresponsible and massive government spending. More taxes, more “give-aways,” and more lawless regard for the US Constitution. The practices of irresponsible government will become irreversible if this candidate is elected. She will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will have a blatant disregard for the original intent of our founders, and be in favor of big government that disregards the individual rights of it’s citizens. To think that our country’s debt has risen more in the last eight years than in its previous history is beyond irresponsible. It is criminal. This brazen disregard for fiscal sanity will in time destroy our country. A career politician with a proven history of corruption, who clearly violates countless spiritual fiscal values, is not worthy of a single Christian’s vote.

Donald Trump also has a track record of irresponsible business practices that should offend any Christian. His list of bankruptcies and failed companies have left countless lenders and individual people holding the bag. This is inexcusable. Yes, there have been significant business successes and yes, this candidate has grown companies that have produced jobs. But because I’m a Christian I have to admit that some of his companies deeply offend my Christian values. I’m not O.K. with strip clubs and casinos. I am however forced to look at the weighty issue of irresponsible government and ask, “Will this candidate continue the tax and spend frenzy of the last 8 years?” Based on Trump’s list of potential nominations for the Supreme Court, it seems he would be the better choice to stop the expansion of an irresponsible and intrusive federal government.

Issue Three – A Safe and Free America

Hillary Clinton has called those of us who are Christians, “deplorable” and “irredeemable.” She has been openly hostile towards the historical freedoms Christians have enjoyed to speak their conscience in all matters relating to the Bible and morality. Hillary is supported by a base of lawless and radical special interest groups who are willing to resort to violent practices in order to advance their agendas. Clinton has deceptively covered up her true desire for open borders. She does not have the trust of America’s law enforcement community. She will further weaken our national defense and leave America vulnerable to the rising tide of Islamic terrorism. She even has a problem using the words “radical Islam” to describe the barbarous butchery of innocent civilians by a growing wave of religious Islamic fundamentalism.

Donald Trump seems to understand the role of the federal government in keeping America safe. He is clearly willing to identify the enemies of freedom and is not restrained by political correctness. This is both good and bad. It is good when it comes time to identity America’s real enemies. It is vulgar and unacceptable when he uses crude language to slander people who disagree with him. I think it is abundantly clear that our country’s military stands behind him. And who would know better than our military leaders the real issues concerning how to keep America safe and free.

So here is the challenge. You have to cut through the mud slinging and name calling that both candidates thrive on and identify the values that matter the most. When you do this you will see a stark contrast between the two candidates. Jesus called these values that matter the most, “the weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23). He cut through the political corruption within the rulers of His day and pointed out that some issues were more important than others.

For those who are still holding on to the, “I could never vote for someone who said…,” and then you fill in the blank with something that has offended you. Spiritual value based voting is not about whom you like and who has offended you the least. It’s about God’s view on the most important issues. The “weightier” issues.

There is a long history of God’s children working within the political process as citizens of less than perfect nations? Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah and countless others participated in a political process with leaders that were all less than the ideal. Paul, a citizen of Rome, even went so far as to make an appeal to a pagan ruler, which was his right as a citizen of the state. He did not opt out of the political process because the ruler was crude, immoral or vulgar.

If you hold to the position of boycotting the political process because you do not have a righteous candidate, please know this, you are rejecting the examples of God’s children as recorded in scripture because you think you know better. You are failing to use your voice. You are failing to be the salt and the light that God called you to be.

Remember, we are in the world, not of the world. If you refuse to vote you are behaving like the Amish separatists that mistakenly believe they can’t have contact with the world lest it tarnish them and their testimonies. Voting for someone does not mean you turn a blind eye to their flaws. It does the opposite. It gives you a stronger position to voice your concerns. You can’t sit this election out if you believe that God has in the past used less than perfect people to accomplish His perfect plan.

When it comes to voting in the 2016 election, you have to cut through the ugly and repulsive behaviors of both candidates and focus on the “weightier” spiritual issues. You have to ask, “Is the candidate more concerned about saving whales than saving babies?” “Do they care more about filling their recycle containers than filling the gas tanks of hard working Americans?”

It is clear that if you elect Hillary by either voting for her or by choosing not to vote for the other, less than perfect option, you have given your blessing to the death of more innocent babies. You have endorsed more irresponsible government. You have made possible the appointment of Supreme Court Justices that will not defend the constitution, but who will judge from a Godless humanistic epistemology that will take away your freedoms.

Voting for Trump is not going to be easy for me. But at least I know I have considered the “weightier” spiritual values that I hold dear. I can go to bed knowing I have stood up for the babies who cannot speak for themselves. I know my family will be safer from Islamic terrorist that want to kill them. I will know that for a few more years I will be protected from the tyranny of the IRS telling me what I can and cannot say from the pulpit concerning moral issues.

Please use your vote on November 8th while you still have one. If you don’t, it won’t be long until your freedoms will be gone. However sincere you are about not participating in the process, the unintended consequences of your neglect will have long term devastating effects.

What Makes a Church Special?

Over the years I have been repeatedly asked the same question about what makes a church special. People want to know why some churches are dead and cold and others are vibrantly alive with spiritual energy. I might surprise you when I tell you that the answer to what makes a church special is actually very simple.

The question is phrased different ways. Some want to know what makes a church grow. Others want to know what are the attributes of a healthy church. They all, however, are really trying to get at the same issue. What makes a church work and why are some so obviously broken?

I listened in as people discuss this subject and they often start with their belief that the Lead Pastor of a church determines the success of a church. I will readily agree that leadership matters, but a pastor is not solely the answer to our question. The best of leaders can’t do it alone. The best of leaders need more than their oratorical abilities and their leadership skills.

You really need to go no further then the Bible to see many examples of dynamic leaders who were rejected to see the dismal results that followed. Books have been written about the incredible leadership skills of Moses, but do I need to remind you that for the most part the people refused to follow him.

Some people are convinced that it is the church that makes the preacher. They talk about how a loving and praying congregation can elevate a pastor’s ministry and the results will be a healthy vibrant church. This thought is, I believe, much closer to the truth, but it still falls short of providing a completely satisfactory answer to our question.

Still others point at the tsunami effect of a fast growing community and how a tidal wave of positive growth factors simply lifts a church towards growth and effectiveness. No doubt this is present in many church stories, but I would remind you that the church is often at its best when it is under the crush of persecution and economic hardship.

I would like to propose that the answer to what makes a church special is best understood by focusing in on how a church sees Jesus Christ. I know this answer is not what you were expecting, but you will have to admit that this obvious fact is often over looked and sometimes missed.

Jesus is not the secondary tag we use to validate our church’s reason to exist but HE is the heart and basis of all we should be doing. Jesus is what makes a church special.

When you leave a service and find yourself talking about what an amazing job the pastor did or how awesome the buildings were or how the people made you feel special, you are missing the single most important factor of what makes a church special. It’s JESUS!

Jesus is not just the reason for the season at Christmas time alone. Jesus is the essence of all a church is to be. The church is literally to be a representation of His life. We are to be His body acting out His values and mission. When a church does this, no matter its size it is special.

So here it is, if you see Jesus in a pastor or any Christian for that matter, that is special. If you see Jesus glorified in the worship service of a church, that is special. If you see a church community corporately joining their hearts and actions together to act on behalf of Jesus, that is very special.

I’m convinced that when a church family and their pastor comes together and decide it’s all about Jesus, something very special happens.

Most Bible scholars believe that within one decade of the moment when the Jerusalem populace cried out for the death of Jesus that at least 50% of the 200,000 people who lived in the city had changed their minds and become followers of Jesus. What changed?

The small group who knew Jesus decided to carry on His mission. They loved people like Jesus. They loved their neighbors like Jesus commanded. They loved each other. They put the needs of others above their own. This is what makes church special.

Please don’t reduce church to the buildings, bucks in the offering plate and how many bodies show up each Sunday. It’s not about how the preacher puts a quiver in your liver when he does his sermon. It is about how we see Jesus and carry out the mission He left.

So there you have it. Jesus is what makes a church special. Now go out today to make the church relevant and special by representing Jesus. Act like Him, talk like him, love like him. There is someone out there who is hurting and needs a special touch from Jesus.

Are You Too Busy To Do The Things That Matter Most?

Just this week I was working on the church calendar. The more I plodded along the more I began to realize that we are on the edge of excessive busyness. The press and pace of countless events that fill the church’s calendar have resulted in a culture where I believe we are nearly unable to do the things that matter the most.

One of the most difficult issues everyone faces is the need to evaluate honestly. This issue becomes exponentially complex when many people are involved in planning a church calendar. This task is never easy because everything we are doing or attempting to do in our churches is being done with genuine sincerity.

When you are trying your best it is never easy to admit that your best is not resulting in success. When you have been doing something the same way for a long time, it is hard to step away and really evaluate if what your doing is really working.

The often-quoted definition of insanity actually comes from a failure to honestly evaluate. You have heard it before. It is insane to keep doing the same thing over and over and hope for a different outcome.

Here is how it works in most churches. When churches become aware of a need, a new ministry is often added to meet that need. As a result, churches are almost always adding ministries.

This tendency to add without subtracting creates a huge logjam. When we fail to raise the white flag of surrender and admit that some of the already existing ministries are not effective, we create a cluttered church calendar that is a formula for failure.

Over the course of years and decades this practice of adding without subtracting results in a church calendar that is unreasonably full. The unintentional consequences of this practice are incredibly unhealthy for a church.

The greatest challenge facing church calendar revision is the fact that some of the least effective programs have become sacred cows. The ministry that at one time was relevant and effective has in time become ineffective. It has become more about the idea of what it once was rather than what it has become.

Here are just a few of the problems that result from a failure to evaluate honestly.

• Burnout in a church’s core volunteers is always present when there is an over-filled church calendar. The few willing to take on the unreasonable demands of seven-day a week church calendar simply burn out.

• Future leaders rarely come out of an overcrowded church calendar. There is no time to develop them. Even more damaging is the reality that potential future leaders realize the cost of service is unreasonable so they push back and bug out. They see the people who are going at an unreasonable pace and believe them to be unhealthy. They just don’t want to end up that way.

• An unsustainable pace is created that leads many to discouragement. It does not matter who you are. No one can run at a sprinter’s pace for the full length of a marathon. This discouragement leads to a critical spirit. Fatigue makes almost anyone discouraged.

• Poor quality control is a product of excessive church busyness. Rather then doing a few things well, many church choose to do many things mediocre.

• Excessive busyness is counterproductive when it comes to individual personal spiritual growth. No time to pray, no time to read God’s Word. You only have time to make the next burdensome program.

• Excessive busyness results in an inward focus. This focus almost always leads to self-importance and a lack of honoring God for what He is doing. In fact we almost tell God to take a break because we think we can handle it with our busyness.

• Marriages and families are pulled apart as they seek to keep the pace. Little time is left for personal family time and growth. This could be one of the reasons why the divorce rate is just as high in the church as it is in the world outside the church.

• The church calendar is so cluttered that there is not time to stop and evaluate the effectiveness of what is being done. It takes time to honestly look at what you are doing and figure out if what your doing could be better or would it be better to just stop doing it.

I do not have any scientific data to back this up but I am very confident that I’m right when I say most churches are simply way too busy. I spent seven years of my life going to different churches nearly every week. They all had one thing in common. They all seemed to struggle to find time on the church calendar to pray for the things they were “doing for God”.

Could it be that if you are too busy to pray you are just too busy?

Maybe it’s time to take a good hard look at the church calendar. We may just be too busy to do the few things that matter the most of all.

The Christian’s Declaration of Interdependence By Ed Holland, Influenced by the American Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of a Christian’s life, it becomes necessary to dissolve the sinful bands which have connected men and women to the world, and to assume the power that God has given them as they yield to the Holy Spirit who indwells them, it is essential that people declare the causes which impel them to live free. (The Bible – Book of Galatians)

I the undersigned do hold these truths to be self-evident, that all who are born again are created equal, that they were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable spiritual rights, that among these are the abundant life, spiritual liberty, the pursuit of Jesus and an authentic spiritual life. (John 10:10)

In that no man is an island to himself and that each follower of Jesus Christ is interdependent and deeply connected to other Christians. We recognize that we need each other and that God’s plan to live free requires spiritual accountability. (Matthew 22:37-40)

• We will love God personally and join with others in public worship.
• We will love our neighbors as ourselves. We will also band together with our church family to maximize our efforts.
• We will serve God by serving others. By God’s grace and power we will change the world one person at a time by unselfishly giving of our time, our treasures and our talents.

Therefore, as a follower of Jesus Christ, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, we do, by Authority of the Scriptures, solemnly publish and declare, that we will live free through the power of God’s Holy Spirit interdependent upon our Christian family. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to our Brothers and Sisters, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Contentment

Did you know that if you have a roof over your head and a healthy meal at your dinner table you possess greater wealth than 93% of the rest of the world? If you have a new pair of shoes you are richer than 75% of all others who live on planet earth.

The poorest among us in America have so much when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world and yet we often choose to dwell in the land of discontentment.

Ben Franklin observed that, “content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor”. It seems that not much has changed in our country since Colonial times.

America is the most prosperous nation in the world and yet we always seem to want more. Greed is only part of the problem. Our ability to remain content and balanced emotionally seems to so easily get tipped over. The slightest inconvenience can knock us down.

Stop for moment and think about the things that have frustrated you the most in recent days. Remember the 10 minutes you lost in a traffic jam because someone thoughtlessly got into an accident and died. Then there was the wasted time you endured as your high-speed Internet access slowed to a snail’s pace.

If a 3-minute wait in the line at Starbucks results in a downward spiral that ruins your whole day you might want to drill down on the root cause of your discontentment.

Contentment is not built on possessions or circumstances. It is not subject to the winds of change. It is immune to the inconveniences of life.

Contentment comes from a deep sense of ones personal worth and value to God. Contentment grows from an awareness of God’s love and the personal possession of that love.

Contentment is not built on the acquisition of what you desire, but grounded on an awareness of how much you already hold. Even more importantly it is based on an absolute confidence in a God who loves you and holds you in high value.

If you are weary from trying to keep up with the Joneses why not give God’s love a chance to fill your life. You have already found out that comparative contentment is a slippery slope.

Although it is helpful to take stock of your blessings and realize how much you have compared to others, this alone cannot be your focus point. God’s love not people or what you have in comparison to them should garner our attention.

Contentment is personal choice. This choice is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ and His love. Contentment is the natural thing that happens as you experience His love.

Do You Have Junk In Your Trunk?

This April at ABT I have been talking about how easy it is for us to pack our hurts and disappointments away rather then forgiving those who have hurt us. The first step in unpacking the junk we have packed away is to get honest and admit we are carrying around the load.

Denial or minimizing a past hurt only pushes the hurt deeper into the trunk of your life. When someone tells you they forgive and forget they probably mean well, but the fact is no one can completely forget a hurt. Past hurts that have not been forgiven have a way of resurfacing when we least expect it.

Rather then ignoring a past hurt, here is what you do when you remember the hurt. You remind yourself how much JESUS has forgiven you. You are not powerless in this matter; God will help you. You have a choice. You simply remind yourself that God has forgiven you of so much and you can do no less then forgive those who have hurt you.

Reminding yourself is an act of the will. That’s what obeying God is…by doing it God’s way. You have to be more then a hearer of the WORD of God, you have to obey. You have to stay focused on the fact that you are a sinner saved by God’s grace and make the choice to forgive and move forward in your life.

Reminding yourself is a learned behavior. You will want to write yourself some notes. Put one on the bathroom mirror. Put one on the dashboard of your car. Stick them up all around your house. It’s an act of the will.

Reminding yourself over and over to obey God is a choice. It is not based on a feeling. I’ll be honest with you. When somebody hurts me, I don’t feel like forgiving them. Just because I’m a Pastor does not mean I don’t desire a pound of flesh when someone does me dirty. The truth is I don’t feel like forgiving them. That is usually not my first response. I have to stop and remind myself to obey God. This is a matter of will and a matter of obedience.

Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision. It’s a conscious decision that you and I have to make if we want to be followers of Jesus. It is what you do if you want to align yourselves with God’s way. It’s what you do if you want to be a person who is characterized by forgiveness and not by bitterness and negative emotion.

Some of you reading this have minimized the importance of a personal walk with Jesus and as a result you can’t or won’t forgive. I want you to know that if you choose not to forgive there’s going to be other things that happen in your life whether you’re a Christian or not a Christian. You will become an angry and bitter person. When you choose not to forgive your anger grows. When you disobey God’s instructions and your anger is intensified, your relationships suffer because that’s what a lack of forgiveness does.

Junk in your trunk will slow you down. It is exhausting to drag around the extra weight. It just does not make sense to carry the extra load. Forgiving others is possible for those who embrace the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Don’t waste another day. You can start the process by getting alone somewhere and start the unpacking. Get some help if you get stuck. Sometimes you need a friend or counselor to help you with some of the heavier bags.

Stuck

This month at ABT, I am talking about how to get out of a rut. Everyone gets stuck at one time or another. We get stuck in a hurtful relationship. We get stuck in behaviors that are destructive and hold us back. We get stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get unstuck.

The best definition I have ever heard of a rut is that it is a grave with both ends knocked out. That’s right, if you have fallen into a rut you are living like you are already in the grave.

Here is how we get stuck in a rut. Repeated behaviors cut grooves in the road of our life. The storms of life cut the groove even deeper, much like your tires cut groves into a slushy road on a winter day. As you try to steer out of the frozen rut of a road covered in snow and frozen slush, you can feel the pull of your tires drawing you back into the groove of the rut. You are stuck and can’t get out.

Life is much the same way. Some people get stuck in bitterness because of past hurts. Other people get stuck by harmful habits that rob them of any quality of life. Still others get stuck going through the motions of life and never spiritually grow.

The Bible has many examples of people who got stuck in a rut. The children of Israel got stuck in social and religious ruts from years of living in Egypt. They remained stuck in the wilderness for 40 years before they could get unstuck. The leaders were preaching change but most people never got unstuck. They just died stuck.

The Prodigal Son is a good example of someone who got stuck but chose to get help. He went to his father who immediately helped him. He knew he could not get out of the pigpen on his own and he found help with his loving Father.

Is it possible that you might just be stuck in a rut? Could it be that you are just wandering around aimlessly like the people of Israel without hope, purpose or meaning? Or are you like the prodigal son, stuck in the pigpen of life surrounded by a bunch of pigs and their dirt, eating the unsatisfying scraps of the world?

Christians who find themselves stuck in a rut have a unique opportunity to go to their heavenly Father and get His help. According to the Bible God invites us to come to him when we are stuck.

You can’t get unstuck on your own. You will need to humble yourself and get help. If you have an addiction that you cannot control then you need to get honest and get help. Find a Bible based support group; God the father wants to help you. You can get unstuck. The choice is yours. The prodigal made it home once he swallowed his pride and decided to submit to the will of his father.

Who Moved My Country?

We are not in Kansas any more…

You remember the line in the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy to Toto her dog upon realizing she was in a strange new land, “Toto, we are not in Kansas any more…” That is how I feel now the fall 2012 elections have come and gone.

What happened to my country?

It’s not that I did not see it coming. Anyone who has traveled to Europe has seen a preview of what will be playing out in America if present trends continue. The only thing that has caught me by surprise is that it happened so much faster then I thought it would.

Every time I go to Europe I wonder how long will it be until my country has moved away from it’s foundational principles and looks like any number of formerly Christian influenced European nations.

I’m not just talking about the churches that look more like museums than houses of worship; I’m talking about the moral fiber that makes up a nation. The 2012 American elections have convinced me that what I have long feared is already upon us.

A seismic cultural shift has taken place. The norms revealed in the election were unimaginable just a few short years ago. States legalizing same sex marriages. The legalization of drugs formally banned. The clear message that the majority of Americans now desire the federal government to provide services that take away personal choice and responsibility.

We are now a nation that looks to the government to take care of them. We have lost our drive and passion to provide for ourselves and have become a nation devoted to entitlements. Class envy played well for many politicians in the recent elections.

Most of the people I know went into a deep depression after the election. Some jumped on the bandwagon of blame blasting all the usual suspects. There is the evil ACLU, secular media, humanistic institutions of higher education, and of course, the liberal press. These all played a part, but as I look for the real culprit to blame I believe there may be an even more sinister villain.

I believe the real villains are to be found in the fortresses we call churches. We who call ourselves Christians are to blame above all else for our country falling away from its historical values.

We who are Christians have become complacent. We have been extremely comfortable for a very long time. Lack of persecution and prosperity has made us numb to the culture that was changing around us. We get more upset when our church does not sing the hymns we grew up with than we do when another state legalizes same sex marriage.

Now for those who are discouraged and even depressed by the facts that their country has changed, let me give you some good news. The church of Jesus Christ has thrived in pagan cultures. Christians who are authentic and possess a real and vibrant faith have countless opportunities to let their faith stand out.

I would like to propose that the recent elections that confirmed we are no longer in Kansas have given us a golden opportunity. People will in time discover that the promises of hope and change minus God are empty and hollow. Many who are honest thinkers will soon be open to the truth.

God is still alive. His promises are still true. Let’s press forward with confidence knowing that although we are in a strange new world God will use us if we allow Him to. Yes, our country has moved away from God but He remains willing to accept us back if we are willing to find our way home.

Political Myths

Politics void of Christian influence has been responsible for the destruction of nations. Politics that have been impacted by the wisdom and principles of Judeo Christian truth has brought freedom and liberty to countless people throughout the centuries.

When envisioned through the lens of God’s Word politics can be driven by wisdom. In the absence of Christian light and influence there can only be darkness. To anyone who thinks a free people can be governed without wisdom and virtue consider the words of the great British statesman Edmund Burke: “But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”

My entire life I have heard a number of myths that keep Christians paralyzed when it comes to their responsibility to fulfill their civic duty. This year’s political season has caused me to examine some of the most common myth and see if they make sense or if they like so many fabricated mythologies need to be buried.

Myth #1: “Politics are dirty and Christians should avoid them.”

Yep, politics are dirty but what in this world is not corrupt. This makes about as much sense as becoming Amish. According to the Bible Christians are supposed to be the salt and the light. The absence of Christians in politics has removed the preserving effect of the salt. Absence of light dooms political movements to darkness. This myth is the easiest one to bust. Christians are not supposed to hid out in their churches but get involved.

Myth #2: “God doesn’t care about politics.”

This is one of the dumbest ones I have ever heard but every political season I run into someone who throws this in my face. There is NOTHING on the planet that God does not care about. God cares about people and people are directly impacted by politics.

Myth #3: “I’m too busy doing the Lord’s work to get involved.”

This myth sounds a lot like the excuse the religious hypocrites used when they refused to help the man that the Good Samaritan did help. Too busy to do the right thing is madness. This myth keeps good people silent when their voices need to be heard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian during WW II said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Myth #4: “There is no one running I agree completely with.”

This myth if carried out consistently would stop everyone from having a friend or from getting married. Of course there is no one you agree completely with. This logic is flawed and has to be set aside. To require a candidate to agree with everything you believe is absurd.

Dan Holland’s Race

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Dan Holland left his home in Stuart, FL on July 20 early in the morning hours for a short run. Less then fifteen minutes later he lowered his body to the ground gasping for breath. His powerful body was failing him for the first time. He closed his eyes and never regained consciousness. Twenty-five days later he stopped breathing.

Please do not allow yourself to miss the real truth of what happened. Dan Holland did not die. He is more alive right now than ever before! He is in his heavenly home.

Dan Holland had simply completed his race. Like when an Olympic marathoner crosses the finish line they just stop running. Dan’s race is now finished and it is time for him to receive his medal.

Dan Holland completed his race with dignity and honor. He was not disgraced or disqualified while running. He never cheated. He followed the rules and brought honor to his real homeland, a place called Heaven.

Dan Holland did not run alone. He always found time to encourage the younger runners in the race of life. He would often slow down his pace to help someone new to the Christian race of life begin their journey.

Dan Holland ran his race not only for His Lord but also for his family. He knew he had been blessed with an amazing wife who like him loved Jesus Christ. When Tim and Tracie, and then Liz, Bryan, Parker and Emma came along he knew he was running for them too. He never disappointed them even one time.

Dan Holland ran for all the right reasons. It was never about him. His ego was invisible. His life was all about lifting up Jesus and never about himself. Dan could have held positions of Ecclesiastical leadership, but he never aspired to be anything more than a local church pastor. To him that was the highest calling on earth.

Dan Holland has inspired us by the race he has run. He is now a part of the great cloud of witnesses that are watching us right now.

“… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

Dan Holland was my brother and for that I will be forever grateful. His race has inspired me and the thought that he is watching is impacting me every day. If you are willing to be challenged to run your race to your fullest potential, let me encourage you to watch his celebration service today. The link is listed below.

https://www.thegraceplace.com/577069.ihtml