Election Ideas of 2018

Final ballot box

I’ll be out of pocket on election day, so I thought I’d remind you of a few simple things as election day draws near.  First, I’m not a big political activist.  In fact, I am very disenchanted with both political parties and our political leaders.  There are so many things in my life that hold more eternal importance to me.  However, I know the importance of Christians being involved in this process, praying for God’s wisdom, and voting accordingly.  Nonetheless, I wish most Christians would have the same passion for sharing Jesus with people as they do in sharing their political views.

I’ve never been more discouraged with how I see so many Christians treating politics these days. Too many Christians are responding, with what I feel, is hate and fear.  If I feel this way, how much more would a lost person feel?  If I did not know better, I would think Christians believed our eternal hope is somehow tied to our political systems.

As we approach Tuesday, here are 10 things to simply keep in mind.  (I think you will agree with these  they are simply here to remind us as the Election Day approaches.)

  1. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God first and citizens of America second.
  2. The United States is not the Kingdom of God.
  3. Our loyalty is to King Jesus first and foremost. Our allegiance is never to a political party or a candidate.
  4. Party affiliation is not a test of eternal security.  I have many “liberal” friends who stand securely in the righteousness of Jesus, just like me.
  5. Our hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary not the final ballot box on Tuesday.
  6. “Win or Lose” God will continue to sovereignly reign on His throne. We will never give the impression to a lost world that our hope is somehow tied to a political outcome. God will not be waiting with wringing hands to see the outcome of Tuesday’s election. He already knows.  His man or woman will win on Tuesday.
  7. “Win or Lose” we will never allow our responses to be motivated by fear or hate but always by love and compassion.
  8. Facebook will not be the avenue Christians will use to launder their political thoughts and positions.
  9. We will faithfully pray for whichever candidate wins.
  10. People, illegal or legal, are not political pawns but people God has given us to love and reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday, November 7th, our greatest concern, as it is every day, will be to shine brightly for Jesus Christ and represent Him well in a crooked and depraved generation.  I know this is a very hot-button issue.  Go to the polls and vote for whomever God’s leads you to vote. Don’t be afraid if the “other” candidate wins; by all means, don’t let the world think, even for a moment, our eternal hope is tied to the election. One other thing, unless it’s kind and to affirm the winning candidate, don’t say anything on Facebook for a few days. Remember, there will be a lot of scared and hurt people on Wednesday.  Let’s not add to their pain.

Finally, no matter the outcome, BE KIND, CHURCH.

So what do you think?  Let me know your thoughts.

Silence in Prayer

silence

Have you ever noticed how we have an aversion to silence?  We sit trying to meditate and pray. But the silence of the moment quickly invades our space in a way that overwhelms our soul.  Immediately we reach for the nearest source of noise and turn it on and turn it up so we can cancel out and overcome the silence.  Admit it, we hate silence.  It is such an enemy to us we keep the TV on in the background and worry if we think our children are “too quiet.”  We are accustomed to noise and conditioned to clamor for any sound at all.  We can’t stand silence.

I have found this to be especially true in prayer.  Most of us find it hard to keep silent in prayer.  We immediately jump into our prayer with request after request.  Instead, slow down and add these two practices to your prayer life and you will pray with power and confidence.

The first practice is silence.  We are commanded to pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18).  Could it be mos

t of us pray so little in the Spirit because we pray too much with our own words, our own strength and never give the Spirit an opportunity to pray? In Romans, Paul tells us “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes” (Romans 8:26).  What would happen if we began praying in silence while begging the Spirit to intercede for us?  Ask Him to pray the will of the Father. After you ask, sit in meditative silence. Could this be part of what the Psalmist meant in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know I am God?”  I think one of the keys to praying in the Spirit is silence before God and allowing the Spirit to pray.

Before we proceed, consider two important things:

  1. We don’t always know the will of God. Case in point. A missionary is going to the 10/40 corridor (https://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window) to be a witness for God.  What is the Father’s will?  What if it’s martyrdom?  We always pray for safety for our missionaries (I do too).  How often do you see the early church pray for safety?  I’m sure they did, but their focus was boldness to speak the Gospel fervently and with great power.  As you pray for missionaries, begin with silence.  Ask God’s Spirit to intercede.  Then pray for all the “normal” things we pray.  But give time for the Spirit to intercede.
  2. The Spirit always knows the Father’s will. Who would you rather have interceded for you? A person who could only know the will of the Father partially, or fully?

Let’s continue.  Silence is not only needed in prayer; it allows you to implement the second strategy for powerful prayer: Listening.  Richard Foster has stated well, “Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening” (Celebration of Discipline page 86). How can you hear a Word from God much less understand Him if you are always talking during prayer?  Jesus warns us not to use too many words in prayer (Matthew 6:7).  One of the greatest virtues in prayer is listening in silence.

Two practices to implement in the closet of your prayer life are the art of silence and listening.  To implement these practices, you will have to practice the discipline of solitude.  You must be willing to be alone.  When you are away from the everyday distractions and as you start your time of prayer and fellowship with the Father, begin on your knees in silence.  Give the Spirit of God a chance to pray and then listen. You will know when it is time for you to speak.  It is then when you begin to pray over your list with confidence that God hears your prayers and He can meet every request.

Get off alone; turn off Facebook and the TV.  Be quiet, listen, and then pray.

 

 

Be Our Guest – Invite

As a pastor of nearly 20 years, I absolutely love Easter.  I love what it means to my Be out guestpersonal faith.  Jesus is alive; He has risen.  The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.  I love what it means to my church. Whether it was a very small church I pastored of 12 people or a little larger church of nearly 300, Easter was and is or just “has always been” special.  There is an excitement and a joy on Easter morning we do not always experience.

My wife and I saw “Beauty and the Beast” a couple of weeks ago.  As I sit here writing down my thoughts about Easter, I’m still singing songs from the movie.  I especially like the song, “Be Our Guests.”  It always makes me think about the guests we get every Sunday morning.  On Easter, every church in America will have guests come who may not normally come.  Are you excited about those who may come to our church on Sunday?  Here are few ideas of how you can get ready for your very special guests this Sunday.

Before Sunday: Invite

Before Easter morning, your task is simple: Invite people to our Easter worship celebration.  Lifeway Research (http://lifewayresearch.com/) asked a question: Do you plan to attend a worship service on Easter?  39% of the people respond, “No” and 41% responded, “Yes.”  While not surprising, it was a little discouraging.  However, 20% of those polled said they don’t know.  They haven’t decided. Consider that number.  1 in 5 people are keeping their options open.  That is great news.  Imagine if every member in our church would invite 5 people to church this Sunday.  The odds are in our favor that at least one of those five will attend.  Be bold! Invite people to church on Easter Sunday.  Many will be very open to the invitation. Take a moment to consider the following:

“Christians who automatically attend church on Easter should be mindful of their many friends, neighbors and family members who haven’t ruled out the idea of attending,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “It may be that a personal invitation is what would make a difference to them.” (http://lifewayresearch.com/2013/03/26/survey-one-in-five-americans-undecided-about-easter-church-attendance/)

On Sunday: Be Intentional with our guests

Be excited about the guests who come. They are not a nuisance.  They are our guests and we want to make them feel at home.  Here are a couple of intentional ideas for you to try on Sunday:

  1. Arrive in the gathering area early. Grab a cup of coffee and talk to people. Mingle with people.  Don’t mingle with only people you know, but make a point of meeting new people.  Make sure they know where the coffee is, where the bathrooms are, where the nursery is and where our welcome center is located.  Make a point of going out of your way to make them feel welcome.
  2. Sit up closer to the front. I know what you are thinking. My regular seat is on the back row. Imagine if our “regular” attendees would be willing to move up closer to the front.  Too often we make our guests walk farther down the aisle and find a seat on the front row.  Let’s give them the seats in the back of our worship center.  It would be so much easier for them.
  3. Greet the guests first. Like every Sunday, there will be a greeting time. Make a point of going out of your way to talk with people you don’t know. Find ones who may be standing around awkwardly and make a point of saying hello.
  4. Take an active role in worship. Can I pass on a novel idea? Sing and sing loudly. Sing with joy in your heart.  Let our guest think we really believe this news about Easter.  We really believe Jesus is alive and has changed everything.  Smile! It’s ok for a guest to leave saying our music was good, the preaching wasn’t horrible, but those people sure love Jesus.  I think God can use that for His glory.
  5. One of our goals is to get follow-up information on our guests. Help us in the process. Make sure they know about our Welcome Center. Let them know one of the gifts they will receive for turning in their communication card is a free breakfast sandwich card from Chick-fil-A.

Are you realizing these are habits we should be doing every week, not just on Easter?
After Easter Sunday: Invest in our guests

Our greatest desire is to see our guests come back the next week.  Imagine what would happen if every member took the time to invest in our guests.  What could God do with a very simple invitation?  Consider meeting a guest on Sunday. Introduce yourself.  Invite them personally to attend church next Sunday and invite them to have lunch when they come back to church.  Contact the church office on Monday.  Take a name of one of our guest families and adopt them. Personally call them and invite them back.  Be intentional with our guest on Monday morning, too.

There will be a peak in our attendance this Sunday.  It goes without saying, you have already started praying for your pastor and worship leaders.  We can do all the physical things we can, but what we need more than anything is a pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the church.  Pray for God to do just that.  No, may I say, beg God to pour His Spirit upon your church this Sunday.  Only He can make dead bones live.