politics and faith

Category : God, Jeremiah, barbarian, different, faith, hope, living a life of faith, trust

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Election day.  There may not be any other day that so many Americans get worked up and angry over.  Besides the obvious Sunday of football.  While some people say that elections are becoming more “vicious” and “partisan”, I think they’ve always been that way.  Last time I checked there haven’t been any pistol duels in Washington recently.

Politics can be exciting.  A lot can ride on an election.  We’ve seen this in the last few elections.  About a third of the country despised the direction of the USA under George Bush.  Now about a third of the country despises the direction of the USA under Obama.  We seem to be evenly balanced in our dislike of political trends.

So if there is so much tension, anger and animosity, why do we get so worked up about politics?

For some elections and politics represent the hope of change.  That’s what Obama campaigned on.  Although he wasn’t the first, he might have been the best at it.  For others it represents the continuation of the status quo. Their party gets to stay in power.  They get to call the shots.

Ultimately it boils down to one fact: elections can have profound consequences.

So what does this mean for someone who believes in God?  How do politics and faith mesh?  Especially when you are living out a life of faith?  I wish I had an answer for you.  I don’t know how you balance the two.  I don’t know if people of faith should be involved in politics.  I don’t know if they should stay out of politics.  There are certainly disadvantages to both choices.  And there are compelling reasons to do either.

But what I do know is God warns us to be careful of believing too much in human-only solutions.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”

(Jeremiah 17: 5)

For many believers I think politics has taken on a primary importance because at their core, they don’t fully trust that God is in charge.  They aren’t quite on board with believing that God really is acting.  I recognize that paints with a broad brush.  I know many Christians who are fully on board with God’s plans.  But I also know many people who don’t know what it means to submit to God and trust him.  And there are some days I can’t fault them for that.  When we hear news of disaster, rape, murder, or other horrific things, it’s easy to wonder exactly how all this fits into some kind of “plan.”

God, though, is very clear on this.  We need to trust him in all circumstances.  Not just when things are running smoothly.  That’s the point of the book of Job.  Job needed to trust God, not because Job’s life was good, but because God is, well, God.

God hammers this point home to Jeremiah too.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17: 7-8)

Jeremiah’s mission was to deliver a message of destruction and punishment to his country.  That’s not easy sailing.  But God reminds him – don’t place your trust in the human solution.  Place your trust in my solution.

Whatever your politics, if you are a believer than it is your responsibility to put your trust in God, not in elections.  Elections can be important.  God may even want you to be involved.  But never at the expense of your first allegiance: to the Kingdom.

welcome to the revolution

Category : God, R3, barbarian, faith, living a life of faith, revolutionary, taking action

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Revolution.  That’s a big theme around R3.  In fact, that concept is a core part of what drives R3 (hence the line: radical, revolutionary, different).  Being a revolutionary is part of what it means to live out a life of faith.  Why am I talking about all of this?  Because I am preparing to teach a new community group called Welcome to the Revolution.  The class is based on the book written by Brian Tome.  The book version of Welcome to the Revolution focuses on what it means to live out a life of faith as a new believer.  The class I am teaching condenses these ideas into a six week period.

Because this is such an important topic to me, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach.

As I was preparing for the class I began to think about how you define a Revolution.  What makes something revolutionary?  What are the key components of a revolution?  At the very core, what does a revolution look like?  What does it mean?

As I thought about it, three concepts came to mind.

  1. Revolutions are all about doing things differently.
  2. Revolutions are about action.
  3. Revolutions are hard.

While there are many different ways to describe a revolution, it’s these three things that define a revolution.  Especially the Kingdom revolution.

Revolution = different.  If things are working perfectly in your life you don’t need a revolution.  If your government is doing the will of the people, you don’t need a political revolution.  If you’re ok making your clothes by hand you don’t need an industrial revolution.  If you’re content writing using only pen and paper you don’t need a technological revolution.  But if everything isn’t perfect, then maybe it’s time to do things differently.  Maybe what’s needed is a revolution.

Revolution = action.  There isn’t time off in a revolution.  You don’t go to commercial break.  You can’t call “time out” so you can go get a drink of water.  Revolutions are 24/7.  That doesn’t mean there will be “fighting” all the time, but it does mean you are always on duty.  You never know when the next battle will be fought, and if you aren’t ready, you’ll find yourself quickly defeated (metaphorically, spiritually, and perhaps even literally).

Revolution = hard.  If someone told you a revolution was easy…they are lying.  Changing things is never easy.  This is especially true with the Kingdom revolution.  The more headway you make the harder it gets, the bigger the challenges, and often, the more it costs.

If you aren’t willing to accept these costs then your revolution will fail.  In the physical world this means that your idea won’t catch on.  Or your political movement will die out.  It will mean that change doesn’t happen and the status quo remains.  In the spiritual world it means your faith will falter, your trust in God will fail, and you’ll find yourself in a very dark and lonely place.

That’s the trade-off with a revolution.  You can change the world, or you can fall in defeat.  Revolutions aren’t half way affairs.  You are either winning a revolution or losing a revolution.  But the pay-off for being a successful revolutionary is amazing. Despite the danger, despite the cost, the Kingdom revolution is worth it.  Which is why I encourage you to seek out revolution in your life.

Become a revolutionary!  Change the world!

what i’m reading: Chasing Daylight

1

Category : book review, feeding my brain, revolutionary

   

Erwin McManus’s first book, The Barbarian Way, is the most important book I’ve ever read.  I know it’s considered “bad” to say this, but it has been more important to me than reading the Bible.  Without The Barbarian Way I never would have read the Bible, let alone seen the beauty of it.  McManus has a way of presenting an idea that fundamentally alters the way you view the world and God.  As I’ve often said on this site, I grew up believing God was this safe, quiet, wimpy thing.  I thought that to be a Christian you had to be a push-over.  The Barbarian Way shattered that view and showed me that being a Christian is this radical, dangerous thing.

In a similar way Chasing Daylight (formerly known as Seizing Your Divine Moment), has completely reshaped the way I “listen” for God to answer my prayers.  In the past I always thought I had to get a specific “yes” from God before I could act on anything.  Instead McManus argues that God has already given us a “yes” on a lot of things.  We have been told to spread the message of Jesus.  We’ve been told to love our enemies and care for the hurting.  We’re already supposed to help one another and support those in need.  We don’t need to wait for a “yes” when we want to do these things – we already have it.

To illustrate this point, McManus uses the story of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14.  Jonathan was bold and aggressive when it came to pursuing God’s will.  You kind of have to be when you decide to charge an army with just two people.  But he also recognized that God’s will often takes us to dangerous places that may cost us everything we have.  Jonathan knew full well God may not save him saying, “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.”  Perhaps?!  Perhaps?!  If I was about to engage in a life threatening endeavor, I’d want a bit of a stronger word than “perhaps!”

But Jonathan represents a model of action.  He worked under the assumption that God had already said “yes” and promised victory to Israel.  He wasn’t waiting for a reconfirmation of God’s word, Israel already had it.  Jonathan knew that victory was just waiting to be grasped.  When we choose to take action McManus calls this “seizing your divine moment.” 

This is such a foreign idea to me that it was hard to accept at first.  But I quickly realized just how revolutionary it was.  We need to flip our usual way of listening for God.  Instead of waiting for “go” we need to assume we have permission to act.  What we really need to listen for is God to say “no.” 

I’m not sure exactly how this idea will shape my life or R3.  But I do know it is going to fundamentally alter how I respond to people as a Christian.  In fact, even before I finished reading Chasing Daylight I knew God was asking me to seize my first divine moment by giving the book away

Chasing Daylight is an amazing book that really challenges us to change our lives.  I don’t usually recommend books to people – I think they should choose to read them (or not) on their own.  But this is a book that I believe everyone should read.