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Perspective on Politics

October 28, 2008 2 comments

Political campaigns have a way of becoming all-consuming. So much so you would think they are the most important thing on earth. No doubt this election will have big implications, but it needs to be kept in perspective.

Let’s face it, our culture has been in the midst of huge changes aside from politics, and another election in itself won’t change that. Also – and more significantly – God’s hands will not be tied by the outcome of any election. His work will continue on.

With that in mind, I offer the following points to remember as this election season reaches its climax.

First, God will raise up to office those He wants to be there. He is the One who removes kings and raises them up (Dan.2:21). We may have other preferences when it comes to whom God chooses, but He is the One who ordains who rules over us. And, typically, the one He does ordain tends to reflect the character of the people. So, if we want better rulers, we must begin with ourselves.

Second, the well-being of God’s kingdom does not depend on who is in office. The fact that Pharaoh and Herod were under God’s power assures us that the plan He has for His kingdom cannot be thwarted in this world. For this reason, the kingdom of God has advanced in all forms of political environments, whether they be republics, democracies, monarchies, or tyrannies. As Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18). These words remain true today.

Third, salvation is not by politics, but by the Lord. As faith has waned in our culture, greater expectations have been placed on the civil government to assure that we are provided for and secure no matter how much we violate God’s principles. The last months especially have brought the government’s ability to fulfill these expectations into question. And this is actually a good thing if we use the opportunity to turn back to the Lord, because our hope as a nation is not in politics, but repentance. “Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people” (Pr.14:34).

Fourth, your responsibilities will remain essentially the same no matter what the outcome of this election. However things turn out on November 4th, you’ll still have to provide for your family, train up your children, rake the leaves, and walk the dog. And it’s on these duties your attention is to be fixed. When individuals and households seek to fulfill the responsibilities that God gives them, the character of that culture improves. With it comes less dependence on the state and a greater dependence on the Lord who gives all good things to those who trust Him (Jas.1:17).

Bottom line: our politicians will never be able to solve what are really issues of character, so we better turn back to the Lord soon.

Categories: Seed for the Harvest

Dear Fearful

October 21, 2008 Leave a comment

Dear Fearful,

Thank you for writing. And yes, I would be happy to answer your question about how to cope with the fear that arises from the uncertainty of our times.

I’ll begin my answer with a couple observations.

First, you are not alone. The economy, elections, and all kinds of personal issues have many people anxious about what lies around the bend for us.

Second, it is good that you recognize that God is using your fears to draw you closer to Him. God has a habit of showing us the limits of our own sufficiency to make us more dependent on Him.

Now, on to your specific question: “How can I deal with the fear that troubles me everyday?”

Most important is to know that you are right with God. This assurance comes by trusting fully in the provision God has made for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” (Rom.5:1). Real peace is preceded by real faith in Him who is fully trustworthy.

In addition to living by faith in God, strive to keep a good conscience. A conscience made weak by wrongdoing is soon riddled by fears. When you do wrong, repent of it quickly and get yourself back in sync with the Spirit. Keeping a good conscience before God and your fellow man is indispensable when it comes to maintaining your peace and strength.

Also, cultivate a growing love for God and others. The Bible tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. . .” (1 Jn.4:18). When we are consumed with ourselves, fear takes over as we become preoccupied with loss and punishment. But a focus on loving God and others displaces fear.

Finally, do not go it alone. God never intended that we live our life in Him in isolation. Rather, he baptizes us into His body and calls us to function among His people (1 Cor.12:12ff). Find a faithful church and partake of its ministry. Deception, idolatry, and unbelief are perils we all face, but as you faithfully worship and serve among others they will be kept at bay.

In closing, keep in mind that before He left this earth, Jesus made provision for the fears He knew we would face.

To those who are trusting in their own abilities He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt.11:28-30).

And in reference to the presence of His Spirit He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn.14:27).

May God’s grace and peace be with you always.

Yours in Christ’s service,

Pastor David Bostrom

Categories: Seed for the Harvest

Restoring the Soul

October 7, 2008 Leave a comment

You don’t hear much about the soul anymore. You hear plenty about taking care of the body. And you’ll hear an occasional warning not to waste your mind. But few are the exhortations about tending to your soul. And that’s too bad.

The soul lies at the foundation of human life. It is what integrates your mind, body, and spirit. And it more than any other aspect of your being shapes who you are as a person.

Neglect of the soul, therefore, is a great peril. A well-tended soul brings good to the totality of life. Whereas the soul that’s neglected works deterioration through every aspect of one’s experience.

The overall neglect of the soul in our day is apparent. The isolation, coldness, addictions, anger, and abuse that characterizes so many are all indications of a society that is impoverished when it comes to the nourishment of the soul.

The critical nature of this soul-neglect cannot be understated. Those afflicted with it are engaged in a self-destructive struggle as they are ruled by their desires and habits and held captive by deceptions and falsehoods.

The human suffering caused by this struggle is incalculable. And the ongoing neglect of the soul only makes matters worse. But there is hope for those who seek to have their souls renewed and restored.

The first step is to acknowledge that you have a soul that needs to be cared for. Turn from any neglect and begin to recognize your soul and pay attention to its needs.

Next, entrust your soul to God. There are those who believe they can manage just fine without any dependence on God, but the damage done to the soul in the process cannot be escaped. Rest from the weariness of our souls can only be found in Him.

Also instrumental in restoring the soul is God’s law. The Bible tells us, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps.19:7).

God’s law is the perfect standard of righteousness. As we look to this standard we see how we fall short of it, and this serves to lead us to the only one who is perfect, Jesus Christ. As we come to Him in faith, we begin the process of having our souls restored.

But the law of God also serves to restore our souls in another way. God’s law is His ongoing standard for how we are to live, and as we follow this standard with the aid of His Spirit our souls take on new life and develop.

Unfortunately, any mention of God’s law has largely been abandoned in our day – even among Christians. Indeed, we are only accepted before God on the basis of faith. But His law remains instrumental in the keeping and development of our souls.

When Jesus looked on the masses, He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Mk.6:34). That is to say, He saw them in need of restored souls. I do believe Jesus’ view of the masses would be just the same today.