Monday, October 29, 2012

Spiritual Health Check - Part 2: Governed by His Word?

Last month I began to post about a book that I have been revisiting, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Donald Whitney.  As the name suggests it poses 10 sobering questions for us as believers to reflect on to see whether we are growing Spiritually in a healthy way.  The first question which I addressed in a previous posting was Do you thirst for God? 

Question 2 is Are you governed increasingly by God's Word?
This question is filled with all kinds of challenges, for one, most of us, if we're honest don't really want to be governed by anything.  But to be governed by God's Word is to allow it have full authority over the way that we live our lives. It requires that we bring our whole selves in submission to this authority.  Whitney quotes Thomas Chalmers saying, "The sum and substance of the preparation for a  coming eternity is that you believe what the Bible tells you and do what the Bible bids you."

Because the Bible is not simply another book, but is in fact the very word of Almighty God, it is utterly unparalleled in its truth, its reliability, its power and its authority.  As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Psalm 19 likewise tells us that the Word of God is perfect, sure, right, pure, true and righteous, sweeter than honey and more to be desired than fine gold.

In God's Word we find His revelation of Himself to us.  We learn who God is and what He is like, and we learn who we really are and what we are really like, and accordingly how much we desperately need Him!  When we have a right understanding of who God is, who we are, and what He requires of us, then we find ourselves joyfully compelled to live entirely surrendered to Him.

Whitney explains, "No Christian, of course, always and perfectly lives in accordance with Scripture.  Only Jesus has done that.  So we speak of being governed by Scripture as 1) a general characteristic of a true follower of Jesus, and yet 2) something that increasingly characterizes the growing Christian."

Do we increasingly desire to know God, and to live in such a way that honors Him and brings glory to Him.  If so we must, Whitney continues:

  • Seek to be growing in our desire for God's Word (this can only happen by reading it, and asking the Lord to birth in you a passion to know Him better)
  •  Diligently make time to spend in His Word
  • Read it daily and do not close it until we know how we ought to respond to what we are reading
  • Train ourselves to ask the question - "how does the Bible speak to this situation that I find myself facing?"

Sadly, there is in much of the evangelical church a focus on knowing about the Bible, but often a little energy is given to living out the Word.  But, we do not truly know God's Word until we allow it to take a hold of us, and when we do, we will discover as the Psalmist said, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

May you know the joy, the freedom and the confidence that comes from walking according to His Word!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Should You Vote?

OK so we’re only a month out from the elections.  Maybe you are already decided, maybe you still don’t have a clue.  Well, I have some good news for you and some bad news.  Bad news first – I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for (actually, that’s good news too), but the (other) good news is that I want to share with you 4 ways in which you should vote on November 6.

1. Vote Prayerfully
We enjoy tremendous freedoms here in the United States, freedoms for which we ought to regularly give thanks to God.  The problem is that many of us have grown so accustomed to our freedom that we take it for granted.  When we take things for granted we are prone to forget that everything in our lives is a Spiritual issue.  The work that we do is a Spiritual issue, our relationship with our husband or wife is a Spiritual issue, how we use our time, talents and treasure – Spiritual issue… and yes, how we vote – Spiritual issue.
Take time to pray and seek God about how you should vote, and while you are at it pray for our nation and for our local, state and national leaders too.

Just as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

2. Vote Intelligently
Get to work and do some homework.  Don’t just vote for someone because they represent a particular party, find out what they really represent.  Put some legwork into learning what each candidate really stands for.  They all have websites that you can go to and learn more about the candidates, but don’t just rely on the T.V. ads.

One helpful tool for you might be the Illinois Family Institutes voter’s guide you can reach it by clicking here.  Or you can find other guides by simply searching google or the local news affiliates sites.

3. Vote Biblically
Unfortunately no one candidate in any of the races really comes close to being a “Biblical candidate.”  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t vote Biblically.  As you look at each race do so as Billy Graham used to say with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
What are the issues that our nation is facing?  What has God said about those issues?  Who most closely lines up with what God says? 

What are the issues in our day? They are: Life, Marriage, Spending and deficit, War, The Nation of Israel, Poverty and Health care (and plenty more).

God’s Word speaks to all these issues – check out what He has to say!
It is probably better to vote for a non-Christian who is more closely aligned to Biblical standards than it is to vote for someone who may claim to be a Christian but who has no regard for Biblical standards.

4. Vote Comprehensively
Despite what the main stream media may suggest, there are far more offices on the ballot on November 6 than just the Presidential one.

I admit, I actually think that there are way too many elected offices.  Some of you will completely disagree with me but the idea that a Coroner is an elected office is to me absurd!  Nevertheless we have the privilege and responsibility to vote prayerfully, intelligently and Biblically in every race that we possibly can.  Yes that takes some effort on our part, but what can I say, make the effort.  Know what is going on at the local level because those who are elected today at the local level are the statewide and national candidates of tomorrow.

Voting is important, but remember our hope does not lie in politics and politicians but rather in Jesus Christ who alone is the hope of the world.

On November 6, whether your candidate wins or not, let’s be sure to give thanks to God for the freedom that we enjoy and remember the words of Daniel:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise.

Don’t forget to vote!