Categories
Life

To what extent should churches and pastors engage in politics?

Each day, I have a short (“short” is relative) discussion with the junior high pastor (Jack) at my church about any topic related to theology, culture, or practical living. We rotate who chooses the question every day. Today, the question was the title to this post. I plan on posting one or two takeaways from the better discussions we have.

The posts will be abbreviated, and I realize I risk oversimplifying the answers to these tough questions in a 500-word-or-less post. But I hope these short blogs are an appetizer to fruitful debate that can happen in the comments section.

Jack and I agree on most subjects.  Hopefully we won’t someday and it will turn into a swashbuckling bar-brawl, Indiana Jones-esque fight scene.  Okay, maybe not.  Nevertheless, when we disagree, I hope to faithfully represent the other side of the debate here.

Categories
Ministry

China Daily reports on a student’s conversion

China Daily, China’s official English newspaper, ran a short article yesterday about a college student’s conversion to Jesus.

This is pretty amazing, given the fact that China is still a communist nation, and the newspaper is government owned.  Even though persecution exists there, this story shows that God is most definitely working in China.  Let’s be praying for this nation!

Categories
Theology

Israel Crosses the Jordan

Part 2 of a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Last time, we saw that the meta-narrative of the Bible is that God is making a people for himself from all the families of the earth.  There’s so many chapters to this story, but let’s move ahead a few books to Joshua 3-4. The background is that Moses has died and Joshua is now the leader of Israel. He has been a faithful constant in wicked Israel and now it is his opportunity to lead God’s people to the promise land. In Joshua 3, Israel is about to cross the Jordan River.

He gives instructions to the Israelites for what to do. He tells them that God is going to go before them in the ark of the covenant. As they follow, the waters will rise and where they walk will be dry ground. Joshua 3:17 says that “all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”

During chapter 4, Israel set up two memorial stones for the Lord. Joshua said to the people, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do those stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, Israel passed over the Jordan on dry ground” (v. 21).

But did God simply do that to bring Israel into the Promise Land? Wasn’t there a greater purpose? Verse 23 begins with the word “For” to let us know why God did it. Here’s what it says:

For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.

Joshua tells the Israelites the same thing that God tells Abraham in Genesis 12. God delivered his people so his bigger purpose would take place. God wants Israel to know that it’s not about them. It’s about the God of ultimate diversity bringing all people everywhere into white-hot worship of the LORD God as the supreme treasure of the universe.

This story is going beyond Israel. Physical real estate will not be able to contain it. It won’t be limited to race or nation. It’s going to be an unshakable kingdom, and as we said last time, it will be for every kind of person in every kind of race in every of nation for all time.

Categories
Theology

All the Families of the Earth

Series Index

  1. All the Families of the Earth
  2. Israel Crosses the Jordan
  3. Solomon Dedicates the Temple
  4. Let the Coastlands Rejoice!
  5. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  6. Peter and Cornelius
  7. The Diverse Multitude

Part 1 of a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Since eternity past, it has been God’s design to make a people for himself.  This people would not be bound by race, nationality, gender, age, socio-economic status, or any other physical limitation.  This people group would be a spiritual family that is united together under God as their Father.  This is taught all throughout Scripture, and over the next few weeks, we’ll take glances at God’s big story and how it unfolds from Genesis to Revelation.

To find the first chapter in this story, we have to go all the way back to Genesis 12 and the call of Abram.  God tells Abram to leave his country and go to a land that God will provide.  In verses 2-3, God says to Abram,

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Notice that God doesn’t just say that Jews will be blessed, or Arabs (who derive from Abram), or Abram’s own personal family.  God tells Abram that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” through him.  That means every kind of person in every kind of race in every nation for all time.

There is a problem in Genesis 12, however.  There are still racial and ethnic and national issues that are keeping all the families from being blessed.  Abram soon becomes “Abraham” (Gen. 17), and the Jewish line is started with the covenant of circumcision.  The issue is that not everyone is Jewish.  Not everyone follows or knows about Jehovah God.  Not everyone is part of this special promise.  This is a huge problem.

If the story ended here, all the families of the earth would be doomed, not blessed.  It would not be a happy ending.  But the story doesn’t end here.  God does provide a solution.  The solution is that something greater than Abraham and this first covenant is coming.