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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.

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Life

How Should Christians Respond to Obama’s Education Speech?

Obama’s speech on education, which he will give today, has caused quite a stir among Christians, most notably on the Desiring God blog.  There, John Piper expressed his excitment over what the President said.  Basically, Obama challenges students to work hard, be responsible, and have a positive attitude with school.  He said that students need to turn off the TV and get off the Xbox.  I couldn’t agree more.

Some Christians try to find a devil behind everything Obama says.  Some Christians will not give “honor to whom honor is owed” (Rom. 13:7).  I think that’s wrong.  I don’t agree with most of Obama’s policies, but I can commend a man when he speaks truth.

With that in mind, I think if you are one of the Christians who believes you cannot applaud something that Obama says because of his other policies/ideas (which very well may be moral failures), then you are ignoring an important theme in Scripture:

  • Remember that King Cyrus was a pagan ruler of a pagan nation, yet he was the Lord’s “anointed,” who was used to redeem his people. God said, “I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me…I equip you, though you do not know me” (Isa. 45:1-13). It is clear that God can do good through people who don’t know him personally.
  • Remember that God has common grace on all of creation: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). This includes Obama and all the unsaved teachers who teach our children.
  • Remember that God loves justice wherever he finds it because God is just: “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight” (Pr. 11:1). And “A just balance and scales are the LORD’s; all the weights in the bag are his work” (Pr. 16:11). This applies even to Obama and education in the United States.
  • Remember that Obama is a “servant for your good” if you are a believer (Rom. 13:4), whether you agree with him or not. Are some of his policies bad? Yes. Was there anything wrong with what he said in this speech? If there was, it was minimal.  Would you fault your non-Christian employer who demands his employees to work harder instead of showing up late, leaving early, and taking an extra long lunch because he didn’t mention Jesus? I doubt it.
  • Remember, finally, that Paul quoted pagan religions in evangelism and teaching (Acts 17:22-34; Titus 1:12). There are commonalities that we can share with non-believers in order to point them to Jesus. Obama can’t point people to Jesus if he’s not a believer, so we can’t expect him to do that. The job falls on us Christians to find common ground in order to tell him (and others), “Look there! That’s Jesus. He made hard work. He created math and science and English and history. And he gives us strength to learn and write papers and do science projects!  To know this Jesus, that is what our children need the most.”

So we pray for Obama and beg God to let light shine in his heart. But we also give honor to whom honor is due. We don’t encourage our children to be like Obama or a teacher or anyone else (not even John Piper!!!). We point them to the cross, teaching them to be conformed to and led by Jesus. As we do that, we tell them to rejoice in truth wherever it is found because all objective truth is God’s truth. Education is good. Hard work is good. Addiction to TV and Xbox or anything else is bad. We praise God for these truths. He is the author of them.

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Life

Desiring God Senior Director Queries President Obama

Here is a great open letter to President Obama by John Knight, Senior Director for Development at Desiring God.  Knight asks Obama some very legitimate questions about abortion.  Here are his three main questions:

  • When do we get to talk about how the behavior of men on virtually every measurable level has gotten worse since abortion was made legal across the United States? Men are more likely to leave women today, more likely to be abusive, less likely to care for the children they father, and less likely to consider the consequences of their sexual behavior. Up to 75% of marriages that have a disabled child end in divorce, and most of the time it is the man who walks away from his family. When do we get to talk about men being encouraged to act like men rather than petulant, irresponsible, selfish little boys?
  • When do we get to talk about the cultural expectation that a mother is expected to abort her baby with an identified disability in the womb? Doctors, nurses, social workers assume a diagnosis of downs syndrome or spina bifida means a woman should terminate the pregnancy. What do you call a 90% abortion rate, Mr. President? If it were babies of any ethnicity, you would rightly call it genocide. What do you believe about families in this situation, Mr. President?
  • Finally, Mr. President, you said yourself that “the strong too often dominate the weak.” Please explain to me, Mr. President, who is more weak and thus more worthy of your protection as the leader of the free world than a baby in his or her mother’s womb?
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Life

John Piper Addresses President Obama on Abortion

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Life

South Africa Presidential Election

On Wednesday, South Africa will hold its presidential elections.  The favored party to win is the African National Congress (ANC).  Jacob Zuma, most likely, will be president.  Last year, Zuma was tried for the rape of a HIV-infected woman.  He was found not guilty.  Perhaps the ANC will win because it is the party of former-president Nelson Mandela.  This week, he publicly gave his support for Zuma.

We know that God’s will must be done.  You can pray for that, of course.  But more than that, pray for the hearts of the South Africans, that they might understand and embrace the fact that no human kingdom will satisfy.  Pray that they would receive the kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28), instead of hoping in a kingdom that can be ruined.

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”  God is sovereign.  Nothing will surprise him.  Whatever God ordains will happen and is right.  This election, and every other election, is a mere footnote in his grand story.  In God’s story, King Jesus will reign, and every knee will bow and tongue confess that he is Lord.