Monday, December 29, 2008

Updated West Virginia Leadership Prayer Guide

We have updated our West Virginia Leadership Prayer Guide for 2009 and it is now posted online.

Please print this guide and use it to pray for our state's leaders on a daily basis. You may also visit for an online version of this guide. There you may subscribe to receive a daily email with a list of leaders for whom you can pray each day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Please Pray for the Family of Delegate Bill Proudfoot

Please pray for the family of Delegate Bill Proudfoot who was killed in an auto accident last night. Four other members of his family were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Delegate Proudfoot has served Randolph County in the House of Delegates since 1990. Please pray for the family as they deal with this tragedy during the holiday season.

WVMetronews Story

Charleston Gazette Story

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Remembering the King at Christmas

Many of our carols speak of Christmas as the celebration of the birth of our King. Not only should we stand amazed at the incarnation of our Lord, we would do well to remember He is ruler of all. Here are some pertinent passages as we consider the birth of our King:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. Isaiah 9:6-7

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” John 18:36

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 1 Corinthians 15:22-25
Sometimes we get so caught up worrying about the rulers of this world, we forget what it means that Christ is the King. While we recognize these are ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s reign in His eternal kingdom, we also realize that He rules today. Jesus taught us to pray for His kingdom to come and be more fully expressed in our world (Matthew 6:10).

Let us consider anew Christ as our king. Let us pray that Christ’s rule will grow in the church, in our families, in our own lives, and in our nation.

Read the study from our series on The Lord's Prayer entitled, "Thy Kingdom Come".

Saturday, December 20, 2008

True Freedom: Why Evangelism Must Be Our Priority

In an article at the Ligonier Ministries blog entitled "Sweet Land of Liberty", Dr. Gene Edward Veith writes of our freedom as believers. To most in our country, "freedom" has come to mean getting to do whatever we want, even sin and wickedness. Any restriction on behavior is seen as a violation of our freedom. However, true freedom is found only through faith in Christ:
"Jesus, through the power of His sacrificial death and resurrection, frees sinners from the bondage of sin. By the power of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, we are set free. Though while we are still in the flesh we may still struggle with sin, we are free from sin's dominion. To the extent we are in Christ, through faith, we no longer even need the external Law to keep us in line. We voluntarily -- freely -- do God's will, not out of compulsion or threats, but because we really want to please Him, and, because we are in God's love, we really do love our neighbors."
This has implications for the freedom we desire for our nation. Dr. Veith concludes:

"People who are slaves of sin require laws, authorities, police officers, and government control to prevent them from harming other people. But people who have been freed from sin do not need external controls on their behavior. They internalize the moral law. They voluntarily -- of their own free will -- do what they should. They govern themselves, freely directing their own behavior; therefore, they are capable of governing themselves in a free political order.

"That free political order is not just for Christians, of course, and others who can, by whatever external means, govern their desires can also enjoy its liberties. But laws -- and prisons -- will still be necessary for those who refuse to govern themselves. Meanwhile, those who wish to preserve their freedom must be on guard against both tyrants and their own sin."

Perhaps this is what John Adams had in mind when he said, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Our best and only hope for maintaining political freedom in our nation is through evangelism and discipleship. It is through presenting the gospel and proclaiming the Word of God both to our leaders and our nation's citizens. To do otherwise is to fight a losing battle against the enslavement of people's hearts and lives to sin.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Church's Relationship with Civil Authorities

The church has long been concerned about maintaining a proper relationship with civil authorities. Historic confessions all contained a statement regarding how churches and believers relate to government leaders. Here are a few examples.

From the Belgic Confession of 1561 (Reformed):

We believe that because of the depravity of the human race our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings.

For that purpose he has placed the sword in the hands of the government, to punish evil people and protect the good.

And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God's law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.

They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them.

And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.

Moreover everyone, regardless of status, condition, or rank, must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God's Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all piety and decency.

From the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 1742

1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers. (Rom. 13:1-4)

2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called there unto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament wage war upon just and necessary occasions. (2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 82:3, 4; Luke 3:14)

3. Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake;and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. (Rom. 13:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2)

From the New Hampshire Baptist Confession, 1833:

We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

Indeed, today we must still be careful to maintain biblical relationships with our civil government. As we do so, we should also consider the priority of evangelizing and discipling our government leaders. We believe we have a Mandate for Missions that the Word of God and the gospel be proclaimed to those in positions of authority.

As you fulfill the biblical responsibilities of honoring and obeying our leaders and praying for them, please consider taking part in in the mission of seeking to share the gospel and proclaim the Word of God to them as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bible Study: "The True Spirit of Christmas"

Back in November I had the opportunity to attend a debate between Dr. James White and Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah, a Muslim, at Duke University. The topic was “The Bible vs. the Qur’an”, but in his closing statements Dr. Shah shared some of his greatest struggles with the Christian faith in the form of these questions. How could almighty God stay in a human woman’s womb for nine months? How could the all powerful creator of the universe be put to death? Why can God not just forgive sin if He so desires; why would Jesus have to die in order for sin to be forgiven? What a set up for Dr. White to share the gospel message in his closing remarks to a large crowd with many Muslim students present. (You can view Dr. Shah and Dr. White’s closing statements here.)

These are the same questions we deal with in our study of Philippians 2:5-8 entitled "The True Spirit of Christmas" which we will be sharing in our interim Bible study at the Capitol. From the introduction of our study:

"There is much talk this time of year of the “spirit of Christmas”. At a time when even the term “Christmas” is often discarded, this phrase has taken on something of a generic meaning. It has become a sort of “warm fuzzy” term that refers merely to giving, loving, and caring for others. Jesus Himself gave us the very definition of “Christmas spirit” when He came to earth and unselfishly gave Himself to serve and ultimately give His life for our sin. In the capitol where priorities are often about influence, prestige, and power it is important to consider Jesus’ example of the true spirit of Christmas."
A couple of quotes:

"A great marvel is that Incarnation, that the eternal God should take into union with Himself our human nature, and should be born at Bethlehem, and live at Nazareth, and die at Calvary on our behalf!" (Charles Spurgeon)
"Herein is wonder of wonders: He came below to raise me above, He was born like me that I might become like Him." (Gift of Gifts. Valley of Vision. pg. 28)
Read the complete study “The True Spirit of Christmas” here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pray for the Family of Governor Cecil Underwood

Please pray for the family of Governor Cecil Underwood, who passed away on Monday. Governor Underwood was noted for having served as West Virginia's youngest governor and its oldest. Please keep his family in prayer.

Are You Thankful for Your Leaders?

As you approach the Thanksgiving holiday and pause to consider all God’s blessings, are you thankful for your political leaders? ALL your political leaders?

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 Paul challenges us to make it a priority to pray for our political leaders (“for kings and all who are in authority”). He uses four distinct words for prayer: entreaties, prayers, petitions, and THANKSGIVINGS. We are to be thankful for the leaders God has set up to rule over us. The leaders of whom Paul spoke in his day were those of the Roman Empire. They were immoral, brutal, and corrupt, soon to bring great persecution upon the church. Yet Paul exhorted the church to offer God thanksgivings for them.

We are to be thankful for all our leaders, regardless of party or ideology. This becomes easier when we remember they are established by God (Romans 13:1; Daniel 2:21) and are God’s servants (Romans 13:6).

We should be thankful for the order our government and its leaders provide as opposed to the chaos and disorder that would result in their absence.

We should be thankful that God is in control and has a purpose and plan to work out through the leaders He has put into place.

We should be thankful for how God is working in the hearts and lives of leaders and pray they would turn to Christ and grow in their walk with the Lord.

We should be thankful for Christian leaders who take a stand for the truth and pray they will have a tremendous testimony for Christ before those they serve as well as their colleagues.
As you take time for giving thanks, please remember to be thankful for the leaders God has placed over our communities, our state, and our nation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Praying for Your Local Legislators

One of the purposes of the Capitol Columns and Prayer Column blogs is to help you pray specifically for your government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We want you to get to know the leaders from your area so that you might pray for them more effectively.

Here is a site where you can determine the legislators who serve your district. Just enter your zip code and the state senators and delegates for your area will be listed. You can then visit this page for the Senate or this page for the House and select a legislator in order to find biographical information about them.

Please take note of the legislators who serve your area along with your local leaders so that you may pray for them more effectively.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bible Study: Moral Purity in the Capitol

From part two of our Bible study on Matthew 5:27-30 presented today for our legislators and elected officials entitled "Moral Purity in the Capitol":

How can we maintain moral purity in both heart and action in a world filled with immorality? How do we deal with sinful habits or lifestyles? Those are the questions Jesus is answering in our passage. In our previous study we saw that Jesus described the awful nature of sin. He laid out the convicting fact that moral purity is not just a matter of outward actions such as adultery, but of the inner desires and attitudes of the heart. In our passage today He gives us a description of how to deal with moral sin—or with any sin in our lives.

Read the complete study.

Read part one of "Moral Purity in the Capitol".

"Sermon on the Mount" complete series.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dealing with "Particular Sins" or the Sinful Condition

In The Mortification of Sin, chapter VII, John Ownen continues to challenge us on how to deal with sin, always striving to bring people to a knowledge not just of particular sins but of their sinful condition and their need for a Savior:

"Let me add this to them who are preachers of the word, or intend, through the good hand of God, that employment: It is their duty to plead with men about their sins, to lay load on particular sins, but always remember that it be done with that which is the proper end of law and gospel;-- that is, that they make use of the sin they speak against to the discovery of the state and condition wherein the sinner is; otherwise, haply, they may work men to formality and hypocrisy, but little of the true end of preaching the gospel will be brought about. It will not avail to beat a man off from his drunkenness into a sober formality. A skillful master of the assemblies lays his axe at the root, drives still at the heart. To inveigh against particular sins of ignorant, unregenerate persons, such as the land is full of, is a good work; but yet, though it may be done with great efficacy, vigour, and success, if this be all the effect of it, that they are set upon the most sedulous endeavours of mortifying their sins preached down, all that is done is but like the beating of an enemy in an open field, and driving him into an impregnable castle, not to be prevailed against. Get you at any time a sinner at the advantage, on the account of any one sin whatever? have you any thing to take hold of him by? -- bring it to his state and condition, drive it up to the head, and there deal with him. To break men off particular sins, and not to break their hearts, is to deprive ourselves of advantages of dealing with them."

This gets to the heart of the gospel ministry and our priorities as churches and believers. We can never only be about preaching against "particular sins" without leading people to a knowledge of their sinful condition. To do so may well drive unbelievers into that "impregnable castle" and make it more difficult to share the gospel. "Moral conservatives" find it hard to recognize their sinful condition and repent because they are "right" on the various moral issues. Folks on the other side may only hear a moralistic message and not the life changing truth of the gospel.

We need to become "skillful masters" at laying our axe to the root and driving to the heart--the need for the saving message of the gospel.

The Mortification of Sin online

Friday, November 14, 2008

Please Pray for the Family of Delegate Eustace Frederick

Please pray for the family and friends of State Delegate Eustace Frederick, who passed away last Friday. Delegate Frederick was 78 years old and served in the legislature for 15 years. You can find a good article here in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Please keep his family and friends in your prayers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mending Holes or Putting Out Fires

In his classic work, The Mortification of Sin in Believers, chapter VII, John Owen writes of calling unbelievers to reform particular sins apart from calling them to repentance and salvation:

“He that shall call a man from mending a hole in the wall of his house, to quench a fire that is consuming the whole building, is not his enemy.”

If we try to fight particular sins through political activism or any other means APART FROM THE GOSPEL, we are in essence merely trying to mend a hole in the wall of a house that is burning down around us. Owens recognizes that God through common grace may use such efforts to restrain evil. He reminds us however that we can never lose sight of the priority of proclaiming the gospel and calling people to repentance and faith in Christ. Otherwise, Owen continues:

“Thou settest thyself against a particular sin, and dost not consider that thou art nothing but sin.”

Let us make sure we are not only seeking to “mend holes” in people’s lives but are sharing that which will save them from the destruction of their souls.

The Mortification of Sin online

Monday, November 10, 2008

Steve Lawson, Message #3: Paul's Ministry in Thessalonica (Acts 17)

Dr. Steve Lawson's third message at our annual vision and planning meetings brought us encouragement from Paul's ministry in Thessalonica as seen in Acts 17.

Paul and the others were known as men who "turned the world upside down". Like him, we want to have a ministry that is potent, provocative, and powerful.


I. The Difficult Challenge

  • The Social Challenge
Thessalonica was a strategic city, a beachhead for the rest of Macedonia. It was a base of political, social, and economic power for the area. "It was larger stage, a faster track, a brighter spotlight for the gospel message". Such as it is for our ministry in state capitols.
  • The Religious Challenge

Paul (as was his custom), went right into the synagogue and tried to reach those caught up in dead religion. It was where he always received the greatest opposition.

II. The Dynamic Ministry

From the Scripture Paul:

  • Reasoned "To say thoroughly, engaging, connecting"
  • Explained "To open thoroughly, to give the interpretation"
  • Gave Evidence "Place along side". Using Scripture to interpret Scripture
  • Proclaimed "How the message is proclaimed: with passion, fervency, intensity, conviction"
III. The Divided Response

  • Positive "Some of them were persuaded..." (vs. 4)
  • Negative "Some...formed a mob and set the city in an uproar..." (vs. 5)
Dr. Lawson challenged us in closing:

  • Advance to the front line. Don't seek a safe, soft ministry. "Loyalty is tested where the battle rages strongest".

  • Be provocative. Make waves. Rock the boat. Stir the Pot. WITH THE GOSPEL!

  • Constantly announce the supremacy of Christ.
We are grateful for Dr. Lawson taking the time to challenge and encourage us as we seek to make disciples in the political arena. Politics is a world of compromise and we have an uncompromising message which we need to proclaim with boldness. I believe Dr. Lawson's messages will engergize you as you seek to proclaim the Word in your arena as well.

Download message number three.

You can find all three of Dr. Lawson's messages here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Steve Lawson, Message #2: The Distinctives of Peter's Sermon (Acts 2)

Dr. Steve Lawson's second message at our annual vision and planning meeting dealt with the distinctives of Peter's sermon in Acts 2:14-39.


I. His message was marked by boldness

  • "Standing" He took an authoritative posture
  • "Raised his voice" He was emphatic and bold
  • "Said to them" He spoke clearly, with a declarational tone and authoritative boldness, with no hesitation or apology.

II. His Message was marked as biblical
  • He read the text (vs. 16-21)
  • He explained the text (22-24)
  • He supported the text (25-28; 34-35)
  • He synthesized the text (vs. 36)
  • He applied the text (vs. 37-40)

III. His message was marked as Christ centered

  • Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament (vs. 15-21)
  • The life of Christ (vs. 22)
  • The death of Christ (vs. 23)
  • The resurrection of Christ(vs. 24-29)
  • The exaltation of Christ (vs. 35)
  • The final judgement of Christ (vs. 35-36)
  • The call for repentance (vs 38)

I hope posting this outline might whet your appetite to listen to the message in its entirety. If you are committed to expository ministry of the Word you will find this message tremendously encouraging. I found it a great challenge as I seek to pursue this kind of ministry in the capitol.

Listen to message #2.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"What Happened at Your Church Sunday Morning Is More Important Than What Happened on Tuesday"

Michael McKinley writing at the 9 Marks blog:

"I went to DC years ago to study economics and politics. My goal was to become a US Senator. What I learned in a few short years at college is that God's plan for the universe runs through the church, not the Capitol building. For me, that's why I became a pastor (though I am deeply grateful to God for believers who are called to careers in politics). I am convinced that what happened last Sunday morning at your church and mine is actually more important than what happened on Tuesday. I can understand why it doesn't seem like that to the world, but I wonder why more Christians don't act like it's true."

Read blog post.

Steve Lawson, Message #1: The Source of Boldness in Ministry

From Acts 1:8 Dr. Lawson reminded us that the source for boldness and effectiveness in ministry is the presence and filling of the Holy Spirit.

"…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”


  • The apostles were supernaturally emboldened to proclaim the gospel (note Peter the night of the crucifixion then here at Pentecost).

  • Paul boldly shared the gospel in capitol cities. He wanted to go to Rome to strike a blow for the gospel at the very center of the empire. It was Paul against the empire...and it was a mismatch!

  • Two things changed Peter and the other believers, the resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I. The Promise of the Spirit's Power: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..."

II. The Purpose of the Spirit's Power: "You shall be My witnesses..."

III. The Parameters of the Spirit's Power: "In Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, and the remotest part of the earth" (i.e. where ever His servants go...even the capitol!)

Dr. Lawson showed us that every time it was noted in the Book of Acts that believers were filled with the Holy Spirit, it resulted in the bold proclamation of the Word of God (see 4:31; 6:3; 7:51; 13:9; 13:52-14:1).

What a challenge to remember our dependence upon the work of the Holy Spirit as we seek to boldly proclaim the Word in a difficult field.

Listen to Dr. Lawson's message here.

Time in the Word at Our Annual Planning & Vision Meeting

We are still here at THE Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville for our annual planning and vision meetings. What a tremendous blessing to be together with our leaders and staff from around the nation.

Most encouraging has been our time in the Word. On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning we had the wonderful privilege to hear four messages from Dr. Steve Lawson as he exhorted us how to have boldness and courage in ministry as seen in the book of Acts.

If you have heard Dr. Lawson preach, you know He is a passionate, dynamic expositor of the Word. He "set our hair on fire" to go out and boldly proclaim the gospel and teach the Word in our capitols.

I will be posting a brief overview and link to each of the messages

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Sovereignty of God and Elections

Here is a great verse to remember at election time:

"...The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17

"The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes..." Note this phrase is repeated four times in Daniel (4:17; 4:25; 4:32; 5:21) and is one of the themes of the early chapters as well as for the rest of the book. God has ordained the means for us to select our leaders (elections) so certainly we vote and stay involved in the process. However we do so knowing God is in control and will indeed choose those leaders He desires on Tuesday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bible Study: Worried About Tuesday's Election?

Paul Meinsen, our state director in Missouri presented a good Bible Study for those who might be worried about the upcoming election.
From Paul's introduction:

"People are worried about next Tuesday. Regardless of what side of the aisle someone may be on, worries and anxieties over the results of next week’s election can be seen and heard across our country. Political ads, radio & T.V. talk shows, town hall meetings and even family-table discussions are filled with despair and discouragement if, by chance, the other side wins. A number of you reading this have another concern because a loss in the election means you are out of a job and need to look for another. There is always uncertainty about the future, but it seems to be emphasized even more because of the domino effect of next week’s vote.

"Friend, the point of this study today is to inform you that there is no place in the believer’s life for worry over who wins next week. I am, in no way, advocating a “fatalistic determinism;” that is, an “I can’t do anything about it so who cares” attitude of giving up and not doing anything. I am, in no way, throwing out a flippant answer in case things do not go the way I want them to go. What I am teaching from God’s Word is that believers can truly proceed in peace and confidence regardless of what happens because of the nature of the one we call Father.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Real Problem and Our Real Solution

Dan Bryant reminds us of our real problem and our real solution:

"When the sin-sick soul stops being the central problem, then God's provision of the person and work of Christ stops being the central solution. When the travails of the here-and-now become the central problem, then politics becomes the central means of providing solutions. And any such understanding of the ultimate problem and solution is inconsistent with biblical Christianity. Is it coincidence that in a secularized age the church seems to be more preoccupied with the here-and-now than with the cure of souls; that pulpits across the land are platforms for social and political agendas, self-esteemism, and principles for successful living­ - anything but the truths of a Holy God who hates sin, man's rebellion against God, and the remedy for sin found only in Christ?"

Read the entire article, "Christianity and Politics: How Shall the Twain Meet?" at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Are We Focusing on Capitol Hill or Calvary's Hill?

Ken Jones in an article at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals entitled "Can Politics Save?" writes:

"Some seem to be on a crusade to win America back to God through the political process. Time and space will not allow me to expound on how unbiblical such a crusade is, but such confusion of America and of salvation inevitably leads to a misunderstanding of evangelism. If salvation or revival is attempted through the political process or the legislation of morality, then evangelism will center on Capitol Hill, rather than on Calvary's Hill."

On what hill will you be focusing this week?

Read Pastor Jones' article here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Home To Be With the Lord

My Parents' 50th Anniversary Picture

My Mother, Ellen Pauley, went home to be with the Lord on Saturday after suffering a long illness. Her health has been poor for years, and in recent months she has been under hospice care.

The large crowd who turned out for the visitation last night was a testament to how many lives she touched through church, family, community, and work.

Just some thoughts as we prepare for her funeral this morning:

My earliest memories are of my parents being involved in lay ministry in our church. Their faithfulness in teaching Sunday school classes, teen-agers, and children are largely what the Lord used to lead me into Christian ministry. They never merely taught a class or led a Bible club. My mother poured her life into the teens or children with whom she worked.

My father has been the greatest example of one who “loved his wife as Christ loved the church”. His full-time job over the last several years has been caring for mom and her needs. Only that I might live up to his example as I seek to care for and serve my own family.

Please keep my father, Dan Pauley in your prayers during the coming weeks. Pray for our children, Josh and Rachel, as they will miss their Grandma greatly.

Politics Are Temporary

From S.J. Walker at A Lion Has Roared:

"Politics are as temporary as I am. I place no hope in politics. But that does not mean I have no hope! In fact, it means I have a greater hope than any man can conjure or enforce."

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness!
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand—
All other ground is sinking sand!”

Read post here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Let Christians Vote as if They Were Not Voting

John Piper at the Desiring God Blog posted a great article which will challenge us as believers to consider our priorities when it comes to politics and elections. He reviewed Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Dr. Piper goes on to share:
...So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

...So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (21:4).

These are great words to keep in mind as we approach the coming election.

Read Dr. Piper's complete article

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Seriousness of Preaching and Teaching

I ran across this quote from Richard Baxter (posted in the Pulpit Magazine blog) that certainly gives me pause to stop and think as I prepare Bible studies, speak in churches, and seek to minister to leaders around the state:

"For myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so, the Lord knows, I am ashamed of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and that men’s salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood.

"Me thinks we should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the greatest earnestness that possibly we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin which we reprove, it would be so."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How Should Pastors Deal with "Political" Issues?

William Wilberforce (left), the British politician who almost single handedly ended the slave trade in Great Britain, is often held up as the model for political activism. I believe we find in his life and work an example of the importance of preaching, sharing the gospel, and teaching the Word of God in impacting the lives of people and ultimately making a difference in the world around us.

Wilberforce’s coming to Christ was largely influenced by a friend who shared the gospel and through the ministry of John Newton (right). Though Newton, a former slave trader, hated the slave industry, as a pastor he took an approach to the issue that might differ greatly from many pastors and leaders today.

Michael Horton in part two of his roundtable discussion on "Christians and Politics" at The White Horse Inn, had this to say about Newton’s ministry and his approach to the issue of slavery:

“Newton never preached a single sermon on how slavery should be stopped, although he did, when he came to the relevant passages speak against slavery. But he preached the gospel, and people like Wilberforce and countless other leaders in that movement were nourished and fortified to go out into their callings and exercise their vocations.”
You might disagree with some of the conclusions of the panel when it comes to churches, believers, and politics. However, the program will help you consider the biblical role of the church in dealing with the important theological and political issues of our day.

The White Horse Inn: Christians and Politics, Part 2 (Free with registration at OnePlace)

John Piper’s Biography of William Wilberforce

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Biblical Example of Sharing the Good News

Sunday I had the opportunity to fill the pulpit at a church in our area. My message was taken from 2 Kings 5:1-14, the account of Naaman and his young servant.

You are familiar with the story: A young girl is taken from her home on a raid by Syria into Israel. She is forced to work as a servant in the home of Naaman, captain of Syria’s armies. Naaman is taken ill with leprosy, a serious disease even outside of Israel.

Amazingly, the young girl tells her master of the prophet of God in Israel who can heal Naaman’s illness. Naaman goes to Israel, contacts the prophet and returns healed and evidently a believer in the one true God of Israel.

From the young girl’s experiences and responses we can learn a great deal about sharing the good news of the gospel with others:

She was in a lowly position, yet she spoke out boldly

She was in a bad situation, yet she served faithfully

She endured a personal tragedy, yet she reached out compassionately

She had been mistreated, yet she shared the good news unselfishly

So what does this have to do with ministry to political leaders?

The young girl had been captured and taken away from her home and her family. She was forced to serve in a foreign land of pagan idolaters, perhaps in the household of the very man who had planned the raid that led to her predicament. She easily could have been bitter, angry, and vengeful toward those who had taken her. Yet she cared about her captors and was willing to share the good news with those whom she easily could have considered her enemies.

In the midst of the current heated political campaign, it is so easy to begin to think of and treat people on the “other side” as enemies to be defeated. We lose sight of the fact that each and every one, from the presidential candidates down to those running for statehouse or courthouse seats, are individuals who need to hear the good news of the gospel and grow in their walk with Christ.

During this election season, let us be careful of our attitudes towards all those running for office or already serving in positions of leadership. We must watch as we hear campaign rhetoric and take care in our own speech that we do not become disrespectful or hateful towards others. We should not be surprised at the moral or social stands taken by those who do not follow Christ. We need to remember the plight of those who do not know Him. Like the young girl, we have the only answer for those suffering from the ailment of sin.

(Read Spurgeon’s evangelistic message on this passage.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Risk of Trivializing the Gospel

Michael Horton at the White Horse Inn is presenting a two-part round table discussion on "Christianity and Politics". One of the panelists makes these striking statements:

“The risk of trivializing the mission of the church in reducing it to just another civil society interest group is a risk we have to always keep our eyes on. The risk of the gospel being trivialized and becoming just a political plank is a horrible risk we must avoid at all costs.”

"The church, as the church, has a very specific mandate. It is to hold forth Christ as the only way that sinners can be reconciled to a holy God. When it extends beyond that biblical mandate, it has left its charter behind."

The panelists themselves are active politically, but they point out the important distinction between what we might have the freedom to do as invidual believers and what we do as the church.

Listen to part one ( with free registration).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our Weapons are Spiritual

J.C. Ryle descibes the Christian's battles in Holiness:

"Unlike the battles of the world, true Christianity fights in a realm that does not depend upon physical strength, the strong arm, the quick eye or the swift foot. Conventional weaponry does not come into play. Rather, its weapons are spiritual, and faith is the axis upon which the battle turns."

A good reminder that our battle is not ultimately political, but spiritual, just as Paul challenged us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:

…For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful…

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pray for Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright **Update**

Please keep praying for Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright as he continues to recover from esophageal surgery. He has taken a leave of absence for the remainder of the fall term.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our Problems Are Spiritual, Not Political

We must always keep in mind that our nation’s problems are spiritual, not political. Ultimately, they can only be solved through spiritual means, not political strategy and maneuvering. This is so because of the spiritual condition of each and every citizen who serves in our government and lives in our country.

J.C. Ryle writes of this condition in Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots:

“I admit fully that man has many grand and noble faculties left about him, and that in arts and sciences and literature he shows immense capacity. But the fact still remains that in spiritual things he is utterly “dead”, and has no natural knowledge, or love, or fear of God.

“We can acknowledge that man has all the marks of a majestic temple about him—a temple in which God once dwelt, but a temple which is now in utter ruins—a temple in which a shattered window here, and doorway there, and a column there, still give some faint idea of the magnificence of the original design, but a temple which from end to end has lost its glory and fallen from its high estate. Nothing solves the complicated problem of man’s condition but the doctrine of original sin and the crushing effects of the fall.”

The only answer to this fallen condition is the gospel—hearts and lives changed through faith in Christ and His work on the cross and minds renewed through the Word of God. Political activism apart from the gospel can do nothing to deal with the root cause of our individual and national problems.

Let us keep this truth before us as we consider our priorities in the days leading up to the election.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Different Kind of Power

John Hutchinson, senior minister of McClean Presbyterian Church, posted an article in Ligonier's Tabletalk magazine entitled "A Different Kind of Power". Upon being asked to participate in a news conference intended to foster support for a bill coming before the senate, he decided to seek counsel from a senator who attended his church. He received the following advice:

"I’m not going to tell you what to do, and I share your convictions on a subject that is very important. But as you pray about your decision, remember that you will have no control over how the press will quote you, and you will be labeled as a conservative advocate. You have been called here to be a minister of the Gospel of the kingdom that transcends political conservatism or liberalism. And as a minister you will have the opportunity over the years to give that Gospel to both conservatives and liberals.”

Pastor Hutchinson took that advice and declined to take part in the event. He goes on to explain why:

"...We must faithfully teach Christians to be helpfully involved in the public square without becoming over-involved and intoxicated with the political power. There is no question but that our Savior expects us to be “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt 5:13–14). Thus, it would be unfaithful and disastrous for Christians to be absent from the public square. But on the other hand, we must resist the temptation to become obsessed with the power of politics and begin to think that we can usher in the king’s kingdom. Though politics is a worthy pursuit, Christ’s kingdom is not dependent upon who’s elected and/or which laws are passed or repealed. In Washington D.C. it’s easy to catch “Potomac Fever,” and Christians are not immune to such a distorted view of power. The power of the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven, though weak in this world’s eyes (Matt 13:31–32; 1 Cor. 1:27) is more powerful than the power of any nation. It’s a different kind of power — the power of the Spirit of God through the Word of God in the people of God. As a pastor in D.C. over the years I have been “lobbied” by Christian interest groups to support their worthy causes. But often I have concluded, that though I may personally share their convictions, it would be imprudent and unbiblical for us as a church to join their cause. Sadly, I’ve gotten an “earful” from very disappointed Christians who even questioned my commitment and faithfulness to Christ."

He concludes:

"Finally, as a pastor I must realize that I wear “two hats.” I’m an individual Christian and a leader of a congregation that includes the full political spectrum. Thankfully, faithfulness in preaching the gracious Gospel of the kingdom of heaven enables me to minister to both..."

Pastor Hutchinson gives us a good reminder of the priority for churches and believers to proclaim the gospel message.

Read Complete Article.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Praying for Christian Leaders and Government Leaders

Timmy Brister over at Provocations and Pantings recently shared a devotion from Octavius Winslow's Morning Thoughts:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Romans 15:30

“There are many weighty and solemn considerations which powerfully plead for the prayers of the Church of God, in behalf of her ministers and pastors. The first which may be adduced is- the magnitude of their work. A greater work than theirs was never entrusted to mortal hands. No angel employed in the celestial embassy bears a commission of higher authority, or wings his way to discharge a duty of such extraordinary greatness and responsibility. He is a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ- an ambassador from the court of heaven- a preacher of the glorious gospel of the blessed God- a steward of the mysteries of the kingdom. Properly to fill this high office- giving to the household their portion of food in due season- going down into the mine of God’s word, and bringing forth to the view of every understanding its hidden treasures- to set forth the glory of Emmanuel, the fitness of His work, and the fullness of His grace- to be a scribe well instructed, rightly dividing the word of truth- to be wise and skillful to win souls, the grand end of the Christian ministry- oh, who so much needs the sustaining prayers of the Church as he?

Secondly. The painful sense of their insufficiency supplies another affecting plea. Who are ministers of Christ? Are they angels? Are they superhuman beings? Are they inspired? No, they are men in all respects like others. They partake of like infirmities, are the subjects of like assaults, and are estranged from nothing that is human. As the heart knows its own bitterness, so they only are truly aware of the existence and incessant operation of those many and clinging weaknesses of which they partake in sympathy with others. And yet God has devolved upon them a work which would crush an angel’s powers, if left to his self-sustaining energy.

Thirdly. The many and peculiar trials of the ministry and the pastorate ask this favor at our hands. These are peculiar to, and inseparable from, the office that he fills. In addition to those of which he partakes alike with other Christians- personal, domestic, and relative- there are trials to which they must necessarily be utter strangers. And as they are unknown to, so are they unrelievable by, the people of their charge. With all the sweetness of affection, tenderness of sympathy, and delicacy of attention which you give to your pastor, there is yet a lack which Jesus only can supply, and which, through the channel of your prayers, he will supply. In addition to his own, he bears the burdens of others. How impossible for an affectionate, sympathizing pastor to separate himself from the circumstances of his flock, be those circumstances what they may. So close and so sympathetic is the bond of union- if they suffer, he mourns; if they are afflicted, he weeps; if they are dishonored, he is reproached; if they rejoice, he is glad. He is one with his Church. How feelingly the apostle expresses this: “Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?” To see a Christian pastor, in addition to his own personal grief, borne often in uncomplaining loneliness and silence, yet bowed down under accumulated sorrows not his own- others looking to him for sympathy, for comfort, and for counsel-is a spectacle which might well arouse in behalf of every Christian minister the slumbering spirit of prayer. We marvel not to hear the chief of the apostles thus pleading, “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thess. 5:25).”

Octavius Winslow – Morning Thoughts (August 1)

Even as we are reminded to pray for our pastors and church leaders, I believe these thoughts can be applied to praying for our government leaders as well. Rememember, in Romans 13 Paul calls government leaders “God’s servants”.

  • We should pray for our government leaders because of the magnitude of their work.

  • We should pray for our leaders because of their insufficiency for their task. (Perhaps our prayer should be for them to recognize their insufficiency and their dependence upon God).

  • We should pray for them because of the peculiar trials they face as leaders. From the challenges of making wise and godly decisions regarding a huge variety of issues to the temptations they face, our leaders need our prayers as they serve.

Let us remember to pray faithfully for our church leaders and our government leaders.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pray for Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright

Please pray for West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright as he recovers from surgery.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reformation, Revival, and the Religious Right

Tom Ascol wrote a great article on how we can experience reformation and revival in America. In it he wrote:

“It is not that the agenda of the religious right is too radical. It is not radical enough. They greatly underestimate the depth of the problem. We cannot "Christianize" culture. The nature of sin guarantees that. Neither are we called to try! Did Jesus or Peter or Paul ever try to organize believers into a voting bloc to "Christianize" any geo-political structure? Culture can and will be positively influenced when its participants are made disciples of Christ.

"The moral crisis in our nation will not be solved by getting the right people in the White House, Congress, and on the Supreme Court. Society will not change until people change. And the only way that people can be changed is by the sovereign power of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Consequently, proclaiming that gospel in the power of the Spirit is the task to which churches must give themselves. This constitutes the only great commission which we have received from Jesus Christ.”

The article concludes:

"When reformation and revival come, they will come through the ministry of God's Word and prayer! This is God's way for His church to do His work in the world. Anything that would intrude on our commitment to these God-ordained means is a distraction and will ultimately keep us from seeking the only remedy which can cure our churches' spiritual apathy and our nation's moral decay."

While taking our part in our country's political process in the upcoming election, we must constantly keep before us our God-given priority of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of every nation.

Read Tom Ascol's complete article.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do Not Trust In Princes

Psalm 146 is a great passage for us to consider during the upcoming election season:

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

3 Do not trust in princes,
In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation,
4 His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish.

5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.

8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
9 The Lord protects the strangers:
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

We may be tempted to put our trust in “princes”, counting too much on those we elect and in the political process to change our state and our nation.

This Psalm reminds us it is God who is sovereign; it is God who provides; and it is God who saves. This means we do not put too much hope in the choosing of human leaders. Neither do we become discouraged or distraught over the outcome of elections.

Certainly we take advantage of our rights and responsibilities to vote and in other ways participate in the political process. However let us remember that our trust ultimately rests in God.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beware of Becoming Distracted

Mark Patton, pastor of my home church, Spring Hill Baptist Church, has been preaching through a series on the book of Nehemiah. This past Sunday he shared a message on the attacks Nehemiah faced and how these describe the attacks churches face which would hinder them from fulfilling the work God has given them to do.

The attacks Nehemiah faced:

Becoming Distracted

Becoming Timid

Compromising on the Essentials

In his first point he shared how easy it is for the church to become distracted from the work God has given us to do: that of glorifying Him by making disciples.

From Pastor Mark’s message:

“All over the world today, churches are leaving disciple making for helping the environment, for helping the poor, for helping to fight Aids, for helping to fight hunger, for helping to stop abortion, for helping to protect marriage. None of these are bad. I would love for the environment to be better. I would love for the poor to have enough that there would be no hunger. I would love for the Aids epidemic to be curbed. I would love for innocent live to be protected. I would love for the home where one man and one woman in a monogamous marriage of harmony would be the model of our culture.

“But the job of our church is to bring honor and glory to God by making disciples…

“My beef is not with these outreach ministries. My beef is with the church getting distracted by people who do these 'ministries' apart from the gospel.”
Pastor Mark’s message was a great reminder for us as a church to stay focused and faithful on what it is that God has called us to do.

20 minute clip from Mark's message dealing with churches becoming distracted from the God given priority of making disciples.

Pastor Mark’s complete message

Saturday, July 12, 2008

John Piper: Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence

We often question how believers are to best engage and influence the culture around us. One of our greatest mistakes is to make those who are unbelievers (and their leaders) enemies to be defeated rather than people to be reached.

Several years ago John Piper wrote a good article reminding us of our proper attitude towards the lost and the culture in which we live.

Piper writes:

"The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders. We are exiles. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 3:14)."

His conclusion is a great reminder:

"...Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.

"Being Christian exiles in American culture does not end our influence; it takes the swagger out of it. We don’t get cranky that our country has been taken away. We don’t whine about the triumphs of evil. We are not hardened with anger. We understand. This is not new. This was the way it was in the beginning –- Antioch, Corinth, Athens, Rome. The Empire was not just degenerate, it was deadly. For three explosive centuries Christians paid for their Christ-exalting joy with blood. Many still do. More will.

"It never occurred to those early exiles that they should rant about the ubiquity of secular humanism. The Imperial words were still ringing in their ears: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). This was a time for indomitable joy and unwavering ministries of mercy.

"Yes, it was a time for influence–-as it is now. But not with huffing and puffing as if to reclaim our lost laws. Rather with tears and persuasion and perseverance, knowing that the folly of racism, and the exploitation of the poor, and the de-Godding of education, and the horror of abortion, and the collapse of heterosexual marriage, are the tragic death-tremors of joy, not the victory of the left or the right.

"The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ."

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Read John Piper's complete article.

Friday, July 4, 2008

"Contact Your Representatives Today!"

How often have we been encouraged to contact our legislators regarding some bill or issue before them?

I would like to encourage you to contact your legislators and elected officials with a note or call thanking them for serving and letting them know you are praying for them. Regardless of party or ideology, we are called upon to honor and pray for our leaders.

You can find contact information for West Virginia’s leaders at

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shining Brightly In the Capitol

One of the highlights of our beautiful capitol building is the extraordinary chandelier which hangs over the rotunda.

Made of Czechoslovakian crystal and weighing two tons, the light usually hangs 179 feet, 9 inches from the floor. It measures eight feet in diameter and requires 96 light bulbs to illuminate the 10,080 Czech crystals. Normally, the fixture is lowered every four years for cleaning and replacement of bulbs upon the inauguration of a new governor or re-election of an incumbent.

Last year however, the chandelier was removed and sent to a company in New Hampshire to be completely cleaned, repaired, and refurbished. While the fixture had been maintained regularly, years of accumulated tarnish and corrosion had significantly dimmed its brightness and beauty. Before this year’s regular legislative session began, it was returned to its central location. The photo is from the lighting ceremony, and the difference in the restored fixture is spectacular. It was kept in a lower than normal position during the session so it could be admired, but even after raised to its regular height, the light is noticeably brighter in the rotunda area.

The restoration of the chandelier in the rotunda reminds me of our ministry in the capitol and our testimony in a dark world. We have considered Jesus’ description of His followers as “the light of the world”. (Matthew 5:14) We have discussed what it means to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven”. (vs. 16) Perhaps the dimmed, deteriorated condition of the chandelier might challenge us to consider how we as believers may let our light be “hidden” or “placed under a bushel”. (vs. 14)

How we live our lives can easily dim our testimony for the Lord. Becoming distracted from the bold proclamation of the gospel by other priorities can hide the message which truly changes hearts and transforms lives.

Let us each consider how we live and our priority to share the gospel with others. Whether in the capitol, in our community, or in our own families, our light shines brightest when we share the good news of the gospel and we clearly demonstrate the change the gospel makes in our own lives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Please Pray for Senator William Sharpe

Senator William Sharpe has served in the West Virginia State Senate for 44 years.

Several years ago, Senator Sharpe lost his wife of 55 years, Pauline. During the 2007 legislative session the Senator from Lewis County underwent surgery and has struggled with his health ever since.

This year Senator Sharpe is retiring from the body in which he has loved to serve for so many years. Please pray him and his health.

If you would like to send the Senator a note or a card thanking him for his years of service and let him know you are praying for him, you can write him at the following address:

The Honorable William Sharpe
607 Center Avenue
Weston, WV 26452

During the 2007 regular session I had the privilege of opening the floor session in prayer and my daughter Rachel accompanied me. This was just prior to Senator Sharpe’s surgery so we were able to pray for his upcoming procedure. After adjournment we had our picture taken with the Senator.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How Does The Church Impact Our Culture? (Update)

Phil Johnson has completed his series on the church and politics.

Here is a summary of his posts:

Preaching, not lobbying, is how we are supposed to make the truth known.

Gospel, not law, is what changes sinful hearts.

Service, not dominion, is the most effective way to win people in any culture.

Christ, not moralism, should be the primary substance of our message.

Phil is speaking of the corporate duty of churches and of the ultimate priority of individual believers. He concludes:

"...It's highly unlikely that we'll find ourselves under a more hostile or more volatile political regime than Nero's Rome, which is where Paul ministered. Under those circumstances, Paul did exactly what we need to do: he preached the gospel in every possible venue. And the church flourished."
This material is largely taken from a seminar Phil presented at Shepherd's Conference, 2008.

Download an audio presentation of this seminar.

View a transcript of this seminar.

Pastor John MacArthur has also recently posted a series on "The Gospel and Politics" at Pulpit Magazine.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Assuming the Gospel

Last week’s program at the White Horse Inn considered the question of whether we as churches and believers are guilty of assuming the gospel.

From the introduction to the program:

"Otherwise faithful, orthodox, bible preaching churches can leave Christ out of the picture by just simply assuming everyone knows He’s already in it."

"Taking it for granted that people need the gospel in order to 'get saved'; many seem to think we can then move on in the Christian life and look to other resources for our spiritual development than the gospel."

"When we assume the gospel, we lose not only our sense of wonder at God’s amazing grace, but the only hope of genuine experience and transformation. We end up with what Paul called a 'form of godliness while denying its power'. The power, not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but in the middle and the end; not only for conversion, but for growth and discipleship, is always the gospel of Jesus Christ."

While the focus of the program was on pastors and preaching in local churches, it made me pause to think about the church’s and believer’s involvement in politics. When we get involved in political, moral, and social issues, it can be easy for us to “assume the gospel”.

We may assume people know what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

We may assume people know our standards are rooted in the very holiness and character of God.

We may assume people know our real problems are not political, but spiritual, and that what they really need are changed hearts through faith in Christ and His work on the cross.

If we assume these things, then we may fail to clearly and boldly proclaim the good news as we should.

In all of our relationships and activities, whether political involvement, work, family, or community, or church, let us never assume the gospel, the power of God for everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16)

I encourage you to download and listen to this program with a free registration at

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Kingdom of God Is Not a Democracy

In Acts 4 and 5 we find the apostles and first believers facing persecution for obeying Jesus’ command to preach the gospel. In 4:24, after the apostles had been questioned about their bold proclamation of the gospel and commanded not to speak of Jesus, we find their amazing response as they break out in a prayer of worship to God:

And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them…
The term "Lord" here is "despotes" from which we get “Despot”. For us this term has come to have only negative connotations as we take it to refer to a tyrant or a dictator. At the time, it simply referred to a lord or master—one who had absolute authority over another. With this designation they rejoiced in God’s sovereignty, even as He brought them into persecution for proclaiming the gospel.

In our nation of democratic government and “majority rule” it easy for us to fail to comprehend the fact that God is the absolute ruler of our lives. We do not have a vote on His Word or on His will.

Do we recognize the absolute sovereignty of God over our lives as these early believers did? Are we willing to obey His Word and rejoice in whatever results or consequences He sees fit to bring about?

Throughout this whole account we see how we should respond if we truly have this belief in the sovereignty of God.


When commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

When given strict orders again not to continue teaching in Jesus’ name, Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)


In their prayer as they faced the challenges of persecution, the early believers asked, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence…” (Acts 4:29) When we believe in the sovereignty of God we can proclaim the good news with confidence and boldness trusting Him for the results.


So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:41)
We should note how all this takes place in the context of evangelism in the face of persecution. We must follow the example of the early church in making it our priority to obey our sovereign ruler in proclaiming the message of the gospel.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How Does the Church Impact Our Culture?

Phil Johnson has gotten quite a response to his posts on the church and politics, so he has started a series on biblical principles regarding how the church is supposed to make her impact on culture. The first is found in 1 Corinthians 1:21:

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Principle #1: Preaching, not lobbying, is how we make the truth known.

Phil concludes:

"God is pleased to save sinners through the clear proclamation of gospel truth. And that is what we ought to devote our resources and energy to if we want to have an impact on our culture. We have a clear mandate to proclaim the gospel as clearly, as accurately, as powerfully, and as often as we can. We have no mandate whatsoever to use any other strategy—especially a strategy that attempts to harness aspects of worldly wisdom for influence under the misguided belief that these are more powerful than the gospel itself to transform our culture."

The priority of proclaiming the gospel and teaching the word to our government leaders is almost always lost in the midst of campaigning, lobbying, protesting, and politicking. That is why Capitol Commission is focused solely on sharing the gospel and making disciples in the political arena.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Priority of Sharing the Gospel

A comment at another blog caught my eye:

"…When I think about how hard I campaigned for (name of candidate) during the primary season, I feel a tinge of guilt…perhaps I should be standing on street corners doing sign waves pointing folks to Christ. Hmm..."

"Hmm…" is right.

Not that sign waves would be the most effective method of sharing the gospel, but this person is on to something. The church's and the believer's primary responsibility is to share the gospel with every creature and make disciples of all the nations.

In the midst of a heated political season we must keep in mind that the only answer to the issues facing our state and our nation is the heart changing and life changing power of the gospel. Political activism apart from the gospel is simply moralism. Let us always keep before us the priority of "pointing folks to Christ" through the message of the gospel.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This Memorial Day Remember Those Who Fought for the Faith

Memorial Day is set aside for us to remember those who have fought for our country and for our freedom. Hopefully it will be more for us than just a day off from work and picnics and we will indeed think of those who have sacrificed to serve our country.

On Wednesday evenings my pastor is going through a crash course in church history. This past week he gave a brief biography of William Tyndale and John Huss and the impact they had leading up to the reformation. I was reminded that, like Tyndale and Huss, there have been many who fought for the faith and for the Word of God who paid just as great a price as those who have fought and given their lives for their countries.

This Memorial Day let us also think of those who have paid the price to stand for the Truth and for the Word. Let us take the opportunity to Remember Those who are suffering for their faith this very day. Let us consider their example and determine ourselves to stand for the truth and boldly proclaim the good news of the gospel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Praying for Government Leaders

John Piper preached a good message from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 on the importance of praying for all people, particularly for our government leaders.

He shared two reasons why it may be difficult to pray for our leaders as we should:

  • Government leaders may seem distant and remote; if not in miles, then at least in accessibility.

“It is hard to pray earnestly for someone you don't know, and especially hard to pray for somebody you never see. Yet, this difficulty must be overcome, Paul says. You must pray for them: emperors like Nero, proconsuls like Gallio, governors like Pilate, kings like Herod. They may seem remote and inaccessible, but remember, they are not remote and inaccessible to God. And by prayer you can get as close as one of their intimate advisers.”

  • Government leaders may be unbelievers and insensitive to the Holy Spirit.

“This should not cause us to hesitate one moment to pray for them, first, because God may save them and bring them to a knowledge of the truth, and second, because God uses rulers to accomplish his purposes whether they believe in him or not.”

Let us seek to be faithful in pursuing God’s priority of praying “for kings and all who are in authority”.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spurgeon on the Priority of Sharing the Gospel

Spurgeon has some great words which challenge us when we are tempted to be distracted from our priority of sharing the good news of the gospel:

“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22

"Paul’s great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved.

"Paul knew the ruin of man’s natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate?

"Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not his honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men."

(Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, December 7, PM reading)

HT to Dan Phillips at Biblical Christianity, December 7, 2007

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Democratism" and the Church

Some more thoughts on election day about how the principles and philosphy of democracy have impacted the church in America.

In a post entitled, Evangelicals, American Culture, and the Spirit of Democracy, J. Wesley at the Conservative Intelligencer shares some insights regarding the impact “democratism” has had upon the church.

He presents three areas where American principles of democracy have shaped life in the church:

1. Our Beliefs about Salvation

“In a nation dedicated to equal rights and one-man-one-vote, there is little room for the sovereignty of God.”

2. Our Doctrine of God

“The Democratic Spirit despises hierarchies; it loathes orders and ranks in society. To a large extent, even God must be brought down to our level. A t-shirt sold in Christian bookstores says it best – "Jesus is my Homeboy.”

3. Our Approach to Church

“…We’ve “democratized” the office of pastor into a sort of genial mentoring role…Most pastors no longer have much ability to enforce church discipline to correct sin within the church (and too often, no desire to do so anyway.) With both God and the pastorate democratized into rather toothless figures, Christians in the pews often have little fear of the consequences of sin, even open sin.”

We must always be careful lest we equate Democracy with biblical Christianity. This can lead us into motivations, methods, and messages which are not true to God's Word.