Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trading Spiritual Authority for a Mess of Political Pottage

Phil Johnson follows up on Monday's Brief Thought for a Frustrating Election Year:

“…I hasten to say that I'm not suggesting there's anything inherently sinful about holding electoral office or doing public service. If it's your calling to be mayor of your town or a congressman from your district, you'll get nothing but encouragement from me as long as you seek to fulfill that task to the glory of Christ. Still, you need to do that not merely by flexing your power, but mainly by being a consistent example of Christlike service and humility. Of course, that's just what every Christian in the secular workplace should endeavor to do. In the words of 1 Timothy 4:12, "in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

Our first goal and priority must be to share the gospel and boldly proclaim and teach the Word of God, whether in the capitol, or in our communities. This is what God has called the church and His followers to do.

You can read the rest of Phil’s post HERE.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Brief Thought for a Frustrating Election Year

Phil Johnson at Team Pyro shares a brief thought for a frustrating election year. Says Phil:

"If you think the most important answer to the ills of our society is a legislative remedy; if you imagine that political activism is the most effective way for the church to influence culture; or if you suppose the church is going to win the world for Christ by lobbying in the halls of Congress and by rallying Christians to vote for this or that type of legislation then both your trust and your priorities are misplaced."

This is not to say believers should not be involved in politics through voting, running for office, or other involvement in the process. It is talking about where our true hope and priorities lie. (Please note Phil's comments)

Check out the rest of Phil's post HERE.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Birthday Meeting With Governor Manchin

Back during the regular session, a close friend, C.W. Lee, wanted to come visit one of our Bible studies at the capitol. Mr. Lee is a tremendous encouragement to us, praying for us and our ministry every day. He has been faithful to the Lord both in church and in his testimony in the community. I set up a time for C.W. to come join us for one of our staff / lobbyist Bible studies.

I learned that the day he was coming to visit was his 91st birthday. On the way in to the statehouse that morning I thought how great it would be if he could meet the governor on his birthday. Through relationships with staff built over the years we have ministered in the capitol, I was able to arrange for Mr. Lee to be waiting in Governor Manchin’s reception room. As the governor was moving from one meeting to another, he took the time to stop and greet Mr. Lee and wish him a happy birthday. His staff had prepared a birthday proclamation which he presented to C.W. along with the opportunity to have their picture taken together. Mr. Lee was truly amazed Governor Manchin would take the time to meet with him.

We are thankful for the relationships God has allowed us to develop with legislators, elected officials, and staff at the capitol. We are also thankful for many, like C.W. Lee who pray for us and support us in our ministry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

My pastor and I went to see Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed this afternoon.

It is quite something to consider the “systematic, ruthless opposition” to any mention of intelligent design or questioning of Darwinism in the scientific community. It is amazing the lengths to which people will go to deny any possibility of the existence of an “intelligent designer” (specifically, the existence of God).

The movie only hints at the reason behind the extreme resistance, citing the clash of “world views”. But we should not be surprised, as scripture tells us quite specifically why people are so vehement in their opposition to the possibility of a creator.

Paul in Romans tells us:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened…
Romans 1:18-21

The key is that man will seek to suppress the truth about God, even that truth which is evident in the glorious design of creation.

This is important for us to understand in ministry, whether in the capitol or anywhere else. We should not be surprised at the negative, sometimes extreme responses to the simple proclamation of the truth. It is our responsibility to proclaim the message of the gospel and the Word of God, even while knowing what the response will be from those who suppress and reject the truth.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Barry Black

On Saturday Brent Alderman, our new State Director for Maryland and myself had the opportunity to attend lectures presented by the Chaplain of the United States Senate, Barry Black.

Chaplain Black served in the Navy for 27 years, attained the rank of admiral over all naval chaplains, and has served as chaplain for the senate since 2003.

The story of his life is remarkable as he grew up in the projects in Baltimore, a story recounted in his autobiography, From the Hood to the Hill.

My favorite story he shared took place during his selection process. He went before a selection committee of eight senators, one of fifty applicants who had been nominated for the position. As the proceeding began, one of the senators opened by telling him “We have a few questions for you”. Chaplain Black replied, “before you ask my any questions, I have a question for you…have you all prayed about this selection?” The group embarrassingly informed him they had not. Mr. Black led in prayer, then and there, for wisdom as the group made this important decision.

Chaplain Black stated that several senators, members of the “most powerful club in the world” have shared their appreciation for the fact that he is not intimidated by them and their position. “I know the creator of the universe” he replies, “and you think I’m going to be intimidated by mere flesh and bone”. I can certainly learn from his boldness in his ministry to leaders.

We would certainly have some doctrinal and philosophical differences and concern with the inclusive nature of his ministry required by his position. But I can certainly learn a lot from him about boldly proclaiming the truth of God’s Word to our leaders in Charleston and around the state.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Salt & Light In the Capitol

A passage that is often used to support a mandate for political activism by churches and believers is Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “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.

As the interpretation goes, churches and believers are commanded to be salt and light. Hence, we are obliged to be involved in political activism in order to preserve and change our culture.

While there may be some application from these verses to encourage such involvement, a close look at the passage finds no reference to what could be considered political activism. These verses immediately follow what we commonly call The Beatitudes. These are the character qualities that demonstrate one is genuinely part of God’s kingdom; a believer; a follower of Jesus Christ. They form part of the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus describes how those qualities work themselves out in various areas of daily life. Jesus makes a statement: believers are the salt of the earth. Christians are the light of the world. Our salt has the most influence and our light shines the brightest when we live holy lives described in the Sermon on the Mount and boldly proclaim the message of the gospel.

Phil Johnson states it this way:

“We ought to vote. We ought to be good citizens in every way. And we should cast our votes conscientiously and with discernment. But if your hope for the future of our society rests in the democratic process, or if you think the fortunes of the church rise or fall according to which party is in power, you need to look again at how the people of God have historically made their influence felt in society. You’ll discover that those times when the church has grown the most and when revival has spread furthest are times when believers have been most concerned about personal holiness and evangelism. The church’s real influence comes from the power of the gospel and the testimony of changed lives.”
“Jesus is simply describing the natural, God–ordained process by which all of society is blessed and influenced by the presence of faithful believers who serve as salt and light in a corrupt and sin-darkened society. Personal holiness, not political dominion, is what causes men to glorify our Father who is in heaven”.

Phil Johnson, Let Your Light So Shine: Examining the American Christian Approach to
Politics. Found in Fool's Gold, pg 146

Capitol Commission seeks to be salt and light in the Capitol.

  • We seek to have a godly testimony before our leaders and serve them.

  • We seek to boldly proclaim the gospel and the Word of God before our legislators, elected officials, lobbyists, and others serving in the capitol community.

  • We seek to encourage churches and individual believers to be involved in serving, encouraging, and seeking to share the gospel with their leaders at the state and local levels.

You can also find an MP3 of Phil Johnson’s excellent message on this passage here.