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.