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.