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.