Friday, December 18, 2009

Is It Good or Bad to Be a "Gospel Reductionist"?

Owen Strachan at the 9 Marks Blog asks the question, "Is it good or bad to be a gospel reductionist?"

From the article:

"...(Scripture) seems to suggest that Paul was himself what we might call a "gospel reductionist" (one might also look at texts like 2 Timothy 1:8-14 and consult resources like Ligon Duncan's 2008 T4G talk). That is, the entirety of his life and ministry centered in the cross. The crucifixion of the Christ formed the cornerstone of his worldview, the grid by which he interpreted, well, everything. Paul's categories of thought boiled down to this: the cross of Christ.

"Moving from Paul's day to our own, it seems that we would do well to imitate Paul in our life and thought. It would be no bad thing, therefore, to be a 'gospel reductionist'."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are You Thankful for Your Leaders (Repost)

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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence by John Piper (Repost)

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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interim Bible Study

Every month our legislators gather in Charleston for three days of interim committee meetings. Each lawmaker is assigned to one or more committees in order to work on various issues throughout the year. In these meetings they deal with a variety of topics, many of which will be taken up during next year’s regular session.This month's interim meetings will be held on November 17-19 and will also include a special session called by Governor Manchin.

During their interim meetings, Capitol Commission provides a Bible study for our legislators and elected officials at the capitol. Our study for this month will be held on Wednesday, November 18 at 8:00 a.m. I will be out of town so the meeting will be led by Pastor Mark Patton of Spring Hill Baptist Church.

Please pray for our legislators as they gather for these meetings:

  • Pray for safety as our leaders travel to Charleston.

  • Pray for them as they take this time away from work and families.

  • Pray for them as they deal with many issues important to our state.

  • Pray that our Bible study and other aspects of our ministry will be a challenge and encouragement to them.
You can learn more about the legislative interim committee assignments and meetings at the West Virginia Legislature web site.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weep for the Helplessness of the World

This great article by John Piper should certainly help our attitudes toward those who do not know Christ. From his conclusion:

"...Weep for the helplessness of the world the way Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s blindness: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Rejoice that the providence of God is so massively active in restraining evil and prompting so much external conformity to righteousness. Trust in the triumph of Christ at Calvary. Resist the devil in faith that the one in you is greater than he. Risk your life to spread the liberating news as far as you can."

Read the full article here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Submission to God and Submission to the State - By John Piper

From John Piper's Series on Romans. As he comes to chapter 13 he deals with the issue of the church's relationship with government.

"This text has implications for war and peace, dictators and totalitarianism, concentration camps and gulags, revolts and revolutions, laws and law enforcement, political activism and civil disobedience, elections and lobbying, voting and paying taxes, speed limits and seat belts, stop signs and baby seats. This is not a small text. It is one of those mountain peaks of the book of Romans that makes a reader dizzy with implications."

Subjection to God and Subjection to the State, Part 1

Subjection to God and Subjection to the State, Part 2

Subjection to God and Subjection to the State, Part 3

Subjection to God and Subjection to the State, Part 4

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finish the Course: A Mandate for Ministry to Leaders

From my message at Appalachian Bible College in recognition of Constitution Day:

If Paul were to stand before Barak Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or Jay Rockefeller would his message be any different than what he proclaimed before Festus, Felix, Agrippa, or Caesar?

Do not let the message of the Gospel be drowned out by that of Tea Parties or Town Hall Meetings. Do not let our love for the lost be overshadowed by opposition to policies or political parties. Don’t let our mission of taking the good news of the gospel to every creature be sidetracked by a desire to “Take America Back”.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interim Bible Study: "The Real Authority in the Capitol"

From our interim Study at the Statehouse "The Real Authority in the Capitol":

"We find in the Sermon on the Mount an authority that goes far beyond that found in legislative bodies, courts, and elected offices. As we come to the close of the Sermon on the Mount, we see the crowd’s response to Jesus’ message:

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:28-29"
Read the complete study.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel -- And Why So Many Christians Think It Is"

From an article by Dr. Al Mohler:

"The deadly danger of moralism has been a constant temptation to the church and an ever-convenient substitute for the Gospel. Clearly, millions of our neighbors believe that moralism is our message. Nothing less than the boldest preaching of the Gospel will suffice to correct this impression and to lead sinners to salvation in Christ."

Read the complete article.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bible Study: "How Firm Is Your Foundation?"

From our study on Matthew 7:24-27 to be presented to legislators and elected officials at the West Virginia capitol next week:

"We often speak of various aspects of our lives in terms of constructing a house or a building. We point to a successful businessman and say “he built his business from the ground up”. We describe a couple faithfully married for years as having “built a wonderful life together”. We portray a leader in government as someone who has “built a political career”. In the closing words of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes building something of infinitely greater importance – our spiritual lives."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Roll Call

Links dealing Christians, politics, and evangelism:

God & Politics

September / October 1994 issue of Modern Reformation

The Unique Perspective of the Gospel on Life Issues

Jason Robertson at the Fide-O Blog

Calvin and Politics

Brief video by Marvin Olasky

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fighting Tigers With Paper Swords

From a letter by John Newton:

"Knowing that the Gospel is the wisdom and power of God, and the only possible means by which fallen man can obtain peace with God—he (the mature Christian) most cordially embraces and avows it. Far from being ashamed of it—he esteems it his glory. He preaches Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. He disdains the thought of distorting, disguising, or softening the great doctrines of the grace of God, to render them more palatable to the depraved taste of the times (2 Corinthians 4:2). And he will no more encounter the errors and corrupt maxims and practices of the world, with any weapon but the truth as it is in Jesus—than he would venture to fight an enraged tiger with a paper sword!"

HT: Grace Gems

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bible Study: "Christians In Name Only"

From our upcoming interim Bible study in the capitol:

In political discussions perhaps you have heard the labels thrown about, usually in a derogatory fashion, of “RINO” (REPUBLICANS IN NAME ONLY) or “DINO” (DEMOCRATS IN NAME ONLY). They are used to refer to members who do not genuinely hold to the ideas, platform, or philosophies of the party but maintain their affiliation for personal reasons or political expediency.

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus has some challenging words for those who are "CHRISTIANS IN NAME ONLY”. He speaks of those who claim to be believers yet do not have a genuine relationship with Him. Here Jesus presents one of the most fearful statements found anywhere in His teachings:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Read the complete study here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Christian and Politics

Good advice from John Angell James on The Christian and Politics:
(Written in 1837)

"The calm, dispassionate, charitable, and conscientious exercise of your political rights, without sectarian bitterness, and party animosity, in such measure as does not interfere with your own personal religion, and in such manner as does not wantonly injure the feelings of those who are opposed to you; which does not take you too much from your closet, your family, and your shop; if indeed you can thus exercise your rights, is quite lawful for you as professors. These rules and restrictions, however, must be imposed; for, without them, the subject will be sure to do you harm. A Christian must carry his religion into everything, and sanctify everything he does by it. "Whatever he does, he must do all to the glory of God." Everything must be done religiously, done in such a manner that no one shall say justly, "this is contrary to his profession." His politics must form no exception to this. Even in these he must be guided by conscience, and his conscience by the word of God. He must look well to his motives, and be able to appeal to the Searcher of hearts for their purity. If his attention to these matters, be such as to flatten his own devotional spirit, take him off from his religious duties, or diminish seriously the power of godliness and the vigor of faith; if it fills his imagination, make him restless, uneasy and anxious, disturbing the calmness of his religious peace and comfort—if it interferes more with his business than is good for his worldly prosperity, or with his family more than is consistent with his obligations to instruct and benefit them, if it injures his charity, and fills his bosom with ill-will and hatred to those who differ from him; if it leads him into political associations, and places him upon committees; if it make him looked up to as a leader and champion of a party; if it causes his pious friends to shake their heads and say, "I wish he were not quite so political," we may be very sure, and he may be sure too, that although it is not easy to fix with precision the boundary that separates right from wrong on this subject—he has passed the line, and is on dangerous and unlawful ground."
Read entire message at Grace Gems.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Panacea for the World's Evils

"The secret of the world's moral renovation, and the panacea for the world's evils, lies compressed in that one expression of the apostle Paul, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!"'

John Angell James - 1828

HT - Grace Gems

Mark Sanford and the Struggle of Every Politician

From Brent Alderman at the Paphos Paradigm:

"Let’s just get this first one out of the way. All of us are sinners and need the gospel of Jesus Christ for forgiveness and the power to obey Him. We all won’t struggle with the same sins, but we all will struggle. Governor Sanford claims to follow Christ which is another reminder that Christians can give in to their flesh and fall as well. This doesn’t address the issue of intelligence, but is just a statement of fact: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)."

Read the rest of Brent's post here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Should Believers Balance National and Eternal Interests?

A thought provoking article by David Brown entitled "Heart of the Collective King" was posted over at Sharper Iron. In it Brown deals with how the unique form of American government affects how the church and believers relate to their government leaders and get involved in politics.

From David Brown's conclusion:

"So what must Christians do? While the latest flavor of man’s sin has changed, the answer to it has not.

"First we pray. Then we need to lovingly and enthusiastically bring the Gospel to people one by one. The heart of the Collective King in America must be changed one cell at a time, one miracle of God’s grace at a time. Christian political action would work if the populous was by majority Christian and distinctively Christian. But it is not. There is, in fact, no moral majority. As we have refused to share the Gospel meaningfully, our society has drifted away with Oprah the Prophetess, and we have found ourselves fatuously content as long as there is a patriotic conservative in the White House.

"We need to repent. The answer lies in winning people to Christ, not in winning elections."
Brown wraps up his article with this challenge:

"Personally sharing the Gospel is the most patriotic thing you can do for America. Representative democracy and free enterprise capitalism only function well, avoid oppression, and endure when there is a Christian populace. John Adams wrote: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."Adams similarly explained: "Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue." If you want better government, if you want to guard your liberties, share the Gospel and gradually bring the heart of the Collective King back to his Creator." (See article for footnotes)
David Brown's article: "Heart of the Collective King"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Praying for Our Leaders on Father's Day

1 Timothy 2:1-2 exhorts us to make it a priority to offer prayers, intercessions, supplications, and thanksgivings for our leaders. This means we are to pray specifically for the needs of those who serve in positions of authority.

Father’s Day should remind us to pray for the families of our leaders. Those who serve in local, state, and national government sacrifice a great deal of time with their families.

As we seek to pray faithfully for our leaders, let this special day remind us how might pray more specifically and effectively for them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Moral Sin of a Pro-Marriage Politician

Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries has a good take on the moral sin of Senator John Ensign. You can read his article, Pro-Marriage Senator has Affairhere.

Pastor Ray writes of how many pounce on Senator Ensign’s confession as proof of the hypocrisy of the pro-family movement. However, he concludes:

“Sin happens. It would be a bigger deal if it didn’t happen. But where sin abounded, grace super-abounded, and that’s why we call the gospel Good News.”

I believe it is when we argue family and moral issues apart from the message of the gospel that we indeed promote the appearance that we are self-righteous and hypocritical in these areas.

We cannot argue for marriage, life, or any other moral issue without making it clear that each and every one of us are sinners before God and in need of a Savior. We must share that it is the message of the gospel that changes our hearts and enables us to live out the righteousness of Christ which has been given to us.

Sure, the sin of Senator Ensign gives believers and conservatives a black eye. However it also gives us an opportunity to present the message of forgiveness of sin through repentance and faith in Christ.

Read Ray Pritchard's article.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interim Bible Study: "Beware False Prophets"

From next week's interim Bible study for legislators and elected officials entitled "Beware False Prophets":

"Jesus describes false teachers as those who come in “sheep’s clothing” but are actually “ravenous wolves”. In New Testament times a shepherd would commonly wear a wool cloak, something which immediately identified him as a shepherd. Christian leaders, preachers, and teachers are commonly referred to as “pastors”, a word meaning “shepherd”. False prophets are those who would identify themselves as Christian leaders. They appear to be spiritual and their words sound good and perhaps even biblical. Yet they distort the message of the gospel and point people away from the true way of salvation. Though appearing positive and helpful, they are deadly dangerous, like “wolves”. Paul describes them like this: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds”. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)"

Read the complete study.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"God Forbid That I Should Glory Save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ"

From C.H. Spurgeon’s Sermon, "The Story of a Runaway Slave":
"Look at the difference between the man who robbed and the man who now comes back to be profitable to his master. What wonders the Grace of God has done! Brethren, let me add—what wonders the Grace of God can do! Many plans are employed in the world for the reformation of the wicked and the reclaiming of the fallen—and to every one of these, as far as they are rightly bottomed, we wish good success—for whatever things are lovely and pure, and of good report, we wish them God speed.

"But mark this word—the true reforming of the drunk lies in giving him a new heart! The true reclaiming of the harlot is to be found in a renewed nature! Purity will never come to fallen women by those hideous Contagious Diseases Acts, which, to my mind, wear, like Cain, a curse upon their forehead! Womanhood will but sink lower under such laws. The harlot must be washed in the Savior’s blood or she will never be clean! The lowest strata of society will never be brought into the light of virtue, sobriety and purity except by Jesus Christ and His Gospel—and we must stick to that. Let all others do what they like, but God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"I see certain of my Brethren fiddling away at the branches of the tree of vice with their wooden saws, but, as for the Gospel, it lays the axe at the roots of the whole forest of evil! And if it is fairly received into the heart it fells all the Upas trees at once—and instead of them, there spring up the fir tree, the pine tree and the box tree together—to beautify the house of our Master’s Glory! Let us, when we see what the Spirit of God can do for men, publish the Grace of God and extol it with all our might!"
Read Spurgeon's complete sermon here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Devil Votes Christian Values

Dr. Russell Moore preached a powerful message entitled "The Devil Votes Christian Values: Why We're Tempted to Be Glorified Satanists Rather Than Crucified Followers". This sermon deals with our temptation to be taken with the kingdoms of this world rather than the cross of Christ.

From Dr. Moore's message:

"Satan ultimately has a power that is not found most importantly in moral decay or in cultural chaos. His power is in the authority to accuse.

"The power of accusation. The power of holding humanity captive through the fear of death and the certainty of judgment.Satan is not fearful of external conformity to rule. Not even to the external conformity of the rule of Christ--provided there is no cross.

"Satan does not mind family values--as long as what you ultimately value is the family.

"Satan does not mind social justice--as long as you see justice as most importantly social.

"Satan does not tremble at a Christian worldview. He will let you have a Christian worldview as long as your ultimate goal is viewing the world.

"If Jesus will receive the kingdoms of the world, this crafty serpent thinks, then he can hand them to him apart from the shedding of blood at the cross. Apart from the overthrow of the demonic powers through the empty tomb. Apart from a reconciliation between a holy God and a renegade humanity.If he can just bypass the cross--and get to the kingdom apart from the cross--then he will have everything that he wants."

From his conclusion:

"We're tempted for now to remain content with a flurry of influential, self-referential, and irrelevant power and glory. But they (the world) still don't listen to us. The day they listen to us is when the Spirit of God comes through what we are saying to point to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ."
This is a MUST HEAR message. Download or listen to the sermon here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pray for the California Supreme Court Justices

Lately we have heard a great deal about the California Supreme Court due to their ruling on the marriage amendment to the state constitution. I encourage you to use this as a reminder to pray for these justices, especially for their spiritual needs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bible Study: "The Narrow Gate"

"Every good sermon has an effective and powerful application. Whether interposed throughout the presentation or supplied at the end, a good preacher will challenge his hearers on what to do with the truth that has been presented. What action does the congregation need to take? What difference should the message make in their lives? The Sermon on the Mount is no different. After the presentation of tremendous truth, Jesus makes a pointed, powerful application in 7:13-29. In today’s study we will begin to look at the pointed application of this “greatest sermon ever preached”.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Monday, May 25, 2009

America the Beautiful...God Shed His Grace on Thee

At church on Sunday we were singing the familiar patriotic song “America the Beautiful”. I must admit how often I have sung those famous words without really thinking about their meaning. I am sure many others do so as well.

Katherine Lee Bates wrote these words after a trip across the country culminating in a visit to Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs. There she was awed by the beauty and majesty of our country and was moved to write the famous poem which was published in 1895. It was set to music and published as a song in 1910.

Several phrases of the song struck me, especially as I considered the gospel truths in the message I was about to present in the morning service.

One phrase is repeated several times throughout the song, “God shed His grace on thee…” We know that God shed His grace on us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Certainly we believe in “common grace” and ask for God’s blessing and protection of our nation in a general sense. However, God’s grace can only be genuinely shed upon our nation through the message of the Gospel. (1 Cor. 1:4)

In the second stanza, Bates asks God “to mend thy every flaw…” I doubt Katherine Bates could have even imagined the flaws we see in our nation today. The only thing that can mend the flaws in our own lives, in our communities, and in our nation is the life changing power of the gospel. (2 Cor. 5:17) The “flaws” are sin, and the only way this can be “mended” is through repentance and faith in what Christ has done on the cross.

In the third stanza is the request that “May God thy gold refine…” Scripture speaks of the refining process coming through trials and persecution. The nation of Israel was refined as silver or gold (Is. 48:10; Ps. 66:10; Mal. 3:2-3) Peter vividly writes of our faith being proven, “though tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Our nation has certainly seen some trials with 9/11, natural disasters, and the recent economic difficulties. We should ask God to use these and other coming trials and difficulties to turn our hearts towards Christ in order to refine our own lives, refine the church, and thereby refine our nation.

I am not certain that this is what Katherine Bates had in mind as she penned these words. Her father was a congregational minister, though he died when she was very young. She was raised in the Congregational faith; however there is evidence to suggest she may not have been a genuine believer. Regardless, careful thought of her famous tribute to our nation will remind us what America really needs—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are actually several other stanzas to the poem rarely read or sung. You can find the entire poem here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spurgeon on the Gospel

"Everywhere there is a cry for the gospel, for men who will preach it in the love of it, for ministers who will live it, and inoculate others with its life: the church is growing sick of essayists, and asks for men of God. She is weary of word-spinners, and pretenders to deep thought, and she cries for men full of the Holy Spirit, who are lovers of the word and not speakers only. Soul-winners will soon be in demand, and your genteel essayists will have to carry their dry goods to another market. Sane men do not need fiddlers, while the life-boat is being manned to save yonder perishing ones from the devouring deep." C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are You Thinking in Political or Biblical Categories?

When dealing in politics, the terms “conservative and liberal” or “democrat and republican” are normally used to describe the competing ideas, priorities, and philosophies dealt with in the capitol. These terms automatically bring up an adversarial and antagonistic relationship. It is easy to see folks on the other side of the issue or the other side of the aisle as an enemy that must be defeated.

I would encourage us to make it a priority to think in more biblical terms. This will help us keep a proper attitude towards those on the opposing sides of issues.

What are the biblical categories? Scripture simply refers to those who are lost without Christ and those who have repented and placed their faith in Him.

There are tremendous implications for thinking in these proper biblical categories:
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:14-16
We must remember that those without Christ cannot think morally, biblically, and spiritually about issues.

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-4
We should remind ourselves that those without Christ are perishing and that they are blinded to the truth of the Gospel.

When we look at a politician or a leader, we do not first see their political party or their ideological label. We first consider their spiritual condition. This is not to say that we ignore the political implications and realities that might arise. But our first thought must be that those on the opposite side of issues may well be lost and perishing without Christ. Their minds and hearts are blinded and they need the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word to convict them and open their eyes to the truth. Our priority as believers must be to share the Word and the Gospel. Thinking in these terms and categories will greatly change our attitude towards those with whom we differ so greatly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Are Invited To a Gathering that Can Change Our Nation

It’s called your local church.

We see all kinds of gatherings at capitol buildings and courthouses aimed at impacting and influencing people in order to change our communities, our state, and our nation. Whether it’s “Tea Parties”, Pro-Life Rallies, or gathering to Fight for Marriage, we assemble in order to demonstrate political clout, get our message out, and to seek to influence others. This is certainly our privilege as Americans as we have the right to have our message heard in the public square.

However there is one gathering God has ordained to change us and consequently change our nation and that is the church. The church gathers to proclaim the gospel which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The church gathers to teach the Word of God which grows its members in sanctification. The church gathers to administer the ordinances which constantly point us to the message and changing power of the Gospel. The church gathers to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. The church gathers to demonstrate love and unity which is a tremendous testimony to the world. Believers then leave the church and go out into the world to impact it for Christ.

As I have the opportunity this week to attend the 9Marks Weekender conference with my pastor, I am reminded of the importance of the local church.

Remember when you go to church on Sunday you are going to THE gathering that can change our nation.

9Marks Weekender

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

Monday, May 11, 2009

Showing Consideration for All (Including Politicians)

As things seemingly deteriorate in our country, we are often tempted to become angry and resentful in our attitudes towards politicians and others in positions of power and influence. This shows up in many places such as blogs, articles, letters to the editor, radio programs, and daily conversation. This is a tendency believers must strive to avoid.

Paul gives us a challenging exhortation on how to relate to government leaders and others in Titus 3:1-6:

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…
How we are to treat others? “Be ready for every good deed; malign no one; be peaceable and gentle; show consideration for all men” (including politicians).

“Malign” (the word from which we get ‘blaspheme') means to speak reproachfully, to speak evil of, or to rail at. Harsh, angry words and jokes aimed at leaders are not peaceable, gentle, or considerate (meaning “mild or meek”) and are inappropriate for one who follows Christ. Yet how often does this characterize our attitudes and speech in this arena?

Paul explains why we are to do this, and his explanation is rooted in the Gospel:

“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”
We tend to forget our own sinful, lost condition apart from Christ. He reminds us that God saved us, not on the basis of our own deeds and righteousness, but by His mercy. Genuinely grasping this truth changes how we view and respond to others.

Let us remember our own hopeless condition apart from Christ. Let us focus on the mercy and grace God showed to us. This will help us guard own hearts and our tongues as we respond to all those who do not know Him.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"What Distinguishes Christianity At Its Heart Is Not Its Moral Code But Its Story..."

"...A story of a Creator who, although rejected by those he created in his image, stooped to reconcile them to himself through his Son. This is not a story about the individual's heavenward progress but the recital of historical events of God's incarnation, atonement, resurrection, ascension, and return and the exploration of their rich significance. At its heart, the story is a gospel: the Good News that God has reconciled us to himself in Christ."

Michael Horton. "Christless Christianity". Pg. 102.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"How Are We to Expect the Gospel to Be Kept Alive in the World If We Do Not Hand It On to the Next Generation?"

From Spurgeon's sermon entitled "Cheer for the Worker and Hope for London":

"Next, let me ask how we to are expect the Gospel to be kept alive in the world if we do not hand it on to the next generation as the former generation handed it down to us? It is from one lip to another that the Word of God is passed with a kind of living flame which books are not likely to communicate. Oh, shall it ever be said a century from now, “The people of 1880 never thought of us of 1980? They let the Gospel go! They allowed the doctrines to be denied, one after the other, and here we are without them, to perish in the darkness! The people of the Tabernacle knew the priceless Truth of God, but they cared not to make it known and here we are in ignorance through their indifference”? Oh, let it never be so! Let not the next century have to rebuke the professors of the present one and say, “You were false to God. Your men never preached the Gospel, though they had the gift! Your women never told it out to those about you and so the light flickered and almost went out and we are now left to suffer for your negligence.”
We certainly worry about the next generation in our country. Let us make sure we are faithful in the most important task of boldly proclaiming the gospel.

Read the complete sermon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"The Affairs of This World Are Not Under the Control of Men"

When tempted to worry about the condition of the world around us and the direction or decisions of politicians, we will do well to consider Jeremiah's words as he sees Judah about to be taken into captivity:

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23.)

Spurgeon speaks of this verse in a sermon entitled "An Instructive Truth":

"What Jeremiah knew was this—that the affairs of this world are not under the control of men, however much they may imagine that they are. There is a Supreme Authority to theirs and a power which rules, overrules and works according to its own beneficent will—whatever men may desire or determine to do. Nebuchadnezzar was about to carry the Jews away from the land which flowed with milk and honey to his own far distant country, but the Prophet consoled himself with the reflection that whatever Nebuchadnezzar meant to do, he was only the instrument in the hands of God for the accomplishment of the Divine Purpose. He proposed, but God disposed. The tyrant of Babylon thought that he was working out his own will, yet he was really carrying out the will of God in chastising the idolatrous and rebellious nation! This was Jeremiah’s consolation, “I do not know what Nebuchadnezzar may do, but I do know that ‘the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.’ I know that, in God’s eternal purposes, every step of Judah’s way is mapped out and in the end He will make it all work for His own Glory and the good of His chosen people.”

"Child of God, will you, for a moment, reflect upon the overruling power of God even in the case of the most mighty and wicked of men? They sin grossly and what they do is done of their own free will—and the responsibility for it lies at their own door. That we can never forget, for the free-agency of man is a self-evident Truth of God. But, at the same time, God is Omnipotent and He is still working out His wise designs, as He did of old, in the whirlwind of human wrath, in the tempest of human sin and even in the dark mines of human ambition and tyranny—all the while displaying His Sovereign Will among men even as the potter forms the vessels on the wheel according to his own will!

"This Truth of God ought to be remembered by us because it tends to take from us all fear of man. Why should you, O Believer, be afraid of a man that shall die, or the son of man who is but a worm? You are, as a child of God, under Divine Protection, so who is he that shall harm you while you are a follower of that which is good? Remember that ancient promise, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.” The most powerful enemy of the Church can do nothing without God’s permission! God can put a bit into the mouth of leviathan and do with him as He pleases. The Almighty God is Master and Lord even over the men who imagine that all power is in their hands!"

Read the complete sermon here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"The Very Existence of a Nation Depends Upon the Proclamation of the Gospel" - Spurgeon

From "Confidence and Concern", a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon:

"I believe that the moralities, the liberties and, perhaps, the very existence of a nation depend upon the proclamation of the Gospel in its midst! Have you not noticed that where the Gospel has been given up and various forms of infidelity have ruled, foul pollution has also boiled up from below! The very idea of morality seems to have departed from some men by whom belief in God has been rejected. The Lord save us from the general spread of this mischief! Let the sea, itself, cease to ebb and flow sooner than the Gospel fail to be preached among the sons of men! If the whole Church were to die for the defense of the Gospel, it were a cheap price to pay for the maintenance of it! I speak solemnly when I say that our main care in life should be to preserve this Gospel intact and hand it down to our descendants."

Read complete sermon here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Beyond Culture Wars" How Do We Reach Our Culture for Christ?

I just ran across an article by Michael Horton entitled "Beyond Culture Wars". It was published in Modern Reformation back in 1993 but I believe his observations have proven accurate over the last 15 years. It has become even more important for us to look closely at his message as we consider how we should go about reaching our world for Christ.

A challenging quote from His article:

"We have become the rock of offense rather than Christ. The irony is we have taken the offense out of the gospel--we don't preach sin and grace anymore--and have taken it over for ourselves. We're offensive for all the wrong reasons while we leave the gospel itself devoid of its power. The minorities, the feminists, the gays, and others who practice immoral lifestyles--people with whom we may not agree--will not give us a hearing at the end of the twentieth century. Not because we have preached the gospel and called them to repentance and they don't like that, but because we have framed our communication with them in terms of a war for social, political, and cultural control. Contrary to the religious leaders of his day, Jesus was the friend of sinners. Prostitutes turned from their prostitution because, as Jesus said, "He who is forgiven much loves much." The Holy Spirit will not convert a single soul through moral crusades. He will not convert a prostitute through Senate bill 242, or change the direction of the homosexual by prime-time denunciation from moralistic preachers. Yes, we are called to preach the good news and to call men and women to repentance, but that is not a political issue, that is not ultimate a moral issue, that is a gospel issue. Repentance can no more be coerced by the state than faith; both are the gracious gifts of God."

Read complete article from Modern Reformation

I just ran across Horton's book by the same title: "Beyond Culture Wars: Is America a Mission Field or Battlefield?" and look forward to reading it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Need for Sound Bible Teaching in the Capitol

Since we have been going through the Sermon on the Mount in our studies I have become more aware of how often politicians missquote, missapply, or simply miss the point of this passage of Scripture.

The Sermon on the Mount was quoted a number of times in floor sessions during our own recently completed legislative session.

In a recent speech on the economy, President Obama quoted the Sermon on the Mount:

"There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when “…the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

"We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity – a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad."

(Link to Transcript of President Obama's speech at Georgetown.)

The obvious point of the passage is missed:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock..." (Matthew 7:24)

It is not surprising when the Word of God is handled this way by those serving in government. Many believers and churches today deal with this passage in a very similar manner. It just points out how great is the need for a ministry such as ours to boldly and accurately proclaim and teach the clear message of Scripture. We need men who "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) and teach it to our political leaders in West Virginia and throughout our nation.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Are You Discouraged About the Legislative Session?

Naturally many are concerned about bills which did pass or disappointed in legislation which was defeated during the 2009 regular legislative session. However we should should not be surprised or discouraged as we remember that many of our leaders do not know Christ or consider God’s Word to be the authority for their lives or for their work in the capitol. This simply reflects the spiritual condition of the residents of our state. Instead of becoming discouraged regarding the political situation, this should help us renew our commitment to share Christ and proclaim the Word of God both to our leaders and to the citizens throughout our state. It is only as we see hearts changed through the gospel that we will see genuine change in our state and our nation.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Message of the Resurrection

Please pray that God will work in the hearts of political leaders in West Virginia, throughout our nation, and around the world to respond to the glorious message of the resurrection and the gospel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"If the Church Does Not Accomplish This Task, Nothing Else Will"

A great quote from Pierre-Charles Toureille, a pastor in France who risked his life during World War II to keep Jewish people out of Nazi death camps:

"Please understand me: it is not uniquely the church's mission to save men socially, economically, politically. But above all else, it is the church that must save men's souls. If the church does not accomplish this task, nothing else will. A church that does not evangelize is useless on earth. If the Church does not go to the front, with zeal and faith, the world will die, however it might be magnificently equipped technologically, monstrously rich and developed, endowed with superior social legislation and possessed of the best possible material conditions for living comfortably--this world will die because it has no soul. Unless the world has this peace of the soul that authentic conversion and the assurance of eternal life can give, all is useless and in vain. The night comes, when no one can work. Let us work, then, without cease."

Tela Zasloff, A Rescuer's Story: Pastor Pierre-Charles Toureille in Vichy
(Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 211

HT to the Founder's Ministry Blog
Indeed as we consider the needs of the world around us, let us work without cease to share the good news of the gospel.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Victorious King or Suffering Savior

In preparing for this week’s Bible study, I have been powerfully struck by the explanation by the disciples on the road to Emmaus as to why they were so downcast over the events of the crucifixion. They summed it up thus:
“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel…” (Luke 24:21)
The irony of this comment to Jesus, the very One Who had just suffered, died, and risen again in order to redeem Israel and the rest of the world is amazing. Their problem was that they did not yet understand the reason for the Messiah’s coming and what He had to accomplish. They were looking for a conquering, victorious king, not a suffering savior. What an answer Jesus gave them:
“O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (vs. 25-26)
I am afraid we are often tempted to make the same mistake. We may begin to think our nation can be “redeemed” through electing moral leaders, legislation, and political activism. In the midst of these activities we must remember that it is only through the Savior Who suffered, bore the wrath for our sin on the cross, and rose again, that individuals, or nations can be redeemed.

A good reminder as we finish up the 2009 regular session on Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bible Study: "The Resurrection and the Word of God"

This is the last week of our regular legislative session which ends at midnight on Saturday. As a result, many of our legislators will not be home to celebrate Easter Sunday with their families. In order to help focus on this part of the gospel so central to our faith, we are presenting a study entitled The Resurrection and the Word of God from Luke 24:13-35.

From this week's study:

You may recall when The Discovery Channel aired the documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”. This allegedly “scientific” program claimed that a tomb and ten ossuaries (limestone coffins) found in Jerusalem belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. Six of the coffins had inscriptions and through a “statistical study” it was determined that Jesus must have been buried there along with other members of His family. While the producers of this broadcast claimed they had no intent of attacking the Christian faith, it attempted to strike at the very heart of Christianity and the gospel message.

Consider the importance Paul places on the truth of the factual account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

14And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)

Paul’s point is clear. If Jesus’ body was in this tomb in Jerusalem along with the rest of His family, then our faith is in vain and we are hopeless. In the same passage, Paul also identifies the resurrection as one of the central truths of the gospel message. In verses 3-4 he writes: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” Paul goes on to describe the appearance of Jesus before eyewitnesses, many who were still alive when Paul wrote his letter to the church at Corinth. He wrote all this to remind those early believers of the essentiality of the resurrection. As we approach this Easter Sunday, we as well should consider the importance of the fact of the resurrection of Jesus to our lives and to our faith.

Read the complete study here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bible Study: "Seeking God's Stimulus Package"

From this week's Bible study in the Capitol:

With the downturn in the economy many companies and individuals find themselves in desperate need of resources which they hope the federal government might provide. Local and state governments, banks, mortgage firms, auto companies and others have gone to Washington seeking help in these difficult times. Whatever one may think about the stimulus package, we understand the plight of those who are going to the only source they know who might have the resources to help.

As we have studied the Sermon on the Mount, we have found that Jesus laid out for us a standard of righteousness which we cannot attain on our own. He has described a model for living which we can never achieve by ourselves. In a sense we can say we have a debt to God which we cannot repay. However God has provided everything we need through Christ. When enduring tough times or facing difficult challenges, how comforting it is to know we have a heavenly Father who has promised to provide for the needs of His children. This is the promise we find in this week’s study.

Read more.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moralism: Perverting the Gospel

My pastor is preaching through a series on the Gospel of Mark. He is currently covering 2:18-3:6 and Jesus’ confrontations with the Pharisees. The Pharisees proclaimed a message of moralism while Jesus shared a message of changed lives through the Gospel. Pastor Mark will be sharing a three part message on how moralism perverts the Gospel.

From part one:

Moralism: A passionate promotion of outward conformity to the neglect of inward transformation.

Gospel: Believes people will continue to be immoral until they have been changed by a personal salvation experience. The church should be more concerned about preaching the gospel than passing legislation.

"Jesus doesn’t want better, patched up people. He wants entirely new people through the message of the gospel."
Listen to or download the first message here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Singing in the State Senate

A group of senate staff known as "The Singing Doormen" sing together on a regular basis. This past Tuesday they sang to help open the floor session. I had the privilege of opening the session in prayer, so I got to stay and listen as Senator Clark Barnes joined them in singing "The Old Rugged Cross" and "The Sweet By and By".

The Singing Doormen - Senator Clark Barnes is 2nd from right.

The doormen help provide order and security for the legislature while in session and these men have served in both the House and Senate for many years. It may be quite unique that such songs can be sung openly in the state capitol.

Listen to The Singing Doormen (recorded on the senate floor).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bible Study: "Judging Others in the Capitol"

This week's study is particularly relevant since Jesus' command to "judge not" was recently quoted on the Senate floor. From our study:

In this week’s passage Jesus teaches about judging others. Matthew 7:1 is perhaps one of the most misquoted and misused verses found anywhere in Scripture. Whenever anyone questions the actions or beliefs of another, you may well hear the response, “Remember Jesus said to ‘judge not’”. Yet we find that judging and is encouraged throughout God’s Word. We also see a great deal of judging and criticism in the Capitol. We will find Jesus words have much to say about such activities. Let us look at this passage and consider what Jesus really meant when He said, “Do not judge”.

Read the complete study here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great Sacrifices are Made by Those Serving in the Legislature

Most do realize the great sacrifices that are made by those serving in the West Virginia Legislature. Time away from family and work add to the challenge of government service.

I thought it might be helpful for you to hear of these challenges from one of our new legislators. The following is by Delegate Josh Stowers, a new lawmaker from Lincoln County. Delegate Stowers has a wife, Jennifer, and a daughter, Riley who is 11 years old. He has been an educator for six years and is currently service as Assistant Principal at Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City.

"Being a new legislator is such a mixed blessing. You’re filled with the enthusiasm that you can make a quality difference for those back home, yet you must sacrifice time with your family, friends, and job to transition this enthusiasm into to positive action.

"I’m extremely blessed in the sense that I am able to commute to and from the Capitol every day. In that respect I have my wife and daughter to keep me grounded and who allow me to put all this work into perspective. However, most nights I am not able to return home until they are already in bed. This requires a lot of focus not to become discouraged as the grinding work that we face at the Capitol causes the lack of time I have with them.

"Recognizing these sacrifices would be required when I signed up to serve allowed me to prepare myself and my family. They have been no thing but supportive. Knowing that I am new and obviously not nearly as aware of the many challenges that others face, has prodded me to seek out advice and counsel from those that have gone before me.

"Understanding the sacrifices but recognizing the opportunities to do good, has kept me focused on the positive aspects of legislative service. Hopefully, I can simply continue to grow in this attitude as I continue to serve."

I hope this will help you pray more effectively for Delegate Stowers and the rest of our legislators as they face the challenges of serving our state.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pray for the Family, Friends, and Colleagues of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Albright passed away on Friday at the age of 70. Please keep his family, friends, and colleagues in prayer.

Pointing People to "The Christian Way" or to Christ

My pastor has been preaching a series on the Gospel of Mark. On Sunday morning he spent time on the history and background of the Pharisees since they play such a prominent role in the Gospels. I found it helpful because so much of the Sermon on the Mount has to do with challenging the teaching and attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees. Some interesting observations and applications from his message:

"The Pharisees were more concerned about pointing people to the Jewish way than they were about pointing people to the One True God."

"We must be careful not to fall into the same attitude of moralism. If we are not careful our churches will become more known for trying to push people into a Christian way of life without pointing them to Christ."

"Christ and His message must be central to the life of the church. (1 Corinthians 2:2) The day when churches become more concerned about pushing “the Christian way” in our country apart from the gospel is the day we lose the battle. That’s the day we begin to reflect the Pharisee of Jesus’ day more than the disciple of Jesus’ day. If all we do is point people to “the Christian way” apart from Christ we may get a bunch of cleaned up people who die and go to hell. But, if we point people to Christ, He left a comforter, one who will guide them into truth, who will then guide them into 'the Christian way'. "
A great reminder not to focus on moral issues apart from the message of the gospel.

You can download or listen to Pastor Mark’s message here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bible Study: "The Cause and Cure for Worry"

From this week's Bible study at the capitol:

It is estimated that 40 million people in our nation are plagued with some form of anxiety disorder. We are facing a slowing economy, the fall of the stock market, and the loss of many jobs in our state and around the nation. All these have the potential to cause worry and anxiety. We worry about our families, our futures, and our health. For you who serve in politics, plans for the future, close elections, and events in the capitol might be the impetus for worry. We all recognize that worry and anxiety are a constant temptation.

In our passage this week and in our previous study (Matthew 5:6:19-24) we find that Jesus had a great deal to say about the issue of worry, giving us both its cause, and its cure. This passage and our previous passage are closely related. If our treasures are on earth and we are mastered by our desire for material things, then we will certainly have a great deal of anxiety over acquiring and maintaining them. We will worry that moths and rust will destroy; that thieves will break in and steal (or the stock market will crash or we might lose our jobs). However, Jesus tells us that those who belong to His kingdom do not need to be anxious over such things. As a matter of fact He commands His Children, “Do not worry”. He then provides compelling arguments why this is so. I invite you to take a Bible and turn to Matthew 6:25-34 as we study Jesus’ tremendous words on dealing with worry.

Read the complete study.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bible Study: Where Is Your Treasure?

From this week's Bible study at the capitol:

Recent economic events have greatly reduced the value of things people hold most dear. Many have experienced a drop in the value of their houses or are having difficulty making mortgage payments and face the loss of their home. The freefall of the stock market has dried up people’s savings for their retirement or children’s college. For many, the loss of their job has taken away that which they depend upon for their daily sustenance. These dramatic events serve as a backdrop to illustrate the passage we are studying this week. Jesus spoke of this very thing many years ago in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…"

Read the complete study.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bible Study: "Nobody's Perfect" (Matthew 5:48)

From this week's Bible study at the capitol:

An accusation often leveled against Christians is that they are self-righteous, or “holier than thou”. Perhaps there are some who come across this way, especially in the political arena. Anyone who truly understands the Word of God and the gospel, however, realizes there is no one who can claim to be perfect, truly good or better than anyone else. After all, “nobody’s perfect”. This is seen nowhere more clearly than the Sermon on the Mount. The scribes and the Pharisees were indeed people who were self-righteous and had a “holier than thou” attitude. Jesus challenged them with the true standards of God’s holiness to demonstrate no one can live up to them on their own. With that in mind we come to consider an astounding statement by Christ found in Matthew 5:48. One writer introduces his chapter on this verse this way:

“At an early point in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus Christ taught that if a man is to enter heaven he must possess a greater measure of righteousness than the righteousness possessed by the scribes and the Pharisees, the most religious and respected men of his day. As He taught this doctrine a person might easily have said, “You teach that a man can enter heaven only if his righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. All right, then, how much in excess of their righteousness must the believer’s righteousness be? If the Pharisees can be credited with having attained seventy or seventy-five percent of the standard, what must our goodness be? Is seventy-six percent sufficient? Or is eighty percent necessary? How good must a person be to enter the kingdom of heaven?” (James Montgomery Boice)
In answer to these questions we read Jesus’ amazing words:

Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Read the complete study.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Os Guinness on the Results of Evangelical Political Activism

I ran across a great video of Os Guinness speaking at the Trinity Law School God and Governing Conference in February 2008. While his topic was on sustaining freedom in our nation, in his introduction he related what he thought were the results of evangelical overemphasis on political activism:

Theological Unfaithfulness

Political Ineffectiveness

Cultural Counterproductiveness

When we consider the state of both the church and our nation today, I believe he has a point.

Other messages at the conference dealt with this issue further. I hope they might be available soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Making Bad People Good or Dead People Live?

From Ravi Zacharias (as heard on Wretched Radio):

"Man is not just unethical, he is lost and dead... The biggest difference between Jesus Christ and ethical and moral teachers who have been deified by man is that these moralists came to make bad people good. Jesus came to make dead people live."

Let us be careful never to merely seek to make bad people good through legislation or any other means. We must always strive to share the good news of the gospel which changes people’s hearts through new life in Christ.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Praying for "Moral Rebirth" in America?

One Christian organization is calling on believers to gather at city halls across the nation to pray for a “moral rebirth” in America. I do not find anywhere in Scripture where we are called to pray for “moral rebirth”. Indeed, there can never be a “moral rebirth” apart from the spiritual rebirth of individuals through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is this for which we must pray and work as we seek to reach both political leaders and regular citizens with good news of the gospel.

Bible Study: "Loving Our Enemies in the Capitol"

From this week's capitol Bible study, "Loving Our Enemies in the Capitol":

"It may be easy at times to make enemies in politics and in the capitol. In the heat of campaigns, debates, and political maneuvering things can be said and actions can be taken which strain personal relationships. In light of this we come to what are perhaps some of Jesus’ most challenging words, "love your enemies". In our last study we saw that Jesus gave us a negative command on how His followers will respond if insulted, cheated, or done wrong. We are not to retaliate. In this last illustration we are studying today He sets the bar for true righteousness even higher. He teaches that His true followers will respond positively to their enemies who mistreat them by loving them, caring for them, and praying for them. Let’s look more closely at Jesus’ command to love our enemies."

Matthew 5:43-48

Read the complete study.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bible Study: "What Rights Do I Have in the Capitol?"

From our capitol Bible study on Thursday, February 19:

We come to consider what may be some of the best known quotes from The Sermon on the Mount. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, “Turn the other cheek”, and “Go the extra mile” are phrases that often find their way into our every day language. However, they are probably also some of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted words from scripture.

Read our complete study "What Rights Do I Have in the Capitol?".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pray for the Family and Friends of Senator William Sharpe

Long time state senator William Sharpe passed away on Sunday. Please keep his family and friends in prayer.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bible Study: The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

From our first Bible study of the 2009 legislative session:

The truth may seem hard to find at times in the world of politics. In a 2006 Harris poll, politicians were pretty far down the list of trusted professions. Only 35% of people said politicians were people they would generally trust to tell the truth. I would also be quick to point out the number of pastors and Christian leaders who have been caught publicly in situations where they have been less than truthful. In politics and other realms the term “spin” is used to describe the “creative presentation” of facts usually involving disingenuous tactics (i.e. lying). A lack of veracity is not confined to the world of politics.

We all struggle with it each and every day. John MacArthur described our situation this way: “The truth is scarce, and everyone is suspect: business people, salesmen, clerks, lawyers, doctors, advertisers, teachers, reporters, writers, politicians, and even preachers, with a few exceptions. In fact, the whole of our society is a network of fabrication. We shade the truth, we cheat, we exaggerate, we tax-dodge, we fail to keep our promises, we flatter for gain, we betray confidence, we make excuses, we tell half-truths, white lies, etcetera.”

It is in this context we come to our next section in our study of The Sermon on the Mount and we find Jesus has some strong words regarding the importance of telling the truth.

You can read the complete study here.

The 2009 Legislative Session Began This Week

The 2009 regular legislative session began this week. This is an important time for us as we have the opportunity to minister to our leaders during this time they spend at the capitol.

We will be providing three Bible studies for the legislators, elected officials, lobbyists, and staff who serve in the capitol community. Please pray for our studies in the weeks to come:

  • Tuesdays at 12:00 noon: lobbyist & staff study

  • Thursdays at 8:00 a.m: legislator & elected official study

  • Thursdays at 6:30 p.m: Dinner and Bible study for legislators & elected officials
Pray for our leaders to make it priority to study the Word in spite of their busy schedules.

Pray that we will have opportunities to share the gospel individually with our leaders.

Pray for our leaders as they spend this time away from their families.

Getting the Gospel Right

From Matt Chandler's message at the Desiring God Pastor's Conference:

"The gospel matters. Getting the gospel right matters. If you get the gospel wrong, and you don’t distinguish the difference between what morality is and what the gospel is, then what you’ve done at best is restrained the hearts of people, but you will not see their hearts transformed.

"If you don’t get the gospel right then what ends up happening is that men and women become conformed to a pattern of religion but they are not transformed by the Holy Spirit of God.

"Without the gospel you inoculate people against Jesus Christ. You give them just enough of Him to never know Him. The gospel matters."

You can listen to or download the message here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Relationship Between Christianity and Culture

The January 18 edition of The White Horse Inn discussed the relationship between Christianity and culture. From Michael Horton's commentary:

"You know it is significant that Jesus Christ never founded a college, never wrote an encyclopedia, he never held public office, he never funded a voluntary organization for transforming society and nevertheless he turned the world upside down. Same thing with the Apostle Paul. He says, "I determine to know nothing among you but Christ and him crucified." He said, "We preach not ourselves, but Christ." He never laid out a blueprint for transforming the culture, and nevertheless the culture was remarkably transformed in the wake of his ministry."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Trickle Down" or "Trickle Up" Morality

Todd Friel on Monday’s Wretched Radio program had a thought provoking point regarding “trickle down” or “trickle up” morality and how the church is to impact politics and society:

"The church has seemingly been so preoccupied with trying “trickle down” theology and morality. By getting people to behave through the government we’ve neglected being a powerful church that preaches the gospel. So we end up having a church that is impotent; pews packed with people who aren’t saved; and now the government simply reflects it. The way God says we should go about doing business is to preach the gospel, get people saved, and a result is that the religion of the people is going to “trickle up”. But we have forsaken the preaching of the gospel; clear theology and teaching; practicing church discipline…We now have a people such that you could have every politician in office be a born again believer, but you can’t manage a people under our system who aren’t saved."

Wretched Radio (formerly Way of the Master Radio) is now a subscription based service.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Taxicab Governor

The Charleston Daily Mail last week published an interesting article regarding West Virginia governor, Bill Marland, who became a taxi driver in Chicago after struggling with alcohol.

Marland became attorney general in 1948 and was elected governor in 1952. He lost bids for the U.S. Senate in 1956 and 58 and dropped out of politics. We next hear of him driving a cab in Chicago in 1965. In his own words Marland admitted that alcohol led to his downfall.

His story reminds me our legislators and elected officials are simply people with the same challenges, struggles, and temptations as any of us only with the added responsibility of leading in our government. It prompts me to pray that our leaders will experience the life-changing power of the gospel. It convinces me anew of the importance of sharing the gospel and teaching the Word with those who are serving in office.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The 79th West Virginia Legislature

The 79th West Virginia Legislature will meet today for their swearing-in ceremonies and to organize by electing officers. Please take this as a reminder to pray for our leaders during the upcoming legislative session and throughout the rest of the year.

View the 2009 legislative calendar.

Find the members of the West Virginia Legislature: