Christians and Government

on 10/29/2009

Today we see our Nation's political landscape torn apart by strife.  You all know the issues that our leaders fight about every day.  For our Nation they are all important, and these battles' outcomes will have significant and far-reaching consequences.  We know that America now has what some call the "Christian Right."  But many Christians align themselves with left-wing ideologies and causes.  I wish we could all look at the Bible together, and then vote and debate accordingly.  But unfortunately it's not that simple.  While I look at a passage and reach one conclusion for my political stance, another could read the same passage and reach the opposite conclusion. 
This hinders general Christian unity and prevents Christian political unity.  I'm not writing to address specific issues here, or even to advocate Christian political unity, although I think that would be great.  I'm writing to discuss a disturbing trend I see in Christians on both sides of the political spectrum.  Here are two profound passages that I think we should all take another look at:

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher power.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil."  (Romans 13:1-3)

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour."  (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

I believe Christians are to obey the Bible.  I don't believe we have to argue with it, debate about it, or (skeptically) question it.  I believe we are to read it and follow it.  When Romans says that we are to subject ourselves to the higher powers, then we are to do it.  When 1 Timothy says we are to pray for those in authority, then we must pray.  God promises us a quiet and peaceable life in return.  If a Christian is sowing anger, strife and rebellion toward our government, then that Christian will "receive to themsel[f] damnation."  I didn't write it, I just believe it.  And I hope people will receive this message and look after their own welfare and the Church's duty. 

The disturbing trend is that these days so many Christians speak out against the government in strife and rebellion, personally attacking our leaders and constantly complaining about the institution as a whole.  You can vote however you feel led to vote.  You can petition and poll and write and call and assemble and do everything else our wonderful Constitution allows us to do.  But when you come together in a rebellious party spirit, or when you let that rebellious party spirit attach itself to you, you are in the flesh and out of God's will.  You can't tell me that this negative energy isn't of the devil.  Moreover, if those politically motivated Christians would spend half that energy winning souls and advancing God's kingdom, then they would undoubtedly be making serious headway for the cause of Christ in the Earth.

So what do you do, especially when abortion deaths increase and homosexuality continues receiving greater governmental approval?  You pray.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  You pray for the President.  You pray for the judges and leaders.  You (gasp) give thanks for them.  You pray for God's will to be done in the Earth.  You vote how you believe you should.  If someone asks your opinion, you should give your Bible-based thoughts on the issue, but never openly deride or criticize our leaders. 

Consider what Voltaire wrote in Candide, published 250 years ago, "I would be enamoured of the freedom inspired by English genius, if passion and partisan spirit did not corrupt all that is estimable in this precious liberty."  Then listen to Paul, nearly 2000 years ago, "Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." 

My fellow Christians, my political opinions and passions run deeper than you would ever imagine given this posting.  But I believe God calls me to love and pray for those who govern me, regardless of their ideas or plans.  We have liberty in this Nation, glory to God.  But we must not allow it to stir within us strife and rebellion.  Those are not of God.  There is a fine line between Godly resistance and sinful rebellion.  The Holy Spirit will help you not cross it.  Love all people, pray for our Nation.  If God leads you into politics, wonderful, He will use you to accomplish what the rest of us pray for.

Finally, I believe the Bible only allows us to specifically break two types of laws: those requiring worship of anything other than God, and those forbidding our worship of the One True God.  I don't know of any such law in the U.S.A.  Should such a law arise, we will need to discuss this again.  Until then, pray and obey.  Trust God.  Regardless of whether some godless politicians remove "In God We Trust," from our money or motto, we must always trust Him and His Word concerning our hearts toward our government, and we will always be "One Nation, Under God."  

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Life Impact Network

on 10/26/2009


Two years ago my wife and I purchased a house.  When I told my mom the address, she said it sounded familiar.  Turns out, I was moving in next door to one of her close friends, a powerful woman of God with a voice, a vision, and a ministry.  The woman is Pat Layton, who is the President and Founder of the Life Impact Network.  The Life Impact Network is the parent organization for several wonderful ministries which focus on saving lives and helping children.  

The Network's most well-known division, A Woman's Place Ministries, provides free unexpected pregnancy counseling.  They educate women, especially the young and single, about their baby's growth and their options.  They go right up against the area's major abortion clinics, even having their offices in the same complexes when possible.  They aim to protect the lives of the unborn.  They use a variety of means to accomplish this, including free counseling and free ultrasounds.  They introduce the young mothers to their children, showing them the life inside them and encouraging them to keep it.   

But they don't just work to prevent abortion, they also provide post abortion healing and counseling.  Mrs. Layton's abortion healing program, Surrendering the Secret, has wonderful materials to help women forgive themselves and heal.  This material has received widespread support from the greater Christian community, especially considering its release by Serendipity House, a division of Lifeway.  For the abortions they prevent, A Woman's Place Ministries provides pregnancy counseling, doctor referrals, and also adoption assistance through their Moses Project (adoption information) and Woven Basket Christian Adoption Services (adoption service). 

The Life Impact Network also works to improve the lives of older children.  Their Impact division seeks to train teens and their parents about healthy lifestyle choices, including abstinence.  They also have classroom education programs.  First and Second Corinthians chapter 6 discuss how we must honor our bodies as God's temple and avoid sexual immorality.  If we can show the younger generations that abstinence protects the body, honors God, saves lives by preventing abortions, and provides for better marriage beginnings, then we will truly do them a great service.  But only God and the Holy Spirit can convince them, not fear tactics or guilt trips, and God needs people like those at the Life Impact Network to spread His message.

Yes, I realize this is a divisive and controversial subject, even for some Christians.  Exploits for God believes that life begins at conception.  Therefore EFG believes abortion ends life.  Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).  EFG believes all Christians should work to protect and preserve life.  Moreover, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127).  That verse has no qualifications, limitations or exceptions.

Pat Layton and the Life Impact Network are undoubtedly champions for children.  Please visit the website for the Life Impact Network and the web pages for their various divisions.  (Those links are found throughout the body of this post.)  Life Impact Network is truly doing a great Exploit for God.  It inspires me, and I hope it inspires you.

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LUO

on 10/22/2009

A friend recently told me about an awesome ministry that focuses on helping orphans, LUO.  Based in Georgia, these young and committed Christians have partnerships with organizations in South Africa and Nicaragua.  They saw the needs of the poorest in the world, the impoverished orphans who have nothing and no one to help them.  Then they started helping.

How many of us see needs all the time.  Just today I passed a family selling water roadside to help pay the bills.  Need is all around us, and most of us are blessed to be able to help some needs of others.  We can't help everyone, we can't do everything.  But if we listen to God, He will put a powerful stirring in our heart for some particular need.  We must listen to the Holy Spirit, for He will guide us into our area of ministry, into our calling.  We may not all be called to a pulpit, but we are all called to share the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What need breaks your heart more than all the others?  I'll bet God calls you to help satisfy it. 

Well this couple heard God's call and found the need they would help, the world's orphans.  Now they are building a mighty ministry to serve God's children.  They focus on nutrition, Biblical curriculum, academic education, and medical care.  They want to help empower these children and raise them to new levels, so they can escape the bondage of poverty.    

I almost hate to go there, but I'm so excited to read their story and see their (approximate) ages.  I am probably just two or three years older, and I don't buy for one second that Christ is losing our generation or the generations to come.  There is a powerful move of God in our generation.  The world says Christianity decreases, but we know it increases with the increase of God.  Sometimes you can't see it, but it always continues.  I believe as you continue reading these posts you will hear more about young couples like this, the next generation of the world's Christian leaders.  Glory to God. 

Please visit the LUO website.  Also check out the LUO blog, available both on blogger and on the blog page on their main website.  Get stirred up, get encouraged.  Pray for their ministry and the orphans.  Pray to God that He would show you where you can help in this world.  When you find the area where God calls you to minister, and you actually start helping, you truly begin feeling complete. 

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Going to Heaven?

on 10/15/2009


I once read that good websites enable viewers to reach the most important pages in one click from anywhere else on the site.  Therefore you should now see a new "Heaven?" tab at the top of every page on this site.  Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, is more important than your personal salvation.  No other Christian encouragement or instruction even comes close.  If you died today, are you absolutely sure that you would go to Heaven?  I am.  Let me help you also have this assurance.

I meet countless people of all denominations who think/believe they will go to Heaven.  They say something like; I'm a Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, whatever.  They tell me how they go to church.  They say how they are a good person, or the most common, that they try to be a good person and do what's right.  I assure you, none of that matters.

"If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."  (Romans 10:9,10) 

There you have it.  All you have to do is believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and confess the current, living lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.  You will be saved.  That, to me, is the most important passage in the Bible.  Yes, Jesus came to deliver us from death, and sickness and poverty and bondage and fear.  But most importantly, Jesus came to save us from our sins.  "For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Jesus, the spotless son of God, was made to be sin so that we could be made the righteousness of God.

Every person has sinned (Romans 3:23).  Because of our sins we should have spent eternity in hell (Romans 6:23 and John 3:18).  But Jesus came, the perfect Lamb of God.  He sacrificed Himself to pay our penalty for our sins (John 1:29).  But if you don't believe in His death and resurrection, if you don't accept His Lordship and reality in your life, then you don't make His sacrifice personal to you.  He that believes in Jesus is not condemned, but he who doesn't believe in Jesus is condemned already (John 3:18).

You will never reach Heaven because of your works.  In fact, by design this possibility is specifically excluded by God.  (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:26-28)  When you die and stand before God, you will never be able to prove yourself based on your works.  The Bible says we all have sinned, and if you have no one to pay that death penalty for you, then you will pay it yourself.  Time doesn't forgive sins, good deeds don't erase them.  Only God can forgive them.  And only the blood of Jesus Christ can wash you clean of them (1 John 1:7 and Revelation 1:5).

I must also mention another verse - "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish."  Luke 13:3,5).  When we accept Christ we die to sin.  How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?  If we love Christ we should love the light and hate the darkness.  If we love Jesus then we should keep His commandments.  We must repent of our sins and turn to serve the living God. 

I first believed in Jesus Christ as a child.  I believe I received salvation and a "Heaven Ticket."  But I didn't start serving Him until age 23.  While you may have your positive afterlife assured, and I pray that you do, you will never truly experience this life until you actively serve God.  When you begin serving God everything changes.  Yes, it takes time.  Yes, it can be hard.  But the fellowship with Him, with His Spirit, the supernatural occurrences, and the superpowered existence, only these come when you give your Earthly life to Him.  I'm glad you believe in Jesus, and I want you to experience everything He has for you, in this world and the world to come.

If you aren't positive that if you died today you would go to Heaven, I implore you to pray the following prayer out loud right now.  (Remember, "with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.")

"Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus to the world to die on the cross and pay the penalty for my sins.  I thank you that He came to save me from my sins.  I believe that after Jesus died you raised Him from the dead.  I believe He is still with you in Heaven today, and always will be.  I confess that Jesus Christ is the new Lord of my life.  I repent of my sins.  Help me to live for You.  Show me Your ways and Your plan for my life.  I love You Lord and I thank You.  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen." 

HALLELUJAH.  If you did that then you can be assured you will be with God forever.  You will be in a paradise of love and joy.  How do I know?  Because the Bible tells me so.  Read your Bible daily.  Start in the Gospel of John.  Find a good Bible-based church.  EFG stands ready to assist you in any way we can.  God bless you, and welcome to the family of God.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  (John 3:16)

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Food for the Hungry

on 10/12/2009

This past Saturday Shannon and I attended the Follow You Tour in Clearwater, Florida.  It was an awesome concert featuring Brandon Heath, Leeland, and Francesca Battistelli.  The bands did this tour in connection with Food for the Hungry.  During a brief intermission they showed a video about their trip to Cambodia, where they met some seriously impoverished people, especially children.  They danced and sang and played games with them.  Your heart went out to these wonderful children.  In the midst of extreme poverty they seem so loving and happy. 

Food for the Hungry currently operates in more than 26 nations.  They focus on the two hungers facing much of the impoverished world, spiritual hunger and physical hunger.  Their wide range of operations includes providing food and water, emergency relief, church development, and even local business development.  Clearly this group wants to feed both the spirits and stomachs of the people.  And more than that, they want to help people feed themselves.

Another awesome ministry of Food for the Hungry is child sponsorship.  I'm sure many of us can remember various commercials pleading for us to sponsor a child in some impoverished nation.  I always wanted to do that, and I'm sure you did too.  I know that the desire to give and help others doesn't just come with Christianity.  Many of us wanted to help those hurting babies before we ever knew Christ.  Desires to help and love are inborn from God in the human heart.  But now, with Christ in our lives, we should realize that we must help.  It's more than just "want to," it's "have to."  We are instructed and empowered to help. 

One problem with many other such operations is that they only feed the flesh.  Now that I can help a child's spiritual and physical well-being for only about a dollar a day, I am without excuse.  I am stirred to action.  I always wanted to do it and now I have found the perfect organization to partner with.  I hope you feel the same way when you visit the Food for the Hungry website.  The saddest part is how many children are available for sponsorship.  Won't you help them, won't you help the least of these, as God commands. 

I should add two other notes to this post.  A dear friend of mine recently told me that he believes the Church still lacks true supernatural prosperity because of its continued neglect of widows and orphans.  We must begin doing more to help the most fragile and helpless among us.  Also, Shannon and I believe that this sponsorship is a great seed for us to plant, as we look to begin having our own children.  Find out more about Food for the Hungry.  Pray about getting involved.

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Everything Church Skit

on 10/10/2009

This video really speaks for itself. It has be viewed over 11.5 million times on youtube.  Jesus is our everything. Watch it all, the end is the best. And be blessed.

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Dr. Nasir K. Siddiki

on 10/07/2009

I like to watch the Trinity Broadcasting Network's telethon whenever it comes on. To help raise money for their ministry, they have some of the world's most well known Christian ministers teach on finances (and other subjects) while they have open phone lines for donation. The ministers receive nice amounts of time to really delve into God's Word and preach. The average show on TBN lasts 25 minutes or so, but each minister usually preaches for at least an hour during the telethon. Watching this will expose you to powerful teaching and new ministers which can contribute to your Christian life.

I first heard the preaching of Dr. Nasir Siddiki during this telethon.  He spoke powerfully about the Biblical laws of seedtime and harvest.  He has the type of anointing that I can listen to for hours.  He preaches quickly and powerfully, filling his sermon with Scriptural references and useful anecdotes. 

I believe one way I sense the anointing is when I hear the combination of true conviction, Scriptural reference and speed of speech.  Sure you can say that such ministers simply have good public speaking skills, and that these traits don't evidence the anointing.  But I don't buy that.  I believe the Holy Spirit speaks fluidly and intently and powerfully.  There is a popular charge against many megachurch ministers today, that they simply have great rhetorical skills.  I think that is a perversion of the truth.  I think many of these ministers, which God uses mightily, have the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit has great rhetorical skills.  It just may be that the doubters haven't ever sat under a minister with the true influence of the Holy Spirit.  (I also believe Paula White has a powerful witness of the Holy Spirit when she preaches, which witness evidences these traits.  I'm aware of the public problems which have occurred in her life.  No need to mention them, I believe she is a powerful teacher and awesome ministry gift.)

Dr. Siddiki has the traits of a powerful, anointed, Holy Spirit preacher in abundance.  When I first saw him on tv, I sat and was blessed for nearly 45 minutes without distraction.  It was like the Holy Spirit was speaking right to me.  He knows, as well as any one, God's Word and God's laws when it comes to Biblical finance.  I would highly recommend his book, Kingdom Principles of Financial Increase.  His life and ministry have demonstrated a commitment to God's Word and seedtime and harvest, and God has blessed him.

Dr. Siddiki and his wife, Anita, also know a great deal about God's healing power.  Both tapped into this power to recover from completely debilitating diseases.  Much like with Brother Kenneth E. Hagin, God raised them both from the bed of sickness to deliver His message to the world.  God healed them so they could preach freedom from sickness and poverty to millions.   Dr. Siddiki, born into a muslim family, called out to God from his deathbed, asking a God he didn't know for healing.  God answered his cry and raised him up a Christian convert and ministry gift to the world. 

Dr. Siddiki now travels around the world holding crusades and doing great exploits for God.  He ministers through a television show that reaches millions around the world, Winning with Wisdom.  He even developed the curriculum for Biblical Economics for the American Bible College, see the book mentioned above.  I highly encourage you to begin receiving from their ministry, Wisdom Ministries.  Watch the television show.  Read his materials and listen to his messages.  You'll hear the Holy Spirit speaking through him and downloading wisdom right to your spirit.

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Dr. Ravi Zacharias

on 10/05/2009

Dr. Ravi Zacharias was born in India and later moved to the United States.  Possessing a powerful intellect, inspired by the Holy Spirit and wise from his considerable experience and studies, he preaches and lectures persuasively on behalf of Jesus Christ. 

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries focuses largely on Christian apologetics, seeking to persuade others of the reality of Christianity through reason and rationale.  Dr. Zacharias lectures frequently on the superiority of Christianity to other religions, often in that Christianity is the only true religion because only Christianity has a completely rational basis which can help us understand every aspect of reality.  Dr. Zacharias has extensive knowledge of the world's religions, viewpoints, and opinions, and openly debates their accuracy against the truth of Christianity.  He shows their fallibility with Scripture, natural observations, and logical arguments.

The website for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries notes that the ministry seeks to influence "skeptics, cultural influencers, and critical thinkers across the globe."  I would never say that the Gospel is not enough to persuade any man's spirit.  But sometimes you can't get people to listen to the Gospel long enough to make a change.  Some people, especially the intellectuals in America, think that Christianity is foolishness, much like the Greeks did during the time of Paul.  These people often won't listen to Spiritual dialogues or church sermons.  They will sometimes, however, listen to an intellectually based argument.  People who fancy themselves intellectuals want to listen to intellectual things.  Dr. Zacharias has forced open a door to these groups.  He is a renowned scholar with opportunities at many respected universities.  He speaks to world leaders throughout the globe.  Coming from India and traveling extensively, Dr. Zacharias also has a unique perspective on many world cultures.  He understands the world's diversity and diverse viewpoints.  He therefore can relate to and minister to people around the world.

I am a well educated man.  When I listen to Dr. Zacharias I find mental stimulation that few other sources provide.  I know Christianity is true by faith.  Dr. Zacharias helps me see how all of nature also testifies to Christianity's reality.  All other gods are idols.  All other religions are false and fruitless.  I believe these things because the Bible tells me so.  Dr. Zacharias helps me see this reality with my mind as well as my heart.  He debunks the arguments of atheist, heretic, and heathen alike.  His ministry helps create unity of belief between my mind and spirit, which unity makes me a more convinced, powerful, and persuasive minister.

I highly encourage you to visit the website for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  Get some of his audio materials, watch him on tv, and/or listen to him on the radio.  Your mind will be touched by the power of the Gospel in new ways, I promise you that.  I recently received a mailing from his ministry and the quote thereon was, "Helping the Thinker Believe and the Believer Think."  Find out for yourself what that feels like.  You will be blessed.

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Dreams

on 10/02/2009

I know in my life I have had some crazy dreams.  I imagine most of you have too.  Many times dreams include elements from the previous day, like a restaurant where you ate, for example.  Other times dreams seem to contain only bizarre elements, leaving you with a "where did that come from" type feeling.  Dreams can produce powerful emotional and physical responses.  We can wake up sweating, scared, or even laughing.  Some dreams fill us with hope that they might come true, others fill us with dread for the same reason. 

God speaks to people in dreams, and God might be speaking to you in yours.  In Genesis, the book of beginnings, we see God speak to several people this way.  This group includes both Joseph, a servant of God, and Abimelech, the heathen king of Gerar.  God showed Joseph the future, and God warned Abimelech not to mess with Abraham's wife.  God's use of dreams continues through the Bible, and includes Paul having a night vision where God directs him to go preach in Macedonia.  These are examples from both the Old and New Testaments, good people and bad, indicating that regardless of "believer status" or Christian acceptance, God speaks to people in dreams.

Indeed, in the Book of Joel God said, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions."  The Apostle Peter affirmed that we are now in that time during his speech in Acts 2

So have you ever considered the potential Divine significance of your dreams?  Do you wake up thinking they are wild and completely unrelated to what has recently occurred in your life?  This might be a dream from God.  I remember my first dream from God; it came the night after a week of partying in the Bahamas for spring break.  I won't bore you with the details, but God basically said I had so messed up my mind that I couldn't even perceive reality anymore.  That dream got my attention.  (Unfortunately it would be three more years before I became a committed Christian.)

So I encourage you to pay attention to your dreams.  Even if you currently have no relationship with Him, God still might send you dreams.  He might want to show you His love and possibilities for your life.  Or, as in my case, He may want to correct and warn you.  If you are already a Christian, look to your dreams for potential correction and direction from God.  Write them down and pray about them. 

I believe God wants to use this time of sleep, time away from work, TV, other people, and other distractions, to teach us and show us important things for our lives.  If you like you can also read another Bible study I wrote, "Do You Dream."  Most importantly, I pray you hear His voice more clearly every day, whatever way you can.  God bless you.

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