Christmas nativity

Life after impeachment: Time to focus on the Christmas story

Christmas nativity
Nativity scene

The last week hasn’t exactly been full of Christmas cheer in American Christianity. President Donald Trump was impeached by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday sparking reaction among evangelical Christians across the country. Perhaps the largest and most vehement reaction of the week was by the editor of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, who published an article stating that President Trump should be removed from office following his impeachment by the House.

The ensuing reaction to Galli’s piece was swift and severe. Preachers, pastors, and laypeople alike quickly dismissed it as a liberal-Christian hit job on the president. President Trump himself even lashed out on Twitter calling Christianity Today “a far-left magazine.”

Since the piece was published, numerous op-ed’s have been written in response. Some of those stories have been written by prominent pastors essentially reiterating the idea that Christianity Today has fallen by the wayside, a once proud conservative stalwart gone leftist. There was even a letter signed by nearly 200 evangelical leaders sent to Christianity Today defending themselves from Galli’s assertion that their support for Trump has harmed their Christian witness.

The argument redrew old battlelines that formed between “Never Trump” evangelicals and the evangelicals who either begrugingly or enthusiastically jumped on the Trump bandwagon when he became the apparent Republican nominee for president in early 2016. 

What a fun week leading up to the commemoration of our Lord and Saviour’s birth, huh?

Make no mistake about it, there are some real issues with this president. There is a conversation that needs to be had about enthusiastic support among evangelicals for a man who has been divisive and downright mean whether in tweets or at his infamous campaign rally’s. 

Whether you agreed or disagreed with Christianity Today’s article, at least a discussion was attempted. Was it misguided considering there’s very little chance of Trump actually being removed from office? Probably. Should Galli’s tone have been crafted more carefully? Absolutely. Has the evangelical reaction been just as ugly as the initial piece? No doubt. 

I have four boys ages 16 and under. When my boys get into a fight, there’s usually some name calling and idle threats involved. They even duke it out sometimes. Quite honestly, it’s often good for them to get it out of their systems before they make nice and go back to being brothers again. 

To the evangelical leaders, publishers, and fellow Christians involved in or even entertained by the fracas of the last few days, I’m glad we got that out of our systems. Now, let’s go back to being brothers and sisters–especially this week, one of the holiest on our calendar.

You have made your points. You’ve defended your honor. You have fought long enough. You’re still on the same team. You still have a real world mission. It’s much easier to perform that mission when we get along despite our differences. 

Whether you voted for President Trump or not, if you love Jesus and you love people, nothing as temporary as an American president’s term in office should divide you from your fellow brothers and sisters for very long.

It’s Christmas week. For the good of the body of Christ (and our own family gatherings) let’s celebrate the Savior’s birth. Together.

Living as Kingdom Citizens

I am blessed to be an American. Living in the land of opportunity makes me thankful. Being a citizen of this country leaves me with no excuse if I don’t follow the plan of God for my life.

There’s very little chance that I could lose my life for proclaiming God’s Word on the streets or from house to house in this country.

Chances are I won’t be arrested, interrogated, or detained for trusting in Christ as my Saviour. That’s absolutely something to be thankful for.

Something even more powerful and freeing than my US citizenship is my citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Some believe their US citizenship trumps everything. Even some self-proclaimed “evangelicals” preach and teach from an earthly citizenship perspective rather than the heavenly perspective.

Kingdom citizenship doesn’t require you to weigh-in on every earthly political issue. Sometimes, it’s best to leave that stuff to the pundits.

Is that to say that Kingdom citizens should never deal with the political fray to uphold Kingdom values? Of course not. But we must carefully and prayerfully stay above the fray, from a Kingdom perspective.

In Philippians 3:20, Paul says that our citizenship is in Heaven. In Verse 19, he points out that the enemies of God have earthly thoughts and ideas.

Please don’t have more in common with verse 19 than you do with verse 20.

Perspective

If we are thinking and dwelling on earthly matters from an earthly perspective more than we are from the Kingdom perspective, something is wrong.

Paul said, “We eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Everything is under His control. How incredible is that thought?

If I truly believe everything is under His control, why would I waste my time on earthly matters and perspectives?

Kingdom people should be compassionate, caring people who love the least of these. We should never approach an issue from a perspective of pride or prejudice.

Christians have dual-citizenship.

Just remember which of the two is most important.

Staying Kingdom-focused in a selfie-focused world

It’s way too easy to take a selfie and put it up on every social media platform these days

Because we are inundated by the selfie mindset, it’s only natural that this phenomenon would creep into the Church.

Am I calling you out if you’ve ever taken a selfie? Absolutely not.

There is nothing wrong with taking a picture of yourself and posting it online for the world to see (so long as you are clothed and in your right mind). It’s the underlying attitude behind that post that can get us into trouble.

Self & Flesh

Self is always the hardest thing to crucify. Add an “H” and spell self backward and you have “flesh.”

The Apostle Paul continually warned against catering to the flesh. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17, “the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.” In our day and age, this verse rings even truer.

The spirit wants the things of God. The Kingdom mindset is a spiritual mindset. God desires for us to focus on what He wants. However, since we live in flesh and we constantly desire whatever gratifies the flesh.

Grace gives us the power to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).

Yes, it’s a battle to deny self. There’s enmity between flesh and spirit (Romans 8:7). That literally means there’s hatred between your natural fleshy self and the new man God created you to be. The flesh wants the exact opposite of kingdom. It’s a battle, but grace wins. And grace causes you to win.

A kingdom-focus will bring the needs of others into view. Consequently, when our view is focused on the kingdom, we will care much less about self and much about others.

Finally, yield to God. Allow His grace to work freely in your life on a daily, ongoing basis to stay Kingdom-focused in this selfie generation.

Revival: Is it in you?

Revival is a word that always conjures up many different emotions in my spirit and my mind. On the physical level, my mind automatically shifts to thoughts of consecutive nightly worship services and anointed preaching. That thinking then leads to thoughts of long services, lack of rest, and the eventual loss of my voice.

My spirit-man, however, skips past how tired we eventually will become, or the length of the service. Indeed, the spirit inside of me jumps for joy at the prospect of a renewed focus and a revived heart.

Until you know what it’s like to give of yourself, your talent, and of the anointing God has placed in your life, only to have it completely renewed and ready night after night, you can’t completely understand the level of revival I’m talking about.

God has called us, as carriers of the anointing, to have revival inside of us.

It’s one thing to hear an awesome sermon, have it speak directly to you and be renewed in your mind, body, and spirit. But it’s an entirely different thing to carry revival and have it constantly renewed by seeking after God.

In 2 Chronicles 34, the story of Judah’s King Josiah is told. Josiah took the throne at the age of eight. Verse three of that chapter explains that at the age of 16, eight years into Josiah’s reign, he began to seek God. The second half of that verse says that four years after he began seeking God, Josiah started one of the greatest times of revival in Judah’s history.

Tearing down altars

King Josiah began tearing down the altars of the false gods and centers of idolatry that had caused the people of Judah to stray. From that starting point, Josiah then began repairing the temple of God that had fallen into a state of disrepair after 100 years of neglect.

The repair of the temple led to the recovery of the Book of the Law. The finding of the Torah led to Josiah’s reinstatement of the Covenant Law, which led to the most complete observation of the Passover in 400 years!

Talk about a revival!

The greatest revival in Judah’s history began with Josiah seeking after God in the four years prior to the beginning of the revival. The revival began in Josiah’s life.

It all started with a king’s dedication to God.

Is it in you?

Hope for troubled times

Have you watched the news lately? I can’t say that I blame you if you haven’t. There really is nothing but bad news these days. It seems like civilization stands on the brink of devastation. The pro-choice lobby is stronger than ever. The euthanasia debate has even come back to the fray in recent years. The faces of hopelessness have become even more real.

Is there a better time than now for the Church to rise up and declare the hope we have?

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul begins to reveal his ministry to the church at Colosse. Paul wrote the letter from prison after hearing that the Colosse church had begun to believe a mixture of false doctrines. Among those beliefs was the heresy of Gnosticism.

The Gnostic belief that reduced the role of Jesus from Saviour to just another source of knowledge, had quickly distracted believers in Colosse.

To this attitude, Paul asserted that God was using him to make known the full message of Christ–a message that was hidden in mystery to the Colossians because of their mostly Gentile background and their drift back into heresy.

THE HOPE OF GLORY

Paul said the key to the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).”

What we have then in Colosse is a church in which Jesus had become a lesser thing. Christ was now just another means of knowledge unto salvation, rather than the hope of all the world.

It was a church that had become just like its surrounding culture. Sound familiar?

Could it be that the world is hopeless because much of the church has become hopeless in our day?

Is the Church in America merely an empty shell in today’s culture?

The Church, with Jesus Christ as it’s head is still the hope of the world.
Where Jesus is still the central theme, there’s still hope. Where His Lordship is still celebrated, there’s still hope.

Pastor, if Jesus has become a lesser thing in your sermons, your worship, and your everyday walk, please put Him back where he belongs.

The hopeless world cannot afford to have a hopeless church in this day.

 

This is an updated post that originally appeared on j31.org in 2014. 

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