God Is Not A Republican – Pastor Greg

God is not a republican. Actually, He is not a democrat, or a socialist, or a capitalist either. God is a sovereign monarch. 

A monarch is a sovereign head of state, sovereign in that He possesses supreme or ultimate power and authority. This is who God is. He has all the rights. Yet God is also gracious and has delegated responsibility to govern to human beings. We see in the account of Noah, after the flood (Gen. 9:5-6), God establishing the foundation for governance. Government is meant to restrain evil and reward good (Rom. 13:1-7).  Historically most of humanity has, and many presently live, under governments that are authoritarian, i.e. the citizens have no real role in the governing process. We as Americans live in a representative republic. We get to participate in our own governing – what a gracious gift this is! While we are blessed to live in a system such as we do, our hope and security does not rest on our government. I can often tell when my trust is misplaced by how I react when the “other” candidate gets elected. It is similar to when our favorite sports team wins or loses. If “we” (I’m not even on the team!) win, I’m elated, but if “they” lose I am down in the dumps. 

So the question can be asked: who has my heart? God, or a particular party, candidate, or political system? My heart belongs to God, it is to Him that I give my ultimate allegiance. This is also true for us as the church. I like this quote from David Platt: “As the church, we are not for Trump, we are not for Biden, and we are not for anyone else… The church is not for any political party or candidate, no, we are for Jesus.” As such our goal should be to magnify the name of Christ in all that we do. I am not saying something that we do not already know or believe, but I often need to be reminded and especially in a climate such as we have today. 

So, while our allegiance belongs to the Lord, we do have a stewardship entrusted to us. A steward is someone who looks after something that belongs to another. Voting is a wonderful right we have in this country. It is one of the ways in which we participate in our own governance. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people as described by Abraham Lincoln. As such we are stewards of that right and responsibility. God owns that authority, He has delegated it to us, so we are to use it accordingly. This reality should matter as we exercise our right to vote. When we vote let us do it with intentionality and care. 

So again, God is not a republican. Though we have the right in this nation to participate in our own government, our heart belongs to Him. Regardless of the outcome of this election we are called to peace. The apostle Paul encourages us to “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In a few days we will have an election. Some will be happy with the results and others will not. Whatever the outcome, whether “our guy” or “our party” won or not, our hearts belong to someone else who is still seated on the throne, high and lifted up. We really are simply sojourners and pilgrims on this journey and will one day arrive at home. This should give us great comfort and hope as we navigate this life. 

Starvation Diet – Pastor Greg

I just finished a reading a book about the life of an American POW during WWII. He had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944 and held until liberation in 1945. His story is one of incredible survival and bravery while standing up for what was right. During his time in captivity he defended fellow Jewish solders from the Nazi’s who would have separated and killed them. Though there were many lessons that I took away from the book, I would like to focus on one.

During the time of his captivity and that of thousands of other POW’s, food was in very short supply. It was part of a systematic plan of deprivation that was intended to break down the will and physical strength of the prisoners. It is estimated that the food intake of each soldier amounted to around 500 calories per day. These men were then subjected to heavy labor and freezing temperatures. This resulted in many cases of death by starvation and the POWs who survived lost between 50 and 80 pounds each. By the time of their liberation in early April 1945, when Patton’s  4th armored division broke into Germany, most of the POW’s were barely hanging on. 

This particular aspect of the ordeal stood out to me: the minimal amount of food that was provided, slowly starved those who ate it. Not only was the food low in quantity, it was low in quality. Much of the food provided was a kind of black bread that had as its main filler sawdust. This “bread” was eaten but not much, if any, nutritional value was found in it. I find in this a parallel to our spiritual lives and the food of the Word of God we consume. 

In Matthew 4, Jesus was at the beginning of His earthly ministry and was in the desert alone. After 40 days and nights of fasting, scripture says that He became very hungry. It was at this time that Satan came to tempt our Savior to sin. The temptation was for Jesus to take care of His situation without guidance from or reliance on His Father. Jesus responds to the devil with scripture: “It is written man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus’s physical need was great, and His spiritual need was just as great and could only be provided by His Father. If Christ needed the Word of God to sustain Him how much more do we? 

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul is instructing Timothy regarding how things will be in the latter times. These last days will be marked by those who will fall away or walk away from the faith and will pay attention to false teaching. In a way these people were eating but the nutritional value was zero and thus led to lives that were wasting away. Paul tells Timothy to teach sound doctrine (teaching) to the believers, then they would be receiving good nourishment. Paul also says that it would need to be consistent and often. If the quantity of good food is low, then the results are the same as eating poor quality food. Paul encouraged Timothy that those under his responsibility must have good teaching and have it often. 1 Timothy 4:6, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” This would give the strength and vitality that their spiritual lives needed. 

Another question we might ask is what kind of food are we eating? It’s so easy for us to be eating junk food. It tastes great at first, but it does not really have much value. If our diet consists of only the fluffy cotton candy of the world, then we will begin to suffer for want of better nutrition. We must be nourishing ourselves on the Word of God consistently. Otherwise we will look like the emaciated half skeletons that were liberated from the POW camps, spiritually speaking. 

Not only may what we eat be of low quality, the amount we consume can also be an issue. If we are subsisting on what we hear just on Sunday or maybe a scattering of quick statements on the internet or radio, then it will not be long before we begin to suffer the effects. As Paul states in 1 Timothy 4, we must “constantly” be nourished on the Word. This is where our discipline comes in. We must regularly feed on God’s Word, daily even. So, the question for me is, am I subsisting on a starvation diet? Or am I regularly feasting on the good food the Lord has provided in His word?

Some Good News – Pastor Greg

Seems like all we hear these days is bad news. Riots, pandemic stats, violence, etc.… Makes us want to shut it all off and just go away for a while. We long for some good news, something that lets us know that it is not all doom and gloom. We want to hear that someone is building up rather than tearing down, that progress is being made in something that matters. Well, do you realize that God is doing a thing on this earth that defies the very gates of hell? That lives are being saved and that the enemy of our souls is losing ground? Here is an example:

“Friday, August 7th, the Amdu missionaries (Ethnos360 in Papua New Guinea) completed the chronological teaching (Creation to Christ) for the very first time in the Amdu language. Since then, a good number of the people have shared clear testimonies about God forgiving their sin and giving them eternal life because of their faith in Jesus. From an older lady, ‘I can’t stop thinking about all you have taught us. My heart is just so light!… Jesus came and died and his blood took away my sin.’

Then, a few days later the Wantakia (Ethnos360 in Papua New Guinea) team wrapped up the teaching and presented the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. As a result of meeting with folks who attended the lessons, the missionaries are hearing new believers express their delight in and thanksgiving for what God has done through Jesus Christ.” 

– Rex Schaffner

Also, August 23rd, we witnessed the baptism of Noah, a Chinese exchange student, at Dave and Mary Lou’s pool. He has come to know Christ through the faithful witness of believers here in Jackson County! He is now a brother in the Lord and will be heading back to China as an ambassador of Christ. We also have sent out our first Cornerstone Community Church missionaries, the Bellers! They are now in the DR serving with Freedom International. I am excited to see what God does through Riley and Margaret! 

You see, it’s easy to focus on the bad news (it does sell better than good news after all), but God is not done with His work on this planet. God is still building His church. The following verses are examples of the purpose and plan of God. 

(Isiah 55:11) So is my word that goes out from my mouth It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

(Matthew 16:18) And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

These verses and many others give us hope. Hope that the evil and darkness of this world will not overcome the light and beauty that God desires to bring to a fallen humanity. We have hope because He IS building His church, and His word WILL NOT return to Him empty. The awesome thing is that we get to participate with Him. We have been given that message of hope and reconciliation. We are to be bearers of the light in this dark place and as things get harder our light will shine brighter.

What is the goal?  Read this:

God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.  Revelation 21:3-4

Amen?! What good news. These are words of hope and expectation as we move forward in time. So let’s not grow weary in doing good. God has promised that we will reap a harvest at the right time if we don’t give up (Gal. 6:9). I just thought we could all use some good news in the middle of a lot of bad news.