A popular song called, ‘I Can Only Imagine’ invites us to imagine what it will be like when we meet up with Jesus after our death. Although I absolutely love the song, there’s one thing I wonder about when I hear it. The song doesn’t contemplate or mention the possibility of tears. Probably because of a certain verse in the book of Revelation.
He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world, and it’s evils are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4 NLT)
There will be no sorrow or crying or pain because the old world will have passed away. In other words, there will be nothing to cause sorrow, pain and tears. No sin, no selfish hurtful people, no fallen planet with it’s disasters, no sickness or disease, etc.
That will be wonderful! However, again I wonder about the tears. Doesn’t it seem to you like there’s a place in Heaven for the good kind of tears? This morning during my prayer time, I felt a wonderful connection with God that brought me to tears. Sometimes when I hold my wife or hug my children, attend a wedding or even think of how much I love my granddaughter, I’m moved to tears.
Yes, I’m a sentimental guy, but I’m in good company. The Bible records David crying a lot and once he’s mentioned as weeping until he had no strength left to cry. Then there’s Jeremiah the weeping prophet who wept over God’s people, their refusal to listen to God and their coming destruction.
Out of all the weeping Bible characters though, my personal favorite is Joseph. When his brothers (who had sold him as a slave and thought he was dead) came to Egypt, he secretly overheard them lamenting what they had done to him and he wept. Joseph wept again when he was reunited with his younger brother Benjamin. When he finally told his brothers who he was, forgiveness and love flowed. The Bible said he wept so loudly that he was heard throughout the palace. When he was reunited with his dad, the Bible says that Joseph hugged him and wept on his shoulder for a long time. When his dad died, Joseph threw himself on his body and wept over him and kissed him.
David and Jeremiah cried mostly as a result of sin – and the sorrow that it left in it’s wake. Joseph’s weeping came mostly when relationship was restored, needed to be restored or because it was (in the case of his dad’s death) temporarily suspended.
Let’s not forget the Bible’s most famous verse about tears, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35). A verse recorded when Jesus arrived on the scene to raise His good friend Lazarus from the dead and saw everyone else weeping. The Bible records that twice during this event, Jesus was deeply moved. So was that just something Jesus did as a man? Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.” Jesus represented God in everything he did, even in his tears. The ability to be deeply moved and show emotions are something God gave us from Himself.
I love what happened when Mary Magdalene and Jesus were reunited after Jesus’ resurrection.
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). (John 20:10 – 16)
In a moment Mary went from tears of grief, confusion and pain, to tears of joy, amazement and thankfulness. Notice the angels and our Lord didn’t object to Mary’s tears. They only questioned her reason, “Why are you crying?”
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would comfort those who mourn by replacing beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and praise for despair. (Isaiah 61:3) It’s true that ashes (devastation), mourning (loss) and despair (hopelessness) all cause sorrowful tears. However, beauty (restoration), joy (hope) and praise (thankfulness) also cause tears, but the kind we love to shed.
Before the fall, God created Adam and Eve with tear ducts and the ability to cry, weep and shed tears. Although I look forward to the day that there will be no sorrowful reasons to weep, I believe that tears of beauty, joy and praise should flow now and I’m hoping for all eternity. I believe that the book of Revelation is talking about tears of sorrow and not the tears our tear ducts were created to shed.
For those of you who think that heaven will be relatively emotionless and therefore practicing stoic frigidity now, my advice to you is to stop balling it all up inside and let it loose! God is love and he invented it’s emotion, it’s expression, and it’s tears. When you’re connecting with God and those you love, don’t be afraid to wear your love on your sleeve. Those tears bring God glory!
For those of you who are shedding tears of sorrow, don’t give way to despair. God has promised you restoration and has given you reason to hope and be thankful. He understands your tears and what you’ve been through and he’s there to comfort you. He’s also gently asking you, “Why are you crying?” because he wants you to look to him with hope, faith and expectation, trusting that he will turn your tears of sorrow into tears of restoration and joy.
The fact that the song (I Can Only Imagine) leaves out the possibility of tears becomes ironic when you realize how many of us have cried listening to it. If the very thought of seeing our Lord on that day brings us to tears, what will hold them back when it really happens? I don’t know about you, but I can imagine what I’ll be doing, I’ll be pulling a Joseph and breaking down and weeping tears of joy in His loving arms. And you better hope you’re not in the lineup behind me because I’ll be there for a long time.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
There are many sports writers who write about Faith when a top athlete is both a contender and a Christian. So I thought that I, a Faith writer, should return the favor and write about sports for the same reason. Especially since I’m an avid football fan and I’ll be watching the Super Bowl.
The outspoken Christian athlete that’s getting all of the sports writers attention is the Arizona Cardinal’s QB Kurt Warner who will be leading his team against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 43. When the Cardinals won the NFC playoff game, pretty much the first thing Kurt said in his interview was, “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Kurt Warner is quite vocal about his Faith. Once, when he appeared on Oprah, he was told that he had about three sentences. So he decided to use the second sentence to talk about Jesus, figuring that it would be harder for them to cut it out. They cut it out, anyway.
However, before talking about Mr. Warner any further, I would like to look at some other ways that we, the Body of Christ, have tried and are trying to use the Super Bowl (and other sporting events) to spread the Word. More specifically, I’d like to start a discussion about their effectiveness and what the Bible says about our efforts. Let me say in advance, I’m filing this post under ‘Rick’s rants’ so be ready for it, and if you disagree, jump on in, your comments are welcome. : )
First let me address something that frankly doesn’t make any sense to me at all, the John 3:16 signs. I’ve supplied a link to a video explaining how these signs became part of our pop culture. Briefly, a man named Rollen Stewart, aka ‘The Rainbow Man’ (because he wore a large multicolored wig) was the one who made the now famous sporting event sign famous. Rollen started out trying to make a name for himself by appearing on camera at sporting events dancing with his wig on. He preplanned his position and watch the game on a small portable TV so he’d know when to dance. He got a lot of press.
One night in a hotel room, he watched a televangelist and gave his life to Christ. Shortly after that, he started showing up with the John 3:16 sign with the same wig and strategy, but this time, his motivation was to promote the gospel with his few seconds of camera time. He appeared everywhere and again got a ton of exposure and the John 3:16 sign became an expected sight at sporting events.
Unfortunately, Rollen got banned from sporting events for his antics, and his gospel publicity stunt ideas started to get weird. His last one involved a gun and a kidnapping. He’s currently serving three life sentences behind bars. Something that seemed like a good thing did not end well.
Something is happening at this year’s Super Bowl that reminds me of Rollen’s sign. This year’s festivities are in Florida and one group of Christians have hired an aerial ad company to fly over the Super Bowl towing this message, ‘The Super Bowl champion is Jesus’.
The Bible says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” and, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14, 17)
There was a time in our culture when there was prayer and Bible reading in schools and tent meetings on every corner. Maybe then, a scripture reference or short sign, might have reminded people of what they already knew and caused them to respond. However, we now live in a society where very few of the people who need the Gospel, know this scripture reference. Those who do, have no idea what it means and more specifically, what it should mean to them.
The gospel isn’t a Bible verse or a slogan. It’s the most incredible story ever told, and the message of God’s grace and salvation. God meant for us to ‘go’ explain it and share it with our neighbors, not flash them a sign. I’m not saying that God can’t use these signs in some way. However, expecting someone who needs to hear the Gospel to get saved, by seeing one of these signs, is kind of like trusting that you can get your teenager to pass his grade ten math exam, just by showing him the cover of the text book.
If you must flash a sign, then how about one that communicates part of God’s message to everyone like ‘Jesus loves you.’ Also, what does ‘The Super Bowl champion is Jesus’ mean? If you must use a football metaphor in the message, how about ‘You are Jesus’ #1 draft choice’. Corny, but at least it communicates a small part of the Gospel message.
I probably have a few of you ready to comment already, but stick with me for a bit. Let’s talk about players who feel that ‘giving God the glory’, for a win or a great play, is their responsibility and somehow makes a difference. Players will either use their words or their index fingers to point to heaven in order to fulfill this obligation.
There are many Bible verses in the New Testament that talk about giving God the glory. I’ll list some of the key ones below so that you can do a study on your own. For now though, let me give you a brief summary of the concept. In John 9:24, the Pharisees confront a man who was born blind, yet healed by Jesus, and they tell him to ‘Give God the Glory’. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, at the time this phrase was an idiom that meant ‘Confess your sins’. Or in other words, credit should be given to God for whatever is accomplished in you or through you because you’re nothing but a sinner.
Essentially that sums up the New Testaments position on giving God the glory. We are saved by faith in His grace and we cannot boast because nothing we do or have done puts us in God’s good books. It’s what Jesus did and is doing through the Holy Spirit in us. So as we trust God to not only initially save us, but also to work in us and change us into the image of Christ, we give God the glory (credit) for initiating and completing the work. When we bear fruit as Christians, God gets the glory because others see what kind of people we have become and marvel at the change, and we point towards heaven to assign credit. (John 15:8, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:15, Philippians 1:11, Hebrews 13:21) Also, when we go through trouble and let God help us and guide us through it, that also brings glory to God. When we trust him to use the gifts he’s given us to administer his grace, (which is ministering to others), then again he gets the credit for what is accomplished through us. (1 Peter 1:7, 4:10, 11) All of which, I’m sorry to say, have nothing to do with playing football.
Many years ago, I went to watch my younger brother play hockey. He was always good at sports. As he headed for the ice, I told him that I’d pray for him to do well. He turned on me and sternly said. “Don’t! I want to do it, I want to try hard, work hard and get good.” Wow! He set me on my heels. What he had understood was that if I prayed, God would do it for him, or through him. The Bible tells us “The glory of young men is their strength”. ( Prov 20:29 ) God allows us the dignity and reward that comes from working hard at something and doing well at it. What I wanted to pray was that God would help my brother do his best, give him wisdom to learn more about hockey, that sort of thing. Christian NFL players don’t make a great play because God did it. If that was the case, every play they executed would be great and only the Christian players would get the great plays. Also, God doing it for a player would be cheating, and God doesn’t cheat.
These players are good, and even great, at what they do because they’ve worked hard, practiced hard and studied hard. They deserve credit for that. Do we tell our kids when they use their manners well, get an ‘A’ on an exam, or do well at a recital, “Give the Glory to God Junior”? I wonder what message our kids are getting when they see and hear players do that; perhaps ‘You don’t need to work hard, just believe’, or ‘You’ll always be successful if you’re a Christian.’
Now I know when some players point to the sky, it could just be a brief call out to say that God is good, but that’s not what comes across to those who don’t believe. It’s alright to just say, “I had a good game, I’m on a good team and God is good!”
It seems to me that much of what we’ve already talked about doesn’t help promote the Gospel. Often it hurts us because outsiders get the idea that we’re religious nuts who don’t know how to just be normal and enjoy a football game.
Having said that, here are some things I think do help. When players get seriously injured and you see other players go to one knee and sincerely start to pray for their fellow player, that sends a message of God’s love. Have you noticed that the camera operators and production teams don’t avoid these shots like they do the signs? Why? Because even the unbelievers see it as an act of caring and compassion, and not as a sound bite or camera shot meant to steel attention and promote a cause.
How about events like this year’s 10th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration? I’ve never been to one, but I think it would be great. The event clearly states what it’s about and it’s not only a chance for the Christian players to fellowship together, but a chance for them to say (by attending) what they believe.
Finally, I want to talk about what I believe is the most Biblical and powerful way that the Gospel is spread at the Super Bowl, and for that I come back to Kurt Warner as promised. If Kurt was like so many other professional sports players who just point at the sky or thank God after a win, his Faith would not be getting so much press.
It’s who Kurt Warner is, and how he lives out his Faith, that is getting attention. Remember what the Bible says about God getting the glory. Here’s a Christian man who puts family first, loves his wife and kids, attends church faithfully, has his own charity that helps disabled children (see video), he gives back and volunteers, uses his money to further the gospel and help others. When he struggles, he looks to Jesus for strength and help, and credits him for that strength. He isn’t getting attention by what he says, he’s getting attention because he’s trusting God to make him into Christ’s image, and people are marveling at who he is. So when he says his life is about Jesus, glory really does go to God.
How you play on the field (or how you do in any profession) may get you a podium, but it’s how you behave and live your life in Christ that will give you the right to speak from that podium.
No matter what you think of the above methods, it seems to me that the most effective way to spread the Gospel in sports events such as the Super Bowl, is the same way it’s done in every other area of life: by having Christians get involved and let their light shine through their work ethic, character, humility and generosity.
Enjoy, the Super Bowl, I know I’m going to. Go Kurt! Win or lose, you’ve already won!
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1 – 4, NIV)
Some may not be familiar with the actual verses above, but we’ve all been introduced to the idea that every Christian’s prayer list should include the need for praying for our leaders. We even teach our children to pray for us, their teachers, our church leaders, and our political leaders around election time. On special political occasions, such as during an inauguration, we include these prayers in our family prayer times.
Nothing new, however, here’s my challenge. Does the Bible tell us how we should pray or what we should pray and/or teach our children to pray? The standard prayer seems to be one of asking God to guide our leaders and give them wisdom to make the right decisions. Is that what Paul meant when he wrote the verse? Is there more to it? I taught the standard leader wisdom prayers to my own children. However, somewhere down inside I always thought that there must be more to it then that and it turns out that there is.
The point of this blog is to help you understand Biblically what to pray, and how to pray for our leaders so that you can not only do it, but also teach your children to do it. Whether you voted for President Barak Obama or not, we are all called to pray for him and as you’ll see from reading this post, with good reason. At the end of the blog, I’ve included a sample prayer for the new president that you and your family can use as a guide. (Whether you live in the USA or not, Barak Obama’s decisions will probably effect you. So pray for him and also the leaders of your country.)
Let’s start with a basic rule for Bible study; Studying the Bible is like investing in real estate. The most important three things are location, location and location (context, context and context). For clarity of understanding, we must read each passage in its context which includes the intent of the author. In order to discover intent, we must know something about the person writing. One way that we do that is to familiarize ourselves with everything else that author wrote in the Bible. Another way is to know something about when and where the author lived and who he or she was.
Of course the most basic rule (the first ‘location’) is to read each verse in the context of its surrounding verses so lets do that first. In this case, Paul sums up why he tells us to pray for everyone everywhere and to pray for leaders in verse four; …for he (God) wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. (NLT)
In other words, the reason God wants us to pray for everyone everywhere, is so they’ll be saved. He also wants us to pray for our leaders so that we have the peace and quiet we need to go about doing what he’s called us to do, which is to grow his Kingdom and spread the gospel without opposition from (and perhaps even with support from) our leaders and government. Again, so everyone can be saved.
Ever notice that in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus did not pray for leaders? Jesus wasn’t giving us a prayer to pray, he was teaching us how to pray. When we pray for our leaders, our prayers must follow our Lord’s example or template, so our prayer would fall under “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that our leaders work in agreement and not opposition to His Kingdom and His will.
Moving on to the second ‘location’ or context consideration, Paul wrote these verses when Nero was ruling Rome right around the time he started persecuting the church and doing everything he could to capture and kill Christians. Church history has it that not long after Paul wrote these verses, Nero falsely blamed the Christians and specifically Paul for burning Rome and had Paul put to death. Paul had a dream, he envisioned a time when the government would stop standing in God’s way and Paul called the church to pray to that end.
Let’s look at the verses in Timothy in the New Living Translation; I urge you, first of all to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority..
When I read these verses in the New Living Translation, something jumped out at me. Something that requires the next level of ‘location’ or context to understand.
Before Paul’s conversion, he was a Pharisee and he had been thoroughly trained in the law under a well known teacher, Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3, Philippians 3:5) In other words, he knew God’s Word and most everything he wrote in the New Testament was built on what he knew from the Old.
So was Paul thinking of any Old Testament passages and/or stories when he wrote these verses?” The words that jumped out at me were, “…plead for God’s mercy on them…”.
Take a look at these verses from Daniel’s very well known prayer for Israel found in Daniel chapter nine.
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame–the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; (Daniel 9:4 – 9)
Daniel pleaded with God, Paul asks us to do the same. Daniel prayed for all Israelites everywhere, Paul placed the prayer in a New Testament context and instructed us to pray for everyone, everywhere. Daniel included Israel’s Kings and leaders, Paul tells us to pray for our leaders. Daniel prayed for God’s mercy, Paul said that we should plead for God’s mercy.
It was natural for Paul to think of the time of the Babylonian captivity because although the Israelite’s were at home in Israel when he wrote these verses, they were being occupied and ruled by a foreign king. The main thing that Paul changes is that he puts it all into a New Testament context. It’s no longer about the Israelites and their leaders, but about all people everywhere and the leaders of all nations.
I believe that Daniel’s powerful prayer was what Paul was jumping off of, but in order to discover more about what Paul was asking us to pray and why, we need to look a little further into what happened with the Babylonian and Persian kings when God’s people prayed. Remember, in the new context that Paul put Daniel’s prayer into, the leaders who need our prayer are no longer only Israel’s leaders, but the leaders of the nations as they were in Daniel’s time.
During the time of the exile, Daniel prayed and God moved on the heart of King Cyrus to agree to let the Israelites go home and rebuild the temple (Ezra 1). The King even paid for the materials. (Ezra 6:1 – 5) Then when the project was being opposed, King Darius (the same king who was involved in Daniel’s lion den experience) ordered those in opposition to not only stop interfering, but also that all expenses were to be paid for by the royal treasury.
Years later when Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were still not rebuilt, he prayed and asked God to grant him favor with King Artaxerxes. He got it. The king gave him permission to go and rebuild the walls. He also sent a small army with Nehemiah and agreed to supply the lumber for the project. (Nehemiah 1, 2)
Again, when the Jewish people faced complete destruction, God used Esther and her Uncle Mordecai with the fasting prayers of his people to turn the King’s heart and God’s people were rescued.
One comment by one of these kings paints a wonderful picture of what God does for leaders who cooperate with his plans. When Darius (lions den king) wrote a letter instructing everyone to support and not oppose the rebuilding of the temple, he wrote “…so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king (himself) and his sons.” (Ezra 6:10) He knew Daniel and he knew that if he and his sons were to be blessed as kings, they needed to support the God of heaven’s agenda.
Paul knew that in the New Testament era we’re also building a temple and a spiritual Jerusalem, the Body of Christ, and our mandate is to love and reach everyone everywhere. For that to happen, we need to pray that our leaders understand what King Darius understood.
Praying that President Obama has the wisdom to make the country and economy run well is fine, but it’s not what Paul was talking about. God wants us to come before his throne, focused on heaven with his Kingdom firmly placed as our number one priority and pray that God would have mercy on us and on President Obama, and cause him to make decisions in cooperation with God’s plans, not man’s.
Paul tells us to pray for mercy, because none of us deserve his grace, favor, salvation and/or an understanding of the truth. We receive it when we humble ourselves because he loves us. When we pray for God’s mercy on President Obama, it isn’t a reflection on the man, his Faith or his character. Paul didn’t say to pray for God’s mercy for only wicked Kings or leaders, he said to pray that way for all of them. It’s by his mercy that he intervines and moves in a leader’s life in a way that can change the course of history.
Also, you may think the world of who President Obama is as a leader and a man, or you might not think much of him at all, but whether he is or isn’t great isn’t what matters. The biggest changes for God’s people and his plans came when his people prayed, sought his mercy, and trusted him for the outcome.
Below is a prayer that you and your family can use as a guide in your prayers for President Obama. The prayer is inspired by all that I believe Paul was referencing and thinking about when he wrote his instructions about praying for our leaders. May God have mercy on President Obama.
A Prayer For Obama
(Taken from Paul’s words and inspired by the prayers and stories of Daniel, Nehemiah and Esther)
Father in heaven, we pray that your kingdom is strengthened and grows. That your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We thank you for your great love and wonderful plans for us all.
We ask that you would have mercy on the people of this country and around the world that don’t know you, that you would forgive them, cause them to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We pray also for our leaders and specifically today for President Barak Obama. Thank you for every wonderful thing that Barak Obama becoming president represents in the US. Please pour out your loving mercy on him and his family. Forgive them for any trespasses against you, draw them closer to yourself and help them to understand and walk in the full knowledge of the truth.
Please Father, have mercy on President Obama as a leader and cause him, for the sake of the US and the world, to cooperate with your agenda in everything he does as president. Let your Church and your Kingdom flourish under his leadership and help many to come to know you because of the mercy you pour out on his presidency.
Help us, your children, to live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness under President Obama so that we can do your will freely in your vineyard; spreading your Word, reaching the unreached and demonstrating your love. Have mercy on us and forgive us for our slackness in this area. Help us to be more mindful of you and your eternal plans than we are on our needs for today.
Please send wise people from among your children, like you sent Daniel, Nehemiah, Mordecai and Esther, to help President Obama and counsel him in the things that you’d have him do. Guide and direct him and give the Church, your people, and your agenda, favor in his eyes.
Father, as President Obama obeys you and cooperates with your plans, bless him, his family and his presidency. If he sins against you in anyway, we plead for your mercy, forgive him and cause him to turn and support your Word and your work
We ask this sincerely in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We thank you for all that you’ve done for us and for hearing our prayers. You are a great God and a wonderful merciful Father and we love you!
Pray sincerely and trust confidently. God hears and moves on the prayers he asks us to ask.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out Teaching Your Child How to Pray.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
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How should a Christian vote? It seems to me that, with very few exceptions, there are Christians backing each and every political party and asking others to do so along side them. There are Christians who align themselves with an issue or issues instead of a party. They believe that these issues are important to their Faith and therefore more important then their allegiance to a certain politician or political group. The problem here is that Christians seem to differ greatly in their opinions about which issues should be seen as paramount and also on what the stand on these issues should be. To top it all off there are Christians who believe that we shouldn’t get involved in politics at all. In short, Christians are all over the place regarding politics and how we should vote and in many cases are even opposing one another.
Please allow me to humbly throw my hat into the proverbial ring. However, instead of siding with any party or issue I would like to take a look at what God’s Word says about our vote. There are no scriptures that deal directly with government as we know it, democracy, voting etc. but there are teachings about our response to and responsibilities towards governments that can be applied to our vote today.
Let’s take a look at one of the primary New Testament portions of scripture that deals with church and government, 1 Timothy 2:1 – 4.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1 – 4)
I don’t know about you but for years every time I read these verses or heard them preached the words “that we might live peaceful and quiet lives” always bothered me. Didn’t Jesus tell us that we are not to put the things of this life first but to put God’s Kingdom first? Didn’t he tell us that one of the first things we are to pray about is for his Kingdom and also that his will would be done on Earth? Isn’t it true that pretty much all of the New Testament writers and Jesus himself have called us to be witnesses for the Gospel and to endure persecution for doing so? Didn’t Paul, who wrote the above words to Timothy (and us) teach that we are to FIGHT the good fight, run the race to win the heavenly prize, to boldly share our Faith and also to expect persecution?
Perhaps I was misunderstanding the intent of Paul’s words to Timothy because the Bible does not contradict itself. The problem was that I wasn’t trying to understand Paul’s words in their context.
Please allow me to take the liberty of adding some commentary to Paul’s word’s so that I can get right to my point. Here’s what I now believe Paul to be saying in these verses, my words in parenthesis:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone (all people everywhere)–(Also) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (So that we can get on with growing in Christ, sharing the Gospel with everyone, and expanding God’s Kingdom everywhere, as unimpeded by Kings and governments as possible.) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (And praying for authorities will help us accomplish this.)
When Paul penned these words the church was being persecuted everywhere. Nero was governing Rome and not too long after these words were written Nero put Paul to death. Paul was letting Timothy and the Church, then and now, know that we should pray for the gospel to be spread to everyone everywhere and that we should pray for the governments everywhere because doing so can help us get the job done. The Christians of that day easily understood Paul’s words because they were attempting to follow the Gospel’s mandates and they were being persecuted and stalled at every turn.
Our focus is to be on the spreading of the Gospel not a quiet and peaceful life. We need the governments to not oppose us and perhaps even cooperate with us so that we can use the resulting peace and quiet to get on with our calling.
So how does this relate to politics, democracies and our votes as Christians today? Well in my estimation understanding Paul’s intent in these verses makes it simple. We are to stick with our Kingdom first purpose and pray for governments to not hinder us and perhaps even help us. Since in a democracy we have a say or a vote, our vote should mirror our purpose and prayer. Simply put we should vote for the person, party government etc who (after prayer and consideration) we believe is most likely to not hinder but to promote our God given purpose, to grow as Christians, to spread the Gospel and to expand God’s Kingdom.
Any vote for any other purpose by a Christian, say for the economy, more tax breaks, more money in our pockets is a misguided vote for a peaceful and quiet life for the sake of personal comfort.
It’s recorded six times in the Gospels that Jesus said that those who deny their lives for the sake of the Gospel will find their lives, but that those who put their lives first will lose them. Let your vote count, vote for those who will be more likely to support God’s agenda for this planet.
I appreciate and welcome your comments.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
This Bible Storybook was specifically designed to help Christian Parents establish their young children in the habit of regular prayer and Bible reading.
In about 12 minutes you can read the captivating story, ask your child the question supplied to stimulate conversation and pray through your regular nightly prayers along with the one supplied.
This is not just another Bible Storybook. It teaches your child what the Bible is and how we should use it. It tells the whole story of God’s Word, focuses on Jesus and their salvation and helps them learn what the Bible says about how we are to live.
Recommended for children under eight years old, best for children ages 3 – 8. Buy Now
What other Christian Leaders have said about this Christian classic says it all.
Teaching Your Child How to Pray is must reading for all parents who are concerned and burdened about the spiritual development of their children (Dr. Tony Evans)
Rick writes and teaches what he lives. I heartily recommend Rick’s resources to every parent. Rick is one of God’s gifts to parents. (Josh D. McDowell)
In a step by step approach, Rick Osborne lays out a plan for working with children that meets their needs from the beginning of their lives, but the plan is just as effective for someone starting the learning process with older children. (Dr. D. James Kennedy)
I’m happy to recommend this book by Rick Osborne, who is able to communicate this message to parents and guide them in teaching their children to pray. (Larry Burkett)
This is not just another boring ‘how to’ book. In Teaching Your Child How to Pray, Rick Osborne makes this important venture challenging and exciting for both parents and their children. (Tim Wildmon)
Rick Osborne has done a masterful job of bringing together important principles and outstanding guidelines in Teaching Your Child How to Pray. Combined with the reader’s prayers, I believe the Lord will greatly use this book to revolutionize and strengthen the spiritual lives of their children, providing them a solid foundation from which, the Lord promises in His Word, they “will not depart”. (Vonette Bright)
This book is not just recommended. According to many it is essential reading for every Christian parent.
A parent’s practical guide to God, Bible stories, children and church, bedtime prayers, virtues, and other spiritual stuff.
This book answers over thirty how-to questions commonly asked by parents about everything Christian.
Questions like, “How can I show my children that the Bible is trustworthy?” and, “What can I tell my kids about Heaven?”
The text does not just stop with the answers but moves beyond and supplies easy tools for getting the job done.
This book is recommended for parents who want practical hands on help with the basics.
A great gift idea for new parents, for relatively new Christians with kids, or for those who are contemplating reconnecting with their Christian heritage now that they have kids.
The idea behind this resource was to provide mealtime conversation starters for those parents who feel that the conversation around the dinner table could be used more constructively and possibly as a family devotion time. (It is a nice alternative to those long prayers that let the food get cold.)
I would recommend it for families with children between the ages of five and early teen. It is ideal for those that would like to capture this time and spur on conversation about our Faith on a daily bases. But it is also beneficial for diving into from time to time and finding the topic that is your family’s current hot potato and use it to get the discussion rolling. Buy Now
I’m not a fan of the Simpsons but I had to chuckle when I heard an ad for the show. Homer said, “Why do things that happen to stupid people keep happening to me?”
Very few of us would ever seriously ask that same question but how about if we tweaked it slightly, “Why do things that take place in stupid families keep on happening in mine?”
Isn’t that kind of what we’re asking when we get frustrated and throw out questions like, “Why must everything be a fight?” “Can’t anyone clean up after themselves?” “Would it hurt anyone to help out a bit for a change?” “For once, could you please just get along?”
One day many years ago, a friend and fellow worker very politely pointed out that I had a bad habit of interrupting him pretty much whenever he spoke. I admitted I had the problem, apologized and told him that I was going to do something about it. In the days that followed, he politely reminded me time and time again. I responded the same way each time.
A week or two later my friend reached the end of his patience and said, “Every time I talk about this, you say that you’re going to do something about it. Stop putting it off! Make a decision to change and do something about it now.”
I stopped and prayed on the spot for God’s help and I made a decision. Once the decision was made, I began paying attention and I put some effort into learning the skills I needed like really listening and following up with a question.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I stopped interrupting however the biggest benefit of my friend’s rebuke was that I later learned how to apply the change principle in my family. Let me give you a brief example.
Once our family was suffering from chronic tornado kitchen syndrome. At first I whined, I complained and I asked the ‘Homer Simpson’ style questions.
My wonderful wife pointed out that perhaps we needed to do something different if we wanted change. (Where had I heard that before?) After some prayer and thought, I taped a note to the kitchen counter and had a family meeting and the fun began. If a single thing was out of place after someone left the kitchen they were on kitchen duty until the next time someone was caught. For awhile everyone was catching everyone else and kitchen duty revolved frequently. Within a few weeks everyone was getting the hang of ‘the game’ and those caught were spending longer periods of time on kitchen duty which made it even more important not to mess up.
What needs to change in your family? Is it the way you communicate with each other, are the kids not helping out, is the sibling rivalry fierce, are you constantly cleaning up after everyone? Here’s what you do, pick one thing that you want to change, pray about it and ask for wisdom. Now go looking for wisdom, search this site or other Christian parenting sites, Google the problem, read a parenting book, anything you need to do to find an idea or solution.
Proverbs 9 says that wisdom has prepared a huge banquet and she’s yelling, “Come and get it.” Finding the wisdom is very seldom difficult once you’ve decided on change. Now have a family meeting and get started.
What I found out was that small efforts at change can yield big results. A simple fun game in the kitchen led to everyone learning skills that began to spread to the rest of the house. My simple decision to stop interrupting people led me to better communication skills and therefore to better and stronger relationships.
The things that happen to stupid people happen to Homer Simpson and us not because we’re stupid but because we keep doing the same things over and over again and that’s stupid. And if we expect any change without changing, according to Einstein, that’s insane. Start today and fight stupidity and insanity with a little change.
For more quick and easy parenting tips for bringing change to your family, we recommend the e-Book “The Seven Mistakes Parents of Toddlers Make”
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)