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The Faith of Politicians

The Faith of Politicians

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  (1 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV)

 

Faith of PoliticiansInsulting. Sad. Disheartening. Shocking. Over the past few months I’ve used these words to answer questions I’ve received about the current presidential campaign. The candidates’ behavior has been mostly disappointing regardless of their party affiliation, whether they lean left or right, or their faith declaration.

Notice that I said faith “declaration” rather than faith “practice.” When a candidate claims to be a Christian, I accept that person to be a Christian. The same for someone who professes to be Jewish, atheist or any other expression of faith. They can declare to be whatever they declare to be. Our Lord God will judge.

This presidential election has elicited strong responses about the measure of the faith of the candidates from all quadrants. Even the Pope has pontificated about it. (See what I did there?)

But, can we judge someone else’s faith?

Again, judgment (of faith and salvation) is higher than our pay grade. It’s God’s divine right. “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”  (John 5:22)

Discernment? That’s a whole ‘nuther thang (yes, the preacher’s a Texan). Within the realm of Christian spirituality and practice is a power from the Holy Spirit. It is a power that is not for the novice of faith. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”  (Hebrews 5:14).

We do not supplant God’s authority by exercising discernment. In Matthew, Jesus encourages us to exercise discernment in recognizing the things of God. “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits”  (Matthew 7:17-20).

Discernment and voting going hand-in-hand. If a politician wants to take more of your money without asking, is that Christian behavior? If a politician calls another person names, is that tree bearing Godly fruit?

So as November approaches, pray that the Holy Spirit’s power of discernment will guide you. Discern the biblical fruit of the candidates. Then cast your vote.

Embrace Grace–Teaching the Church How To Minister to the Single and Pregnant

At Living Stones Church, we are proud to partner with Embrace Grace in reaching out to the single and pregnant in our community. We hope you’ll view this short video to learn more about the purpose of Embrace Grace at Living Stones.

 

 

For more information, or to register for our group, check out our Embrace Grace at Living Stones page. 

Using Social Media During Lent

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A common practice during Lent is to “take a break” from social media for awhile as an act of spiritual devotion. But what if you used social media to your spiritual advantage during Lent? These tips could work at any time of the year, for that matter, and they might be an excellent way to deepen your relationship with God using tools like social media that you regularly use anyway.

Using Social Media During Lent

  1. Create a “Secret Group” on Facebook for you and God. By that I mean, don’t invite anyone into the group once you’ve created it. No one can see posts shard in a Secret Group except those in the group. Use this “group” as a way to talk with God through your posting of prayers, by adding inspirational images that you see or posting devotions that encourage you. Post verses that you are studying or prayerfully meditating upon and journal how God is revealing himself to you. In much the same way that many people have used journaling during Bible study time, use Facebook for the same purpose. You won’t ever have to worry about whether you have your journal handy, either. When God speaks to your heart, all you need do is pop open the Facebook app or add your reflections in the form of a post from your computer! (This will give you a great online journal of how God is answering your prayers over time, too!)
  2. Pick a Lenten word or theme for this season of devotion. Each day, post a picture to Instagram that fits your devotional word in some way. Throughout Lent, you’ll have visual images of your devotions. Planning to post a picture every day on Instagram will also keep your devotional theme in the forefront of your attentions. (There are lots of Instagram word challenges like this already, so you may find others to partner with on this. For instance, church groups or study groups might want to do this together by adopting a common hashtag. Each participant can add their daily post, but they can also be encouraged by others reflecting on this same theme.)
  3. Using IFTTT, send yourself a daily SMS message or email reminding yourself to take “time out” to pray or focus on your devotional theme for this Lenten season. Text messages are easy to set up on IFTTT, but if you prefer email, IFTTT can send you those as well.

You may not need to take a break from social media for Lent. Instead, you may just need to make social media work for your spiritual good!

5 Ideas For Your Lenten Spirituality

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Since the 4th century Christians have been practicing a season of penitence and self-denial as a way to understand the significance of the costly sacrifice made by God through his Son Jesus Christ on behalf of humanity. The hoped-for outcome at the end of this time was always a pinnacle moment of celebration in the church–the feast of Resurrection Sunday, now known as Easter.

As a youth growing up in the Roman tradition these seasons of Lent were at times physically painful. I have memories of gathering in the parking lot of the church, praying on our knees, and “walking” on our knees all the way inside the church into our pews where we remained on our knees for the next hour and a half.

It hurt. It also helped me understand that what I was doing was nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me. It was powerful.

The following 5 ideas are a different take on preparation during Lent. Living Stones Church wants to encourage you to take on something that will help you get closer to God. It doesn’t have to be painful or punitive. Choose one for all your days in Lent and let your Sundays in Lent culminate with a joyful celebration in anticipation of the Risen Christ.

  1. Walk for 30 minutes carrying a cross in your hand. Time your walk so that the final five minutes are (safely) in the dark. Make sure you are walking in a safe place.
  2. Set up a prayer station using a basin, a pitcher with water and a candle. At the same time each day (whatever time is best for you) sit at this prayer station and remember your baptism. Light the candle. Pour water over your hands. Stir your hands in the basin and imagine what someone will be experiencing when they are baptized on Easter Sunday. Have the water at different temperatures from day to day. You need not spend more than five minutes.
  3. Write a letter a day. Select 40 persons in your life to whom you want to send this one-page letter. In the letter, tell them how they have made your life better and thank them for it. Mail the letter!
  4. Ask a friend to read the Chronicles of Narnia with you. Meet weekly to share what each of you is learning.
  5. Each day select something in your home that you can donate. Make sure it’s something you’re hesitant to let go because if you’re glad to get rid of it then you’re missing the point.

Have a blessed Lent!