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Is It Too Late For America To Have Hope?

Many Christians have expressed deep concern over the presidential election 2012.  Vital issues related to faith and family remain at the forefront of national politics.  Policies and appointments made by our next president will almost certainly contribute to either the healing or the declining of our country.

But this election presents a much bigger question than who will be in the White House for the next four years.  Rather than simply choosing the lesser of two evils, concerned believers should be asking why we are faced with the current choice of candidates.

Some Christian voters say that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism makes no difference.  How can that be?  Mormonism may present some attractive morals, but what about the underlying teachings about the character and plan of God?

Many evangelical believers were outraged when Barak Obama announced that we are no longer a Christian nation.  Yet many of those same people are now apparently willing to vote for a man who professes a religion that is in direct competition with Biblical Christianity, a religion started by a man who declared that all Christian movements and leaders before him taught a false gospel.

Others remind us that the Bible calls for a just society that cares for and provides for the weak and the marginalized.  They believe that Barak Obama’s policies will ensure that we live in a nation that expresses these Biblical values.  But how can we forget that Obama scoffed at the notion of using the Holy Bible as a guide for government policy?

In addition, at a time when God’s design for family is under siege, how can we overlook Obama’s record of promoting abortion and supporting so-called “gay marriage”?  The deconstruction of marriage and family threatens to unravel the fabric of our culture.

By almost every measure the U.S.A. is declining, especially by the most important measure: spiritual vitality.  The spiritual condition of America is shaky at best.  Unless something changes we will find ourselves in a desperate situation.

Pragmatists will insist on limiting the focus of the debate to the two men who are running for office.  But we must honestly ask ourselves why we are faced with such a discouraging dilemma in this election.  How did we sink to our current spiritual state and what should we do about it?

Zedekiah faced a desperate situation.  He was king of Israel about 600 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  He ruled at a time when his nation was threatened by a hostile and powerful enemy.

King Zedekiah needed a word from the Lord.  So he went to the prophet Jeremiah and asked him, “Is there any word from the Lord?”

The prophet Jeremiah had a word from the Lord for Zedekiah.  The king and his nation would be handed over to their enemy, Babylon.  Zedekiah and Israel had ignored God far too long and it was too late for deliverance.

What is the word of the Lord for our country?  Is it too late for America?  I hope not.  But we need to do more than vote for the lesser of two evils.  We need to seek a word from the Lord.

Although the Lord’s word for Zedekiah’s generation was a word of judgment, there was still hope.  A remnant would survive and rebuild at a later date.

More than seeking the right leaders for our government, we urgently need to seek God’s word for our generation.  Our Lord’s policies and decisions are more important than those from Washington, after all, “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:1).  Indeed, “there is no authority except that which is from God” (Romans 13:1).

God’s kingdom plan in this age will not be thwarted by either the schemes of his enemies or by the disobedience of his own people.  When one generation fails, God patiently waits and raises up another generation who will faithfully carry on his work.

What will become of our generation?  Let’s exercise our right and responsibility as citizens of this great nation to vote in the election Tuesday November 6.  As we go to our polling places let’s prayerfully and carefully consider the spiritual needs of our society.

Above all else, let us urgently and with open hearts seek a word from the Lord for our time.

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, October 2012
Printed 10/
26/12 by Camden News


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Is Jesus a Liberal Or A Conservative?

Both liberal and conservative groups claim to represent the ideals of Jesus Christ.  But the two positions often adopt very different ideas about moral and ethical issues.  How can this be?  Is one side or the other simply mistaken?  Is one side or the other being dishonest?

The crowds were somewhat fickle about Jesus, sometimes following him in large numbers, other times abandoning him because his teaching did not tickle their fancy.  The rulers, however, quickly targeted Jesus as their enemy.  They had much to lose and so they could not afford to be lukewarm about this powerful preacher and miracle-worker.  They believed that he would undermine their authority and so they were looking for a way to destroy Jesus.

On one occasion these hostile rulers confronted Jesus with a quandary that they felt sure would at least embarrass the carpenter-turned-rabbi.  They presented him with a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  In front of witnesses, they asked Jesus what he thought should be done with her.  Should she be stoned to death according to the Law of Moses?  Or should she be shown mercy and set free?

The religious leaders who concocted this heartless trap for Jesus thought that they had backed him into an ethical corner.  If he agreed with stoning the woman, then he would come across as harsh and unforgiving to the everyday people who were helping to fuel his ever-threatening popularity.  More importantly, he would be endorsing an action that was forbidden by the occupying Romans.  Rome denied the Jewish people the authority to carry out capital punishment.  Jesus could then be painted as a subversive in the eyes of the Romans; and the Empire had zero tolerance for any movement that challenged their absolute authority.

On the other hand, if Jesus did anything but support the woman’s execution, he would be challenging the authority of God’s holy Law given through his revered servant Moses.  If the rulers could prove that Jesus broke the Jewish Law then his preaching ministry would be severely damaged in the court of public opinion.  So what could Jesus do?  Was it possible for him to uphold God’s Law and yet show mercy to the woman?

Jesus responded with some of his best known and often repeated words, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Shocked into silence and shame, the hostile group dispersed.  Without witnesses the woman could not be condemned, according to the Law.  Jesus followed the letter of the Law and he spared the life of the woman.

Jesus then uttered words that should also be well known and often used.  He told the woman, “Go, and from now on sin no longer.”  With these words Jesus made it clear that the Law prohibiting adultery is good.  He did not justify her lifestyle.  He did not agree with her sexual immorality.  He encouraged her to make better choices.

Despite some liberal assertions, God’s grace does not proclaim a sinful activity to be upright.  God’s grace declares a sinful person to be forgiven, which requires a standard for upright behavior.  To the angst of some conservatives, God’s grace to sinners is immeasurable.  There is no three-strikes-and-you’re-out protocol in God’s Kingdom.  All who admit their mistakes and turn back to God find in him an apparently inexhaustible fountain of mercy.

No matter how utterly frustrating to liberal ideals, God’s standard for upright behavior never changes to accommodate popular culture.  No matter how endlessly aggravating to conservatives, God’s tolerance for repentant sinners never wavers.

So God’s standard for right human behavior is unchanging, but at the same time, his love for rebellious yet repentant people is unwavering.  These two characteristics of God seem irreconcilable to rigid right-left thinking.  Yet God’s holiness and God’s love met head-on at an old rugged cross just outside of Jerusalem.  The results are cosmic and eternal.

Unfairly condemned, the sinless Son of God voluntarily sacrificed his life.  In doing so, Jesus sealed both the honor of God’s righteousness and the salvation of his people.  Jesus is the guarantee that God’s standard for upright behavior is not broken, and yet God’s love for repentant sinners is not denied.

So, is Jesus a liberal or a conservative?  Yes, he is.  Jesus is the most liberal conservative to ever walk the face of the earth.  In Christ the simplistic human notions of liberal and conservative converge and become something far greater: God’s amazing grace.  How sweet the sound.

– Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR, September 2011

Printed September 16, 2011;  Camden News;  Camden, AR.
This article also won Award of Outstanding Merit at the Amy Foundation.

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