I realize that we Christians are supposed to be faithful, fearless, firm, and sober-minded even in the face of so much evil and uncertainty in this present life.
The challenge of me, personally, is that I kinda feel like the curtain has been lifted so-to-speak and I've seen too much if not also the types of things I wish I hadn't.
It's not like I was intentionally looking for any of it either, but it's hard to ignore when it's being talked about everywhere online by people I'm connected to and know.
As a Christian, and someone who professes to love the truth no matter how shocking and twisted it might be, I suppose it comes with the territory and we should always expect the unexpected.
While I know fully well that God is not the author of fear (1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Timothy 1:7), there's a lot that's been on my mind in recent days that has kept me up at night and caused me to pray more often than I normally do, and it all has to do with this upcoming U.S. Presidential Election to take place tomorrow.
There are times when I must report on things even though I'd rather not. My reluctance is mostly due to a non-Biblical fear of man and the response such reports will get from my Christian brothers and sisters if not also my family members and friends.
Lord, please forgive me!
That's when I rely on Galatians 1:10 the most. The rest of the time, my reluctance is due to a concern about how such reports might aﬀect my testimony and witness for Jesus Christ when it comes to confessing the Gospel (our highest calling in our various God-given vocations).
That's when I have to be careful to issue the proper disclaimers and warnings up front. What I mean by that is simply that there are some subjects, some facts, that are so blatantly obvious in that they reveal the harsh reality of this world we live in, that it's genuinely hard for people to accept them as truth despite all the evidence to the contrary, because of the incredible implications.
I know that denial is a defense mechanism we've all employed at one time or another, but we Christians alive today must no longer give in to that urge to use it again and again, because we have the distinct privilege (and the responsibility) to remove our heads from the sand and to call a spade a spade regardless of the personal cost.
In these cases, we always have two choices.
We can report on them truthfully and perform our duty as watchmen on the wall in a sense (Isaiah 21:6-9), or we can ignore them completely and have to answer to God for that one day (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
I think you know the choice I will try to make (the one I hope I'll be able to make when put in a position to do so).
Such controversial subjects are always a classic case of how truth is sometimes stranger than ﬁction. Any mere mention of a "political conspiracy" these days seems to send rather reasonable people running despite any hard evidence you can produce to support your claims.
I guess that's due to the acknowledgement that if such-and-such is, in fact, really true, then the severe implications threaten to shatter the bubble of ignorance we've created and surrounded ourselves with for so long.
In other words, if such charges of political corruption and conspiracy are true, then it forces us to take action and make some hard decisions in response to them.
Of course, the downside to all of this is that this has a way of playing right into Satan's hands, doesn't it? When fear replaces faith, it means we've opened the door to our hearts and minds allowing them to be further influenced by our flesh, the world, and the devil. Those doors were once held securely shut by The Rock (Psalm 18:2; 1 Corinthians 10:4) every time we remembered or Baptism, recalled His Word, and rested upon His promises for us and for all mankind.
Yes, the Old Adam within each and every one of us has a way of being easily aroused on a daily basis, but certainly on the eve of a Presidential Election in this country.
I'm willing to bet that, for most people, it's due to the erroneous belief that a political party, if not also a single politician, can somehow "save" this nation and its people.
Psalm 146:3 (ESV) Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
This needs to be our collective cry on a day like today and especially on a day like tomorrow.
Still, that doesn't change the fact that we also need to maintain a proper Biblical view of church and state. Thankfully, there are plenty of solid resources to help us do just that, and we would be wise to read them (and then read them again!), and then prayerfully consider the content.
"I dare say we would all agree that this is the most interesting if not strangest election cycle we've ever seen. I thought I'd spill a bit of ink on the topic of the Two Kingdoms Doctrine and a Lutheran approach to politics."
That's definitely been in the "MUST READ" category for me since I first saw it several months ago during this election cycle.
As comforting and reassuring as that piece is, I still find myself at times worrying about what the future holds depending on the outcome of tomorrow's presidential race.
It's not like I'm anticipating "The End of the World" or anything like a lot of my fellow Christians are (and do every four years it seems), but I think it would be foolish for us to ignore the very real possibility that life as we know it as believers in Christ could drastically change following tomorrow's election.
Daniel 2:21 (ESV) He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding
Psalm 2:1-6 (ESV) Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Psalm 102:15 (ESV) Nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
I love reading verses like these ones, because they remind me in no uncertain terms that the Lord is sovereign, not man. God is the master of human history.
God, in His infinite splendor, is not so far removed from creation that He is unaware of human deeds. Ever mindful of His creation, He mocks those who have the audacity to circumvent His laws and plans as Creator.
"Let us laugh at raging Satan and the world (yes, even at sin and our conscience in us). Truly, because the punishment of the godless is delayed up to now, it is certain that God is also laughing, God, who is in heaven and cannot be driven from there by impious men. Therefore He rightly laughs at their vain attempts. We may think that we would also laugh if we were seated in such a high place and a fortress so fortified...But these thoughts reveal our lack of faith. For all of us who believe in Christ are most truly in that same heaven in which the Lord dwells, if not in the flesh, nevertheless in faith and in the Word."
-- Martin Luther (Luther's Works, 12:25)
Sure, my brain definitely understands that, but my Old Adam tugs on my heartstrings in a never-ending attempt to try and cloud my Biblical worldview every four years at this time.
With that being said, we might want to revisit the Book of Daniel for some godly wisdom. Concordia Publishing House decided to do just that in a recent blog post, and I found their commentary to be quite edifying for me on a day like today.
Here are five lessons to remember during this political season that we can learn from the Book of Daniel:
1. We don’t have to compromise our values.
The subtext of Daniel’s entire story is about faithfulness to the one true God. It starts in the very first chapter when Daniel refuses to compromise his dietary restrictions with the king’s rich food (Daniel 1:8–16). It continues when Daniel’s friends -- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego -- refuse to bow down and worship the gold statue that king Nebuchadnezzar had erected on the plain of Dura (Daniel 3). We also see it in Daniel’s defiance of King Darius’s law against prayer (Daniel 6). Despite the fact that their rebellion could have cost them their lives (Daniel’s three friends were tossed into a furnace for their disobedience, and Daniel was literally thrown to the lions), they refused to compromise -- and God delivered them. It’s important to remember that throughout history God’s people have consistently found themselves in cultures where they were the minority, and they had to choose faithfulness despite strong pressure to conform. We don’t have to fear any administration or political outcome, because our God is always with us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
2. Our example has influence.
It’s not just Daniel and his friends’ refusal to compromise that’s amazing; it’s the respectful way in which they did so. They weren’t difficult and combative, and they didn’t stir up dissension. They just followed their convictions. Through king after king, Daniel maintains a role of extreme significance and importance. It can’t be denied that God’s influential hand was upon him, but we also need to recognize that Daniel and his friends were able to maintain their principles and their respect. God was able to do some dramatic work through Daniel’s faithful and humble service and witness. No matter how things go in our country, we have the responsibility to stand firm in our convictions in a way that’s respectful and kind to those who might not agree or understand. It’s in that tension that God will use us as witnesses to His grace and mercy in Christ.
3. God is always at work.
The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied of Israel’s coming captivity in Babylon: “Behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. . . . This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:9, 11). Even though Israel was being disciplined, God was still at work using the influence of faithful Jews like Daniel to turn the hearts of pagan kings. With God’s help, Daniel is able to influence these kings as a prophet, as an advisor, and even through conscientious resistance. As Christians, we can never forget that God is at work. Even in the middle of a nation’s darkest moments, God is at work in the details reconciling people to Himself through the preaching of the Gospel and administration of the Sacraments. It’s easy to fall into despair when we lose sight of the fact that God’s constantly moving -- but when we realize God’s in the middle of our lives, we’re given renewed hope and purpose.
4. God’s eye is on the details and the big picture.
Prophecy is one of the greatest areas of speculation in the Book of Daniel. Different schools of theology have attached all sorts of significance to various elements in Daniel’s prophecies. (For a faithful explanation of these prophecies, check out the Concordia Commentary on Daniel.) What is important to understand is that, in the midst of His people’s captivity in Babylon, God was unfolding a much larger story. The prophecies almost operate like the world’s largest crane camera. As the camera pans out farther and farther, we’re given a glimpse into a much larger narrative that God is working on. We see unfolding God’s plan to send His Son into this world to redeem and save it through His life and perfect death for our salvation. Some of the prophecies are more immediate, such as the writing on the wall (Daniel 5) where the loss of Belshazzar’s kingdom is foretold, and some (Daniel 11) have a much larger historical scope where kings and kingdoms are concerned. When the camera pans out far enough, we see God’s grand scheme: and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13–14). Because we’re finite in our perspective, it’s so easy to get bogged down in what’s happening right now. We need to remember that not only is God always at work, He’s at work toward a particular end. There is no captivity or election that’s going to undermine God’s ultimate plan to rescue sinners like you and me through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Ancient of Days.
5. Our prayers are heard.
In the ninth chapter of Daniel, we’re given a glimpse into one of the most moving and powerful prayers in Scripture. Daniel knows that Jeremiah has prophesied a seventy-year captivity, but he’s still diligent in his prayer. This prayer is an expression of Daniel’s personal repentance and confession of sin for himself and his nation. He recognizes Israel’s sin that has put them in the position they’re in, and he contrasts their unfaithfulness with God’s loving-kindness and faithful covenant. From confession, Daniel moves to petition. While acknowledging God’s righteous judgment, Daniel asks God to show Israel mercy in accordance with His character. It’s an ideal picture of the words in 2 Chronicles: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). The most profound thing Christians can do if we’re feeling anxious and passionate during this election season is pray. We need to acknowledge our lukewarmness and loss of love, we need to recognize God’s faithfulness to us, and we need to ask for His mercy -- all the while remembering that the Holy Spirit is at work among us to strengthen us and keep us steadfast in the true faith.
This is most certainly true.
As CPH concluded, "No matter who wins on November 8, people are going to feel like the world is ending. But we don't need to give in to despair. We can use this as an opportunity to become more hopeful and resolute in the work that God is doing. Making a commitment to study the Book of Daniel by yourself or in a group during this political season is a great place to start."
I agree. So, let's be sure to recall the Word of God...
Isaiah 8:12-13 (ESV) Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
We need to depend on the Lord alone. That's the main point.
We need to recognize that He is sovereign -- not man -- and that nothing surprises Him since everything is under His ﬁrm control.
In other words, yes, sometimes "conspiracy" does exist, but where it does, we should shine the light of truth on the darkness of deceit (Ephesians 5:11; Matthew 10:16) not because we're afraid of it and the people involved, but because we simply want to call them to repentance and to point to them as further evidence that we are living in a fallen, sinful world, and one that is already in the prophesied last days.
Let's also remember what we're really dealing with here at the root of any and all political conspiracies and corruption in this world.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Isaiah 8:12-13 (ESV) Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
Again, the above passages give us our proper perspective in this life as well as our proper response to it as Christians.
Folks, the kind of content shared in this space in recent days is not meant to imply that we should respond to any of it with fear (Psalm 23; Psalm 112:7; Proverbs 3:25; 1 John 4:18), but we also shouldn't bury our heads in the sand any longer and ignore it anymore either.
For me, I like to rest on something from 2 Timothy...
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Furthermore, please keep in mind that just because I'm writing about such things from time-to-time should in no way be interpreted as though I am fearful about them myself.
Initially, yes, I'll admit that such terrifying truths revolted me, but then I remember Who I belong to and Who is the King of kings and the fear instantly subsides. Again, we're not supposed to be ruled by a spirit of fear, because that's not a fruit of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:18).
My dear friends, this Election Eve my prayer is that we can approach the ballot box with conviction and unshakable faith.
First, it's no longer a "conspiracy theory" when there are F-A-C-T-S that tell us otherwise. We knew God's Word promised days like these. I'm assuming many of you just didn't expect to see it in your lifetime. We need to view things as simply additional pieces of evidence that undeniably proves that we are living in the "last days" the Bible talks about.
Second, it's not right for us to give in to the whims of our Old Adam without putting up a fight. Believe me, he'll entice us to abandon ourselves to a patriotic fervor and to our political passions. Don't fall for it! It's ok to love this country and to admire the fact that we have the freedom to vote as we please, but we need to recognize where this country and that freedom ultimately comes from.
Let me say a few more things before wrapping this up today.
As Christians, Romans 13 (among other passages of Scripture) is our guide when it comes to government and politics, and we should not advocate or promote any kind of rebellion or violence no matter what happens tomorrow, because all government authorities are established by God for His own plans and purposes for humanity, and we are to submit to the authorities jut like Daniel did (as long as we don't disobey God and His Word in the process).
While there's simply no disputing any of that, these truths need to remain on our radar so that we can prepare spiritually as best as we can for what seems to be coming sooner rather than later.
I think we'd all agree tha the Word of God is quite clear that any action we take must be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; Colossians 3:23), and must be in accordance with our God-given conscience (Acts 24:16).
Those two key pieces of the political puzzle are symbiotic, and not mutually exclusive.
Furthermore, the Word of God is also clear that when it comes to governments and political authorities, as previously mentioned, in that they are all ordained by God (Daniel 2:21; Titus 3:1; John 19:10-11).
I know that the Old Adam within us hates hearing that, but it's true. I know it's been said by some that our voting for a certain kind of government, or a certain kind of politician, is rather meaningless from a Christian perspective when you consider these crystal clear Biblical truths.
Yet, it is within our fallen, ﬂeshly lusts to want to have some kind of control and power in this life. We want our voices to be heard by other people, by The-Powers-That-Be, or we want to make a diﬀerence, but aren't we supposed to be praying to the Lord to help us with such things? Aren't we supposed to be praying for our political leaders, including those who we dislike and didn't vote for?
Yes and yes.
If we're not careful, then what we feel is "Doing The Right Thing" as Americans in this life can themselves become idols and lead us down a crooked path, particularly should we ever lose sight of the sovereignty of God in all things (Romans 8:28).
I've heard some Christians I greatly respect point out that if you are going to vote, then you must recognize that it's a question of Romans 13 and not a question of John 3:16. After all, we're electing a Commander-In-Chief and not a Pastor-In-Chief. We need to vote for the individual(s) that we believe will best uphold Romans 13 (even if they don't consciously or publicly acknowledge its existence or God in their life).
I think that's a solid point.
Most importantly, I think we need to understand that an election is a static event for us believers within the Body of Christ. Simply put, our primary concern of confessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that desperately needs to hear it, through our various God-given vocations, does not change depending on who becomes President of the United States of America.
Ok, I'm sure that there are some who are reading this who will suggest that certain political parties, politicians, and the resulting government that they establish could become a hindrance to our ability to preach the Gospel. That's fair point and definitely something else for us to consider as we enter the voting booth tomorrow.
At the same time, let's remember what it is we believe, teach, and confess. We cannot do anything apart from the Lord! It is He who saves souls through His Word and Sacraments (John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 3:21), and we merely get the privilege of being a part of the process as we faithfully confess Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind to others God places within our various vocations, but it's not us men and women ourselves as some sort of "Sacramental Entrepreneurs" who actually save someone's soul!
What I mean is that even if a law were made to prohibit preaching the Gospel in this country, the Lord would still find a way to save whomever He wishes to save in ways we probably couldn't even imagine.
So, in one sense, if we were all rounded up and put into FEMA Camps tomorrow as part of some national crackdown on freedom of speech and religion, guess what? Our mandate would still be the same. We would still be expected to bring glory, honor, and praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by confessing the Gospel to those we were sharing a cell with, and to those who were persecuting us and putting us in those cells.
You do sincerely believe that, right? If not, then please go back and read through your Bible again and again tonight, especially the Book of Acts. Check out the biographies and testimonies of some famous Christian martyrs from around the world too.
The truth of the matter? The Bible that I've been reading and studying all these years tells me plainly that things are only going to get worse, not better, and that Christ's Church will still survive in the face of such blatant evil and persecution (Matthew 16:18). Don't forget, some of the most significant growth that Christianity has ever seen has been during times of intense persecution.
That's an undisputed fact, of course, but millions of Christians strongly believe that this is their one last chance to elect a man who can help God's "elect" right this sinking ship that we call America. More disturbingly, they seem to believe that one political party is more "God's Party" than the other.
On the surface, sure, but in reality? Not true at all. This is what caused me to come up with the term "Poligion" (the unholy marriage between Politics and Religion) and to write about it extensively in recent years.
Look, I'm not saying that we should become apathetic and just completely check-out when it comes to doing whatever-we-can-whenever-we-can to promote Christian values and to love and serve our neighbors by doing good in this nation. I'm not saying we shouldn't vote either.
What I am saying is that we can't just ignore God's Word like we have been or like we can so easily do during an Election Year.
Besides, it's foolish for any of us to think that if we can just get "our guy" into political office, then God will be obligated to do all the things we want done in this nation.
Participate, serve your neighbor, volunteer, vote, but don't listen to your Old Adam when he tries to tell you that all the answers to your problems in this life will be solved by the next U.S. President.
1 Timothy 6:13-16 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
2 Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV) Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
John 18:36 (ESV) Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."
Beautiful reminders for all of us!
I pray that we remember that we are Christians ﬁrst and Americans second.
Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the "Gospel of Poligion" that has become all too commonplace these days and especially during an election.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, please join me in drowning your Old Adam on this Election Eve, and make sure people know you are a Christian first before they know you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or Libertarian.
Praise the Lord that He is sovereign, not man!
Praise the Lord that it is His Son who saves, not a political party or its leaders!
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!