God is Not Interested in Your Comfort

What is it with the modern American church’s obsession with thinking God wants us to be comfortable? What then do you say to the underground church in China? That God has abandoned them because they are persecuted? God is not interested in our comfort. He is interested in having His way in us. And rightfully so. And when our happiness conflicts with His holiness, our happiness will either cease for the moment or we will reject God. “God of all comfort?” Read the whole context:

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you [is] steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also [you will partake] of the consolation.”  2 Cor. 1:3-7

The Lesser of Two Evils: Conscience Voting

“I would rather be governed by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian.” –Martin Luther

This post assumes that you are a Christian who believes in Biblical doctrine over denominational doctrine. That said, I am going to draw the following conclusions in the most logical manner I am able, since I am trying to display a logical train of thought using my right-brained mind. Bear with me.

The primary presidential election of 2012 is upon us. And, to my chagrin, I once again watch my friends and family base their votes on one of two things: the candidate who most agrees with their own moral beliefs, or the candidate who has the most emotional appeal to them.  I call the first group “conscience voters,” and if you are one of them, I beg of you to read on.

A conscience voter is mainly concerned with one thing: his account to God. I agree that we are all accountable to God for our actions, however, in being accountable to God, we must also be concerned with how our vote affects future generations, i.e. their long-term impact. Take the primary of 2008 for example. The evangelicals wanted Huckabee (why not? He aligned with their beliefs to a T), the practical voters and non-religious chose Romney, a more moderate but respectable choice. The moderates chose John McCain. No true majority wanted John McCain, however the 3-way split of conservatives gave us John McCain. This is a classic example of conscience voting gone wrong. McCain was never a strong candidate and was absolutely squelched by Obama’s campaigning skills.

Do you believe that a truly righteous, Sermon-on-the-Mount-living person, is represented in one of the 4 Republican candidates? If you cannot answer yes, then you are already affirming my point: we must vote for the lesser of two evils. I would venture to say that all of the candidates sin on a regular basis and are in need of grace.  So if this is true, it follows that we must choose the best of the immoral bunch, since none compare to our righteous leader Jesus. In this way we are already headed down the path of the lesser of two, or 4, evils. Where you and I differ at this point is opinion-influenced practical thought.

Let me put it this way:  I, along with thousands of Christians, vote for Rick Santorum because he conflicts least with my religious beliefs. The vote splits four ways between Santorum, Gingrich, Romney, and Paul. Who comes out on top? Well not Santorum for sure. Let’s say Gingrich for the sake of argument. Now my choice is Gingrich or Obama. I am left with a lesser-of-two-evils decision and a non-voting decision. If I decide not to vote because I disagree with both candidates, I am in effect voting for whoever wins. If I decide to now vote for the lesser of two evils, I am changing my voting style halfway through an election and have defied my previous reasoning.

Now let’s look at another scenario: I, along with thousands of other practical voters, take a step back and look at the 2008 and 2012 elections overall. I recognize the 3-way split of 2008 and the power of Obama’s campaigning skills. I put aside my emotions and say, “We cannot have four more years of Obama, so who can beat Obama?” I come up with only one option: Mitt Romney.  An unlike-able fellow, rather aloof, yet strong and presidential. A man who became pro-life because he self-educated. This is my only choice. I cannot let my emotions sway me. I become a Romney supporter instead of a Romney fan and cast my vote. Romney wins the primary and now my choice is Romney or Obama (or Santorum and Obama, or Paul and Obama). But now I have already taken the approach that I want the lesser of two evils, so the choice is already made.

Find it far-reaching if you like. This reasoning does not take into account the intense spiritual battle being waged over this important election. However, if we waste our votes on candidates who cannot even win the primary, let alone stand strong in the face of the liberal media, agenda, and Obama, we will have four more years of Obama. And this Obama will be unrestrained by re-election, and who knows what that could hold for the future of our country.

To borrow a story from a man much more qualified than me to pursuade you on this subject, think of it in light of this scenario:

Suppose I’m fleeing from a burning hotel and discover a damsel in distress on the way out. She’s helpless, pinned down by a heavy beam. For some reason, my many hours of typing haven’t resulted in enough muscle to free her. So what’s the right thing to do? If I stay with her, we both die. If I leave her there and run for help, someone might be able to get her out. The idealist reasons that practical results are irrelevant and conscience requires that a man of principle must not abandon a damsel in distress. But most people abandon idealism in these situations. They understand that conscience sometimes dictates that we do what is practical.

Conscience is dictating that you set aside your emotions this election. Your children are dependent on your wise decision. May we all look outside of ourselves as we walk into each voting booth and change the course of history.
(Change the course of history? Why yes, as a matter of fact.)

__________________________________________

UPDATE: If you haven’t been following this primary very closely, please view my list of pros and cons of the two frontrunners here.

Her Name is Duchess

There’s a woman who works at a local store where I go to run errands on occasion. Her name is Duchess and I have never seen someone in such a monotonous job with so much joy. I don’t think Duchess is a Christian, though with the way her eyes sparkle when she looks into mine, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Duchess is convicting to me every time I see her because no matter how busy the store is or a customer has a problem, she keeps her cheerful demeanor and takes everything in stride. I don’t know if I have any Christian friends working a secular job who have so much genuine joy while they work. And what’s more, I know Duchess well enough to have seen that she is consistently like this — even when she’s going through a tough time.

Paul admonished the Colossians to do everything in word and deed in the name of the Lord. How can I get offended in the name of the Lord? I can’t! How differently would I be viewed by the world if I really lived these words:

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him…And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:17,23-24

Lately, I have been actively pursuing a gracious heart. It’s something that I lack and I desire to show others that God is a gracious God who looks past their weakness. I am realizing more and more how much I need to focus on myself and my problems instead of others’. It’s so easy to take the above verses and say, “So and so should read this, they are so ______.” Instead, I want to see the areas where I am not showing Christ and change them.

I want to live out character and joy instead of just being selfish when I don’t feel like responding well; I want to be like Duchess.

My First Blues Concert

I will never be asked to play music for the mayor of Roseville. It just wouldn’t happen. I’m sure he wouldn’t like spontaneous prophetic music even if he did want a concert of local musicians playing for him.

But let’s create a hypothetical scenario: I’ve been asked to play awesome blues on my cello for the mayor of Roseville (Lord willing I will be able to play awesome blues someday. For now I will be content with my hypothetical scenario.). You bet your hiney that I would practice night and day for that concert.

Without drawing out my imaginary blues concert for the mayor of Roseville, I’ll get to my point: when do we musicians who play 4-5 times a week for God practice to become excellent? How do we challenge ourselves so we can become the best? I mean, isn’t that what we should be, since we play for the most important person/audience/God?

And yet, in our carnal man-pleasing spirit, we see more value in being excellent for man rather than God. The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus is our great High Priest. I want to be one who plays with excellence, always improving, so that I can be worthy of that great High Priest. It’s not about a performance mentality, it’s about getting a new theology of grace. Do I come before God’s throne because of grace? Absolutely. Does an understanding of grace mean that God doesn’t want me to grow? No. He accepts me as I am — immature and selfish — but I don’t want to stay there.

So America Chose Obama

What will be our response? Will we despair and say that God doesn’t answer prayer, or that x group of people didn’t pray enough? Will we be offended and shake our fist at God, claiming He didn’t come through for us?

I was impressed with IHOP-KC’s response within minutes of Obama’s victory. They interrupted the last half of their Worship with the Word set to inform everyone of his win…and immediately called a rapid fire to pray for him. Person after person told the Lord, “Thank you.” There was no hesitance in this response, and I know from living at IHOP that they weren’t prepped to say that either. No, those people have some knowledge of God, and their first response was to acknowledge that even if they didn’t know why He would want this man in power, they were going to trust Him.

Why does God want Obama in power? Maybe it’s reaping consequences or His righteous judgment — however you like to label it. But I don’t think so. I don’t know much, and even though I grew up in a political family with two parents who graduated with Poly Sci majors and I used to breathe talk radio, I have let my politics slide (on purpose) for the past 3 years.

I think God’s giving us two things: an invitation and a sign. The invitation is for Christians to realize that they need to be praying. I want to scream Jeremiah at them:

“O my soul! My soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” Jeremiah 4:19

The second is to realize that God is orchestrating world events for Jesus’ second coming. It’s really going to happen, and soon. That’s going to seem far fetched to most of you, but I’ve been studying the end-times for almost 3 years and I can tell you this much: Matthew 24:3-9 is not far away.

The Friday Diversion – Week I

I want to start posting little humorous/weird things periodically that I think will entertain you, my audience. Thus I thought up “the Friday Diversion.” I’m planning on keeping them prayer room-related; we’ll see how it goes.

So for this first week, I have a question for everyone (humor me, my silent readers, and comment!).

How do you chose what to highlight in your Bible?

See, I thought most people were like me: I highlight whenever something jumps out at me. That means that pretty much every verse in my Bible that I find profound, worthy of being called “favorite,” or simply touches me — is highlighted. This means that there’s a lot of color in my Bible, but I love it because I can find things so easily. Personally, I prefer colored pencils and I have a key in the back for which colors mean what.

I’m posting this because I asked Josiah the other day why he highlights and he said he only highlights verses he has revelation on. And…he’s the only person I’ve ever asked until now.

It’s Not a Sprint, it’s a Marathon

About a year ago, someone (we’ll call her Sarah) was talking to me about how great the next big conference was going to be. She told me how anointed the speakers and worship leaders would be and how much fun I would have. I anticipated going to the conference for about 3 months and when the time finally came, the messages were nothing new and the worship was good (but heaven didn’t come down like Sarah told me it would).

When I listened to Sarah talk about how great the conference would be and I bought into it, I was participating in hype. Hype is when worship is all of the sudden really good…because your favorite song is being sung by the hot guy on stage. Hype is when you get excited about the new, inspiring message…week after week after week.

If I get something out of a conference, great! But I want to live my Christianity in between conferences too. Paul used the analogy of a race:

“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Heb. 12:1b-2a

To run with endurance, I must stay steady. When the revival comes and goes, I want a steady, long-term relationship with Jesus that produces fruit in heaven. Relationships take time and effort, and I believe the best ones are those that are cultivated the most.

Father, give me the grace to run the race with endurance.

To Pray and Not Lose Heart

There is one thing that I desire the Lord to say about me on Judgment Day (well, there’s a lot of things, but this is the one that trumps all the others): that I was faithful to Him.

I have known many people who walked with the Lord for a time and then decided to walk in the world. Every once in a while, when I hear about one of these stories, I wonder if I will one day be the person who is the subject of that conversation. Maybe it’s a wrong fear, maybe it’s the Lord, I don’t know. What I do know is that right now I am 100% certain there is a God, that He has chosen me, and that I am an eternal being. It frightens me that even with this certainty, I am not above turning on Him.

Because of these things, I often pray, “Lord, let me be faithful to You.” Many of the apostolic prayers (prayers that the apostles prayed in the New Testament) mention things like perseverance, endurance, strength for the journey…I don’t think faithfulness is a new struggle. I could see myself getting so offended by something the Lord does that bitterness could turn my heart from Him (read my testimony to hear about my experience with this in the past).

In addition to simply asking the Lord that I would be one of the faithful ones, I pray this prayer along with Paul:

“This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11