Best Voting Advice Ever
As a church, we believe every follower of Jesus Christ should faithfully engage in the privilege and responsibility of voting. It is an expression of good stewardship, and we encourage everyone to vote on issues or for candidates based on personal conviction out of their relationship with God.
But amidst the campaigning and political rhetoric, we can struggle with how to navigate the complexity of an election season. So I thought it might be helpful to share the best voting advice I’ve ever encountered.
Although it comes from October 1774, it is well-stated pastoral wisdom; and I encourage everyone to follow it:
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
- To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
- To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
- To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
– John Wesley, October 6, 1774.
May God lead you with great wisdom by His Spirit in this election season!
Make Us Adequate [Part II]
[Continued from Part I. Click here to read.]
When the last lifeboats were launched from the Dorchester, the chaplains prayed with the soldiers who couldn’t escape the sinking ship.
27 minutes after the torpedo struck the Dorchester, it disappeared below the waves with 672 men still aboard. The last anyone saw of the chaplains, they were standing on the deck, arms linked and praying together.
One survivor recalled what he saw from the water: “The last thing I saw, the four chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”
Of the 940 men aboard the Dorchester, only 230 survived. Many of those who did, and specifically four owed their lives to the clergymen who were found to be adequate for the task.
The dictionary defines adequate as: as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit. Synonym: sufficient.
Did God make Clark adequate? Sufficient?
Absolutely! Chaplain Poling was adequate because God made him so. Poling selflessly gave so another could live.
The Apostle Paul wrote about sufficiency. He said, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” [Philippians 1:20]
What would it look like for you to be more sufficient?
What about us as a church?
We don’t have to be at war on sinking ship to experience that kind of adequacy, but we do need to have as Paul said “sufficient courage”…to live well in every circumstance so that Christ is exalted in our bodies…by life or death.
What is adequate…fully sufficient…in your life? What isn’t?
Take a few moments right now and talk to God about what areas of your life are adequate and which are not.
Then ask him to make your life adequate instead of safe.
But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9
[Source of pictures & facts: Wikipedia]
Make Us Adequate [Part I]
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
What do you think of when you hear the word…adequate?
We often think of things like the minimum necessary, half-baked, second-rate, C-/D+ work, etc. It’s a common perspective that many hold, and it reminds me of a statement I frequently heard in the military: “It’s good enough for government work.”
Adequate often makes us think of mediocre, but I have found there’s a different kind of adequate for those who follow Christ.
Have you ever heard of Clark Poling? [Pictured above]
He was a minister in the Reformed Church in America and a lieutenant in the United States Army. He served as a chaplain for U.S. soldiers; and prior to being deployed overseas, he wrote these words in a letter to his father:
“I know I shall have your prayers, but please don’t pray simply that God will keep me safe. War is dangerous business. Pray that God will make me adequate!”
It is an interesting request and word choice…pray that God will make me adequate.
We may think he’s asking for the wrong thing; but if we understand the word and the commands of Christ, it makes complete sense…especially when we know what happened in February of 1943. Check it out.
When Clark wrote to his father, he was preparing to deploy to the battlefields of World War II. While aboard the transport ship the Dorchester, Clark became friends with three other chaplains; and the four lieutenants developed great friendship and effective ministry aboard the ship.
However, on February 3, 1943, a German submarine [U-223], spotted the naval convoy in transit and closed on the ships. Shortly after midnight, it fired a torpedo, which struck the Dorchester; and it quickly started to sink. Hundreds of soldiers scrambled to get to lifejackets and lifeboats. Several of the lifeboats had been damaged in the attack, but even with life jackets, the chances of survival were slim to none in the frigid water.
Clark and the other chaplains began to organize frightened soldiers. They distributed lifejackets from a locker; and when the supply ran out…
…Clark and the other chaplains gave their lifejackets away to other soldiers.
Was that being adequate?
Check back later this week for the rest of the story.
Dependence – Part III [Sacrifice]
“If through a broken heart God can bring his purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” – Oswald Chambers
In a previous post, I made the statement: Brokenness is essential for godly leadership.
Whether that is your experience or not, I guarantee it is true.
The comprehensive journey of a Christ-follower always involves some level of breaking. It entails some level of crushing. When God wants to do something big, he crushes the person he wants to do it through.
Now…I know people can lead without brokenness. We can influence others to act without personal tragedy. We can even lead people without God. BUT…godly leadership…leadership anointed by the King of kings for a much great purpose always comes through brokenness; and that entails a cost. It requires a sacrifice. Psalm 51 reminds us that:
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Consider the life of the man who wrote that Psalm: David. After being anointed as the next king of Israel by Samuel, where did the Lord prepare him as a leader? In a journey of agony and suffering…aka the school of brokenness. God used a bipolar king to break David, to lead him into the crucible of crushing and transform him into the leader He needed him to be.
The sacrifice was great, but the reward was greater: godly leadership over Israel for 40 years.
Not yet convinced? Let’s go further back.
Consider the not so pretty story of Joseph. As the favored son in a wealthy family, Joseph had everything he could ever want…including high status, fine clothes and grand dreams. He had divine visions of being a great leader, and he was well on his way to the top! Then it was all stripped away at the age of 17. He lost everything: family, status, dignity, clothes, confidence, identity…and he ended up in a foreign land with a foreign language. Mix in 20 years of slavery, injustice, humiliation and prison and you have another look at the school of brokenness.
Once again…great sacrifice yielded a great return: godly leadership saved the nation that would bring forth the Messiah.
The truth is God doesn’t need more confident or competent people. He doesn’t need the self-reliant or the accomplished. He needs more broken people…people who know how to live from a place of dependence on Him…people who are willing to be sacrificed for His purposes.
Will you allow Him to crush you for His greater purposes?
Sermon Series: Live SENT
This weekend, we’ll kick off a two-week series called, Live SENT. In it we’ll explore the implications of being a SENT people and the realities of serving a God who gives us a global mission.
Here’s a bit of a sneak peek:
There are a lot of meaningful things we can do in this life, but none of them begin to compare to the privilege of joining a Holy God in the work that He is already doing in our workplaces, our communities, our cities and countless other places around the world.
As a church, we speak of this in terms of living SENT. When we follow Jesus, we are automatically a SENT people. We know this because Jesus said so. He did it more than once, but the most clear moment is in John 20:21 where he said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Because Jesus sends us, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to invest beyond ourselves and ultimately give ourselves away in love, sacrifice and faithfulness as Jesus did.
As a church we are committed to doing that, and this booklet contains information that can help each of us increasingly live SENT for HIS glory.
Join Pastor Shawn as we celebrate Living Sent in our two week series starting August 16/17
Blog Post: Perhaps the Lord…
Unquestionably, one of my favorite moments in the Bible is found in 1 Samuel 14.
Let me describe the situation.
King Saul was camped under a pomegranate tree with 600 men while a garrison of the Philistine army secured a nearby pass. It was a tense moment; but unexpectedly, Saul’s son, Jonathan, turned to his young armor bearer and said, ““Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.”
Now here’s why this is such a crazy moment: They were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, out-positioned and outgunned. Well…it was actually swords not guns, but you get the picture.
Despite all of that, they end up going anyway.
Ask any military leader, tactician or strategist and they will all tell you this was a bad idea from start to finish for a number of reasons.
:: First, a defending force always has the advantage.
:: Second, a battle on varied terrain always gives the force on higher elevation a distinct advantage.
:: Third, attacking a larger force is always a disadvantage. In fact, military strategists say attackers should generally outnumber defenders at least 3 to 1, but Jonathan & his servant were outnumbered at least 10 to 1. Ludicrous!
:: Finally, if you read the previous chapter, you’ll see there were only two swords among the entire Israelite army. Saul had one and Jonathan had the other. Everyone else had tools like plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles.
Well, needless to say from a human perspective, what Jonathan sought to do was at best unrealistic and more likely absurd. It was an inevitable and pointless loss, and anyone with common sense would have expected Jonathan and his armor bearer to die on that hillside.
But God isn’t limited to our expectations, and…they didn’t die!
They attacked a larger, defending force uphill with one sword; and they defeated 20 Philistine warriors.
I love a number of things about this story.
I love the faith and courage of Jonathan. I love the loyalty and trust of the armor bearer, but what I love most is the absolute impossibility of it. It was an impractical endeavor that would certainly fail unless God showed up, and that is exactly what He did! As a result, it mobilized the Israelite army, produced a great victory and even led to a cool reconciliation among God’s people. [ref. 1 Samuel 14:21]
Far too often we, limit ourselves to the possible.
We work toward things that we can accomplish…even things for God. That often then leads us to lower expectations, modify goals and shrink from opportunity…especially the God-sized ones. T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
What is God waiting for you to do? What impossible task awaits your willingness to say, “Let’s go…perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf.”
What does GOD want to do in or through YOU that most people would say is impossible?
We really can do all things through Him who give us strength. [ref. Philippians 4:13] We serve the God of the Impossible. So let’s seek to live life with eyes of faith….where the impossible is not only possible…but probable.
We may think we honor God with cautious “stewardship,” but that is not always true. Which means…we can inadvertently end up waiting under the pomegranate tree and miss the miraculous.
Take a few moments right now and approach the God of the Impossible in prayer. Ask Him what “impossible” things he wants to do in and through you. Then ask Him to equip you to do it.
When small is big…
When small is big…
So you may have heard that Google recently changed its logo. They implemented the change as subtly as the change itself.
Now this may seem like no big deal, but small things can have a huge impact.
In case you haven’t seen the change or know what it is, let me give you a chance to spot it on your own.
Here’s the old logo:
Here’s the new logo:
Do you see it?
Want to take another look? Go ahead.
Still can’t see it? No worries. Most people can’t. I couldn’t find it on my own despite the fact my family lauds my powers of observation and attention to detail. 🙂
So here it is…ready?
The “g” and the “l” were moved to be more ascetically pleasing. It’s so slight I still couldn’t see it in the above pictures. But thanks to Gizmodo there’s a graphic that makes it clear. You can see it by clicking HERE.
So Google knew the bottom of the “l” and “e” didn’t quite lineup; and to fix it, they moved the “g” 1 pixel to the right and the “l” 1 pixel down and to the right.
Interesting, right? Well, maybe not if that’s the point, but its not.
The point is…a small change can lead to a big reality. Small things can lead to significant life-change.
James wrote about a few examples of this. He said:
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. [James 3:3-5]
The point is small things can have a big impact. A small change can lead to a big reality…positive or negative.
A small splinter in a foot can cause great pain.
A small act of kindness can soften a hard heart.
A small error with a compass can lead to a substantial error at the destination.
A small indiscretion can destroy a career or a relationship.
A small word like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can have a huge ripple.
And…apparently a small space [3 pixels] can enhance the appeal of a global organization like Google.
A small change can lead to a big reality. In fact, most people are one move away from a breakthrough in their lives; and some of those start with the smallest moves.
What small move do you need to make this week to see God do great things in and through you?
…a step of obedience?
…an act of kindness?
…a gift of forgiveness?
…an act of self-discipline?
…a choice to look away?
What’s your small move?
What we do in life matters…even the small things.
Keep pressing on.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23
But even if he does not…
“But even if He does not…” Daniel 3:18a
Last weekend, we looked at how we can live with expectancy even amidst uncertainty. No matter what we face we can have hope. Because of Jesus, we can have hope even amidst seemingly hopeless circumstances. We hope in Him who is hope and not just in the outcomes because genuine hope is not in outcomes but in our LORD.
There are a number of examples of this throughout the Bible including John the Baptist’s journey to prison and subsequent death, but we can unpack that one at a later time because the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego gives us another example of this genuine hope in action. The statement, “But even if He does not…” gives us a glimpse into this really powerful story of hope and trust regardless of circumstances. The King James Version actually translates it as, “But if not…” You can read about in Daniel 3.
It reminds me of a more recent story from World War II that further illustrates the significance of the Daniel 3:18 passage. I did some research; and I found the following, which was adapted from an Officer’s Christian Fellowship article written by a major in the U.S. Army. Although there are some slight differences in the various accounts out there, the following seems to be the most accurate account:
In early 1940, the British and their allies sent a force of some 350,000 men into the low countries of Europe to stem the tide of German advance into France, Belgium and Holland. Caught in a brilliant pincer movement by the invading German forces the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force was pushed back to the beaches of the small Belgian town of Dunkirk. To everyone’s surprise the Germans halted their advance to regroup.
As England and the world waited for what appeared to be the sure and certain annihilation of 350,000 men a three-word message was transmitted from the besieged army at Dunkirk. It read simply, “But if not.” The British people understood the biblical import of the cryptic message. It was a reference to the Old Testament book of Daniel, where Daniel and his friends chose death rather than worship an image of the pagan king, “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”” (Daniel 3:17-18, NKJV).
The British Expeditionary Army, surrounded, cutoff and on the brink of destruction was declaring to Britain and to the world that even in apparent defeat they were, in fact, victorious. The message, more eloquent than a sermon delivered in St. Paul’s Cathedral, galvanized the British people. In a matter of hours thousands of boats of every description headed across the dangerous waters of the English Channel and, at the risk of their own lives from enemy fire, began the evacuation of the heroic but beleaguered army in what historians now refer to as “the miracle of Dunkirk.”
Friends we are positioned to make a difference across this region. We are poised to bring hope, freedom and rescue to the Quad Cities. It is essentially a rescue mission paramount to the Miracle at Dunkirk. We can take the love of Jesus Christ to those around us and radically impact this region.
We can do this, as we place our hope and trust in Him who is hope. We can help people trapped in depression, addiction, the past and any other circumstance…find new life and freedom in Jesus. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1
It will come at a cost.
It will require substantial commitment, great generosity, significant sacrifice and unwavering determination; but our God is able to draw thousands of men and women across this region back to Himself. I believe He will grant us the privilege of seeing that, but even if he does not…
See you this weekend!
Heavenly Father – You are holy. You are all-powerful. This morning, I sit in awe of who You are. You are more than able. We are not, but we can do all things in Your Son Jesus. So I ask that you would once again pour out Your Spirit upon Heritage Church and do the “impossible”. Use us to rescue thousands with the truth that there is freedom in Jesus. Set the people of this region free. Allow us to reach those who are “trapped.” I know You can do this. But even if You don’t, know that our hope and trust is in You and You alone. Your will be done in us. Amen.
Unquestionably, one of my favorite moments in the Bible is found in 1 Samuel 14.
Let me describe the situation.
King Saul was camped under a pomegranate tree with 600 men while a garrison of the Philistine army secured a nearby pass. It was a tense moment; but unexpectedly, Saul’s son, Jonathan, turned to his young armor bearer and said, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.”
Now here’s why this is such a crazy moment. They were outnumbered, outmaneuvered, out-positioned and outgunned. Well…it was actually swords not guns, but you get the picture. Despite all of that, they end up going anyway.
Ask any military leader, tactician or strategist and they will all tell you this was a bad idea from start to finish for a number of reasons. First, a defending force always has the advantage. Second, a battle on varied terrain always gives the force on higher elevation a distinct advantage. Third, attacking a larger force is always a disadvantage. In fact, military strategists say attackers should generally outnumber defenders at least 3 to 1, but Jonathan & his servant were outnumbered at least 10 to 1. Ludicrous! Finally, if you read the previous chapter, you’ll see there were only two swords among the entire Israelite army. Saul had one and Jonathan had the other. Everyone else had tools like plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles.
Well, needless to say from a human perspective, what Jonathan sought to do was at best unrealistic and more likely absurd. It was an inevitable and pointless loss, and anyone with common sense would have expected Jonathan and his armor bearer to die on that hillside. But God isn’t limited to our expectations, and they didn’t die!
They attacked a larger, defending force uphill with one sword; and they defeated 20 Philistine warriors. Unbelievable!
I love a number of things about this story. I love the faith and courage of Jonathan. I love the loyalty and trust of the armor bearer, but what I love most is the absolute impossibility of it. It was an impractical endeavor that would certainly fail unless God showed up, and that is exactly what He did! As a result, it mobilized the Israelite army, produced a great victory and even led to a cool reconciliation among God’s people.
Far too often we, limit ourselves to the possible. We work toward things that we can accomplish…even things for God. That often then leads us to lower expectations, modify goals and shrink from opportunity…especially the God-sized ones. T.S. Eliot once said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
We may think we honor God with cautious “stewardship,” but we often don’t. We actually end up waiting under the pomegranate tree, and we miss the miraculous.
There are 200,000 people in the Quad Cities who do not yet know Jesus. Reaching them is a God-sized task, which means we’re called to go where we are outnumbered, outmaneuvered, out-positioned and outgunned. It’s an unrealistic task; but one the Lord has positioned Heritage Church to do. “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.”
God has done great things in and through Heritage for many years. As cool as that is, we’re not yet done. There are more hills to take for more people to know Jesus; and in this season of transition, it is increasingly important to remain in a forward leaning posture like Jonathan with the same faith and courage to risk.
Scripture tells us the Lord saved Israel on that day in 1 Samuel 14, but it was not the end. In fact, it says, “So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.” [1 Samuel 14:23] Notice the Lord brought victory, and then the battle advanced. The mission continued.
This weekend marks the passing of the leadership baton of Heritage Church from John to me; and in this next season, Heritage will be positioned to do incredible things! It is my prayer that the Lord will find His people boldly advancing boldly toward reaching the region expecting Him to act on their behalf.
Keep pressing on.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Crave – Day #6
Day 6 [April 3]
“…everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life…” [John 6:40]
This chapter recounts events in the life of Christ that occur approximately one year before the crucifixion. It contains some great examples of Christ’s supremacy over all things like the feeding of the 5,000, which interestingly enough is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.
I love this story for a lot of reasons, but one cool thing is that in the end the skepticism of the disciples [v.7-8] is met with exact and specific provision [v.13]. Twelve lunch baskets! Coincidence? I think not.
Jesus goes on to walk on water and to teach about the bread of life. He challenges the people not to “work for food that spoils, but food that endures to eternal life.” [v.27] Later, many of His disciples turn back and no longer follow Him. The reality is that not everyone will be part of what God wants to do, but when we give all we have to Him…even if it is just some fish and bread…He will use it to draw many to Himself.
As we continue to set things aside for Him, we are choosing to seek “food” that endures…not food that spoils. We are giving up our “lunches” so that more people can look to the Son and have eternal life. [ref v.40] We are setting aside the things that spoil so that God will be glorified in, around, and through us as a church. Ask God if there are other “little” things in your life today that He wants you to give up for Him to use.
I look forward to seeing you there as we worship the King of kings and Lord of lords together this weekend.
Lord Jesus – Take the little things in our lives and use them to perform miracles that lead people to You. You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. Let us be a church that enables thousands of people across this region to find life through You.