- This is not about me….
- This is about keeping children safe
- This is about #freedomofspeech
- This is about #Antichristian bullying
- This is about #Tolerance
- This is about #CulturalMarxism
- This is about our #society
- This is about your safety – you could be next!
…for kings and rulers in positions of responsibility, so that our common life may be lived in peace and quiet, with a proper sense of God and of our responsibility to him for what we do with our lives.
Yippee, it’s election time again, and so I’m expecting the usual questions to be raised about ‘the right way for Christians to vote’. This time around though it’s made more exciting by #Brexit, so let’s just deal with that up front. Brexit will be something that you will have a legitimate view on and it will no doubt, and not unreasonably have a major impact on where you put your cross; that being said, and I know that this may be controversial, but Brexit is not the most important issue for Christians (those who know me well will appreciate how difficult it was for me to write that…).
Let me explain why I say that: It is clear from the mainstream media, social media, conversation and experience, that in the past decade there has been a seismic shift in our society as a result of significant and often underreported changes in law, guidance and judgements from both our parliament, governments and judiciary. This shift that has radically diminished freedom of speech and expression, has led to more babies being killed in abortion, has normalised a huge number of behaviours that are contrary to scripture and are a danger to our society and raised up all manner of political organisations as the new ‘gods’ of our age. Alongside this our politicians discourse has become all too often sordid, ungracious and duplicitous.
But Christians can neither sit back and blame everyone else, nor absolve ourselves for our part, because, in fact, the part the Church in the UK has played in bringing about this sad shift in our society has not been insignificant. Sadly instead of being ‘salt and light’ in our country many Christians have found that they are afraid of ‘speaking the truth in love’ for fear of abuse, loss of employment or worse, and these fears are not irrational as you will discover if you speak with any who have done so…
So, you may be asking, what has this to do with the upcoming election? Simply this: Christian’s let’s take this opportunity to re-evaluate, reboot and remember what it means to live as resurrection people, we’re here to be Christ’s witnesses in this world, we are to live renewed lives because, by His Grace and Mercy, Christ is renewing us to live as Kingdom people. But what does a Kingdom person do in the midst of an election campaign?
I would suggest the following, and this is no perfect or definitive list:
- Pray for all your local candidates, and keep praying for them;
- Be gracious in any communication, show Jesus’ love by the way you speak or write;
- Don’t get party political, unless you are called to serve politically;
- Ask all the questions of the candidates that you can think of asking, particularly around their standing on:
- The breakdown of the traditional family unit – what are the candidates views on why this has happened and how would they support traditional marriage and family?
- The sanctity of life – abortion and euthanasia;
- Education – the teaching of relationships and sex across schools, the secularisation of the curriculum etc.
- Freedom of expression – the diminishing freedom to express biblical beliefs and views to which some people object, and also to speak of Jesus Christ and share the Gospel.
- The worldwide persecution of the church;
- Do they have a faith?
Also, check out the following organisations who have great ministries helping and supporting us be the Christ’s Church in this land:
The way that traditional values have been slowly eroded over past decades and are now increasingly and aggressively derided and forced out of our society cannot have escaped any Christian, and so it is more and more important that in following Christ’s reminder in Matthew 5:13-16 to be ‘Salt & Light’, that we ensure we’re equipped.
As a Church New Connexions does everything we can to help you with that equipping: in our preaching, teaching, studying together, prayer, fellowship and care for one another we seek The Lord’s leading and to be obedient to Him. We also ensure that current issues which require our attention are posted on our Twitter Page, but we are also thankful to the Lord for the many people and organisations who are involved in ministries sharing and caring for Christians in this land. In particular this post is indebted to Roger Kiska and the team at Christian Concern for providing the short video below. Please do watch it and also share it as widely as you possibly can.
This is one of many, many areas where our society is under attack (for others see our Twitter Page), please keep informed, keep lobbying and keep sharing. Also please keep praying, stay strong in the battle, and praise God for His goodness!
Every now and then, in this crazy society we live, I think we need reminding of this:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If you’re wondering what all the parties and policies are all about in the upcoming Election, here are some information sources and resources looking at the election from a Christian perspective:
- This is a really helpful briefing from the Christian Institute :Election Briefing
- Not sure which candidates are standing? check here: Who are my candidates?
- Want to know which questions to ask your candidates? Again the Christian Institute have provided a great resource Question cards
- Christian Concern have their Election Page here :Power of the Cross
- The three Christian sections of the three main parties have got together to promote Christians in politics no matter the colour they represent! Christians in politics
- The Evangelical Alliance has an Election Site: https://election.eauk.org
- Check how your MP has voted on moral issues: How has my MP voted?
- This is the UK Parliament Election Page which provides details on the nitty gritty of how it all works – If you’re a political nerd like me you might like it… UK Parliament – Election 2017
Reading: Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name.
This psalm is a great favorite for a lot of people and it sounds amazing doesn’t it? It’s such a beautiful picture of us as sheep being led by our Shepherd.
But God comparing us to sheep is hardly a compliment. Sorry to offend you if you’ve a high view of sheep, but sheep are generally very stupid. There are other animals that we might have preferred to be compared to, maybe a dolphin, a chimp or a dog? But the fact is God compared us to sheep.
Sheep are thick, they play a perpetual follow the leader and if one runs they all tend to follow, they can’t defend themselves, or even escape from any threat. Sheep are pretty much woolly jumpers and lamb chops waiting to happen, all that’s needed is a spinning wheel and some mint sauce. So then sheep need their shepherd. If the shepherd do his job properly… well then they are dead. God knows that we are like that too, and it would be good for us is we acknowledged it.
Those opening lines are good aren’t they, comforting and true, but equally true are the words that follow in verse 4: Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
We love the green pastures and the still waters, but we don’t like dark and difficult valleys. Though as is clear here, it’s not if the valleys come, but when. So let’s Thank God that the Shepherd who was with David is with us too.
Reflect: Am I staying close to my Shepherd, listening to His voice, accepting His guidance, and enjoying His protection?
Act: over the next week, use this Psalm as a lead into your prayer time, allowing The Lord space to speak and taking time to listen to His comfort, His words of correction and His perfect guidance.
Children’s Prayer Activity
Look in the mirror today and thank God for all the things He helps you with and give Him a smile 🙂 in the mirror as you thank Him for making you such a special person.
What next? Remember to talk and listen to God every day, as He loves to get to know you better. You could learn this short bible verse about prayer
Never stop praying.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
Reading: Mark 6: 6-12
Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. 7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9 He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.
10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”
12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.
Christians aren’t supposed to be ‘Lone Rangers’, we’re called to be joined together in a church family, witnessing together, living our lives, not independently but interdependently, sharing genuine love and care; in short we are called to disciple one another.
In our text today, Jesus sends His first ‘church group’ out and whilst there is material enough here for many sermons, let’s just consider the basic facts, that the disciples were:
- sent in pairs;
- sent by Jesus, and so they went in His authority;
- to take nothing;
- to walk away if the Gospel wasn’t welcomed;
- obedient – they preached the gospel, prayed and God healed and delivered people through them.
But how does this relate to you and me today? Again, in so many ways that we won’t have space to explore in depth here, but in essence I believe that this text is a incredible reminder that our tendency to live our lives in ‘little boxes’ is wrong. Christians are not called to specialise, yes some will be gifted in certain areas and we should use our gifts for the benefit of the whole church, for God’s glory, but…we are all called to be disciples, we are all called to disciple one another, we are all called to evangelise, we are all called to share what we have, we are all called to be praying people, we are all called to follow our Lord only, and to trust in Him only for our needs.
These disciples were called to live and love and serve together, in the big group of the church, in the smaller numbers as we read in the gospels at times, there a threes and fours, and here in pairs.
We need each other, I need you and you need me, and that can be uncomfortable at times, but the way of Christ is discipleship, not to lives life of lone rangers.
Reflect: Am I obediently following Jesus’ model for my life as an interdependent part of His church, am I letting others disciple me, and am I willing to give of myself to disciple others? Might I be too much of a lone ranger?
Act: take time today and over the coming weeks to take a stock take of things with God. Ensure that you are regularly praying with others within our church, meeting to study the Bible and share real fellowship with others within our church, and encourage and be encouraged, as you pray and work with others within our church to tell others that amazing Good News of Salvation.
Children’s Prayer Activity
Reading – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Those who know me will know that I have an eclectic taste in music from classical to punk, rock to soul, jazz to folk. And as I was thinking and praying through what to post this morning, I found myself thinking of the lyrics to a classic punk song (oh dear I can almost hear you groan…) they go like this:
“my daddy was a bankrobber
but he never hurt nobody
he just loved to live that way
and he loved to steal your money”
Now I’m not going to suggest that within this lyric there is some deep theological point, I don’t think Joe Strummer went in for much theology, but I do see parallels with the way some of us might think at stages in our Christian journey. You see there is such a danger of us living a life that is unchanged from the life we had before we were set free by Christ. Our text reminds us that a Christian is a new creation in Christ, and if we are new creations, we ought not to be using excuses from our old lives to stay in that rut that we were in before Christ redeemed us. Do you ever hear yourself saying, when you’ve acted in a less than Christian way, “well I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am”. The point is, for Christians that’s not true, we can’t say that, because our bad attitude is part of the way we were, not the way we are… we are new creations! Will we mess up, yes, but when we confess our sins Christ forgives us, restores us, and keeps on that miraculous work of recreating us in His image.
Reflect: today and everyday consider how profound a truth it is that: if you have accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, you are being recreated in His image.
Act: in your prayer time today: give thanks to Christ for that freedom won for us at immense cost to Him, and take time to consider with Him which part of that old person you’ll take apart together, so that He can further that great exciting, fulfilling work of recreation in you.
Children’s Prayer Activity
Praying for others and ourselves is an important part of our everyday prayers. It is great to talk to and listen to God.
Reading – Mark 10:21
…Jesus, looking at him, loved him…
Nothing is hidden to God—He sees everything; He is omniscient, which means, of course, that God sees even the sins we have successfully hidden from everyone else. How do you feel about that? It is a bit awkward to say the least isn’t it? Yes, we might think that, but really, we should be delighted, because our all-seeing God is also the one who loves us more than any other. Yes, He sees our sin and it hurts Him, so we need to come to Him, repentant and asking for forgiveness, but in seeing everything, He is pleased when He sees signs of obedience and responses to His love in us.
Today’s reading gives us a great picture of this in practice. As the rich young man reels off his long list of the good things he does, Jesus looks at him only the He can, He looks with amazing love. He tells the man that he is on the right track doing a good job, that spiritually, he’s getting there. Then his searching gaze rests on the one thing that is holding this man back: his love for all the things he has, and he has a lot… Jesus tells him a difficult truth, that only by giving away the thing he loves more than Jesus will he find true freedom.
It seems this rich young man sees the truth of Jesus’ diagnosis but gives the impression that he is unwilling to do anything about it. So he turns away sad.
Does he ever respond? That we do not know, but we do know that Jesus’ words hit the mark and so it’s possible that he after all became one of the first believers.
We can do nothing to make others respond to the truth, but when it comes to ourselves, we can do everything that is needed to respond to Jesus.
Reflect: As you spend a quiet time with Jesus in prayer today, thank Him that He looks on you with love.
Act: First Ask Jesus to show you all that is obedient and good in you. He knows how hard you try to follow His way; He hears, remembers and answers every prayer that you have ever prayed to Him. He feels everything that hurts in your body and your spirit. Now let him show you how precious you are to Him.
Next take another step. Ask Jesus put his finger on one thing you may love more than Him—one thing that may be holding you back. Perhaps its money or belongings like the rich young man. Perhaps you are trapped in a persistent sin, or perhaps you are holding a grudge that you are having a hard time letting go of. Ask Jesus, as He shows you these things, to take your hand, stay close and help you beat them in His power, in His strength; let go of them, take hold of Jesus and let Him, who loves you, encourage you and show you the way of healing and moving forward that He is providing for you.
Children’s Prayer Activity
Sometimes we need to say sorry in our prayer time –
Be quiet for a few moments today and think if you have made someone sad or angry.
Ask God to help you not to do it again.