Personal Growth Plan

sapling-154734_1280Usually, by now, I have completed my personal growth goals and plans for the upcoming year. With my preparations for my mission trip to Mexico and Christmas activities (among other things0), I’m a little behind. I started writing out an annual plan for personal growth many years ago as a teenager, though back then, it was not nearly as formal and detailed. When I was a kid, my family sat around the table sometime toward the end of the year and talked about our plans for the upcoming year. We shared our goals with one another and some of our plans for accomplishing those goals. I eventually began writing these goals down and getting a little more specific with my plans. This eventually developed into my annual plan for personal growth.

I came to the realization that while growing old is automatic, growing up is not. For example, instead of being thirty-five years old, a person could be one-year-old thirty-five times. As a matter of fact, I’ve met a number of fifty plus year old people who still needed a pacifier. I have to confess that I rarely accomplish all of my goals, but because I give it a great deal of thought and write out my annual plan, I’m a lot closer to accomplishing my goals than I would be otherwise. Writing out my goals for personal growth not only helps me to know what to do to grow in six areas of my life, but it also helps me to know what NOT to do. For example, there are so many books out there to read (over a million new books are written each year), but not all of them are worth reading. I have many people suggest books to me. Some of the suggested books are excellent, while others may have been meaningful to the person, but it wouldn’t apply to my life and ministry very well. Planning my reading, which is part of my growth plan, helps me to be more intentional with what books to read. It also helps me to be more balanced in my reading.

I plan growth for six areas in my life: spiritual, family, physical, financial, leadership, and ministry. These are broad categories, and I fit a number of unique areas of growth under the various categories. For example, I want to grow as a writer, so I put that particular area of my life under “ministry.” Remember that this is a plan for personal growth. Even though I typically include various goals under each category, the idea is to create a plan that will help me to personally grow in that area. I will typically go into greater detail on general goals for various areas in a different place. For example, I have an Evernote notebook on my computer where I create detail plans and goals for my ministry through my church, my writing goals and plans, and other details of my life. A plan for personal growth is about growth. The key is to HAVE a plan for personal growth.

Under each broad category, I usually make a general statement of what I want to accomplish in that area and then make a list of books I want to read, people I want to hang out with, conferences I want to attend, or groups I want to join so that I will have personal growth in that particular area. I add some additional goals that may not fit so neatly into one of those smaller categories.

 

How do you plan to grow in 2017? Have you given it some thought? I encourage you to spend some time before the end of 2016 working on your plan for personal growth. When you finish your plan, share it with a few people in your life. When 2017 comes to a close, you may find that you didn’t accomplish everything, but you will accomplish a lot more because you have a plan. Someone once said, “He who aims at nothing hits it every time.” What will you aim at in 2017? Do you want to share some of your 2017 growth goals below?

Singing Anyone? Part 2

microphone-1209816_1920In my last blog, I asked the question: “What if I don’t want to sing?” It’s a valid question. We’ve all faced times where we had no song, but the problem is that God commands us throughout the Scripture to sing. I mentioned two causes for not wanting to sing. If you didn’t read my last blog, you may want to stop and read it now.

Whether we don’t sing because we think we can’t or because a sad circumstance has stolen our song, the solution is simple: sing anyway. God only wants a joyful noise, and we’ll find that singing may be God’s prescription to pull us out of the doldrums. It is amazing that while worship is directed to God, we benefit significantly. As we sing to God, he heals our hearts.

Another reason we are to sing has to do with people around us. You may think you’re doing the people around you a favor by not singing. Actually, you’re not. Colossians 3:16 commands us to sing to one another because our singing has mutual benefit: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Have you ever considered the idea that the person sitting next to you in worship is benefiting from your singing? Imagine a man beside you in worship next Sunday who may be struggling with a matter or a problem. He desperately needs help from God, and then he hears you singing with gusto and conviction about the faithfulness of God. Your song encouraged him with truth from God’s Word. Before long, he begins to join in with you in giving praise to God. This is one way Colossians 3:16 can be lived out in our lives. Though worship is for God, our singing can certainly bless others with spiritual encouragement. 

We can also teach others through singing by intentionally singing about theological truths. I’ve taught children how to share the gospel by putting music to the “Roman Road to Salvation” scriptures. I learned about the Old Testament story of Israel’s great revival of 1 Samuel 7 because I sang the old hymn “Come Thou Fount.” I had to look up the “here I raise mine Ebenezer” part, and read a wonderful story about God working in the lives of his people. Singing can have great value in teaching us God’s Word.

What if I don’t want to sing? Sing anyway. It honors the Lord, and someone in your life needs to hear it. You will benefit greatly by lifting your spirit and by opening up your hearts to spiritual truths. Music is a wonderful gift from a loving God, so, tilt your head back and sing for the glory of God.

 

Singing Anyone?

bear-1124548_960_720What if I don’t want to sing? God commands us to sing in numerous passages, such as Psalm 95, 96, 100, & Colossians 3:16. While I am sharing a message series about worship with my church family, I have reminded all of us that God established singing in our DNA. While we are made to sing, and God has commanded us to sing, what if we don’t want to sing? Has that ever happened to you? Some people don’t want to sing because they believe they sound horrible. Others have lost their song due to personal struggles and disappointments.

Let’s first of all acknowledge that it’s not abnormal to lose our song, or never have one to start with. For those who believe they are doing humanity a favor by not singing, I think the solution to the problem is that they must change their thinking. Think back to watching your two-year old daughter dancing for you or your young son swinging a baseball bat and dribbling a ball five feet from the tee. You loved it and applauded your little ones. Our singing is not for us. On the most part, it’s not even for the people around us (though I’ll share some thoughts about that in my next blog). God made us to sing for Himself. If you don’t want to sing because you think you can’t, actually, you can. You may not sing well, but you can make a joyful noise. Give it a try. First and foremost, it will put a smile on the face of your Heavenly Father. Worship is about Him and not you.

We face other challenges that may steal the song from our hearts. We may be struggling with financial problems, health challenges, or relationship issues. Singing is an interesting thing. Not only can singing be the overflow of a joyful heart, but it can also be the cause of a joyful heart. Singing is therapeutic. Worshipping God with a song in our heart always takes us to a new place in our spirit. When we feel down about something, worshipping God always brings new perspective on our circumstances. Scientists have determined that singing releases endorphins in our body that bring about feelings of pleasure and joy. It also releases Oxytocin, which creates feelings of trust and bonding, helping us overcome struggles with depression and loneliness. God loves us so much. It’s no wonder He commands us to sing.

What if I don’t want to sing? Sing anyway. Singing and worshipping Almighty God is just the prescription you need to take you to a new place in your life. While worshipping God is about God first, it’s amazing how we ultimately benefit by putting God first. Christmas is a great time to make a shift in our song. Why not start today by finding a song in your heart. Maybe you could start with “Joy to the World.”

Thanksgiving

happy-thanksgiving-picturesAlthough the Pilgrims set aside a day of thanksgiving in 1621, Governor William Bradford, governor of the Pilgrim’s Plymouth Colony, formally declared a day of thanksgiving in 1623 with these words:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

On this day of Thanksgiving 393 years later, we all share similar sentiments. God has given us an abundant harvest of His provision, and He has protected us from the savage attacks of countries and terrorists who hate us. He has spared us from disease and granted us freedom to worship Him. We have much for which to give Him thanks.

I am thankful for a God who loves me with a love that can’t be measured, redeemed me with a price that can’t be earned, filled me with a peace that can’t be understood, and secured me with a hope that can’t be conquered. He’s given me the joy of my family, the community of my church, the mission field of His world, and a home that is eternal. I am a blessed man indeed. I have a wife who loves me, children who honor me, and a church who gives me the privilege to serve. I could die today a very contented man.

Today, on this Thanksgiving Day, I can only say with the great hymn writer: Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

What Now?

americaprayWhat now? It seems like an eternity ago, but it’s only been a week. Many of us stayed up all night on November 8 to await the outcome of the presidential election. I couldn’t go to sleep. I sat glued to my television until after 4:00 in the morning. I’ve gone on the record a few months ago by saying that I didn’t like either option for a president (that is Republican or Democratic candidates), but voters obviously narrowed it down to two possibilities, so I had to choose between the two. My vote for president this year had more to do with policies and positions rather than personalities.

I do not believe God can bless a nation who passes laws contrary to His Word. God cannot honor a people who dishonor His people. By this, I mean that I want a president who is not a part of the movement to persecute Christians and to withdraw from Israel. I want a president who will help insure my religious freedoms and not force Christians to stand against government policy because it is contrary to God’s policy. I want a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices who will abide by the Constitution and not try to rewrite it. I believe that life starts at conception, and I want justices who will protect life from its inception. I have other political priorities and opinions, but these issues are close to my heart. Will Donald Trump bring all of these things to pass? I hope so, and will pray to that end.

So, what must we do now? We must do the same thing that I hope we’ve been doing our entire life: pray for our nation and pray for our leaders. First Timothy 2:1-2 states, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” It is our responsibility to pray for our leaders. The Scripture indicates that the consequence of the persistent prayers of the faithful people of God is that we will be able to lead tranquil and quiet lives. While many of us prayed fervently before the election, we must double our efforts now after the election. President Elect Trump and all of Congress are counting on us. The people of the United States are depending on us. James 5:16 states, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

The United States of America is the greatest nation on the earth, but our greatness is not just for our benefit. God has made us great so we can bless the world. He gave us light so we can shine it throughout the darkened recesses of our globe. I urge you to join with me as we pray for our political leaders and for our spiritual leaders. I also urge you to join in with me in recommitting yourself to shining your light into the darkness. We have much work to do for God’s glory.

 

Healing for America as we Seek God’s Face

prayer22 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Today is the day. So much will be determined about our future by the casting of ballots, and a lot hangs in the balance. At the same time, God is not limited by what happens today. Regardless of who becomes our next president or representative or senator, God is still on His throne. His plan will not be thwarted and His purpose will not go unfulfilled. We can find great comfort today in knowing that God’s will is not dependent upon our opinions and actions.

Regardless of today’s outcome, America is in dire need of renewal. Our renewal, however, does not need only to come in the form of new initiatives, new laws, and new Supreme Court justices. We have a much deeper need than that. We need spiritual renewal and revival. God says that He will heal our land if His people will humble themselves and pray. He also calls us to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.

Seeking God’s face is a call to authenticity and transparency before a holy God Who already knows all things. Looking into the eyes of our Heavenly Father is an invitation for Him to look deep into our souls and see everything. Such divine scrutiny always leads to repentance in the lives of God’s children. We cannot maintain our heavenly gaze unless we’re willing to repent. We either seek God’s face and enjoy the refreshing grace of a merciful God, or we turn away and continue in our destructive patterns and rebellion.

Seeking God’s face also calls for a relationship. God never intended us to just obey Him. He also wants us to love Him. We can be rule followers and still be far from God. It’s like the strong-willed little boy who finally sat down after being told to do so by his mother one hundred times. He replied, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m still standing up on the inside.” God doesn’t just want outward conformity. He wants an inner relationship. God has many things He wants to do in your life, but He can only do them in the context of love.

Seeking God’s face also means gaining God’s approval. Imagine the nod of God’s eternal head as He watches the lives of His children. God says that he will bring healing to our land when His people live in such a way as to please the heart of our Heavenly Father. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the world and begin comparing ourselves to the wrong standard. My mother used to remind me that it didn’t matter what my friends did because they weren’t the standard. Our only standard is Jesus Christ and His Word. If you want God’s healing in our land, in your family, or in your life, seek God’s face by living in obedience to His will.

We want God to heal our land; therefore, it means that we must fall on our face in prayer and seek His face. We must humble ourselves and continue to pray as we repent of our sins and intercede for our land. If God’s people will do that, God will respond and heal our land. May we join our hearts together and plea for the soul of America.

Family Devotion by Amy Autry

Getting Started: Take a piece of paper. Have a member of the family rip the paper into smaller pieces. As a family work to put the paper back together. Like this piece of paper, it started out perfect. Our actions tore into tiny pieces. We can try to put it back together, but we cannot make it look like it did before. It is the same with sin. We cannot do it by ourselves. Only God can restore us after we have sinned.

Bible Time:

Read 1 John 1:5-10

When God created the world, he created us in His image and there was no sin. In verse 5, John tells his readers that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness.” We were created to have a perfect relationship with God where there was no sin. Sin is anything we think, say, or do that disobeys God. Soon after God created people, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.

Because of sin our relationship with God was broken. Verse 6 tells us that we cannot have fellowship with God if we continue to sin. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Sin separates us from God, but God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to take our punishment for disobeying God. God tells us that if we repent of our sin, our relationship with Him will be restored. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we ask God to be our Lord, it doesn’t mean that we will never mess up. God wants us to constantly confess, or repent of our sins and turn back to Him. Repent means that we are turning away from our sin and turning back to following God. God promises that when we repent, he will forgive our sins as if they never happened and our relationship with Him is restored.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is sin? (Anything we think, say or do that disobeys God)
  • Who has sinned? (Everyone)
  • What does God do when we confess our sin? (He forgives us and restores our relationship with Him.)

 

Spend some time praying and asking God to forgive any sin in your life. If your child is asking questions about salvation, spend time discussing what it means to follow Christ.

We’re Not “All That”

humbleThis election race has been grueling and has revealed flaws in America’s values. We have the two most unlikely and unliked candidates vying for the most powerful office in the world. Why is it that someone so unpopular with the American people will become our next president? Is it possible that the citizens of our great country no longer care about the things that matter? The last year has proven that lying and hypocrisy are no longer red flags as long as our favored candidate can put money in our pockets. It seems that character, or the lack of it, is no longer a factor in running for office.

This election process has not only revealed the flaws of our candidates, but it has also revealed the flaws of our people. We are a flawed people who sometime lack character. We also do not always act from a stellar moral center, and the arrogance of the candidates may be a reflection of the arrogance of the American people.

I shared a theme scripture with you yesterday that I plan to use today and again tomorrow. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This passage not only calls us to prayer, but it also presents three things we must do as we go before God. The first is that we must humble ourselves.

Pride is the one thing that will keep us from God. It is our arrogance that keeps us from repenting and crying out to God for help. God must be the sovereign of our hearts, but our pride causes us to remove God from the throne of our hearts and take that place ourselves. The prophet Isaiah (Isa 47:10) wrote inspired words 2700 years ago that sound as if he wrote them about America this morning: “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” We forget the words of Proverbs 18:12: “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”

We cannot experience repentance without humility. Through humility, we recognize our dependence upon God and our utter helplessness. Through humility we see that we are not “all that,” and we realize God’s sufficiency. The marvel of it all is that God, in His mercy and compassion, longs to meet the deepest needs in our lives. He is simply waiting for us to humble ourselves before Him and cry out to Him in prayer.

 

I’ve asked our Children’s Minister to write family devotions to go along with my blog each day.

Humble Yourselves Before God – Family Devotion by Amy Autry

Getting Started: Ask each member of the family to a draw picture of someone who is powerful. This may be a real person or a fictional character. What do they look like? What makes them powerful? How did they get their power?

Most of the time we think of powerful people as being the biggest, or strongest, or having the most accomplishments.

Bible Time:

Read 1 Kings 3:5-14

When Solomon became king, God appeared to him in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for anything? He could have asked to have the most money, or be the strongest person in the land. Instead, Solomon prayed that He would have a wise and understanding heart. Solomon was humble before God and understood that true power and wisdom only come from God. God was very pleased with Solomon’s request. In fact, God promised that if Solomon continued to obey His commandments he would have a long life.

Like Solomon, God wants us to be humble before Him. To humble ourselves before God means that we know that we are not perfect and we surrender to God’s wisdom and trust His purpose for our lives.

Read Psalm 25: 8-10

In verse 9, the bible tells us that God will teach the humble His way. God wants to teach us how to live and follow His plan for our lives. God promises that when we trust His ways and follow Him that he will show us exactly how to live.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What did Solomon ask God for? (A wise and understanding heart)
  2. What was God’s response to Solomon’s request? (God was pleased and gave Solomon more than he asked for)

How can we humble ourselves before God? (By trusting God and following Him)

If My People Will…Pray

pledge

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Solomon obeyed the Lord and built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of this great project, all of the people of Israel gathered to celebrate the completion of the temple and to dedicate it to the Lord. After the people left and Solomon was alone, the Lord appeared to him one night and told him that He heard Solomon’s prayer. The Lord then made an interesting statement, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…”

Why would God shut up the heavens so it didn’t rain or send a plague on His people? It sounds to me like he was pointing to the reality of judgment upon Israel. God knew that even though they had just dedicated the temple, His people would waver and fall away from Him. Israel’s history and humanity’s disposition shows that as sure as night follows day, sin follows obedience. Israel lived out a cyclical pattern of obedience, submission, and pleasing God followed by a period of sin, rebellion, and dishonoring God. In response to this reality of human weakness, God made two promises. The first one is stated above: He will bring judgment upon humanity. The second one is contained in the next verse (2 Chronicles 7:14): “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

This famous verse was part of a conversation God had with King Solomon in the middle of the night about Israel, but God included it in His Word for us. Israel is not the only people with a propensity to sin, and God’s promise still rings out true for us. If we will turn to God, God will heal our land.

Our nation is at a crossroad, and the people of God must fall on their faces before Almighty God and seek him as never before. The path we have taken for many years is a path leading us away from our Creator. The consequence of rebellion is judgment. If we do not repent and come back to God, His hand of protection will be lifted from our great country, and we will encounter His wrath.

We are in the final stages of electing a president for our nation. This election process has been shameful and embarrassing, but the differences between the candidates are stark. As Christians who have a voice in the electoral process and who are seeking the face of God, we must vote and we must ask God for mercy and healing as a nation. We should vote for the candidate who will best lead us to be a nation who honors the Lord. While economic prosperity is important and while military strength is essential, the Bible says that a nation is blessed “whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

This next president will be selecting at least one new Supreme Court justice and will have considerable influence upon the future direction of our land. In the past, we have passed laws that stand in direct contrast to the clear teaching of the Word of God. Our next president will be making choices about future laws. Will we continue to move down a path away from God or will we come back toward being a people who submit to God’s sovereign rule? If we move away from God, we can expect “the heavens to be shut up and locusts to devour the land.” God’s judgment will come in a variety of ways, but it will come.

I’m writing to call us to pray. We must seek God’s face and intercede for our nation. We must turn from our sin and turn to God. I’m asking you to join me in these final three days of the election process in prayer, crying out to God for help and mercy. If you can fast, I encourage you to fast. Will you set apart a significant amount of time during the next three days to cry out to our Creator for His help and intervention. If we as a people will pray and seek the face of God and turn from our sin, then we will hear from heaven, and God will heal our land.

Family Devotion

Getting Started: As a family, name ways that we can talk with someone who is not in the same room as us. When we talk with people, we can get to know who they are and what is important to them. It is the same with God. God wants us to talk to Him, so we can know him better. What are some ways we can talk to God?

Bible Time:

God loves it when we talk to Him. Another name for talking to God is prayer. When we pray, we are talking and listening to God. We can talk to God anywhere about anything.

Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Jeremiah 29:11-13

After the temple had been built, God appeared to Solomon. God told Solomon that there would be hard times ahead for the nation of Israel. He promised that if the people prayed and followed God, He would hear them and heal their land. In the book of Jeremiah, God again promised that he had a plan for Israel and promised to hear their prayers. Just like God had a plan for Israel, God also has a plan for each of us and listens to us when we pray. We can talk to Him about anything!

Discussion:

  1. How can we talk to God?
  2. What are some things we can talk to God about?

Family Activity:

Stock a basket with index cards, markers, and stickers. Have children decorate the cards and write a prayer request on each card for our country and leaders. Place the basket on the dinner table. Each night at dinner have a child choose a card and pray for that request. Remind the kids how God promises to hear our prayers.

Historical Crossroads

crossroadOur lives are filled with crossroads every day. We get up every morning and make decisions that affect a lot of things in our lives. For example, you may decide to take the scenic route to work and inadvertently avoid running over a nail that will give you a flat tire or a collision at the intersection down the road. Sometimes, the crossroads are even more significant. These types of crossroads have personal impact and may touch others as well, but sometimes, we face historical crossroads that impact nations and cultural destinies. We are at such a crossroad now!

Every presidential election is a historical crossroad, but this one has the greatest impact of any presidential election in the history of our nation. I say that because we have been on a road to destruction for quite some time. History shows us that once a nation gets to a certain point morally, economically, and philosophically, there is no return. We are standing on the edge of the cliff and leaning precariously over the edge. One more step will define and seal our demise.

The Word of God says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). It does not say “blessed is the nation who has a strong military” or “who is economically sound” or “who has a Republican/Democrat as president.” I believe in a strong military and sound economics are critical, but the key to a strong nation is one “whose God is the Lord.” I will go on record as saying I’m disappointed with BOTH of our presidential candidates. I still have an obligation put upon me by Almighty God to do my part to put a person in office who will do the best job of those on the ticket to lead us to be a nation whose God is the Lord.

For me personally, my choice is clear. I have strong opinions about the need for small government, decreasing national debt, strong military, and secure borders. I’m also extremely burdened about a nation who creates dependence and a culture of entitlement, but one thing seals the deal for me as to who gets my vote. I do not believe God will bless a nation who kills unborn babies. It is estimated that over 54 million babies have been killed since abortion was legalized in 1973. It is mind boggling to me that people in our nation have embraced the worst form of abortion that hell has conjured up: partial birth abortion. It is difficult to believe that some people in our country think it is okay to allow a child to be partially born and then kill the baby before he/she is free from the mother’s body. Heaven weeps at the atrocity.

Another belief distinguishes my position from some candidates running for office. I do not believe God can bless a nation who totally disregards His Word. While we are to never disregard people or personally pass judgment on an individual, God clearly defines sin in the Bible. How we may feel about a particular topic or even what we think about an issue makes no difference. Morality is not up for vote. God’s Word is clear. We have become a nation who embraces immorality and passes laws that stand in stark opposition to the clear teaching of Scripture. I cannot stand with a party that embraces sin as normal and passes laws requiring the rest of a nation to embrace sin along with them. Please hear me out. Any sin is an abomination, including hypocrisy, gluttony, prejudice, homosexuality, injustice to the poor, and on and on I could go. We do not need to stand for any law that requires our citizens to condone any sin.

My choice for president, senate, or the house has nothing to do with party, though we now live in a time where party affiliation often defines position. My choice has everything to do with position. I ask myself “What is this person’s position on moral issues about which the Word of God is clear?” I’m also concerned about other issues, but these positions give me clarity in the voter’s booth.

I encourage you to pray hard about this decision and then vote for the person you think will lead us to be a nation “whose God is the Lord.” If we do not return to God, we will fall off that precipice, and there is no return.

I’ve been informed about an event online that will be worth watching. It is a 2-hour program sponsored by My Faith Votes on Wednesday, November 2. You can stream it live by visiting https://www.myfaithvotes.org/faithincultureandpolitics/. It begins at 7:00 pm Eastern Time.

Let’s pray as never before and do our part to vote on November 8. May God help us, and may we become that nation that God can bless.

God’s Mercy

chainsofsinElevation Church Worship Band recorded a wonderful song about God’s mercy entitled Mercy Reigns. Here are a few of the lyrics:

My God is strong enough to raise me from the grave Your love is great enough to take away my shame Your mercy reigns My God is making new the wreckage of my heart Your hand is reaching down to pull me from the dark Your mercy reigns; Your mercy covers me Your grace sustains; Your grace is all I need

Mercy is an important theme in the Bible, and the word is used a number of times throughout Scripture. It’s difficult to get an accurate count of a particular English word in the Bible because the Bible was not written in English. You may find several different words in the original text that could be translated mercy or another word that is similar. For example, Lamentations 3:22-23 are some of my favorite verses about mercy: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Henry Morris mentioned in one of his articles that there are four Hebrew words and three Greek words associated with the word “mercy” and these words are used a total of 454 times in the Bible. Wow!

Often times, grace is used synonymously with mercy, but they’re two different concepts. Grace is often thought of as undeserved favor. I once heard someone say that grace is getting something we do not deserve. Mercy, however, is more connected to withholding judgment. If grace is getting what we do not deserve – forgiveness, mercy is not getting what we do deserve – condemnation. Here’s an interesting thought. God mentions mercy more than grace in the Bible. I don’t really think that means one concept is more important than another, but it does make us pause to think about the significance of God holding back the judgment we deserve. We deserve death and hell. It is only because He is a God who is willing to withhold condemnation that we have hope for eternity. God’s mercies indeed never come to an end.