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Archive for November 10th, 2012

Before the election, I suggested that we “Vote: Then Stay Calm and Carry On.”

Well, the people have voted.  We cannot blame the president for what will or will not happen.  His ideology and hope for America were made clear through his unapologetic support of abortion, partnership with Planned Parenthood, promotion of sodomy, new definition of marriage, and health care mandate that forces Christians to choose God or Caesar.   The people, whether church-goers or not, determined the kind of leadership this country will have for another four years.

For the believer, nothing has really changed.  The day before the election is the same as the day after.  In all circumstances, we are to stay calm and carry on.

But, how can we do this?  How can we carry on the work of Christ in a nation that puts its trust not in God but in government?  In a culture that lifts the “right” to uninhibited sexuality and abortion above the right of conscience and faith?  In congregations that compromise God’s Word for the sake of church growth?

We stay calm and carry on.

There is a passage from Scripture that many of us like to offer as encouragement to friends or family.  It reads: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Left to itself, this passage assures us that all will be well.  All will turn out for good.  But, Steve Elliott of Grassfire.com and my own Pastor Beisel remind me how crucial it is to read all of God’s Word in the context of when and why it was written.

The “future and a hope” passage is from a letter that Jeremiah wrote to the surviving elders, priests, prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.  Please take note that the Lord God “sent” His people into exile.  It didn’t happen by accident.  It wasn’t because Nebuchadnezzar outwitted God or was more progressive.

What were exiled and captive people of God to do?  They were to be faithful.  They were to “build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:5-7).

They were also to heed God’s warning.  “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in My name;  I did not send them, declares the Lord” (vv. 8-9).

Then the Lord continued, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (vv. 10-11).

It is for this reason that I started Titus 2 for Life years ago.  After hearing the cries of so many Christian women deceived by the world’s focus on sexuality and “my right;” after hearing their cries after choices of promiscuity and abortion, I was motivated to encourage believers using God’s Word of Genesis together with the mentoring model of Titus 2.  Young pastor Titus was concerned for his congregation.  They were pressed on all sides by a culture that craved new ways and personal fulfillment.  What could Titus do for the few believers so that they would be equipped to raise up Christian families and, at the same time, push back against evil?  St. Paul offered Titus a model for mentoring that has always proved effective for any generation – in or out of exile.

So, on a quiet evening, please read Jeremiah 27-33.  Read the whole story.  Then, read Titus 2:2-15.

But, don’t stop there.  It has become very important for me to remember what happened when God’s people came out of exile.  In the Book of Ezra, we learn that only a few of the Jewish exiles wanted to return to Jerusalem and their homeland.  Most were unwilling to give up their Babylonian property or lifestyle to which they had become accustomed.  They didn’t want to return to “old ways.”  So, with only a few faithful ones returning to rebuild Jerusalem, the work was hard.  Some people in the area offered their help.  Those people didn’t worship Yahweh but held to a blend of mixed religious beliefs.  Suffice it to say that they had their own motives for wanting to help.  God told His people to refuse the help of unbelieving neighbors in the land.  Why?  Because accepting help from non-believers would obligate God’s people to pagan ways.  The potential for corruption in worship was too great if God’s people became aligned with non-believers (Ezra 4:3).

I pray for courage and opportunity to use the model given me for mentoring.  Even if it means being strange or unpopular, I pray for help in persevering for God’s glory rather than my own.  At Titus 2 Retreats, I often tell women that I feel exiled in my own country even though never forced from my home.  Perhaps, that’s how it will be for the rest of my life on this earth.  After all, I am but a stranger here on a journey to my heavenly home.  I’m not sure I ever felt “different” in my youth, but I do now.

Identity is everything.  God doesn’t call me to fit in with the world or grow comfortable with my desires.  He calls me to be holy as He is holy.  And when I am not, He reminds me of all He did for me in Christ Jesus.  In exile or not, I am His.  Redeemed to holiness, I can fear less.  Serve more.

In exile or not, I can trust my identity.  Resist deception.  Mentor away from evil.  Seek what is good.  Plant the seed and till the soil.  Raise the standard.  Be fed with Word and Sacrament.  Not be ashamed.  Run my race.  Encourage family.  Stay calm.  Carry on.

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