by Pastor Todd Render | January 27, 2013
As the final days before the 2012 general election wind to a close, I wrestle perhaps like many folks out there with how to turn my beliefs and convictions into meaningful actions. Many of the races seem like close calls, if the polls are any indicators. And several of my friends, through the weight of their consciences and priority, think it best to decide on a candidate based on a single issue. With the extreme outcomes at stake - a financial cliff triggered by spiraling debt, a stagnant job market in an economy still reeling from seismic level shifts and perhaps headed for worse, threats of international conflict from terrorists as well as from territorial concerns between key foreign powers, and the prospect of the law of the land being reinterpreted by yet-to-be named Supreme Court justices – the temptation to vote a party ticket or to choose based on a single issue is attractive. How is a person to decide?
Sometimes the story of one person’s transformed life serves both as a compass and as a measuring rod against which we may consider our own. I've just read a really good book about a truly great man, a politician who only after he was elected to office did he come to know Jesus in what was for him “the Great Change” of his life. The book is Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas (Harper Collins, New York: 2007), and the man is William Wilberforce. Being born into affluence and blissfully ignorant of many of the social ills of his day, it was personal ambition that led Wilberforce to British parliament at the age of twenty-one. God’s providence, however, had led him to a series of relationships with devout, evangelical followers of Christ, people who loved him in a way others didn't, but who also were devoted to Jesus and God in a way that was spurned by the “enlightened” leaders of his age. Seeing God of the Bible, and his own life in the light of that truth, created in him an unquenchable fire to address the evils his society, some of which were merely tolerated – such as rampant poverty, prostitution, alcoholism, illiteracy, animal cruelty – but also some of which were actively condoned and supported by his society – as in the slavery trade. (And all this happened against the backdrop of fighting a war with the American colonies and with the superpower of France.) Wilberforce would then spend the remainder of his life, to his deathbed, in fighting those evils in every forum available, public and private.
I hope you get to read about Wilberforce for yourselves, there are so many lessons one could take away. There are lessons about perseverance in the face of extreme opposition, about social responsibility, lessons about leadership and persuasion, lessons about a prolonged battle of making steps in the right direction, lessons about love, about tragic loss, and about living out one’s faith. But back to the original question about how to vote in this election, here is a simple lesson: find out the truth, reveal the truth to others, and vote your conscience. As followers of Jesus, we know that it was just as true for the hundreds of thousands of slaves freed by the tireless action of a group of individuals who, upon discovering the slaves’ situation and their country’s role in that, informed their fellow citizens and then voted time and again over twenty years of political battles in order to set that situation right. It is just as true today, for victims of abuse, of addiction, of human trafficking, for those in poverty, for those whose lives are threatened either by political tyrants or terrorists or by their own unwilling parents. The truth is that there is a God Who loves you, One Who ransomed heaven and sacrificed His own Son in order to bring you back into right relationship with Him and others, One Who promised a life of abundance and joy – if only we would live by that truth: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 NIV).
by Pastor Phil Arndt | October 12, 2011
In our Sunday morning EQUIP class, we are looking at "C&MA DNA", and the discussion for this week centered around Christ Our Sanctifier. There were some great takeaways from our time together, and I wanted to share them with you.
In the C&MA at large, and especially here at Westview, we believe that we are sanctified, that is, set apart, at the time of our acceptance of Christ's redeeming work on the cross for us. But we are set apart for a purpose, and every day, Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, wants to draw us closer to Him, and closer to how that purpose works it way out in our lives.
We believe that at the moment of salvation, we are sanctified, set apart, positionally, that it, if for some reason, immediately after we became Christ followers, we were to die, we would be sealed by the Holy Spirit - nothing can take that away. But we also believe that we are being sanctified progressively, which means that every day we empty ourselves of our wants, our desires and our will, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us completely. Each day we become more like Him, until the day we stand face to face with Him!
There are four things that are needed to experience sanctification:
ASK - John 15 says that if we abide in Him, and His words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be given. Now that verse has been corrupted by those wanting to say that God wants you to be rich, happy and successful, and they are really missing the greater point of this verse. The conditional idea of "If you abide (remain) in me, and my words remain in you" speaks of relationship - we and Christ! If we have that close abiding relationship with Christ, where His words are in our hearts and on our lips, then we understand and are obedient to His will. Because of this, the things we ask Him for will be the things that are on His heart already, so that His Kingdom will come here on earth, as it is in Heaven.
THIRST - As we abide in Him, we realize that nothing else will satisfy our thirst for Him than Jesus alone. Yet we continue to thirst for Him, because it is the only thing that brings real joy and sets us in the right "heartset" for serving Him. When we hunger and thirst after Him, we are less apt to hunger and lust after things of the flesh. It's good to thirst after the water of life that satisfies!
SURRENDER - When we surrender our lives to Him, our entire lives, then He is able to fill us to the very rim! But quite often we want to hold back a portion of our lives, so that we can have an area we can control. Surrender means to give up control, and that is what Christ desires in our lives - complete control. Not to be a tyrant or a dictator, but because He knows what is best for us. Don't hold anything back - give Him your all!
ABIDE - Take time to read John 15:1-18. Christ, as the great Vinedresser, has taken the effort to graft us into His vine, and has promised that that union would bring forth much fruit - fruit unto righteousness. What He asks of us is to remain in Him - to stick close to Him, so that He can care for us, teach us, direct us and show us His love for us again and again. There are so many blessings in the act of obediently abiding in Him, and we are only getting a taste of it here on earth. I look forward to eternally abiding in His presence.
If you haven't already, join us for EQUIP - Sunday mornings at 9:00. Next week (10/16) we will look at "Christ our Healer".