April 2016 Posts

The Necessity of Hope

Do you ever feel like your life is a rat race where you’re getting further and further behind and out of control, and you don’t see any way of getting beyond the daily grind? Most of us live lives that are filled with activities, work and play. We can get into a rut of one full day after another, and that can affect us emotionally. We can get discouraged, frustrated, angry, despondent, and eventually feel like we are on the proverbial treadmill, with no hope of anything changing.

When we feel weighed down by life, without hope of anything changing, it eats away at our desire to keep going, and desperation can set in.

That’s why hope is such an important reality for all of our lives.

Jesus gave us hope when He died on the cross and paid the penalty of our sins. He gave us hope when He promised that He was going away, but would come again to take us to His home – forever.

But hope in other ways is important in our everyday lives as well.

When Judy and I were first married, we had three little boys in five years. Part of that time I was a full-time student, working a job and planting a church. The other part of those five years I was in a job that was taking 80-100 hours a week. Most of that time we had only one car. Poor Judy was overwhelmed with diapers, energetic little dudes and no hope. I was pretty dense and insensitive to all that for too long, but finally I realized what was going on. I rearranged some of our monthly expenses and signed Judy up for a little day spa where she could go and get some alone time, work out, sit in the sauna and hot tub, etc. It was something she could look forward to a couple of times a week, and it made such a difference in her heart, mind and countenance.

Hope can also come in the form of setting up a monthly time away to just catch your breath, gain perspective and do some planning for the next month. If you’re a parent, you can arrange to exchange childcare once a month with another parent who could use the same kind of time away.

If you’re married, with or without children, and you’re frustrated that your marriage is feeling stale, what you need is hope. Judy and I, in the midst of marriage and family and work, used to try to get away for a predetermined weekend once a quarter or at least twice yearly. We would put it on the calendar, and I would make arrangements so we always had a time together to look forward to.

On those weekends away we had sort of a routine. Friday night we would simply talk and evaluate the last few months, in our personal lives, our marriage, our family and our relationships in general. Saturday morning we would walk and talk about the next few months. What did we want to do differently in our personal lives, our marriage, with the kids and in other relationships? Then the rest of the weekend we would just unwind and have fun. When we left, we were always energized and ready to hit the challenges of the months ahead, knowing that we would have another time like this in just a few months because the date was already on the calendar.

Hope is a powerful need in each of our lives and relationships. What are things in your life that you have to look forward to? Things that give you hope? If you can’t think of anything, don’t give up. Ask a trusted friend for suggestions. You need hope.

Who Am I Going to Vote for to Be President?

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When considering all of human history, having the opportunity to vote is a rare privilege. Many of the world’s population today, and most of it historically, had no say in who would be their national leader. To vote at all is a special gift God has allowed us to take part in.

Understanding that, I am concerned when I hear people, many who I know and respect, say they are just not going to vote. This seems to be at best ignoring or at worst a thumbing of the nose at God’s blessing and gift to choose through a vote.

People often complain they don’t like or agree with any of the candidates. Welcome to a cursed and fallen world. Will there ever be candidates I “totally” agree with or trust? No. There is only one person I could totally agree with and trust: God. I could list GOD on my ballot as a write-in candidate, but I really don’t believe a majority of the country will write in GOD as their candidate of choice. Or anyone else we could write in for that matter.

Elections are just that: elections, not “statements.” Write-in candidate votes are usually statements, not votes. They are statements of wishful thinking, not related to reality. They are the equivalent of not voting at all – which is a vote. A vote for letting others choose the president for me.

I hear a great deal about people not liking the morals or language or character of candidates. I agree these are definite considerations. But how do I know the morals, language and character of any of the candidates off camera? I don’t. I would prefer to have a president who is above reproach in morals, language and character. I would prefer that their stance on every issue aligned with the Bible, that they would value what God values. But I also know God can use totally immoral and unethical leaders (such as Nebuchadnezzar and Nero) to accomplish His purposes.

I want to vote for a potential president who will do their part and work hard to perpetuate the freedoms of our country – so the gospel is freer to be communicated. And someone who will protect our security as a nation from those, both within and outside our country, who would seek to destroy our freedoms – so the gospel is freer to be communicated.

I plan to vote for a person who will make the best president of the United States. Not a teacher for my children. Not a pastor or elder in my church. To do so, I can’t live in a dream world that I wish were true, but in the world as it is: fallen and full of evil. According to the biblical text, I am a visitor, an alien and stranger in this world. It is not my home. But I happen to live in a country that gives me, along with every citizen, the privilege to vote for the leader of this country.

I plan to vote, and not stick my head in the sand. I plan to vote in a way that will make the most difference possible, and not ignore my God-given opportunity to make a small difference for the future spread of the gospel.