Sounding Off

Vote-Your-Conscience

How to Vote Your Conscience as a Christian Without Feeling Guilty

Dear Friends,

Many years ago when I first responded to God’s call to ministry I was taught a valuable lesson in humility. I had interviewed at a small church with the intention of attending seminary while actively pastoring a church. 

The interview process in my denomination involved meeting with a pastoral search committee. The committee members would then vote on whether to invite a candidate to deliver a sermon at a ‘neutral’ church in which only the search committee members would attend.

At the time, a ‘neutral’ church sounded to me like a place where two opposing armies meet to discuss surrender terms without getting shot. Frightening. If the search committee decided you were worthy enough, you would be invited to meet the congregation at the home church and preach, after which the congregation would vote on whether to call you as their pastor.

After preaching at the neutral church, the committee huddled in the parking lot while I stood by my car out of ear shot. When the huddle broke, the chairman of the committee approached me and said something to the effect of, “that was the worst sermon we have heard in a long time but since we are short on candidates we want you preach for the church anyway and let them decide with a vote.”

Needless to say, I was a little crushed and somewhat miffed, yet I had the sense that God was sending me to that church for a reason so I agreed. About two thirds of the membership voted for and one third voted against. I accepted the call with trepidation with the idea of winning the naysayers over by working hard for them.

It truly was an uphill battle. I loved the folks in that church with God’s love yet there seemed to be little progress with the naysayers regardless of how hard I worked. The folks who voted against were far more vocal that the ones who voted for so it was a thankless and discouraging job at times.

Eventually, I met with the naysayer group and asked them how I could improve my performance and gain their respect. I pointed out that the church was growing with many new believers being baptized. Also, the church was rapidly becoming the fastest growing small church in the state. Plus, the finances had improved dramatically so that we were no longer in danger of having the utilities switched off.

It turned out that they were still attached to a former pastor who wore nice shirts and ties and preached hell fire and brimstone to them which was not my style.

Somehow, with all that hell fire and brimstone, they had missed the entire point of the Gospel of grace and love for those outside the church, as well as their own pastor. They professed to love God yet they were willing to destroy what God was trying to do simply because they didn’t like him or his choice in clothing.

Today, some in the church seem confused with this same type of hypocrisy concerning politics. In order to vote our consciences we first need to examine our core values and determine what we truly believe. Do our beliefs square with God’s Word? For example, let’s say that you detest abortion and you sacrifice your time and talents for the unborn and to help unwed mothers so that they might not abort their children before they have a chance to breathe outside the womb. Yet, because you simply don’t like the person in charge, whose actions demonstrate similar beliefs to yours, you would cast your vote for someone who unashamedly stands for taxpayer funded abortion on demand.

I would hope that as a Christian you would feel guilty about that. I would hope that you would overcome your dislike for a human being who has many flaws yet stands for what you profess to believe in. Even if that person’s motives are not pure, isn’t it a person’s deeds that matter most?

The Apostle Paul when asked about people who preach from wrong and flawed motives said to the church in Philippi, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice…” Phil 1:18.

So friends, I appeal to you as a fellow child of God to look at the larger picture and examine your motives, then vote with your conscience without feeling guilty.

God bless!

Pastor Charles

Are children punished for the sins of their fathers? Exodus 20:4-6

ASK THE PASTOR

 

Dear Pastor Charles:

The question I have is about the second of the 10 Commandments where it says that God will “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation”. Does this mean that our children are to be punished for our sins as parents? Thank you for your answer.  Just Wondering.

 

Dear Just Wondering:  Continue reading Are children punished for the sins of their fathers? Exodus 20:4-6

WHY DOESN’T GOD ANSWER MY PRAYERS? JOHN 14:13-14

ASK THE PASTOR

 

Dear Pastor Charles:

Jesus said in John 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  Some time ago my mother became seriously ill. I prayed and prayed for her in the name of Jesus, but she died. Why didn’t God honor His Word and do what I asked him to do?

Serious Doubter.

Continue reading WHY DOESN’T GOD ANSWER MY PRAYERS? JOHN 14:13-14

Does Jesus Really Expect Us to Give Up Our Family to Follow Him?

Dear Pastor Charles:

I have a question that troubles me concerning the passage in Luke 9:61-62, “Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  Is Jesus saying that if we don’t put Him before our families that we are not saved and that we will not go to heaven? Thank you for your response. Confused.

 

Dear Confused:  Continue reading Does Jesus Really Expect Us to Give Up Our Family to Follow Him?

Will we really be raised from the dead? Response to a doubter…

ASK THE PASTOR

Dear Pastor Charles: 

Doesn’t the Bible say that when we die, our spirits go back to God? If that is true, then why are we Christians asked to believe that our bodies are going to be raised from the dead? Isn’t that just a pipe dream for those who are afraid to die and also for the comfort of those who survive their loved ones?

Thanks.

Just Doubting.

Dear Just Doubting:

If we are not going to be raised from the dead, then we are all in serious trouble Continue reading Will we really be raised from the dead? Response to a doubter…

Who created God?

ASK THE PASTOR

 

Dear Pastor Charles: 

I have a question that concerns me deeply. Whenever I ask my Christian friends this question they always seem to avoid giving me a straight answer. If God created the universe and everything in it, who created God? Doesn’t it make more sense that the universe always existed and everything evolved over millions of years? I would like to believe that there is a God but the evidence just doesn’t seem to add up. Please try to give me an answer.

Sincerely Skeptical.

Dear Sincerely Skeptical: 

I will attempt to answer your question, but may I ask you one first? How did the matter that makes up the universe come in to being? Did it create itself? For me, to believe that matter created itself takes a lot more faith than to believe that the hand of God created the universe. Regardless of how far back you trace the universal beginnings, the question is always before us; how did the first atom come into being? Continue reading Who created God?

Can we really understand the Book of Revelation?

Dear Pastor Charles: 

Some knowledgeable friends of mine and I were discussing the Bible. They say that the Book of Revelation cannot be understood because it is written primarily in symbols that have been lost to us today. They also say that it does not apply to us in modern times. What do you think? Just Wondering.


Dear Just Wondering:

I think you are wise in getting another opinion. Just look at the first two verses of the Book of Revelation and you will be able to discern the importance of the book; Continue reading Can we really understand the Book of Revelation?

Isn’t Saturday supposed to be the Sabbath? So why do we worship on Sunday?

Dear Pastor Charles:

    I have a question I would like you to answer. The Ten Commandments tell us that the Sabbath day is to be kept holy. Since the Sabbath is the seventh day, or Saturday, why do Christians meet on Sunday instead of Saturday? Aren’t they breaking the Law of God by ignoring this commandment? Truth Seeker.

Dear Truth Seeker:

    Thank you for your question. The answer is no, they are not breaking the Law of God by meeting on Sunday instead of Saturday. Continue reading Isn’t Saturday supposed to be the Sabbath? So why do we worship on Sunday?

Contend for the faith but don’t be contentious…

Dear Pastor Charles: I was reading my Bible in the Book of Jude and a word seemed to stick in my mind that has caused me to doubt some of the things my particular denomination stands for. The word is ‘contend’ and is found in Jude 1:3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” My question is this: If we are to “contend for the faith” how can a denomination align itself with other religions who deny that Jesus is the Christ? Thanks for your opinion. Wondering.

Dear Wondering:

Thank you for your question and I congratulate you for reading your Bible for yourself. It is not wise to automatically trust everything that you hear from the pulpit or read in the party lines of a denomination. I always encouraged my congregation to check what I said from the pulpit with their Bibles and to contend for the truth if what I said did not agree with the Word of God. When you read your Bible for yourself, God is in a position to directly communicate with you without the filters of denominational and personal viewpoints.

I don’t know if you realize how important your question is but there have always been many differing points of view about who God is and how Scripture should be interpreted and followed. That is why Jude wrote this passage. Today, there is a great ecumenical movement underway to reconcile, or at least offer acceptance, for differing ideologies concerning matters of faith. One can hear this ideology expressed frequently by people of other faiths who will try to explain away foundational differences with statements like this; “After all, we are all trying to get to the same place.” or “There is only one God, we just worship Him differently.”

May I kindly say to you that each and every person on the face of the earth has a perfect right to decide for themselves concerning matters of faith. However, we who believe the Scriptures to be God’s Holy, inspired and infallible Word cannot simply ignore these differences. While we must respect other viewpoints, the Bible teaches that there is only one way to God and that way is through His Son, Jesus Christ. There can be no compromise on this point. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Jude wrote his epistle to expose a problem then that is still present in the churches of today. Let’s take a look at the whole passage in order to better understand his meaning. Jude 1:3-4, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” As you can see, Jude was exhorting us; Jude 1:1, “…those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:”

He is saying that false teaching had entered the church concerning the grace of God and that they were to “contend for the faith.” The word ‘contend’ implies first that we have something worth fighting for, and that second, these battles will occur inside the church.

Bible believing Christians cannot afford the luxury of allowing false teaching concerning Jesus Christ to enter the church just for the sake of unity because that will allow our spiritual enemy, Satan, to have a stronghold in the very sanctuary where God is being sought. Perhaps, in God’s wisdom, that is precisely why He has allowed for the many different denominations that we have today. If one denomination is corrupted by false doctrine and false teaching, it will not as easily spread throughout all of Christendom.

So, it is so important for each Christian, and for each church that is aligned with a denomination, to closely monitor and participate in the greater decision making process. When we find that the grace of God is being “turned into a license for immorality” by our churches or our denominations, it is time to “contend for the faith.”

Always remember these words from Jesus in John 8:31-32, “…Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth is the most valuable possession that a child of God can own and it is worth contending for.

May God richly bless you as you continue to search the Scriptures which are “able to make you wise.”

Pastor Charles…

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Gal 5:1