Politics & Religion

Aliens and StrangersAs requested, here are some of the quotes I shared this morning in my message on how Christians are to interact with our government officials.

First the humorous quotes—

“Government is like a baby: …a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” —Ronald Reagan

“If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics.” —Will Rogers

“The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly,’ meaning ‘many,’ and the word ‘ticks,’ meaning ‘blood sucking parasites.’” —Larry Hardiman

Then a sadly serious one—

“Politics have no relation to morals.” —Nicolo Machiavelli

And finally, the very thoughtful quotes—

“Church and state are supposed to work together. The Church…does not set up the voting booths, but it motivates and it equips people to go into them and make a difference. The Church does not write the laws, but bears witness to the truth of God to which those laws must correspond. Politics is not our salvation; Jesus Christ is. But fidelity to Him includes doing our part as faithful citizens, and to exercise our rights as citizens appropriately, we have to understand the relationship between the Church and the state, and how both of these entities are responsible for protecting and safeguarding….” —Father Frank Pavone

“I close with three words of pastoral advice—

“First, to Assemblies of God ministers: Politics reflects culture, and culture reflects religion. If you are concerned with the political drift of American culture, preach the gospel! As it sends out roots in the lives of believers, the seeds of the Gospel will change hearts and minds.

“Second, to Assemblies of God adherents: You are privileged citizens of a blessed nation. Use your citizenship well! Seek the common good. Advocate for the last, the lost, and the least. Speak the truth in love. And vote for candidates and issues that reflect a biblical perspective. The difference in so many conflicts in American politics and culture turns on who turns out to vote.

“Third, to all Christians: If you are troubled with the Supreme Court’s [Obergefell] decision, keep perspective! In this and every other matter, always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

“Let us all pray for a great spiritual awakening in our country!” —George O. Wood

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking a six-digit salary must be accompanied by a six-digit lifestyle. God has made us to be conduits of His grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. Copper can carry unbelievable riches to others.” —John Piper

“I would prefer to combat the ‘I’m special’ feeling not by the thought ‘I’m no more special than anyone else’ but by the feeling ‘Everyone is as special as me.’ In one way there is no difference, I grant, for both remove the speciality. But there is a difference in another way. The first might lead you to think, ‘I’m only one of the crowd like anyone else.’ But the second leads to the truth that there isn’t any crowd. No one is like anyone else. All are ‘members’ (organs) in the Body of Christ. All different and all necessary to the whole and to one another: each loved by God individually, as if it were the only creature in existence. Otherwise you might get the idea that God is like the government which can only deal with the people in the mass.” —C.S. Lewis

“Life will always bring challenges. But God will always give strength to face them.” Read more encouraging words from Max Lucado’s post Here’s What You Need To Know.

Seth Godin started writing about too much salt, but he took it somewhere I wasn’t expecting. Wow!

Ryan Shelton talks about the benefit of gathering together with other people at church: Godward Together On Sunday Morning. By the way, if you are looking for a “Godward together” church in West Michigan, I ♥ Calvary Assembly of God!

Glad to see my home state is trying to ban the gruesome practice of abortion by dismemberment.

[VIDEO] Ken Davis knows something cool (and unique) about Michiganders—

5 Ways To Live As A Free Servant

Peculiar not popularWe Americans love our freedom! But “freedom” is often misused and even abused—

  • We have sexual freedom … but not the “freedom” to say no.
  • We have freedom of expression … unless it’s “offensive” to me.
  • We have freedom of speech … unless I think it’s “hate speech.”

Freedom usually means: I am free to do what I want when I want to do it, but you are free to only do what I agree to. In other words, “freedom” has become subjective and selfish. For Christians, citizens of Heaven who are passing through Earth, the Bible calls us to use our freedom in a different way.

[1] Make sure your freedom is based in reverence for God (1 Peter 1:17). God is the One who will judge our actions. The Amplified Bible adds, “conduct yourselves in reverent fear of Him and with profound respect for God.”

[2] Live good lives, shown by your good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). The word good here means beautiful, useful, beneficial. In other words, the emphasis is more on action than on talk. George MacDonald wrote, “The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.”

[3] Do good to silence foolish talk (1 Peter 2:15). Notice the contrast between doing (the citizens of Heaven) and merely talking (the citizens of Earth). Good doing always trumps good talking.

[4] Live as free servants (1 Peter 2:16). That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A free servant?! But this is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7. It’s also how Jesus lived. In fact, the only time Jesus said, “I have set you an example” is when He was being the lowest of servants.

[5] Never forget the Cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; 4:1-6). Because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we die to sins and live for righteousness. Because of the Cross, we are to live differently from Earthlings.

When we live in this peculiar way, it gets noticed:

Simple question: If you are a Christian, are you living the way Peter instructs you to live?

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. If you cannot be with us in person, tune-in to our Periscope broadcast (search for @craigtowens).

Christians As Priests

Priesthood of ChristiansThere are some extraordinary pictures in the Old Testament that take on new life when viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ. One picture is how God chose the Jewish people out of all the people on earth, how He then chose the tribe of Levi to serve as His priests, and then how He chose Aaron from the Levites to be the high priest.

The Jewish people, the Levites, and then Aaron became God’s special possession because He chose them; it’s not that He chose them because they were special. God did this to give us a picture of what He wants to do with all of us.

Although the Levites were chosen as priests, God tells all of Israel—

You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. That the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

When the Apostle Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians, he uses the same type of language. He calls all Christians:

Christians are ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ that are to carry out their priestly roles while on Earth. 

Peter also talks about where Christian priests are to minister. In the Old Testament, the priests had a set location where ministry was done. But Peter says we are living stones built on the Living Stone (2:4). That means that the place of worship today is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.

Christian priesthood is mobile, adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the the needs of the people.

If you are a Christian, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

We will be continuing our series about how citizens of Heaven should live on Earth (a series we’ve called Aliens and Strangers) this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us. If you cannot visit us in person, you can watch our Periscope broadcast (just search for user @craigtowens).

A Perspective On Problems

False ideas on problemsWe were blessed to have a special guest speaker yesterday morning: Jeff Hlavin. Wow, what a great word he shared with us! He continued in our series called Aliens and Strangers, on how Christians are to live in this world as citizens of Heaven. Below are a few notes I jotted down.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

Using this verse as his introduction, Pastor Jeff shared four false ideas about problems:

  1. Problems are bad and are an interruption to our lives.
  2. All problems can be avoided by hard work, careful planning and clear thinking.
  3. Good Christians don’t have problems.
  4. My problems are a result of sin or are a sign of a lack of faith/maturity.

Instead I should see from a biblical perspective that…

“The Holy Spirit is the greatest Change Agent in a Christian’s life. I can only resolve this tension by obedience. … The devil tries to invoke turmoil in my life, but I can overcome this turmoil by submitting to God (James 4:7).” —Jeff Hlavin

“Trials develop spiritual/emotional/mental muscles that we need to have to soar into the place God has for us.” —Jeff Hlavin

If you would like to download a copy of the outline Pastor Jeff handed out to us, click here → Perspective on Problems Outline ←

We will be continuing in our Aliens and Strangers series this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us. If you cannot attend in person, check out our broadcast on Periscope by searching for @craigtowens.

One Word

RedemptionWhen it comes right down to it, there is really just one word that makes Christians peculiar. Just one word changes our citizenship from Earth to Heaven. One word took us from a path where our sins had us headed toward an eternity in Hell.

Jesus stepped in where He didn’t have to go. Jesus became our sin to pay-off our sin debt. Jesus took us back from satan’s possession, and made us a part of His Father’s family.

Jesus redeemed us! 

I wonder if we truly understand that word redemption?

Peter is speaking to us as “strangers here in reverent fear” on Earth, and he calls us to live up to God’s call—Be holy, because I am holy (1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44-45). He asks us to obediently follow God’s Word (1:22), to get rid of Earth-bound things (2:1), and instead taste that the Lord is good (2:3).

Why? Because we’ve been “redeemed from the empty way of life…by the precious blood of Christ” (1:18-19) We don’t live holy lives to try to earn redemption, but because we have been redeemed we are now capable of living holy lives!

To help illustrate his point, Peter quotes a couple of verses from Isaiah 40. In this chapter, we are invited to weigh the greatness and love and knowledge and power of God against the things we can provide for ourselves on Earth. Please check out the video below, where I go through this 40th chapter of Isaiah.

If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please join us this Sunday at 10:30am for our special guest speaker Jeff Hlavin. Pastor Hlavin will be continuing in our series on Aliens and Strangers. If you cannot join us live, tune-in to the Periscope broadcast (search @craigtowens on Periscope).

A Whole New Revelation

The Word and the SpiritHow would you like to have better insight than prophets like David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel or Daniel? How would you like to have a greater revelation of who Jesus is than even in the angels in Heaven? You can!

Peter tells us aliens and strangers how we should live on Earth as citizens of Heaven (1 Peter 1:13-16):

  • Our minds prepared for action
  • Self-controlled (another translation says sober)
  • Fully hopeful of God’s promises
  • Obedient children
  • Not conformed to the world’s standards
  • As holy as God is

If that sounds like a challenging list, it’s because it is a challenging list! But notice an important word that starts verse 13: Therefore. This tells us we must look at what came before the therefore to know how to respond to what comes after the therefore.

In the verses preceding (vv. 10-12) we read about Old Testament prophets and New Testament preachers. But notice the similarities between these two—They both spoke about grace and salvation, and they both spoke with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Word of God was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it is the same Holy Spirit that wants to give you a full revelation of what is in the Word.

The prophets searched carefully, but they never got to see Jesus come to Earth and fulfill the prophesies. The angels in Heaven have seen the story played out, but they don’t know what it is to have received a complete pardon for their sins that would have damned their souls to Hell.

That’s why Spirit-filled Christians who regularly study the Word of God have better insight than the prophets, and greater revelation than the angels!

What about you?

  1. Have you invited Jesus into your heart?
  2. If you have, are you regularly reading your Bible?
  3. If you are, have you allowed God to baptize you in His Holy Spirit?

This combination not only makes you peculiar to Earthlings, it makes you peculiar to prophets and angels too!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area and don’t have a home church, please join us at 10:30am Sunday morning. If you cannot join us in person, you can tune-in to our live broadcast on Periscope (search for @craigtowens).

To view the slides from this message, click here.


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