Casting a Ballot for the Eternal Kingdom


Get out and vote—for the Eternal!This year, I have almost no idea what’s going on politically. I know one of the librarians at my local library is up for re-election to the school board. I know there’s some kind of anti-pornography state issue on the ballot. Beyond that, I’m not attuned to the scene.

I used to be a hardcore political junkie. Not anymore. I was already on the disillusioned side when I foolishly thought I could help a worthy candidate win, the only candidate in my nearly 45 years of life that I thought was 100 percent right for office. But as many times as I called his campaign headquarters, no one bothered to even send me a sign for my yard. Needless to say, my candidate got crushed. Demolished. Annihilated. Disintegrated down to the atomic level. He didn’t even leave behind a puff of smoke. Cursed be the fool who dares to speak his name in good company.

You know, that kind of loss.

I missed being able to cast my vote in the 1980 presidential election by a week. I’ve been casting them without fail since. But I don’t look forward to it like I used to.

I don’t talk about politics here at Cerulean Sanctum. Plenty of Christian blogs do. Despite the fact that Christians often love to mobilize on this political issue or that, I’ve learned a few things in my life that I wish weren’t true, but are:

  1. Christians love to get pumped up for politics, yet they’re nearly always disappointed with the ultimate outcome, even when they think they’ve initially won.
  2. You can fight, fight , fight against a perceived sin via politics, but even if the sin loses in the short term, it wins in the long term 90 percent of the time.
  3. It’s amazing how quickly a “Christian” candidate, who talks like Mr. Smith on his way to Washington, winds up compromised.
  4. On the most fundamental levels, today’s Republicans are yesterday’s Democrats, while today’s Democrats are yesterday’s Socialists. I don’t want to think what ten years from now will look like.
  5. It used to be about the power of ideas to shape the future. Now it’s just about money.
  6. When self-interest is all that drives candidates, then our political system no longer works. And it sure seems to me that self-interest is all that drives today’s politicians.
  7. It’s discouraging to think that the last great statesman this country produced may have been Henry Clay. Lincoln may be in that company, too. Still, that’s a long, dry spell with no hope of getting better if the current crop of midgets running for office is any indication.
  8. I wonder what the women who fought for the right to vote would say if they knew that every study done continues to show that women vote largely for the candidate deemed most physically attractive.
  9. It amazes me how congressmen talk about voting their conscience, yet nowadays every vote comes down to party line. Just where are they breeding these conscience clones with their polar-opposite magnetic drifts? And aren’t congressional representatives supposed to represent the will of their constituency rather than their own personal conscience?
  10. The devil’s bought a lot of souls through the political department store.

Politics used to be a big deal for me. Now it barely registers.

I guess, as I see it, the problem comes down to a kingdom issue. Which kingdom am I called to support with the time and skills God has given me? His Kingdom or some other kingdom?

It’s not about loyalty, either, but making the best use of the time we have. I can still be a good citizen of my country. I just don’t have to let my citizenship overwhelm me.

Evangelical Christians float adrift. Plenty of them are disillusioned with politics—and for good reason. It worries me, though, that they won’t drift back to what matters most to God, but will instead tie up to some other dock. Heck, even disillusionment is its own dock. Tie up to that one and any number of unfortunate outcomes may come to pass.

Politics isn’t the answer to our collective ennui in the United States. Getting back to the truths of God through His methods rather than politics is.

As conservative as I am, perhaps I’ve become more interested in conserving the granite-like truths of an eternal City on a Hill than the shadows and fog of an impermanent Capitol Hill.

That Saved a “Wreck” Like Me


My post last week on “Two Halves of the Whole Gospel” has generated some interesting conversations. I was originally intending to do a week of posts about my work, the reason this blog exists, and some tidbits about me. However, I feel the Lord tapping me on the shoulder about expanding the “Two Halves” post.

One of my concerns for the American Church is that we’re carving the Gospel up into disparate chunks, then loving our favorite chunk to the exclusion of the rest. I believe that terrible misunderstandings and errors grow like pernicious weeds because we do this. We end up missing the Lord’s best for us.

I want to begin my point here by having you all imagine a giant junkyard filled with one wrecked/junked vehicle after another for as far as the eye can see. Rusting heaps, useless, and destined for destruction.

One day, a master mechanic pulls into the junkyard behind the wheel of his rescue vehicle.Totaled for all eternity? He hauls some vehicles away to his garage, works on their engines, then fills them with his special fuel. A couple pumps of the accelerator and that once dead engine sputters to life.

In time, the master mechanic details each vehicle. Any portion of that vehicle that doesn’t work, he repairs. He removes all the rust, patches the holes, and primes, paints and buffs the results. The vehicles begin to look as they should. In fact, they begin to look a lot like the mechanic’s own rescue vehicle.

But the master mechanic is even more wise. He knows that each one of his vehicles exists for a reason. So he equips each with specialized parts that run off his unique fuel. To some, he gives wings to fly so they can journey to distant parts of the junkyard as his representatives. To others, he gives crane arms to lift other vehicles out of ditches should they run off the road. Each vehicle receives what it needs to serve. He makes each vehicle into exactly what he desires of it for his good purpose. Some are fast, some durable, some multi-functioned, some exceptionally good at a specific task, and many even help the master mechanic retrieve more wrecks from the junkyard. In the end, those once worthless vehicles become what the master mechanic intended for them to be in the first place. They fly, roll, and sail in tune because of the master mechanic, his rescue vehicle, and his special fuel.

Perhaps it’s too simple an illustration on some levels, but I believe that’s a decent explanation of the Gospel at work.

Sadly, too many of us live as if the Gospel stops once the master mechanic retrieves a few vehicles from the junkyard, tunes them up, and fills them with his fuel. If they do they little else than sit around the master mechanic’s lot, that’s fine.

But that’s a terrible error.

Those vehicles have a purpose and that purpose is as much a part of the Gospel as anything. If we fail to understand the truth that those vehicles have a destiny as tools for the use of the master craftsman, then we’ve missed Gospel truth. The equipping for service is part of the Gospel, too, for what was once useless now lives up to the reason for which it was made! That’s the Good News as much as not resting forever in a junkyard is.

What’s frightening is what happens when the vehicles on the master mechanic’s lot do nothing but hang around the lot all day. In time, the lot begins to resemble the junkyard: plenty of parked vehicles failing to do what they were created for. Eventually, those retrieved vehicles begin to sputter for they would rather hang out in the lot then go to the garage where the master mechanic can fuel and equip them for the purpose for which they exist.

It’s not enough to no longer be a wreck. If that’s what we think, then we don’t understand the whole Gospel.

Never Give Up


I don’t always write my posts and upload them in “real time.” Last week, for instance, “Welcome to Jerkville, Population Me” was written and posted a few days before it actually appeared. WordPress allows me to post in advance, and while I don’t always use that feature, if I find downtime in my schedule, I may write a post and have it load at a future date. (I’m doing that with this post, too.)

The “Jerkville” post had already been uploaded when I received a subject-less e-mail. At first I thought it was spam (always include a subject, folks), so I let it sit while I attended to other work.

When I eventually opened that e-mail, it contained a sad story of dire need by a stranger who was reaching out to me for help. Winston Churchill said it...Always skeptical, I verified the e-mailer’s story with some third-parties. Once verified, I called every resource I knew to find a way to help. I talked with many charitable organizations, dropped e-mails to large churches in the area of this person in need, spoke on the phone with probably two dozen people, but I still have not found help.

I remember reading a story on the Web about a woman who suffered a stroke (or some other vascular accident) while online, but was able to type out a request for help. A doctor, fortuitously online in this chat room, engaged her. He was able to call an EMT to her place. She lived because of that help.

About five years ago, I decided to join an online forum on a well-known Christian site. Within a few weeks, I got sucked into a vicious conversation about singleness and money. One poster on the forum was a single guy who didn’t make much money, but wanted to get married. Several commenters continued to beat this guy up about how no Christian woman in her right mind would want to marry a guy who barely made more than the minimum wage. I could not believe the nasty things said to this poor man by supposed brothers and sisters in Christ (though I sure can now). The guy tried to defend himself, and I came to his defense several times. His posts seemed to get more frantic with time, and his online assailants just would not ease up.

Eventually, after about a week or so of this, he left a cryptic message. A few hours later, he wrote in that forum that he was committing suicide.

I came to his posted confession later that evening. Horrified, I spent hours trying to contact the forum Webmaster and the company that ran the forum. Eventually, I got patched into a hotline and directed people to the post. The response? “Sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do.”

I have no idea if that man killed himself. (He never posted again, though his assailants did. But not once did they comment on what had happened in that forum.) All I know is that no one else seemed to care. He was just some quasi-anonymous soul. Just another person. There are six-point-something billion of us on the planet, give or take a few.

It’s the “give or take a few” people out there whom I grieve for.

In talking about the plight of my e-mailer with various charities and churches, you could hear the flatness coming through the handset speaker. Just another person in need. One more family looking for a handout. I spoke with a pastor of a church in that e-mailer’s area and he said, “You gotta understand. Everyone’s poor down here.”

I spoke with a few benevolence ministries housed in suburban megachurches in the region of that person in need. They all understood the need because they’d heard it a thousand times before. But they said they couldn’t help. You could almost see the heads hanging low on the other end of the phone.

The charities, too, had people answering the phone with voices marinated in weariness. “If we help in that way, sir, we’ll set a precedent and 1,500 people will be lined up here tomorrow asking for the same thing,” one broken charity coordinator said with a sigh.

My copy of Lloyd-Jones’s Spiritual Depression, Its Causes and Its Cure stared back at me from my bookshelf, and I felt so sorry for everyone involved: the person in need, the charities, the churches, and even myself. Those people who face that kind of bottomless need…well, I don’t know how they drag themselves into work everyday. Knock out one tough case and two spring up in its place, a perpetual hydra of people saying, “Can you help me? Please, you’re my last hope.”

Compassion fatigue.

I haven’t heard back from some of the resources I contacted. The optimist in me says I will, but the typical Dan suspects the worst. “The poor will always be with you,” the Lord said. I think that’s one of the saddest set of words spoken in the Bible.

Here’s some words with more hope:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
—Galatians 6:9-10

To the charity worker who lives every day knowing that the need is always greater than the resources, I say this: “Never give up.”

To the church minister who goes out every day into yet another home filled with more need than a dozen churches could manage, I say this: “Never give up.”

To other Christian bloggers out there who also receive needy e-mails, and who struggle immensely with that responsibility laid in their laps for no other reason than that they write Christ-filled words of light in a dark world, I say this: “Never give up.”

To you, if you’re a person in a crushing situation, a well of despair, that threatens to drown you and every person you hold dear, I say this: “Never give up.”

The great revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The only time you can really say that ‘Christ is all I need’ is when Christ is all you have.”

No matter who you are, no matter how tired, broken, or weary, no matter how empty your pantry, know this: when Christ is all you have, you have the greatest blessing of all.

If nothing else, take away another thought from Ravenhill: “We must do what we can do for God before He will give us the power to do what we can’t do.”

So please, please, please don’t ever give up.