- Dr. Joel Hunter
In the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia where there is rampant mistrust due to election fraud a voter’s index finger is smeared with blue ink. You may be asking, why? Because of what is known as “flying voters.” That means they vote in one precinct and “fly” to another one using a fake identity to vote again.
Today because of the blue ink electoral fraud is no longer through flying voters, but you would be gullible if you think fraud and cheating no longer happens.
I am in Kuala Lumpur where I took the picture of this man’s finger with the smeared ink from last week’s elections. I am writing this to help those of us who are trooping to the polls next week in the Philippines for our elections.
On the one hand there are those who have given up on the electoral process and have resigned and say “what’s the use in voting nothing ever changes.” On the other hand there are those who have too high an expectation that the elections will bring about substantial changes if not Utopia.
Here’s an important story in the Bible to help you have the right perspective. The nation of Israel did not have a human ruler but had God as their King. What they also had was a prophet and judge in the person of Samuel.
Samuel is old and his sons whom he appointed were not quite as good a leader as he was. Discouraged the people wanted a human king instead of just having a prophet/judge like him. But at the heart of it was they did not trust God and rejected Him as King.
This also shows that the end of the day its the voters who are ultimately responsible for the kind of leaders they get.
“They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have. But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.” 1Samuel 8:5-6
Samuel did not like the people’s clamor. Maybe he did not like the idea that they were wanting a man for a king when God was their King. It was also possible that he felt rejected that they did not want him to lead them anymore.
“And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.’” 1Samuel 8:7
God told Samuel to listen to the people and that they are really rejecting Him and not Samuel.
“Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 1Samuel 8:9
God tells Him to listen to them but warn them (“solemnly”) that whoever they get as king will claim “his rights.” That’s just the way it is. Earthly kings claim rights once they are in power. At the end of the day all men are self-centered sinners (Romans 3:23).
Don’t be naive. As you elect officials keep this in mind, regardless of who you vote they will claim “certain rights.” Their rationale is simple, all this hard work deserves certain rights and privileges.
The only difference is the type and amount of “rights” they feel they deserve. When you think about it this is true in Moscow, Washington, London, Tokyo and Manila.
“He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.” 1Samuel 8:11
God then lists a sampling of the rights (err…potential abuses) that kings or rulers make once they are in position. They will literally take your children and use them to propel themselves to gain more power.
“He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.” 1Samuel 8:13-14
They will tell themselves, “With all this pressure as a leader I deserve the best produce of the land, best cuisine, best people to serve me, best clothes (yes..perfumes), cars and let’s not forget real estate.
“He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.” 1Samuel 8:15
To keep themselves in power they will need to feed their own circle of supporters. And guess where they will get all that they need – from you.
“Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.” 1Samuel 8:16-17
In the long run without adequate checks and balances of power they will go from bad to worse. In the end man tends to enslave his fellow man for his selfish and distorted gains.
If this story sounds dim, it’s because it is the reality of human nature. That’s why we preach the Gospel. Changed hearts are the only lasting change. The more disciples there are the more chances of getting righteous leaders into office there will be. KEEP MAKING DISCIPLES!
In the meantime back to the elections. Given this reality who should I vote?
First of all thank God that you live in a democracy. No doubt it is an imperfect form/system of government but given the alternatives it is probably the best there is. Absolute power absolutely corrupts and a democratic form of government where there is freedom of speech and choice plus the rule of law allows for checks and balances and protection from abuses at some level.
As you vote, consider that whoever you put into office will be prone to this reality of power and demanding certain rights. In many cases he or she don’t have any choice. To get into office they will have to please as many people as possible. And you know that’s impossible. Once in office they will have to please many more to stay there.
To please people they will need to do them certain favors. Compromise is inevitable. It’s just a question of magnitude.
So who should you vote? The one who has track a record and history of delivering albeit imperfectly the following:
One who is known to uphold justice. This is the primary role of a leader in civil government. One who will not tolerate nepotism and favoring family and friends even when they are guilty of wrongdoing. One who will ensure fair play.
Vote leaders who come closest to the character qualities that the Bible champions.
Check the track record of one who has delivered the greatest benefit from the resources of the government to the greatest number of people. Even if they are not Christians. Ideally vote one whom you know is a disciple of Christ.
Finally, pray. Nation’s need God’s intervention. We can only do what is humanly possible and that is to vote wisely. Thankfully, what is impossible to us is possible with God. May God lead and guide you as you vote.
If you’ve been tracking with my posts you know that I have just returned from speaking at a conference in Australia. I understand the significance of conferences and their service to the Body of Christ, but as a pastor it is very easy to get caught up with the hoopla and adrenaline that big gatherings bring.
It is also very easy to get by with lowered standards because conferences particularly large ones keep people at a distance. By that I mean people don’t get to see you up close. In a local church regular interface with members and staff reveal the good, bad and uglies about you.
That’s why I am writing this post, to remind myself of the noble call of God on my life and the high standards that come with it. Paul in his letter to Timothy writes.
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1Timothy 3:1
The following are the specifics for those who aspire to be a church pastor or Christian leader. Here they are:
“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,…” 1Timothy 3:2
Faithful. Disciplined. Respectable. Generous and kind. Can teach. Interesting that most of these have little to do with teaching but are the character qualities that give us the platform to teach.
“not given to drunkenness,… 1Timothy 3:3a
These days this does not just mean alcohol but includes substance abuse. I consider over-eating part of this. Some foods are addictive (i.e. sugar, I’m sure you can think of others). To be clear I am not saying leaders can’t take any wine, sugar, ice cream or sodas – but that they are not prone to over intake or substance abuse.
“…not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” 1Timothy 3;3b
Gets along with people well. NOT A LOVER OF MONEY – simply put money generation is not his prime motivation in life.
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” 1Timothy 3:4
Has a good relationship with his children. Leads a family that believes, follows and respects him.
“If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” 1Timothy 3:5
I can almost hear Steve Murrell say, “let’s agree to build a church movement where we will never sacrifice our families on the altar of ministry.” Thank God for Steve’s early directives.
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” 1Timothy 3:6
Not a newbie in the things of God. I don’t think that this standard is simply about years in ministry but also includes an ability to get deeper in his spiritual life and get better in his role as a leader. However, even as he progresses he must remain humble. One way to see that is to ask if he is accountable to others and who are the people who oversee him.
“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” 1Timothy 3:7
While we know that no one is perfect and there will always be something that we can all be accused of specially in this day of technology and empowered social networks, there should be an overwhelming agreement in the leader’s good reputation particularly by community leaders.
Father thank You for the reminder that we have been called to a noble call. Thank You that it is not by might nor by power, by our human gifting and abilities but simply by Your grace that we can rise to standards to which You have called us.
I believe that if pastors and leaders keep the standard we can build churches that make disciples and change the world!
Ps. Picture above show my pastor friends from Guam, Cliff Shoemake (right) and Roy Burk (left) – the bottle Roy is holding is ginger beer (they are non-alcoholic). Delicious.
Last day in Melbourne (left) and headed for Singapore where Marie and I met with church leaders there. Picture right is with our good friend Rachel Ong. Also had a good moment with my friend Pastor Charles Curtis.
Picture below is at the Victory Fort’s Summer Small Group Leaders’ Convergence. It’s more fun to make disciples in the Philippines. Amazing moment.
Our youngest son Joshua is getting married in November. A month ago he started working for the largest and most reputable real estate company in the country. There were 50 some applicants and he is among the seven who were selected in his batch. Naturally he was having jitters the evening before his first day at work.
That evening I went to Joshua’s room to give him last minute encouragement before he went to bed. I told him the secret in all of life is constant dependence on God that is best demonstrated by a life of prayer. I also reminded him that the best prayer ever is the one from the heart. And the best format for praying is the one Jesus taught. Joshua and I prayed together as Jesus taught.
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
Jesus gave His disciples a simple format on how they should pray. Start out by declaring that God is our Father. Better yet personalize it, my Father. But He is no ordinary father for He is in heaven, high above all and transcends every and any situation you could face. Hallowed, holy, special, one of a kind is His name. What an honor and a privilege to be His child.
Then declare that His kingdom will come and His will be done in my life on earth just as it is heaven.
“Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Jesus then exhorts us to ask our Father to give us our daily needs. If you’re selling real estate ask Jesus to meet you and lead you to the right customers. Whatever you do – a student, homemaker, nurse, teacher, accountant or even a child, ask God for your daily needs.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
Then ask Him to forgive you of all your infractions, sins, mistakes, faux pas. In the same breath ask Him to give you the ability to forgive those who have wronged you.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13
Finally, ask Him to lead and protect you from temptation. More significantly to deliver you from the schemes and wiles of the devil. He is out there prowling and waiting to devour. Prayer keeps us alert and out of his reach.
The next day Joshua came home in the evening with an amazing story…
Late in the afternoon their boss called from an impromptu meeting. she said one of the top salesmen for three straight years was coming to give everyone a pep-talk. To everyone’s surprise when the guy arrived he walked toward Joshua and said, “Aren’t you Pastor Joey’s son?” He said, “yes.” He gave his name and said I’m from Victory. I was once upon a time a Real Life scholar.” Joshua was so encouraged that he now had a friend in the company.
The guy told them they should believe that their team can make at least one sale a day. The team responded with shy giggles that gave away their unbelief. “What is this guy thinking of?” The best part was the guy’s strategy on how to ensure success. He said, “PRAYER.”
Interestingly that day a female agent who hadn’t made a sale since last year sold one. Prayer does work!
That day Joshua was shocked thinking “my dad was just telling me the same thing last night? Did he set this up and asked this guy to come here?” The answer is yes. Except it was not his earthly dad that set it up but the One who is in heaven. The One who hears our prayers.
Have a great weekend!
- Nicky Gumbel
Sitting at the airport in Singapore en route home. After Sydney we flew to Melbourne and had a lovely time with Pastor Kevin Conner and his wife Reene. Now 86 years old, Pastor Kevin is a good friend of our ministry and has been a mentor of sorts to many of us through his teaching and writing.
Over dinner I was reminded of the many times this humble man of God has impacted my life and of many others. Once we asked him for his greatest tip for successful living. His reply was one word: DISCIPLINE. I couldn’t forget that leaning moment with him.
When you think about it dis-ci-pline sounds very similar to dis-ci-ple. I don’t know where we get the idea that to be a follower of Christ we won’t need this important word that affects every facet of life.
The Bibe bears out Pastor Kevin’s wise words or should I say word.
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,…” Hebrews 12:5
God desires to discipline us. Yes you read it right desires. He knows that without it we will not go the distance. The right response is not to be overwhelmed and lose heart. We are also warned not to take His discipline lightly.
“…because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Hebrews 12:6-7
Discipline is a mark of God’s love. It is a mark of God’s desire to make us His children. Endure it by viewing it as God treating you as His beloved children.
“If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” Hebrews 12:8
Fact is everyone undergoes discipline. If you are not being disciplined there is a measure of spiritual blindness in you. That blindness is probably because of illegitimacy in your relationship with God.
“Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9
Discipline is really about submitting our spirits to God.
“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” Hebrews 12:10
Discipline is not the goal, holiness is. Many times the reason why we find ourselves in compromising situations is because of a lack of discipline much like the disciples who fell asleep when Jesus was in the garden. The result was they abandoned him.
Actually the real goal is not even holiness but to share in God’s holiness. The real goal is relationship.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11
The funny thing about discipline is it is never pleasant. often, it is painful. In the end it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace when we have become trained in it. Think about all the athletes, performers and leaders we emulate. We all appreciate the results of their discipline but would probably abhor the discipline it took to gethem there.
The next time you feel like being lazy, taking a short-cut or settling for mediocrity – think of Pastor Kevin’s one word – DISCIPLINE. May you have a revelation of it’s vital importance and be willing to embrace it in it’s various forms, realizing it’s the way to enjoy a relationship with God.
I missed my regular Monday morning post yesterday as I have been in transit from Melbourne. I have decided to re-post Joseph’s (my son) great post “God told me…”
I believe it will help all of us hear from God and grow in His ways. Happy reading.
Some time ago I was watching American Idol with my wife. A woman stormed out angrily from the auditions when the judges didn’t pick her. She was certain they were all wrong and she was destined for fame and fortune. Because God told her so. (It seems like every season has someone like this.)
A couple of teenagers start dating. They’ve got great potential but they refuse to receive counsel. There’s already cause for concern in the way they treat each other. People offer their time and assistance but they don’t take it. Why would they need it? They say God told them to date and that they don’t need other people. (This is a pretty repetitive pattern too.)
A few months ago, I preached in Victory Alabang. After the message an eighteen year old came up to me. I asked him if he needed prayer, but he shook his head. “I want to pray for you. God told me to,” he said. He prayed a prayer for me that was very encouraging and insightful for what I was concerned about that time.
These people were all convinced that God had spoken to them. And they’re just a few examples of billions throughout history who were sure they had heard from the divine.
What do we do with these people? Or what do we do if we’re that person? There are two extreme responses to this situation:
OPTION 1: God doesn’t talk to you! / God doesn’t talk to people! / No one hears from God!
It’s tempting to say this because it’s just too weird, difficult, or strange to process that thought of God, the Almighty, speaking to an individual.
But that would be a mistake because God does speak with people. And when He does, it’s unmistakeable. While watching the recently aired Bible series by the History Channel, my wife and I commented on how well the show depicted the strangeness of Abraham in saying he heard from God. But as strange as it was, the effect on his life and on the succeeding generations was unmistakably good. He really did hear from God.
So let’s not be closed to the possibility that you or other people can hear from Him. The Bible says that we can know the thoughts of God by the Holy Spirit which He gives to all who have believed in His Son Jesus.
OPTION 2: Everyone who says they hear from God is right! / Everyone is hearing from God right now. / It’s about what you feel.
In effect, this no longer focuses on what God is actually saying. It’s just a way of saying that whatever you hear and feel is right. People can easily abuse this perspective by claiming their own fantasies as God’s will. As a minister, I can’t count the number of times people have flashed this card only to have to retract later on what they were “absolutely sure” was from God.
But more concerning than the potential of being wrong, is how casually people throw around the name of God. I believe that God can speak to anyone and through anyone. But with this ability to hear from Him comes the responsibility to communicate it correctly.
God will not allow people to take His Name in vain. The Bible is full of warnings and judgments from God against people who claim to speak from Him but speak falsely. They do it to make themselves famous, take advantage of others, or get away with what their wicked hearts wanted to do all along. We say things like, “I’m sure this is what God would want for me,” when really we’re just looking to justify our own desires.
Honestly, I get very concerned for people who don’t take this seriously because God will not let His name taken for granted like that. For every time that we say, “God told me this…” we’ll have to give an account. He is very jealous about His name. And if He takes it seriously, we would be wise to do the same.
Both of these extremes are wrong. So what’s the remaining option then?
OPTION 3: God speaks and we must test and see which words are really His.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Don’t disregard that God could be talking. Don’t ignore what the Holy Spirit is saying.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. But don’t just swallow things without thinking. Test them and see if they are right.
There are at least four tests we know from the Bible that we can use.
1. Godly counsel - Other people hear from God too. If we’re wondering if a particular insight, plan, or course of action is from God, other godly people in your life will probably hear it also.
2. Word of God - God will never say anything that goes against His written word, the Bible. If we really want to know it’s God speaking and not just the burrito you had for lunch, read the Bible.
3. Will be confirmed - If God says something’s gonna happen, it happens. Until there’s confirmation, then we should remember to keep open the possibility that we might be mistaken. You think you’re destined for American Idol stardom? Other people will confirm that in you. You think God has shown you who your future husband is? It’ll happen if it’s really from God.
4. Good fruit – If something is from God it produces good fruit. If something is leading you to sin, error, lying, acting without love, then we should check if this is really from God. I’m not saying God’s will never has any difficulty, but even when it’s difficult God gives us the grace to thrive in it.
This was one packed week. It was the week of the Presence 2013 Conference in Sydney where I have been invited to speak. Here are some of the high lights.
First off: The praise and worship was amazing. it brought together C3′s worship leaders from the different congregations of the world, plus worship leaders from Elevation Church i n South Carolina. On the last day they had Citipointe’s Aaron and Becky Lucas and to top it all Darlene Zschech. Awesome!!
Below left: Jimmy Oentoro is the founder and senior pastor of IFGF Churches of Indonesia. A movement of churches in forty nations. I will be speaking at the IFGF conference in June in Jakarta.
Below right: Emma. The doorman or should I say doorwoman in our hotel at QT Sydney. Marie befriended her and invited her to the conference and moved her one step further into the kingdom. She’s never seen or heard church the way Marie described it to her.
Above left: Children’s Church volunteers who manned the Big Top, the amazing kid’s ministry theme of the conference. It was encouraging to see volunteers who were young children and folks who were grandfathers.
Above right: C3 Pastor’s wives.
Thanks to C3′s great hospitality and hosting Marie and I had the time to sample the sights and experience Sydney.
Below left: Marie taking a photo of herself at the New South Wales Art Gallery and the gorgeous Queen Victoria Building next door from the hotel.
Below right: Experiencing the comfort of Australia’s inimitable UGG Boot.
Above left: Watching the parade on ANZAC Day (Australia, New Zealand Army Corps) a very important Ozy celebration remembering those who have fallen in defense of the nation.
Above right: Sydney’s iconic landmarks – The Opera House and Darling Harbor at night.