Caesar’s or Citizen’s

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21

Jesus says this quote in response to religious people who want don’t want to pay taxes. They don’t really want to pay the temple tax or the governmental taxes. They just want their own money (sounds familiar). Jesus says give what you are supposed to give to whomever you’re supposed to give it.

Christ-followers that desire to be obedient to the Lord in their life, must vote on Tuesday. Ours is a government of the people, for the people, by the people. We, as the followers of Christ, must participate not just in the tax plans of our countries, but also in its electoral process. It is what our government has required of us.

The issue is not just about voting, but about paying taxes, too. One of the most ridiculed statements in this election has been Biden’s statement that it is patriotic to pay taxes. The truth is; it is patriotic to pay taxes. It is doing what the government requires of us. It is not just patriotic for the Christian, it is obedience to Christ.

The issue of how this plays into the current political debate is about what is rightfully Caesar’s. We live in a country with the freedom to work and make a profit as best as you can. The American Dream has been built upon these basic truths since the founding of our country.

Is it American, however, for people in our nation to have to pay to Caesar what is another citizen’s? Is it right for people to be forced to share their profit just because another person did not make that profit? You must decide what you believe about this issue before you vote. It is the foundational economic issue separating these two men’s economic plans?

The hardest part is to give to God what is God’s. Truthfully if the Christians of America were giving to those who are thirsty, hungry, naked, and needy the way Christ commanded us, our nation would not be trying to legislate equality and fairness. The American government is facing an issue that is not really a Caesar issue. It is a citizen issue. No one would be proposing Robin Hood plans that take from the rich and give to the poor, if the rich gave to the poor because of their love for Christ.

When was the last time you helped this situation without legislation? It does not mean we should legislate the change, but we must change indeed.

Serving up the Best Servant

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

The truth that we can not serve both God and money goes against almost everything we see and hear in our world today. If one listens to the debate over our current presidential election, one would think that money is the only issue in our nation. You might hear about war, but honestly one side of the debate always turns that discussion back to money again.

Followers of Christ must see more than money in this world. The Christ-follower must arrive to vote on Tuesday, November 4th with a decision that has been prayed over and considered over all of the issues. Money is not the most important thing in this election or any election.

The truth of what the Bible has to say about that type of thinking is this, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10a) This truth is so evident in the economic discussion of today. The problem that our nation faces is that the answer to remedying this problem will not be found in the economic policy of our next president.

There are some key thoughts about finances you should consider, though.

1. What is the root economic principle behind the policies presented?
a. Trickle-down economics will give breaks tax wise to the wealthy, although they will still pay the vast majority of the taxes simply based on income. The theory is that people will always desire to make more money and when you free up the money-makers’ money to make more money they will hire those who do not have the money to work for them. The sole reason for that employment is their profit. The simple truth is that it has been the overall economic principle of our nation throughout its history.
b. “Grass roots” economics is the theory that if you give money to those who do not have the money that they will spend it and that it will feed the economy. The goal of this theory is to create economic equality in society through taxing those who make the most and giving it to those who make the least.

2. Is that economic policy based on American principles?
I would like to make this part more spiritual, but that would require me to stretch the Scripture. Truth be told, this is an issue that you must decide for yourself. So here is the issue. Do you believe the American Way is to give people an unearned and undeserved check every year at the cost of another citizen so that we can have equality economically? Or do you think it is the American Way for each person to do their best with what they have to work with and make as much as they can understanding that there will be many who do this in a greedy and selfish manner?

3. In a society that believes in the freedoms of religion, speech, property ownership, and a free market economy, is it right for the government to force financial equality?
I believe this to be a conflict of constitutional principles. The real issue is that we have a society that is greedy. Greed causes great need. The answer of one party is to hope that there is enough good in the American people that they will make wise investments that will benefit others through employment. The other party believes that people will not do what is good and wise and the government should dictate that sharing of resources through taking what has been earned by one and giving it to someone else who has not earned it. What do you think?

4. Is the government’s spending any different than yours?
In government it is called deficit spending. In our lives it is called debt. As our nation yells at our government about its spending practices the people of our nation are mounting debt they can not pay at the fastest rate in the history of the world. The real issue is our overall unhealthy love for money. We must learn how to be wise with what we have individually before we will learn to be wise with what we have nationally.

Who will you serve with your vote? If are not considered in the wealthy and you vote just to get a tax credit; you will be serving money. If you are considered wealthy and you vote just to get a tax break, you will be serving money. If you pray and earnestly consider all of the issues, you can serve the Lord with your vote.

The best way to serve up the best servant for our nation is to be one. Who will you serve?

I have decided to…

follow Jesus. Let me explain.

I have built up in my blog about me speaking about who I believe will make the best president and that somehow my opinion is really valuable in this vast world. Then last night I was not sleeping well because I was worried about our political mess – it means that much to me – then all of a sudden God reminded me about this verse.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! Isaiah 31:1

There is only one Savior, and he is not running for president. His position is not elected. His role and influence on the things of this earth are not bound up in the opinions of the masses. He is indeed the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He reigns and there will never be an end to his government. His name is Jesus.

I realize that the problems we face in America are not political or economic or legislative. The problem America faces is spiritual. The truth is that we live in a nation that needs to see the real Jesus. The people who for some reason read my blog will not come to know the real Jesus because I know economics better than they do. That really will make no difference whatsoever.

The real issue is spiritual and it begins with me. I am not the answer, John McCain is not the answer, Barack Obama is not the answer. There is no legislative bailout for the spiritual condition of America. There is no plan that is going cause everyone to have good spiritual healthcare this year.

There are, however, people like me. Who have a small voice to a certain group of people. I have decided that if I am going to yell something loudly from this small corner of the blogosphere it will be this truth…

Jesus said, “I have come not to be served, but to serve. And to give my life as a ransom for many.” The price for your spiritual bankruptcy has been paid on your behalf. Our nation might have some thing to figure out, but, today, you can be right with the world if you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

I will over the next week share from some sayings of Jesus some spiritual truths that should affect the election decisions of the followers of Christ. I will not, however, tell you how to vote.

There is only one vote in your life that really matters to me. Have you voted for Jesus as Savior and Lord? He is without your vote, but you are not his without it.

Using the Voice You Have

Well I have learned several things about the First Amendment and my rights this week. I do (according to our current law) have a fine line to walk as a pastor. The current interpretation of law concerning separation of church and state is very anti-religious. This is poor interpretation by the Supreme Court of old laws that were originally focused on protecting the church from the state.

I have learned, however, that much of the actual debate is about non-profit status. I find myself in a fairly moderate position on this legal issue. Political parties and groups that support candidates are not supposed to be able to be non-profit. This means that those who donate do not get tax credits as charitable donations. This is really what a church puts at risk when it supports a candidate.

I have had to ask myself this question, “Is non-profit status a church right or a church privilege in America?” The truth is that Christians should not tithe because they get a tax break. That is not the call of Christ in obedience to giving to the church. Churches that feel they must endorse political candidates can. They just can’t give anyone a charitable donation letter for tax purposes. It is an interesting idea to me.

The problem is that the law is not equally enforced. Conservative churches and religious institutions are the only ones targeted for law suits. The conservatives do not target the liberal entities back because they believe that it should be their right to speak their opinion.

With all that said. I pastor a conservative church. We would probably get sued. If I feel at some point that our church must make a stand vocally for a candidate, we will. This election would have been the time to do it but I did not move early enough to make the risk worth the reward. In the future we will address whatever we feel the Lord leads us to. If that means we have to tithe for the sole purpose of obedience, we will. That would not be such an awful thing. It would probably cost in a lot of ways, but would be worth it.

What I did learn, is that I can speak. This blog saying Pastor Kirk does not mean I can not. This is not a church run website. Any blog I write concerning a candidate must not be done on a church computer or during my work hours, but that is fine with me. This is my voice anyway. The odd thing – is that it is always my voice. That is what being a pastor is about. The people I pastor have elected to trust my voice. It is odd that I am not supposed to use it when it comes to politics. Interesting times we live in.

So, keep your eyes open if you care what I think about this election. If not, well, hopefully you will not be able to vote for some minor reason that causes you no long term issues in your life. J

First Amendment Frustration

I was about to post a blog concerning the election when I opened a mail-out from (Which, by the way, is a wonderful website during these days.) In it I saw that not only can a church not endorse or oppose a candidate but neither can the pastor.

I have, therefore, not posted my most recent blog. I am, however, furious about it. I understand not getting in the pulpit and preaching about a candidate. I understand not passing out materials at church in support of a candidate. I do not agree with those ideas but I understand them. I believe the separation of church and state does not mean that the church must be void of opinion when it comes to the matters of the state. (The state is certainly not void of opinion in matters of the Church.) I think it is actually unconstitutional for people who do not desire religious opinion in their lives to dictate to those who do that they can not have it. The people I pastor have chosen for Fellowship Church to be a place for insight and influence in their life. They have chosen for me to be a voice they listen to. The church should have every right to respect that decision and to give guidance to its people.

The issue that I have addressed concerning the church is one matter, but the other is that I somehow am supposed to give up my voice. I have friends that are able to express thoughts concerning candidates no matter the accuracy of them. I am a man that has the right to freedom of speech and I have something to say. The truth is that I have studied economics, political science, American government, and American law while getting my bachelor degree. I have the ability to come with an informed decision but I am not allowed to voice my opinion because God has placed me in a position where certain people are listening.

That is the whole point. The reason I feel I must speak is that very truth. I have a responsibility to speak. There are those who say that one’s religion should not influence ones political views. I must entirely disagree. I believe that religion must affect one’s political opinions. If religion is a person’s highest set of values and beliefs, it must by its very nature, affect all that lies below it.

I appreciate your prayer as I learn more about this issue. I have sought legal advice as to what I can say where and how I can say it. I encourage each of you to find your voice in this election. America has much at stake. The foundational differences between these 2 candidates are important. The truth is the foundation of our nation is at stake in this election. We must have a president that has the same foundational beliefs that caused the foundation of America. Don’t listen to the rhetoric, research the reason. Don’t simply look at the policy, examine the principle behind it. America needs you to see the truth.

I will find my legal voice and I will speak. Will you?

Getting There…Wherever There May Be

I recently read some interesting thoughts from the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. The book basically deals with the delusion of success. People who are successful often end up not being successful later because of how they view their past success.

One of the inaccurate thoughts that successful people often think is that they simply choose to succeed. When a person is mostly successful in life they begin to think that success is simply something they choose. I have to admit that I have struggled with that thought. I am mostly successful yet not splendidly successful. The one place I have struggled with seeing myself as successful is in church planting. The voices around me can say we have been successful but I see so much more out there than we have experienced. The issue I had to realize at some point was that the lack of success in areas I desired for Fellowship were not because I had not chosen them. God blesses churches with different types of “success”. That is his work. When a church plant grows rapidly and wildly it is not because the church planter somehow chose that, it is because God chose that.

What that causes is the need to redefine success. We have to begin seeing success as God sees success. There are certain habits we have to overcome to continue being successful. One of the unhealthy habits was winning too much. It is not that I always win. What struck me was the thought that we try to win when no one is counting. The problem is that some of us are always counting. Another habit is to be a person that always feels the need to defend their position instead of listening. Well if you’re like me, and always right, this habit is hard to break. Another one is speaking while angry. One of the most important bad habits was not listening. We have to listen to learn and we have to learn to continue to be successful.

What I know is this. God has gotten me somewhere and it is a pretty cool place. This cool place, however, will not be cool for long because I am driven to see God do more. The tough truth is that what God did to get me here will not be what he does to get me there, wherever there may be.

The Fine Line of the American Dream

The American Dream is one of the greatest privileges in the world. It has been communicated through the years with these important words from The Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I love truth that is self-evident. I often feel that way about the claims of the Bible as we look at the world around us. Yet there are others that take the world around them and use it to completely deny all that the Bible claims. The odd thing about life is the interpretation of things that are self-evident.

Throughout the history of the United States of America there has been much said concerning our unalienable rights. Much of that has been summed up in the phrase – “The American Dream”. This dream is less a dream and more a vision. Dreams are simply the fantasy of the mind when one has no control over it. Vision is that which a person sees as possible even when others see it as not. Thomas Jefferson understood that when he penned these words to Great Britain.

Vision has been and will always be what drives nations, organizations, churches, and people to greatness. I pray daily that God will give me vision for my life, my family, and my church. We must be conscious of what we fix our minds own because it will cause what we set our eyes on and what we set our eyes on will define our life.

During the current political debate the American Dream is being discussed yet not enough of us are catching what is being said. Our country has always operated on the freedom to pursue these things. It is the government’s role is to secure these rights. The United States of America has an obligation to provide the security of these rights to its citizens. It is not, however, the government’s responsibility to ensure our success in the use of these rights.

In our current political debate the biggest issues is the defining of the American Dream. We must realize that when the American Dream becomes the obligation of the government and not the opportunity of its people, it ceases to be the American Dream. That concept in and of itself is not American. It is not what this country was founded on and is not the ideology that has made it great.

The United States does not owe any of us anything except the rights we need to pursue that dream. They do not owe us the down payment on it. They do not owe it to us to bail us out when we fail at an endeavor while pursuing it. They do not owe us the health care needed when we work ourselves sick seeking it. That is not what a democracy with a free economy is about.

What the United States owes us is the opportunity to work our tails off and get after it. They owe us the freedom to define that dream as we so please. That dream is not about money for me. My vision is to be used by God in ways I could never imagine. My vision is to see one city completely come to Christ in my lifetime. If God did that in Prairieville I would die a man who had ultimately experienced the American Dream.

The issue that we face today as voters is that each candidates’ interpretation of the American Dream is what causes their Vision for America. My version of the American Dream might sound usless to you, but that is my unalienable right. As you vote be sure you consider how the candidates are defining this dream. The key issue to that definition is this, Is the American Dream an obligation of the government or the opportunity of its people?

You must understand that each of them has a vision for America based on their interpretation of that dream. If the dream is not American, the vision can not be.