YES! Blame God. It’s the Politics of Romans 13:1
Surely people have been zapped for less than that!
If you have followed any of my political posts, I hope you see that the last thing I want to do is alienate a Christian Republican or a Christian Democrat.
And yes, I’ve heard you. Many of you think that a Christian “other-party” is oxymoronic.
I’ve also heard this, “How in the world could this person have voted for that person!?!?”
I never think like that. And here’s why.
It’s not because I’m some holy guy. No! My question is a lot bigger than, “How in the world could this person have voted for that person!?!?”
So, my question is, “How could God have put that person into office!?!?”
Of course, if Romans 13:1 is not true then I can start blaming people.
But until somebody shows me Romans 13:1 is not true, I guess, all I can do, is blame God.
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And I’m NOT talking about 2 deacons being grumpy at the pastor!
Before I even write on politics we must have a proper understanding of God’s role in government.
Jesus Christ. . . the Ruler of the kings of the earth. . . Revelation 1:5
This verse and many others like it make one thing very clear.
God is the One who is in control.
If you ask me why bad and terrible things happen, I confess that I will hide behind Isaiah 55:8 & 9.
So that prompts the next question:
If God is truly in control, then what is our interaction with the devil, the evil one?
I will discipline myself to NOT talk about how Spiritual Warfare has been so blatantly “marketed.” If you are interested in my short post on that subject, CLICK HERE.
Our interaction with the evil one though, is much more narrow than HE WANTS you to think. And the location of our battle with him is NOT OUT YONDER, but rather, in our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The devil is messing with our minds, folks:
And one of the proofs that he is successful, is the division in the Body of Christ.
But let me speak out of the other side of my mouth. MANY OF US DO NOT NEED THE DEVIL. We are divisive all on our own.
Friends, we are the problem. Not the world!
I have put together a BIPARTISAN VOTERS PRAYER GUIDE to help us. You can view it online or download it as a .PDF by CLICKING HERE.
These daily prayers can be found on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages.
There is a Political Disconnect in Our Churches, and it is not complicated:
We are letting OUR POLITICS DIRECT OUR THINKING instead of the word of God.
So, like last week’s post on RACISM, (CLICK HERE for last week’s post) let me give you a few anecdotes centered around three ways of handling POLITICS IN THE CHURCH:
The Right Way
The Wrong Way
The Typical Way
With whom are you struggling? Before you answer, look at Ephesians 6:12a, For our battle is not against flesh and blood. . . The people on the other side of the aisle ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY.
I’ll never forget the pastor friend of mine who led a weekly prayer meeting and used to pray against the president EVERY SINGLE WEEK, until one day he read Romans 13:1, Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.
The next week he said, ” God put this president in office. He is not my enemy, regardless of whether I agree with him or not.” And so he started praying differently for him.
Praying for the death of a president, from Psalm 109:8 or ANY SCRIPTURAL PASSAGE is wrong, but unfortunately it is not uncommon. And in the last ten years I have seen this way too often. Let me tell you JUST ONE of the things that is wrong with that kind of a prayer.
Besides Roman 13:1 above, you have verse 2 following, which says, So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.
But you say to yourself, “Okay, but I’m not so mean as to pray death to anyone, Mark.”
Well, try this:
When I say to you that GOD’S TENT is big enough to handle people that baptize differently than you, how quickly do you agree?
Probably very quickly.
When I say to you that GOD’S TENT is big enough to handle people that pray differently than you, how quickly do you agree?
Again, probably very quickly, right?
Now consider those two time frames above. How quickly did you agree?
Here’s the money question:
When I say to you that GOD’S TENT is big enough to handle people that VOTE differently than you, do you agree just as quickly?
Most people do not. They agree, but not very quickly.
THE TYPICAL WAY
Let me ask you, “Are your political prayers selfish or selfless?”
Selfish Prayers are the typical way we handle politics. Let me give you an example. 1 Timothy 2:2 says, [Pray] for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
And you probably say, “Well, what’s wrong with that, Mark?”
Here’s why I call it selfish. We pray that God would, “Put the right people in office so that we can live a tranquil and quiet life, free of problems.”
Friends, the PROBLEM with that prayer is that it DOES NOT WORK in countries like Syria, Iran, etc. And that kind of a prayer is CONTRARY to God’s will, if His plans are to discipline us, as a church.
Now, let me be the first to tell you, that I do not know God’s mind. I do not know His plans.
But friends, as I look around I find myself PRAYING OFTEN that God would show us mercy.
Friends, the meaning behind 1 Timothy 2:2 above, is that it is our praying, communing with the Father, that brings you a tranquil and quiet life. The tranquility and quiet do not come BECAUSE OF the results, but IN SPITE OF the results.
That is the evil one’s distortion and deception, and the reason I claim that the battle is in our minds, not out yonder!
Remember who was leading Rome when Paul wrote most of his letters. It was Nero, whom we are told by tradition, would eventually cut off Paul’s head (sorry for the visual).
Let me end with a quote from Ronnie Floyd. (Email on 10/10/2018)
A divided church cannot call a divided nation to unity.
CLICK HERE for the BiPartison Voter Prayer Guide.
Below I will give you 3 anecdotes about racism in the church.
From them you will be:
But my friends, this is where it begins. With you and I (IN THE CHURCH) looking honestly at the issue.
Below are 3 ways of dealing with racism:
The Right Way
The Wrong Way
The Typical Way
The first time I saw this sidewalk insert, I eagerly sought the story.
The broken part of the sidewalk says,
AN HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE
As the story goes, that part of the sidewalk had been there since the church was built at this location in 1892.
But, in the mid 60’s someone asked, “a bit too loudly” if all people were welcome, as the sign said.
Nobody answered, but the next week the sign was taken out of the ground, put into storage, and a blank slab of cement was laid.
Sometime late in the 90’s, in its broken state, it was returned to the sidewalk to proudly show that, YES, All People are welcome.
That it lies there in a broken state tells its own story, don’t you think?
THE WRONG WAY
A few years ago I did a 4 night prayer revival during the Obama administration. The associate pastor of the host church continually talked down the President. And frankly, it got up my nose.
I asked the Lord for a very tactful way to deal with it, and so the next night I pulled him aside and delivered what I believe the Lord laid upon my heart. It turned out to be so significant that I included it in both Book 1 and Book 2 of The Pray-ers.
Instead of giving you the conversation with this pastor, let me quote Alexander Rich, the itinerant preacher in my novel, who dealt with the exact same issue, just 130 years earlier, EXACTLY the way I did.
“. . . Alexander Rich continued. “You believe in the flood right?”
“Oh yes!” The preacher responded, “Worldwide disaster, worldwide flood.”
“Then,” Rich interrupted, glad at least that this young pastor had not caved to the growing debate about the age of the earth and the truth of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. “Then, my friend, if we all came from the same parents, do you know what that means?”
Brother Rich had the young man’s complete attention. He leaned forward, intrigued, eyes widening, and awaiting a deep truth.
“What that means my young racist friend is that you have a little black guy inside of you somewhere.”
Sorry for the shameless plug (www.ThePray-ers.com).
When I said this to the pastor, it shut him up, but only until the next day when he returned. I am sorry to share with you what he said, but I think you need to hear it.
He cornered me after the service and then said, “They may be your relatives but they aren’t mine.”
No matter the amount of melanin in your skin, you and I BOTH have people in our lives that think this way.
THE TYPICAL WAY
I was in another church for an all day intensive. At lunch, the pastor and I talked about the feedback he was getting from the Sunday School and Worship Services that I led. The feedback was a great blessing, and so after lunch we sat down, prayed about it and decided that I needed to come back for an all week prayer revival.
A few days later he called me. We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then he said, as broken as I have ever heard him, “Mark, my deacons said that you can’t come back, you’re too dark.”
Now BEFORE YOU GET excersised over this anecdote, let me remind you, this happens on ALL SIDES of the issue, Asian, Hispanic, White and Black.
True, there are some churches I can’t get into because I am too dark.
But there are other churches I can’t get into because I’m not dark enough.
Is it any wonder that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week?
Obviously we can point our fingers at the deception of the evil one. But may I take this question in a slightly different direction?
Let me make a broad statement, that you may or may not agree has some merit.
“The unsaved can’t be expected to act like anything other than what they are, UNSAVED!”
QUIT LOOKING AT THE WORLD, expecting them to act differently!
But what about the church? My friends, in the church, we are the ones without excuse. Why? Because:
We are the ones that have the Holy Spirit living within us. And,
We are the one’s who have been given the grace to live above this.
Consider this. Do you think that maybe God loves us enough to discipline us?
If He does, it will NOT be:
Because the unsaved are acting like the unsaved.
Rather, it will be:
Because the church is NOT acting like the church?
May God have mercy upon us, in spite of us.
Stop, and consider this for a moment.
Where are you on the photo above?
When you consider politics, are you:
Where are you?
Maybe a better question is, “Why Are You?”
You see, this is my concern in the church. I expect the world to act like the world, and so should you. But the church is what concerns me?
But, do you see it?
Regardless of the side of the aisle we prefer, we are all plagued with THE SAME DECEPTION, namely, the priority our political goals play in our life.
NOTE: We think that if we get more people who think like us in positions of power then we will live peaceful and quiet lives (1 Timothy 2:2m).
Have you ever considered that the promise of that verse is NOT THAT GOD gives us peace and tranquility by giving us the right leaders, but He gives you the peace and tranquility BECAUSE YOU’VE PRAYED, regardless of whether or not your circumstances change!
But, that’s a message for later.
I have a few friends that work in various positions in Washington D.C. One of them recently shared with me, “The only thing that will fix Washington D.C., is Jesus.”
Before you say, “Yah, yah, Mark, of course.” I want you to consider what winds you up more:
Depending on your answer, you might want to stop for just a moment and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Or, you may not want to, but you should.
You see, that’s the problem isn’t it? We’re more wrapped up in what we want, than what God wants.
Do you really believe that sataN packs his bags and runs away when more and more of your political party enters the city limits of Washington D.C.?
NOTE: I’m not speaking out of the other side of my mouth when I say that, if you are in politics, you are to work as if you are working unto the Lord and not man. Meaning, do what you do with excellence.
The evil one will not cease until Jesus throws him into the pit.
So what does sataN do now, if he doesn’t pack his bags and leave, when your guy/gal wins?
And we in the church are missing this. When we “win” at the ballot box, we think we’ve won in the spiritual realm.
Friends, to use a line from a completely different context, when we think this way, “We above all men are to be most pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
So, be on guard, for the evil one roams around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
And be aware that he may fool you, when he comes to you as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Whatever else he does, expect him to return to you at an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)
Instead of telling God what you want, let His Word tell you what He wants.
We like to abide in His Son and in His Word so that we can ask whatever we want and get it, right?
STOP! That’s not what John 15:7 says!
NOTE: It really says, “If you abide in Me (Jesus) and [YOU LET] MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU, then you will ask whatever you will and it will be given unto you.”
Do you see the focus? The focus is His Word/s abiding in you. The reason you will get what you pray for is because you will be asking for Christ’s will, Christ’s words, because YOUR words will change to match His words.
Why do I say, “Don’t read it?” Because you will be faced with an indisputable fact that the guy leading us in Washington D.C. is who God put there, and who God wants there.
And there’s another indisputable fact that you’ll be stuck with:
THE PASSAGE WAS TRUE THE PREVIOUS 8 YEARS ALSO.
Here’s the “So-what.” Are you blaspheming God, by the way you are praying for the current leadership?
Or, did you blaspheme God by the way you prayed for the previous leadership?
How you answer that, will tell you why you are, whichever face you are, from above.
But more than that, I hope that you will hit your knees and ask for forgiveness, either for the way you pray, or the way you prayed.
Further, I hope you will pray for all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity, regardless of political results.
Being in a prayer ministry I have some very, very strong opinions when I read people sarcastically tell us, “There’s been a whole lot of prayer in this country, but I haven’t seen it make a lick of difference.”
The above is from #ZackFord @ZackFord, the LGBT Editor of “Think Progress.”
In fact, I can tell you that it angers me!
In fact, it does more than angers me, it makes me clench my fist, hold my breath, stand up, and say, I AGREE WITH YOU #ZackFord @ZackFord.
Did I say that out loud? Folks he’s right.
His view is accurate.
Now I believe his view is accurate by accident. He’s got all the wrong issues on focus.
I’m looking for what can we learn from this issue. And these issues are NOT going away! I believe that this “Prayer Shaming” issue, in particular, will be with us until the Lord returns.
I found a great article that broaches the subject well and balanced. I don’t agree with everything in it, but I want to make the issue their broader point, so I will highlight a few of their comments and give you the link to read it fully for yourself.
First of all, we all know that the Apostle Paul told us to not expect those who are not following Christ to understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). So don’t be concerned about those who write the things written in the photo above. If you are trying to please man, YOUR focus is wrong.
Here are some quotes from the article below that I believe that we, the church, Christ’s bride, can learn a lesson or two from (emphasis and italics by me):
A prayer penned on social media for the sake of likes, retweets and admiration is one upon which God seemingly does not look kindly. Like the ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ meme, there may be a risk of believing that a prayer is only meaningful if it is seen and amen’d by other Twitter users.
For the Christian, the distinction between prayer and action is a false dichotomy. The Bible teaches that prayer can help bring about God’s will.
We are commanded to pray for our enemies. . . Praying for those responsible for terrorism as well as those harmed by it is a reminder of the astounding, undeserved nature of grace and that God longs for the redemption of all people,
But when it comes to praying via social media, perhaps we need to be more cautious, ensuring that we are seeking to be heard by our Father in heaven, rather than our followers.
This article also had a fascinating link that shows details of “terrorist attacks listening them all by date” stating that there were “1,018 in this year alone.”
Let me make this clear, I am NOT JUDGING ANYONE who puts a prayer or note of one in their social media, I AM SAYING, check your motivation. That’s all.
Here is the article above that I have quoted from:
And here is my archived post: “Prayer Shaming” from December 2015:
I know that there are a lot of people who want to view tragedies as something to exploit. They want to use them to build animosity against another people group. And it doesn’t matter where you sit on the political fence. There are extremists everywhere.
All I can do is look at Scripture, and the counter-intuitive words of the Holy Spirit.
For example: Romans 8:28, God works all things out for the better, for everyone? No, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
To have an idea of what I mean, take a look at this photo, and watch the video. These aren’t folks wanting to “take advantage by not wasting a tragedy,” rather, these are folks taking positive steps to heal.
The link to this ABC 27 WTXL @ABC27 story is HERE.
That we live in a society where things are going from bad to worse should not surprise Christians, after all didn’t Paul warn of this? Look at what he says in 2 Timothy 3:13 “Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
If we look at all of chapter 3 we could outline it as follows:
Not exactly a harbinger of smiling times, eh?
So what does all this have to do with the public vitriol we see today? Simple!
Let me preface this by telling you that I hope I am wrong. I WANT to be wrong. I would LOVE for you to find this post in 3 years and say, “Mark, you are NOT a prophet! You completely got this wrong!”
That being said, and meant, let me tell you my concern. I believe this public vitriol that we see on the news, in our politics, in our families, and yes, in our churches is becoming the new norm.
Now I’m not concerned about the unsaved “becoming worse” because I expect that. Paul said that above.
Look at my outline above. I’m not focused and therefore concerned about “difficult times” coming and “persecutions” coming. They are a fact of life. My concern for the church is that we are missing the next two points. I don’t see us “trusting Scripture” and therefore, I don’t see us “complete and equipped” which tells me that we will cave to the pressures and the vitriol of the day when real difficulties and persecutions come our way.
Let me back up in time a few years. There is a reason that the Vision Statement for Common Thread Ministries was written as it is, “Rebuilding the foundations of prayer” (from Psalm 11:3). The reason is that when (not “if”) things get worse in your hometown, if your prayer life isn’t solid you will cave. And THAT is my concern for my Christian brothers and sisters.
Friends, this public vitriol is becoming the new norm, which, I suspect, will be focused upon the Christians before long. And my question is simple, “Are you ready?”
Forgive me for stepping all the closer to your toes, but I must. If you think the cartoon above is the way to handle public vitriol, namely, giving-it-back just as hard as it comes to you, then you have forgotten Jesus’ example who, “when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
May I give you some hope? The hope comes in a “backdoor sort-of way” from Romans 8:6, which basically says that if I focus on the things of the flesh, I end up with death. But if I focus on the things of the spirit, I have life and peace (that’s a Mark Mirza Paraphrase). I believe that the best way to understand this verse is to look at it in reverse. This is what it is saying. Again, in Mark Mirza paraphrase:
If you do not have peace, I don’t care how “righteous” or “self-righteous” you are, you are NOT focusing on the things of the Spirit.
You might be asking where the hope is, and here’s the hope.
Let the verse be a simple wake-up call to you, that if you are NOT at peace, you simply need to go back to the Lord, go back to His comforting Word, for your focus has become the things the evil one wants you to focus on, namely, the things of the flesh, the angst, and the vitriol, which may soon be the new norm.
Let me take one possible argument away from you before the evil one convinces you to forget my plea to you, okay?
I am NOT SAYING, “do not be aware” of what is going where this vitriol is served up, I am merely saying, “Don’t FOCUS On It!”
Let me end with this. If you struggle with worry, go to my short 3 minute video where I address that subject for ALL of us:
I am concerned that both the complacent and the looney are being deceived by the evil one, rather than following the Lord. I believe that both are demonstrating their fearfulness, which means they REFUSE to trust God. When we refuse to trust God, we seek God selfishly rather than selflessly, and we, forgive me, but I believe that we are guilty of calling God a liar.
Why does this burden my heart so? Not because I want to see everyone think my way. Rather, because FEAR is not how Christians are to live. (2 Timothy 1:7a)
If you want to continue reading this post, we must look at the second half of the above verse. There Paul tells us what the gift is (or gifts are) that God gave Timothy, and by application, to us too. 2 Timothy 1:7b says, [God gave Timothy] power, love and self-control.
Can we at least all admit that there is a gargantuan cosmic battle going on? What I believe we have forgotten though, is that the battle that has ALREADY been won! That’s right! The Lord has ALREADY won this cosmic battle (which is an argument for it not really being gargantuan, but that will have to be another post). If you wonder that the Lord has ALREADY won the battle just look at Ephesians 4:7-8 and Colossians 2:15.
So what is the cosmic battle? Answer: FEAR!
The “gargantuan” cosmic battle is a battle of deception. The evil one is using fear and we in the church are buying into it, to our destruction (which is his goal, by the way). And this “cosmic-battle” is NOT out yonder, in other people, it’s in us, the Christians. In our minds!
Let me clarify, this post is not for the unsaved. I expect the unsaved to act like the unsaved, to act like the world. I get that.
This post is for the saved. In particular, for two groups of the “saved” that I see all over FB and Twitter. This post is for those who believe,
Both sides of this equation, the looney and the complacent, are showing that sataN has ALREADY won the day in their lives. You see, if we go back to the second half of 2 Timothy 1:7 we see that the God who, don’t forget, spoke the words and the worlds leapt into existence, gave Timothy, and by application us too, power, love and self-control. He gave us:
It is a bit of a surprise to me that I have a burden for these SAVED, both complacent and looney. And yet it shouldn’t because our Ministry Mission is from Psalm 11:3, “Our Mission is to Rebuild the Foundations of Prayer” and that is what motivates me. Christians that are complacent and Christians that are looney demonstrate the shallowness of their prayer-life. Like Gregory Frizzell says, “Our prayer life is a mile wide but an inch deep.”
Here’s where my concern leads me. Paul told us that things are going to get worse (2 Timothy 2:16-17a; 3:13). My concern for you is that your fear has weakened you, so that you are relying on your own heart and mind and ideas. These looney and complacent ideas are in YOUR MIND, and here is where sataN wins the battle over you (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Over all of us actually.
When we speak of Spiritual Warfare, we all look at verses 3 and 4 of 2 Corinthians 10. But we usually stop before verse 5, and this too is deception from the evil one. Verse 5 tells us how to win the battle in your mind? It says that we are to:
If you do not adhere to 2 Corinthians 10:5, when things get worse, as they surely will (2 Timothy 2:16-17a; 3:13), I am concerned that you will “. . . suddenly be broken beyond healing.” (Proverbs 29:1 ESV)
Lest any of you think I’m judging you, let me speak frankly and freely. I am speaking this way, this strongly, because I know ME, and I have a long accurate memory, of what God has graciously taught me in my life. What helps me I trust will help you, and it is the “S” word, yep, “Submit.”
Submit therefore to God, would you my friend?
Finally, lest you think this is about politics, NO! This is about :”living in the flesh.” The current political issues are merely being used by the Lord to show us what our heart really looks like. We are letting what is really in our heart come out of our mouth (Matthew 15:18), and frankly, it’s sickening, both the looney and the complacent!
Will you submit to Him? Will you confess to Him if you’ve been living in the flesh? Will you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then watch Him take care of all the details (Matthew 6:33)?
My prayer is that we will and that we Christians will be known for our unity (John 17:21).
For a short 3 minute video helping you not worry, CLICK HERE.
I don’t recall all of the story, but the broken part of the sidewalk says,
An House of Prayer for All people
As the story goes, that part of the sidewalk has been there since the church was built at this location in 1892, But, in the mid 60’s someone asked, “a bit too loudly” if all people were welcome, as the sign said. Nobody answered, but the next week the sign was taken out of the ground, broken and a new plain slab laid.
Somehow, the broken pieces were stored and in the 90’s relaid, in their broken state.
May I say, I LOVE teaching prayer in a location that has been broken over unity and is unashamed for people to know it.