As we enter the season of Advent in the church year, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew explains the origin and meaning of the word “Advent.” Advent is the first “season” of the Christian church year, which is a time of excited waiting for the coming of Jesus. The word advent comes from the Latin and means “coming” or “arrival”, and is used to refer to three “advents” of the promised Savior. The first advent of Jesus began as a baby born in Bethlehem and culminated in His sacrificial death on a cross for the sins of the world. His final advent will take place on the Last Day, when he returns from heaven in glory to judge the living and the dead. But Jesus is also coming to us right now. He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments to bring us from spiritual death to life through faith. All three of these Advents are necessary for sinners. Thanks be to God for his salvation through the advents of Jesus the Christ. And so we pray, “Come Lord Jesus!”
In this Bible Study episode, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Neal Radichel go through a study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. They will discuss the background of the letter, as well as the doctrinal content. When he wrote this letter he was in jail in Rome and awaiting trial, yet it is known as his letter of joy. In this letter of joy, Paul presents some important truths regarding the person and work of Christ and much more. He presents the humiliation and exhaltation of Christ as well as the two natures of Christ (Chapter 2); the resurrection of Jesus and the heavenly citizenship Christ has won for sinners (Chapter 3); the role of every Christian in the work of Christ’s kingdom. They look at the role of Epaphroditus and Timothy and their service to the Lord alongside Paul and others. Listen for yourself and consider the value of this short book and the encouragement to rejoice in the Lord in any and every circumstance!
In our Word of the Week in preparation for Thanksgiving, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses giving thanks from the Bible. God certainly deserves our thanks as our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. All people, both believers and unbelievers are encouraged to give thanks, for we all have been given rich blessings from God. We are encouraged to give thanks not only for ourselves, but also for others in fact for all people. Jesus gives us an example of praying for our daily food as he prayed and gave thanks for the bread and fish which He distributed to the multitude. What an important reminder for us, that we too should take time out to give thanks to God as we sit down for a meal, remembering that this too comes from Him. It is also good to give thanks to God in worship as we rejoice in His greater gifts of eternal life and salvation through Jesus Christ. “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). Indeed we have much for which to be thankful to our God. His blessings of body and soul are richly abundant!
In this Bible Study episode, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Neal Radichel take us into the Book of Jonah. Jonah is unique in many ways to the other prophets in the Old Testament. The LORD gave Jonah two clear commissions, or commands, in which Jonah shows disobedience to God and prejudice against those to which God sent him. Begin to explore the depths of this short book and understand more about the LORD’s divine discipline and correction, His divine power and protection, and His divine purpose and mercy. Hear how Jesus demonstrates how the “sign of Jonah” would be evidence of His absolute power over the bellies of Sheol. Jonah’s message is clear. But its a message he himself also needed to be reminded that, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). Listen for yourself and decide whether Jonah was a Misfit or Missionary, and how the Word of God reveals how you may be like Jonah in more ways than you think!
our Word of the Week for this Election Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses the word conscience. The conscience that part of the human being that God has created and given to help us distinguish from what is morally good or bad (Romans 2:14-15). A true or good conscience is not subjective and different for everyone, but given by God to reinforce what God has revealed about right and wrong in His holy law (10 Commandments). The Bible speaks of a “good conscience” and an “evil conscience” and even refers to a “weak conscience.” A good conscience functions in perfect harmony with God’s will from faith (1 Timothy 1:5). While God has given human beings a conscience to be a constant reminder of what we should or should not do, the conscience can be weakened or corrupted (1 Timothy 4:1-4; 1 Corinthians 8:7-12). If a conscience is good, it will be in accord with God’s Word and the same for everyone. But often our consciences are weakened or corrupted by sin. The real source of right and wrong is not our feelings, but God’s objective truth found in His Word. As you vote today, do so following God’s objective truth, with confidence in Him. Listen, learn and grow in your understanding of God’s Word and how it applies to our daily lives!
For me, part of preparing to register my vote in this year’s election involves reflection on the last few years. I am continually led to think not so much about President Barack Obama, but rather his wife, first-lady Michelle Obama. It’s becoming more common for the first-lady to push for significant change while her spouse is in office. It almost becomes a position in and of itself. Mrs. Obama has devoting significant work in the last eight years to educating young children in healthy living. She has helped create a movement called “Let’s Move” which encourages five pillars:
- Creating a healthy start for children
- Empowering parents and caregivers
- Providing healthy food in schools
- Improving access to healthy, affordable foods
- Increasing physical activity
“Let’s Move” prides itself as “America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids”. Who can argue with this motto or any of the pillars it supports? Healthy eating and exercise are great things to teach kids about and encourage them in. In this effort I certainly support Mrs. Obama. At the same time, I can’t help but cringe at the blatant contradiction that exists in reality. Any political candidate who claims to care about children, yet supports and promotes abortion, is simply hypocritical. This is why I think of Michelle Obama during this election season. She has a track record of supporting abortion through politics, both for her husband and for other politicians. It’s not so much that this is a new issue for our country; it’s certainly been around for much longer than the last eight years. The thing that bothers me most is this recent insistence by those who promote abortion that they care so much about children. If Mrs. Obama would at least be honest about her position I could respectfully disagree with her and appreciate her candor. But, for her to put on the front of making her life’s work about helping kids and growing a healthy next generation, while promoting the senseless murder of millions of unborn infants, is a most despicable evil.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that along with the growing discussion of the morality of abortion in our country also comes a growing promotion by abortion supporters of the ways in which they support children. It reeks to me of a man-made salve to alleviate the consciences of those who know better.
This is why a vote for life matters. When election season comes around, abortion is relegated by many to a strictly political topic. Questions of right and wrong take a backseat to questions of personal rights. What people say becomes more important than what God says. Righting the economy, fighting terrorism, preserving 2nd amendment rights, and determining which tax plan helps me the most all help us collectively drown out the blatant horror of stripping a helpless child from the protection of a mother’s womb.
Please don’t take this as calloused indifference toward a pregnant mother’s difficulty, especially that of a single mother or a rape victim. But, no atrocity demands a further atrocity as retribution, especially when that retribution is directed at the innocent. To speak out against the plague of abortion in our country and to vote for life is not to ignore the pain or rights of women. A system which advertises murder as the first and best choice is a broken system. We can do better.
So many people have complained this election season about the presidential candidates of the two major parties. It feels like no one is happy with our options. The problem is always passed off as someone else’s fault. In truth, I believe that the candidates we have are a reflection of the individual citizens of our country. That’s how a democracy works. Our government leaders’ morality is a litmus test for our own morality. To blame the candidates, but not see oneself as a contributor to the problem, is an element of personal hypocrisy too, equally as damning as standing for healthy eating while vacuuming wombs bare.
This is why moral and religious issues absolutely matter when it comes to our vote. You can buy into the “political” label for abortion but that’s willful ignorance. When we’ve allowed such a blatant moral tragedy to exist and prosper for so long (roughly 55 millions abortions since 1973), should we be surprised when immorality seeps unchecked into other areas of our nation; into the economics, into transparency of government, into the military, and even into the personal and professional lives of our leaders? If we’re willing to talk away what is done to a helpless infant in the most fragile of states, we’re going to be willing to talk away anything.
Those who vote based on abortion are looked at as religious zealots or simpletons; people who are willing to overlook the important things for an idealistic crusade. Abortion is not the only important issue which our vote impacts, not even the only moral issue. But, there is no doubt, it is the most glaring evil in our country, especially when one considers the moral and rationalistic gymnastics which are used to excuse it. We know more about a mother’s womb today than ever before in history. There is no doubt that life begins as God teaches, at conception. A child’s heartbeat alone begins within 18 days of conception. We cannot claim ignorance about what abortion really does. What a blatant contradiction, that in this supposedly great age of science and reason our culture has found more and more ways of ignoring the clear evidence in favor of sinful desires.
Common objections to voting pro-life:
1. It violates the mother’s rights. We often hear this as the most common objection to the government getting involved in ending abortion or setting rules on abortion. It’s true, in one sense, that the government has no right to infringe upon a woman’s rights, or any other citizen’s, without just cause. We certainly don’t believe the government should never get involved, or never restrict anyone, because all laws are restrictive in some way. Laws are necessary, both by logic and by what God says in the Bible (Romans 13:1-7). The question comes down to what the law says and why. Is there a reason for restricting a woman’s right to procure an abortion? It depends on the reason. If a woman is in serious health trouble due to the pregnancy and could lose both her life and potentially the life of the child, there is an obvious moral reason for possible termination of the pregnancy and it shouldn’t be determined by the government. However, this situation describes less than 1% of all abortions, and even in these cases the right decision is never clear cut. Most abortions are done because the mother decides, or is pressured to believe, that it would be too difficult or inconvenient to raise the child. Abortions also occur frequently as a last-ditch effort at birth control. In such cases, the government’s responsibility should be to protect the innocent and provide support for expectant mothers who need help. Advocating death over life is never supportive. In no other realm of society do we force the agenda of death as much as abortion. In any other area it would be considered barbaric, but somehow we’ve allowed that exact system to exist for over 40 years in this country.
2. Christians have no right to legislate their beliefs on others. This argument assumes that opposition of abortion is unique to Christians. Although Christians are often the most outspoken voices against abortion, it is by no means simply a Christian issue. Most religions in the world respect the life of the innocent in some way. As Christianity itself teaches, the basic moral law that murder is wrong is in the heart of all people since God created them to recognize that in the conscience. Therefore, to relegate the pro-life stance to promotion of only one religion is a fallacy. The fact that abortion without just cause is immoral is not just some ancient tenant of Christianity, it is an unchangeable moral law, set in our hearts by our Creator. It is true whether you believe it or not. Christians who say they shouldn’t vote based on their faith should also check where their loyalty rests. When human governments allow things that a morally wrong, Christians are to obey God above all. Saying that a Christian should not vote against abortion because it is forcing one’s religion upon others is putting government above God. We, obviously, are not to use the government to do the church’s job, but we are also to be lights that shine forth the truth of Christ in the decisions we make, a vote being one such decision. I encourage Christians who think this way to diligently consider the import of Matthew 10:32-33 when it comes to their view of government: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
3. Abortion is a necessary evil because chastity is not realistic in our society and the world is overpopulated. First of all, regarding chastity, it may be extremely rare in our society but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. God clearly wants man and woman to wait until marriage before sexual contact. This is clearly not the norm in our culture, but it remains God’s commandment. While it is very difficult to keep chaste before marriage, God promises, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).” To say that it is impossible to be chaste is to tempt God by doubting His promise to help in temptation. It also reveals that the one who doubts is in danger to more than just sexual temptation, but also to idolatry, by trusting in their own word over God’s.
The argument about overpopulation is so over-the-top it is almost not worth commenting on. What you see in it is the honest practice of evolutionary philosophy. If we are truly animalistic organisms with no Creator, then life is all about survival at all costs. Why not destroy the weak and fragile to preserve resources for ourselves? It is truly the most shameful and baseless defense for abortion, but you will see it employed by many.
A vote for life matters greatly. It matters to other issues as it seeks to root out evil in our government and culture. It matters to God, Who says that murder is wrong and Who is our Creator and the One who fashions life from conception. It matters to our fellow citizens, many of whom live without the light of Jesus in their lives, and could use a Christian’s solid and Biblical witness of the truth. It matters to mothers who are pregnant and are pressured to take the “easy” way out while not realizing the great pain, anguish, and guilt that they are acquiring in the process. It matters to the helpless child in the womb, who has no voice in our nation, except perhaps yours.
I encourage you to get out next week and exercise your blessed civic right to vote. Vote as one whose ultimate trust is in what God says, not the world. Vote as one who reflects the value of life with which Jesus has enlightened your heart. In His cross, we have a continual reminder: Life is always greater than death! A vote for life matters for many reasons.
1 Peter 1:17-19 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
In this episode of Conservative Pastor Response Pastors Mark Tiefel and Nathanael Mayhew offer some Biblical thoughts and insights into the role of the Christian as citizens and what to consider as we prepare to vote this coming week. They will talk about why voting is important, and what a Christian should consider when voting. What political issues should the Christian consider as they think about casing a vote for a particular candidate? Can a Christian, in good conscience support or vote for a candidate who is immoral? They will consider the example of Daniel and Joseph in the Bible and how they remained faithful to God’s Word, but also served in a heathen government. Finally they will look at the Christian’s response if the candidate that they vote for is not elected. Where does our hope finally need to rest? We hope this will serve as an encouragement to you to get informed, and exercise your right to vote next Tuesday, but also to trust in the LORD regardless of the outcome!
You and I make comparisons every day that are based on a person’s value in our personal life. In an age where public servants such as police officers, military, and politicians aren’t getting much respect, do you think these comparisons are initially based on outward looks and appearances? In our jobs, comparisons are normally based on work performance or future potential. Maybe decisions are based on proximity, as with a neighbor. Would you agree that we often make decisions about who we respect or let into our lives based on our comparing and weighing their usefulness to us?
Let’s briefly test and explore this by daring to compare a pastor to a firefighter. That probably seems like a silly comparison, but through this there is a very important lesson for each of us.
Here are a few interesting similarities:
- On Call 24/7 – Both pastors and firefighters are generally on call at all hours. Even if a firefighter is “off shift” or a pastor is “on vacation,” the pager or the cell phone however does not take breaks.
- Wants to help others – Both pastors and firefighters are public servants. You may hear about a crooked pastor or firefighter now and then, but in general they desire to be responsible to those who are in need. In this way both also intend to support the local community as much as possible.
- Can’t be everywhere – Both have limitations. Often times, crisis situations are more prevalent than the pastors or firefighters who are trying to handle them. Both the general population of a city’s citizens or church’s members have definite expectations of these public servants, and rightly so. But both groups should remember they can’t be everywhere at once.
- Extensive training – Both pastors and firefighters, if they are going to know what they’re doing or talking about, will have extensive and continual training in their ministry (service). Much like a doctor or lawyer, this is obviously necessary for those whom they are intending to serve.
- Wants to save others – Both have the goal to save lives. But here’s where the differences start to come into play. One is obviously more focused on an eternal salvation, the other on a physical salvation.
Before we examine a few of the differences, think again about how we make choices each day about who we let into our lives. So if you only could pick either a pastor or a firefighter to have in your circle, at this point would it be an easy decision which one?
Now take a look at those differences:
|1. may selflessly die as a hero||may selflessly die as a martyr|
|2. physical and emotional||emotional and physical|
|3. emergency medical treatment||emergency spiritual treatment|
|4. respected by those they serve||respected and hated by those they serve|
|5. fights with water||fights with living waters (God’s Word)|
|6. tries to rescue from fires||tries to rescue from fires of hell|
Looking at the comparison between pastor and firefighter, which do you think is more important to have in your personal life? As was mentioned in the beginning, it’s all about how you value each person and what they do for you. If you’re more concerned with your physical health and safety, you would pick a firefighter over a pastor. If you’re more concerned with your spiritual and eternal well-being, you’ll likely pick a pastor. So what’s the point?
The truth is that we make decisions daily about who is most important to have in our lives. Naturally, this is often based on the somewhat selfish question, “What can this person do for me?” How would you like a firefighter who, in the interest of self-preservation, wouldn’t come into your house if it were on fire? In reality, firefighters risk their lives for us every day! Or how would you like a pastor who could care less what you are doing with your life? The word “pastor” literally means “shepherd.” What happens when a shepherd of Christ doesn’t care about the sheep for which he is responsible?
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The real lesson here is in comparing these public servants to yourself, “Do I aspire and desire to be like a firefighter AND a pastor?” In other words, like a heroic firefighter, would I be willing to lay down my life for a family member, a friend, a stranger, or even an enemy? Or like a persistent pastor, am I willing to loving and patiently point out selfish and sinful behaviors in others, regardless of who they are? What we pray the Lord will teach us through these questions is that we are thinking about the physical or spiritual health of others, first. In the end, this is the selfless, sacrificial love we see best in the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)
Compare Jesus to the firefighter and pastor, and He exceeds both perfectly. He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He didn’t come to do His own will, but the will of His Father’s in heaven (John 6:38). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to this world to literally rescue you from your sin and from the eternal fires of hell (Matthew 25:41,46). He conquered death when He rose from the dead and promised, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is on call for you 24/7 and will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5).
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
So you see? If we make our decisions based upon the reality of comparing JESUS to anyone else in our life the answer is simple. Jesus is the MVP of your life. He is beyond value. He is beyond any treasure. There is no comparison! Let’s continue to learn the lesson of Jesus’ selfless love for you and for me. And by His grace and help, let’s live it also!