9 Thoughts on the Presidential Election

I do not consider myself a political expert. I barely keep up with politics and I rarely watch the news. But, every four years, every Tom, Dick and Harry becomes their party’s political analysis on Facebook, Twitter or at the grocery store; freely offering their views and support to anyone who will listen. It’s part of the American process and part of what living in a Democratic Republic is all about.

With that in mind, not that anyone is asking, but here are a few thoughts I have about the upcoming presidential election (just pretend you standing behind me at the Walmart check out line):

  1. Neither of the candidates from the top parties are any good. I think anyone with any set of conservative (and certainly Christian) values would agree with this. All the people in the Trump camp that I have talked to agree that he is not an ideal choice, but he is better than the alternative. All the people in the Clinton camp admit that they can’t defend many of her positions, but she’s better than Trump. Either way, it sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.
  1. Character and values still matter. This is the latest platform I have heard from the “Trumpets”: We’re not voting based on character; we’re voting to keep “her” out. I could not disagree more. Every Christian leader in my lifetime has “preached” on the fact that we must vote based on character. The same Christian leaders (or their dads in the case of Jerry Falwell, Jr.) who are supporting Trump in spite of his vile character, are the same leaders who were calling for Bill Clinton’s resignation and impeachment due to his revolting character. It appears to me that someone has changed their mind.

Character is the most important factor of my voting decision. In the last election I voted for a man who I do not believe is a Christian (he doesn’t claim to be nor pretend to be) because I believed at the time that his values and morals and character matched more closely than the alternative. Why would I vote for a man who is so wicked and vile that I would not want him to be a resident in my neighborhood, much less the President of the United States.

We cannot compartmentalize our lives into one special box of sound, Christian judgment and morals and then another box based on social prudence based on who may or may not win an election. I must vote my conscience. I believe we will all be held accountable one day when we stand before the One and True King and give an account for the decisions I made here on earth. What can I possibly say to King Jesus about the 2016 election? “But, you don’t understand, Lord. Hilary is really, really bad! I have to compromise my character and vote for a vile human being, you know, for your sake!” That will not fly.

  1. But what about abortion and the unborn? That is a great point. One that I have struggled with. That and the appointment of supreme court justices weigh heavily on me. But, I must consider this fact, I cannot trade one evil for another. Is abortion morally and Biblically reprehensible? Absolutely. No doubt about it? But aren’t pornography, sexual assault and blatant racism (just to name a few) just as morally and Biblically reprehensible? I’m afraid I cannot vote for either.

I care about the unborn. They are made in the image of God, and they should be protected and fought for. But you know what, so are my daughters who are alive. I do not want a sexual predator in the White House. Our sisters-in-Christ deserve better than that. Our daughters deserve better. Our wives deserve better. Our sons should want to emulate at least one characteristic of their President, and I can’t think of even one way I want my sons to grow up and be like Trump.

  1. We cannot forget our social responsibility and secular witness as Christians. What does it say to a lost and dying world to see so many Christians not simply begrudgingly vote for a candidate they don’t really like, but wholeheartedly support and praise a candidate who is so anti-gospel, anti-Christian in his actions and anti-Biblical in any of his dealings? What about voting for Trump brings glory to God to a lost and dying world? What about supporting a vile, womanizing, pervert says that my total allegiance is to a self-sacrificing, humble holy God whose gospel is grand and worth dying for. If I can’t live out the gospel with my ballot, then I will never die for the gospel I say I believe in. Our lost neighbors deserve better than from us.
  1. If all the conservative Christians had felt the same passion and enthusiasm for Romney four years ago as they do for Trump this year, we may not be in this mess.
  1. Calling one candidate evil is not endorsing the other candidate. Both are evil. Both are no good. I wish we could pick two new ones. I am sick of the “Oh, so Candidate X did abc but what about when Candidate Y did 123! #MERICA” It is not either/or; in this case it is both/and!
  1. Whoever wins the election, I will still recognize them as the God-ordained leader of the country I choose to live in. I will support them and I will pray for them. It’s pretty simple, really. Scripture says to pray for the leaders who have authority over us (1 Timothy 2:2) because ultimately it was God who put him there (Romans 13:1). If you don’t like the person who wins you have two options: vote for someone else in four years or move out of the country. I do not say that tongue-in-cheek. Could things get so bad in America that we should move? Yes. Many of the Reformers of the 1500’s moved away from their homeland that was under authority of an abusive church and found safety in Geneva. However, many of them, once they were comforted with the gospel and trained in the Scriptures, moved back home as missionaries to their own countrymen. We may need to adopt the same tactics in the near future.
  1. Whoever wins the election, God is still on the throne. God is not wringing His Holy Hands in Heaven, wondering if we’re going to make the right choice. History has already been written in His book. He is not bound by time, space or presidential elections. He is still sovereign over all. He is still in control. The fate of America will not be decided by Trump vs. Clinton. The fate of America has already been decided. The fate of the world has already been decided. I know, because I’ve read the end of the Book.
  1. If you made it this far, congratulations! I didn’t think you would make it. That being said: “Go Dodgers! Beat the Cubs!”

For some really good, original thoughts from men I truly respect, Dr. Al Mohler and Dr. Russell Moore, you can check out these videos.

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My Favorite Quotes from “Thoughts for Young Men”

JC Ryle’s little work “Thoughts for Young Men” is a short a sweet read; but it is by no means an easy read. I say that because it is convicting. It is poignant. And it is so needed today. If you haven’t bought it yet, click the link above and buy it. You can literally read it in one sitting. Buy a paperback copy here and give it as a gift.

Below I have collected my favorite quotes from the book. I hope they are somehow helpful and fruitful to your life and/or the life young man that you know.

  1. Let us ask any faithful minister of the gospel, and note what he will tell us. How many unmarried young people can he remember who come to the Lord’s Supper? Who are the most backward about the doctrines of salvation, the most irregular about Sunday services, the most difficult to draw to weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings, the most inattentive to whatever is being preached? Which part of his congregation fills him with the most anxiety? Who are the Reubens for whom he has the deepest “searchings of heart”? Who in his flock are the hardest to manage, who require the most frequent warnings and rebukes, who cause him the greatest uneasiness and sorrow, who keep him most constantly in fear for their souls, and seem the most hopeless? Depend on it, his answer will always be, “The Young Men.”

  Let us ask the parents in any county throughout this land, and see what they will generally say. Who in their families give them the most pain and trouble? Who need the most watchfulness, and most often provoke and disappoint them? Who are the first to be led away from what is right, and the last to remember cautions and good advice? Who are the most difficult to keep in order and limits? Who most frequently break out into open sin, disgrace the name they bear, make their friends unhappy, embitter the older relatives, and cause them to die with sorrow in their hearts? Depend on it, the answer will generally be, “The Young Men.”

Let us ask the judges and police officers, and note what they will reply. Who goes to the night clubs and bars the most? Who make up street gangs? Who are most often arrested for drunkenness, disturbing the peace, fighting, stealing, assaults, and the like? Who fill the jails, and penitentiaries, and detention homes? Who are the class which requires the most incessant watching and looking after? Depend on it, they will at once point to the same group, they will say, “The Young Men.”

  1. Tomorrow is the devil’s day, but today is God’s. Satan does not care how spiritual your intentions are, or how holy your resolutions, if only they are determined to be done tomorrow.
  1. Surely none are so mad as those who are content to live unprepared to die.
  1. Young men, your time is short. Your days are but a brief shadow, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, a story that is soon told. Your bodies are not made of brass. “Even the young men,” says Isaiah, “stumble and fall” (Isaiah 40:30). Your health may be taken from you in a moment: it only needs an accident, a fever, an inflammation, a broken blood-vessel, and the worm would soon feed upon you in the grave. There is but a step between any one of you and death. This night your soul might be required of you. You are fast going the way of all the earth, you will soon be gone. Your life is all uncertainty, your death and judgment are perfectly sure. You too must hear the Archangel’s trumpet, and go forth to stand before the great white throne of judgment, you too must obey that summons, which Jerome says was always ringing in his ears: “Get up, you dead, and come to judgment.” “Yes, I am coming soon,” is the language of the Judge Himself. I cannot, dare not, will not let you alone.
  1. Every day you are either getting nearer to God, or further off.
  1. Sin is the mother of all sorrow, and no sort of sin appears to give a man so much misery and pain as the sins of his youth.
  1. Pride is the oldest sin in the world. Indeed, it was before the world. Satan and his angels fell by pride. They were not satisfied with their first situation and status. Thus pride stocked hell with its first inhabitants.
  1. Imagination is the hotbed where this sin is too often hatched. Guard your thoughts, and there will be little fear about your actions.
  1. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking.
  1. Just as men marry in a rush and then are miserable with their mate, so they make mistakes about their souls in a minute, and then suffer for it for years.
  1. If it is worthwhile to be a Christian, it is worthwhile to be in earnest about it
  1. Be very sure of this–people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it. They understand it too well; they understand that it condemns their own behavior; they understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment.
  1. Hear the request I make of you this day–if you love life, seek to become acquainted with Jesus Christ.
  1. The poorest saint that ever died in a ghetto is nobler in His sight than the richest sinner that ever died in a palace.
  1. Is not sin–sin, whether committed at the age of twenty or fifty? Will it form the slightest excuse, in the day of judgment, to say, “I know I sinned, but I was young then?”
  1. There seems no end to the producing of many books, though few of them are really profitable. There seems a rage for cheap printing and publishing. Newspapers of every sort abound, and the tone of some, which have the widest circulation, speaks badly for the taste of the age. Amid the flood of dangerous reading, I plead for my Master’s book, I call upon you not to forget the book of the soul. Do not let newspapers, novels, and romances be read, while the prophets and Apostles be despised. Do not let the exciting and sensual swallow up your attention, while the edifying and the sanctifying can find no place in your mind.
  1. Never make an intimate friend of anyone who is not a friend of God. Never be satisfied with the friendship of any one who will not be useful to your soul.
  1. Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely, as an allowed sin. It may be a little one, but it is not any less dangerous. A small leak will sink a great ship, and a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin in like manner will ruin an immortal soul.
  1. There are two ways of coming down from the top of a ladder; one is to jump down, and the other is to come down by the steps: but both will lead you to the bottom. So also there are two ways of going to hell; one is to walk into it with your eyes open–few people do that; the other is to go down by the steps of little sins–and that way, I fear, is only too common.
  1. Jeremy Taylor very clearly described the progress of sin in a man:  First it startles him, then it becomes pleasing, then easy, then delightful, then frequent, then habitual, then a way of life! Then the man feels no guilt, then obstinate, then resolves never to repent, and then he is damned.
  1. The sound of a footstep coming has stopped many a deed of wickedness. A knock at the door has caused many an evil work to be hastily suspended, and hurriedly laid aside. But oh, what miserable folly is all this! There is an all-seeing Witness with us wherever we go. Lock the door, pull down the blind, turn out the light; it doesn’t matter, it makes no difference; God is everywhere, you cannot shut Him out, or prevent His seeing.
  1. Live as in the sight of God. This is what Abraham did, he walked before Him. This is what Enoch did, he walked with Him. This is what heaven itself will be, the eternal presence of God. Do nothing that you would not like God to see. Say nothing, you would not like God to hear. Write nothing, you would not like God to read. Go no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, “Show it to Me.”
  1. Prayer is the life-breath of a man’s soul. Without it, we may have a name to live, and be counted Christians; but we are dead in the sight of God.
  1. Young men, believe me, if your soul is to be saved, you must pray. God has no speechless children.
  1. I have heard it said that some people who grind metal sometimes wear a magnetic mouthpiece at their work, which catches all the fine metal dust that flies around them, prevents it from entering their lungs, and so saves their lives. Prayer is the mouthpiece that you must wear continually, or else you will never work uninjured by the unhealthy atmosphere of this sinful world. You must pray.
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The Truth About Our Enemy

I am loving reading through the short little work by JC Ryle titled “Thoughts for Young Men.” Click the link and purchase it yourself.

In this section he describes the very real threat of our enemy, the devil. He is addressing young men specifically, but it is true for any of us.

Here is what he says:

Young men, beware of being taken by his snares. He will try to throw dust in your eyes, and prevent you seeing anything in its true colors. He would eagerly make you think that evil is good, and good is evil. He will paint, cover with gold, and dress up sin, in order to make you fall in love with it. He will deform, and misrepresent, and fabricate true Christianity, in order to make you take a dislike to it. He will exalt the pleasures of wickedness–but he will hide from you the sting. He will lift up before your eyes the cross and its painfulness- but he will keep out of sight the eternal crown. He will promise you everything, as he did to Christ, if you will only serve him. He will even help you to wear a form of Christianity, if you will only neglect the power. He will tell you at the beginning of your lives, it is too soon to serve God–he will tell you at the end, it is too late. Oh, do not be deceived!

      You don’t know the danger you are in from this enemy; and it is this very ignorance which makes me afraid. You are like blind men, walking among holes and pitfalls; you do not see the perils which are around you on every side.

      Your enemy is mighty. He is called “The Prince of this world” (John 14:30). He opposed our Lord Jesus Christ all through His ministry. He tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and so brought sin and death into the world. He even tempted David, the man after God’s own heart, and caused his latter days to be full of sorrow. He even tempted Peter, the chosen Apostle, and made him deny his Lord. Surely his hostility towards man and God is to be despised.

      Your enemy is restless. He never sleeps. He is always going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is always going back and forth in the earth, and walking up and down on it. You may be careless about your souls: but he is not. He wants your soul to make you miserable, like himself, and will have your soul if he can. Surely his hatred towards men and God is to be despised.

      And your enemy is cunning. For thousands of years he has been reading one book, and that book is the heart of man. He ought to know it well, and he does know it–all its weakness, all its deceitfulness, all its folly. And he has a storehouse full of temptations, such as are most likely to do the heart of man the most harm. Never will you go to the place where he will not find you. Go into the city–he will be there. Go into the wilderness–he will be there also. Sit among drunkards–and he will be there to help you. Listen to preaching–and he will be there to distract you. Surely such ill-will is to be despised.

      Young men, this enemy is working hard for your destruction, however little you may think it. You are the prize for which he is specially contending for. He foresees you must either be the blessings or the curses of your day, and he is trying hard to effect a place in your hearts early in your life, in order that you may help advance his kingdom each day. Well does he understand that to spoil the bud is the surest way to mar the flower.

Be aware! The enemy is moving about like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour.

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Why Minister to Young Men?

A precious reminder of our desperate need to reach young men from J.C. Ryle. Taken from “Thoughts For Young Men.” 

Let us ask any faithful minister of the gospel, and note what he will tell us. How many unmarried young people can he remember who come to the Lord’s Supper? Who are the most backward about the doctrines of salvation, the most irregular about Sunday services, the most difficult to draw to weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings, the most inattentive to whatever is being preached? Which part of his congregation fills him with the most anxiety? Who are the Reubens for whom he has the deepest “searchings of heart”? Who in his flock are the hardest to manage, who require the most frequent warnings and rebukes, who cause him the greatest uneasiness and sorrow, who keep him most constantly in fear for their souls, and seem the most hopeless? Depend on it, his answer will always be, “The Young Men.”

      Let us ask the parents in any county throughout this land, and see what they will generally say. Who in their families give them the most pain and trouble? Who need the most watchfulness, and most often provoke and disappoint them? Who are the first to be led away from what is right, and the last to remember cautions and good advice? Who are the most difficult to keep in order and limits? Who most frequently break out into open sin, disgrace the name they bear, make their friends unhappy, embitter the older relatives, and cause them to die with sorrow in their hearts? Depend on it, the answer will generally be, “The Young Men.”

Let us ask the judges and police officers, and note what they will reply. Who goes to the night clubs and bars the most? Who make up street gangs? Who are most often arrested for drunkenness, disturbing the peace, fighting, stealing, assaults, and the like? Who fill the jails, and penitentiaries, and detention homes? Who are the class which requires the most incessant watching and looking after? Depend on it, they will at once point to the same group, they will say, “The Young Men.”

Our society is in desperate need for young men, old men and middle aged men to stand up and behave like men. A family is only as good as the father and husband. Healthy men makes healthy families. Healthy families make healthy churches. Healthy churches make healthy neighborhoods and communities. Healthy communities change the world.

We want our church to be full of men of all ages who are disciples who make disciples who make a positive impact on their families and communities. And this must start with the young men.

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Back to the Old/New Site

So about a year ago I began blogging at a website that I payed for using wordpress.org. I enjoyed it and it looked cooler having my own website name and everything. But, my year subscription ran out and it was time to pay up again. After thinking about it, I couldn’t justify spending the money for a site that I used so sporadically and was read so little. So I decided to let my subscription run out and switch back to this wordpress.com site.

The bummer is that I have no access to any of my blogs from the previous year😦 My hosting company won’t even let me log in for a second so I can export the content. That being said, if you were a fan of my previous site, I’m sorry. I hope I can do better this time.

If you weren’t  a fan, well, you weren’t missing much🙂

I plan on being a little more active, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

Any well, blessings for now.

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New site up and running

If anyone is interested, I have a new website at http://www.gavincroft.com. The site has all of my blog content and hopefully some other useful stuff.

Blessings!

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Why on earth is Genesis 38 in the Bible?

There are more than a few curious stories in the Bible. In fact, the Bible kind of starts out with a curious story about there being only two things: nothing and God.

If you can believe that Genesis 1:1 is true, then believing the rest of the Bible should be a piece of cake.

One of the most curious stories in the Bible is found in Genesis 38. This chapter seems to break up the continuity between Genesis 37, our introduction to Joseph and his 12 resentful brothers who sell him into slavery, and Genesis 39 where we see Joseph sold into Egyptian slavery and serve in Potiphar’s house. In the middle is Genesis 38, a chapter about Judah, his sons and his widowed daughter in law.

Let me recap it for you (though I do highly recommend you read it for yourself.) Judah is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He previously proposed that his brothers don’t simply kill their arrogant and annoying little brother Joseph, but that they sell him into slavery so that they could benefit financially from his demise. Judah has three sons that we know of. His first son, Er, married a woman named Tamar. Well, Er is not the greatest guy in the world and is actually struck down by the Lord.

Traditionally, if a man dies and leaves behind a widow with no heirs, which is the case with Tamar, then the brother of the deceased would marry his brother’s widow and have children so that the legacy would be passed down. So, that is what happens. Judah’s second son, Onan, marries Tamar. But, he refuses to have a child with her. He knew that the offspring would not be his and so did not fulfill his husbandly duties, so to speak. This too was wicked in the eyes of the Lord and God struck down Onan as well.

So Judah is down two sons because of this woman. And he was not going to lose another. He tells Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house and to live out the rest of her days basically.

What happens next sounds like it was taken from the script of the Young and the Restless. Some time later Judah’s own wife dies. He is lonely and sad for a while, but eventually is comforted enough to go about his life. Well Tamar knows of Judah’s condition, dresses as a prostitute and deceivingly tricks Judah (her twice-removed father-in-law) to sleep with her. She is actually impregnated by Judah and eventually bears his children, TWIN boys!

Judah is furious that she became pregnant and believes she has been immoral with another man until he finds out that it was he that has been the immoral one. He says, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”

Tamar eventually has the twins and names them Perez and Zerah. And that is the last we hear of Tamar and her children for a while.

Why is this story important? Why does God choose to interrupt the story of Joseph and his technicolor dream coat to tell us this very odd story about Judah and Tamar?

Why indeed? Let me remind you that the story of Joseph is not about enduring through tough times. The story of Joseph is not remaining faithful to God in the midst of persecution. The story of Joseph is not about having moral fiber even when no one else around you does. Those are all true, and they are definitely part of the story, but they are not the crux of the story. The story is about God’s relentless pursuit of the promises that he made back in Genesis 12 to Abraham and to a greater extent the promise he made to all of us in Genesis 3:15. God promised a serpent-crushing Seed of Abraham that will be a blessing to all the nations of the earth and He will move Heaven and earth to ensure that this will happen.

You see, Judah may have been the fourth born of Jacob, which means he had three older brothers ahead of him in the inheritance and blessing totem pole. He wasn’t even his father’s favorite son. Joseph had that distinction. But the story of Joseph is about God preserving Joseph so that Joseph might preserve his brothers, including Judah. It is imperative that Judah lived through the famine and was able to have children and grandchildren of his own. Genesis 49:10 says “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” This is a prophetic blessing from Jacob to the progeny of Judah. In relation to Genesis 12 and Genesis 3, Judah would be the descendant of the serpent-crushing Seed of Abraham that will also be King.

Now, let me connect the dots for you in case you haven’t yourself. The book of Matthew gives us a genealogy of Jesus tracing his ancestors back through the ages. It starts with Abraham in verse 2 of chapter 1: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron…” and it goes on from there. Perez, the son/grandson of Judah, is a direct ancestor to Jesus, the serpent-crushing King descendant from Abraham’s seed.

Genesis 38 is a reminder that God’s will shall always be done. It is also a reminder that God does not choose anyone based on their own merit. God chose a idolatrous old man to begin a nation in Abraham. And God chose a greedy, brother-selling, prostitute-monger who is both father and grandfather to be the ancestor of King Jesus.

If we are saved and call ourselves a Christian, it is not because of anything we did to deserve it. We are idolatrous wanders. We are selfish prostitutes and prostitute-mongers. Yet, God, in His infinite kindness, reaches down from Heaven with sovereign grace, and saves us anyway.

Genesis 38 is a reminder of how depraved and wicked we are, and how completely gracious God is. And how His will for a serpent-crushing Seed of Abraham will be King of kings and Lord of lords. And I, for one, am thankful for that reminder.

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