April 12, 2016

For Whom Shall Christians Vote?

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.  And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.  And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

“And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord suffer me first to go and bury my father.  But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.  And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.  And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.  And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.  And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?  Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”
(Matthew 8:18-26)
Dr. Rick Flanders

The election year of 2016 has presented Christian voters with unusual challenges and dilemmas. At the beginning of the primary season, a surprising number of the candidates running for their party’s nomination for the office of President were individuals with credible professions of personal faith in Jesus Christ.  Not that people who have been born again must vote only for other born-gain Christians, but candidates who give a testimony of salvation certainly attract the attention of other believers.  But now most of these Christian candidates have fallen by the wayside in the political process, and the candidates that are left trouble us with dirty jokes, gutter-level profanity, harsh insults, unethical tactics, and obvious dishonesty.  Some of them are very vocal on the wrong side of issues that necessarily matter to believers, such as religious liberty, human life, the family, private property, the legalization of drug abuse, the public recognition of God, and religion-based terrorism.  Not many months ago a leading candidate made the statement that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed” in order that the progressive agenda be fulfilled.  In many ways, the Christian element in society, which at one time supported the undergirding values of our culture, feels threatened by the political scene, and the actors on the political stage.  When Election Day comes, should they vote their conscience, or for the lesser of two or more evils, or shall they stay home and let the devil have the country?  This year confronts us with facts that press us to re-consider our most important commitment.
My suggestion is that, at this pivotal time in the life of our republic, every Christian cast their vote for Jesus Christ!  A fundamental problem in America is that the people who are the light of the world have let their light grow dim.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared that His would-be followers are “the light of the world,” and He urged us to let our light shine (Matthew 5:14-16).  He also warned us that when we lose our focus on the Kingdom, our light darkens (get the point of Matthew 6:19-34), and remarked, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”  Shallow discipleship, and lack of focus on the Kingdom in the Christians has left our once-Christian society open to moral and spiritual decadence, and the moral decline has produced our cultural, societal, and political problems.  This year, the big need is for believers in Jesus Christ to forsake all and follow Him.
Christian discipleship is a prominent theme of the book of Matthew from the beginning to the last chapter.  And chapter 8 tells the story of some men whose commitment to follow Jesus was tested.  In verse 8 we find Jesus commanding His followers to get into a boat and ride with Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  In verse 19 we are introduced to “a certain scribe” who said to Jesus, “I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”  The Lord answered him (in verse 20) by explaining that He and His followers have no certain lodging night after night.  Then “another of his disciples” is introduced who said, “Lord, suffer [allow] me first to go and bury my father.”  In other words, he would follow Jesus after his father died because of responsibilities that event would bring to him.  Jesus responded by saying bluntly, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (verses 21-22).  In other words, the true disciple must not put anything ahead of following Him.  The narrative continues with Jesus getting into the boat, and His disciples following him and taking their places in that boat.  As they travel across the lake, a storm comes and threatens to capsize the vessel and drown all of them.  The followers of Jesus are recorded as crying out at this point, “Lord save us: we perish.”  But then Jesus said to them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (verses 23-26).  He had told them at the first that they would go “to the other side,” and if they had taken His words seriously they would not have doubted that their journey would be successful in spite of the storm in the middle.  Of course, the situation turned out right, and everybody learned another lesson about Jesus and what it takes to follow him (see verse 27).
The shallow commitment of these would-be disciples of Jesus speaks loudly to the problems His followers in our country seem to have today.  Many think they are following Jesus but are still insisting on a certain level of comfort in the experience.  Others insist on putting something else, perhaps something personal, first and ahead of what the Lord might call them to do.  Very many who get a relatively good start in following Jesus give up when they run into trouble along the path of faith.  The problem with America is not really with the Republicans (although they do have obvious problems) or with the Democrats (although they have created some serious problems) or with the rich (who nevertheless have often been characterized by unethical conduct) or with the working class (although many of them have been fooled by various radical versions of atheistic socialism); it is with the Christians who give so little of their lives to Christ.  The country would be affected by a change in who runs the government, but certainly not nearly as much as it would if believers in Christ would experience a revival.  And any believer can experience revival, as well as influence others to revival, by just choosing (voting) to deepen their commitment.  There is something that you can do to turn this upside down world right-side up, and a true Christian probably knows what it is.  Decide the issue that stands in the way of full fellowship with Christ, and decide it on His side.  Vote for Jesus Christ this year.  Cast your vote in favor of taking up your cross!
And there are ways that the shallow Christian can move in the right direction on this very day:
1.       If you get up early tomorrow to pray, you are voting for Jesus Christ.

2.       If you take Gospel tracts with you as you leave home, planning to distribute them, you are voting for Jesus Christ.

3.       If you will humble yourself in order to ask a family-member for forgiveness, you will be voting for Jesus Christ.

4.       If you finally deal with the sin-issue today that has ruined your spiritual life for weeks or years, you will be voting for Jesus Christ.

5.       If you stop right now, get on your knees and surrender your life without reservation to the Lord, resolving to do His bidding no matter what, in a significant way you will vote for Jesus Christ.
So let me suggest that it is time for Christians in this country today to go to the polls and vote for their Lord and Saviour, intending to carry out His agenda and let Him heal their land.  Leave your complacency, lukewarmness, and comfort to join the revival movement on this day.
Dr. Rick Flanders

April 4, 2016

A Nation of Fools

In April of last year, I greeted you with the words “Unhappy Atheist’s Day.” Atheists do have their day to be recognized, and that would be…April Fool’s Day! We are warned in scripture not to call someone a fool in a light manner. In this case, however, we are only repeating what the Sovereign Creator has recorded in Psalm 14:1 - The fool hath said in his heart, (there is) no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

In the current national election discussion, voters give clear evidence that they have chosen to be identified as fools. This (possibly) majority vote gives new meaning to the term “a nation of fools.” I doubt if a majority of those voters would actually call themselves atheists, but some of them are willing to do so. They are the stated fools, who admit - by God’s definition - that they belong to a nation of fools. The remaining part of that voting bloc admits to being fools only by the way they speak and live. They are the demonstrated fools, who live as if there is no God who is the final authority on all things.

This discussion is not about our nation having originally been a Christian nation; I will let others debate that. On the other hand, though, how could anyone possibly think that we are a Christian nation at this point in time? Some would argue that we are a secular nation, but that is not true, either. Everything that is being advanced by this nation of fools today is really based on what they believe. Their belief system is actually their religion, and it is not difficult to identify. While the goal of Islam is to be a majority and to extend its cruel rule over all the earth, Muslims are not yet the majority in our nation. The religion of fools that now has a majority has one common god, and that is man himself. Man has, for them, become autonomous; he doesn’t need, nor does he want, the God of the universe.


A majority of fools has placed foolish leaders in charge, but this elite group is demonstrating every day that, through their new oligarchy, they will press their folly on the entire nation. This is true in every phase of government. The majority of our Supreme Court members have chosen to mock the one true God with most of their decisions, the most recent trend of approving sodomy being only one of the most egregious. For years, they have been closing the public sector to God, at least from their point of view. Instead of having a court jester, as in olden days, they have become an entire court of fools, according to God’s definition.

The present administration has morphed from its former false claim of support for Christianity to ignoring it, and now even to open hostility against it. While it openly and without apology has given honor to Islam, it now pushes the agenda of that movement, which is based on violence and hate. At the same time, it is criticizing and condemning biblical Christianity, the very heart of a peaceful society.

Our Congress, for the most part, has joined the massive movement that has led us to become a nation of fools. Like other leaders in government who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, they have run roughshod over the founding elements of this nation that were put in place in order to protect good citizens. The very people who were chosen to protect all citizens - including people of faith - have marginalized and maligned those very people. This folly on the part of our leaders is the reason why this nation is now so deeply divided.

At this point, some moderate evangelicals are going to brand these thoughts as anti-government rhetoric. I warn you not to go there. It is nearing the time when your support of fools, by God’s definition, is going to return to bite you as well. Your affinity to this failure is why the government has become the god of our beloved land. Who needs the true God, anyway, when we have a government that can solve any problem and will take care of us from the cradle to the grave? The problem with this setup is that the only way government can play god is to make slaves out of the rest of us; and a fool is really a slave, even if he thinks he is in charge.


Any Bible student should be able to recognize this failure of leaders in the history of the nation of Israel. The people became evil because the leaders became evil. In every case, the Old Testament declares that the nation was judged by God, and in time some were sent into exile for their rejection of God’s leadership and law.

With this in mind, it is worth asking when God will bring His judgment on our country. Perhaps it has already begun, and we are simply unwilling to recognize it. How could any serious student of the scriptures think that the murder of millions of infants and the accommodation of sodomy will be ignored by God? At all levels of society, morality has reached the level of a junkyard dog’s.

We might begin by asking what made it possible for such a nation, founded on biblical law and principles, to sink so low. One of the answers is education. Like it or not, fools are in charge of today’s educational system. Intellectual fools, perhaps, but nevertheless having dictated “no god but man.” The terrible truth is that believers have supported these fools and paid them to destroy the morality of our youth, who now have become the fools in charge.


At every level of society, there is a light. Thank God, there are still true believers, as identified in the book of 1 John. These saints have “kept the faith;” they have “fought a good fight,” and they will be “faithful unto death.” This week I was asked, “How long do you think it will be before true believers may have to go underground?” At the present rate of the advancement of the evil led by the elite fools, I doubt if we will have ten years. Because I am in the evening of my life, I may not see that day; but I think of our children and grandchildren and what we must teach them.

Peter has the answer to this question, and it begins with perspective. We shouldn’t be surprised. “Beloved, think it not strange considering the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12) We should find joy in the fact that we will suffer for Christ. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Peter 4:13)

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address shepherdstaff2@juno.com or the Shepherd Staff

Consider reading The Coming Conflict: The Separation of Church and State by Clay Nuttall.