Two Things I Know For Sure About the Coming Election

This is the most divided, the trashiest, the most insulting presidential election I’ve seen in my lifetime. It is also the most confusing. But in spite of the uncertainty that surrounds it, there are two things I know for a fact about this coming election.
1. THE FIRST IS:
Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States of America.
I’m sure Evan McMullin is a nice guy, as is Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and any other person not named on the ballot that you may choose to write in. All nice people. All may even have higher standards of character than the two leading candidates. But the simple fact is none of them will be president.
Whatever your motive is for voting for one of them, whether to make a moral statement, or to distance yourself from Trump or Clinton, your vote will essentially be meaningless. Whether we like it or not, at this time, in this election, we are a two-party nation. The Democrats’ candidate or the Republicans’ candidate will be the next president.
Between those two, and their respective parties, which would you prefer to rule over the country? That’s a question you should answer, because, ultimately, one of them will be your next president.
2. THE SECOND THING I KNOW FOR SURE IS:
A whole lot of your friends and mine are going to need to be forgiven when the election is over.
Some of our friends have spewed a lot of hatred on their social media sites. Our “good, Christian friends” have dived into the gutter to post rants that they have no way of knowing are true, repeated name-calling because it was catchy, and posted more slander than the National Enquirer can post in a year.
Entire passages of Scripture have been swept under the rug so that they can justify their “righteous indignation.” The Bible’s admonitions against gossip and slander, its call to “think on whatsoever things are pure, lovely, and of good report,” have gone ignored.
“People need to know,” screamed one fanatic when I questioned her vitriol against one candidate. Never mind that she was simply posting hatred and slander.
A far better approach, and a more scriptural one, would be to simply post all the “good reports” on your favored candidate.
But not this year. From the mainstream media to the private rants of our friends, there is nothing good being said. And, in a few weeks, President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump will lead this nation for the next four years.
If your favored candidate wins, but your friends’ favored candidate does not, I’m afraid the vitriolic expressions won’t be ending just because the election is over. Those who spew hatred now will continue to spew it then.
And you and I are going to have to have a lot of forgiveness and grace.
That’s the sum total of what I know about the coming election. One of two people is going to be the next president. And we’re going to need to forgive a lot of angry people when he or she is.

What’s Up With All These Doors?

When the Bible repeats a theme, it’s worth taking a look. Doors are a repeated theme.
Here are 5 doors of decision. Each presents us with a choice, a pictorial understanding that, with God, there is a right side and a wrong side. A choice to be made.
1. NOAH’S DOOR.
The Lord told Noah to build one door in the ark. Just one. If it is true that Noah worked on the ark for 120 years, then that means his generation had 120 years to decide which side of that door they would be on if, indeed, it did start to rain. None chose the right side. Only Noah and his family members were on the inside when “the Lord shut” the door. Noah and his family might have become weary with the task. But when God sealed that door, they were safe! Everyone else was lost.
2. LOT’S DOOR.
A couple of angels were inside the door with Lot. He stepped “outside the door” to try to reason with the homosexual activists when demanded that he “share” his guests. They knew he wasn’t “one of them,” and might have killed him if the angels had not reached out and pulled him back to the right side of the door. To prevent the mob from breaking down the door, the angels blinded them. They didn’t convert them. They were beyond conversion. The angels simply protected Lot until it was time to rescue him permanently from Sodom and Gomorrah.
3. MOSES’ DOOR.
In his final attempt to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free, Moses commanded his people to kill a lamb, and then paint the door frame (the doorpost and lintels) with the blood. When Death came to Egypt in the night, if the blood was on the door, he would “pass over” that house and spare the firstborn. If there was no blood, he would kill the firstborn of that house.
The blood of a lamb. On the door. When judgment came, the death angel would not peek inside the door to qualify what kind of person lived inside. He would not hold a debate with the dweller about his theology. He would not examine his fatherhood (or motherhood). He would simply pass on. Judgment was completed… at the door… by the blood of a lamb.
4. CHRIST’S DOOR.
Jesus (the Lamb of God) said, “I am the door.” Not one of many. Just “the door.” No one can approach God – the invisible, unknowable, mysterious God – unless they approach Him through Jesus Christ. That’s what He said. No one. If anyone tries, he is a thief and robber. No prophet puts us in God’s realm. No man. No angel. No other deity. No theology. No Bible. Only Jesus. Simply Jesus. The Way. The Truth. The Life. The Door.
5. YOUR DOOR.
Perhaps my favorite verse in the Bible, Rev. 3:20 simplifies salvation to the relationship it was meant to be. Salvation is not a theological persuasion. Salvation is Jesus Christ. “Look, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus said. “If anyone hears my voice, and opens to Me, I will come into him and dwell with him, and he with Me.”
Holman Hunt painted a classic picture of Christ knocking at a door. Careful inspection shows that he neglected to paint a door handle. It was intentional. Christ won’t open the door to your heart. He just knocks. It must be opened from within, by you.
But if it is… if you do open your heart to Jesus Christ, your life will be transformed by His presence! Church does not transform your heart. Preachers cannot transform you. Doctrine and knowledge? No. Nothing else is presented in this way. He knocks. If you hear Him, you can open.
He doesn’t knock on Sunday’s only, at the end of a sermon. He doesn’t work a couple of hours a week. He is always knocking. Even this moment, He is knocking.
Open the door today.
You’ll be glad you did.

Portrait of a Saint

What do saints look like? Would you be surprised to know they look a lot like you? Saints are not carved in stone in Rome. Those are merely statues. The apostles called the church members of their day “saints.” People like you and me. The word simply means “set apart for God’s service.” “Venerated.”
Saint Billy walked into a church service where I was the pastor. He sat down on the back row after I had already begun preaching, and almost instantly he was crying. As soon as I dismissed, he slipped out and was gone! Ushers had missed him.
I was a young, new pastor building a new church. I needed people! We didn’t get his name or contact info. It bugged me that we had no way of contacting him.
The next Sunday, after I had begun my sermon, he slipped in again, and, as before, he began to cry quietly. And we missed him again! I told my ushers if he ever came back to tackle him. The third Sunday in a row he came, and we were prepared. Needlessly, it turned out, because this time he stayed. He wanted to speak to the pastor, and he invited me to breakfast the next morning.
We met, and after brief introductions, he told me a story. He was a truck driver. Khaki-wearing, calloused-hands truck driver. He drove a regular route, knew his customers along the way. A few months ago he and a waitress had carried their usual flirting to the next step. They decided that they would hook up on his return trip and spend the night together in a hotel down the street.
He was excited as he pulled out of the parking lot to start his run, but he was also nervous. He had never cheated on his wife. He wondered what his kids would think if they ever found out. By the time he reached the ramp to the interstate, he was already regretting his hasty, lustful decision. Aloud in his truck, he groaned and said something like, “Lord, what have I done?”
Almost immediately a bright light blinded him. The light filled the cab of his truck. And then, he told me, he knew it was Jesus! This blinding light Jesus told him he was forgiven, told him to simply not stop at the truck stop on his way home, and told him to bless his family, take them to church, and He would bless Billy. Wow, I thought, glancing at my watch. Then, the punch. “When the light vanished, I was gripping the wheel, and an exit sign was coming up. I knew my route. I had driven 45 miles and never knew it. Jesus was in control.”
I was polite. I glanced at my watch again. I was ready to move on. He must be a wacko. “I started visiting churches when I got home,” he continued. “But… He… wasn’t there. Each week I would visit a different church, but I knew what He felt like, and He wasn’t there. Until I visited your church three weeks ago. I slipped in and sat down, and the minute I sat down, He sat down beside me.”
Well, now I’m starting to like this guy. After all, if Jesus is promoting my church, who am I to argue? He came three weeks in a row to be sure. Now he wanted to know if he could bring his family to my church. So he and his family began attending my church.
A few months later, I received a phone call from a local hospital. Billy’s son was in a life-or-death battle. He had gone to school with a headache. A fellow student offered him an aspirin. In second period, his headache persisted, so the friend gave him 3 or 4 aspirin. Only they weren’t aspirin. The boy had taken some Valium from his mother’s medicine cabinet. He let another friend in on the prank, as they called it. By the time auto shop class came around, Billy’s boy had swallowed a dozen or more Valium, and he was barely standing.
The kids hid him from the teacher, treating him like he was drunk. Someone had a vial of acid used on some battery experiments, and he grabbed it like orange juice and chugged it before anyone could react. He collapsed instantly, bleeding, and unconscious. An ambulance sped him to the hospital.
The boys confessed. Billy’s son was in a precarious state. They needed to pump his stomach, but they could not risk anything in his esophagus because the acid had eroded his throat and esophagus. Basically, they were siphoning off blood and waiting to see if he would wake up.
At some point a doctor mentioned 12 hours, and Billy noted that as if it was gospel. Twelve hours later, with no change, he begged the doctor for any kind of hope. The doctor just told him they had to wait for him to overcome the drugs. Twelve more hours. They were just stalling, but Billy was counting the hours.
Somewhere between 24 and 36 hours, after a doctor had already warned that even if he pulls through he may not be able to speak, Billy asked me to come back to the hospital. He knelt on one side of the boy’s bed, and asked me to kneel on the other. He reached his arms across the boy’s body and asked me to reach over and interlock our arms across the boy’s chest. I did. The nurses were awkward. Everyone was awkward. This was the most desperate father ever! He wailed. He cried. He prayed. He reminded God of His goodness. He begged.
Finally, he released his grip on me, and we stood and embraced. No change in the boy. Long after I had left, a nurse was checking the monitors, and a voice behind her said, “I’m thirsty!” She turned to see who it was, and it was the high school boy himself, sitting up, staring at her. He wondered where he was, then repeated, “I’m thirsty.”
She ran out in the hallway and yelled for the doctor whom she knew was just a few rooms down. He came running, probably assuming the boy had died. When he walked into the room, he said he couldn’t believe it. He didn’t know anything to do at the moment but put a tongue depressor in his mouth and look at the throat that wasn’t supposed to be speaking. He turned around amazed. “The boy says he’s hungry,” he exclaimed, wiping a tear. “Somebody run across the street and get this boy a hamburger.”
And they did. And he ate all of it, and drank the coke they brought with it. No evidence of acid. No death. No funeral. Just a truck-driver dad laying his arms across his boy, reminding God of His goodness, and begging a little.
A saint, if you please. A saint in khakis.
An ordinary man. Like you.