Common Faith Network

Common Faith Network

Morning Companion

If he's God's choice, is that always a good thing?

Is Mr. Trump God's choice for president? Or was he merely The People's choice?

I am one who believes that God does not always intervene in American elections but often just lets us go out own way just as a good parent might do. Frankly, at this point there is no way to know if God intervened in order to have "His man" sit in the Oval office, and I am a massive skeptic that he did. But as a practical matter we don't need to know the extent of Divine intervention, and as a matter of biblical history, even if someone is "God's man", that is no assurance that things will end well with him.

The first king of Israel, King Saul the son of Kish, was God's choice (see Samuel 9), but the power of the office ruined him.

Solomon is still one of the most celebrated kings of ancient Israel, a man with whom God visited personally (I Kings 3: 4 - 15). Yet his reign ended with a nation steeped in idolatry and near civil war. His fame, power, and wealth that could have been used for the realm's good became the ruin of him. (I Kings 11).

King Jeroboam, who was the first king of the Northern Kingdom (the Ten Tribes that split from King David's dynasty after the death of Solomon) was a man God selected and appointed through his prophet. God even made the same promise to Jeroboam that he had made to David: remain faithful to God and his ways, and not only would he and the nation be blessed, but his dynasty would last as long as there was an Israel. (I Kings 11:34-39)

Here was a man, clearly God's anointed -- clearly "God's man" -- yet he so led the nation in a direction away from God that he is mentioned again and again in the ancient annals as the reason for the nation's downfall (see II Kings 17: 7-23).

Some legacy for "God's man"!

If you believe that Mr. Trump, or any other leader for that matter, is God's choice, understand that this is no guarantee of God's blessing. The blessing depends on what the man does.

If you believe as I do that Mr. Trump is The People's choice, there is no guarantee that the nation will be cursed. The blessing or the curse will depend on what the leader does and what we do.

So as a practical matter, regardless of whether he's God's man or The People's choice, our obligations as citizens of both the Kingdom of God and the City of Man remain the same.  Those obligations begin with what Paul wrote to Timothy:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4 NIV)
Prayer is a good place to start, but there is more we must do. Consider the instruction to the Jewish people of the Babylonian captivity.  They were going to be strangers in a foreign land for a long time, and through Jeremiah the Prophet they were told what they needed to do:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 NIV)
Pray for certain, but also work to make the society of your residence a better place. Seek its peace and prosperity. As a practical matter, whether he's God's man or not, you have your own responsibilities to live by.


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Church of God Cincinnati

Creative Destruction by Jim OBrien


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Church of God Cincinnati

Creative Destruction

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
December 02, 2016

Hi Friend,

Creative Destruction

It was a hot day last July when a '57 Chevy pulled next to me at the traffic light. It brought a wave of nostalgic memories of idols from yesteryear. For a brief second I could see myself behind the wheel. I could also feel the July heat since air conditioning wasn't available on '57 Chevys. Pragmatism won out over nostalgia as I gave thanks for modernity.

One time in my life I drove a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, arguably the finest car made at the time. But even people who own a Rolls are sometimes forced into distress sales and so it was that I was given the opportunity to drive the car of my wildest dreams. The year was 1970 and the car was 9 years old, not old by most standards. The rear doors opened to detailed opulence from the Rosewood fold down cocktail bar to the lambswool carpet. The 15-minute drive included an explanation of the varied features.

Driving was another experience, but not the one I had envisioned. It drove like an old truck, not the dream car I was expecting. To be fair, this was before the days of computerized suspensions, precision steering and a host of other improvements. The steering wheel was almost as large as one of the giant tires. It didn't glide, it lumbered. Stopping the mammoth beast required an act of Congress. The latest safety design was a padded dash. Even a Rolls becomes obsolete.

Joseph Schumpeter was an economist who taught that a market driven economy improves products. He believed national economies need a dynamic element to be successful which is best exemplified when obsolete items are discarded and replaced by improved versions.

Men who restrict the free market work against the best interest of the citizens. It's hard to believe that there was a time that an American President wanted to eliminate cars. President Woodrow Wilson believed automobiles were an unnecessary extravagance which only served the vanity of wealthy people. You can thank our Founding Fathers that you don't ride a horse to work every day. They had the wisdom to create a constitution limiting the power of men like Wilson who obstruct progress.

Modernity has not yet arrived in Cuba. Most of the cars are still from the early 50's. Surprisingly, some in our media tell us that citizens of Cuba prefer ox carts over cars. One man, Fidel Castro, hated the free-market and he imposed his communistic governance on the nation. So, maybe people who know nothing of modern cars prefer an ox cart. My third great grandfather may have agreed.

If the '57 Chevy or '61 Rolls was the latest technology allowed by the government we would still be driving cars without air bags, seat belts, brakes that stop on a dime, or a myriad of technical achievements that make life better.

But all of this means that the old must be eliminated. A pile of crushed cars gives mute testimony to the reality of obsolescence. Somewhere on that pile is a 1961 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud with genuine Rosewood paneling. But don't despair. A pickup truck built in the last 20 years, if only to transport cattle from one pasture to another, is a superior engineering accomplishment to the car built to transport a king 50 years ago. And that advancement did not come through governmental decree. It arose out of the spirit in man.

God is the Creator but creating demands destruction. The old must make way for the new. When Jesus was resurrected the Old Covenant was replaced by the new because the old was growing old. "For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another." (Hebrews 8:7)

Getting something new requires sweeping away the old. Jesus told the religious authorities of his day, ""the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Matt. 21:43 NIV) Something had to be destroyed before something better could be created.

One day, even this earth will be obsolete. The Apostle John wrote, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away..." (Rev. 21:1)

Think about all the work God put into creating the earth. Yet it will be consumed in flames. (2 Peter 3:7) And He will light the match that will destroy the earth He created. But this precedes the biggest improvement of all, the coming of the Kingdom of God that will exist for eternity.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Morning Companion

Ten Words that Will Transform a Nation




We speak of them as the Ten Commandments, but the Hebrew word translated "commandments" in this context can just as easily be translated "words". (Compare Exodus 20:1 and Exodus 34:28). In an interesting lesson in this morning's TGIW, a Wednesday morning men's Bible Study here in town, I was intrigued at a comment Rod Handley made about "The Ten Divine Rules for Human Conduct", as he put it.

He was quoting another source which I have been unable to find, but the lesson is a good one. His source reduced each of the Ten Commandments to one word and pointed out that any society would prosper if they were to respect and live by these ten words. By the same token, any society that ignores these ten words would find itself in decline.

The ten word summary of the Ten Commandments is:

1. Religion

2. Worship

3.  Reverence

4. Time

5. Authority

6.  Life

7.  Purity

8.  Property

9.  Tongue

10. Contentment

Kind of sums it all up, don't you think?

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Church of God Cincinnati

Thanksgiving by Jim OBrien


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Church of God Cincinnati

Sabbath Sermon by Jim OBrien


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Church of God Cincinnati

Letter from the Pastor of COG Cincinnati

Letter

From Jim O'Brien
November 25, 2016

Hi Friend,

Change Your Life

Want to change your life? I mean change it in a positive way that is lasting. This isn't just hype, it really works, it is not difficult and it's one of the most overlooked factors in life.

A few weeks ago a family member sent a link to a TED Talk video that is one of the most inspiring presentations I've ever heard. It deals with the effect of a happy attitude on productivity. Shawn Achor, a psychology professor at Harvard University, presents a mound of research in a lecture entitled "The Happy Secret to Effective Work" showing that there is incontrovertible scientific evidence that an optimistic happy attitude makes a person more productive.

The surprising thing is how easy it is for a person to change his spirit. It is a principle repeated over and over in scripture, yet it is frequently overlooked and gives you power over your own spirit and thus your destiny.

The following are some principles that will change your life.

First, find three new things each day for which to give thanks to God. Spend two minutes every day doing this. It is a simple yet profound truth that taking two minutes a day for twenty-one consecutive days to express thanks to God will make a permanent change in your mind. Skeptical? Try it and write to me after 21 days.

Second, make a journal of the good things that have happened to you. Writing them allows you to relive them and imprints them on your mind. Some of the greatest men in history have kept a journal of such things and read them periodically over time. It's amazing what we forget if we don't put it in writing.

Third, take one short scripture a day and meditate on it for a few minutes. It is the best way to overcome the ADHD syndrome that is plaguing our culture. Meditation disciplines the mind to focus on the positive rather than succumb to fear.

Finally, express gratitude to at least one person every day. Send an email or write a card to express appreciation for something they've done.

What many Christians overlook is that God wants His family to be happy! In fact, one of the reasons God punished ancient Israel was because they forgot their blessings and focused on the negative. In Deut. 28:47 God says Israel was cursed because "you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness, for the abundance of everything."

Sometimes I wonder if that isn't the case with the United States. We live in a country blessed with more abundance than any country that has ever existed yet a segment of the population is becoming angry and resentful. We lack a grateful heart. Have we cursed ourselves?

If so, we can change. The good news is that you can take control of your spirit. It starts with giving thanks to God who has blessed us.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

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Church of God Cincinnati

The Gospel by Guy Swenson


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