It being election time, consider this the "Election Edition" of the Back & Forth Blog.
When we wrapped-up our revival with Evangelist Richard Brooks, he made a parting statement: that Virginia Beach is open for the Gospel. This is something that we've heard from evangelist after evangelist who has come to preach for us. After hearing this so many times it naturally follows that we begin to think that this is simply something encouraging that they've been trained to say, and they say it in every city they preach in.
But that's simply not the case.
They don't throw statements around like that haphazardly. We saw evidence. We saw more first-time visitors during this revival than we've seen in the past six weeks combined. The thing we must remember is that God is faithful and that this will take place in HIS time, not ours. However, it would be foolish of us to sit back and wait for it to happen; we must stay involved.
Being election week, we took time on Monday night to open up the church for a time of prayer. While it is fairly obvious that the top two choices we are left with are the worst, most corrupt candidates we've ever had to choose from, we were not discouraged. Several people gathered and we lifted up our great nation before God, believing that the answers are not found in a candidate or political party; they're found in Jesus - the only hope for this dying world.
Even so, it is still incredibly important to cast our votes on election day. It is not simply our duty as citizens, it is our biblical responsibility. As the bible state in Exodus:
"Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens." - Ex. 18:21
That being said, it is crucial that we research the candidates that are running for office, as well as the referendums or propositions that will be on our ballots. If we are honest, most of us only give a passing nod to the local or "down ballot" elections. You might consider this insignificant or a waste of your time, but if you'll allow me to illustrate why it is so crucial to inform yourself about local election issues, here is an example from our city.
On our ballot will be whether or not to bring the Light Rail to Virginia Beach. To clarify, in our neighboring city of Norfolk a Light Rail train, called "The Tide", already exists; this would only be an extension to the Tide. There is a heated discussion between proponents and opponents of the Tide extension, and for good reason - after all, this would be an enormous undertaking, funded completely by us, the city's taxpayers. There are several "Vote Yes to Light Rail" signs around the city claiming that the Light Rail would connect the major parts of Virginia Beach to parts of Norfolk, which are not currently serviced by the Tide. To the uninformed voter, it appears that a "Yes" vote for the Light Rail referendum would actually do this:
Yet, just a little research reveals that NONE of the areas mentioned on the sign would actually be touched by the Rail. This would require close to twenty miles of additional track to be installed. In reality the proposal is only to connect the existing rail with Virginia Beach Town Center (which isn't even mentioned on the sign) - an extension of a whopping 3.5 miles, at a price tag of a only $243 million. In short, we are being lied to blatantly. What's more, there are several people running for local elected office, including our mayor, who totally support this Light Rail referendum.
Aside from more wasted tax money (something we've all seemingly become desensitized to), why is this important to you and me? Suppose for a moment that every visiting evangelist has been correct, that revival in Virginia Beach is at hand. This would mean that in the near future dozens, hundreds or even thousands of our city's residents will be coming through our doors, many of them staying with the church long term, undoubtedly catching the same vision of our fellowship and beginning to give tithes, offerings, pledges, etc. Just think of what could be done with their share of that $243 million unnecessary tax burden - potentially many thousands of dollars that would remain in our accounts that we may freely give, if we so desire. How many nations could be reached for the Gospel? How many missionaries could be sent out? This is why we MUST do our research before heading to the ballot box.
I now climb down from my political soapbox.
A Look Ahead
With the elections snatching so much of our attention, you may have forgotten that every fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving - a uniquely American and uniquely Christian holiday (and my personal favorite - yes, even more so than Christmas, and I LOVE Christmas!). To celebrate we are hosting a Thanksgiving celebration. This event will be completely free to Active Duty military and their families (and to anyone reading this blog post...and their families). If you don't have any plans, we'd count it a great privilege to serve you.
That's all for this time. Next time I promise to be less political (or maybe just more politically incorrect!). I cannot overstate how much I appreciate your investment of time. Until we meet again I pray that God gives you His wisdom and good health,. Godspeed to you.