In the Old Testament, Joshua commanded a man from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to place a commemorative stone in a pile along the west bank of the Jordan River in order to create a public and lasting testimony. With that understanding, I will continue on from Parts 1-2 to relate the remaining 12 lessons from the past 12+ years of my life serving in the Kentucky State Legislature that stand as a memorial to what God has shown me.
9) The judicial branch continues to be a battleground and will trump the other branches in violating the Constitution as long as it is allowed. While much focus is placed on Presidential and statewide elections, far too little consideration is given to the outsized role of the judicial branch. That blind spot has shifted with regard to the US Supreme Court. Evangelicals have come to recognize that the occupant of the Oval Office matters when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. America would have a far different Supreme Court had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016.
Christ-followers must recognize that maintaining a Senate that will uphold and appoint Conservative justices and judges throughout the federal judiciary is paramount. Christians also need to realize that state-level judicial races are critically important. Although Kentucky has finally passed a number of pro-life bills, those bills are often stymied in the state and federal courts. The same thing is happening across the nation.
10) It is important to stay engaged in the political process, but that is not where our hope lies. Some Christians believe that the political realm is no place for followers of Jesus Christ. The pressures and temptations and unseemly dynamics are just too unbecoming. But, doesn’t that describe every realm of man? If we are to be “in the world,” where in the world can we go and avoid those challenges? As the world becomes a darker place spiritually, shouldn’t we be engaged in every sphere — offering salt and light in order to, by God’s grace, lead some to salvation?
To drive that point home, as our society rushes headlong toward post-Christian secularism, shouldn’t we redouble our efforts to shine the light of Jesus Christ? It is grossly unbiblical to suggest that we should simply hide our light under a bushel while the world gropes in darkness. Tellingly, the biblical prophets of God were committed to speaking truth to the politicians of their day and age.
It is imperative that we do not sit idly by. We must advocate for godly principles and policies, recognizing that God will hold our nation accountable for failing to stay true to its Christian heritage. Indeed, I believe that like Chorazin and Bethsaida and Capernaum, our nation has received incredible blessings but has strayed grievously. Surely our land will also be found wanting on God’s day of judgment (Matthew 11:20-24).
Having said that, we cannot elevate the importance of any sphere of man above its proper place. That especially includes the political realm. With the culture politicizing everything, Christians can also fall into the false expectation that if we simply tweak public policy just right or pass just the right laws or elect more members of our preferred political party, we can craft a godly society. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the end, our hope does not lie in the political process or a particular party or candidate. No set of laws or policies will stem the scourge of sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ sets men and women free from sin and secures an eternity with the Almighty. “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
11) In spite of all else, God still accomplishes His will — even when leaders and potentates shake their fist at Him. No scheme of man can thwart God’s will. Even Satan with his demonic hordes cannot staunch or sway God’s plan for human history. From the beginning, Satan has been trying to upend God’s plan for mankind. He has deceived those made in God’s image — trying first to destroy the Jews because they were chosen of God and now to impede and undermine Christians. He will become increasingly desperate as the end draws near because he knows his time is short.
If Satan cannot succeed (witness the cross), man’s efforts to stand against God and His Anointed will also prove futile. In fact, we know that “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4). So, when self-important officials at any level “take their stand and take counsel together” to establish laws contrary to God’s stated will, they too will eventually experience His wrath.
In the end, God’s will cannot be deterred — and His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:10-11). We are only blessed when we take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:12).
12) Regardless of your calling or position in this world, the greatest joy comes in glorifying God and pointing others to Him. Joshua’s reason for marking Israel’s crossing of the Jordan River is instructive to us still. In addition to passing down a witness of God’s goodness, omniscience and omnipotence to succeeding generations, it was to bear testimony to “all peoples of the earth…that the hand of the LORD is mighty” (Joshua 4:24).
There were 12 other stones left behind as a memorial at the Jordan River. Joshua also arranged 12 stones in the middle of the river where the priests had stood. Even when the river flowed again those stones testified that the LORD God held back the waters while His people crossed over. While we are in the world, we are living stones — bearing testimony that God preserves and protects His people through the evil that floods the earth.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
In my last year in office, Kentucky passed four major pro-life bills. I will be forever grateful to have been a part of the effort that led to that accomplishment, but God gets the credit for our success. In due time, when Jesus returns to reign over all the world, He will put an end to the scourge of abortion on the earth — as well as every other evil. He will wipe away every tear, and His own righteousness will flood the earth.
Until then, I will focus my energies on proclaiming the soon return of Jesus. Using the language of Psalm 2, not only kings and judges need to show discernment and take warning (Psalm 2:10). Every person needs to “worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” If you do not already know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, “do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath [will] soon be kindled” (Psalm 2:12).
If you already know Him as Savior and worship Him as Lord, endeavor with me to live out the chief end of man: “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That proclamation of the 1647 Westminster Shorter Catechism captures our purpose here and now yet points to the glory to be revealed when Jesus Christ comes again.
May these 12 stones of remembrance resonate with the truth of the trends in our politicized society even as they glorify Him on whose thigh is written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16)