Monthly Archives: October 2016

Preparing for Election Day

Like many people I know, I’m still wrangling through how I’ll vote on Election Day when it comes to the top spot on the ticket.

I’m thoroughly and unapologetically conservative in my views, though I certainly do not always agree with the decisions and actions of my party. Nonetheless, for all of the seven presidential elections in which I have pulled levels or filled in circles, the choice for me has been quite clear. This year, however, my choice is not so clear. My Christian conscience has been deeply offended by so much in this election cycle that it’s hard to know what to do.

As I continue to process through my decision, I’ve been helped in several ways. First, the small group of which my family is a part has spent considerable time discussing and praying about the election. Second, just about every day I listen to World Magazine’s daily news podcast, “The World and Everything in It,” for a Biblically-informed commentary on the election, the candidates, and the challenges that the church is likely to face in the next years, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office. And finally, it has been very helpful to actually read through the party platforms for the two major parties and those of other less well-known parties or candidates.

(You can click on the links below for more information about some of the parties that will have candidates on the ballot or who have candidates that can be “written in” on Election Day.)

Democratic Party Platform

Libertarian Party Platform

Green Party Platform

Constitution Party Platform

Republican Party Platform

In your own research and decision-making, I’d encourage you to seek out the kinds of resources I’ve mentioned above. Talk with your Christian friends to hear their perspective. Find quality sources that interpret the issues surrounding the election from a distinctively Christian perspective. Lastly, do your homework. Don’t settle for news outlet soundbites and Facebook rants; actually read what the parties and candidates are saying about their vision for our country and where they stand on issues.

For many people, this is the first time that they are considering voting outside of the two major parties or not voting at all. Truth is, we do have many options for making our voice heard. For instance, in New York, voters can write in a candidate from a list of registered write-in candidates. (The list will be published by the state soon.) What I don’t think is an option is to sit back and neglect to fully engage the decision-making process, prayerfully considering what a faithful servant of Christ should do. It is likely that the cultural environment in which we live, raise our families, and worship our Lord will continue to rapidly change. Let us make certain that our voices as followers of Christ are heard.

Thoughts on Modern Christianity in a Western World

There was a time in my life when I seriously did not understand how believers were able to consistently stand firm in their faith amidst severe persecution (you know, legit persecution, Roman style stuff). I thought to myself, the fact that they are having things so difficult would seem to be a reason to not rely on God, and to question why he had not delivered them from evil. However, personal experiences are often the best teachers, and I learned an important lesson that I think the West would be wise to learn as well.

When times of adversity came upon me, I found it rather easy and natural to rely on God. Though my life was never at risk, nor was I persecuted for my faith, various trials that I encountered caused me to press further into God and to rely on Him more.

Then, for the sake of comparison, I examined the times where I felt most at ease in this life, and I found that it was much easier to rely on my own strength and understanding, and to let my reliance on God slip. It was at that moment I realized why, in the West, Christianity is on the decline, and in places like China and the Middle East, Christianity is spreading like wildfire.

Complacency is the greatest threat to our faith in God. When we become too comfortable in this world, it is easy to lose sight of what really matters, the spiritual. When we have things relatively easy, and do not have to constantly rely on God because we can rely on our own work, we often slip away. Not that we become bad people, but that gradually we travel down a path where practicing our faith is secondary to our temporal issues.

When Christians have things too easy, we can and do fall away from adhering to our faith, from actively relying on God for what we need. Prosperity, while being a tremendous blessing, can be spiritually toxic if we don’t consciously make sure that God does not become a secondary consideration, a lifeline rather than a lifestyle. And I can say that from personal experience, as I stated before.

There may be a time here in the United States, and the West, when we experience hard persecution, where we are imprisoned for our faith and are culturally outcast as the early Church was. But the greater threat at this point in time is an internal one, a threat that is manifesting from our supposed blessing. The time to be on guard is now, because this is more of a threat to our faith than any persecution from the world.

Seth Connell is a graduate of SCS, class of 2012.

Secondary Spiritual Emphasis Week

“Refresh” was the theme this year for Spiritual Emphasis Week as students sought to refresh themselves in the Word of God and His presence. Secondary students had six services over the course of four days in which they were able to spend extended periods of time in praise and worship. Additionally, all six services featured dynamic speakers communicating God’s truth on the topics of: renewing your mind, renewing your perception of God, abiding with Him, engaging the different seasons of spiritual growth in life, and sustaining growth in God over the long haul. The students were incredibly blessed to have pastors come from all over Long Island and share God’s word. Three of the pastors were actually SCS alumni!  After each of the last four sermons, our students broke into small discussion groups, guided by a faculty sponsor, where the young men and women of God were able to tackle the personal application of each message and share with each other what they learned individually. We have seen great spiritual growth in the student body through the leveraging of the small group discussion format. This interpersonal, active, and engaging form of ministry corresponds closely to the mission of SCS, which is to not only teach with excellence in the classroom, but also to provide life-on-life influence that produces exceptional young Christian leaders with a heart for God, a mind for Truth, and a passion to change the World.