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September 24, 2016

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS OF GOVERNMENT

Government is often thought of as a dark and corrupt environment, unfortunately with ample reason. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of all the negatives that can accompany politics.

At the same time, God’s light is reaching even into this God-ordained sphere, and many wonderful things are happening in the halls of government that will never be reported by the news.

Please let me share some of the encouraging ways I have seen God’s light shining lately in our California State Capitol!

  

Capitol at night



1. The light of The Gospel is shining!


I’ve shared the Good News of Jesus with many legislators, staff, and lobbyists this year, and God always uses this in important ways. For example, I met with one legislator a year ago over coffee. As we spoke, I felt prompted to speak very directly to him about Jesus, though he seemed largely uninterested. A year later, he invited me to his office and we discussed some challenges in his life. I shared about Jesus with him again, but this time I had his full attention and interest. Behind closed doors, we bowed together in prayer as he asked God to forgive his sins through Jesus and take control of his life. He shared with me afterwards that when prayed he felt such peace that it was as if a river was flowing through his heart (even though he did not know the words of Jesus in John 7:38!) I gave him his first Bible, explained how to read it, and invited him to our Legislators' Bible Studies. God is clearly at work in this man’s life and I am looking forward to seeing how he grows in the Lord in the future.

John 8:12 “Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.'”


2. The light of the Word of God is shining!

I’ve taught weekly Bible Studies for State Legislators, Statewide Leaders, Staff, Lobbyists, and State Workers in the Capitol for eight years. These gatherings are the highlight of my week. They are solidly biblical and uncompromising, but also bipartisan with both parties well represented. We meet inside the Capitol in legislative hearing rooms. We pass out New American Standard Bibles and together turn to the next passage in the book we are studying, which this year has been the Gospel of Mark. I teach carefully through the next passage without skipping any verses, with an aim to help everyone to understand it. This is followed by lively group discussion and prayer about how it relates to their lives and work. God’s word always relates in a powerful way!

One day, I met with a Democrat legislator in his office, and he confessed that that though he is highly educated he knows almost nothing about the Bible. When I visited him the next week I presented him with a leather-backed copy of God’s Word. He eagerly listened as we sat together and I summarized it’s message. He said he was looking forward to beginning to read the Gospel of John that very night. 

This year we have also distributed hundreds of leather-bound Bible devotional books. I am encouraged to see these beautiful Scripture-filled books prominently displayed on the desks of many of the most powerful people in our state, and a number of them have told me they read it every day.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”

 
CA Capitol Indian on Horse



3. The light of Prayer is shining!

I'm thrilled to see that many of our legislators seem more interested in prayer this year than ever before. One Assemblyman even started a weekly prayer meeting in his office for him and many of his legislative colleagues. Another started a weekly conference call with dozens of pastors, including myself, to ask for prayer for her and her staff as she goes through a challenging campaign season. And at one of our Legislators Bible Studies, a State Assembly Member prayed that God would bless even her political enemies!

One day, I was blown away to participate in a gathering that suddenly formed in a Capitol hallway to pray for someone who was in the hospital. Included in the prayer circle with me were a visiting U.S. Congress Member, two State Senators, two lobbyists, and a legislative staff member. As we prayed, I was so moved as I realized that we had representatives from so many areas of government united together in humble prayer.

Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”


Capitol rotunda


4. The light is shining in Unexpected Places!

Ministry to our State Capitol is definitely missions, and I am always on the lookout for new ways to share the Good News and teach His word within this unique cultural context.

This year, I started visiting many (up to seven or eight in one week) legislator fundraiser cocktail parties in downtown restaurants,  in order to mingle with legislators and lobbyists from both parties. I feel grateful to be welcomed at these gatherings since lobbyists contribute thousands of dollars per event to attend. I rejoice as I see God at work in conversations even in such an unusual environment. He is also at work in private conversations on the Senate and Assembly Floors during floor sessions. Furthermore, I have received public endorsements from about thirty legislators, which is a chance for them to courageously express their faith in God to their colleagues. In addition, some legislators and staff and lobbyists even give of their personal finances to help support this ministry.

John 1:5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


5. The light is shining Nationally!

Many of the state legislators and staff we reach out to work closely with national leaders or go on to serve in Washington D.C. themselves, and so I rejoice in how God is helping our entire nation. This year, for example, a U.S. Congress member met with me for advice on how to approach a difficult issue. Another candidate for U.S. Congress invited me to attend five of his events to share with pastors about this ministry. There is no end to what God can do in our nation and our world as we seek Him and declare His praises!

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.


CA Capitol dome at night


Let's Keep Shining The Light!

As we hear the latest news about our elected officials, it may be tempting to just curse the darkness and turn away. However, we have a higher calling.

Philippians 2:14-16 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.”

Our role is to be “lights in the world,” “holding fast the word," which literally means holding it tightly while we hold it outward to others.  As we do this, God will continue do amazing things for His glory ... even in the halls of government. 

Thank you for your partnership and prayers that enable us to keep the light on in California.

Shining the Light to California's Leaders,

the alt text 
Frank Erb

P.S. I shared more about these things when I spoke at a church recently, and you can listen to that now if you'd like. (Just select the sermon dated August 28, 2016.)


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 Frank in rotunda