The Timeless Voice: Transforming an unhealthy culture

Commentary by Greg Baker

America’s hyper-political culture is not healthy. Neither is it functional: As America is torn into opposing factions, the division destroys our government’s ability to carry out its God-given purpose. For God instituted government as His instrument of justice, and where government fails, injustice grows.

If our government is going to carry out its God-given purpose, it needs transformation. And it needs it at a cultural, heart-deep level.

Yet there is hope! I believe that if the Church engages government God’s way and with the power that only comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can transform the culture – both in Des Moines and in D.C.

For too long we as Christians have been tangled in the web of partisanship, and we have allowed only select issues to form how we view elected officials. This leads to Christians thinking of one party as light and the other darkness, while the culture concludes the Church and even God must be partisan.

When you dig past the select issues, however, you find the light/dark, hero/villain dichotomy is false. Both sides have a desire to better our nation, but different theories on how to get there. Both sides need guidance from the Scriptures on how to face the many challenges confronting our nation.

The false dichotomy also leads us to false assumptions about the hearts of elected officials themselves. The truth is, some officials are hardened towards discussing the Lord or His Scriptures, while others are open – and we have found that political identification has little effect on who is soft and who is hardened against the Lord. What’s more, when you share the Scriptures and God’s desire for a personal relationship with them, it is amazing how the most unexpected people open up to discuss matters of faith.

In complicated issues like healthcare, mental health, the foster system, and immigration, one side could not possibly have all the answers. We need to encourage a culture where both sides of the aisle will listen to one another and earnestly search the Scriptures together to learn what God has to say.

We need to encourage a culture where both sides of the aisle will listen to one another and earnestly search the Scriptures together to learn what God has to say.

The Church of Jesus Christ is so much bigger than partisan and ideological battles. The Church is not here to serve any party or candidate. It is here to bring the transformative gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere it goes – including the halls of government.

The world left to its own devices will never do this. For America’s partisan bickering to end, for righteous legislation to pass, for our government to restore its rightful role of justice, we need the Church to bring the Great Commission to the halls of government. I believe if we lay aside partisan politics and engage government with the gospel and the timeless truths of the Scriptures, we will see partisan walls come down and people of all political parties work together towards biblical justice.

The Church can lead the way in transforming this culture. We can do this by broadly and biblically speaking to many issues, rather than only a few. We can do this by teaching all people about God’s redemptive love, regardless of party. We can do this by building genuine relationships with governing officials that incorporate both the personal and their unique role as a leader in our land.

For the past three years we have been bringing pastors regularly to the Capitol in Des Moines to get to know Iowa’s legislators and members of the executive branch. What God has done has been incredible! We have seen partisan walls come down as we work to bring the Scriptures and the gospel to all people, regardless of political party.

We have seen the culture begin to change in Des Moines, and I believe we can see it change in capitol buildings all across this nation. Our nation and our government need it, and the Church holds the power to do it through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” – John 1:5.

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

The Timeless Voice: Civility is more than manners, it’s the gospel in action

Commentary by Greg Baker

We were blessed to have a woman in our office recently who shared a message on the power of our tongue. According to the book of Proverbs, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).

Our speech has the ability to build others up or quickly tear them down. What’s more, our speech is closely tied to the gospel we preach.

If we as Christians are going to be a witness in this culture, we must change the way we speak – not only about one another, but also about the world around us.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

In order to make this biblical command the pattern of our lives, however, we must first change the way we view people. How we view others in our hearts will influence how we speak to them or about them: “From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

The woman who visited our office shared with us the lyrics to a beautiful song that challenged me in how I view people. It is called “See Me Beautiful” by Red and Kathy Grammer:

See me beautiful.
Look for the best in me.
It’s what I really am
And all I want to be.
It may take some time,
It may be hard to find,
But see me beautiful.

See me beautiful
Each and every day.
Could you take a chance?
Could you find a way
To see me shining through
In everything I do
And see me beautiful?

Though sin has marred each of us, God’s love looks past that, and He sees our beauty. He loves us and desires to redeem us. The gospel boasts a beautiful message of God’s love for us, in spite of who we are, to the point of putting our punishment on His Son all so He could be in relationship with us.

As Christians, we must see people as God sees people. We must begin to view people as made in the image of God. We must look past the sinful exterior and ask God to help us see who He created them to be. If we are willing to do this, we will begin to understand that the people around us are not our enemies, but fellow creations of God, desperately in need of His loving, redeeming grace.

When we see people this way, it will change our speech. We will begin to speak the truth in love as God commands and as Jesus demonstrated. We can begin to have conversations that heal and more clearly communicate the gospel.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10).

It doesn’t take long to see the culture that the untamed tongue has caused. We can look anywhere to see the damage of slander, lies, and bullying. Kindness and grace seem to be completely absent from Washington, Wall Street, and even on Main Street. We cannot seem to disagree without demonizing and belittling.

Brothers and sisters, let’s stop using our speech as a weapon and engage in the Great Commission. Let’s begin to see all people through the lens of eternity, the eyes of Christ, and with the heart of gospel-bearers:

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:16-20).

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

The Timeless Voice: Make the gospel great again

Commentary by Greg Baker

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” – Matthew 6:33.

We are often called to patriotism and love of country. “Make America great again,” we are told.

But while we should love our city, state, and nation and desire what is best for our neighbors, we must also remember this is not our eternal home.

I love Des Moines, and I love America. I am so thankful that this is where God has placed me. I love showing off my city to visitors and sharing with them all Des Moines has to offer. I want what is best for my city and my country. It brings me joy when they are both doing well.

I must remember, however, this world is perishing, including my nation and my city. All of these things are temporary and will someday come to an end (Matthew 24:35). It is the Kingdom of God that will reign forever, not the kingdom of man. If I put all of my effort into merely building this nation without building God’s Kingdom at the same time, my labor will be in vain. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7, we must learn to make the most of our place in the world without becoming engrossed in it, because this world in its present form is passing away.

This world is also no longer my home. I have been adopted by God, and because of this I am no longer a citizen of this earth. Rather, I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Heaven is now my home, and, as a co-heir with Christ, the world to come is my inheritance.

The greatest thing we can do for the nation God has placed us in is be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). This world needs us to speak truth to the dying, to be the aroma of life (2 Corinthians 2:16). When hope is placed in Wall Street, Washington, a 401k, or even the American dream, what Americans really need is God’s ambassadors to share the true hope they can have in Christ and His coming Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is greater than any nation, political party, career, denomination, sports team, or other worldly thing that divides us.

Put the Kingdom first. Put the Kingdom first by serving your neighbor. Put the Kingdom first by investing more in the next life than your 401k. Put the Kingdom first by serving Christ’s Church more than your career or hobbies. Put the Kingdom first by campaigning for the gospel more than for a political candidate. Put the Kingdom first by holding and proclaiming the truths of the Cross higher than the American flag. Put the Kingdom first by allowing the Bible to form your worldview more than any worldly ideology. Then your labor will never perish and will never be in vain.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” – 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

The Timeless Voice: We have a higher hope than U.S. law

Every day we see the problems facing our country – drug abuse, violence, crime, education woes, and so on. And though we often point the finger at external circumstances, the root of each of these problems is the sinful heart of man. No one is immune from sin, and we can see its fruit all around us.

Throughout history, people have tried to control and contain this sin through laws. A just society must. Yet laws alone fail to resolve the root problem. Laws can provide guidelines and restrictions, but they cannot change the heart of man. Man-made laws will continue to fall short of the solutions we really need as long as we continue to fall short of holiness.

We can see the shortcomings of the law most especially as we look at ancient Israel. The Israelites were blessed by perfect law from the Holy God. Yet, Israel still faced enormous problems in their own nation. Their hearts were still wicked, and so the problems persisted.

The perfect law was unable to do what only God can accomplish, to give God’s people new hearts. God promised this inner transformation to Israel through the Prophet Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Only after this transformation would Israel have the power to obey the law.

If God’s perfect law could not sanctify Israel, then certainly, our laws cannot sanctify America.

That is not to say we should ignore the legislative process entirely. As Paul explained, the law is a guide and a moral teacher (Galatians 3:24). Without the law we would not know we need a Savior (Romans 7).

The problem arises, however, when we put our hope for cultural transformation into worldly solutions. We cannot put our focus, our passion, or our hope into changing laws. It cannot become our “gospel.” Rather, we must focus on the only true and lasting change, a transformed life through the salvation of Jesus Christ.

True transformation will only come by witnessing the gospel and one-on-one discipleship. America will be transformed one person at time. Yes, it is more work than just passing a law, but it is the example that Christ set for us. When we all do our part as the body of Christ, we will be amazed at how much impact we can have in our communities, state, and nation.

If we are to engage in legislation, let us use it as a tool to witness the gospel. Let us use law to point to people’s need for a Savior and a deeper transformation that can only come through Christ. Let us lead people to the One who has power to bring hope, life, and love — the power to make all things new.

As the famous hymn says: “My hope rests on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

The Timeless Voice: We bring a “tough teaching” to the Capitol

How is bringing the gospel to the Iowa Capitol like Paul bringing the gospel to Athens?

Greg Baker, vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER, explains:

The Timeless Voice: This war isn’t political, but spiritual

Commentary by Greg Baker

Our world is not as it should be. Sin has and continues to bring havoc to our world and the people living in it. Satan continues to work through lies to bring more and more people into bondage. Our world is full of his strongholds, in which he has taken so many captive.

Satan masquerades these strongholds as convenient, easy, safe, entertaining, and overall good escapes from the difficulties of life, but they are the complete opposite. These so-called easy escapes don’t only trap you, they enslave you.

As the world looks for earthly solutions to do these issues, we as Christians must bring the hope of Christ, His gospel, and His Church. Only through Christ can people truly be set free.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” – Luke 4:18.

America today is full of spiritual strongholds. Abortion masquerades as an easy, harmless solution that in reality ends in death of a child and guilt for parents. Drugs and alcohol disguise themselves as mental escapes that actually result in addiction and enslavement. Gambling promotes easy money and entertainment that instead ends in addiction, bankruptcy, and the highest suicide rate of any other addiction. Pornography promises pleasure, but ends with an addiction stronger than cocaine. All of these are just a small handful. Satan will use just about anything to take someone captive. His end goal is simple. It is spiritual death, and he will use about anything to bring it.

Christians and moralists have taken the battle against these strongholds to Capitols all across the world, only to find some of the most difficult opposition. Sometimes the opposition makes no worldly, political sense, but when you look at it spiritually … it makes a lot of sense. Difficult partisan issues like tax cuts get through the legislative process all the time, but issues such as life often don’t. That is because these issues are not political, but spiritual. It is a satanic stronghold that must be broken, not with worldly political weapons, but spiritual ones.

Sometimes the opposition makes no worldly, political sense, but when you look at it spiritually … it makes a lot of sense.

In the mid-1800s believers across the nation entered a spiritual war against the stronghold of slavery. Politics did not lead to the end of slavery in America; the light overcoming the darkness did. Satan’s lie of some people being inferior to others and considered property was exposed. Day after day pulpits and Christians in the nation spoke the truth against the evil one’s lies.

God’s people also petitioned the heavens. Some strongholds, Jesus said, can only be defeated through both fasting and prayer (Matthew 17:21).

President Lincoln understood this, and on March 30, 1863, Lincoln called America to fasting, prayer, and repentance: “I do by this proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all people to abstain from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.”

President Lincoln knew that he was in the middle of spiritual war. He understood that repentance had to come before slavery could be abolished: “It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

Apostle Paul explains this in 2 Timothy 2: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape for the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

If America is going to see these strongholds tumble, God’s people must quit playing politics, realize they are in a spiritual war, and learn how to engage in battle. They must claim their identity in Christ, put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6), and engage in the battle of the heavenlies by fasting and praying.

Then God’s people must go. They must go and raise up disciples by preaching the gospel of repentance that leads to salvation and teaching people everything Christ taught us. Only when the Lord’s people get messy and intercede for people will we as a nation come to our senses and escape the devil’s traps.

As moral legislation faces difficulty in legislatures across the nation, let us not take up arms in the political battle, but in the spiritual one. Let’s preach the gospel in the Capitols, and on the streets of our nation. Let’s petition the Lord in fasting and prayer to forgive us our national sins. Let’s fight this stronghold with the truth of God’s Word and the conviction that life is found in obeying the Lord. Let’s shine light into the darkness and set captives free.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” – John 1:5.

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Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

The Timeless Voice: Billy Graham’s final crusade

The Timeless Voice: What distinguishes Christians at the Capitol?

TFL’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker asks the question, “What is it that separates Christians from the rest of the world?”

It isn’t political party or good deeds or even good intentions. But rather, Greg explains, it’s a death penalty issued 2,000 years ago that makes all the difference:

Discover more about The Church Ambassador Network’s unique work at the Iowa Capitol by clicking here now.

The Timeless Voice: Repentance is pointedly personal

The FAMiLY LEADER Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker was convicted recently when asked, “Greg, are you preaching repentance?”

Repentance, Greg realized, is intensely personal and can be divisive. People might not like you if you call them to repentance.

But in this video, Greg explains why it’s so important not to shy away from repentance when sharing the gospel … even when sharing at the State Capitol:

The Timeless Voice: For America’s sake, build the Church

Commentary by Greg Baker

Of the unique powers of government, perhaps the most important is that of sovereign, the final authority. The sovereign is the one who at the end of the day owns the government and owns the nation in which the government serves. In the United States of America, this unique power rests with “We the People” – and if the people are to be successful as sovereign over this nation, then the Church in America is the key.

Throughout history, and for many nations even today, sovereignty has rested with the monarch. In the United Kingdom, if the monarch is not satisfied with government, he or she can dissolve it and call elections. In America, the people exercise the same sovereignty every 2 years when they have an election. If satisfied, they can choose to keep those who are in power or they can choose new personnel.

But no matter how it’s done, the success of a nation rests on the success of its sovereign. And if you want a righteous government, you need a righteous sovereign. The sovereign must be able to select leaders who will pursue righteousness and remove leaders who pursue wickedness. Yet in order for the sovereign to do this, the sovereign must be righteous – which means in a nation where the people are sovereign, you must have a righteous people in order to have a righteous government.

Presidents Adams and Washington understood this. They understood the American form of government, where the people are sovereign, was made only for a “moral and religious” people. They openly proclaimed, the American government was not adequate for any other type of people.

And how can the American people be righteous? God is the sole source of righteousness, and man can only come to God through Christ. The pathway to righteousness comes through Christ and His Church. If America is to be strong, it will only be strong when the Church is healthy. The Church holds the key to life and righteousness, serves as the extension of Christ’s body, and ministers as the teacher of God’s Word. America is dependent on a healthy church.

“If the people are to be successful as sovereign over this nation,
then the Church in America is the key.”

So if you want to serve your country, you can start by building God’s Church. Begin by ensuring you are a member of the Church yourself. To become a member you must accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You must repent of your sins and believe in the Son. This brings you into Christ’s body. Then you must submit yourself under the headship of Christ and the leaders of His Church. Be discipled/mentored by someone who is more mature in the faith.

Then grow in your faith by reading the Word and bringing your requests to God in prayer. Seek counsel in life decisions through the leaders of your church. Pursue holiness, and love and serve the people of the church. As you grow in these things, take this message to the lost world. Share the Gospel of Christ with others, and as they come to know the Lord, raise them up as disciples. Teach them the things others taught you. Then encourage them to do the same. Grow His Church one person at a time.

And as the Church grows, the righteousness of the nation will grow. As the Church grows, the conscience of the nation will grow. The sovereign people will then reflect righteousness, and as a result, the government will reflect righteousness.

So for the sake of the American people and America itself, build the Lord’s Church. Christ always has been and always will be the nation’s only hope.

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.

When the Church’s shepherds speak to shepherds of government

Following week 3 of Iowa’s 2018 legislative session, TFL’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker shares his heart on how bringing pastors to the Capitol blesses both the government and the people governed by it:

Learn more at:

The Timeless Voice: Why our legislature needs to pray

Commentary by Greg Baker

Like in most state capitols across America, the Iowa State Capitol begins each morning in prayer. As the culture becomes more secular, many wonder, what is the future of morning prayer? Is it any longer appropriate in today’s culture? Is it good use of the state’s time and resources? Is the state just merely keeping a tradition?

I believe opening each chamber in prayer is the most important work that the Iowa Legislature does each day, and if prayer was to be removed not only would the legislature suffer, but so would the people of Iowa.

When King Solomon was crowned king over Israel, he had big shoes to fill. His father, King David, was perhaps Israel’s best king. David was not a perfect king, but he was a very good king. King Solomon knew that it would not be easy to replace David, and he also knew the gravity and importance of his position.

In 1 Kings 3, God offers Solomon anything that he would want, to which Solomon responds, “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9).

Solomon asked God for wisdom. Why? Because Solomon knew if he was going to govern the people of Israel well, he needed wisdom from above. The role of the king is difficult. Not every issue that comes before the king is black and white. If the king is going to administer fair justice, he must have wisdom from God. Solomon understood this, and he asked God for that wisdom.

“The tasks before Iowa and our nation are much too great not to pray to the God who created the heavens and the earth.”

Every morning that legislature opens in prayer our governing officials are humbling themselves before the same God of David and Solomon. They are saying, “I am not that smart. I do not have it all together. God, I need you, and your wisdom to govern this great people of Yours.”

If our government leaders do not seek the Lord to carry out the difficult tasks before them, they will be more likely to govern from pride and earthly wisdom instead. But no earthly wisdom can bring about true, fair justice. It will bring out a cheap substitute and will leave the king and the people calling for more.

The tasks before Iowa and our nation are much too great not to pray to the God who created the heavens and the earth. We, as people, are far too weak to carry this on our own. God invites us to share our load with Him. Let Him carry the burden, for we are inadequate to do so without Him.

Behind the gavel in the Iowa House and Senate hangs a portrait of President Lincoln. As we start each morning in prayer, let’s remember these words President Lincoln spoke in 1863: “We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

That is why our governing officials must start their morning in prayer. As a state and nation, we must continue to be humble and ask God for the wisdom we all need from Him. Let us never become too proud to pray to the God that made us.

Click here to watch Greg’s short video, “Congressional prayer: So much more than a tradition.”

Greg Baker is vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY LEADER.