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July 20, 2017 12:00 pm
Thomas Graham, Pastor Outreach Director at the North Carolina Family Policy Council, discusses a new addition to the Family Policy Matters radio program that will be taking a closer look at the intersection of faith and cultural engagement. Thomas, who will be hosting the segment, is joining us to introduce the segment and himself.
The most important thing for each of us save the world. Practice righteousness to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and strength in our neighbor as ourselves and tells me that we as individuals, we will do that we can really make is family policy with NC family Pres. John Weston thanks for joining us this week for family policy matters. Today we are excited to announce a new addition to the family policy matters radio program that we will be unveiling in the coming weeks are very own pastor outreach Dir. Thomas Graham will be hosting a new segment of family policy matters will be taking a closer look at the intersection of faith and cultural engagement. Thomas is joining us this week to introduce this new segment into further introduce himself to you, our listeners autonomous walking family policy matters. It's great to have you on the show again.
John is good to be back with you again. Well, it's always a pleasure, not Thomas. Before we get started, tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to work in the realm of public policy sure will begin working as a youth minister in West Palm Beach Florida in the early 70s. Not long after Patrice and I were married I was barely 20 at the time my mentor was a wonderfully gifted older man with lots of years of experience as a pastor both within the denominational setting and the interdenominational setting. He put his arm around me like a father to a son help me focus on both the inward journey of deepening my fellowship with God and also the outward journey of ministering and witnessing to others with wisdom and reaching out with love into our lost world living out my faith, as it were in the marketplace of ideas while his personal example was really quite an encouragement to me to get involved not only within the four walls of the of the church that I was privileged to be a part of, but also outside the four walls of that same church.
He often reminded us as is a congregation of folk Christian people. He said we are called to be salt and light and to me he would frequently say Thomas leaders have many responsibilities and that the chief among them is to exemplify confidence in the positively powerful ideas of the Christian faith. And you know John, he was absolutely right. Simple yet very profound ideas like love, mercy and truth justice. These are all able to stand up against the very bad ideas of secularism, relativism, hedonism, radical individualism and all the other isms that should be wasn't by now. According to EV Hill and Ravi Zacharias. These all plague our society and fueled its culture wars and as I took note of that and time went by I prayerfully study the Scriptures and I voraciously read book after book after book and increase my store valuable resources for my own personal enrichment and also to be able to pass those trips same truth onto others in all of this over time.
Help me to relate my faith to the realm of public policy. I concluded that politics is is not an evil arena to be avoided. And so my style of pastoral ministry over period of 30 years became one of equipping Christian believers to apply biblical truths to politics with both grace and truth with boldness and humility and then as you can imagine a few years ago when I found out about the North Carolina family policy Council and its vision of the state and nation were God is honored were religious freedom flourishes were families thrive and relight the sheriff and then of course its mission of the of equipping North Carolina families to be voices of persuasion for family values in their communities.
I just knew I had to get involved. So after nearly a 12 year run entrepreneurial run selling real estate, building homes is a licensed building contractor licensed real estate broker, you were kind enough to invite me to become part of the dedicated and talented team here at NC family and on.
Very grateful for that.
I really enjoy John working with pastors and their congregations in North Carolina to help advance the causes that matter most Christian and also to socially conservative families. I like to think that I'm helping to bring hope for positive change, both in our state and in our nation.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, you will be hosting a new segment of family policy matters that focuses on the intersection of faith and cultural engagement. What is the goal of this segment from your standpoint and how do you believe that will differ from our regular family policy matters program.
Great questions on what, let's invite our listeners right now to visualize a traffic intersection of adjustment immediately in my mind become a variety of intersections I've met with around the greater Raleigh area. Here I think that's a good word picture to use because the goal of this segment is to have an in-depth look at what the intersection of our Christian faith and cultural engagement looks like. I like to think about these intersections for Christians in terms of recognizing the numerous moments of opportunity that are everywhere around us every day to speak and communicate with compassion and competence about the wonderful life that Jesus Christ offers not only the individuals but to the entire planet. The whole world in which we live, which is quite broken. I might add that as we consider this the questions that will come to mind.
It will be addressing. For example, is it possible that followers of Jesus Christ today are too busy to notice these moments of opportunity do they feel adequately prepared to take advantage of them when they occur, are they intimidated by the possibility of an unpleasant exchange or response. What we want to do with his broadcast segment is to help our listeners think more clearly about the important issues that are often raised by people that are living around them and are questioning world and then become informed and speak to them in informed and engaging ways at these wonderful and I would like to think divinely orchestrated and divinely appointed intersecting moments of time to do this. I'll be interviewing a variety of nonprofit faith leaders, pastor and church leaders, congregational members and others inviting them to share what they are currently doing to engage the culture effectively. It is my hope of course that their stories will become an example and will inspire others to do the same thing. We will be focusing on the public policy much at all and the guest will not necessarily be policy experts per se will just be regular citizens, mostly taking the initiative to stand for truth.
You know it was CS Lewis John who said the most important thing for each of us to do to save the world is to practice righteousness to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves, and that tells me that we as individuals if we will do that we can really make a difference.
Well, that's great. And I think that's a this is a I mean really part of the heart of the family policy Council is working with pastors and church leaders faith leaders across our state and frankly across our nation to speak God's truth into the culture.
And of course our listeners regular listeners to the show know that we focus a great deal on public policy issues discussing a myriad of issues that we thought it was important in this particularly with your heart and with your passion and your background to explore again issues talk about that intersection of faith and cultural engagement and what is that look like you speaking to people who were out there on the front lines who are leading churches or who were engaged in being an example to others so that we can really encourage the body of Christ within our state to rise up and to fulfill that mission that Jesus has called us absolutely. I think it's interesting in that portion of Matthew chapter 5 the immediately preceding those verses Jesus basically said blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake, and he says in the same way the prophets that came before you were persecuted and I love to make the point is I had studied that particular passage. What is Jesus saying they're in and what were the prophets in the days of old, doing they were speaking God's truth to the culture. That's what they even more specifically, were speaking God's truth to the leaders of the day. Yes and immediately following that, he says you are the salt of the earth you were the light of the world and so I think that is a clear challenge for us and calling for us all actively engaged and so were so excited about this new segment.com as part of the reason we at NC family believe this segment will be helpful is because we know that engaging in cultural issues as you have said can sometimes lead to exploring controversial and divisive topics that certainly can be uncomfortable for some folks, even pastors and other church leaders to so we do want to give a platform to highlight why engagement is so important to me. We can know about these issues, but unless we put that knowledge into action. What is its value so we want to give some examples of what effective engagement looks like and offer resources that can help pastors and faith leaders feel comfortable when they are engaging on these topics is a former pastor, Thomas, how did you handle these controversial issues and divisive topics with your congregation and what would your advice be to other pastors and faith leaders as we consider this great questions on let me begin by saying that I believe that Christian engagement in the culture is important because the Bible teaches that God is concerned about the physical and emotional and social needs of all people in his own ministry, Jesus our Lord went about teaching and preaching and also doing good and healing. Both were expressions of his love and of his compassion for people both expression should be ours as well. As we seek to minister in our world, both to the believers and the unbelievers Jesus said you can summarize several of his statements into this that if your religion keeps you from helping people.
You've missed the point entirely. Every social issue. John has a human face. I know you know that the stories that are reported in the news every day whether it's about racism or gang violence, political corruption, medical neglect for our veterans. Joblessness, poverty, homelessness, abortion, pornography, gambling, gambling addiction. These are not political issues but we like to think of such, they are humanists itself that have become politicized, and for those who truly care about the kingdom of God about family, about freedom, the future of American culture. Engagement is an optional with a look at these human issues and know that everyone has a face associated with it and reach out to them with love and know most Christians I know listing to my voice would probably agree with me but it's when the issues are controversial or political, that the church becomes as it were a house divided me illustrate on the issue of abortion. For example, supporting the work of a crisis pregnancy center or recovery groups for the sexually abused. These would all be considered good deeds, works of mercy. Certainly everybody should be participating in these works supporting us a soup kitchen volunteer your time at a soup kitchen for the homeless. On the other hand campaigns. For example, to overturn abortion laws or to shut down abortion clinics or to prevent gambling or to promote school choice or pass laws that protect religious liberty. Now were getting into those realms that are often thought to be off limits for Christians and to me, John, this is really ironic because any Christian that has read his Bible, or Bible notes from Micah 68 that mercy and justice go hand in hand in our efforts to love our neighbor is not just about supplying wind with a piece of fish and a piece of bread. It's about working on their behalf to put in place laws that are healthy and that contribute to their welfare and happiness. The Bible and in Micah 68 says he has showed you a man what is good and what does the Lord require of you to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God daughter so much more that could be said to build the case for Christian social and political involvement. But once we understand Christ's Lordship to be as wide as creation and therefore as wide as public life. We will then be able to agree that the church should be involved. That is engaged in the culture. This is no turning back from sure this will be plenty of questions as to when, where, and how and I encountered many of those over the course of my 30+ years of pastoring and I had to take each one as it was addressed and the spent time with my people and I think that's an important element to draw out here. Pastors must, I believe, set the example by leading a getting involved in getting engage in the culture themselves. Not only will their people be watching them and modeling their behavior in the way that they interact but also they themselves will have a firsthand view from the pew as to what's going on in our world and be able to communicate the need. The pain and the interest in helping those individuals on a far clearer basis, but we seek the good of our nation by applying Christianity the public square. Remembering that love always helps where people hurt. I believe we can expect to see positive changes occur in our society what Thomas assists a great summary of why were pursuing this new segment of family policy matters. To explore this arena and and to be an encouragement to pastors and other church leaders around the state will Thomas working our listeners go to learn more about the North Carolina family policy Council and about these resources that we are making available for pastors culture impacting leaders and other church leaders across the state not invite everybody to visit our website email@example.com is a wonderful wealth of resources and information that they can use and I encourage them to visit us as often as they possibly can write will Thomas, thank you so much for your time today. We look forward to this new segment of family policy matters. Appreciate all that you do to contribute to the work of the family policy Council and just look forward to the weeks ahead. Thank you so much Don is a privilege.
Honestly, God bless you and you've been listening to family policy matters production of NZ family to listen to our radio show online, and for more valuable resources and information about issues important to families in North Carolina website and see family.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook