Category Archives: Politics

God the only judge of character.

It is going to happen whether we like it or not. The presidential election. It has been touted as the most important in this or last century. It is discouraging to contemplate the two candidates running for the highest leadership position in our country. Both and neither seem to check all the boxes for me. Never-the-less, the election will be held, and someone will be in the white house for four years.

In the middle of the sometimes heated discussions of politics, we are distracted from the headlong ubiquitous degradation of America’s moral foundation and fundamental liberties. My inclination to discover what their vision is for the future and vote for that future. I want to do my civic duty. My vote is not about the personal values of the candidate but the change or lack of change for our country.

Yet there are many within the church who strongly disagree about one or both candidates. I have heard some will not vote, out of protest. Others condemning anyone one not seeing it the way they do. Others explicitly state their mandate is only to vote if it does not compromise their Christian witness whatever that means. And others say, “If you don’t vote you are not Christian.”

My thoughts here are from my study of the Bible. Both candidates profess the Christian faith. Where is my responsibility to include in my criteria for voting the genuineness of their Christianity? Where does it say a criterion of who is the best leader in this time of turmoil, pandemic, and social unrest, be based on my judgment of Christian their character? I can’t find it. Judge as you would be judged.

Our political decisions may well lead to discussions and even to outward persuasions, but I will not judge. That kind of Judgement is God’s and I am not looking for a job. I Cor 4:5 states that Jesus will judge. It is for him alone to bring to light what is now hidden and to commend or rebuke. So my friends, let us “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, [bear] with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Let us not dismiss our own faith by doing anything else.

WOKE

I am a WOKE Christian.  Now before you get all judgmental on me, let me explain.  The original use of this word was back in the 1940s quoted in the Atlantic.  It quoted a black United Mine Worker as saying, “Waking up is a damn sight better than going to sleep, but we’ll stay woke up longer.” It was a way of saying I am aware of social injustice.  It has been adopted, for the most part by minorities of all races and ethnicities. But the meaning is still the same.  To be aware of how society marginalizes and makes efforts to minimalize anyone who is different. In the 1960s, WOKE could more generally mean “well-informed” in Black English, but it still strongly aligned with political awareness, especially in the context of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950–60s and appearing in the phrase, “stay woke.”

So what do I mean when I say I am a WOKE Christian?  There are so many in our society that has been and is both marginalized and minimized because of perceived differences. When I say I am WOKE, I am stating for the record I am aware of social injustice.  I believe the spectrum of talent, intelligence, and drive includes everyone.  Those who are WOKE, exclaim that all those in the spectrum of life are not given the same access to opportunity. 

Restriction of opportunity has been pictured as prejudice, racism, hate, and discrimination, of which I can neither support nor permit in my life as I live in my Faith in Jesus.

Facebook, the news, and politicians all seem to be screaming at me.  Each trying to emphasize the terrible nature and reputations of opposing politicians.  Republicans or Democrats both have their problems.  Both would require my vote for them to the exclusion to the other.  They have become so apart and divisive, there is no middle ground.

Now, this is where I get into trouble.  I am trying, as a Christian, to understand the differences between the two prominent political parties and their stands on the access of opportunity.  Is one party trying to limit access to all? Is one party providing pathways to opportunity over the other? A comparison is needed to determine the most “limiting” faction.

As a Christian, I must start my examination by saying, “everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” Romans 3:23 and that Jesus died for everyone 1 John 2:2.  This includes those who run for political office. Every candidate has equal access to the grace of God.  And lastly, it is not my place to judge anyone based on their faith; that is God’s job, not mine.  All politicians are limited by a sinful nature. I must concern myself with the policies and promises, not the moral content of their personal lives.  It is not my place to judge the spiritual nature of another.

Therefore, I must, if I am WOKE, vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job to overcome injustice in any form and restrictions of access and opportunity.  It falls on the rule of law, justice and, equality.

I am not saying I must set aside biblical principles.  Politics matters to God. Politics and the choices they make can well mitigate some of the effects of a fallen world. The society around us should multiply and flourish. After all, Jesus, in everything he did was a motive to uplift or make better.  He healed lepers, gave hearing to the deaf, opened the eyes of the blind.  Every effort in his life, death, and resurrection was to redeem, restore, and empower. Jesus was WOKE. It did not matter if they were Hebrew or Gentile.

Recently the President of the United States was found not guilty of charges set against him.  Some would say it was just politics. And mostly I would agree.  I think the whole thing was about limiting access and therefore an opportunity for him to do the job he was elected to do.  I think the process was not about the abuse of power but simply a difference of opinion.  It was a process wrought by fallible people with fallible judgments.  It was more about a self-perceived set of standards.

Character has always been a factor on the political stage. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and every other president had their detractors.  Some voters that did not vote for President Obama only on the criteria of his skin color. These restrictors of access are accountable to God.

Again, I am a WOKE Christian.  My vote is not based on perceived character. I do not know what is in the heart. Only God can do that.  I vote for the person who is most likely to give equal opportunity and access to everyone who is being governed. And for me, that specifically includes my right to shout I am a Christian and I understand and care.

So, who is the most WOKE in politics today?  The pickings are few. If I would take out the judgmental aspect of my choice, I am left with a decision of which would increase the opportunity of all.  What is the track record for this specific quantifiable question? Which one will set the standard of access?  And which one limits access and therefore opportunity to thrive.

Let’s start with the big one; Pro-life V Pro-Choice.  Which would seem to limit access and opportunity?  I must say taking a life severely restricts the access and opportunity for the child.  To abort a life up to the minute of birth is simply not WOKE.

One party seems to welcome all, including all faiths, ages, races and sexes and the other jumps over the moon when a Catholic schoolboy wears a MAGA hat to a rally.

One party seems to be promoting religious freedom for all faiths, even for Christianity. Christianity seems the most beleaguered and limited and ridiculed.  One party sees the value of faith the other tries to marginalize and mock faith of any kind.

Of the two parties in this contest, one fought for both the 1964 Civil rights Act and the 2018 justice reform to reduce mass incarceration.  One party was founded as the Anti-Slavery party and the other voted against every effort to open access and opportunity to the enslaved population.

Of the two opponents in the political world, one encourages the right to disagree and make voices heard and the other seems to what to silence civil discussion even on college campuses.

I applaud the need for every person to have access to healthcare, but in the application it impacts access. All the rhetoric talks about healthcare but it really is about insurance. It is about who pays.   A Faith based Hospital is required to conform to a single standard that allows for abortion and the right to die measures. 

One party has given us the elimination of terror threats from across the world and the other gives us unisex bathrooms.  One believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, while the other says it doesn’t matter.

Not only has Trump not drawn us into a nuclear war, but he also relegated ISIS and Iran’s murderous General Soleimani to the dustbin of history. Not only has he pursued regulatory reform and created millions of new jobs, but his administration also heralded the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for Latinos and African Americans. Combined with sweeping criminal justice reform, Trump’s policies are not just symbolic, but real steps forward in our country’s enduring quest for racial equality. Not only has Trump sought tax relief for families and children, but he has also been the greatest protector of unborn lives since the atrocity of Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell’s Senate has confirmed 187 qualified, originalist federal judges.

Neither party has the high ground as models of Christian virtue and sinlessness. I must choose one over the other.  President Trump may well not deserve it, but nobody does if the only qualification is being an unbroken, infallible, sinless, politically correct automaton.

We live in a broken world; sin, hate, prejudice, and discrimination is rampant.  Our lives are our decisions.  While President Trump is a most unlikely banner holder for the WOKE, our lives are better for it.  Millions of forgotten and disenfranchised men and women of all races and creeds and faith have been renewed and are blossoming through the actions of this man.  And it is this blossoming of circumstances that ultimately matter most. “I am WOKE”.

Fertile soil of life

Chesterfield wrote that “without a good moral soil, art and reason will never flourish.” As I look around me, whether in politics, art, music, reason, discourse, conversation and culture, it is all about self. The culture today is one of no central moral soil.  We have no real moral compass that allows art and reason to find a home.  Without an environment of living for more than self, there will be no great art, no great discourse, no great progress, no great furtherance of life.

I just don’t see this infertile soil of morality today nurturing the best things, the progressive things, the living things that makes life worth the living.  Trying to live in a culture where what ever is good enough, is nothing more than a life of just getting on.  It is a life of pure pragmatism.  It is a life without hope. It is a life of what ever works.  There is little trying to make things better.  It is a pragmatism which settles for the moment and never for the possibility of future.  It is a place where majority ideas and thought patterns become the new norm. Further, this new norm changes from day to day.

Our culture just follows along, just staying a step ahead of the slowest.  Never excelling, never having a thought of our own. The mantra says, “What ever works for you must be good enough for me.”

I read some parts of social media.  The idea for a place to share your thoughts and ideas is a great concept.  But it has become a place of redundant re-post after re-post.  No new ideas, no sharing of who we really are.  All shares are of things or ideas of others that agree with you; fully expecting by taking the effort to post something at all is making the assumption that someone might be persuaded to think like you.  There is no critical thinking, no trying to learn of the person behind the pretty head shot picture.  There is no effort to learn more or to understand.  It is all being more impressive and thought provoking by posting someone the common drivel of some one else. There is no discourse for understanding. “If you don’t agree with them, that must be your problem. 

Meaning, purpose, commonality, adventuring spirit, an ever pushing ahead is simply not tolerated. And heaven forbid if I disagree with your post.  “Don’t do that, it offends me.” If you are going to post an idea of someone else you need to be able to defend that position, not to sit in the corner yelling, “I don’t love you anymore mommy.”

All that remains for our unthinking pragmatism is a comfortable existence of being OK.  No excellence, no reason, no meaning, no purpose, no excitement, no zest, no reaching out, no life but the status quo.  In the end, in doing only what works for you in the moment, will result in the discovery that it simply does not work for you.  Your life becomes a habitual malaise. Contrary thought is condemned.  Finding the reason for action becomes just too much work.  Purpose becomes, “just getting along.”  Life is nothing more than “safe spaces” and political correctness. It is a place where everyone gets a trophy.  It is an environment where equal rights become a demand for equal results.  There is no place for excellence.

It is only in finding more than self, more than the status quo, more than just getting along, more than pragmatism, more than being politically correct, more than being the perfect mediocre.  It is only within the eternal does the temporal find its relevance.  There is nothing without that eternal compass, that fertile soil seeded with the eternal which gives life more meaning.  IT is not things, or posts or the number of likes.

It is an eternal environment, not a temporal temporary that brings life.  It is only in the eternal that you ever really live.  Why?  Because it pushes us onward, one step at a time, toward the better way.

God on a shelf

I am not a “gloom, despair, excessive misery” type of person.  Most of the time I strive to seek out the light at the end of the tunnel. But I am discouraged by our nation.  It seems that God seems without substance.  God has become almost unimportant.  God has become an afterthought.  God has become so inconsequential that He has become a supplement, something that you take at night to help you sleep. To me, God in America has become a necessary item to place on a shelf to be called upon when things get so bad that He is pulled of the shelf and shaken up like a holy talisman. If we take a poll, which we seem to think is the only way to figure out what we really believe, God may well still believe in God’s existence. But as one philosopher said, “we may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgments no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertiser’s sweet fog of flattery and lies.”

I don’t know where the line is, but it is there.  When does our apathy, poll driven, and politically correct country cross the line to where God has had enough?  In my studies this week on the Minor Prophets, I read, “A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for his enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” Nahum 1:2,3.

Micah’s question

It was his favorite spot.

High above his hometown of Moresheth.  Though it was quite a hike up the mountain, it was his place of worship, his place of prayer, his place of solitude, his place of getting above it all and just be still and know that the LORD was God.

It was high enough to see afar off the edge of the Mediterranean sea.  The blue was metered by the distance and late fog that rolled in about this time each evening. The sun was about to dip into the sea.  It was a special time between Micah and the God of Judah.  It was a moment of pure religion and worship.

In an attitude of prayer. He watched the sun just touch the sea.  Light was slowly dimming, to Micah it was a parable of his life.  The colors around him became less and less. Twilight was his hour of meditation.  A time of quiet before God.

Below was the plain of GAD the ancient home of the past enemy of Philisita the home of Goliath. In the quiet of that moment his mind went further up the mountain to its crest.  There was the cave that David had hidden in from Saul.  On the other side was Bethlehem. And even further was Jerusalem.  Jotham had replaced Uzziah and he was even worse leader, filled with sin and idolatry.

Micah had witnessed the wrath of God when Judah’s sister nation fell to Assyria. Some of the Israelites made it out.  With nothing more than what was on their backs they had move back to Judah.  It was a boarder crisis. And with them came their worship of Idols, wickedness and a bent toward the depravity of their hometowns.

Looking again to the setting sun.  The very edge was now touching the horizon.  Dipping its edge into the water grave of the sea.  Sun suddenly was clouded by a fog, intercepting its rays. Darkness came quickly like a great judgement.  The day, the light, the warmth suddenly vanished. With the quickened darkness came a sadness, a loneliness and a pent up anger.

How long will your mercy meter your justice?  When will your wrath become stronger than your love?

Looking at our own world I too ask.  Looking at our nation in turmoil where no one wants to help the regular person. YES LORD, HOW LONG WILL YOUR MERCY METER YOUR JUSTICE? WHEN WILL YOUR WRATH BECOME STRONGER THAN YOUR LOVE?

Based upon the first chapter of the minor prophet Micah.

Rise and Shine

I don’t understand.  I wake up and the first thing I hear is the news on in the living room and I am blasted by the latest scandal, the latest opinion that is contrary to the ones I have. I wonder how our “Christian nation” arrived at a place where our college students don’t think and just react to the latest rhetoric pumped from a tiny screen. I am aghast that our government seems unwilling or unable to just sit down and talk with each other.  Rather they are so polarized they would rather the country fail than not get their ideological viewpoint undermined.  I sit here questioning seeming fluid self-declared gender identity sweeping our culture, thrown in the face of God-created differences.

It is not just secular tidal waves that loom on our horizon. The church is being changed by these forces.  The church is called to change the world, not the other way around. I read of what we would call mainline churches just giving up on basic Christian beliefs.  “Mary wasn’t a virgin, she was just a maiden.”  “Jesus did not raise from the dead, it is just an allegory.” It has become more of what you do than what you believe, “Live the good life.”  The church no longer talks about the blood of Jesus providing a life-changing salvation.  It is all about an entertainment of the senses in a joint expression of euphoria as a substitute for worship.

As a result, there is a cultural relativism.  There are no absolutes. “We don’t need theology, we need a social application of cultural norms,” is touted at the latest seminar or church conference. The sheep have been set free to roam where ever they think is best.”  And they have taken this relative culture and ran with it.  Running toward destruction.

We must get back to basics.  Where we hold standards high. Where the truth is the truth.  Where the Bible is the basis of life.  There must be an evangelism in our church.  We must show unity, we must love one another. There are mainline churches across this great nation that are dying because they are not connected to the True Vine.

I pray for the church to be filled.  I pray for the church to be called to prayer.  I call for the church to change our culture.  I pray that the great churches of America have a genuine revival of the Spirit of God.

And with this revival will come a change in our country.

Yes is Yes

Decisiveness is a quality lost in the world we live in.  There seems to be a new art in being able to say yes and no to the same question.  We don’t want to offend anyone so much we simply end up saying nothing.  I was raised in a household of loudness.  No idea was out of bounds if it was bespoken with conviction and subsequently backed up with facts.  Loudness was the attention mechanism and the concept was the substance.  But today, the weakest voices are the ones we seem to be listening to the most.

It is the little voices that cry out, “it is not fair”. Case in point: The idea that the current president was not elected by the people because he did not get the most votes.  While at first blush we think this is a travesty; it was not fair. Never-the-less it is still the best mechanism in the election of our highest office.  If it were not for the electoral college, only the most populated states would have it there way, while states like Montana would just be totally neglected.  It would be like two wolves looking at a sheep and deciding a menu. Our system says an unequivocal yes to the method of checks and balances in our government.  It may not seem “fair” to some (probably because they voted for the other candidate) but it is. No wonder it takes a super-majority of the Congress and two-thirds of the states to change the constitution.

You may not like the outcome.  You may have wanted to come out some other way.  But in retrospect, the election was an absolute “yes”.  There is no maybe. There is no, not really president: he is president. If you don’t like it, raise your voice and be loud but back it up with facts.

Viewpoint and disagreements.

With apologies to Dr. Henry T. Hodgkin a medical doctor and Quaker missionary in the early 1900’s, I wish to share with you a philosophy that he wrote just prior to the first World War.  He was a true pacifist and was feeling the brunt of the national ardor of becoming part of the War of all Wars. It speaks to me as what a Christian attitude should be.  I have taken a little license to paraphrase his text to bring common vernacular and understanding. It is primarily what kind of attitude one should have when confronted by someone with a differing opinion.

  1. I will always seek to discover the best and strongest points to any brother’s position.
  2. I will give credit for sincerity and persistence in opinion.
  3. I will try to avoid classifying him and assuming that his position is only because of a class or membership of which they belong.
  4. I will emphasize our agreements and convergence points.
  5. When others criticize, I will try to bring out favorable points.
  6. When there is misunderstanding, either I of him or he of me, I will go to him directly.
  7. I will seek opportunities to pray with him.
  8. I will try to remember that I may be mistaken and that God’s truth is too big for any one mind.
  9. I will never ridicule another’s faith.
  10. If I have been found criticizing another’s viewpoint, I will seek the first opportunity of understanding if my criticism is just.
  11. I will not listen to gossip and second-hand information.
  12. I will pray for those from who I differ.

Arguments rarely solve anything. It is when the rational and reasonable come together willing to listen and understand other points of view that change will happen.

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Bias, intoloerance, judgement

For some this is old news, never-the-less, there seems to be a bias in what I see on TV.  Every show seems to want to out due the other in violence, sexual content, and even anti-Christian rhetoric. A couple of weeks ago one person on ABC stated, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you… that’s called mental illness.”  There seems to be a tidal wave of prejudice and outright distain for conservative Christian belief.  But I contend that faith remains as the foundation to our civilization.

Prayer and listening to the urgings of God is a very large part of what makes the America which I love.  As it was for George Washington and through to our Vice President whom the “mental illness” jab was pointed. These prayers and listeners were the kind of people wo built our civilization, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and now are in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. And they are Christians.

To call yourself a Christian in our contemporary culture is to be showered by pity and a wry smile. Those who have a spiritual life are characterized as someone who needs to be re-educated or reprogramed. There is a soft-spoken, yoga posed, tolerance that looks to the next generation that will be taught the right way to think. And all the while they put bumper stickers on their Volvo with “Coexist.”

And that’s just for starters. If you are a Roman Catholic we’re accessories to child abuse, if we’re Presbyterian or Lutheran you are seen as intolerant to change and the world is predestined to be the way it is, if you are evangelicals we’re creepy obsessives who are uncomfortable with anyone enjoying anything more than decaffeinated coffee with your scone.

In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it declares spiritually motivated lives as intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.

The real story of today’s churches is a saga of millions of quiet kindnesses. They provide warmth, food, friendship and support for those who have the least to hope for.  The homeless, often in the grip of alcoholism, drugs, undiagnosed mental health problems, those whose lives have been torn apart and overwhelmed by multiple crushing blows are being helped and being helped by Christians.

Current Culture is stealing our individuality

Time for my soapbox. Now, this is my opinion, but I have a problem with a culture that would say the giant collective has all the answers. It is a utopian vision of completeness in the here and now. The current culture pushes that there are answers to all the ills of our world and that answer is within reach through a change of culture. The philosophy being pushed by the current culture of self-sufficiency may well sound perfect, progressive, liberal, and people-centric. But with it this philosophy carries away with it control of our individuality. And that is what is so scary. As individuals, the more we provide the resources and authority to the establishment to do what they think is best, we also give up our own freedoms. Individually you don’t know what you are doing collectively.

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