Archive for the Politics Category

Trump is not savior

I used to read Charisma News regularly. But then I stopped because there was just too much prosperity teaching and imminent end-times prophecy, that I decided it wasn’t worth weeding through all the false teaching for the few good articles. I am not a cessasionist, though I was raised to be one, so it’s not the charismatic gifts that put me off.

What happened is that I couldn’t let a political discussion go by on Facebook without adding my 2 cents. They are good friends, so I tried not to be a jerk, because I love and respect them. We just disagree. That said, the following article came into the conversation as part of the justification to vote for Trump. I have found no argument for Trump, Christian or secular, that remotely convinces me he would be a good choice. I did not want to vote for either of the previous 2 Republican candidates for president, but I held my nose each time to vote Republican rather than the Libertarian candidate even though my values are more in line with Libertarian than Republican.

Anyway, I disagreed with almost every single point Dr. Garlow makes in the following article, and because I can’t just let it go, I decided to respond to each of his points. The title told me it would me another fear-based argument.

If You’re On the Fence About Your Vote, This Pastor Clarifies How the Very Future of America Is At Stake

1. I can’t necessarily speak to this one. I’ve read neither platform. I have read the Libertarian platform, and it is more in line with my principles. I’ve never been liberal enough to be a Democrat, though from 1988 until 2004 (when I became an NC resident) I was a registered Democrat in Arkansas. The Republican party tarnished itself in my eyes with it’s treatment of Bill Clinton (of whom I am not at fan) over the Lewinski affair. Pun intended. I considered myself a right-wing pundit when I first started blogging in late 2004, and up until late 2008, was a staunchly conservative who fit right into Donald Trump’s base. It was in 2008 when I started going to church again for the first time in 19 years that led to a fresh encounter with the risen Jesus, and I have not been the same since. That’s when I really started hearing the right, and rejecting the fear-monging and hate. When I was a high school senior, I was chatting with one of my teachers, and I asked her if she was a Democrat or Republican. She told me, “I vote for candidates, not political parties.” Mrs. Lynch made no effort to hide her strong Christian roots and her absolute trust and love for Christ. She was smart, and kind, and I have loved and respected her for many years. She also knows first hand about persecution, because she is a black lady who grew up during Jim Crow.

2. Everybody is flawed. But the “Trump-type” is just the flip side of the “Hillary-type.” They are both liars. They are both on the far ends of the political spectrum. They have equally bad character, and the fact that Trump is so open with it makes it blatently obvious that he is not fit to represent our country as a leader.

3. This is flat out false. His blatent rude, crude, hateful behavior and speech show that he has neither character, temperment, nor demeaner befitting a leader. He is a bully who made himself a caricature of the far right with all of it’s fear-mongering, and sold it to a constituency who has been fed false fear for decades.

4. This in no way excuses Trump’s behavior. The Clintons are not worse than him. He has his own scandalous past and he is completely unrepentent. At least Bill Clinton apologized over the Lewinsky affair. Not that anyone on the right accepted it. Hillary has the emails, Benghazi, and Whitewater. Nixon had the missing 15 minutes of recordings, Reagan had Iran-Contra, George W. Bush had deleted emails. Congress held multiple hearings on Benghazi and could not find evidence of willful wrongdoing. And for all his aggressive investigation, Ken Starr could not find enough evidence to bring any charges on Whitewater. He bribed an Attorney General. Meanwhile, Trump refuses to release his tax returns while pointing to the Clinton Foundation. What’s he hiding? He’s awful friendly with Russia…

5. Trump is not being surrounded with good people. He is surrounding himself with white nationalists, and fear-mongers.

6. Trump is wrong on most issues. Hillary is not wrong about everything. This is standard right-wing propaganda that conservatives alone know the truth and the liberals are evil and wrong. It is a lie and it is this polarization of us vs them that is the biggest problem right now in our nation.

7. More fear-mongering. Trade and partnership among nations is not evil in and of itself. “Principalities and powers” is not referring to humanity, but is referring to demons and spiritual warfare. “For we do not war against flesh and blood…” He conveniently left that part of the verse out.

8. He has the right to be wrong also. Christians absolutely should vote their conscious. And if that means not voting because they can’t in good conscious vote for any candidate, who are we to judge? I beleive Paul had something to say about Christian conscious/liberty, and it wasn’t about someone with “stronger” faith coercing someone with a “weaker” faith.

9. This is flat out bullying and a LIE. A 3rd party vote is a vote for a 3rd party candidate. Period.

10. Trump didn’t move pro-life. And being anit-abortion does not make someone pro-life. This is another matter where Trump is playing the right. And Trump’s overall rhetoric echo’s/parallels that of Nazi Germany. Roe v Wade is not going to be repealed. That fight is over from a legal standpoint. But we can stop shaming unmarried pregnant women by stop holding them solely responsible for their pregnacy. Stop calling them whores. Treat them with the dignity that we would want shown to us if it were us in that position. Most women who go for abortions feel they have no other choice because of the way they are shamed – most often by Christians. Support pregnancy centers. Support adoptions. This will do more to drop the abortion rate (which actually has dropped during the Obama administration) than name-calling and fear-mongering. As for the talk of “giving an account,” either the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover every sin, or we have a works-based salvation. And if it is works-based, we are all doomed.

11. This is just a load of crap. Trump supports torture and killing of innocents.

12. Given our history of human trafficking and enslavement of Africans during our early history, further treatment of black people as “less than” (even to this day) since the Civil War, the forced relocation of the indiginous peoples of North American (which amounted to genocide), along with breaking every single treaty made with the Native American peoples, I think we have never really been the pillar of morality as a nation. We are no worse now than we ever were. As the proverb states, there is nothing new under the sun. This is a whitewashed narrative of our nation’s history, and I emphasize “white.” Our nation is just another Gentile nation with no special significance over other Gentile nations. We’ve always been temporary. I grew up with plenty of end-times teaching, and so I know that the United States is not mentioned among the nations who will be players in the end times. Oh, and we have been in the end times since Jesus ascended. The writers of the New Testament refer to their time as the endtimes. No one knows the day nor hour. And NO party or candidate is going to hasten or delay the day and time that God has already set.

13. The Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats with regards to government spending, and Trump has filed bankruptcy 4 times. He clearly is not financially responsible.

14. Cronyism is not just a problem with Democrats. And Trump isn’t going to have that kind of power to stop it particularly when he is surrounded by his own cronies. He is a rich kid who inherited his money, profited off of gambling and objectifying women, and is known for not paying his contractors.

15. Doubtful. Wait, is this guy claiming to be a prophet? Because isn’t this said of every Republican? And Republicans are just as guilty.

16. We have not lost any religious liberty. What we are losing is religious privilege and we NEED to lose that because we shouldn’t be expecting – and certainly not demanding – special treatment. This is not what Jesus taught.

17. This is again, complete bull. The right complains about the left legislating from the bench, but wants to put conservatives on the bench to do the very same thing. It’s hypocritical, and just more fear-mongering.

18. We honor Christ by voting as the Holy Spirit leads us. Any Christian leader telling us we need to vote for a certain candidate or party or “suffer dire consequences” is engaging in spritual abuse. It is controlling behavior, which is a character defect I have making me able to easily spot it. (“If you spot it, you probably got it.”) Jesus called us to lead by being servants, not tyrants. The Gospel is good news, and love drives out fear. When we base our vote choice on self-preservation (whether individual preservation or tribe), we are not only acting contrary to the Gospel, but we are acting contrary to the spirit of American freedom which is to work for the common good of ALL people – not just those who look like, act like, and agree with us.

1 John 4:18 New International Version (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Religion and politics make strange bedfellows

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When I was a high school senior, I was pretty involved in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club in my high school. I didn’t necessarily care anything about being a business leader (I wanted to be a pharmacist at the time), but I absolutely adored the FBLA sponsor, Mrs. Alveretta Lynch. One day I remember asking her, “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” I have no idea why I was even going there, except that it was 1987, and I was going to be turning 18 soon. Her answer to me was not at all expected, and made a huge impact on me. She told me she was neither. “I vote for candidates, not political parties.” She went on to explain her decision-making process for choosing a candidate, and I took it all in because I not only loved her, but I respected her. I still do.

I’ve dabbled in politics over the years, though if anyone were to dig up my political posts from my original blog instance, it would seem more than dabbling. I was full on pundit, and staunchly conservative. When I turned 18, I went as soon as possible and registered to vote. I registered as a Democrat because the county I grew up in was majority Democrat to the point that if you weren’t a registered Democrat, you didn’t vote for local officials because only Democrats were running. Therefore, the local elections were decided in the primary. A couple of years before, I had worked on a campaign for an Independent candidate. After I was registered, there was a shortage of primary poll workers in our ward, and one of my friends recruited me to work along with her. 2 just-turned 18-year-olds working as poll workers for the Democratic primary. We still had paper ballots back then. That made for a LONG night of counting ballots. But I loved it. I was part of the process, and not only did I work the primary for the Democrats, but I ended up working for the county in the general election for 2 or 3 years. And while I was a registered Democrat, I voted nearly exclusively Republican. It was the 80s, and I loved me some Reagan. I also disliked me some Clinton.

While in the Air Force, whenever I came across a voting rep, I would get an absentee ballot. I still largely voted Republican, but the Republicans’ treatment of Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky affair (pun intended) felt so over the top. Yes, he was a dog and flat out lied about it, but prosecution over a blow job is overkill. I’m sure many of the Republicans pushing that were just as guilty of infidelity. (I’m looking at you, Newt Gingrich.) It was just enough taint on the “party of values,” that when I became an NC resident, I left my voter registration as “Undeclared.” I haven’t voted in most of the primaries, but the ones I have, I’ve picked the Democrat primary ballot. Mainly because I live in a largely Democratic county, and local candidates have a much greater impact on me personally than state or national. And I must say, the Democrats who have stopped by our house campaigning for local commissioners have been much more reasonable and pleasant than the one Republican who came across as angry and paranoid.

And I was also an angry and paranoid conservative.

Something happened when I started going to church again a few years ago. What happened when I started back to church was that I had a fresh encounter with God. I can state with certainty, and I think the scriptures back this up, that once you have had an encounter with the risen Jesus, you are never the same. I was devouring the Bible, religious non-fiction, religious blogs, and podcasts. I started praying real prayers instead of my previous prayer life of largely “foxhole prayers.” I threw myself into service at church. Meanwhile, my life was slowly falling apart. Work was awful. My marriage was deteriorating. I covered all my issues up by becoming a self-righteous Pharisee (and drinking a lot). Or maybe I always was a self-righteous Pharisee, and was just letting it out. Perhaps I still am to some degree.

At some point I became a single-issue voter. Because I am pro-life, I picked pro-life candidates, and that left me with just the Republican candidates. But this former Tea Party conservative finally started hearing the right wing and beginning to see so much nastiness towards others. I increasingly saw a major disconnect between my faith the politics of the right wing. I had seen how the left wing demonized and dehumanized the right, but suddenly I could see that the right was doing the exact same thing to the left. I started seeing people as people instead of nameless, faceless groups who were a threat to my freedom, and by freedom I really mean comfort. Eventually I realized that being pro-life is much more than being merely anti-abortion.

When I started reading the Bible (and I’ve read the entire Bible, cover to cover, more than once and more than one translation), I began to see things I had never seen, and certainly never heard in the conservative/fundamentalist/patriarchal/complementarian churches I grew up in and later attended. For instance, I have heard my entire life that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah over homosexuality. But in actually reading the account, that is not the issue particularly when the Bible elsewhere largely refers to their self-centeredness as the reason for their destruction.(1) Sodom and Gomorrah were full of rapists, and that is central to the reason for destruction.

I also started noticing that individual verses have a greater context, and that the books in the Bible weren’t written with chapters and verses, and defintely without subject headers added by publishers. “The Bible clearly says” rarely follows with a clear-cut black and white statement. I learned nuance, and that most circumstances are not clearly black and white. The Apostle Paul spoke about liberty as Christians, and I started to see what that really meant. Finally, decades after memorizing the verses as a child, I started to grasp “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NASB. So when I finally came to the end of myself, I was able to wholeheartedly surrender EVERYTHING: possessions, job, status, marriage, children, Mom, extended family. Even my freedom and my very life. Because either Jesus is enough, or the foundation of my faith is built on sand.

With my newfound enlightenment (I say that tongue-in-cheek), I discovered that there is a huge lack of discernment among American Christians. We place our pastors and elders on pedestals where they don’t belong because we have somehow gotten the notion that they are more spiritual than us. I think we have also decided that they have special insight into politics, and so we make our political decisions based on our pastors’ and other religious leaders’ opinions. We say our hearty “A-MEN”s when they decry the world’s sin, and thereby feed our own self-righteousness by comparing ourselves to the world. Then we set about to fight culture wars wherein we demonize and dehumanize the sinners while thanking God we are not like them. (Luke 18:9-14) We fret and stew that if we do not win, God is going to smite us with his terrible wrath. So we have to work harder and harder to win control – to rule.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1 KJV

But, Jesus did not die so we could rule over others. Jesus set aside his divinity, and his ruling authority with it, to set us free from the bondage of self-serving. If we are to follow Christ – to walk in His ways – we should be laying aside our privilege and desire to control in order to server others as salt and light in a dark and broken world. Since the 4th Century, we have plenty of evidence to show that whenever Christendom is ruling, oppression and tyranny soon follow – from the ruling Christians. Jesus didn’t command us to rule, and he certainly didn’t tell us to seek out personal comfort and pleasure.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Jesus did not die to set us free so we can live the American Dream. He died to set us free FROM the American Dream.

According to the American Dream, our individual success and happiness are dependent upon our individual effort. Hence our happiness is dependent upon our own hard work and opportunity. And when we don’t have the opportunity for our subjective happiness/prosperity, we run the risk at best for resenting whoever is blocking that. Therefore, without the perfect opportunity to match our hard work, we are going to be disappointed in other people/systems, then angry, then make them our enemy. We become self-absorbed and self-centered in our pursuit of happiness which we think we are going to find in something (or someone) external to us. That is what Jesus sets us free from by becoming the one who gives us our sense of worth and brings us into his family through His work alone.Then we are truly free to love and serve others – friends and enemies alike.

The flaw in the pursuit of the American Dream is in it’s individualism. “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The pursuit of happiness by humans, by our very nature, becomes a self-centered pursuit. We end up with a class/culture conflict because those with less opportunity want more, while those with more don’t want to give up anything (and often want more). This brings us to an “us vs them” mentality by both sides wherein each has to resort to dehumanizing the other side in order to maintain the resentments/fear against the other. Our politicians then play on that resentment and fear, and we all dig in deeper in our trenches because we are laying up our treasure here on earth. Our materialistic pursuits never ever satisfy us and always become divisive. That’s what Jesus sets us free from. Endless pursuit of temporary treasure. He alone can satisfy our pursuit of happiness because he did all the work, and we who believe in Him reap the reward of true worth and contentment independent of our national heritage.

You cannot simultaneously say “America First” while saying that this country needs Jesus. The message of Jesus is always others first. This is why we are in danger when we follow the Franklin Grahams, Wayne Grudems, James Dobsons, Jerry Falwells (Sr & Jr), and Pat Robertsons. They have been deceived by their fear and the human desire for power that we all possess. This is the only reason I can see that at least 3 of them have endorsed a candidate for President of the United States that has such appallingly bad character as to make the Clintons look like saints in comparison. This is the only explanation for why so many Christians would resort to spiritual abuse to try to guilt other Christians into voting for Donald Trump.

Jesus already won, and he didn’t do it with swords or guns or ballots. He did it on the cross. When we believe this, we will be able to vote for character rather than charisma, and we can vote with a clear conscious for a candidate with little to no chance of winning because we will not fear whomever is elected, yet will not vote for someone with terrible character. And we can stand up to the bullies who peddle fear to coerce us into voting the way they want, and tell them that our vote is not being wasted when we vote our conscious with complete liberty. Just like Mrs. Lynch taught me to vote for candidates, not parties.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36 KJV

(1) “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done.” Ezekiel 16:49-51 NIV. Only Jude 7 refers to the sexual immorality. All other references beyond the account of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction are either references to the destruction, or comparison to how much worse the people of Israel became.

The Conservative Christian’s Prosperity Gospel

As Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, why then, as many times as God tells his people, “Fear not,” do we spend so much time worrying and hand-wringing over things we cannot control?

I often think that the calls by some pastors for a national repentance and revival are borne out of fear of losing American entitlement more than concern for the individuals in our nation. I am not saying they don’t care about people, but that they care more for our prosperous way of life. They fear suffering as much as their congregations do, and rather than repeating God’s word to “Fear not,” they stoke fear.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross for the United States of America.

There is a reason that the United States is not mentioned in the Bible.

We ain’t all that.

We have been undeservedly blessed with prosperity. Undeserved because we were not founded on Judeo-Christian values as touted by 20th century revisionists. We are no more sinful as a nation now than we were when our country was founded.

We were founded on the principle that only white men of European ancestry had value. Women had no vote. Male African slaves were worth 3/5 that of a white man. The indigenous people living in North America had no value, and were systematically rounded up, forced to relocate, and often slaughtered so that there is now just a small remnant of a few tribes left.

And we have the gall to think we are entitled to our way of life.

We have spent our prosperity on our own comfort, and above all we do not want to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is too much like suffering, and lord knows we do not deserve to suffer. We are to be healthy and blessed. It’s the sinners who are to suffer: the addicts, the alcoholics, the fornicators, the homosexuals, the abortionists, the feminists, the atheists, and certainly without doubt the Muslims. Not us. We made a decision to follow Christ and now God owes us health, wealth, prosperity, and security because we are not like those people.

We have followed a false American god for too long. We as Christians need to repent every bit as much as sinners. But not for our prosperity. No. So that we can once again be salt and light in the world and do good to others. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and take care of widows and orphans. We are saints because Jesus declared us to be saints. Not because we were or are good enough to be a saint. We did not and do not deserve the grace we have been given. And rather than worrying and stewing about ISIS and Democrats/Republicans, we should give to others out of the abundance we have been given.

Because that is what the Savior we call Lord told us to do.

Without fear.

Without worry.

Without judgement.

With love.

Because He first loved us.

If what you are preaching and proclaiming sounds is indistinguishable from the messages proclaimed in a political debate or rally, you are not being salt and light in the world. Our hope does not rest in a political solution. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Not in “old fashioned,” “traditional,” or “conservative” Christianity. Not in “progressive” or “modern” Christianity. Not in the President of the United States, the Republican party, the Democrat Party, Congress, or the Supreme court. Not in laws or guns or gun control or a Confederate battle flag.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:18-21 ESV)

How did you learn respect

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I’ve always bucked against authority, but not necessarily for the sake of being a rebel. I’ve been repeatedly labeled an instigator, and I do not (because I cannot) deny it. I’ve even been called a honey badger. Honey badger don’t care. She does what she wants! Of course, she often gets “stung” by the cobra and then has to take a nap.

As much as I bucked against and resent(ed) my strict, legalistic religious upbringing, it kept me out of so much trouble I could have gotten in given all the vices I flirted with. I absolutely do not recommend legalism to combat vice because if it really worked, I might not have flirted.

Because I was under such strict authority, I developed an unhealthy fear of authority figures. Compliance was almost always out of fear rather than respect, at least initially. As I got older I learned to distinguish between dictatorial authority and leader/teacher/mentor authority, but I had a big learning curve.

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I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook that state they learned respect by getting good ass whippings as a kid. I know they are just resharing a meme, and I can’t speak for anyone else’s raising. But I know for a fact that I did not learn respect of any kind from any whipping I got as a kid. I learned from those whippings to fear punishment when I do wrong from those giving me the whipping, and nothing more.

I want to note, I am not anti-corporate punishment. I can’t say it’s never necessary, and I also cannot say that it was always given to me inappropriately. It was the berating from my dad that accompanied the whippings that did the greatest damage. Therefore, any spanking/paddling from anyone else was taken in the same manner – as punishment for not being smart enough to be good enough.

Therein lies a big problem when we try to project a meme as a cure-all when we don’t know any backstory. For all the discipline and instruction to respect elders and authority, I still carried around an unhealthy and disrespectful view of authority just waiting to spew out. A1C Nemec still gave a 2Lt the stink eye and a snotty answer over the way he asked her who gave the all clear after a simulated attack. SSgt Nemec was still openly and belligerently disrespectful to a Chief Petty Officer on multiple occasions.

Respect that is borne out of fear of punishment is not respect. It is self-preservation, and doesn’t place value on other people. Healthy respect places high value on another person regardless of that person’s position of authority.

We actually learn respect by watching others model what respect looks like. A quick glance through political posts on Facebook gives a clue as to where today’s children get their lack of respect from. “Democrats/Liberals are idiots!” “Republicans/Conservatives are stupid!” We disparage those with whom we disagree politically/ideologically/religiously and wonder why our kids are disrespectful.

I listened to my dad exalt himself above everyone my whole life and picked it right up and ran with it. It was my normal. I think this is the kind of attitude that fuels the perpetual outrage that manifests itself on Facebook through self-righteous political/religious posts demonizing, devaluing, and ultimately dehumanizing whatever group/culture/ideology/class/ethnicity/religion we disagree with. After all, we believe we have figured out what’s wrong with the world. “If only people would just listen to me…”

Most events are not clear-cut with a black-and-white clear cause and effect. People who hold different beliefs or belong to a different culture than you are not beneath you with nothing to teach you. We are all struggling with junk. When we have to tear someone else down in order to show our superiority, we are actually showing the ugliness of our own attitudes and beliefs. And that in no way exalts us above others except in our own minds.

It’s that lack of respect for other human beings that is what is wrong with our society today. And as long as we continue to perpetrate, the worse our society is going to get because where there is no respect, there is certainly no love.

So think about how you really learned respect and whether or nor you really show it.

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But for the grace of God…

Dear fellow Christian,

You’re scared. I understand. Not being in control is very scary. And that is why you are afraid. You forget that God is in control. That He is sovereign over all. You grew up singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” and believe deep down that you deserve to enjoy the privilege of being an American. You are going to eat, drink, and be merry and no sinner is going to screw that up for you. You have been taught your whole life that the United States is a Christian nation highly favored by God unlike any other nation before it. You believe we are the modern day Israel.

The United States of America has never been the “My people who are called by My name.” That was only Israel. As I saw it in a blog comment not too long ago, “IS – RA – EL.” It is a covenantal name. God made no covenant with any other nation before or since, and that includes the U.S.
If you think that the current moral state in the U.S. is the worst this nation has ever been, clearly you don’t know the full history of our nation or you are just choosing to overlook it. You think homosexuality is the worst sin to take place here? If so, I have a fraction for you: 3/5.

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” – From Article 1 Section 2 of the United States Constitution.

That remained in effect until the 14th Amendment passed by congress in 1866 and ratified in 1868. This stands in contrast to a particular line from the Declaration of Independence –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

– which only applied if you were white. African slaves and indigenous Americans (American Indians, not European colonists) were not endowed with these rights. Human trafficking is not a Christian value. Breaking every single treaty ever made with the indigenous peoples, driving them from their lands, and slaughtering them is not a Christian value. Institutional racism, still to this day observable in many lily-white churches every Sunday, is not a Christian value.

We have played the Christian card to our benefit for centuries without suffering the suffering promised us by Jesus. We have lived a safe and prosperous existence which is neither promised nor deserved. Jesus told us to pick up our cross and follow him, not sit down and kick our feet up while expanding our waistlines.

If you are not willing to give up or lose everything – EVERY SINGLE THING – in this life then you are not really following Christ.

Are you so concerned with your personal comfort and your entitlement to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that you lack compassion for others who are created in God’s image just as you are?

Do you think you are better than Jesus who laid aside his divinity to live and suffer as a poor man and die for you when you hated him?

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

There are many many people in this country who need to know the love of Christ and they aren’t getting it because they are treated as the enemy. And we as Christians pat ourselves on the back for telling them their place. Then we piss and moan and play the victim when they fight back. We have forgotten that but for the Grace of God, there go we. The Cross is offensive enough. There is no reason to heap on extra offensiveness just to stroke our own egos and make ourselves believe that we are any better. We aren’t. We never will be on our own. And we certainly can’t berate and bully other people into our image. God doesn’t do that. He gave up his Son to atone for our sins as well as theirs.

God doesn’t save and protect countries for the comfort of people. He saves and protects people for His glory. And not good people because before a holy God, there are no good people.

Luke 7:36-50 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Full of grace

I don’t have many readers left from the old days when I did a lot of political blogging. (And drunk blogging.) My writing was staunchly conservative and I was convince all liberals were idiots. While I have not ceased being conservative, I no longer think all liberals are idiots. Actually, I think there are no more liberal idiots than there are conservative idiots. The idiots are among the far left and the far right with most people more toward the middle and just leaning liberal or conservative. See how easily I threw the idiot card? That’s the number one reason I don’t blog about politics. It just pisses me off and stresses me out, and it’s too easy to make sweeping generalizations in a nasty way. It’s also why I don’t listen to talk radio. Not political nor religious. Because in both cases the underlying result is to fire up the base, and get them angry enough to fight the people on the other side. Not to win them over to one side, but to force them to agree with that side, and demonize them if they don’t agree. Win at all costs.

Problem is, each side just digs in their heels more or more convinced that they are right and the other side is stupid/evil/lazy/greedy/jerks. The schism widens, the rhetoric ramps up, and the media (news, entertainment, religious) exploits it all further distorting and escalating the real issue driving the schisms even wider and the people angrier at each other until hate abounds albeit while many haters deny that they hate. But their words tell a different story. And this is why I don’t spend so much time on Facebook anymore.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)

I think that we Americans are sort of hard-wired to fight for our rights (to paaaaartay! – Had to. Squirrel!). But I think that somewhere along the line as American Christians we blurred the line (if not completely removed it) between our United States citizenship and our citizenship in heaven. So many of us have been taught (whether explicitly or implicitly) that the United States is the new Israel ordained by God as a favored Christian nation. As such, we have elevated our nation’s leaders beyond their clearly laid out constitutional mandate as leading our nation to be spiritual leaders of our nation also contrary to what is laid out in our constitution. We demand our leaders to proclaim they are Christian before we will vote for them, and then we cry and rage when they don’t live up to what is really an unconstitutional standard. It is absolutely not a constitutional requirement for our elected officials to be Christians. It is also not a constitutional requirement of US citizenship to be Christian. Therefore it stands to reason that we are going to have leaders who are not Christians serving an electorate who either aren’t Christians or aren’t conservative Christians or are nominal/cultural Christians. Most importantly, not any of our elected officials are perfect (Christian or not) and every single earthly government makes a crummy god.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)

Nero was emperor when Peter wrote that. No one in our government is an emperor nor does our government as a whole entity equate with being an emperor. Is our government corrupt? Absolutely, and so are we who elect our officials to office to serve us. So pray for them. Yes, be informed of their character. Yes, vote your conscience. Pray for your elected officials the same way you would pray for your best friend or family member. Don’t demonize them because they don’t do things the way you think you would if you were in their shoes. Don’t demonize the people who vote differently than you do. Don’t demonize unbelievers because they don’t follow the American Christian moral code. Pray for everyone who doesn’t think or believe the way you do not so they will become a clone of you but that if they don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to the Truth. Not what you think is true, but what is really and truly capital T Truth. Quit just throwing salt.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

Rather than include the Beastie Boys, here’s how Pastor Benji preached this concept. Hopefully I didn’t lift too much of his material. ;)

Separation of Church and Hate – Part 1 from newhope church on Vimeo.

Being counter-cultural

This may end up being a continuation of yesterday’s post though not in any specific manner. By that I mean I am not publicly elaborating on the incident. Or well, at least not until James and Lee talk to a couple of other folks and get to the bottom of what led up to Saturday’s incident. And to set the stage for where I am coming from on all this, let me give you some info on my background for those who don’t know. I grew up in very conservative Missionary Baptist churches who considered Southern Baptist too liberal, but not so strict as Independent Fundamental Baptists. My dad was a deacon, and both of my parents were very active in the local church with my dad generally also being active in the local association. Essentially, I fall under the category of “preacher’s kid.” I often say I’ve been a Baptist 12 years longer than I’ve been a believer even though I no longer belong to a Baptist church.

I walked away from the church when I was 19, and it took nearly 20 years for me to return. When I came back, everything changed. I wanted to read my bible. I wanted to study it. I wanted to pray, and have learned through the reading and studying and my less than eloquent prayer that praying isn’t about asking for what I want that I think will make me happy. I was the prodigal son for those 20 years away. But I was also still in the mindset I had grown up in which amounted to the prodigal’s older brother. And I fed that with talk radio and reading certain pastors and Christian writers. But I just couldn’t keep it down. It kept me hungry all the time because somehow I knew I wasn’t really growing, and was instead stressing on things that weren’t mine to stress on. This is also why I don’t blog about politics anymore. I was feeling too militant.

Now with that out of the way, maybe I can remember what I was going to write about. ;) Using “counter-cultural” is usually used by Christians to other Christians to live differently than the world because we should not look and/or sound like non-believers. We are to be salt and light among the world to point to world to Jesus. And so we have our own culture, but if we aren’t careful we make our own culture a little-g god of its own. We forget that our holiness comes from the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and start acting like we are able to behave good enough to be worthy of grace. Once we do that, then we ourselves become the judge and determine who is worthy to belong among us by imposing a “conservative” set of rules that are meant to show 1) that we ourselves are spiritually mature and 2) to impose a faux spiritual maturity on spiritual babies who will either learn how to pretend or will eventually go away because they are made to feel so uncomfortable by being unable to live up to those who have deemed themselves spiritually mature enough to be the judge.

This is how many churches end up bearing more of a resemblance to a country club than a gathering of followers of Jesus. Instead of reaching out and embracing the lost, we end up reaching out to fill our pews with people who either already look and act like us or who are willing to pretend in order to fit into the church culture. Instead of making disciples, we are making cliques. Then when someone dares to buck against the church culture we unbiblically run them off (often in secret or known only among our little gossip cliques), or when someone gets fed up and leaves on their own (whether because of the gossip and backbiting/slander or not), they are shunned and treated as enemies. And then we wonder why our churches are in decline and/or outright dying and why we aren’t growing. It really isn’t rocket science.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23, ESV)

There is quite a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Country-clubbing your church isn’t fruit of the Spirit. Constantly telling the single mother that she is living in sin and then gossiping about her is not a fruit of the Spirit. Having an angry outburst at a former member who has been picking up food for your food bank every other Wednesday for the last 5 years even AFTER leaving your church because he dared to pick up a bag of food for his son is not displaying the fruit of the Spirit. This is why we need people in the church being counter culture to the church culture so that the church can be salt and light instead of just another one of the world’s exclusive clubs that treats the Word of God as merely a rulebook.

And the sun still rises in the east

Yesterday was something else. I woke up with a worse headache than I had gone to bed with, finally conceding that since no over the counter meds and no amount of hot showers were touching the pain significantly, the headache was a migraine. So I called in sick and took prescription pain meds which successfully took care of the pain while making me all loopy and ADHD. That’s why I didn’t write anything yesterday.

Tuesday night the hubby asked me, “So who do you think is going to win?” First I rolled my eyes because I knew he was just poking at me because I was so fed up with the politickin’, but then I grinned and I just said, “God.” Now I was pretty certain well before the election that President Obama would win reelection. In 2008 I was completely certain he would win the election. And, you know, in 2008, I realized that I could be at peace with Barack Obama as President even though I disagree with him politically on pretty much everything.

Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him. (Daniel 2:20-22 ESV)

The President of the United States is not a king, nor is he the supreme ruler. His power is shared equally with that of Congress and the Supreme Court. In 2008, Republicans ridiculed the Democrats saying that they raised Barack Obama up as their messiah. After the lamenting I saw yesterday, Republicans did the same thing with Mitt Romney, and were therefore crushed by his loss as if the world is now going to end. There was (and still is) a plethora of derisive blaming and name-calling by defeated Republicans that is nothing short of vile and mean-spirited. And what’s worse is that many of the awful remarks I have seen are from professing Christians.

I think what the Christians lamenting the direction our nation is heading fail to realize is that we are not going to be judged for what is happening now or what is going to come now that the Republican messiah wasn’t elected (because apparently now if you are a Christian you have to be a Republican). We ARE being judged for what we have done for decades with our legalistic moralism and prosperity gospel teachings. The legalistic moralism focuses on sins that good Christians don’t do while the prosperity gospel promises us material wealth and happiness in the here and now. So what we are left with is either the self-righteous critical Christian or the selfish materialistic country club Christian, the latter of which pretty much prescribes to moral relativism and only as much backbone as to protect their possessions and personal comfort.

So to my fellow Christians I ask this: Which are you? Or are you a combination of both?

I think as a whole, Christians here in the US, particularly among the Bible Belt, are known more for what we are against than what we are for. We will attend political rallies disguised as prayer walks, and we will support entrepreneurs when they offend homosexuals, and then pat ourselves on our backs for standing up for our faith and our freedom of speech. But where is Christ in that? We want to pass laws to protect human life and protect marriage, but when has the law ever changed the human heart? We rail against homosexual marriage but turn a blind eye or even justify no-fault divorce. We may not be quite as vile as the Westboro Cult, but we still point the finger at homosexuals telling them that they are going to hell for their sin as if being homosexual is THE sin that will send them to hell, yet we are largely silent about fornication and adultery. Therefore, homosexuals see us just as they see the Westboro clowns because while we don’t picket funerals with “God hates fags” signs, we are just as guilty of not showing the love we are commanded to show to our neighbors.

So Christians, you want to “turn our country back to God”? You can’t do that through political means. Once social issues are political issues, the culture war on that issue has already been lost. Laws don’t change hearts; only the Holy Spirit can do that. Engage the culture instead of just condemning and avoiding it. Disciple instead of pressing for a quick decision that amounts to offering a “get out of hell free” card that produces no fruit. Stop looking at evangelism as a way to fill up your church building on Sunday mornings so you can continue to pay for it, and instead be willing to give up the comforts of an elaborate building in order to actually lead the lost to Christ and build his kingdom instead of filling our pews. Pray for a heart that is broken for the lost, and repent of your own self-righteousness. And pray for your duly elected leaders, whether you voted for them or not – not for your comfort, but for God’s glory.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)

Opinions are like…

Everyone has one and they all stink. There are some things I swore off writing about anymore, but since I am feeling pretty full of myself, I changed my mind. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, unless you define good as actually blogging. haha I add this statement after I’ve written a bit: it seems as though I feel like ranting. :dlstrike:

1. Tim Tebow. Please stop talking incessantly about him. I like him, but stop.

2. The 2012 Presidential race. Please stop talking incessantly about it. Ok, so maybe that doesn’t really apply in this case since we need to be informed about the candidates, but really, there are none when all we are given with any credible shot of winning is either a Democrat or a Republican. Yes, they all suck. Rick Santorum is the best of the Republican lot, and so, of course, he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance.

3. Sarah Palin. Why is she still news? I like her ok, but would not vote for her for probably anything.

4. Michele Bachmann. I liked her a whole lot better before she started campaigning. I still like her, but would not vote for her for probably anything.

5. Political conversations. I know, I am violating this in a sense with this post, but really, I don’t care anymore. I used to care. I attended one of the first Tax Day Tea Party demonstrations (there is a YouTube video to prove it), and I drug my kids along with nothing more to bribe them but the promise of a Chinese buffet lunch afterwards. The only thing I regret about it is that I managed to end up on a Cumberland County political email list. But I digress. The left tends toward anti-Christian; the right plays the Christian “hot button” issues for political gain. Both sides are playing their base for votes and doing nothing to improve society’s ill(s). So, I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or Republican. They both suck.

6. Dismissiveness. This particularly chaps my hide, and probably because I tend to do it myself. But really the fact that I tend to do it myself makes me feel qualified to point out the unchecked arrogance behind it. Which is why it chaps my hide for someone to seemingly direct their dismissiveness towards me. Obviously it wouldn’t bother me so bad if I didn’t think so much of myself. Still, hear me out! Let me finish my blankety-blank sentence before you blow me off!

7. Prissy women. You know them. I don’t mean “girly” women. There is a difference. Girly women don’t bother me. Prissy women do. Get over yourself.

8. Joyce Meyer. Irks me. Battlefield of the Mind being the sole exception once you get past the Joyceisms.

9. Lennon/McCartney. Great songs. Solo McCartney. Not so much. Solo Lennon. Crap.

10. Honda drivers. Green means go. That means put your foot on the accelerator and press down when the light turns green, not foot off the brake and ease off for a quarter mile and then try to race when the Neon has had enough.

Um, I should probably stop now. lol

Stirring the Class Warfare Pot

We’ve all heard it ad nauseum, “The rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer.” It’s the big gun of the class warfare arsenal that politicians & pundits love to throw out to denigrate the prosperous in order to paint the poor as victims, most generally so the poor will vote for them or their side. I suppose there is a grain of truth to it, but creating victimhood is no way to begin finding a solution. Still, I expect no less from professional (or do I mean perpetual?) politicians.

Sounds snotty doesn’t it? Notice I attached neither a political party nor a political ideology to it. That omission was deliberate. But I digress.

So, as Christians we are commanded throughout scripture to help the poor. I am under no delusion that we do a great job of it as a whole body, but some do it well, and others at least make an effort. Some do it quietly, and some make sure everyone knows what they are doing for God. I have been guilty of the latter. But either way, the poor are still being ministered to.

But there is still a big problem.

I think many of us have bought into “The rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer” blame game. We come to resent “Big Oil” or “Big Green” or “Big Union” or “Big Government” (or all of them together) because we deem their leadership “greedy” with their “insane” profits and “price gouging.” We Christians often tow the same lines, and even take it one step further, turning on ourselves and blaming the church for not taking care of the poor and handing over that responsibility to the government. It’s always someone else’s fault, whether the “rich” or the powerful.

We blame, we finger-point, and in doing so we help to keep the class warfare fire stoked. As long as we Christians keep doing this, there will continue to be a class war.

What if…

What if, while we minister to the poor, we do so quietly.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NASB)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

What if, instead of exclusively reaching out to the poor, we also went to the rich and powerful, and shared the gospel with them also? How are they going to stop being full of the greed we accuse them without Christ? Have we become so self-righteous as to believe that only we and the poor deserve forgiveness and not all people everywhere?

Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

What part of “all” do we not understand?

I read Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand about a year ago, and he said something that stuck with me. He pleaded with the reader to share the Gospel with the rich and the powerful because it is they who make policies. (I will double-check I read that right and properly cite later.) He wrote:

“We must win rulers, leaders in politics, economics, science, and the arts. They mold the souls of men. Winning them, you win the people they lead and influence.”

[1]

The divide between rich and poor will only grow unless we share Jesus with all people and not exclusively the poor.

1. Wurmbrand, R. (1998). Tortured for Christ – 30th Anniversary Ed. Living Sacrifice Book Company: Bartlesville, OK. pg 59