Archive for the Politics Category

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

History Lesson

I got one today from Reverend Wayne Perryman via Flopping Aces.