Posted tagged ‘politics’

Hearing the Voice of God for Today

June 30, 2018


I recall a sermon preached back in the 1980’s in the church I attended at the time in New Hampshire. I don’t remember the scriptural passage or references, but I remember the gist of the message, and it has stuck with me ever since.

The gist goes something like this: As God’s people, we need to be informed and take our direction primarily from God and God’s will as revealed to us in the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are in the world, but we are not of the world, and we should be careful not to be influenced by the world in our thinking.

The key point that I remember, however, is that we can focus so much on trying not to be influenced by the world that we become reactionary to it. If the world goes right, we go left. If the world goes left, we go right. If all we are doing is being reactionary to the world, we lose our focus on God. In the process of trying not to be like the world, we allow ourselves to be defined by the world nevertheless.

If our direction is dictated by nothing more than going in the opposite direction of the world, we are no more directed by God than if we are going in exactly the same direction of the world. Either way, we are focusing on the world and allowing the world to influence our direction.

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The Gospel and Dialogue with Our Culture

June 24, 2018


I spend a fair amount of time on social media. Too much probably, but I see it as a way to connect with family, friends, the community and the world. As a Christian, it is a place where I can be salt and light, if indeed I am led by the Holy Spirit and exhibit the heart and mind of God. That is my aim. I am sure I fail at times.

In the process of spending time on social media, I come across many Christians. Many of friends are Christians, and many of their friends are Christians, so my feeds naturally reflect that fact. I also have many friends who are not “religious” (“nones” no doubt). Many of them don’t consider themselves Christian, and some of them are atheists. I embrace the diversity.

In my reading of the Gospels, I get the distinct impression that Jesus did too. He was  Jew, born into a Jewish family and grew up in the Temple, learning the Scriptures and engaging in the community of God-believers. When God became flesh, he came to His own, and we are told His own (many of them) didn’t receive Him. (John 1:11) “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Jesus didn’t just “stick to his own”. He was open and inviting to anyone and everyone. In the process, He was even accused by “his own” of fraternizing with people His own community saw as “them”. Jesus easily crossed the barriers that separate people into “us” and “them”. The Samaritan woman at the well was taken aback that Jesus, a Jew, would even talk to her, a Samaritan and a sinful one that (likely living on the fringe of her own culture).

Jesus was open and welcoming to all who engaged Him. Roman Centurions, Samaritan, tax collectors, Pharisees, unclean and adulterous women. He treated everyone with love and compassion. He addressed people where they were. Though He almost inevitably challenged the people who came to Him with the truth of God and the Gospel, He did it with tender love and compassion. The only times we really see Him getting angry was with the religious leaders.

I have a point in saying these things, and it has to do with social media and the way Christians interact with “the world”.

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Separating Caesar from the Church

June 21, 2018


Everyone has a hierarchy of values. Whatever is at the top of your hierarchy of values is your God, says Jordan Peterson. Although he hesitates to call himself a Christian, he has a good understanding of the Bible and its positive impact on society and people, individually. This particular statement rings with the purity of truth.

Jordan Peterson has been much in the news and was recently interviewed on the Unbelievable? podcast with Justin Brierley. The topic was: Do we need God to make sense of life? The atheist psychologist, Susan Blackmore, was his counterpart. The podcast (linked above) is worth a listen.

Jordan Peterson also claimed in the course of the discussion that the first pronouncement of the ideal of the separation of church and state came from Jesus when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)

Modern Christians (many of them) seem to think that the separation of the church and state is a bad thing. A common assumption seems to be that the “wall of separation” between the church and state is a way for politicians to keep Christians out of politics and to keep politics from being influenced by Christians. What do you think?

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Taking Our Politics Back to Jesus

January 23, 2017
Casual interracial couple having an argument in a terrace

depositphotos Image ID: 125978174 Copyright: klublub

I am torn with mixed emotions as I watch my social media news feeds well up with agitating statements from pole to pole. The inauguration and the women’s marches have set my social media world on edge – or rather edges. Polarization is the structure and substance of our modern discourse.

In the middle of it all are my brothers and sisters in Christ, dividing over the same issues that divide the country. We feel compelled to take sides, to hold up our own partisan signs, to signal where we stand and to look around to see who is standing with us.

That we seem to be lining up in the same fashion as the rest of our world has me feeling uneasy. Are we no different for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus than the world around us who finds no need of a Savior and no palate for a Lord?

Have we been born again, born of the Spirit, born from above? Or have we simply adopted a layer of adornment that we have put over the worldviews we already have?

I ask these questions for myself as I put them on paper. I am asking these questions for all of us who profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

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Voting As Sojourners and Exhiles

October 12, 2016

How much of our political motivation is rooted in our desire for an easy life, for familiar things, for things that are friendly to our faith? We need to search our hearts on a regular basis to be sure that we are not following after our own, human purposes and not God’s purposes.

What if God doesn’t see things the way we do?

What if God can be most effective and make the most change in the world and in people’s lives when circumstances are not favorable to the motivations and desires of Christians? What if God light shines most where darkness is greatest?

These are rhetorical questions, of course, and the answers are not often what we want them to be. (more…)

Be Faithful to the Gospel This Election Season

October 10, 2016
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canstockphoto2856260/csp2856260

Our freedoms in this country may just be the one thing that most undermines the Christian faith in the United States of America. This election cycle has had me doing lots of soul searching. In the process of that soul-searching, it dawns on me that our freedom to choose which person we will vote for in November puts us squarely in a position where we have to compromise our faith.

People have been talking about Donald Trump as if he were the Nebuchadnezzar of the present day, but he isn’t. The people in the days of Nebuchadnezzar had no choice. In the present day, we do have a choice. When Daniel was faced with compromising his faith or being a loyal servant of Nebuchadnezzar, he chose not to compromise his faith, in spite of the consequences.

He could have easily justified a different choice. (more…)

When Words Become Fact

October 17, 2013

Facts in Speech Bubble


To start this post, I need to begin by apologizing for focusing on politics. That is not the focus I want to have, but the current federal government “shutdown” dominates the news and, therefore, is hard to ignore.

For a little perspective, the government “shutdown” effects about 17% of the federal government operations. No, I did not take the time to fact check that statistic. (“Fact check” is the proper verb, isn’t it?) Please be my guest to correct me if you determine I am wrong. In fact, I have spent an enormous amount of my time trying to fact check many things that are being bandied about by the pundits, commentators, politicians and just about anyone who can post to Facebook, but fact checking in midst of the swirling and diametrically opposed assertions can be difficult.

It doesn’t seem to matter much anyway. I don’t see many people changing their minds when “facts” are tossed out that, if true, ought to make a reasonable person stand up and take notice. Maybe that is due to the fact that everyone makes statements that they assume are facts, without spending the time to vet (to use a cool political term) those assumptions; and, therefore, we all know that the “facts” tossed wildly about by our political opposites are only as reliable as the “facts” we our selves have carelessly stated. No one is to be believed.

It seems like most discussions are no more than hot air. I am not sure people even connect with each other any more. Maybe we never did.

Facts become words and words become facts, and it all becomes just another point of view.

Words do have meanings though, and the manipulation of words can have a real effect on the law, on health care and on real people. Take the recent article in Forbes published on September 29, 2013: “Why The Federal Government Wants To Redefine The Word ‘Cancer’” This article demonstrates how changing the definition of a word, can change the law, changing whether someone may be covered by health care insurance and whether someone gets treatment that might save a life. When “the government” can manipulate a word like “cancer” to change how a law applies, we should take notice.

When words have connections like that, we all have reason to be concerned. In fact, maybe there is more to the debate than I skeptically thought.

Regardless of the veracity of the facts that are being leveraged by both sides of the political equation to fight the current battle over health care, government shutdowns, spending and debt ceilings, the truth of those assertions will eventually give way to words that are passed into law. Those words will become our reality, regardless of any other facts (unless the meanings of those words are changed).


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