Why Politics is the New Religion

They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, “these are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” ~ Exodus 32:8 NIV

 We live in strange times.

 In the spring of 2017 a group of Republican lawmakers were attacked by a gun-wielding wacko. One of them was nearly killed. In Portland Oregon (my former stomping grounds) ANTIFA protesters are presently blocking traffic, harassing old ladies, demolishing property and menacing anyone who disagrees with their politics and/or dubious methods of expediting change. Men, women and sometimes even their children have been forced to leave restaurants simply because those gathered at that restaurant do not approve of the political beliefs of those men and women.

 Just when it feels safe to simply blame kooks on the left for all this lunacy, a kook on the right has been caught mailing explosives to Democratic politicians and a news outlet. Sadly, there are an abundance of nut-jobs on both sides of the aisle.

Smart people everywhere ought to lay awake at night wondering why there are so many individuals who become so utterly unhinged at the mere thought that an acquaintance, relative, neighbor or stranger on-line might disagree with their political opinions.

 Seriously.

 This problem is not exclusive to a small group of whack-jobs who react violently to those who disagree with them.  According to the Pew Research Center forty-four percent of progressives and thirty-one percent of conservatives have confessed to blocking or unfriending someone on social media simply because they disagreed with their political views. That means that nearly eighty-percent of our population is so pig-headed (and immature) where their politics are concerned that they will not allow themselves to be exposed to an opinion they disagree with. Before we do the trendy thing and blame the President for this mess we need to keep in mind that those statistics were collected a full two years before the 2016 election (October 2014).

 Truth-be-told this whole loathsome mess is actually a spiritual problem rather than a political problem. Humans are spiritual beings (Genesis 1:27, Romans 1:19-20).  Every person has a God-sized hole inside their soul that they attempt to fill with something. For eons humanity has filled that void with religious activity of one sort or another.  Recently our culture has wandered away from the religious and embraced the secular. As we have drifted away from belief in God a substantial number of those God-sized holes have been filled-up with political dogma. As a result, folks on both ends of the political spectrum are zealously embracing their political beliefs as absolute and unerring Truth. Those who have embraced politics as the answer to everything believe that the only way we as a culture will be “saved” is through conformity to their particular brand of political dogma.

 We should all be alarmed by this turn of events because in the past, when nations have embraced politics in place of a God, the end result has always been the same. A strong political leader eventually stepped into the void and demanded that he be obeyed as if he were a God. This has always resulted in citizens being forced to obey the tyrannical leader or face the consequences (enslavement, imprisonment or death).

 As Christians we have a sacrosanct duty not only to God but to our culture as well (1stTimothy 2:1-3). Christians are called to be a stabilizing and preserving influence in whatever culture they live in (Matthew 5:13).

 There are four ways we can do this:

 Pray for revival-

 For the most part, individuals in our civilization are dreadfully unhappy. Those who embrace their political opinions as absolute truth tend to be more miserable than most. This is because politics can never really fill the space in our hearts that was intended to be occupied by a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for the salvation of those who are inflexible and militaristic in their political opinions.  When we see revival, we will also see the social change politics have been unable to bring about.   

 Be kind-

 We do have not have to kowtow to every outrageous thing crazy people say. In fact, I personally believe that we should be ready to explain why we believe what we believe (about everything) at all times to all people (even crazy people). That being said, we do need to speak that truth kindly and with grace even to crazy people (Colossians 4:6, Ephesians 4:15, 1st Peter 3:15).

 Keep your own priorities straight-

 Politics are critically important. Every Christian who is fortunate enough to live in a democracy should be politically mindful and active. At the very least Christians should make every effort to vote and to vote biblically. That being said, politics are not, nor should they ever be the end-all-be-all of life (especially for Christians). Even the best, most biblically astute political candidate in the world or the most well-crafted law will never save anyone from anything, only Jesus can do that.

 Know who you are-

 If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are a child of God. A believer’s identity is to be found in Christ and Christ alone. Christians should never find their identity in a particular political party or partisan belief system. Anytime we do we are clearly stepping over the line into the sin of idolatry.

It’s Time to Move on Already

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior~ 1st Timothy 2:1-3 NIV

 Any longtime reader of mine knows that I was not exactly a huge Trump supporter. I was in fact so opposed to a Trump presidency that I composed several passionate blog posts throughout the primary season in a futile attempt to persuade folks to vote for anyone but Trump.

 Once Trump secured the nomination, it took me a long time to come to terms with the choice of my fellow conservatives. Over the course of the subsequent months I slogged my way through the five stages of grief and eventually came to a place of unenthusiastic acceptance of his candidacy and reluctantly cast my vote for Trump. Mostly because I felt there were no other truly viable options.

 Sigh.

I am not confessing all this in an effort to rehash the past or bash Trump (I’m so over all that). I am sharing because I want folks to know that I really do understand the feelings of those whose candidate lost the election.

 I get it. Losing sucks. No one likes it.

 That aside, even with my empathy for others firmly in place I have been more than a bit mystified by the reaction of some in the anti-Trump camp. One would think those people had never experienced any sort of disappointment before.

 Post election hysteria reached a fever pitch early on with the irate expressions of childishness, self-indulgent temper tantrums violent demonstrations and emotionally charged cry-ins immediately following the election. Progressive rage eventually morphed into whiney demands for a recount. When that hope was thwarted by reality. The left (apparently not easily motivated to introspection) moved on to blaming everyone and everything but Hilary Clinton, her lack of accomplishment, countless scandals and pitifully flaccid message.

 Hollywood liberals have kept the bellyaching alive with their absurd anti-Trump promos and ceaseless sermonizing regarding their hazy fears and the unsubstantiated perils of a Trump presidency. The media has done their level best to sow dissent by blaming fake news, generating fake news, and howling endlessly about Russian hackers and conspiracy theories.

 But, I digress.

 This blog post is not really about post election madness, progressive meltdowns or pretentious anxiety coming out of Hollywood. Neither is it about the media, their obvious bias against all things conservative, the Russians, or fake news.

 This blog post is about the individual responsibility we all have in preserving a free and democratic society and coming together as a country. It’s time for America to get a collective grip and start thinking rationally about all this.

 Progressives, who are depressed by the election results, need to understand that we (conservatives) feel your pain. Most conservative people were more than a little uneasy when Obama got elected the first time. Many were positively panicked when he won the second time around. However, we survived Obama and you will survive Trump.

 The beauty of the system our founding fathers crafted is that no one person or party gets to rule forever and there are enough checks and balances built into the system to keep even the worst leaders from becoming dictatorial overlords. It’s time to end the histrionics and give the guy a chance. If Trump fails, I guarantee that you will get your guy (or gal) in four years, and if he succeeds, you succeed.

 Either way it’s a win for your team.

Supporters of Trump would do well to remember that no one man is ever the answer to all of a nation’s problems. Unless of course that man happens to be Jesus and Trump is definitely not Jesus. That said, God has used far lesser men than Donald Trump to accomplish great things in this world.

 Our primary responsibility as believers is to pray for those in authority, even those we don’t like or agree with (Romans 13:7). Love him or hate him, each and every one of us ought to pray daily for Donald Trump. He clearly needs our prayers. He’s got a big job to do. A job that is so big, so complex, and so fraught with landmines that no human being could possibly do it effectively without the support, guidance and blessing of God.

 I have a postscript for my conservative friends.    

 I get that you’re happy. Our guy won and it feels really good, conservatives have sustained a lot of defeats over the course of the last eight years and it’s been a rough and depressing ride. Nevertheless, lets try to refrain from too much gloating; it’s boorish and it frightens the progressives.

 We clearly don’t need anymore of that.

 

 

How Hate and Fear Got Trump Elected

The truth shall make you free~ John 8:32b NKJV

It’s been nearly two weeks since the votes were counted and Donald J. Trump was elected as leader of the free world. Sadly, half the American electorate is still deep in the weeds of a bitter grieving process. Because anger is a tough emotion to sustain over a long period of time I figured that the riots, temper tantrums, and malicious Facebook tirades would be easing in intensity by now.

 I figured wrong.

 Over the course of the last two weeks I have seen a steady stream of social media posts and liberal columnists demanding that Trump step down (seriously, like that will happen). Others are hanging on to the fantasy that a large enough percentage of state electors will go “faithless” to reverse a Trump victory at the eleventh hour.

 As if.  

 Others are descending deeper into a state of denial. The vast majority of progressives out there are convinced the only reason Donald Trump won the election is because half of America is racist, poor and stupid.

 This belief exposes an ugly truth. We have become a nation of reflex labelers. We no longer take the time to discover the nuances of what people think or how they feel about a particular issue. Instead we slap a label on those who do not think like we do do. Sadly, this is typically done based on the scantest of information, which makes it almost impossible for those in denial to see the truth.

 For the progressives who read this blog (I know you’re out there) I want to clear up a few misconceptions concerning the Trump win.

 One piece of Trump’s success was his competition. Hilary Clinton was a flaming-hot mess of a candidate. She was a scandal-ridden nominee who presented no new ideas and in spite of a lifetime spent in public office she could boast of no actual accomplishments.

 Clearly, anyone could have beaten her.

 However, Trump’s success was not due entirely to Hillary’s weakness. Economic concerns were on the minds of many Trump voters, but the election results were about more than just the economy. I believe the issues that propelled Donald Trump to the Presidency run deeper than all of that.

Ultimately the Trump win was about:

 Fairness.

 Prior to 1973, abortion was outlawed in thirty states and legally limited in the other twenty. America was a steadfastly pro-life country. Nonetheless, seven Supreme Court Justices overrode the majority and legalized abortion on demand in all fifty states.

 Three states (Maine, Maryland, Washington) legalized gay marriage due to a vote of the people. No state enforced prohibitions on homosexual sex or same-sex cohabitation; most states simply refused to recognize gay marriage. Nevertheless, in 2015 the Supreme Court marginalized the masses and overturned thousands of years of social wisdom when they pulled the “right” for same-sex marriage out of thin air.  

 It is estimated that roughly one-percent of Americans identify as “trans-sexual” and yet the federal government is attempting to force schools and business to make costly and difficult “accommodations” for a tiny minority, despite the practical concerns of millions.

 Clearly, none of this is fair. Unless of course your definition of fairness differs dramatically from the standard and commonly accepted meaning of the word.

 It was also about common sense and respect for others.

 Contrary to popular belief, it is common sense—rather than hate—that dictates that we carefully screen immigrants who belong to a religion where some of the adherents commit acts of senseless violence against innocent people. It’s absurd to insist that state mandated education teach children there are sixty-three distinctive genders, especially considering the sorry state of public education in most areas. Contrary to popular belief, most Christians LIKE gay people. However, they also believe it’s irrational and disrespectful to demand they bake a cake for a gay wedding.

 Finally, it was about fear and hate.

 Not fear of Muslims, women, gay people, Latinos or a changing America. It was fear of the liberal left and their hatred of conservatives that drove folks to the ballot box. Conservatives have been watching liberals for years and the riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, Seattle, Milwaukee, Portland and St. Louis have proven that sane people ought to fear a progressive majority. Sadly, fear is increasing, thanks to the aggressive vitriol coming from the left since the election. Hilary Clinton reinforced that fear when she called Trump supporters “deplorable” and when she declared, “religious beliefs must change”.

 Conservatives knew which religion she was talking about and it scared them. It was the intolerance and hate that has become endemic on the left that drove conservative America to vote for Donald Trump.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Election Nightmare is Over-Now What?

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him~ 2nd Chronicles 16:9a NASB

 I was not going to write a blog this week.

 I am on vacation. My only plan for the week was to reconnect with friends, catch-up on some much-needed sleep, replenish my rapidly dwindling stores of vitamin D and indulge my love for tacos in the great state of Arizona.

 However.

 Events have compelled me to break with the plan and attempt to communicate my hopes, fears and thoughts concerning the future of America, and more specifically, the church in America in light of the election results on Tuesday.

 After arguably the weirdest, most contentious election in modern history, the people have spoken and Donald J. Trump has been chosen as leader of the free world.

 To say I have mixed feelings about a Donald Trump presidency understates my feelings to such a degree that I literally do not have words to describe my feelings (and I always have words, having words is my thing). On the one hand I am thrilled Hillary Clinton will not be President of the United States.

 Hillary Clinton is a corrupt and godless woman. Her behavior as Secretary of State repeatedly crossed the line into criminal territory. I am opposed to the vast majority of her policy positions and I find it highly disturbing that those positions can and do change on a dime. Furthermore her irksomely smug assumption that she somehow deserved to be President because it was “her turn” irritates me to no end.

 I am beyond relieved she lost the election.

 Despite my well-documented misgivings, Donald Trump has some qualities that give me hope. He has raised four loyal, hard working, adult children, (no small feat in this world). Throughout the campaign he has chosen to surround himself with some very wise and godly people. He has promised to restore sanity to the Supreme Court and he clearly loves our country. His Presidential acceptance speech was genuinely moving and exhibited a deep desire to unite and heal the country.

 However.

 My concerns have not vanished. Some are directly related to Donald Trump as a man. The other concerns are a bit squishier and harder to put into words.

 But I will try.

 My concerns regarding Donald Trump are mostly related to his temperament and lack of consistency on issues. He has changed his mind more times on more issues than a tired toddler coming off a sugar-high. Humility (a necessary quality in a leader) is quite clearly not his greatest strength. He has said some extraordinarily “indelicate” things regarding women and appears to relish offending people unnecessarily.

 However.

 God has had lesser men to work with and still accomplished the impossible. I may not entirely trust Donald J. Trump but I do trust God.

 My concern for the country runs deeper.

 We are a deeply divided nation of dreadfully immature people. We are no longer capable of agreeing to disagree on the issues and behaving like adults. Over the course of the last week I have seen posts on social media that have left me stunned and disillusioned with the human race. There has been gloating on one side and inexcusably ugly vitriol on the other. Some are threatening to leave the country because their candidate didn’t win; others are literally setting things on fire and shutting down our cities.

 The childishness is appalling.

 Confounding the situation further, we have reached a point in America where many have come to believe that good is evil and evil is good. Every sort of depravity is encouraged by those in authority and celebrated by the masses. In recent years government agencies have begun to mandate Christians go along with the never-ending onslaught of degeneracy or lose their freedoms. Historically God has not had a lot of patience with societies that reach our level of contempt for decency and human freedom.

 Despite all that, I believe God is giving the Christian community a much-needed opportunity to regroup and get our churches, communities and families healthy again. We cannot sit back and assume a Trump win is a mandate from God to continue on with the business-as-usual mentality that has infected our homes and Churches for decades. The time has come for Christians to get serious about serving God, deal decisively with sin, live righteously, pray for wisdom and tell others about Jesus.

 It is essential we make the most of the opportunity we’ve been given. It might be the last one we get.

Voting for Corruption

 

Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them~ Isaiah 1:23 NIV

 I am an ardent fan of all things political.

 The Presidential elections are my favorite; it actually bums me out that they only roll around once every four years. I look forward to the presidential election season the way some women look forward to a fifty-percent off sale on Jimmy Choo shoes.

 I am a registered Independent and although I cheerfully admit to leaning conservative I am attentive to the goings-on on both sides of the political aisle. I will vote for any politician evidence reveals is a decent human being who can pass a drug test, possess a solid ethical compass and has a working knowledge of basic economic principles.

 This election has been a gloomy one for me. It has challenged my love of politics as well as my faith in the intelligence of the American electorate. Somehow the nation I love has succeeded in picking the two most tragic candidates in the history of our Republic. The out-and-out absurdity of these two choices for President baffles me to no end. My unending irritation over the Republican pick has caused me to say precious little about Hilary Clinton.

 Well, no more.

 Recent revelations have made me so insane with righteous outrage that I can no longer hold back my uncensored opinion on the dangers of a Clinton presidency.

 I will begin with the email controversy.

 It is an irrefutable fact that Hillary Clinton set-up a private email server in a bathroom. She committed this criminal act against the counsel of her staff, proving she is either hopelessly dimwitted or has zero interest in keeping classified information out of the hands of foreign governments. For the record, I do not believe that Hilary Clinton is dimwitted. Nor do I believe she was ignorant the law (as she claims), nor do I believe her emails are so desperately dull that no foreign power would ever be intent on reading them, as she stated in an interview with the comedian Jimmy Fallon. Hillary Clinton is an attorney who has worked at the highest levels of government for most of her life. She simply despises accountability, doesn’t care who she hurts and believes herself to be above the law.

 If the email debacle were the only example of flagrant corruption, I might be inclined to let it go, sadly that is not the case. In 1997 the Clintons created the Clinton Foundation, ostensibly for the purpose of raising money for do-gooder causes. In all fairness the foundation has raised a lot of money for various causes, many of them good. Exact numbers are tough to pin down but conservatively speaking millions have been given to help people around the world.

 That is a good thing.

 What is not a good thing is how Ms. Clinton used the foundation while she was Secretary of State. Credible allegations charge she used the foundation to line her own pockets by selling meetings (to the tune of $156 million) to individuals, corporations and foreign countries in exchange for donations to her foundation. Donors include the Prince of Bahrain who pledged $32 million to the Clinton foundation.

 Doubtless these folks were astute enough to get something in return for the money they paid. Naïve people have argued that there is no actual evidence she ever gave anyone a favor in exchange for a cash donation. Sadly, that unlikely scenario makes the whole situation worse rather than better. It means she and her aides were running some sort of a flimflam operation out of the office of the Secretary of State. Trust me: the crown prince was promised SOMETHING in exchange for 32 MILLION DOLLARS. No one in their right mind pays 32 million dollars simply to meet with someone. He had an ulterior motive and if he did not get what he paid for, he’s seriously furious.

 When her email server was exposed, she blamed her own ineptitude (like that is supposed to make any of us feel better), then she blamed her colleagues. When her colleagues declined to be hurled under that particular bus she blamed COLIN POWELL. Seriously, she blamed Colin Powell for her illegal server, that’s like me blaming the mailman for the sloppy condition of my front yard. When four Americans were killed in Libya she blamed an anti-Islamic video that few people had actually viewed for the disaster. When her husband sexually harassed women he worked with she blamed the women.

 I could go on forever.

 Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, was born in Michigan but raised in Saudi Arabia. She is the daughter of Muslim intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to spreading the Muslim faith. Abedin acted as the assistant editor for a radical Muslim publication for ten years. The scholarly journal Ms. Abedin edited openly promotes Sharia law, is anti-women’s rights, anti-Christian, anti-Israel and blamed America for the 9-11 attacks. The woman slated to be the next Whitehouse Chief of Staff has close ties to radical Islam. At the very least this fact proves Hillary Clinton does not have the good sense necessary to make her own staffing decisions.

 Any American who is not troubled by Hillary Clinton’s corruption and poor judgment is at least as dimwitted as she pretends to be.

   This is the most depressing election of my lifetime. A Clinton Presidency may very well be unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. Christians everywhere need to pray. It is not too late for God to intervene. He is in the business of miracles and we could certainly use one right now. Christians also need to vote— the congressional election is critical this year. If conservatives lose the house and senate and Clinton wins the Presidency all will truly be lost. The most openly corrupt person in the history of American politics will control everything.

 God help us all.

Betrayed Like Bernie?

 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you~ Matthew 5:11-12 NASB

 I feel the need to offer a brief disclaimer.

 I am not, nor will I ever be a supporter of Bernie Sanders political and social vision for America. In my judgment his very best ideas are half-baked and hopelessly naïve. Despite his declarations to the contrary Bernie is and always has been more of a communist than a socialist. Communism is an absurd notion that deserves to die already. Communism is the governmental equivalent of a ponzi scheme.

 It has swindled and subjugated millions in the name of “social and economic equality”.

 Communism promises plenty but only delivers material, spiritual and moral poverty. Once it takes root, it destroys the ambition of the people and with that all economic and human potential. Communism only works if the people view the state as their sole benefactor and provider; therefore faith in God is a serious threat to communism, which makes communism a serious threat to religious liberty.

 Equally as critical, I simply cannot envision myself casting a vote for anyone who is clearly worse at math than I am.

 Now that I have that little rant out of the way, I have to confess I felt nothing but compassion and empathy for Bernie Sanders when it was disclosed this week that power-brokers in the Democratic Party schemed to block his path to the Democratic nomination. I may not like or support his political vision, but I have to concede that it was the dirtiest of deals and more than a little unfair.

 Most of us have been where he’s at, at one time or another. We were just doing life, going about our business, attempting to do our best with the gifts, talents and opportunities God has given us, only to discover that people, sometimes people we trusted, had betrayed or cheated us in a significant way.

 We can be cheated out of opportunities, as was the case with Bernie. Or we can be swindled out of money or cheated on by a spouse. Other times it’s our reputation we are cheated out of of when we are slandered or misrepresented in some way.

 Whatever the details, being cheated is the ugly stuff of life. It tests even the most patient among us (sometimes to the breaking point) and has the potential to destroy our trust in people and our faith in the goodness of God.

 I am convinced that the feelings of anger and hurt that follow a betrayal or cheating incident are not sinful or wrong. It’s normal and perhaps even healthy to feel anger towards someone who mistreats us in some way.

 It’s how we deal with our feelings that matter.

 How we handle our feelings will determine our future spiritual health, the people we become and the condition of future relationships. If our anger and hurt is permitted to fester into resentment we will be destroyed by our own bitterness and useless to ever do anything good. Conversely, being mistreated can, over time, make us wiser, more compassionate, and more sensitive people if we allow God to use the experience to mold us into better people.

 Dealing with a betrayal in a healthy way has to begin with a deeply held belief that God really is good and that He has a plan for our ultimate good (Jeremiah 29:11), even when life is unfair and people cheat us.

 Belief that God loves us and has a plan for our good is the only thing that enables us to forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is not easy and is almost always a process rather than an event. Sometimes we have to repeat the process over and over again until it sticks. We know we’ve forgiven when we are totally free of anger and bitterness towards the person or people who wronged us.

 Betrayal, like every other ugly thing we are stuck with in this sin-sick world, has the power to make us either better or bitter.

 The choice is ours to make.

 

 

Getting God Back in America

 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart~ Jeremiah 29:13 ESV

 It’s been a decade of progress and change. Sadly, much of the progress has gone in the wrong direction and the changes have been mostly bad.

 Civility and respect have all but vanished. Policymakers routinely go to war over everything and anything, and yet somehow seem incapable of solving even the most rudimentary of problems. Regard for rule of law and those who enforce the law is rapidly declining. The murder of police officers has doubled in twelve short months.

 To our everlasting shame as a nation, many black citizens feel the need to affirm the obvious fact that their lives really do matter. Just as appalling, some of those same folks become outraged at the notion that all lives really should matter equally.

 Bakers, photographers, florists and other professionals are routinely sued and sometimes even criminally prosecuted simply for declining to participate in ceremonies they don’t wish to celebrate.

 Nearly half (forty percent) of the children born in 2016 will be born to unmarried women. The news that divorce rates have declined in recent years is a blessing; sadly, few experts believe it’s because commitment has made an abrupt comeback. Rather, fewer couples are getting married, opting instead to live together.

 Being born with a particular set of “parts” is now considered entirely irrelevant to the notion of being born male or female. Gender is now entirely relative to how one feels when they wake-up in the morning.

 To Christians, all this “progress” is simply heartbreaking. Most of us never even imagined that such behaviors and attitudes would become so widely accepted. For most of us, our natural response is to long for a time when respect for life, marriage, God and the law were the prevailing standard in our society.

 We want to get God back in America.

 How to accomplish this objective is a matter of vigorous debate.

 Some think that if we simply do stuff the way it used be done those changes will transform our society back into a saner version of itself. Those who long for the good old days believe that if we return prayer and corporal punishment to public schools, kids will be better behaved and more God-fearing. Conversely, some folks sincerely believe that if hymnbooks, dress codes and Sunday school classes were to make a return to the church scene, churches would become as healthy and fruitful as they were when those things were customary.

 Others believe that the right political leader can and will bring God or at least godly values back to America and life will settle back into something that looks and feels a little less scary and hopeless. They believe that if laws change to reflect a more conservative way of thinking, hearts will eventually follow.

 Both views are fatally flawed.

 Changing actions or laws only changes people and institutions if the changes were prompted by inner transformation or, as we used to say, “heart change”. We could have the best laws and leaders in the world and no one will follow either one if their hearts are unrepentant and bent towards evil.

 I would love nothing more than to have a President who would stop actively supporting evil and undercutting virtue. That said, I also recognize that one person can only do so much. Unless of course that person is Jesus Christ and sadly He isn’t running for President this year.

 It’s not what we do or who our human leadership is that transforms our society or determines how much God we have in America.

 You and I decide how much God we have in America.

 The New Testament teaches that God occupies the hearts of people who have come to faith and repentance in Jesus Christ (Acts 7:48). If Christians (myself included) do not feel good about the level of morality, integrity or appropriate behavior we see in our communities or country. It’s time to look inward at our own spiritual lives and attitudes rather than at the world and their wickedness.

 We will never have more God in America (or anywhere else) than we have God in the hearts of individual believers. We get more God inside of our hearts when we live in closer relationship to Him and when we love people unconditionally. We will get more God in America when we ruthlessly eradicate sin from our lives, seek to become more obedient to His instructions, and when we make a daily effort to know Him better through the study of His word.

 When Christians everywhere make those pursuits their number one priority, we will have more God than we can handle in America.

 Powerful political and social change will follow our obedience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Christians Vote in This Election?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him~ James 1:5 ESV

 After a long, sometimes uncomfortable year of name-calling, adolescent antics, ducking indictments, character distortions and mud slinging. The conventions are upon us and by the end of the week the people will have two official candidates for the office of President of the United States.

 God help us all.

 Sadly, Americans have become accustomed to holding their noses as they vote for President. But seriously, these two contenders redefine the whole concept of crummy options.

 The one positive thing to be said for Hillary Clinton is she’s a known quantity. Sadly, everything we know about her is pretty terrible. Her employment history is jam-packed with appalling lapses in judgment, brazen corruption, terrible ideas, near indictments, government overreach and reasonably credible rumors of toddler-like temper tantrums.

 Ms. Clinton has pledged to make the next four years an extension of Obama’s legacy. If she keeps that promise, she will spend our country into poverty, inflame economic and racial conflict, select the most liberal judges imaginable, champion Planned Parenthood, continue to defund the military and sanction additional bathroom shenanigans.

 Sigh.

 Then there’s Donald Trump. Because he’s a recent arrival to politics we can only speculate on how he might govern. We do know his views have “evolved” on every subject imaginable from abortion to taxes to healthcare to his feelings concerning Hilary Clinton, his former “close friend”. Reports of shady business deals and allegations of fraud follow him around like stink on a dog. Trump is seemingly powerless to reign in his tongue; policy experts openly fear his obnoxious rhetoric will lead to an international incident of some sort.

 So, what is a Christian to do?

 There are some who have made a sad sort of peace with the fact that there are simply no good choices this year. These folks are a practical bunch, who simply wish to elect the candidate they believe will do the least amount of long-term damage. They understand that this will likely be a tight race and believe that abstaining or selecting a write-in candidate is the essentially the same thing as voting for Hilary. Few in this crowd actually like Trump; they simply hope he’s better than the alternative.

 Their case is bolstered by the fact that the next President will likely choose three Supreme Court Justices. For a generation now Supreme Court rulings have determined the moral attitudes of our nation. Three strictly liberal judges would slant the balance of the court for at least a generation, all but guaranteeing there will not be another sensible Supreme Court decision for at least four decades. If elected Trump has pledged to do everything within his power to build a more conservative Supreme Court.

 That is no small promise.

 The other side is viewed by some as inflexible but they are perhaps more realistic. They see Trump’s record of flip-flopping and history of ethically debatable conduct and conclude that he’s too much of a risk to be trusted with the Presidency. They simply do not believe he will keep his promises. This crowd believes that in this case the lesser of two evils is still evil and they simply are not interested in backing evil of any sort.

 Both views have legitimacy. Every person I know grappling with this issue is a good Christian with a healthy fear of God who believes they will answer to God for whatever choice they make.

 If this were a typical election, I would simply advise folks to prayerfully study 1st Timothy 3:1-5 and choose the candidate that comes closest to the biblical ideal for leadership presented in that passage. Sadly, neither candidate fits that particular bill, so it all comes down to a matter of conscience.

 I believe every God-fearing believer should pray and fast and then pray and fast some more. Then they should do what God tells them to do, because I don’t know the answers, and the answers might be different for different people.

 However I do know some things we should not do.

 Christians should not judge one another, or belittle another’s opinions or anxieties. Nor should one Christian attempt to persuade another Christian to violate their conscience and vote for someone they believe God has told them not to vote for. According to the Apostle Paul (1st Corinthians 8:10, 2nd Timothy 1:9) the human conscience is fragile thing and repeatedly violating it can lead to all sorts of future problems.

 I am persuaded that who we vote for matters less than the amount of time we put into praying for our future leader. At this point neither candidate appears to be worthy of the office, however that can change. God is able to make them worthy.

 God knows the outcome; it’s time to trust Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Use it or Lose it Proposition

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out~ Proverbs 18:15 NIV

 I recently celebrated a birthday and I am fairly certain I now fall squarely into the category of “older” woman. I will not lie: I found this realization a bit jarring at first. The negatives of aging are all too obvious; nothing about your body looks as good as it used to or works quite as well as it once did.

 Time feels like it passes more quickly after a certain age. This age-related time warp leads to some peculiar forms of culture shock. I find it more than a little irritating when manufacturers attempt to pass off ugly fashion as “novel” or “new” when it’s really just an unpleasant rip-off from my adolescent years. And I will never get so old as to forget the gloom I felt the day I heard my favorite song from high school being played on the “oldie” station.

 Happily, I have also come to realize that there are things about getting older that are not completely terrible. The awareness that life is short can be liberating, it makes it easier to relax and worry less about stupid stuff. Time gives a deeper appreciation and greater tolerance for people, especially those people who stick around through thick and thin. In general I care less about the judgments of others than I once did. This is all very freeing.

Freeing is good.

 There are some things about getting older that are neither good nor bad. They are just kind of weird. As you get older life becomes a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. You’ve seen almost everything. Most things, more than once and over time you become very aware of how most situations are going to end.

 You learn that some stuff is always destined to end badly.

 Over time it becomes painfully clear to anyone who thinks that some endeavors just don’t work well over the long haul. Crime rarely pays; cheaters, thieves and gossips eventually get caught in snares they stupidly set for themselves. Laziness results in poverty, and there are simply some attitudes and behaviors you embrace to your own peril if you want relationships to have even a minimal shot at survival.

 That’s the obvious stuff.

 There are some other more subtle truths about life that you pick up over time. Some truths feel counterintuitive, like the fact that it actually pays to suck it up and have regular car maintenance done. Cheaping out on oil changes seems like a good way to save a little money but the “payoff” is always short lived.

 When I was younger I believed (subconsciously) that if I ignored stuff that made me feel afraid or uncomfortable then that stuff would simply go away. Because current world events were typically unpleasant, the news made me uncomfortable, sometimes even afraid. So I ignored it. I simply tuned out and went on with my little life. Sadly, nothing unpleasant went away while I was busy tuning out. The world just got worse. So I tuned back into the culture only to discover that my Christian brothers and sisters were still mostly tuned out.

 Nothing improves when Christians tune out of the culture and retreat to their holy huddles. Christians are the only preserving influence this world has (Matthew 5:13-16). When Christians step out of the cultural arena, the culture suffers and so does the church. When we stop working to preserve the culture the church does not become more holy. The reverse occurs; when we stop using our influence we lose the influence. Then the Church begins to atrophy and loses its ability to know right from wrong.

Holiness is the ultimate use it or lose it proposition.

 There is more than one way to preserve the culture. They all involve acquiring knowledge and working for righteousness in every sphere of life. We are officially in an election year. There are Christians who don’t even know who their current leaders are, let alone who’s running. That is disgraceful. It’s time for the people of God to get involved; the future of both the Church and the culture is at stake. First we need to get busy obeying the command to love God with our minds (Matthew 22:37). We need to educate ourselves on the issues of our day.

 We need to know what candidates have done, not just what they say they’ve done. Our information should come from sources other than the candidate, political ads or the Internet. Once we’ve gotten educated we need to take what we’ve learned about each candidate and decide who is most fit to lead. Then we need to fight for those men and women. When we’ve done all that we need to get on our knees and pray. Not just for our own needs and the needs of our families but for a return to righteousness.