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donald trump

Settle for More – a Christian perspective from the new @MegynKelly book

megyn-book-cover-529x800Friends who know me know that I’m not really a fan of FoxNews. While I am theologically conservative, I tend to lean more to the left than Fox does when it comes to social issues and politics. That being said, I have not spent a lot of time watching Megyn Kelly on Fox. But I saw that she had a book published, Settle for More, and saw an interview she did regarding the book. Then, by chance, our base library had a copy of it on display. That’s when I thought I’d pick it up and give it a read.

I will admit that it is not what I thought it would be. After all, Ms. Kelly is hardly older than I am. How could she possibly have a memoir? Additionally, I knew that a good portion of her book was dedicated to Donald Trump. A book on Trump doesn’t really seem like it’s memoir-worthy. But the book wasn’t just about Trump. It wasn’t just about Megyn Kelly. The book really was about the last year of Megyn Kelly’s life under fire from the Trump organization/followers, her response to it, and the life that brought her to the point where she responded the way she did. In short, it’s an apologetic

From her telling, Ms. Kelly has endured quite a bit from Trump and his followers. The book gets into a bit of the details. In fact, the last fourth of the book is all about her chaotic experiences with Trump. But the first three-fourths of the book set up the reader to understand the life that gave Ms. Kelly the convictions and determination that allowed her to deal with the hardships of her past year.

She had dealt with bullies as a child. She endured the sudden death of her father when she was a teen. She worked diligently in college and law school. She went through a divorce. All of the negative experiences in her life prepared her (ultimately) to deal with the Trump organization and the grief of her last year. She sums up her attitude in this paragraph:

Adversity is an opportunity, and one that has allowed me to flourish. It has made me stronger, my skin a little thicker. And as with any turmoil in your life, none of it is for nothing if you survive it and take stock.

And THAT is a principle that we would all do well to learn. It’s what the Bible is teaching believers when James writes:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

There is more to our suffering than simply suffering. There is something that happens within us when we endure suffering – we grow. We learn. Get get better. We get stronger. Let’s not be naive, sometimes this world tears us down. Plenty of faithful believers have gone to their graves without ever seeing an end to their suffering. This is where our hope that comes from our faith plays a big role in enduring troubles.

One day the trouble will cease. One day the pain will end. Revelation 21:4 proclaims:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

When you go through difficult times, please know that you’re not the only one. Others have gone before you. Others walk with you. And people will endure hardships until this world passes away. But hold fast, knowing that God is working something within you. He may not remove the troubles, but you can be changed for the better because of them. And one day, God will ease all of your troubles.

Come, Lord Jesus.

White People, You’re Still Not Listening

kids-churchI know there are quite a few who don’t believe it, but racism is still alive and well in the USA. I’ve seen people flat out deny it. The racism-deniers are, in my experience, always white. And all day today I’ve seen white people CONTINUE to act in racist ways.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is calling Donald Trump’s electoral victory “one of the most exciting nights of my life.”

In North Carolina, people of color had been called the n-word while trying to go into a store.

I’m not saying that racism is back on the scene in a new way. I AM saying that the current climate in the USA has created a place where racists feel free to express their views. Go read the comments section on ANY social media site or News story and you cannot avoid the racist comments, slurs, and insults.

hillary-41775_1280And this is NOT to say that everyone who voted Republican is racist. Not at all. I know good Christian men and women who are Republicans and regularly vote that way. But we cannot deny that the Republican Party has become the landing zone for terrible attitudes, thoughts, and actions. These are the kinds of people Hillary Clinton infamously put in “a basket of deplorables.” Not every Republican – just the deplorable ones.

The problem is that many Republicans approach the current issue of racism from their own lens and say, “I’m not racist, and my family members aren’t racist, so people who complain about racism are just inventing problems.” White people are STILL not listening.

The Bible uses the word “listen” over 600 times. There’s something to be said about hearing – really listening and not missing out on the conversation. For example:

  • If you listen for Lady Wisdom, attune your ears to her, and engage your mind to understand what she is telling you… (Proverbs 2:2)
  • All who have ears to hear, let them listen. (Mark 4:9)

And what conservative whites need to hear is that people of color are genuinely concerned. The safe space created for racists to speak openly is a threat to brown-skinned people. I cannot tell you (literally) how many times I’ve seen people talk or write about “white genocide” and that we need to save the white race. But behavior that pushes away and harms people of color is NOT a biblical attitude or characteristic. The Bible IS filled with words about helping outsiders and loving the outcast.

He enforces His justice for the powerless, such as orphans and widows, and He loves foreigners, making sure they have food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)

It’s time for white Christians to ACTUALLY listen. It’s time to recognize that we have for too long been dismissive of the thoughts and feelings of anyone who is different – the outsiders. Then it’s time to act in solidarity and say, “We have heard your voice, and we stand in solidarity that this is not acceptable.”

  • Denounce white pride/white power movements.
  • Look for ways where we can actually listen to the voice of the “other” and not be dismissive.
  • Be an active participant in bringing reconciliation between all people.

What do you think? Have you heard any of these racist remarks or seen any racist behavior? Share your story! Just be polite – I will not tolerate rudeness.


** Author’s Note – the original post mentioned a KKK march in North Carolina. Those reports have been debunked – it was a pro-Trump group participating in the “Flagging 40” event. There was no connection there to the KKK.

Locker Room Talk and Christian Feminists

Words are a funny thing. We use words to label people. We use words to label ourselves. Me? I label myself as a moderate conservative. In terms of religious beliefs, I tend to be conservative on issues of personal morality yet progressive on issues of social justice and care. Extremists on both ends miss the big picture. Those on the FAR RIGHT  like to focus on personal piety and responsibility. Those on the FAR LEFT like to focus on social issues and justice but neglect personal righteousness and holiness. From my perspective, the middle ground is the place where the Church is supposed to live – caring about piety, personal righteousness, AND social issues and justice.

My belief that the Church should occupy the middle ground is what drives my concern with the current issues brought up around the presidential race. Well, words are a funny thing. “Concern” is not the right word. I’m deeply troubled and bothered. No, this is not a post about politics. Rather, it is about issues brought up in the race and that are now part of the national conversation. So let’s talk about sexual abuse and the treatment of women.

First, sexual abuse is NEVER okay.

That seems like something we shouldn’t have to say, right? I do not know of anyone who says, “Well, sexual abuse is okay in some cases.” It doesn’t happen. So we’re all on the same page that sexual abuse is NOT EVER acceptable. But now it seems we have to take it one step further in our conversation. Let’s add:

“Joking and/or fantasizing about sexual abuse is NEVER okay.”

lockers-932113_1920This is where the nation has split recently. I am grieved by the number of self-proclaiming Christians who brush off such language as “locker room talk.” While it may be the way those outside the Church talk about sexuality, it is NOT supposed to be the way Christians talk. It’s not just about behavior, but it’s also about thought. It’s not me saying this – it’s Jesus.

Jesus liked to take Old Testament law that was based on behavior and revamp it to bring in motive and heart issues. In the gospels we see Jesus say repeatedly, “You have heard it said _________, BUT I SAY TO YOU _____________.” The law forbade murder; Jesus forbids hate. The law forbade adultery; Jesus forbids lust. It’s not just the action – it’s the heart.

“Locker room talk” is a heart issue that grieves Jesus. Such talk demeans the Imago Dei, the Image of God, within our community. It doesn’t matter if it’s men talking about women or women talking about men – it has no place in God’s Kingdom. If the Church belongs to Jesus, then we ought to take a stand against such talk. This is where we return to my opening statement about living in the middle between personal piety and social justice.

As a matter of personal piety, we should refrain from course and abusive language. Do not mistake “locker room talk” for anything other than abusive language. The idea of going up to a woman without consent and accosting her is sexual assault and abuse. Our righteousness should shudder at the very thought. On the flip side, our sense of social justice should cause us to rise up and defend those who are on the receiving end of this kind of abuse! Christian, we have a holy obligation to stand against the sexual abuse of our brothers and sisters. Yet too often we are silent. Time and time again we see the Church being a place where abuse is not dealt with. We may say that it is not acceptable, but we do not do anything to defend the abused or to make sure that the Christian Community is a place where abuse does not happen.

I have some online interaction with Christian feminist and pursuer of Christian equality Jory Micah. You may not agree with everything she talks about, but her passion for protecting women from abuse and abusers is admirable. In her passion and zeal, she even told women that, if their church is not a safe place, then it’s time to move beyond the walls of their church and out among the marginalized where it’s safer. Yes, that’s a paraphrase from my memory, but that was the gist of it. And she set off a horde of detractors calling her “Jezebel,” “heretic,” and other nastiness.

While her words seem abrasive, please hear the motive behind it. As a minister, I would never tell an abused spouse to stay with the abuser. Even though I don’t suggest divorce, I do NOT tell people to remain in abusive settings. I counsel people to get out of the abusive home and find safety. Likewise, if the system is abusive, why do we counsel abused people to stay and keep getting abused? This is a condemnation on the Universal Church, but on local churches that do not protect abused people or seek to create a safe community.

I had a chance to talk with Jory and ask her some questions about faith. She is part of a church planting team. She believes in the One true God and the Deity of Jesus. She fully affirms Acts 4:12 that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to humanity by which we must be saved.” No, this isn’t heresy she’s promoting – it’s an attempt to move people out of harm and into a safe community.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Allowing abusive language and behavior to remain in our midst does not do justice or love kindness. All Christians should denounce “locker room talk” for what it is – it is ungodly and abusive language. We should NOT be making excuses for it, nor should we diminish the weight of the words, no matter who it comes from.

 

How Christians REALLY Feel About Donald Trump

This election cycle has been something else, I’ll give you that. It has looked more like reality tv than a political race. Indeed, the last Republican debate seemed more like a wild west shootout, with the exception that the gunslingers used angry words in place of six-shooters.

And through the smoke and chaos of the OK Corral (or the cause of it?) emerges one candidate who has consumed the political landscape.

donald-duck-973226_1920The Donald.

No, this post won’t be an evaluation or critique of the man and his policies. Rather, I’d like to look at how Christians feel about him and respond to him and to his message. So, doing what I like to do, I took to social media to ask a simple question:

As a Christian Republican, if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee:

a) I will vote Trump
b) I will vote Democrat
c) I will not vote at all

The results of roughly 130 people (yes, yes, I’m not some big-time pollster) have been counted and tallied – there are not more hanging chads to argue about. This was the basic breakdown.

~ 41% said they would vote for Trump.
~ 20% said they would vote Democrat.
~ 39% said they would not vote at all.

Of course, Facebook responders also responded with several lengthy dissertations on why Conservatives are God’s chosen people. And other responders had lengthy dissertations on why Trump is the devil incarnate. What it really comes down to is recognizing that there is no monolithic Christian perspective when it comes to the presidential candidates.

I know fervent Christians who will be voting for The Donald.
I know fervent Christians who will be voting for other Republicans.
I know fervent Christians who will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

I haven’t met any fervent Christians who claim Hillary, so if you’re out there, drop me a line and let’s chat – you must exist somewhere in the Cosmos, and I’d like to hear your perspective.

white-house-451544_1920The point is this: though we have a say in electing our government officials (which is more than many Christians through history could say), a lot of us are going to not have our candidate of choice be the next leader.

And that’s okay. Or it should be.

Ultimately it comes down to trusting God to manage the affairs of the world no matter what human is running the show. In an era of the Roman Empire, where Christians were a persecuted minority, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:2-4)

If Paul can urge Christians on to good conduct in spite of the authority at the helm of the government, should we do any less? Sometimes we act as if we, as American Christians, are above the biblical call behave decently even towards those with whom we radically disagree. We treat political opposition in a vile manner. It’s like the presidential candidates who pretend to be God-fearing evangelicals in order to win the evangelical vote yet are horrible to each other on the debate stage, acting in ways that do NOT honor Christ.

This isn’t supposed to be who we are. Our politics are not supposed to trump (low-case “t”) our faith. We can rise above the political muck and mire and still treat people decently. We don’t have to name-call. We don’t have to slander. We don’t have to rail against people.

We can live out a Christ-like faith in a God who is in control of human history, even when things seem dark and desperate. At least, that’s how I interpret WWJD.

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How about you? Did you vote in our poll? How do you respond to the candidates?

A Church That Loves Politics More than It Loves Jesus

I enjoy following politics. I really enjoy political races for office. I believe that citizens in a democratic republic (like America, if you didn’t know what we are) have a duty to cast votes and play an active role in the political process. It is the primary means by which we hold our leaders accountable and shape the vision and future of our society.

I enjoy my faith. I really enjoy Jesus. I believe that citizens of God’s kingdom (all of those who claim to follow Jesus) have a duty to be loyal to Jesus and play an active role in the life of God’s kingdom. This necessitates we understand the breadth and scope of Jesus’s life, mission, and call to those of us who follow him.

One of my favorite stories from Jesus’s life takes place during a visit to the temple. Jesus sees a bunch of merchants and vendors trying to make a profit selling sacrificial animals to worshipers traveling from out of town. The mark-up would have been considerable, and the vendors were there not so much to help those who needed to offer sacrifices, but to line their own wallets with cold, hard cash.

This was simply unacceptable to Jesus, and he goes ballistic. He starts flipping over tables and driving out the cattle and animals, jesus-clears-the-temple

and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbersden.” (Mark 11)

Then this week I saw a very interesting phenomenon.

During the Iowa Caucus, I saw many churches that had opened their doors and had become caucus voting locations. Pews were filled with voters carrying flags, buttons, and banners promoting their favorite candidate.

It got me thinking…

I’m pretty sure Jesus would visit these church caucus sites in Iowa and start flipping over pews and tables…

No, it’s not wrong for Christians to engage in politics. I think it’s a GOOD thing to do.

What I have a problem with is people turning our sacred spaces into political grounds. How can we worship Jesus and worship candidates at the same time? How can our sanctuaries be converted to multi-purpose rooms used for secular political activity? I’m not cool with it.

Our call as Christians is to influence and change culture, not let culture influence and change us. One of my favorite Ed Stetzer quotations goes something like this:

When you mix faith and politics you get politics.

This is what I see happening during this election cycle. Don’t let it.

Yes, vote. Yes, get election-978904_1920involved in the political process. Yes, make sure the right candidate takes office.

No, don’t mix the two. Jesus doesn’t ride beside our politics. He needs to be above our politics. Because he’s the Lord of Republicans AND Democrats…heck, even of the Socialists. Jesus supersedes politics.

Don’t get caught up in the political movement and sacrifice our sacred spaces and our very faith.

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What do you think? Are you okay with churches being voting locations? How do you respond to the blending of faith and politics?

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