Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Flags

Today is a good day to consider one of my favorite quotes: “inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument”. When facing controversial topics in this week’s news cycle such as the Confederate Flag and Same Sex Marriage, I suggest to keep a few things in mind that may save some time, pain, and reputation.

Is arguing with everyone profitable?

It seems to me that in general when it comes to debating arguments, there are two types of people: those who are willing to listen and consider, and those who no matter what, will stick to their pre-established opinion. Arguing with the latter, is usually a waste of time and a trap to fall into losing your mind –and temper; arguing with the former, has the potential of bearing some fruit. Therefore, I would suggest focusing on interchanging ideas with one who is willing to civilly and decently speak, listen and consider, and also, I suggest to strive to be one who’s civility and decency to speak and listen encourages others to dialog. Especially if you are a Christian, be aware and avoid the point in which your desire to argue for the truth, can quickly become the destruction of your and Christianity’s reputation.

Focus on form just as much as content.

It’s been said that people have the ability of cursing you and still make you feel good; or others, the ability to yelling at you, punching you in the face, stealing your lunch, and still somehow make you feel like asking for forgiveness. I hope these two make sense as analogies pointing to this skill of expressing opposing views accurately enough (content) while still having such grace and respect (form) that the other person doesn’t feel the need to raise a barrier of defense and ignore what you said. I‘ve noticed many times that the good content of someone’s message can be nullified by their bad form. I have also seen bad content being transmitted with such grace and politeness, that it makes the bad argument credible. I suggest to strive to communicate arguments without offensive words or calling names, avoiding exaggerated hyperbole and unnecessary diminishing comparisons. Especially if you are a Christian, I am not sure Jesus jumps with joy when you diminish, insult or offend someone.

Be consistent with your own arguments.

This is the heart of this writing. I have come to conclude that nothing shots someone off to hearing what you have to say, more than expressing irrational, incongruent or inconsistent arguments. Independently of how right or wrong your premise may be, being consistent may help you to make your point in a respectful way. Let me give you some examples, not without being upfront in that (1) every analogy falls somehow short from the complete intended meaning, and (2) I am not advocating for any particular idea below, but rather for a consistent presentation of whichever position one holds:

 

  • There are some who oppose to “banning the confederate flag” (external), because “it is not going to solve the racism problem” (internal). However, often times they are the same who claim that we need to “ban Same Sex Marriage” (external), to solve the “gay problem” (internal). It sounds that either you stand for freedom for people to do what they want to do (fly flag and Same Sex Marriage), in spite of who may be offended, or ruling a prohibition of both…. And how this same argument principle could be carried out to other issues: crosses, Bibles and bumper stickers in public places, Gay pride rainbow flag etc.
  • If you as a Christian advocate to change a law for freedom of religion, so that Christians can be legally allowed to pray in certain places or express their faith in certain ways, are you willing to concede the same liberties to Muslims, Mormons and …. Maybe Atheists? Or, if you oppose to –say, allowing the Quran to be studied at a schools, shouldn’t you be opposed to studying the Bible at schools?
  • If you believe that Christianity’s central message is one of sacrifice, and you claim you would give anything up for the sake of Christ, would you be willing to give up the confederate flag, your right to oppose marriage for homosexuals or the rights to express your faith publicly, so that bridges of dialogue are built towards people of other color, sexual orientation and faiths?

 

Stand for what matters.

As I mentioned before, I am not necessarily advocating for either point necessarily. I know there are plenty of views about these three topics both in the public and political sphere, as well as within various religious schools of thought –many with good, reasonable, and convincing arguments. Nevertheless I wonder if for anyone who believes in Jesus as God in human body who came to save, the faithfulness and integrity of the Bible, the great commandment, the great commission, and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, would be easier to communicate and reason with others the message of the Gospel, if he/she gives up certain rights –for the sake of a higher call of love.

Consider Paul, who circumcised Timothy, not because he had to (he had the right from God not to), but in order to create a bridge to the Jews, he chose to give up a right for a higher call of love (Acts 16:1-3). How many Jews came to faith in Jesus through this gesture who, ironically enough, understood they did not have to be circumcised?

I wonder, if Christians were willing to give up certain legal rights, how many people would, through that gesture, open their attention, and come to faith in Jesus, ultimately agreeing with those argued-over Biblical principles Christians stand for, not forced to obey, but willingly from their hearts.

 

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The Problem: I was kind of saddened as I watched last night the first episode of Preachers of L.A.” (Don’t judge me, I was just curious). My problem was not with the show necessarily; Is this what non-believers think all Christians and ministers are like? Is this supposed to somehow help others to positively consider what God has to offer? Maybe for some it will. The hardest part happened as I read some blogs and news forums that showed how one pastor criticized the t.v. show, another defended his position, and little-by-little, all parties (all of them Christians, mind you) became more and more hostile towards each other… as the world quietly but attentively observed the quarrel.

Earlier that day, I was saddened when reading a Facebook post from Mark Driscoll that read: “When it comes to abortion, the issue is not choice. The issue is murder. #10Commandments”. The status was not the problem, but the comments and arguments amongst participants (not Mark Driscoll himself). The harsh words between defenders of abortion, opponents of abortion, and anything in between; hard attacks and words from Christians to Christians. It made me wonder, how many people would come to Christ because of this back-and-forth ‘conversation’, and how many more would grow even more disillusioned of Christianity –and Jesus Christ, because of it

Similarly, last week I was heartbroken as I saw, on the one hand, a group of prominent Christian leaders to put together a conference called “Strange Fire”, aimed to “evaluates the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement, and affirm the true Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.” –in many people’s words, to attack charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs. Of course, on the other hand, you had the Pentecostal/charismatics, who felt the need to defend themselves creating a blogosphere and cyber war camp where Christians of all angles met to lash out at each other…. And the world still carefully watching from their computer screens.

In fact, Just as I was writing this rant, I read a story about a Christian who didn’t tip the waiter, because of the waiter’s sexual orientation; “Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. [Slur] do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours,” the customer wrote.”

REALLY?? And that’s supposed to get the waiter to repent? I am sick and tired of Christians being Jesus’ mission’s worst enemy. Honestly, sometimes we seem to be ‘gifted’ in messing things up. Fighting, on TV, blogs, news forums and the media in general, as the world stares in disappointment and hopelessness. Isn’t there another way to work through our differences?…

What should we all do? What would Jesus want?

I understand we feel very passionately about what we believe –and we believe it to be a matter of life or death –spiritually and otherwise. However, aren’t we lacking a bit of wisdom and love in the way we approach public expression? Are we ‘judging‘ in a Biblical way?

I am not advocating for a watering down of the gospel message or condoning sinful behavior; sin is sin. If your conclusion is that homosexuality, divorce, unbelief, abortion, and preaching a false gospel/doctrine is a sin, fine! Believe it, preach it, and most important, live by it. However, let’s not ignore that lying, deceiving, hating, exaggerating to make others look bad, stealing, making ourselves God and taking His glory as ours, speaking harsh words to others, insulting, calling names, presumption and thinking we know it all, and are always right, thinking we understand the Bible better than others, and assuming others don’t read their Bibles or are not as serious scholars as we are, or are not honest seekers of the truth –or that they are not even saved true Christians because of how they act, it might be just as much a sin and damaging, as the ones we denounce. (I’ve been guilty of this myself).

We all Christians need to understand that just as damaging as sin is to humans eternal fate, so can be our unwise words and actions. You may think you are fighting or ‘exposing’ a false doctrine or erred teaching (call it baptism of the Holy Spirit, the end of the worldgiving to the poor, or even politics). Nevertheless, what if your interpretations are wrong? Hopefully being wrong wouldn’t make you any less of a Christian than the other person, just a confused one. So it may work the other way.

Remember that Paul wrote to the church of Corinth addressing problems of all kinds. Some were coming drunk to the Lord’s Supper, other was sleeping with his step-mother, others were suing each other, others had bad doctrine, abuses in the practice of gifts and all kinds of bad behavior. Although Paul didn’t condone their behavior, but rebuked it promptly, steering them to repentance, still Paul called them “Saints”. He didn’t seem to doubt their salvation. Their behavior was perhaps considered by Paul a result of ignorance and spiritual in-maturity, rather than evidence of ill intentions or false faith.

My hope: May we all extend the same grace to our fellow Christians (that is, whoever believes the scriptures are the Word of God and that anyone can be saved by grace through faith, by the resurrected Jesus who paid for our sins and gave us eternal life) independently of how different our views are in various secondary topics. May we all learn,  not to avoid controversy necessarily, but to be able to argue and interchange opinions in a way the outside world looking in says, “wow!, even when they disagree, they love each other in respect and kindness” (click for an example)That would get some positive attention! Exactly what Jesus would want.


Before we start the day with worries, doubts, fears or inadequacy; before we pray and ask God -and believe His answer to bless us, to help us with our work today, with patience while dealing with the kids,  to provide this months mortgage or for help in doing His will…

Before we start he day with bringing our ‘grocery list’ of petitions,

Let’s all remember, and believe -as a ‘done deal’, what happened at the moment we placed our faith in God and gave Him our lives. Our position before God changed immediately (Justification), right then and there:

Let’s remember and truly believe as a fact, that we went:

 

…what difference will it make?

 

Don’t Judge me!!

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Me and people, Politics, The Bible

Have you ever been told “Do not judge, and you will not be judged!” just as you had said something a little bit strong, confrontational or controversial to someone else? Maybe you have been on the opposite side of this equation and you have used it as well as a the perfect Biblical defense.

This (Luke 6:37)  is probably the one Bible verse that most people know –Christians and not Christians (well maybe the second after John 3:16…  or third after Psalm 23:1,   .. anyhow, it is definitely many people’s favorite because… well, what better to quote Jesus in saying “leave me alone!” . This is an apparent great defense when we are being ‘attacked’ or confronted with some shortcoming.

But, is this what Jesus meant? Is this what the Bible says? “Don’t judge anyone!, anytime!, anywhere!” I would like to suggest that… not exactly. Please feel free to disagree and let me know where you think I am going wrong.

Upon looking at all the references in their various forms, in the original language, for the word that in English is translated ‘judge’ –and their contexts, I draw the following conclusions:

  1. It is It is acceptable to ‘judge’, as in considering, determining or discerning information/evidence and making a decision (see Luke 7:41-43; Luke 12:56-57; Acts 4:19-20)
  2. It is acceptable to look and discern a person’s fruit/actions and make conclusions (see Matthew 7:15-16; Matthew 18:15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-4)
  3. It is It is acceptable to ‘judge’ others only in the same way you would like to be judged. (see Luke 6:37; full context starting on Luke 6:27)
  4. It is acceptable –maybe even commanded, to look and discern fruit/actions only from among believers (starting with ourselves) and, not only make conclusions, but also take actions -such as lovely restoration (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-12; 1 Corinthians 6:1-6;  Galatians 6:1-4)
  5. It is NOT ok to judge someone if you are actually doing the same thing (see Rom 2:1)
  6. It is NOT ok to judge others on matters that are of preference or interpretation, and/or not clear Biblical commands (see Romans 14:1-4 and John 7:23-24)
  7. It is NOT ok to judge, lie, murmur or condemn someone behind his/her back (see James 4:11-12)
  8. Only God knows motives. We can make conclusions based on evidence -and when required, make decisions based on our conclusions. However, God and He alone can, and will judge –as in determining and condemning on heart attitudes, beliefs, motives and things we cannot see (see 1 Corinthians 4:2-5)

Dont agree? don’t judge me!, just tell us why.


A few days ago, The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) announced that Louie Giglio had been selected to deliver the benediction at the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony of President Obama and Vice President Biden on Monday, January 21.

Today, we learned that Giglio withdrew his acceptance, after the liberal website ThinkProgress posted audio of a sermon from Giglio from 15-20 years ago, in which he cited Scripture and called same-sex relationships sinful and an abomination. –although, he repeatedly urged congregants to welcome gays and lesbians to the church and said God loves them.

A spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said the committee had originally chosen Giglio because of his work to end human trafficking, but were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments, which “don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural”.

This doesn’t make sense!

GiglioFirst of all, it appears that Louie Giglio has done a whole lot more to help a common cause (human trafficking) than to attack another one (homosexuality). He had spearheaded a movement of college students and adults that, aside from benefiting society through the preaching of the Gospel, have raised millions of dollars, awakened awareness and prompted millions of people into tangible actions in defense of many who suffer under the yoke of slavery and human trafficking. Yet, one particular view that most likely has not negatively affected many, stands in the way of him leading the country in a prayer.

Second, one would get the impression that the administration is playing a double standard game here. President Obama reportedly has personally selected a gay man as the inaugural poet, and a Lesbian and Gay Band Association to march in the inaugural parade. I am sure these representatives of the American community have and do in some of their stances, go against some other segment of the population –I am sure someone disagrees with something they do or stand for. Why not letting groups representatives do their thing representing their views and many other Americans’, and let also a Christian pastor do his thing representing his views and many’ other Americans? Why not making it work both ways? We are all Americans -gays, straight, Christians and atheists. After all, as they state, they want to “put an emphasis on reflecting diversity in the festivities”.

Finally, this is a reminder of the society we are living in today (see my thoughts on “the good news of the secularization of America). Independently of what your personal views and interpretations are on homosexuality –or any other controversial topic for that matter, I think we agree that if one doesn’t stand against something, one doesn’t stand for anything, and if one doesn’t stand for anything, one will fall for anything. Perhaps this is the type of religious leader they would want to have at this event; one who doesn’t preach against anything… who likely doesn’t stand for anything.

Kuddos to Giglio and great example to follow, for not backing down for pure political correctness while reminding us about the due love and respect that we, as Americans, owe to individuals’ rights of freedom, and to everyone who holds differing views on any subject.


We prayed, we voted, and we have a president. Pundits and political commentators are making their post-election analysis and an often heard phrase seems to be “soul searching”

Many seem to agree that the Republican party needs to do deep re-grouping and even a re-inventing of its ideologies. And I kind of agree –sort of.

Last night as the election came close to bearing a result, I found myself puzzled with the fact that 50% of voters seemed to agree and desire four more years of a president that, used and promoted abortion rights (even by using little girls), portrait women as being all about abortion and contraception, deceived the country in countless areas, showed questionable respect and content for the military, Christians, and international allies, and run on a platform of envy –vote for me and I will give you some of their stuff for free. How is that even possible!! What’s up with this country?

Maybe I was wrong. As I talked and chatted with friends, I asked why would people –Christian people particularly, would vote for Obama. A good friend and democrat voter suggested that he had done so because he is concerned about giving to the poor –a way of demonstrating his desire to give it all to God. Maybe many voted for Obama for the same reason. Maybe that 50% wants to do something for the poor and needy –“the least of these”. Maybe all of my philosophical –and the republican ideas as a whole –like smaller government, free market and individual responsibility, and quality through competition, are not such great ideas after all. 60 million people seem to think so. Maybe Those 60+ million people who voted for Obama are not necessarily ignorant or misinformed about the facts, the economy and the way this country is being run. Maybe the reason why many of them voted for him has nothing to do with the –to me very evident, bias of the media towards assuring the protection and support of the president. Maybe a lax public education and understanding of basic economics and business is not really a reason for our state. Maybe the left way of doing things is better and that’s why Obama won.

Is the Republican party in decadence because of the Religious Right? I am willing to consider I may be wrong on all of these areas. But I don’t think that is the core of the problem. Many political analyst, and someone very close to me (a democrat), told me this morning that the reason why the GOP lost is the ‘extreme right religious’ and ‘tea party’ influence. In his opinion, less and less people are engaged in defending the Ten Commandments, the life of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage, and many other conservative/religious tenants. He further suggested that the only viable option for the GOP is to draw away from the ‘religious nuts’ and embrace the new world. To ignore ‘those moral issues that have nothing to do with politics’ and embrace the new generation of open-minded all accepting voters; to join the wagon that will lead us into a “secular society with respect and acceptance of all -like Europe” Yes, he did say that …. And I think he is up to something.

Reality is, America is leaning away from Christian values.

It doesn’t take much effort to realize that the percentage of Christians in this nation is at an all time low. That support for traditionally-Christian agendas like pro-life, marriage etc continues to go downward. That most women, based on this election, care more for abortion rights and contraception than family values. That this growing generation (today’s teens and twenty-something’s), who come from a mostly un-churched, and very Biblically illiterate society, half of them from a one-parent home, and many of them indoctrinated with an entitlement mentality, find little to identify with the traditional conservative philosophies. Add to that recipe a Democratic party whose official platform goes against all of those moral principles and God himself –and instead promotes “do-anything-you-want”, reconciliation and all-togetherness (and a Christian community that seems to live half of what we preach), and voila!!, you have a new generation of largely secular voters. The new America.

The good news. What’s the good news you may ask? I don’t know about the GOP, maybe they do need to move their agenda to the center-left to gain more adherents. This would mean however, that it no longer shares some of the “must” from my list. But that’s ok, politics is just a second priority for me. What I really should and I hope to care about, is to win the lost for Christ. This can be translated into good news. Why? Because the church in the first century was under the one of the worse tyrants ever and still thrived, grew and expanded (and even Paul, under Nero’s rule, commanded us to submit to authorities and obey the law). Many of the greatest revivals in history happened in the midst of a less-than-desirable political environment. Even from personal experience, growing up in a third world country with socialized medicine, wasn’t a hindrance for God to get ahold of me. In fact, I wonder if my life would have been different –for the worse, if I had been born in a prosperous society.

In summary, even if at best, United States becomes completely secularized but economically and socially strong -or if at worst, things got as bad as some speculate, and taxes go to the roof and public debt hits 40 trillion, and the welfare wagon comes to a stop because everyone is on it and there are no longer people to pull it… Even if our country becomes a society characterized by sin, godlessness and end up being like Europe or Greece, still, we have the confidence that God will take care of His children’s needs (Matt 6:33), and we still have the power and mission, not to save America, but to save Americans.

I heard a famous eschatologist and Bible scholar being asked: “where do you see United States in the end times?” his response was: “I don’t see it”. If you ascribe to the interpretation of the End Times that things will get better and the world will become a nice little perfect place for Jesus to come back and reign (Amillennial), I don’t know how can you fit current geopolitical events into your eschatological frame. However, if you ascribe to the “things get worse on earth=>Church is raptured=> Tribulation=>Millennial kingdom of Christ=>judgment=>eternity”-type of interpretation of the end times, (which I kind of lean towards), then all of this we are living in the world today could be considered as good news.

The end is approaching and we need to get busy making disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:19-20), Honoring all people, loving the brotherhood, fearing God and honoring the king (1 Peter 2:17).


If you or someone you know thinks:

–          “I am not voting for the lesser of two evils”
–          “I’m voting for a third-party candidate”
–          “I’m so disgusted with politics that I won’t vote at all”
–          “I’ll leave politics separated from religion”
–          “I’ll just vote my conscience”
–          “I’m not convinced about how pro-life Romney is!”
–          “I don’t know if I should vote for a Mormon”…

You may find this very interesting article of paramount wisdom and logic: “This election’s choice: Romney, third-party (=Obama), or don’t vote (=Obama)?”. I strongly suggest you take a look at it and make your own mind about it.

But just in case you are too busy to read it, here’s a summary –with a few of my own comments.

–          Unless Jesus himself was running for office, “every vote for a mere son of Adam is a vote for the lesser of two evils”. Any candidate we vote for is “at best, a redeemed and finite sinner”

–          A vote for a third-party candidate is a vote wasted because (1) they don’t have any realistic chance of winning the election; (2) they would have no constituency in Congress and therefore can’t accomplish their unique goals.

–          A vote for a third-party candidate, instead of sending a “message”, is going to assure the re-election of the current administration which means the advancement of the pro-abortion agenda among others. Remember, “there are 2-3 [Supreme Court] justices who are about 900 years old who are holding on for a liberal president“ to appoint their successors. The president appoints justices, who ultimately make the big decisions.

–          “Not voting at all is like “a person who watches his wife get beaten up, making smug little jokes about how hard it is to pick sides in such conflicts“ A no-vote equals a vote for Obama.

–          As I have written before, it is not even Biblical to attempt to legislate salvation. We Christians can’t expect to issue laws to obligate every citizen to follow Biblical commands. However, our voice as citizens in voting can affect and delay a future with a variety of headaches and persecution such as preachers thrown in prison for ‘hate crimes’ (preaching against abortion and homosexuality); softer laws to kill babies; and pastors and churches being destroyed by lawsuits for choosing who to marry and who not to marry,

–          “Voting your conscience” is not a Biblical code word for “reason to do something foolish with God’s approval.” That is, God holds us accountable for making intelligent decisions that take all the facts into consideration (Prov. 11:14; 13:10; 15:22; 16:1, 3, 9; 19:20-21; 24:6). It is foolish and wicked to refuse to do so.

–          Maybe we don’t know for sure how pro-life Romney is. This is what we do know for sure:

  • Of all the folks he could have chosen, Romney chose a VP with an outspoken and 100% pro-life record.
  • Planned Parenthood loves abortion, loves Obama, hates Romney.
  • He has convinced activist Gary Bauer.
  • He is supported by The Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee, the Susan B. Anthony list, National Right to Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and other groups.

–          Let’s say that “you don’t like the exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. I don’t like two of those three, either. So supposing Romney succeeds in preventing abortions except for those cases. You do realize that means preventing more than nine out of ten abortions? Whereas your only other alternative, Barack Obama, favors preventing zero abortions?”

–          Romney has never proposed or mentioned intentions on outlawing monotheism or the Gospel, that we know of. In fact: (1) Romney couldn’t harm Christians’ rights without harming Mormons’ rights, and he’s unlikely to do that; and (2) President Romney’s Mormonism should provide golden opportunities for Christians to explain and present the true saving Gospel of Christ; and (3) the only alternative, President Obama, professes to be a Christian while embracing ideology and values directly in opposition to Christianity, and (4) Obama shows far more concern for the religion of Islam, which is implacably opposed to Christianity.