Random Thoughts on Social Issues

There was another mass shooting recently, and following a well established pattern, pundits started debated gun control issues. Here are my thoughts:

  • The solution to gun violence is not more unenforceable gun control regulations. If we can’t enforce the regulations we already have, what makes us thing we can enforce more regulations?
  • But neither is the solution to gun violence more guns on the streets and in our neighborhoods. Somehow we have to change our attitudes about guns, violence, and the sanctity of all human life.
  • Speaking of gun control advocates, it troubles me deeply that some of the biggest supporters of more guns, and some of the biggest purchasers of guns and ammo, are Christians who claim to believe in a sovereign God and a God of grace and mercy. And for clarification, by “guns” I do not mean guns for hunting, but guns for protection. I don’t know what the stats are, but I think it would be surprising how many NRA members are bible loving, Jesus serving, evangelical Christians.
  • The only thing that troubles more (in this issue) is when I see pictures of the American flag, guns, and a Bible all wrapped up together. In my opinion, this is very scary.

There was another terrorist attack. This time at a mall in Kenya, and it is being reported that some of the terrorist were Americans. All were radical muslims.

  • While I personally believe the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, and despise this type of violence, I do wish they would be more vocal in their opposition. Unfortunately, Islam is being defined by the violent minority.
  • The main target of this attack were Christians and non-Muslims.
  • Christians are being persecuted at an alarming rate around the world.

More aspects of the Affordable Care Act are set to begin October 1st. The Republican party wants to defund Obamacare. Thus, we are a week away from a potential government shutdown.

  • It is my understanding if the government did shut down, it would not affect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • In other words, all a shut-down will do is hurt the middle class and working class of our country. It will not hurt our representatives in Congress because they will continue to get their paychecks, and it will not stop the implementation of Obamacare.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Obamacare is not going anywhere. It is the law of the land. The Republicans need to get over it and figure out a way to make it better.

The House recently voted to cut back on the SNAP (food stamp) program.

  • Fortunately it only represents about a 5% cut.
  • I wish the Republicans would have just as eagerly try to 5% across the board. But as usual, the first place to make cuts is against the most vulnerable. The main reason for this is that the vulnerable do not represent a voting block and so cutting back on them does not affect elections. This is sad.
  • Thankfully, the Senate will not pass these cuts, and or the attempt to defund Obamacare. It is all political theater.
  • Meanwhile, our economy is suffering.

Racial reconciliation in our country has gone backwards since the election of Pres. Obama. This has been my hunch, but I had lunch today with a black pastor that has been on the front lines of civil rights for 32 years. Our conversation confirmed my hunch. I am committed to spending my life fighting all forms of racism in our country.

What are your thoughts on all these issues?

More of My Thoughts on Syria

india1Question: If, as I stated in my last post, my mission in life is to proclaim the kingdom of God; and if my allegiance to God’s kingdom supersedes my allegiance to any political ideology; does that mean I have the responsibility to think about how my country’s decisions affect believers of other countries that could be harmed because of the actions of my country?

I think the answer is yes, and that affects how I view the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, and now Syria.

I have several friends who grew up as Christians in Baghdad. Their families had to flee because of religious persecution. Persecution that got worse once the United States got involved.

Everyone agrees, even my Iraqi friends, that Saddam was a bad guy. But under his regime there was a degree of religious freedom that evaporated when he was toppled. Here is my understanding from Christians who lived there during that time: Saddam used Islam to his favor. But he was such a bad guy that he controlled most of the fractions within Islam with an iron fist. In other words, if he told the Taliban to leave Christians alone, they were left alone. Saddam used Christians in his country, especially in Baghdad, because they were highly educated, good citizens, and excellent businessmen. Saddam even had Christians in his cabinet. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Syria

Our country is on the verge of a decision concerning Syria. After much thought and prayer, and following the situation as closely as I have time, here are my thoughts. These thoughts are not just on Syria, but war in general and what I believe my attitude should be. Please understand these are my thoughts and how I feel. In this post I am refusing to say things like, “Christians need to…”; “Believers need to…”; etc, etc, etc. I am not speaking for Christians nor for Christianity. This is just simply how I believe at this moment in time. I am a work in progress and so I reserve the right to grow and change. I am going to speak with bullet points because I know my thoughts are somewhat random.

  • In the past, based on my interpretation and application of conservative Christianity and conservative politics, I have been far too quick to rush into war (or armed conflict) because “we are right” and everyone else in the world is “wrong.” I bought into a conservative understanding of “American exceptionalism” and wrapped my Christianity up in Nationalism. I was wrong, and have confessed those attitudes and beliefs as a sin based on a biblical principle found in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
  • I am becoming more and more convinced that my mission on earth is to proclaim the kingdom of God, and that doing so puts me more and more at odds with my government. I felt this way long before the present administration. If you have been following my blog for any length of time then you know I do not support either political party. In fact, I believe, my allegiance to God’s kingdom prohibits me from aligning myself to closely to any political ideology.  Continue reading

I Just Have to Unload

I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get it off my chest. I have to unload.

I am amazed at how Republicans, who are usually in a hurry to bomb someone (or something) in the Middle East, are now placing hurdles and requirements on Pres. Obama that they would have (and they did) fussed and fumed about if the Democrats would have (and they did) required the same of Pres. Bush.

I am amazed at how Democrats, who are usually satisfied with doing nothing, have now all become war hawks and want to give Pres. Obama power and authority to freely do what they fussed and fumed about Pres. Bush doing.

I am amazed at the level of hypocrisy I see in our government.

It is obvious to me that the goal of politics is not doing what is best for the country but doing whatever it takes to destroy one party so your party can remain in power.

It is deplorable and reprehensible.

And just in case you are wondering, I do not think we need to attack Syria. It is a civil war and we should stay out.

I feel better now.

What do you think?

And in other news, I do not believe Ariel Castro committed suicide. Something tells me that jailhouse justice got its due.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Two Short Stories

Franklin Community Church is by no means the biggest church around. In fact, we are quite small. But we do, I think, have the most unique church with the most unique calling to reach a particular community. I have been pastoring for over 20 years and I can say that the last 6 years at FCC have been the most excited and effective years of my ministry. To God be the glory. I believe our church has found our niche in the larger body of Christ.

Here are two stories from today’s worship celebration. Continue reading

The End

For the past couple of months I have been teaching through Revelation during our church’s Wednesday night bible study. It’s about the third time I have taught through John’s extraordinary vision. In no do I consider myself an expert on end time prophecies. I have a tendency to teach Revelation with an eye toward it’s historical meaning first and its prophetic meaning secondly. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it to be prophetic, I do. It simply means I try to first understand what the original audience would have understood. I know that sounds confusing, but that has been my approach.

I blame it on my family history.

My great-grandfather Riggs wrote a book about Revelation from an amillennial perspective. My grandfather Riggs had detailed teaching notes from a premillennial perspective. It is in my DNA to be confused. I think the important thing is a belief in a real, literal return of Jesus. The rest is details. Continue reading

My Take

Even though no one has asked for it, here is my take on the decisions made by the Supreme Court this week:

Our government is secular not spiritual. As such, decisions are made based on humanistic philosophies, not biblical principles. That’s just the way it is.

Equality before the law outweighs morality before God. Why? Because a secular society cannot legislate morality.

Our country, while based on Judao/Christian principles, was never intended to be a “Christian” (theocracy) nation.

Nothing has really changed.

God is still sovereign.

Striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act may have a greater, negative impact on democracy than any thing else the Supreme Court did (please read that again carefully). The reason I say this is because, like it or not, same-sex marriage is a done deal; striking down voting rights is a huge step backwards.

Jesus is still the way, the truth, and the life.

My passport says “United States of America” but by real citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

It’s time for the church to be the church and for Christians to be disciples. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. It is the kindness of God (not judgmental attitudes of believers) that lead people to repentance.