Not my (kind of) president!

Trump is not the kind of (read character/personality) president I would prefer.  But then neither was Kennedy, Nixon, Bill Clinton or Hillary (if she had been elected).  Personally, I think Ford, Carter, Reagan, the 2 Bush’s and to some extent even Obama conducted themselves with a demeanor that honors the office.  I’m not sure I see that happening with Trump.  He, unfortunately, is another in a category of what appears to be self serving, and, with Trump in particular, generally not presidential (my opinion).  But alas all those mentioned before, and now Trump, were and are our (speaking of the citizens of US) president.

Was he (Trump) locker room boasting or has he actually grab women inappropriately?  I don’t know and I suggest neither do you.  To talk that way is wrong and insulting to women and to actually act out that way is criminal.  I will tell you that I am VERY glad that hidden microphones were not around for some of the hurtful things I have said to Barbie and she feels the same way about some of the things she has said to me.  We have truly done more damage to each other by some of our unrecorded words that anything I or Trump may have boasted about in the “locker room”.  In fact as I have asked around, most admit that we are fortunate microphones were not hidden in various places for some of the worst things we have said.  This in NO WAY excuses what I have said to Barbie or the demeaning way Trump spoke about women.  But it is disingenuous for most of us to have some huge moral outrage at Trump while at the same time thanking our lucky stars under our breath that some of our “locker room” outbursts were never recorded.  It is at this point I want to apologize to all women for any of the untoward things I have spoken in the past which were insulting towards women.  I am glad there were not many, but I am guilty.  I am far sorrier for how I have hurt my wife with my reactive or cutting words which actually did damage.

So I get it, Trump is not my kind of president either, but he IS my president.  And I actually held my nose and voted for him as, given the candidates we were afforded, I was driven to a single issue and that was abortion.  This single issue is defining and dividing our country more than race, gender questions or cake baking.  It is an issue that gained significant traction out of the free love generation of the 60’s and the lack of wanting to take responsibility for what all that unaccountable sex produced.  Just to be clear, this is a maturity and a responsibility issue not some benign choice issue.  A majority of Americans oppose abortion on demand.  Science has learned so much since the early 70’s to include the awareness of immense pain the not yet born baby can feel after just a few weeks of growth.

Consider this, we would all be outraged if somebody cut open a beautiful Labrador dog, pulled half a dozen puppies out and cut them into pieces.  In fact that person would be arrested and prosecuted for animal cruelty and would likely spend time behind bars.  But do the same thing in a PP office and a million people marching for women’s rights will cheer as if that act somehow preserved civility and rights.  Or the fact that the majority of women who identified as pro-choice, once shown an actual video of a C&D or partial birth abortion change their position right then and there.  My son Chad and I were discussing this subject this morning and he said that a nice white sanitary veil has been hung up to obscure the reality of what is actually happening behind the closed doors of abortion clinics and that people have bought into an idea of freedom, choice and rights that is actually anything but.

I had a close and long time friend write something on facebook this past week to the effect of “if my friends who voted for Trump don’t get it, then just listen”.  So this past Saturday, my wife and I watched and listened to CNN and other mainstream media outlets as the “march for women’s rights” events were televised.  Maybe it is just us “stupid rural” folks, but to watch Ashley Judd’s rant or Elisabeth Warren describe the things she wants to fight Trump about was to end up very confused.  I will just put Ashley Judd aside as I don’t even know what to say about her, but I did not hear very much of what Elisabeth Warren was fighting for that Trump would disagree with or that Trump has not already joined in the fight for.  In addition to listening, we also watched.  And what we saw confused us even more.  For a crowd that was (in truth) protesting Trump’s disgusting antics as much or more than they were advocating women’s rights, we were frankly disgusted by many of the vile signs, costumes and gestures.  Remind me – what was this march about???  We saw signs covering the gamut of subjects, most of which had little or nothing to do with women’s rights.

Now top all that off with the fact that if you were a Trump supporter or a pro-life woman, your rights were not to be included or protected in this “noble” cause.  In fact, you were not welcomed and if you did show up you were threatened and actually chased from the parade route.

So after actually listening and watching Barbie and I did in fact learn a few things.  We learned that well over 50% of the women in America were simply “not welcomed” to this party supposedly promoting all women’s rights.  We learned that Ashley Judd is just plain crazy.  We learned that many people are, justifiably, upset about Trump’s foul mouth and perhaps actions and are willing to get out and march about it.  We learned that the “everyone is welcomed to join” does not actually mean everyone.  We learned that if Trump voices support for something it is ignored but if Elisabeth Warren is for the same exact thing everyone cheers.  We learned that Madonna wants to “blow up the White House”.  We agree that it’s wrong for Trump to say disgusting things but don’t understand why countless people wearing vagina costumes out in public is somehow ok.  We learned that an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel Palestinian woman was one of the main organizers of the march which doesn’t sound very inclusive.

Most of these fears being expressed appear to be red herrings to me.  I haven’t heard Trump or anybody he has appointed wanting to invalidate gay marriages, destroy the arts (although in my opinion government has no business spending tax dollars there but that is not an attack on the arts), undo LGBTQ rights or in any way destroy education (although this should only be handled at the state level in my opinion).  And even though Trump would be called a climate denier, to a person, everyone he has appointed who has been asked in the vetting hearings, agrees that climate change is real.  I have not seen any suggestion or indication that any US citizen might be marginalized because of race, gender or religion in fact, Trump has a better record of equal pay in his businesses than Hillary did among her own staff.

Bottom line, listening should be a 2-way experience.  But we have learned that it is not always that way.  We also leaned that to be included, welcomed or not ignored means something very different with those who lean left than those of us who lean further to the right.  It is normally portrayed that the left is the inclusive and non judgmental crowd but this past weekend would suggest the opposite is actually true.

Monumental Selfishness

I write my blogs as an outlet, sometime as an outlet for passion, sometimes for a prophetic word and sometimes in disgust and anger.  This is one of those disgust and anger times (with likely prophetic overtones).  I have to be careful as my much more mercy oriented wife exhorted me to be cautious about what I might say, but I am getting closer and closer to “taking numbers and naming names” when it comes to some of the bile I see “Christians” spewing.  This will be short but goes to the core of Jesus, the Gospel, the Love of the Father and asking “just where is YOUR home?”

This blog is simply posing the question “what are the really important things in your ‘Christian’ life”?  And yes, I put Christian in quotes a second time as I suspect there are many out there who are just playing church because it’s the cool thing to do but who have little willingness to actually embrace the heart of the Father. 2 Peter 3:9

Is prayer in school important to you?  What about tax deductions for donations to the church? Are the Ten Commandments carved in stone and place in your town square important to you?  Is the preservation of your earthly home and your earthly country your focus? Are Easter bunnies and Christmas lights on your list of top ten things you must have to enjoy “your” Christianity? Then it’s just that, “your Christianity”, and not the one that I read about in the Bible which places our citizenship in an eternal heaven and not some fading home on this earth to try and fight for and preserve for “just us Christians”.

I am not saying that those things are bad, not at all.  But I am saying that if devotion to things like the ones mentioned above take priority over opportunities to lovingly rub shoulders with those who don’t know Christ then you yourself have not experienced the fullness of the love of Christ in your own life.  And this is why I call it monumental selfishness because you are choosing temporal things over the call to share eternal joy with someone who isn’t “like you”!

christian-hypocrcy

Compassion Confusion – Victory vs. Surrender

Merriam Webster defines compassion as “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble etc.  After reading this I had to ask myself if I am someone who just wants to “feel” like helping or someone who actually takes the steps to help.  Sort of like the faith and works scripture.  I like to think of myself as a take action type of person.

This week a horrible evil took place at a bible study in Charleston SC with the killing of 9 Christians by a sick young man.  The headline the next morning read “Church attack kills nine”.  Almost as much outrage & focus has been placed on a post-it type advertisement which obscured part of that headline.  The ad was for a local gun store & range offering a special discount package.  People called it “tasteless”, “outrageous” and “lacking any compassion”.  The gun store called it “terrible timing” and the newspaper apologized calling it a “regrettable coincidence”.

headline

There is a true irony in a post-it ad for guns atop a headline describing the result of a gun attack, but I saw it a bit different.  Please be patient and work with me here a little before you stop reading.  From a practical standpoint, what is the only thing that could have stopped or mitigated an attack like this?  The simple truth is another gun in the hands of one of the church members.

Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said on MSNBC Friday that “I cannot imagine the horror that could’ve occurred if people were sitting around with concealed weapons” (at that bible study).

Well I can imagine, and I imagine the gunman dead and fewer church members dead or wounded. Another person at that bible study with a gun was the only possible “cure” so why not talk about it right away because it could happen again tomorrow.  It would be like getting a big gash in your arm that needed surgery and then waiting a few days to have it addressed.  If you do that, the wound has to be totally opened back up, it’s a lot harder to fix and it leaves a bigger scar.  We must learn that the compassionate thing is to address problems immediately for to do otherwise makes the problem worse and allows for or requires the introduction of errant or less effective “fixes”.  I am not suggesting that guns “fix” things, but they can be a significant asset or deterrent in such cases. Why was it “lacking compassion” for a gun ad to be right next to that headline the very next morning?  Why was it similarly lacking compassion for a local gun store in Tulsa’s response to begin offering free concealed carry classes to clergy?

Before you stir those questions around in your head too much and throw the baby out with the bath water, let me tell a true story which might illustrate what I believe is a problem of confusion in America and in the church in particular relating to compassion.  A few years back some friends we know were having marital problems.  The guy came up to me on a Sunday and indicated that he was going to file for divorce the next day and proceeded to “throw his wife under the bus”.  I quickly stopped him as this was blatant gossip and I stated strongly (I know it’s hard for some of you to believe that of me) that I would only listen if they both were present.  To my surprise, this set in motion a request for them to come over to our house the next day.  So on the very day divorce filings were to have been started they are in our home seeking counsel.  In our effort to show true biblical compassion for their struggle we took them to the scriptures in Malachi 2 where God emphatically states that He hates divorce and goes further still explaining that a runaway divorce rate among His people is the reason for unanswered prayer.  That last point is a sobering thought to consider for the church as a whole but not to be gotten into in this blog.

They took our stark and blunt advice to heart, re-committed themselves to the marriage and just a few months ago sent us one of the most cherished thank-you’s we have ever received as they welcome another baby into their family.

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So was it compassion to hit them with confronting truth about divorce on that very day?  Seriously, at what point do you warn those headed off a cliff into crisis.  I get the feeling many would have given them a list of CR support groups to attend during & after the divorce.  Others might have suggested a good attorney and then errantly call that compassion (because he really is a good attorney).  But no, what they needed in that very hour of crisis was the one thing that could save their marriage and that was giving them something tangible, direct and true – God’s compassionate word.  Impotent compassion would have full-stopped at just wanting or feeling like helping giving only an illusion of concern.

silence is deception

So as I return to the side arm issue I cannot but remind everyone that Jesus did in fact command his disciples to own sidearms (Luke 22:36).   But what about “turn the other cheek”?  This is why Jesus also sent us the Holy Spirit so we could know the right thing to do in different circumstances.  We must be spiritually prepared for one circumstance (not defending myself) and mentally prepared for the other (drawing our “sword”).

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We have no idea if or how many times some group of Pharisaical zealots tried to attack Jesus and the disciples to no avail due to the presence of those swords, but we do know that that last night in the garden Jesus had to basically tell them “not this time” when they drew their swords in defense from Judas and company.  And this is one of the few exceptions I can think of in history when the putting away of defensive weapons (effectively surrendering) helped in bringing about the most compassionate and victorious event in all of eternity – Jesus’ ultimate display of compassion in surrendering to death on the cross.  And that would have been the end of the story except in His case, being God, death was defeated, forgiveness of sin was made available and we who embrace His true compassion have an inheritance with Him in eternity.

Identity Crisis!

With all the recent headlines of people thinking, acting, posing, dressing or wanting to be someone or something they are not, I began wondering “is this a modern phenomenon or a historical one”.

As I looked into it I found, for the most part, people posing as other than who they are, was associated with less than noble purposes.  Probably the word imposter fits best for most situations historically.

There are countless examples of both men and women infiltrating “the enemy” as imposters or spies to hopefully gain advantage for their tribe or country.  This practice included dressing, acting, speaking and otherwise taking on many of the unique attributes of the people they were attempting to deceive.  Many similar occurrences have also happened to learn trade or manufacturing secrets over the centuries.

With only the rarest of exceptions, the concept, for example, of a guy or a girl “identifying” as the opposite sex is a modern day phenomenon.  Cross dressing on the other hand, according to Wikipedia, “has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and as a literary trope in modern times and throughout history. It does not indicate transgender identity”.

But this has not been the case with some more modern “identifying” personalities who have graced the headlines of our news outlets.  Women have been identifying as men, Caucasians identifying as blacks or Native Americans, men identifying as women etc. etc.  One has to ask if there is a line that cannot be crossed in the human effort to be something they are not?

Let’s be clear, there is a difference in identifying “with” and identifying “as”.  I can certainly identify with a dogs life…

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….but that doesn’t give me fleas or cause me to start licking myself in awkward places.

I can put on a wet suit, scuba gear and dive down to 100’….

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.…but that doesn’t give me gills or make it appropriate to eat me with wasabi and soy sauce.

And I can even shave my head in an effort to identify as bald….

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.…but alas I will still have to shave my head the next day or wear some head covering in an attempt to maintain the rouse.

Identifying as a rich person doesn’t give me the right to steal any more than identifying as a military veteran would make me anything but a pathetic liar – we have even coined a phrase for this type of deception: Stolen Valor.

Senator Elizabeth Warren can do the rain dance all she wants, but that doesn’t make her Native American.  And just because Rachel Dolezal has”2 (half) black sons” and has “experienced what it means to live blackness” and doesn’t “want to be limited by the biological identity thrust upon her” – these things in no way, shape or form (to include her fake tan and weave) make her black.  But, interestingly, the deception did get her special treatment and scholarships reserved for black people when she went to college.  And there-in reveals the likely motive and slots her in with all other common imposters.  And just this week she has also claimed to also be bi-sexual to which I don’t think I will even comment.

Similarly the UFC fighter Fallon Fox (born Boyd Burton) has done about as much as a guy can do to become a female looking person on the outside, but his record at waxing the floor with the UFC women fighters he/she now competes against reveals his true identity as the naturally stronger male he actually still is.  If it’s not politically correct to suggest men are genetically pre-disposed to be stronger than a female of similar size – I’ll just let sports records speak for themselves.

And speaking of sports records, the Olympic records of Bruce Jenner, now ….. (sorry, I just can bring myself to say it), are under consideration as women’s records.  How can this even be fair?  I doubt it will actually happen, but with all the upside down stuff going on today who knows.

We have adolescent and testosterone driven little boys claiming to be transgender which would allow them to join girls’ sports and go into the girl’s bathrooms and showers.  Brilliant!!!  Once again suggesting the obvious ignoble motive involved.

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There are a couple of examples which distinguish themselves as worthy deceptions.  I recount the story of Corrie Ten Booms nephew Peter Van Woerden of The Hiding Place who did dress as a girl as he rode his bike in Holland during WWII to get food and messages for the Jews his family was hiding from the Germans.  Yes he had and ulterior motive for doing so – but I think we can all agree that is one of the rare cases in which the imposter’s motive was truly noble.  And then in 1948 when Golda Meir (a Jewish leader in Israel) disguised herself as a Muslim woman in order to cross into Trans-Jordan to meet with King Abdullah in an effort to prevent war, I also view this deception as for noble purposes.

In the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite, she does actually identify as Jewish saying “your people will become my people and your God my God”.  But let’s be clear here as to what Ruth was saying.  She was not saying she was now Hebrew (the race), but rather that she was choosing to follow the God and customs of the Jewish religion.  A Christian correlation would be a salvation experience in which a secular person chooses to become a believer in and follower of Jesus.

But in general it would seem an increasing number of people are buying into the humanistic concept presented at the end of The Da Vinci Code.  In this FICTIONAL movie when Sophie is asking Tom Hank’s character if he thinks she is indeed the direct descendent of Jesus he says “the only thing that matters is what you believe”.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were only that simple?  Did I mention it’s a FICTIONAL movie?   If this were true, I could simply believe myself rich, handsome and Jewish and life would be grand (well 1 out of 3 isn’t bad – you figure it out).

We do a tremendous disservice to anyone who is identifying “as” someone or something else when we either ignore it or encourage it.  Even as recently as just a couple of weeks ago (June 2, 2015) Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, said that transgenderism is a “mental disorder”.  I suspect this diagnosis will soon be amended as the same was the case for homosexuality just a few years back.

To encourage delusions is harmful.  All you have to do is remember some of the old American Idol tryouts.  A girl or guy would start singing (if you can call it that) and be so tone deaf the judges could barely keep from laughing.  As they are being denied an opportunity to continue in the competition many of them would say something like “but my parents have always told me I sing like an angel”.  Then the parents would be interviewed after the denial and would be angry at the “stupid judges” who can’t tell a good singer from a bad one.  A society, parents or friends who encourage deceptive thinking are pointing people away from the help they so desperately need and setting them up for much pain and suffering down the road.  They have become enablers of the deception, basically helping them live a lie and by default christening it to be some false form of truth.

And now comes the hard part, I must ask what we (the church) can/must do in the face of all this errant identifying.  On a practical note probably not much outside of our immediate sphere of influence where we must graciously and lovingly be honest and truthful to our kids, friends, family and co-workers.  Most will probably hate us even more as we do this. But in the heavenlies we are at liberty to battle feverishly on behalf of holiness and the only real truth which is identifying with our crucified and glorified Jesus and live out our lives as Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20).

And to be frank, this is why belief in Christ cannot be simply some club or fraternity we frequent in our discretionary time.  Jesus didn’t claim that He was identifying “with” God but rather “as” God.  He claimed He was in fact the Christ and that He and God are one in the same.  So either we are following a delusional ego maniac or in fact the ordained Son, co-heir and eternal Lord of the Universe.  I believe the latter, which commands my devotion, my life and my heart and that is a destiny, inheritance and identity I can truly embrace.

Open season on Christians, just Christians!

This will be short and to the point.  We have a reprised uproar over Christians being allowed to be consistent with their strongly held religious convictions in the work place in addition to their personal lives.  Indiana’s new law being call a restoration of religious freedom has garnered a huge outcry because it is being construed as allowing Christians to discriminate against gay couples in their baking, bed & breakfast lodging or photography businesses.  And yes the law should protect those religious convictions.

Why no one is answering these critics with questions like “should a Muslim catering business be allowed to decline the business of a church who wants them cater an Easter picnic spread with ham as the main course”?  A devout Muslim would have an equally “strongly held religious conviction” against preparing, serving or eating ham.  Or should the Jewish deli be able to decline an order of crab cake sandwiches for a business’s conference luncheon?  Jews would be likely to have a similar conviction against preparing or serving shell-fish.  Or should the Amish farm restaurant be able to refuse proving video or canned music along with the whole house dinner reservation for some corporate outing because of their convictions against using electricity.  The list of parallels could go on endlessly.  Places of business “discriminate” every day in America with “no shirt, no shoes – no service”, “no smoking”, “no firearms”, “heads and/or arms and legs must be covered to enter”, “coat and tie required for service”, “no bare feet allowed”, “must remove sunglasses & hats” (sorry Bono), etc.  The list goes on and on.

So don’t let anybody try and fool you that this whole outcry is not singly and totally about forcing Christians, and only Christians, to assimilate and cave under pressure from today’s secular progressive society.

Sticks and Stones

How someone in America today could join in a song, chant, rap, poem or reading which involved racially offensive comments, words or names is beyond me.  And it’s not like people are walking around with monstrous camcorders on their shoulders we are in the day and age where everybody caries a small compact camcorder in the form of their smart phone.  It’s stupid and rude to engage in activity like this and even more stupid to be unaware that you may very well be recorded doing your reprehensible chant.

Having said that, there is an even bigger issue going on here which makes reaction to this racist song appear almost hypocritical by contrast.  When I was growing up my mom would always tell me “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”.  There was no illusion that the bullying words were in any way ok, just that they can’t really hurt.  But there are things happening at fraternities and other parties on college campuses which make offensive words like the “N” word pale in comparison.  Women willingly and against their will being physically and sexually used, raped and videoed for the exploitive entertainment of real evil in the form of self centered adolescent boys (and girls).  Then there are hazing events involving both fraternities and sororities which have physically and emotionally wounded gullible young freshmen for decades if not centuries, not to mention at least 132 hazing related deaths since the mid 1800s.  The peak decade was just the last decade with 25 hazing related deaths and our current decade is on track to beat that number as there have already been 13 as of Nov. 2014.

As reprehensible as that song being sung on that OU bus outing was, no one was being raped, beaten, burned or lynched.  And whereas we do have freedom of speech in America, there are times, like that one, where I wish we could make exceptions.  But therein lays the complicated tension of having free speech in America.  Blacks can rap about abusing or killing whites, cops, women or other blacks.  Crowds can walk the streets of our cities chanting “we want dead cops and we want it now”.  College leadership looks the other way while fraternities and sororities (predominately white populated) conduct their time “honored” traditions of rushing, hazing, wild sex parties and drinking.  But have a white guy get caught using the “N” word on tape and a 159 year old fraternity gets the boot, people are expelled and lives are ruined.  What about the older frat brothers who taught him that song???

It would of course been ideal if the fraternity had policed itself by suspending membership for the balance of the year for the purpose of “cleaning house”.  but now there is a lawsuit and based on the 1st amendment, the fraternity probably has a good case for reinstatement and/or financial compensation for being summarily “cancelled”.

In no way do I minimize hateful language, but I suggest we have become a country which strains at the gnats while swallowing camels left and right.  Political correctness is nothing more than a smoke screen for what really ails us (U.S.).  Society as a whole has rejected God and the Judeo/Christian ethics our country was founded on.  Combine that with a church that has itself become morally challenged on an increasing level and you have the makings for a society in a desperate slide with little to stop it.

But, if God’s followers, who truly identify with Him, will recognize the arrogance of their prideful ways, will turn to prayer and sincerely seeking His face while at the same time rejecting the evils of our day which cover the gamut from gossip, divorce, pornography, etc., God’s promise is that He will, even now, hear our sincere prayers, forgive our sins and heal our broken ways of thinking.  Yes Lord!