Democrat, Republican, or Disciple?

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Last I night I made a remark about Jesus and politics.  I said that the only time Jesus came close to mentioning politics was when he said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  Add to that the verse/passage in Romans 13 about obeying/respecting earthly authorities, and that’s it.

But is it?  Is that really all God’s Word has to say?

I don’t mean did God’s Word tell us to vote or which party to pick.  We all know – if we re honest – that no such verse states that.  But when it comes to our political decisions as Christ-followers, are those two verses really our only guides?

After reflection, I would say no.  Here’s why: we are given quite a few instructions about how to conduct ourselves and which company to keep in God’s Word.  And those verses absolutely should influence who we vote for or, dare I say it, whether we should vote or not.

“But, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.”

~ I Corinthians 5:11

The world watches us.  When we excuse sin, especially direct sin, it watches.  The world ignores sin all the time – that is what lost people do.  It always amazes me when Christians are surprised by this or use the world’s measuring stick and behavior to deflect.  We as Christians are supposed to be different, peculiar even.  So, we don’t get to allow what the world does to justify what we do.

We do not have the luxury of ignoring public individual sin.  We do not have the luxury of sweeping it under the rug, sidestepping it, hoping someone has privately repented, comparing it to the sins of others.  We are not given permission to speculate as to how the temptation wasn’t the sinner’s fault, how the good we think we see outweighs the bad the world absolutely sees.  In short, association by endorsement of a known sinner who denies his or her sin is not an option.  IF we truly follow Christ.  I’ll say this again later, but the truth is this: the lesser of two evils is still evil.

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,”

~ I Timothy 3:2

Wait, this is talking about a preacher or a deacon!  Look at the original language! I have 200 pages of exegetical information about who this applies to cause SEMINARY!  Or a church pew.

Guess what? The world doesn’t care.  They don’t care how the original Greek is parsed.  In Romans 13, those put in governmental authority of us are called “ministers of God.”  So, if you want to know what God thinks about who we select, read the above.  And no, I don’t mean the much debated “husband of one wife” and what that might mean.  I mean the bolded.  The man to whom we give our Christ-following endorsement should be above reproach.

To give you an example, this is why people like Billy Graham and Mike Pence do not allow themselves to be alone with a woman other than their wives, even in an elevator.  See, it doesn’t just matter whether they DO anything bad in an elevator (and neither of them likely would).  It matters what the world perceives.  It just does.  That brings me to another verse I almost forgot: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:22.

“There are six things which the LORD hates,

            Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

            And hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

            Feet that run rapidly to evil,

A false witness who utters lies,

            And one who spreads strife among brothers.

~ Proverbs 6:16-19

Ah…. I can already hear thoughts on this one.  So, I’ll share a story.  I know a man who was called by God and falsely accused.  This was quite a while ago.  The whisperings and accusations were untrue, but they were causing great strife in his congregation.  Because he was innocent, he could have insisted on keeping both feet firmly planted behind that pulpit on principle.  I mean, he was innocent.  Why should he have to suffer?  However, his flock was divided, hateful, squabbling, and it was not only hurting them, it was causing the world to take notice and say, “See, Look at those people! I want no part of that!”  So, he stepped down, not because he was guilty, but because he was godly.  I cannot imagine how hard that must have been.  Kind of like when Jesus was accused of being a despot and subversive and all sorts of things so that the Roman government would crucify Him.  He could have dug in and proved them all false.  I mean, He was innocent.  But we weren’t.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

~ James 1:27

This is a good transition verse because it applies to politicians AND to us as professing Christ-followers, who the world is watching.  Keeping oneself unstained by the world is tough.  I mean, if you own a television it’s already a struggle.  It’s like trying not to get flour on yourself while baking or frying chicken (smile).  We may not always succeed, and I am sure many of us have private ways in which we have allowed the world to rub off – I know I do.  But…we can make the simple, biblical decision not to give our stamp of approval to public sin, reproach, and the appearance of evil.

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”

~ Daniel 2:21

Who is He in this verse? Is it the constituents, voters, lobbyists?  Um…no.  He is God.  The one who created light by speaking it so.  He is plenty capable of choosing and ordaining who and what He sees fit.  He doesn’t need our help, so we don’t need to panic.  And remember, He even used a donkey to speak, so we needn’t fret that He won’t be able to work if we don’t get out and support the lesser of two evils.  Because. Like I said, the lesser of two evils is still evil.

 “but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.”

~ Psalm 75:7

Again, this is not an us thing.  The fact that we think we MUST do something against our conscience (unless party preference has usurped conscience) or chaos will ensue, smacks of pride and a belief that God needs our help.

 “By me kings reign and rulers issue decrees that are just; by me princes govern, and nobles—all who rule on earth.”

~ Proverbs 8:15-15

Just to drive this home: Saul was crazy, Ahab was a turncoat with an evil wife.  Rehoboam, the first Jeroboam, Jehoram.  Not good kings, not good men.  Did any of them prevent God’s plans from being accomplished?  How did they become kings?

Perhaps we need to remember Matthew 16:13-18:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, [b]Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” 

So, what does all this mean when polls open on any given day?  I know what it means for me.  It means my vote is not decided based on friendship or party association or what I might be afraid of.  There is one thing that decides my vote, and that is God’s Word, the fact that I profess to be a Christ-follower, and the undeniable fact that the world is watching…all of us.  That is the only thing that decides my vote, even if my vote is to stay home.

Because our hope is not found in politics or who is in power.  Our one calling is not to lobby for the right candidate.  Our hope is in Jesus, and our one calling is to go into all the world and make disciples – something that will be hard to do if the world doesn’t trust our faith.

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Bibba: This Year’s NaNoNovel

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Hello, my name is Bibba Glidewell.  I’m a senior in high school.  I never know how to start, so I stole my opening line from every college application letter I’ve written over the past two years.  I thought about using the opening line from my application essay, but starting a story with, “Begin with the end in mind is one of my favorite quotes” sounds really strange, like I’m trying to outdo Charles Dickens or something.

 

Actually, my name is Belinda Bee Glidewell, named after some southern novel my mom read while she was pregnant with me.  I found it in a box a few years ago, and it’s one of those grocery store romance novels with impossibly pretty people on the cover, no doubt full of TMI sex scenes.  Yay me.  My half-brother, who is 2 years older than me, couldn’t say Belinda when I was born; he called me Bibba, and it stuck.  Thank God, actually.  If people actually called me Belinda Bee, I think I’d feel forced to buy pink cowboy boots or join a sorority.  So I’d basically be suicidal.

 

I have an older half-brother.  He’s named Scott, after the love of my mom’s life, who left her when he found out she was pregnant.  My two younger sisters, Megan and Michelle, are twins, and they’re freshmen at my high school this year.  They’re actually sweet, but no one would ever guess we’re related. They have my mom’s straight, shiny brown hair and my dad’s extroverted personality, which means they’re popular.  Not that I’m a pariah or anything; I have friends.  My friends just don’t tend to squeal in the hallways.

 

Our town is one of those with the wrong side of the tracks and the right side of the tracks.  We live on the right side of the tracks thanks to the big settlement my mom got when my dad was hit and killed by a semi when I was 10.  The driver was over his driving limit by about 6 hours, he fell asleep, and he basically ran right over my dad’s old S10 pickup.  We bought an obnoxiously big house that was in foreclosure or something; mom paid cash.  I have no idea how much it cost, but my classmates all treated me differently for about a month after we moved.  It has 2 dens, a sunroom with its own kitchen, and my bedroom is fantastically big.  I love it, and I spend most of my life there.  Or here, I guess, since that’s where I am right now.

 

That what my dad used to call the 10,000 foot view.  My lit teacher, who I adore, told me a story shouldn’t go on for too long without action and dialogue, so that’ll be my introduction for now.  Also my mom has been yelling that it’s dinner time for the last 10 minutes, and the next step is for her to come in here and ask what I’m doing.  I’d like to avoid that.

Crisis of Fandom: Tiger or Tide

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Train up a fan in the way she should roll, and when she is old she will not depart from it…

I Hesitations 17

I’ve had a crisis of fandom recently.  And it’s time I opened up about it.  Trigger warning: if you are not from the SEC, you may not understand.

See, I remember hearing someone once say: In the north, football is a sport; in the Midwest, it’s a pastime; but in the south, it’s a religion.  So I’m sharing my testimony.

I was raised in a Crimson Tide family.  My father is a Tide fan and a former student, my mother is a tide fan and former student, and my grandfather was a tide Fan and former student.  My dad was a GTA at the same time Wimp Sanderson was in grad school, and they were friends (maybe that explains my father’s horrible plaid pant phase…).  In fact, my mother grew up in Tuscaloosa, and she says she didn’t know there was another school in Alabama until she was ten (smile).  My brother attended The University for a while, and I even worked on a PhD there.  You might say I am the Bama equivalent of a preacher’s kid.  I grew up saying roll tide, loving read and hound’s-tooth, and went to every home game when I was a student.  I knew how many wins Bear Bryant had, and I had a soft spot for Lyke’s hot dog loving Gene Stallings.

I was a faithful follower of the Crimson Tide

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Then I changed.  I’ll chalk it up to peer pressure.  You see, I lived in Auburn for 10 years.  It’s a great town with great people.  I taught elementary school there, and living in a sea of orange and blue….well, it’s no fun living in a sea of orange and blue and trying to wear crimson.  Kinda like being the only one with no Zima at that high school party.  And so I eased over into Tigerdom.  I bought the shirts, I waved the pompoms, I shouted War Eagle.  I even rolled my eyes at that vein of more obnoxious Bama fans.

I was a zealous convert.

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Yes, forgive me Saban, for I have sinned.  It has been 16 years since my last wearing of hound’s-tooth.

Say ten Roll Tides, my child, and attend a ballgame party, and I shall absolve thee.

So now that I’m back in my home town, and my life has changed somewhat, and I am, after all connected to The University, at least tangentially, every day, it is time.  Time to change.  Time to return to my roots and my raising.  Time to bleed crimson anew.

I called my mom last week and told her I was probably going to become a Bama fan again. I could hear her smiling through the phone.

“Your father will be so proud!”

Roll Tide!

Behind the Defiance

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Behind the defiance, a cold, empty space;

And I see it under the sneer on your face.

You say I’m irrelevant, dust on a shelf,

But with every word, you’re indicting yourself.

You rail you’re in charge and yourself you control,

But inside, you desperately long to be whole.

You veil with dismissal, and flip disrespect,

But your words reveal discontent you reflect.

While treating what’s good with eye rolls and disdain,

I see you attempting to hide from your pain.

The mocking, the sideways remarks made with glee –

But I know the target is not really me.

I’m not the real problem; I just play a part.

I’m merely a mirror reflecting your heart.

And it is not judgment that creates these rhymes

It’s sad resignation that these are the times.

And while the throng cheers at this upside-down world,

I’ll gladly take all of the insults when hurled.

It’s not condescension that creates this verse;

It’s fear of the truth that’s behind every curse.

For anger and apathy oftentimes hides

The emptiness that in a cold heart resides.

So I’ll take the bruises and every harsh blow

Because in the end there’s a comfort I know.

That even though now we may call darkness light,

The story’s not over, and truth wins the fight.

Yes, I’ll be a scapegoat if that’s what you need,

And inside I’ll pray that someday you’ll be freed.

Predawn Race

After dark, before light

Eyes heavy, open

Looking into past and future

Chasing peace

Running from the relentless regular

That always comes

Expecting, demanding

In bold red letters

While I lie awake counting

Seconds, minutes, hours

Holding my breath

Praying I will cross the bridge

Before it is closed

Because even 2 hours

Will.measure the day

In Memory

Uncle, husband, father, friend,

One beloved by God

Those left behind will mourn the end

Of your time on this sod.

But up above they celebrate

And welcome you within

To streets of gold and visions great

And joy that will not end.

While we knew you, you made us smile

Your love was always true

Your open heart and ready wit

Cheered all who spoke to you

So though our lives will feel your loss

And miss your presence here,

We know that all of heaven is glad

To finally have you near.

And when we pause to think of you 

O’er years and months and praise

We’ll be so grateful for your life

And give to God the praise.