Politics

October 30, 2020

Not Voting Against Trump: I’m Voting for the Healing of our Country’s Heart

 “…Someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ – James 2:18

 “…their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. Shall I not punish them for these things?” declares the Lord, “and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?” – Jeremiah 5:27b-29

I’m a Christian, a lifelong evangelical and Reagan Republican and I’m NOT voting for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Why? I believe my relationship with God and how I interpret the teachings of the Bible compel me to vote against the president from having another term.

In a recent blog I explained that I’m not against Trump, but am against the mindset that got him elected in the first place. I am greatly grieved by that mindset – our country’s corporate heart condition – that I see represented in Trump’s leadership. The healing of that corporate heart means much more to me than any “Christian” policy used to justify evangelical support of this ill-fitting leader.

DON'T BE LEFT OUT OF NPE

Sign up for our Insider's List and Never miss a moment with the Non-Partisan Evangelical community.

17162

WE CHOOSE OUR LEADERS AND OUR LEADERS REFLECT OUR HEART

Many of my Christian friends believe God sovereignly puts leaders into positions of authority and there’s a biblical case to be made for that idea. However, I believe the Bible tells us the chosen leader of God-followers is a reflection of the corporate heart of that people. That choice is a fulfillment of their deepest heart-desires.

Some say President Trump was chosen because he is a leader like King David, a man ‘after God’s own heart’ even though a bit ‘rough around the edges.’ I see Trump as a direct parallel to less able leaders, like King Saul and King Herod – pragmatic. amoral kings who molded themselves into whatever was needed to maintain power. Of Saul’s ascension, the prophet Samuel said this about the people of Israel:

“…(W)hen you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you.” – 1 Samuel 12:13-13 (italics added by me.)

Twice Samuel tells the people that Saul was THEIR choice of leader, not God’s. Out of their fear for safety and comfort, the people of Israel unwisely chose a king they believed would be their “strongman” to save them. They had lost trust in God’s ability to do so. Saul was corrupt. He was small & petty; attacking anyone who tried to hold him accountable or whom he viewed as a threat. He played to the crowds because he needed their adulation, even taking it upon himself to lead the religious, pre-battle ceremony of the sacrifice to keep the people happy and liking him. Sound like any other leader you know?

Because the heart of the people was self-focused, and out of alignment with God’s model of a loving, self-sacrificing life that would lead to peace, they choose an unjust and unfit king. It cost them dearly. Today, I believe Trump is that same supposed strongman unwisely chosen by a people to save them, as they’ve lost their trust in God’s ways to bring justice and shalom to their land. In my estimation, that choice is also costing us dearly.

GOD CARES A GREAT DEAL ABOUT JUSTICE & THE CORPORATE HEART OF A NATION

I hear many evangelical Christians say “I’m not voting for the man, I’m voting policy.” I don’t see such pragmatism endorsed in the Bible.

In Jesus’ day there was a leader named King Herod the Great. Though not a Jew, and certainly not a man of the religious integrity, he was trusted by the Jewish leaders to save their religion and their nationalistic heritage from an evil government. Due to this loyalty, Herod was able to live a lascivious life, free from accountability.

Similarly, President Trump, though never displaying a bent towards Christianity in his lifetime, has attracted the fealty of religious leaders and, in exchange, he pragmatically meets their desires in order to maintain power. He gives them conservative judges, an unchecked support of modern day Israel and some ‘religious freedom’ that appeals to the evangelical desire to believe they’re ‘persecuted.’

POLICIES GOD CARES ABOUT IN A GOVERNMENT

Throughout the Bible we see God’s command for people groups – cities and nations. I quoted Jeremiah 5 above. In that passage, the accusation of God towards the nation is that its people desire to be wealthy and comfortable, while no longer caring about justice for the needy. Never mentioned: the location of embassies, income tax percentages, stock market levels or unemployment rates. God’s judgment is always based around the corporate heart of the people. When that heart is to be financially comfortable versus taking care of the poor, the marginalized, and the foreigner; God’s reckoning will eventually come. Evangelical support for Trump is not, today, simply moral issues like abortion. It now is an ever intertwining religious/political/economic belief system. It’s anchored as much in the  belief that Trump will make us wealthier, less taxed and safe from any prophetic charge of hard-heartedness to God’s command for justice and welfare in a nation.

Shall I not avenge myself against people such as this” is God’s biblical response to such a belief system. I believe those words should cause a shudder to go through our corporate spine.

Jesus, while on earth, spoke judgments against people groups: “Oh Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets.” He was accusing the people of having such a desire for freedom from accusation of ignoring God’s commands that they were willing to kill any religious leader who brought such an accusation against them. Do we, likewise, “kill” these voices today? We call “fake” or “sheep” anyone with a differing viewpoint than the going partisan, right-wing evangelical mindset.

“Capernaum, on judgment day Sodom will have a better day than you,” Jesus said. In the people of Capernaum he saw a people with access to detailed knowledge of God’s commands and goodness, yet still refused to repent of hard-heartedness. Thus their judgment day fate was slated to be worse than a city famously known to have been destroyed for its overt sexual appetites. Could our desire to use political power to impose laws be seen by God as more hard-hearted than the “sins” we hope to ban?

Access Audiobook Series, exclusive commentary from the author, join in discussion groups. Click to join our NPE Patreon Community.

I’m convinced our corporate heart matters a great deal to God (not just our individual salvation) and when our corporate heart says “make me fat and sleek” (make me financially prosperous,) then Christians should expect to come face to face with God’s demand for the presence of “welfare” in a city.

THE IDEA OF A CHRISTIAN NATION

I’m not convinced God is nearly as concerned about our “Christian-ness” as a nation as Christians are. However, if Christian MAGA beliefs mean going back to a 50’s-style of America with a veneer of being a “Christian Nation,” is Donald Trump a good embodiment of such a nation? Trump may be a Christian, as men like Franklin Graham tell us he is, but shouldn’t that faith show up as “good deeds” in Trump’s life? If Trump, as our government leader, is the primary display of our national corporate heart, shouldn’t those James 2 ‘good deeds’ show up in our policy?

I think more than being a Christian nation, God would like to see “Christlike-ness” in us. Evidence of such, says the Bible, are the attributes of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How many of these attributes can we see displayed by our president on a daily basis? When a leader is willing to use the Bible to justify cruelty to foreigners coming across our borders. When that cruelty is celebrated and used to justifying the separation of children from families in order to attempt deterring future families from coming – is that a corporate heart of kindness and gentleness? Aren’t we supposed to be the ones who “focus on the family?”
 
Jesus said there were two commands for a Christian: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Then he went on to explain that our ‘neighbor’ is the person we don’t like – our enemy, the foreigner, the person who follows a different religion. When our leader regularly excoriates anyone who disagrees with him and denigrates women, members of the opposite party, those of a different heritage and different religions, is our soul being revealed to be “great?”
 
The biblical sermon on the mount says “Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…” Does that sound like the heart being displayed by a leader who claims “winning” is the only desired goal and that anyone displaying a self-sacrificial love or empathy for others is weak and a “sucker?”

MY HEART FOR THIS ELECTION

I know many of my friends will claim I’m a victim of the mainstream media or am suffering from the right-wing media created malady of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” My view of Donald Trump, however, isn’t ultimately about the president at all. My vote is against the spirit that got him elected and the heart of our country he represents.

I’ve been calling out this sickened corporate heart of the right-wing Church for many years, even as far back as the first GW Bush administration – long before Donald Trump ever called Barack Obama a Muslim or made his glitzy entrance down the golden escalator.

I’m voting against another four years of our corporate heart being twisted to justify a constant stream of falsehoods and to endorse constant cruelty towards human beings. I’m voting against a leader that endorses our desire for riches, safety and comfort at the cost of our care for the vulnerable and needy. I’m voting against a leader that gives us permission to kill any “prophet” who may ask us to sacrifice in the journey for justice for the minority and the marginalized.
 

For me, I see our corporate heart positioned just as those people who over and over were told by God “shall I not avenge myself against these people?”

Our country is divided, it’s hurting, it’s coming apart at the seams and, unfortunately, our Christians seem happy to have a leader that feeds, rather than attempts to heal, those ills.

After choosing to vote neither candidate for president in 2016, I’m voting for Joe Biden in 2020. But I’m not so much voting for Biden, I’d likely pick someone else if I had another choice; but I’m voting for the last hope I see in making us “good” again, as a nation – to display good deeds that manifest our belief in our Christian nation status. That we can once again come together as one people. To pray that my evangelical church can repent of a heart condition that would cause us to choose race-baiting over healing and “other-ism” over loving those who look and believe differently than us.

To my friends who say Trump is the “chosen one” to save a “Christian” America, I finish this piece with another passage from the biblical book of Jeremiah – a tome written in another time when a country was coming apart at the seams:

 “(The prophets) have spoken falsely of the Lord and have said, ‘He will do nothing; no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine… An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” – Jeremiah 5:12; 30-31

Perhaps its too late to heal our land. God does have a big heart to heal when we repent, but these past four years, perhaps, have already ruptured our corporate heart beyond repair. I am certainly convinced that four more years of Donald Trump’s presidency will do irreparable damage to our corporate heart. And I believe that corporate heart matters to God a great deal.

This is why, in 2020, I have already voted against Donald Trump for president of the United States.

September 27, 2020

Jesus Looks Different Than We Think: Five Things I’ve Learned in 55 Years

On the recent celebration of my 55th birthday, my wife asked me to share five (and a half) things I’ve learned in my half-century (+5) of life. Since five is the number of grace and wisdom I thought it might be appropriate to consider. So here we go: Five Important Things I’ve Learned in Fifty-Five Years of Life.

(1) If you want to be “Christ-like” you must know what Christ is like

The word “Christian” means “follower of Christ” or, more literally, “little Christ.” Yet it seems American Christians prefer the blue-eyed, patriotic, gun-toting Jesus that we invented, rather than the suffering servant of the Bible who constantly scolded well-to-do, religious, law-and-order people.

In biblical days, when presented with the choice of Jesus or Barabbas, the zealot who wanted to foment rebellious overturn of the government, the religious leaders stirred up the people to choose Barabbas. It very much seems today’s religious leaders would stir up people to the same choice.

The “American Jesus” we likewise choose today simply isn’t the Jesus we’re told by the Bible to follow.

DON'T BE LEFT OUT OF NPE

Sign up for our Insider's List and Never miss a moment with the Non-Partisan Evangelical community.

17162

(2) Jesus is not coming soon: “morning or night or noon.”

“Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon” was a catchy ditty from a song we sang often in the church of my youth. As catchy as that tune may have been, it’s actual meaning of “if you went to a movie theater or were listening to rock music there’s a great chance, at any moment, you were going to be “left behind” and have “666” slapped on your forehead to mark you forever doomed to hell.

The trauma of twelve-year-old me believing my family had been taken and I had been judged unworthy to go is bad enough, but the real damage of these end times beliefs has been much more far-reaching.

The “rapture” belief that Jesus would soon appear and take all the “good” people out the world and blow up all the rest has caused us to neglect the environment, to feel free from any concern of people who we judge will not be going with us, and generally feel unobligated to provide for any future generations through infrastructure or preservation. It’s also the genesis of much conspiracy theory thinking as this belief causes us not only to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for evil, but to celebrate it, even if it is invented in our own minds.

The command of the Bible, however, is to treat the world as a bride preparing for the imminent return of a groom for a wedding. Nobody allows their wedding venue to be trashed and neglected. They prepare it to be the most beautiful it can be for the moment that lay ahead. Christians need to know this is their job and everyone else needs to know you’re not going to be “left behind.”

(3) If we don’t know who we really are how will We live the way we’re supposed to live

In my work as an executive coach I often deal with people struggling with their self-worth. Christians find this particularly difficult as they’ve been consistently taught to see themselves as “dirt” – terrible creatures who are fortunate God doesn’t zap them right now. This view of a harsh God causes harshness to flow from them.

The whole of the Bible story, however, is of a creator passionately pursuing those that were created to affirm their value, That each human was declared “good” even before they existed. Taking that story to heart causes us to want to know this benevolent creator more and thus, that benevolence can flow from us, as well.

Access Audiobook Series, exclusive commentary from the author, join in discussion groups. Click to join our NPE Patreon Community.

(4) God is OK if you change your mind. In fact, he commands you to.

The idea that we have to defend our beliefs at all cost and use a label like “fake news” or “liberal” to discount any idea or person that disagrees with us goes against the command of the Bible to not be “conformed to this age” (to your own ‘bubble.’) The passage says we’re to be transformed by the ongoing renewal of our minds.

To often Christians say “I live by scripture” when, actually they are living by their preferred interpretation of the Bible. They rarely consider the existence of other Christians who read the text differently. In fact, our churches have created a fear of “being deceived” that implores followers to resist such consideration.

Jesus scolded the religious leaders of his day for “taking away the keys to knowledge.” There’s a proverb in the Bible that says “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” In other words, God created wisdom, science, debate, learning – if we understand our true identity as valuable (as ‘kings’), we’ll accept our duty and privilege to search out deeper understanding of matters.

A person shouldn’t be afraid to learn. All that can be lost in such consideration is bondage to an old mindset.

(5) Things might get ugly, but it’s going to be OK

Much of Christian political thought today is based upon fear – “If we don’t elect the “right” candidate, our religion will be taken away. Or we loudly scream “socialism” or some other scary word about boogeymen coming to get us.

There’s no doubt in my mind we are in tumultuous times and deeper troubles likely lay ahead, but in the story of the Bible, those times of “shaking” were important for causing a people to remember what’s really important and turning their faces and hearts back to God.

Yes, our culture might be in some peril now, but let’s not assume some purifying heat is the worst thing to happen. Perhaps these times are exposing heart issues to the light – particularly those of our Christian belief system – that need to be changed.

Yes, the coming weeks and months might be difficult, but I’m convinced something better is on the other side. It might take the transition of a generation, but a new and better ‘us” is ahead. 

(5 -and a half) -at my wife’s request: It’s awesome to have a son born on your birthday

I’ve shared 18 birthdays now with my son, and it is awesome – well, half awesome. It does mean my birthday is now relegated second string to his. I assure you, that is a small sacrifice to make to have this amazing boy in my life!

If I feel that way as a father, how much more must God be willing to sacrifice his pure theology and right to judge us, in order to have relationship with us? Do you think humans are worth it to him?

September 18, 2020

What If Truth Mattered?

"...You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth..."

John 16:13

"...our press secretary, gave alternative facts."

Kellyanne Conway, Presidential Advisor

There was a day when Christians valued “truth” – almost to an unhealthy level. Those days seemingly are gone, now, however, as Christians appear more than willing to accept “alternative facts” from their side of the political aisle. Conway introduced the term into our cultural lexicon in 2017 while attempting to defend President Trump’s outrageous claims of his inaugural ceremony crowd being “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” This despite clear photographic evidence to the contrary. Conway’s display of her legendary ability to say to say easily disprovable things with the seriousness of an assassin signaled to all that we were living in a “post-truth era” where facts were now in the eye – or ear – of the beholder.

Right-wing Evangelical Christians not only believed what Conway was spinning out, they seemed to prefer her “facts.” This is odd to me since my evangelical youth group training often centered on the importance  of “absolute truth.”

Access Audiobook Series, exclusive commentary from the author, join in discussion groups. Click to join our NPE Patreon Community.

“That’s a brown chair, right?” Said the evangelical youth minister of my childhood as he loudly and emphatically placed an office chair in the middle of our circle. “If I told you it was a ‘blue seagull’ that would be untrue, wouldn’t it?” The question brought chuckles from the group.

“If I told you it was not a solid, that would be untrue, wouldn’t it?” he stated while rapping his knuckles on the chair. “Any other explanation of the chair would be untrue, correct?”

“Actually, it’s mostly made of air,” I said, raising my hand. The youth minister gave me a stern glance and continued on.

“That this is a solid, brown chair is an absolute truth and it will always be a solid brown chair, no matter what anyone else might say,” he stated with a serious look.

“Well, the Bible says all of these things will pass away and what is unseen will last forever…” The youth minister held up his palm to stop my statement as he closed his eyes in exasperation.

“Despite Paul’s technicalities,” he said after a deep breath, “we must believe in absolute truth so the ‘relativists’ don’t deceive us in these last days.”

The youth minister’s attempted demonstration was to highlight that “elite thinkers,” who dabbled in questioning the stalwart message taught to us in church were threats not only to truth, but to our very souls and to the Christian values that made America a great country. “Truth matters” we were told.

That was then, however, this is now.

Today, Christians are willing to put away belief in truth to follow our pragmatic hope that political alliances and victories can bring a hoped-for Christian takeover of government and an implementation of conservative Christian political causes.

Avoiding Truth in Order to Not See Truth

Example: The recent Atlantic story highlighting President Trump’s lack of respect for military personnel hardly made a blip on the social media pages of my Christian friends. That Trump called soldiers who fought in American wars “suckers” and “losers” was met with relative Christian indifference. My friends chose to believe the “alternative fact” that the use of anonymous sources made the story “fake news” with a complete blindness to the irony that many of these same people regularly follow and believe anonymous conspiracy website sources, such as QAnon.

Whether the story’s details are completely accurate, we already know this tone was already publicly set by the president’s refusal to acknowledge John McCain as a war hero because McCain “had been captured” and Trump only liked soldiers “who weren’t captured.” In normal times, such statements would be deal-breakers for Christians (who despise NFL players for taking a knee during the National Anthem, an act evangelicals and conservatives claim to be disrespectful to our military personnel.)

Example: Immediately following the Atlantic report came the recorded voice of the president saying, in February, that he knew the Coronavirus was dangerous, was airborne and could seriously infect even young children while admitting that he was publicly downplaying the virus. Surely, the president’s recorded words would be enough to prove to fervent conservative Christians that their beliefs the Coronavirus was a hoax – or at least a Democratic concoction – would melt away.

Not so, however. The evangelical community is too invested in their own narrative on the virus. Too needful of defending their own position that only another simple fib from the president is needed for the “absolutely truth” of the president’s own voice to be drown out by “alternative facts.” Believing truth is no longer the mark of a true American Christian. “Nothing to see here” pragmatism for political purposes is the new rule of the day.

Intellectual Dis-Honesty

Not only is “absolute truth” at a low ebb, but so is intellectual honesty. This was highlighted in a recent post that was cut-and-paste material on the walls of several Christian acquaintances:

The assertions in many lines of this “reasons list” misses that nearly every line has a partisan spin equating conservative ideals to a morally superior level than anyone who might think differently. This intellectual twisting shows that re-posters of this content are either gravely deceived or willfully dishonest. Either way, “absolute truth” is taking it on the chin and is down for the count.

The Dire Consequences of Alternate Facts

As of the writing of this blog we’re nearing 200,000 deaths for Covid-19. That’s 66 times the number people who died on 9/11. The cognitive dissonance of “alternate facts” has taken away the ability to grieve this horrific fact for a people commanded to “mourn with those who mourn.”

This desire for alternative facts has other dire consequences.

George Orwell wrote his book 1984 describing a day when a country would no longer be able to understand facts and, thus, would readily give over control of their government and lives to despotic leaders. Orwell called it “doublethink.” Today, we call it “alternative facts.”

Throughout history dictatorial leaders have sought to undermine media outlets and start their own propaganda agencies in order to manipulate truth to their own benefit.

When a democracy depends on a learned electorate, a lack of accountability to truth for our elected leaders is a danger to that democracy.

Our country is in grave danger of reaching this point today, if we haven’t already. Let’s face it – even most the fervent supporter of this president has to admit he at least plays a bit loose with details and willingly shares what seems reasonable in his own mind, even if it’s not true.

Truth must matter to us. “Facts are stubborn things” an elected leader once said – let’s make facts stubborn again. Securing a Supreme Court majority isn’t worth losing our ability to communicate in truth with one another. We have to let the Spirit of Truth guide us and not be afraid for public scorn for those who would try to make facts “alternate” – particularly our country’s enemies who wish to divide us against one another – can’t succeed. 

Let me recommend tips on how to Avoid Sharing Fake News and this article from the Fresno State Institute of Media and Public Trust. Let’s repent of political expediency and, once again, ask God to show us his ways, which are higher than ours, so we can get a heavens-eye view of our world today and turn from our own. It’s not too late that yet God might heal our land if we do.

August 18, 2020

If You’re Pro-Life, Vote Democrat

We’ve been told that the Republicans are the Pro-Life party, what if it’s really the Democrats?

July 26, 2020

Trap Questions Asked by Evangelicals: A Modern Day Parable

Jesus was often confronted with trap questions from the Pharisees, what might that look like today?

July 4, 2020

Are Christians Experiencing a ‘Hebrews 3’ Hardening of Their Hearts?

Jesus saw the pain of the dominant, oppressive religion of the day and was sharing a message that there was a new way to live

June 19, 2020

Why We Must Forgive (and ask forgiveness from) Donald Trump

We are using Trump for our purposes. Not for his betterment. Not for his growth, or his relationship with Jesus, or making him into a more Godly leader.

June 12, 2020

The Truth About Stats on Black Crime

This meme is a prime example of so many things that are wrong with internet memes. Let’s count the ways.

June 5, 2020

Repenting for Racial Prejudice in the Church

Our black brothers and sisters have asked us to educate ourselves and take action. Are we ready to educate, repent, and act?

Scroll to top