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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

The man responsible for those words is Sir Winston Churchill, a man for his times.  Notice he says “those who would do us harm,” not those who did us harm.  Many think we need a man like Sir Winston Churchill who understands our times and acts in light of that reality.

We have an interesting political battle going on as we have released our interrogation methods, yet refuse to put them into the context of the information received or circumstances in which they are used.  This unfairly politicizes the issue- trying to make things black and white when they are a little less so.

This quote from Sir Winston is at the beginning of Vince Flynn’s latest Mitch Rapp novel, Extreme Measures.   It is a novel for these times, trying to explain why it is important to have such rough men ready, for there are despicable men who hide behind religion to exploit others and protect themselves as they wage a war of terror on civilians.

Yes, Vince has found a formula that works (though he deviates from it at the very end of this novel), but I enjoy his books.  I do want that man out there protecting my family from those who would harm them simply because they live in America.

As Christians we can often confuse the issues, misapply Scripture and really be muddle headed about these issues.  Emotions can cloud the issue on both sides.

First, there is a difference in Scripture between the response of an individual to unjustice, and the response of a government.  We see that clearly in Romans 12 – 13.  The individual is not to seek revenge, but entrust such justice to God.  The government, on the other hand, bears the sword to punish evildoers.

Turning the other cheek is about insult, and again is the individual forsaking retribution.  This would not rule out self-defense should one want to physically hurt you.  Context is key.

We see something of a wartime ethic in Scripture.  Both the midwives and Rahab were blessed for deceiving those who sought to perpetrate evil.  Truth is not a black and white issue- sometimes we have to consider what will be done with the truth.  Will they use the truth to rob, steal or kill?  The context of “speaking the truth in love” is the covenant community moving toward maturity.  You can lovingly speak the truth to an evil person by calling their actions what they are, while refusing to divulge the information they want.

But we have some positive encouragements about the righteous man:

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Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.  Proverbs 28(NIV)

The righteous man/person resists the wicked.  He does not stick his head in the sand and let them commit great sins against others.  This is because God is seen as the One who defends the defenseless.  As those being renewed in God’s image, we are to act like Him.  We are to defend the defenseless, protect the poor, care for the widows and orphans.

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I have not been able to surf much lately.  So I found this interesting tidbit on Dr. Mohler’s blog.  He quotes from Stephen Prothero, a Professor of Religion at Boston University (NCAA Hockey champs, my friends).

The late spate of piracy off the coast of Somalia has been analyzed so far almost entirely in political and economic terms: Somalia is lawless and impoverished, so Somali men are taking world trade for a ride. Religion comes up in this analysis only in terms of fears about potential ties between Somali pirates and Islamist groups such as al Qaeda and al Shabab.

But according to Boston University’s World Religion Database, the Somali population is 99% Muslim, and the last time the U.S. was menaced by piracy, in the late 18th century, the so-called Barbary pirates of north Africa also operated out of Muslim havens. For those who know something about Muhammad and the origins of Islam, more than coincidence is at work: Religion, it turns out, should be factored into the piracy problem.

Mohler argues that the pirates are just doing what Islam has done from the beginning as it spread from Arabia.  They are just doing it on water instead of land.  Could it be that the media is neglecting this fact, lest we see that the problem is a particular religion (people like blaming religion in general- but this particular seems central to many of the international problems)?  President Obama, like President Clinton, sees all this in terms of crime- not terror.  But the seeds of piracy may be the same as those for militant Islam, just manifested in a slightly different way.  Instead of destroying the West, they seek to plunder the West.  But their religion provides the basis for both sets of actions.  They believe they have a divine right, even obligation, to do so.  There is just no reasoning with people with such a mindset.  Or, it seems, with politicians who think their own nation is the problem.

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I’ve been wanting to read Marcus Luttrell’s book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 since hearing Marcus talk about it on the Glenn Beck show one day while doing hospital visitation.  It is a moving, and powerful story that I enjoyed greatly.  I recommend people read it to gain a better understanding of how crazy our Rules of Engagement are.  This is the underlying message of Marcus’ account.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about: Operation Redwing was an attempt to capture or kill a high ranking Taliban leader in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005.  A Seal team of 4 men were dropped into the mountains to locate and attempt to capture him.  They were discovered by some goat herders.  Militarily, you can’t be sure they are not connected with the Taliban and make your presence known so that a much larger force drops on you like a ton of bricks.  With the strange ROE in this War on Terror- terrorists don’t wear uniforms, and may not be holding a rifle- they knew they could face criminal charges while at least being crucified in the press if they killed the goat herders.  They set them free … and only Marcus lived to regret it.  These 4 men took on 150-200+ Taliban soldiers for 90-120 minutes.  Seal Team 10 and a Rapid Response team answered their call of distress, but the helicopter was shot down and all were killed.  Badly wounded, Marcus was able to escape until finally taken in by a village elder who swore to protect him.

It was a very good book and interesting read, but here is what I’d change (as if anyone cared):

  • Move the material about ROE and the press to a separate chapter.  Since it is interspersed as part of the narrative, it loses some of its rhetorical power to more of a soap box feel.
  • Double check the material on the training.  I was confused with varying accounts of how many guys dropped out when and how long various things took place.  I thought they might be errors, but I’m not sure.

This does not diminish what Marcus is doing here.  It is a book that needs to be written, and read.  Prior to getting to the ill fated mission you hear about Marcus’ background and how he and his twin brother were preparing to become Seals even as a teens.  You gain a better understanding of how difficult it is to become a Seal- the most elite fighting force in the world.  And you learn about how the press bungled the post-battle coverage.  You learn about the mammoth vigil that took place spontaneously at his parents’ ranch, and the generosity of so many fellow Texans.

In describing the battle itself, I wondered if this Texan was telling some tall tales.  It just seemed incredible to read what these 4 men did, and persevered despite serious injuries.  But it all makes sense when you take into account their training which identifies and selects men who can’t give up.  Their bravery and perseverance humbles me.  If you have half a heart, you too will weep when he is finally rescued, says ‘goodbye’ to his friends and comrades in arms, and is reunited with his distraught family.  You also get a taste of Seal culture, for better or worse (yes, lots of bad language and what I would consider blaspheme from the mouths of men who are Christians).  But you also gain a better understanding of how politics and the mainstream media make the task we ask these soldiers to perform most difficult, put their safety and our in unnecessary jeopardy.

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Cathleen Falsani has released her complete, unedited interview with Barak Obama on his personal faith from back in 2004 (all quotes are from that article).  Nothing he says should preclude him from being President, in any way, shape or form.  But much of what he says should preclude him from being a member of any evangelical church I know.  I’ll summarize it, but my goal is not to skewer him or correct him (ok, once or twice).

He denies the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.

So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived. …

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.

I can’t imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.

That’s just not part of my religious makeup.

Faith for him is more about living values than trusting a person (Jesus) and believing certain truths about him.  These are values that many religions have in common, rather than reflecting the character of God.

I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that, particularly as somebody who’s now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there’s an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.

He’s pretty vague on Jesus beyond the fact that Jesus really existed.

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

The guys who keep him straight probably need to be straightened out.

Well, my pastor [Jeremiah Wright] is certainly someone who I have an enormous amount of respect for.

I have a number of friends who are ministers. Reverend Meeks is a close friend and colleague of mine in the state Senate. Father Michael Pfleger is a dear friend, and somebody I interact with closely.

For a constitutional law professor he doesn’t understand the Constitution.  1st, the Non-establishment Clause means no Church of America, or state church.  2nd, the Free Exercise of Religion which guarantees both Obama and I can freely exercise our faith here in America.

Alongside my own deep personal faith, I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I am a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I mean, I’m a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law. I am a great admirer of our founding charter, and its resolve to prevent theocracies from forming, and its resolve to prevent disruptive strains of fundamentalism from taking root ion this country.

Fox News and talk radio confuse well-meaning Americans.  They apparently invented the pro-life movement.

Like the right to choose.

I haven’t been challenged in those direct ways. And to that extent, I give the public a lot of credit. I’m always stuck by how much common sense the American people have. They get confused sometimes, watch FoxNews or listen to talk radio. That’s dangerous sometimes.

He doesn’t seem to get grace.

What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

Sin is …

Being out of alignment with my values.

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On the way to the office I listened briefly to talk radio- and some people see this election as a potentially a sign of the apocolypse.  Some prominent pastors are less than interested in the election- seeing no connection between the Kingdom and our nation.

Both extremes really miss the point, and ignore some significant biblical data we need to believe so it shapes us.  I want to meditate briefly on part of Ephesians 1.

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

  • Paul gives us an insight into his prayer life- his adoration, thanksgiving and petition in connection to the Ephesian church.
  • Paul wants them to know the Father better, and asks that the Father would send the Spirit to give them wisdom and revelation.  We now have all the revelation we need in the Scriptures, but we need the Spirit to illumine them for us that we might fear God and gain true wisdom.
  • Paul wants them to behold their great hope, the glorious inheritance of the saints.  This world ain’t it, folks.  It’s good, and we can enjoy it- but we look for the City whose builder and architect is God (Heb. 11).  This life is filled with ups and downs- if we have a clear sense of the hope to which we are called, those ups and downs will not overwhelm us and lead us to either forget God or despair.
  • Christ, by the powerful working of the Spirit, has been raised, exalted and seated at the right hand of the Father.  He rules, above all powers- earthly and otherwise- as the Father’s vice-regent.
  • Jesus reigns in THIS PRESENT AGE, and in the one to come.  He’s not in the throne room biding his time.  He reigns NOW.
  • He reigns now for the good of the church.  Not necessarily our nation or any other nation.  But he does rule over the affairs of this, and every other nation, for the well-being of the church.  What happens on the political scene has ramifications for the church.  In our finitude we can’t always reckon them properly.  What is good for a nation can be bad for the church; and vice versa.
  • I don’t know how this, or any, election will pan out.  We all have hopes and fears in that regard.  But, Jesus is in control of them for the GOOD of the church.
  • The visible church in America may shrink in the years to come- particularly if our “best life now” is revealed to be a false hope (which it is).  Worldly cares may cause many to leave the visible church (Matthew 13:20-22).  But I think that actually strengthens the church, and reveals the real difference between the church and the world- enabling our mission to be that much clearer and significant.
  • So, today we are called to vote (if you haven’t already and have the legal right to vote) and each of us is called to trust Jesus to do that which is right and good.

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This is a very interesting election season, to say the least.  I’ve been reading people’s blog posts, looking at internet boards my wife and I are involved in, etc. and seeing some interesting shifts among people of faith.

Words are interesting things- they have both the power to reveal AND conceal.  I am not a one issue voter.  Seems that people think Christians are supposed to be, or have been, one issue voters.  As a result, they hear another candidate talk about some issues close to their heart and they begin to align with that candidate.

As a Christian, I am concerned about the poor, the environment, abortion, justice and more things than you can shake a stick at.  Some candidates, and parties, are better than others about mentioning some of those issues.  Both Presidential candidates, if you have been listening, say they want to reduce abortions, address climate change issues, eliminate torture, pursue economic advancement to reduce poverty, etc.  So they seem equal.

But we must be careful- raising an issue is not to be confused with having a good solution for that issue.  All proposals are not created equally, so we must examine how the various candidates want to address those issues.

Poverty seems to be one of the issues that touches base with a number of other issues.  You can’t talk about abortion without talking about poverty.  You can’t talk about the environment without talking about poverty.  You can’t talk about taxes without talking about poverty.  That is because some of the solutions to those issues will greatly impact poverty here in America, and therefore around the world.  Solutions that actually reduce jobs (for instance, taxes on small businesses making over $250k- which is NOT much if you own a small business- will put people out of work increasing poverty, or climate change initiatives that strangle an economy increase poverty) will increase poverty here and abroad.  Issues do not exist in a vacuum.  There are unintended consequences that idealists tend not to recognize. 

I find it hard to believe that a candidate cares for America when he does not care for its most vulnerable members.  I find it hard to believe that a candidate cares for America when his economic policies will put people out of work and on the government dole.  Don’t vote on the basis of emotion (he talks about the issues I care about), but take some time to learn how he approaches those issues and if that makes sound sense (not just a great emotional appeal).  Discover HOW the economy works so you can choose a candidate who will make choices that facilitate its growth so people have opportunities to advance and voluntarily spread their wealth (called charitable giving).  Vote with your head AND your heart.

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During our pastors’ meeting to discuss Nehemiah 6, Tim Rice relayed this information from a discussion with a former CFO of Publix.  It is helpful to understand a large economy, the issues that face our nation, and therefore how to wisely choose a candidate (there are NO perfect candidates, sadly).  I am not savvy enough to reproduce the diagram, so I’ll wing it.

For Profit Business => Owners, employees & dependents => Not for Profits => NFP employees & dependents => Poor, unemployed & dependents

The foundation of an economy is For Profit Business (FPB).  Those profits support the owners, employees and their dependents.  I know in this day, the idea of making profits seems barbaric. But profits are how a business stays in business and therefore support all those dependent upon them. Those businesses and people provide the funding for NFPs, both public and private.  The government is the public NFP which is funded by taxes.  The public NFPs are churches and social agencies that are funded by donations.  The more profit generated by the FPB, the more resources that are available to the NFPs. A government that wants to see revenues increase, wants to see the NFPs do well, not stifle them. It is simply increasing the pie, so the slices of the NFPs increase as well.

There is an inverse relationship between the public and private NFPs.  The more the government takes in taxes, the less that private NFPs end up receiving.  The employees and their dependents are dependent on how well the NFPs do, which is a result of how well the economy (read For Profit Business) does.  The poor and unemployed (and their dependents) rely upon the NFPs until they work for either the FPBs or NFPs.

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