Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I support Ron Paul

I think I will spend some time around this ordinary blog corner spouting my political thoughts here and there. Let me start today with the basics.

1) Ultimately, I am not a citizen of this world but of the Kingdom of God which is eternal. So all my allegiances are fundamentally there first. I have singular allegiance to King Jesus. My hope is not in a political or governing system, its in the eventual fullness of the Kingdom of God.
2) While I am here on earth and in this particular context/culture named the USA, I have a responsibility to be "salt and light" and incarnate the Kingdom in every way I see how. This is the arena where I see politics having a slight role.
3) I fully understand my brothers and sisters who have a more strict view of not participating in this world's business. They are strict pacifists, dont' vote and don't get involved politically and would argue that the stance represents Jesus. Some of that I couldn't argue with as long as our views are consistent. If I could find some land that wasn't attached to a nation and live out the Kingdom there then I could more understand. But I am in this context and to feed my kids I cash my check in these banks so I have to assume that it is this system I am here to be salt and light in. I am however largely a pacifist except in particular cases of self-defense and am not comfortable pledging the American flag or pledging allegiance to anything or anybody except Jesus alone.
4) I do not belong to nor can I support the "religious right", "moral majority", "evangelical Republicans" etc. etc. They are in bed with this world's political systems and with arrogance they thirst for power. I don't buy their "values", their approach, their motives, their theology and I could keep going. They are narrow and simplistic in their politics and claim to be the only representation of God's heart and mind. I reject that notion.
5) I have extremely little hope in politics. To me its a broken system that justifies its own existence and has nothing to do with serving the people it represents. The difference between rich, power mongering Republicans and rich, power mongering Democrats is in my mind hardly a difference at all. Our 2 party system is a fundamental flaw in our gov't, one less party and we have a dictatorship. I admitt, I still vote but with a lot of apathy. Its always choosing the least of evils.
6) Dr. Ron Paul (libertarian running as Republican) may be curing my apathy. He's human, he's no demi-god as his most militant supporters out there seem to place him as. But I find him extremely smart and consistent. That's leadership I can vote for.

I will spend some time unpacking why I support Ron Paul in specific to his policies and also indicating the areas I disagree with him in. In summary, I love his foreign policy (get out of Iraq and stop nation building), his economics (free market and a tiny gov't) and his progressive ideas (abolish Fed. bank, opt out of social security, stop alligning with UN etc.). I think I disagree with his immigration policy and am looking into it further. Thanks to Jason Evans for muddying the waters on the immigration issue for me. Now instead of an issue on paper, I see people thanks to Jason.

That suffices a political blog for now.

The real Kingdom is the one that is all around you today if you stop to notice it.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Stumped

Isaiah 11
A Green Shoot from Jesse's Stump
1-5 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
will be all his joy and delight.
He won't judge by appearances,
won't decide on the basis of hearsay.
He'll judge the needy by what is right,
render decisions on earth's poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he'll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.

I'm trying to multi-task and prepare for our family devotions this Sunday morning for the first week of advent and I read this passage and it just crippled me. Out of the stump of Jesse will come a Hope that I just cannot relate to. Everything He does is not what I tend to do.

I am impatient, he is nothing but ever-patient.
I am self-focused, he is sacrifically about others.
I make quick judgments based on externals, he looks at the heart.
I want fairness for me, he seeks justice for the needy.
I complain and grumble, he rolls up his sleeves and works on a new creation.
I speak prideful words, his words spark life.
I toil and work to control my meager outcomes, his very presence causes the cosmos to worship.

Are you kidding me? Jesus is all that I hoped for and long for. I am trying to deny my flesh and wait this Advent season. I'm awaiting that coming Hope that sneaks in the backdoor on Christmas morning announcing to the Shepherds of a Kingdom that has come.

Maybe its the coffee speaking, but I am just in awe reflecting on the One that comes from the stump of Jesse.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Bengals 35 Titans 6

Chad & T.J.

Where in the world has this team been all year? As I predicted, after it was already too late, they would start pouring it on. I can only shake my head and wonder, its not the first time they broke our hearts and then showed us they were capable all along. As well as they played yesterday, we only have next year to look forward to regardless of the fact we have 5 games left to play this year. This team is a roller coaster of emotions. I tried not to care, it didn't work. Good to see the Bengals play to their potential.

On a Buckeyes note: Go Oklahoma and Pitt! If one of them wins, we're in the big show game again and let's hope if we get there that we show up this time.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Saying No to the Golden Compass

I have gotten several forwarded emails to boycott the Golden Compass movie coming out. How it was made by an atheist author who was combatting C.S. Lewis' books and in the end its a metaphor of killing God. * * sigh * *

I'm always skeptical of the truth of these emails as it has a mob mentality of fighting a great and wicked evil. I admitt, I know nothing about this author nor the movie. However, are we so insecure that we (Christendom) can't handle an opposite viewpont of our own? Its a movie, even if my eldest daughter saw it unknowingly, would it wipe away 11 years of spiritual formation from her home? If the conclusion to a moving picture causes her to "kill God" in her mind then someone should take away my wife's and I's license to raise kids.

Seriously! This culture war is ridiculous. Do we fight consumerism, selfishness, greed, pride, lust, lying, contempt, homelessness, poverty, injustice, social epidemics, distribution of wealth, plight of orphans etc. etc. as hard as we do our culture war? All the attention to combat this movie will no doubt cuz its box office earnings to rise all the more. Legislating morality has never worked. We need living, breathing, thinking followers of Jesus who can walk amongst the muck and still follow because it is Truth, not because its our only option.

I generally oppose the culture war, in my mind, its a very small idea. Now if you want to talk subversive incarnation . . . that's a big idea.

peace to your Thanksgiving celebration,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Today's Sports News

At the age of 79, the ole lefthander, Joe Nuxhall has passed away after several ailments he had been fighting. Youngest player to ever play MLB but more importantly around here in Cincy, a beloved long-time broadcaster. Joe was Joe, he often got the call incorrect and mispronounced player names, but he's a Cincy icon nonetheless. RIP Lefty.

Barry Bonds was indicted on federal perjury charges . . . yawn.

The Bengals aren't very good and they are playing the Cardinals at home this Sunday who as well aren't very good . . . yawn.

A-Rod signed a 10 year, $275 million contract with the Yankees . . . double yawn.

I will be heading down to UC stadium tonight to see the biggest high school football game in the country tonight. According to Sports Illustrated, nationally ranked #2 St. Xavier High School is playing #8 Colerain High School tonight in the Ohio state playoffs. I have no dog in this fight, no connection to either team but I like great football and take pride that we have kept the Division I state championship down here in the Nati for the past several years and away from the schmucks up north in the state. Ohio is arguably the "best" football state in the nation, this is where football was born. (Are you listening Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and California?)

The Ohio State Buckeyes have business to handle in Ann Arbor Michigan this Saturday afternoon. A loss there is not an option and not acceptable. The national championship does not matter, beating the team up north is all that matters.

peace to your weekend,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


"I believe you can look at solitude, community, and ministry as three disciplines by which we create space for God. If we create space in which God can act and speak, something surprising will happen. You and I are called to these disciplines if we want to be disciples."
--Henri J. M. Nouwen

Man, this is just a topic that I keep coming back to over and over again. I ebb and flow in disciplines. Now I know that's just part of being human, but its frustrating that it is that way. When I am living a more disciplined life, spiritually, physically, emotionally etc., I am experiencing the best of life. When I mostly am lazy, I will only have instincts to feed my flesh and that sucks life out of you. It just hardly makes sense that the very things that feed us life are the very things we avoid.

I have always believed that there are 2 kinds of people in life: 1) Those that dream and 2) Those that experience their dreams. The only difference typically is discipline. Do we do the things necessary, over and over, to experience the things we long to see? I have been successful in the past and am trying to get a grip now. What I know is that an undisciplined life doesn't work for me, it leaves me feeling worse than when I started. My flesh is a lie. It claims to offer release and freedom, but its a fools gold. It leaves you lethargic and burdened.

Creating space for God as ole Nouwen puts it. I believe in that, now I just need to act on my belief a bit more often. That may start with a walk during lunch today, God and I need to have a chat.

Stop and Notice the Kingdom around you today,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Celtic Midday Prayer

So I just took a few minutes to go through this meditative discipline in the middle of my work day and its just unreal that God approaches us as we approach Him. Prayer like works and stuff.

Midday Prayer

Said or sung all together.
+ indicates that you may make the sign of the cross.

+ In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening Sentences

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
Establish Thou the work of our hands;
establish Thou the work of our hands.

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen

Declaration of faith

We believe and trust in God the Father Almighty.
We believe and trust in Jesus Christ His Son.
We believe and trust in the Holy Spirit.
We believe and trust in the Three in One.


Teach us, dear Lord, to number our days;
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Oh, satisfy us early with Thy mercy,
that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;
and establish Thou the work of our hands.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;
and establish Thou the work of our hands, dear Lord.


Let nothing disturb thee,
nothing affright thee;
all things are passing,
God never changeth!
Patient endurance attaineth to all things;
who God possesseth
in nothing is wanting;
alone God sufficeth.

+ In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Monday, November 12, 2007

For you are Good

"For you are Good" was a chorus line in one of our worship songs from last night at house church and for a follower of Jesus, this is a statement of our assumption about God and I guess we hope it lines up with our experience, but its hard sometimes.

I'm teaching a philosophy course presently discussing the Christian worldview in the midst of a world of competing worldviews, namingly Naturalism. One of the largest challenges from a human perspective in the belief of a good God is the problem of evil and suffering. Can we confirm God's goodness if our experiences in our present context involves suffering and pain? If within our life it seems God is silent can we uphold the belief that he is worthy of worship? Well, belief is the right word here I think. Its simply faith and a belief that God is present in our suffering even when we can't discern his presence and belief in a hope that our present suffering is not the only chapter to the Story. That he is writing a larger Story that will make sense of our present suffering or perhaps not sense, but a final victory nonetheless.

For you are good? Sometimes the faith in that belief is difficult. But what are the options? Like Peter in John 6 and the Daily Declaration of Faith from Celtic Daily Prayer:
"To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory."

Belief in God's goodness is a step of faith, but its not blind faith. His Scriptures are filled with stories of his faithfulness. The Christian tradition is chock full of evidence of his goodess. My personal life experiences had led me to the validity of this belief. And now my intellect at times wrestles with the concept but leaves me at this same place this morning. For you are good, Lord. Its not fun sometimes, but I believe you are good and I want to follow you again this day.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heavy day

Got some news today that took my breath away. Its job related and just weighs very heavy on my heart. Creates an atmosphere of uncertainity for me about the future and I just don't welcome that. Maybe some day I'll figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The bi-vocational life of a missionary is pretty hard most of the time. I know a lot of people doing it but I know of nobody who has it figured out. On the flip side, I don't know if I could ever do vocational ministry again and yet its what I'm most wired relationally and gifted to do. The trade offs are enormous. That's all kind of discouraging today.

I want to believe that God has something in mind, but my cynical self wars against that voice. I suppose they wouldn't call it faith if it didn't involve trust, eh?


Monday, November 05, 2007

Turn back the clock

So this weekend we turned back the clock to "fall back" and the Bengals have decided to take it to a whole other level. They have turned back the clock and become the Bengals of the 1990's who were the most losing professional organization for a decade. It is hard to watch them, they are not a good football team. They are still my team and always will be, but its painful. The season is over as far as playoffs go, so now all that is left is to show what kind of real character they have.

The so-called prolific offense has scored 14 pts. or less in 2 straight weeks.
The siv of a defense is on pace to give up more points than any other previous Bengals team at over 30 pts. a game. And this is all w/ a soft schedule.

"You can't pinpoint one thing or another," free safety Madieu Williams said. "The point is we have to find a way to win a football game. It's getting tough each week to say the same thing with the result being the same."

All I can say, Madieu, is the only thing I can pinpoint is that these are the same results we suffered through from 1990 - 2003. I need some Pepto.