Tag Archives: Politics

On God’s Side

This book by Jim Wallis was a welcome read for me, but I was ready to consider his ideas.  For some time I’ve been more loyal to Jesus than a political party.  I am registered as an independent.  So I was easily on board when Wallis presented the three target points of his book:

  1. Christian conversion is to impact more than the destiny of my eternal soul.  It is to impact the way I live in this world.
  2. Faith transcends politics, and
  3. My faith should be lived in public for the public good.

The book title comes from a quote by Abraham Lincoln, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”  Wallis helps me see that I am weakly committed to God’s side in some areas of political debate.  I have been caught up in the either/or mentality rather than both/and solutions.  The table below gives an example of what I’m saying.  It compares the different views of what causes poverty.

Liberals    (blame society)

Conservatives    (blame individuals)

poor-paying jobs poor work habits and work experience
poor education no dedication to education
no or poor child care having children out of marriage
poor housing options weak family structure
lack of affordable health care substance abuse

Commonsense says that I have an individual responsibility for improving my conditions, but it also says that forces outside my influence can make my progress more difficult or even impossible.  Working from only one side of the aisle will not correct the root of the problem.  We have to work on both lists.

Wallis repeatedly discusses “justice”.  He explains that justice has a broad range of meanings: righteousness, wholeness, deliverance, Shalom, and healed relationships.  He emphasizes that Jesus wants this multi-faceted type of justice for everyone.  And he’s afraid that justice can slip to an optional status when it is viewed as an implication of the Kingdom of God rather than an integral part of it.

I really enjoyed this book, but I think some Christians may find it uncomfortable.  He really challenges the readers to embrace following Jesus above following a political party.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the right side-bar of this blog.  Look for “On His Side” as you scroll through the box.

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Filed under Be Like Jesus, Politics

Disagreeable

A friend of mine told me something that changed some of his habits.  He realized that he considered a book, article, commentator, or news report as “good” just because he agreed with it.  He felt there may be good books, articles, comments, and news he won’t ever consider reading or hearing  just because he doesn’t agree with them.  Hm-m-m.

I struggled with that idea for a few days.  Then I finally admitted that all my opinions will never be right.  I will always need some new input and fresh views.  If I only intake ideas identical to what I already have, it’s like an aquarium that never gets fresh water.  It’s the same muddied water just being recycled without any filtering system.  I don’t have to accept everything I hear, but I can never be renewed if I never hear anything new.  So I thought about where my first stop would be to hear or read something I found disagreeable.  I was mistaken with my choice.

I ended up on the web page for the Christian Left.   Since I thought I was part of the Christian Right, this web page seemed like the logical step.  I was really surprised by what I found.  The web page referenced a lot of Bible verses to support the position that Christians should help the needy.  Huh?  Well, of course.  Who would argue with that?  Well, it appears that the Christian Right has the image of opposing such liberal actions.  The Christian Right has an image of endorsing the well-known line “God helps those who help themselves.”  I know that isn’t right, not every Christian on the Right holds to that position, but I also know that many do.  I also know that some of the Christian Left consider cash handouts a primary solution to solving this issue – a deal-breaker for the Christian Right.   Unfortunately it seems that some of the loudest talkers for each side distract from a united, Christian effort at a solution.  It also seems that we’ve allowed this to become primarily a political issue, not a moral one.

Christians should care for the needy.  I can’t say I believe the Bible and disagree with that mandate.  The hard discussion is in the implementation of the command.  What is the best way to do it?  I think all of us agree that the current method of caring for the needy in the USA is broken.  So, what can we do together that will be better?

The intent of this post is not to bring up a topic (care for the needy) and find a solution.  I just wanted to tell you that I can find common ground when I really listen to the people with whom I thought I totally disagreed.  From that common place, we can listen, share, and pray on our journey to a solution.  Let’s stop accusing, pouting, and being defensive long enough to listen – both to God and our Christian family members.

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Filed under Christianity, Inside Phipps

Truth And Transformation

Truth And Transformation by Vishal Mangalwadi

I was unprepared for the incredible depth and breadth of this book.  I had never heard of the author, and that is to my loss.  Considered by some to be India’s foremost Christian intellectual, he attempted to serve the rural poor of India.  ”Service is the legitimate means of acquiring the power to lead.”  The results were violent opposition.  He turned to a study of the West and why India’s civilization lacked similar justice and prosperity.

His insights regarding the caste system’s foundation and fruit caused me to examine the current situation in the USA.  “Without God’s value system, humans have no intrinsic worth.  They are only worth what other human beings decide they are worth.”  Vishal shows that the USA is traveling on a questionable moral road.

I highly recommend this book to those of us who have been numbed by the slow but constant decline of USA values.  “Jesus changes the world by planting the Church in the midst of it.”

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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Filed under Be Like Jesus, Cacophony, Missions

In A Box

They put me in a labeled box and nailed it shut.

Fighting will not free me.  Rescue is impossible.  Only my captors can liberate me.  They made the box according to their self-made blueprint. They are the ones who stuck me in it.  I think it makes them feel safer.  It makes their life easier.  My crime is simple; I am not one of them.  And there is only one way out – become one of them.

But even that act will not set me free.  If I become like my captors, then I fall victim to another gang who will imprison me because I am not like them.  No matter what I choose, I am not free to be me – at least not without fear of someone sealing me in a labeled box.  There are too many of them – the boxes with labels.

What is a man to do?  Or a woman?  Or a democratic, a Muslim, a black, the handicapped, a CEO, an addict, an atheist, a genXer?

A single idea, word, act, or belief cannot be the only criteria for who we are.  We are much too complex and changing for that method.  It would seem obvious that labeling is extremely inaccurate, if not impossible.  But our only solution seems to be to multiply the act.

We create labeled boxes within labeled boxes.  Americans are liberal, conservative, progressive, Northerners, Southerners, redneck, trash, white collar, and a host more.  Protestant Christians, already double labeled and boxed, seek to label and imprison themselves further: evangelical, contemporary, emerging, organic, traditional, etc. 

And what do these labels mean?  What makes someone an extremist, a radical, nominal, or average?  Who creates the final definition and commissions its use?

Why are we so eager to lock a developing human being into a labeled box?

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Filed under Christianity, Politics

Lincoln On Leadership

Donald T. Phillips has put together one of the most practical leadership books I have read.  He has managed to combine Lincoln’s words and actions to create a blueprint of a leadership style born during one of America’s most troubled times yet applicable for today.  It seems we are dealing with many of the same problems.  “All the “how to” of leadership is ineffective without integrity, honesty, and the resulting trust.  Morals must precede method.” 

I did not realize Abraham Lincoln possessed a temper that needed to vent.  I learned that this venting was often done by writing scalding letters that remained in his desk – never sent.  “Every human has flaws.  Leading always brings these flaws to the surface.  Leaders must learn to restrain those flaws from devastating their followers.”

It is a worthwhile book for all leaders, whether they lead their homes or their countries.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” located in the left side-bar of this blog.

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