America is missing the point about Charlottesville

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I have heard a lot the last several days about Donald Trump, neo-Nazis, alt-right, alt-left, and Black lives matter. None of them are the big problem behind what happened. The news has been full of finger-pointing, blaming, and dividing rhetoric. None of that will bring healing and unity in the wake of this tragedy.

The problem is we fought a physical war over 150 years ago, to bring an end to confederate ideals that destroyed human dignity, but we didn’t offer a solution to the much greater need of a broken human nature. The problem is that we marched for civil rights over 60 years ago but still didn’t address the broken human nature that led to the formation of the violent KKK and black panther groups. The problem is that we banned to disgraceful institution of segregation but we didn’t lay the ground work to actually unite a people.

The human nature is broken. Humanity is fallen. Humanity needs saving. That’s not a new thing. It’s been that way since the garden. Charlottesville is a manifestation of humanities brokenness. Donald Trump is not dividing our nation. Neo-Nazis are not dividing our nation. Black lives matter is not dividing our nation. Our broken, sinful nature is dividing our nation. It’s a shared responsibility. It’s not just the brokenness of the protesters in Charlottesville. It’s the brokenness of you and me who refuse to speak the truth to everyone we meet and know. It’s the brokenness of every human who lives a life apart from Jesus Christ. It’s the brokenness of everyone who is meeting hate with more hate. It’s the brokenness of every person who would not wash the feet of their enemy like Jesus did but would rather publicly defame, ridicule, and verbally terrorize those who believe differently than them.

Nothing about what happened in Charlottesville was good. No matter the side you look at. Nothing. Let’s stop wasting time pointing fingers and start spreading the saving message of Jesus Christ who is the ONLY hope for our nation. He is the only one that can heal our human nature. He is the only one that can break apart the ideologies that promote any race because we are all God’s creation. No race is better or more important than another because we are all one in Jesus Christ. Love and truth are the remedies to our sickness. And that love and truth can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus went to the cross out of love for all of those neo-Nazis. He went to the cross for every slave owner in world history. He went to the cross for Donald Trump. He went to the cross for you. He went to the cross for me. He went to the cross for the Black lives matter protesters. Alt-right or Alt-left, Jesus died for all them both. Marches don’t heal us. Protests don’t heal us. The media can’t heal us. Presidents can’t heal us. Only Jesus can do that. Only coming to the cross of Christ with our brokenness can heal us.

We have the words of healing and of hope. Let’s go spread the message!

Love and peace to you brothers and sisters.

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Anti-Trump Protesters Are Making Him Look a Whole Lot Better

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I’ll keep this short and to the point. No matter the words that Trump spoke during his campaign that made him out to be a divisive and crude candidate, those words are now being overshadowed but an angry hate-filled mob. Perhaps one of the best things that could’ve happened to help his image was to have many of those who don’t support him and the election put on a vulgar display as many of them have done since Election Day. Don’t get me wrong, the only thing that will completely erase his shady past will be if his actions now as a President, husband, and father reflect a humble and repentant heart with a desire to serve the best interests of this nation.

His opponents say that he will tear this nation apart. So what do many of them do? They lead march after march and paint their foreheads with labels like, “not my president” and smash windows and vandalize buildings. All of these protests serve one purpose: they breed division. They’ve even gone so far as to call upon our electoral college to ignore the popular votes on their states. Are you kidding me? I am not a fan of Trump’s character which is the biggest reason I didn’t vote for him,  but every bit of hate speech spoken by his opponents makes them look a whole lot worse. Some people continue to say how much they fear they have with a Trump presidency yet it’s been Trump supporters who have been beaten on the streets.

This post is by no means meant to prop up Donald Trump or make him out to be a stand-up guy. Only time will reveal his current character and ability to be our President. But I would just plead with my fellow countrymen who are causing controversies and division, striking fear, and spreading vile speech on social media and in the streets to stop and take a good long look at what they are doing and saying. They say they want a nation of inclusion and peace yet they are doing things to create the exact opposite atmosphere. I am a huge fan and advocate for the democratic process and free speech but the Anti-Trump movement has been the epitome of hypocrisy. Want inclusion? Be inclusive. Want peace and unity in our nation? Be unified. Fear an administration that is discriminatory? Don’t discriminate. After all, its not our president who sets the cultural and ethical patterns of society; It’s society itself.

Let’s be the example of love, unity, peace, kindness, and goodness that we want to see in our leadership.

No Shocker Here!

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I’m going to take a break from my usual posts and address…you guessed it…the elections. Before you click off this post (because you are so sick of election stuff) just know that I am not pushing a party agenda or talking trash in any way. This is meant to calm the common rhetoric we’ve seen since Tuesday. I say it’s common because there are always protests following elections and in some cases, states try to leave the union (like Texas four years ago). So as an American Government teacher, I wanted to provide some information that may just calm some people down.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong about my predictions for election night, but I was not surprised. I’ve been telling my students for nearly two years that the national political trend predicts a Republican candidate as President. A look back through election results dating back to 1968 shows that the results from 2016 are right on schedule. No political party has dominated our government for an extended amount of time since 1968. When a party controls either branch of government for a long amount of time, that is known as a party era. One has not existed since the Democratic Era between 1932 and 1968 where Eisenhower was the only deviant from the party. Prior to that era, the Republicans controlled the Executive from 1860-1932 with only a few Democratic presidents in between.

While there have been 6 Republican presidents compared to 3 Democrats since 1968, the time difference is not so big. Republican presidents have controlled the white house for 28 years and Democrats for 20. More importantly to note, most of the time Congress, as a whole or at least one chamber,  is controlled by the opposing party so those presidents are at a political stand still for a portion of their term(s).

-1968-1976 Nixon (R) and Ford (R)

-1976-1980 Carter (D)

-1980-1992 Reagan (R) and Bush Sr. (R)

-1992-2000 Clinton (D)

-2000-2008 Bush Jr. (R)

-2008-2016 Obama (D)

-2016-? Trump (R)

A lot of factors play in to this phenomenon: One, overall our nation is fickle in their political support. Popular and political culture changes with the seasons. Two, party loyalty is stronger than ever. Those who regard themselves as Republican or Democrat truly bleed red or blue and are becoming even more polarized. Three, there is an ever growing number of independent voters whose votes are up for grabs each election. Four, there are more swing states (ones who could vote either party) since 1968 than in prior decades.

While the election results may be a surprise to some, the current power switch is nothing new. More than likely the trends will continue and no single party will run our nation for a long amount of time. Most importantly, its all over and we can move on past the bickering and mud-slinging towards unity. Love him or hate him, Trump is our president and he is probably the least partisan one this nation has ever had. Only time will tell if that is good for us or not.

I call on my Christian brothers and sisters to continue in spreading love and encouragement. No matter our leader, our mission has not changed. We are, and always will be, about our Father’s business. Let’s help to bind wounds and stand for truth. The sun will continue to rise and the seasons will come and go as they always have until that glorious day that our Savior calls us home. No matter what color people think they bleed, Jesus Christ bled and died for us and that is what matters most. We need to speak life and hope and break down political, race, and gender lines that only serve to hinder and divide us.

Pray hard and love much!

In His Presence

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Sunday October 23rd was the conclusion to the Holy Feast Calendar based on the seven Holy Feasts laid out by God in the Old Testament. Several friends and family members of mine met to honor the feast known as Tabernacles. Other names include the Feast of In-gathering, Feast of Booths, or Sukkot. A lot of people don’t spend much time investigating and studying feasts like this because it sounds to unfamiliar. In fact, I think most Christians even may skip over these when reading the old testament or read them but miss the relevance and connection to us as followers of Christ. But…they are jam packed with so much details about God’s redemptive plan for humanity and all of them point to some character attribute of Jesus Christ and His past and future work here on earth. In one of my previous blogs I introduced a little on the feasts. This post is all about the Feast of Tabernacles.

I love the feasts and Tabernacles is one of my favorite. Some of the feasts are meant to be solemn but other are meant to be full of rejoicing. Now there are obvious reasons to be joyful and full of hope with all of the Holy Feasts and in Tabernacles we are actually commanded by God to celebrate and be full of joy and thanksgiving. How awesome is that? So here is a little taste of why this feast is so cool, most of all for Christians.

The theme of the feast is in the title. The tabernacle, or dwelling, is a common symbol used for God’s presence among His creation. In Exodus, God commands Moses to build a tabernacle in the wilderness. Why? Because God wanted to dwell among the nation of Israel. Later on Solomon would build the first temple which had a similar layout as the tabernacle and served the same purpose…God’s presence among His people. Fast forward to John chapter one and we see an even greater representation of God dwelling among us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 (NIV)

The Word is obviously Jesus, who was the full embodiment of God in the flesh. Jesus is the tabernacle and the temple. The word “dwelling” in this verse is actually the same word used for “to tabernacle”. If that’s not enough to blow your mind and prove the significance of this feast for Christians, then lets keep going.

 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

As believers in Christ we too are tabernacles/temples. God no longer just appears to us in temples and tents and churches, God’s Spirit is dwelling/tabernacling in us. Those who just look at this feast from it’s old testament meaning are missing more than just one piece of the puzzle. Yes, it originally pointed to God dwelling among Israel and them living in temporary homes known as booths while on their journey to the promised land, but all of that was a foreshadowing of greater meaning later on.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)

Just as the Israelites wondered in the wilderness and dwelt in temporary homes before reaching the promised land, so too are we. The word “sojourner” means a traveler…someone passing through. You’ve seen the bumper stickers. “We are not of this world”. They come from the statement Jesus made when praying in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified. We, as Christians, are passing through this world on our way to THE promised land, which is actually our home.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…

Philippians 3:20 (NASB)

So this Feast has a past significance (the tabernacle, the temple, and Jesus coming to live on earth), a present significance (God’s Holy Spirit living in us), and also a future significance.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Revelation 21:3 (ESV)

This is what we celebrate when we celebrate the feast. We honor God’s faithfulness in the past, present, and future. We praise Him for wanting to be among us and that He has allowed us to be in His presence. This is only a taste of what this feast means of humanity. I encourage anyone in search of knowing more about God’s character and His plan to research all of these feasts. Knowing these unlocks so much of the bible and gives us so much hope that He is control. That’s something we need in these difficult days.

Is Political Correctness Truthful?

Politically Correct: agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.

Have you ever known someone that made you feel like you were walking on eggshells around them? You had to be very careful what you said because they might get offended? Have you ever felt that way living in the United States or any country for that matter?

Society in the US has moved more and more towards exclusionary speech. The list of “outlawed” speech is growing at an exponential rate. I see this probably at a faster rate being a teacher in the public school system. 

Freedom is a great thing. Wouldn’t you agree? But the problem with freedom is it gives way to hurt and offense. The same thing can be said about truth. When truth is spoken, it can potentially cut us deep or even offend our conscience. The way to remove offense, therefore, is to remove freedom and truth.

I know what some may be thinking: what truth are you talking about? Approaching it in this way is an example of the problem. I’ve written several posts that have brought this up but I feel compelled to once again. A society absent of set-foundational truth will be able to oppress its people with the ever changing cultural opinions. For example, in the United States, culture now deems it okay to choose your gender and marry people of the same gender. At other points in history, American culture has permitted slavery and segregation. For all of American history, the practice of abortion has been allowed. The reason for all of this is that the United States, and I would argue most nations throughout world history, has never been rooted in and steadfast in foundational truth. I know, a lot of people argue that this nation was founded on Biblical principles and that is what dictated decisions that our founding fathers made. If that were true, we wouldn’t have had slavery, abortions, and discrimination towards women (just to name a few) since the very beginning. Sure, there are many biblical principles that have been the basis for the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and many other American documents, but to say that our founding fathers were some sort of super Christians is ridiculous.

Our nation was founded with the same sort of problem that still plagues our nation today. It’s the practice of picking and choosing truth based on what is acceptable in society. In some ways our culture today is more in line with what the bible teaches than it was in the beginning. Women are treated far better, there is no slavery or child labor, we take better care of the poor, and there is much more opposition to abortion than there has ever been. On the flip side, we have much more misguided views on sexuality, marriage, and gender identity.

For most of the 1800’s, it would not have been politically correct to speak out against slavery, abortions, or keeping women in “their place” through defined gender roles. Today, it’s not politically correct to say that you should love the gender that God made you to be, or that marriage is only between man and woman. My point is, the concept of being politically correct is based on a counterfeit truth that is determined by the culture and society at the present time. I say it’s counterfeit because truth doesn’t change. Truth is not relative. The only truth that exists is absolute truth. The only truth that has been absolute and unchanging throughout human history is God’s truth. The only source that has ever been validated (meaning it is backed by history, fact, thousands of prophecies coming true, and science) as God’s truth is the Bible. So, by extension, when political correctness contradicts the truth in the Bible, then political correctness becomes dishonest. And because it is dishonest, it is unloving.

In today’s society, it is frowned upon to share salvation through Jesus Christ alone. It is politically incorrect to tell someone that there is one truth, one way, one source of life and hope. It is no longer acceptable to say that homosexuality is wrong even though the bible clearly presents God’s view of it. Apparently it’s wrong for schools to teach purity and abstinence before marriage although that is the heart of God expressed in the bible.

God loves people way more than any person loves other people. Out of His love He gave us His truth. I highly doubt that God is concerned with political correctness, especially because it is often a direct insult to His truth. As followers of Christ, the last thing on our mind should be political correctness. Instead, we should be people of truth. Truth doesn’t waver. Political correctness does. Our lives should display love, be filled with compassion, and point people to Jesus. We should never compromise truth in order to not offend. Jesus offended people all the time. Just read the new testament. Our mission is one of grace, never with the goal to offend but to encourage a life in relationship with Jesus. For all of us, a life with Jesus means putting ourselves in line with His truth regardless if we think we know best on how to live our lives. The fact is, we don’t and Jesus does. Jesus is not political correctness, Jesus is TRUTH, and LOVE, and LIFE. He needs to be the compass of a society, a nation, and us as individuals. Until that happens, no follower of Christ will be politically correct and political correctness will simply be untrue.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. -Ephesians 4:29

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. -Colossians 4:6

Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  -Proverbs 27:5

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  -Ephesians 4:13-15

Let all that you do be done in love.  -1 Corinthians 6:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  -John 14:6

The Giving Pledge


Have you ever heard of the Giving Pledge? I first came across it a week ago in an article about Warren Buffett giving away $2.9 Billion. If you don’t know about Mr. Buffett, he’s one of the wealthiest people in the world. I’m sure you deduced that by the figure. The entire article and the concept of the pledge hooked me. 

In simple terms, it’s the idea that the super rich would give away all or the majority of their wealth in their lifetime. Wow! I had learned of people in the past who had done similar things like Andrew Carnegie who gave away nearly all his wealth to charitable causes. He was, at one point, the wealthiest man in America and quite possibly the world. Past and present, the idea is astonishing.

I know what some may be thinking, “if I had billions of dollars I’d be fine giving it away too.” I admit I had that instinct at first too. But the question becomes, would you really? I have found that the more money and possessions one acquires in life, the more precious they become. I don’t think any of us should be too quick to assume we’d be super generous if we were billionaires. I was told once that I should not presume to think that I’d be generous if I had more, if I’m not generous with what I already have. I think there is tremendous truth in that!

I’ve caught myself praying before that God would give me more of an income so I could give more away. I had to start searching my own heart and take inventory of how I was already giving. I have known many people who said that they’d start giving once they reached “__” point of success or income in their lives. I think that is a fatal mistake that we make far too often. If only I had “__” then I’d give. That’s a thought that has plagued people for ages.

Truth be told, we don’t have to be super wealthy to give lavishly. To give a lot is not merely defined in terms of $, but also in the cost. By cost i am not speaking of money necessarily but of the risk or sacrifice on our part. In the bible, there is recorded a story of a woman who gave, not billions, but rather all she had. We find it in Luke chapter 21. We probably wouldn’t ever see a CNN headline about someone like her but Jesus commends her for giving more than anyone. She gave all she had! How many of us can say we’ve done that? Most people I know struggle with tithing 10% or making donations that would cause them to give up a few Starbucks trips that month. 

My point is, I have to let go of what I have, and I’m guessing so do the majority of people living in a society of affluence. Jesus said that we will either love and serve Him, or we will love and serve money. Another piece of good advice I heard once was, “if I’m not willing to use something I have to benefit others, than I shouldn’t have it.” Sounds bold but I believe it’s solid counsel. 

Most people who read this are probably far richer than they think. But even if they aren’t, they have much they can give. We have time, money, things, encouragement, love, truth, and hope. And we cannot afford to be stingy with any of it. 

The giving pledge Has inspired me to want to make one of my own. A pledge to give more of my life and possessions and money. A pledge to share my blessings in life with others. A pledge to give out of my abundance or out of my lack. I will probably never give billions of dollars away, but I certainly hope to give all of my life away to the glory of Christ. After all, God set the example for giving when He clothed Himself in human form and sacrificed Himself on a cross for the sins of mankind. That was the ultimate giving pledge that He had made ages ago. May it motivate us to pledge our lives to sharing His truth, His love, and His blessings to a world in need! Will you join me?

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

Gun Control does not equal violence control


Another mass shooting and the debate is as fervent as ever. Should guns be more regulated? If so, how? Not many people in America are against all forms of gun control. Well over 80% of Americans (regardless of party affiliation) in recent polls support background checks. And let’s be honest, who would ever argue that it doesn’t need to be harder for criminals to have access? However, beyond that point is where the unilateral support breaks down. Why? Simply because most people argue from a point of opinion and emotion rather than based on information and facts. Regardless, it’s the wrong debate. 

Arguing that we need to control guns to curb these mass shootings and homicides is like saying we need to regulate fast food to end obesity. The problem is not in the tool it’s in the motivations behind the problem. Remove the tool and the person will just seek out another. You need to look no further than the fact that accessibility to guns has no correlation to the level of homicides and terror attacks in a country. My point is, if people want to carry out a murder or terror attack, they will, regardless of how regulated guns are. Case in point: United Kingdom. They have had a rise in violent crimes since banning firearms. If people have an eating problem, they’ll seek to satisfy their desire regardless of availability. Same is true with murder and terrorism. If people want to kill, they will with whatever means they can come by. The United States has far less gun related crimes than many nations that don’t even allow private ownership. Also, guns aren’t even the main method of homicides in America. Bombs are illegal and that didn’t stop the Boston Marathon attacks. Hijacking planes is illegal but that didn’t stop terrorists from flying them into the trade center. 

Guns rarely get praised for the good they are used for. For example, guns are used 80 times as often in self defense to save a life than to take one. More impressive than that is that 200,000 plus women save themselves from being sexually assaulted each year by having a gun. Plus, do people think it’s coincidence that almost all mass shootings take place in gun free zones? Several ‘would be’ mass shootings have been stopped by civilians with concealed weapons.  

So why are people like our president, and so many others, ready to fire so quickly at gun regulations when tragedies occur? Because they need something to blame. But the blame is misplaced. Pointing a finger at guns means that our society doesn’t have to look deeper, under the surface at what is really going on. Regulating guns or taking them away will not control the violence in our nation or anywhere in the world. That is a fact proven by ample evidence. So if I don’t believe that guns are the problem, then what is? Here are a few ideas of what I think are leading factors in mass shootings and terror attacks. 

Problem #1- our nation embraces, and really, celebrates violence. Just look at sports, movies and other forms of entertainment like video games. It is glorified in so many ways yet we are shocked when it plays out in reality. 

Problem #2-leaders in America refuse to acknowledge the threat of radical Islam. This is not a peaceful religion. Anyone who has ever studied the Quran, Islamic history, and witnessed the last century of horrors documented in the name of Islam, would have to concede this point. There are peaceful Muslims but that does not mean they reflect true Islam. 

Problem #3-our culture has little to no reverence for the one true God as revealed in the Bible and embodied in Christ Jesus. I admit this has been a problem since the beginning of our nation. It’s just taken different forms like slavery, lack of women’s rights, abuses towards Native Americans and racial minorities, acceptance of pornography and same sex marriage, public support for abortion, etc…This problem perpetuates every problem that a society has. 

Address these problems and we may actually see some change. Continue to ignore them, and things will get worse. Unfortunately it is not just an American problem, it’s a world problem. So we as a nation can change but we are so interconnected that the world needs to change with us. We certainly could act as a beacon of light to the nations and a catalyst to revival. As followers of Christ we need to commit to prayer, to grace, to living and sharing truth, to promoting healing and hope among those around us, to loving more than we ever have, and to pointing the world towards their Savior. He is our greatest hope in these dark times in which we live. And light shines the brightest in darkness! 

God bless my brothers and sisters!