Avoiding politics is laziness

DSC_0010A growing trend are those who disdain discussions of politics. Sadly, this is why politics is caustic. I am asserting that the avoidance of politics is a major problem, for Christians as well. This mindset costs us liberty and truth. Political avoidance allows us to chuck our discernment, life of thought and even empathy in exchange for the illusion of a good life. We need to be more politically astute.

If people knew…
While attending a leadership conference in Washington DC a democrat chief of staff stated, “If the American people truly understood how things work we would not get away with all that we do.” The purpose of the conference was to educate and help people to better understand. The implication at the conference is there is an inherent system of corruption. Playing off the ignorance of people should be unsettling to us.

Politics is truly local
The complexities of getting something done is profound. The hoops to jump through at various levels of government at times is absurd. We invest too much focus on national or federal politics and not enough on state or local politics. For example, much issues people have with Common Core is actually a state vs school board issue, not a Federal take over issue. Often what frustrates educators and then parents is changes made in state capitals, not DC. Who are your state representatives? Don’t know who they are? There is a key problem.

Character matters
For civil government to work, character and morality are essential. The result of losing character is the mess we have today. For example, many are against vaccinations. Much of this comes from a distrust of various institutions and government itself. Another example is the litigious society that we live in. Much of the vitriol in politics is a result of a loss of character. This is where religion plays a critical role in the life of a society. It’s presence in the public square is essential. A secular society in inherently unstable, as is state run religion.

Justice matters
Politics is determined by those who show up. Top down approaches rarely do well. Top down is great for emergency management, but it is lousy for societal change. Again, politics is profoundly local. Much of the injustice we see stems from not showing up where it counts. Politics is a reflection of us and the reflection of injustice demonstrates out absence. Protesting is a sign of laziness where we didn’t show up. Mobs rarely lead to justice.

Liberty matters
God created man to be free. While I orient my life on the Bible as the way and truth and life, that should not be forced on anyone. In a free society there will be many and even opposing views. This also means that those from a secular viewpoint should not impose their views as well. Too many people are trying to get the government to do their bidding. This inevitably leads to tyranny, whether state religion run societies or fully secular societies. (Even secularists have their fundamentalists.)

The bottom line:
We need to be engaged in politics. A professor drilled into out heads the process: Think. Judge. Redeem. We need tor read and study issues more broadly. Judge the issues on their own merits. Finally, see if the issue should be discarded or redeemed for good. If, like many, you hate politics, remember this: We the people, we the problem. It’s time we show up, for politics at best is living at peace with our neighbors. That can only happen if you show up.

Pray for Ferguson and Pray for all

Jesus said blessed are the peace makers. For sure we need more of and to be peacemakers. Here are my thoughts on Ferguson:

1) We seriously need to wait for the facts. They don’t come as fast as a CSI episode.
2) We need to be better informed at how law enforcement operates and criminal justice system operates.
3) We need to listen better. Even after the statement was read reporters asked questions that were already answered. Social media did much the same.
4) Using a bad example to push a good point is a bad thing. ‘Yeah, but…” doesn’t help. Sometimes a bad incident is just that.
5) No doubt the jury knew of the ramifications of their decision. No doubt their choice was the harder one to make. Easy to give an indictment and pacify the mob, but is that justice if the facts do not support an indictment?

Manic Monday: hello.

I’m fascinated by recent discussions on whether or not churches should have greeting times. I’m fascinated at the awkwardness and plastic nature of it. Many are averse to such things, especially introverts.

Perhaps we need to get back to basics, shall we? Introverts only need a few good friends. But that has to start somewhere. Initial greetings are often awkward, especially those that end in marriage. (My wife thought I was completely and obnoxiously extroverted. We have two incredibly boyz now. Clearly, we got over awkward. Though, she does say I still have to work on the obnoxious extroversion.

Another basic we need to get over is community. Church is a community. As we out it at my church, we’re one happy dysfunctional family. We got issues, and that’s ok because of what Jesus did. Our mistakes are covered. One of the things we value is the individual, not just the church at home. So, we make it a point to say Hi! Hospitality doesn’t mean we change who we are. Being polite and civil means saying hi.

One last thing we need to back to. The idea that something ritual isn’t authentic is absurd. Spontaneity does not equal authenticity. I read the inside of my wedding ring each time I out it on. I pray with my boyz each night. Is that inauthentic because it’s routine, or is the authenticity of those relationships what drives the ritual? Ritual matters and it’s a beautiful language that can serve communities well.

Saying Hello! may be awkward or plastic at first. Then you get to know the person. Hello suddenly carries weight and meaning because bodily language is often unique to each person. The sudden aversion to Hello! has a flip side. Perhaps it can also be a cynical attitude based on an increasingly shallow culture for those who loath it. Or perhaps the ritual of saying hello is really the training ground for true authenticity.

So. Hello. How are you?

Politics: What I am FOR

DSCF0820Political discussions are often interesting. Too many try to avoid them, which is why we have the mess that we’re in. An informed populace is essential to a free country. Sadly, many are not informed or have not thought through things. Often people try to pigeon hole: Oh, you’re a liberal. Oh, you’re a conservative. (Hysterically, even the no labels crowd does this.) As today is voting day, here is what I am FOR:

I am for individual soul liberty.
I believe one is answerable directly to God and that no religion should be forced upon them. This means people may live according to their conscience. Galatians says that it is for freedom’s sake that Christ set us free. Freedom is no small matter. This also means that religious views and discussion have a place in the public square, especially in matters of life, liberty, justice, and privacy.

Free markets
The beauty of business is that it’s a free exchange of goods without coercion by a government. Central control, central planning, crony capitalism end up being inefficient and tyrannical. Free markets also opens up opportunity for anyone. Prices are determined by the market, not by government interference.

Rule of law
Rule of law limits tyranny. Rule of man is it ends up in tyranny. Many of the issues we struggle with today is because of rule of man either by executive order or by oligarchy of the current judicial system. Deference should be to the people, not to judicial whim or executive fiat. Both the executive and judicial branches have assumed too much authority.

Government promoting good, restraining evil
I believe the role of government is to promote good and restrain evil. This obviously requires rigorous discussion on what is good. This also means governing with the reality that evil exists. When government steps beyond this, I believe it steps beyond it’s God ordained role. I believe that higher levels of government should be limited, with deference to lower lower levels. This means a limited federal government, robust state governments and vibrant local governments.

Pro-family, pro-fathers
While exceptions exist, the rule is that things are best with healthy, intact families. Family dysfunction creates massive loads of stress and the problems associated therein. Laws, safety nets, etc should consider the nuclear family as a primary concern. Many of our safety nets undermine fatherhood. There is a direct correlation between fatherless homes and crime, poverty, etc. This also means we view children as life not as an inconvenience, including the unborn.

Conservation, compassion and responsibility
We should leave things better than what we find them. I believe that a country that has safety nets is compassionate. I also believe that compassion also means helping people achieve their personal responsibility. These ideas bring out the best in people by promoting the good that they can offer, while also restraining the evils of laziness, irresponsibility, and exploitation. Natural resources are for our good and should also be cared for. This includes people, which is society’s greatest resource.

Cautious foreign policy
Government should act with the understanding that evil exists. A robust military is essential. At the same time, intervention in other affairs should be done with caution for the reasons stated above. A more prudent course of action in foreign policy would do our country well. Both isolationism and over assertiveness is unwise.

Civility and vibrant debate
I think in all matters we can be civil. We can and should have robust debates about critical issues. The current oligarchy nature of the judicial branch, over reach by the executive branch, and the polarization by two political parties and media undercuts this ideal. We have a bigotry and civility problem in our country. We are all share the blame.

To my pastor friends!

To those who work hard at making disciples, not your own kingdom,
To those who love their sheep as the foundation to reach the lost,
To those deeply wounded by church, but hold firmly to the resurrection of Jesus,
To those who faithfully teach the Bible, not just self help tips,

Dust your boots off at night, and put them on again in morning,
Rest well, and work hard,
Rest in the grace of God and comfort of the Spirit,
And when you’re frustrated or think you can’t do it, you can!
Why? Cause Jesus rose from dead!

Happy Pastoral Appreciation Month! You can do it!

Love,
Pastor Ty

Manic Monday: Gone casual

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Let’s deal with the dinosaur in the room shall we? One issue always rampant in church circles is the matter of dress and decorum. Should one suit up? Should one go casual? Studies and other such things have been tossed to are fro for quite some time. Casualites will say Jesus rocked a toga. Formalites would say we dress up for the president.

Another interesting dinosaur is the issue of respect, but just a little bit. In an increasingly casual society there is an increasingly large respect gap emerging. Formalites will charge that such is the cost of being casual. I think not. John the Baptist rocked a massively blue collar outfit. Ah, but I’m a casualite, of course I’d say that. Hold the “smart” phone…

The issue of formality is people saw through the hypocrisy that was behind it. Yes, you LOOK like you have it together. But do you really? Yeah, thought so. The issue isn’t formal vs causal, it is respect vs disgrace. Now, that is a whole new subject. Still, as society is increasingly casual, respect is really dropping. Why? We don’t play enough. Seriously.

As respect drops and bullying goes up, and kids play video games into their thirties, what also dropped over the last few years? Recess, sandlots, and other things that can cause concussions. I remember child labor laws that would only allow me to work so many hours as a 14 year old. I remember losing my first job of mowing because I was not old enough to operate the lawn tractor I had successfully driven for months. I also remember hearing friends losing their jobs because minimum-wage went up. I remember my first pay raise being from an increase in minimum wage, not merit.

It’s not a matter of formal vs casual that breeds respect, but human decency. Treat people as less human and less capable and you’ll breed disrespect like Ebola. In times past we trusted kids to play. We figured it out. We didn’t need organize sports telling us how to conduct ourselves. We could play with guns and shoot bad guys. We learned to handle danger as one a generation would get hurt on metal jungle gyms. We were taught to respect things, earn things, achieve things. And regardless of winning or losing, our conduct of character mattered most. (We could also hit a bully without getting suspended. These said takedowns also bred respect and positive friendships for some.) We treat kids as less human and that’s gone on for over 30 years now.

Rather than play the formal vs casual game, let’s focus on character and human decency. Let your kids play. Let them take risks. Let them work. In teaching respect you’ll find their character will outshine their casualness. But learning respect is hard if we rob kids play. Play is the secret sauce of how kids learn relationship dynamics, risk taking, and pursuing dreams.

Manic Monday: Another cleaning chore

The “downside” to using fountain pens is cleaning. It takes time. It can be messy. It’s a pain when you’d rather do some,thing else. So, why bother with another chore when life is already busy and Doc says to reduce stress?

My oldest asked what the best pen was. Best discussions happen often. I’m trying to teach my Boyz that best isn’t the best question. Instead, ask what is needed and use the best tool. A hammer is not the best tool to unscrew a bolt, and a wrench makes for a lousy hammer. Ah, but what is the BEST pen?

As I’m cleaning my fountain pen, ink on my hands, water being squirted through the nut and converter to clear them out, I smiled and asked a question: What pen has the best writing experience? A fountain pen, he replied enthusiastically. Which pen is easier to use and maintain? Not the fountain pen.

The bottom line:
The best experiences in life take time and effort. They rarely, if ever, just happen. And while I have the annoyance of another chore, the best writing experience is worth it. And sometimes teachable moments happen along with it.