Tag: politics

Love your neighbor

IMG_3241Jesus did a plain summary of the Torah: Love God, love your neighbor. The amazing thing about the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, is how many levels it works on. Too often we regulate the Bible as merely a theological book and fail to realize it is so much more. Loving your neighbor is a massive part of the Bible and covers and area we do not like to discuss: how do we live with our neighbors?

Defining the good life
The Bible quite clearly demonstrates that the good life is one that pursues God in a simple quietness. The issue of quietness meaning peace. It is not the pursuit of wealth, prestige, or achievement. Worship of God, hard work, and the companionship of good neighbors go quite well together. The later part, companionship of good neighbors, goes by a different word historically: Politics.

Ignorance breeds injustice
It was said that the only thing evil needs to succeed is for good men to be silent. While true, another key aspect is needed: wisdom. All that is needed for evil to succeed is abandonment of wisdom. In Ephesians 5 wisdom is the keystone to being spirit filled. To quote a chief of staff of a democrat senator: “If people knew how the government is supposed to operate, we would all be fired. Both parties.” His statement is quite correct. People dislike politics so they remain ignorant. This breeds injustice.

Avoiding conflict brings disruption
Avoiding conflict is a sure way to bring on huge conflict. Today people cannot believe the turmoil in the election process. This is a result of being ignorant and avoiding conflict. We then shut out other voices, do not engage, and then we avoid politics because of the mess that it is in… from our avoiding it. We the people, we the problem. And, the funny thing is, by avoiding it, you’re actually not loving your neighbor.

Better your city not your party
One of the ways the Old Testament unpack loving your neighbor is instructions on how to live in captivity. During the exile God tells Judah in the book of Jeremiah to build houses, marry off their children, and work for the betterment of their city. You can engage in politics- loving your neighbor- without having to deal with the party system. On a national level politics is a mess, but on a local level it does not have to be. On a local level politics is all about living with your neighbors and the betterment of your city.

Responsibility constrains freedom
The constraint of freedom is human responsibility. This is the difference between the tyranny of anarchy, or the tyranny centralized government. Either extreme gets born out of selfishness. For freedom to work we cannot be about ourselves. We must also be diligent in loving our neighbor. This involves engagement, humility, and responsibility. It is to work not merely for ourselves, but also our city. When we say “there ought to be a law that…” we fail in loving our neighbor. Rather than engaging the issue responsibly, we desire to create a higher power to deal with it… so we don’t have to. The process of peacemaking is a much more loving way to deal with situations.

The bottom line:
Jesus, God, the Bible says we need to love our neighbor. This is more than just kind actions of individuals, but also how we live in community. By avoiding politics, we actually fail to live up to the standard Jesus set. Politics, for the Christian, should not be about party but rather the betterment of their city. To do good, and not evil.

Do kids really matter?

12000854_10207475688481539_6145221748530090797_oIt may seem odd to raise this question, but it’s one I think needs to be raised. We often say “Of course kids matter!” Though I wonder if our actions line up with that. For my boyz, today is the first day of school. With the coming of the first day of school I see many parent’s excited that the kids are gone, others who don’t care, and a minority who prefer our kids at home, but are not able to do that. The first day leaves me with an uneasy feeling.

Kids aren’t pets
Throughout my years working with kids I see a sad and growing trend. If a kid is not causing trouble or being too annoying, they’re essentially left alone. Kids aren’t pets. They take work. Painstaking, drive you up the wall at times, work. As parents we are either intentionally engaged or we’re in trouble and don’t know it. I honestly think it is that clear of a binary. Kids need us to be intentionally engaged in their lives. Too often we as parents approach teachers as a hairdresser for our poodle who can do no wrong. Let us be honest, your kids nor mine are perfect.

Teachers aren’t parents
A teacher’s job is to educate our kids. Our job is to parent them. In the realm of education I see two frustrated groups: parents and teachers. What I find interesting is how much agreement there often is on the frustrations, yet they exist. Both are frustrated with the system. One party has the power to change it. That’s right, we as parents. We expect things of teachers that kids really need from us as parents, and we often question a teachers ability, when they actually agree with us on things. Teachers are professionals and they’re good and bad teachers. Growing are tapped out and apathetic teachers because…

Politicians aren’t teachers
The goal of education is the reach in retrospect the goalposts constantly changing before them. Honestly, sometimes our kids getting an education is by chance of a skilled teacher educating despite the system. We’re all affright about the status of education, and so politicians jump in to regulate. Here is an idea: why not let teachers do the job they’re trained for? Politicians are not trained educators. We would think it crazy for state legislatures to dictate how a football team should operate and play the game. Yet, we do that with teachers all the time. Why?

Empty chairs aren’t helpful
There are too many empty chairs that should be occupied by parents. Sadly, the parents who often show up are not always the ones who need to. Showing up matters. If more of us parents were informed about how things work, things would be different and better for our kids. This would make it better for teachers. We’d likelier be on the same team. Teachers may even start enjoying the job that they love again. I too often see and hear about empty chairs at parent meetings,teacher conferences, workshops, etc.

The bottom line:
Parents, we are the key. This year and the coming election cycle, can we change the discussion on education? If kids really do matter, then let us ask our politicians, ESPECIALLY state legislators, how they can get out of teacher’s way and let them do their job. If kids really do matter, let us fill those empty chairs and realize teachers are neighbors with us and not a commodity for us. We say kids really matter, then let us act on it. After all, we can.

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.

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.