Who Cares if Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Lots of folks are asking that question these days, and though it is an important question (and one that I will not be answering in this post), I don’t think the question is as helpful as other people seem to think.

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Some people say yes, and these people imply that Christians are therefore under obligation to show compassion to Muslims because of their theological commonalities.  After all, aren’t Christians and Jews and Muslims all “people of the book?”  (That phrase comes from the Qu’ran.)  And, since we are all people of the book, shouldn’t Christians treat Muslims with compassion?

I do not agree with this implication.

The Problem With Saying Yes

As Mark Tooley points out in Newsweek, if you stress that Christians are obligated to show compassion to Muslims because they are theological cousins, you are inadvertently implying that Christians are not under the same obligation to show compassion to other peoples with whom they don’t have any theological commonalities.  Hindus, for example, are not “people of the book,” and yet that fact should not affect Christian treatment of Hindus (or Sikhs or Jains or Buddhists or atheist communists, etc.)

A Christian’s compassion for another does not depend on that other’s theological commitments.  Whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God is completely irrelevant to the issue of whether a Christian should show compassion towards his Muslim neighbor.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?  What if the answer is no–should that change how a Christian treats her Muslim neighbor?

Love Isn’t Conditional

Christians are not required to only love people with whom we agree (or partially agree).

Jesus, after all, told his followers to love their enemies.

 

 

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Best of 2015

The editors at www.andrewforrest.org (best blog on the internet™) have been working long hours and our fingers to the bone to get our 1st annual best-of list together.  Yes, we didn’t make it by 12/31, but it’s not too late to look back at 2015, right?

 

Best Book I Read in 2015

 

FullSizeRender 26

The Amazon description calls Kristin Lavransdatter “the turbulent historical masterpiece of Norway’s literary master.” I agree that it’s a masterpiece (though certainly an overlooked one): Sigrid Undset’s 1100 page historical novel is a book that will stay with me for years to come.  It’s about the life of the title character in 14th century medieval Norway, and I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it.  Highly recommended.

Best Movie(s) I Saw in 2015

71-film-image

[https://lisathatcher.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/71-1.jpg]

Here’s what I wrote in April about the brutal war thriller ’71:

Walking down the stairs of the theater afterwards, I realized that I’d been keeping my entire body rigid and tense throughout the movie–it’s that kind of film.  It’s really well done: terrifying, honest, brutal, and resists the urge to clean-up everything at it’s end.  Highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart.”

Thinking back on it 9 months later, I stand by that assessment.  ’71 is one of the best movies of the year.

Meanwhile, on the complete other end of the movie spectrum….

Shaun-Sheep-full_3175019b

[telegraph.co.uk]

On the complete other end of the spectrum, the British claymation film Shaun the Sheep: the Movie is also one of my favorite movies of the year.  It’s wordless, really funny, and touching and sweet as well.  Recommended.

Best Reason Not to Visit Seattle

24675-SanAndreasMovie.1200w.tn

Yes, I do know the difference between San Francisco and Seattle….

Kathryn Shultz wrote a long article in The New Yorker‘s July 20 issue called “The Really Big One,” about how the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake.  One of the memorable quotations from the piece comes from the region’s FEMA director when he says (and subsequently stands by his remarks): “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”  Her follow-up piece 8 days later addressing some FAQ’s won’t make you feel any better.

I’ll stay in Texas, thank you.

Best App

"All packed...." (The kind of pic we shared on Togethera in 2015.)

“All packed….” (The kind of pic we shared on Togethera in 2015.)

My wife and I made a decision to never share pictures of our son on social media.  However, our extended family is far-flung and lives on 3 different continents, and sharing pictures is an important way to feel closer.  Enter Togethera, a photo sharing app that allows you to create closed groups.  We’ve been using it since the summer and love it.

Best Sermon

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That’s like asking me to choose which one of my kids is the best.  The answer is obvious: I like them all, except the ugly ones.

Best Everyday Carry Accessories

I never leave the house without the following in my pants pockets:

Best State Fair

FullSizeRender 25

Too easy: The State Fair of Texas, fool!  (September 30 will be here before you know it….)

Finally: Best Hanukkah Song

I know, I know: with so many to choose from, how do you narrow it down to just one?  But, this year’s winner (which, being held hostage by our house’s resident kindergartner, we played on repeat in our household 1,000 times in the month of December) is Jewish reggae rapper Matisyahu’s 2012 single “Happy Hanukkah.” The video ain’t my favorite, but I defy you not to be happy with the audio turned way up.

My favorite part is the “Lion of Juuuuudah” part of the refrain.

Auld Lang Syne

2015 was a great year; here’s to an ever better 2016.

 

 

 

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The Most Important 236 Words You’ll Ever Read

The following 236 words are among the most insightful, prescient, and terrifying words I have ever read.

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good–” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905

This is the culture in which we now live.

 

 

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What I Read

What do you read on a regular basis?  We are what we eat, and that includes the words we consume.  Today’s post (part 3 of a 3 part series) is about the magazine, journals, and books that make up my media diet.

Print Subscriptions

In addition to The Dallas Morning News (mentioned in part 1), I subscribe to the print editions of the following periodicals:

  • First Thingsa magazine founded by the late Father Richard John Neuhaus that, while including Protestant writers as well, tends to come at things from a conservative Roman Catholic perspective.  First Things is hit or miss for me: some of the long essays are just first-rate, while others are either over my head or boring.
  • The Atlantic, a magazine that I’ve been reading since I was in middle school and that used to be much better than it is.  (I guess I subscribe out of loyalty.)  In the 90s and early 2000s when Cullen Murphy and then Michael Kelly (who was killed in Iraq in 2003) were editors and William Langesweiche and James Fallows were writing frequent longform pieces for the magazine and Benjamin Schwartz (especially Benjamin Schwartz!) was editing the Books section, The Atlantic was one of my favorite magazines.  I’d receive a copy in the mail and read the whole thing, almost in one sitting.  In recent years, though, The Atlantic (founded in 1857!)  has seemed to me to foolishly chasing “relevance” and adopting the perspective of the sort of 25 year-old secular graduate student in the humanities who gets his wisdom from The Daily Show.  (This is not a perspective I share, if you couldn’t figure that out.)  Although The Atlantic published some great longform pieces from time to time, I get each new copy of the magazine out of the mailbox with much less enthusiasm than I did 20 years ago.
  • Outsidea glossy adventure magazine.  I wish Outside devoted more space to book reviews, as I’ve ready some really excellent novels the past couple of years that I first read about in Outside, e.g., The Dog Stars and The Abominable.
  • Texas Monthly, which has enough ads to fill JerryWorld™, but also includes in each issue something I find worth reading about my adopted home state.
  • Plougha small Christian journal that, while ecumenical, draws on the Anabaptist tradition.
  • Books and Culturea newspaperish magazine that covers, from an evangelical perspective, exactly what the title suggests.  Like First ThingsBooks and Culture is hit or miss for me, but I recently resubscribed because I really believe in its mission.
  • The American Conservative, a magazine that I discovered from reading Rod Dreher’s blog.  I don’t know of any other place online or in print that is similar to TAC: small c conservative, isolationist, contrarian, and realist.  (I was pleased when Benjamin Schwartz, whose work at The Atlantic I referenced above, joined TAC last year as national editor.)  For a good example of the kind of stuff TAC covers that no one else does, see this piece from April on suburban sprawl and walkable cities called “Cities for People–or Cars?”.

The Dallas Public Library

Where would I be without a good public library?  Well, I’d have a lot more shelf space, that’s for sure.  Here is my current library shelf in my home office:

FullSizeRender 10

Don’t be impressed–I have a habit of hearing about a book, placing it on hold at the library, and then stockpiling a bunch of great books I haven’t yet and probably won’t ever read.

And Most Importantly, Real Books!

I love reading, and I love reading physical books.  I have aKindle and I use the Kindle app for iPhone; I like the way I can quickly annotate an ebook.  But, despite the convenience of the ebook, I still think the regular old book is a pretty great form of technology, and reading a good book can quiet my mind better than just about anything else.

I read books on theology and leadership for my job, but what I really like reading are books on history and especially long novels.  I try to vary up the books I read: something on one topic, and then something completely different.  (As an example of something really different, I read a very long novel this summer, completely unlike anything else I’ve read in years: Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset’s 1100 page masterpiece about a woman living in 14th century Norway, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.)

In Conclusion: I Need to Make Some Changes

As I’ve been thinking about my media diet these past few weeks, I’ve once again been confronted with the fact that I fritter away too much of my time on unimportant online content that cuts into my time and ability to read books that matter.

My goal is to read 40 books this year, which would be more than I’ve managed in the previous 2 years.  My current total: 29.

Maybe I need to stop watching so much Arrested Development.

 

 

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The 2 Skills Every Man Needs

When I was a boy, I thought that grown men men knew about the world; I thought that grown men weren’t afraid of anything.  But now that I’m a grown man myself and now that I know lots of other men, I’ve come to realize that most grown men are just as insecure, feel just as inadequate, and are just as fearful as they were when they were boys, but that now, as grown men, they have more power, more responsibility, and more potential to hurt others.  Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t teach men the skills we need to thrive as men; there are 2 skills in particular that I believe every man needs to know.

Every Man Needs to Know How to Pray

Men don’t know how to pray.  I talk to guys all the time who feel completely inadequate when it comes to prayer.  Prayer makes the man.  To be a man of confidence, peace, and inner strength, you need to be a man of prayer.

I talked at length about prayer here, but I believe there is one thing any man can do immediately to become better at prayer:

To become better at prayer, you need to be specific.

  • Be specific in your time and place for prayer.  Pick a favorite arm chair, or your kitchen table, or your front porch, and pray there every morning.
  • Be specific in your prayer requests.  Lots of men are afraid of really asking the Lord for specifics, but this is a misplaced fear.  God desires our specific prayers.  “If you want a brown hat, don’t just pray for a hat.”  I keep an index card in my Bible with specific prayer requests on it.  Pray for a specific meeting at work, or a specific issue with a child, or a specific fear or worry.  (It’s also powerful to be specific in your prayers of gratitude.)

Learning to pray can do more to change how a man sees and engages the world than anything else.

Every Man Needs to Know How to Apologize

Do you know how to repair relationships that you’ve damaged?  Many men, not knowing how to apologize, do one of the following:

  • they either walk away when relationships become injured; or
  • they ignore the problem, hoping that it will somehow get better.

Neither tactic works.  And we wonder why so many men are so lonely.  If you don’t learn how to apologize, you’ll live with failed relationships, and over time you’ll see marriages and friendships wither.  A failure to apologize is one of the primary ways I’ve seen men fail at relationships.

There are 3 parts to a good apology.

  1. Make eye contact.  If possible, an apology should be done in person.  Apologizing over the phone is a distant second.  In my opinion, a man should never apologize in email or over text.
  2. Take complete responsibility.  Say, “I did [X] and it was wrong.”  Never ever make an excuse when apologizing.
  3. Say, “I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

Learning to apologize and repair a relationship will change a man’s life for the better.

Here’s the Good News

Praying and apologizing are skills that a man can learn.  Like riding a bike, they don’t come naturally to us, but we can learn to get better.  And, like riding a bike, you have to start somewhere, and when you fall down, you get back on and have another try.

 

 

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My A/V Media Diet

What do you watch and listen to on a regular basis?  We are what we eat, and that goes for the information we consume.  Today’s post (part 2 of a 3 part series) is about the sources that make up my Audio/Visual  media diet.

Audio Subscriptions

I have been a devoted listener and subscriber to The Mars Hill Audio Journal since 2003.  Ken Myers, from Charlottesville, VA, has created an audio journal that is exactly opposite everything our popular culture embraces: his interviews are long, unconcerned with the latest and loudest, and deeply concerned with the deep questions that humans have been asking for millennia.

The name of the Journal comes from Acts 17, where the Apostle Paul goes to Mars Hill in Athens and interacts with the pagan philosophers on their own terms.

Podcasts

  • The Eric Metaxas Showwhich features Eric Metaxas and his wide variety of guests;
  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast;
  • Munger Place Audio Podcast: though it’s painful for me to listen to my own sermons, I still do so from time to time because I know that hearing myself helps me become a better preacher;
  • Fresh Air: Half the time I’m either completely uninterested in Terry Gross’s interviews or else in complete disagreement with her perspective, and the other half of the time I’m captivated by the long-form interviews featured on Fresh Air;
  • In Our Time, a long-running radio show on the BBC hosted by Melvyn Bragg, who interviews British academics to talk in detail about history, science, etc.
  • This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt.  I liked the earlier version of this podcast better than the current episodes, but from time to time I still benefit from Michael Hyatt’s insights on productivity and leadership.

Television

I don’t watch much television these days and we don’t have cable.  When I do watch TV, it’s mainly with my family and mainly on Sundays: NFL football, 60 Minutes, and America’s Funniest Videos.  As a family, we also watched American Ninja Warrior on Mondays this summer.

I’ve watched every episode of Arrested Development multiple times (via Netflix and Hulu), and, until Netflix took it off the air, would also rewatch Fawlty Towers.  (This watching of the same shows over and over again drives my wife crazy.)

Social Media

I reluctantly use Facebook for my job because it helps me stay connected with people in my congregation, and it helps me remember names.  On the other hand, I’ve been an enthusiastic user of Twitter: I like the ways it allows me to follow lots of really interesting people.

However, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, in early summer 2015 I deleted both the Facebook and Twitter apps from my iPhone and I haven’t looked back.  I still use Facebook from time to time, but I’ve essentially not read anything on Twitter for over 3 months.

Audiobooks

I love audiobooks, and in the last year have been using the Overdrive app from the Dallas Public Library, which allows you to check out audiobooks from your local public library.  (I have to be honest, though, and tell you that I miss books on tape.  Those were the days.)

Coming in Part 3

The final installment in this series will run next Monday and will be about I subscribe to and read in print: books, magazines, journals, etc.  (Click here to read part 1, about my online media diet.)  The above was what I listen to and watch on a regular basis.

What about you?  What sources make up your A/V media diet?

 

 

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My Daily Media Diet

What are the books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and newsletters that make up your media diet?  You are what you eat, and that includes the information you consume.  Today’s post is about what I read daily as part of my media diet (part 1 of a 3 part series).

What Is a “Media Diet?”

“Media diet” is a phrase I came across several years ago in a web series by The Atlantic.  A reporter would interview public figures about how they stayed informed and what they regularly read and watched and make a simple post out of it.  (I still remember Malcolm Gladwell‘s comment about his daily reading habits: “Since my brain really only works in the morning, I try to keep that time free for writing and thinking and don’t read any media at all until lunchtime.”  I totally identify….)

In part 1 of this series (parts 2 and 3 coming on the next two Mondays) about my media diet, I’ll focus on what I read daily (or at least regularly).

What I Do First Thing in the Morning

I’ve written before about the importance of the First 15, i,e., spending at least the first 15 minutes of your day in prayer, scripture, and silence.  So, I’ve been getting up really early recently in order to have an unhurried time of prayer first thing, before I workout.

Currently this is what I use in my prayer time:

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Breakfast: The Dallas Morning News and NPR

After working out and while eating breakfast and getting ready:

  • I get the print version of The Dallas Morning News delivered at home, and read it every morning (except Sundays, when I don’t get to it until late afternoon, if at all).  I have come to really like The DMN and get more locally-focused and sports news from it than anywhere else.
  • I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition radio program most mornings.

Blogs: Rod Dreher (and Not Much Else)

I used to read Andrew Sullivan’s blog almost every day.  Now that he has stopped blogging, almost the only blogger I read regularly is Rod Dreher.  Rod Dreher is a fascinating and unique writer: a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy living in his native rural South Louisiana who writes about culture from a social conservative point of view.

One of the topics Rod Dreher writes about that I find most intriguing and persuasive is the so-called “Benedict Option”: the idea that Christians in the West today may need to follow the 5th century example of St. Benedict and spend less time participating in politics and the culture wars and more time deliberately cultivating the practices that will “thicken” our faith and deepen our witness.  Here is a post from Rod’s blog in July that summarizes his thoughts on the Benedict Option.

Websites I Read Almost Daily

  • I read The New Yorker almost every day.  I like the short form pieces from folks like John Cassidy and Amy Davidson, but I really prefer The New Yorker for its long-form essays like this one about Northern Ireland that I wrote about in April.
  • I also browse The Atlantic‘s website regularly, though I believe that The Atlantic is a much worse magazine since it expanded its online footprint.  Many of the online articles seem to be merely a slightly (sometimes very slightly) more serious version of the kind of thing that I suppose you find on Buzzfeed or The Huffington Post, and I do not mean that as a compliment.  The Atlantic these days seems to feature quick-reaction pieces on hot-button topics that lack nuance and wisdom.  (I’ll say more about my complaints with The Atlantic in part 3 of this series.)
  • I browse the Yahoo! main site and scroll through the headlines, particularly about sports and politics.
  • I check out the BBC Sport’s soccer page almost daily.

Online Newsletters and Other Sites

  • I read movie reviews on Plugged In every few weeks or so.  I’m interested in movies, but I like reading reviews from a conservative Christian perspective (a perspective you don’t get from mainstream reviewers).  I rarely have time to see movies in the theater anymore, so I find myself reading many more reviews of movies than actually seeing movies.
  • I’ve recently discovered Book Notesa free newsletter from Byron Borger, owner of Hearts and Minds bookstore in central Pennsylvania.  Through Book Notes, I’ve stumbled across books that I would never have heard of elsewhere–it’s a great resources.
  • I read articles and watch videos the videos on the CrossFit main site several times a week.

Coming in Parts 2 and 3….

Parts 2 and 3 will be about what I regularly listen to and watch and read in print.  The above is what I read online on a  regular basis.  What about you?  What makes up your daily media diet?

 

 

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5 Reasons to Love the State Fair of Texas

The 2015 State Fair of Texas opens today and I am fired up!  I look forward to seeing Big Tex each fall and each year he doesn’t disappoint.  Here are 5 reasons to love the State Fair of Texas.

(Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

(Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

Everybody’s There and Everybody’s Happy

The State Fair is one of the few places in Dallas where everybody comes together: rich folks, poor folks, city slickers, small town farmers; black folks, white folks, hispanic folks; folks from Highland Park and folks from Fair Park: everybody is at the State Fair.  And, everybody is happy to be there.

If there is a better place to people watch, I haven’t found it.

 

The Food is all Fried

(http://antoniorambles.com)

(http://antoniorambles.com)

Fletcher’s corny dogs, fried Thanksgiving dinner, even fried beer.

At the State Fair, all the food groups are covered…in batter.

 

The Car Show is Texas-Sized

(bigtex.com)

(bigtex.com)

I love browsing the 2 huge car pavilions.  It’s fun to sit in the drivers seats and pop the trunks of dozens of cars that I would never ever consider buying.  (Although, be warned: I’ve actually bought two cars over the years after first sitting in them at the Fair’s Auto Show.)

 

The Demonstrations are Mesmerizing

(bigtex.com)

(bigtex.com)

In several of the exhibit halls, informercial pros demonstrate knives and blenders and shower heads and mops and vacuums and ladders.  These guys are good.  I mean, can your blender make a soup?

 

The Farm Children are Inspiring

15-Livestock-025

(Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)

It does my heart good to see the little boys from Texas farms tend their donkeys and cows and pigs and goats and sheep.  Little boys with blue jeans and flannel shirts and cowboy hats who look exactly like their tall fathers beside them.  I’m glad that world still exists and seeing those farm families makes me proud to be an American.  Really.

 

What About You?

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Dallas, you should plan a visit during the Texas State Fair, which runs for 3 weeks every September and October.  The weather will be gorgeous and the whole experience is can’t miss.

If you do visit, Big Tex and I will be waiting for you.

Jesus is Not Running For President

Hypocrisy.  “Hypocrisy” is the first complaint many people make against Christians.  And you know what? They’re right: we are hypocrites.  Especially when it comes to politics.

Politics First, Faith Second

I’ve noticed that many American Christians are shaped more profoundly by the political views of our respective tribes—liberal, conservative, etc.—than we are by the Jesus we claim to follow. Recent polling of American Catholic views of Pope Francis are a good example of this tendency:

  • Conservative Roman Catholics are in approval of the Pope’s views on same-sex marriage and abortion (he’s opposed to both) but they disapprove of his remarks on climate change and his critique of unfettered capitalism.
  • Liberal Roman Catholics are the exact opposite.

I am not in any way implying that the Pope speaks for Jesus, nor that all Christians ought to think the same way as Pope Francis. My point is simply that it is troubling that American Catholic views of Pope Francis break down along partisan lines.

And it’s not only Roman Catholics who do this: Protestants like me do the same thing as well. And this tendency to put politics first and faith second is extremely problematic.

Jesus is Lord, Not Caesar

“Jesus is Lord, and not Caesar.” For 2,000 years, Christians have made the claim that the ultimate authority is not whoever holds temporal political power, but that Jesus Christ is rightful Lord of the universe. Jesus is Lord, which means his place is first, and I (and everything else) am second.  But when people who claim to follow Jesus take their identities from the Democratic or Republican parties first and from Jesus second, we are effectively saying, “Caesar is more important than Jesus.” We are saying our first allegiance is to our political tribe and we are only paying lip service to our Lord. Our tendency is to justify our political views with our faith, rather than beginning with our faith and then trying to work out our politics. In other words, we are hypocrites.

No, It’s Not Wrong to Vote Red or Blue

I am not saying that if we all just followed the Bible then we would know exactly how to vote. I’m not that naïve. The Bible is not always easy to interpret or understand, and even if it were, this world is complicated and imperfect, so policy decisions are always going to require choices between lesser and greater evils and actions without certainty of outcomes. Life is complicated, and because of this, some Christians will believe that they can be more faithful Christians in the public square as Republicans and some will believe they can be more faithful followers of Jesus as Democrats, etc. It’s not wrong to take a political position on this or that issue.

What is wrong is to be a Republican or a Democrat first, and a follower of Jesus second. If you believe everything in your respective party’s platform is 100% in line with the teachings of Jesus, you have a problem. It should be obvious that Democratic or Republican policies are uncertain attempts to work in a messy world—they are not gospel, and we should not confuse them as such.

A Quick Self-Assessment

How do you know what you believe? If you are a Christian, do you believe what you believe because you have deeply wrestled in prayer and searched the scriptures over this or that issue, or do you believe what you believe because everyone in your political tribe thinks this way?

So, with regard to the topics below, we need to ask ourselves, “Why do we believe what we believe?”

  • Same-sex marriage
  • Guns
  • War
  • Torture
  • Drone attacks
  • Immigration
  • The Planned Parenthood videos
  • The Death Penalty
  • Welfare policies

Jesus is Not Running For President

We are going to have to pick a president next year, and that president will not be perfect. Christians will disagree over which man or woman running is best equipped to lead our country. That is okay. What is not okay is for me to transfer my ultimate allegiance to my political tribe. Jesus is not running for president, and political parties and partisan positions shouldn’t be worshipped. Don’t make the mistake of putting second things in the place of what ought to be First.  That’s called idolatry, and it never works out very well.

Just ask the builders of Babel.

 

 

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The Real Root of Our Dissatisfaction

“It’s no wonder we often find ourselves looking for satisfaction in all the wrong ways.  You and I are deluged from every side by advertising designed to foster dissatisfaction with our current lives.  From what I’ve seen on television, my life would be much more satisfying if I were to eat Special K for breakfast, buy my car insurance form GEICO, and wear a Breitling watch.  No one is impervious to advertising’s influence….

The real root of our dissatisfaction goes deeper than our response to the blitz of media advertising.  It resides somewhere deep in our souls and traces its origins all the way back to Eden.  The serpent’s question to Eve strikes home in all of our hearts: ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’

Before this, Eve had delighted in God’s provision, but now she wants more.  She decides that the only fruit that will satisfy her hangs from the branches of the one tree God forbade her to eat from.  But upon partaking of the fruit, she finds–as we all have–that living outside of God’s boundaries and provision leads to fatal dissatisfaction.  Once humanity crossed the threshold into a broken relationship with God, we’ve been dissatisfied ever since.”

from Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, by Bill Hybels (pp. 256-257)