The Great American Love Affair: Part 1

This post is appearing on “the green room” which is a blog by the students and alumni of Eternity Bible College. These are my opinions and in no way does what I write in this series exclusively express the positions of Eternity Bible College’s students, staff or alumni. The hope is that if there is disagreement, that we could do what Christians ought to do and dialogue in a healthy, scripturally based manner. 

This series, The Great American Love Affair comes from a current Eternity student, Stephen McMahon.

Jesus is our King, our Lord and he demands complete allegiance from every part of our lives. Daily refinement is necessary to grow in His image. We all need to take a step back to consider where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Even though we have been extremely blessed, the American Church is no different.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Continue reading

The New Year Jitters

It’s the time of the year when we embark on a cerebral journey into our previous 365 days. Thoughts ensue like “What did I accomplish last year?” and “Am I happy with what I’m doing in life?” This process has the ability to motivate us toward the reset button annually. We itch for something new and exciting. Set exorbitantly lofty goals. And of course, scroll our Instagram page to see if our life looks successful.

As we approach the new year we need to keep 3 points in our back pocket.

1. Don’t be anxious

As we analyze ourselves and wonder what we’re missing, we scramble to find new classes, adventures, flight tickets, hobbies, gear, etc. that we believe will add interest to our lives. We become anxious in taking urgent steps to validate our lives as what they are “supposed” to look like. But is that true at all?

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25

From the perspective of the Giver of true, abundant life – the ideal life is not found in those additions that we stress over desperately needing. Additions are not harmful or pointless to your life but when we are anxious for them to fulfill our lives then we are trading the truth of the abundant life for a lie in things, wanderlust, trends, fads and stuff. The truth is –

seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

2. Do be content

Along with the hustle and bustle of being anxious for new desires and ideas to fill our flaws, discontentment arrives. With the year’s expiration date rapidly approaching, we assume that we must launch into more important things so that we may be more significant. This may not be true of all people, but for many of us it really is. We become urgent in seeking treasure and purpose in our lives when seeking the kingdom first leads to those very outcomes. The Apostle Paul, a man who experienced the spectrum from living in blistering cold to bountiful comfort pens his perspective on contentment this way: 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

Perhaps this year we must discover what it means to live in a new definition of contentment. For we could be exactly where we need to be for now.

26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Acts 17:26-27

3. Initiate

It all funnels into this: if we are seeking the kingdom first while pleased with our current circumstance then there is an opportunity to bloom where we have been planted. We ought to initiate bringing fruit to our situation in every way – benevolence, generosity, hospitality, community, marriage, friendships, ministries, day job, career, education. All of it.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23

If we are to live this out, there is no time for stressing over what could be or where we could be. There is here and now and there is diligent work to be carried out for the kingdom. Opportunities can and will follow. But why not cause action to begin by initiating in the areas you have available.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

As we turn the page to 2017, do not be crippled by anxiety or paralyzed by discontentment. Manifest the love, care and compassion that pursued you where you are now.

Christian Voting Part 5: Trump won. I’m White. Now what?

About a month ago I wrote a 4-part series on Christian voting. Although I never intended to write a “part 5” after the election (no matter who won), some friends have asked for my thoughts so I will give them here. As with all my blogs, my content is directed towards Christians. My “calls to action” don’t really have a particular political agenda, they have a Kingdom agenda. Many Christians have already written about our need to submit to the governing authorities. I will post some helpful links at the end but in this blog; I hope to address something I don’t see many folks talking about.

As I stated before, this post is appearing on “the green room” which is a blog by the students and alumni of Eternity Bible College. These are my opinions and in no way does what I write in this series exclusively express the positions of Eternity Bible College’s students, staff or alumni. My hope is that if students, staff or alumni disagree with me, we could do what Christians ought to do, to dialogue in a healthy, scripturally based manner. Continue reading

Hacksaw Ridge: An Introduction Without a Finale

As someone with a rich Anabaptist heritage, the story behind director Mel Gibson’s recent film, Hacksaw Ridge, greatly intrigued me. Hacksaw Ridge is the story of Desmond Doss, a WWII veteran that participated in the action in Okinawa in the Pacific theater of war, 1945. What set Doss apart was his unbreakable affinity to nonviolence as a Seventh-Day Adventist. The film portrays Doss’ participation as a combat medic at Okinawa which earned him the first Medal of Honor award ever given to a conscientious objector.

For all his concentration on nonviolence, something which I believe is wholly biblical, Gibson spends an incredible amount of time crafting nauseatingly pornographic scenes of violence. In effect, he ennobles what he seeks to protest. But perhaps this was Gibson’s point. It’s only in the truly macabre display of bloodshed that Doss’ nonviolence is given a piercing contrast.

While there’s much good to affirm in Gibson’s portrayal of Doss’ Christian beliefs, the final result falls short of a truly nonviolent message. Doss’ convictions stem from a fascination with the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13), a passage only understood in the context of Gen. 1:26-27. At one point, Doss does allude to Matt. 5:21-26, implying a rudimentary understanding of the New Covenant. But unfortunately, Jesus as the slain Lamb of God who conquered by being conquered is seemingly absent from Doss’ worldview, leaving Gibson’s message caged in the Old Testament devoid of the power of the resurrection—victory in defeat. Gibson’s film, while poignant, is grossly incomplete.

For The Win.

Christ Our Advocate

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1

Thank you Lord that the Tribe’s pitching is rolling right now! . . . But when pitching doesn’t go so right, the man in the middle must exit the mound so the relief pitcher can be brought in to save the game. Seven or eight innings in, when the starter has given everything he’s got (and sometimes all he’s got is junk), the errors have been made, and runs have been handed out like dollar dogs, he must hand the work over to the advocate. The relief. The guy who steps in and saves. Continue reading

Christian Voting Part 4: My Dirty Little Secret

In my previous three blogs, I explored: my disagreement with the “lesser of two evils” debate, what it means to “seek the good/welfare of the city,” and asked the question, “who will suffer and does it matter?” In this last post, I want to take a short time to explore the lie that “my political choice is between me, God, and no one else!”

As I stated before, this post is appearing on “The Green Room” which is a blog by the students and alumni of Eternity Bible College. These are my opinions and in no way does what I write in this series exclusively express the positions of Eternity Bible College’s students, staff or alumni. My hope is that if students, staff or alumni disagree with me, we could do what Christians out to do, to dialogue in a healthy, scripturally based manner.

Recently I read an article in the “Coalición por el Evangelio” (The Gospel Coalition, Spanish version) which walked through some reasons why the author, as a Chilean-American struggled with his choices in this year’s election. At the end of his article, he wrote something to the tune of, “who you vote for is ultimately between you and God.” His statement seems to be reflective of a lot of articles I’ve read in these last few months. I’ve heard/read people vehemently argue for their candidate with implications that it is our Christian duty to vote for said candidate but they always close with the classic, “but who you vote for is between you and God.”

ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! One of the unfortunate effects of individualism in the Western Church is that we’ve forgotten that we have been saved into a people, a covenant community; we form part of the family of God.

Now, because there is no such thing as the “perfect Christian candidate” I understand the idea that in this election (or any for that matter) there isn’t a “Christian vote” and a “non-Christian” vote and therefore every vote will vary, Christian to Christian. I don’t have time or space to do a proper study for you, but an overwhelming majority (I want to say over 75%) of the commands given in Scripture are given corporately, to a group of people. The entire Old Testament, as well as every book in the New Testament with the exceptions of Luke-Acts, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, are specifically written to a group of people, not to an individual!

Here’s why this matters: the data demands that the Christian life is not meant to, nor possible to live alone. Have you ever tried to “one another” yourself? You can’t, it is literally impossible! The overarching concept of what means to live as a Christian is that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah; translation, Jesus is King over every aspect of your life, including politics.

Before I started writing this blog series, I would have imagined Christians would generally agree that Jesus is King over our lives and the truths of the Gospel ought to permeate every aspect of who we are, not just our “Sunday morning” life – sadly my interactions with folks has brought me to conclusion that many Christians’ lives are idolatrously compartmentalized, allowing Jesus to be King only over aspects of life they see fit. The idea that Jesus is only Lord over part of your life has zero finding in Scripture and I would doubt there is a genuine relationship with the Creator of anyone who claimed otherwise. The statement, “Jesus is King” also has an influence on our political lives in America. Many of my readers agree with this, that’s why the social-media feeds are filled with reasons to support their candidate.

Let’s get back to the point, since the Christian life is not meant to, nor possible to live alone; why does our political decision-making process happen alone in the privacy of our own voting booth? How in the world can we say that a person’s vote is between them and God when nothing else in the Christian life is meant to be done alone? I’m not knocking the act of voting here nor the fact that we go into booths privately to vote, I’m knocking our practice to assume we can/should make this decision alone; just you, God and your 10-15 minutes of quiet time in the morning; to do so doesn’t fit within God’s design for his people.

For those of us who will vote in this election and upcoming elections, we were not created to make these decisions alone and therefore we will not be able to faithfully allow Jesus to be King over this aspect of our lives if we try to do it alone. Let us not fall into the deception of American individualism which tells us that we should make this decision alone, we need other believers to dialogue with! An individual’s autonomy is not a gift, it is a curse.

Do you have a candidate that you support? Are you pretty sure who you will vote for in this coming election? You need to find other believers to challenge you from Scripture to vote another way and then make your decision based on the truths of Scripture pressed out by the covenant community into which you’ve been saved.

A Very Dangerous Place To Be 

Herein lies a danger; if the Church’s political history tells me anything, most of us will either refuse to listen to feedback or surround ourselves with people who think just like us. Both of these reactions are small, arrogant and fueled with a weakness and a fear that a brother or sister may have an argument which shatters our perfectly groomed world. If you choose to take this posture, know you are choosing a posture of pride, not humility, and contrary to the American world-view, pride is a not a good thing.

If you find that you do not know and dialogue with a Christian who is voting for a candidate other than yours, you are in a very dangerous place. You are susceptible to hard-headed, stiff-necked thinking, a mindset that has built up dogmatic barriers against the transforming truths of Scripture. Let me give you a hint; if you do not find yourself asking the opposing side to present Scripturally based arguments, and if you are not swayed (even slightly) by valid, Scripturally based arguments, you have already bunkered yourself into a dogmatic, pride-fueled, stiff-necked mindset;  you are already in a very dangerous place.

My challenge to you is this: Find other believers who hold a strong commitment to Scripture because you were not created to do this alone. Wrestle with opposing views and seek to see their legitimacy, because arrogance is fueled by pride and pride will lead nowhere but demise. Decide now if your ultimate allegiance is to Christ, because Christian thinking is based on Kingdom values, not American ones. Choose in wisdom to exercise or not to exercise your Christian liberty to vote, because your liberties were not given to you to build an earthly Kingdom, they were given in order that the world might experience the grace, love, and compassion of Jesus.