Posted tagged ‘political campaigns’

Afraid To Answer My (i)Phone

June 12, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   June 12, 2018

 

The heat is on! Not the Colorado summer heat, but the political primaries…that kind of heat! 

Last night I flipped between three local TV stations at 5:30 to see the local news. Each station was airing a political advertisement at the same time, but for three different candidates!

When I went outside and got the mail out of the mailbox I had to search between all the political postcards and propaganda to find the car insurance bill. I wonder if State Farm would see that as a valid excuse for not paying my monthly premium- that I couldn’t find it in the midst of all the campaigning candidates’ mail? 

But the worst so far has been the unbelievable number of calls I’m getting on my iPhone. Now, I have to admit that I’m assuming they are political calls, but why else would I be getting calls from Shoreline, Washington; Jamesburg, New Jersey; Pueblo, Colorado; Oklahoma City; East Tawas, Michigan; Newton, Massachusetts; Leota, Minnesota; Portland, Maine; and Oyster Bay, New York.

“No!” to all the questions that are being asked right now by moms! I do not answer the incoming call if I do not recognize the number. 

I’m listening to Amazon Prime Music on my iPhone as I do my morning run and Mercy Me’s song I Can Only Imagine is interrupted by an incoming call from Boynton Beach, Florida!

I’m at my writing spot at the public library, deep into my book rewrite, and someone from Waltham, Massachusetts is trying to get my ear!

And so now I have this fear that an important call is going to be ignored simply because someone wants to convince me of the evils of a certain candidate for office. 

Political callers are the new telemarketers! In the last week out of 27 incoming calls to my phone 3 OF THEM were from people I knew…two from Carol, my wife, and the other from Amy Teten, who we financially support with The Navigators ministry! The other 24 calls were from phone numbers I did not recognize. None of those callers left a message! Perplexing, isn’t it?

I realize the importance of electing the best officials. In fact, I’ll probably take my ballots to the drop-off box at the library today. (Colorado’s primary is June 26!) My voting decisions are based on summaries from neutral publications on the political positions of each of the candidates. 

In the mean time I’ll hear my iPhone ringing in a few calls this morning as I’m running my four miles. They will come just as my pace has increased listening to the song “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman. Suddenly I’ll slow down to a turtle’s pace!

Ugh!

What Would Jesus Say To ______?

September 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                September 10, 2016

                     

Since I’ve been a pastor for a majority of my life people have often looked to me for guidance on a variety of issues and life situations. I’ve been asked what version of the Bible I would recommend, what to say to a child that has begun to wander spiritually, how to deal with mother-in-laws that make life torture, and what to say to someone who scoffs at the Christian faith?

All are relevant questions that trouble people’s minds.

There is one area, however, where I refuse to give people that I’ve been the pastor to any guidance, and that is the problem of politics. It’s interesting how in the blessedness of our liberty we’ve made the political arena a problem. People have become snippy! If I was able to measure on a scale the weight of political venom expressed versus mercy for the impoverished the scale would topple over under the weight of the vicious.

About 25 years ago I made a political comment during a Sunday sermon and I still remember a woman in my congregation getting up and walking out. My conversation with her the following week was eye-opening for me. She respected me as her pastor, but not as her political commentator. Our deep dialogue made me realize how powerful the pulpit can be…for good or for bad. Although I have my personal view on politics since that episode I have never used my position as pastor to influence how people should vote.

On the other hand I have used my position as pastor to influence how people respond to poverty, community needs, supporting missions, responding to catastrophic events around the world, and the church’s tendency to become insulated and isolated.

It’s interesting how those issues get pushed to the side in the midst of the daily political jabs and low blows. It seems that people are more interested in what Jesus would say about someone or to someone. What would he say to Trump, or Clinton, or Johnson, or Stein? There is a weird thirst amongst a number of religious people to dress Jesus in the coat of their political preference. The funny thing is that Jesus was always a bit wary of politics and people in power, or looking to be in power. The politics of the Kingdom of God are usually printed in a different section of the newspaper than the news of current political campaigns.

Jesus said a lot about issues. His words would not fit neatly into any one of the political parties’ platforms. People would be trying in a variety of ways to reword his views to fall within their boundaries. In effect, there would be a lot of “trying to straighten out Jesus” moments!

And thus the tension with where we are today! My family and relatives include avid Trump supporters, committed Democrats, confused Republicans, and some who will vote Libertarian for the first time in their lives…and we’re all still one family! Most of us are followers of Jesus, and most of us understand that it’s okay to disagree with one another. That we can vote for different people and still be family! Sadly, that kind of freedom seems to be lacking in many congregations of Christ-followers, and some sanctuaries this time of year simply resemble smaller versions of Cleveland and Philadelphia.

 

Believing In What I Like!

May 29, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             May 29, 2016

                                    

“The Apostles’ Creed” came into its fullest and complete form about thirteen hundred years ago. It has been the church’s statement of faith ever since…kind of!

The statement begins with the words “I believe in…” (I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son…)

In recent times, especially in American culture…in the church and in general…what is believed has taken a tumble. What is believed resonates with personal choice. With the beginning words of the Apostles’ Creed in mind, today’s statement of belief could very well begin with the words “I believe in what I like, and I don’t believe in what I don’t like.” 

Like a six year old staring with a turned up lip at a serving of spinach on his plate, we are prone to judge something as unlikeable. We lump the “unlikeable” together if they are even remotely connected to what it is we really don’t like. For example, if Chris Tomlin comes out with a new worship song that resembles a hymn there will be some people who won’t like it because…follow the flow here!…Chris Tomlin usually composes praise and worship music, and the person doesn’t like praise and worship music.

At both Trump and Clinton political rallies protestors have tried to disrupt the proceedings because they don’t like the candidates. Freedom of speech has been demoted to the back backseat with Grandma in importance, compared to what people like!

“Likes”, a very small word, has taken on prominence, as well as become confusing. Every day on Facebook I’m faced with responding to someone’s post by clicking “Like.” A young lady I know just got hired on for a new teaching position, so I gave her a thumbs up and clicked “Like.” But a little while later someone else mentions that his brother just passed away. I want to come alongside him as he journeys through this, so I once again click “Like.” I was confused by the whole thing. Clicking “Like” sounded like I was delighted by his loss, when I was really just trying to be supportive.

“I believe in what I like” is fickle. It’s like a girlfriend you had in sixth grade, totally awesome and soon to be replaced! I used to like knee-high athletic socks to go with my extremely short athletic shorts. Now I look at those pictures and chuckle, as well as try to keep them hidden from family and friends!

Try this on for size! If a person doesn’t have a solid belief system, he/she is like the Sunday newspaper left outside to be blown one way or another by the wind. When I say “belief system”, I’m not just talking about Christian convictions, but rather life convictions…life beliefs that anchor me from being carried away by today’s biggest “like.”

For example, do we believe, regardless of our disagreement about a political candidate’s stand on health care, military might, Social Security, or education…do we believe in democracy? Do we believe in freedom of speech, or just when someone is saying something that we like?

Do we believe in freedom for all, or just for those who we agree with, or we like?

Do we believe in the grace of God, or do we believe in limited grace, dependent on if we think someone deserves it…or we like the person?

What are the beliefs that we hold that are non-negotiable, that we will always hold on to regardless of the winds of circumstances? Carol and I are two months away from celebrating our 37th anniversary, and there are things we don’t like about one another! What!!!!

I don’t like it when she picks a crouton off my salad, but I don’t slap her hand. She doesn’t like it when I use a piece of dental floss multiple times, but she doesn’t slap me in the face. Our love for one another anchors us even when we’re not always on the same page. In the next election we may even cancel each other’s vote out!

But our love for one another has become like that old oak in the park that is strong, rooted, and consistent. It may sport some scars from the storms of the years, but it’s solid and dependable.

Perhaps that’s a good picture of where our culture and our churches are right now. That too often we resemble sixth grade romances instead of 37 year old marriages!