Category Archives: Yikes! Politics!

An Opportunity, Not An Insult

Many are complaining that the guest list for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit is insulting and offensive. Even the Vatican has expressed concern.

Whether or not I think the White House acted appropriately or intended to offend, I don’t know or care, honestly. That’s not the point of this entry.

Jesus was not offended by anyone. He expressed anger (when he tore apart the marketplace in the Temple), and many times was frustratied with those who refused to hear his message.

Jesus sought out those who were hurting; who needed to hear God’s message of grace, love and forgiveness. He partied with the sinners; he didn’t sequester himself with the righteous. He came for all the sinners of the world, and that’s everyone.

If I were the Pope, I would be excited about the list, not concerned or offended. What a perfect opportunity to minister! Not as a religious figure, per se, because too many hearts are closed to religion, but as the representative of Christ, and what Christ came to earth to die for. I would treat every guest — regardless of whom or what they’re there to represent — with the same love and respect I expect to receive. Period, no judgements and no preconceived notions.

That’s our mandate after all: To go out into the world and spread the Good News. To everyone. No one can do that if they hide behind walls, or expect to be separated from those who need the Message most.

No One Notices The Faithful Until The Faithless Sit Down

Yesterday a friend and I talked on Facebook about all the horrible things going on in the world and she commented: “Seriously I do wonder if we’re now living in the end times. The world is in a dreadful state and it is just getting worse.”

I said, “I used to think that, but – at least from what I read – globally before and during WWII things were a lot worse.

Some days I wonder why God is still waiting and wish he’d just end it already. Other days I’m grateful he’s not, because it gives everyone more opportunities to both spread and understand the truth.

I feel selfish by wanting it to end, because it’s coming from a place of fear in that I don’t want to see my nation fall, or for my good life to end.

I have to constantly remind myself that God is still in control. Even if there are hardships I can’t even imagine to come, I know eternity with God awaits me.

I just hope I continue to have the wherewithal to show God’s love to others, but I sometimes (often) wonder why I bother since so many hearts are hardened against him.

At least that’s how it seems. I could easily be wrong about that. I’ll never know when my words or deeds will influence someone the right way. Jesus didn’t give up, God hasn’t given up. Nor should I, because then I am no good to him or those who need him.”

I’ve heard a few people express concern that Christians are about to enter an era of persecution in Western countries including the United States.

I often wonder the same thing, especially recently, but then I thought, are trials and persecutions a bad thing — at least as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned?

In all instances when people tried to eliminate Christians and Christianity, it has instead resulted in explosive growth. Today, the highest percentage of Christian expansion is occurring in China and other oppressive regimes where it’s supposed to be illegal.

It’s easy to stand up with the faithless when they’re all standing. Not so much when they all sit down. That’s when the faithful are noticed. It’s frightening to be singled out and take the risk of being vilified at best or killed at worst.

But that doesn’t mean we should sit down. It’s in the times when the faithless sit that we must stand up taller. If we don’t then we have fallen prey to our own fears; we prove our own faithlessness, and even distrust of God’s promises.

I’m reminded of the book of Daniel. After Nebuchadnezzar built his 90′ golden statue, all people from every nation were required to bow down to worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused. They stood up when everyone else bowed. The King noticed and demanded they be thrown into a fiery furnace. Because of their faithfulness, the fires didn’t touch them, and the King and all his men bowed down to worship God. Sure, their faith led them into the furnace, but it also led them back out again.

God loves paradox. He uses our weaknesses to show his strength. He uses the darkest moments in our lives to reveal his grace, his love and his promises.

He uses the world’s attempt to kill Christianity in order to further his Kingdom.

We must be part of that, otherwise our own faith is meaningless, and we are literally no earthly good.

Therefore, do not be afraid of future trials and tribulations. Don’t fret about governments’ attempts at restraining our faith. Welcome them, because it’s at those times people will see Jesus most clearly. Our mortal lives and comfort should be the smallest price we have to pay to help accomplish it.

Words Mean Things

How a person speaks, including the words he/she uses says a lot about that person’s thoughts and feelings toward a subject.

For example, I saw this in a local news item today:

“Approximately 192,000 North Dakota residents are renters. They are our construction workers and our nurses. Renters are our young families and they are our college students who are faced with increasing tuition costs. As the cost of living goes up and the price of rent goes up, they are the individuals who have been left out of the tax relief.”

One word in that paragraph (said four times) stood out at me. Can you spot it? I’ll give you a few spaces before I reveal the word below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a person adds “our” to another person or group, what exactly is he/she inferring?

“Our” implies possession or ownership, right? So by that reasoning, the person who said the above thinks and believes (even though he would vociferously deny it should someone ask him outright), construction workers, nurses, young families and college students are owned by the State.

Now one could argue that the politician is implying “our” in the context of family, such as when a parent describes “our” children. Considering the bill being discussed, however, I doubt he’s thinking in familial terms. I won’t get into the politics of the bill, because that’s not the point of this entry.

Construction workers, nurses, families and college students don’t belong to the politician or the State, whether in familial terms or ownership. They belong to themselves. If he had left out “our”, the meaning of his statement would not have changed. So why add “our” in the first place?

A Pain in The Eye

I’ve been seeing a posts on Facebook and other social media sites about how America needs to wake up and do this-or-that to better themselves and their country.

And most of these writers are from other countries.

I understand that people looking in from the outside can sometimes have a unique perspective. Some of it can be valuable, even.

But I found many of these articles don’t really care about America doing better; quite the opposite. It’s nothing more than an attempt to make America seem like an international bully, or an immoral or amoral cesspool.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is in John chapter 8 where the Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery. They said the law of Moses require she be stoned, and wanted to know what should be done with her.

He said, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”

It’s easy to judge others, to use their sins, wrongdoings, social status, color, talents, name it against them. We do so to not only make ourselves look better, but also as a distraction to avoid looking at our own sins, blemishes and shortcomings.

The same holds true with countries.

I never complain about what Australia, England, Egypt or any other country as to what it’s doing or not doing. Why? I don’t have the time or inclination to care, to be completely honest. I have enough to deal with on my own land, thank you. Nor do I have the right to criticize a place I’ve never been or a people I’ve never met.

Every country has its problems, because they are all run by people who are fallible, and imperfect. Do I think some are perpetuating great evils? Absolutely, and I count my own country in that. But I also know that as a citizen it is my duty to do what I can to stop that evil, just as it’s the duty of every other citizen of every other country to do the same in theirs. I know those are easy words, especially coming from an American who can still criticize openly my own government without fear of reprisal.

But that doesn’t make my words any less true.

You want to criticize the United States, you have that right. But understand, too, if you are a citizen of a different country, perhaps you should clean up your own backyard before pointing out the flaws of your neighbor’s.

Or as Jesus put it in Matthew 7:3-5: “And why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

What are you doing?

On social media, and even in my own circle of family and friends, I hear a lot about the terrible things happening in our country and the world – whether it’s the loss of our freedoms, Common Core, abortion, and a myriad of other emotional, controversial and political issues.

After the complaining, however, what do most of us do?

Nothing other than sharing memes, petitions and websites that parrot our own opinions on a particular issue. They are nothing than a form of mental masturbation — a way to feel good about ourselves without doing anything productive. After the links no longer work and memes all but forgotten, nothing has changed. Too many of us don’t want to take a real risk, to make a real difference. “But, hey, at least I feel good about myself!”

I will admit I’m not one who’s acting, either, so you are more than welcome to call me a hypocrite. This entry is as much a conviction on my lack of response to the evils of this world as to others doing (or not doing) the same.

My excuse is nothing more than lack of passion and lack of courage. I’m a gutless wonder when it comes to confrontation.

Yet, if we don’t like where our society and government is heading — and we do nothing — who, then, is really to blame? Our leaders are like children. They will do as much as we — the voters — allow them. Recent history shows that stepping into the voting booth once every other year isn’t enough.

I’m reminded of a little girl who recently gave Michelle Obama a copy of her father’s resume who’s been unemployed for a few years (if memory serves). While sweet and heartbreaking, it also shows that we’ve put too much power in the hands of our leaders in lieu of doing the work ourselves.

We seem to believe we don’t have the power to change things, and that is far from the case. If there are no groups who are currently working with our representatives to make a particular change, nothing is stopping us to create our own. With the prevalence of social media, it doesn’t take much effort to get the word out to like-minded people who would like to also participate.

We have the power. We’ve always had the power. Now we have to exercise courage to actually do something instead of depending on someone else to do it for us.

Social Networking and Wars of Words

I and several others I know have engaged in various discussions online, and in the end we had to walk away, frustrated and drained.

One person put it thusly: “Pretty sure social media is dumbing down the human race (she says on social media). Everybody thinks they’re right and then they yell at other people who think they are right.”

I’ve often posted arguments online and tried quite vociferously to prove my stance. But if someone comes along to prove my premise incorrect, I will be the first one to say, “You’re right.”

I said on Facebook the other day, “I don’t mind being wrong (mostly), because I always learn something when I find out how wrong I was.”

The problem with society today is we’ve elevated the definition of “opinion” to “truth.” We’re no longer interested in learning anymore. We instead want to prove to the world how smart and right we are, and everyone who disagrees is unenlightened or just plain stupid. It doesn’t matter how we came up with that particular truth. “It’s mine, therefore it’s right” regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

The most recent discussion that brought about this entry happened yesterday. I wrote an off-the cuff comment about birth control. I always knew it was a political issue, but yikes, I had no idea how emotional people get when it’s brought up. The thread soon exploded with accusations from both sides of the political spectrum about how idiotic my comment was. Perhaps it was, and I apologized to everyone for not making my original point more clear. Yet people continued to pounce on and make snide remarks on my original post long after I apologized.

I added another comment later about how when it comes to birth control, I will keep my big mouth shut, because the subject does raise so much ire. It’s a swamp I don’t want to wade through again.

A lady responded (who had also ripped me a new one on my original comment) saying, that if we don’t spread the truth and facts about an issue, the liars will continue to lie and people who don’t (care to) search for the truth on their own will take those lies as truth.

This isn’t the first time I got sucked into an emotionally charged conversation. Most of the time it’s less about politics and more about God and the Bible. When people insult one or the other, I can’t help but respond. In the end, however, I let them have the last word, thereby believing they won the argument. They did in a way, because I was too exhausted emotionally spiritually to continue.

I recently read Matthew 7:6: “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”

The exhaustion at the end, I think, is God’s way of telling me I indeed wasted my time and energy. No matter what I said, no matter how logical or rational my arguments, they were ultimately meaningless. My opponents were too intent in proving how right they were instead of listening to and considering a different point of view.

It’s frustrating that I allow people to win wars of words against me, but some battles are not meant to be won. Arguing with someone who refuses to listen to anything that goes against their opinions and preconceived notions is one such battle. Allowing myself to be beaten up in an un-winnable battle makes me less capable of fighting one that is winnable. Determining when to fight and when to walk away? That, my friends, is the question of the day.

Defending North Dakota

I just read an article on Yahoo titled “North Dakota has funds to fight over abortion.”

Basically it’s about how both houses passed very restrictive abortion laws, and they’re anticipated to be signed by our governor. The article also mentioned other “problems” our state is having. Not only did the article rankle me, but so did the comments.

As a NoDakian, I couldn’t let those comments pass.  I don’t normally get into politics in this blog, because that’s not the point of it. I had to make an exception in this case because I honestly liked my response and didn’t want to lose it. Yes, admittedly I am bragging a little.

First, read the article (North Dakota Abortion Fight), then read my response.

I live in ND, so I will address some of the misconceptions both in the article and some of the comments here:

1. Crime rate. Is it up? Yes, but that’s par for the course when population goes up. It’s still far lower than most other states. Heck, I still don’t have to lock my doors at night if I don’t want to.

2. Housing shortage. Again, yes, but we can only build so fast due to the sudden influx of people moving here. I say by the end of this construction season — certainly by the end of 2014 — we will be mostly caught up. We’re also taking a conservative approach to building. ND had a similar boom in the 80s, but the bottom fell out of the market. It wasn’t long before many of those new homes and businesses sat empty and some towns nearly went bankrupt. We don’t want to endure that again, especially considering we have so many in Washington that hate any kind of oil/energy independence unless it’s “green.”

3. Infrastructure. This ties to — again — to the sudden rise in population. This oil boom was a surprise to everyone. We can only build and maintain our roads so quickly to meet the sudden increase in demands on them. Overall our roads and other infrastructure are still in good shape. And we have the funds available to take care of all of that and more. It’s not one or the other. We just need the time to catch up.

4. Construction costs. This is basic economics: Supply and demand. When supply is up, costs drop and when demand is up making supply drop, costs go up. In general there is NO PRICE GOUGING! I work in the construction industry, so I know.

5. Forcing “personal beliefs.” We voted those people in, and they are representing us well. If not, we can always vote them out and get those laws repealed. Unlike some politicians, they listen to their constituents. And if you don’t live in ND why the hell should you care if we want to make getting abortions difficult. People determined to do so only have a 4-hour drive to get it done.

6. Schools. Our schools are top-notch, both public and private. Granted there are some complaints that teachers don’t get paid enough, and we’re working on bills to set the minimum salary to 1-1/2 times what it is now. We have the funds to cover that as well. Also, in my community alone, we’ve voted to raise our mill-levy (property taxes) twice in the last four years to build both a new elementary and middle school. Don’t tell us we don’t care about our children — especially by basing it on one Yahoo article.

In short, if you don’t live here, what we do is none of your concern (unless you see that we’re doing many things right and want to emulate). Stick to trying to solve problems in your own states and communities, and we will do the same.