jesus, politics, justice, mission & life

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Men of Character

What is the deal?

As I noted last week, Sen. Ensign admitted to having an affair last week.  Today, Gov. Sanford.  Those were two of the GOP’s top presidential hopefuls for 2012.  I don’t care where you stand politically, having one party rule a government while the other lays dying is not good government.  Interestingly enough, these guys are hurting themselves.

After disappearing for a week, Gov. Sanford returned home today.  Yesterday, his chief of staff leaked that he was trekking the Appalachian Trail.  Today, Gov. Sanford said he returned home from Argentina to take a break after a long, losing struggle over the stimulus package.

Later, the truth came out.  Promiscuous emails from his computer were released and he confessed and came forth with an apology.

This sucks.  Our country really needs men of character to lead.  We need men of character leading our country, our states, our cities and even our homes.  Their are a lot of different angles on this.

This “Men of Character” thing has been on my mind since I heard Bill Johnson talk about the issue.  He goes into quite a bit and winds up talking about alliances between men.  But one of the main thing I took from it is the importance of trusting the men who lead us.  He talks about Jehoshaphat and how he started off so well before trying to please man.

I feel really blessed to have men in my life that lead well.  My dad has always displayed fidelity.  I’ve gotten to grow up around a man who loves his wife well.  A father who grows more generous every day and makes alliances with wise men.  The adults in my community are the same.  My friends that are my age are encouraging and follow the Lord with with zeal.

A final note…

Interestingly enough, major democratic strategist James Carville has offered some suprisingly hopeful and genuine statements.  Carville stated that he thinks their can be redemption for Gov. Sanford.  He said that wants to see Sanford return to stature.  Almost a prodigal son story.  He went on to say that we can’t be too judgmental because he is human and it is a matter of time until someone on the other side of the isle falls.  If you have ever listened to Carville, you may be surprised by his statements and if you can find him on today’s Larry King Live on CNN, I’d encourage it.  It is an engaging conversation that goes beyond politics and into human nature and compassion.

I’m on the same page.  I’m in no position to say if Gov. Sanford should leave.  But as a believer in Jesus, I have to recognize that men have sin.  Politicians have to look like they don’t, but they do.

Jesus, bring redemption on this guy.  Make this a prodigal son story.  Re-build him into a strong leader and a man after your heart.

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Redefining Freedom

For the past few years, there are a lot of people talking about how democracy will never work in the Middle East.  Others say it has to work.  Furthermore there is typically chatter if Iran is a democracy or a theocracy, I’ll give my two cents on whether or not democracy can work in Muslim nations at some point, but not now.

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I will say that I am absolutely inspired by the people of Iran though.  The situation there is tragic and according to social networking reports from Iranians, the treatment of the people by the government is ruthless and unjust.

In my lifetime, I have never seen so many people, particularly individuals my own age, fighting so hard for freedom.  And they are putting up a good fight.

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Whether Ahmadinejad is actually dethroned may not even be the point.  The rest of the world has now seen the heart of the Iranian youth.  These people are literally fighting for a fair election.  Men and women are bloodied in the streets, being recently beaten by the Basij Militia.  For the most part, the government has cut off all international coverage (hiding something?).  In short, innocent people are dying for peacefully voicing their opinion.  But here’s the kicker:  they know they might die.  They value their freedom enough to die for it.

When this is said and done, the rest of the world will view Iran differently.  I think a lot of the world, including myself up to recently, has a skewed view of Iran.iran_demo200 After all, we have been taught that Iran is a threat to us or we know them because of their oil exportation.  And unfortanutely, people will probably look back at this episode and see Iran as a country with a corrupt and messy government with people who riot and kill each other over elections.

But here is the real sad part: People are dying to vote in Iran, while only 54% of the American people voted.  The number of young people voting is lower than that percentage.  And all we have to do is find our closest church, most likely within 10 miles of us.  They are fighting for the freedoms that we have and take for granted.  I hope the Iran people are remembered for fighting for freedom.  If we remember them for that, it could change many of our apathetic mindsets of our own country.

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Iran Tweets!

As the protests in Iran continue, I’m horrified for what lies ahead.  Is Iran collapsing?  Will there be a re-election?  Will the Supreme Leader step in?

The one thing I am completely fascinated by is the importance of facebook and twitter, check it.

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Compassion for Sen. John Ensign?

I hope that this story involves redemption in the future.

I don’t have a lot to say about John Ensign.  I will say that I have disagreed with him from time to time.  In fact, I have gone so far as to e-mail him over statements he has made over our current president.  Ensign is about as right-wing as they come – pro-guns, pro-life, pro-church, a family values man, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not think Ensign’s career is over.  People forget things like this, mainly because people want to forget these things (i.e. Giuliani, Clinton).   Ensign was even starting to stir up talk about a 2012 presidential run.  While that won’t happen anymore, he can still be a major player for the GOP.

Because of his morals, his affair is a more than just another politician having an extramarital relationship.  It’s more than Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Larry Craig or even President Clinton.  This is a guy who voted for Clinton’s impeachment and called out Sen. Craig.  All this makes this story more tragic.  I don’t want to be critical of Ensign – he has enough of that – I want to learn to find compassion for him.

Jesus had compassion on guys like Ensign.

I don’t understand that kind of love or compassion, but I want to.  This whole mess angers me.  And the more blogs I read and the more ‘commentators’ I hear talking about him, it’s obvious that others are angry too.  So what has basically happened is this: One man has an affair that damages both his family and another family.  It angers most of the media, most individuals who stand across the isle as well as the individuals who voted him into office.  That anger sits in their hearts until it has hardened it.  It’s a crappy thing.

Like I said, I don’t have any deep thoughts on this situation – just that I need to learn to see these stories through a different lens.  Our reaction to news such as this should be for redemption through Jesus.  Not calling for a resignation.  Not calling him names or saying he has no validity.  I hope this story ends well.

On a lighter note, check out this champion:  http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/17/ny.mother.impersonation/index.html

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Jesus and running and why they sometimes, but not always, work together

This won’t interest many of you.  Just a select few running buddies.

My life is dictated by seasons. Maybe I’m in a season of waiting on the Lord, or I’m in a season of intense intimacy or maybe a season of brokenness.

Likewise, my running is dictated by seasons.  Perhaps my biggest problem is I cannot decide which season I want to enter.  Do I want to train hard for a 5K?  Perhaps I want to start prepping for a Fall marathon?  Or maybe I want to work towards fulfilling my ultra-marathon dreams.

One thing I have noticed though is that the seasons work together.  They are never exactly alike, but spiritual seasons and running seasons are often related to me.  When I am disciplined enough to follow a tough and stringent workout schedule, following Jesus is better.  I spend more time with Him and in turn I get to know Him better and better.  This is good because I rarely  have liberating and spiritual experiences when I am running.  I know lots of people who do, but I’m not one.  Give me a watch so I can cut my mile splits and I’ll be fine.

So I’m base training right now.  That basically means I am trying to get as many miles in as possible this summer in hopes of running a good Fall marathon.  I’m not doing any tough speed work or intervals, just lots and lots of miles.  By the end of the summer, the goal is to be around 90 miles a week.  So what does that say about this spiritual season?  I don’t know, but I think I’m base training too.  I want to spend as much time as possible with the Lord.  In running, the more miles I put in during the summer (followed by lots of workouts in the Fall), the faster I will run and the stronger I will be.  Furthermore, the people who put in the most miles are the ones that finish the strongest.  That ‘wall’ that marathoners hit at mile 20 or 21 is busted through by those who put in lots of miles during the summer.

Likewise, I don’t know what the spiritual ‘wall’ will be this Fall (or even if there will be one), but I know that base training with Jesus is good.  The more time I spend with Him, the stronger I will be when it counts.

I felt like writing this because I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how running affects their lives.  Some spiritual, some organizationally and some socially.  I guess this is the correlation I see in my life.

Anyone have any thoughts?  Anyone have any hobbies or skills where they see hints of Jesus in a not-so-obvious way?

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Processing thoughts

God loves to give “extras.”  They are just little gifts of the Father’s love that he reveals to us.  Here are some crazy “extras” from our trip to Cape Town:
  • Cherrie Warden spoke in tongues on Tuesday, May 26.  The date falls in between Ascension Sunday and Pentecost.  Luke and Acts recall the disciples receiving “tongues of fire” at the same time.
  • We arrived home 50 days after Easter.  The number 50 is prophetic for Jubilee.
  • We left Cape Town on Pentecost, marking the birthday of the church and the second half of the Christian calendar.  First half of the year represents the story of Jesus, the second half of the year is symbolic of the church.
  • The theme of our trip was Isaiah 61.  We returned home on 6/1.  We left on 5/17 and Isaiah 5:17 is a good passage for Masi.

That stuff blows my mind.  It’s fun to see the Father give us things like that.

Being back in Norman is so good and so hard.  It’s good to be back with my community but it is hard being away from the people I have lived with, ate with and done ministry with for two weeks.  I think when you spend that much time with people it is natural for them to feel like family.  And they are.  I just don’t get to be around them as much.

Since I have been home, I feel like the only time I have been truly happy is when I am in the Lord’s presence.  Which is okay, especially because the Lord has made himself so accessible.  I think some painful, but good, stuff is on the way – kind of a season of change is around the corner.  We’ll see.

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Back Home

We arrived back in Oklahoma City about 9PM last night.  I think that is about 4AM in Cape Town – the schedule which my body is on.  And though I couldn’t fall asleep til close to 3AM, I woke up wide awake at 7AM.  I got a good run in this morning and went up to the NormCom office to chat with Gerod a bit.  I have been spoiled by running in Cape Town the past two weeks.  After running through mountains and by beaches, nothing too exciting happened on my run in Norman except for a Brian Hartsock sighting.

The next few weeks are going to hold a lot in terms of processing what just happened in my life the last two weeks.  We went pretty intensely for a solid couple weeks and now we are thrown back into society and “everyday” lives (whatever that means).  I don’t even know how to do that though.  Falling back into the same relationships with the same dynamics seems boring.  I’m not saying I want new friends, I don’t.  I like my friends.  I love my spiritual family.  I just know that it wouldn’t be healthy to live life the way it has been lived in the past.  It was a good way to live at that time, but God showed me he is bigger.  That’s probably the biggest revelation over the past two weeks is that God is bigger than I thought he was.  It’s a pretty basic thing, but mind-blowing as well.

I look forward to debriefing this trip with people too.  I want it to be a long process so I can take everything I can out of it.  I want it to be challenging, joyous and even a bit painful too.

P.S. – The Greek house church now has a blog – Greek Blog.  Nothing is posted yet, but I imagine it will be worth checking out.

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