Formerly Disgusting

Hopefully you haven't seen a dog go to the lengths I have to satisfy its hunger.

There was a now-famous study conducted at Stanford University years ago called the “Marshmallow Study”.  In essence, the study was developed to see the ability of children to comprehend delayed gratification.  Children (4 years old) were brought into a room one by one.  The facilitator running the experiment set in front of them a delicious looking marshmallow.  He would then tell the child that he had to run an errand for a couple of minutes.  He explained to the children that they could either eat the marshmallow now OR wait until he came back from his errand, at which point he would give them another marshmallow.  The dilemma: enjoy it now, or wait, and experience even more enjoyment later.

Stanford continued to keep an eye on these children, both the resisters (those who held out for another marshmallow) and the partakers (those who gobbled the first marshmallow up right away).

Reevaluated years after high school, what the researchers discovered was that the resisters were, in general, more positive, self-motivated, and able to thrive in the face of adversity as a result of their capacity for delayed gratification.  In general, they had more successful marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, and more fulfillment in life.  Conversely, the partakers tended to be more stubborn, troubled, indecisive, and less confident.  This impulse followed them through life and resulted in less satisfaction in work and lower incomes, worse health, and fewer successful marriages.

The bottom line issue here is DISCIPLINE.  While it’s potentially true that some may be born with a greater inherent capacity for this self-control than others, God has called us each to this kind of self-control, discipline, and delayed gratification that shows we understand that the pleasures of heaven are worth avoiding spiritually destructive behaviors that our sinful nature might see as pleasurable in this life.  Depending on the person and the level to which they’ve gotten involved in such behaviors, some may even have to get additional help, set up more boundaries for prevention, and work a lot harder.  In the end though, this extra acquired discipline always pays off.

When I was young, I had a dog named Cody.  One afternoon when she was a puppy, while sitting out in the backyard with Cody, she started eating the grass.  This was something we tried to discourage her from since it always made her sick.  After grazing for a good 10 minutes, sure enough, Cody started to cough.  And then, with a forcefulness and smell that I hadn’t thought possible from a 5 pound creature, she vomited up a pile of grass and puppy chow that was inexplicably half her size.  The story hasn’t gotten gross yet though.  You see, dogs have a fascinating but small brain.  While they can learn to speak, and dance, and roll over, they can’t always differentiate what’s healthy from what’s disgustingly unhealthy.  So, disturbed as I was by Cody’s vomiting, what came next was worse……she went back and ate what she had just thrown up.  At that point I had to cover my own mouth.

From a non-scientific standpoint, this is how I understand the dog’s brain to work in such an instance:  Dog eats something that smells good without understanding its negative affects.  Dog thinks, “Oh, that wasn’t such a good idea.  I feel awful.” Dog vomits.  Dog thinks, “I feel much better.  The only problem is, I’m a little hungry.  Hmmmm.  Look!  There’s some food.” Dog proceeds to eat vomit.  Dog immediately feels horrible and regrets the cuisine.  Dog vomits.  Dog feels a little better, but wonders what’s to eat. ETC.  As a puppy, Cody lacked the self-discipline necessary to resist this destructive behavior.  She went through this whole routine a solid 3 times before I collected myself enough to take her inside and explain to my mother the horrors I’d seen.

Dogs are pretty intelligent creatures.  Dogs, however, aren’t as intelligent as they sometimes seem.

Humans are similar.  In fact, in the book of Proverbs, the author writes, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).  The Apostle Peter cites this aphorism in his 2nd letter, where he writes, “Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud'” (2 Peter 2:22).  In context, the “them” to whom Peter is referring is false teachers.  But the proverb really works for any kind of sin.  And we all have personal sins that are particularly appealing for us to return to.  At times, this returning compulsion is so strong that it can properly be labeled as an addiction.  Adding that label doesn’t immediately make us merely victims though.  It means we’ve allowed ourselves to become mastered by the world.

However, there is hope and there is help.  God always promises a way out.  That was why Christ Jesus was sent to earth – to burst through a prison of sin, open up an exit for mankind, and lead us on a pathway out.  Beyond the exit is the eternal freedom from sin, disgust, and addiction.  Remaining on the pathway, we may be free from our own sin in this life too though.  The Apostle Paul promises, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Paul doesn’t say it’s going to be easy.  In fact, resisting temptation never is.  However, we know we have a Savior, who like us, was tempted in every way.  He’s sympathetic as can be and he wants to help.  So we start by asking him for help with discipline in prayer.

Every one of us has our own “vomit” or “mud” that our sinful nature likes to return to.  If you think you don’t, then pride is probably it.  Consider for a moment what yours may be – any abuse in your life that is clearly opposed to God’s will.  You probably find yourself, from time to time, running there to satisfy those sinfully hungry moments.  This disgusting attraction can literally take the form of anything.  Common addictions like pornography, alcoholism, or drugs certainly fit the description.  However, things like gossip, overeating, self-righteous comparison to others, obsession with physical appearance, materialism, apathy toward God’s Word & Sacraments (which is ultimately the pride of thinking you can know God apart from where he tells us we’ll know him), etc., this all stinks like vomit in God’s nostrils too.  And, truthfully, none of it is making you any happier.

God has freed you and I from the eternal consequences of these sins through his Son’s sacrifice.  But he empowers us to experience freedom in this life as well.  He will give us the ability to resist temptation.  We will feel accomplishment, satisfaction, and closeness with God when we resolve to set these sins down for the last time.

There’s NO shame in asking for help, either from God or from his agents on earth – fellow Christians.  When it comes to sin, we all need help.  There could be long-lasting shame if you don’t get the help that you need though.  So, if you find yourself desperate for support in overcoming temptation, don’t hesitate to seek it out in your local church.

This morning I spoke with a woman who mentioned that she was now sober for 18 years.  She remarked that had she continued on her path, she never would have met her grandchildren that she now cherishes as much as anything in this world.  She said that God had healed her heart and given her the strength to change.  She did.  And the blessings keep coming.

God will bless the changes that you make to grow in becoming more disciplined children of his too.

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I Love Being Rich

In the context of heavenly wealth, trying to swim in earthly wealth looks about as ridiculous as a duck in bifocals and a top hat.

Several times a year my wife and I sit down for a more formal discussion of our finances.  We consider what we are going to give to the Lord, what we should be saving for retirement, what we should be saving in general for things like eventually purchasing a house, what we’d have available for an eventual vacation, what our general expenses are, and as a “self-employed” worker we have to calculate what I’m going to be paying in taxes, etc.  The Bible is pretty clear that all of this would fall into God’s will for responsibly managing the gifts he entrusts to us.

The other night we had one of these discussions.  Time wise, it happened somewhat in conjunction with a reading I was reminded of as I was going through our “through the New Testament” (NT90Challenge) that we’re doing this summer at Resurrection & Life.  The same day we had this discussion, I read through the Apostle Paul’s first letter to his younger ministry companion Timothy.  At the end of this letter, 6:17-19, the Apostle Paul writes: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” I was pretty struck by it when I read it.

The newest financial reports continue to send mixed reviews regarding the state of our economy and where we’re heading.  And yet, I just read another report last week that highlighted how China, as of this quarter, has surpassed Japan as the world’s #2 economy, following only……the United States.  Yep.  We’re still richest on the planet.

The reality is that the bottom 1/3 of our country often lives with amenities that would have made king’s jealous a century ago.  The reality is that we’re a country where you can be both “impoverished” and “struggle with obesity” at the same time.  As an American, my cushy life is nice.  I just pray it won’t hurt me in the long run.

There’s nothing wrong with the blessing of wealth.  If you read through the book of Ecclesiastes, you gain the impression that wealth makes life easier as a great blessing from God, i.e. that it is better to have wealth than not.  You also gain the impression, however, that wealth is meaningless and even detrimental if it causes you to lose dependence on God.

As I read through the last chapter of 1 Timothy 6, especially the words “nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment“, I couldn’t help but think about the economic fear in our country in the past 2 years.  I’m certainly sympathetic with those who lost a good chunk of their life savings as a result of a crippled market.  To differing degrees, it affected all of us.  God-willing there was a lesson learned, however, that we can’t really put a price tag on.  As Americans have gotten accustomed to calculating what they need to retire with in savings in order to continue to “live comfortably” for the rest of their years, I wonder how much confidence was perhaps placed in the financial portfolio and retirement savings to provide ahead of the One who provides us with everything.

I remember numerous times throughout my life hearing Christians use that phrase “live comfortably”.  Often it was used in such a humble-sounding context as “I don’t need/want to be rich, I just want to live comfortably.” Hmmm.  I understand the point.  But maybe it’s comfortable enough to know that God promises he’s going to meet all of our needs.  Perhaps this “live comfortably” phrase would be something worth eliminating from our vocabulary.

There’s a fine line here.  Christians are undoubtedly called to be responsible with their money.  I have a good Christian friend who is a certified financial analyst who lives by the phrase, “You pay God first.  You pay yourself (savings) second.” I’d probably use a little different phrasing myself, but for the most part, it’s sound Christian financial advice.

Giving our firstfruits to God is wise.  Saving is wise.  Placing our confidence in our savings, however, is NOT wise.  Christians place their confidence in their provisional God who binds himself to his promises.

How does this confidence practically affect Christian lives?  For starters, it helps us to panic less when Wall Street is collectively downing Pepto-Bismol.  Thank goodness our ability to be fed is not based on man’s stock tips but on our loving Creator’s capacity to generate life from the earth.  Next, I don’t have to be such a tight-wadded pinch-penny anymore.   Hoarding is NEVER recommended in Scripture.  However, using your wealth to serve others, make friends, and store up treasures in heaven are all advised.  Jesus says,  “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).

The goal is never to blow through our money to see how God might provide for us.  Frivolous or prodigal money management doesn’t appeal to biblical OR conventional wisdom.  But becoming storehouses for wealth isn’t how God looks for us to manage our gifts either.  If that’s the case, these gifts from God might just disappear – why would God allow us these good gifts if we’re not going to manage them faithfully (see Matt 25:14-30)?  Christians, in general, are to be distribution centers for all sorts of goods (motivated by the saving gospel and ultimately in goal of sharing the saving gospel).

As Christians grow in maturity, what they come to understand is that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).  In other words, why would I continue to hoard my1984  Atari, when God has in mind a 2010 Nintendo Wii for me, free of charge?  The treasures of heaven are not worth comparing with earthly treasures.  Knowing that allows me to release my tight grip of, as well as my confidence in, this world’s wealth.  Knowing God was willing to pay the most valuable substance there is, his own Son’s blood, so that I may experience eternal wealth in His Kingdom, I feel pretty silly worrying about dollars and cents in this lifetime.

We are SO rich!  Despite our problems, we are so incredibly blessed to be born into a country that affords us religious freedom AND happens to be the wealthiest in the world.  Boggles the mind that I can ever muster up the audacity to complain.  All of this isn’t the principle reason we’re rich though.  By God’s grace shown through his Son, we’re rich in being able to call Heaven (paradise) our home.  Man, do I love being that rich.

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Give Yourself a Break

Does your life feel like this? Time for a change....or at least a break.

There are many good jokes out there about pastors that have been around for a long time.  I’m sure you’ve heard a bunch yourself.  The one, in particular, that typically causes me the least giggles though, would probably be the “only one hour of work a week” one.  Well, it was kinda funny, until I became one.

I remember being very concerned about the possibility of never getting a reprieve from work while in the seminary, asking professors again and again, “What was your schedule like when you were in a congregation?” And repeatedly they said the same thing, “Being a pastor is not a set 40-45 hour/week job.” My experience so far is that they were right.

I guess I wasn’t really ever concerned about putting in a lot of hours.  Hard work wasn’t something I was afraid of.  My concern was that I’d never be able to get away from it.  The feeling of not being able to ever get away from something that could potentially cause you stress is like the feeling you experience in a dream when you’re being chased or drowning.  Not a fun sensation.

Going into becoming a pastor, I knew that you’re “on call” around the clock.  Much of  the time it’s work 7 days/week.  Much of the time work starts in the mornings and work ends after the last meetings/classes in the evenings.  Many congregations with older buildings even provided parsonages for pastors that were literally connected to the church.  I guess someone might look at that as convenient.  For me, it’d be suffocating.

Now, personally, I can complain about working long or strange hours, but the truth is, I know that my congregation doesn’t expect me to work ridiculous hours.  They’ve NEVER put that pressure on me.  Where does it come from then?  90%+ of the time it comes squarely from me.  Often I want so desperately for things to be a certain way, that I’d be willing to break my back in order to make them so.  The end result is that I’m attached to my laptop and phone from when I wake up to when I go to bed, taking emails, texts, & phone calls.  In between I may sometimes spend wasteful minutes tweaking and formatting things to make them “just so” when in reality the only one who really cares is me.  Or I may be putting in some efforts that I’m convinced will change the world when I eventually come to find out once again that I’m not perfect.

Now please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not suggesting that most of the work I do as a pastor is worthless.  Not by any means.  Studying God’s Word, preparing sermons and classes, teaching classes large and private, various appointments and counseling opportunities, organizing a variety of ministry items, etc.  It’s all good stuff.  What I am suggesting is that the further any of my work gets from 1) studying God’s Word, 2) modeling a life for God’s people, 3) clearly communicating God’s Word to God’s people, the more likely I am to be unnecessarily filling time, despite it seeming essential to me at that moment.  In other words, I think I’m more important to the world than I am, I stress myself out thinking if I let my guard down for one minute the world itself will fall apart, and I get to the point where I feel like I can’t breathe.  Then I get cranky.  And a motto I’ve learned to adopt is “No One Likes a Cranky Pastor”.

My guess is that this feeling of drowning from the daily grind is far from a pastoral thing.  My guess is that many of you too have hearts in the right place but are working like dogs to provide the best life possible for your family and seeking that ever-elusive ideal of “faithfulness”.  You put in many hours a week at work.  You spend hours running the kids around.  You spend hours trying to make the house just right.  You spend hours trying to become the person you think you should be or at least who you think the world wants you to be.  And at times, weekend and evening events and projects come so fast and furious that your job is almost a break from your off-the-clock hours.  And then you spend hours (and maybe pop pills) trying to fall asleep at night because you’re too stressed out by the ways you’re spending your days.

Why do we do this?  Why the necessity to always be going?  There are plenty of reasons I guess.  Rarely is it ever “because we truly HAVE TO” though, but because we choose to.  Maybe it’s a lifestyle thing – the extra hours at work affords a more lavish existence for us.  Maybe it causes us to feel more important in the world – that my business couldn’t survive without me.  Maybe it’s a peer pressure thing – “If my landscaping or living room doesn’t look a certain way, what will the world think?!” Maybe it’s a “being a good parent” thing – that if my children aren’t in umpteen activities where I can update others of how proud I am of them, I’m not doing my job.  There’s a million bad reasons that we run around like decapitated chickens.

Whoever or whatever circumstance of life you find yourself in, this schedule-packed hysteria can hit.  If you’re a doctor working in the ER and are on call 80 hours/week or if you’re a stay-at-home mom and don’t ever get a break from the “Mommy, Mommy’s”, at some point in time, you’re going to feel like you’re drowning in life if you never get a break.

The Bible is more helpful here than you might know.  If we start with the creation of the world, we notice something when God gets to day 7 – he rests (Genesis 2:2-3).  By virtue of his “omni” attributes, God doesn’t need rest.  But he creates humans so that they will.  Physical, emotional, and mental rest are all part of his design, even before the fall into sin.  So, by direction, he sets aside the 7th day (which eventually became the Sabbath Day) as a day for rest as well as spiritual rejuvenation.   Notice how, in combining rest with a day spent with God’s Word, God is establishing for us the picture that we always find refreshment in him.

God was so serious about this rest that he actually programmed it not only into the week, but also into the very fiber of human beings.  We simply can’t go non-stop or our bodies give up.  Bodybuilders know that they need to alternate the days on which they work certain groups of muscles, because those muscles need a period of rest to build themselves back up and recharge.  Otherwise, you’re literally just destroying yourself.

In one of his books on principles for healthy churches, Nelson Searcy refers to this very theory of “Stretch and Release” and says that “people perform closest to their full potential when they are given periods of rest between stretches of growth” (Ignite, pg. 93) Again, the idea is that going all the time does not make you faithful.  Going much of the time and then resting is actually more faithful.

Perhaps the best example of all in this is none other than Christ himself.  It never ceases to amaze me how Jesus spends his time during the course of his 3 year ministry on earth.  If it were me, I probably would have had my timer set from the moment John “the Baptist” got me up from the water and I would have been sprinting from town to town in a massive advertising campaign telling everyone I was the Messiah.  This was not Jesus’ approach.  His was more balanced and less panicked.  More faithful.  He went into the wilderness for 40 days and heightened his focus.  He gathered a support team to whom he could delegate ministry responsibilities when he was gone.  Perhaps most brilliantly, he regularly takes time out (seemingly entire afternoons or evenings) to meditate in prayer.  “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).  Here he seeks the blessing of his Heavenly Father on his work.  This rest was time well spent.  As a human, he needed rest.  He needed breaks.  He needed to be recharged so that he wouldn’t stress about the responsibilities – son, friend, teacher, Savior – that God had called him to.  This balance that involved taking care of others by also taking care of himself was supreme faithfulness.

Obviously no one is encouraging laziness here.  Scripture has plenty to say about that too.  But our concern here today is to not be burning the candle at both ends, to have balance, time away from certain responsibilities to take care for the health of the mind and body that God has blessed us with.  In Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, the wisest man to ever walk the planet (short of Christ himself), Solomon, made a statement about the benefit of a balanced, non-workaholic life.  There he writes: “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Solomon, in all his wisdom, reasons that work is a good thing for mankind, but not to the degree that you’re never able to enjoy the fruit of your labors.  Hard work is good.  Rest is also good.  BOTH are necessary to be 1) healthy,  and 2) in line with God’s will.

So………….don’t be afraid to power down the laptop and Blackberry.  The world won’t fall apart.  It doesn’t need us nearly as much as our pride sometimes wants it to.  Find refreshment in good management of the resource of time that God has given to us.  Relax with your family.  Relax just by yourself.  Relax with your Lord in moments of prayer.  In those moments, ask God to turn you into a faithful employee, spouse, parent, student, or whatever other responsibilities he may have led you to.  And then ask him to give you trust in him as he watches over your life and allows you to take breaks from these responsibilities from time to time.  You will benefit from these breaks.  Others will too.  After all, no one likes a cranky you.

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The Love/Truth Dynamic

An ugly misunderstanding or fundamentally different?

In general, I try to keep a little distance from national politics.  It’s not that I don’t find them interesting.  I do.  It’s not that I don’t think they’re important.  They are.  And it’s not that I don’t recognize a certain amount of civic duty.  There’s just other considerations.  

Pastors have to be fairly careful in comments they make regarding politics.  If you’ve been faithfully proclaiming God’s Word regularly, people have become conditioned to hear gospel truth come from your mouth.  If you then proceed to give your opinion on politics without giving the caveat that “this is my humble opinion”, some may mistakenly interpret it as gospel truth as well.  

The flip side is not good either.  Some may disagree with your view on politics (an issue that gets adults fired up faster than most other issues) and they may be tempted to discredit whatever else you say, including biblical exposition.  

Finally, sometimes pastors even begin to believe their own hype and start “gettin’ doctrinal” about things they may not have any particular authority on.  God’s Word certainly touches every part of every believer’s life.  We can’t segment our faith.  However, God’s Word principally teaches me the truth of salvation in Christ.  While guiding me in morality as well as trust in God, it does not give me particular divine insight on the economy, military, healthcare, taxes, etc.  Therefore I’d better not speak as if I have such to those who see me as a proclaimer of divine truth.    

So………for these and perhaps some other reasons, I typically choose to remain fairly quiet on the topic.  

But today I’d like to make my “for what it’s worth” observation using something that hopefully I’m more qualified to comment on – God’s Word.  As a Scriptural basis for my point, I’d use Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”  Now, if you’ve read through the first part of Ephesians 4, you understand that Paul is encouraging unity in the body of believers in Ephesus.  Despite their many varied gifts and background, God had called them to be united with Jesus as their unifying force.  Obviously Paul’s talking about a church here, but the encouragement that he makes is one that he says will benefit the church, but applies to God’s people always: speak the truth in love.  

How does this pertain to politics?  The more polarized you get in politics, the more it appears that you seem to embrace one of these concepts (truth & love) while disregarding the other.  This little phrase “speak the truth in love” encourages us to both present the truth, because it’s the loving thing to do, and also do it in a loving manner.  The farther out on the wings of politics that you get, the more the impression that only one or the other (truth or love) is important.  

For instance, I don’t doubt that ultra liberals in America have at their core the notion of love.  They want to love (which they feel is often expressed as “toleration”) anybody and everyone.  They want to love the committed homosexual couple by giving them equal rights to the heterosexual couple.  They want to love a woman (who may or may not have been abandoned by a male she may or may not have been forced into a physical union with) by allowing her to make decisions regarding her body for her own peronsal welfare.  They want to love foreigners who desire to enter our country to receive the same opportunities of liberty and prosperity through hard work that were afforded our ancestors.  They want to love our troops overseas by getting them out of harms way.  They want to love all who have had the deck stacked against them in life and have never really been given the same shot at success as perhaps you or I have.  Their “love” seeks to warm the heart without truly being guided by the mind.  

What about the other side though?  I don’t doubt that ultra conservatives in America have at their core the notion of truth.  They desire “what is right” often out of respect for the higher power they worship and sometimes in the assumption that if this is legislated, the higher power will be appeased.  They will argue that if we open the door to homosexual marriage we’re not only encouraging the end of natural procreation but we’re falling into some of the same patterns of decline that stained former great empires (see last week’s article for more on this).  They will argue that allowing a woman to terminate her pregnancy (even in the case of rape or incest) doesn’t help the woman as much as it compounds the crime.  They will argue that we’re willing to let in foreigners as long as they attain their citizenship legally, conform to our American traditions of language and culture, and not take away jobs that existing citizens are looking for.  They will argue that while it’d be great to have our troops home, serving overseas helps to promote the truth of successful and fair government around the world so that others can have hope too.   They will argue that the truth of “what is right” is the only place where we will find freedom and happiness.  At times, their “truth” seeks to satiate the mind without being guided by the heart. 

We need to state the obvious at this point.  Traditionally, conservative Christians (i.e. those who believe in the Bible as the inspired Word of God) have consistently leaned toward conservative politics.  That shouldn’t surprise us for a variety of reasons.  What we need to be aware of, however, is the total embrace of all things right-wing, particularly the manner in which truth is presented.  I don’t have any problem understanding how some see enormously influential right-wing commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly as intelligent, articulate, charismatic men.  Then again, I don’t have too much problem understanding how some on the other side see them as Grade A _______ (I’ll let you fill that in with whatever you deem appropriate).  How could someone not like another person who is so logically proclaiming truth?!  Because they did it in such an unloving way.  These men often cause those with similar beliefs to rally behind them, but they rarely win over those of opposing beliefs.  In the end, who wants to be right if it means being a seemingly grumpy and clearly somewhat arrogant older white man or, more importantly, if it means being “a bad person”? 

Both truth and love are essential.  And they’re not so much two ideas as they are the manner in which we present one idea.  

Church and State is a different article, but for our purposes today, we will establish the point that faith affects everything you do, including your view on politics.  Christian morality will lead us in a certain direction.  At the same time, we want to be careful not to blindly follow a side, as though either were not filled with sinners.  As we do in any issue of faith, we’ll want to speak the truth with Christ-like love, compassion, and understanding.  In polarizing issues, people rarely embrace truth unless they’ve been loved by the truth messengers.  Evidence for this is most easily seen in the great truth messenger: “We love, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)  

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