How would Jesus vote? or would He? (4)

Jesus saw the Kingdom of heaven so clearly that He may not have invested much concern over U.S. Election 2016. Explaining the source of the believer’s provision, Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt.6:33).

Some have suggested to me that Jesus was endorsing civic involvement (or at least paying taxes) when He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:17). I take from this that Jesus instructs everyone to obey the laws of the land. I find more insight regarding this election in the description given of Jesus by the Pharisees and Herodians: “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth” (Mk.12:14).  If this description were not true, I believe Jesus would have contradicted it.

Jesus-in-boatWhat would Jesus do? How would Jesus vote? He would probably be so focused on building the Kingdom of God that we would not be much involved with the election. He might abstain out of voter apathy!

Or He might use the election season as an opportunity to teach on integrity, love of neighbor, value of life in all its forms, compassion, protection of those at-risk.  He might seize the opportunity to expose self-righteousness, fear-mongering, futility of depending on the schemes of man, and selfish protection ones’ own rights while tolerating the exclusion of the widow, the orphan, the trafficked, and the foreigner. He might contrast the value of free trade against greedy opportunism of the already-wealthy. He might expose the difference between the right to bear arms with the unavoidable outcome of a militarized society.

In my own thinking, I will either abstain from voting for President or write in Michael Maturan of the American Solidarity Party about which I have written briefly here.

No matter what, I see this season as yet another wake up call as to where my allegiance must lie.

(photo credit: in-formatio.com)

My earlier election thoughts starting with Moses.

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The American Solidarity Party – worth considering

In all the conversations surrounding Election 2016, I was glad to learn of the American Solidarity Party (ASP). Just a few years back it was called the Christian Democrat Party. I do not favor a political party taking the name “Christian” because I believe we who follow Christ are of a heavenly Kingdom. Associating the name of Christ with a political organization is unhealthy in my view.

marturenMichael Maturen, the Presidential candidate for the ASP is described in wikipedia and this article in Alitea magazine. He is Roman Catholic, which explains his conservative stance on social issues such as abortion and euthanasia. His pro-life posture extends to opposing capital punishment. While I am not impressed by what I have read about Maturen in terms of political qualifications, I have not learned anything about him that causes me concern in terms of character. A major concern is that Maturen lacks the kind of experience required for the Presidency of the USA. He is, as far as I know, untested in such a leadership role.
Having read the platform of the ASP on their website, I do not claim to comprehend all of the issues nor agree with everything there, but on many points it resonates with those of us who desire to honor God and see Him honored in our country.
american solidarity party logoThe ASP is a minor third-party, most popular in California and Texas. It will not be on the ballot in many or most states (in which case a write-in of “Michael Maturen” will be needed).
I am undecided as to whether or not I will use a vote for the Presidential race, or focus on these expressions as my “voice.” I will not vote for either Hillary or Trump, so Maturen is the only viable voting option I see at this point.
I welcome your input!

Summary from wikipedia (accessed 9/20/2016):

The American Solidarity Party (ASP) is a Christian Democratic political party in the United States. Its motto is “Common Good, Common Ground, Common Sense.” The political position of the American Solidarity Party is socially conservative and economically distributist. Therefore, the ASP holds to socially conservative views such as adhering to a pro-life position with regard to abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia, as well as opposition to same-sex marriage and opposition to pornography. With regard to economics, labor issues and foreign policy, the American Solidarity Party is liberal, seeing the “moderate welfare state as the public expression of every citizen’s responsibility for his poor brother or sister.” As such, the American Solidarity Party notably opposes conscription, and favors “equal access to the polls, the courts, housing, education, and credit”.In addition, it supports “amnesty and a path to citizenship” for immigrants currently residing in the United States and “oppose[s] the militarization and fortification of our national borders”. With regard to healthcare, the ASP advocates the creation of a decentralized ‘single-payer’ system. It supports the dignity of work, as well as stewardship for creation, advocating for “generous funding for research in safe and renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind-power.”

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When a church embraces grace

The experience of the church at Antioch is reproducible and transferable because the qualities that created their community-life emanate from the unchanging life of God. Every time they gathered, they saw thankfulness and wonder in each other’s expressions. They were a church amazed by God’s grace, amazed at their inclusion in the forever-family.

grtitude irresistibleFrom The Amazing Potential of One Surrendered Church, by Robert E Rasmussen (p.36)

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6 Reasons Your Nation Cannot Be Glad

God’s desire is that every nation be glad. The Bible is clear about this. In one Psalm (#67) God reveals six signs of a glad nation. But your nation cannot experience these because they only happen when God is given opportunity to bring in His character. There are no glad nations today, and I do not think we can even imagine one.

I am an American, so let me focus on why America cannot be glad. You can adjust this to your own nation.

1. WE DO NOT LOOK TO GOD FOR MERCY AND BLESSING. “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us” (Ps. 67:1). When someone’s face shines on another, it means he has joy and pleasure on his face. He is pleased and happy with what he sees. A glad nation is one on which God looks with an intent to shower his favor. Most Americans have no interest in this.

2. WE DO NOT KNOW THE WAY OF SALVATION. “That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations” (v.2). A glad nation is one in which common families know that we are in dire straits without God, and that He is our only hope. Most Americans think they know all they need to know. They don’t think God can save.

3. WE DO NOT SING TO GOD WITH JOY. “Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!” (v.3,4a). This scripture actually tells of God’s wish that everyone would be happy with praise! Americans are too busy for this, and too focused on many things other than God. We are so intent on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that we created a sad nation.

4. WE DON’T WANT RIGHTEOUS GOVERNANCE. “For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth.” (v.4b). God would like to gladden nations by helping governments to reward good acts, punish evil, and protect the weak. We are too interested in our own rights to let God’s way enter in.

5. WE DO NOT VALUE A PRODUCTIVE EARTH. “Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You, then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us” (Ps.67:5-6). We don’t see the earth as God’s creation, so we make no connection between honoring God and having prosperity. We think the earth just happened, and we are trashing it. We don’t recognize our prosperity because we always want more.

6. WE HAVE NO REVERENCE FOR GOD. “God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” (v.7). “Fear” means to honor and respect. Because my nation does not respect God, we have reason to be afraid of Him. God is angry because we have declined His goodness. This has seriously ticked Him off, and we are living with the results.

God is good and wants nations to be glad. You and I live in sad nations because God is willfully ignored. These are the sad facts.

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S.A.N.T.A. approach to cross-cultural friendship

Here is a simple, easy-to-remember approach to making a friend with someone of another culture.

S = smile

A smile is the international way to show friendliness. It is your best first smilestep. Best to keep your smiling man to man, woman to woman, so you don’t miscommunicate.

A = appreciate

Say something appreciative about the person, such as:

  • I’m glad we are neighbors.
  • It is great to see your family getting together
  • That shirt/dress is beautiful. Is it from your culture?
N = name

Everyone loves to be known by their name. When appropriate, ask and remember the name of your new friend. If it is difficult, resist the urge to shorten it. Say, “I love your name and want to remember it. Could you say it again (or spell it)?” Don’t be afraid to write it down; that shows you really mean what you say. Remember the name for the next times you meet.

T = tea

Sitting and chatting over a simple cup of tea or coffee, with a biscuit, is an important step in deepening a friendship. Do this often, preferably in your home or apartment, although a neutral cafe is okay. Home hospitality invites your friend into your space, which helps build trust. If a visitor of another culture comes to you door, invite them in without question (not applicable to sales people necessarily).

A = ask

What do you talk about over tea? Ask your new friend to tell you about him/her self. There is an interesting story to hear. Do this more than once, for there is much to learn. You might ask:

  • Where is home for you, and how are things there?
  • What was your experience in coming to this country?
  • What are your favorite traditions in your culture?
  • How has this country been different than you expected?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in coming years?

I encourage you to repeat the S.A.N.T.A. approach many times with your new friend. Each time you will deepen your friendship. In time you will be able to share your story. Showing interest in this way is so rare that you will be invited into your friend’s life and network. You will be amazed at how fulfilling this can be.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

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#WWJD. Abstain! (3) John the Baptist

If John the Baptist was here and now, what would he say about Election 2016?

Three episodes of his life stand out to me.

First, John remembered that Jesus is greater than any other leader.

His entire purpose in life was to make a smooth path for the coming JohnTheBaptistMessiah. He did this by denying himself the perks of his culture, and by telling others to get right with God. His baptism was for repentance; i.e. change your mind about what matters and change your behavior to please God. John said he was not worthy to strap Jesus’ sandal. That’s humility as a result of keeping Jesus in His rightful place as God’s anointed.

–> Election 2016. Let’s not get so wrapped up in the outcome of the Presidential race that we knock Jesus out of first place in our hearts. The Lord Jesus has survived and outlasted hundreds of horrible candidates and rigged elections! He will outlast this one too!

Second, John faced his doubts but clung to Jesus when things got confusing.

I’m remembering the time when John was in prison and was getting a bit bewildered. He had a clear calling, but it had led to his suffering. Understandably, he needed the encouragement of knowing that it was all worth it. So he sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if things were still under control out there (Matt.11).

Jesus did not fault John for this, but sent word back to him saying, in effect, “John, you would be so jazzed to see what I’m up to. People are being healed, sinners repenting, the poor are being empowered by the truth, and resurrections are happening. Keep believing and you won’t regret it!”

–> Election 2016. This is a great time to cut through all the confusion and realize that Jesus is at work today in phenomenal ways. We are living in a supreme illustration of the folly of the efforts of humankind. Our world-class democracy is like the tower of Babel — our best effort and our greatest folly. Let’s keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus Christ.

Third, John knew character mattered and did not compromise.

We learn that the reason John was in prison was because he spoke out about the immorality of Herod who had gotten involved with (affair? married?) his brother’s wife (Mt.14:3-4). Herod, perhaps tipsy on wine, made a promise he later regretted, and ended up having to execute John to save face.

When John criticized Herod, he was not keeping his views under wraps inside his believer’s fellowship. He was speaking into the public arena the moral standards of God. And he paid the price.

–> Election 2016. I’m troubled with the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils. I know there have never been any perfect candidates, either morally or in terms of issues, but the candidates in this presidential election are, to me, so flawed in character that I feel I have passed a tipping point. I have read many justifications for voting one way or the other, but I keep circling back to the obstinance of John the Baptist.

Photocredit: spindleworks.com  (btw if you want a good chuckle, google “john the baptist images”; some of the depictions of this guy are so wonky; I think if there is blushing in heaven that John is tomato red)

See prior thoughts on Moses and Isaiah. Next up is Jesus.

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The greater of two hills

So much happened when Christ died for our sins – not just on earth but in heaven. Could we stretch our minds to encompass some of that higher drama? To do so, return with me to Jerusalem, and imagine the story that two of that great city’s hills – Mount Moriah and Golgotha – could tell.

temple herodMount Moriah was a grand and regal hill, boasting a star-studded history. How many mountains could brag about Abraham’s raised knife and his son’s quiet faith? Now the mount proudly wore the magnificent temple that Herod built. The pearl of the City of David, the center of Israel’s faith, jutted toward the sky in gleaming splendor. Now its priests busily prepared for the Passover celebrations.

Probably just three thousand feet away stood Moriah’s diminutive half-brother, Golgotha. Golgotha didn’t even count as one of Jerusalem’s golgothaseven hills. By appearance, it was plain. By history, it was despicable. But by destiny, it was about to become glorious.

For you see, while the priests scurried about the temple on Moriah, preparing to enter the Holy Place, Golgotha was about to host the High Priest of heaven. With sandaled feet, the Rock of Ages as scheduled to walk onto the rock of shame and step into the eternal Holy of Holies, into the temple of the Living God.

In Herod’s temple, the priests had become quite adept at offering a day’s worth of oblations without soiling their garments with goat’s blood. In a moment, on the hill of ignominy, the eternal High Priest would come to perform His sole task: to spill His own blood shamelessly onto Himself and wherever else it would happen to fall.

The two hills could not have been more different. By all appearances, Mount Moriah for its temple was clearly glorious and admirable. But no one would want to visit the ugly hill of Golgotha.

Isaiah the prophet knew how unsightly a place Golgotha would be. He foretold how disfigured the High Priest would become on that hill. The ancient prophet knew that the Messiah would be mauled, displaying neither beauty nor majesty. Instead, He’d be despised and rejected by men. Man of sorrows. Familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces. Stricken. Smitten. Pierced. Crushed. Oppressed and afflicted. Let like a lamb to the slaughter.

But Isaiah also knew there was a purpose for all the ugliness. Jesus would take up our infirmities. Carry our sorrows. Be pierced for our transgressions. Crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. By His woulds we are healed. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

That’s why Moriah, the regal mount, deferred to Golgotha that day. Call it a passing of the baton. Think of it as a recognition of greatness.

The shadow bowed to the substance. The copy yielded to the original. The earthly acquiesced to the heavenly. The temple applauded the Sanctuary.

The worship on Moriah grew dim in the spiritual realm that day, lessened by the increasing brilliance that shone on the Redeemer. Perhaps, like John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase but I must decrease,” the Temple tipped its hat to the heavenly High Priest on the hill called Skull. And maybe the Sanctuary saluted back to the stone and bronze, acknowledging a job well done, releasing it from its duty and accepting the immense responsibility on Himself.

Though no mortal noticed it, heaven’s eyes could see that the golden lampstand beamed a smile over the wall to the Light of the World. The table of showbread turned over duties to the Bread of Life. The golden altar of incense giggled with delight at the fragrant offering ascending over Golgotha. The Ark of the Covenant sighed deeply with relief that the new covenant of the heart had finally come. And the cherubim who covered the mercy seat joyfully fluttered their golden wings at the deluge of grace raining down and washing away condemnation.

Caiaphas, the high priest on Mount Moriah, didn’t have eyes to see this phenomenal display. He had missed his true calling. What should have been the grand climax of glorious centuries of preparation turned out a dismal failure of perception. So thick were the blindfolds that the high priest didn’t know that his heavenly counterpart, the true High Priest, was even now within the Holy of heavenly Holies, offering once and for all the sacrifice for all of humankind’s sin.

But the High Priest of the new covenant didn’t require the acknowledgment of the old. The new Mediator bridged the gap single-handedly.

Job well done, O bulls and goats of the sacrifice! You pictured Him well. You pointed the way.

O you tender lambs of the ages, you who gave your lifeblood helplessly. Look, see Him there, the fulfillment of your prophecies. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world!


Excerpted from Safe in His Sanctuary, (Multnomah 1999), Robert Rasmussen

Photo credits: Herod’s temple: telegraph.co.uk.
Golgotha: elishavision.wordpress.com

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The day God ran out of patience

thunder lightningOne day, God’s patience snapped. It began as a clap of thunder in the distance. His discontent rumbled over the hills of villainy, sending forth the first warning shots that His silence would soon cease.

The ocean began to swell, turning the deep green water into white foam, reflecting the Almighty’s building fury. The winds picked up the tempo as they began to howl, building into gale force, breaking into the bellowing roar of divine indignation. God was fed up with the captivity of souls, sick and tired of the despicable prince’s pompous rule.

The roofs and shutters of the Land of Wrath lost their grip and sailed uncontrollably into the wind, exposing dismal hovels of fear. Then the earth began to shake, and the foundations of the mountains trembled, shaking with God’s burning rage.

Smoke rose from His nostrils and consuming fire burst forth from His mouth. He split the heavens because the perishing cried out; He came to rescue those entangled in the snares of death. From His Sanctuary, He heard their wail of distress.

So He mounted the cherubim and soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his hiding place, the sky’s dark rain clouds His canopy. Out of the brightness of His presence, the clouds advanced over the dreary land, hail-stones and bolts of lightning emissaries of the infuriated King. The Lord thundered from heaven, the voice of the Most High roared. He shot His arrows into the lewd oppression and scattered the devilish minions in a thousand directions. He threw great bolts of lightning and routed the hierarchy of hate. The valleys of the sea were exposed, and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the Lord’s rebuke, at the blast of breath from His nostrils.

Yes, the God of love could bear the sight no longer. He could no longer endure the pain. He had to rescue the people brought forth from His yearning arms, the family He created for holiness.

And so He rose that day in vindication so righteous as to be virtuous. He rose against the devastation and waste. He rose in disgust at the culture of filth, His blood running hot with rage over the crippling depravity. He rose to crush the skull of the vile rebel who had deceived His creation, and with flaming eyes and fuming anger, with clenched fists raised toward heaven, with holy sandals planted squarely on the sludge of deception’s kingdom, God lifted His thunderous voice and shook the rafters of rottenness. His glaring eyes pierced right through the lion, and with words sharpened like a saber, God challenged His enemy to the duel of the ages: “Meet me at Golgotha!”


Excerpt from Safe In His Sanctuary (pp.83-84), by Robert E Rasmussen

photo credit: agatelady.blogspot.com

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Look Anew (poem)

Day after day he had seen it in its case,

gazing on its pristine beauty.

Until one day he freed it from its place

to view it in the sunlight clearly.

And when he did, the beam pierced through;

with eyes awakened did he see.

O friend, do take a look anew

for that same jeweler you can be.


Robert E. Rasmussen, Imagine Meeting Him

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