Focus on the Family Needs to go Back to the Future

Just prior to the recent presidential election, Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, an organization founded by evangelical Christian Dr. James Dobson posted an imaginative letter entitled, “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.”  In this hyperbolic letter, the fictional writer lays out a “possible” scenario of what the United States would look like if Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States and both houses of Congress were to be run by the Democrats.  Here are some of the proposed scenarios according to Christianity Today:

-The Supreme Court would lean liberal
-Churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status
-“under God” in the Pledge would be declared unconstitutional
-Doctors and nurses who won’t perform abortions will no longer be able to deliver babies
-Pornography would be openly displayed on newsstands
-Inner-city crime increases when gun ownership is restricted
-Homeschooling would become restricted, so thousands of homeschooling parents emigrate to other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
– “Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing
hundreds, and the entire country is fearful, for no place seems safe.”
-Euthanasia is becoming more and more common.
-New carbon emission standards drive many coal-powered electric plants out of business. “The country has less total electric power available than in 2008, and periodic blackouts to conserve energy occur on a regular schedule throughout the nation.”

“After many of these decisions, especially those that restricted religious speech in public places, President Obama publicly expressed strong personal disapproval of the decision and said that the Supreme Court had gone far beyond what he ever expected,” the letter reads.

It suggests that younger evangelicals were the tipping point for Obama’s pretend victory.

“Many Christians voted for Obama – younger evangelicals actually provided him with the needed margin to defeat John McCain – but they didn’t think he would really follow through on the far-Left policies that had marked his career. They were wrong,” the letter says.

The author also proposes that every conservative talk show would have to be followed by an instant rebuttal to the program by a liberal “watchdog” group and eventually shut down by 2010. Another hypothetical scenario is that because no Christian is willing to write books critical of homosexuality, many Christian publishers go out of business.

The author suggests that Bush administration officials who had involvement with the Iraq war would be put in jail.

The author writes, “Many brave Christian men and women tried to resist these laws, and some Christian legal agencies tried to defend them, but they couldn’t resist the power of a 6-3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court. It seems many of the bravest ones went to jail or were driven to bankruptcy. And many of their reputations have been destroyed by a relentless press and the endless repetition of false accusations.”

Upon reading this apocalyptic, I thought it might be good to consider another scenario, based in the same factitious quality and tone.  Using another time machine, I chose to take us back to the year 2000,  specifically on November 6th, the day before the election that saw Texas governor George Bush running against Vice-President Al Gore.  Keeping with the spirit of the recent Focus on the Family letter, just imagine if someone, possibly one of those Democratic operatives, were to have written another pretend letter called, “Letter from 2008 in Bush’s America.”  How would those supporting George Bush have reacted?

Perhaps, the 2000 letter would suggest some crazy scenarios like the following.  Just imagine.

If Republian George W. Bush is elected, America will begin a dramatic decline toward chaos not seen since the Great Depression and an obvious manifestation of God withdrawing His hand of protection and favor from this country.  During the next eight years, if George Bush is elected and reelected, the following conditions will occur:

Within a year of his election, the United States will experience the greatest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor.  This terrorist attack will be against the symbols of US economic and military might, in New York and in Washington, DC.    In response to these attacks, President Bush will launch a massive propaganda campaign that will propel the nation into two wars resulting in the deaths of over 4,500 troops and over 30,000 wounded service personnel.  Aside from these physical casualties to our men and women in uniform, the US taxpayer will foot the bill to the tune of about $600 Billion directly and by extension, about $3 Trillion. This war will become the longest in US history and least supported since the Vietnam War.

In an attempt to keep their eye on terrorists, the Bush administration will move to allow domestic espionage, opening all kinds of opportunities for spying on citizens, some for their religious affiliations.  This action will allow the National Security Agency and others to conduct secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States all in the name of national security.

On the economic front, the Bush administration will pass a tax cut that will favor the wealthiest taxpayers and at the same time increase spending at an alarming rate.  The surplus he inherited from President Bill Clinton will turn into the biggest deficit in national history and as a result, the national debt will rise dramatically.  During George W. Bush’s presidency, the national debt will grow by more than $4 trillion. It will be the biggest increase under any president in U.S history.  On the day President Bush takes office, the national debt will stand at $5.727 trillion. By his last year in office, the national debt will stand at more than $9.849 trillion. That’s a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush’s watch.

Toward the end of his second term, with two wars still being fought, the US housing and mortgage industry will suffer a huge deflation leading to millions of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and the collapse of many large institutional banks and brokerages.  This will require the US Congress to bailout the lending industry, adding about another trillion dollars of debt to the US Taxpayer. Other world economies will suffer equally. Also, during that time, even though George Bush is an oilman, his expertise will not prevent the cost of gasoline and other oil products from more than doubling in his final year.  George Bush’s friends in the petroleum industry will see record-setting profits, while hundreds of business fail due to the high price of energy.  His slogan, “Compassionate Conservatism” will sound quite hollow.

In the midst of Bush’s terms, natural disasters will occur, but due to the weakness of his government, many will suffer for lack of critical government services.  George Bush will be seen as a reactive president, not prepared for the future.

By the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, he will have garnered the highest disapproval rating in modern history.  Due to that in part, a Democratic candidate will win the 2008 election and will be joined by a large majority of Democrats in the Congress and Senate.  States that are normally seen as safe Republican bets will reject the Republican Party, some for the first time in decades.

Although these predictions are only possible scenarios and may seem far-fetched to the rational mind, there is always the possibility, given the character of George Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney that such things could, in fact, occur on George Bush’s watch.  Therefore, be prayerful about your vote.

The sad thing is that there are those who would readily consider and actually believe the 2012 Focus letter, but if they were back in 2000 reading the letter above, would call it a hateful, liberal diatribe, or more directly, an absolute, groundless lie.  To them I would say, “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”

I know I shouldn’t have to say anything, but there are those folks who won’t see the obvious.  So let me clean it up.  In the 2012 letter, Focus on the Family Active is predicting some very dire circumstance to an Obama presidency.  All this without the benefit of God’s stamp of approval.  No one is saying, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Therefore, the predictions should be seen as merely the creation of a fearful mind, not one that relies on the scripture that declares that, “All things work together for good, to them who love God and are called to His purpose.”  Christian should fear not, but be courageous.  The 2012 letter on the other hand is a profession of fear, discord, and faithlessness.  Not one of a sound mind, unity, and faith in the living God.

It has become very clear to me that the actions of Focus on the Family Action is evidence of a para-church organization that is set adrift from the Living Word of God.  Winning the culture wars seem to be tactically, an anything-goes methodology instead of being tethered to the moral code of Christ’s example.  I think the 2012 letter is reprehensible and Focus on the Family should repent for its dissemination.

As for my personal prediction for 2012, I see more Christians relying less on the leadership of the likes of James Dobson, and more on the power of real prayer and love for enemies, real and perceived.

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James Dobson, you owe America an apology – Jim Wallis

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Revisting the Formula for Healing the Nation

While growing up in suburban Baltimore, my mom, in her attempts to instill a sense of God’s ways in me, would often note that God does things in His own time and in His own ways.  The underlying message was that we can trust God to act on our behalf, but don ‘t expect Him to do it in the way we want Him to do it.  That’s a hard lesson to learn because we, in our human, linear reasoning, feel that we know the best way for doing things.  The problem, among others we have, is that we don’t have God’s perspective, and frankly we’re not that patient. Some time later, after reading scripture and listening to hundreds of anecdotes and testimonies by other believers, it became clear that the God who would use a prostitute in Jericho, Balaam’s ass, a terrorist named Paul, and a slew of other less-than-stellar personalities to affect His will, has a way of doing things that we humans, believers included, would never subscribe to.  Fortunately, God is not bound by our reasoning and strict “moral” guidelines.  As the scripture says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways,” declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In that scripture there lies a maxim that most people just don’t get.  Tragically, most Christians haven’t integrated into their lives either, and for that reason, the nation is seriously, at risk. When, according to the biblical account detailing the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, God provided a clear, unambiguous, instruction to follow if the land, crops, and people came under a curse from straying from His ways.  It seems pretty clear that God tied the righteous standing of His people to the earthly conditions of the nation.  He further provided an opportunity for redemption, if only His people would return to Him.  The scripture that exhibits this prescription is found in II Chronicles 7:13-15.  Most Christians are familiar with it, but most of those who use it to advance a political agenda rarely get the simplicity and potency of the message.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

Unfortunately, although many politically active and interested Christians quote this scripture to promote the way the nation can return to God, there are so many that quickly start pointing to those outside the faith as the focus of this scripture.  In other words, they have shifted the blame and responsibility for national moral decline on unbelievers, while the scripture plainly points to the spiritual condition of the Church.  Instead of directing attention toward the condition of the Church, issues like abortion, gay marriage, and socialism become the primary issues on the scale.  Some will argue the point, but all one has to do is look at the letters to the Churches of Asia Minor found in the Book of Revelation.  God wasn’t warning some nation about their moral condition, but instead, focused squarely on those who called themselves by His name.  But even before the birth of the Church, Jesus spoke to his disciples about how important the integrity and holiness of his followers were to the overall condition and survivability of the nation.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

So here’s the deal.  There are plenty of texts in scripture that describes the condition of the world. Generally, the world is full of sin, death, injustice, hate, and rottenness.  People are self-centered, liars, and desperately wicked.  Of course there’s more, but I think you’ve got the picture.  Now Jesus spoke these words to a bunch of uneducated, nontheologians who had been under his tutelage and would eventually turn the world upside-down.  In this passage, Jesus made it clear that his follow’s spiritual condition was critical to the preservation of the world and to reflecting His glory in the world.  Consider this commentary:

There are two broad approaches to seeking to shape values in society. At times the Christian community may feel it needs to confront a particular value, decision or priority adopted by the community.  But the Christian community is also able to influence values day in, day out through bringing a distinctively Christian approach to the people we come across as we go about our daily lives. This is what we mean by being “salt and light” in the world (Mt 5:13,14), where by living distinctively Christian lifestyles we seek to influence those around us, and through this the values, decisions and priorities adopted by our communities.


Jesus challenges us to be salt and light – to influence the world, and to be seen to be doing so.  You might like to spend some time reflecting on this passage :
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Mt 5:13-16

1. You are the salt of the earth. ·By beginning with You, Jesus emphasises to the disciples that they have both the calling and the responsibility to be influencers in the world.   Salt is a number of effects :
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a seasoning agent, it improves the taste of the food that it comes into contact with, and so as we come into contact with society our Christian values should improve the nature of that society.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)salt makes people thirsty – and as Christians we seek to create a thirst in people’s lives that can only be satisfied by Jesus, who said : “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me  me and drink” (Jn 7:37)
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)Salt is used to thaw ice on roads : so it can have the effect of warming hearts that have hardened against the gospel – over time the saltiness of Christians can bring people to know Jesus Christ.
twiddle.gif (853 bytes)as a preservative, salt gives food an improved length of life. Ultimately, with enough salt, those who do know Jesus, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour will have eternal life.

2. Salt which loses its saltiness is useless. · Jesus’ teaching is challenging.  There is little room for those who are Christians, but who have lost their saltiness, or their “edge”.  Without the testimony of lives lived out with integrity and consistency with the principles that Christians claim to follow, the testimony of our lips is useless.  But be clear : this does not require us to be perfect : knowing our sinfulness, and knowing our need to confess it and be cleansed of it is a vital part of the Christian gospel. Then, as v16 says, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

3. You are like light for the world. · Light shines on dark things and exposes what is there. This is a call to the church to challenge evil within our society, however uncomfortable this may be. Having humility and servanthood within our character does not make us toothless and wishy-washy. The light that we bring, is not our own light – it is not who we are in ourselves, but rather the light of God shining through our lives as the Holy Spirit works through them. This doesn’t mean that we have to refer to God in every other sentence, but when the opportunity arises, we can share with another person the light that God has given us.

4. Don’t hide your light. · We hide our light when we stay silent in the face of discussion which is contrary to that which we believe. We hide our light when we fail to accept and conform with behaviours that are not in line with Jesus’ teaching. We hide our light when we don’t care for the needs of others, and walk by on the other side : since we have missed an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ compassion shine out in acts of kindness.  If we let the light of the Holy Spirit at work in us shine through, then we bring glory to God, and there can be no greater joy than being able to give glory to the Father as we go through our daily lives.

Sermon on the Mount

Now, as I pointed out in the first paragraph, God’s ways of doing things usually doesn’t jive with man’s way, that includes those in the Church.  It’s ironic that so many of those who claim a relationship with Christ, easily reject the “foolishness” of God and continue to think in a fashion no differently than the world who doesn’t even know Him.  Romans 12:1-2 informs us that things are to be different when we are “in Christ.”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Here we see the caveat that warns Christians not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be changed in our way of thinking.  This text brings us full-circle to the place where in our hunger and desire to be like Christ, we start by having the “mind of Christ.”  To do so, involves renouncing the thinking of the world.  According to Phillipians 2:1-11, we see the contrast to worldly thinking.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:   Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What we see here is plain language that yokes the act of glorifying God with humbling oneself and having a servant’s heart.  This is consistent with the call to “humble oneself” before God. Without humility, God cannot exalt His Church in the eyes of the world.  When the Church is seen as arrogant, (as it often appears in the political marketplace)  not only does the world reject that contemptuousness and arrogance, but God does not support it as well.  The mechanics of worldy politics promote contention, factionalism, and a partisan spirit.  This is the polar-opposite of holiness, the opposite of God’s nature.  Christians need to remember the warning the apostle Paul gave regarding such attitudes.  In Galations 5:19-21 it says:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

What most people see in this scripture is the sins of sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, and drunkenness.  They seem like they’re in bold print.  Sadly, what is hardly noticed, and often ignored during the political seasons are those other sins, like – hatred, discord, factions, dissensions, and the like.  The scripture is pretty clear, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Did you hear that?  They who hate their political opponents, create dissensions and factions along political lines are not living a life reflecting the nature of Christ.  I can’t believe how often I’ve seen believers, including pastors, come out of church and within a short time, are saying some of the most outrageous and slanderous things about those on the opposite side of their political views.  Name calling, something we tell our children not to do, is often a sport among Christians.  I wonder if they would do the same if Jesus, who gave his life for those they were slandering, would be sitting in the room with them?  Most Christians would probably hold their tongues.  I sometimes wonder how many children growing up in Christian homes hear their parents slandering political and cultural rivals,have their faith undermined by parents who promote the Christian tenet of loving one’s enemy, yet see something totally different in practice.  It’s no wonder so many children of professed believers leave the faith.  It’s no mystery.  They don’t see anything that reflects the nature of Christ, only talk.  While ministering and teaching children in a Christian high school, this dichotomy was often raised as a problem that truly undermined the integrity of  “Christian education.”

Fortunately, God always gives us a way to return to Him.  He wants us to come back to Him.  Like the father waiting for his prodigal son, God is waiting for us to return, with the heart of a servant. Try reading II Chronicles 7:14 again.  The words, “IF” and “THEN” are matters of cause and effect.  God promises that if we do one thing, He will do another relative to it.  If we don’t, He won’t.  It doesn’t matter who is president, congressman, or judge.  God’s rule trumps man’s devices.  As the scripture says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.”  This is a blueprint that has to start in the House of God.  No nation will ever be righteous if the Church is corrupted by being conformed to the world.

So where do we begin?  How do we change our thinking and take on the nature of a servant?  Well once again, the Word of God is not silent.  In 1 Timothy 2:1-6 we read these words which reflect the formula for praoctively changing ourselves and the world.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

Consider what Matthew Henry said regarding this passage:

2:1-7 The disciples of Christ must be praying people; all, without distinction of nation, sect, rank, or party. Our duty as Christians, is summed up in two words; godliness, that is, the right worshipping of God; and honesty, that is, good conduct toward all men. These must go together: we are not truly honest, if we are not godly, and do not render to God his due; and we are not truly godly, if not honest. What is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, we should abound in. There is one Mediator, and that Mediator gave himself a ransom for all. And this appointment has been made for the benefit of the Jews and the Gentiles of every nation; that all who are willing may come in this way, to the mercy-seat of a pardoning God, to seek reconciliation with him. Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace. He is a ransom that was to be known in due time. In the Old Testament times, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, were spoken of as things to be revealed in the last times. Those who are saved must come to the knowledge of the truth, for that is God’s appointed way to save sinners: if we do not know the truth, we cannot be ruled by it.

What is important to see in all of this is that God’s heart is toward reconciliation and the ministry he has given to his children is the same.  Being involved in political conflict puts one in peril of falling into the trap of being ungracious and imitating the “Accuser” instead of the “Advocate.”  If one follows the charge of I Timothy 2:1-6, they will find themselves conforming to the mark of a true Christian, loving one’s enemies.

On election day in America, many Christians see those who they voted against win the election.  For many, it is a moment of despair and anxiety.  Some ironically see it as a judgment on the nation.  Perhaps that’s true, but if it is, and the Bible gives us any direction, it is time for Christians to understand that in God’s economy, “judgment begins in the House of God.”  The fact is, the condition of the nation is a reflection of the condition of the church.  If we want to see a change in the world, we need to see a change in us.

Back in 1996, I decided to proactively act upon 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  I began to pray earnestly for Bill Clinton and other politicians I voted against.  In a short time, God began to flood my heart with love for these people, their families, and their staffs.  Even though it opened wonderful opportunities to minister directly to a few of these folks, what was amazing is what happened to me.  For one thing, I began to understand in a deeper way, how much God loves me.  I started to understand grace in a totally dynamic way.  As I continued to engage those who I could call, “enemies” with hospitality and grace, I began to see other areas where I could demonstrate God’s grace toward those Christ died for.  I started to see people in the light of the knowledge that Jesus had placed great value on them and had paid for them with His life.  How could I treat or consider anyone with less consideration that God has given them.

On November 5th, the people of the United States will have chosen a number of people to represent them in local posts, state offices, national positions, and the highest place of government, the presidency.  For many believers there will be joy and hope.  For others, there will be despair, concern, and even fear.  Nevertheless, no matter how we “feel” about whoever won or lost, we as ambassadors of Christ are to follow after the tenets of 1 Timothy 2:1-6.  God’s promise is “that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity for this is good and pleases God our Savior,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”  It may not make sense to obey this biblical mandate, but that should be a clue.  It’s God’s way, not man’s.

Related Articles:

Salt and Light – P.G.Mathew

Works of the Flesh

Christians and Politics – Greg Boyd

On Facebook, join the group, No Strings Attached

Obama and McCain – Looking for the Christian’s Password

Observing Barak Obama and John McCain’s attempts to lure the American religious communities reminds me of a scene in the 1995 film Babe written by Dick King-Smith where Babe, the pig, seeks to find just the right words to be able to herd the sheep during the annual sheepdog competition. The problem for Babe was that he wasn’t a sheepdog at all, but a pig! Nevertheless, because of the confidence his owner, Farmer Hoggett had shown in him and the capability and competence he had previously demonstrated with the sheep back home, Farmer Hoggett believed that he had a chance to do well in the trials. The challenge for Babe was trying to work a herd of sheep that didn’t know him nor he them. He had to find the secret to connecting with the herd, and quick.

The reason Babe was in the trials in the first place was due to a series of strange circumstances and set of anomalies in his upbringing. Unlike other pigs, Babe had been adopted by a sheepdog. That unique factor created an opportunity for Babe to develop his skills to herding sheep. The name of his adoptive mother sheepdog was Fly, and soon thereafter, Fly begins to train the pig in the ways of a sheepdog. She explains to Babe that sheep are stupid animals and that dogs are smart animals. It’s the dog’s job to dominate the sheep in order to have them perform the farmer’s bidding. One day, however, a sheep named Ma takes sick and is kept in the barn for treatment. Babe meets her and becomes her friend and knows that she is not stupid and knows that he can treat her respectfully.

As time goes by, Farmer Hoggett begins to notice the strange behavior of this pig raised by a sheepdog. One day, Mr. Hoggett takes the pig out to the field in order to see if the pig can be a sheep-pig. Babe, though he is slow, follows orders perfectly. Also, since Babe is so polite and has made a friendship with Ma, the sheep are perfectly willing to obey his requests. They much prefer his manners to Fly’s barking and commands. The farmer continues using Babe to do much of the farm work. One day, though, two dogs attack the sheep. Babe hears their cries and races to the field to save them. Once Farmer Hoggett arrives at the field, he finds Babe with a bloody snout standing over a dead sheep that the dogs had killed. Farmer Hoggett thinks that Babe has attacked the sheep and decides to kill him. Babe is saved, however, when Mrs. Hoggett receives a call warning of two dangerous dogs in the area. Farmer Hoggett realizes then that Babe actually saved his sheep.

Farmer Hoggett then proceeds with his plan to enter Babe in the sheepdog trials. He trains his beloved pig how to guide the sheep quickly and accurately through a course. Fly watched Babe’s progress delightedly, but she worries that the sheep at the trials will not be able to communicate with Babe. Fly has learned some new respect for the sheep since she has witnessed Babe’s interactions with them. She asks them about this potential problem, and the sheep tell her a password that will help Babe to communicate with the sheep at the trials. The magic words that commanded the sheep’s obedience was,

“May be ewe, may be ram, may be mutton, may be lamb, but on the hoof or on the hook, I bain’t so stupid as I look”

Those words tell a lot. The sheep were looking for respect and mutual respect would be the reward. This is secret that gave Babe and Farmer Hoggett an unprecedented victory at the trials, stunning the mocking crowd.

Like Babe, Obama and McCain have been looking for the password that will appeal to the sensibilities and beliefs of the faith community in America. The problem for them however, is that many, if not most on the right side of the theological ledger aren’t buying it. Or, at least they are very skeptical. And rightly they should be. After the revelations of the George Bush administration’s use of faith-based initiatives as a bait-and-switch tactic in appealing to the Religious Right, many in that sector have jaundiced eyes toward any politician using faith as an appeal point.

In my view, God’s Kingdom, at least the one Jesus spoke of in his Sermon on the Mount, is not based on a faith in man nor the ways of the world. Politics, although interesting and often alluring, is not the way to see true peace in the world. Any Christian who gets in the saddle of politics will find his or herself in a corral of enmity, division and contention. These are the works of the flesh, in other words, the world. If the truth of the Gospel is taking a second seat to political expediency, that faith is in vain, built upon the sand. If Jesus had thought politics would bring about peace, justice, and joy, he would have enjoined the political process. The reality is that these things are rooted in the condition of the heart, something politics is totally incapable of providing. Nevertheless, if you are a believer and hold to the idea that either Barak Obama or John McCain can lead the nation toward these legitimately sought after ideals, you should remember that these men and their political policies will only lead you to more empty promises. They certainly have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it. – 2 Timothy 3:5

But here’s the real caveat for anyone seeking political solutions to spiritual problems offered by politicians. It is found in the two verses following 2 Timothy 3:5. ” They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” In a nutshell, desperate people who don’t put their faith in God but in man will be deceived, never coming to the truth that sets free.

Related Reading:

Evangelical Expose: Bush’s Faith-based Fraud

The Obama Snooker

Reed Urges McCain to Appeal to Evangelical Flock

Christian Politics in the 21st Century

Taking America Back for God

During a recent “Speaking of Faith” radio program, Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne discuss whether there is a “Christian” way to vote. Here’s the segment. To see the complete episode of “Speaking on Faith”, click on the link below the video.

Speaking of Faith

Buyer’s Remorse in Selling Jesus

One of my favorite laugh-out-loud movies of all times is the Coen Brothers film. “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, a story based loosely on Homer’s The Odyssey, set in the Deep South during the Depression. Suave and fancy-talking Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), dim-witted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and easily-excitable Pete (John Turturro) are serving time together on a prison chain gang. Everett knows where $1.2 million is hidden that’s theirs for the taking, and the three manage to escape; however, a stranger soon warns them that they’ll find treasure, but not the sort they’re looking for. As Everett and his partners hit the road, they happen upon a gluttonous, one-eyed bible salesman, Big Dan Teague (John Goodman); meet up with Baby Face Nelson (Michael Badalucco) as he robs a bank; encounter three Sirens doing their washing; run into Everett’s estranged wife Penny (Holly Hunter), who has told everyone her husband was killed in a train wreck; find themselves in the middle of a heated campaign between political boss Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning), and reformist candidate Homer Stokes (Wayne Duvall); and even find time to make a hit record as The Soggy Bottom Boys.

In the meeting with Big Dan Teague, there’s this bit of dialogue:

What kind of work you do, Big Dan?

Sales, Mr McGill, sales! What do I sell? The truth, every blessed word of it. From Genesis down to Revelations. Yes, the word of God, which, let me say,there’s damn good money in during these times of woe and want. People want answers, and Big Dan sells the only book that’s got ‘em. And what do you do, you and your, uh, tongue-tied friend?

We, uh…We’re adventurers, sir,pursuing an opportunity, but we’re open to others as well.

I like you. I’m gonna propose you a proposition. You cover my bill for now, get your dinner wrapped picnic-style and we’ll retire to more private environs, where I’ll reveal how to make vast amounts of money in the service of God Almighty.

Jesus Cleanses the TempleThis conversation could have taken place in any of the many presidential campaign staff planning meetings in the recent contest. Selling Jesus has been good business and politically expedient. But many Christians have seen through the facade and don’t appreciate the blatant money-changing in the temple. I think it’s time to clear the air and let both campaigns know, enough is enough.

In a Christian Science Monitor article by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, he warn the candidates to “Stop Misusing Religion.” Here’s the rest of the article:

Americans will choose a new president in less than five months, but the losers of this election are already clear – the sanctity of religion and the integrity of democracy.

The latest evidence came late last month, when Sen. Barack Obama announced his resignation from his home church. Such an important decision should have been made purely for personal or religious reasons. Instead, it was apparently driven by political considerations.

As a practicing minister, I understand how painful it is for him to leave a church that has been an important part of his life for many years. It is the church in which Senator Obama was married, and it is the church in which his children were baptized. It is a place where he apparently found a community with his neighbors and with his God.

But as president of the Interfaith Alliance, I also understand why Obama found himself in this situation. During the primary campaign, the major presidential candidates engaged in a frenzied rush to prove their religious bona fides.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign went on a self-described “faith tour” of South Carolina, based explicitly upon a verse from the Book of Esther. Senator John McCain got off the Straight Talk Express to pander to the religious right when he gave the commencement address at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

And Obama is equally at fault. Early in the race, his campaign set up a website to feature endorsements from clergy, despite the fact that tax law prohibits religious leaders from making candidate endorsements in their official capacities as men and women of God.

Last fall, he asked a South Carolina congregation to help him “become an instrument of God,” despite the fact that the Constitution says no such thing.

The candidates have sought the endorsements of clergy, and both Senator McCain and Obama are now having some buyer’s remorse. But candidates cannot have it both ways. They cannot continue to use clergy for political gain and then discard them when it no longer fits their agenda.

The problem is not that these presidential candidates incorporated religion into their campaigns. The problem is that the candidates have used religion as a divisive tool, instead of a unifying power.

Rather than printing campaign brochures featuring a picture of Obama in front of a giant cross with the words “committed Christian,” as Obama did, candidates should tell the American people why, how, or if faith informs their policy positions.

Rather than declaring the United States to be a Christian nation, as McCain did, candidates should outline what steps they would take to respect the vast diversity of religious beliefs (and nonbeliefs) in this country.

Rather than asking the candidates to talk about when they have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit – as CNN did during a “faith forum” for Democrats earlier this year – the media should instead ask the candidates to outline their views on the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom.

If the Liberty Bell had not cracked in 1846, it most surely would have done so in 2008 thanks to the US presidential candidates.

If the meaning of the Liberty Bell’s biblical inscription – “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” – is to ring true in America today, no candidate for the presidency should ever have to resign from or join a particular house of worship in order to be a viable candidate for that high office.

To make such a decision for political reasons dishonors religion and disrespects the Constitution. It makes a sad statement about American politics and an even sadder one about American religion.

Obama is at the center of the storm, but all who wed religion to partisan politics share responsibility for this tragic development.

For the sake of both religion and democracy, we must do better. Our country deserves an electoral campaign which treats religion with the same respect held by those who built the Liberty Bell.

Should I, an Evangelical, be afraid of Obama?

On most days I usually peruse a hefty sum of articles, blogs, and forum entries addressing a host of issues. More than not, I tend to gravitate toward those that are in the genre of the religio-political. It’s where I find the most interesting, outlandish, and mixed-up thinking on the planet.

Since Barak Obama sewed up the majority of the Democratic Party’s cache of delegates last week, the media (of all types) has been abuzz with prognostications. It’s natural that we do this. But my eye has been skewed mostly toward what my peeps (evangelicals) are saying. The responses have filled every part of the spectrum.

On one hand there has been praise for Obama and it seems likely that he will garner a large number of evangelical votes in the fall. Some have suggested that he could get up to 40%. That’s huge!. On the other side of the equation, there are those who not only claim that Obama is dangerous, but claim the he is the Anti-Christ. One writer posted some of these dubious and arguable points in a Topix Forum. (I thought I should add some questions to his facts for clarity.)

Yahaim wrote:

Obama is the Anti-Christ. This is the evidence:

1.– He will come as a man of Peace (Obama promises peace in Iraq, defeat for the US)
When did he promise defeat for the US?
2.- He will come mounted on a white Female horse(Obama mother is white who had 6 African husbands)
Does this mean that his mother was a white horse with 6 black legs?
3.– He will come to deceive( Obama says he’s a Christian but in fact he was born a Muslim, practices the Islamic religion, prays Friday’s facing Mecca)
Is there any evidence that he still prays toward Mecca, not that he claims to be a Christian.
4.– He will make himself the most powerful man on earth, if elected.
Really?
5.– He will try to destroy the Jewish People and Israel( Obama has said he loves the Arabs specially the Palestinians, hates Israel and Jews. Admires Hitler, Osama etc) 1.Try reading some Israeli material that says otherwise. 2. Oh yeah, the Hitler-Osama statement. How about some evidence. There is evidence that Obama admires George Bush and Ronald Reagan though.
6.– He will present himself as good and righteous but in fact he’s Satan himself. Violence is in his heart.
Again, really? Your evidence, please.
7.– Obama will help Al Qaida in its evil projects.
Yeah, that’s the impression I got when Obama promised to hunt down Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
8.– Barack Hussein Obama is the “King of the South” predicted in the Bible.(Daniel .11, Kenya is south of Jerusalem)
So is Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.
9.– Obama comes to implant muslim Sharia Law upon America.
If Christianity hasn’t been successful in forcing Judeo-Christian theocratic law on a nation that promotes a seperation of church and state, how will Barak Obama?
Obama is the Anti-Christ, beware of him.
Watch him and don’t let you be deceived by Him.
Supporters of Obama: 1.5 billion Muslims, Oprah, Louis Farrakanh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and all American Muslims.
OBAMA’S GAME IS DECEPTION AND VIOLENCE
A VOTE FOR OBAMA IS A VOTE FOR OSAMA AND KILLER ISLAM!!
YIKES!!!
So, what do I think? Should I be afraid if Barak Obama is elected president? Should I throw up my evangelical, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage hands in surrender. Why, heck no! The fact is that for believers in Christ, who actually trust in, rely on, and cling to Him, there is no fear of the future. God is still in control.
If Barak Obama were to become Christian America’s worse nightmare (and I’m not saying he will be), do you think for one minute that God’s will is going to be undone? Only if God is a actually a man.

In the past two-and-half decades, all too many evangelical and fundamentalist Christian have placed their trust, not in the God who promises to heal their land by humbling themselves in repentance and prayer, but in numbers and political strength. They have fallen into the sin of counting on man’s strength, thinking, and method’s. Isaiah 55:8-9 warns believers that the thoughts and ways of man are contrary to God’s thinking. Naturally, when one’s thinking takes form, that which is formed is also contrary to God’s ways. The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Corinth, “for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

The root problem with most evangelicals who are “fearful” of certain political results and world affairs is that they are rooted in an earthly mindset, not on God’s Kingdom or it’s power. They rely on circumstances and conditions and fail to live in faith. They have not renewed their mind, but have continued in their old thinking. Unfortunately, many believers are being encouraged by politically-minded ministers, evangelists, and other religious luminaries to follow a world view that is born in an emotion that God tells us to cast aside. That powerfully deceitful feeling is fear.

The reason I don’t fear or lose any sleep whether Barak Obama or John McCain becomes president is because I know that God’s love for his people gives liberty. The Bible says, “perfect love casts out fear.” It’s not my love, but God’s love. I have faith in His love, therefore I fear nothing or no one. Furthermore, there are other truths that buoy my faith. I know that the God who is in me is greater that anyone in the world (1 John 4:4), that I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35-37), that my effectual, fervent prayers avail much (James 5:16), and that, as I learned from my childhood, “in all things God works for the good of those that love Him and are called to His purposes” (Romans 8:28). These passages of scripture provide the framework for being free from fear and being empowered to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8) The moral condition of national leaders do not change the efficacy of God’s Word.

So what if Obama is the devil some predict? What do I do? Do I call for his impeachment or God’s swift sword. Nope. God’s word tells me to do the opposite of what man’s thinking resorts to. He calls for me to pray for him, not curse him. (I Timothy 2:1-3)

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,

and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority;

that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour”

Notice the first (four) things Christians are to do in order to “lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty? They are:

1. Supplications – means to petition or entreat God for something with passion, zeal and a hunger to see the request fulfilled.

2. Prayers – activity motivated by our desire to be in God’s presence and to know His will. Prayer is an acknowledgment of our spiritual poverty and our reliance on God to speak to our poverty.

3. Intercessions – is the act of advocating for someone else. For the Christian, it is the continuation of the ministry of Christ, showing love for those who are sinners.

4. Thanksgivingan acknowledgment of appreciation for a thing received. If we believe that God hears and answers our supplications, prayers, and intercessions, then the proper attitude is one of thanksgiving

“Be joyful always; pray continually (no matter who gets elected); give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18