Trump as Primaries Approach

One bit of news, I have found hopeful in the presidential race, has been that Trump is no longer leading republicans in Iowa.

I don’t want Donald Trump to be president because I believe a man’s character is more important than his policies. As it happens I seldom disagree with his policies, but I strongly disagree with his way of operating.

(See my blogpost on why I don’t want Donald Trump for President here.)

The best thing that could happen in America would be for us to learn from the success of the Trump campaign, but have someone else come forward to win the republican nomination and then the presidency. I have long expected that most of the Trump supporters know he would not make a good president, and will switch their allegiance as push comes to shove.

Learning the lessons means admitting that a great deal of people in this country, and especially those who are voting republican, want to see us return to a constitutional, conservative, and common sense approach to governing. Throw political correctness out the window, and let’s set about fixing the mess we are in—bring back jobs, secure our borders, and return to constitutional checks and balances.

The worst thing that could happen in America would be for Donald Trump to lose the not, turn independent and then hand the election to the democrats.

Reading into Scripture

When I worked in aerospace, the group manager I worked with had an inside joke about sending left over documents to the Redundancy Department of Redundancy. Of course, that psychotic disposition to rechecking everything was both job security and helped keep future passengers on the airlines safe, so we didn’t complain too much.

Theology can be a little bit like that. Once a person has become convinced of an idea, they see it in all kinds of other Scriptures. Passages that previously would have had another meaning to them, will now point to the doctrine that they have recently adopted. The same affect occurs when defending a point of belief, having put it in the forefront of your mind you see it in every passage for a while.

This can be good or bad, depending on whether what you are seeing is really there, or whether your enthusiasm has caused you to read into the passage what you wanted to see. We humans are really good at reading into the Bible instead of reading out of it. Whether we want to admit it or not, we tend to read looking for what we are already convinced it is going to say, instead of looking for what it will say.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to check what point you are drawing out in several ways. Does it fit the context, either as a main point or as a logical aside? Could this passage be read so as to mean something else on the point I am seeing? Does it agree with the nature of Scripture and the character of God?

Scripture can be misread, but we can protect ourselves from misinterpretation with a few simple questions and an open mind.

Movies, Courage, and Foolish Talk

In late November, after the Paris terror attacks, French Ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud had a bee in his bonnet based on a tweet by Donald Trump, who had said that the attacks were enabled by the gun control laws in France. Asked to respond on Fox News he said, “Imagine a theater hall and suddenly people enter with machine guns and are really killing people … It is only in the movies someone is using his gun to defend himself.”

As an American, who has never been to France, I am not qualified to speak for the French people. I assume that the ambassador knows his people and their character better than I do. Although I would like to remind the ambassador of something.

Back in mid-August three American young men traveling in France were on a train when another mass shooting started. These men acted, attacking and subduing the attacker, one can only guess how many lives they saved.

These individuals were not in a movie. But they took courageous action to save themselves and others. Yes, I know that they did it without firearms. I suspect the courage they applied in their situation was even greater than if they had firearms.

It’s time to set aside the hysteria over weapons. The only deterrent to the type of attacks we are seeing right now, is the understanding that people have the right and will use the right to defend themselves. I have never been in a gunfight. I can’t imagine what it is like. But I am sure it is more challenging for the attacker if they expect to someone to shoot back. What is our other option? To bring a knife to a gunfight?

Understanding Mission Funding

Theology should be practical. It should never be a purely intellectual exercise. Instead the things you believe should always find an expression in behavior. Whatever settles into your mind, will in some manner, also leak out your toes and fingertips. Doctrine hasn’t completed its purpose until it changes your work and walk.

One of the areas on my mind right now is how we fund missions. When I say it like that, it probably draws to mind the missionary offerings we take at this time of year. Whether your church has a missionary society or a board or whatever, Christmas is a great time to raise funds for missions. I love the Lottie Moon offering, which is my denomination’s major funding event for International Missions.

But special offerings have a serious weakness. After the Christmas offering is done missionaries need to continue their work from January to November, not just in December. So there needs to be a means of funding missions the rest of the year too. The need is year round, so the giving also needs to be year round. For my church this means giving a percentage of the churches income to missions.

But don’t forget that the work of the local church is also a part of the mission. The tithes of the church members pay for the work of the pastoral staff, and a whole lot more. The buildings, grounds, teaching programs, potlucks, and fellowship groups all are part of that mission carried out by the local church on the local level.

Yet I don’t think any of these are the most important way that missions are operate and are funded. Spreading the gospel is the heart of our purpose, and its best fulfillment is in the witness of individuals who personally sacrifice to tell others. In today’s world witness is very seldom a chance encounter but instead is developed through a personal relationship. The wise Christian will intentionally build bridges with their neighbors and acquaintances in order to earn the right to tell them about Jesus.

Every believer in the church should see themselves as a part of the purpose. They learn about it, they develop a pattern of giving to it, but also they begin doing it, and this where the mission really takes shape. A Christian man volunteers in a local school. A Christian woman takes neighbors out for coffee on a regular basis. A believing senior pays for his bushes to be trimmed, but also pays for the widow next door to have her bushes trimmed. All of these things are done intentionally in order to one day have the opportunity to share the gospel.

This is how it becomes a reality that every believer is a missionary. The most important and effective work of our mission is done by a believer reaching whomever happens to be right next to them, whether that person lives in rural America, the Bible belt, a great urban center, or anywhere else along the way to the ends of the earth.