Ministry Matters™ | Articles | Jesus Is My Candidate

Ministry Matters™ | Articles | Jesus Is My Candidate

I have been struggling with this election.  I am tired of the “end of times” talk out there.  If _____ is elected the world will end in the next four years.  I am tired of the emails that blast people who are voting for whoever the ‘other’ candidate.  I am also tired of hearing that the most imporant thing Christians can do this November is vote.

Now I firmly believe voting is important and it is a wonderful right that we have in this country.  There are people who have died for that right in other places and we should take it seriously.  But as a Christian who worships a God of no nation I hate limiting God to our borders and our politics.  God is bigger than that and what we do as Christians is bigger than that.

I like how this article asks some good questions about making Jesus our candidate.  I also like the idea of Election Day Communion or what I have heard in some other places, a prayer vigil on the day after the election.

In a time when the country is split and fighting against one another we need to remember some things and this may be the most important thing we as Christians can do on Nov. 3rd.  We can remember we are all God’s Children, we are all created by God and in God’s image.  We are all loved by God and given grace, forgiveness and joy.

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Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Tomorrow is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” where some preachers will stand behind their pulpit and tell people who to vote for.  They will tape this proclamation and then send it to the IRS begging them to take them to court.  Tomorrow I won’t mention this because I am preaching about Passionate Worship…which may have something to say about the idols we create in our politicians…is truly about God.  So I will be sticking with the Big Guy tomorrow. 
I have read and heard some interesting opinion on this Sunday though and thought I would share.  First Allan Bevere has a great article on this subject.  Here is one of his points that I thought was spot on.  Click here to see the fullpost.
“Third, the gospel is true freedom, which only the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ can secure.  I don’t need the Alliance Defending Freedom on one hand, nor Americans United for Separation of Church and State on the other, telling me that obeying the law or defying it is necessary for the freedom of religion.  The gospel is inherently liberating in the fullest sense of the term, legislation and tax codes notwithstanding.  I will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ from the pulpit and I don’t need the state defining for me what that does and does not mean, nor do I need a group of pastors telling me that if I do not endorse a candidate from the pulpit I am allowing the state to muzzle me.”
Then I heard an interview on NPR with Stephen Colbert this week and the interview below was quoted.  I thought Colbert’s points were also spot on and hilarious as always.  Enjoy.
What scares me the most is when we make worship about something else besides God.  When we make it about a political statement, our own personal egos, or our own agendas, we have turned worship into idolatry.   

Pastor’s View on Politics as we Know It

James Howell, pastor of Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, has a great article in the Charlotte Observer.  Here is a link to the whole article and a little snippet below.  Howell’s title I think sums it all up perfectly, Fear, Lying Politicians and Trust

Whether you believe in God or not, let me offer a few suggestions. We need not cower in fear. We can trust ourselves. We can trust our country. We can trust our fellow citizens, who actually have some wisdom. Maybe we can try a little more humility. Who’s cocky enough to have all the answers, while everybody else is a kook? Could some modesty be the opening we all need to listen, to lower the temperature, and realize we might figure out ways to work together, and not condemn each other but trust the fledgling goodness in each other?

I also really liked.

We can decide that the best thing for each one of us, for our country, and for our world is to shackle this fear, to refuse to play victim, and choose to trust ourselves, and our country, and even God, and move forward, not hoping our foes fail miserably, but striving together to succeed.

Take some time and read the article and I trust you will.


Its Really None of Your Business

WARNING, STEPPING UP ON SOAP BOX:
I am currently in year five of my current appointment.  I am now tied with two other pastors for the longest tenure at this church.  Now that I am finishing up the first quarter of my fifth year I have been getting lots of questions about whether or not we will be moving.  It has not simply come from parishioners, most of them have not asked.  It is outsiders who do most the asking.

My wife came home from getting her hair cut and during the small talk she told her hair dresser that I was a United Methodist minister in Thomasville.  The hair dresser asked how long we have been here and then if we were moving this year.  I have been asked by other random people as well and it finally hit me why I get frustrated when people ask that question.

Whether a clergy family is moving or not is such a deeply personal question.  Yes it affects the local congregation and it is public knowledge that we Methodists move, so it is a natural question that can be asked.  Yet I don’t think people understand what they are asking.  First three people have to decide it is time to move, the church, the pastor and the cabinet.  None of which are even thinking about this in the fall of the year.

Plus, the question itself is loaded.  Are you going to move? = Do you feel your time at your current appointment is over? Have you done everything you can to work with that congregation to move deeper into their calling as a church?  Can they afford you any longer?  Do they not like you over there?  Do you not like them?  Are you ready to uproot your family and move away from the only place your kids know as home?  Do you feel like you are will be represented well enough on the cabinet that your gifts and graces will be considered over your current salary level?  Is it a good move year?  Are there still things hanging that need to be dealt with at your current church before you feel you could move?  Is your congregation healthy enough to endure a move this year?  Is your spouse happy with the life s/he created at this appointment and wanting or willing to ‘start all over again’?  Will your children be hurt tragically to leave the only friends they have every known?  Are you scared your next parsonage won’t hold a candle to your current one?  Are you emotionally ready to move?  Are you spiritually ready to move?  Are you, as the pastor, ready to start all over with new faces, new demographics, new family dynamics, new sources of power, new staff, new town, new life?  I could go on but I’ll stop there.

There is so much that goes into a clergy person’s decision to move that to flippantly ask about it in a random conversations is almost rude.  It is like asking someone, “How much do you make in a year?”  It really isn’t any of your business.  But hey, for ministers anything goes right?

I can tolerate the question when my family asks it.  I dodge the question when fellow clergy ask it.  I duck and swallow hard every time a parishioner asks it.  It rocks my nerves when random people ask it.  They of all people don’t understand the spiritual, personal, political, and did I mention personal realities that resides in the true answer.

Adam Hamilton on CNN Talking about HealthCare

Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, was on with Lou Dobbs the other night talking about the moral obligation of the government to provide affordable health care. I thought it was a good interview, although there was some talking over one another, but you can learn more about that on Adam’s blog.

I have not weighed in on the health care issue yet but you may see a post soon. I agree something has to be done, you can see my rants on my personal health insurance costs, but I don’t know the answer on how to solve the problem. Here is the discussion…

Recount or just be Purple?

Here in the big NC, the presidential race is too close to call. Literally there is 50% to McCain and 50% to Obama. When 100% of the precincts reported Obama had 2,123,334 votes and McCain 2,109,281. Since the 14,053 votes fall under the 1% margin of error, we are currently waiting. I know the rest of the nation had made up its mind but still, one day later, North Carolina is a Purple State.

Currently, those with nothing better to do, are deciding whether or not a recount is needed or to actually realize that it doesn’t matter at this point where our electoral points go. I think the main point is to find out which way NC went in order to then look back four years from now. Yes, our electoral college votes need to be given to someone but let’s make it easy people. There is 14000 votes one way, just leave it at that. We do not want to have a reputation like Florida. No recount necessary, just give the points to Obama and lets move on.

On the other hand, since Obama is already the winner, why do we need to choose a color. Why can’t we be the only state to be purple, or violet, or egg plant, for the next four years? Why cannot we simply divide the electoral college points in half and call it a election.

For those of you with more knowledge on this subject than I or who really want to see our points go to a candidate, let me know what you think.

Historic

I leaned over today and kissed my wife’s belly. Inside was my unborn child. My two year old laid in bed, not even knowing what happened tonight. Today was a historic day. today the world changed. I cannot believe that I have experienced another time, another moment, when I will remember where I was when. On 9-11 I was in black church history class and today I witnessed a grand moment in history.

When I kissed my wife’s belly, I told the baby growing inside that s/he will grow up in a world, in a nation, that doesn’t know of a time when a minority didn’t hold the highest and most powerful position in the world. There is hope found in that. There is progress.

I am watching McCain’s concession speech and I am reminded that as Obama walks away with the election, that we are still a divided country. I hope that we can rally together, to continue on the path of progress, and to understand that we can do so much, we achieve greatness, when we work together.

My prayer is with Obama and Biden tonight. May God’s calling on your lives be one they accept with wisdom and understanding. May the work they do for the next four years be proof of that calling. Peace be with you, not like the world gives, but the type that comes from my God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.