The Vice-President Is Still Building a Zone

VP Mike Pence Swears In Dan Coats As Director Of National Intelligence

The Vice-President is suddenly under fire, and a lot of Americans are crying foul. Stemming from a 2002 interview with The Hill, Mike Pence spoke of the marital boundaries he has put in place, which he referred to directly as “building a zone around your marriage.” The content he was referring to was as follows:

“In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.” This statement comes from Ashley Parker of the Washington Post in a profile piece on the Vice-President’s wife, Karen Pence.

To gain context and perspective, history serves us best in looking at similar other-gender issues between our elected officials. President Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both provide the historical context of the highest office through statements or infidelity committed that is official public record.

“I’ve looked at a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do – and I have done it – and God forgives me for it,” Jimmy Carter told Playboy Magazine in an interview from November, 1976, the same month he was elected President of the United States. Jimmy and his wife Rosalynn were married in 1946, and will celebrate their 71st anniversary together this year.

Former President Bill Clinton has admitted to extramarital affairs of some variety with Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, the second of which was an intern employed by his office during his Presidency.  Most of the world is also aware of the accusations made against Bill Clinton by Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Wiley, Dolly Kyle and also of the rumored affairs with Eleanor Mondale and Elizabeth Hurley, most while serving as President of the United States. From his original candidacy to the end of his last term, no single President has garnered more attention for admitted and potential sexual misconduct than former President Clinton. While parents found it necessary to explain new terms to their children during his Presidency, the media reported on most of these allegations, while investigation after investigation was paid for by the us, the tax payers. The concern was less about his sexual activity than actually who had direct access to the President and exactly what else were they given access to.

From all private and public accounts, Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, who have been married for thirty-two years, have a close marriage. Karen Pence has been cited by multiple sources as the quiet force behind the Vice-President, intricately involved in both his political positions past and present, and was a quiet, yet powerful force during the Trump/Pence Presidential Campaign.

Vice-President Mike Pence has shown wisdom setting up these boundaries, and frankly, the only people who don’t think so are the same folks who didn’t vote for him in the first place. In the days of rampant sexual addictions, and I think most Americans, regardless of faith, would agree sex addiction is a problem in our country, it is refreshing to encounter a couple who have done what it takes to ensure a strong marriage. Both men and women are falling victim to the false promises set by marital infidelity, whether it is with an actual person or the screen on your smartphone. Sexual addictions corrupt our views of the not only the opposite sex, but they annihilate our views of our own sexuality. Each week there are well over 1,000 sexual addiction meetings in the United States alone, according to the organization Sex Addicts Anonymous, and obviously most of the addicted are not seeking treatment. The narrative of sexual addictions in our country today has a colossal place in this discussion, as we see a steady erosion of the values Jesus taught us, which were quoted almost word for word by former President Jimmy Carter above.

Obviously, the private marriage boundaries of the Pence’s became public fodder when he was elected Vice-President, and they should be considered in the exact same light as we would consider former President Clinton’s. They are either a public matter, or a private matter. If we, as a country, are to rail against the Vice-President for “building a zone around your marriage”, we should also reconsider those who haven’t and what price our country has had to pay because of it.

Kudos to Mike Pence for protecting his marriage, setting the bar high for his family and country, and for once again choosing to honor Jesus above anything else this world has to offer. For his detractors, you remain where you always have been, unmoved by his wisdom as a man and by his loyalty to his bride. I pray somehow you will at least see a glimmer of the discernment this man has shown, and do what you can to protect your marriages.

For those who love Jesus, we should be grateful for the example our Vice-President has set, not only for those who respect him, but maybe even more for those who don’t. The more this story spreads, the more the faith of Mike Pence becomes known, and the Gospel of Jesus is made known throughout our nation. There is a reason why this story has teeth, and this moment in our history is no surprise to God, who uses all things to glorify his name and bring his love and goodness to his people.

The Evangelical Cultural Divide

Christian,

Today I see a large chasm in the cultural divide among Evangelicals, though some of you have publicly (and some not as publicly) have abandoned that term to describe your faith. To be blunt, on a daily basis I observe as those who either did or didn’t get their candidate elected attempt to leverage the scriptures to potentially one-up their political opponents into a theological and political submission. Far too many are copying and pasting and googling whatever they can to prove their candidate/party/ideology/choice-of-cereal is God’s best for America. For the record, I’m still hoping someone will bring back Waffelos. There’s no debate regarding Waffelos Cereal.

Then there are these “labels”. We all sit here and watch the new arm-chair quarterbacks attempt convict us with terms based on our color, income, or political affiliation, joyously cutting and pasting or writing paragraph after paragraph until they pound you into submission, or at least somehow explain how their “label” makes sense. Often, they lack the educational, research, and life-experience to make such claims, but we can cut and paste, can’t we? We can just google a verse and win the post, right? Are we winning? Wouldn’t Jesus want me to change your mind, and enlighten you?

During the election my blog saw more hits than ever. My post entitled “The Gospel Coalition vs. Donald Trump” (https://thadriley.wordpress.com/…/the-gospel-coalition-vs-d…) still gets more hits than any other thing I’ve ever written. From where we stood then and stand today as Evangelicals in America today, it makes sense (I know. Don’t call you an Evangelical).

So, it’s on my heart more than ever just to share this. Stop. And let’s restart. Let’s get off of social media and sit face to face with someone of the other persuasion BEFORE we denounce their beliefs and opinions. Let’s befriend those who think differently than we do, and find out what makes them tick. Let’s dig in deep with Jesus, share our testimonies, and become the church once again. Not conservative. Not liberal. Just the sons and daughters of God the Father, hell-bent on keeping folks out of hell. Let’s be honest and take feedback in stride, knowing we don’t have all the answers, and are willing to listen to an opposing view.

My mission (besides finishing this book I’ve spent 15 months on that almost brought me to tears today because I’ve written and deleted the same chapter four times in four months – I am proud though I only binge ate 14 white cheddar cheezits from the emotional wreck I was) – my mission is to leverage my blog/writing to unite Christians into a narrative of peace, diversity, humility, and great listening skills. I will attempt to coordinate a meeting later this year between the top Evangelical leaders in our country and have them share their hearts, and begin a new story of peace and moving us out of the toxic political narrative we find ourselves in. Some of you are those leaders. And others I will have to get in front of. I think they will listen.

I’ll keep you updated as it happens. On this, the book, if Waffelos make a comeback, and my attempts to resist of white cheddar cheezits.

I am praying deeply for healing, a new narrative, and that those who love Jesus will see that unity in Jesus’ name means something.

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

John Kasich. Ohio. And so it begins in my home state.

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John Kasich. Ohio. And so it begins in my home state.

I was fourteen years old when I first stood outside of an abortion clinic with a sign. I didn’t have a lot to say, so I mostly listened to the conversations around me. There was no yelling, no intimidation. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News would be bored out of their minds by our friends, but I found the whole thing captivating. The signs were tasteful, but legit. We spent a lot of time praying for the women walking in, and harassed no one.

I remember this rough, older man who looked a cross between Kurt Russell in a Western and a biker from the Hells Angels. He said he’d been a part of some pretty bad stuff in his life, and saving little kids now mattered most. He told me it was good for me to be out there at my age, and I remember he kept offering me words of encouragement. He stayed back from the building a little more than most, providing some encouragement and prayer. I wondered what he meant when he said “pretty bad stuff”.

His beaten up leather vest with patches and those steel blue eyes made me wonder what kind of life he led, but whatever he’d done in his past didn’t matter anymore. I kept watching him that morning, curious as to what makes a man come out here to try to save the lives of children he will never meet. My church, family and friends had told me why this was important, but it didn’t seem important to many others. Most of the Christians I knew weren’t out here. A lot of them didn’t want to talk about this subject.

And a lot of them still don’t want to talk about it. Did you ever think the devil screams loudest in our silence? Most of my friends and acquaintances who are Christians steer pretty clear of this debate. The narrative surrounding abortion hasn’t changed much since I first stood outside of that clinic in 1986 with members of the Jericho Project out of Dayton, Ohio. Today abortion had become more of a political ideology more than an actual issue to take action against.

Are you a Republican? Okay, then your party’s platform includes the following –

The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can “be deprived of life, liberty or property” deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all” are “endowed by their Creator” with the inalienable right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from individuals with disabilities, newborns, the elderly, or the infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide…

If you are a Democrat, this is the specific stance of your party.

We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people.”

I don’t think it’s a secret, is it? The Democrats are Pro-Abortion and the Republicans are Pro-Life. Sure, there are several candidates that blur the lines, but for the most part, folks have chosen a side. The Democrats support Planned Parenthood, which is quite likely the most nervous organization in the country after the latest Presidential election. Many of my friends adamantly claim they are Pro-choice, while many say they are Pro-life. I have listened to women who’ve had abortions, and women who’ve been thrown in jail for peacefully picketing abortion clinics. I have read countless articles and seen testimonies given on all sides. In all of this narrative, there is one argument so compelling I don’t think anyone can stand against it.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

Two very different writers from the scriptures sharing one prevalent thought – God planned all of us long before we were born.

Did you think about that today? Did you consider that thousands of years, even millions of years ago, God knew you and thought about you? Before you close your eyes tonight and go to sleep, will you consider your place and purpose in our world?

If God establishes his plan for us, if God forms and creates, before we are born, doesn’t this mean he has also done the same for the unborn? This is the watershed moment for anyone in this debate. If we believe in God, and claim Jesus to be our King, then why would, or even how could we even consider denying anyone else this option. How could anyone say it’s okay to steal life from someone else?

God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice to our world so that we could have life. Jesus came in the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies as a baby, and began his life, as a mortal human, as a man who would one day be broken and killed. God also designed life, beginning with Adam and Eve, and through them began to populate the ends of the earth. All of this, everything surrounding life, was a unique creation by God, and something each of us is a part of.

All of will one day stand before God. We will stand before the Creator of the Universe and our lives will be judged. This is isn’t a popular thought, and one that the Governor of Ohio proved he could care less about. John Kasich has stated he is Pro-Life, but yesterday he proved more than anything, he is pro John Kasich. Just yesterday the Governor vetoed a bill making abortion illegal in the state of Ohio at the detection of the first heartbeat. A lot folks who are Pro-Life feel helpless, yet Mr. Kasich actually could have actually done something about abortion. Sure, he passed lighter measures, ones which would lead to little to no political fallout. For all of Donald Trump’s flaws, and folks there’s some serious flaws, I must say he doesn’t make all of his most important decisions based on how popular it will make him. John Kasich had a chance to save lives, but he chose to destroy them. This includes the shocking number of 42%. Yes, 42% of all aborted babies in our country are African-American. 42%. Think about this for just a moment. When we say “Black Lives Matter”, do they matter to us when it comes to abortion? Do you believe this is God’s best for our world, for our country?

Politicians like John Kasich helped create this mess in the first place. He has stated countless times he is Pro-Life, but when the time came to actually do something about abortion, he did the Potomac two-step. He is an opportunist and I hope finally we can be done with him on a national level. He used sincere Pro-life advocates to win the Governorship and now vetoes a bill which would save the lives of potentially thousands, and over time it could be millions of babies

A final thought – If we elect Republican leaders we should expect them to live up to their words written in their party’s platform. If they cannot do that, we either need a new party that we can trust or remove these specific leaders from the Republican Party. We are accountable to God for our lives, including what we have done to protect those who can’t protect themselves. The time for waiting for someone else to lead this is over. Our votes, financial support and vocal opposition are where this narrative can begin to change, but we have to be focused and deliberate. We have to make protecting life an urgent and relevant matter, because God treated your life in such ways. We need to stand together, my friends, and send politicians like John Kasich packing. God will be honored, and we can truly call ourselves followers of Jesus.

No one has ever valued life more than God. No one. Ever.

The $400 Million to Fund Terrorists

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If what you are about to read is true, there is no doubt impeachment hearings should begin tomorrow. It is possibly the most dangerous time in history for an American to travel to the Middle East, and unfortunately it appears we have President Obama and his administration are to blame. The facts are still rolling in but according to the Wall Street Journal, CBS News and pretty much every major news outlet the President stepped outside of his powers given, and made a decision which could encourage kidnappings and terrorism abroad. Unfortunately, this didn’t just happen, which could explain some of the emboldened actions of terrorists attacking France and our other allies.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say George W. Bush was a little reserved when it came to terrorists. For all of the criticism he received, every terrorist knew one thing – if you attacked or captured Americans you and your entire organization were probably going all die. There were no delusions of grandeur on the part of anyone threatening the United States of America during his tenure as President. The terrorists knew if they attacked us or any of our allies, we were going to kill them. It’s just the way things were.

According to the Wall Street Journal, CBS News and Fox News, this past January 17th President Obama and his administration sent $400 million by cargo plane in the form of Swiss Francs, Euros, and other foreign currencies on pallets to Tehran. This was done originally under the guise of a 1.7 billion dollar settlement we reached with Iran for arms deals dating back to the 1970’s. Last July, when Iran agreed to drop all nuclear programs and agree to UN inspections, we lifted an embargo against them that began in 1979. Because of this embargo lifting, Iran was able to sue us for the ten billion dollars we owed them, and the Hague Court was very likely going to uphold this amount. We convinced Iran to settle with us for 1.7 billion, and the administration used this settlement to hide the $400 million we sent the country of Iran to  release our citizens. The administration, including Secretary of State John Kerry claimed this money sent on the same day as a release was just part of the earlier 1.7 billion dollar settlement and had nothing to do with the hostages. Yeah. Right. Anyway, they claimed this was a coincidence.

The administration chose foreign currencies because under US Law it is illegal to send American Currencies overseas to pay ransoms, and especially cannot be done without at least Congressional Approval. The administration disclosed none of this to Congress, and in fact, denied it to a few of the Republican leaders. When questioned again about the hostage release, the Secretary of State referred to it proudly as a successful “breakthrough in negations”. The Secretary of State also graciously thanked Iran for the ten US Navy Sailors released by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard just four days earlier. The gratefulness of Secretary of State John Kerry was quite boisterous, appearing all over news outlets throughout the world. The news here hasn’t even discussed the 10 US Navy Sailors in this context that I’ve seen, so there may be way more going on here than has been released.

On January 17th, after the release of the four hostages, Secretary Kerry said “This evening, we are really reminded once again of diplomacy’s power to tackle significant challenges.” No, Mr. Kerry. On January 17th you and our President opened a new door that we cannot shut under this administration. In fact, on that very same evening you likely empowered terrorism in a way they haven’t been empowered since September 11th, 2001.

On this date we sent a message to the world, and it’s the most damaging message we could have sent. Basically, we said this – “If you kidnap and threaten to kill our people and our soldiers, we will pay you off. We used to fight back. Under the George W. Bush administration you used to be scared that we would rescue our hostages and stop you from ever doing this again. Now, we basically will reward you and let it all go.” Isn’t this true? For the countless (and I do mean countless) amounts of criticism GW has received, he never once agreed to negotiate something like this, and then brazenly lie about it. The media tortured him and his administration every step of the way, and have portrayed him as an idiot, when he was almost always the smartest guy in the room. Don’t take my word for it. Do your own independent research on the truth about GW.

I am disgusted by these actions, and what this means for our country. I cannot believe our government didn’t have the foresight to see the problems giving terrorists $400 million would create for us and for the rest of the world. You have endangered missionaries, traveling students, our soldiers, and every other American who travels anywhere outside of our borders. Terrorists knew beyond a shadow of a doubt if they ever tried to take hostage any Americans or any of our allies, they would probably end up dead, along with most of their organization. Today we have learned we are now actually funding terrorism throughout the world. There is no middle ground. There can’t be.

If this is all true, there is absolutely no choice but to begin impeachment hearings immediately, including potential hearings for major violations of our laws by our President, his Secretary of State, and others within his administration. If they haven’t broken any laws, so be it. But if this true, the laws apply to them just like they apply to us. This also impacts my vote in this upcoming election, but I have no clue what this means right now regarding my vote. In the meantime, if I could leave you with one thought, it’s this –

Think of our world today and what has happened this year. Think of the attacks on our dear ally, the country of France. Think of everything you see on the news and ask yourself this one simple question. Are the terrorists in this world acting more or less bold? The answer to this question should have a major impact on how you should cast every vote this year, and how history will view this current administration. No one is exempt from our laws, especially our leaders. If they have broken the laws, they should absolutely be held accountable. We can’t be afraid of the truth. When we become afraid of the truth, we give fear prominence over freedom, and that is unacceptable for our country, and for Americans.  

Mike Pence and a New Hope

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I’ve spent the past day researching and reading about Mike Pence. Donald Trump has ignited a political firestorm around him for the past year, and the signs of it slowing down anytime soon aren’t here. He will, however, begin to defer a little now to his VP selection, if only to establish themselves as “The Ticket”. To understand the true gravity of this pick, however, is to see this election has now completely changed, and it has little to do with Governor Pence.

Mr. Trump has always been a guy to go with his gut, and in business it’s served him well. I don’t think any of us would say Mr. Trump lacks fire, in fact, we are usually thinking he has a bit too much. The strange thing about this pick, however, is that it indicates a wild change in the fight for the Presidency, and very well could change the outcome of the election.

I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that Mr. Trump loves Chris Christie. The NJ Governor endeared himself to the Donald after he dropped out of the Presidential race and through his support to Mr. Trump. For months they have been campaigning together, and building quite the friendship along the way, one which started years ago actually. Political insiders are saying without a doubt Donald Trump’s “gut” told him to select Chris Christie, but this time everything was about to change.

Donald Trump has relied heavily on his kids throughout his campaign, and Ivanka and Eric Trump have been the two most engaged. Ivanka and Eric privately encouraged the firing of Trump’s previous campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and have had his ear for the entire run through the primaries. Both of them were correctly opposed to selecting Chris Christie, wanting a social conservative as his running mate. It’s brilliant actually, and the only hope Mr. Trump has to win the election. Either he fires up the conservative base behind him, or he loses the election. There is no scenario Mr. Trump makes the general election even close if he can’t fire up the base, and Chris Christie won’t give you that. Newt Gingrich might, but his brash personality would scare off a few voters, too. Mr. Trump doesn’t need a powerhouse behind him, he needs the running mate who can smile big, take a happy looking, perfect picture with a baby, and look legit the whole time. He needs someone who seems like a real human, and is down to earth. He already has the powerhouse in his camp anyway.

Trump’s new campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Trump’s children, especially Ivanka, saw one candidate with the potential to do all of this, Governor Mike Pence. They were unified and adamant about this selection, and more than anything right now, Donald Trump values loyalty. Ivanka, who might be the most powerful and charismatic of them all, could possibly be one of the most intelligent campaigners we’ve ever been exposed to, and don’t be surprised to see her yield more and more influence throughout the next few months. Good grief, she graduated cum laude from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania! She has extensive business leadership resume, and has carved her own path outside of her father’s influence. Ivanka, along with Eric and Manafort, believes her dad needs the conservatives rallied behind him, and after selecting Governor Pence, he may have just pulled it off.

There are two scandals involving Mike Pence you’ll hear about in the next few weeks, because we know the media is coming after any conservative, right? First, he made some bad decisions in his first campaign, and used campaign donations for his family’s mortgage and to pay a few other bills. He wasn’t wealthy, like so many of our candidates are, so he took the money donated to his campaign to pay his personal bills. It’s kind of a silly, however, because it makes sense to provide people running for office a path to continue to campaign and pay their bills. Do we really need our elected officials to all be independently wealthy? Is that representative of our culture? The media will make it sound like he stole money, but if you read the entire report, it’s not at all what he did. After this incident, we went on a state wide apology tour, confessing what he did and asking for forgiveness. There’s also a second “scandal” involving HIV and the shutting down of a treatment center in Indiana. I’ve read the reports and the facts from this so called “scandal” and it’s a pile of hogwash. It also did nothing to cause him to lose any statewide popularity. First of all, he wasn’t the only decision maker in the process, and why is the Governor the only one responsible in Indiana for setting up HIV treatment centers? Doesn’t the POTUS have some pull, and all the funding he would need? How about the state legislature or anyone else in the federal government trying to assist? My point is, this isn’t a big deal on a political front, and there are other treatment facilities where help is available. Yes, the next center is about 45 minutes away, but much of Indiana is rural, and this is a very rural area. Usually folks know if they are choosing to live somewhere so rural, some resources are limited. Anyway, this is a non-issue, but you may hear about it soon.

For conservatives, this might be the moment you’ve been waiting for. In fact, this REALLY might be the change in tide. With Trump’s top three advisors wanting him to select a staunch pro-life and conservative force, with over a decade of experience the US House of Representatives and three successful years as Governor, this could be huge. Governor Pence will now enter the political fold with Mr. Trump’s top advisors, and the move to conservatism will never be more powerful. There will be another shift in Mr. Trump’s campaign and tactics, and should yield a huge win for conservatives.

One more thought – Mr. Trump had until the convention to play around, but now with it starting in two days, there are no more games to be played. He can’t change his advisors, because if he does he jeopardizes everything he has worked for, and he’s too smart for that. He is well aware of how much he needs Manafort, Ivanka, Eric, and now Governor Pence. Together these four will unite to guide Mr. Trump into the candidate we need, not the candidate he was even just a few months ago. He can’t win the election without the Evangelical vote, and with Pence he gets it. Once in office, he will keep his most trusted people close, as he always has, and right now those people are focused solely on the conservative base.

The convention and next month will tell us everything we need to know, but if you’re going to listen to anyone during those days, it may not be Mr. Trump you should pay attention to. The one person with more power and influence in this campaign has shown up, and she is a more powerful player than I’ve seen so far. They might be the smartest person in politics at this time, too, and possibly the new hero of the conservative Republicans. Whether or not the country is ready for her, Ivanka Trump could be the one person who decides this election, and the biggest ally of conservatives in years.

What Would Jesus Do in America?

IMG_2255Yesterday I watched videos of 2 black men who were killed by police officers. I woke up this morning to the news out of Dallas of 5 dead police officers, and 7 others injured. There have been postings, statements, and symbols put up all over my newsfeed and I just keep asking myself this exact same, simple question again and again. What would Jesus do?

For the past year I have been in deep study of the life of Jesus. Throughout this process, his enlightenment through the life he lived and his words have become more real to me than any other point in my forty years of knowing him. Digging in deeply to his world not only exposes us to the culture he faced, but opens us up to new ideas and how he stood differently in a very difficult time in this world. As I look to him this morning, I am drawn specifically to three ways in which I believe Jesus would be doing right now in America.

The first thing Jesus always did, and yes, he always did this, was to turn everyone to look to the Father. He spoke of God’s love and strength, and often specifically of his personal mission being sent to be part of our world. He rallied everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, around the idea of loving God and loving each other. This is particularly applicable in what he did in the story of Lazarus, which is an amazing moment in the life of Jesus.

We don’t know a ton about Lazarus. We know he was the brother of Mary and Martha, and he must have been a pretty iconic figure in his time. Crowds of people are sobbing, mourning the death of this beloved man. What’s most fascinating about this story, however, is how Jesus is engaged with the men who are soon going to be orchestrating his capture, joke of a trial, and public murder. In other words, Jesus is standing in the middle of a bunch of people who are fighting against the freedom and love he continues to throw out to anyone who will receive it. Jesus doesn’t care about the culture’s standards and the “way we do things around here”. What he cares about is bringing people into love, hope and a new purpose. When Jesus sees the heartbreak of EVERYONE around him, what does he do? What are the actions of Jesus?

In our world today everyone is looking for answers to these problems, and frankly, if we really want to be like Jesus, there three things we must do. First, we need to direct anyone who will listen to us to the Father. We need to provide our world the hope, love and purpose to be found in having a personal relationship with God. This is our most urgent calling. In the story of Lazarus, we discover what tow things Jesus did in times such as this.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:34-35

Jesus mourns with those who mourn. Not only is he broken for what has happened to his friend Lazarus, but he is also “deeply troubled” for grief of those around him, including the group of Jews who will go to the Pharisees at the end of this chapter, and tell them everything he has done. We see at the end of John 11 the beginnings of the plans to have Jesus put to death. But they weren’t just going to kill Jesus because he mourned.

The third and final act of Jesus was to heal. “Lazarus, come out!” The man who died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Jesus told us by God’s power, and the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we will do greater things than he did. I know many of you will laugh at this, but I’m not laughing, and neither should you. First, we have to understand we can’t do anything if we are afraid. Fear will bind us like the linen strips they wrapped around the dead back in Jesus’ day, and our world doesn’t need Christians who are afraid, silent and making excuses while they stand on the sideline. While everyone is busy trying to figure out the answers to these problems, Jesus has shown us exactly what we are to do. Basically, if we say we love Jesus, than our mission now, and this is our mission more than ever, is to point this world to the Father, mourn with those who are mourning, and to heal. Whether the Holy Spirit will empower you to actually heal someone through your actions is up to God and your faith in Him, but we know your words can bring healing. We know your humility and passion to protect those who need protection the most can bring healing. We know being a voice of truth, love and wisdom can be a powerful healing tool.

Jesus wasn’t afraid when Lazarus died. He didn’t hide. Even though some of his closest followers were blaming him for not taking action and getting to Lazarus sooner, Jesus still followed God’s plan for him, knowing what he was going to do now would be so much greater than anyone could imagine. Jesus had this kind of faith in God. He knew God could save his friend, and we need to be of this exact mindset when we think about our country. Too often I read about Christians who feel overwhelmed and don’t know who to vote for, how to respond, or what to do. Yet, the scriptures, and specifically the life of Jesus, never leave us confused. We know exactly the plans God has for us, because he lays them out clearly in his word.

I’ve been saying for months it is time for those who love, know, and obey Jesus to stand up and lead in our culture, and frankly, we can’t wait any longer. We need to speak up now, because if we don’t, the wrong people will speak for you, and that’s the last thing we need in America. Right? Haven’t we been called the Conservative Christians for quite long enough? Haven’t we been labeled by the media on their terms, and not our own? If we don’t speak up, eventually we will lose our voice entirely, and be shouting into the wind.

Point them to the Father. Mourn. And heal. These are the staples of the life of Jesus, and what we must do as Christians today. Don’t be afraid to follow Jesus, my friends. God is for you. He is for everyone.

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Jerry Falwell Jr. and the Playboy Cover

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I hope Jerry Falwell, Jr. saw the framed Playboy Cover with Donald Trump on it before he took the picture. I hope he looked at it and didn’t think about his personal image and what the folks in the media and social media might say. I hope he did it regardless, knowing it just isn’t a big deal, and that he is called to be a part of this world.

For the next 24 hours the rage will be Donald Trump’s new board created to secure the Evangelicals vote in November. The media and social media folks will be looking for holes to exploit, and controversies to start. So, the first order of business is to attack Jerry Falwell, Jr, and in turn, allow the wrong voices to dictate what we think and what we believe. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is just hogwash, my friends. Total hogwash. And a game being played at our expense.

Jesus ate with the tax collectors, who were basically extortionists and cheats. Jesus also hung out with prostitutes and men and women with sketchy reputations. Having an Evangelical Leader posing in a photo op in front of a Playboy Cover is nothing. It’s irrelevant. And more than anything, if this gets you fired up, you’re getting it all wrong. This is nothing more than a red herring to get us focused on all the wrong things.

Facebook loves this kind of malarkey. The media is thrilled to have some drama attached to an Evangelical Leader. In the meantime, while these jokers are trying to define our conversations and opinions, Christians should be the ones leading these conversations and definitely not running away from them. Of course, pornography is an epic problem in our society, and I’m not trying to lessen the dark evil lying behind this industry. Yet, at the same time Playboy themselves no longer prints pictures of naked women because of the availability of it on the internet.

According to the Barma Group, a recent study showed 64% off Christian men look at pornography once a month, along with 15% Christian women. This is a colossal problem in our world today, yet the media and this picture do nothing to offer a solution to the problem. The real solution is best summed up by the idea of worship. When we worship God, and God alone, it allows for us to be removed from worshipping anything else, including the naked female and male forms. Worshiping God and loving him more than anything else doesn’t provide us with an out or a topical solution over sin. It provides us with a heart change, and yes, a change of passion.

Evangelical Leaders need to stand up and tell the media “I just don’t care” about pictures like this and the criticism of Jerry Jr. is ridiculous. They don’t need to worry about how they look in social media, they need to fear God and look to him. They need to confess their sins openly and aggressively, yet not get into the business of sin management. We are not called to have a holy setting around us. We are called to tell the world about the love Jesus has for them.

The picture is a good picture, and I, for one, am grateful for it. I hope Jerry Falwell, Jr. is, too. It seems like the Lord has led him right where he should be, and it’s a very good place. I hope more Evangelical Leaders will trust God and let this kind of junk go. We don’t need to run away from the world and these conversations. We need to lead these dialogues, and show the passion and love we have for everyone in this world. It’s exactly what Jesus would do. He would know his surroundings, and still be in the picture, and he would gladly do the same with Hillary Clinton. This, my friends, is the difference, but if we can’t get there, regardless of who wins this election, we all lose.