Category Archives: awakening

“Triggers” Keep Us from Truth, Part 1

To all who are “triggered” by the free exchange of ideas:
Be careful what you agitate for…once you go down the road of restricting liberty of conscience and expression, you will find there is no end to the paranoia, lust for power, and totalitarianism lurking just below the surface. We now have the marginal at the center and the center at the margins.

The lessons of the French Revolution, the evils of the USSR’s formation and expansion, Mao’s murderous Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s destruction of Cambodia, Iran’s self-immolation…all of these started with words like “freedom” and “the people” and ended with authoritarians killing “counterrevolutionary” people. 

Now we have feminist pioneers being eviscerated for not wanting men to compete in women’s sports. Science is thrown out the window and feelings reign supreme. Religious business owners (only Christian, by the way) are targeted for destruction. Arresting thieves becomes a cause for accusations of a “history of racism” with college leaders agitating…and when found out, hiding behind the very First Amendment they hate so much. 
Cambridge scholars cannot speak at Oxford. Former Muslims are forced off platforms. Exposure of jihadism becomes a cause for accusation of another “phobe.” 

We can do better in a free and virtuous society. But we must have the character and courage to debate without rancor and live peaceably with our deepest differences.

Finding Wisdom Amidst the Noise

Every day we are besieged with information. Some is useful…much is mere advertising. Our internet world often confuses data with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Soundbites and click-throughs are replacing research and reflection. On the American scene we already have nearly 20 presidential candidates vying for attention. Here are some observations from the last several weeks that I hope will prompt thoughtfulness:

Political correctness and cynicism are two sides of the same coin of fear. The first aims not to offend at the expense of humility and reality. The second avoids debate with caustic declarations that only widen differences. 
Let’s choose critical thinking with mutual respect – our civil institutions depend on people of character looking at reality and finding wisdom, not parroting talking points or practicing stand-up comedy.

Still reflecting on the powerful movie, “Unplanned” that Kathy and I saw together. Without hyperbole, this may unveil for abortion what Schindler’s List did for the Shoah. I recommend parents and teens pray and see it together. Not for children or the unprepared. There is divine grace for all ensnared in this tragic issue.

Encourage someone today. Everyone needs one person saying, “You can!” In a world of flattery and insults, genuine, positive encouragement is a gift. Our word in season may be just what someone needs in the midst of life’s pressures.

I challenge all aspiring Presidential candidates to offer doable solutions, not irresponsible speculation. Balance a budget (tax revenues are at an all-time high), secure a hospitable border, continue improving private/public healthcare and work on infrastructure and economic opportunity. President Trump is easy to criticize – but can opponents offer viable policies that have all Americans in mind?


We must start negotiating on important issues such as immigration reform, a balanced budget, infrastructure, improving access for economic opportunity, fixing student debt, and many more. Interpretations of the Mueller Report and investigations will never end…meanwhile, constituents deserve attention to solvable issues that promote human flourishing. Will we choose posturing or productivity; positioning for 2020 or practical help in 2019?

Pre-Election Insights and Prayers

Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, our national experiment in virtue-based liberty is in a fragile and fraying state, with unprecedented private and public anger. Thoughtful women and men are distressed that the major parties offer two such deeply flawed candidates. Journalistic bias and agitation propaganda have replaced careful research and measured writing. Lost in all of the presidential chaos are the important local and state elections that immediately affect citizens where they live.

I offer these prayers and reflections as a cri de coeur – a cry of the heart – for divine mercy and decisive repentance and renewal in all of us. Underneath the public scandals focused on money, sex and power are deep moral and spiritual ambivalence, with various elites perverting ethical values for their own ideological agendas.

There are three insights and three prayers I invite all to consider and confess as we prepare the election and the aftermath.

Insight One: We are dehumanizing and disintegrating human identity and wholeness. When we ignore biological gender, separate sexual intimacy from marriage and fostering the next generation and reduce identity to current erotic impulses, we are not progressing past religious restrictions. We are actually regressing into primordial impulses that ruin health, oppress non-conforming people and hinder productive life. When we separate “personal morality” from “public policy”, arguing that one can be messed up in private and still lead effectively, we are destroying the foundations of the common good and true liberty. Everyone should bring their whole self to their work, and allow their values to inform their actions and policies. I am not advocating religious tests or totalitarian uniformity of adult relationships. I am asserting that healthy people make better leaders.

Our prayer: “O God, Creator of heaven and earth and fashioner of humankind, forgive our pride and rebellion. Forgive our attempts to improve on your design and destiny. Help us rediscover the dignity, equality and uniqueness of each person and desire for all others the responsibilities and rights we affirm for ourselves. By your grace, empower us for work that expresses neighborly love, creates value and helps generations yet unborn to flourish. Help us to realize that your moral precepts are for our good and any restrictions of our behaviors are for our protection and ultimate fulfillment. Amen.”

Insight Two: We are so ideologically polarized that we are often missing creative solutions for seemingly intractable problems. Economic growth and opportunity include private investments and wise public policies. Rapprochement with Islam and the West must engage both the historic mistakes of colonialism and the rapacious history of Islamic empires and jihadist movements. Peace in the Middle East will never come until Muslim leaders can say the words, “Israel in the national state of the Jewish people.” We can balance the budget and pay off our national debt in a generation, if we will stop seeing wise stewardship as “starving children” and insist on best practices for all that manage the public trust. Urban transformation requires mobilizing servant-leaders from all fields and includes personal transformation and systemic change. Will we roll up our sleeves and serve, or merely keep accusing others?

Our prayer: “O Lord, forgive our arrogance, thinking we could solve every problem with human engineering. You invite us to cry out for wisdom and you promise to bestow it generously, if we come with humility. The signs of divine wisdom include peace, justice, courage and love, fostering harmony and generating hope. Lord, we need the ‘wisdom to do justice’ that Solomon requested as we navigate so many difficult issues, most of which we have generated though our varied intentions and actions. Help us seek you, listen deeply to one another and discover new ways to help people and communities flourish. Amen.”

Insight Three: We need a fresh vision of what personal, local, and national flourishing look like, especially in a global world where we are blessed and informed by so many cultures. This is not wholesale abandonment of the first principles of America’s Declaration and Constitution. In fact, a reaffirmation of the deepest values that informed our founders will help us define citizenship, national identity and liberty in a rapidly changing world. We must reaffirm the virtues of personal responsibility, healthy families, hard work, civil and religious affiliation and local civic engagement. We will not always agree on every definition and policy, but shared vision helps us forge a preferred future.

Our prayer: “Gracious and loving God, you remind us that without vision we will lose restraint and without a sense of purpose, we often compromise our principles. Forgive us, merciful Lord, for all the competing fantasies, the dystopian and utopian visions that do not align with your kind and loving desires for us. Forgive our focus on momentary pleasures at the expense of the coming generations. Transform our shortsighted lusts into loving service. Help us strive for excellence without perfectionism, and principled living with true toleration for other perspectives. How we need your help as we find new common ground for the common good. Amen.”

Our presidents, governors and majors are not messiahs. The finest laws fail without personal and community virtue. The best of our human nature is often corrupted by the worst of our fallen state. All of these insights and prayers are mere words without a thorough spiritual awakening rooted in the good news of Jesus Christ. When confessing Christians repent of compromise and begin compassionate service for their neighbors, such integrity overflows and blesses those that do not have the same religious commitment. When the common good is understood, alliances are formed and people of conscience find ways to work together. Even while we (with civility) argue about our differences (and they do make a difference!), we can act sacrificially for our neighborhood and nation.

May God grant us courage, love and wisdom in these days. Today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny, for by divine design, our decisions matter.