Tag Archives: Israel

Letters to People of Influence Part One: To Religious Leaders

This is the first in a four-part series of “Letters To…” that will address concerns and insights touching on vital issues of our day.

Here in Part One, I address pastors in general and Pope Francis in particular. Please enjoy and add your insights to the conversation.

Dear Pastors (of every Christian tradition),

Thank you for your sacrificial love and service as you nurture communities of faith of all kinds.

As I pray for you as a fellow pastor, I have three requests as you carry out your holy calling:

One: Remember that it is the Triune God who calls God’s people together and is the object of worship. As Eugene Peterson says, our primary pastoral task is keeping people attentive to God.

Two: Please commission and empower all vocations as important to God’s kingdom. God’s work in the world takes place through people that work, whether paid or volunteer, labor or leadership, home or office.

Three: Please take time to nourish your soul and care for your “first flock” – your family (if married). If single, take time for healthy relationships that build you as a person. Eat well, exercise and rest…your health will help you inspire health in others.

Pastors, I am grateful for all you do – seen and unseen – that Christ uses to transform others. My prayers are offered not as a perfect practitioner, but as a fellow-learner trying to gain wisdom from mistakes and victories. 
Thank you!

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you for caring for the poor and beginning to redeem the financial and sexual scandals in the church.

Thank you for reminding us that the deepest problems are spiritual and that our selfish/sinful hearts need change.

Thank you for reaching out to the “outsiders” in dialogue and well as showing compassion for the faithful afflicted by divorce.

I do, however, have deep concerns. 
Without judging your motives or sincerity, I beg you to…

…Avoid being manipulated by the agendas of global elites using climate change to unjustly redistribute wealth.

…Stand for the persecuted church and all dissidents that oppose totalitarian regimes, especially in Cuba.

…Use your office as a prophetic peacemaker, calling on Muslim leaders to affirm the dignity and equality of all persons.

…Support Israel’s right to exist while actively working for a peaceful solution, not just the protection of holy sites.

…Affirm that economic freedom, when rooted in value creation and virtue, is the best pathway out of poverty.

I pray you will use this moment to help millions envision a life rooted in Christ and serving the common good.

 

Dear Candidates: An Open Letter to Democrats and Republicans Aspiring for the Presidency in 2016

The recent announcements that Senator Hillary Clinton, Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, along with Governor Scott Walker are all running for President in 2016 are the context for this special letter. Even though their particular positions vary widely – especially between Clinton and the rest, I address these thoughts to all of them as a concerned American and one who cares for the world. I welcome civil debate as we gear up for months of campaigning – with our nation’s future in the balance.

This letter is written in the manner of Socrates – a series of questions that imply particular concerns and positions, but compel clarity on the issues.

Dear Candidate(s),

Thank you for having the courage to run for this office. Others might cynically say that you are all supreme egoists for thinking you can do the job. Time will tell the proportions of altruism and ego, principle and pragmatism in your ideas and policies. The job of President of the USA is the most powerful and stressful job in the world. In 1839 Alexis de Tocqueville declared that the best persons do not run for President because of the compromises involved in getting elected! I hope such is not the case with any of you.

Here are my questions:

  • What is your vision of a healthy, prosperous nation? What key ideals are guiding your policy proposals? How can you inspire hope and sacrifice among a cynical and disengaged electorate suspicious of all politicians?
  • What is your sense of America’s uniqueness and her humble and wise partnerships with other nations?
  • What is your understanding of the “separation of powers” in the US Constitution and your interpretation of Amendments 9 and 10 that limit the federal government and place ultimate sovereignty in the hands of the people of our nation? What are your boundaries on Executive Orders? How will you be accountable to Congress? Recent history in both parties makes this a vital issue for our future.
  • Will you stand for Israel’s right to exist as a recognized Jewish State and freedom of conscience and religion around the world? Put another way, will you challenge Islamic states to open their societies and treat women and minorities with dignity?
  • Will you be completely pro-life and defend unborn children, the aged and the physically and mentally challenged?
  • How will you reform Social Security and Medicare so that they are protected for the needy and administrated justly?
  • Will you begin a new conversation on medical care and articulate what facets should be local, state and federal and what should be in the hands of the people? How will you assure compassionate delivery of quality medical services without an impersonal Leviathan of government bureaucracy?
  • How will you move us toward a balanced federal budget, a just tax system and reduction in the size of the federal government?
  • What is the government’s role in the economy and how will your policies helps millions find sustainable work?
  • How will you help our nation welcome millions of legal immigrants that desire hope and opportunity while screening for terrorist and welfare cheats?
  • How will you restore America’s global leadership role? How can we help lead the world away form the hegemonic agendas of China and Russia, as well as the threats of a nuclear Iran and her terrorist clients?
  • How will you position the USA at the United Nations? Are you comfortable with UN control over any territory in the USA and global courts attempting to trump our national ones?
  • What current federal structures will you decentralize or eliminate? How large a role should Washington, D.C. have in public education, the administration of welfare and food distribution and provision for other needs?
  • What is your transparent communications strategy? Will your Administration be open (apart from critical personnel or national security issues) or as opaque as the last 80 months? Can we find out about the influences in your upbringing and the educators and mentors that have shaped you into the woman or man you are today?
  • Will you stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while allowing for other arrangements that afford partners legal recognition?

Candidates, I sincerely pray that you will humbly depend upon the Almighty, listen to all the people (not just the big donors) and articulate your values and vision well. Please help us reverse a half-century of moral decline, forty years of political polarization and a generation of economic mismanagement and deception.

A nation is listening.

Certain Predictions for 2015

As 2014 ends and 2015 begins, prognosticators are hard at work, offering their insights on everything from fashion to global politics, cultural mores to economic opportunities.

If history is any guide, predicting the future is an uncertain science at best, though trend analysis and evaluation of the past can help us anticipate what may happen. The divine gift of freewill coupled with our global connectedness keeps certainly out of reach.

With these qualifiers, including my non-omniscience (a fancy way of saying only God knows everything and I am not God.), I do offer the following as “certain” predictions for 2015. They are general enough to keep me from being stoned and sufficiently specific so that future assessment is possible.

Here are my certain predictions for 2015:

  • Millions will come to faith in Jesus Christ and thousands of new Christian churches of all traditions will be planted – most in the Global South.
  • Almost under the radar, the Christian churches will grow in the West and the USA through compassionate, insightful outreach, church planting and revitalization and the awareness among thoughtful people that science and technology will not usher in Utopia.
  • Political and social leaders will continue to struggle to find consensus on shared principles and vision for America’s future.
  • The new Discipleship Dynamics Assessment from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University will help thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities celebrate progress in their relationship with Christ.
  •  The Acton Institute’s new video series, “For the Life of the World; Letters to Exiles” will grow in fluency as thousands catch a new vision of human flourishing.
  • Hollywood will continue its march toward mediocrity.
  • The Oikonomia and Made to Flourish Networks will increase in influence as seminary leaders and pastors help their students and parishioners grasp 24/7 whole-life discipleship that integrates faith, work and economics.
  • Missio Alliance’s evangelical and egalitarian vision will inspire creative missional enterprises among diverse Christian communities.
  • The Institute and its sister organization REP will equip hundreds more for business-as-mission and the transformation of all spheres of society.
  • Messenger Fellowship will advance a mission of Kingdom vision and the ways of God as many more leaders learn to think kingdom before institution and mission before preservation of tradition.
  • Jihadi Islam will find resistance from two camps. The first will appeal to base passions of nation and race. These will gain momentary influence, but do not offer compelling principles for peace. the second will be diverse people of all faiths choosing resistance to evil and active peacemaking, calling on Muslims to accept philosophical and religious plurality as part of a free society.
  • Israel will resist all unilateral attempts by the EU, UN, USA and others to shrink her borders without the guarantee by a new Palestinian State of full diplomatic recognition as a Jewish nation.
  • Their will be new voices attempting to restore civility to public discourse and offer solutions instead of slogans.
  • New African-American voices will be heard, offering an alternative to the Jessie Jackson-Al Sharpton narratives and shakedowns. Hopefully they will be heard for their substance and not labeled/libeled for being different. By today’s standards, MLK was not “truly Black” with his appeals to Christian principles, non-violence and the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution!
  • China and Russia will continue their militant ways, trying to intimidate smaller neighbors and blackmails nations dependent upon their resources and wealth.
  • Republicans in the US Congress will have to choose between capitulation to totalitarianism from the White House and serious confrontation with policies detrimental to America’s future.
  • And in the midst of all this, Dr. Charlie and Kathy Self will continue to love God and each other and serve productively with our callings and gifts. All of this is possible because of God’s grace and the prayers and support of so many friends!

A very Happy 2015 to all!