Here I Go Getting All Political Again

My fellow Christians, this is about as political as I plan on getting.

I’m a Christian. Christians have their own political system.

The Nicene Creed is the Christian’s Constitution

The Sermon on the Mount is the Christian’s bill of rights.

We’ve rarely, if ever, had a candidate in this nation that represented our creed or our sermon.

Love anyway. Don’t panic.

Our holy book tells us that Non-believers will know we are Christians by our love.

I fear that we are coming to be known by our fear, our name calling, our judgmental attitudes, our intolerance, our racism, our homophobia, and our panic.

Remember who you are.

You’re better than this. You’re called to be better than this. Be better than this.

If you don’t know the Nicene Creed or the Sermon on the Mount then you might want to look them up, learn them, and build your life around them. They kind of sum up Christianity. Actually, that’s exactly what they do.

Rethink everything (That’s what repent means)

Be God’s

That’s all I’ve got.

Blessings,

Rick Lee James

 

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Song Charts, Tracks, and More Available at Llifeway Worship March 17th, 2016

Why Leaders Don’t Get Elected (Usually)

It occurs to me that we don’t elect leaders, we elect followers. Leaders don’t change stances with every new poll that is taken Leaders actually take the initiative to go against the grain of popular opinion. In a democracy, popularity is what matters. Whoever gets the most votes wins, thus those who win must constantly be seeking out the will of the majority. Successful politicians are followers who create the illusion that they are leading. What they are actually doing is seeking re-election. Every move is calculated to please/follow the will of the majority and the majority is whoever has the most money to lobby a cause through. It would be nice to have leaders, but leaders, for the most part, don’t get elected. This is why I don’t personally put a lot of stock in elections. We get what we want, not what we need. We can complain all day that a politician has done “this” or “that” but they are following the will of the majority. Leaders don’t get elected and when they start leading then they don’t get re-elected, unless of course where they are leading is where the majority is going. Unfortunately, the majority is almost always wrong. This is why the church must be the voice of God speaking the truth to so called “power”. This is why as a minister of the gospel I will never endorse a candidate and will never talk politics in church. God’s politics are concerned with the minorities who don’t have power; the poor, the disenfranchised, and the outcast…the refugee, the widow, and the orphan. Seeking to help these people is pure religion. The Kingdom of God is “political” not in the sense that it follows the will of the majority, but in the sense that that politics is a term for how a community orders itself. The church is a politic all it’s own. When churches start preaching partisan politics then the church has given up its power and it’s prophetic voice. This is happening too much and thus the church is too often impotent. The world will not be changed by another election, by Caesar’s sword, or by another carnival. The church operates best on the outside doing the hard work of leaders. It seems like the people with power to change things do not lead from a political arena, they change things by lowering themselves and helping the helpless. Those leaders don’t generally win elections because they are called to do unpopular things. Unpopular things don’t win elections…thus we have a broken system.

Podcast #45: Stephen Mansfield

Stephen Mansfield

Listen Here: 

Stephen Mansfield is a writer and speaker best known for his groundbreaking books about the influence of religion in history, leadership and politics. He first came to international attention with The Faith of George W. Bush, the New York Times bestseller that influenced Oliver Stone’s film W. His book The Faith of Barack Obama was another international bestseller as well as The Mormonizing of America. He has written celebrated biographies of Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Known for aggressively researching his books, Mansfield worked in a brewery while writing The Search for God and Guinness and was embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq to capture the stories that became The Faith of the American Soldier

Voices In My Head is a Podcast dedicated to covering things like comics, movies, books, music and various other things that get stuck in the head of pop culture, but with a Theological lens. Listen to it on Podbean.comStitcherThe Rick Lee James Mobile AppiTunesReverbnation.com, and FacebookRick Lee James Official Web Site is www.RickLeeJames.com. To leave a voice message comment for Voices In My Head call (937) 505-0162. Get Rick’s music on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. Email can be sent to RLJames29@yahoo.com. You can also watch Rick Lee James music videos on YouTube.

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Is God on our side?

Romans 8:31 (NIV)

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

I would like to ask some questions inspired by this verse.  Why is it that we always assume God is on our side?  Does any army go to war unless they are sure that they are on the right side?  Why do assume our political party is the right one? There is a word we always want to skip in the above verse which makes this whole concept of the favor of God decidedly NOT for everyone; the word “if”.

We can be assured that no matter which political party we may choose this election, none of them have God on their side. Why would God choose a side in this corrupt political system?  My friend Brian Zahnd made a great statement in a recent sermon: “If your god hates all the people you hate then you’ve met a demon, not the Father of Jesus.”

Make no mistake about it; God is not on our side when it comes to party politics. I’m not saying you aren’t a believer if you are a Republican or a Democrat, I’m just saying that God isn’t on your side.  The Kingdom of God is not a democracy and God does not take a poll to decide what move He is going to make next. He will not throw in with a party line and He will not endorse your candidate. That goes against everything we know about Him from scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.

God has His own set of politics and it’s lived out in the Kingdom of God.  This is not heaven after you die as it is usually talked about in our churches but rather a present reality. It’s a way of living in this world under the rule of God. You can read all about it in the Sermon on the Mount where the gospel writer of Matthew lays it out for us in plain language.  It’s found in Matthew, chapters 5 through 7.

If your God totes any other party line than the Kingdom of God, then you are not serving the God of Christianity. It’s time to think bigger than Republicans, Democrats, Libertarian, Green, and whatever other party there is out there. We have to stop demonizing people who may disagree with us.  Shame on you pastors who would take a side and smear God’s name by using it as a tool for your political agenda.  Shame on you so called Christians who refuse to listen to the other side and won’t even try to see their point. Shame on you candidates for always claiming God while at the same time attacking with Satan’s weapons. Shame on me for all the times I’ve not trusted God enough to practice what I preach.

Most assuredly, we have made it clear in this country time and again that God is NOT on our side. The question is, are we willing to humble ourselves and go to His side?  There’s always a chance to turn around, but it will never happen until we can get past these political dividing lines.  They are meant to divide us, and anything that divides us has no place in the Unity of the body of Christ. Just because the elections end on November 6th doesn’t mean that we will be any closer to God or His side. I’m not saying you can’t be a believer if you are a Republican or a Democrat. I’m only asking us to stop dragging God’s name into it; which is indeed breaking the third commandment. You know, the one about using His name in vain.  I don’t believe God cares about our political parties any more than He cares about which of our sports teams win. However, I’m pretty sure He does care about how we play the game. I’m also fairly certain God cares more about how we treat each other than how much we agree with each other.

So, if God isn’t on our side, are we on His?

John 17:15-17

New International Version (NIV)

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

News Flash: There Are Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity

There has been so much confusion this election season about people’s beliefs.  Let me first say that I am not endorsing either candidate, and refuse to ever join religion with politics.  I think Constantine might be the worst thing to happen to Christianity until the Left Behind books and I always want to strive to keep the voice of the church as one “to” the nation, not “of” the nation.

That being said, there is a lot of confusion about beliefs this election season, partially because one of the main candidates is a Mormon.  Even though the religious right is desperately trying to convince us that Mormonism and Christianity are the same thing, they aren’t. It takes more than being anti-abortion to be within the bounds of Christian Orthodoxy.  I’m sorry if this bursts any bubbles.

I don’t want anyone to rob the world religions of what makes them distinct.  I love the world religions and I think they have their place but it is wrong to lump them all together just as it would be incorrect to call a dog a human or a horse and automobile. I don’t want to insult any other religion just because I am a Christian, it’s their distinct beliefs that make them who they are.  I simply want to be about truth telling and in telling the truth we should be able to point out that there are things about the world’s religions that make them different, even beautifully different at times.  Mormonism is distinctly different from Christianity as Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the other world religions.

If you think I’m lying about this, below is a short list of beliefs Mormons hold that Christians don’t. If you don’t believe me, look it up in the book of Mormon, they will send you a free copy. They are really friendly and want to help you know more about their religion:

  • God came from another planet
  • God lives on a star called Kolob
  • God is a man with a body of flesh and bones
  • There is a mother goddess
  • God and his goddess wife are married
  • Human can become gods if they become Mormons
  • There are many gods and we will all be gods one day.
  • The Trinity are three separate gods distinct from each other.
  • Jesus is the brother of Lucifer.

Needless to say, no Protestant or Catholic churches hold these not so ancient beliefs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (usually called the “Mormon” Church) was organized on April 6, 1830. To be fair, their members argue that theirs is a restoration of the original Christian Church and therefore, was never invented but simply continues from ancient times. Also to be fair, all other Christian denominations reject that belief.

Don’t let this sway you in how you vote this year.  I’m sure Romney is as good as any other mud-slinger out there, and probably no worse. I simply wanted to do my part to put an end to the rumor that all world religions are basically the same thing.  Don’t rob religions of things that make them unique and distinct for something as ordinary as politics.

Post Debate Thought

Joshua 5: 13-15 reminds us that God doesn’t back any candidate or nation so don’t panic if you missed the debate last night.

“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. “

An Invitation, Not A Kidnapping

In an election season, each side seems to shout their agenda at the other, and no one shouts louder than the religious right.  Most of the time I feel like they are the religious wrong, yet they assume that since I’m a Christian that I’m on their side.  I don’t mean just me, they assume all who profess Christianity are on board with their fear tactics and their rallying cry to “take America Back”, whatever that means.  Perhaps they want to take it back to England. If they really wanted the way of Jesus, they might want to “take America back to the Native Americans.  It’s too bad the Native Americans didn’t have a border patrol and tough immigration laws to keep them “safe” from illegal aliens.  I wonder how often they have longed to take America back as they live in the squalor that we forced them into. Make no mistake about it, we didn’t start as a Christian nation.  We started as a group of illegal aliens who came in and committed mass genocide on the people who were here before us.  

Trying to force Christianity on non-believers is kind of like forcing a feast on a person who isn’t hungry. When Christians insist that non-believers must eat their feast, shouting at them them all the reasons that their feast is the best thing for them, and that they need to get rid of the food at their own table, it doesn’t make the non-believer any more hungry for the things of Christ. If Christians were to throw a burlap sack over the non-believers head, bind his hands and feet, and then force him to sit at the feast table, it should be no surprise that the non-believer will have no appetite for the food being forced upon him.
I’m convinced that the, “take America back for Jesus” attitude is not only dangerous, it’s Un-Christian. The United States are not the Kingdom of God, they never have been and never will be. I agree with Pastor Brian Zahnd that Christianity may need to die out in this country so that it can be born again and grow up in a healthy manner. Christians do believe in resurrection after all and sometimes things need to die so that they can be reborn.

We receive an invitation from Christ to a generous feast. We don’t take it by force or force it upon anyone. Grace and mercy are free gifts offered to all. To be “called” by God is to be invited. (Look it up in the Greek, that’s how it translates in the New Testament).  The call (invitation) from God is a call to become “saints” in His Kingdom. The kingdom of God stops being the kingdom of God when it is forced upon others. Force-feeding your guests is not in the spirit of a proper invitation.

“Saints” are not moral exemplars who climbed the highest mountain and swam the deepest seas. They are the ones who heard the call (the invitation) and showed up for the feast.  “Saints” are simply the ones who have accepted the invitation to the feast. Also, “saints” serve the feast to others at the pleasure of their King. It’s never the King’s pleasure to gag His guests.

So if you’re a Christian, simply live a life that makes people hungry and thirsty for the good things of God. Love each other. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive and forgive again. Keep setting the table even if it ends up being empty. Share the feast. If you’re a Democrat, reach out to and love Republicans. If you’re a Republican, reach out and love Democrats. Stop trying to force feed each other because that only makes a person gag. Invite, share, and partake together. Love without end.

And for heaven’s sake, let’s have some faith that Christ reigns…currently even…right now!!!  That won’t change, even if Hitler gets elected president. I caution you though, if you are a believer, you should probably stop embracing partisan politics and start embracing the politics of the Kingdom of God. If you don’t know what God’s politics are, you can find them in Matthew 5-7. I invite you to read it.

They will know we are Chickens by our love. (Or Rick Lee James on this whole Chick-Fil-A Mess)

Christians, let’s show that we are not the haters that we are being painted as. If you are a Christian who hates anyone then you aren’t a Christian. Let your life be the testimony of the God who has shown you infinite patience and mercy. Let’s actually talk to each other, even if we disagree about gay marriage and chicken. This issue will not be solved be eating or not eating Chick-Fil-A. They will know we are Christians by our love, it says in our holy book. Lashing out only shows insecurity on both sides of this issue. If there was ever evidence that the world needs to be renewed, it has clearly been seen this week. Jesus is too big to be threatened by Chick-fil-a, gay people, Christians, Mitt Romney, President Obama, Marriage enrichment groups, or an imbalanced murderer with a gun in a movie theatre. Guess what, we all need a savior. Failure to acknowledge our sin is the greatest sin of all. I’m not sure which headline I find more nauseating this week but I only have one response to any of it. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. We are proving You right Lord. All have fallen short of the Glory of God.