Immigration

That’s the real amnesty – leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability – a commonsense, middle ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up. — President Obama

The rest of his speech is HERE.

An Honest Conversation from the President

President Obama gave some very personal thoughts on how African American men feel things in America.

After reading books like The New Jim Crow and listening to friends dialogue on my Facebook and Twitter, along with reading some of their blogs, I am way past even thinking, “Isn’t it time to get over it?”

When I’ve watched cops hassle African American men in parks when I’m sitting 30 feet away and they didn’t even say “Hi” to me let alone question me on why I was in the park, I understand a little more.

There are things I don’t understand and I want to understand more.

I can say I do understand me, and while I do not speak for any more white males in American than me, I do want to say I work hard to have friends of every ethnic group around me, and I still fail. I fail to understand the tensions.

But I want to work harder to be a friend and make sure from own perspective I see people first rather than color first.

I stand here to say, “I don’t get it right, but I want to.”

 

Your Government is Listening to You!

In a revelation that shocks even the New York Timesit was somehow disconcerting to us that our government is listening to our phone calls. I am a Verizon customer, so the government has been monitoring my subversive conversations.

I just don’t know how this should shock ANY of us.

For those who championed George Bush and didn’t have very many worries about the Patriot Act because Bush was doing the right thing… welcome to the next administration.

For those who championed Barack Obama and thought Bush was the devil incarnate… welcome to Act II of that scenario.

The one thing I always warn about when we give far too much authority to centralized leadership is this: You say you “trust” the leadership that is doing something that is more powerful, but I say you aren’t thinking ahead to the leadership that follows. So, for Bush supporters, this is what you get. You can’t blame Obama alone.

For Obama supporters, this SHOULD shock you because this was the president who promised “transparency.” But, yet, think about “transparency.” He is just demanding transparency of us… without our permission. But here is the deal: you can rail at power and talk about how you will do things differently, but when YOU get the power… it has the ability to intoxicate you.

It just shouldn’t shock us that our government is listening in because we have elected the government we deserve. 

We have been a people who for decades have failed to even read the Constitution and then we spout things like we know the Constitution. We have failed to take an active part in our government, then get upset when people who count on us ignoring government actually do things that take advantage of us.

We get the government we deserve. This “revelation” is no shock to me at all.

Inauguration

This prayer for the president is a good one, and one I am praying this morning.

We pray at the urging of Scripture:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1-4, NIV)

On this day, as we should on a regular basis, we pray for blessing, and ask for God’s best in our nation’s leaders.

Seething

13 The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?”

“I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” (Jer. 1:13, NIV)

One of my favorite preachers in Bible college was David Owen. He was a Welsh preacher on the faculty and his accent just added to the mastery of his sermons. I can still hear him preach this passage, using the King James Version at the time. He talked about a “boiling pot… a seeeeeeettttthhhhinnnngg cauldron.”

I hear that distinctive accent in my head 20 plus years later.

And I still sense that boiling pot, especially on a day like today.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is also the second inauguration for President Barack Obama. Tuesday is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We are in the middle of a huge gun control debate nationally. A remembrance of civil rights and that ongoing struggle. A controversial second term that highlights the deep divide politically in our nation. A remembrance of a court decision that has deeply divided the issue between “right to life” and “women’s rights.” A fight over the second amendment that is as rabid as a fight over Roe v. Wade.

A boiling pot. A sssseeeeeetttthhhinnng cauldron. All coming at us.

A nation deeply divided. A nation not willing to talk to each other. A church willing to divide and divide, and then divide some more.

This is the time for the people of God to truly be the people of God. We don’t seem to be very interested in that, but that is our call. To live prophetically, not politically.

The call is to live with allegiance to the Kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of this world.

Perhaps this week is a wonderful time to reflect more deeply as believers on the higher allegiances of our King and what that might mean in a very “hot” world.

Good People

The poisonous political atmosphere shows no signs of ending soon. I will not be the one to end it. I will not be the one to influence anyone to pay attention.

No matter. I just need to declare that I think there are some good people serving our country, no matter what the political rhetoric may be today.

My wife heard on MPR yesterday someone making a comment that they guessed the presidential election was now down to voting for a “Muslim or a Mormon.”

It’s a disappointing thing to say. All right. I’ll say it. It’s an awful thing to say.

So, to those on the “right” I am about to tick off, just stay steady. And to those of you on the left… same thing.

I think Mitt Romney is a decent man. As is President Barack Obama.

While I cannot agree with either man on everything, I don’t find it in me to declare false things about either one of them. They may do things I disagree with, but I cannot find it in myself to fling nasty comments around.

There are good people trying to do good things in this nation. On both “sides” of the “aisle.” No one seems to be willing to acknowledge that. I will. Not that it will make a difference this election cycle.

Being Middle of the Road Means You’re Roadkill!

“Pick your side! You’re either fer us or agin us! If yer in the middle of the road it means yer roadkill!”

Or so it seems to go these days. You just can’t seem to find the good in people or situations that are polarizing.

Two examples.

While in a group for dinner the implication came up yet again that President Obama is a Muslim. No matter what the man says himself, there is just this persistent accusation.

Before you think, “Well, those are conservatives. They’re just mean!” let me give you the second example.

When Bush was still president we happened to be in a town where Bush was flying in to speak. One person in the car mumbled, “Where’s a terrorist with a RPG when you need one!”

It happens on both sides. Liking President Bush is just simply out of the question if you don’t like his policies or view. Same for President Obama. We just aren’t allowed to think well of people, even if we disagree with them.

Is there any way to have constructive discussions about issues or people any more?

The Great “I Like” Campaign

It is so easy to develop a critical spirit. This is something challenging my own life. I just can’t get away from it.

So, to combat it, I am on a campaign. I call myself an “equal opportunity offender” because I do not wish to be unfairly critical of just one side of an argument. Enough of that . I will now put myself on a campaign to be an equal opportunity LIKER.

I am watching the political climate of this nation get more toxic, which I felt in my heart would happen. But somewhere along the line someone needs to say “enough.” The media won’t be the ones. They make too much money off this stuff. Democrats and Republicans sure aren’t interested. Even the Church plays this game. I am guilty. Lord, forgive ME.

So, without any fanfare and without any acknowledgement that this will ever work, I am deciding today to being the great “I LIKE” campaign. I will choose two “opposites” and instead of being an equal opportunity offender, I will be an equal opportunity LIKER. This is a genuine attempt. Anyone trying to post a comment that  seems like a “yeah, but…” statement, I will delete.

I especially offer up this campaign to those who just can’t bring themselves to say anything good about someone or some issue they truly have a strong opinion about. For example, George Bush. There just isn’t anyone I’ve met who hates this man who can bring themselves to give him kudos in some area where he is a genuinely a good man without saying, “BUT…”

So, I begin with two opposites because of the “great issue” that has surfaced and just won’t go away: THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

Here are my two opposites for today: Barack Obama and John Boehner. (By the way, this is MY list, so don’t ask me, “Why don’t you say…”)

Barack Obama, President of the United States. Democrat. He is one of the greatest communicators I have ever heard.

John Boehner, House Speaker. Republican. He has a sincerity that touches my heart  because he is unafraid to remember the roots from which he comes.

I LIKE both of these men.

Quote of the Day

This was from my reading this morning in Common Prayer:

When I fed the poor they called me a saint. When I asked why they were poor, they called me a Communist.” (Dom Helder Camara; 1909-199)

And in other news, I am sure this was a quote but we’ll never know:

In last night’s halftime show the Black Eyed Peas sang a line that went something like:

“Obama, let’s get these kids educated”

The unrecorded quote of the day probably came from the White House as the president leaned over to his wife and said, “Michelle, a guy with plastic hair just told me to get American kids educated.”