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.

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?

Bush, Clinton, World News

I just finished Decision Points by George W. Bush. I am also working my way through The Clinton Tapes by Taylor Branch.

Liberals who despise Bush won’t take the time to read his book, and are grinding their teeth that I even mention his name. Conservatives who despise Clinton are doing the same. That is why I read both, actually.

While I would agree with Bush more than many people would like, I have my disappointments with him. This book is written from a view of looking at several key events in his years as president and analyzing why he reached certain decisions.

What I appreciate about these books is they drive more to motive. Bush gets into why he made some of his decisions. Branch explores Clinton’s desires and motivations as president. I can appreciate both men more even while I agree or disagree with their decisions. Bush was profoundly impacted by 9/11 and does not apologize for it. His driving motivation was to make sure this country did not suffer that kind of attack again on his watch. We can agree or disagree on those decisions. My hope is we don’t start doing that here. But I CAN understand his motivations. And here is the thing: He was president. I was not. Neither were you. He was thrown into the cauldron and did his best.

And in other news…

North Africa is going through some upheaval. Tunisia and Egypt are experiencing government revolts. It’s hard to tell if this leads to democracy or a more free people. While the abject poverty in Egypt is horrifying, what is NOT clear is what type of government will rise up to take Mubarak’s place if they can force him out.

There are a couple of questions in my mind:

1. If the government that replaces Mubarak is as violent against Coptics as witnessed by recent attacks by radical Muslim groups, this is not a good movement. If Christians are further oppressed in this uprising, this isn’t about freedom.

2. The world didn’t want the U.S. meddling in Afghanistan or Iraq… and now it wants us meddling in Egypt. Go figure.

Godliness

Working our way through the characteristics of 1 Peter 1:5-7, perseverance brings us to a place of adding in godliness. Getting to godliness sure takes some time! Why couldn’t we start here? It’s all in the mix from the start, I understand that, but it’s clear that there is a healthy progression that needs to take place in our lives to understand the full magnitude of these characteristics. Plus, each of these characteristics, Peter reminds us, needs to be increasing in our lives. We are called to keep climbing higher!

Godliness is reverence. It is about having piety toward God. In 1 Tim. 2:1,2 Paul calls on the readers to pray for those in authority. The prayer offered up seems offered in a very selfish way. We are to pray so that WE can live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. We may not like our leaders, but we are to PRAY for them. As we pray, regardless of their political parties, we are asking God’s blessings for them. In seeking out their good, we find peace in our own lives.

The goal of praying for our leaders is our own godliness. For all those who despised President Bush and his plans, how does that feel? Of course, now that he is out of office, we can easily say, “Hey, I prayed for the guy.”

For those who despise President Obama and his plans to “take American into socialism,” how does this set? It was easier praying for President Bush, wasn’t it?

My point is this: we all face hypocrisy in our lives over this issue. We let our political affiliations take over our emotions and lead our prayers. So… since that’s totally uncomfortable, let’s move along.

1 Tim. 4:7,8 — Paul admonishes us to get away from godless myths and old wives tales. We are to train ourselves in godliness. Move away from conspiracy theories. (The World Trade Center was blown up by our own government. President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.) Move into training.

Paul is HUGE into training metaphors. Athletic metaphors paint the picture. Our lives can be trained in piety. It means you shove out what doesn’t belong and you take in what is good for you spiritually. Our habits can change. Physical training has some value. Training for godliness has eternal value.

1 Tim. 6:6 — Godliness with contentment is great gain. We have powerful weapons available to us. Training in piety, we can find contentment. We don’t have to live in discontent like our culture wants us to live. We can be satisfied in God. He can direct what kind of phone we have, and what kind of computer we buy, and what kind of house we purchase. We can learn to live within his provision. Contentment.

Through our pursuit of God we can find rest. Contentment.

1 Tim. 6:11 — Paul gives a list of good things to pursue. To what am I giving my life? My life has a holy calling. Your life has a holy calling. The goal is high, attainable, and wonderful.