My Election Prayer

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If the current presidential election season has produced anything positive, it might be the increase in political conversations that have been happening at grocery stores, coffee houses and many other spaces where people gather.

I have read some amazing posts and articles whose aim was to soothe an irritated voter base, and perhaps swing them towards peace as they enter the voting booth. I facilitated two forums called “Politicked” where I too sought to bring  balance and levity to our current tension, as well as create a safe space for people with differing views to voice what was on their heart concerning the process, the candidates, and the current state of American political affairs. In my opinion, it was a positive encounter where we learned to hear each other and commit to love regardless of differences.

I have read the many prayers that have been issued forth by pastors who played a partisan card.

I have been discouraged by the way spiritual and theological leaders have sought to anoint one candidate or the other.

I have listened to everyone under the sun explain why they are right and everyone else is wrong.

I have often felt like Solomon when he said, All is vanity…

However, during a short conversation I had with Leonard Sweet this weekend, my prayer focus for this election has shifted. In one way, I feel like my eyes have been lifted from earth and been refocused on God’s sovereign spiritual realm which is grander, more beautiful, and the real kingdom I belong to.

If I were to be honest, most of the prayers I have heard recently have actually been focused upon what the pray-er wants, or what the pray-er thinks is the right divine response to our POTUS vote.

Have you ever noticed that very often even our “holiest” prayers are myopic, selfish and self-serving?

We long for the presidential pick that works in our favor…and if we believe in God then we assume that our favor becomes His favor which ultimately means my/our thoughts on the issues are the right thought and therefore God’s thoughts. Right?

So, back to my conversation with Len…

We were discussing my particular denominational tribe’s emphasis on healing prayer. We see healing as part of what has been provided for followers of Jesus through his substitutional sacrifice (This means that Jesus substitutes his life for our life on the cross. Our sins are paid for by the sinnless Jesus. The chasm of disconnection between us and God is bridged by His offering. Jesus died so that we could live and this results in God declaring us forgiven based on what Christ has done, not on how well we perform.)

Healing, however, is so much more than God fixing the broken arm while we live in a broken world. Healing is a beautiful holistic life of shalom which the ancient rabbis tell us means living in complete peace.

Shalom is how God intended we live, but sin disrupted that vision of life. Jesus removes the sin issue so that we can be fully human, fully alive, and living a transformed life. The healing provided by Jesus extends to my emotional health, physical health and of course my spiritual health.

When we experience healing like this, we then become healing agents in the world so that God’s vision of shalom for everyone is seen, felt and experienced.

As we discussed healing prayer and intercessory prayer, we wondered why our current election prayers were more about candidates winning and losing, and less about healing.

Are you following me?

Why are we not praying that the two primary candidates running for POTUS experience divine healing?

So then, my prayer tonight, on the eve of this unique election is for healing.

Healing for two people who have embarrassed a nation in their pursuit of the highest and most powerful office in the world.

When the ballots are all counted, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will hold the office of POTUS…that is a reality.

So why are we not praying for the healing of these two people?

Between the two candidates there are issues of:

  1. Moral failure
  2. Ethical failure
  3. Character deficiencies
  4. Betrayed marriage vows
  5. Broken marriage vows
  6. Slandering tongues
  7. Self-centeredness on steroids
  8. Inabilities to forgive
  9. Performance issues reaching into the past
  10. Narcissism
  11. Insecurities disguised as bravado
  12. Extreme control issues
  13. Lack of faith in God
  14. Self absorption
  15. The list goes on and on…

I am praying for two people to experience a deep healing of the broken spaces and places in their souls. Both candidates are in great need of healing because they will lead from their wounds and that is not good for any of us.

But remember that with God, bitter wounds can become sacred wounds.

Sacred wounds heal others…
Sacred wounds can mend the nations…
Sacred wounds can make right so many wrongs…
Sacred wounds can transform the broken into the hopeful…

I am praying for both candidates, because one of them will be POTUS.

Intercessory prayer is when we passionately bring someone before Jesus through prayer, seeking their restoration, salvation, healing and transformation. Praying for their over-all good as experienced in shalom (holistic peace).

Maybe tonight the better prayer would be for healing rather than winning.

Prayers For Belgium

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Another Isis Attack, this time in Belgium. There have been at least 7 other cities this week who also experienced the violent terror of these groups.

Today, I am praying for and with those in Belgium, and all the others who are the latest victims of the evil of ISIS…I’m also thankful for those in the Muslim community who are speaking out against the brutality of ISIS et al.

In the U.S we often wonder how someone becomes “radicalized” by these Jihadist groups. I read a well written article on why peaceful muslims are drawn into radical Islam. It sheds some light on the subject, although it leaves some very hard questions which need deeper conversation.

Check out the article here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/03/22/radicalization-isil-islam-sacred-texts-literal-interpretation-column/81808560/

Nabeel Qureshi, author of the article and former Muslim, has also written a book called “Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward” which also looks into this current global problem.

Dealing with ISIS, and other radical groups, requires a global response. Humility, grace and an unshakeable commitment to end terror, injustice, persecution and violence is the only way forward.

What I Like About Sanders And Trump

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It has definitely been an interesting launch into the election season. Some have called it weird, many seem speechless, but it has created an unusually high amount of interest.

One Huffington Post article noted that; according to a recent poll, Americans would like to have a presidential primary process that doesn’t suck. In the post, author Jason Linkins notes:

The process by which we elect presidents sucks canal water, and people hate it. One of the things that people really hate about it is the long and drawn-out primary process, in which a few states fight to the death to be the first to hold primaries, and then once those are done, everyone agrees to pretend for a while that it isn’t completely obvious who is going to eventually win.

While this primary season may not exactly be what some were hoping for, it has been anything but boring. Two reasons the bore-factor has been in remission can be attributed to candidate Donald Trump, who is running on the Republican ticket, and Bernie Sanders, who is running on the Democrat ticket.

Both Trump and Sanders chose their respective party platforms not because of a longstanding ideological alignment, but rather because they needed a major party platform in order to have a chance at winning the job of POTUS.

Or did they?

I’m not a Sanders or a Trump fan. I have animus for different reasons towards each candidate. But what I do like about them, is the reason this primary season has drawn more interest than primaries past.

In my opinion, they are not playing by the rules, and to me, that is refreshing. Even those who disagree with them have had positive things to say concerning their tenacity. Perhaps another way to say is that they are refusing the role of status quo politicians, pandering to a platform in order to get money and the endorsements. Both of these candidates actually believe in their ideas and are less concerned with Political Correctness.

The early success of Trump and Sanders has been met with loud concern.  In a nutshell, the concern is that their growing popularity over the party “regulars” or “expecteds” will divide the vote thus handing the election to the enemy.

Instead of touting fear about party divisions, a better plan would be for both sides to pause long enough to realize the American people are tired of their politics and long for a leader, not an entrenched “politician.” I would recommend they tap into the disruption beneath the waterline that Bernie and Donald have tapped into…it is getting traction.

Some of you are thinking “Hey Bernie is a politician as he has been in it for a long time.”  That is true, however, he has been an outsider whose voice seems to be breaking through because the party doesn’t own him. Trump is a businessman, brash and egotistical who also won’t be owned by a party.

The Republican and Democrat leadership are scratching their heads right now, and that is good for us.

This is why I like these two guys. They are creating a larger conversation because they simply don’t care about the politics on the Hill.

Would either of them be a great president? I’m not so sure, but perhaps the time has come for “We the people” to take back our political rights and the parties that are supposed to represent us.

The voice of the people has been lost as the desire for political power and longevity has taken the primary place.

While you may not like The Don and Bernie, they are striking a resonate chord with many because they refuse to play the political game.

 

 

When One Hurts…We All Hurt…#Charleston

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I have just woke up after returning from a trip traversing Uganda. While there, I caught a breaking news report concerning the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston South Carolina. It was a depressing and disturbing feeling watching the news report about more Black Americans being shot in the U.S.

My heart broke. “This is too much.”

As an obvious white American in a room of Ugandans, I thought,  “I wonder if he is a racist too?”

As of this moment I have not had to endure all the spin from the Left and the Right as you have. I have not had to wade through the polarizing news reports. It has been apparent that racism and a hatred of black people was the root of the problem.

I have prayed; repented for our nation; confessed my own “isms.” I have struggled with the moral temperature of our nation; I have tried to enter the pain of my African-American brothers and sisters in Christ in a very insufficient way as I will never fully understand the pain they experience.

As a follower of Jesus, I am spiritually and soul-ularly connected to every other follower of Jesus regardless of race, gender, color of skin, ideology, social status etc.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to stand in the gap for my brothers and sisters who are hurting, suffering, and have lost their voice.

As a follower of Jesus, I -do- feel the pain and enter into the journey of suffering with those who suffer.

Paul the Apostle said is this way:

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

So I weep those who weep…I grieve with those who grieve…I cry with those who cry.

But, as a follower of Christ I also denounce the violence in our country that continues to be directed towards the Black community. I am amazed that we are actually arguing  whether or not the Confederate flag (a symbol of racism) should be allowed to fly. I wonder (not really) if Germany would argue similarly about reviving the Nazi Swastika; I’m sure (or I would hope) it would be rejected out of hand.

Until we recognize and deal with our national racism the violence will continue.

The lives represented by the list of victims matters:

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74
Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41
Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45
Rev. DePayne Doctor, 49
Sharonda Singleton, 45
Myra Thompson, 59
Tywanza Sanders, 26
Ethel Lance, 70
Cynthia Hurd, 54
Susie Jackson, 87 

The problem with lists and statistics is that they don’t cry. Each name represents a significant larger story. Each person matters. Each life was intended by God.

If you are a white Christian in the U.S you need to begin reading the stories and articles that are pouring out from the black community. Enter into their pain and feel their faith. It is no longer sufficient to say, “Well I didn’t cause this.” or “Things are way better than they used to be.” or “It’s not my problem.”

While this generation may not have caused the problem, we have inherited it and are called to do something about any and all injustice that we encounter.

While things are better than they once were, there are still miles to go until we reach true equality.

And this is all our problem…

It is time to get off the bench and into the game.

It is time to stand up against any and all forms of violence.

It is time to stand in solidarity with the Black community.

It is time to put people first above ideologies.

Choosing to disengage from the reality of violence in our midst is to join the side of the violence…no one is neutral when it comes to events that affect our nation.

Charleston, my heart and prayers are with you. May the grace and peace of God saturate you hearts and community.

 

 

NEXT

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Here we are again…

Another inciting incident.
Opinions flow like a river at flood stage.

“You don’t know the facts?” “You missed the point” “You’re ignorant”

As our nation labors under the weight of serious systemic issues  we choose to herald our cyber-bullhorns, which are more about shouting than listening and resolving.

Broad-brushed soundbites of polarized rhetoric.

And then…

NEXT

We saunter off to the next thing showing that we really don’t care at a deep level about the current thing, it’s just the popular outrage. Sure, it seems important enough to flame and shout out loudly what we think (as if we have perfect-objective reality firmly in our grasp), but not important enough to get off the couch and actually DO Something…DO justice.

It amazes me that so many of us think a perfectly worded tweet is the final word on an incident that results in lost lives, lost income, lost values and even lost humanity.

“Surely my Facebook rebuttal is enough to end generations of racism”

“Surely my #hashtag is enough to end corporate greed”

“Surely my instagram picture will be enough to prove a 911 conspiracy”

and then…NEXT…

Have we become the NEXT generation? Have we become a NEXT culture?

In other words, is our current outrage more about entertainment and consumerism than it is about the actual tragedy or incident?

I think they way we respond and then quickly disengage moving onto the NEXT thing reveals an apathy and a narcissism that perpetuates systemic issues.

We live at the surface, and the problems we face are much deeper than the “facts.” And I know someone will more than likely cry out against that last statement.

Courts have to deal with facts, we as a society must deal with truths that lead to justice acknowledging the facts.

Today, consider how fast you move onto the NEXT thing.

Today consider how fast you move on from the LAST thing.

Today consider whether or not an incident will incite you to use your bullhorn only, or actually get off the couch and enter into the pain and brokeness as a healer and helper.

A closing thought to ponder from Martin Luther King Jr.:

“The Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.”

In light of the current #ferguson battlefield, consider the deeper conversation that is needed before you go NEXT.