Looking Back on 2012: Aug-Sept

August and September were busy months for my blog. There was the Chik-Fil-A drama and other culture war nonsense. Both political parties held their conventions. Then the Benghazi attack happened. In September, our church did a sermon series called “Jesus is My Candidate” that I tried and spectacularly failed to turn into some kind of bigger “movement.” The idea was to transcend partisanship and avoid saying and doing things that would dishonor Jesus’ name. So here are 10 posts on culture wars, morality, marriage, American Pelagianism, holy war, the fear of God, and other matters. Continue reading

What it all boils down to for me

I didn’t watch the presidential debate even though I tweeted #JesusIsMyCandidate until twitter kicked me off. I’m really not interested in whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama is a smoother talker because smooth talking involves a completely different skill set than having a conscience or a heart. I love people who will vote on each side and I don’t ever want politics to compromise the unity of the body of Christ which is my number one desire. Still I needed to confess that I am completely biased and impractical and irrational when it comes to how I make political decisions. I’m not trying to tell anybody else what they should decide, but I make my decisions based on some kids God gave me to love who are not my flesh and blood. I love my flesh and blood Matthew and Isaiah. The older they get, the more I know that our whole lives together are going to be a blast. And I’m also very proud of how they were forever shaped by the Lopez cousins and their friends in the mostly-Mexican-with-some-Salvadoran-and-Honduran youth group that I led from 2008 to 2010. My not flesh and blood kids held my sons in church. They babysat them. When we visit, they treat them like out of town cousins, because they are cousins. Continue reading

60 Jesus tweets for the presidential debate

Tonight from 9-10:30 pm EST, two men neither of whom are the anti-Christ and both of whom are sinners whom God has used to accomplish varying degrees of good in our world will get on TV and attack one another while millions of Americans watch. While this happens, hundreds and perhaps thousands of Christians will get on twitter and damage their witness to co-workers and friends of different races and political persuasions by writing snide commentaries that bash either of the two candidates. The reason I have made a fool out of myself trying to promote the #JesusIsMyCandidate campaign is to offer a different witness of Christ to people who have been alienated by loudmouth Christians who have not spoken with integrity or represented Christ well. If you have a twitter account, I have made it incredibly easy for you to participate tonight. You can cut and paste any number of the 60 sample tweets below anytime today into a tweet scheduler called twuffer.com (yes, the name is silly) so that you don’t have to post live during the debate. Continue reading

Jesus Is My Candidate & Election Day Communion

A beautiful wind is blowing through the body of Christ in our country right now even as American Christianity seems to be split between a side that’s in decline and a side that is intoxicated with its surging political power. Many Christians have grown disgusted with the partisanship and the culture wars that have intensified over the past several decades. And we decided to do something about it. I wanted to share with you a vision that developed at our church for a campaign called “Jesus Is My Candidate” and an even cooler idea that I just discovered called “Election Day Communion.” Continue reading

Prophecy and pastoral application

Last week, I had some very strange encounters with God that I interpreted with too much confidence too quickly, since it was the first time I had received experiences of this kind. I wrote a really long strange blog post that was initially intended to be a low-key meditation on the way that American Christians often confuse the fear of the Lord with the fear that has to do with punishment. I will be sharing bite-sized pieces from that strange outpouring in the future. I also wrote some strange, cryptic things on both facebook and twitter about Jesus’ return and things of that nature that made some people uncomfortable. One of my facebook friends wrote that I should “get the plans for my boat together” (like Noah), which was a good-natured way to help me laugh at myself and come back down to Earth. This weekend I will be preaching on how Jesus gives us a vision, using a story from Mark 8:22-26 when Jesus heals a blind man in two stages. The first time, the blind man receives partial vision; Jesus has to repeat the process for him to gain full sight. God used two scriptures yesterday to help me gain greater clarity in His vision for me: Paul’s encounter in Corinth in Acts 18 and John the Baptist’s interaction with the crowd in Luke 3. Continue reading

#JesusIsMyCandidate: the rap

I made this piece while we were making Jesus trend around the world last night. Please share it with your friends if you like it. Luke 19:40. Isaiah 6:2. Isaiah 40:3. Joel 2:28.

Song: jesus is my candidate

Babylon is crumbling,
Social nets are tumbling,
Everyone is stumbling
Past Italian faces that misrepresent a Jewish king
Preachers writing books, getting bling
Who’s in the streets with Dr. King?
Did you only hear the one speech?
He had a lot else to teach
About the way we can each
Be a servant to the least of these
And I’m not trying to hate
Always eaten on a silver plate
Never lived the way that many people live
So I hope you can forgive me
‘Cause I’m willing to learn
Know that nothing I have is a grace that I’ve earned
And that pride is the way that people burn.

Now the fear of the Lord
Is the basis for love
And I’m not saying fear
Of some lightning from above
Because fear means awe
At the beauty of God’s law
Which is way more than rules
Setting boundaries for the fools;
But today our laws have been
Shaped by Charles Darwin
‘Cause we crush the poor
For the sake of the system.
If the world belongs to God,
What does “Thou shalt not steal” mean?
Is it Jean Valjean or George Soros & 5 Keatings?
But now not so fast
Cause we can’t scurry past
The fact that Jesus loved
That woman and her perfume flask
And Zacchaeus and Matthew
Who were both day traders
But they’re sons of David
And they loved their savior
So when the PC patrol heard about
Jesus’ vice: “So you eat with Wall Street?”
Jesus said, “Love mercy not sacrifice.”

Why we need to build this meme: #JesusIsMyCandidate

It was only supposed to be a catchy sermon series to attract attention for our fall kickoff season. At first our senior pastor was worried about being misinterpreted in the heat of an extremely divisive election season. We have a beautifully “purple” church where progressive liberals and Tea Party activists worship together. It’s one of United Methodism’s greatest strengths and sources of agony. We’re one of the few big tent Christian denominations left. So many have split on female ordination, homosexuality, and other political issues. And so a sermon series called “Jesus is My Candidate” seemed entirely appropriate for a congregation in which people of all political persuasions worship and serve together. But now it’s gotten bigger than a sermon series; it’s become a meme — that strange 21st century cyber-object that you attach to a hashtag on twitter or hand over to Willy Wonka on Facebook hoping that it “trends.” The vision God seems to be sharing feels about as ridiculous as Kevin Costner mowing an Iowa cornfield to build a ballpark for ghosts, and I need a James Earl Jones with a much bigger platform to swoop in, put this meme on your back, and explode it. It’s really simple. We get as many people as possible on twitter every evening at 9 pm until election day to share as many personal testimonies and prophetic statements about Jesus as they feel like with the hashtag #JesusIsMyCandidate. And if we come up with songs, videos, flash mobs, etc, using the same meme, we go where they take us. It’s not slacktivism. It’s a 21st century act of prayer and resistance against the designs of Satan to use this presidential election to pummel American Christianity (and I’m not being a melodramatic wing-nut to name it that way). Continue reading

Staying “on message” for Jesus

Burke United Methodist Church is doing a campaign this fall called Jesus is My Candidate: I Vote for Him Every Day. A dimension of this campaign is thinking about how we “vote” for Jesus (maintain our allegiance and focus on Him) when all around us people are screaming for us to make either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney our Lord and Savior (or perhaps saying that the other guy is the anti-Christ but our guy is at least somewhat reasonable). One way that we “vote” for Jesus is by staying “on message” for Him. Political campaigns strive not to let reporters trick them into going “off message” by saying anything that detracts from the real issues. Satan is constantly trying to trick us into committing “gaffes” on the Jesus campaign trail that make our Savior look bad. So here are some ways I thought of that we can stay “on message” for Jesus during a campaign season full of distractions. Continue reading