Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What I did on my Summer Vacation

What did I do this summer? Write, write, write, write, and write. I did some other things too. We had quite a few summer visitors in our home, including our daughter and her family, and all of Jude’s siblings and their spouses. Whew! We enjoyed the lakes, mountains, and ocean. We went swimming often, saw some summer theatre, and I did some summer preaching. The typical things. It was a good summer.

In the midst of it all I worked on a book. My habit is to write nearly every day for a few hours each day. I always wake up early and write at least three hours a day. Some days many more than that. I don’t think there was a single day between Memorial Day and Labor Day that I did not write.

I love writing. I would write even if no one read what I wrote. (I suspect that is actually the case with some of my books.) My newest book is the most personal one I have written so far I get to share the joys and difficulties of being a pastor. The book is entitled, What Your Pastor Won’t Tell You (But I Can Because I am Retired). The title is meant to be humorous, but much of the material in it is very serious.

I did research for this book for months before I started writing. I also got to walk down memory lane, revisiting the painful moments of ministry as well as the wonderful times. In this book I deal with a wide range of practical, spiritual, ethical, biblical, and theological issues. I share personal experiences and moral convictions on a wide range of subjects.

If you are interested, you can get the Kindle version free for the next three days. (September 19, 20, 21) If you want the paperback, you will have to pay for it. Here’s the link to both. I just ask one thing. If you read it, please leave a brief (one or two sentence) review of the book on Amazon. In the meantime I will keep writing. I already have an idea for my next one. Time to start the research!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Christian Voting

I am writing this article after the September 11 primary and before the November 6 general election. The political signs in my front yard will remain up for another two months, although I suspect that my neighbors wish they wouldn’t. I take voting seriously. I research the candidates and vote in every election.

I see voting as a spiritual exercise as well as a civic duty. Even though church and state are separate, my voting and faith are not. That does not mean that I vote only for people who share my Christian faith. I don’t care whether a candidate is religious or not. I am just as willing to vote for an atheist, Jew, or Muslim as a Christian.

Neither do I vote by political party. I am no party loyalist. I am a member of that endangered species called “moderates.” Officially I am “undeclared.” I am equally likely to vote for a Libertarian, a Democrat, or a Republican. I have even voted for Constitution and Green Party candidates.

Furthermore I do not vote primarily on the issues. The issues are important. I have personal opinions on the major issues facing our nation. I would rather have a politician agree with me than not. But I often vote for people I disagree with on some issues.

Some Christian groups would have you believe that issues are all important. That Christians must vote for people who share their social agenda regarding the hot button issues of our day, regardless of the candidates’ other qualities. But when I look to the Bible for guidance on such issues, it is not that clear. I see support in the Scriptures for both sides of every issue. The Bible is not a Christian Voters Guide.

For me, voting as a Christian means voting for persons, not positions or policies. In this bitter political climate I am looking for people who are not ideologues, who will cooperate with people they disagree with. I vote for persons based on their character, not their politics. I believe that if we put persons of high moral character into office, then they will do the right thing when the occasion arises.
So I look for a person of honesty and integrity. A person who does not lie – which is harder to find the higher you go up the political food chain. I want a person of high moral character. Someone who treats other people – especially their political opponents – with respect. A person of honor who is willing to say and do the right thing even if it costs them the next election.

Those are hard to find. The last time I voted for a president who actually won was in 1976. That was Jimmy Carter. He was too honest to get a second term. Of the two campaign signs in my front yard, one is for a Republican and the other a Democrat. I know them both personally, and they are people of honor. 

That is spiritual voting. Christian voting means voting for the best person running. Honorable persons who will speak and act from a deeply held personal morality, and not according to their party leaders or what is popular at the moment. Persons who are concerned about the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society – the people Jesus cared about - not the desires of the most powerful. People who will do what is right no matter what. That is how this Christian pastor casts his vote.