Who to NOT Vote For (and ‘The Babysitter’)
People want me to tell them who to vote for.
I won’t tell them who to vote for, but I can tell us who to NOT vote for.
Who to vote for?
Would we like the candidate with the most knowledge regarding the way forward to win the election?
Would we like the candidate with the greatest regard for truth to win the election?
Would we like the candidate with the greatest commitment to protecting life to win the election?
My guess is that at the deepest level, we all want the same things but have an incredibly difficult time figuring out just who that person would be.
We know that we don’t know who knows the way. We’re honestly confused about who is being most honest with the truth. We want our candidate to care about human life—all life: unborn life and the life of the mothers of that life, the life of immigrants and their children, the life of those with different ethnicities, dreams, and desires.
We want someone who loves people. Wouldn’t we all vote for that?
But what does “Love” look like?
In some Scripture, the command to love looks like socialism.
In some Scripture, the command to love looks like free market capitalism.
In Acts chapter two, it looks like free market communism.
Some say, “We could so easily slip into atheistic communism!”
Others say, “We could so easily slip into genocidal fascism!”
Well, of course! Both have happened before… very recently, in fact.
Some say, “Well, God chose this particular candidate!”
Well, God chooses all candidates. He chose Nebuchadnezzar, Pilate, and Herod.
But that doesn’t mean that I should vote for them.
There is one public election held in Scripture, at a very critical moment, which might prove to be instructive for us.
Pilate said to the crowd, “Who would you like for me to release for you: Jesus Barabbas or Jesus called Messiah?”
“Barabbas” most likely means, “son of rabbi,” that is “son of the teacher of law.”
Many ancient manuscripts record that his first name was “Jesus.”
Jesus was a common name in that day. It means “God is Salvation,” or simply “Salvation.”
Pilate is asking, “What type of Jesus do you prefer: Jesus Barabbas (Salvation by legislation) or Jesus called the Christ, the Anointed, the Chosen?”
He held an election and everyone voted for the wrong man.
In case you think that the point of this text is to vote for Jesus the Christ, it’s important to note that he isn’t even running for office… In fact, that’s why they voted to kill him.
They all vote to take his Life, and God votes to give his Life… for all.
The Messiah is a different sort of leader, and to even throw his hat in the ring is an abomination—even the “abomination of desolation,” standing in the temple of your soul.
So, should we vote? Absolutely. As long as we remember what it is that we’re voting for.
In Galatians chapter 3, Paul writes that, “Before faith came, we were held captive under the law… until faith would be revealed. The law was our guardian [paidogogos] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”
Paul makes it clear that faith in us is Christ Jesus in us, sitting on the throne in the sanctuary of the soul. Jesus isn’t simply knowledge about the way, the truth, and the life; He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Word of Love—our Father.
We don’t need exterior restraints to be good when the Good reigns from the throne in the sanctuary of our soul. And then, neither do we need anyone to protect our freedom; if we think we do, we don’t yet know what freedom is.
But until Faith reigns, God has provided a “paidogogos,” a babysitter.
The office of the president is the office of the babysitter.
It is a principality and power of this world.
Can you imagine ending your marriage and losing custody of your children because you couldn’t agree on the appropriate
Foreskins and T-Shirts
In Genesis 12, God just starts talking to an old, childless man living in the region that we now refer to as “Iraq.” He makes the man some astounding promises regarding a blessing for the entire world, and “a seed” that will come through his…(ahem) flesh.
Twenty-four years later, at the age of ninety-nine, and having tried and failed at engineering the blessing, God reminds him of the Promised Blessing, the Covenant, and tells Abram that he will now be called “Abraham: father of many nations.” He then says, “This is my covenant which you shall keep between you and me and your seed after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised… in the flesh of your foreskins… he who is eight days old. Every male throughout your generations… shall surely be circumcised.”
And Abraham did say unto the Lord, “Your Word is good, oh Lord… but couldn’t we just wear t-shirts? …Maybe start a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, wear uniforms, pass out certificates; how about an edgy tattoo on the arm? But please, God, don’t touch me there; you’re making me uncomfortable.”
OK, maybe he didn’t say that, but certainly he thought that. That was a tender spot for old Abraham and his wife, Sarah—tender, in more ways than one. It represented their deepest hope and their repeated failure—that place was shame.
Well, Abraham did it. That’s faith, hope, and love in the place of shame!
Then the Lord said, “Next year you will have a son.”
Sarah laughed, saying, “Will I again have pleasure?” And God got the last laugh, for the following year, Sarah gave birth to a son, and they named him Isaac (that is “He laughs”).
The Promised Blessing, Life, and Laughter did not come through a process of addition but a process of subtraction… a seemingly absurd subtraction, and God didn’t explain why.
About 430 years later, God “sought” to kill Moses until his wife cut the foreskin from their firstborn son and held it to Moses’ “foot,” saying, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” They usually leave that part out of the movies, and God still doesn’t explain his reasoning.
But forty years later, speaking through Moses to the descendants of Abraham, in Deuteronomy 30, God begins to explain: “Your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart… that you may live.”
Love and Life are not gained through a process of addition (trying harder), but a process of subtraction; something is to be cut away from the heart, exposing something else within the heart that will love Love and live Life in freedom.
“God will circumcise your heart,” says Moses. And then, “The Word… is in your mouth and in your heart so that you can do it.” In Romans 10, Paul quotes Moses in Deuteronomy 30, revealing the meaning of circumcision and the identity of this Word that is already hidden in the heart of Israel in 1500 BCE. This Word is the Word of Faith, that is in fact Jesus, who is the Promised Blessing—the Seed.
It would seem that every human heart is like a seed.
And every seed has an outer casing or husk.
But within the husk is a kernel that is eternal, like the Word hidden in a manger or buried in a tomb or spoken into dust the day Adam is created.
St. Paul makes it clear, “Faith, Hope, and Love” in us is Christ Jesus in us.
It’s the eternal treasure that the Good Father sees in his Son.
It’s his own love returning as faith, in spite of all shame.
It’s the eternal treasure that the Good Bridegroom seeks in his Bride.
It’s his own spirit in communion with her spirit, causing her to surrender her shame and reveal her hope for her Bridegroom’s Love.
“Faith, Hope, and Love”—what God does—is the kernel and eternal.
And perhaps, our own ego, our shame, our illusion of control, our flesh —w
What Is That to You?
I get irritated with bubbly Christians… sad Christians, conservative and progressive Christians, those who are all about the heart, or the soul, or the mind, or the strength…contemplative, charismatic, and “beloved” Christians.
At times, every type bugs me, for something in me wants me to be king of my own kingdom, my kingdom of one person, only me.
When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples by the side of the sea, he told Peter, “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (Peter was crucified upside down in Rome in 65 AD).
At this, Peter turned and saw “The Beloved Disciple;” he saw John and asked, “What about this man?” Jesus responded, “What is that to you? Follow me.”
Peter and John were both fisherman in the same neighborhood; they were competitors. And Jesus made them to be brothers. It’s often the people we love the most who we are tempted the most to hate; with these people, we are tempted to measure ourselves, to compete.
So, Jesus asks Peter, “What is that—what is John with all his unique and individual differences—to you? A curse… or a blessing? Hell… or Heaven?
Perhaps we should ask, “What is John, what is a person, to God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?”
Solomon wrote, “...Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken from it. God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks what has been driven away” (Ecc. 3:14-15).
This has remarkable implications for every person… and every false person.
If a person is something God has done, they are eternal—nothing can be added to them, and nothing taken from them; God has done them that all would stand in awe before him; they are eternal. My ego constantly tries to add to me, take from me (and my neighbor), and tell me that I must be what I’ve never been; my ego is an illusion.
There is a “me” that God “does,” and a “me” that God does not do.
The me that I imagine I “do” must be my “ego,” the spawn of the devil, and the illusion in which I am trapped… And yet, this is also the emptiness in which the Glory of God and image of God is to be revealed.
A person is a Love story, already written, but waiting to be read by all.
To God the Father, a person is an eternal treasure being revealed in space and time.
To God the Son, a person is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
To Jesus, a person is his Bride, and his Bride is his Body.
“The mystery of Christ” is that even the Gentiles (“alienated from the life of God”) are “members of the same body” (Eph. 4:4,18).
If Peter is Christ’s Body, and John is Christ’s Body, then Peter and John have the same body.
To believe that we all are one body changes everything for anybody and everybody.
Every difference is no longer a curse, but the deepest blessing.
My neighbor is no longer a threat to me; my neighbor is me.
And I am not any less the individual and unique “me” that is me, but more.
A chicken leg is most a chicken leg, not when it’s severed and fried and sitting on your plate; a chicken leg is most a chicken leg when it’s attached to a living chicken. I learn who I am when I discover who we are—not a chicken, but the body of Christ.
On the tree in the garden, he delivered up his Spirit, the same Spirit that fell on the Church at Pentecost, as his people freely chose to share everything in common. A person is, and persons are, a temple at which we are called to worship God with sacrifice and offering. God is Love; Love is three persons and one substance; Love is a decision to bleed for your neighbor.
In the depth of the temple, in the inner sanctuary, behind th
Is Unity Possible With Those Who are Wrong?
To Laugh While Drowning (2020)
They say that drowning is one of the worst ways to go.
To drown is to be unable to “catch your breath.”
All our lives we assume that “the breath” is ours to catch.
I watched my father slowly die of a lung disease much like COVID; basically, he drowned.
Sometimes I think of that when I’m anxious and trying to sleep.
“Be still and know that I am God,” says the Lord.
And I think, “Yeah… Right! It was you that led me to this point.”
3500 years ago, an entire nation of slaves—none of whom, had taken swim lessons at the community pool—found themselves pinned against the banks of the Red Sea.
They had no place to look but up.
And when they looked up into that pillar of fire and smoke, they had to realize that it was the “Angel of Yahweh” that had led them to this point.
They cried out, “Did you not have enough graves in Egypt?”
They wondered, “Did you lead us here just to watch us drown?”
It was then that Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord… The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be still.”
That’s what Moses said, but Moses must’ve been asking the same questions as the people, for at this point, God says to Moses, “Why do you cry to me?”
Like Moses, I’ve cried to the Lord, “Why did you lead me to this point …just to watch me drown? I thought I was following you, Jesus.”
That name “Jesus” literally means “God is Salvation.”
What kind of a savior just watches people drown?
Some argue that God is like a lifeguard who swims out to a person drowning in the sea, but if that person doesn’t ask him to be saved, God will just watch that person drown, for he will not violate our “free will.”
Those people are often called “Arminian” …and they make terrible lifeguards.
Some argue that God is not limited by our “free-will,” for in fact, we’re all drowning in bad will, and it’s his Good Free Will to save us from our bad will, due to no merit of our own.
I think that’s right. But these people often go on to say that God chooses to not save some, just to prove that he freely chose to save others and thereby make them grateful.
These people are often called “Calvinists” …and they make terrible lifeguards.
But what kind of a lifeguard would just watch a person drown?
Actually, a pretty good one.
I used to be a lifeguard. They told us several times: “A large drowning person is very difficult to save because they are so desperately trying to save themselves; they won’t be still. And so, it’s imperative that you swim to them, stop at arm’s length, and just watch them drown. When they come to the end of their own strength, you can save them with your strength; you can swim for them and they have only to be still.”
God has enough strength to overpower us at any moment. But perhaps he’s saving us from more than water; perhaps he’s saving us from reliance upon our own strength—the absurd notion that “Peter is his own salvation.” If I believe “Peter is Salvation,” I can’t believe “God is Salvation;” I can’t have faith.
God said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people to go forward.” Utterly devoid of other options, they did. And so, God saved them. And so, they laughed and sang as they watched the bodies of dead Egyptians wash up onto the shore.
“That’s nice,” we say. But silently we wonder, “What about the Egyptians and the fact that almost all the Israelites died in the wilderness and sank down into Sheol?”
Isaiah prophesied that one day Egypt will know and worship the Lord.
Ezekiel prophesied that “the whole house of Israel” will rise from the graves and enter the Promised Land.
According to Scripture, we all drown, and we all are saved …from ourselves—the illusion that we are our own creator, savior, and redeemer.
He is “th
A Generous Invitation
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Incredibly dynamic, powerful, thought-provoking. I'm amazed that this new podcast has 297 messages up already. I visited a few times up in Denver and it's great to be able to listen from our home in San Antonio, TX. May God richly bless Peter, his congregation, and his ministry.