I have been thinking alot about one-issue voting lately. I have long been an advocate of this as it relates to abortion. I have oftentimes told friends that if both Republicans and Democrats were pro-life then I would have a much harder time – I might even vote for a Democrat. I have heard some evangelicals respond that they are going to vote Democrat because the Republicans have failed or messed things up. I fail to see the validity of such a charge as Democrats have not been the saviors of the world either; merely voting for one will not remedy our situation.

There are so many issues, why have I chosen one to ride my horse on? One of the dangers in calling my perspective “one issue” voting  is the misnomer that there is only one issue that a candidate needs to agree with me on and the rest is chaff. The is a farce since there are myriad issues that I also evaluate when picking a candidate. I have said for several years that if all parties agreed that abortion should be illegal that I would have a much harder time deciding who to vote for.

Am I being petty and naive? I am sure I am in several ways. However, when you talk to people it is obvious that they are also one issue voters. For example, those who are pro-choice have this as their one issue that will steer them towards one candidate over another. Another person may not vote for someone because he wants to leaglized marijuana. Someone else may be allergic to joining hands with the Castros in Cuba.

Why did we go to war with Nazi Germany? We went because they were war-mongerers. This was one issue. The killing of babies (let’s not use “abortion” as the primary term as it is mechanistic and euphemistic for what is really happening to the child) is a heinous crime against humanity. We cringe at the thought of chimpanzees or polar bears eating their own young, but celebrate the virtue of choice in the similar decision to take the weak’s life.

Political renovation does not stop with the illegalizing of the killing of human babies. Movements must start somewhere. This is the most immediate need right now. Of course there are homeless people, hungry people, unemployed people. But if we can’t even take care of those who are helpless, what kind of policy could we dream up that would do justice for the poor?

It is a shame that the Republican party believes that if they say “I am pro-life” then they have the evangelical vote. It is a shame that it is only the Republican party that has said this most resolutely. I wish it would be across the board that sucha  statement would be made. But we are tyrannized by other (yes, important) less immediate issues.
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This post has 2 Comments

  1. To make matters worse, merely being “pro-life” as the media portrays it, isn’t even being biblically ethical enough.

    If a candidate is anti-abortion, but supports stem cell research, embryo destruction, in vitro-fertilization, and human cloning — to vote for them would be to betray our own “pro-life” principles, and thereby undermine our own purpose of electing a politician who will defend human life at all stages. And yet many evangelicals see those issues as compromisable in light of an anti-abortion stance; when in fact it is nothing more than political expediency at its very worst — all under the guise of ‘life’.

  2. Good point. We need to have a full-orbed view of what it means to foster a culture of life. The culture of death is not merely pro-abortion, it also indoctrinates people to embrace euthanasia. The quality of life is a farce, since who is the judge of said quality? As those who embrace and cultivate life, we need to think more broadly on what it means to truly live – procreation, eating, drinking, smoking, self-control, etc.

    Thank you for your thoughts. Do you find that expediency is helpful in taking a first step, though, in propagating a culture of life? In other words, if anti-abortion is the FIRST step towards a culture of life, then it is temporarily feasible to tackle that one issue?

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“Hearing & Healing” – Mark 1.29-39

Mark’s gospel is notorious for narrating with urgency. Throughout he uses the word “immediately.” In doing so, there is a direct movement (a bee line, if you will) to the cross. He is at pains to show Jesus’ authority in preaching and teaching and healing. This authority is paramount in understanding why Jesus’ crucifixion matters. These happened all the time, but what is it about this particular “criminal’s” actions that merit his death at a different qualitative level than those that were on his right and his left?

There is an inextricable link between the proclamation of the Gospel and the actions of the Gospel. Preaching without the actions of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is merely a fiction. The Gospel is Good News about a reality…the Kingdom of God among us. Yet, action without the interpretation of those action (i.e., preaching) is short-sighted and passing away.

The Hearing of the Gospel

Why such movement in Mark’s gospel? In 1.38, Jesus gives his rationale for moving from town to town: “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” It ought not get lost on us the layers of reason Jesus gives:

Let us go on to the next towns
in order that I may preach
for that is why I came out

Of particular note, we see that Jesus came out to do this. Where was he coming from? From within the synagogue (v.29) and from his private communion with his Father (v.35). It is clear that communion with God must give way to communion with people. The place of learning must give way to action.

We can often content ourselves, and fool ourselves, into thinking that cognitive knowing is equal to true knowing. This way is easier, and we see it all the time. Those that are overly careful in parsing the details of their theology, are oftentimes lax in doing what it says. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey me” (John 14.15). Doctrine must always compel us to go into the highways and byways to love and proclaim the Good News that God offers forgiveness to all those who repent and believe. But we mustn’t stay in the places of learning and parsing for knowledge puffs up but love builds up. Christianity has always been a public faith. Not in an “I told you so” sort of way, but in a disposition of service to others. Instead we say, “God has given me forgiveness and life, and he offers the same for all people.”

The Healing of the Gospel

This integral nature of the proclamation of the Gospel and healing of the Gospel can be seen at the juxtaposition of Jesus’ comment in v.38 and what Mark tells us in v.39: Jesus went out and preached and healed.

These healings are both confirmation of Jesus’ authority as well as a demonstration of who Jesus is: God incarnate. In the Lectionary we read from Psalm 147 and Isaiah 40 that reminds us that God is the Creator of all. He calms the storms and he stoops to give strength to the infirm. What does it look like with God arrives? Freedom for the oppressed. Wholeness to the disintegrated. Strength to the weak.

But from Jesus’ very example we see that the healing of the Gospel is the very manifestation of the Kingdom of God. God’s original Creation had been marred ad broken. When he comes to his creatures, he restores. Freedom and justice and health are freely given.

Two Implications

The purpose of the miracles is to show that in Jesus all Creation obeys its Makers and his original intention for Creation. To be a place free from suffering and oppression. To be a place where humans can reflect the image of God and flourish in the cultivation of the earth and others. The miracles point to the good, original intention of God’s good creation. They lift our eyes up to what it looks like for God’s Kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Our Call to Righteousness

As his representatives on earth, who have been freed from sin and death, he calls us to cultivate his Creation. To be the image bearers we are.

Each of us have gifts and passions. Could it be that God has placed these loves in our hearts so that we can be his representatives of compassion and change on earth? Could it be that your love of finance could be used in service for others to help them balance their checkbook? Could it be that your love for dressing wounds could be used to bring wholeness to others? This service is inherent to who God is as the One who slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.


We oftentimes look like the preacher who came upon a car wreck. The victim is bleeding and in pain. We share the Gospel of salvation by grace and call them to submit their lives to Christ. The ambulance shows up on the scene and the person dies. We celebrate and are thankful for the opportunity to share this Great News with this person before they died. And then the EMT turns to us and said, “This young lady would have lived if you had just applied pressure to the wound.”

Our Call to Pray for Healing

Too often we put a premium on the spiritual over the physical. We denigrate the very bodies God has given us. We forget that we are redeemed people in spirit and in body. The resurrection of the body. We will be flesh and blood for eternity with our souls.

We cannot get around the fact that Jesus healed people. He heals people. Too often faith healers lay emphasis on the faith, or lack of faith, as to why people are not healed. This misses the point. The healing comes from God’s good pleasure and good purposes. And so, God calls us as his ministers to pray for healing and to expect it. Yes, we have doctors and nurses and surgeons and MRIs and medicine. And God uses these means for healing. We also believe that God can heal without these. We pray and we go to the doctor. But…we still pray and ask for healing.

There is no guilt here. This is a plea for us to expand and experience an even greater joy in giving our lives away. In using these gifts and passions in the service of others. To see God at work in the service. By serving others in God’s strength, our hearts are expanded as we are expended. Laying our lives down for others. As Christ has done for us. This does not earn our salvation, but confirms, demonstrates, and is inherent to our being saved. We obey as a natural overflow of love for God.

To Consider

Where can I speak the truths and beauties of the Gospel to others?

What avenues has God given me to serve others as a demonstration of God’s love for others?

What passions and loves do I have that could meet the needs of others?

Who might I pray for right now who needs physical healing?

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Forsake Not

Woe to you, O people, who call evil good and good evil

Woe to you, who delight in hating the enemy

To those who speak of others in haste and for their demise

Who forsake the Greatest and Second Commandments

For the sake of your own security and comfort

For the sake of your own peace

For the sake of your own life


Woe to you, O people, who call lies truth and truth lies

Woe to you, who relish the overstatement

To those who denigrate others as the butt of a joke

Who forsake the Greatest and Second Commandments

For the delight of cheers and celebration

For the joy of making fools of others

For the hope of diverting attention from your own sin


Woe to you, O people, who line your pocket books with the flesh of your neighbors

Woe to you, who have forgotten the least of those among us

To those who laugh at the poor and downcast

To those who tell the sick to be well

To those who walk past the needy

To those who deny water and shelter and comfort to their Maker

To those who blame the messenger and heed not the message

Who forsake the Greatest and Second Commandments

For their own ease

For their own homes are warm and bright

For their belts are loosened from the bulge of excess


Woe to you, O people, who hate and defile and despise

Woe to you who shove and curse your opponent

To you who revile your brother

To you who kill your sister

Who forsake the Greatest and Second Commandments

Who forsake the Spirit of Love and Grace and Truth

Who forsake the Man of Sorrows

Who forsake your Maker

The Maker of us all.

World War Z and Christian Sacrifice

I am spoke in chapel on Wednesday of this week and had so many illustrations. But, considering students didn’t want to sit through an hour-long conversation on the matter, I had to cut out A LOT! Thus goes most of my preaching. Sometimes I get the right amount of illustrations, most of the time I do not.

I spoke about the call to sacrifice because of God’s Presence with us and Christ’s Action for us. I was moved in my own life to not make decisions too hastily because I am more often than not motivated by fear. Fear, as I turned it around in my head for a couple weeks primarily stems from my greater love of self and comfort. This latter piece was my focus in the message.

z9One of the illustrations I had to forego was Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane in World War Z. I took it out because I thought the video clip may be a little over the top for a chapel message–and it would have eaten up (pun intended) more time than I wanted.

But I find in Gerry Lane a Christ-figure. It’s not too hard to see and, man!, did I want to use this illustration. I opted for John Paton and the Alexandrian Martyrs as my illustrations (opting for reality than fiction–no, I do not believe zombies exist. . . I know. I know.)

Gerry Lane wanted to live the rest of his life without sacrifice. He had already given the best years of his life to covert, anti-terrorism operations. He wanted to spend the rest of his days flipping pancakes for his family–hey, not all that bad of a choice, I might add. He is thrown into the mix when the government pulls him into the operation–manipulated in doing so in order to preserve his family.

Throughout the movie you see people walling themselves up and trying to protect themselves from the zombie onslaught. First in the apartment complex, where the latino family seeks to board up their apartment rather than stay on the move with Gerry. They are killed.

The ship out in the middle of the ocean is a parable of what fear does to you. Isolated. Alone. Imprisoned. You think that you are alive, but you are merely existing. Surviving.









The Salvation Gates of Jerusalem. This is where the pivotal conversation takes place–at least in my understanding. Gerry is trying to figure out where he ought to go next to get to the bottom of this zombie virus. He is told to forget about “Patient 0” (the origins of the virus). Gerry responds,

“I can’t do that. It’s too late for me to build a wall.”

Stellar! He knew that if this disease was to be conquered it would have to be by getting outside the walls.

How does he finally destroy the enemy and his schemes? He injects himself with a deadly disease. he sacrifices his life so that he might defeat the enemy.

So it is not only through the Gospel of Jesus. It has been orchestrated thus by God that our enemy must be defeated through weakness. The powers and authorities are put to open shame by laying down our lives. This shows that though they kill the body they can never kill the person.

Death is but sleep. When we wake up. When our eyes are opened after this short slumber, we will see raptures of glory we cannot utter now.

We gain life by realizing that we have already died and live forever. . . Right. Now. Eternal life is not for later. Paul seems to indicate that we have already entered overflowing life right now when we die and are resurrected under the reign of ever-living Jesus.