One Church + 600,000 Volunteer Hours = Awesomeness

The Rock Church in San Diego is stepping it up. They’ve volunteered over 400,000 hours to the city’s mayor so far this year and will end up giving 600,000 hours by year’s end.

“What I like to point out, though, is that we are one church in one neighborhood, having this kind of impact,” said Pastor Miles McPherson. “We as one congregation are doing more community service than some huge national organizations.”*

I’m really impressed with what they’re doing. They’re addressing a real need and making a tangible impact in their community.

What are some other stories you’ve heard of churches doing similar things?

*Read more about this from the Christian Post.

Is God a Republican or Democrat?

I’ve heard more discussion about this year’s election than I’ve ever heard in my entire life. This might be because I’m getting older and my ear is tuned more to politics, but it could also be an indicator that our nation is more interested in this election than any other time in recent history. There have been numerous stories of record early vote turnout and the expectation that there will also be long lines at the polls today. If the 75+ people that were lined up outside the church building this morning at 6:55 am are any indication this is no doubt true.

Being a full-time Christian minister I’m privy to a number of conversations that I most likely would not have otherwise heard. I’ve discussed and heard discussions about this year’s election from a number of different angles. I’ve heard people say things like “If you’re really a Christian you will vote Republican.” I’ve heard someone say, “I’m a Christian so that means I’m voting Democrat.” I’ve also heard people say that neither candidate is really worth of the Office, so they’re either not voting or writing in another person. This election is being hotly debated for sure.

The Bible has some things to say about the role of Christians in politics. It talks a lot about being submissive to earthly rulers:

  • “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:1-2).
  • “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
  • “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:13-15).
  • “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise” (Proverbs 24:21).

Christians are also instructed to pray for our leaders: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). One of the coolest ideas I’ve seen lately related to this concept is for us to “Pray Backwards” (, which basically means to pray for God to bless the other candidate(s) that you did not vote for with wisdom in leadership. This is a valid idea and it also teaches us a dose of humility, since our way always seems the right or best way.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of discussion about praying that a particular candidate is elected President.  I’m not opposed to praying bold prayers (see Luke 11 & 18), but I also know that God will accomplish his will on earth regardless of who is in office. He’s done it before and he will do it again and again. As Christians, our hope is built firmly on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and His Kingdom alone, not the Office of the President nor any earthly kingdom.

So, should you move to Canada, France, Mexico, or another country if your candidate is not elected? Absolutely not. Will America be more of a Christian nation if a particular party is in power? No. Our Founding Fathers may have been religious people, and possibly even Christians, but it’s most likely that they were Deists. The laws they established may have biblical roots, but that is where the connection ends. Their goals was not to establish another Christendom. It was to establish a county with religious freedoms.

History has shown us that when the church has too much power it can become corrupt and unspiritual (think about the Crusades) and lose sight of its mission. When the church is in power it’s easy to get comfortable and forget that Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We should be involved in politics, but our primary allegiance is to God and His true Kingdom: the church.

So if you’re hoping and praying that McCain will be President, but Obama wins, or if you’re pulling for Obama and McCain wins, don’t lose hope. Also, don’t get too confident if your man wins. They are earthly leaders and are prone to sin (Romans 3:23). Place your faith, hope, and trust in the unchanging power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Interesting reads related to this topic:

New Post Coming Soon…

I’ve been thinking about it for a little while and I’ve decided I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a post about the election in regards to Christians and political parties, but it will take a few minutes to write. In the meantime feel free to email/tweet/facebook me your thoughts about this issue.

Really, though, I’m writing this post to test out a new way for me to post to my blog that *might* make me post more. We’ll see.

Are lower gas prices good for America?

A couple years ago I blogged about ExxonMobil having record 3rd quarter profits because of higher gas prices. Since then almost every major gas company has had record profits every quarter. It hasn’t just been hurricanes driving up prices. The actual price of oil per barrel has shot up, too. It’s been a trend that has been no fun, but I’ve gotten used to it.

My former response was to get mad, but I don’t really get angry anymore. It’s not that “Big Oil” has won, I just have a different perspective thanks mainly to my brother-in-law, Chris. He helped me realize that the only real way that we’ll see any significant changes to our nation’s policies on drilling for oil and building refineries was if there was an outcry from the entire nation. I believe that time is finally coming.

You see, as much as Barack Obama wants to believe that keeping our tires properly inflated and cars well maintained will reduce our dependence on foreign oil it really won’t. There will be more people in America driving more cars for the foreseeable future. While those cars will probably get better has mileage they will still use gas. Even with a reduced dependence on foreign oil their will still be a dependence.

The only way that our country will truly be able to make significant strides in having a sustainable plan for energy indepence is to start tapping into the natural resources that are available within our borders and to build more refineries to turn those resources into usable fuels. I heard a guest on Glenn Beck’s radio show comment that the very reason that we purchased Alaska in the first place was becuase of the resources (oil) that were available there. I don’t really know if that’s true or not, but it’s a good place to look.

Turn on the drills and let that black gold flow!!!

The Presidential race is officially heating up.

It’s been a busy week in the political world. Barack Obama officially announced that Joe Biden would be his running mate, the Democratic Party held their national convention, and John McCain announce that his running mate would be Sarah Palin would be his running mate.

Normally I don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to politics. In fact, I didn’t watch ANY of the coverage of the Democratic National Convention. One thing that I did find amusing was that Kevin Kiley, co-host of the Michael Irvin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas, was outraged by the Cowboys decision to not postpone their final pre-season game in order to not distract from the historic moment of Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech. I personally don’t have a problem with the Cowboys decision. While the first African-American to be officially nominated by one of the major political parties is an historic moment in the history of our country, it’s not a big enough moment to have the whole country come to a stand-still. The logistical nightmare of shuffling the game made it worth proceeding as scheduled.

I do know for a fact now that Joe Biden’s son is either a liar or a lunatic. I saw him being interviewed this morning on one of the major news networks and referred to Delaware as being the “greatest state in the country.” I’m all for state pride. Being from Texas it kind of comes with the territory, but come on! It’s Delaware!!! This is the same state that gets made fun of in TV shows and movies ALL THE TIME! It’s just laughable to even consider it being in the top 10 list of greatest states.

The biggest news of the day, of course, was that John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his VP running mate. This was historic as well, since she will be the first woman to have ever been on the ballot for either major party could be the first female Vice President (I obviously don’t know my political history: see Geraldine Ferraro, thanks to the commenter). I really don’t know much about her, so I won’t get into whether or not she’s qualified for the position (which she appears to be from initial reports), but I do want to comment on what I think is somewhat hypocritical in how some of the conservative voices have reacted.

When Hillary Clinton was still in the running for the Democrat nomination I heard multiple times from multiple people that you should not vote for the president based on the person’s gender or skin color, but on their character and whether or not the are qualified for the job. The rationale was that African-Americans should not vote for Obama just because he’s African-American, nor should women vote for Hillary simply because she’s a woman.

This makes sense and I think I agree with it, but now that McCain has picked Palin as his VP I’m hearing the other extreme. I’m hearing conservatives point out that he’s capitalizing on the women who probably would have voted for Hillary who might now vote for McCain because of Palin. This is probably true, but I think it’s hypocritical to condemn one group for using that strategy in one regard, but then speak positively about it for the other.

It’s not surprising, however, because this is politics. As much as both candidates are talking about bringing a change or shaking things up in Washington, when it’s all said and done it’s going to be business as usual. One side of the aisle will bash the ideas of the other side, political backstabbing will take place, and both McCain and Obama will throw dirt at each other in an attempt to win the office. It’s been this way since as long as I can remember and it will be this way as long as our political system is in place.

Faith & Politics

These days it’s not popular to talk about religion or politics. That makes the email I got today so odd. Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in California, will be interviewing both presidential candidates for a nationally televised forum. The email he sent was soliciting questions to ask and prayer for wisdom.  This will be a blend of both faith and politics, which should make it a very compelling thing to watch.

Pastor Warren will have to walk a tightrope as a representative of a non-profit organization, which just so happens to be a church, too. As such he cannot officially direct people on how they should vote or he would jeopardize the church’s non-profit status with the IRS. There are some practices that are allowed, but others that are not (see this article for more details). Since Pastor Warren will be interviewing both candidates he should be safe, but you know that the ACLU and other politial watchdog organizations will be keep close tabs on what is said.

I do think it’s important for Christians to be politically active. We’re instructed to pray for our government officials, pay taxes, and submit to laws of the land. It’s valuable to have Christians in positions of influence that can enact positive change for our nation and its future citizens.

Check out the email below:

Dear fellow pastor and church leader,

This next Saturday, August 16, 2008, I will interview Senators John McCain and Barack Obama for an hour each at our nationally televised Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. The following morning I will be preaching a message entitled “The Kind of Leadership America Needs.”

I’d value your opinion and feedback. What question would you ask BOTH candidates if you had the chance?  Please frame your question in a way that it could be asked of both candidates (to be fair) and email it to me at This would be a great help to me.

We’re in this together.  I also ask you to pray I’ll have the necessary wisdom. This will be an historic event. Never have the two candidates been interviewed by a pastor in a church. It will be a great day for all churches, showing the importance of the local church being at the civil table.

I thank God he has called you to serve Him.  For the global glory of God.

Rick Warren
Saddleback Church
Purpose Driven Network
The Global PEACE Coalition

Political Buzz

I’m starting to think that whoever ends up being the Republican Party representative (John McCain) might be doomed from the start. Not only does he have the negative associations that a lot of people have with George W. Bush, but no one is talking about him. Here in Texas, every commercial break on tv has an ad for either Barack or Hillary.  They’re gearing up for the primaries next week. I can’t remember seeing any commercials for McCain or Huckabee.

This lack of advertising doesn’t matter much now, November is still far off, but I know there is a saying that goes like: “There is no such thing as bad press.” People who don’t have ties with either party might be starting to make decisions about who they will vote for, so buzz now might pay off later.

I’m wondering if McCain’s team has recognized this and manufactured the “smear campaign” last week to bring people’s attention back to him. Probably not, I would hope, but American politics is dirty in election years.

Hillary Clinton as President would make the USA less safe

I assumed it was true before, but now that I’ve read this article from the Wall Street Journal I know it is true. If Hillary Clinton succeeds in her quest to become the next President our country will immediately become less safe. She is a politician in the worst sense. She makes decisions and holds opinions on issues primarily based on how it affects whether or not people will vote for her. He stance on issues are not based on commitment or personal values, they are basically a popularity contest. Here is an excerpt from the article:

The perpetrators were members of Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN (the Spanish acronym), a clandestine terrorist group devoted to bringing about independence for Puerto Rico through violent means. . . . [On Aug. 11, 1999,] while Congress was on summer recess, the White House [Bill Clinton] quietly issued a press release announcing that the president was granting clemency to 16 imprisoned members of FALN. . . . Initial reports stated that Mrs. Clinton supported the clemencies, but when public reaction went negative she changed course, issuing a short statement three weeks after the clemencies were announced. . . . While the pardon scandals that marked Bill and Hillary Clinton’s final days in office are remembered as transactions involving cronies, criminals and campaign contributors, the FALN clemencies of 1999 should be remembered in the context of the increasing threat of domestic and transnational terrorism that was ramping up during the Clinton years of alleged peace and prosperity. . . . On the campaign trail, the Clintons like to say that Bill is merely supportive and enthusiastic, “just like all the other candidates’ spouses.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Returning Bill and Hillary Clinton to the White House would present the country with the unprecedented situation of a former and current president simultaneously occupying the White House, the practical implications of which have yet to be fully explored.

Read the full article.

UPS = Innovate Thinking

The NY Times has reported that UPS, the delivery company with the brown trucks, has reduced “28.5 million miles off its delivery routes, which has resulted in savings of roughly three million gallons of gas and has reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons.” How did they accomplish this? By not turning left (when practical). The concept is that they have those huge, gas-guzzling trucks and sitting in the left-turn lane waiting for the green light needlessly uses up excess gas (and time).

This kind of thinking is brilliant. It’s not something that would be world changing for an individual, but when done at the scale of UPS it is. How many little changes like this could churches make that would have a significant impact in our culture?