My Honest View of Faith vs. Trump

Every once in a while I have a discussion with my thirties-something son about politics. My intelligent and thoughtful son has observed that a divide has risen among evangelical Christians regarding Donald Trump as president. Generations below my own apparently do not understand why conservative Christians enthusiastically support Mr. Trump. He seems to repel many. They see straight through the person and see the purity issue failures in his past. And they see any evangelical support of him as blatant hypocrisy. My son (any many in his age group) are really curious (and somewhat appalled) why Christians would openly embrace or support such a person?

Right away in our discussion I made it known that I’ve never personally liked the individual holding the highest office in our land right now. The man doesn’t embody the type of person that I would ever admire, especially as a 3 times husband and father from multiple marriages. It’s an odd mix of liberal social thought coupled with seemingly solid family units. Perhaps the man closed the book on his playboy lifestyle some time ago and settled into being a committed husband and father? Maybe he lived his early and mid-life off the rails and somehow found his way back to the tracks?

The businessman turned president has traveled for years in circles with rich and famous globally. He’s rubbed elbows with elite and powerful folks all of his adult life. As a reality TV show host he displayed his brash and bold business style and made many of us cringe to think we would ever have such a boss who would fire people on a whim.

He is a mover and a shaker. He makes things happen in the business world that few could ever claim. And he brags about it. Most of us were taught to keep our bragging to ourselves. Yet he uses his infamous tweets to springboard his ideas into our media frenzied society. His bully pulpit is employed on a daily basis to stir the pot.  I’ve always said that he lights the firecracker and then enjoys watching his detractors run and squeal like wounded animals. I think he fuels current debate topics and then while everyone is all stirred up he moves on to make some other deal. He just messes with his critical audience and toys with them incessantly.

Yet Donald the businessman appeals to people with big money because he provides them places to visit and enjoy. From fabulous golf resorts to fancy hotels in exotic locations throughout the world he aims to please and is rewarded handsomely for his efforts. And the people who visit his properties aren’t the ones of society that are concerned with the cost. They are ones looking for the opulent choice. Such places might be a dream to mainstream America because they (we) will never have the chance to be one of his valued customers. Most of us are way out of his class and thought processes.

But Mr. Trump has found a friend in rural and much of urban America. And one reason I think he has gotten this support is that he is not afraid of poking people in the eye for what many of us see as injustices. He calls people out. He shoots from the hip and says what many were already thinking. He has a way of relating to people in the sphere of mainstream America. He appears to “get” how they are feeling and masterfully taps into that with his folksy off-script events. He energizes his crowds more than we’ve seen in generations. They are lock-step with him, flaws and all.

He is a capitalist in the truest sense. Capitalism is freedom in its truest form. One major greatness of America comes from our individualist freedom. If you can think up a product or service in America, which others might need or enjoy, you have the freedom to create such a business and make a nice profit, if you do it well. Birthing solid profitable businesses creates a positive ripple effects that spew profit and jobs to many in that downhill flow.

When we elect someone to public office it is natural for any prospective voter to review every aspect of a candidate’s life and background. We size them up to see if we like who they are as people. We also evaluate them (rightfully so) on the merits of what they might bring to the table in skills and expertise and based on the office that they will hold. But in the case of Donald Trump we find that his willingness to take on the status quo (in both parties) appeals to many who at just tired of the political gamesmanship that’s been part of our landscape WAY too long. If we truly embrace a capitalist way of life the office of the presidency does leads the charge for business, whether we like it or not.

Trump may not be my candidate of choice based on my social or personal view of him. But we elect someone to preside and command, not lead a Christian congregation as a pastor would. When he was elected, I rather doubted that he would embrace conservative values and programs at all. My greatest hope after his election was the possibility that he’d have the chance to re-balance the Supreme Court. He did follow that path and his choices so far have kept the court from straying too far left. In my humble opinion, the balance of the court was the most important aspect of the 2016 election. opinion.

It is my belief that evangelical believers have been watching closely to see if this president really supports conservative values by his actions, and not just his words. So far he’s done that bidding in big ways. Those same Christians would never exhibit such tactics as in their pursuit of change. But I think Trump’s personality seems to be viewed like Goliath facing and taking down a lot of the the Giants in the political arena (on both sides). Underdogs seem to find a strong friend in Donald Trump.

So we are left with a choice. Some say it’s the lesser of two evils. As I told my son, I just don’t see anyone on the left side of this equation that has plan or ability to take our country in a way that I can positively embrace. So for the time being this right-wing social conservative deplorable will stay in the basket with a flawed guy who seems oddly enough wanting to make America conservative and Christian again.

The State of the GOP – Part I

I don’t think anybody who knows me would ever doubt my stance on political issues. For years (since Reagan) I’ve aligned with the GOP on most things. But in recent years the GOP has become a shell of its former self. They’ve left the building. I honestly believe the established so-called “base” lost its way over a course of time. They no longer speak or promote true conservative values and policy. And we must look no further than prime examples of the failed leadership by looking at the for leadership in the House and Senate. They are poster boys for what’s wrong. Both majority leaders of those bodies need to go, and quickly. They are entrenched and sold out to big money and status, and power. They do not speak for true conservatives. This was evidenced a couple of years ago by the way they rejected and defamed the Tea Party movement and it’s grass roots supporters. That showed they do not want “we the people” of the right to speak or be heard. Tea Party favorites that were elected have, for the most part, had their voices and opinions drowned out by these kings on their thrones. The existing crown wants to control the agenda without regard for the voice of the people or the ones that put them in office in the first place.

There’s a reason someone like Trump resonates with a large group of our country right now. It’s not that we like loud, boisterous, and tough talk and style. He seems pretty abrasive to most. But the fact that he is not sold out to the “money crowd” of the GOP and speaks honestly and openly about the issues is a big plus. I believe this is the reason people are listening intently to him regardless of his style. There others that are making some headway too. They are like the Donald in that they are also considered “outsiders” (not entrenched political hacks). The uphill battle for these outsiders is that they are not “chosen ones” by the GOP. Take Ted Cruz. He’s not afraid of calling out even the Majority Leader of the Senate and calling him what he is, a liar. Yet the attack dogs and leadership of the GOP don’t back down, and are truly going after people like Cruz, even more so than they are the opposing leftist party.

We are witnessing the remarkable retooling of the GOP, from the bottom up. The voices of reason that people long for are NOT the ones that the GOP wants. And establishment crown is no happy about it either. It is out of their control and they don’t quite know what to do about it. The platform of the GOP will have to be changed and quickly or the party will implode on itself. In many respects this election is shaping up to be another Reagan type of scenario. The great orator was also not the “anointed one” by the establishment. Yet when Carter failed us all big time, everyone was ready for a big change. Reagan filled that role perfectly.

I’m not ready to throw my hat to anyone in this current race, but people like Ted Cruz remind me so much of the passion and determination that Reagan had. We need the fire and will of people like him that are not afraid of speaking the truth that we all long to hear. It will take bold and unashamed leadership to bring us back to what some of us call “middle right”.  I’m ready for us to clean house and redefine the Grand Old Party.

Light Bulb Moment today

I had one of those light bulb moments early this morning.
It came to me as a single word – Mission.
What does Mission mean?
Webster defines this as: an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation, or an important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed: or sending or being sent for some duty or purpose.
 
For a number of years I felt like I had several missions in life. Among those were to be the provider for my family and to be the man God called me to be, for the protection and nurture of the wife  and brood he blessed me with. Another mission was to raise our kids in the “right” way. That mission was a joyous and rewarding endeavor.
 
A little later in my adult time I had a mission to be a leader among, and with, men of faith. That became a passion that was shared with other like minded guys who were in various stages of their lives. It was also a rewarding and fruitful experience and watch as God blessed and prospered that deepening faith experience. 
 
All the kids are gone now. They are pursuing their own missions now. So, for the most part my fathering mission is pretty much accomplished. My provider mission and role of provider has changed to being the provider for my wife and myself. The men’s ministry mission waned in recent years, as some of my closest allies and comrades left this place for a better land.
 
A discussion began last evening with my bride about the frustration we feel as believers in that the population at large are very much different than we are. Our society is very much “into themselves” and searching for happiness in things and events that we personally find no joy or purpose in. We sort of feel out of touch with the mainstream. We want to be and attempt to be relevant and “part of the crowd” yet we just can’t embrace many of the activities and attitudes that make the multitudes happy nowadays.
 
So, as often happens early in the morning, the Holy Spirit speaks. Not with great detail but with single words like MISSION. In the “mature age” of our lives I think we need a new mission. We need something that we are jazzed about. We need to throw ourselves into something that makes a difference in the lives of other people. And we need to be on the same page as a team for this mission. At this point I have not a clue what that might look like or be? But the same spirit that injected this new word into my thoughts, will also bring something to us that will energize our batteries and give us new meaning and purpose.
As we allow our spiritual gifts to be employed openly in the mighty hand of God, there will be purpose and drive and success. There will also come with that the fulfillment of knowing that what we are about is something that makes our creator smile.
I’m ready to find my new calling, whatever that might be. Stay tuned for further mission news!   

Tough Week…..Tender Family

…..Well my reflective and sentimental mind awakened me again very early for the second Friday morning in a row. Last week I was up early reflecting on my Mom’s life and passing and remembering what she did for me and I shared many of those thoughts at her memorial service. But today it is about Jeff.
I could not fall back to sleep as my mind was reeling with thoughts and memories of Jeff Thompson and family. I knew that I had to get up and jot down my thoughts or I would not be able to remember them or I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep completely.
So here goes, from a restless mind.
Could this family possibly have started with a Toga party? Not 100% sure if that is correct but I think I recall Jeff telling our Tuesday morning guys when we were all telling about how we met our wives. DeeAn, if this is not true I apologize! We all have our unique stories of how we met our spouses, huh? Some are just more amusing than others.
When I first met Jeff his family was still in what I would call the “fledgling stage”. His kids were still pretty young. And Amy (the youngest) was a very young duckling and cute as pie. They were all small, innocent wide eyed and cute.
Just so you’ll know what kind of folks I’m talking about, this portion of the Thompson clan began with a special needs child. Families with special needs kids have challenges that most of us will never face. It takes people of true compassion and care to intentionally have a child with many needs. And then to add five more gifts to their quiver makes this story even more special.
Jeff was a learner and observer. He watched how others were parenting their kids and was always curious about how to deal with the challenges of raising kids, especially once they reached the dreaded teenage status. For those of us a little further along in that process, we gave Jeff what advice we could and then we would all pray together for God’s direction and the grace to be the kind of husbands and dads that our families needed.
I remember a few extra special times where Jeff was doing things for or with his kids. Like when he went to church camp for a week. Reports were that he was the kid that was very close to being kicked out of camp for speeding on a golf cart around campus and “other things”. He was just one of the kids. But he wanted to be with his kids any time he could. So he went to pre-teen camp.
Then there was the time of the surprise gift of two four wheelers that were hidden in my garage until Christmas morning when I delivered them for Jeff to his driveway. The looks on those kids’ faces were something. And the excitement Jeff had was equal.
I recall a Colorado trip when the family van broke down and it took almost a week to get parts for repair. They turned that potentially bad experience into a memory, as they sort of camped out in that little town and even went to the local church there that week.
Jeff intentionally took his kids individually on trips to wherever that child wanted to go. I guess living in a large family, you can at times get lost in the shuffle. Well that is not the case here. He planned for inclusion and always made it fun and directed to that child. From NASCAR to Mexico to Mid America Mall to rescuing dogs or rescuing friends, he always included his kids and taught them by example.
Besides Jeff’s wife and kids that he cherished, he loved dearly his mom, his sisters and their extended families and had many funny stories to go along with them all. I could extract some hush money from them, I’m sure!
There were others that Jeff considered family as well, like Andrew and Lori Spurgeon. He opened up his home and his life to their family and supported every international mission effort they were involved in with compassion and care. He very much respected Andrew’s spiritual wisdom, squeaky laughter and his love of rutabagas. Go figure.
From my view Jeff keyed on strengths, not weaknesses with respect to his family. He always told them he was proud of them and affirmed them every chance he got. He taught them hospitality, by on many occasions having groups into their home for meetings or welcomed anyone into his home.
I could go on for much longer but I will end this now. These are not just random thoughts, but reflections screaming to be released from my feeble mind.
Jeff was not a superman. He had feet of clay. He was broken at times and deeply remorseful for any errant thoughts or actions. And he knew he was forgiven by and relied fully on God’s mercy and grace to keep going.
This wild and crazy guy poured out his life into his family.