Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama's positions on abortion

Here is what Barack Obama believes about abortion and what his voting record shows according to

On abortion in general:
- Obama consistently rates a 100% when it comes to voting "pro-choice".
- He is undecided as to whether he believes life begins at conception.
- He is a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade.
- He rates a 0% by the National Right to Life Committee

On partial-birth abortion:
- Obama believes states should have the right to restrict late-term abortions.
- He, however, voted against banning partial-birth abortion in Illinois in 1997 & 2000.
- Obama has adamantly defended women's rights to have partial-birth abortions.

On minors getting an abortion:
- Obama voted against a law that would require minors to notify their parents when getting an "out-of-state" abortion.
- He voted against a law that would prohibit minors from crossing state lines for an abortion.

On funding to help reduce abortions:
- Obama voted to increase funding for education and contraception targeted at teens to reduce unwanted pregnancy.

Based on this summary of Obama's view, there is virtually nowhere that I agree with him on this issue. The only thing I agree with is the desire to increase funding to help prevent teens from getting unwanted pregnancies. Other than that, Obama is way off to the political left when it comes to this issue.

What is particularly disturbing is his defense of partial-birth abortion. Even some of the most liberal Democrats have voted against partial-birth abortion. Yet Obama is steadfast in his pro-choice stance even there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Weddings are a beautiful thing if done right. So many people rush into marriage or reluctantly give in to marriage after years of being together. Neither of those is the way you want it to be. But sometimes the story is straight from a storybook.

I had the pleasure of officiating the wedding ceremony for Kim Hawk and Jason Stern. But it was so much more than just "doing a wedding." I met Kim over 4 years ago when she first started coming to Horizon. She came with friends to a Link Group I was leading with Rebecca Miller. She was a freshmen in college then and had been dating Jason for a few years already.

But when I met her she was just beginning to really care about her relationship with Christ. And when I finally met Jason, a few months later, he was a super-skeptical critic of all things "Christian." Week by week, month by month I saw Kim begin to really plug into Horizon. Her best friend Jess Neal was the biggest factor in her spiritual growth, but I felt like I got front row seats to see the change in her life.

A few years later, we had multiplied the Link Group and decided to move it down to Glen Burnie. We met every week at Kim's parents' house. And for the first time, both Jess and Kim's boyfriends came consistently to Link Group. We were reading through scripture together and they had lots of questions. Jason came ready to doubt and ready to act as the cynic. But God can move even the most ardent "doubting Thomas" to a place of faith. And right before our eyes, Jason began to change.

His questions persisted but his heart began to open up. I will never forget one fateful conversation about Walmart. Jason and I had gotten into a political discussion about Walmart after Link Group was over. The others got up and went to the kitchen. When they got back we were still talking but the conversation had taken a turn. Things got "spiritual." Jason wanted to see a change in the world. I told him that the change in the world can only be done by people who had themselves been changed. Transformation in the world could only come from those who had truly been transformed. By this time Kim's dad had come in to join the conversation.

Finally Jason asked the most important of all the questions that he had. He asked how it is that he become transformed. It was the modern day equivalent of "What must I do to be saved?" The air in the room seemed to explode with the Holy Spirit. The question he asked dropped like a bomb. Everyone was silent. Everyone there knew that it was a special moment. I told Jason that he needed to get on his knees, call out to God, repent and give over his life to Christ. It was the modern day equivalent of "Repent and be baptized."

So many things culminated into that moment. Kim's parents had been talking to Jason for years about being a Christian. Kim had a number of talks with Jason about his spiritual life. Jess had always been there to answer his questions. Others had planted the seed. Others had watered it. God had made it grow. And God honored me with the chance to bring in the harvest.

Jason eventually decided to give his life over to Christ. And I had the honor of baptizing him. It was an emotional moment for me because I had seen where he had come from. Kim and Jason grew together as a newly Christian couple. They began to learn how to be Christians together. And when the time came for them to get married, they honored me with the privilege of officiating the wedding.

For months Missy and I had the special honor of walking them through our novice version of "pre-marital counseling." We talked with them through the tough issues that come to married people. We helped them through conflict. We examined their families and their communication styles. We looked at their budget and their plans for the future. And we had a blast doing it.

So after all of that, I got to stand up there and bring them into unity as a married couple. I got to hold their hand as they crossed the threshold from two into "one." I got to stand there on behalf of God as they said their vows. I got to invoke His name and His blessing on their relationship and their life together.

It was quite a moment. It was such a blessing to me. This is the way a wedding is supposed to go. This is how every marriage should begin. I will always treasure the honor of walking with people through these life-changing events in their lives. These are the moments where heaven bends down to touch the earth and we all taste just a bit of the Kingdom that is yet to come.

Friday, June 20, 2008

rewarding poverty with tax and spend

The problem with most of our "government programs" that try to address poverty is that they tend to only "serve" the poor rather than try to help people out of poverty. When we only serve the poor we draw the lower middle class into poverty so that they can get some of the services that the poor are receiving. When we only serve the poor we give impoverished families no incentive to get out of poverty.

We have had government programs for the poor for nearly a century now. Has poverty increased or decreased? Poverty continues to grow because our programs are designed unwisely. We shouldn't reward poverty with more services than the middle class can afford for themselves. That doesn't make any sense.

If you are in the middle class and can't afford health insurance for your kids but come to realize that poor families are having their kids covered by the government, what would you do? With the government programs the way they are, it makes more sense for someone to be below the poverty line than it does for them to be in the working lower middle-class.

We need to reward having a job. We need to reward families for taking care of their kids. We need to reward the middle class, not tax them more.

And does anyone really believe that someone making 85,000 a year qualifies as "upper-class"? No, that is still middle class. What about 205,000 a year? Well it depends on where you live. That salary in the mid-west and places like Texas is pretty wealthy. But that salary in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland is definitely not "upper class." That is truly the middle class in expensive places to live. Nobody making 200K in New York City is living extravagantly.

This is my biggest issue with tax and spend economic policies. They tend to tax people who are still in the middle class in order to spend money servicing the poor. Yet, people are not empowered to get out of poverty and the middle class gets the load of the burden.

Maryland residents have some of the highest state taxes in the country. Yet we also have a serious poverty problem in Baltimore. Likewise, the cost of living is putting a tremendous burden on Maryland's middle class. Tax and spend is not the answer. The overwhelmingly Democratic Maryland legislature has proved this all too well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the myth of progress

N.T. Wright raises an interesting point about the "myth of progress" in his new book Surprised By Hope. He describes the "myth of progress" as the pressing theme in the Western world growing out of the liberal modernism of the 19th century.

The "myth of progress" is the idea that on our own, humanity can press toward the future and achieve a kind of civil utopia. If only we enact the right laws, establish the right programs and move together in the right direction, then our societies will all move toward a perfect world. This was the driving motivation behind both the rise of Democracy and the rise of Communism. It was this humanistic myth of progress that gave Karl Marx his foundation for Marxist revolution.

The problem with this myth is that it has no answer for evil in the world. In light of all the apparent "progress" that has happened in the world, an equal amount of evil has grown along with it. Technology has had great advances but nuclear weapons have been created. Wars have been fought and won but peace is still elusive. The church has spread around the world but the church has also committed some horrible atrocities throughout history. Diseases have been cured but AIDS is the new epidemic of our time.

The myth of progress is a myth because not only does it fail to explain all the evil that continues to grow in the world but it doesn't have a plan on how to address this evil. Generation after generation, sin remains and humanity is no closer to utopia than we were thousands of years ago.

We can see the myth of progress in its triumphant failure in the Genesis 11 story of the Tower of Babel. People decide to come together as never before. They united in a common language and with a common purpose. They even had a brand new technology (bricks) propelling them into their new invention (the city). The highlight of human achievement was the tower itself which reached into the heavens. It spoke to the people who created it. It proclaimed to the whole human race that soon they would build a tower tall enough to be in heaven. And soon they would be gods over their own universe.

This story shows us the fruit of every human project that begins under the guise of "progress." Initially, it brings people together; it unifies humanity under a common cause; it marvels in new technology and fosters a hope for the dawn of a new day. But this utopian fervor doesn't last long. Soon sin creeps in and pride comes before the fall. God, knowing the intoxication of the myth of progress, ended this project by his own hand by confusing the language at the Tower of Babel.

And that was the first of many human-born revolutions that ended in tragedy, pain and division. Since then we have seen hopes rise and fall. We have seen kingdoms and peoples come and go. And the only lasting Kingdom has been the one, not established by humanity, but by God Himself.

Jesus described the world best with his parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13). He cuts through the myth of progress and reveals the truth about our broken world. The wheat and the weeds will grow up together and they won't be divided until the harvest. The wheat will be brought into his storehouse and the weeds will be thrown into the fire. The Kingdom of God will progress on this earth, but it will always grow side by side with the sin and evil that is of the kingdom of this earth. The matter won't be settled until Christ returns and makes everything right again.

So our role as Christians is to avoid buying into this "myth of progress." We are called to be a part of God's Kingdom on earth. We are called to take this world back from the Enemy and proclaim through our redemptive work that "Jesus is Lord." We are called to go to the least of these and treat them like Jesus Himself. We are called to make this world a the kind of place that God had always intended it to be. That means we strive for justice, peace, love and forgiveness. That means we live by hope.

But our hope is not in a false notion of progress. Our hope is that Jesus is, in fact, Lord of all Creation and that He will return one day and give us resurrected bodies. And we will get to reign with him in the new heaven and new earth. Our hope is that the goodness of that future world yet to come has broken into the present through our Messiah Jesus. And because the future has burst into the present, our hope is not just a hope for the future but a hope for today. Our hope is that God will redeem and is redeeming His Creation and His people right now. This full-bodied Christian hope should help us see through the thinly veiled notions of progress and humanistic utopia.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

watching history

Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, we must admit the historical nature of this years election. On the side of the Democrats, the nominee for President of the United States is an African-American. What is more is that he is the product of an African immigrant marrying a white woman from Kansas. That is to say, he is the son of a racially mixed marriage.

I wonder what our Founding Fathers would say about this moment. Could they have even imagined what would happen when they first penned those words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Could they have foreseen that these words written in 1776 would have led to a civil war in the 1860's? And that these words led to the first line of Lincoln's famous address that healed a divided nation: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

And could they have imagined that that God-given truth about humanity would lead further still to the Civil Rights movement and the famous speech at the mall in Washington, remembered so famously for these words: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'."

Could any of them have really understood the power of their words? Did the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, or Dr. King understand that their resounding belief in equality would echo over and over again in the hearts and minds of Americans? Did they realize that each time they chose to highlight these truths about the Creator and His creation, about God and His humanity, that they were opening the doors of opportunity for a young, African-American boy from a mixed-marriage?

The swell of energy from those words spoken down through history have culminated in a tidal-wave of hope that is now crashing onto the shores of the 21st century. For the first time in our American history, the unthinkable has become a reality. What was once out of reach has been taken hold of. An African-American is one of two nominees for President, and is the favorite at that!

Ever wonder what it feels like to watch history happen right before your eyes? Well, now we know. Our generation now stands alongside the generation that wrote the Declaration of Independence. Our generation now stands humbly with Lincoln at Gettysburg. Our generation now stands arm in arm with our parent's generation, marching alongside Dr. King.

We are the generation that finally sees the fruition of the dreams of so many. And as Americans, it can no longer be doubted that we mean what we say when we say that "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." The vision of a few revolutionaries 232 years ago is finally taking shape and it is an honor to be alive to see it.