All posts by pastorjeff@citylifela.org

Libertad y Sacrificio

libertad y sacrificio
Todos deseamos libertad. El anhelo de la misma está dentro de todos y cada uno de nosotros. Pero hay una verdad que debemos entender de manera que podamos ser libres, y comienza con esto: la libertad y el sacrificio van juntos.
 
No hay escapatoria. Cada persona que quiere vivir libre va a experimentar el sacrificio, pérdida y dificultad. Ahora, eso nos conduce a esta simple verdad: tú eliges el orden.
 
Podemos elegir la libertad primero, lo que nos conduce como resultado, al sacrificio. O bien, podemos elegir primero el sacrificio, lo que nos conducirá al final, a la libertad.
 
La pregunta es la siguiente: ¿Cuál es el orden correcto?
 
Acabamos de pasar los días festivos de fin de año, y todos hemos experimentado el orden de “Libertad primero, después el sacrificio”
 
-Comiste demasiado (libertad), luego sufriste las consecuencias de ello (sacrificio).
 
-Gastaste mas dinero en regalos de Navidad de lo que tu presupuesto te permitía (libertad),  ahora debes de arreglártelas con la deuda que adquiriste (sacrificio).
 
-Esperaste demasiado tiempo para comprar regalos debido a la procrastinación (libertad), ahora tienes algunos miembros de tu familia molestos contigo por que no elegiste los regalos correctos (sacrificio).
 
Ahora, si invirtiéramos el orden ¿cómo serían las cosas?
 
Comer la cantidad adecuada de alimentos (sacrificio), pero sentirte bien después (libertad).
 
Gastar dentro de tu presupuesto para regalos (sacrificio) y darte cuenta de que estarás financieramente bien para entrar en el nuevo año (libertad).
 
Y así podríamos continuar.
 
Yo te sugiero que el mejor orden es sacrificar primero, y luego experimentar la libertad.
 
Creo que lo que viene en segundo lugar opaca lo que fue hecho en primer lugar. A lo que me refiero con esto es que en cualquier caso donde el sacrificio es puesto primero, la libertad que resulta es mas grande que el sacrificio que se llevó a cabo. Cuando la libertad es puesta primero, el sacrificio que resulta es mas grande que la libertad de la cual se disfrutó.
 
La conclusión es esta: La persona que desea cantidades mas grandes de libertad debería siempre poner el sacrificio al principio de la ecuación.
 
¿Deseas libertad? Libertad en las finanzas, en tus relaciones, en tu relación con Dios, en el negocio que diriges o para el que trabajas? El camino para llegar a esa libertad es un camino de sacrificio.
 
La razón por la cual la mayoría de las resoluciones de año nuevo no funcionan es porque la mayoría de la gente esta comprometida con la meta final (libertad), sin estar dispuestos a soportar el camino que los llevará ahí. O mejor dicho, la mayoría de la gente quiere la libertad que su resolución o propósito les da primero, de manera que ellos nunca estuvieron realmente comprometidos con el sacrificio de dicha resolución.
 

¿Qué sacrificios necesitas hacer hoy de modo que puedas experimentar cantidades mas grandes de libertad mañana?

¡Comprométete con esos sacrificios y verás tu vida ir al siguiente nivel!

Freedom And Sacrifice

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freedom and sacrifice

We all desire freedom. The longing for it is built into each and every one of us. But there is one truth we must understand in order to be free, and it begins with this: Freedom and Sacrifice go together.

There is no escaping it. Every single person who wants to live free is going to experience sacrifice, loss, and difficulty. Now, this leads us to the simple truth: You choose the order.

We can choose freedom first, which leads to sacrifice as the result of it. Or, we can choose to sacrifice first, which leads to freedom at the end of it.

The question is the following: Which is the correct order?

Since we’ve just passed through the holidays, we have all experienced the “freedom first, sacrifice second” order of things.

-You ate too much food (freedom), then suffered the consequences      of that later (sacrifice).

-You spent more than your budget allowed for Christmas gifts                  (freedom), and now have to deal with the debt that follows                      (sacrifice).

-You waited too long to buy your gifts due to procrastination                   (freedom), and now, because of not getting the right gifts, you’ve         got some family members mad at you (sacrifice)!

Now, if the order was reversed, what would that look like?

-Eating the right amount of food (sacrifice) and feeling good later          because of it (freedom)!

-Spending within your budget for gifts (sacrifice) and realizing that        you are set up financially well for the new year (freedom)!

-And so on.

I suggest that the best order is to sacrifice first, then experience freedom second.

I believe that what comes in second place overshadows what was done in the first place. What I mean by this is that whenever sacrifice is placed first, the freedom that results is even greater than the sacrifice that was taken. When freedom is placed first, the sacrifice that results is even greater than the freedom that was taken.

The conclusion is this: The person who desires greater amounts of freedom should always place sacrifice first in the equation.

Do you desire freedom? Freedom in finances, in relationships, in your relationship with God, in the business you lead or work in? The pathway to that freedom is  a pathway of sacrifice.

The reason why most New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is because most people are committed to the end goal (freedom), without willing to endure the pathway (sacrifice) to get there. Or better said, most people want the freedom that their resolution gives first, so they were never really committed to the sacrifice of that resolution.

What sacrifices do you need to make today in order to experience greater amounts of freedom tomorrow?

Commit to it and you will see your life go to the next level!

 

The Power of Gratitude

 

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It is a day of gratitude!

Want some history on Thanksgiving? Go here.

Abraham Lincoln, 153 years ago, established the national holiday of Thanksgiving. His statement is powerful, as it addresses the difficulties of the time while recognizing the need to give thanks. You can read that here.

I would like to pull a few excerpts from his proclamation in order to provide some perspective about the power of gratitude in our lives.

1. GRATITUDE GIVES US FOCUS

“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity”

There is never a bad time to give thanks. Many people in our country are stressed, worried, or fearful about our countries future. Might we agree that being in the middle of a civil war (1861-1865)  would be much worse than where we are at now? If gratitude was necessary in the middle of war, then it is equally as necessary now.

Right after making that comment, Lincoln goes on to describe the good things that were happening in the country…population growth, the growth of wealth and strength in extracting needed mineral resources for the country. If he had only focused on war, he would have missed the positive things.

Things are never all bad or even all good. Life is usually filled with a combination of both.

Might it be better for our hearts and souls to focus on that which is good?

2. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO JESUS

“They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God”

When we choose to live a life of gratitude, it always leads us to the One who has given us those things which we are thankful for. Blessed families, economic security, food at the table, great friends, and many other things that we experience don’t happen by accident. They happen because God has made them available to us.

When we exercise gratitude, we realize that there is a purpose behind all the good that we experience. Gratitude leads us to Jesus.

3. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO ASK FOR GOD’S INTERVENTION

“…commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidable engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”

If we truly believe that God is the one who is responsible for our blessings, then it is also to God that we direct our requests for intervention in the difficulties we face.

Gratitude was the foundation of requesting God’s intervention in the chaos that existed.

Understand this, thanking God for the good things does not mean ignoring the difficult things that we face…whether personally or as a country. On the contrary…thanking God for that which is good sets us up to pray with faith and hope, believing that our God will intervene to bring even more of his blessings in the areas of difficulty that exist.

4. GRATITUDE LEADS US TO GENEROSITY OF HEART AND ACTION

I don’t have a quote from Abraham Lincoln on this one, but it is something I believe to be true. When we live a life of gratitude, we become others-centered rather than me-centered. In fact, gratitude is the antidote to selfishness and entitlement.

Gratitude sends us on a trajectory of living a healthy life as we focus on that which is positive and as we focus on how we can give, rather than receive.

Gratitude gives us focus.

Gratitude shows us Jesus.

Gratitude allows us to plead our cause to God.

And gratitude leads us to a lifestyle of generosity.

That is the power of gratitude.

How will you be grateful on this Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

What Now?

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What Now?

Donald Trump will be the new president of the United States of America. What now?

I, like many others (on both the right and the left) were completely surprised that he won. I know people on both sides of the aisle that didn’t think it was possible for him to win, yet here we are!

So, what to do? What’s the next step? What’s the next move? I believe there are a few things that you and I can do to respond to this new season that is upon is.

Before I get to that, let me give you a reference point for what I will say. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, read a blog post, or heard a sermon or podcast where the speaker/author shares a “perspective” with you, without sharing their point of view? But, when you read or listen to it, you know based off of how they’re writing or speaking what they’re really trying to say? They attempt to covertly bring you over to their side without telling you straight out.

Yeah…that is not what I want to do here today. My goal is to speak to everyone, challenging all of us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s kind of like the movie Shutter Island. Is Leonardo DiCaprio’s character really a U.S. marshal, or is he actually insane? When I spoke to friends about the movie, I loved playing the “devil’s advocate”, challenging their assumptions no matter which side they fell on. I’d like to do the same today. Let’s get started!

Wisely engage your emotions. If you are happy that Trump won, then celebrate! If you are grieving about Clinton’s loss, then mourn! There is nothing wrong with what you feel. But please, for the sake of your friends, family (especially children), followers on Facebook or Twitter, etc. engage your emotions wisely. Only you can determine what wisdom looks like in the context of your emotional state. If you’re celebrating, don’t blame others for mourning. If you’re mourning, don’t blame others for celebrating.

I have my feelings, but most would not know them on Facebook, partly because I don’t even know how to express them properly in a way that everyone would understand…so I have chosen to engage my emotions a little more privately. If airing them in a public manner is helpful to you and others, then do that as well! I’m in no way creating rules here…just inviting you to exercise wisdom in your response.

Exercise EMPATHY over JUDGMENT. This one is huge. In fact, I may write a separate post just about this one. Between last night and this morning, I have been reading hundreds of people’s comments on Facebook and other locations. I am discouraged to see so many people ascribe motives to another person for their vote. That is judgment, nothing more and nothing less. It especially saddens me to see Clinton supporters think of all Trump supporters as racists, or to see Trump supporters think of all Clinton supporters as baby killers (abortion).

Listen my friends, there is only one person who knows the heart of man, and that is God himself. Second to that, we cannot begin to understand a person’s feelings unless we actually know the person. When we choose empathy, we choose to step into the other person’s shoes. I believe that most people voted out of fear during this election cycle. Those who supported Trump were afraid of losing jobs, losing the Supreme Court, etc. Those who supported Clinton were/are afraid that Trump’s election will bring about waves of discrimination against different minority (ethnic, social, etc.) groups. When we step into someone else’s shoes, we begin to know them for who they truly are, which increases our ability to engage them and love them. Choose to step into someone else’s shoes and see what you learn.

Pray. Did God place Trump as president? Was it up to the free will of the people who voted? Different Christians have different theological viewpoints on how man’s free will and God’s sovereignty plays out. I happen to think there is a combination of both at work. Either way, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 states, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”

I get three important things from this call to pray. First, when we pray for Trump, for our nation, for Democrats and for Republicans (and all others), the end result may be peace! Second, this is pleasing to God. And last, there seems to be a direct relationship between people coming to salvation and our decision to pray. Being driven by our desperation, by our fear, or even by our victories can easily jeopardize an opportunity for someone to come to faith in Christ through our example.

Hope. God’s kingdom is eternal. The reigns of Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc. are not! Even the worst dictator has an end to his reign. We place our hope, not in a political system, but in a savior who came to bring his life to the entire world.

If your hope was placed in Clinton, it was in the wrong place. If your hope was (and still is) placed in Trump, your hope is in the wrong place. The end has not arrived, and when it does, Jesus will be right there in the middle of it. Let’s choose to place our trust in the one who has the ultimate say about how all of this will play out in the end.

And lastly, come to church on Sunday. We are followers of Jesus first of all. Regardless of where we land in politics, we are brothers and sisters, part of a great family. We need each other at a moment like this.

If you’re in the L.A. area, you’re welcome to join us! citylifela.org

Love you all!

Jeff

 

California Propositions

Hey everyone!

With voting day happening tomorrow, there is a lot that you can vote for if you are a California resident.

In fact, there are 17 different Statewide propositions that are on the ballot, besides voting for local issues, voting for president, etc.

So, I wanted to give you a perspective on what I’m voting for. Now, I know that some of you would like to know who my pick is for president. For reasons I’ve stated before, I’m not sharing that publicly.

But, the reality of the matter is that the propositions in our state have a lot more of an immediate impact on our lives. If you want fuller descriptions of the propositions, you can go here.

I have a few different guiding values that help me in making decisions about propositions. They are:

  1. Simple is better, especially when it comes to taxes
  2. Local (taxes, decisions, management, etc.) is better than statewide
  3. Value life and freedom above all

So, here goes!

51 – Public School bonds. I say no. In many cases, bonds turn into taxes later on. A bond is essentially a deferred tax. It would be much simpler for the government to have certain tax rates, then make a budget according to income.
52 – Medi-Cal hospital fee. I say no. This was supposed to be a temporary fee. If the original plan was temporary, then let’s keep it that way. Also, charging hospitals in order to supposedly turn around and re-invest in those same hospitals is a waste of time and money.
53 – Voter Approval for $2+ Billion Bonds. I say yes. I don’t want to say yes, because our form of government is a representative one, where we vote people into office in order to make decisions on our behalf. But, many legislators have taken so much advantage of their role, that I think this would be a worthwhile opportunity for the large projects in our state.
54 – Public Viewing of Legislative Bills for 3 Days. I say yes. Again, same as 53, I don’t want to have to say yes, but I think this is necessary for more transparency.
55 – Extension of Income Tax Increase. I say no for a few reasons. First, this tax was supposed to be temporary. So, let’s keep it that way. Second, while many would say “Hey, no problem, it’s a higher tax rate on the rich”, the reality is that it starts higher rates at the $250,000 income level. Many people at that level are small business owners who would be adversely impacted as a result.
56 – Tobacco Tax Increase. I say no. Do I like smoking? Not at all. Would I love it if no one smoked? Absolutely! But once again, there is no need to continue complicated the tax system by putting a separate tax on a certain segment of society, especially when there is no guaranteed place where the money will go.
57 – Juvenile Parole. I say no. On its face, this sounds like a good proposition, but the reality is different. For example, if someone originally did time for a small offense, then is now doing time for a bigger offense, they may get parole based off of their original small offense, regardless of what their current offense is. This doesn’t make sense. They need to go back to the drawing board on this one and rework it.
58 – Non-English Language Teaching in Public School. I say no. I believe that kids should speak many languages, but that is not what this proposition is about. The easiest way for a non-English speaker to learn English is to learn by full immersion. I have five children who have all learned Spanish at home and have had no problem going into an English-speaking school and picking it up. There are still opportunities for children who have difficulty learning English to learn in their own language. This proposition would simply create a situation where many of our students are not ready for the workforce due to limited English skills.
59 – Overturn Citizens United. I say no. Regardless of all the rhetoric out there, such as, “Big corporations can influence elections however they want”, the reality is that certain big corporations were already doing that before Citizens United. Simple case in point: media conglomerates, whether they tend to lean left (NBC), or whether they tend to lean right (FOX), already used their money to influence elections. Citizens United simply gave the opportunity to all businesses to have a voice. I believe that the best way to increase people’s knowledge is not to have limited access to information, but rather to hear from more voices, rather than just a few.
60 – Condoms in Porn Films. I say yes. Now, I am typically in favor of adults being able to choose what they want to do with their lives, even if that’s the porn industry (which does much damage to our country and the people involved in it). But there is another element to consider. There is a connection between pornography and sex trafficking. While this does not solve sex trafficking, it may provide some limited protection to those who are victims of it. For that reason, I think it’s worth it to say yes.
61 – Drug Price Standards. I say no. While on its face this proposition looks good (in order to save money on drugs), it suffers from what everyone knows as “cause and effect”. Once California departments are no longer legally allowed to purchase drugs above a certain price, certain drug companies will not sell their drugs to those departments, thus depriving people of the drugs they need. That would not be good.
62 – Repeal death penalty. I say no. I recommend that you vote your conscience on this one. Maybe on a later date I will post a fuller explanation, but put simply it’s this: Because I value life, especially the life of the victim, I believe there are certain cases where the death penalty is the only just punishment for what was done to the victim. My eyes are focused more on what is just for the victim of the crime, rather than the perpetrator of the crime.
63 – Background checks for Ammunition. I say no. It’s one thing to have it for guns. It’s a whole other thing to have it for ammunition. I don’t believe that this would actually eliminate gun crimes.
64 – Marijuana legalization. I say no. Yeah, I know how many people say that there’s no long-term harm, it’s a low-level drug, etc., but I think it’s still beneficial to use the force of law to outlaw certain things that have no proven benefit to society. Marijuana does not.
65 – Bag Revenue to go to Wildlife Conservation Fund. I say no. Basically, many grocery stores and others would be forced to no longer use disposable plastic bags (prop 67), and would be forced to charge consumers to pay for other types of bags. Then, the money charged would go to a certain fund. Why do I say no? Two reasons. First, this is more complication of taxes in our state. I already said that I like simplicity. Second, this is essentially an additional sales tax on every person in the state. For these reasons I say no.
66 – Death Penalty Quicker. I say no. While I like to streamline processes as much as possible, many people on death row who are found to be innocent of a crime are cleared of it much later than five years, which is the limit imposed on this proposition. While in this case a longer process is more complicated, I value life more than a complicated process…so “no” it is for me.
67 – Plastic Bags. I vote no. Why? I simply believe that local jurisdictions would be better to decide on this one rather than the state at large. Jobs are lost because of this. I want to take care of the environment, but I think this decision would simply be best at the local level.
I hope this was helpful! Now, if you have more questions, agree or disagree, or anything else, feel free to comment below and I’ll respond!
Happy voting!

Integrity Is All You Have

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Integrity is all you have

Integrity is all you have. We are all imperfect. We make mistakes, we fail, we screw up. Along the way, we make some good decisions as well. In all of this, each of us wants to continue advancing – in business, in personal growth, in family, in the church, and any other area we can dream of. But in the midst of all of this, integrity is all you have.

Sometimes, along this journey of life, we come to a crossroads. We’re not quite sure what decision to make. We tend to analyze our decisions based off of a matrix of risk vs. reward.

This is all well and fine. But, along the way, moments come when the risk is to lose your integrity, while the reward seems to be great. So, you throw your integrity to the side in order to travel the path that seems will benefit you most.

It seems like a great plan. And we tend to justify, saying things like…

  • No one will ever know
  • The (perceived) benefit far outweighs the cost
  • What could possibly go wrong?

The only problem is this: When you compromise your integrity in the dark, the consequences will be seen in the light.

You see, it is impossible for something to START in secret and to STAY in secret. The compromising decisions that we make will affect certain areas of our lives that are visible, even if no one knows about the original compromise.

It takes a lifetime to build integrity and a moment to lose it.

I have not always made the right decisions, but I have always attempted to make honest decisions. I don’t want to lie to myself, to God, or to others.

Everything that you build in your life will influence others, whether it be kids, spouses, employees, employers, subordinates, friends, acquaintances, etc.

Integrity is all you have. Once you lose that, you begin to lose everything else and everyone else.

Sometimes, choosing integrity means choosing loss. If that is the case, so be it. It would be better to lose everything while maintaining the people that you love, rather than maintaining things while losing those you love.

And remember this: once you lose the people, losing the things will follow closely behind.

Integrity is all you have. Remember, the product you deliver is a representation of your integrity. Your product might be a widget, or influence, or relationships. It might be technological, or service oriented, or something else. Whatever your product is, people will connect your trustworthiness and integrity to the things that represent you.

There really is only one way to live.

Integrity is all you have.

Choose wisely.

¿Quién Se Llevará Tu Voto?

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quién se llevará tu voto

Posiblemente, esta es la temporada política más loca que nuestro país jamás haya experimentado, por lo menos en la época moderna. Votantes en todo el país se están preparando para votar por una de dos personas que son deshonestas, potencialmente (o completamente) torcidas, y que han usado sus conexiones o recursos (ya sean políticos, financieros, o ambos) para su beneficio personal. Así que, ¿Quién se llevará tu voto?

Así que, quédense conmigo porque… ¡tengo mucho que decir! Mi meta hoy es compartir con ustedes una perspectiva no necesariamente en cuanto a por quien tienes que votar, pero si en cuanto como deberías procesar tu voto.

 Típicamente me he abstenido de hacer comentarios en este blog sobre situaciones o candidatos específicos. Como pastor, hay una razón principal por la que hago esto. Deseo ser el pastor de cualquier persona que forme parte de mi iglesia (ya sea que asistan en persona, o que sigan los servicios en línea). Hay muchas creencias políticas allá afuera, y nunca quisiera que mis creencias personales pudieran ser un obstáculo para mi creencia más importante: ¡Jesucristo!

La fe en Jesucristo ha sobrevivido (y prosperado) en cada sistema político y ha cruzado cada barrera cultural, étnica y nacional. ¡Jesús es universal! Y no quisiera jamás que un subconjunto de creencias políticas, a pesar de que pudieran estar fundamentadas en la fe, pudieran ser un obstáculo a mi creencia más importante… mi creencia en Jesús. Me frustro cuando figuras de la política tratan de incluir a Jesús dentro de su filosofía política para de algún modo, convencer a todos de que Jesús está “de su lado”.

Ahora, con esto dicho, permítanme ser claro en algo: Aunque tengo creencias políticas muy específicas, yo no soy un partidario. Ustedes saben quiénes son los partidarios. Son esos “amigos” en Facebook (o en cualquier otro lugar) que nunca escuchan a la razón, siguen ciegamente y votan por una línea partidista por sobre cualquier otra cosa. Algunos de ellos recurren a los insultos. Su opinión no puede ser cambiada porque tienen un vínculo emocional con dicha opinión, la cual no puede ser cambiada con lógica. Estas personas existen tanto en la derecha como en la izquierda de la política americana. Algunos son Demócratas. Otros son Republicanos. Algunos otros son Libertarios, o del Partido Verde, o de otros partidos políticos.

Partidario no es una palabra que uso para describirme a mí mismo. No estoy en deuda con algún grupo, persona, o partido político. Sucede que si estoy registrado en uno, pero no lo sigo ciegamente. Estudio sus posiciones y estoy dispuesto a cambiarlo si lo creo más cercano a lo que reflejan mis valores. En la práctica probablemente yo sería más como un independiente. Hay un conjunto de valores los cuales yo aprecio. Estos valores son informados por mi fe en Jesús. Yo voto de acuerdo con esos valores, observando a todos los candidatos que podrían potencialmente caber dentro de los valores que yo tengo. Yo tengo mis valores fuertemente arraigados, pero mis opiniones no, eligiendo la opción de ver si pudiera haber alguna otra verdad ahí afuera, que tal vez me estoy perdiendo.

Con todo esto en mente, he estado pensando por quien votaré. Pero más que eso, he estado pensando en lo que está sucediendo debajo de la escena política. ¿Cuáles son las corrientes de creencia que influencian esta elección? ¿Qué es lo que la gente realmente está buscando cuando vota por un candidato en específico? ¿Qué es lo que deberíamos de buscar al votar por un candidato en particular? ¿Puedes seguir siendo un buen ciudadano si decides no votar por ninguno de los candidatos (refiriéndonos a Trump y a Clinton)? ¿Si votaras por el candidato de un tercer partido político (como Stein, Johnson o McMullin) sería tirar tu voto a la basura?

Lo que me gustaría hacer es simplemente invitarte a pensar sobre algunas cosas que podrían formar el cómo piensas sobre el por quien votar.

Primero, tu voto necesita ser ganado.

Tu voto no le pertenece a ningún partido político, sea que estés registrado en alguno de ellos o no. Y aunque tu voto tiene que ser dado (o retenido intencionalmente) no necesita ser entregado libremente. Los candidatos necesitan probar que tienen los suficientes méritos para el cargo que están buscando. El decir que simplemente vas a votar por “el menos malo” hace que al candidato no le cueste nada obtener tu voto. Está completamente correcto tener expectativas de los candidatos y votar de acuerdo a dichas expectativas.

En segundo lugar, debes ver tu voto como si tuviera peso en dos áreas importantes: La política y la cultura.

Permítanme ampliar esto un poco. El cuerpo humano necesita dos cosas para funcionar: sistemas y flujo sanguíneo. Los sistemas del cuerpo incluyen algunos como: el circulatorio, el muscular, nervioso y otros. Pero, aunque cada sistema estuviera funcionando en perfectas condiciones, si no hay flujo sanguíneo, no hay vida. De hecho, tu podrías vivir aun sin el uso completo de todos tus sistemas… pero si no hay flujo sanguíneo, ¡estás muerto!

Poniéndolo más simple, la sangre es la vida del cuerpo y los sistemas llevan la vida del cuerpo.

Yo veo al país en una manera similar:

Política = sistemas. Cultura = flujo sanguíneo.

La mayoría de las personas tienden a ver su voto solo en el contexto de la política. Hacen preguntas como: ¿Este candidato cree en lo que yo creo? ¿Este candidato promulgara las políticas que yo creo que beneficiaran a este país? Etc.

Estas son buenas preguntas. Pero no son las únicas.

Las preguntas sobre la cultura tienen que ver con la manera en que nuestra sociedad funciona, responde, e interactúa, independientemente de las políticas que existan. Las preguntas para esto, deberían ser más o menos así: ¿Este candidato se comporta en la manera que yo quisiera que lo hiciera? ¿Este candidato representa el carácter que esta nación debería tener?

La relación entre la política y la cultura es simbiótica.

Esto quiere decir que ambas se influencian mutuamente. Pero, esto a su vez me lleva a mi tercer punto, el cual viene a ser una opinión personal.

Tercero, La CULTURA supera a la POLITICA cada día de la semana.

Yo creo que el quien somos como nación es posiblemente más importante que lo que hacemos como nación. Ahora, algunos de ustedes podrán estar en desacuerdo conmigo. ¡Eso está bien! Tu puedes pensar que la política supera a la cultura. O puedes pensar que ambas son igualmente importantes. Yo puedo respetar esos puntos de vista. Todo lo que te pido es que los tomes en cuenta para tomar una decisión.

Y esto es lo que lo hace tan difícil. Si tú crees que la cultura supera a la política, entonces podrás mirar a los dos candidatos principales como no aptos para el cargo. O podrías pensar que uno de ellos verdaderamente tiene el carácter necesario para el cargo y poder dirigir al país hacia la dirección a la que necesita ir.  Independientemente de cual de los dos caminos prefieras, te invito a evaluar a los candidatos de acuerdo a este marco de referencia.

Cuarto (y ultimo), Jesús está sobre cualquier sistema político.

El reino de Dios no es un reino humano. Aunque amo a los Estados Unidos de América, y considero como un privilegio el vivir aquí, este país no es el reino de Dios. El reino de Dios es eterno, su reino se basa en nuestro corazón, no en algún sistema político.

Ahora bien, ¿es importante votar en nuestro sistema político para continuar viviendo nuestra fe libremente en este país? Absolutamente. Pero permíteme recordarte: que algunos de los países más grandes por la expansión del reino de Dios en la tierra son también los más restrictivos hacia el ejercicio de la fe. Piensa en China como un ejemplo.

Yo creo que la política es un reflejo de la cultura. La razón por la cual el cristianismo pudiera estar perdiendo en la arena política es porque ya está perdiendo en los corazones de la población. Si queremos que el reino de Dios se expanda en este país, no sucederá porque elijamos al líder correcto para ser presidente… va a suceder porque la iglesia alcance a la gente con el evangelio de Jesucristo.

Por esta razón, mi esperanza no está en ningún sistema político, partido, o líder. ¡Mi esperanza está en Jesús! Elige confiar en Jesús, sin importar la dirección que nuestro sistema político adquiera en los próximos años.

Entonces, ¿por quién votarás? Elige pensar críticamente, usando la sabiduría que Dios da, para llegar a la conclusión de que lo que tú crees es lo mejor.

¡Bendiciones!

Who Will Get Your Vote?

10-11-16-who-will-you-get-your-vote
who will get your vote

This is quite possibly the craziest political season that our country has ever experienced, at least in modern memory. Voters all over the country are getting ready to vote into office one of two people who are dishonest, potentially (or completely) crooked, and who have used their connections or resources (whether political, financial, or both) for their own personal benefit. So, who will get your vote?

Now, stick with me here…I’ve got a lot to say! My goal today is to share with you a perspective on how you should process your vote, not necessarily who you should vote for.

I have typically refrained from giving specific commentary on this blog about specific issues or candidates. As a pastor, there is one principal reason why I do this. I desire to be the pastor of everyone  who is a part of my church (whether they attend my church in person or watch online). There are so many political beliefs out there, and I never want my personal beliefs to be an obstacle to my  most important belief: Jesus Christ!

Faith in Jesus Christ has survived (and thrived) in every political system and has crossed every cultural, ethnic, and national boundary. Jesus is universal! I never want a subset of political beliefs, even if they are rooted in faith, to be an obstacle to my most important belief…my belief in Jesus. I get frustrated when political figures try to attach Jesus to their political philosophy, to somehow convince everyone that Jesus is on their side.

Now, that being said, let me be clear about something: while I have very specific political beliefs, I am not a partisan. You know who the partisans are. They are those “friends” on Facebook (or elsewhere) who never listen to reason, blindly follow, and vote the party line above all else. Some of them resort to name calling. Their opinion can’t be changed because they have an emotional attachment to their opinion, which can’t be changed with logic. These people exist on the right and the left in American politics. Some are Democrats. Others are Republicans. Others are Libertarians, or Green Party, or other political parties.

Partisan is not a word that I use to describe myself. I am not beholden to a certain group, person, or political party. I happen to be registered with one, but I don’t blindly follow. I study positions and am willing to change if I believe it more closely reflects my values. In practice, I am probably more of an independent. There is a set of values that I hold dear. These values are informed by my faith in Jesus. I vote according to those values, looking at all the candidates that might potentially be the best fit for the values I have. I hold my values strongly, but my opinions loosely, choosing to see if there might be other truth out there that I might have missed.

With all of that said, I have been thinking through who I will vote for. But, more than that, I have been thinking about what’s going on underneath the political scene. What are the currents of belief that influence this election? What are people actually looking for when voting for a specific candidate? What should we look for when voting for a particular candidate? Can you still be a good citizen if you choose to vote for neither candidate (talking about Trump and Clinton here)? If you go for a third party candidate (like Stein, Johnson, or McMullin) is that throwing away your vote?

What I’d like to do is simply invite you to think through a few things that might form how you think about who to vote for.

First, your vote needs to be earned.

Your vote does not belong to a political party, whether you are registered with them or not. While your vote needs to be given (or potentially withheld purposefully), it does not need to be given freely. The candidate needs to prove their worthiness for the office that they seek. Simply saying that you might vote for the lesser of two evils requires nothing of the candidate to earn your vote. It’s ok to have expectations of the candidates and to vote accordingly.

Second, you must view your vote as having weight in two important areas: policy and culture.

Let me expand on this a bit. The human body needs two things to function: systems and blood flow. The systems of the body include systems like the circulatory, muscular, nervous, and others. But, even if every system is in perfect working condition, if there is no flow of blood, there is no life. In fact, you can live life without complete use of all your systems…but if there is no flow of blood, you’re dead!

Put simply, the blood is the life of the body, and the systems carry the life of the body.

I view the country in a similar way.

Policies = systems. Culture = blood flow.

Most people tend to view their vote only in the context of policy. They ask questions like: Does this candidate believe what I believe? Will this candidate enact the policies that I believe will benefit this country? Etc.

Those are good questions to ask. But they are not the only questions.

The questions of culture have to do with how our society functions, responds, and interacts, regardless of the policies that exist. Questions for this might be like: Does this candidate behave how I want them to behave? Does this candidate represent the character that this nation should have?

The relationship between policies and culture is symbiotic. 

This means that they both influence each other. But, this leads me to my third point, which happens to be personal opinion.

Third, CULTURE trumps (no pun intended) POLICY every day of the week.

I believe who we are as a nation is quite possibly more important than what we do as a nation. Now, some of you might disagree. That’s ok! You might think that policy trumps culture. Or, you might believe that they are equally important. I can respect those viewpoints. All I ask of you is to take them into account in order to make your decision.

And, this is what makes it so hard. If you believe that culture trumps policy, then you might look at both principal candidates as being unfit for office. Or, you might believe one truly does have the character needed to be in office and to move our country in the direction it needs to go. Regardless of which way you go, I encourage you to evaluate the candidates according to this framework.

Fourth (and last), Jesus is above every political system.

The kingdom of God is not a human kingdom. While I love the United States of America, and consider it a privilege to live here, this country is not the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is eternal. His kingdom rests in our hearts, not in a political system.

Now, is it important to vote in the political system so that we might continue to live our faith freely in this country? Absolutely. But let me remind you: some of the greatest countries for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth are also the most restrictive towards exercising faith. Think of China as one example.

I believe politics is downstream of culture. The reason why Christianity might be losing in the political arena is because it’s already losing in the hearts of the population. If we want God’s kingdom to spread in this country, it won’t happen because we get the right leader to be president…it will happen because the Church reaches people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because of this, my hope is not in a political system, party, or leader. My hope is in Jesus! Choose to trust in Jesus, regardless of which way our political system goes in the coming years.

So, who will you vote for? Choose to think critically, using the wisdom that God gives, to come to the conclusion that you believe is best.

Be blessed!

 

 

When The Going Gets Tough

Have you heard the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”?

It’s a proverb about perseverance and following through, even when things are hard. That is definitely admirable and something that we should work towards.

There is a necessary  step to take after the going gets tough, but before you get going again. That step is this:

Stop and look.

When things get tough, you are going to have to make a deision about persevering through the difficult ircustancecs until you reach the other side. But, before you get there, you need to take a moment. And stop. Then look.

This is especially important when things are tough. At the moment that things turn more difficult than you expected, it is important to ask yourself a few things:

  1. Why are things more difficult now? What changed?
  2. What needs to change in your approach now that the environment has changed?
  3. What do you need in order to make it to the other side, that you might not have needed before?
  4. Will this require a different course of action than what I previously planned?

Taking a moment to stop and survey the road before you is extremely important before you continue.

When things get tough, you definitely should continue. But how you continue makes all the difference.

When the going gets tough, the tough stop and look, then they get going.

I get it…the phrase may not be as interesting now as it used to be! You  might be thinking, “Wow! Jeff just ruined a perfectly good proverb!”

I probably did. But it’s true nonetheless. Take a moment. Catch your breath. Find the best way forward. Then move on!

Cuando Goliat Cae

A photo by Luis Llerena. unsplash.com/photos/MZx2uowz-o0   Cuando Goliat Cae
Cuando Goliat Cae

¿Qué es lo que haces cuando Goliat cae? Las derrotas y las victorias son parte constante de nuestras vidas. A todos nosotros definitivamente nos gustan mucho más las victorias que las derrotas. Pero hay una pregunta sobre la cual he pensado mucho al pasar de los años.

¿Podría una victoria, transformarse en una derrota?

Es decir, ¿es posible tomar una victoria en nuestras vidas y accidentalmente sufrir una derrota a causa de ella? Este es el tema que me gustaría abordar en esta publicación a la que he llamado “Cuando Goliat Cae”.

¿Alguna vez has escuchado la frase: arrebatando la victoria de las fauces de la derrota? Bien, lo opuesto puede ser verdad también. ¡Puedes arrebatar la derrota de las fauces de la victoria!

En el libro de 1 Samuel, hay una historia sobre un gigante llamado Goliat, quien representaba al ejercito filisteo. Los filisteos causaban todo tipo de problemas a los israelitas. Existía una tradición, la de presentar al mejor guerrero de cada país para decidir quién sería el ganador.

Los filisteos presentaron a Goliat. Los Israelitas no tenían a quien presentar. En medio de este vacío, apareció David, un joven que no se comparaba en fuerza o tamaño a Goliat. Los pronósticos estaban completamente en contra de David y de los Israelitas.

David, después de escuchar las palabras en contra suya, declaro en 1 Samuel 14:45-47,

Pero David le respondió:

«Tú vienes contra mí armado de espada, lanza y jabalina; pero yo vengo contra ti en el nombre del Señor de los ejércitos, el Dios de los escuadrones de Israel, a quien tú has provocado. 46 Hoy mismo el Señor te entregará en mis manos. Te voy a vencer, y te voy a cortar la cabeza, y los cadáveres de tus compatriotas se los voy a dar a las aves de rapiña y a los animales salvajes. Así en todos los pueblos se sabrá que hay Dios en Israel. 47 Toda esta gente va a saber que el Señor no necesita de espadas ni de lanzas para salvarlos. La victoria es del Señor, y él va a ponerlos a ustedes en nuestras manos.»

David tenía una ventaja que Goliat no tenía… la presencia de un gran Dios que pelearía en su favor. Ahora, estoy seguro que muchos de ustedes saben el final de la historia. Ambos se enfrentan entre sí y David lanza una piedra, derribando a Goliat. Después de eso, David mató a Goliat.

¡Que victoria tan increíble! David acababa de vencer al enemigo de manera convincente. Si yo fuera David, estaría extremadamente satisfecho con esta increíble actuación. Lo hubiera celebrado en grande.

Esto es similar a lo que muchos de nosotros hacemos cuando experimentamos una victoria increíble. Tendemos a sentirnos satisfechos y celebramos. Ahora bien, no hay nada de malo con el sentimiento de satisfacción que viene con la victoria; tampoco hay nada malo con celebrar nuestros triunfos.

Pero, como mencioné antes, las victorias pueden convertirse en derrotas.

Cuando le permitimos a la satisfacción de nuestra victoria conducirnos a la comodidad, perdemos “inercia”, perdiendo de este modo los beneficios de nuestra victoria.

Muchos de nosotros, cuando vemos caer a nuestro Goliat, elegimos detenernos y simplemente “admirar la panorámica”.

Ahora, sabemos que David y los israelitas disfrutaron su victoria inmediatamente después de haber matado a Goliat. Pero también hicieron algo más. El texto continúa diciendo:

Y cuando el ejército de los filisteos vio que su gran guerrero estaba muerto, se dio a la fuga.52 Pero los del ejército israelita y los de Judá lanzaron fuertes alaridos y se fueron por todo el valle, en persecución de los filisteos, y los siguieron hasta las puertas de Ecrón. Por todo el camino que va a Sagarayin, Gat y Ecrón, los filisteos quedaron tendidos y heridos de muerte. 53 Después de perseguir a los filisteos, los israelitas volvieron y saquearon su campamento.

 El ejército israelita decidió que la mejor manera de celebrar una victoria pasada era buscando la siguiente oportunidad para vencer. Esto lo hicieron al perseguir al ejercito filisteo y saquear su campamento.

Una de las maneras más fáciles de perder los beneficios de una victoria es simplemente relajarte en ese éxito. La mejor manera de experimentar los beneficios de una victoria es aprovechándolos para la siguiente victoria delante de ti.

¿Qué es lo que haces cuando tu Goliat cae?

¿Qué historia vas a escribir?