Tag Archive | Rick Warren

Politics and The Art of Reason

With all of the recent discussion regarding the upcoming election, I thought I would chime in with a few thoughts about one of the topics that has obviously struck a nerve in our nation…

Immigration.

I have given some thought to this, and thought I would share with you a few ideas that, if I were the guy in charge, would be a part of my platform. For lack of a better term, let’s just call it the Phillips Immigration Plan.

IMG_1904VISAS

It is essential for all foreign nationals to have a visa when they are travelling to the United States, as without one they will not be allowed to enter the country.

For those who are travelling to the country for religious events (since I am a Christian pastor, and religious events are important to me) there are Christian event visas. The numbers of these that are issued each year are limited, simply due to the large numbers of people who would wish to visit. It is important to adhere to the dates which are issued on the visa as if you overstay you can be subject to fines and further delays before you can return to your home country.

For those who are planning a short visit to the U.S., it is possible to get a visitor visa, although these will be limited. In order to get a visitor visa, you would need to be invited by a company or individual as they will be your sponsor and officially responsible for you during your visit. It is the sponsor who must apply for the visa on behalf of the visitor.

It should also be noted that if you are rejected for a visa, then it would not be worth reapplying as it is unlikely that you would be reconsidered.

Visitors or workers that have a stamp from any Latin American country in their passport or any visible connection with any such country will not be allowed entry into the U.S. If you do need to travel to a Latin American country for any reason, it may be possible to ask the authorities in those countries to stamp a separate sheet of paper rather than the actual passport, so that your future travel is not limited in this way.

Residency

When a person is applying for residency in the United States, they must be in possession of a firm job offer from a company operating within the country. A residency permit will not be issued unless this is the case. It should also be noted that residency permits are rarely issued when a person is already in the country on a short stay visa. Residency permits are normally issued when the individual is still in their home country. The permit acts as an ID card and the worker must carry it with them at all times, as the authorities can request to see it at any time. Failure to comply can lead to heavy penalties.

Citizenship

Foreign citizens would very rarely be granted citizenship in the United States. This is due to the strict limits that would be placed on immigration in the U.S. For most people the only way to become a citizen would be to marry a U.S. citizen, but this is no guarantee that citizenship status can be granted, particularly if the foreign national is not a Christian. A person applying for citizenship will have to be prepared to give up their own nationality as dual nationality will not be permitted. Those who marry a U.S. citizen can later have their citizenship taken away if the marriage ends.

It is possible for the President of the U.S. to offer citizenship status to a foreign born worker if they have lived and worked in the country for a long time and their service there is considered to be exceptional. It is possible for an employer who has a good foreign worker to offer them work and residence permits that are indefinite, but there will still be an issue when the worker retires, and only employers with a great deal of influence will be able to ensure that this continues when the work stops. This is not the same as citizenship status and only gives the worker the right to live in the country.

The naturalization laws would allow expatriates to apply for citizenship. Citizenship can be granted after a vigorous assessment process, but there would be a trial period lasting for 10 years, during which the behavior of the new citizen is monitored to ensure that they continue to be of good character. Those who make false statements in order to obtain citizenship are heavily fined and their applications are instantly rejected. Those who spend a great deal of time outside the country once they have obtained citizenship may also find that it can be withdrawn.

Citizenship can only be applied for by those who have already spent 10 years working and living in the country and applicants must be living in the country when they make their application, with all the relevant visas and permits in place and valid. An applicant will also need to demonstrate a good level of proficiency in English and most will require a reference from a local pastor or clergyman to show that they are of good character and that they have integrated well into the community. An applicant who is considered to be of unsound mind will not be considered for citizenship.

Those who have a child in the United States should be aware that the child will take on the nationality of the parents and will not automatically be entitled to U.S. citizenship, unless one of the parents is a U.S. citizen. In this case the child can be given local nationality and claim a passport from that country.

So what do you think? Do I sound pretty reasonable, or pretty harsh? Some of you may agree. Some of you may think I have lost my mind.

Well, in the interest of coming clean, I have a confession to make…

This is not my immigration plan. This is not even the immigration plan of any political candidate currently running for president. These “ideas” are actual visa, residency, and immigration laws of the nation of Saudi Arabia, with a few “minor” changes…

  • Where is says “U.S.” or “United States“, substitute “Saudi Arabia”.
  • Where it says “President“, substitute “King”.
  • Where it says “English“, substitute “Arabic”.
  • Where it says “Christian“, substitute “Muslim”.
  • Where it says “local pastor or clergyman“, substitute “Imam”.
  • Where it says “Latin American country“, substitute “Israel”.

Already, during this election cycle, I have seen a lot of things said by reporters, commentators, pundits, and political hacks that, quite frankly, are somewhat disturbing. The term “low information voter” is bandied about quite loosely by some to describe anyone who disagrees with the “more informed and educated” opinions of our media elite or political ruling classes. Instead of having an honest conversation about candidates, policy, or anything else of substance, we digress into the same “gutter” we accuse politicians of operating within with name-calling, vitriol, and baseless accusations.

As Americans, we want someone who will inspire us, who will ride in on a white horse and save our society. The problem with that is, if you look in Revelation 6, the first person to ride in on a white horse is the first horseman of the Apocalypse (the Antichrist). That doesn’t end so well for humanity. Am I saying our next president will be the Antichrist? Of course not. What I am  saying is that oftentimes the person doing and saying all of the right things is not all they are cracked up to be.

As Christians, we want someone with strong faith and a deep commitment to Christ. I know that personally, I would. However, as I discussed in a previous blog post, sometimes the person God has for the job is not a Samuel, a David, or a Solomon… sometimes it is a Cyrus or a Nebuchadnezzar. The person with the best Sunday School attendance record is not necessarily the best at fiscal decisions or international crisis management.

So how do we come to terms with the person vs. the candidate?

In Isaiah 1:16-18, we find the words of the LORD…

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,

17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool…”

In verse 18, we see God beckoning His people to come and reason together. It seems to me that, in our current political climate, we would do well to do just that. We would be wise to set aside the preconceptions and media soundbites, and reason things out.

Every election brings empty promises from candidates. I cannot think of a president in my lifetime who did not make promises he either could not, would not, or had no intention of keeping. Whether he said it merely to get elected, or had the best of intentions and simply ran into too much opposition, promises were broken. Does it make it right that every candidate does it? No, not at all. It is simply a reality of the process; to hope for the best, but often settle for something in between “best” and “unacceptable”. Truth be told, all we ever have is a person’s word (unless they are running for a second term), because they have never been in that position doing that particular job with those particular pressures. We trust and have faith that our candidate will do what he says. Besides praying, that is all we can do.

Recently, I saw someone’s post on social media regarding Donald Trump (this is not an endorsement, merely an example). One person remarked on the thread that he was a liar and a cheat. In my mind I thought, “Ok, I’ll bite. Let’s assume that he IS the liar and cheat you say he is. Where are the charges? Where is the indictment? What is the name of the DA prosecuting him for fraud and conspiracy?” They don’t exist. People simply regurgitate what they hear, without doing their own research. A lot of people don’t like Mr. Trump for some things he has said… I get that. But making unfounded and vague accusations about a person often makes you no better than the person you are criticizing.

But God beckons us to come and reason together.

Recently, I was watching a man-on-the-street interview in which the interviewer would ask people about their candidate, but would attribute a quote or stance of one candidate to another, many times being the polar opposite view. It was amazing to me to see people get behind a position simply because they thought that was the view of their candidate, instead of what they personally believed.

In my “immigration proposal”, I was making a point that whether or not you agreed with me in theory, in some places in the world (in this case, Saudi Arabia), such laws are a reality, not just far-fetched fantasy. I know first-hand, from having been to Israel numerous times, the reality of having a customs agent offer to stamp a piece of paper so as not to put an Israeli stamp in my passport. The fact is, when it comes to many things such as immigration, gun-control, and other hot-button topics, before we try passing a bunch of new legislation, we would probably do well to enforce the laws already on the books. When we devolve into factions, and compare those we disagree with to Inquisitors, Crusaders, or Nazis (without a fundamental understanding of either), instead of talking and reasoning out our differences, we cease to be a part of the solution, and double down on being a part of the problem.

Some of my staff members recently went to a banquet, during which the keynote speaker was Pastor Rick Warren. One of my staff asked him the question, “How do you deal with all of the negative press and publicity you get sometimes in the press and social media?” Pastor Warren responded that, if we are following the example of Jesus, His first response was often silence. In Proverbs 15:1 we find this advice…

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.

So I invite you, the next time you don’t see eye to eye with a person politically, don’t turn a bad situation worse. Let your soft answer defuse the situation, and open the dialogue to the invitation of our Lord…

Come, let us reason together.

You might actually find that you have not only retained a friend, but gained a brother or sister as well.

Freedom & A Firm Foundation

Lady Liberty

Once again, the liberal courts of our nation have declared war upon the rights of Christians, upon our Constitution, and upon freedom itself.

Let me back up a little.

KS77759Ok… let me back up 222 years.

Our Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787 (226 yrs ago). The United States Constitution is the supreme law of our land.

Period.

On December 15, 1791 (actually, 222 years ago this coming Sunday), the first ten amendments – The Bill of Rights – were ratified by the states. Right out of the gate, the very first amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, fast forward to last year.

A baker in Colorado refused to make a cake for a gay couple who were getting married. After the exchange, the couple left and, instead of just finding another baker, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the baker. Now (this week, in fact), a judge has ordered the baker to make cakes for gay weddings, or face fines. In an interview, Jack Phillips (the baker) stated that:

“I don’t plan on giving up my religious beliefs … I don’t feel that I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I’m participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for… My priorities would be towards my faith rather than towards my safety or security… If it came to that point, we would close down the bakery before we would compromise our beliefs, so that may be what it comes to. We’ll see.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/10/jack-phillips-gay-wedding-cake_n_4420252.html)

Freedom is a double-edged sword. I find it interesting that the same group of people who support gay marriage and scream on a regular basis about the “rights” of every immoral and un-Godly special interest group in this nation are the very ones who are all-too willing to infringe upon the rights of people like Jack Phillips, people with beliefs grounded in faith and the word of God.

You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to support the “rights” of homosexuals to marry in the name of freedom, then you have no choice but to support the rights of those who oppose it.

If you don’t, you are – by definition – a hypocrite.

In a recent interview with CNN host Piers Morgan, Pastor Rick Warren was asked about gay marriage. He made one of the best responses I have heard anyone make on the subject:

“I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society. And so, I can’t change what I think God has said.”

Maybe that is where Pastor Warren and Jack Phillips get it, and others may not.

It’s all about fear.

But before you take that statement and run with it, please understand: I am not talking about “afraid of the dark, scared of your shadow, boogeyman” fear. I’m not talking about unreasonable and irrational fear of something or someone different than us. I am talking about a fear far more serious, far more consequential, and far too rare in our society today. I’m talking about the “fear of the Lord.” The Bible says in Proverbs 9:10 that…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

“Knowledge of the Holy One.” Not the inane and contextually deficient arguments of liberals who think the Bible should “evolve” with societal whims. True “knowledge of the Holy One” is based on a solid understanding of the Living, Inerrant Word of God. There is a reason that the Bible is the “foundation of our faith”. A foundation does not change. A foundation does not move. A properly built foundation can withstand nearly anything. Even when the building upon which it is constructed collapses, a firm foundation remains, providing as solid a foundation for any new structure built upon it.

So, if you think a solid foundation is not important, let me ask you: Would you move into a house with an “evolving” foundation?

It seems that we, as a nation, are forgetting how precious freedom is. It is a slippery slope we travel when we begin to give up our rights as free people. Any nation is always a tyrant away from losing the very thing this nation was founded on, and freedom’s Holy light is always a errant breath away from being quenched for generations (have we so quickly forgotten the lessons of Nazi Germany and the Cold War?).

My friend, true freedom is only found in the Holy presence of God, and is subject to His will, His designs, and His rules.

So, given the choice between offending man or offending God, I’ll take my chances by offending man.

Given the choice between the disapproval of Piers Morgan, the liberal media, the homosexual lobby, the pro-abortion minions, and even society as a whole… or, the disapproval of God Almighty? I’m going to fall on the side of the Creator of the Universe over the created every time.

Given a choice between “evolving with society over time” or standing firm on the Foundation that will stand the test of eternity? It’s no contest… Eternity wins.