Action Alert From The Iowa Association Of Christian Schools

March 22nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Action Alert From the Iowa Association of Christian Schools:

IA Assoc. Of Christian Schools

March 21, 2013 – House Study Bill 225 would increase the amount of tax credits for school tuition organizations to $12 million (currently at $8.75 million). The credits are made available for those who donate to scholarship funds for nonpublic school students through School Tuition Organizations (STOs).

Last fall more than 10,400 low-income students received a grant through the program to attend the school of their choice. More than $11.3 million in scholarships were awarded.

We support the bill because it helps parents get assistance in choosing the school that best fits their child’s learning needs.

Please send a message to your member of the Iowa House asking him or her to support HSB 225 by clicking here.  We are partnering with the Iowa Catholic Conference to send out emails and encourage you to do so today!

Very happy to see school choice get such bipartisan support in Iowa.  Click the link above and help keep it that way!  I highly encourage you to sign up for their email list at www.iowachristianschools.org.  They don’t spam, only send out action alerts when big things are happening at the Capitol, and they are a great resource for information on education, education reform, and private school choice.  They are there every day during the legislative session and have a great Board of Directors.

Senator Rozenboom’s Senate Speech This Week

February 22nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Senator Rozenboom delivered a great speech on the floor of the Senate this week about their adopted son, life, adoption, policy priorities, and hope!  You can click here to see the whole thing!  This is how the pro-life message is to be spread.  Compassionately and lovingly.  Well done, Senator!

Stop The Common Core Standards

November 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Common Core Standards are dangerous.  Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project is featured in this awesome video series called “Stop The Common Core.”  Embedded below is the first of five videos on the subject.  You owe it to yourself, your kids, and your grandkids to watch all five of them:

I know the video doesn’t fit perfectly in my WordPress template so click full screen and listen without distraction. You need to hear what Jane has to say.  There are five videos and they should play one right after another.  If the link doesn’t work, please visit the American Principles Project or Truth In American Education website and watch them there.

I used to work for the American Principles Project and my friend Shane still does. They are doing great work calling out those who would disenfranchise States and (more importantly) parents and are doing a good job calling on teachers, parents, and other citizens to stop and think about how truly dangerous this movement is. Let me know what you think.  It’s not too late to turn back this dangerous agenda and your sharing of this video, your willingness to talk about it to friends and family, and the sharing of these videos on social media and other websites will go a long way!

I don’t need unelected bureaucrats and D.C. based nonprofits determining my child’s education standards and curricula.  I don’t want my child’s quality of education determined by the prevailing national political winds and at a level of government inaccessible to parents and local schools boards, administrators, and teachers.

Watch the videos.  Share them.  Act.

How Then Should We Advocate?

November 12th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

The 2012 Election is behind us.  Now the question remains:  whether as an active citizen or a professional activist, how then should we advocate for the things we care about after any election result?  I’ve written about much of this before but wanted to get some additional thoughts off my chest for my own benefit if nothing else.

First, what is advocacy and activism?  Issue advocacy and activism can include writing a letter to your legislator, showing up for an event at the Capitol, running for office, posting political opinions on Facebook or Twitter, lobbying, writing letters to the editor, walking in parades for candidates, or discussing politics at a friend’s house over dinner.

If you are a Christ-follower and looking to contribute to a political organization or considering getting involved in any way, here are the top five things you must keep in mind in order to be a good advocate:
» Read the rest of this entry «

Some Post-Election Thoughts

November 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Since I work in politics and public policy, I’ve had some people ask me for some post-election thoughts.

Regarding the Federal election results: I feel the same way I did a month ago.  We’re screwed, at least in the short term.  Neither party will be able to accomplish much in Congress and the President will bypass them any chance he gets with Executive Orders.

My feelings on the State election results: I feel the same way I did a month ago.  Not much changed.  Some good legislators are gone or lost their races, some new legislators were elected, and the school choice coalition I work with made some good inroads relationally with candidates and legislators from both parties.  That’s my optimistic and smiley spin on it.

Were you looking for something more specific?  Sorry.

Coming up on this blog:  “How Then Should We Advocate?”

The Big Election Day Decision

November 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Vote PedroThe big election day decision everyone has to make is whether to vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or write-in or vote for a candidate with zero chance of winning.  Although I sympathaze with Evangelicals who do not want to support Mitt Romney, I believe I’m called to make wise decisions and be the best steward of the influence and resources God has given me.  I don’t believe a general election vote equates to an endorsement.  I don’t believe general elections are the appropriate vehicles for protesting our failure to get an adequate candidate on the ballot.

That being said, I am prayerful that whoever wins the election has a real meeting with God.  God made good men Kings in the days of Israel.  He anointed David, Asa, Hezekiah, and others who honored their King to rule over Israel.  He put up godly Judges like Debra and others to rule over Israel.  Good leaders can make a HUGE difference.

God also, however, placed in leadership evil men.  Saul was half-hearted.  Manasseh was an evil King.  Ahab was “more evil than all kings before him.”  Read through first and second Kings, Chronicles, etc. for the sometimes nasty details.

I respect men and women who, in their own consciences and within their own understanding of the Scriptures, can’t vote for Romney or Obama.  Don’t let anyone tell you, however, who to vote for.  Pray.  Show Up.  Vote.  Trust God with a clear conscience.  He was sovereign when he anointed good and evil men.  He’s sovereign this week as we vote.  He’ll be sovereign for eternity.  The Curse we live under makes men governing themselves futile.  It’s supposed to be that way.  It’s supposed to point us to our Creator King!

The biggest threat to the Church as it relates to public policy and politics is that some believers get so emotionally caught up in the political game that it becomes an idol.  They begin to think that politics holds answers.  They begin to believe that we are responsible for the outcome of elections and the direction the culture goes.  We are called to do two things: love God and love our neighbor.  I believe it is very difficult to love our neighbor if we lead them to believe that their party affiliation, voting record, or candidate preference is more important than the pursuit of their Creator.

I am not a fatalist in that I believe God will honor our participation as we vote with Him on our hearts.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t be active and using our gifts in the public square doing public service in any number of capacities.  I’m saying we need to keep this whole election in perspective.

Vote.  Love God.  Love your neighbor.  He takes care of the rest and will show us how government is supposed to work soon enough.

Your Tiny Loan Can Go A Long Way

August 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Join me in supporting Kiva and its many small business owners from around the world that could use a hand-up in the form of a microloan.  You can click here to join me.  I’ve been making loans for a number of years now and love it.  Great way to put your money where your mouth is on alleviating poverty for people who just need a chance to shine.

SBA List Bus Tour Stops in Iowa

August 21st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I attended the Susan B. Anthony List’s bus tour yesterday on the West Terrace of the Iowa State Capitol.  The name of the bus tour is “Women Speak Out: Abortion is Not Healthcare” and the Iowa stops were sponsored by SBA List, Iowa Right to Life, Concerned Women for America, the Iowa Eagle Forum, Family Leader, and others.

I believe it may have been one of the most powerful line-ups of pro-life women ever put together.  The women had a combination of legislative experience, personal stories of survival, experience inside the abortion industry, and enough street cred. to make the most hardened pro-choicer question where he/she is at on the issue.

You can see great coverage of the Des Moines stop on Shane and Craig’s websites below:

Abortion survivor: Scalding a child in the womb is not healthcare

Pro-life Women Praise Steve King, Shred Vilsack, Obama

If you want to make an impact in the battle to change our culture to one that respects life, I highly suggest you visit Iowa Right to Life and SBA List‘s websites and open your wallet.

Some Things I Believe

March 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Although no one has asked, I feel compelled (perhaps for my own benefit and reference) to write out some of the things I believe to be true.  Comments are welcome:

I believe that I’m probably an evangelical by definition but I hope I never act like one.

I believe that the Church is the Elect and is not an institution or location.

I believe in an inerrant Scripture (we can argue about translations and church tradition) that is capable of speaking for itself, interpreting itself, and speaking to every issue.

I believe there is no timeline in the Scriptures for spiritual gifts.  I believe that all the gifts are for today.  I believe, however, human nature tends to swing too charismatic or too stoic (the “frozen chosen”) and the burden is on us to find the appropriate balance.

I believe that if the Church stopped building multi-million dollar buildings, paying mega-church pastors mega-sized salaries, combatted relativism, and invested our money in meeting the practical needs of others instead of bolstering what we call our “ministries;” we’d win over the hearts of the unchurched.   Because our time and resources would be vested in our communities; we’d become so passionate about them that our love for our neighbors would win far more souls than any church service, outreach program, multi-media presentation, or under-sized missions budget ever could.

I believe the Church has been hijacked by pastor/teachers, we’ve ignored (in large part) the role of the other gifts (Eph 4:11) in Church leadership, and have made the mistake of setting up our churches like corporations (thanks to the 501 (c) 3 and our Roman statist heritage) instead of being communities living out “Kingdom spirituality.”

I believe the assembling of ourselves together as believers is primarily for the encouraging and equipping of each other – not for “gettin’ people saved.”  In many cases, bringing new believers to church is a sure-fire way to ruin their potential as ambassadors for Christ.

I believe the Church is capable and responsible for the welfare of its community – not government.  Government should supplement the Church’s benevolence, not supplant its role as caregiver to the broken, poor, and needy.  Our ability to turn into pansies when the IRS threatens us for proclaiming truth, discussing issues, or teaching on the intersection of faith and public policy is one of our greatest areas of shame.

I believe that, since the Scriptures teach us to obey the laws of man, that a Republic like ours in America that is dependent on our engagement to function well turns out civic engagement into a spiritual necessity.

I believe one God-fearing man or woman can change the world, change culture, change public policy, or even a church.  You never know if it’s you until you live your whole life pursuing the opportunity and never grow weary in the work.

I believe most doctrinal differences, although important, are far less important than choosing to work together to practice pure and undefiled religion (James 1).

I believe I spent too much time in Western Christendom and therefore stink at living a missional and relevant spiritual life.  I am, however, working on it.

Christians In Politics

January 12th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

The following article was originally posted on Caffeinated Thoughts.  I have only edited grammatical errors:

Few would dispute that power corrupts.  The kind of power wielded by elected and appointed officials, activists, special interests, and bureaucrats often results in a special kind of corruption called “politics.”  In America, the People are empowered by its founding documents in a way unique in history.  Our power as citizens can corrupt us as well if we aren’t vigilant.  How do we take the power of the citizen and the power of the Scriptures and engage the political scene without a corrupt spirit?  It isn’t easy and takes tremendous diligence.

I have worked in or around the public policy scene since 1995 and have frequently struggled with the role Christians play in the political process.  There is, unfortunately, a growing divide within the Christian community on the roles of pragmatism and purism.  Schisms within the Church on such issues highlight the heart-issues involved in public policy.  We must learn to maintain unity as a Body even as we approach public policy diversely. I still have much to learn but here are some things I’ve taken away from the process so far:

  1. Too often, there is very little difference between “Christians” in politics and everyone else.  The fact is, every true Christ-follower still has a human nature to wrestle with (Romans 7:13-25, Gen. 3).  It’s easy to get cynical about people who claim to have a relationship with God but don’t walk in it.  It’s even easier to get cynical about non-believers in the political class.  But I’ve learned that the way to effectiveness is to be realistic about what to expect from people and care about them unconditionally.  Like any work environment, I can speak Truth to them without crossing professional lines of appropriateness.  I’m not going to argue anyone into the Kingdom or out-anger or out-hate someone into the Kingdom.  Don’t let other people’s base human nature ruin you.  We must appeal to them as Christ-followers first, and fellow citizens second.
  2. Those Christians who are often the most respected as “Culture Warriors” and truth tellers are often a cancer in the Body of Christ.  Many believers measure value in other’s rhetoric by how passionate, angry, and aggressive he/she is on issues.  The degree to which you can be righteously indignant is now somehow the spiritual gold standard.  I have learned over the last number of years that being more angry or aggressive than the opposition, even if you are right on the issue, is worthless.  Romans 13 begins by telling us to submit to government authority, goes on to discuss love for our neighbor and respect for each other’s liberty, and wraps up in chapter 14 verse 10 by asking why we judge and show contempt for our brother.  It’s one example of many in the Scriptures that we are to respect authority, each other’s liberty, and love each other in spite of a different tack on an issues of policy and daily living.  Too often Christians cannibalize each other for disagreeing on issues and condemn themselves in the process by violating the command to love the Brethren.  They are living examples of I Corinthians, verses one through three: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
  3. Love and meekness is not weakness.  Sounds cliché but it is a Biblical Truth.  Too often Christians lack self control.  We do a great job of pretending to be innocent as doves but we are often inept at practicing wisdom (Matt 10:16).  After a while you can sense very quickly when someone has just enough knowledge to be dangerous.  They are usually loud but lack the wisdom to know how to harness their zeal with wisdom, prudence, and persuasiveness.  Their proclamation of Truth is made worthless by a lack of love.  The worst damage comes in that it seduces people who are equally frustrated (and rightfully so!) with the political class and want to follow the lead of someone who articulates their frustration.  Someone can tell you they tell the Truth, fear God, and point to their influence or success as proof of God’s blessing and still be doing a tremendous disservice to the Kingdom.  Lots of talk and action without love and meekness is antithetical to God’s plan for His Church.
  4. Politics is different than Church.  The Scriptures outline concrete ways to resolve conflict (Matt. 18), handle Church discipline, and treat those who claim to be believers but do the Kingdom harm.  The Scriptures’ treatment of government isn’t the same.  It addresses it in principle (often telling us to submit to authority) but leaves room for Christ-followers’ varied perspectives on the State.  This should lead us to respect fellow Christ-followers who seem to have a sincere faith but don’t engage the political scene the way we do.  There are times when I disagree with the strategy or policy positions of my fellow believers at the capitol.  The important thing is how I respond.  I believe the Scriptures make it clear that the “Fruits of the Spirit” are far more important than scoring political points (Galatians 5:22-26).  Although I struggle with this every legislative session, I try hard to keep in mind the following: How does vitriol or slander of other believers align with the fruit of the Spirit?  How does strife over political strategy benefit the Kingdom?
  5. It is our duty to engage in American politics as American Believers.  The American system of government demands participation to work and the Scriptures encourage us to obey the same laws that prompt our particiaption. Our Founding Fathers implemented a system that respects the Judeo-Christian worldview and our Republic requires the participation of its citizens to function.  Without our participation, our rights and freedoms given to us by God and affirmed by our founding documents are in danger.  We must exercise this stewardship, however, within the framework of the Spirit and not our base human nature.
  6. Christians have a responsibility to find vehicles for advocacy that respect a Biblical worldview.  As we seek to align ourselves with individuals, make donations, or advocate with an interest group; we must ask ourselves if they have a reputation for love and wisdom or vitriol and foolishness. There is no shortage of “faith-based” organizations and individuals just as secular and humanistic in their approach to public policy as the ones they oppose.  Watch an organization or a pundit for a time before you lend them your resources and support.  Pray for discernment.

I’m NOT suggesting that the Christian citizen/activist/lobbyist needs to be a smiley square that comes to the capitol with baked goods every day and says things like, “Gee whiz, Senator, that bigoted affront to religious liberty you’re sponsoring sounds swell!  I love you!”  I’m simply saying we agree to disagree as believers on nuance so that our enemies can know us by our love for one another.  I’m saying we focus on the non-believer’s story more than on his/her outward behavior.  I’m saying we work hard to develop a reputation as people who care, not as a people who condescend.  I’ll aggressively do my job as well as I can in subcommittee meetings and in the rotunda of the capitol as a lobbyist, but I may buy my opposition lunch and listen to their concerns afterward.  They are, after all, as lost and hurting as we once were and maybe still are.  I’m ultimately suggesting that we check our hearts.

In summary, what good is speaking Truth to principalities if the King is not honored?  What good is espousing a “Biblical worldview” if we don’t love our neighbor or our brother?  What good is demanding a voice in the public square if we seek it without humility and meekness?  What good is dogma and rhetoric if it lacks prudence and wisdom?

We need to speak Truth without apology, in love.  We need to participate in the Republic we have been blessed with, wisely.  And we must avoid and pray for those who claim to serve the King but slander and cannibalize His people.

Christ-followers must engage in the Republic with quiet strength and an upright reputation.  Although counter-intuitive and juxtaposed with our sinful nature, our achieving this type of advocacy as true ambassadors of Christ would quickly rebuild a culture that respects life, liberty, and the pursuit of God; the Author of happiness.