Weekend Reading: March 12, 2016

Good morning, and welcome to your weekend!  After over a week of traveling, I’m glad to be home, and want to share some of the best videos, articles, blog posts etc. that I read this week. I have also posted below a summary of my thoughts on the Trump candidacy.

My favorite blog this week was found over at ScribblePreach: 35 Totally Random Life Hacks. One of those “live hacks” was how to read a book a week (or something like that), and it was a link to this helpful blog (yes I went down the rabbit hole a bit here).

Thanks to Marty G. who sent along this helpful explanation of what the heck a “Franchise Tag” was. 

In case you missed it, Jerry Bridges died this week. Because Nancy Reagan also passed away, it could easily have gone unnoticed. After all, Bridges was a very humble man, though his work left an outsized influence on many people – including myself. The book that most affected me by bridges was ‘The Transforming Power of the Gospel‘.  This is one of the few books in my library that both Kate and I have underlined and marked up separately, so that the book now tells a tale in the margins of how impactful each sentence was to each of us. In honor of Bridges, here are a few quotes from that book:

Therefore, I believe that a biblical definition of grace is God’s blessings through Christ to people who deserve His curse.

The truth is, God’s approval does have to be earned. That is what Christ did for us.

Consciousness of one’s own sinfulness and assurance of forgiveness are the foundation of our love for God.

We all, having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, have a tendency to revert to a performance-based relationship with God.

Justification means that in our standing before God, we are righteous in His sight.

God’s justice and God’s mercy met at the cross, and both are duly magnified.

…the gospel keeps us from discouragement as we see how continually and how far short we come in obedience.

…this is where spiritual transformation really begins – when we begin to see that even our best deeds on our best days are like a polluted garment before an infinitely holy God.

This transformation into the image of Jesus is much more than a change of outward conduct; rather it is a deep penetrating work of the Holy Spirit in the very core of our being, what the Bible calls the heart – the center of our intellect, affection, and will.

The bare Scripture by itself is of no avail apart from the Spirit’s applying it to our hearts.

If we are going to “preach the gospel to ourselves” each day, we need to memorize key gospel verses.

Godliness is basically God-centeredness. It means to live all of life in awareness of our absolute dependence on God and our accountability to Him in both the spiritual and temporal dimensions of life.

Reading Bridges definitely helped propel me down the path of spiritual maturity – which is the topic of this column that Challies linked to this week, and Derek S. brought to my attention: 10 Marks of an Immature Believer. 

This was a really funny little parody: Ease Your Conscience By Finding The Gospel Theme™ In Any Filthy Movie

DID YOU KNOW?: The Clocks at Grand Central Station Are Permanently Wrong

FINALLY someone has written on this: The Science Behind Why It Hurts So Much to Step on a LEGO

In an interesting opinion piece, The Wall Street Journal says that ‘Abortion Has a Market Problem.’

HILARIOUS: 100 Days of Trump

TEDIOUS but interesting: The Coming Trainwreck: Rules at the 2016 Republican National Convention

This Tuesday we’ll have another series of Presidential Primary elections. The two most consequential will be Florida and Ohio. There’s tremendous pressure on John Kasich and Marco Rubio to win their home states. In light of this important election, I’ll now repost some articles I already posted up on Facebook earlier this week, and others I just finished reading that were helpful.

First – Jon Bloom at Desiring God has written a piece just yesterday called ‘How to Recognize a Foolish Leader’. The picture on the piece is that of Trump, but no candidate is mentioned by name in the piece. He uses Proverbs to help us think through the difference between a fool and a wise man.

Catholic Scholar George Weigel has written a piece called ‘RESISTING THE DEMAGOGUE’, which is essentially a call to not vote for Donald Trump. This piece covers some of the basics (h/t Lisa W.), but I think a more substantial essay was compiled by a professor in Dayton called ‘Trump, Evangelicals, and the Road Ahead.‘ And much of the sentiment here was embodied in a previous article I had linked to called, ‘NIKABRIK’S CANDIDATE’, for those of you who love C.S. Lewis’ writing, this latter article will speak to you powerfully – especially if you’re like me and believe the Washington political cartel needs cleaned out.  In a much more virulent argument, the sometimes petulant and often irritating Erick Erickson has written this humdinger ‘The More a Person Follows Christ, The Less a Person Supports Trump‘. It’s hard to argue with him though.

Since I’ve been texted, called, emailed about this manifold times in the last week, let me offer my own thoughts briefly on the electoral situation on the Republican side – particularly as it relates to Donal Trump.  First, I would note that I am working for John Kasich. I’m no “homer”, I know and agree with some of the substantial problems with Kasich, but I know its an honorable thing to work for him as well, and think he’d make a good President. My concerns with Trump do not stem from my disposition toward Kasich.

I have a two-pronged concern with Donald Trump. First, on moral grounds, it is hard to choose him above the 3 others (Cruz, Rubio, Kasich) because he is an immoral man who brags about his foolishness and his sin. All of the candidates are sinners – there’s a difference though between someone who is a sinner, and one who wouldn’t acknowledge they are a sinner, nor seek forgiveness. This is not wisdom. Any man who doesn’t have this small amount of wisdom will not have the perspective to deal with large problems facing our country.

The second prong is political. I posted that article above about Trump being the ‘Nikabrick’ candidate because of the temptation we all feel toward picking someone who will do more than shake up the political and party establishment – we want a thorough cleansing of the cartel. Personally, though its important, I would have people not focused so much on the GOP/Party power brokers and what Trump would do to that structure, and more on how he would govern. What would he do with large departments that are hurting our economy and our country (EPA, Education Dept. et all), and how would he reform the Pentagon, while rebuilding our army etc. How would he deal with the corruption of the Federal Reserve? How would he work with Congress? How would he – practically and realistically speaking – achieve this immigration solution?  NO ONE KNOWS.  This is my issue with Trump. He appeals to the hopes – and mostly the fears – of Americans with zero specifics, only slogans. Slogans are an empty train that get filled up with corrupt policy compromises once one is elected. Like President Obama, Donald Trump is campaigning on zero specificity, zero substance, and the “hope” that once elected he will miraculously achieve all of these grand government-shrinking feats.

I would like to believe that Trump is able or even willing to do this. But politically, we can only go on what he has said, and done in the past. He has been a liberal his entire life, and given generously to both the GOP establishment and the leftist elites. He routinely changes his mind/positions are facts, issues, and opinions so as to make Bill Clinton look amateurish! The only thing we can conclude logically is that he will continue his nature as a deal making compromiser and compromise on major moral issues. Interestingly, one fear of conservatives in electing a Senator is that they will compromise on big legislative pieces when the time comes (because that’s how the Senate functions). The problem with Trump is that with a man who is morally bankrupt, the odds (and that is an important word in dealing with the reason people support Trump) are better that the compromises will not be insignificant or mere peripheral policy matters. Why? Because there are no guiding conservative worldview principles that tether him.

The reason people want to support Trump defies logic or realism. It defies Trump’s history and everything we know about him – even from this campaign alone. The reason people support Trump is that emotionally they want his rhetoric to be true. They are willing to play the odds that, despite what we know of him, a Trump Presidency will tear down both the Party/GOP established political class, AND get rid of the corruption and bloat in government…only to replace it with what? TBD…No one knows…

The inevitable question then becomes: If Trump wins the primary, will you vote or work for him over Hillary?  My answer is “YES”.  It is entirely possible that Trump will be as dangerous as Hillary to the economy and the stability of the world abroad – for entirely different reasons. But I will wager (here we go again with odds…) that even a “fool” who has guidance from conservatives will appoint better Supreme Court Justices than Hillary Clinton. Who the next President appoints to the Court will shape our country for a generation (or more) to come. That is reason enough not only to vote for Trump in a general election, but to work hard to get him elected – even if you’re just playing the odds that if he appoints 4 justices, 3 will be tolerable.

The case in point is that we know who Donald Trump is as a person, but we do not know much in the way of specifics policy-wise. What we do know from his rhetoric contrasts with his political history. Many of my friends feel like the odds are worth it. That if we don’t elect a radical now, we’ll have no chance to get the country on track in the near future.  My contention is that if you are looking at this purely as a matter of playing the odds in a high stakes game (which this is), then the odds on bet is actually that Donald Trump will govern more like he has behaved morally & politically in the past, and therefore be a disaster for the country. 

Obviously there are more points to be made, more thoughts to flesh out, and more we will have yet to learn about all of these candidates. But these are my current thoughts, and hopefully they are helpful to you as you head to the polls on Tuesday.

PJW

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