Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President – Compiled

Before the conclusion of our presidential election, I wrote several thoughts on the Christian response to the political season and named them (after the book I was reading at the time) “Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President.” I have compiled all five of the posts below and hyper-linked them for one to easily access them. Enjoy!

Post I

Post II

Post III(.1)

Post IV

Post V


What’s Cookin’? 108

Sinbad: “You’re in Sinbad’s House. Rob Thomas. Matchbox 20. Sing something. Shut up.”

(-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “Dennis Reynolds: An Exotic Life”)

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) the Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference (#emergentma08) was a great time. More than anything, I enjoyed hanging with all my friends – Todd, Thom, and Tim – over some beers and meeting Peter Rollins [author of How (Not) to Speak of God] for the first time and spending various times over 1 1/2 days talking with him. Also, I spent time on Saturday with Derek Cooper (a good friend of mine) and John Franke from Biblical Seminary. Great guys. (2) During the conference, I met some new people from other Emergent cohorts. It’s always nice to meet new people who are in the same “conversation” as you. I actually accompanied Charlie from Princeton to 30th Street Station since we were both picking up trains there. (3) Throughout all the curve-balls my life has been throwing me, Amanda has been incredibly supportive, and I love her more than ever because of it [plus, I think she said something in our vows about supporting me no matter what]. (4) Giselle says “Da-da” but not in reference to me. So, all I have to do is make that connection. “Da-da” is beating out “ma-ma” right now. (5) Amanda and I had a good laugh with Giselle the other day when she smacked her head really hard on the mirror from her dressing table – I thought she would cry, but, instead, she cracked up laughing. Kids always keep us laughing, don’t they?

What I’m reading: Hey! I finally finished Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson. Two books in one week, woo-hoo! Currently, reading Relevant Magazine’s November-December issue. Also, my friend Derek’s book So You Thinking About Going to Seminary: An Insider’s Guide and The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen Davis and Richard Hays.   

Listenin’ and lovin’:

  • Podcasts: As always – Mars Hills podcast every week. Emergent Village which announced that it is making some changes for the better (i.e., Tony Jones is no longer the head of Emergent Village. He didn’t do anything wrong, but they are attempting to break down hierarchy). But besides that, not much.
  • Music: I listened to part of Oh Sleeper’s When I Am God. Underoath’s newest CD – Lost in the Sound of Separation

What I’ve been vegetating in front of: (1) A&E’s Biography on Barack Obama helped me understand more of who our President-elect is as a person. (2) I set up my Xbox and played EA Sports’ UEFA Euro 2008 for some time. I want to buy FIFA 09, but I don’t have a job to make money to buy it. (3) I’m all caught up on Heroes, which has gotten a little weird for me, but I still like it. (4) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Office put some humor into my life.

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Not sure if this blew my mind, but it is mind-blowing – Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. He is our first black president, and I don’t think that can be overstated. Todd had a great post in reflection about the election (whoa, that rhymes). I’m really interested in seeing how things play out. (2) Barack Obama becoming the President-elect brought about a lot of hate, but even more love. I was really surprised by staunch McCain supporters who said that they will be supporting and praying for Obama – very cool. 

Job update: I haven’t really made much progress in this area. I’m not sure where I want to go with all of this. I’ve been looking though, but I’m confident that God will provide.

Seminary update: last assignment (take-home final exam) for Gary Schnittjer’s class on the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures is due tomorrow. Also, starting tomorrow is my class with David Lamb on the poetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Looking forward to: (1) What God has in store for me. (2) How Barack Obama’s presidency will go. (3) If “Barack” and “Obama” will stop coming up as an incorrect spelling in spell-check (e.g., for “Obama” spell-check offers “Abeam”). (3) Finding a new place for our family to live. We’ve been living at my in-laws, but we’re looking to move on. (4) Exit-interview with Great Valley Presbyterian, which should provide some closure.

Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President (or at least read this post today) – V


Have you heard it said, “This presidential election is going to be the most important election ever”? I have. 


Now, maybe I’m just being cynical, but it seems to me that every election tends to have the “most important election ever” bumper sticker attached to it. Wasn’t 2004 the same? And won’t 2012 be?


Plus, when did we become so elitist thinking our election is the most important? What about the election after Hoover and the Great Depression? What about the elections prior to the Civil War? What about the first election that got the country rolling? 


It seems subjective to me.


And we wonder why people are saying, “If Obama wins, I’m buying a gun!” “If McCain wins, “I’m leaving the country and going to Canada!” I mean, seriously?


A few things I do know will be true even after “the most important election ever” takes place:

  1. Jesus is still King over the cosmos – no matter what changes, this doesn’t.
  2. The world will not come to an end today or at the new president’s inauguration (because Harold Camping clearly says it will end in 2011 anyway. Sorry, the world’s a ticking time bomb. Even McCain and Obama can’t stop that. Please catch all the sarcasm here.)
  3. God will still be sovereign over the events in his creation, and only he can be fully trusted for saving the world from all its disease (as Everyday Liturgy says today).
  4. God still loves the world so much that he sent Jesus for it (cf. John 3v16)
  5. (you fill in #5 in the comments below)


Go, (if you vote) vote in peace. Remember – 

Psalm 100: 

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; 
       come before him with joyful songs.

 3 Know that the LORD is God. 
       It is he who made us, and we are his

       we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
       and his courts with praise; 
       give thanks to him and praise his name.

 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
       his faithfulness continues through all generations


I’d like to end this with a prayer for the voters to pray as you enter the polls:

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges; 

guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and 

representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all 

may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 822).

What’s Cookin’? 107

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) The Phillies won the World Series! (2) Partying at Five Points in NE Philadelphia. (3) Parade with Amanda and Giselle. (4) Amanda has been incredibly supportive of me, and I really appreciate it (see “Ministry Update/Something(s) that broke my heart” for reason why). (5) Sunday – I got to go to The Well, and I actually was able to go to church with my family without having to do a million things (again, see below). (6) Amanda made waffles for breakfast yesterday. That was really cool.

What I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson; Relevant Magazine‘s November-December issue. 

Listenin’ and lovin’:


  • Podcasts: Listen to Mars Hills podcasts every week. The most recent one was called “Beware the dogs,” which I blogged about; and the Emergent Village Podcast; Everyday Liturgy started a podcast. I had to give a shout-out to my boy, Thom Turner.
  • Music: Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” which I listen to, to make me happy. It’s just peppy, good fun. The Fall of Troy’s Doppelganger


Something(s) that blew my mind: How much fun it is when your team wins the World Series! Yeah!

Ministry update/Something(s) that broke my heart: I lost my job as a youth pastor because the economy is going down the tubes. The church had to make budget cuts. I was one of them. They’re paying me until the end of December so that helps (but doesn’t). What killed me is hearing from some of the kids about how much they’ll miss me. Talk about a heartbreaker.

So, I don’t know what to do next. I’m just praying and keeping my head up. 

Seminary update: still reading like crazy for our class on the historical books of the Old Testament with Gary Schnittjer. Almost done. 

Looking forward to: (1) What God has in store for me. (2) Trying to go to the Emergent conference on Sunday. We’ll see.

What’s Cookin’? 106

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) The Phillies are up 3-1 in the World Series. Could it really happen? (2) Giselle laughed at me yesterday when I made a face at her. That’s the first time she did that without me tickling her. (3) Amanda is adjusting well to her new job. Apparently, she kicks kids out of class! If you know my wife, that would seem uncanny to you, but I’m glad she is asking kids to respect her.

Book(s) I’m reading: still reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson 

Listenin’ and lovin‘: Listen to Mars Hills podcasts every week; APM: Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett – most recently I’ve been listening to one of the podcasts called “Being Autistic and Being Human” (it has exposed me to some of the ‘human-ness’ of people with autism, which I suppose was the purpose), and I also listened to an interview with Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots, talk about his care for environmental issues but how he is still Republican. That’s pretty cool. Also, I’ve fallen in love with listening to interviews by Emergent Village with Phyllis Tickle, what a wonderful and wise person. Music-wise: I created a “Genius” playlist on my iPhone with worship music so that included Delirious?, Hillsong, Hillsong United, Phil Wickham, and Jason Morant. 

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Did I mention that the Phillies are up 3-1 in the World Series? 

Something(s) that broke my heart: (1) I never thought Dobson would stoop so low as he did in his letter from Obama’s America in 2012. I hope to write about this later. Thanks to Thom for pointing this out. (2) Obama’s thoughts that America is the last great hope of the world still breaks my heart from a Christian perspective. This isn’t recent, but it still bothers me.

Ministry update: last night we had a combined youth group with our friends from Grace Valley Fellowship. We had a scavenger hunt, pizza, hayride, and bonfire. It was a lot of fun. Tucker (their youth pastor) and I really tried to promote interaction between both groups. I think it worked out well.

Seminary update: still reading like crazy for our class on the historical books of the Old Testament with Gary Schnittjer. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around all of what we are talking about, specifically, Nelson’s (above book) view on the historical books. We read Esther in the Septuagint with all the additions, which I told my friend Ben who is Eastern Orthodox, and he responded, “In other words, you read the complete Esther.” That’s a seminary joke, but a funny one if you get it. I won’t tell you why. Look it up! Also, reading Genesis 22 (the near-sacrifice of Isaac) and its interpretation from the Jewish, Muslim, Samaritan, and Christian perspectives.

Looking forward to: (1) the Phillies winning the World Series! I’m really looking forward to my mom’s reaction, if my reaction will result in my getting arrested (kidding!), and a parade!

Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President – IV

This is in no way a new thought, but I don’t know about you, but, when I grew up in evangelical Christian circles, I knew that evangelicals vote Republican (or, at least vote on now Republican ideals). Why? Well, the answer is simple. Certain things – pro-life (however, only on abortion), capital punishment (see what I mean) is ordained by God, war against anyone that would prevent American (presumed Christian) ideals around the world, homosexuality is sinful, and…well, I’m having difficulty coming up with more.

Actually, I saw this most recently with a three-column spreadsheet of the issues and where each candidate stood on the issue “yes” or “no.” You’ve seen them. Column 1 – Issue, 2 – McCain (yay!), 3 – Obama (boo!). It was broken down into about ten issues, which was really the above four issues stated in a multiplicity of ways. The Iraq War was only mentioned once, and so was capital punishment. So, you can guess how the other two issues were posed throughout the last 8 statements (I think gay rights had five and abortion three). You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out the conclusion – the donkey lost.



I don’t think I would have been so perturbed if it wasn’t so reductionistic in two ways – (1) it didn’t make the answers as simple as “yes” or “no” and (2) it didn’t make the “important” Christian ideals as simple as abortion, capital punishment, war, and homosexuality. 


Christians should be politically confused.


“What?” Yes. Think about it – what about poverty? What about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? The Bible talks more about taking care of the poor than it does homosexuality. Feel free to prove me wrong. I’m not trying to be antagonistic but just making a point. 

What about life? “Well, yeah, we have that covered – we’re pro-life.” Well…kinda. But you believe capital punishment is OK. [You may be fine with that, but I’m not that comfortable playing God]. But you are quick to go to war. As Shane Claiborne says, I’m pro-life from “womb to the tomb.” That’s a good policy. 

What about justice? “Yeah, we have that. We got some conservative judges on the bench, and we can get even more this time around.” Not that kind of justice. I’m talking about dealing with third-world debt. I’m talking about, as Bono says, “Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.” I’m talking about “loving your neighbor as yourself” (yes, Jesus meant that literally – doesn’t just mean American neighbors…what about global neighbors?). I’m talking about, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6v8).

What about violence? Is it OK that “The US arsenal is the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry in the world, equivalent to over 150,000 Hiroshima bombs…The US military budget is over 450 billion per year, and it would take the combined budgets of the next 15 countries to equal that of the US (Russia is the next biggest spender at around 70 billion, China at 50 billion, and the entire ‘Axis of Evil’ is less than 10 billion)” [p. 178; Claiborne, S., and Haw, C. (2008). Jesus for president: politics for ordinary radicals. Zondervan: Grand Rapids]. Does that bother anyone else? “Well, better us than them.” Whatever you say.

What about the environment? (“Whoa! Evan’s a lib.” I’m just a Christian.) I’m talking about, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good [or beautiful]!” (God said that, see Genesis 1v31; we usually skip that part because we are too busy trying to disprove those pesky evolutionists). I’m talking about, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24v1). As I’ve said to many Christians before, I don’t care if you believe or don’t believe in global warming, I do care how you treat God’s creation. One author said, How you treat creation reflects how you feel about the Creator.


I’m not saying, now Christians should vote Democrat. I don’t think it’s as easy as putting us in one party. In fact, some of the above Christian ideals that I mentioned aren’t seen as “American.” I’m saying we should be politically confused


The Christian life is not cushy, easy, and comfortable. We constantly deal with the tensions of being in the world and not of it. We constantly deal with the tension of already bringing the Kingdom of God to earth and not yet because we still wait for its consummation. We constantly deal with the tension of following Jesus as King already, and not yet because we wait for Jesus as King on earth over all things.


So, Christians should be politically confused. It doesn’t come down to abortion, war, capital punishment, and homosexuality. It includes thoughts on those things, but it includes, dare I say, the rest of the Bible (for church historians, which we all should be, what the early Church believed). The fact is, it doesn’t matter who you vote for on November 4th as much as it does matter how you vote November 3rd and 5th and every day of your life. So, vote every day with our lives and by standing by what we stand for.


We’re a politically confused bunch, aren’t we?

Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President – III

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “…appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations”…and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8v4-7 NRSV). 


During my high school years, I became increasingly aware of the “pastoral political endorsement” as I like to call it. Pastors would get on stage and endorse a particular candidate or political party. It didn’t always come by bringing in the actual candidate, but it was more of “We must vote for this individual to promote such and such ‘Christian’ issues” (see past posts), or “If __________ is elected, abortions will go up, and (literally, this happened to me…) the end of the world will come.” This doesn’t just happen with fundamentalists. It happens with liberal pastors, as well, and all others in-between.


I don’t mind pastors being politically involved, but I’m afraid that “if my pastor says it, that must be who God wants too” will take place. Plus, many non-Christians believe churches are too politically involved. In a sense, they’re saying, “I don’t want to come to church to hear who I should vote for. I’m trying to find God here.”


I believe that God’s heart still breaks when his people promote a “king” to rule us, and, in a sense, we reject him. Many of us promoted Bush, and many of us promoted Carter. I’ve seen many embrace McCain, and I’ve seen others endorse Obama. As pastors, we must lead people to the true King – that is, Jesus Christ. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and this shouldn’t be taken lightly. (Hint: read Jesus for President)


I’m not saying “don’t vote.” I’m not saying, “You can’t have opinions.” I am saying, let’s be careful.