September 24th, 2014
I had the honor and privilege of giving the invocation for one of Irvine’s City Council meetings. What is an invocation you ask? I had to look it up myself. It’s basically an opening prayer. I accepted the city’s invitation mainly because it supports one of the values of New Life: to be a church for the city. We want to be a church that doesn’t just use Irvine as a place for worship but blesses Irvine as a place to serve.
Below is the transcript of the prayer that I gave. Please note that the city has strict guidelines as to what can or cannot be said in an invocation. Mainly, no favoritism can be shown to any one religion. This rules out using names like “Jesus” or “Father in heaven.”
Dear Almighty God,
We begin this meeting with prayer because we recognize our great need and dependence upon you. We pray because you are God, and we are not. We humbly acknowledge that even the best humans are still humans at best. With humility, we confess that we lack wisdom. We confess we could use more compassion. We confess that many times we lack courage. That is why we pray. We pray that you would do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.
We pray that you would grant us wisdom so that the decisions made would best serve the citizens of this great city. We pray for compassion so that our decisions would protect those who cannot protect themselves. We pray for courage so that our decisions would be based on what is noble and right rather than what is popular and easy.
We ask that you would help us to see ourselves as servants–servants of this city, servants of your people, and servants of you, oh God. May that be reflected in our proceedings this day. Amen.
October 29th, 2012
Few things are more polarizing in life than politics. Is it me or is the vitriol and outright disdain expressed on the air waves, television, and social media getting worse? I was shocked to find that a Facebook friend who simply stated, “I support ____________” was followed by over twenty comments, much of which offensively questioned my friend’s intelligence and character. In today’s politically charged climate, it’s impossible to state your political persuasion without losing someone’s respect and being labeled a bigot, ignorant, or a buffoon. This is troubling. It’s one thing to voice your political support for a particular candidate. It’s quite another to down-right hate and despise those who disagree with you. Long forgotten are the days when even if your candidate doesn’t win, you still respected the President because you respected his office.
According to Tim Keller, the polarizing effects of politics are symptoms of idolatry. They are symptoms of hopes and identities that have been inordinately wrapped around a politician, cause, or party. This is why we immediately befriend those who are “on our side.” This is why we immediately villainize those on the “other side.” Those who disagree do much more than just disagree. They ultimately threaten our hope, our identity, and our livelihood. They ultimately attack “our god.”
Is it possible to be passionate about politics without being polarizing? Is it possible to support a candidate without hating the other party? I believe so. It can happen so long as we understand where our ultimate hope and identity lie. It can happen so long as we understand that our greatest enemy is not the opposing party. It is not outside us, but inside us: the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I. No legislation, no politician, no government can ever defeat the sin that lives within me. Only Jesus can. Only Jesus did. As a result, he is my greatest hero. He is my ultimate hope.
As a Christian I will do my best to be faithful in my civic duties and do my part in making this country great. At the same time, I understand that this world is not my home and that a better country awaits me with a much better king.