Monday, March 02, 2015

Hoping for more...

In West Michigan, the issue of immigration reform is paramount to so many sectors of people. Business leaders, education experts, pastors, and government all recognize the need for real change.

Yet, we have not put the effort into creating a voice that can be sustainably heard. The time is now to create a prolonged voice that speaks for justice, mercy, and goodness. A world that opposes these things is no place that I want to live and move and have my being... nor do you.

So how do we move from a polarized discussion to a conversation that will be about more than creating fear or collecting votes at the ballot box? It is time for people with voices to daringly step forward to create a reality where we really want to live.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Selma. Do we really want what is good?

Watched Selma this afternoon with my better half and my oldest two kids, and at one time in the movie my teenager leaned over to ask, "Dad, are you getting sick?" It think it was the clinched jaw, the contorted facial expressions and a degree of anxiety that created the question.

While tragic and yet hope giving, I wonder what are our own Selma's of today. Hearing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I wonder why we too often fail to stand with humanity. We acknowledge gerrymandering for the sake of political power, and we look the other way. In fact, we embrace it to keep "our side" or "our party" in power.

We have 12-15 million, yes million, immigrants in America who are not here with the proper paperwork. President Obama has enacted presidential powers to help a small portion, perhaps thirty percent of these millions, have a sense that they no longer have the possibility of being deported.

Imagine waking every day, going to sleep every night, and wondering if you might be arrested for being here in America? Many of these people are working men and women; they arrived thirty years ago with parents when they were one, two, three and thirteen years old. This is their only home. They know nothing, or virtually nothing of the country from which they came.

Yet, the majority of the Republican party wants to deport them. Well, perhaps not deport them since so much of our agriculture, along with service industry, depend on them. The hope is really to just be sure they stay living in fear. This way their family members, or others from their countries of origin, will not be so interested in America.

Honestly, if we really believe in freedom, then more people will want to come here. But instead, we keep millions living in fear. This is the goodness and generosity of the Grand Ole Party? This is not the party of my grandparents. This is not the party of Lincoln. This is not the party of Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan, or the esteemed U.S. Representative from Grand Rapids, Paul Henry.

It is time Americans stand together regardless. Libertarian's following Ayn Rand or simply their own economic fortunes so they can die with the most toys is not what is good about humanity. Standing with one another, seeking justice and mercy, freedom and hope for the future are what bring us together.

Now is the time to seek leaders who are willing to be self-sacrificing for the sake of the common good. Now is the time for us to believe that we have hope for more Selma's in the year and decade ahead. This is the America for which I long and my children hope to call their home.


Monday, February 02, 2015

Really Paul Ryan?

Recently released by the White House, the Administration is floating the idea of taxing foreign profits of American companies to help pay for badly needed infrastructure projects in the U.S. Our bridges and highways are badly in need of repair. Memories of collapsing bridges with cars crossing should still fresh enough for us to know this reality.

In response to this idea, Paul Ryan stated, "Top-down redistribution doesn't work." In other words, it isn't the wealthiest American corporations who hide their profits who should pay for these things. While these corporations are afforded all the luxuries of being based in America, there seems to be no sense by Ryan that those profiting for being under our flag should pay their fair dues for this privilege. 

So instead, following Ryan's logic, we'll eventually add another tax to such things as energy, perhaps another tax at the fuel pumps, so that we can fix our infrastructure. And who pays for this kind of tax? It isn't the businesses who profit largely from being here in America any more than the household who are making $40,000 and trying to get their three kids through college. Again, he defers to regressive taxes that tax the bottom and middle more than the top.  

How does Ryan continue to claim that he holds principles such as justice, goodness, and caring for his fellow man when in fact he has the interests of his campaign supporters as his primary objective? The reality of the continuing disparity in the distribution of America's wealth, it is obvious that Ryan holds to an ethic that is 'other' than the common good. It is a 'good' that benefits a very small particular subset of our population.

To those who hold to Ryan kind of values, I encourage a deep look into the soul of our nation's monetary policy and ask who benefits from the plans that are schemed on a daily basis in out nation's capital? The scheming is not for the 90% of Americans. 

As one who falls in that 10%, I am daily sickened by how those of us on the top are supported in ways that the majority don't experience. It's time for change in Washington, but I wonder who has the courage to really stand for goodness rather than standing with political parties that convince the populace of their positions? 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Standing with a friend even if perhaps unpopular


Sixteen years ago I was introduced to Tony Jones by way of a Youth Specialties event. I resonated with his passion for life, for the gospel, for finding better ways of sharing life with those inside and outside the walls of the church.

Throughout the years, our paths would continue to cross, and over the past decade we’ve become friends having the honor of inviting him into my home on occasion. I arrived at the Christianity21 event in Phoenix two days early to help set up simply because I believe in the people surrounding the JoPa events, including those attending and creating them.

Three weeks ago I opened my mouth online with no idea of the depth of the venom towards Tony in recent months. A day later people were sending me emails saying they were sorry I had been disparaged. Sighs on my behalf followed knowing I had contributed to the fires of those running rampant online.

I believe Tony is a victim of character assassination that is beyond real comprehension. I’ve known about pieces of Tony’s story since shortly after the divorce was filed more than half a decade ago. All accounts that I heard over the years are lock step with what he published yesterday. 

If we want to believe accusations over police reports and court documents as well as witnesses present at many turns along the way, we deceive ourselves. I’ll take my hits if necessary, and I will hold Tony and his family in prayer as well as call him an appreciated friend. The goodness of the gospel sometimes means we stand for unpopular truth.

With much love for my friend,
Randy Buist


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pastor Breakfast on Feb. 3!

Next week Tuesday, February 3, the Office of Social Justice (of the Christian Reformed Church - don't let this scare you) is holding a pastor's breakfast. They really want pastors who are not currently engaged with this issue, and particularly pastors who are avoiding this issue or disagree with the necessity of immigration reform, to show up!
Do you know any local pastor(s) whom you could invite? Perhaps you could take them along? They are looking for pastor engagement, and you know people! Please consider making a call, an invitation to participate.

Click below to see the entire invite and/or download.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Leaning into 2015

Let us offer hope instead of fear this year.

In the Christian Bible, the prophet Zechariah wrote the following:"This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’" 


I can not help but think of my U.S. Representative claiming Christ but being being willing to tear families apart by deportation or cutting public assistance to the poor. This is not the way of God living among his people. We live a different story.


We do we plot to cut publlic funding to widows, fatherless, foreigners and the poor when we continue to cut taxes to the wealthiest among us? While we can claim our churches will fill these voids, we know that this is not the reality in which we live.


If we claim Jesus, let us being with the story of God among his people and not deviate from it. Let us offer hope to the hopeless. amnesty to the frightened family, shelter to those on our streets - and stop complaining how everything we own is the work of our hands. It has been given to us for good. 


In 2015, I invite followers of Jesus to redefine your politics, your positions of power, to help people who need a voice of hope in their lives. For those of us in the top 20 percent, for those of us in the top 1%, we will find hope when we give hope - not when we take it away from those to whom we are called to give it. 


Please know these are not my opinions. These are the ways of Yahweh. Into this life of goodness let us lean forward.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Does the Bible really matter to Evangelicals?

Bill Huizenga, I believe is a good man. He represents the second district for the U.S. House of Representatives - the district where I have lived my entire life.

He says, and I must believe, he is a follower of Jesus. Yet, his politics seem quite different to me.

Bill does not believe in immigration reform. The biblical text is clear about how we are to treat the stranger.

Bill does not believe in comprehensive health care. The biblical text is clear about how we are to treat our neighbor.

Bill does not believe in equal rights for women in the workplace. The biblical text is clear about how we are all created equally in the image of God.

Bill does not believe in climate change. The biblical text is clear how we are to be caretakers of the creation. 

Bill does not believe in supporting the poor through programs that would increase pay for this segment of society. The biblical text is clear about how we are to treat the poor, and it is not simply a mandate for 'churches.' It is a mandate for all of society to pursue justice and mercy and doing what is right. 

Bill does believe in lower taxes, less government intervention, a belief that business is always good and desires the best for our society, and he is against abortion. Of these, only the later has any sort of biblical basis. 

How then do we support elected officials who holds to one biblical claim, and on this one claim, we vote for him or her? How do we support elected officials who make claims but believe and vote otherwise? If followers of Jesus believe the gospel is good news, then its time we get serous about who we support.  

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

By Jon Huckins
jonhuckins.net


A Benediction of Hope


BorderPrayerIn a world currently enduring so much violence, pain and trauma, it would be easy for us, the People of God, to stick our head in the sand of discouragement.
Instead, let’s pray this together:
May we daily submit ourselves first and foremost to the rule and reign of Jesus, praying, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
May we, the people of God, choose to live fueled by the hope Resurrection rather than held captive by the fear of death. 
May we, the people of God, choose to rightly place our allegiance in Jesus and his kingdom rather than become slaves to the kingdoms of this world.
May we, the people of God, choose to embrace the way of the Cross and freely give away power for the flourishing of others as we join God in the world he is making. 
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as our human family endures a season of trauma, may your image rise in each of us so that we can offer and receive love in the most unexpected people and places.  Amen

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Representative Huizenga Responds...


Dear Mr. Buist:

Thank you for contacting me about immigration reform. I appreciate hearing from you.

A workable and effective immigration bill is an important objective of the House of Representatives, and the discussion should certainly recognize America's immigrant heritage and respect the enormous contributions of immigrants by encouraging and enforcing legal immigration.

The focus, however, must remain on border security and a legal identification process rather than providing amnesty. Individuals who break the law as their first act on American soil should not be rewarded with a path to citizenship.

Instead of amnesty, a reasonable and practical guest worker program should be implemented for those who want to come here for a limited time in order to gain employment. For example, Michigan's agricultural output often depends on the work of immigrants willing to do the hard work of farming. A guest worker program would mutually benefit both employer and employee.

I will advocate for rational and balanced immigration reform that opposes amnesty, ensures more secure borders, urges respect for the rule of law, does not reward illegal behavior, and provides economic justice for hardworking Americans.

Thank you for the message. Should any bill come before the House of Representatives for a vote, I will keep your views in mind.

Sincerely,

Bill Huizenga
Member of Congress

~ So disappointed how my reformed Christian U.S. Representative almost completely disregards the biblical text in his views of 'the stranger', 'the foreigner, 'the alien.'

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Taken Hostage by...


So we have 50 million people without health insurance, and we're just fine with that reality so long as it doesn't cost us anything personally. How have we as Jesus followers allowed our politics and passion for our money to estrange us so far from the gospel message?

I care less about the ACA, but nobody has proposed anything better nor has one party or the other shown a particular passion for those without health care. Yet we've been conned into supporting one position or the other with virtually no regard for the ethic of Jesus to care for our neighbors. The entire argument is premised on 'what it will cost me.' Are we our brother's keepers?

In the midst of our highly individualistic goals of chasing the American dream of collecting stuff rather than chasing after virtue, I suggest the answer is simply 'not really.' While we can do things as individuals that have value for the poor or for our neighbor, without a cohesive care as a society for such issues as health care, these issues will remain and likely grow bigger as the chasm of those with and without wealth continues to grow larger. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

What Is It Mr. Huizenga?

Immigration reform was the topic at a roundtable discussion in Zeeland last week Tuesday. Dr. Tim Brown of Western Seminary started the meeting with a call for those gathered to live into the biblical text and support the strangers in our lands. Fifty business owners, clergy, and other leaders of the 2nd District gathered to share concerns, listen to one another's stories, and raise a voice towards Representative Huizenga's office that immigration reform is of utmost importance.

Greg VanWoerkom, District Director for Huizenga's office, was on hand to share their official talking points about the complexity of immigration reform. The talking points that former Rep. Peter Hoekstra used within the district to keep the peace during his tenure in the U.S. Congress remain the same even though we are into our forth years of Huizenga's leadership.

In D.C. House Speaker Boehner is not making any movement on immigration reform. Political strategists suggest nothing will happen on this issue until mid 2014 when the electoral process is closed to potential candidates. Then the far right will not be able to  run more Tea Party candidates nor will those supporting immigration reform have passionate candidates enter into the races across this country.

So we hope for immigration reform, but we have few men or women elected to D.C. with a passion for the 12 million people living in daily fear of deportation. The faith and convictions of our forefathers who established this nation is forgotten quickly in the name of power, salaries, and pensions that quickly consume the souls of men.

To ask Representative Huizenga for passion on this issue is a mute point. The far-right of his district, along with donors, has his heart set on luke-warm and his passion directed towards other issues such as commerce and House appointments. Forgotten are the days when men and women held political office for the sake of real conviction other than to represent some ideology that has no foundation in the faith of his constituents.

It is high time Representative Huizenga comes out with a clear statement on his views towards immigration reform so that those of us who believe in the goodness of the gospel message can in fact consider another candidate for our district before the April filing deadline.

Mr. Huizenga, please let us know something of your character regarding this issue. Simple talking point of how your predecessor, Mr. Hoekstra, immigrated legally to this nation has nothing to do with the current discussion. That was a different day. To suggest there are similarities is like talking about the internet as a reality in the 1960's. It is beyond comprehension to compare those time with this current reality in America, and we need leadership by men and women with conviction.

Either we ask you to find the convictions of humble men of days gone by such as Samuel Adams and George Washington or more recently of Paul Henry and Vern Ehlers or simply return home. It is time for leadership with real conviction that is not concerned about the consequences of the next election.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Immigration Reform - In accordance with Founding Father Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams, called the Father of the Revolution by Thomas Jefferson, is known more for a beer company than a Founding Father. A deeper look of his life, however, and one begins to realize the Revolution may not have taken place without his years of pushing the colonist to understand the importance of their own freedoms which were not fully realized under English rule.

In 1772, Adams wrote that all men have a right, "In cases of intollerable Oppression, Civil or Religious, to leave the Society they belong to, and enter into another."

Here was the patriot, who perhaps more than any other, so clearly melded his Christian faith and his fervor for independence from England. Here was the man, when Hancock and Jefferson were skeptical of succession, who continued to push forward.

What if we too, as people passionate about the ways of Jesus, actually hold our faith as the primary reason why immigration reform must happen? What if we push our politician, call them out, and again remind them of the biblical story of God with his people. Indeed, the stranger in the land is to be embraced. It is not about 'illegal' or 'legal' whether men and women have God given rights to life and liberty. This is a right given to us a humans created in the image of a Creator. It is past time for followers of Jesus to stand up on this issue in unity.

Overheard at a recent gathering on this issue of immigration, one local and connected business person stated, "What does an elected official or a businessman have to gain by supporting immigration reform?" A response by another bystander was something along the lines, "Because they are followers of Jesus." Indeed, we can allow ourselves to not chase after immigration reform. After all, we're already legal Americans. We have nothing at stake. Or perhaps we have everything at state if our public witness is no witness to the gospel story. Either we believe the God of the creation resides among his people and calls us to justice and kindness or we believe an entirely different story.

This coming Tuesday, February 18 at 3 p.m., there is a significant gathering taking place at City on a Hill in Zeeland. Find the time and courage to voice your hope for immigration reform. Local leaders will be present, and together, those of us with faith can truly stand for what is right. It is time regardless of what D.C. is telling us. It is time to embody the faith we so proclaim.