Trump On Leadership

A vital part of the art of leadership is the ability to unite those being led.

America is commonly considered to be divided. That means the nation has not been led in recent years. President Obama has been concerned about his legacy and the press has queried as to what it will be. His legacy is he divided the nation.

President Trump has inherited a divided nation. His election is not the cause of protests and riots, it is merely the occasion for them. The spirit of nonconformity has been perking under the surface for some time waiting to boil over. Occasional instances of it bubbling to the surface have been seen recently.

President Trump has a challenge like few presidents before him. He is doing things differently and proposing new and innovative ideas. In summary, things are changing.

When there is change a part of the brain known as the amygdala is activated. It is involved with our emotions, survival instincts, and memory. When change occurs it involuntarily calls for a fight or flight response. Then reason must kick in helping a proper response to be reached. Without it an irrational response often occurs. The amygdalas of America are overloaded at this time. Some want to fight, thus protests and riots. Some want to engage in flight, thus withdrawal and refusal to be involved, even moves to Canada.

The great majority of Americans are reasonable and willing to wait to see how the new administration is going to perform.

If the reformation proves to be positive, things will revert to a more harmonious society. However, even if things do dramatically improve there is a significant segment of our society that will not be placated. They don’t know what civility is. Unimaginable as it seems there are millions who have never been part of a positive productive group. They don’t know what it mans to live congenially with persons unlike them.

Link a large number of these with persons who professionally incite protests and riots and violence erupt.

If there is a positive productive new era to emerge the voices of the dissidents will be diminished.

Amid our past presidents, good and not so good, are a variety of types and temperaments, but never one quite like President Trump. However, such a broad spectrum of leaders has been used to the advantage of the nation to give cause for optimism regarding President Trump being a positive force to lead our nation to a reset of values.

Charting a new course involved change and that brings us back to the amygdala and the fight instinct being stimulated.

Some are inevitably going to react like spoiled children who have had their favorite toys taken away.

There is the irrefutable spiritual component involved in which many believe, as did Benjamin Franklin, that “God governs in the affairs of men.” How and to what extent varies. An analysis by Pew Forum reveals 92 percent of Congress are professing Christians. Nine members of the President’s Cabinet are Christians. There are other faith groups involved with kindred political values. Couple that with the fact 72 percent of the American population are Christians and surely there is enough spiritual guidance to be gained to help transform and unite our nation.

Like it or not, I saw a poster recently with a likeness of Jesus in the background and the caption: “Someone did interfere, rather intervened, in the election, and it wasn’t the Russians.”

Mr President, No Longer “The Donald”

Donald Trump is no more just Donald Trump. He is President Trump, our President, the President of the United States.
Will he disappoint us? Emphatically, yes. I disappoint me. Admit it, the person who looks back at you from your mirror at times disappoints you.

What are we to do when he does inevitably make decisions of which we do not approve? Don’t give up on him without giving him a chance to make many needed good decisions. Judge by the entire body of work, not just an individual action.

If at times you are prone to give up, remember what America was doing was not working. Something had to change. Change, even good change, is uncertain and unsettling.

I had a dear friend who was governor of Louisiana. He told me the faith community really supported his election. In the campaign he had taken a number of strong stands against some of the scrofulous characters in the state. He said the first time when in office he made a decision that disappointed members of the faith community they abandoned him. After that he rarely heard from leaders of that genera.

While in office he made a number of decisions that did not favor those who were morally tainted. Nevertheless, when he made decisions not favorable to them they did not abandon him. They kept in touch, kept coming back offering support, and befriending him.

If members of the faith community and other pro-Americans abandon President Trump when he disappoints them, and he will, they will be the losers.

We are a large diverse society and no one can please everyone all the time. There are elements in our nation no one can placate without fully capitulation to their demands. An example of this was the recent mob street protest in Atlanta. A member of the Justice Department who was in the room with Mayor Reed when he met with leaders of the group told me the demands of the group were reasonable, but the protesters were not. They swore at, cursed the mayor and shouted their demands. Even as he tried to calm them, they continued their remonstrance.

Michelle Obama recently said, “Now we know how it feels to have no hope.” If she and her minions have lost hope, her loss of hope has given a legion of others hope. The cadre of the hopeless needs to give the new administration time to prove itself.

Dealing with the different attitudes in America is going to be challenging. The money mongers who make a living by stirring up strife and create havoc are not going to give up their enterprise easily.

Benjamin Franklin noted “…God governs in the affairs of men….” In doing so historically He has used some most unlikely characters. Cyrus, King of Babylon, not the most principled of rulers, is spoken of as God’s “shepherd” (Isaiah 44: 28).

That does not imply God approved of all Cyrus did. That moniker was used of Cyrus regarding him being used of God to enable Israel to be freed from slavery.

Donald Trump is by no means a paragon of piety, a talisman of tact, a model of morality, a champion of courtesy, a guardian of grace, or the beau ideal of a statesman, but….

He can be used of God in His governance to achieve many things needed in America, i.e., the composition of the Supreme Court. That reality gives a lot of folks hope.

Russian Hacking

Every indication is the Russians tried to interfere with our elections. There is now proof they did and by invitation.
The year was 1983 and the invitation was to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. V. Andropov. The appeal was from Senator Edward Kennedy. A record of the interchange was recently discovered when the archives of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin were opened to the public.

Kennedy was candid in proposing a mutually beneficial deal. He would give Andropov insight into how to deal with President Reagan. Reciprocally the Soviet leader would aid the Democratic party in opposing Reagan’s 1984 presidential election.

Unbelievably Kennedy would aid the Russians in telling them how to enhance their propaganda against Reagan. He offered to arrange for Andropov to visit America and have several TV interviews to make “a direct appeal…to the American people….” Upon success in these interviews Kennedy would endeavor to have representatives of the major US TV networks contact Y. V. Andropov appealing for interviews in Moscow to pursue the undermining of Reagan’s campaign.

Kennedy’s overtures made it obvious he was ambitious to deal with Andropov who was the Vladimir Putin of his day, a former director of the KGB and primary leader in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring. Sound familiar.

This action interchange occurred in 1983 shortly after President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
There is no evidence Andropov every acted on the proposal. He died within eight months.

Historian Paul Kengor has observed, “The document has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I have showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has ever debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery.”

This is only one revelation of Russia being involved in our election. There should be no surprise that using high tech methods they tried to do so in our most recent election. The important thing is we recognize they always will try to gain their advantage and not with our elections only.

Thomas Jefferson, the apostle of liberty is quoted as saying, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Though the quote is thought to have been made originally by John Pilpot Curran, it was soon credited to Jefferson. It matters not who said it, truth is embodied in it.

It is such vigilance that has prompted President Truman to issue a temporary ban on immigrants from some countries deemed to be terrorist hot beds.

In the “Congressional Research Service,” Kate M. Manuel reported the following on January 23, 2017.

Trump’s ban is for three months. President Obama had a six month ban on people coming in from Iraq. As a matter of fact Obama issued nineteen different bans. President Clinton, referred to people wanting entrance as “aliens” and aggressively said certain ones should be banned. Twelve times he issued bans. His statement mirrors that of Trump.

Presidents Reagan issued five bans. Presidents Carter and Chester Author likewise imposed temporary bans.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department suspended, without presidential action, all applications for people from Iraq for six months in 2011.

If critics are going to confront President Trump, they should at least be honest and allow him equity.

Trump’s Inauguration

President Donald Trump now has the title “Elect” removed. He is our President. As he spoke rain began to fall. Franklin Graham introduced his Scripture reading by noting that in the Bible rain is considered a favor of God. Hopefully the shower is an indication of good things to come.

Critics wasted no time attacking. After the speech the first CNN reporter referred to his speech as “dark,” and complained he didn’t pay tribute to Hillary Clinton. May he bring light and show grace even while doing things his detractors detest. The world is watching.

“Good Morning Britain” aired on ITV, Britain’s oldest TV network, came back this week for their third interview. The program is seen in much of Europe. Each interview has related to President Trump.

I am beginning to get a bit of a British accent and have “knees up.” For some reason that is British slang for having a good time.

They enquired about the divisions in America and Trump’s ability to deal with them. I noted a characteristic of a leader is he unites people. America is lamentably divided. A logical conclusion is there has been a lack of leadership or the division would not have occurred.

President Trump is inheriting a divided nation. The division is not caused by President Trump’s election, but his election is the occasion for it. Unrest has been smoldering beneath our social surface. President Trump’s administration will make some changes. Some people will like them and some resent them. Among the latter group are a significant group of nonconformists who are likely to protest and some riot.

Many are persons who have been insisting we be inclusive. Now they are very exclusive. Evidences of this include calling for the dismissal a board member of L. L. Bean, whose grandfather founded the company, because she gave personal money to a PAC supportive of President Trump or threatening the company will be boycotted. The calling for the dismissal of a college president who allowed students to attend the inauguration of President Trump. Congressmen boycotting the Inaugural Ceremony. Those are not inclusive actions.

Regarding President Trump professing to drain the swamp and calling out people I noted that for years I lived among the Cajun people in South Louisiana who had an expression that embodies a philosophy he would do well to adopt; “Don’t cuss the alligators till you get out of the swamp,” and he isn’t out of the swamp.

President Trump is not the prototype of a president we might prefer. He like all before him is flawed. However, as I noted in the interview if his decisions prove to be good the deprecating will decrease.

At the Inaugural Franklin Graham shared this Scripture as an appeal to pray for the President and the nation.

“I exhort first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” I Timothy 2:1, 2.

He may fail the faith community, but the faith community must not fail him by not praying for him.

If you get the idea I am optimistic “Bob’s your uncle,” that is British for “you got it, that’s right.”

As an aside, I am grateful to have been one of only three Southern Baptist ministers to have participate in an inaugural program, Billy and Franklin Graham are the other two.

Who Was Jesus?

In Scripture Jesus Christ is repetitiously called “the Son of God.” (John 3:16)
Jesus Himself declared, “…I said, I am the Son of God” (John 10:36).
Gabriel told Mary her child would be called “the Son of God.” (Lukej1: 32, 33).
Satan identified Him as “the Son of God” at the time of His temptations (Matt. 4: 3. 7).
John the Baptist spoke of Him at His baptism as “the Son of God” (John 1: 34).
The Centurion at the cross said surely this was “the Son of God” (Matt. 27: 54).

The term is not used in the sense of prodigy, offspring. It speaks of association, not generation. The dictionary as well as Scripture recognizes the title as referring to association, not generation.

James and John were called “sons of thunder.” The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”

Today we are often called sons or daughters of America.

Scripture does not call Jesus “a Son,” but “the Son” of God.

Human beings are also called “sons of God.” A different term is used in referring to Jesus as the son of God and human being referred to as a son of God.

The Greek word TEKNON is used in reference to humans. It stresses the fact of birth. We are born again as a TEKNON.

The Greek word HUIOS is used of Jesus. It emphasizes dignity and character of relationship. Thus, it identifies Jesus as deity.

In Jesus the “fullness,” PLEROMA, permanently dwells. The fullness of the Godhead, THEOTETOS, divinity, dwells in

Jesus. Theotetos means not just divine attributes, but the very essence, the nature of God, the totality of who God the Father is, His supreme nature.

Bottom line: Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, God incarnate (in flesh). His eternal pre-creation God nature was manifested “bodily.”

II Corinthians 4:4 records: “Christ, who is the image of God…” EIKON, “the image of God” means He is the perfect visible likeness of the invisible God in both personality and distinctive attributes. He is Immanuel, God with us.

With reference to His relationship with God the Father it is said, “…who being in the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person….” (Hebrews 1:3).

He is said to have been “born of a woman,” (Gelatins 4: 4) meaning “born without human paternity,” born only of a woman, a virgin.

Divinity is a synonym for godhood. It is a summary word for the character and capacity of God, His nature.

Deity refers to the very essence of God. It is what and who God is. It is a word which sums up what Scripture depicts Jesus Christ as being. Consider these verses.

“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophets, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1: 22, 23).

Alfred Edersheim an Oxford scholar put together a list of 456 characteristics noted in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Consider just eight such prophecies and odds of them being fulfilled in one man.

Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
A forerunner was sent to prepare for His coming (Malachi 3:).
Like a king He would triumphantly ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:6)
Betraying by a companion would result in wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13: 6).
The price of His betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11: 12).
The 30 pieces of silver would be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11: 13).
He would offer no defense at His trial (Isaiah 53:7).
His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22: 16).

The chance of all eight being fulfilled in one man is 10 to the 17th power, that is a number followed by 17 zeros.

If just 48 prophecies were to come true in one man that would be 10 to the 157th power. For that to happen it has been compared to finding one designated grain of sand in the Sahara Desert.

By these prophecies Jesus Christ’s biography was written in advance to clearly identify Him as the object of them and thus Immanuel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1: 1).

The Greek word translated “Word” is “Logos.” To understand the meaning of a word observe how it was used and what it meant at the time of its use. Philosopher Philo, writing at about the same time the Gospel of John was written used “Logos” to mean all that is known or knowable about God. That is Jesus.

The Greek text of John literally means, “Before time began to begin the Word (Jesus) was.” Einstein’s theory of relativity proved time had a beginning. John is saying before time began Jesus was eternal.

Jesus, the Word, was in His very essence God.

He was with God the Father personally.

Paul exhorted ministers “to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Whose Church is it? God’s. How did God get it? He purchased it. With what did God purchase it? His own blood. When did God shed blood? On the cross in the person of Jesus.

Romans 9:5 notes “…Christ came, who is over all, the eternal blessed God.”

We are exhorted in Titus 2: 13 to be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior.”

Greek grammar requires for two words used together such as “great God and Savior” to refer to one and the same person.

Thus, Jesus is the great God.

One of the most summary passages regarding Jesus’ nature is I Timothy 3:16.

“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was Manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up into glory.”

A resulting question is what is He to you? Is He a bloodless theory, an abstract theory, a historical figure? Or, is He your Savior?

He becomes such when we accept these facts and trust Him to forgive our sins, be our Savior, and become our Lord? These simultaneous acts result in our salvation.

It is expedient thereafter to find a fellowship of Christians with whom to identify in a church where you can learn and grow in faith and knowledge.

The Trinity is the most enigmatic Christian doctrine. The nature of the Trinity is the signature mystery of life.
One of the residual blessings of heaven will be we will gain an understanding of the Trinity. Until then this mystery will continue to confound and challenge our understanding. The best we can do is to acknowledge it and try to illustrate the doctrine. Not being able to understand the mystery and glory of the Trinity should cause us to marvel over the grandeur and grandiose nature of our God. We should rejoice to know our God is more complex than we. Rather than being perturbed by our lack of understanding we would do well to join Jesus who speaking a spiritual mysteries said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Matthew 11: 25, 26).

Our difficulty in understanding the Trinity arises out of our inability to conceive of the heavenly form of the three. We use the word “person” or “persons” for them and that invites a vison like our human form. Whatever form it is it is different from our own and unknown. In heaven we will know and it will be a reasonable and all glorious form.

At best the Trinity is a mystery.

In Pilgrims Progress a character is asked if in reading the Bible he ever came upon passages he did not understand. He acknowledged he did and when further asked what he did on those occasions. He replied, “I just thank God He knows more than I.”

We must humble ourselves to the same degree in considering the Trinity.
The Tri-unity consists of three entities that can not be combined to make one. They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — God.

The three are distinct yet one in essence and will that cannot be divided. The essence, that is the nature of one is the nature of the other, they are each co-divine. The will of one is the will of each of the other two. The singular will cannot be divided. The three are one composite unit. They abide in perfect harmony.

In this use “nature” is what one is, that is their essence, while a “person” is who one is.

God has left traces of His Trinitarian being in nature, therein illustrations abound of one in three.

The smallest unit of matter, the atom, is diverse yet one unit. The word “atom” means “indivisible,” or “that which can’t be divided,” yet it consists of three components: neutron, proton, and electron. Each exists to constitute the atom. The distinct particles of an atom are diverse each having its own purpose and traits attracted to each other and bonded.
Likewise, the members of the Trinity have their own characteristics and roles. They are bonded by undiminished love. Scripture notes “God is love,” not “God loves or” or “God is loving.” His essence is love. To be love means embodying perfect love as its source.

An atom cannot be divided into smaller units and retain the characteristics and traits of the original.
H2O exists as three. As a liquid it is water, as a solid it is ice, and as a gas it is a vapor. Having one nature it exists in three-forms.

Saint Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the trinity. Having three petals it is one shamrock.
Time consists of past, present, and future, yet the three aspects are one thing “time.”
If three match heads are placed together and struck there is one flame yet three matches.
Math hints of three in one: 1 X 1 X 1 = 1.
The three are each three in one and one in three.

During an era when nations worshiped multiple gods what is known as the Hebrew Shema was penned: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Historically Jews have repeated it together in the synagogue. In some areas they repeat the word “one” (echad) over and over in a loud voice as though defying the doctrine of the Trinity. This Scripture does not contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity, it confirms it. The Hebrew word “echad” refers to a compound unit. It reveals a plurality of more than one. It is used instead of another Hebrew word for one, “yacheed” which speaks of a single unit.

Critics of the doctrine of the Trinity say one can never be more than one. In speaking of marriage the word “echad” is used when it is said, “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2: 24). Two, husband and wife, become one. The two comprise one unit. If in the human realm two can become one, in the spiritual world three can be one.

Some older uses of the word “echad” help to understand its meaning. Originally it had a dual meaning: “one” and also “alone.” Gradually the word use began to be used as one only. A clearer understanding to the monotheistic use of the text reads: “Only the Lord is God: there is no other God.” This was in part to set Judaism apart from the polytheistic gods of surrounding nations.

The first name used for God in the Bible is Elohim and though grammatically plural it is used as though singular. The plurality of the name is further indicated in Genesis where God is represented as saying, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1: 26).

The Hebrew name for God, Elohim, and the “us” in the text are both plural forms. These plural pronouns reveal the tri-unity, God as one unit.

The word Trinity is not used in Scripture, yet the principle is taught by Scripture. Biblical revelation is the only adequate source to affirm belief in the Trinity. It is not accessible by human reason.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19).

Observe “name” is singular, yet it refers to three subjects. They constitute a tri-unity, the godhead.

Jesus said to a group of critics, “I and my Father are one” (John 10: 30). Modern critics say Jesus meant they are one in spirit, desire, and purpose. The context reveals this is not what Jesus meant. Persons who claimed to be God were punished by being stoned. The fact the crowd sought to stone Him indicates they knew He meant He and the Father were a unit, one, He was God. This was a general claim and a popular criticism of the time, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal to God” (John 5: 18).

Other text join the glossary supporting the tri-unity.

“He [Jesus] whom God [Father] has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the [Holy] Spirit by measure” (John 3: 34).

“To the pilgrims … elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (I Peter: 1: 1, 2).

“I [Jesus] will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Holy Spirit], that He may abide with your forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him of knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14: 16, 17).

“But when the fullness of time had come, God [Father] sent forth His Son [Jesus], born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because your are sons, God has sent forth the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4: 4 – 6).

Responding to the question related to whether we will see three entities in heaven Gregory of Ninzus wrote in the fourth century, “When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one luminary, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light.”

The form of the Triune God is cryptical, confirming there are things beyond human comprehension. The Trinity is ultimately transcendent and incomprehensible.

This mystery remains as a stimulus to our faith.

Will we actually see God the Father in heaven? Will His essence be manifested?

Scripture teaches, “God is a spirit,” meaning His essential being is not “visible.” God “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (I Timothy 6: 16).

Moses and certain Old Testament characters beheld “the form of God.” Though God’s essential deity is invisible there is an outward form in which His invisible majesty has on rare occasion been manifested. The mystery of how He will be manifest in heaven remains beyond our need and capacity to understand.

It is fitting to exodus the study of this topic with this benediction.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (II Corinthians 13: 14).

A true Christian seeks:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of God the Father,
And the communion of the Holy Spirit.
As the three persons of the Trinity are inseparable so these three blessings come as one.