Why I changed my voter registration from Republican to Libertarian

Libertarian_Registration_Change_City_Hall_croppedBeginning when I joined the College Republicans in 2000 during the first Bush/Cheney campaign, to my time in the Maine Young Republicans leading up to McCain/Palin, to supporting many local and statewide races within State Party politics ever since — I’ve always been relatively active in the Republican Party. A “wannabe activist” if you will.

Now in my mid-30’s and 2016 happened. In an open election season that began so promising with 17 candidates, I started as a Rand Paul supporter… before shifting to Rubio… until finally settling on Cruz — all in hopes of avoiding Trump.

Then Trump became a reality.

While some of my Republican friends are still holding out hope that there will be mutiny at the National Convention, and the Grand Old Party will cast aside the bombastic casino owner of Reality TV fame, I decided it was time to begin looking for other options.

A week or so after Ted Cruz suspended his campaign, I decided to see who the Libertarian Party was running this year. Gary Johnson, their nominee from 2012, was back again. However, it was a young upstart who caught my attention — Austin Petersen. Barely old enough to run for President, he was saying all the right things from my center-right, pro-life perspective. He communicated Libertarian principles in a way that just made sense. He was my guy!

From there I found the online libertarian subculture. From Libertarianism.org’s introduction, to Reason’s free thinking, to the Cato Institute — and every Facebook page and Twitter account of liberty activists in between — I had discovered people that actually cared about their country AND their individual rights!

The Libertarian National Convention rolled around and I followed the events on CSPAN with intrigue — and intriguing it certainly was — with their Libertarian brand of self expression and humor. My candidate of choice did not get the nod, but the more well-known Gary Johnson was given another shot to expand on his record 1% from 2012.

Closer to home in Maine, the Libertarian Party was caught in a court battle. And as chance would have it, right around the time I was most interested in “being Libertarian”, a judge ruled in favor of the LP of Maine and granted them until July 12th to simply garner 462 more voter registrations in order to become an officially recognized party in our state.

Most people agree the 2-party system is broken in our country. Joining the LP in Maine was my chance to help break up the monopoly. I could be one of those 462 registrations!

So as of June 9th 2016, it officially happened. Here is photographic evidence:

Libertarian_Registration_Change_City_Hall_cropped

Leaving Bangor City Hall I felt a sense of freedom I can’t easily explain. The weight of Donald Trump was off my back, and the air smelled a little sweeter.

Sure the Libertarian President ticket is a little too socially liberal for my liking. I’ve even shared how the Johnson/Weld ticket could tidy up their message a bit to appeal to more voters “like me”… But that’s just it — who am I to force “my liking” onto every other possible LP voter?

Who knows what post-2016 will bring. I can honestly say I hope Trump loses and sails off into the sunset never to return to the Republican Party again — even if that means 4 years of Hillary. The conservative movement could regroup and beat her in 2020, and would be all the better for it. Hillary’s possible Supreme Court nominations don’t worry me either.

Maybe someday I’ll rejoin the GOP, especially if Rand Paul (or Justin Amash) ever run in a GOP presidential primary again.

But others say the GOP may go the way of the Whig Party (see below video) — which would be no skin off my back as I’ve already found a new home.

Onward for Freedom!

Bible Study Recap: The Rich Ruler (Luke 18/Matthew 19)

In what may become a recurring series, here is the latest video recap of the weekly Bible study I am facilitating each Saturday morning.

This past week we were in Luke 18 discussing the story of “the rich ruler”. Some things I hit on in this recap is how  all our earthly possessions are really like stuff in a dream — once you wake up they’ll be gone. And I address the question, must you really sell everything you own to enter heaven (like Jesus told the rich ruler he must do)?

The Bible study is Saturday mornings at 8 AM at the City Reach Music Cafe in Old Town until further notice. Drop me a line, or just drop by, if you’re interested in checking it out.

Why church (an informal survey)?

why-church-questions

The purpose of this post is to get your input on this age-old question. Fellow Christian and church-goer, I want YOUR thoughts and opinions!

I am a Christian. I serve on the leadership team of a local church. I believe in Jesus Christ’s Great Commission. I support the local church’s role in helping to fulfill this mission in the world.

But in order to figure out the reason why more local churches should exist, and what we should be doing while we’re at them, I humbly submit some questions as an informal survey for my fellow Christians who are regular local church attenders.

Seriously, what is the point of everything we do as “church goers”? Leave a Reply below and answer as few or as many questions as you like. Be sure to include the question # next to each of your answers.

  1. In a short phrase, what (or who) is the local church?
    ___________________________________
  2. In general, what is the point of the local church?
    ___________________________________
  3. What services, if any, do we expect our local church to provide for us?
    ___________________________________
  4. What do we hope to obtain from attending our local church on Sundays (why do we go)?
    ___________________________________
  5. What do we desire to do with our time the rest of our week (from Sunday to Sunday)?
    ___________________________________
  6. How does/should what we get out of attending our local church on Sunday impact what we do the rest of the week?
    ___________________________________
  7. When you hear the phrase, “a church that the ‘unchurched’ love to attend”, what does that mean to you?
    ___________________________________
  8. Should local churches even be worried about whether so-called “unchurched” people “love to attend them” or not?
    ___________________________________
  9. If “unchurched” people are not attending our churches, what else can and should we be doing to reach those people?
    ___________________________________

These are honest questions as I try to determine what the mission of the local church should be in our communities in Maine and beyond. I thought about doing an online survey, but then felt it would illicit good conversation if everyone could see the responses.

It might help to copy and paste the questions above into the comment box below to get started.

Thanks!

Have smart phones become enemy number 1 to having real relationships and productive lives?

There is a recurring trend in recent online videos to demonstrate how attached we have grown to our mobile devices, specifically smart phones. If we consider the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, then videos like the ones that follow are worth so much more.

One in particular, called ‘Look Up’ has over 27 million views (as of this writing) since it was first posted on April 25th.

The basic premise is that we’re missing out on much of life — and possible relationships — by failing to ‘look up’ from our phones. Take a watch –

Another one from 8 months ago called “I forgot my phone” with over 42 millions views addresses similar relational problems of which smartphones are to blame –

Lastly, we have comedian Louis C.K . talking about why he hates smartphones, and specifically the “toxicity” they can have on kids. While this video takes a slightly different approach, I felt it important to include here as he actually goes deeper and hits on what might be the reasons for our society’s attachment to these devices.

At the 1:00 minute mark, Louis talks about phones taking away “the ability to be yourself and not be doing something”.

And later, he discusses “that forever empty thing… that knowledge that it (life) is all for nothing, and you’re alone…” And when that “alone feeling” comes, we have to reach for our smartphones. Take a look (FAIR WARNING: some vulgarity, but it’s “bleeped” out) –

Louis’ solution — let the sadness hit you like a truck (keep the smartphone in your pocket), and you’ll be a better person for it!

As a quick aside, and because I never pass on an opportunity to point my readers to God, life isn’t meaningless as Louis C.K. claims. And also, it is a personal relationship with Our Creator that ultimately fills the emptiness that he is referencing.

But my main motivation for writing this article is because I see a lot of myself in these videos. I’m a follower of Jesus, and yet I still feel the need to whip my smart phone out at the smallest hint of ‘idle’ time. There typically isn’t a stop light I don’t pull up to where I don’t feel the need to grab my phone. Then when I fail to put it down after the light turns green, I become part of the problem of endangering myself and others on the roadway.

So this article isn’t about pointing the finger, but rather about sharing a topic in which I have felt convicted.

More Productivity vs Mindless Scrolling

To be honest, I’ve thought about just going back to a simple “flip phone” in light of these videos. But then I start to “count the cost” of getting rid of my smartphone, and I see how truly my life has become intertwined with one.

First, these devices can legitimately make us more productive. To name just a few things — I do my Bible reading plan on my phone, read various e-books on the Kindle app, use Google Calendar for tracking appointments and meetings, as well as a scheduling app for the tech team I lead at church.

But then comes the mindless scrolling of my social media feeds. Something that can at first seem so mundane and innocent, becomes an hour or more of not “looking up”. An hour of not reading stories to the kids, not cuddling with my wife on the couch, or not spending more devotional and prayer time with God.

Life is a vapor, it passes by so quickly. Are we really meant to spend a large majority of it staring into little screens? Obviously, that is a rhetorical question.

How can we keep the productive aspects of smart phones without falling into the snare of time wasting activities that keep us from the real relationships with the people that mean the most to us – the ones in the room with us?

Seriously, I’m looking for honest suggestions. Do you fight with these bad habits, and how do you unplug and maintain a proper balance?

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man

It pays the bills, provides the health insurance, a sense of professional value — of stability. Eliminate it and I’d be forced to do something else. But what else?

I’m 34 years old and have been in the same profession since I chose it by default in college, and have been in the same position with the same company since I was 24.

As for my personal life, I wasted away my 20’s. You don’t realize you’re wasting years until they’re gone. Looking back, I realize I had built my life on sand. But hindsight is 20/20, and I now forge forward with a firmer foundation.

At 30 years old I (re)married (that’s a story for a more personal setting), and have been blessed with 2 children in less than 2 years. My personal life provides the love, joy, happiness and overall reason to wake up each day.

I can’t wait for the future, to watch my children grow up, and to grow old with my wife.

But grow old doing what? Continue in the same career? Get into real estate? Be a church planter? All of the above?

Here I am, 34 years old, and I can honestly say, “I don’t know” — I guess I’m just a “ramblin’ man”…

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
When it’s time for leaving, I hope you’ll understand
That I was born a rambling man

Typically, I would offer one or more concluding points to resolve the tension in the topic at hand. For this post, though, I have none. To be continued?…