Ora et Labora

Victor Chininin Buele

It’s Monday.

I know I had a very difficult time getting into the office today.  Work awaited.

But that Outlook calendar unmercifully showed a 7:45 meeting.  There was no way out.

It’s time to work.

We often struggle with the “case of the Mondays” showing that we get our theology of work more from Office Space than we do from the Word.

There is one way we can proactively change our attitude towards work.  Pray. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

If we allow a pursuit of God’s presence to drive our approach to work, it will radically change everything.  It no longer is a 7:45 meeting on Monday morning that you dread, but it becomes an opportunity to pray for all the people in that conference call.  It becomes an opportunity to ask meaningful questions about their lives, their hopes, their dreams.  It becomes an opportunity to get to know people better so that we can intercede for them and ask the Lord to develop bridges and relationships towards the privilege of sharing the gospel with them.

Pursuing a greater awareness of God’s presence in our work is one way we come out of dark oppression, like the man in Mark 5.  We have been freed, so we now get the joy of obeying the Lord Jesus in His command to ““Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

It will no longer be a repetitive task.  A sandwich will be infused with prayers for God to show His wonderful power, grace, love, and salvation to a customer.  Every pickle, every burger, every slice of cheese can be infused with a prayer.  We will no longer look like better servants to our customers, but we will be better servants of our Lord, genuinely caring for His glory and renown.

It will no longer be about debugging boring code.  Every line is an opportunity to make things right, to better image a Wonderful Creator.

It will no longer be about answering emails or phone calls.  Every interaction will be an opportunity to bring before the Lord real issues, real problems, real emergencies.  And every interaction will be a challenge to us to lift up our requests to our Good Father and wait. And watch Him deliver better than we dare to ask or imagine.

There can never be a case of the Mondays when we are about our Father’s business.

Let us work and pray.  Let us pray for the Lord to captivate our vocational passion for a passion for His glory and the beauty of His mission to us.  Until every tongue confesses. And then forevermore.

Cruzando el Río Grande – Towards a Theological Understanding of DACA

Victor Chininin Buele

A dear friend asked for my thoughts on the difficult subject of DACA.  I’m not precisely sure what perspective was sought, but this is clearly not something that can be easily typed on Facebook comments.

My thesis is that DACA is an opportunity for the United States to start moving towards repentance.  It is also an opportunity to give and receive grace.  DACA is not to be seen through the lenses of entitlement, and we need to be careful to not proclaim ourselves to be without sin on the subject.

Let me expand on that.

My friend was responding to somebody posting the following on Facebook:

So my house was broken into yesterday while I was at work. Don’t worry, George is ok [sic].

Fortunately, the alarm[sic] told me and Summit police apprehended a man with his 10 year old daughter ransacking the house.

The bad news is, my neighbors took a vote and decided the girl was innocent and only there because her dad brought her.  Now, I have to give her a room, feed her and pay for her to go to school.  Worse yet, since she would be abandoned if her dad goes to jail, he’s been found innocent and I have to let him stay with the girl and feed him too [punctuation sic].

If you think this sounds unfair, then you understand DACA.

A few starting points:

  1. I am a naturalized United States citizen and a natural citizen of Ecuador.
  2. It took more than fifteen years to become a United States citizen.
  3. I have first-hand experience (though not in the first person) with what it is to be an illegal or an undocumented immigrant, semantics aside.  Don’t stop reading if I switch to using the word illegal below.  I have always sought to follow U.S. law.  Please forgive my uneasiness about using the word undocumented.
  4. I have first-hand experience of the immigration system of the United States, and the high cost it demands from those who go through it.
  5. I am a Christian.  I believe that the Word of God is true and God-breathed.  I believe it is authoritative. I believe that it is our guide and the revelation of Jesus Christ to all humankind.  It is in the Bible that we find the gospel–that we are sinners who cannot save themselves but who through the blood of Jesus Christ given in sacrifice on the cross can have their sins forgiven and can move forward on the path towards daily, practical sanctification, being transformed daily into the image of Christ, one degree of glory to the next.  In simple words, I believe what the Bible says, and I seek to do all things in a Christ-encompassing way.  All things in Christ for all the world.  I believe that if we do what God has revealed to us, God will be with us.
  6. I have a bit of a personal crusade against caricatures and straw men arguments.  We have got to learn to listen to each other, understand another person’s opinions, and interact form that point of view.  We don’t get a pass to respond to the worst caricature of a position.

With all of that said, what do I think about DACA?

1.  We are all guilty of sin–we did not love our neighbor as ourselves.

There are many layers on which DACA shows us our sin. Many Americans never thought for a second about the children of immigrants, much less whether they were legal or illegal, as long as our toilets were clean, our strawberries were picked, our meat packaged by someone else.  For decades we allowed a system to exploit human beings who had a desperate need for hope.  Ecuador collapsed in the late 1990’s.  Many Ecuadorians lost everything, the savings of a lifetime.  Certain municipalities in New Jersey took the brunt of this crisis as they became little Ecuadors.  The economy of cities like New York have been built upon these people’s suffering.  You can only pay so much for a slice of pizza at Sbarro’s when you are walking through Times Square.  I am fairly certain that not very many stopped to think of the small town in Southern Ecuador that was left with no men as the man cutting your pizza left it all behind under horrific conditions to cross the Río Grande in hope of providing for his kids.  These kids were left behind, grew up with a grandmother at best, no parents, and were easy preys to all kinds of difficulty.  One day, the parents saved enough (or took on serious debt) to pay a coyote to get them across the border.  In hope.  We have to acknowledge that.  We did not love our neighbor as ourselves. We must realize that a big reason sanctuary cities are sanctuary cities is not because they are highly evolved, loving and caring, and all about social justice.  If people needed to pay for the real price of things in those economies, the entire economic dynamics would need to change.  In order to get a $1 burger, you can only pay somebody so much.  If everyone had the same rights and access to fair wages, i.e., if they had legal documents, the cost of said burger would be much higher.  Christ’s humility is radically different than ours.  In Philippians 2 we are called to imitate said humility that counts others as more significant than ourselves.  That’s so radical because we are always after finding the best deal for us.  Not for others.  We are guilty.

2. They broke the law.

Horrific economic conditions need to clearly be understood.  When you learn that somebody cleans toilets in the United States or washes dishes in the United States for more than you make a day in Ecuador, temptation becomes very real.  And then you hear that Pepito’s cousin and Maria’s sister made it across the border, and that they have a house in Queens.  The story is properly exaggerated to make it sound like they are the next Rockefellers.  You start thinking you can make it, too.  Coyotes come and promise you for a few thousand dollars to get you across the desert.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  The whole enterprise is highly illegal and dangerous, abusive and criminal.  It is sinful.  God will not look kindly upon coyotes at the judgment.  Those who steal from the needy and do violence are repulsive to God.  Yet, we also have to acknowledge that it is sufficiently clear for anyone entering into a contract or a transaction to come to the U.S. that the enterprise is illegal.  Everybody knows that it is against the law, and they know the risks of getting caught.  For the adults, it should be very straightforward.  They paid a coyote to help them break the law.  Yes, it was a horrific decision to be made and a painful one exasperated by a number of unthinkable circumstances.  But they were not coerced to do it. For their kids, the conversation turns a little sour.  We can argue degrees of innocence here until Kingdom comes, but I would simply want to say that there is a significant difference between sending an eight year old via the Mexican desert with a coyote and buying the kid a ticket on DL 680 from Quito to Atlanta.  The law was broken. And it is awful that these children had to endure many times the horrors of inhumane transportation conditions and living quarters, with limited or no water and/or food, prolonged time in the desert and exposure to the elements.

3. Most politicians are sinful opportunists.

We are where we are because politicians refused to enact national immigration law that made sense to the circumstances we had.  We were the rich Uncle Sam up north while our neighbors to the south literally starved to death.  Instead of owning their responsibility, they went down a different path–Leave it to the school districts to figure out how to hire ESL teachers, how to get ahold of parents who spoke no English, how to educate children with very little parental communication with the teachers.  Leave it to the local health departments to provide immunizations.  Leave it to the emergency rooms to deal with catastrophic health issues and non-so-catastrophic surprises.  Leave it to the states and charities to pay for births and WIC and food stamps.  Politicians sat on this and did nothing.  They have also sinned.


4.  We are called to love the widow, the immigrant, and the orphan.

Christianity necessarily results in love and care for the widow, the immigrant, and the orphan.  Many dreamers are practical or true orphans.  Many were raised without parents.  Many had parents who died crossing the border or in the dangerous work they had.  Many women were left as widows, affairs were had, marriage vows broken.  We cannot close doors upon the needy.

5.  DACA is a start, an insufficient start, but a start nonetheless.

I testify to you that being a legal immigrant has been a very difficult thing.  It has cost a lot of money, heartache, sorrow, embarrassment, time, and anxiety.  There is not a simple way to run through the rails of this system.  I have a college education, and my skills are highly valued in the current U.S. economy.  Even so, I had a lawyer malpractice scenario intersect with significant government delays, and I ended up becoming an illegal immigrant for two weeks.  Once my petition was resolved, it was retroactive, so this is not a part of my records today.  But trust me, the feeling I had when I was told to step away from my cubicle and leave, the feeling I had driving home knowing there would be no paycheck, the feeling I had coming home to my wife that day…

Life in the shadows is not a life.

Jesus came that his children would have life and live it to the fullest. He is the Good Shepherd.

DACA is an executive order.  Yes, you are certainly free to raise concerns about this being addressed as a presidential executive order rather than as legislation.  But in that debate we continue to ignore the fact that our democratically elected representatives and senators did nothing.

Repentance is necessary.

We need to repent of our lack of love for neighbor.

Undocumented workers need to repent of violating the law.

Dreamers need to repent, in certain cases, of entitlement.  Repentance is also needed from breaking the law.

Politicians need to repent of their sinful neglect of their responsibility.


And then.


Grace must abound.

We must find a way to restore the repentant, to lift up the downcast, and to make amends.

But now, that everybody is all of a sudden in love with the dreamers, be careful to not forget grace and start acting all entitled. A lot of people are very compassionate now.  They want dreamers to be free. And that’s a noble thing.  But, repentance is required because we must all answer the question, where were we when these kids needed us the most?  Where were we when politicians refused to act upon immigration law reform that made sense and that would have helped everyone?

But let’s approach this with a sober mind.  Walking in repentance is difficult.

The economic balance of our cities is not going to be the same.

Prices will change.

We all need to own up our responsibilities and move forward in repentance.  The path for American citizenship is a very secondary matter compared to the path to everlasting joy in Christ.  Actions have consequences.  And without repentance there will be no joy.  Christ is light.  Whatever he touches will never be the same.

I dream of the moment where this America stops avoiding responsibility and repents and turns to love God, do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (cf. Micah 6:8).

I want the dreamers to have joy.  Not just a citizenship in a place that will not last for eternity.  I want them to be citizens of the kingdom that cannot be shaken.

We must press on to end this non-sensical political stalemate.  Lives matter more than political interests.  It was never said, “Blessed are those who seek their own self-interest and turn a blind eye on the needy, for they shall see God.”




Judging Donald Trump

Victor Chininin Buele

I love you, dear reader, too much to just sit by and watch.

President Trump allegedly said a very nasty thing about human beings from Africa and Haiti, perhaps others. My family has connections to work kingdom work there, and needless to say, we love the people of the African continent and the people of Haiti very much.

I have been noticing a trend in social media.
1. President allegedly says or does something obviously wrong, immoral, racist, or at the very least, questionable and demeaning of the office of the President of the United States.
2. Public outrage follows.
3. Those who didn’t vote for him and some who did (because I care about labels and caricatures, and I don’t want to say “liberals”) would turn on “the others” and require a retraction of some sort or a comment. An acknowledgment of “I told you so” is required.

There is another trend I addressed in here after the famous Access Hollywood tapes episode.
1. I do x. I like x. I feel x. I <whatever> X
2. x is anything that was a common moral standard in the overall culture but no longer is
3. Person a looked at me funny, or disagreed with me, or perhaps indeed sinned against me, I turn around and say, “Jesus said, ‘Judge not!”

So I want to spend a moment not typing again that word which the President allegedly used, but because I love you, I want to help you see what is happening.

You are starting to understand that Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t judge,” in Matthew 7. Don’t waste it.

We all know the cycle. And this is, in the interest of clarity, not a defense of Donald Trump.

I am an immigrant. And a Christian. My Lord was an immigrant. If the President said this, it is obviously morally wrong and heartbreaking. The cycle is the same–our friends at CNN look like they are about to have a heart attack in the air, Trump writes a non-denying denial on Twitter, talking heads talk some more, and by the end of the day something even more outrageous happens. Back to square one.

You were created in the image of God. God is a judge. So are we.
God has shown to reveal Himself to us, in part, as His Law. This Law teaches the way things should go, but it also proves itself ultimately impossible to fulfill on our own. That’s why the charges of the stereotypical hypocrite Christian and the pedophile priest stick. Because we are sinners. Rotten sinners.
We are all lawyers. We put in these very complicated cases to defend our actions even when no one is asking for an explanation. We also out in these very complicated cases to justify the goodness of our actions even as we feel ultimately dissatisfied with the explanations. Five bullet points to prove I’m right. A straw man argument on the other side I can easily defeat.

So, you and I have been judging Donald Trump.

Let’s let that take its full weight.

Matthew 7
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)

This text is about YOU. You are not to judge until you judge yourself rightly. You judge, and with the same judgment stick you will be measured.

I proved just yesterday to be no better than Donald Trump. Before I can look at the speck in his eye, I must do all I can to remove the gigantic log in my own eye. If that poor lady at the airport counter had a public display of my sinful rage for being inconvenienced…

Have you removed the log in your eye?

Until you do, don’t judge.
Go remove it.
Then, please, judge. We need you to judge. I saw this sign that said our freedom was in peril, and we must do all we can to protect it. I couldn’t agree more. I want you to have eternal joy, and for that I write.

But you can’t remove it on your own, and for that you need Jesus. The real thing. Not the made up one that you sketch from the GOP’s current platform or from that bad experience you had with a someone who called himself a Christian.

You may notice I have used the word allegedly. There is a chance that Trump didn’t say it. A slim one I think, but a chance nonetheless.

Why do we spend all this time judging Donald Trump about an allegation but not spend the time killing the filth in our own hearts first? We will then, rightly reconciled with God and neighbor, to be of much greater impact to the kingdom and the world.

There is somebody, somewhere you feel the same way about as what this comment is portrayed to say. Repent of it. Turn to Jesus and live.

Therefore, all my responses to whatever Trump says or does will always be the same:
You have judged.
Have you judged rightly?
Is all well with your soul?
OK! Now, brother or sister, let’s act and pray about the president’s actions.

Trust me, something changes when you finally see this rightly: you are just as Donald Trump is. He is just a caricature of our national sins. And Jesus is better than somebody who drops in to agree with you.

Donald Trump and the Salvation of the World

Victor Chininin Buele

This is not a pro-Trump article. I’m not a fan. This is not a “Trump is our Savior” article either.

I cannot properly describe 2017. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. To put it mildly.

But I can describe my excitement at seeing the world move forward in a number of very important and massive ways. A simple perusal of a year-end magazine retelling the headlines could, in your eyes, prove this excitement quite wrong. But bear with me.

Relative arguments are not so relative after all. For years, we have been indoctrinated and indoctrinating the world on the “fact” that there is no truth. Well, except the truth that there is no truth, if you follow that rabbit hole down its crazy path. For years, we have been saying that there is no normative standard of what is right and wrong. And then, Donald Trump comes into the picture and shows us all to have never been relativists at all. I have heard no one say credibly, “Donald Trump is right for them.” “Donald Trump’s actions are acceptable to him.” “Donald Trump’s ideas are true to them.” All arguments have been absolute.  The headlines speak loud and clear.

This is an apple, not a banana.  CNN has spent a significant amount of air time assuring us that facts matter. Thank you. Sincerely. I’ve been trying to do that for years. Facts matter. They have an ad that shows us an apple on the screen and tells us the ways people will try to persuade us that it is in reality a banana. (They even say banana in a very Trumpesque voice). Yet they’ll turn and righty honor as the Hero of the Year a wonderful person who works with those with Down syndrome.  The first line in CNN’s story? “‘My children are not broken,’ Amy Wright insists.” This is straight from the CNN site even as they in parallel radically voice opposition to legislation protecting the unborn with Down syndrome. Thanks to Donald Trump, people are now all of a sudden concerned about fact checking, even though they can’t quite always see their own redefinitions of facts.

We worship sex. It took an incredible amount of filth for people to start taking sexual abuse seriously. When a society makes sex its idol and defines the core of a human being’s identity the way sexuality is practiced, the metaphysical power of the sexual union is vilified and when that is lost, as it has in 21st century America, the beauty, wonder, and blessing of sex is tragically lost.  Thank you, Mr. President, for clearly highlighting to the world that the powerful have always abused the weak. So-called locker room talk included. Jesus said that all lewd locker room talk is adultery and worse even if it didn’t become physical abuse. I may be paraphrasing.

We seem to care about life after all.  We are now seeing the practical effects of Roe v. Wade. For decades now we have cheapened human life, and we have sold congressional seats, senate seats, even the presidency, to normalize, magnify, and exalt our national act of human sacrifice to the god of sex. If we are saying every day that a little girl is not a human being at all, why are we surprised when a grown woman is treated as a disposable artifact of personal use by the rich and powerful? We daily condone and affirm the less famous Matt Lauers who drop off their former objects of pleasure with a few hundred bucks to “get it taken care of.”

The love of money is the root of all evil.  We have seen a lot–cabinet secretaries abusing their power by using taxpayer money for what looked like extravagant trips, millions of taxpayer dollars used to secure the Winter White House and pay rent at Trump Tower for the Secret Service.  But if you are honest, aren’t you thankful that it’s at least clear now that money is indeed the root of all evil? The love of money is the appropriate label for things like not being transparent when it comes to taxes, the stretching of US law to maximize profit, the giving of what appears to many to be tax breaks only to the rich while eventually betraying the poor. It’s greed. The thing you hate in Trump is greed. And you hate it because you see its seedlings inside your own heart. Secretly perhaps you long to hear Trump say to you, “You all just got a lot richer.”

Humility wins every time.  Aren’t you a little Donald Trump as well?  Perhaps more cleaned up and respectable in the eyes of others. But don’t you see in you the same things you hate in him?  After all, in part that’s what got him elected. Don’t you love to “one up” people at parties? Don’t you embellish stories? Don’t you #humblebrag your life every time it’s possible? Don’t you loudly boast of your accomplishments to others? I’m convinced that the reason Trump’s ego and pride hit you so hard in the gut is because you know deep inside that you long for the humility of Jesus. And this is as far from that as you have ever imagined.

Bid Thou Our Sad Divisions Cease. For years, I have been on the receiving and the giving end of inequality. I became a US citizen just this year after a long story that included 15 days as an official undocumented immigrant thanks to the laziness of a lawyer and a very overwhelmed government system. I have been humiliated in interviews where I was assumed guilty of immigration fraud even though I have followed the law at every step of the way. I have also seen a generation of white Americans struggle with my mere presence and apparent success in this land. It hasn’t been pretty. But because of that ridiculous idea of the big, big wall, we at least are talking about it now. We weren’t before. For years, politicians hid the immigration challenges because it was politically and economically advantageous to ignore the problem. The dreamers didn’t become an issue during the Obama administration. This was brewing for a while. And we refused to listen. We are guilty, too.

We can’t keep riding on borrowed capital forever.  Of course I am not a proponent of the “America is a Christian nation” theology, but a significant bit of our public law and practice did originate with natural law and Christian theology (what has been called Judeo-Christian values) — in the embodiment of the joy of Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit into cultural artifacts, widespread blessing, lasting institutions, and orderly structures.  The appointment of insanity into such institutions and the ways that these systems have been tricked and abused has been another way in which President Trump has shown to us that the day of reckoning is going to come soon.  These cultural artifacts and governmental structures can’t really exist without the joy of Christ actually being present behind them.  If you don’t believe it, just wait until the victories that you think you have won are turned on you one day.  The oppressed always have a great temptation to become the oppressors of tomorrow.

So, we have much to be thankful for in this age of disarray.  Economically it may result in a massive success, “so much winning,” or it can be the biggest disaster yet, compounding our already dire and declining economy and society with crazy decisions and legislation. If the CBO estimates are right (which they often aren’t), we are in for quite a ride in 2018.  It could be worse than the estimates assume. It could be better.

Sure, the man Donald Trump is quite something.

But aren’t you as well?

The main question is, will you turn? Will you turn away from your sin and trust in Christ? Will you be in him? Will you receive the one who humbled himself to enter this earth to save you?

Surrender.  The best is yet to come.

Cristo Ya Viene

Victor Chininin Buele

Yo crecí respirando política. Me fascina. No soy un politólogo profesional ni doctor en ciencias políticas. Pero algo muy profundo y nostálgico me sobrecoge cuando recuerdo esas notas re-si-si-si-do-si-la de las cuñas de la Izquierda Democrática.  Aprendí a leer muy temprano y los amigos de campaña de mi papá no creían que yo podía leer las pancartas y lo que los periódicos decían acerca de Rodrigo, nuestro amigo, el pueblo está contigo.

La verdad es que para un niño de menos de cinco años recorriendo las polvorientas carreteras de la vieja república en buses con alto olor a diesel o batallando contra el mareo en carros prestados a los amigos de mi papá, una cosa era muy clara: una vez que Rodrigo gane, nuestra vida cambiará.

Todos somos políticos.  O como yo prefiero decirlo, todos somos teólogos.

Mi padre es un político excelente, nunca ve el lado negativo de la vida y es un trabajador incansable.  Yo honestamente creo que él puede hacer ganar a cualquiera, aunque no tenga ninguna experiencia, y algunitos cuyos nombres el honor no permite que comparta en público lo saben muy bien.  No es una broma decir que mi esposa y mi madre tienen terror a las palabras Chininín Presidente porque ellas saben muy bien que mi padre lo puede hacer una realidad y que el linchamiento mediático estaría listo contra este vendepatrias, gringo wannabe, pastor cristiano, y eso solamente para empezar.  Quién sabe qué se inventarían para no dejar trabajar.

Rodrigo.  Rodrigo no hizo nada por nosotros.  Excepto permitir una de las vergüenzas y desilusiones más grandes de mi niñez.  Una revisión de Diario El Siglo de aquellos tiempos les puede decir a qué me refiero. La verdad es que como muchos de quienes trabajan más duro en las campañas probablemente los del grupo de los dirigentes nunca pusieron el nombre de mi papi en las famosas ternas.  Rodrigo quizá nunca supo quién era mi padre.  Pues si él en verdad hubiera conocido al hombre… Pero la verdad es que aunque supiera quien fue, nosotros nunca íbamos a comprar nada.

Esa es la patria del pasado.  Pero también la de hoy.

Es por esto que nunca he protestado contra la Revolución Ciudadana de Rafael Correa a pesar de tener serias y profundas divergencias con su ideología y política.  No lo he hecho por tener miedo sino porque solamente Correa con su personalidad fuerte pudo hacer muchas de las cosas que los cobardes del pasado no pudieron.  Mi coronel Gutiérrez también fue un Cristo para mi país.  Tal como Rodrigo lo fue para mi.  Yo pensé que un hombre recto, un militar, sin ninguna experiencia política en la podredumbre de aquel socialcristianismo fingido podría darnos esperanza.  Pero lo que muchos no dicen es que más allá de los memes que hacen de él, Lucio verdaderamente intentó gobernar sin la partidocracia.  Pero se dio cuenta que sus tentáculos eran tan poderosos que solamente León podía dar las órdenes para que se abrieran.

La verdad es, Ecuador es ingobernable sin los tentáculos de la partidocracia.

Pero el Mashi lo hizo.

Y ese es su lugar en la historia ecuatoriana.  Me saco el sombrero.  Batalló contra la ineficiencia, la falta de desarrollo, las trabas a todo, la burocracia, la partidocracia, la oligarquía.

Pero, como su hasta-hace-poco fiel compañero de batalla dijo un día, no pudo ganar el corazón de los ecuatorianos.  No pudo cambiar nuestra manera de ser.

El Mashi ya viene ha sido el tono de las últimas semanas.

Ha vuelto el Mashi.

Lo siento profundamente por su familia.  Lo siento profundamente por su salud y su felicidad.  Rafael Correa no vuelve a Ecuador como el Cristo en Domingo de Ramos.  Rafael Correa vuelve a Ecuador a enfrentar un monstruo.  Y a enfrentarse a sí mismo.

Para nosotros, la gentecita común y corriente, no es fácil discernir quién nos está mintiendo:

Puede ser que Vidrio sea Glas, un hábil corrupto, mentiroso y ladrón que utiliza el legado de Rafael Correa para manipular a las masas haciéndonos creer que es inocente.  Un hombre que utilizó los sectores estratégicos para estratégicamente llenar sus bolsillos.


Puede ser que Glas sea en verdad un hombre de cultura intachable, un caballero, el único en la historia que ha enfrentado a la justicia con confianza fiel en la veracidad y la honestidad.  Un hombre que sirvió a su patria y manejó los sectores estratégicos para darle la espalda a la vieja república.

Puede ser que Lenín sea el más vil traidor, doble cara, el Caballo de Troya de León que aun gobierna desde la tumba.  Puede ser que Lenín sea ese Judas que besó y traicionó a su señor a cambio de unas miserables monedas que no tienen valor eterno.  Puede ser que él no se haya dado cuenta que es el próximo Lucio, quien no se dio cuenta que para los de la partidocracia el presidente no es más que el papel higiénico con el cual deshechan sus desperdicios.


Puede ser que Lenín sea el más valeroso soldado contra la corrupción que ama profundamente al país y que no quiere que seamos borregos siguiendo ciegamente a un concepto mítico de una revolución que parece ha hecho todo a medias y al apuro.

Pero la verdad es que un pobre don nadie como yo nunca sabrá la verdad.

Pero yo si sé esto:

  • Somos traidores.  De los más viles.  ¿O acaso ninguno de ustedes no le ha traicionado a su pana de toda la vida para ganarse a la chica o el puestito?
  • Rafael Correa no es Cristo.  Rafael ha vuelto.  Debemos orar por él, por su familia, por su protección, por su salud, por su libertad, por su vida.  Pero Cristo ya viene.
  • Por más que Rafael haya transformado al Ecuador, él no es el Mesías.  No podemos confundir a un hombre que ha dado todo por nuestra nación por Aquél que dio todo para que una persona tan corrupta como yo, un traidor tan vil y mentiroso como yo pueda tener vida eterna.
  • Todos somos corruptos.  Hacemos lo que no debemos.  No hacemos lo que debemos.  Todos somos ladrones y mentirosos.  ¿O no se han comido un pedacito de algo que no es suyo o no se han llevado algo que era de alguien más?
  • El juicio a Jorge Glas debe hacernos temblar de miedo.  Si Glas ha sido honesto su futuro es brillante por toda la eternidad.  Pero si no, su juicio nos recuerda que el día ya viene cuando Cristo como justo juez nos mostrará nuestra culpabilidad, no solamente la de esos.

Y solamente la justicia de Cristo, su santidad y honestidad prevalecerán.  No hay nada, absolutamente nada que pueda justificarnos.  Puentes, carreteras, sectores estratégicos, honestidad, obediencia a la justicia, sacrificios económicos, familia, lucha contra la corrupción.  Nada de eso servirá.

Correa nos ha recordado desde aquél lugarcito en Bélgica que “todo lo desleal y mediocre será efímero” y en eso él tiene toda la razón.  Sea quien sea que sea el mentiroso en este juego de política, Dios es juez y Él no se puede comprar.

Mientras tanto, Él protege a nuestro país y a nuestras almas.

Y nos llama.


Ven. traidor, ven a Mi y ten vida.
Ven, mentiroso, ven a Mi y ten vida.
Ven, ladrón, ven a Mi y ten vida.
Ven, asesino, ven a Mi y ten vida.
Ven, adúltero, ven a Mi y ten vida.
Ven, corrupto, ven a Mi y ten vida.

Porque sabemos que en ese momento en el que la pantalla está apagada, las luces están apagadas, los de la fiesta del barrio ya se durmieron, y los gallos aun no cantan… sabemos que nosotros somos el peor ejemplo de esas cosas.  Necesitamos salvación.

Y la verdad es:

¡Cristo ya viene!

The God of Life Overcomes All Evil

As we come to the close of the book of Genesis, we see all of the natural outworking of just about any family reunion: some descendants are blessed, others are rebuked, some family members meet for the very first time, and others confront one another under the weight of great interpersonal conflict.

That is all part of natural family interactions, but before leaving Canaan, Jacob/Israel received a visitation and blessing from the Lord.  “Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession,” God told him.  This is the same promise God made to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac – all of whom were sinners.

There are a few things you should remember when you evaluate all that takes place in the book of Genesis: First, God shaped the people He chose, He didn’t choose well-shaped people.  Second, He did it this way to show how utterly broken we humans are without the constant care and kingship of God.  And, finally, God is not defeated by the sins and failures of His people.  We don’t stain or tarnish God’s character or reputation in the same way you cannot stain a ray of light by flinging mud right at it.  God overcomes all of the evil this world spews forth.  In fact, it’s His very presence that allows us to recognize evil for the filth it is.

If this is the first time (or the first time in a long time) that you have read (and thought and fought) through Genesis, I hope you didn’t miss that God does not change or follow along with current trends.  His wants to see people blessed as they work purposefully and spread out to share that blessing with all the people of the earth.  God is the beginning, middle, and end of that mission.  All imaginings of a Utopia can’t hold a candle to God’s great and original command to “be fruitful and multiply.”

The God of Life is not outdated, cruel, or chauvinistic.  He is the only good God.  He is worthy today of all glory, honor, and praise.  He will come again as Judge.  My friend, I encourage you to turn yourself in and seek mercy now.  He is merciful, but He is not blind.  If you cling to evil, He will overcome you on that day, too.

The text referenced in this entry can be found in Genesis chapters 48-50.

The God of Life Is Not Limited By Our Perception

After Joseph detained Simeon as collateral, he sent the other brothers to bring Benjamin back before establishing further trade between Jacob’s family and the Egyptians.  He sent them with the grain they had purchased, but he also secretly returned their payment as well.  In this way Joseph was able to bless his brothers, however, because the brothers could not fathom that the gesture was intentional blessing, they were terrified as they imagined that they would be accused of having cheated and stolen from the Egyptians.  Because of their fear, likely caused by the guilt they carried from their sin against Joseph, they cried out, “What has God done to us?”  Did you catch that?  Verse 25 says the returning of their money was something that was done for them, but they saw it as something done to them.

Do you sometimes think circumstances in your life are like a curse or a punishment because you fear one possible outcome?  Well, in the case of these brothers, and in your case, I’m glad the God of Life is the one who writes the end of our stories, and His children never have to fear the end of the story.

As it turned out, the brothers returned to Joseph with their youngest brother after they had fretted a good bit and eaten through the grain they purchased on the first trip.  They took twice the payment as before and were ready to grovel for mercy as they explained the “mistaken” returned payment to the steward of Joseph’s house.  He told them, “Peace to you, do not be afraid.  Your God and the God of our father has put treasure in your sacks for you.  I received your money.”  The brothers met Joseph again, ate as his guests, and were prepared for their return trip, but this time Joseph’s slight-of-hand was a test, not just a blessing.

Joseph had his steward frame the youngest brother, Benjamin as a thief, and when Joseph made the accusation, the brothers protested that none of them would steal from him, but that if any were found to be guilty of the crime, they would surrender to punishment of death.  Well, once the “stolen” property was discovered in Benjamin’s possession, the brothers all lost it.  They pleaded with Joseph for mercy for the sake of their aged and bereaved father.  Maybe it was this very compassion on Jacob, which was not a concern for these same brothers when they staged Joseph’s death all those years before, that fully broke Joseph.

Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, forgave them, absolved them from shame, exalted God’s sovereignty, begged them to receive the blessing of his provision during the remaining years of famine, and showered them with affection.  Honestly, if this all happened within a matter of minutes like the text seems to suggest, I feel bad for those overwhelmed brothers!  They had willfully committed some heinous sin, it’s true.  But they had lived in the darkness of shame and fear, slaves to Satan’s accusations for more than a decade.  Then, all of a sudden, the lights of love and forgiveness were switched on, and did they ever blaze with God’s glory!  That must have been a completely overwhelming moment for them.

In the end, Jacob was told the incredible story of Joseph in Egypt, and he even made the journey to see his long lost son for himself.  The whole family was resettled closer to the food stores in Egypt and worked as shepherds over the flocks of Pharaoh.  It became clear to those who once scoffed at the dreams once told by the young Joseph that such dreams  were actually a promise of blessing, not a threat of domination.  And that, my friends, is the goodness of this God of Life.  His authority is over all, and His generosity is beyond anything you can imagine.

The text discussed above can be found in Genesis 42:26-47:12.  I apologize for not including it in its entirety here, but I encourage you to read it directly from God’s Word.

The God of Life Enables And Requires Us to Forgive

Who has hurt you most?  Do you see him or her at home, work, or in the community?  Do you find that the very sight of this person sends you into a tailspin of revenge fantasies?  I will tell you that is a common response, but I will caution you that it is not a good response.  Many times people who hurt us are in some sort of authority over us, which is how they have the power to “get away with” hurting us.  Because of this, we might think that, if only we were able to gain authority over the one who caused us harm, we would have the opportunity to exact revenge – to make them pay.  Again, this is common, but this is not good – for you, actually.

I know of at least two people who were mistreated by people in authority over them, who suffered quite a bit because of the mistreatment, who were strongly tempted to exact revenge when the tables were turned, and who were given grace by God to fear God and to forgive those who did them harm.  The first person is named Joseph, and the other is me.  We’ll address Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers today, but if you want to hear my story, well, that will have to wait for another day.

Joseph’s brothers left him for dead in a pit, then sold him into slavery.  He later was falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.  When God prompted Pharaoh to pluck Joseph out of prison and set him as Governor over all of Egypt, he was overwhelmed with praise for God.  For a number of years, he enjoyed privileges that must have been hyperbolic relief from the previous decade plus of great difficulty.  Then, when the famine hit, Joseph began to receive desperate visitors who pleaded to buy grain for survival.  Imagine the moment when Joseph saw the faces of the very brothers who sold him into slavery appear before him, ready to beg.

We can imagine that Joseph was tempted to forget God’s continuous mercy to him and try to make his brothers pay for what they had done.  We see in the text that he spoke roughly to his brothers after he recognized them.  He certainly could have been “playing the part” as they did not know with whom they were dealing.  However, we later see that he accuses them of being spies and incarcerates them for three days.  His demeanor changes abruptly when he observes the brothers lamenting mournfully among themselves in their own language.  God softened Joseph’s heart, and he wept at their confession of guilt toward him.  He later secretly blessed his brothers by returning their money to them after granting them the food they requested.

All acts of kindness and mercy are powered by grace from God, not by the human heart.  The human heart cannot love the person who has harmed them, but God’s heart is different.  God is love.  God’s own Son, Jesus pleaded with the Father to forgive his murderers before they had even completed their violent act.  You can both be forgiven of your sins, and you can forgive those who have sinned against you, but this is only possible through the fear of Holy God who has the right to invoke wrath and yet continually shows patience and mercy to His people.

“When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’  And he said, ‘Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt.  Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’  So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt.  But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him.  Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

“Now Joseph was governor over the land.  He was the one who sold to all the people of the land.  And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.  Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them.  ‘Where do you come from?’  he said.  They said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’  And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.  And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them.  And he said to them, ‘You are spies:  you have come to see the nakedness of the land.’  They said to him, ‘No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food.  We are all sons of one man.  We are honest me.  Your servants have never been spies.’

“He said to them, ‘No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.’  And they said, ‘We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.’  But Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I said to you.  You are spies.  By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here.  Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remained confined that your works may be tested, whether there is truth in you.  Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.’  And he put them all together in custody for three days.

“On the third day Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me.  So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.’  And they did so.  Then they said to one another, ‘In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen.  That is why this distress has come upon us.’  And Reuben answered them, ‘Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy?  But you did not listen.  So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.’ They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them.  Then he turned away from them and wept.  And he turned to them and spoke to them.  And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.  And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey.  This was done for them.” – Genesis 42:1-25



You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar: A Plea for a Hymnody to Open Eyes

Victor Chininin Buele

Every Sunday morning, I scan through the local radio stations on my way to church.  Sometimes, it’s oldies that catch me; sometimes it’s our Mexican radio station; other times it’s NPR; most often it’s random stuff, even boy bands from the 90’s.  If you know me at all, you would know I have a bit of an aversion for the Christian radio stations and you would also know why and why I’m trying to actually listen to them from time to time.  Suffice it to say that part of it is because I often need only two or three chords to realize I am listening to the Christian radio station.  And yes, it’s stereotypical, and it paints with a very broad brush the efforts of Christian men and women throughout the world to reach the world, but that’s not what I’m writing about today.  That will be for another time.

Last Sunday morning, a song came up twice:

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!

I realized why I was so attracted to the song.  This was a hymn.  A very religious song.  A song very much like the ones I was driving to go play to lead the congregation of the saints to sing.  This post is not about or against feminism or women’s rights or anything remotely close to that.  That may be another time.

And immediately my heart broke.  I could picture a girl, driving away on a Sunday morning, getting on the same interstate on which I was driving.  But she would be leaving a strange bed, perhaps not even a decent bed, broken and betrayed, once again empty and without the affirmation and the affection she craved for the night before.  Or the months before.

I could picture a girl, desperate and afraid, ashamed of what’s to come.  I could picture another girl, determined to make it to the top and fully persuaded that she was making the right choice.  I could picture them both on a different day driving to our local Planed Parenthood.

I could picture these girls listening to this song.  I could see this song’s power to pump them up, to affirm their choices, to transcend their circumstances, and to tell them that they are the roaring champion.

We are all broken.

I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

This is the line.  It’s not the hook.  This is the line.

Where were we, Christian musicians?
Where were we, when this poor broken woman was led to realize that she stood for nothing and fell for everything?
Where were we, that we were not able to minister to this poor woman, pushed to the breaking point?
Where were we, to give aid to this woman, held down for a long time?
Where were we, that we missed the moment when she was brought to her knees and realized she’s had enough, enough of the nonsense?
Where were we, to tell her a different story?  Don’t we know the true Champion?
Where were we, to point her to the Maker of the thunder?  To the Avenger and Protector of the tired and broken?
Where were we, to point her to true freedom that transcends floating like a butterfly because of the stripes of a Savior who died so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the heartache and pain of attempting to be her own hero?
Where were we, like C. S. Lewis, to give her the story of the Roaring Lion?

The Lord Jesus spoke to Paul, and we have the account of that in Acts 26:12-ff.  Pay close attention to verses 17-18.  Jim Wilson makes the point in his excellent book Taking Men Alive: Evangelism on the Front Lines that Jesus told Paul that he must do three things: 1) open their eyes, 2) turn them from darkness to light, and 3) turn them from the power of Satan to God.   He gives the analogy of a dark room where a person is with her eyes closed.  She cannot see.  What happens if you turn the light on? Nothing! Because “light does not cause sight.”  What if she opens her eyes while the light is still off?  “Open eyes do not cause sight, either.”  “When we have our eyes closed, we naturally want darkness.  But if we are in a dark room with our eyes wide open, we long for light.  Closed eyes want darkness.  Open eyes want light.  Open eyes are hungry for light” (p.13, ff)

Why are we not writing a hymnody to open eyes?

Listen, there is a ton of explicitly Christian music for us to use on a Sunday morning service.  Too much, perhaps.  Only a fraction of the songs that are produced today will endure the test of time.  Just because we have a guitar or a piano and thirty minutes on a Saturday, that doesn’t create the next In Christ Alone.  What are we using our talent and resources to produce?

Don’t you see?  Katy Perry would not make a dime unless there were broken women who opened their eyes in a dark room.  They are hungry for light.  And instead of Light they are given cheap fireworks that will last only but a second and will not even give that good of a bang.

The opportunity is there, will we be content writing average or even below-average songs that will do nothing but pad our ego?  Most likely, you are not Beethoven, Stuart Townend, Bob Kauflin, Mozart, or Taylor Swift or her cowriters.  But know this, the opportunity is there, and we are missing the jeep to take us on the safari to see the Great Lion, who as that wise man once said, isn’t safe, but He is good.  “He is the King, I tell you.”

The God of Life is The Answer to Man’s Need

After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, revealing a seven year period of abundance to be followed by another seven years of famine, he also advised Pharaoh how to navigate the coming devastation.  He directed the ruler of Egypt to appoint a manager over the whole land to prepare for the collections and distributions that would be required to survive the years to come.

This unsolicited, yet vital, counsel that Joseph offers is the last piece of the puzzle that brings to fruition the dream from Joseph’s youth.  The boy who told his brothers that he would one day rule over them, was about to do just that.  Pharaoh, upon hearing Joseph’s advice, realizes that a man in such a position would need to have the Spirit of God.  Since Pharaoh has never seen a more clear example of the work of the Spirit of God than the interaction he just had with Joseph, Pharaoh understood that Joseph was the man for the job.  With that, Joseph went from despised little brother, to slave, to prisoner, to Pharaoh’s right hand man.

I want to make sure you understand how that happened.  There are no bootstraps here.  This was not Joseph’s success.  God showered Joseph with grace in the midst of great trials, and it was God who led Joseph where he needed to be–who empowered him to face those challenges with peace and faithfulness.  While the world cries, “self-made-man,” Joseph knows he is God’s grace-carried man.  Are you being carried by grace or are you strangling yourself by trying to pull yourself up by the bootstraps?

“This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants.  And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?’  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command.  Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.’  And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.'”  – Genesis 41:37-41

“Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph.  Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him.  Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh.  ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’  The name of the second he called Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.'”  – Genesis 41:50-52