Ketchup and the third-party problem

Note: This is an article from Seth Godin.
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup is better ketchup. Most adults who try it agree that it’s more delicious, a better choice. Alas, Heinz has a host of significant advantages, including dominant shelf space, a Proustian relationship with our childhood and unlimited money to spend on advertising.
The thing is, you can buy Sir Kensington’s any time you want to. And when you buy it, that’s what you get.
You’re not buying it to teach Heinz a lesson. You’re buying it because that’s the ketchup you want.
The marketing of Sir Kensington is simple: If you want better ketchup, buy this, you’ll get it.
Elections in the US don’t work this way.
I’m calling it a third-party problem because the outcome of third-party efforts doesn’t align with the marketing (and work) that goes into them.
Ross Perot, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Clinton, cost Bush that election. The people who voted for Perot got Clinton, and it’s pretty clear that the Republicans learned nothing from this, as the next winning candidate they nominated was… George Bush.
Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate who ran against Bush and Gore, cost Gore that election. The people who voted for Nader got Bush, and it’s pretty clear that the Democrats learned nothing from this, as the next person they nominated was… John Kerry.
[Irrelevant aside: John Kerry was married to the heir to the Heinz Ketchup fortune.]
[I’m calling it a ‘problem’ because I have such huge respect for people who care enough and are passionate enough to support change. The problem is that since Gus Hall, and then John Anderson and then the more recent candidates, just about all the changes that third parties have tried to bring to national politics have foundered. It just isn’t a useful way to market change in this country.]
If enough people spent enough time, day after day, dollar after dollar, we could fundamentally alter the historic two-party system we have in the US. But it’s been shown, again and again, that the easy act of letting oneself off the hook by simply voting for a third-party candidate accomplishes nothing.
The marketing of the third-party candidate is: Teach those folks a lesson, plus, you’re not on the hook for what happens. But…
No one in government is learning a lesson.
And you don’t even get who you voted for.
The irony is not lost on me. A small group of voters who care a great deal are spending psychic energy on a vote that undermines the very change they seek to make.
It’s a self-defeating way of letting yourself off the hook, but of course, you’re actually putting yourself on the hook, just as you do if you don’t vote at all.
No candidate has earned a majority of all potential (regardless of registration) voters, not once in my lifetime. Which means that the people who don’t vote, or who vote for a third-party candidate, have an enormous amount of power. Which they waste.
Yes, it’s on you. Your responsibility to vote for one of two people, and to be unhappy with that conundrum if you choose. And then work to change the system, and keep working at it…
But it’s not like ketchup. With ketchup, you get what you choose. With voting, we merely get the chance to do the best we can on one particular day, and then spend years working for what we might want.
It turns out that democracy involves a lot more than voting.

Shall He Find Faith?


Believing* is vital for a successful Christian life. Without out believing, we cannot please God. In Luke 18 is a parable teaching about believing.

1And he [Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that man ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Here is the point of the parable, that men should continue praying and not grow weary.

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

The judge is ungodly and elitist.

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

The widow’s husband died requiring her to fend for herself. She says, “Avenge me of my adversary.”  Avenge means to grant justice or legal protection from the person harassing her. The widow knew her legal rights and wanted the judge to exercise his authority on her behalf. The judge was not interested in helping her.

And he would not for a while: but afterward, he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Even though he did not want to provide assistance because he did not care about her plight or the law.

Yet because of this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

She continued disturbing the judge until he responded to her annoying behavior and not because of his concern for the law.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.


The Lord calls the judge unjust, lawless.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cries day and night unto him, though he bears long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

When Jesus returns, will he find believing on the earth? Find implies that Jesus will return looking for believers? Everybody believes. Believe what? The Bible, which is also called the Law.

Jesus will return looking for believers that are obedient to the Word of God. The widow asserted her legal right to the lawless judge to do judge righteously.


The parable reminds us that God is looking for believers that trust and obey the Bible. Believing entails persistence to continue praying and believing the specific verses until it comes to pass. If the prayer is not based on the bible then God has no obligation to answer.


* Both believe and faith are translated from the same word root. When it’s a noun (pistis) the translation is faith and a verb (pisteuo) it’s believe. This is one of the most confusing translation decisions in the Bible. I prefer believe and believing.

The Day Abortion Was Legalized


On January 22, 1973, the well-known Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade was decided by a 7-2 vote. This decision permitted women to undergo an abortion procedure up to viability, the first six months of pregnancy. This landmark decision overturned all state laws pertaining to abortion.

Most people are familiar with this case. Liberal politicians state that abortion is legal any time up to delivery because Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Although the first part is true, it is not because of Roe v. Wade.

On the same day that Roe v. Wade was decided, another abortion case was on the docket, Doe v. Bolton. This case  challenged the Georgia abortion laws. Since Roe v. Wade was already approved, was there a need to decide on Doe v. Bolton. This decision was critical because it extended abortion options up to delivery because a woman could choose an abortion based on physical health, mental health, or emotional health. The case was filed on behalf of Doe, Jane Doe, to protect her name.

When asked by one of the justices if Jane Doe was a real person, the attorney replied that it doesn’t matter. Therefore, on January 22, 1973, abortion was legalized for the first and second trimesters and then a later decision ruling extended abortion during the third trimester.

In 2003 the identity of Jane Doe surfaced, Sandra Cano. When Sandra discovered that she was the Jane Doe in the case, she filed a motion in a district court to have her case reviewed. Cases cannot be filed on theoretical possibilities but require a party that has been harmed. Doe v. Wade was filed on her behalf without her awareness, but the district court denied her motion. A motion with the appeals court was denied also. Finally, a Supreme Court review was requested and denied. Ms. Cano died in 2014.

The courts knew that a review of this landmark decision would have been overturned since Sandra did not support the case. This is a fascinating case of legal and judicial manipulation.

  • How did both cases make the docket on the same day? Was it because Roe v. Wade was a high profile case and Doe v. Bolton would attract minimal attention?
  • Why were the justices not interested in validating that Jane Doe was a real person?
  • The courts were reticent to reopen a settled Supreme Court case, even though the merits of the case were questionable.

God’s Gem Miners


How should we filter life? Life bombards us every day. How should we process the multitude of thoughts, information, and influences that vie for our attention? We can’t accept everything. Rejecting all results in isolation and mistrust. In Philippians 4, God teaches one of the great life lessons in the Bible.

 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Whatever things! God is describing a filtering process.  How do we decide what is useful and what to discard?  In Isaiah 55, God explains the tension in the world and in our lives.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We are to filter life using the Bible to retain the things that align with God’s thoughts and ways while rejecting the world’s thoughts and ways.

Whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report…..

The second part begins with “if there be any”. This is another description for filtering. It doesn’t say “if there be only” or “if there a majority”, but it says if there be any. God doesn’t expect us to only accept something that is 100% Godly, or 51% Godly, or 10% Godly. He says any. If there is only .1% Godly then it’s enough.

If there is only .1% containing virtue or praise, then think on these things.

My family likes to go gem mining when we visit the mountains. This activity involves filling a bucket with dirt from the gem mine. Next, sit on a bench beside a trough with running water. Then scoop some dirt into a wood frame with a screen bottom. After submerging the frame in the water, then the water begins to wash away the dirt. The gems are larger than the screen. Therefore, after 90 minutes all of the dirt is washed away and a couple of tablespoons of gems remain from the gallon-plus size bucket.

This verse reminds me of gem mining because it takes time and effort to find the hidden gems in the bucket of dirt. God instructs us to search for the honest, pure, just, lovely, and the good report. If they have any virtue and praise, then spend some time considering God’s thoughts and ways.

Jews, Gentiles , or the Church?

1 Cor 10-32

The narcissistic church thinks that everything in the bible is written to them. This has caused massive confusion and results in wrongly dividing the Bible. God always addresses one of the following three groups according to 1 Corinthians 10,

32 Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:


One of the requirements to rightly divide the Bible is to be aware of who is being addressed. We can learn from the entire bible (Romans 15:4) but only certain parts are addressed to the Church. God tells us who he is addressing if we search the context. Let’s explore these three groups and look at some examples.

  • The Jews

The Jews are God chosen ones. They trace back their bloodline to Jacob/Israel. Most of the Old Testament is addressed to the Jews. They received the Mosaic law and were instructed, guided, and protected by God.  Christ traces his Jewish roots by to Judah for his claim as an Israelite.

In Romans 9 Paul turns from the Church then addresses  the Jews.

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

He continues addressing the Jews in chapter 10

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

In Romans 11 Paul changes his audience from the Jews to the Gentiles.

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office:

Then in Romans 12 he turns back to the Church.

The book of James is addressed to the Jews. James 1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which, are scattered abroad, greeting.



  • The Gentiles

The Gentiles are the nations. All of the non-Jewish people in the world are Gentiles.


In Romans 8 God comforts us with these words

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


We are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Now turn to Romans 11 and we’ll see something contradictory and unsettling

21 for if God spared not the natural branches take heed lest he also spares not thee.22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.


How do we reconcile that “nothing can separate from the love of God” and take heed unless “you also shalt be cut off”? The answer is these are addressed to two different groups. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” in Romans 8 is addressed to the church. The section in Romans 11 is explained by Romans 9 where a different group is addressed

For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the fleshwho are Israelites;…


And then in Romans 11 he begins addressing the Gentiles

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office:


Now we know that the warnings and threats from Romans 11:21-22 about taking heed unless you be “cut off” is for our learning concerning the Gentiles but is not addressed to the Church of God. The entire bible is God-breathed, profitable, and for our learning. But only certain parts are addressed to the church. If the entire bible is interpreted as applied to the Church then we introduce confusion, error, and are not approved before God rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

It is critical to know to whom a letter or email is addressed. My wife Wendy may receive an invite to meet for lunch on Friday. I may read the invite and learn that she will be having lunch with a friend on Friday but it would be inappropriate for me to show up because the invite was not addressed to me. We understand the importance of this canon in our lives but then disregard it when studying the Word of God. The same principle applies.

Let’s look at another example in the book of James. In Romans 6 we learn that we are not under the law,

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace.


But then we get to the book of James and read in chapter 2,

If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin and are convinced of the law as transgressors10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.


How can the church not be “under the law” in Romans and also become a “transgressor of the law”? This confusion is cleared up by reading James 1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.


The 12 tribes are the blood line of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. This letter is addressed to the Jews and not to the church. This knowledge removes any confusion. Am I implying that you should skip this letter? God forbid. This epistle is critical to our practical walk. Some call this letter the New Testament equivalent of Proverbs in the Old Testament.


  • The Church of God

There are 9 letters addressed to the church. I will show you the introductions which show to whom these letters are addressed.

Romans 1

among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christto all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Church is called of Jesus Christ and another name for the believers is saints. Parts of chapters 9-11 are not addressed to the Church but are for our learning.

1 Corinthians 1

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Church is also called those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Galatians 1

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,


Ephesians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Philippians 1


Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Colossians 1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 1


Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


There is a total of 9 Church letters addressed to 7 different churches. These letters contain the instructions addressed TO the Church of God. Mastering the information in these letters is critical to the equipping of the saints.


Neither the Old Testament nor the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are addressed TO the Church of God. However, there is an abundance of information that is for our learning, which is needed to understand parts of the Church letters.





Should we avoid divisions and offenses?

stay or go

This is an intentionally ambiguous question, forcing you to think. The correct answer, ” It depends”.  Let’s explore the two options.

In Romans 16, God presents why to avoid divisions and offenses.

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

18 For they that are such serve, not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

The pivotal phrase in this section is “contrary to the doctrine which you have learned”. We should avoid divisions and offenses which contradict the Word of God. This foolishness proceeds from walking in the flesh. Since God’s thoughts and ways are superior to our thoughts and ways, then it is wise to choose God’s thoughts and ways.

What if the divisions and offenses are in congruence with the Word of God? Should we avoid them? First of all, walk in love. Second, pray for wisdom and understanding. You may be called to walk away, pray, or to highlight what is contrary.

Also, notice the motivation from verse 18. Avoid those that want to serve themselves instead of Jesus Christ, by deceiving the naïve or unsuspecting. Take heed if their goal is to serve Christ selflessly by proclaiming the Bible honestly to the hungry.

This section is about evaluating the one causing divisions and offenses. The key evaluation tool is to measure their thoughts and actions with the Word of God.

This is Godly instruction to address a vital, but potentially uncomfortable decision. Choose wisely by filtering life through the Bible.


Undue Political Influence


Privately held Koch Industries generates enough profit to elevate Charles and David Koch, sons of the founder, to the top 10 wealthiest in America. Most billionaires give back a portion of their wealth to charities and non-profits through foundations. Warren Buffet, number 2 on the list, directs his charitable giving to the titular foundation of number one on the list – Bill Gates.

The Koch brothers have multiple foundations focused on the public good. However, their political contributions generate the most discussion and controversy. Their fundraising success will soon dwarf both the Republican and Democrat National Committees, the RNC and DNC respectively. In 2012, their fundraising group raised $400M for conservative candidates. The RNC and DNC each spent about $650M. Mostly dark money to non-profit organizations which spend no more than 50% of their budget on political influence. Why dark money? Dark money donors are anonymous, unlike the Super Pacs which require disclosure of all donors and amount contributed. Due to this loophole, a small group of people can have a massive influence on political speech and remain in the shadows, that’s why it’s called dark money.

The Koch’s influence will more than double for 2016. They lead a group of over 300 donors which will amass almost $900M for this year’s election season.

The democrats want to overturn Citizens United because it allows corporations to contribute money to Super Pacs. My greater concern is the cover provided for Dark Money donors. I believe that all donors to Super Pacs and Dark Money organizations should undergo the same transparency.

The Koch brothers have turned political donations into an art form which is permitted by the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first five words of the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law”, are emphatic. It doesn’t say that Congress will make “some laws” or “most laws”, but “no law”. Also, notice that “no law” is singular, which means not a  single one. It doesn’t empower the Executive or Judicial branch to impose their interpretation either.

Political speech is under the heading of freedom of speech. The problem with restricting political speech is that it will always favor the incumbent or a candidate with name recognition.

I support two laws to reduce political corruption: term limits and dark money donor transparency.

Update: The Koch’s announced that they will not fund any pro-Trump or anti-Hillary ads this year.