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We believe in one God and the sanctified truth that comes through the life changing love and personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We also believe in preserving the heritage and foundational truths of American and Western culture.

 
 
 
 
 

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The US Constitution and Foreign Policy

Just in case you are averting your ears and eyes to the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, there was a lot to be said about the testimony of LTC Alexander Vindman. LTC Vindman was one of the people that was listening to the call that Trump made to the Ukrainian President on 25 July.  According to the Washington Post, a paper that does not support President Trump:
 
“[Vindman] told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy and an improper attempt to coerce a foreign government into investigating a U.S. citizen.”
 
The suggestion being made is that the President was subverting US foreign policy. What foreign policy was he exactly subverting? Can the President subvert foreign policy if he has authority over foreign policy? Can the President ask a foreign leader to help in the investigation of a US Citizen? If he doesn’t, then who does have the authority to discuss this with another foreign leader? Congress? If a President subverts foreign policy, can he subvert him or herself? What does the US Constitution have to say about Presidential powers for foreign policy?  Unfortunately, the answer is not that cut and dry.
 
  1. Article 2 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to the President.
  2. Article 1 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to Congress
  3. There is no authority granted to the Judicial Branch over foreign policy; however, the Judicial Branch does have authority to submit and provide legal decisions regarding how the executive and legislative branches conduct themselves regarding constitutional law – this includes foreign policy. Supreme Court decisions in this area were very limited for the first 200 years of this nation, but, have grown significantly over the last two decades or so.
  4. And then, there are some powers that are divided equally amongst both branches.

 

The political branches often cross swords over foreign policy, particularly when the president is of a different party than the leadership of at least one chamber of Congress.  Foreign affairs include activities such as military operations, trade and commerce, immigration, intelligence operations, foreign aid, and international agreements (i.e., treaty’s) Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the Constitution is not very specific in some of these areas, but it can be argued that the division if powers over foreign affairs is implied in almost all areas. For example: if Congress is not happy about a military action ordered by the President, Congress does control the money – they can hold off funding. A second example is the appointment of ambassadors, Congress can deny approval of an ambassador by vote. 

Nonetheless, history has shown that the party in power will use the vagueness of Foreign Powers in the Constitution to their advantage; this goes for both Republican and Democrat. Presidents have accumulated foreign policy powers at the expense of Congress in recent years, particularly since the 9/11 attacks – perhaps this is why we have experienced a dramatic increase in these types of issues going to the US Supreme Couty. The trend conforms to a historical pattern in which, during times of war or national emergency, the White House has tended to overshadow Capitol Hill. Is Russian collusion into our election considered a national emergency? I think so and, unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Congress to investigate this. 

Secondarily, we regularly hear about the President “obstructing justice”. In truth, the President has told certain high level officials that they will not testify in front of Congress and they have also stated their refusal to turn over some of the documents that Congress has requested. One may argue that the President is correct, there is such a thing as executive privilege, but, I believe that the most obvious case is that Congress is NOT following precedent in this impeachment inquiry. Yes, portions of previous impeachment inquiries into Clinton and Nixon were held in secret, but, and this is a large but, these inquiries were led by an independent council and NOT by a member of the Intelligence Committee of Congress who has an extremely obvious case of political bias. If I were Trump, I would hold as much back as possible and only release the materials once I have an opportunity to participate in the legal process.

 Back to the argument about foreign policy powers, “The Constitution, considered only for its affirmative grants of power capable of affecting the issue, is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy,” wrote constitutional scholar Edward S. Corwin in 1958. Some legal and constitutional scholars have noted that presidents have many natural advantages over lawmakers with regard to leading on foreign policy. These include the unity of office, capacity for secrecy and speed, and superior information. “The verdict of history, in short, is that the substantive content of American foreign policy is a divided power, with the lion’s share falling usually, though by no means always, to the president,” wrote Corwin.

President Trump’s foreign policy proposals may spur Congress into taking a more active role than it has in recent years, writes political science professor Stephen R. Weissman in Foreign Affairs. But, as the precedent has already been set in reference to the President and his power over foreign policy, can Congress find the President in violation of law regarding his actions?  Perhaps, at best, they can make new laws limiting the Presidents power moving forward.

For example: what law did the President break when it is said that he subverted foreign policy?  Adam Schiff, for his part, is arguing that the President abused his power in a quid pro quo by asking a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent that, some say, Trump can use in the upcoming President election.  However, as Republicans and others are arguing, the transcript provided does not show this, so again, what law did Trump break?  

The sad news for Americans is that, unless this transcript is shown to have been manipulated (which some are now saying), then the country will always remain divided over this question.  I am one that does not believe this impeachment is about preserving the argument that “nobody is above the law”, else, I believe that we would have seen many more prominent and politically elite, in prison or fined significant amounts of dollars at the least. No my brothers and sisters, all impeachment hearings are political, including the ones that came against Clinton and Nixon. 

Regardless of the outcome, whether Trump is vindicated or whether he is found guilty, this impeachment is not healthy for our country and will divide us further. If you don’t want Trump as your President, then vote him out in 2020. If you do, then vote him in. Let America speak and stop the political pandering.  Our elected officials are acting like children – all of them. One trying to outdo the other, all of them are trying to sell us on why they “are great Americans” and are about doing America’s business in the name of justice. 

Did the President break the law by subverting foreign policy? Give the American people ALL of the information and let the American people decide, because our elected representatives are failing.

 

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-official-who-heard-trumps-call-with-ukraine-leader-testified-that-he-was-told-to-keep-quiet/2019/11/01/dbed7fae-fc07-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/understanding-the-constitutions-foreign-affairs-power, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-foreign-policy-powers-congress-and-president, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.amazon.com/President-Office-Edward-S-Corwin/dp/0814713904/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487861733&sr=1-1&keywords=Edward+S.+Corwin+president+powers, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-12-12/congress-and-war, accessed 4 Nov 2019


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Our Flags Waving, Never Forget

The Bible repeatedly commands us to remember the past:

“Remember the days of old; consider the years long past.” (Deuteronomy 32:7)

“Remember the former things of old.” (Isaiah 46:9)

“But call to remembrance the former days.” (Hebrews 10:32)

Oftentimes, holidays exist to be times of remembrance—days such as Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Yet somehow in today’s heated political environment, it seems that the primary remembering being done (or at least the primary remembering that is capturing the national spotlight) is that of remembering past sins rather than our triumph over them.

Ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick made headlines…“by telling Nike to pull its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers. Nike said [Kapernick] told the company he believes the colonial flag used on the shoes is offensive, because it was flown when slavery was legal.”

If Kaepernick’s measurement of historical expungement is to be the new standard, then anything used before the Civil War must be excluded, because it was used when “slavery was legal.” This would mean that the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention, and the Emancipation Proclamation must be excluded because they were used when “slavery was legal.”

Imagine what would occur if we applied a similar standard in other areas. For example, what if we cut from the Bible the story of everyone who sinned? We would have no examples of redemption. The only Biblical account remaining would be that of Jesus’ life (minus the content of bickering disciples, plotting Pharisees, violent Romans, and betraying Judases). What is the meaning of the Cross without the understanding of our sins for which the Savior died?

Behind every truly great story or inspirational person is a background of conflict or suffering—which makes the story of the overcoming that much more worth the telling. We have to remember enough of the evil to appreciate the good.

The Home Page of our website is dominated by a waving flag. We believe in what the flag stands for – our nation and the people in it. Many seem to forget that the American flag was not the flag of slavery; it was the flag of the Union that abolished slavery. Regardless of the era in which it was flown, our flag has always represented the spirit of liberty and freedom. As acknowledged in the National Anthem:

“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto, “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Human civilization will continue to progress (or regress) depending on our attitude to history. If we ignore the past, then centuries from now even our presence today will be obliterated from the public record. After all, there are more than 40 million in slavery right now (far more than at anytime in world history). Since this is the most slavery-ridden time in world history, what if future generations use today’s standard refuse to mention anything from our generation?

As God’s children living in this country, we may look with pride on our flag, which has flown over battlefields at home and abroad as brave men and women for centuries believed our own inalienable rights, and those of others (including black Americans in slavery, for whom hundreds of thousands gave their lives) were worth dying for.

In the words of colonial flag-maker Betsy Ross,

“Our hearts aching, our prayers praying, our flags waving, never forget.”

 

References:

Gage, J. (2019, July 4). Colin Kaepernick breaks silence after igniting controversy over Nike’s Betsy Ross flag shoes. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/colin-kaepernick-breaks-silence-after-igniting-controversy-over-nikes-betsy-ross-flag-shoes

The star-spangled banner. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/fomc/learn/historyculture/the-star-spangled-banner.htm

The Editors of Peter Pauper Press. (2018). Revolutionary women: From colonists to suffragists. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=sm1oDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT13&lpg=PT13&dq=Our+hearts+aching,+our+prayers+praying,+our+flags+waving,+never+forget.”&source=bl&ots=EciDJiZR7v&sig=ACfU3U3exsv4lq-fxsPdOS-dG2N87ckAxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiH-oybj6HjAhWYGs0KHVCTD-Y4ChDoATAAegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Our%20hearts%20aching%2C%20our%20prayers%20praying%2C%20our%20flags%20waving%2C%20never%20forget.”&f=false


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Faith, Love, and Culture Part 2

Jude 1:20-21. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 

   My wife and I recently had a discussion with a woman who was very interested in how we integrate “American politics” into our ministry. She had mentioned that she and her husband would watch events happen around them, or on the news, and they would get angry about it. They felt helpless at what they could do to participate in the discussion and had doubts about how they, being one “small” couple, could do anything to make an impact.  Julee and I could absolutely relate to how she was feeling – we still can.  The couple in question have been involved in leading ministry efforts for many years; whereas Julee and I just started our ministry a few months ago. Some may ask that if they, as experienced ministers, don’t know what to do, then who are Julee and I to do anything? In regards to her question about how we do this, we offered the following:

  1. Our preference, and our mission, is to have discussions around “culture” versus politics. While politics is a part of culture, it is culture that influences politics. There are efforts to politicize culture movements (which we discuss as the Lord leads us), but forced culture reform leads to a reduction in personal liberty, which then leads to tyranny. This is why we decided to start sharing the truth as we believe it to be (and as we are guided by the Holy Spirit). Our articles always follow the pleadings of the Holy Ghost and will not always follow the current news cycle.
  2. As ambassadors of Christ, we must learn to manage our anger when it comes to cultural debate. Paul reminds us about our sinful nature in Romans 7. When we get angry, this is our sinful nature working to come to the surface. Thankfully, as Paul further reminds us in Romans 8, we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ who strengthens us, allowing us to be overcomers.  As ambassadors, we should endeavor to approach things in a way that honors Christ – this can be difficult when our flesh wants to act out in culture.
  3. We endeavor to write about, and discuss American cultural issues, from the perspective of Kingdom Principles.  Some people refer to biblical principles but as scripture can be used to support any argument, we don’t feel that biblical principals seamlessly apply. Kingdom Principles are items that we glean from prayerfully reading through the scripture, followed by revelation knowledge from the Father. He never lets us down.
  4. A tad more than 50% of the time, we are not knowledgeable on certain cultural topics, so we read up on them, study them, and meditate on them. While we do get tidbits of knowledge from specific articles, we always follow the thread of resources as annotated in the articles we read. When reading up on pieces of legislation, we always go straight to the actual legislation, or bill, itself to develop our own interpretation.
  5. When quoting something that someone said, we always go to a video source to hear it for ourselves. We also listen to the entirety of the video to ensure context.  If video is not available, then we go to the material that the person wrote themselves. Again, we read the entirety of the writing to ensure proper context. We never rely on headlines, memes, or one liners – though these may lead us to something more tangible.
  6. We always tend to leave our secular, commentary, and other source materials in a REFERENCE section at the bottom of our articles so that our readers can judge for themselves.
  7. We have a few mentors in American and Christian culture that we rely on and follow for teachings and guidance. Our primary sources of kingdom principles and Godly mentorship include:
    1. Truth and Liberty (affiliated with Andrew Womack)
    2. Jim Dennison
    3. Lance Wallnau
    4. Wallbuilders (Dave Barton)
    5. Patriot Academy (Rick Green).
    6. American Heritage Foundation
    7. Family Policy Alliance
  8. Last, but most importantly, we remain consistent in a solid foundation of both prayer and scripture time.

 

   In early October, we wrote an article on Faith, Love, and Culture.  This article touches on how we must maintain our faith and love in our fellow man as we journey along this path of life on earth together. However, this week, the Lord brought me to Jude 1:20-21 and it resonated on my heart as an expansion, or addendum, to the article previously written. We can remain at peace with the world around us as long as we remain firm on our foundations. When our politicians behave radically, rudely, or out of the character you expect, a solid foundation in His Word and in prayer will keep you walking forward with your head held high.

   Over the last 12 months or so, I have found that anger towards others with whom I have disagreement with in regards to American Culture has decreased tremendously. This does not mean that I do not get frustrated, nor does it mean that my heart rate does not increase for a few minutes when I see or read a view that opposes my own. But I find that tolerance is much easier, sympathy comes faster, and mercy comes “eventually”.  I do have my buttons and short strings, but this is a far cry from the person I was just a few short years ago, but this is due largely in part to the calling the Lord has placed on our hearts.

   True believers have a sure foundation (see 1 Cor 3:11) and cornerstone (see Eph 2:20) in Jesus Christ. The truths of the Christian faith (v. 3) have been provided in the teaching of the apostles and prophets, so that Christians can build themselves up by the Word of God (see Acts 20:32).  Praying in the Holy Spirit is not a call to some ecstatic form of prayer, but simply a call to pray consistently in the will and power of the Spirit, as one would pray in the name of Jesus.

   We do not have the qualities or the experiences of Jim Dennison or Andrew Womack, but the Lord does not want that from us. Inspirational talks may stir us up; impassioned speeches may really get our blood flowing – but without a faith informed by the Scriptures, it’s all just a lot of hype! We are our own (unique) in the image of God, we have our own experiences and we are not designed or intended to be parrots of our favorite pastors or ministers. But, what the Lord does want from ALL of us is a solid grounding in scripture and a full life in prayer.  These two things, scripture and prayer, are the foundations that will lead us to being comforted in this journey we call life, no matter what you read in the news, personalities you listen to, or activities you personally witness around you.

   Julee and I have wonderful “personal” prayer times and we both love spending personal time in our bibles (I have three on my desk at any given time). We have recently made a decision to come together in prayer – together and daily. We have done this off and on over the last few years but praying together has not been a regular activity in our lives and we have been missing out. However, no matter how we feel or what we are doing, we (mostly she) presses forward to ensure that she and I spend time, every day, praying together. The love of a husband and wife can only be fully realized when they’re open with each other and sharing their lives – including a life together in prayer.

   To pray in the Holy Spirit means to approach God in and by the Spirit as opposed to the flesh. Coming with an attitude of surrender – Rather than being full of self. The Apostle Paul said that he both prayed with understanding and in the Spirit, meaning in the tongue the Spirit gave him that bypassed his understanding.

   Keeping yourselves in the love of God is an imperative that establishes the believers responsibility to be obedient and faithful by living out our salvation while God works out His will (see Php 2:13). It means that we must remain in the place of obedience where God has poured His love out on His children, as opposed to being disobedient and then incurring His chastening. This is accomplished by: 1) building ones self up in the Word of God (Jude 1:20), 2) praying in the Holy Spirit, and 3) looking for the finalization of eternal life.

   We wait in eager anticipation of Christ’s second coming to provide eternal life in its ultimate, resurrection form, which is the supreme expression of Gods mercy on one whom Christ’s righteousness has undeservedly been imputed. Paul called this “loved His appearing” (see 2 Tim 4:8) and John wrote that such a steady anticipation was purifying (see 1 Jn 3:3).

   Therefore, brothers and sisters, keep at the forefront of your hears and your minds that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Regular, consistent Bible reading and study is crucial if we’re going to grow spiritually. There’s no substitute for the Word of God.
 

Added Scriptural References:

1 Jude 3:3 ……contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

1 Cor 3:11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Eph 2:20. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

Acts 20:32. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Phil 2:13. for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

2 Tim 4:8. in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.


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