Former Transgender Warning – A Podcast

Sometimes, we come across cultural issues that are very tough to listen to, much less have a discussion about it. One cultural item that can be very uncomfortable, emotional, or challenging to discuss is that of the Transgender lifestyle. Even if topics like this are uncomfortable, as Christians we should be willing to be aware, be open to talking about it, and not shy away.

In early August 2019, I spent a few days at the Texas State Capital participating in an event known as The Patriot Academy. While there, I met and had the opportunity to have a few short discussions with a man named Kevin Whitt. Wow, what a testimony from a man that has been redeemed from the LGBTQ lifestyle, something that he began while a teenager. God has definitely placed His hand on the heart of Kevin and healed him from a lifestyle that in his words “is dangerous”.

The Lord has truly blessed Kevin and he has a very bright future as he is beginning a ministry for those that are challenged by, and in recovery from, the LGBTQ lifestyle. Kevin is also connected with several state legislators around the country as he shares his thoughts about impacts on children that adults are leading to altering their sexual identity.

Kevin recently participated in an interview during a radio show with Wallbuilders (Tim Barton and Rick Green). A link to the podcast version of the radio show is below for those that may interested in hearing about this cultural issue from the perspective of someone that lived that lifestyle for over 20 years. God bless.

 
 

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Social Media – Test All Things

In Acts 17:11, we read where Paul’s teachings were tested by the Berean Jews. This was not only acceptable, it expanded their faith.  Can we not apply this same expectation today to things we read that are not of the bible but of the world?

As the ministry venue for FHGH Ministries is currently a digitally based ministry, I do spend a bit of time reviewing others areas of the digital space. I have it on my heart, at some point, to write an article about “Christian Concerns About Big Tech”, but the Lord has yet to provide me with the right words – as well as solid biblical foundational support. My professional experience is based on technology so I do have some foundation on technology. Nevertheless, I look forward to when the Lord tells me the time is now.

However, this morning (4 Sep) I came across an article that was quickly spreading across Social Media that indicated “Oprah Winfrey had purchased a controlling stake in the Fox News Network”. A link to this article can be found below in the references section if you care to read for yourself. As one might imagine, this article caught the eye of many conservative readers and the result was foul. Conservatives felt that they had just witnessed the demise of the last venue of conservative free speech in America, and they were terrified. Violent actions had actually been contemplated by some. The writer of that article had accomplished his objective. Well played sir, well done! For my conservative friends out there, be comforted in the knowledge that this article is false!!!

1 Thess 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good”

As tensions rise across our nation, rhetoric also increases exponentially. Unfortunately, the reaction is to spread “stuff” across social media platforms. Over 41% of Americans get their news from Social Media, this percentage increases as we consider younger generations. Unfortunately, a large percentage of what is placed out there across social media is false, or at best, intended to stir up a response placed on negative human emotions. Making this more difficult is that the bad guys know where the majority get their news but also that innocent citizens are also aware of the fakeness of social media news (this IS NOT intended to be commentary about regular media) but they react to it anyway.  This is due, in most part, to a digital and literacy deficiency. Oh, I wish I had space to share details about how our Founding Fathers wrote at an intelligence level that surpasses us today and how the Bible played a significant part in their vocabulary, knowledge, and writing style. But alas, that is for another day {I hope}. Acts 5:29 “….obey God rather than men”

The bottom line is that human nature is lazy and we tend to take the easy road at every opportunity. We focus on headlines rather than the body. We rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

When I came across that Oprah Winfrey article, there was a check in my spirit that something was wrong, so I tested the information found in that article. I googled it, I reviewed my trusted news sites, and a meditated on what the article was implying. In less than 5 minutes, I knew that the article was fake and false. Yet, the writer had accomplished his mission. What took 2 hours to spread will now take weeks to clean up.

2 Tim 4:3-4 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

The Bible advises us to test scriptures, to test any word from God that we receive, and to vet what we hear and read with two or three spiritual brothers. When it comes to the junk that we see on Social Media, we should apply the same principal. Test it. Test it against two or three sources that you trust. If necessary, share it with a brother and sister to get their thoughts on it. Do not share or spread until you have checked and verified, the same that you would do with a word from God. The same should apply to something that you might consider “good” or “favorable” to you.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

As Christians, I would argue that we need to test everything that we see come across our preferred social media platforms. As responsible Christians, we should be stewards of the truth, this also includes being good stewards of our digital resources and not add to the hype that is only intended to seduce a negative human reaction. This spreads hate.  I look forward to the day that Christians are contributing to not only good news, but also the truth. Perhaps, just perhaps, we shall see a decline in the fakeness that is taking over social media.

References:

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-media-still-has-a-fake-news-problem-and-digital-literacy-is-largel/538930/

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/nl/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/fake-news-cyber-propaganda-the-abuse-of-social-media

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/03/fake-news-spread-fast-dont-blame-bots/

https://www.aace.org/review/social-media-and-fake-news/

Oprah Winfrey and the Fox News Network


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Why Do Some Christians Hate Trump?

On 27 August, I shared a blog about how Trump is not my savior. A link to that write up is here: Trump Is Not My Savior.  In that article, I was transparent about my dislike of some of Trump’s behavior via Twitter as well as my lack of support for him when he was campaigning for the nomination from the Republican Party. As a matter of personal discourse, I stopped considering myself a Republican the day that he was nominated.  However, his nomination and eventual election as President has not stopped my belief that the far left wings of the Democratic Party are more dangerous to America, as well as our freedom to preach the Gospel, than President Trump by far. They have an outright hatred for Judeo Christian values, that had been somewhat obvious yet still hidden in the shadows in the past, that have now come to the surface in a manner that is blatant, chaotic, and extremely dangerous: for both our American heritage AND our religious liberties.  Trump is my President.

Unfortunately, there are Christians out there whose hatred runs deep, they are so blinded by what they consider to be unbiblical and ungodly actions of President Trump, that they cannot see the forces that are actually opposing what they know, in their hearts, to be true. They hate Trump with such a passion, that they would agree to sacrifice some of our religious liberty (as ordained by God), just to see President Trump taken down, tossed in prison, and legacy destroyed.  Christians that hate Trump will elect a democratic candidate even if the candidate supports late term or at birth abortions, even if the candidate will enact laws that will not allow the Gospel to be preached “openly”, even if the candidate will place a tax of over 50% on their income – their hatred runs that deep. How to share a story about Christians who hate President Trump has been something I have been personally struggling with.  How can I share this truth in a way that does not become blinded by my own personal opinions and political bias?
 
Scripture promises that “blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes” (Psalm 119:2). God blesses those that keep His word and judges those who do not.
 

How does “hating the President” line up with the gospel?  How does NOT praying for the President line up with Scripture? A Christian should never induce another Christian to sin.

The prophet Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel recognized the role that this pagan king played in God’s unfolding drama.  Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar and helped him interpret his dreams. The church’s ability to work with Trump is totally Biblical.
 
We may believe that the Bible is divinely inspired but if we do not put its truths into practice, our beliefs ring hollow. Because the Bible is God’s Word we must be ready spiritually to hear what it says to us. The Bible is meant for every believer and if we want to help our culture understand why Scripture is worthy of respect, we must show that we respect it first. 
 
Bible study is built on certain presuppositions:
  1. Believe that you can understand Scripture. God has given us His revelation in such a way that we can discover and apply its truths. We need not depend on creeds, councils, and church traditions. 
  2. Use the New Testament to interpret the Old. The New, which reveals Christ, is our means of interpreting the Old. God reveals Himself progressively, building later revelation upon earlier truth. The New Testament is God’s fullest revelation of himself to us and our means of interpreting His earlier revelation.
  3. Make the Bible it’s own commentary. Scriptures can interpret themselves because Gods word is unified, coherent, and fully inspired.
  4. Remember to ask the question, “What was the author’s purpose?”. We need to know all we can about the authors intended purpose before we try to interpret the writing. If we don’t understand the purpose or task at hand, we will miss much of what the writer wants us to know and do.
 
When Christians accuse other Christians of disrespecting God’s Word because they disagree on the non-essentials, however important they might otherwise be, we jeopardize our witness to the non-Christians world. The end state of any Christian “opinion” should be firmly placed on a belief system grounded in the gospel – period. Therefore, if we remain grounded in the gospel, how does President Trump stack up against the current team of democratic candidates? My “opinion” which I believe is firmly grounded in biblical principles is that while Trump himself may not be behaving biblically, his heart, his motives, and his policies have made tremendous positive steps towards rebuilding and sustaining biblical principles.  Unfortunately, I recognize that there are Christians that will find my opinion flawed – I simply have to accept that. My heart is at peace.
 

Tom Farron is a former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom. He wrote and published an article on 5 June 2019 titled Why do US evangelicals support Trump? They’re giving Christianity a bad name“. In his article, he is highly critical of Christians who compare President Trump to the pagan king Cyrus from the Old Testament. But, it was his concluding paragraph in his article that weighed heavily on me:

“The choice of American Christians to publicly back Trump now, and George W Bush before him, has been a dangerous move in a culture war that now means that half of the US has its fingers in its ears when it comes to the gospel. My challenge to Christians in the US is this: what matters more to you, the identity of the person in the White House or the promotion of the good news about Jesus Christ? If it is the latter – and it surely must be – then you need to seriously reconsider your support of the former. The politicisation of US Christianity has undermined the witness of evangelicals everywhere.”

As I prayed on and meditated on this paragraph, I asked the Lord what it was about this article that was causing me distress. I believe very deeply that the Democratic Party is on a collision course with both our biblical freedom as well as the rights and freedoms afforded us in our US Constitution. What the Democratic Party is saying regarding their policies IS NOT grounded in biblical principles (see my blog on Trump mentioned earlier). However, I also find the tongue of President Trump to be unbiblical and ungodly as well.
 
Ask yourself: how does it look for petty, quarreling believers to air dirty laundry in front of unbelievers?  In this regard, I am referring to biblical interpretation and the judgement and exercise thereof. We really should keep our focus on Christ as He is our great equalizer. We are all under His authority.
 
We have Christians that hate Trump so deeply that they are willing to give up their own individual liberty to get him out of office. However, when we read 1 Cor 8, we see where Paul is telling the Corinthians that strong Christians should not give up their liberty, they are to use their liberties in a manner that will best serve Christ. While some Christians are free to choose to give up their own liberty, they do not have the authority to sacrifice the liberties of all Christians. Their hatred is a sign of weakness and, thereby, not under the authority of Christ.
 

Today, I was introduced to a story written by Mario Murillo titled “Christians Who Hate Trump“.  I don’t profess to know much about Mario, but I felt the last half of his write up, which I share below, to ring true in my own heart. You can click on the link to read the full article if you wish.

“Franklin Graham was attacked for questioning Obama’s Christian Faith.  They told him not to judge a brother.  Hold that thought as we explore another question…

So why do so many Christian leaders—who said it was wrong to judge Obama—judge Trump?

Trump is not a pastor.  He is a businessman who loves America.  As far as his faith?  I am not qualified to determine his spiritual depth, since I’ve never had the chance to meet the man. But there are many photos of Christian leaders laying hands on the President, praying for him, and he is cooperating.

“He is like Hitler and the church is being fooled,” said another comment.  At this time, those of you who are wearing tinfoil hats, please remove them, and listen.  Hitler never had 98% of the media against him.  Trump has never called for a new constitution.  Hitler never tried to protect Israel.  I could go on and on.

Maybe if Trump had addressed the March for Life.  Maybe if he had chosen an on fire born-again Vice President.  Maybe if he had rescinded executive orders that banned federal funds from Christian organizations.  Maybe if he overruled the Johnson Amendment that banned the free speech of pastors.  Maybe if he had moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and shown himself to be a true supporter of Israel.  Maybe if he had put someone on the Supreme Court who helped Christian bakers to exercise their right to freedom of religion.  Maybe then you would support him.  Oh wait…he did all those things…”

While Trumps tongue may challenge the best of us when it comes to biblical soundness, his actions indicate otherwise. Others will argue that his policies violate biblical principles or the teachings of Jesus, something that I will attempt to dig into in a later article; however, I believe that his issues come down to his “tongue”, and this gets him in trouble.

On facebook the other day, I shared an article, written by Dave Barton in 2015, that outlines an argument about how President Obama is arguably the most biblically hostile President in modern history (hence, most anti-Christian). Click on this link to see a list of 89 acts of hostility toward Christians: AMERICA’S MOST BIBLICALLY-HOSTILE U. S. PRESIDENT. The bottom of the article contains a reference list supporting all 89 acts. Being an avid researcher, I randomly reviewed 50% of the supporting arguments myself and believe I would have come to the same conclusion as Dave Barton.

My opinion and belief system remains firm that the conservative parties, while not completely, remain much more grounded in Judeo Christian principals than those of the liberal parties. My belief is based on actions, words, and individual stated beliefs; this does not mean that all conservatives are in line “biblically” nor that all liberals are not in line “biblically”. We must recognize that we are dealing with political parties developed and instituted by man, not God; therefore, all political movements and parties are flawed. Unfortunately, our nation is managed by a predominantly two party system, yet, in my opinion (and my heart), conservatives are standing on firmer ground.

Remain biblically grounded and evaluate against the end-state – the gospel. Since we live in a pluralist culture, I accept that there will be some disagreement. But, can we disagree with love in our hearts? Yes, I believe we can, and we should.
 

References:

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/americas-most-biblically-hostile-u-s-president/, accessed 2 Sep 2019

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/christians-who-hate-trump/, accessed 3 Sep 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/05/us-evangelical-christians-trump-bad-name/, accessed 19 Jul 2019

https://www.fhghministries.org/trump-is-not-my-savior/, accessed 27 Aug 2019

Denison, J. PHD and Denison, R. MDiv, (2019). How Does God See America?, Denison Forum, pages 43-58

Limbaugh, D. (2018). Jesus is Risen, Regnery Publishing, pages 185-193


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Trump Is Not My Savior

I only have one Lord and Savior and it is not Donald Trump, BUT, he is my President.

From 28 July thru 3 August 2019, I spent a week at the Texas State Capital participating in sessions about the US Constitution, religious liberty, and the legislative process.  This group, ran and operated by the Patriot Academy, was attended by and facilitated by a wide range of people ranging from regular Christian American patriots (like me) to people already serving in elected office at various levels from local office through state legislators. One of the participants is intending to run for Governor of California in the very near future while another announced his bid to run as a State Representative for Texas. Also in attendance were 115 kids ranging in age from 16 thru 25; learning how to operate in positions of civil leadership in a biblical way while also understanding the TRUTH of our US Constitution and the founding of our great nation.

True, accurate, and factual lessons were given by such prominent professionals as Rick Green, Dave Barton, and other political and national figures.  This experience was truly inspiring and revealing.

On the topic of President Trump, I have been very honest and open about my disdain about HOW he uses social media. He openly trashes his own staff members and he calls others by nasty and disparaging names. The bible does teach us about how we speak about others, grace to the hearer (Eph 4:29), slander (Matt 12:26, Prov 10:18, Col 3:8), etcetera. The bible also reminds us about how our tongue is strong enough to light fires (Prov 18:21), and while not vocal, our social media posts are representative of our voice. I stopped considering myself a Republican the day that he was nominated as the candidate for the republican party. However, there is MUCH more to the President than how he uses Social Media.

President Trump is fighting a war against a media (Matt 7:15) that is controlled and manipulated by the democratic party. President Trump has been fighting a relentless battle against career politicians and the inner circle of Washington DC. Dare I say that there is a deep state in operation that wants nothing more than to “take Trump down”, only because they do not like him. Over the last three years, our elected officials have spent a dominant amount of time and money working against President Trump rather than fulfilling their legislative responsibilities “for the People”. Based on this, if President Trump wants to be Sampson, then I say let him be Sampson.

Because of the war against him, within the circle and within the media, President Trump has no choice but to use Social Media to get out his message. 10% of his messages are junk and poor word choice, but the remaining 90% of his words provide a snapshot of what he is truly doing for our nation. I believe that President Trump is a patriot and is fighting to preserve our Constitution and the liberties and rights contained within. No other President in history has done more to protect our religious liberties and freedoms given to us by our Father and Creator. Not since our Founding Fathers.

The actions of President Trump are bringing to the surface, and to the light, the ugliness and bitterness that has always existed within the political arena. Without his actions, the things that we used to only think to be true or things that we used to think were nothing but conspiracy, would never have been brought to the light.  Additionally, the activities of President Trump have done more than just bring the hidden ugliness to the light, he has caused the deep state to be blatant and “in your face” about their hatred of America and, in some cases, how much they despise those that follow the truth that is found in Jesus Christ.

To be clear, President Trump DOES NOT fit the profile of a Christian. I don’t know what he believes, but I do know that he has done more for us that any President has over the last few decades, and he has worked hard to live up to his campaign promises.  If you want to consider a President that did fit the profile of a Christian, then take a look at President Carter – whom most consider to have been the worst President in modern history.  Just because someone fits a particular “profile” does not mean that they are the right person for the job.

If you also want to consider examples of those that did NOT fit a Christian profile, then we need look no further than the Old Testament. A review of Xerxes, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus will provide examples of kings and rulers that DID NOT fit the profile of a Christian, yet, they still did good in the eyes of the Lord. In fact, the Lord refers to these leaders as “His servants”.  If President Trump does not fit the profile of a Christian, does he, as some say, fit the profile of Cyrus?  Numerous articles and books, along with Christian thought leaders, believe that President Trump is the new Cyrus.

There are some that believe President Trump is some kind of messiah, and this is almost as dangerous and gregarious as the never-Trumper’s (I refer to them as ever-Trumper’s). President Trump is not our savior, at least not mine, but he is our President and he is the right man for the job as it requires in our culture today. He is a flawed human being with a very large ego, narcissistic, and loud when he should be silent. Yet, without getting specific, he has done a lot for our nation and is fighting  a fight worthy of a man that is committed and in it to win it. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 18 months, as more of the deep state, and the hatred within it, is revealed and brought to the light. If only those in-the-know will share the truth.

 

www.patriotacademy.com

www.rickgreen.com

www.wallbuilders.com


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Democratic Socialism – Is it biblical? Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two part series. In Part 1, I spent some time defining socialism and comparing this philosophy to capitalism. While supporting with scriptures, the focus was predominantly on that of God given freedom and rights as ordained by God. I posited and argued that socialism tends to violate biblical views of freedom and God given rights while Capitalism operates in a manner more consistent with true biblical concepts of freedom and rights.  

 

So, what is the rub?

Many Christians on the Left seek to reinterpret Jesus’ earthly mission in exclusively economic and political terms. In their view, Jesus came primarily to deliver those who were poor and oppressed in a material sense. But every member of the human race is poor in the sense of being spiritually bankrupt. Jesus came to end our spiritual poverty by making available the righteousness that God demands and that only God can provide. It is heresy to state that God’s love for people varies in proportion to their wealth and social class. It is nonsense to suggest that all the poor are good and all the rich are evil.

Once we eliminate the semantics by which some refer to as a non-coercive voluntary utopian type of socialism, it becomes clear that socialism is incompatible with a truly free society. The Rev. Edmund A. Opitz was a Congregationalist minister who for decades championed the cause of a free society. He wrote;

“As History’s vice-regent, the [Socialist] Planner is forced to view men as mass; which is to deny their full stature as persons with rights endowed by the Creator, gifted with free will, possessing the capacity to order their ownlives in terms of their convictions. The man who has the authority and the power to put the masses through their paces, and to punish nonconformists, must be ruthless enough to sacrifice a person to a principle. . . a commissar who believes that each person is a child of God will eventually yield to a commissar whose ideology is consonant with the demands of his job.”

Opitz concludes that, “Socialism needs a secular religion to sanction its authoritarian politics, and it replaces the traditional moral order by a code which subordinates the individual to the collective.” All of this is wrongly justified in the cause of improving economic well-being and in the name of compassion.

Some Christian socialists profess contempt for the more coercive forms of state-socialism we witness in communist countries. They would like us to believe that a more humane, non-coercive kind of socialism is possible. They would like us to believe that there is a form of socialism, not yet tried anywhere on earth, where the central ideas are cooperation and community and where coercion and dictatorship are precluded. But they provide very little information about the workings of this more utopian kind of socialism, and they ignore the fact that however humane and voluntary their socialism is supposed to become after it has been put into effect, it will take massive amounts of coercion and theft to get things started.

Socialism is a gigantic fraud which attacks the market at the same time it is forced to utilize the market process. Unless socialists make allowance for some free markets which provide the pricing information that alone makes rational economic activity possible, socialist economies would have even more problems than those for which they are already notorious.

One dominant feature of capitalism is economic freedom, the right of people to exchange things voluntarily, free from force, fraud, and theft. Socialism, on the other hand, seeks to replace the freedom of the market with a group of central planners who exercise control over essential market functions. Basic to any form of socialism is distrust of, or contempt for, the market process and the desire to replace the freedom of the market with some form of centralized control. The best starting point for this comparison is a distinction made most recently by the American economist, Walter Williams. According to Williams, there are two and only two ways in which something may be exchanged. He called them the peaceful means of exchange and the violent means of exchange.

The peaceful means of exchange may be summed up in the phrase, “If you do something good for me, then I’ll do something good for you.” When capitalism is understood correctly, it epitomizes the peaceful means of exchange. Capitalism then should be understood as a voluntary system of relationships that utilizes the peaceful means of exchange.

In a violent means of exchange, the basic rule of thumb is: “Unless you do something good for me, I’ll do something bad to you.” This turns out to be the controlling principle of socialism. Socialism means far more than centralized control of the economic process. It entails the introduction of coercion into economic exchange in order to facilitate the attainment of the goals of the elite who function as the central planners.

 

Conclusion

One of the great ironies of Christian socialism is that its proponents in effect demand that the State get out its weapons and force people to fulfill the demands of Christian love. Even if we fail to notice any other contrast between capitalism and socialism, we already have a major difference to relate to the biblical ethic. One system stresses voluntary and peaceful exchange while the other depends on coercion and violence.

Critics of capitalism claim that capitalism must be abolished or restricted because it is unjust or because it restricts important human freedoms. They argue that capitalism is unchristian because it allegedly gives a predominant place to greed and other unchristian values. It is alleged to increase poverty and the misery of the poor while making a few rich at the expense of the many. Socialism, on the other hand, is portrayed as the compassionate economic system of people who really care for the less fortunate members of society. Socialism is also recommended on the ground that it encourages other basic Christian values such as community.

The truth is that capitalism is not economic anarchy. It presupposes a system of morality as well as the existence of inherent human rights, such as the right to make decisions, the right to be free, the right to hold property, and the right to exchange what one owns for something else. Capitalism should be thought of as a system of voluntary relationships within a framework of laws which protect peoples’ rights against force, fraud, theft, and violations of contracts. “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not lie” are part of the underlying moral constraints of the system. Economic exchanges can hardly be voluntary if one participant is coerced, deceived, defrauded, or robbed.

The limited government willed to Americans by the Founding Fathers was influenced in large measure by biblical considerations about human sin. If one of the more effective ways of mitigating the effects of human sin in society is dispersing and decentralizing power, the conservative view of government, as is the conservative vision of economics, is on the right track.

The truth turns out to be something quite different from this widely accepted myth. It is not the free market that produces monopolies; rather it is governmental intervention with the market that creates the conditions that encourage monopoly.

Various people often approach economic exchanges with motives and objectives that fall short of the biblical ideal. But no matter how base or selfish a person’s motives may be, so long as the rights of the other parties are protected, the greed of the first individual cannot harm them. As long as greedy individuals are prohibited from introducing force, fraud, and theft into the exchange process, their greed must be channeled into the discovery of products or services for which people are willing to exchange their holdings. Every person in a market economy has to be other-directed.

The alternative to free exchange is violence. Capitalism is a mechanism that allows natural human desires to be satisfied in a nonviolent way. Little can be done to prevent human beings from wanting to be rich. But what capitalism does is channel that desire into peaceful means that benefit many besides those who wish to improve their own situation.

Capitalism is quite simply the most moral system, the most effective system, and the most equitable system of economic exchange. When capitalism, the system of free economic exchange, is described fairly, there can be no question that it, rather than socialism or interventionism, comes closer to matching the demands of biblical ethics and morality.

 

References:

 

  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ocasio-cortez-its-immoral-for-a-system-to-allow-billionaires-amid-such-poverty-2019-01-22, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  2. https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1099133711986163713, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  3. https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-call-living-wage-starts-office, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  4. http://money.com/money/5636654/aoc-living-wage-staff-52000-white-house/, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  5. https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1105968192889982976, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  1. Thomas Jefferson, “To Joseph Milligan, 6 April 1816,” The Founders’ Constitution, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch15s64.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  2. https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/socialism-capitalism-and-the-bible/, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  3. https://www.hungryforlife.org/blog/does-the-bible-support-capitalism-or-socialism, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  4. https://www.gotquestions.org/socialism-Christian.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  5. https://www.christianpost.com/news/5-reasons-socialism-is-not-christian-opinion.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019

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Democratic Socialism – Is it biblical? Part 1

As I prayed about, meditated on, and researched the impacts of the “democratic socialist progressive” movement on both American and Religious liberties, I was inundated with enough material to write a very serious book on the subject. However, a book on this specific topic is not something the Lord is directing me to do; therefore, I pray that you find this two part blog post adequate enough to draw, at a minimum, a black and white picture.

At issue is the growth in interest in Democratic Socialism.  To remove any ambiguity, I believe that the future of the democratic party is one where they will eventually be overcome and overwhelmed by the loud and vicious extremes of what is referred to as “the far left”, or “leftists”.  The democratic party is no longer recognizable as the party of Kennedy, or even Bill Clinton for that matter. While I do not believe that all democrats are in agreement with the leftist shift of the party, the shift is strong, with members almost becoming cannabalistic – each competing to be more extreme than the other just to remain consequential. As a sign of things to come, democratic presidential candidates that tended to be very centrist in their views are starting to drop from the race. They are not extreme, or leftist enough.

Socialism is taking over the democratic party; and this is not good news for them. The democratic party is becoming ever more aggressive in their immorality, violence, and completely ungodly and unbiblical views and policies. While this post will posit an argument against the proposed economic plans of Democratic Presidential Candidates, it does not suppose that all Democrats agree with this ideal. There are still some moderate democrats out there; nonetheless, people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are dominating the public image of the democratic party, and it is not good for the American nation nor those that enjoy life as an American Christian.  Yet, there are Christian Socialists that are completely on board with the movement underway within the democratic socialist agenda.

A review of writings and opinions on both proponents and opponents of Christian Socialism, I found that both sides have scriptures that seem to support their points of views. This validates the argument that if you want to find scripture to support an argument, you will be successful. The issue of debate is the context of the scripture, the full story if you will. One must also consider the world in which the writers of the scriptures existed at that time. Democracy was non-existent and economics was one of barter, trade, and “value of the moment”. However, what they all had at their disposal was the actions of biblical moral behavior, scriptures from the old covenant, and a somewhat godly worldview (though the people of Israel were still tribal with a little theocracy and monarchy tossed in). 

Finally, scriptures that support socialism lean very heavily on those that discuss actions for the poor and love of our brothers and neighbors. In opposition, scriptures that discuss capitalism lean very heavily on talents, performance, and trade while also being very critical of those that are lazy or the husband that fails to take care of his family.   What I noticed missing, somewhat abstractly, were components of God given rights and freedom as ordained by God. When we consider biblical morality when it comes to our God given rights and freedom, the argument against Socialism becomes very clear while support for a free market economy (Capitalism) is also very clear – to me anyway. Socialism is fundamentally at odds with the Christian worldview and seeks to suppress all peoples in support of the state.

What almost all Christians will agree is that Christian’s must consider economic options based on a standard of biblical morality, and ask which system is more consistent with the entire Christian worldview. This does require that we consider the biblical worldview first and foremost, before we consider a political worldview. When properly considered, we find that the most obvious differences between socialism and capitalism is one of unalienable rights. The question then becomes, do you value your freedom and rights as ordained by God while respecting the same rights and freedom of others, or, are you ok with sacrificing some of your God given freedom and rights as decided on by government bodies.

The biblical worldview implies that since God is the creator of all that exists, He ultimately is the rightful owner of all that exists. Whatever possessions a human has is temporary and is ultimately accountable to God for how he uses them. The biblical worldview also contains claims about human rights and liberties. Human beings have certain natural rights inherent in their created nature and have certain moral obligations to respect the rights of others.

The possibility of human freedom is not a gift of government but a gift from God. The Old Testament tends to focus on the economic and social dimensions of freedom while the New Testament leans on a more spiritual dimension of freedom. Freedom in the New Testament is deliverance from bondage to sin and is available only to those who come to know God’s truth through Christ. Within both Testaments, freedom always has God as its ultimate ground and must always exist in relationship to law. Liberty should never be turned into license.

The moralistic system of the Ten Commandments does not constitute the entire biblical ethic, therefore, it is important to notice other biblically relevant dimensions. Christians on the Left insist that the biblical ethic condemns individual actions and social structures that favor some at the expense of others. While in partial agreement, where the Left makes a slip is by further claiming that capitalism inevitably encourages individual actions and social structures that intentianally oppresses and harm people. On this point, they are dead wrong as the question if which system (socialism and capitalism) actually harms or helps different classes of people is an empirical and not a normative matter.  Leftists simply have their facts wrong.

Finally, an oft argued aspect of the Christian worldview is the inescapable fact of human sin and depravity. No man made economic or political system that assumes the essential goodness of human nature or holds out the dream of a utopia can possibly be consistent with the biblical worldview.

 

What is Socialism?

Socialism is a societal system in which property, natural resources, and the means of production are owned and controlled by the state rather than by individuals or private companies. A basic belief of socialism is that society as a whole should share in all goods produced, as everyone lives in cooperation with one another.  Socialism necessitates a government that is free from corruption and negates the possibility of elitism within its ranks. If history has shown anything, it is that power corrupts fallen mankind, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Socialism is wrong in teaching that a person’s identity is bound up in the work that he does. Although secular society certainly promotes this belief, the Bible says that all have equal worth because all are created in the image of the eternal God. True, intrinsic human value lies in God’s creation of us.

Socialism is not a biblical model for society. In opposition to socialism, the Bible promotes the idea of private property and issues commands to respect it: commands such as “You shall not steal” (Deut 5:19) are meaningless without private property. Unlike what we see in failed experiments in socialism, the Bible honors work and teaches that individuals are responsible to support themselves: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thess 3:10). The redistribution of wealth foundational to socialism destroys accountability and the biblical work ethic. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:14–30 clearly teaches our responsibility to serve God with our (private) resources.

In the Parable of the Talents, we see that Jesus acknowledges the differences in an individual’s skill and work ethic AND that individuals are treated differently based on performance: Matt 25:14-15:  “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” When the master later checked on the three, he found one had produced an additional five portions; the second, two more portions; but the third had done absolutely nothing. He rewarded the three based on what each had individually done. This is the basic tenet of a free-market system.

In Jesus’s parable, there was neither a bottom nor a top wage; each individual was rewarded “according to his own ability.”As Jesus affirmed in Matt 25:29, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

This economic principle articulated by Jesus has proven to be sound across the ages. In fact, almost two millennia later, Thomas Jefferson expressed Jesus’s principle in these words:

“To take from one because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare [give] to others, who (or whose fathers) have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association: the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry [hard work] and the fruits acquired by it.”

Reflective of her socialist beliefs and rejecting the free-market approach set forth by Jesus, she announced: “I decided that no one on my staff will make less than $52k/year. It’s likely one of the highest entry-level salaries on the Hill.” But for high-performing staffers, she capped their salaries at $80,000, which is “well below the median pay for Hill chiefs of staff at $154,634….And it’s a fraction of what experienced staffers could make in other jobs in Washington.” 

Incidentally, while AOC insists on “wage fairness” for her employees, she does not believe in it for herself. She currently has an annual salary of $174,000, and is calling for a significant raise in her own paycheck because, as she explains, she is working so much harder than others. In socialistic systems, the elites nearly never apply to themselves the standard they demand for the rest; they regularly exempt themselves from their insistence on equality for all.

The Bible teaches us to work hard and take personal responsibility for our actions and for our families. It teaches us not to be lazy and to enjoy the work of our hands. The Bible doesn’t teach that wealth is wrong, but that the love of it is. The Bible also teaches us to look after the poor, the sick and the vulnerable. It teaches us to share. It also teaches us to not judge whether we think people are deserving of our generosity or if they are truly worthy of help. It teaches us to give until it hurts and to constantly be moving toward greater generosity. The Bible also teaches that our possessions are not our own and that we are only stewards of what belongs to God. It teaches that to whom much is given, much is required. In fact, the Bible teaches Capitalism as the means of our generosity.

1. Socialism is Based on a Materialistic Worldview

According to socialists like Bernie Sanders, the greatest problem in the world is the unequal distribution of wealth. All that really exists is the material world. Karl Marx believed that matter contains a creative power within itself. This enabled Marx to eliminate the need for a creator, essentially erasing the existence of anything non-material. To socialists, suffering is caused by the unequal distribution of stuff — and salvation is achieved by the re-distribution of stuff. It is assumed that if everyone is given equal stuff, all the problems in society will somehow dissolve.

This worldview contradicts Christianity, which affirms the existence of both a material and a non-material world — and teaches that mankind’s greatest problems are spiritual. The Bible says the cause of suffering is sin. Because of sin, there will always be inequalities in wealth. As the parable of the talents shows, those with good character tend to accumulate more; those with bad character may lose everything they have. Christianity teaches that we can still have an abundant life because our quality of life is not determined by how much stuff we have, but by our relationship to Christ.

2. Socialism Punishes Virtue

Socialists want to distribute wealth to individuals according to their need, regardless of virtue. Karl Marx said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Whenever any institution provides aid, it runs the risk of removing God-designed rewards and consequences. It can punish those who are industrious by making them pay for those who are not, and, it rewards those who aren’t industrious by giving them the fruits of another man’s labor. This is precisely what socialism does.

The Bible teaches that aid should be tied to responsibility. First, anyone who refuses to work should be refused aid. As 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” The Apostle Paul said that a man who fails to provide for his family is “worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8)

3. Socialism Indirectly Endorses Theft

Barack Obama once defended his socialist policies to a little girl by saying, “We’ve got to make sure that people who have more money help the people who have less money.”  Sounds Christian, right? However, Obama wasn’t endorsing people voluntarily sharing their wealth with others; he was endorsing the government forcibly taking a piece of the pie from one person and giving it to someone else. That’s not Christian; that’s stealing!

Socialists don’t believe in private property while some Christian socialists actually assert that the Bible doesn’t either. That’s preposterous. Both the Old Testament and New Testament unequivocally affirm private property. We can’t even obey the eighth commandment to not steal, unless we accept the notion of private ownership. Nor, can we steward our money as the Bible commands if the state owns our money.

4. Socialism Encourages Envy and Class Warfare

Socialists demonize the rich, blaming all of society’s problems on them. Bernie Sanders once posted to Facebook: “Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.”

Sanders is mimicking Karl Marx, who viewed history as a series of class struggles between the rich and the poor — and advocated overthrowing the ruling class.

Scripture strongly warns the rich and powerful not to oppress the poor. In fact, Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for his maker . . .” But, Sanders — and other Leftists, including Hillary Clinton — go far beyond decrying specific acts of injustice. They basically condemn an entire class of people simply for possessing wealth. And, they encourage those who are poor to overthrow them. In fact, Clinton once said the U.S. economy required a “toppling” of the wealthiest 1%.  There will always be a top 1%, even in a socialist culture where the socialist planners and elitists reside.

The rich are not causing all the problems in American society. People like Bill Gates are not acquiring wealth by stealing from the masses. They’re creating products, which produce wealth, and provide jobs. Nowhere does Scripture support the have-nots demanding money from the haves. Instead, it teaches that we should not covet (Exodus 20:17) and should be content in all circumstances (Phil. 4:11-13).

5. Socialism Seeks to Destroy Marriage & Family

A little known fact about socialism is that, from its beginning, it has sought to destroy marriage and family. Grove City Professor Paul Kengor explains that socialism seeks for the state to replace the family. That way, it can indoctrinate children and remove from them any notions of God and religion.

Friedrich Engels, co-author with Marx of the “The Communist Manifesto,” referenced a society where “the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair.”

Similarly today, Bernie Sanders calls for a “revolution” in childcare and for the government to provide early childhood education beginning with children as young as six-weeks-old, and, he’s a proud supporter of gay marriage — what Kengor calls “communism’s Trojan Horse” to secure the final takedown of traditional marriage.

There’s nothing Christian about socialism — and there’s absolutely no way Jesus would ever support it.

 

In Part 2, I will close with “What is the rub?”, and a concluding argument about the violence of socialism as compared to the non-violence of Capitalism.
 

References:

  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ocasio-cortez-its-immoral-for-a-system-to-allow-billionaires-amid-such-poverty-2019-01-22, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  2. https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1099133711986163713, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  3. https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-call-living-wage-starts-office, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  4. http://money.com/money/5636654/aoc-living-wage-staff-52000-white-house/, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  5. https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1105968192889982976, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  1. Thomas Jefferson, “To Joseph Milligan, 6 April 1816,” The Founders’ Constitution, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch15s64.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  2. https://www.summit.org/resources/articles/socialism-capitalism-and-the-bible/, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  3. https://www.hungryforlife.org/blog/does-the-bible-support-capitalism-or-socialism, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  4. https://www.gotquestions.org/socialism-Christian.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019
  5. https://www.christianpost.com/news/5-reasons-socialism-is-not-christian-opinion.html, accessed 26 Aug 2019
 

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Christ Redemption Through Grace (Identity and Purpose)

On 12 August, I was honored to share my Redemption Testimony in front of the CR Group for Journey Community Church in Augusta, Georgia. I was not allowed to record the session due to sensitivities surrounding the CR Group, but below is a transcript of my notes as I shared my own personal redemption through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

Some have been Christians their entire lives, or at least for as long as they can remember; I myself am coming up on 11 years next month – to this, I give Him all of the Glory and Honor – Praise God!!  But, does my 11 years pale in comparison to the lifelong Christian? Is there a ranking that I am not aware of or cannot locate in the bible?  Does the lifelong Christian move along through life with no worries, no grief, no pain, no struggles?  No, for the struggle is real for all of us.

From my earliest memories as a toddler through roughly my pre-teen years, my dad would regularly remind me that I was not worth it, that I would not amount to anything. That I was worthless. When I reached my pre-teen years, this changed to silence and abstinence. We did manage 2 week vacations practically every year, but we were never close as father and son. We were not a part of each others lives. Thank God I recognized later how limited my thought processes were. My dad was doing the best he could based on his own flawed relationship with his father. 

Somehow, I managed to attend a Christian Elementary School (K-6) but my formative teenage years were stereotypical of a southern Californian kid during the 1980’s. Drugs, bicycling, boarding, and partying.  
 
I joined the Army in 1987 right out of high school. I needed to get away from dad and family, needed a new beginning, a purpose, a new identity. 
 
It was not long before I started to destroy people around me, which I did for more than 20 years afterwards. “Get out of my way” with a little bit of collateral damage along the way.
 
There were times when satan tried to take me out before I received Christ, and after. Physically, mentally, financially, relationally, and emotionally. Every time, every occasion, the hand of the Lord was there for me and my family. I just did not see Him.
 
What I realized after coming to Christ is that growing up through adult hood, I never knew my true identity. Because I did not know my identity, I did not understand my purpose.
 
I was orphaned as a sinner.  I did not know the names the Lord had given me.  I was victim to whatever the world threw at me, enveloped into the fallen world of Adam.
 
What do you believe your name to me?  Liar, thief, failure, unworthy, unloveable and unlikeable for starters? These were the names that I received from my father and I carried with me for almost 40 years.
 
I did not love myself, even with 20 years of military service how could my brothers in arms love me? I was not worthy of love and I was in short supply of love to give out.
 
It was during Desert Storm that I experience my first true “life pivot”. The details of this story can be found in my book titled “My Personal Desert Storm: Eating Crow and Humble Pie”, but in short, I managed to turn my life around, but I became obsessed with success – “Success Sickness”. I pivoted from the extreme right of the heart spectrum to the extreme left of the spectrum.
 
My wife recommitted to Christ while I was deployed to Desert Storm. She would pray for me for the next two decades. I experienced a very real and physical born again experience over labor day weekend in 2008. God did not give me a second chance, He gave me a new life.
 
Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
 
For me, Jesus came to me as the Light of the world and saved me from the darkness I was just as written in John 8:12.  As we also read in 1 Peter 2:9, He called me out of the darkness and into His light.  This allows the character of Jesus to come out when I realize that what was once weak has been raised in glory (1 Cor 15:43). But the struggle is still real.
 
It was a few years after my born again experience that I recognized the wounds of my heart, given to me from the wounds of my father. Chains had been passed from son to son. -hurting people hurt people. My father had inherited chains from his father and so he passed them on to me. These are the results of generational sins and curses. Unfortunately, I would also pass my inherited chains and my own chains on to my first born son Christoffer.
 
I would later learn about the power of forgiveness. I also learned that it is not our parents fault. 
 
I would eventually tell my father that I forgive him -which I share in some detail in my book- after I had established a relationship with my heavenly Father. I was no longer orphaned. I had new names as I now recognize myself based on the Heart of my Father and Jesus Christ who died for me.
 
Jesus Christ did not die just so we could have a good day or get away with sinning on a regular basis. Galatians 5:13 reminds us that we shall not abuse the freedom we now have in Christ. The names of God (Holy Spirit): Advocate, Comforter, intercessor, spirit of Truth, spirit of God, helper (paraclete), Counselor, teacher,
 
1 John 2:1 ….And if anyone sins, we have an Advocatewith the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous John 14:16…. He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
John 14:26. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teachyou all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you
Rom 8:26-27….the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered…..He makes intercessionfor the saints according to the will of God.
Isaiah 11:2. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counseland might, The Spirit of knowledgeand of the fear of the Lord
 
Once baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was awakened to my new names:  worthy, trustworthy, lover, friend, and when my wife is angry at me, “Marcus Johnson!”.
 
We are flawed, but this flaw is in the flesh, not in our spirits.  His Spirit is with our spirit which has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom 8:2).  Romans 8:9 continues to remind us that we are not controlled by our sinful nature (our flesh), we are controlled by the Spirit.   Therefore, if we remain in obedience to Him and walk with him at ALL times, He will correct us before our fleshy temptations condemn us to an act of sin.  But the struggle is real. Paul reminds us: 
 
Rom 7:17  So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.  
Rom 7:22-23   I love God with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me. 
 
The good news: 
 
Rom 7:25  Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…. 
1 John 1:9  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 
 
In February 2011, satan executed a massive attack on my family when he took our oldest son from us. Killed in action in the middle east, this one almost worked, took me down. Even though it took a few years to recover from this one, if I had not had the Word of God in me and my wife, I would not be standing here in front of you today. His Word is clear to me in my heart and my mind. Though I flailed a bit like a chicken with his head cut off, I eventually recovered, stronger than ever.  The lesson is one of victimhood.
 
I am no longer a victim of what happened, I am now an expert in recovery from action.
 
A victim mentality will keep you bound to that trauma or frustration and will sabotage any hopes or attempts to prosper. A victim mentality is resignation to weakness and powerlessness, and it becomes ones modus operandi. It automatically disqualifies you and dictates what you will or won’t do. The challenge is whether you identify yourself as the victim, or the victimizer – and admitting/confessing it. How can you see what is in front of you if you fail to recognize what is inside of you? When our own hearts condemn us, there is no power in prayer, no power in preaching.
 
My born again experience was over powering and so over whelming that I instantly knew that I had been wrong my entire life. I had the epiphany that “I am all in and I guess I am now one of ‘them’”. I started in faith, I started going, and I started to press forward.
 
Some Christians are really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even those that look pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental because they are “nailing it” (heart issues??). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.
 
The Lord reminded me that no matter who you are or what you do, God has chosen you. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you live, how much money you have, your position, whether you are articulate or not. Let Him fulfill all your desires and worship Him.
 
But I learned, the hard way, that we have got to have a fresh encounter with God – every day.
 
I would not know my purpose if I had never learned of my true identity. My identity is as a warrior for Christ. Every warrior needs a kingdom to defend and a King to fight for. Therefore, my purpose is to serve as a soldier for Christ and the Kingdom of God. Wherever this takes me and whatever task He gives me, I am there for Him.
 
I used to be a solder for the US Army (20 years), this has instilled certain things in me, values, character traits (some good, some bad) and discipline. I have a voice that carries, I have passion, I get enthusiastic. I zig and I zag. I mentioned this to the Lord when clarifying His plans. The Lord chastized me with vibrant YES, He wants to use that, He has called me to transition from soldier to warrior. I am now a warrior for the Kingdom. But every warrior needs a weapon, warriors need a sword. Ephesians 6:17 tells us about the “The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.
 

Logos – written word of God

Rhema – Spoken Word of God

God’s Word speaks to me, it lives in me. While challenged to memorize specific scriptures, I recognize God’s character.

John 7:38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
 
We MUST arm our new warriors and we MUST get them their sword, else they are always on the defense and cannot take the offense. This is what excites me today. God took me from being rebellious to a revolutionist for Jesus Christ. Satan may have thought that he was winning at those moments where he tried to take me out but all he did was make me angry and strengthen my resolve to work harder for the Lord. I am tired of playing defense. His attacks on me have lit a fire in me to proclaim victory but that means we have to take spiritual action. I am in ministry training today but each day, through the gift of His spirit, I grow closer to Him, I know Him more intimately, and I will run the race He has set before me. We need to go out and take possession of the gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
 

Tit 3:5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Rom 5:5  …. hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
 
I know that I am a flawed human being, but I also know that God loves me 100%, as is, right now. There are some church people that are good at following the rules but there are also many Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love.
 
Like many here, I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, He see’s opportunity for growth. When I want to give up, He whispers “No, you can make it”. This is why, even if I may suck at being a Christian, I keep going, I keep the faith, and I keep pressing forward.
 
So maybe if we can all accept the idea that Gods love is wholly separate from our actions or our problems, receive it and give it to others, maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel its important to beat people down with their theology or doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.
 
Maybe then, even millennials will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times. I think that maybe then, we might even just see Christs kingdom here on earth. Here is the race set before me and others!
 
This is what I have learned based on this question – I have been in training for this my entire life, I just didn’t know it.
 
If you still don’t believe in miracles then ask my wife how long she prayed for my deliverance. Ask her if she ever thought that I would be standing in front of a group of people like this talking about Jesus and the life He has in store for us. 
 
I found my purpose. I found my strength. I want others to find theirs. No matter what it takes!
 

Amen


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 9 – By The Grace of God

The key to a Christian view of citizenship is moderation and balance between the extremes of placing too much trust and energy into human efforts to change the world and the opposite error of sitting back and doing nothing because we feel the situation is hopeless.

The Christian should not have an overly optimistic view of human efforts as human affairs are so corrupt that they can never be corrected by human effort. Injustice is always present in the world and it will remain till judgment day. No amount of utopian dreaming, no amount of human effort is going to remove it. Dreams of an earthly utopia based on human effort are doomed to failure. As long as we are in the world, we will have to live with evil.

Simultaneously, our role is not fulfilled by standing on the sidelines of life, bemoaning the evil condition of the world and longing for the return of the ”good old days.” There never have been any “good old days” since Eden. We are here to use the gifts God has given us to the best of our ability in the present. God tells us not to trust in human effort and not to worry about the future. But he also tells us just as emphatically to get to work to serve the best interest of his kingdom and of our neighbors.

Someone unknown wrote, “I am only one man, but I am one man. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

Biblical characters such as Joseph, Daniel, and Naaman actively served their governments without compromising their principles. In this area, too, we must not be paralyzed into inaction by fear of failure, but trust God’s guidance and forgiveness. Who can serve the government better then a Christian?

Only a true Christian can have truly unselfish motivation, for he realizes that true happiness is not a life cluttered with possessions and accomplishments, but a life filled by Christ. A Christian citizen does not have to grasp and claw for his own advantage. He can risk himself and his own interests. He can let go of self-interest because he knows that Christ is his solid possession.

“Dangerous times call for leaders that threaten to undo everything Hell is trying to pull off. NOW is the time for a gathering of enlightened warriors. No more timid dreams. The battle of your lifetime rages in the heavenlies and God answers by releasing new champions to the field. THIS IS YOUR HOUR!” ~ Lance Wallnau


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 8 – Christian Dual Citizenship

As Christians, our dual citizenship in the Kingdom and our nation involve dual obligations and loyalties.

Consider this “definition” of dual citizenship found on the U.S. Immigration website: Dual citizenship means that an individual is a citizen of two countries at the same time…Dual citizenship is not something that can be applied for. It is a process that happens when a person becomes a citizen of another country, in addition to his or her country of birth. Dual citizenship occurs automatically for some individuals. 

Citizenship is a publicly recognized legal status that authorizes someone to be a citizen—that is, a full and functioning member of a civitas, a social and political community, along with the rights and duties that come along with it. Unlike someone who is merely a subject in a kingdom, a citizen participates in the community to help maintain civic order.

If you put your faith in Christ the Bible tells us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). However Jesus, before going to the cross, prayed for his disciples and for us because he knew that we “are still in the world” (John 17:11).  The dual citizenship we have often leaves us struggling.  We want to honor our heavenly citizenship, but we also want to enjoy the worldly benefits of our “natural” citizenship. Don’t check out of the world.  Remember that you are in Christ AND in America.

As such, we should be among the foremost champions of freedom of speech and of religion for all. Even Muslims, Hindu’s, and Buddha’s, amongst others, should want Christians involved in politics. Christian citizens benefit American society as a while because Christians understand that they must respect the right of other Americans to believe differently—or not believe at all—even as they earnestly contend to communicate their faith.

Christians must understand the fundamental reality that creating a tolerant and fair playing field for Christians means creating one for everyone. This means we should practice our faith with certain degrees of caution while also being bold. Coerced faith is no faith at all.

As briefly highlighted earlier, our Declaration is filled predominantly with references to God and/or filled with sermon messages. Therefore, the argument that our nation was not founded based upon Judeo Christian values is a lie, people just want to ignore the truth because it does not fit their definition of morality and behavior. It is the first sentence of the second paragraph that lays out the statement that we “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”.

Our elected officials derive their power from the consent of the governed; our Congressmen and Women are NOT our boss, even if they say they are. The Declaration is then filled with 27 grievances against the monarchy, which violate our rights ordained from God. All of these “rights and grievances” are derived from sermons as written and preached from Reverend John Wise of Massachusetts some 80-90 years before the Declaration was written.

Finally, the first sentence of the last paragraph concludes by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world”. The last sentence of the last paragraph declares “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”.  It is adamantly clear that our Founding Fathers placed a heavy reliance on God to guide the future of our nation. So, does any of this matter today?

The Declaration is our National Philosophy which, in turn, guides the principles and morals covered in our US Constitution, so, yes, it matters. If we neglect or rule out the providence that is the basis of our Constitution, then how can we sustain and maintain our constitutional freedoms. Our forefathers were also concerned about this and wrote numerous letters of warning and concern about this, but that is unfortunately for another time.

A Christian does not participate or engage in civil affairs just to serve his own interests. His purposes are to glorify God in his works, to promote conditions in which the Gospel may be preached freely, and to serve the best interests of his neighbors by seeking justice for all, by protecting the rights of individuals, and by hindering evil.

Christians must always guide their conduct by God’s law. Even when the standards of society crumble, Christians have a firm foundation to build on. No matter how much man’s decisions and decrees undermine moral foundations, this truth remains “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Tim 2:19).


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 7 – Christians Must Be Engaged

As citizens of America, we have spent too much time running with mindless sheep strictly following the will of man. Now, these same people (the mindless sheep), think it strange that you do not run with them anymore and they now speak behind your back or spew hatred at you directly. In either case, our current political and cultural environment is impacting your ability to preach the Gospel beyond the walls of your church building. Therefore, Christians MUST be engaged in politics and culture; else the attempts to “privatize” Christian values can prevail. “Well, God will take care of it.” God takes care of things through His people.

We have people at work to privatize our cultural values. Privatization is a process that forces a disconnect between private and public lives. Basically, keep your most sacred beliefs private.  The secular, and liberal, mindset is to keep church in church and don’t you dare do it anywhere else. I use to believe that, even telling my wife after she came to Christ to keep at the door of our house. Man, was I wrong! It is these sets of man made rules that impact what you do every day. Politics AFFECTS what you say from the pulpit and what and how you operate beyond the walls of the Church.

Jesus chastised the Pharisee’s in Matthew 23 for having neglected the more important matters of the law (justice, mercy, etc). Sometimes Jesus was right in your face and telling you that you need to change. Jesus was tough, not the politically correct, feminized Jesus.  We have a party that does not care if you have religious objections against abortion or homosexuality and their positions are becoming significantly more aggressive and open. You either comply or we will persecute you, we will hurt you, we will remove you.

In Canada, after significant Christian activism, theaters finally relented and planned to show the movie “Unplanned”. However, soon after they made this decision, they received death threats as well as threats of mass violence if they did this. The result was that the theaters removed the movie again. This is what the progressive movement is all about – forcing you to comply, or else!  And, making it worse, the current senior politicians in office in Canada, support the removal of this movie and are speaking out against its message. The issues are real and the threat is real – but we cannot sit back, we have an opportunity in America to be engaged, be involved, in civil engagement.

Christians have a wide variety of political notions but we need to be informed of the policies, engaged in the process, and active in the promotion of godly discourse. As we live our lives, we are to keep our eye on the permanent Kingdom of Heaven, but we should also keep our other eye on the culture in which we live.  We should never come to a place where we are Hope-less, where we despair.

Kings rule, and while there may be people at work to influence who that is going to be, but God over-rules. Here, today, American’s live in a nation that, as Lincoln put it, “in a Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; but, we get to vote in our Caesar, the people of Jesus time did not. So, in order to obey that command, remember our dual citizenship; responsible in the Kingdom and responsible on the earth as well.

Christian citizens support their nation best when they are both patriotic and prophetic. From a Christian perspective, patriotism entails a healthy love of country that recognizes their nation state as a gift of God. That gift is good, but like all of God’s earthly gifts, it is temporal and imperfect. Also like other divine gifts, it requires careful stewardship. Christians, then, do not have the option to opt out of the system. Rendering to Caesar means voting, paying taxes, and being informed about issues, both national and local.


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The Johnson Amendment of 1954

Know how to bring some excitement about the Tax Code into the church?  Talk about the Johnson Amendment.

After the election season of 1954, Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) was upset that two businessmen (Frank Gannett and H.L. Hunt) had opposed him during his reelection bid through their charitable non for profit organizations. They had opposed him because they felt he was too soft on communism. This is, of course, during the height of McCarthyism. Nonetheless, Johnson’s ego and pride had been bruised by these two guys.  

When a bill in the Senate was introduced to overhaul the tax code, Johnson added a few words to the tax code that would restrict affected organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. What later became known as the Johnson Amendment passed with no discussion and only a voice vote. It was actually a bi-partisan amendment, pushed by the GOP and signed off by President Eisenhower.   When President Reagan revisited the Tax Code in 1986, it was decided to leave that amendment in there.

Out of twenty-nine 501c not-for-profit categories, Johnson only added language to muzzle the c3 category, which all churches are part of. Ironically, Johnson was not after the church, he was after those charitable organizations that had opposed him. The church, as a result, became an unintended victim.

This amendment made it “illegal” for pastors too include language in their sermons that might be construed to either support or endorse political candidates for office. However, while many agree about specific lines that cannot be crossed, what was not fully defined is how to decide what “oppose” or “support” fully means from an IRS code perspective; therefore, the analysis is somewhat subjective based on the IRS agents involved.

At conflict is the fact that the First Amendment of the US Constitution restricts the IRS from being the “pulpit police”. The truth of the matter is that the IRS is not allowed to dictate what a pastor can say from the pulpit.  However (there it is again) – when a church applies for a 501C(3) status,  there is a degree of honor to be expected from the church, that they will adhere to the agreements set forth in the 501C(3) section of the IRS code.  A church DOES NOT have to apply for c3 status.

Since 2008, 3000 pastors, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have publicly endorsed or supported political candidates from the pulpit. They recorded these sermons and mailed them directly to the IRS.  As of late 2018, the IRS has not taken any action against any of them – not one. Many agree that this is primarily due to man power issues at the IRS. However, in 1995, the IRS did go after a church in upstate New York that ran active campaigns against Bill Clinton. That church did lose its tax exempt status.

The bottom line is that the First Amendment protects what pastors can, and cannot say, from the pulpit. But, many pastors have bought into the Johnson Amendment anyway, primarily because of the tax exempt status. I wonder how many churches would be willing, or capable, to toss away their tax exempt status to take back some of their religious liberty?  How many churches would survive, or die, as a result? 

I heard a pastor tell me over the last few weeks that he believes in the Separation of Church and State, which does not exist. Separation of Church and State (a misappropriated statement from Thomas Jefferson) is sometimes confused with the establishment clause. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. From a pastors perspective, there you go – that’s all there is.

Fortunately, even with 501C3 status, Pastors are NOT restricted from discussing government or cultural affairs. We have bought into the myth that pastors must remain silent. Because the church has remained – almost – silent over the last 60 years or so, we have a new generation of church goers that have been raised up into a myth that has become their reality. The result is that because we have a silent pulpit, we now have a silent pew. A silent pew has resulted in an uninformed electorate. An uninformed electorate will never know what God might have to say about how civil government should be run.

It generally boils down to the basic principal of government versus liberty, and liberty should always win.

This begs a good question: If the church could reconstruct government today – what would it look like? As I believe that church denominational lines have been drawn along political lines, I am not sure that the church today, in the US, could reconstruct government. That is my opinion anyway.

We love all of you. God bless.

 

References:

 

https://davidfiorazo.com/2015/05/the-johnson-amendment-and-the-agenda-to-silence-christians/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otOYnmGHT_s


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 6 – Our National Birth Certificate

Our Declaration of Independence is our nations birth certificate – it sets forth the philosophy of our country. It is also noteworthy that every single right written on the Declaration had been preached from the pulpit prior to 1773. Basically, the Declaration of Independence is a set of sermon topics. The Declaration of Independence concludes, in the last paragraph, by appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world. That can only be our Lord and Father.

We have those in service in the government that continue to push to turn portions of God’s word into political issues, thereby, causing Churches to break the law if they speak on it. Unfortunately, I continue to read about and see videos where Christians support these moves in government. We might as well start tearing chapters of the bible out of our books, else we will break the law if we speak on it.

Christians cannot remain silent. Christians should not wait until election seasons to be engaged and involved. The Lord warns us in Isaiah 56:10 that His Leaders, of His people, are blind and ignorant, like watchdogs with no bark. They would rather be lazy, sleeping and dreaming.

How would you feel if your human father felt about you that way? Would you do anything to change his mind?

So, the number of messages and issues are huge, I am overwhelmed and feel like a fish out of water. What do I do with all of this? Not every issue will resonate with you, not every issue will hold a place in your heart; but there are those that will. When you hear of, or read about, something happening in our culture, be it in government or something else, and it resonates with you: you think on it (meditate), you learn all you can about it (study), and you get informed (you gain knowledge).

You do this long enough to get prepared, ready, and vigilant. We can then respond accurately, and with specificity, in prayer and in our activities. We absolutely need Christians involved in the actual cultural and political processes, we need to help shape policy.

We keep one eye, always, on God and trusting Him, but, the only thing needed for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing. So, if you are ok with things getting worse, then do nothing. If you are NOT ok with things getting worse, then do something.

The role of the church and the role of the Christian are not the same.  The church should be more careful than the Christian as we interact in our communities and society. I do believe it to be true that Pastors must focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I do not believe that Pastors should be avoiding topics about our national climate or current events. As a matter of fact, I believe this to be dangerous. Recall the story from Jeremiah where we had Jews exiled in Babylon and their lives were miserable because they refused to pray for their government and speak out about issues that impacted their community.

It has been said, by some ministers and pastors, that when a Pastor dabbles in politics, he is prostituting himself away from the Gospels. This could not be further from the truth and history indicates this. Our culture is in crisis and it is because influential ministers have been sharing the wrong message and driving Christians away from the culture. What about the Pastors that do not speak about politics and culture because they are afraid of the government, or, they are afraid that they will offend some of their constituents?  Fear is faith too. Some believe that the Church thrives best when it is under persecution.

Who is he that will harm you, if you follow what is good? When they defame you, those who revile your good conduct in Christ will eventually be ashamed.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 5 – Christian Profile of Leadership

God becomes your problem when you remove Him. If, then, God is your problem, your first concern should not be who is in the White House, but who is in your house.  If He is causing your distress, then time shouldn’t be wasted on putting someone into office who can take care of our distress, but on getting God back on our side. We can operate by ensuring our candidates will hold up to His principles. We also do this be reviving the church back to the glory that God expects and desires. It is not that Jesus Church is not operating in glory for the Kingdom, but, glory is waning in the nation, where we, and the flock lives. 

AID’s is a disease that does not kill you, but it does destroy your immune system which allows other diseases to come in and kill your body. God’s immune system in our culture, is the Church. When the immune system breaks down, culture breaks down. Until the immune system of God, the church, is brought back up, the viruses of destruction will continue to destabilize our country, ebb away at our freedoms, and take away our liberty.

There are forces at work to remove, or rewrite, the true founding of America which is part of the makeup of our heritage. These same forces are working diligently and strategically to remove the basic foundational truths of God’s Word from our culture. They are stealing godly “moral correctness” and are misappropriating it by stating that true moral correctness is whatever we, as men, decide it is. Therefore, biblical moral correctness is now immoral because it violates whatever a person determines to be morally correct at that point in time.

Karl Marx said, “Take away the heritage of the people, and they are easily persuaded”.  It is also written in Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  This is what the evil forces are doing.

Some believe that Trump does not fit the profile that Christians want in their President but let’s be clear, I do not believe that it is he that is destroying our national foundations, he is fighting to protect them. Trump is working as hard as possible to protect both our heritage and our religious freedom, and he is fighting against extraordinary forces to do this. Trump hates politics, although he loves the challenge. Trump may speak like a soldier in combat (via Twitter), but he will not back down and take flak from anyone. In the face of adversity, Trump is displaying more courage than many of us today.

Trump is extremely egotistical and he may even be a narcissist, but I believe that he loves this country – even if for selfish reasons. However, it does seem that there are other opposing forces that are, in fact, working diligently, piece by piece, to take away our American heritage and our religious liberties.

Regarding Trump not fitting a profile that many Christians expect or demand, we can take a look at some characters from the Bible. Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, and Xerxes amongst others, were pagan leaders that most definitely did not fit the godly profile of a leader, yet, they allowed, supported, endorsed, or pursued things that were good in the eyes of the Lord and for His people. God even referred to them as His servants. Can God not do this anymore? Have we boxed God in because Trump does not fit the profile of who we might consider a great and positive Christian man? 

Lets take a look at Jimmy Carter, who in the eyes of people at the time, absolutely fit the bill and profileof a born again believer. Many considered this critical and fit the desired profile, but is this what qualified him for the position?  While he was tremendously successful after his Presidency, with habitat for humanity and other philanthropic efforts, he is considered by many to have been the worse President in history, yet he espoused Christianity and his beliefs to anyone that would hear him.

Proverbs 13:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation”. How do you measure righteousness? God’s standards. How do you get God’s standards for a nation? In one particular verse, Isaiah 1:26, God is speaking to Isaiah, “Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.”

This verse tells us that righteousness is tied to a nation based on the types of judges you have.Who appoints judges in the US? The President. So, while most think that it is the President that exalts righteousness on a nation, it is really the judges that he appoints; this is why we have seen so much attention on judge appointments since President Trump has taken office. 

So, if during a Presidential election you cannot make a clear decision on which candidate to vote for, take a look at the types of judges they will appoint, for that is what exalts righteousness on a nation. Also remind yourself that most of these appointments are for life, so, as judges are appointed, they could impact the court systems for 3-4 decades.

Finally, watch what our current leaders and potential future leaders exhibit regarding their positions about Israel. When it comes to perspectives on executive, judicial and legislative activity, we shall never forget what God told Abraham in Genesis 12, in that He was going to make a nation out of Abraham and “whomever blesses I will bless and whomever curses I will curse”. Based on that, if we ever have legislation that passes in opposition to Israel, then God will, in turn, oppose our nation. We should continue to monitor what our elected officials are doing in office, and, the stance of candidates during election cycles.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 4 – God Removed From Culture

Too many people are NOT standing on Gods Word, they are being swayed by culture and they are unfortunately adapting to cultural issues that are contrary to God’s Word. We have denominational divides that look eerily similar to those we see in political parties. It is a fascinating thing to review if you care to look at political parties and our denominational churches. It is glaringly obvious that man has infiltrated his ways into God’s Church.

However, we can see by Paul’s example, that he did not isolate himself from culture, but he also did not immerse himself in it, he strived to influence and impact culture. Review the story in Acts about Mars Hill.

Everywhere he went, he was engaged. Sometimes it resulted in revolt, but other times it resulted in revival. Not because he was hiding his light, he was open and he was bold. Sometimes, they chased him out of town with clubs. Should we, as a body, be afraid of that ourselves? Should we be afraid of people telling us that “we are narrow minded”? No. We need to retain focus, in the back of our minds, that we follow a crucified Christ.

Jesus tells us in Matthew that the gate is narrow, that it will be hard.  So we have to accept the idea that we may live in a culture that is not going to praise us. But God looks at us and He is pleased.

Robert Charles Sproul (a theological leader of the Presbyterian church (d. 2017)) said that “There are lots of people that say that the church or Christians should never say anything about what the government does, but that ignores the whole history of redemption all the way up to John the Baptist where the church has always been given the responsibility of prophetic criticism. Not that we want the state to be the church, but we do want the state to be the state. And when the state rebels against its God ordained responsibility, the church not only may, but it must, speak out against it.” 

Christ commanded us to take the Gospels to the nations. When we, as Americans think of this, we generally think of other nations but never our own. The USA is also one of the nations. Shall we not also work on our own backyard? It starts with the people, where the Church is primarily focused, in the hopes that the people will thrive and drive the culture of their nation.

Are there areas of our own nation that we are missing because we think someone else is working on that problem? If the church cannot or does not speak to community, state and national issues, then we are missing a big piece of the Gospel. 

We have forces on our government that want to make the people completely reliant on them, they say that we, the people, can depend on them; that they have our best interests in mind and will provide all our needs. I heard a pastor, Tony Evans, describe the children’s fable about Humpty Dumpty in a way that I had never heard before, and it is brilliantly fitting and ironic:

“When Humpty Dumpy fell off the wall, even all of the Kings Men and all the Kings horses could not put Humpy Dumpty together again.  The government could not help Humpty Dumpty in his most dire time of need. This is not a partisan statement, this is statement about government in general. We should never depend on our government. We must learn how to fish the way our Father intended and manage our own lives [the way our Founding Fathers intended]. Too many believe that our government will put our country back together again, as if we are expecting all of the answers to come from our elected officials. It is unfortunate today that far too many believers, are expecting the solutions to our problems to land on Air Force one.”

“2 Chron 15:3-6 reminds us that there was a time where the land was without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law. Therefore, the result was that there was no peace, nation rose against nation, city against city, and there was no peace for him who came in nor him who went out. God had troubled them with every kind of distress.  What this tells us is that if God is the problem, then only God is your solution. God becomes our problem when we remove Him from the equation.”


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 3 – God’s Word vs. Political Parties

The solution to how Christians might behave can actually be found in Jeremiah Chapter 29, versus 1-13. But first, we need to recognize that our hope is not, and can not, be built into any political party nor in any person, our hope is in the Father. We can look at the officials representative of the leading parties and then look to the Father to help us identify the officials that best represent the true biblical values we find in Scripture. The Biblical values and principles we should be concerned with will not impede, stop, or harass our ability to follow the prime commandments left to us by Jesus Christ. True Kingdom-like principles. But, until the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth, we are here. We are here, and until then we, as Christians, have dual citizenship. What is the responsibility of the Christian community to the political environment? What about our responsibilities to the nation that we live in? How are we to act and behave in political seasons or the current cultural dilemma’s we now face? Uninformed, informed, sit it out, do anything, do nothing. And, if appropriate, at what level do we do something at?

  1. We should be responsible – Jeremiah 29:1-6, be responsible in your culture, be involved (this letter was sent to the exiles in Babylon, encouraging them because they were in a world that did not understand nor support their belief system, they did not sympathize with their values, and were even hostile to their values; similar to what Christians are living in today in Western Culture). We need Christians who are responsible in their culture.
  2. We should be prayerful – Jeremiah 29:7, be prayerful for your country. Your welfare is bound up in the welfare of your country. If you want God involved, then pray for your leaders, pray for your nation. Refusing to pray for our President, or condemning pastors that pray over him is, dare I say, not biblical.
  3. We should be careful – Jeremiah 29:8-9, be careful who you consider; the people in Babylon were becoming complacent in allowing things to run their natural course rather than operating in careful consideration
  4. And, we should be hopeful – Jeremiah 29:10-13, be hopeful in your calling. The Lord tells us that if we seek Him with all our heart, He listens and we will find Him, He will give us a future and a hope.

No matter what is happening today and no matter what happens in 2020, we have a future and a hope in God. You can always do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you can never do more until you pray. This is where we start and the foundation of all of our activities.

Abraham Lincoln said that “those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”  Ronald Reagan said “that without God, democracy will not and can not endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation Under God then we will become one nation gone under.”

Some people, believers or not, would agree that our country is dividing more and more to a point where we wonder if it is even recoverable – another civil war is looming across the horizon. Some believe that there is no leader that can polarize our nation enough to bring us back together, or at least narrow the divide. However, we have a great God that is looking to the church to stand up, to look to Him, and bring in the LIGHT.

There are those that believe, with the right leader, the right person, we can bring our nation back together. America can be redeemed, but the difference is in our belief that we need God’s help. When Christians refuse to take a clear stand on specific issues, the church/the body of Christ is weakened.

How do we deal with all of this? We start in God’s Word first. Even as culture changes, God’s Word does not. Our foundation, when engaging in our culture, is to stick to the foundational truths of Scripture. Even if our culture changes, we still stand on TRUTH. We still stand on God’s Word.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 2 – Jesus, Democrat, and Republican

If Jesus were walking the earth today, I think many would agree that He would not be a member of a political party – He would be independent. Yet, these same people remain along the party line anyway. The Old and New Testament tribes have morphed into Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Communist, Green Party and Tea Party amongst others. In the church, they have morphed into Presbyterian, Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Charismatic, Methodist, Episcopalian, and on and on. Back to the topic of politics, we would all agree that Democrats and Republicans own the political stage. This is good and bad.

The problem is that Democrats and Republicans are tailored made to resist one another (which is good and bad), they will never get along and will rarely agree (again, good and bad). There is nothing you can do to put Democrats and Republicans on the same page. If you consider yourself a Democrat, then I would encourage you to think “Democrat-lite”; likewise, if you consider yourself a republican, then I would encourage you to think “republican-lite”. But we also have a third element, another team of officials that I would encourage you to be a part of.

These officials are in the game, but they are not of the game. They are in the middle of the chaos but they do not belong to the chaos. It is not the job of these officials to listen to the roar of the crowd, be it boos or cheers, nor to the factions that are against each other. These officials belong to another Kingdom and they make their decisions reflective of the book handed to them from the Kingdom that they represent.

Because, it is our job, as Soldiers of Christ, to bring in the L-I-G-H-T, representing a different King in another Kingdom. So let’s represent the King.

Christians should serve as “a” moral compass for the nation, something that is sometimes hard to do if Christians allow themselves to become the property of one political party or subservient to one set of special interests. Like the court prophets of Ahab (1 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 18), we lose our credibility and doom our listeners if we begin to parrot anyone’s party line rather than the ethical and moral principles we have gleaned from Scripture. Christian citizens serve their nation best when they can both love what is best about our nation and also insist on the freedom to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable when necessary.

The bible tells us in Romans 13 that God ordained human government. That chapter also tells us that we are subject to that government we are in. It seems odd to think that God would ordain government and then want Christians to stay out of it, it doesn’t make sense. In American culture, we don’t live in a totalitarian regime, we live in a culture that is constructed to involve ALL of its citizens.

In a pluralistic culture, the freedom to believe and disbelieve is made there; but what is happening is our nation is forming a monopoly, one that is starting to refuse to give you the freedom to express your belief. This is where we need to change and this change is not going to happen if Christians are not engaged, or not involved, in influencing our culture.

It is possible to be political and not truly spiritual, but, it is not possible to be genuinely spiritual and not touch politics. Example: life and death issues and abortion are moral issues but they are now ingrained in the political arena. Politics, to some degree, intercepts with every single person. Politics is the art of living together in a community. The current political climate is working diligently to politicize and appropriate your spirituality and spiritual beliefs. 

Plato said, that “the penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics, is to be governed by those worse than themselves”.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 1 – Christians Duped Into Silence

Religion and Politics – how does just the mention of these topics make you feel? Are you uncomfortable? If so, why? Are you of the belief that we should not talk about these topics? If so, why?  Perhaps you are ok with talking about these with a limited trusted circle, but you would not talk about them with anyone else. What if you were invited to discuss one or both of them? 

As a Christian, do you believe that Christians have no place in politics? Do you believe that Christians should stay away from political or cultural debate? 

If the thought of discussing one of these topics during dinner or during a social engagement makes you feel anxious, fearful, angry, hateful, or stressed out, then I would recommend that you check the condition of your heart. With Jesus Christ inside of us, with the Holy Spirit as our guide, why should we fear, hate, or abstain from these discussions? 

Throughout the last few decades, I believe we have been slowly allowing ourselves to be taught two basic untruths about both the founding of our nation (government and politics), and, whether or not Christians should be involved in civil and cultural engagement (religion).  The premise of this debate is masked behind a community teaching that it is taboo to have discussions on two heartfelt, yet basic topics: religion and politics. Perhaps you stay away from these topics because you cannot handle or manage what you perceive will become confrontational.

We have been told not to bring up politics and almost more specifically, don’t bring up religion. Why? Because we have been taught that it divides people.  At a minimum, throughout my lifetime, we did stay away from them; however, the end result is that we are still divided on these topics and we are still sensitive to them, even though we followed the “society rule” of not talking about them. The way I see it, our nation is divided more than ever; therefore, the taboo, hands off approach to these topics, are, in reality, no longer relevant. There are active movements working, at large, to rewrite our history and, more importantly, to harden the line through legislation and the court systems to dictate what people of faith can teach, discuss, or share beyond the walls of the church building or the walls of your home.

It is my opinion that we can only unite if we open these channels back up and discuss them. I don’t think it is any longer about division, it is now about control of the narrative. Not only controlling anger, acrimony, and stress; but perhaps an intent to control behavior, beliefs, and resonance about what is happening to our Western Culture. But, admittedly, passions run very deep, even amongst evangelicals.

While I know this will cause some controversy amongst some denominational lines, I believe it is NOT biblically sound for Christians to be disengaged from societal and cultural discourse. In fact, I believe it to be irresponsible for Christians to not engage. I am going to share why I believe this while I will also sharing where the Judeo Christian God is, in fact, deeply ingrained into our founding document – The Declaration of Independence.

The result will be a blending of these two taboo topics: a blend of Christianity and Western Culture).

Let me be transparent and very specific that I believe that Christians have been duped into silence. Some will say that they know this, yet, they continue to remain silent anyway. Debate between faith, culture and social values “is vital for the healthy growth of a pluralist society.”

pluralistic society is one where people believe in all kinds of different things and tolerate each other’s beliefs even when they don’t match their own. Tolerate being the key word.

Sometimes, biblical Christianity requires a little backbone, not only to stand up for your beliefs, but also to talk about and accept the idea that there will always be opposing views of the Christian faith. If the clergy back in the Revolutionary War period stood by what Christians hold to today or what our modern secular society tells you that you are allowed and not allowed to do or say, we would absolutely not have a country today – we would likely still be beholden to a monarchy, or something worse. I believe that the birth of our nation dramatically changed the world, and this due to the fingerprint of God. In fact, this is almost specific to what the Revolutionary War clergy stood up for – and this can be found in the Declaration itself.

But things have changed, and not in a good way. Some argue that the negative change began in 1963, while others place the blame squarely on the shoulders of President Trump. The timing does not matter and, this is most definitely not the fault of President Trump; but I do believe that his election has shined a light into the world that many refer to as the “Deep State”. I posit that the negative changes in culture are due, predominantly, because of the church. The church has abdicated and walked away. Additionally, many Christians have not taken their responsibilities of serving as “the governed” seriously, but this is also attributed to the church. 

We have allowed our personal political bias’s to take front stage before biblical principals. Over many decades going back, I would say, a century or so, we have slowly allowed the rule of man to overrule and take over the political parties where Jesus and Lord are no longer the driving purpose. The result is that we have Christians that legislate, think, behave, and vote strictly along party lines.  Political parties are man made entities, a means of grouping people into like and similar philosophies.  Scripture teaches us that we are not supposed to be of the world, so then why do Christians follow the party line instead of the line sketched out by Jesus Christ.


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Why do people hate the flag?

Let me be blunt, I hold great contempt for what Colin Kaepernick and Nike have done, and are doing, to the Betsy Ross Flag and, our more current American Flag. And here is why…

I am not only the wife of a man that served this nation for 20 years, but, I also happen to be a Gold Star mother.  And because of that, I can NOT, in good conscience, sit back and NOT speak out about subjects like this that I’ve been witnessing going on in our nation as of late.  While I fully support free speech, I find certain actions where people within America striking out against the symbols of this great nation to be extremely hurtful and offensive, I am sorry if this ruffles a few feathers.

One of the more recent and offensive outrages that I have seen recently is over the Betsy Ross flag and our current flag, and how they are being dishonored and completely disrespected today. It is unfortunate that people are choosing, or are being misled, to believe what the media, celebrities, and “for profit” companies are attempting to declare as history instead of believing what they already know or, searching it out for themselves. I’m not going to give a history lesson, but for those who ACTUALLY know their history, they know that what has been appearing in the news is incorrect. 

Just as the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, our flag is also just a symbol of our nation. However, the act of dishonoring and disrespecting our flag is also symbolic, symbolic of the hatred that these people have against the same country that my son died for, the same country that ALLOWS them to earn millions of dollars at the expense of what? Garnishing some publicity that serves to fire up more hatred out of people that I still fail to comprehend or understand? This hurts. It hurts not only to watch and hear about these multi-millionaires adding to the hatred that already permeates our nation, but also the positive responses that they receive in return. And I unfortunately have no doubt that self-professed Christians are also joining in.

Our first flag, deemed the “Betsy Ross Flag” was created as a symbol of freedom – our freedom as states, not colonies controlled by England. The only difference between our first flag and the flag we use today is that stars have been added to represent the states that have joined this wonderful union. Whether it’s the Betsy Ross flag or our current flag we use today, it still represents one thing….FREEDOM! Throughout our 240 year history, MANY, many, many, people’s lives have been lost representing that flag….whether it was back in 1776 when the flag was added or this year.  And these people have the audacity to desecrate and demoralize those lives.

In this recent case, Mr. Kaepernick believes that he has the moral high ground, that his actions and beliefs are somehow going to institute some form of utopian movement by bringing attention to issues that, to this day, still are not clear. However, what he has done, is bring added attention to an ever expanding divide that is weakening our nation. There is nothing in his action that has, or will, make this country better. We are an imperfect nation and it is because of actions like that of Mr. Kaepernick and others, that continue to add to our imperfections rather than fixing them.

That same American flag that is draped over my son’s casket in the photo, is the same flag that others, to include Colin Kaepernick (I am calling you out Colin since you brought this on), have continued to disrespect by kneeling instead of standing for….and his reasons don’t even have anything to do with the flag, which makes the disrespect even more vile and disgusting. The Betsy Ross flag, that began this debacle, is the same flag he is inaccurately quoting from in history. He has disrespected both flags and has blinded and misguided others to do the same.  It appalls me when I see somebody who refuses to stand for the flag and national anthem, or even worse, when they abuse the flag in any way. Some say it’s freedom of speech they are exercising. I say, as a Gold Star mother, that they are spitting on my son’s grave.

Galatians 5:13 says, “….don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love.” John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  My son made pennies laying down his life and dying in the military for freedom. It appears Colin Kaepernick has laid down his life for selfish personal gain and feels the millions he’s making from Nike speak louder. (Personally, I feel he needs to take those millions and use it to go back to school, educate himself, and relearn our true and accurate history.) 

Furthermore, shame on Nike for falling for Kaepernick’s inaccuracies and rubbish.  I happen to own a pair of Nike shoes. I will never again buy another pair of Nike shoes or any other item from that company for that matter. Part of me wants to go buy some American flag patches from the craft store and sew them over the Nike symbol on the shoes that I already own. (Who knows, maybe the next time you see me, I just might be sporting my newly-created shoes!). I now find the Nike symbol to be offensive and filled with hate.

My one saving grace is the power of forgiveness. For Jesus tells us that if we forgive one who has sinned against us, then the Lord will also forgive us. Therefore, Mr. Kaepernick, I forgive you and the others that commit the same atrocity as you have, not only for your recent actions but for the future actions that history has shown you are surely to do. But neither will I forget. I will pray for you Mr. Kaepernick, that you wake up to the reality of what you are doing and that you set the record straight for those that you have negatively influenced. I pray that you wake up to the wrong you are doing to our nation and work towards positive steps of helping our nation heal from the hatred that you, and others, have wrought. Finally sir, I pray that you recognize the hurt that you are causing and the wounds that you are opening, that you yourself can heal from whatever wounds you have suffered in the past causing you to behave in the fashion that you are. I do pray this, in Jesus Name.

So, who is representing the flag and its freedom the most accurately? The soldiers who have spent over 200 years dying for it and those who really know what it stands for? Or is it the people who continue to dishonor and mistreat it with disrespect and/or misrepresenting it by incorrectly quoting history?  I just pray that Americans wake-up and see how their symbol of freedom is being portrayed. It’s value just might be stolen from you while you sleep.

 

 For those who would like to read more about the Betsy Ross Flag, you can go here https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/06/3-ignorant-myths-betsy-ross-flag-dispelled/?fbclid=IwAR0E7hCBHOtz44Gp02shdIH_ovRLYobkL2DgJwgO6jq8qVTuUea304Qdwwc#.XSKW4aFL85g.twitter


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Rage Against the Social Media Machine

     This will be the first part of a series on “Christians and Technology”.   Titled “Rage Against the Social Media Machine”, today I wish to share what the Lord has been dealing with me regarding a Christian Life through Social Media. We are talking about all platforms, known and unknown. For transparency, I personally only have experience with Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Paler.  
     Over the last 3 years, the Lord has been dealing with me regarding how we, as a nation, use Social Media to propagate our “opinions” and “beliefs” in the hopes of spreading our opinions and beliefs to others. This can be good, if used correctly, but also bad for those bent on evil and misdirection. For self-professed Christians, we ought to take our use of Social Media very seriously. In the past, I have been very guilty and complicit in not using the platforms correctly; in this regard, I have repented and moved on.  Top Dog Social Media has identified 10 categories of social media users. See if you can identify which one of these you think you are. You may be a mix of two or three.  
  1. The listener – those that fly under the radar and only access media to be nosy and see what others are posting and doing
  2. The Activist – They realize the power of social media and strive to have their voice heard to make a difference.
  3. The Spammer (oh boy!) – this is the type of person that tells themselves their cheesy posts count as “quality content” 
  4. The Passionista – bonded by passion, this type of social media user focuses their time on exploring and sharing their passion with others online.
  5. The Social Butterfly – This breed of social media user never seems to stop showing you how small the world is by getting tagged in pictures with what appears to be every person you’ve ever met. If you want to know how popular they are, just check their social channels!
  6. The Trolls – manages to cross that line from unpleasant opposition to downright hate speech, no matter how sensitive or irrelevant the issue. 
  7. The Influencers – Influencers are those that are producing high-quality content and sharing their knowledge with their social media community. They are passionate about their topic and love to help educate others. They understand entirely the concept of “quality content” and live and breathe it every day.
  8. The Early Adopter – They were on Facebook or LinkedIn before it was mainstream and love to remind you about it. This unique user has also likely moved on to all the new, shiny social platforms that you might hear about months from now.
  9. The Black Booker – A real relationship builder, this person looks at social media in the most practical way possible: a means to communicate with other people.
  10. The Family Person – These users tend to avoid technology but fell in love with social media the moment they realized they could keep in touch with their family members from every corner of the world as if they were right across the street.

     Unfortunately, social media has been used and abused to intentionally spread false information, or at best, information intended as humor or satire is understood to be truth by the receiver.  Adding to the dilemma, self-professed Christians are also guilty of spreading things across social media platforms that they either know to be wrong, or, they fail to research what they are spreading thereby expanding the false narrative.  As Christians, I believe we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and a higher calling to only share what we know to be true, or, at least identify that the issue you share is of your opinion.  If it is satire or humor, we may want to ensure that it is clearly understood. In comparison, we have bottles marked as POISON that come with warning labels telling us “DO NOT DRINK”. Captain Obvious does not always apply.

     In the Corporate and Business world, there is a concept known as “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).  CSR is a program where a business voluntarily develops a policy about how they will contribute to the overall good of their communities and/or society as a whole, generally using profits to pay for these programs. CSR can range from environmental sustainment programs to philanthropy initiatives taking care of people that cannot take care of themselves (Example: Hospitals and shelters).  While some business’s do this from their hearts, most organizations today do this as a marketing opportunity, “Look what we did”.  CSR, while honorable a few decades ago, has devolved into masking selfishness and pride with virtue and love. They mask their true intentions with feel good statements and a wink and a nod.  In comparison, some people will intentionally spread information across social media platforms with the full intention to influence people while also knowing that they cannot backup the information they have shared; they themselves do not know if the information is true, but they want it to be. The truth is that just because you want it to be true does not make it true.

     Why is this important?  Because too many American’s are getting their “news” from social media platforms. “Online news websites are more popular among those ages 30 to 49. About four-in-ten (42%) in this age group get news often from websites and news apps. About a quarter (27%) of 18- to 29-year-olds get news from news websites, making it the second most commonly used platform for news for that age group. For these youngest adults, social media is the most popular news platform – 36% get news there often, topping news websites, TV (16%), radio (13%) and print (2%).”  Imagine the level and degree of influence that social media has on our younger generation. As Christians, we should consider this as we share and spread items considered “newsworthy” across whatever your platform of choice.

     I myself am extremely guilty of having participated in sensationalism, but I experienced a heavy conviction in my heart about 3 years ago. Recently, I have observed an increase in hostile and ugly arguments, serving absolutely no purpose but to divide us even further. Some try to use social media as a debate tool when it is literally impossible to do so – you cannot use social media to debate something into someone’s heart. As Christians, we absolutely cannot forget that our primary objective is LOVE.  In my “opinion”, we should feel free to use social media to share the truth BUT we also need to believe it, and know it, to be true ourselves.  It is frustrating and disheartening to continuously see social media posts that persist in old stories that no longer matter (such as Obama’s birth certificate). Too many times, these same stories were false last year, they did not magically become true today. We should also consider that the spread of false information is also contributing to significant increases in depression and anxiety.

     As Christians, if we pass a false story (whether knowingly or not), this not only impacts your own integrity, but can also impact the Christian community. I believe it is ok to share your opinion about a topic, but, you ought to indicate that it is your opinion if not obviously so.  Think about your heart and the impacts to others. Is your message coming from your heart, or, are you so outraged by an issue that your human bias is blocking what your spirit is telling you?

     Here are some Christian guidelines as proposed by Truthful Words:

  1. Don’t Be Rude—Show Respect For Others: One way that you can be distinctively different from the world while using social media is to think of others more highly than yourself (Phil:2:3-4)… When God’s people make the conscious effort to stop putting “me” first, they are less apt to be rude and more able to think of others’ needs and feelings above their own.
  2. Don’t Be Excessive: Remember the Fruit of the Spirit and exercise temperance (self-control) (Gal. 5:22-24)! Don’t forget to let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). 
  3. Don’t Be Possessive Or Too Dependent: Remember these Biblical admonitions: Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:4). Ye shall make you no idols (Lev. 26:1). Consider taking certain days to fast from your devices or media, replacing that time with a renewed focus on improving your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that you do not allow social media to run your life.
  4. Don’t Be Secretive: Applying scriptural principles to your use of social media is a great way to guard yourself from being in bondage to them. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? (Gal. 4:9).

     “Incorporating “yourself” into your social network or blog in a God-glorifying manner for example could be posting that you had specifically prayed for something and the Lord answered. Instead of talking about your achievements, talk about your latest ministry or witnessing adventure, mission trip, or family day. Share about the blessings and the challenges that the Lord gave you through those activities. Talk about the people you spend time with and the character qualities that you like in them. Use media options to glorify the Lord by having a true meaning to your posts. Ask the Lord to give you a redeeming purpose for your blog, Facebook, and YouTube posts, or personal websites. It is important to once again stress that we as Christians need to be distinctively (yes, even radically) different in the way that we use whatever the world promotes or the culture deems acceptable. The strength of the choice is in your hands. By God’s grace, you do not have to allow anything to have power over you (2 Cor. 12:9-10).”

 

References:

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/social-media-outpaces-print-newspapers-in-the-u-s-as-a-news-source/, accessed 29 June 2019

Rosenberg, Matthew J. (1 April 2002). “Review of Misguided Virtue: False Notions of Corporate Social Responsibility”International Affairs.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#2923aa4b2e5a, accessed 29 June 2019

https://topdogsocialmedia.com/10-types-of-social-media-users/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.truthfulwords.org/articles/media.html, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/08/rage-against-the-social-media-machine-how-did-it-get-to-this/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_social_media_driving_political_polarization, accessed 29 June 2019


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The US Constitution is NOT a Living Document.

     I pray for the day when we finally put to rest the argument that the US Constitution as a living document. The Constitution provides both our foundational principles and our national doctrine, which make our country both great and different than all other nations. The Constitution is the longest surviving document of its kind in history and the reasons for it are found within the document itself. Our Founding Fathers may not have known how technology would evolve, or, that we would experience a Civil War, but they did know that the Constitution would need to adapt to changes in culture. What they provided was a process that would allow our Constitution to adjust to changing conditions – the amendment process.

     An argument made is that the amendment process is difficult and cumbersome, which is a good thing as we would not want an easy process. However, since the process is difficult, we have opted to rely on the court system to “interpret” the constitution. “What did the original writers mean?”  The problem is that interpretation is too open to one’s philosophy, one’s biases, and one’s belief system. A constructionist interprets the Constitution as it is written, not as he wished it had been written. Those who believe in a “living constitution” believe that the opinion of the Supreme Court is more important than what the Constitution actually says.

     The living document philosophy is flawed, allowing personal biases and interests to weave into our constitutional system, thereby, allowing a tendency to drift towards justifying oppression on others. The courts have a history of making decisions that violate the will of the people, which is in stark contrast to “We the people”. “…the will of the majority shall prevail.” (Washington). “The will of the majority [is] the natural law of every society….” (Jefferson).

     We need to rely on the Constitution in a changing world but we must also protect the foundational principles and national doctrines contained within. Therefore, we must accept the established amendment process as well as pushing our legislators to pass laws as the founding fathers intended. The Constitution works perfectly when the interpreter is fixed on our Creator – the same one that is mentioned in our Declaration of Independence that endowed us with certain unalienable Rights. His Word is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Word of God is living, but it will also never change.


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Gerrymandering Congressional Districts

     In a decision about gerrymandering (redrawing district maps that favor specific political parties), the court ruled today that this issue does not belong in the federal court system. They consider it a local political problem and the court does not belong in politics (haha).

     Make no mistake that this can be a problem for us and our congressional districts if it is not resolved. But, our country is very fluid, so while one party may gain favor in a particular district, they can eventually lose that favor.

     The dissent for the four liberals, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.” I am not sure that this is the first time the court refused to make a decision, that statement is somewhat inaccurate.

     Kagan stated “judicial capabilities”; however, just because the court might be capable, it does not mean that they should. We litigate way too much at the Supreme Court when, in reality, most of these issues should be resolved at the legislative level. Similarly, just because a law says that you “can” do something does not mean that you should. But that is for another day.

     The Judicial Branch of the United States is covered under Article III (Sections 1-2) of the constitution. It is the shortest outline of the three branches in the Constitution. Some argue that this was intentional as formulated by the Founding Fathers. [The Legislative Branch, i.e. Congress, has the largest description but the way.)

     It is possible that the court had jurisdiction to make this case per Article IV, Section 4; but that is a loose possibility. The electoral process actually falls to the Secretaries of State for the preponderance of our 50 states, so it is most probable that issues with gerrymandering belong, at best, in individual State Supreme Courts.


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The US Census Debate

     On Thursday, 27 June, the US Supreme Court will release its decision on whether the US Census for 2020 can include a question about whether you are a US Citizen or not. Many opinions abound regarding whether this question is legal, or, even whether it is moral. There are two perspectives in which we can consider the basis of a question regarding citizenry: the bible and the US Constitution. On March 26, 2018 the U.S. Dept of Commerce announced plans to re-include a citizenship question in the 2020 census questionnaire which has not been included on the short form since 1950. All indicators at this stage indicate that the census question will be approved.

     Proponents of including the question claimed it is necessary to gather an accurate statistical count, while opponents claimed it might suppress responses to the Decennial Census and therefore lead to an inaccurate count. Multiple states have sued the Trump administration arguing that the proposed citizenship question is unconstitutional and may intimidate illegal aliens and undocumented workers, resulting in inaccurate data on immigrant communities.

The Constitution:

  1. Citizenship is defined in the first clause of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment as: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.
  2. The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers.
  3. Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and how its data is handled.
 

     In both the Old and New Testaments, the bible references a census as generally done for the purpose of taxation or military recruitment.

Old Testament:

     In addition to two military censuses in Numbers, a special numbering of the Levites was also performed. Rather than carry out military duties, these men were priests who served in the tabernacle. In Numbers 3:15 they were instructed to list every male who was 1 month old or older. The tally came to 22,000. In Numbers 4:46–48 Moses and Aaron listed all of the men between the ages of 30 and 50 who were eligible for service in the Tabernacle and transporting it, with the number counted being 8,580.

     In 2 Samuel 24:1-2, near the end of his reign, King David commissioned his leaders to conduct a census of the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba. David’s commander, Joab, was reluctant to fulfill the king’s command knowing the census violated God’s command. While it’s not explicit in Scripture, David’s motivation for the census seemed to be rooted in pride and self-reliance.

     In 2 Chronicles 2:17-18, Solomon took a census of the foreigners in the land for the purpose of distributing laborers. He counted 153,600 and assigned 70,000 of them as common laborers, 80,000 as quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 as foremen. 

     Finally, during the time of Nehemiah, after the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem, a complete census of the people was recorded in Ezra 2.

New Testament:

     Two Roman censuses are found in the New Testament. The most well-known, of course, took place at the time of Jesus Christ’s birth, reported in Luke 2:1–5.

     “At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.” (NLT).  The final census mentioned in the Bible was also recorded by Luke. In Acts 5:37, a census was conducted and Judas of Galilee had gathered a following but was killed and his followers scattered.

     According to the bible, people went back to their home towns and tribes to complete the census. 2 Chronicles 2:17-18 indicates that Solomon took a census of foreigners (immigrants) to help with distribution of labor. However, nothing is specified about “legal” status.

     According to the constitution, the purpose of the Census is to determine proper apportionment of US Representative Representation and tax distribution. The liberal agenda is opposed to this question but they do support the rights of illegal immigrants to vote, citing that they do pay taxes (primarily in the form of sales taxes). The conservative agenda is in support of the question being asked, but they also want tighter controls on immigration and do not believe that illegal immigrants hold to the same level of rights as those afforded to legal immigrants and citizens.

     There is nothing for you to do regarding the debate around the census but it should warrant your awareness. Whatever your “opinion” may be regarding this citizenship question, this decision will have an impact on your citizenry and governance philosophy. Ironically, another question that may be added to the census, but is not garnishing attention, is the “sexual status” of the census taker (gay, lesbian, transgender, etcetera). The sexual status question is supported by the LGBT community but it has not yet been decided if this question will be asked or not.

References:

“Decennial Census – History – U.S. Census Bureau”. Census.gov. Accessed June 24, 2019

“‘Queering the census’ movement aims to get single gays counted”. NY Daily News. Accessed June 24, 2019

“FACT CHECK: Has Citizenship Been A Standard Census Question?”npr.org. Accessed June 24, 2019

Weiser, Wendy (March 27, 2018). “Why the census asking about citizenship is such a problem”Huff Post. Accessed June 24, 2019

Gomez, Alan (March 27, 2018). “California sues Trump administration over Census citizenship question”USA Today. Accessed June 24, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+3%3A15&version=KJV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+4%3A46-48&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+24%3A1-2&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+2%3A17-18&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra+2&version=NLT

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+5%3A37&version=NLT

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/8/house-votes-favor-illegal-immigrant-voting/, accessed June 24, 2019

https://www.learnreligions.com/meaning-of-census-700736, accessed June 24, 2019


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The Story of Rehoboam

     One upon a time, in an ancient land, there was a king named Rehoboam. King Rehoboam had inherited the kingdom from his father, who was considered the wisest man in all the world. During the reign of his father, the land thrived, kings (and a queen) from all over the world would visit Rehoboams father to partake of his wisdom to see if he would impart something significant to them for their own kingdoms. Rehoboams father, and his father before him, was a devout follower of “the way”. 

     Now, the father of Rehoboam did make some mistakes and strayed from “the way” and it had been prophesied that the land might eventually suffer as a result of his infractions, but the land was still awesome at the time Rehoboam took the throne. One day, Rehoboam was confronted by a people asking that Rehoboam honor them just as his father had done, and, if he could find it in his heart, they asked Rehoboam if he would even offer them a little more freedom. Rehoboam, wanting to be wise, consulted with the same elders that had provided guidance to his father before him. These elders recommended that Rehoboam loosen the reigns a little more as these people were an honorable people. But, Rehoboam did not like that guidance, so he decided to ask his buddies, those that he had grown up with.

     Rehoboams friends told him that he should tighten the reigns and restrict the people even more, for they were focused on ways of old. There was no sound reasoning to this guidance other than they felt Rehoboam might appear weak if he allowed these people to live free, plus, the ways of his father were considered antiquated and not of the times. So, rather than listening to the counsel of the elders that had helped his nation thrive and grow, he listened to his young friends and told the people to get stuffed. Not only would he not give them more freedom, he restricted their activities even more and punished them further. 

     After turning away from the request and will of his people, they fought him and even killed one of Rehoboams servants. A rebellion was kicked off which lasted for hundreds of years. The people of the land grew angry and despised Rehoboam for the remainder of his reign. King Rehoboam had successfully divided his nation in only one generation. 

     At the time of Rehoboam, his generation had decided that they wanted to pursue their own activities, their own agenda. They wanted to establish their own moral code and, if necessary, they would push their code on to the people of the land. They had become naïve and weak due to the prosperity that their nation had achieved over the previous 80 years. It was their forefathers that had grown and conquered the land, it was their purpose to maintain it; however, they decided that the way to do it was to force a new belief system through violence and choice of words. A once successful and thriving nation, following established ways, had been torn apart. 

     A thousand years later, a new prophet would walk the land – the true story continues. The people of the nation had become negligent and, achieved such a level of weakness, they had been conquered and overrun by many different foreign nations and were currently occupied. This new prophet was advising the people that the world was renewed, that there was light in the darkness. But this new movement was under attack, the people of the movement were being tormented and, rather than fight the battle, they would just convert to the ways of the foreigners so that they could live in peace. They did not really believe in the foreign ways, but it was just easier to comply.

     But the prophet continued to preach, that there was wisdom and revelation in “The Way!”. If they kept “the way”, their eyes would be enlightened to the right understanding, that there is hope. While it is easier to conduct ourselves in a way that our bodies desire, “the way” is alive in mercy and love, as long as we stick together in grace. That if they kept “the way”, that the people will thrive, but they needed to keep the faith, not just methods and activities.

     The prophet reminded the people that if they remember what their lives were like before “the way” and compared their lives to “the way”, they were happier and more successful. It wasn’t until the foreigners started to attack “the way” that the people were made miserable and fearful. He reminded them they “the way” is a new covenant and was bound in the blood of those that preceded them in death. For, the people are one, by Spirit, and connected to the source of “the way”. 

     For this very reason, the prophet bowed his knee’s to “the way” so that he would be strengthened through the Spirit in his own body and spirit. He argued that the people should continue to walk worthy of “the way”, bearing one another in love and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace. They should feel renewed in the spirit of their mind and speak truth with each other and their neighbors. It is perfectly acceptable to be angry, but do not allow this anger to fester or it would bring on bitterness. Only speak what is essential to the cause and necessary to maintain “the way”. 

     Let the bad people continue to do their thing, but feel free to speak out against the new thing, against the foreigners, for while it may seem dark, the people of “the way” will bring light to the darkness enveloping the world. However, beware of letting bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, put away all malice. Walk circumspectly but not as fools. Do not be unwise but understand the will of “the way”. We are not wrestling with people of flesh and blood but against rulers and authorities of evil. 

Concluding Analysis:

     Rehoboam allowed “the way” to be overcome with the progressive movement of personal agendas and power of his contemporaries, and his nation was divided as a result. A thousand years later, the people were beginning to wake up to the reality that they were happier and more successful when they followed “the way”, it was only when they were attacked for their beliefs that they would be tempted to stray and were miserable as a result. It is possible to be happy, even while being persecuted. It is ok to speak out in anger against this persecution, but, this anger must be dealt with before going to bed each night; hence, we should remain on guard against bitterness, wrath, and malice. All is done with love as the motivation, saying only what is necessary for edification. This is what it is like when we follow “the way”.


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The Equality Act (An Update)

The Equality Act passes the House of Representatives.

The equality act, officially known as H.R.5, passed the House on 17 May 2019and has been submitted to the Senate.  Eight republicans passed the bill while 100% of the democratic base voted for the act.

A link to an article about the possible impact on the Christian Faith can be found here, facilitated by the Liberty Counsel.

A link to the actual text of the act can be found here. If you have not read this bill, I would encourage you to read it for yourself (do not just take my word for it) so that you can get an understanding of the breadth of the impact that this will have on the Christian faith.
The spirit of the act will allow the government to dictate to you what you believe about biological sex and the covenant of marriage just for starters. Your faith and religious belief have no bearing.  The members of the progressive and liberal parties have stated that you will believe what they believe or you will be forced to believe it. If your religious beliefs are different then you will have to get in line with the new belief system or suffer severe federal penalties. When the act was in committee in the House, the minority republican members of the committee worked to include a clause in the Act that would allow the church (i.e., all churches, including Judaism and Islam) to maintain their standards of faith; this attempt was immediately shot down and crushed by the majority democrat members, telling the minority embers that this was the intent.
The act, as written and presented, is unprecedented in US History according to Dave Barton of Wallbuilders. As one of the dominant constitutional and governmental scholars, Dave Barton argued that this is the most intrusive and invasive act that he is aware of. This act is the greatest threat we’ve ever had to religious liberty and the free exercise thereof, ever, in American history.
If this act passes the Senate, churches will be required to hire members of the LGBTQ community, including leadership positions; statements of faith will not apply and will be null and void. 
  • If members of the LQBTQ community decide to become members of the church, they must be allowed to serve as ushers and greeters. 
  • Pastors and teachers will NOT be allowed to teach sermons or make reference to scripture that speaks negatively of the sin of homosexuality. The truth of the bible does not matter. Pastors and elders will not be allowed to discourage discussions in the sanctuary or anywhere on church grounds that are in full support of the LGBTQ lifestyle. What if an LGBTQ member wants to teach a class on the subject to the children of the church or host a lifegroup? Church staff will need to encourage this lifegroup just as they do all others.
  • Faith based adoption agencies will be shut down if they refuse to place children into homes of those that include same sex couples or cross dressers.
  • Faith based schools and colleges must hire LGBTQ members or be unaccredited or shut down entirely.
  • What about youth groups?

This act also serves as a potential attack on women:

  • Men must be allowed into woman’s sports teams if they decide that they feel like a woman.
  • Men will be allowed into every woman’s restroom – this will no longer be a state by state issue
  • Men will be allowed to occupy homes that currently provide a service to sexually abused women.

The bill in front of the Senate is categorized as S.788 and is currently sitting in front of the Judicial Committee of the Senate.  Read the bill for yourself, it will blow you away. Also, please be aware that 47 members of the Senate are already on bored for the Senate bill, we are precariously close to watching the free liberty of religion be destroyed. 

So, if this is something that concerns you, what can you do?

   1.    Go to https://lc.org/hr5and sign the petition sponsored by the liberty counsel. You can probably find similar positions on other websites such as the Heritage Foundation or Family Research Counsel.

  1. Go to the following website for the US Senate and find your applicable Senators (remember that you have two). https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm
    1. Go to your Senators contact page and send them an email letting them know your views about this act

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by his fellow delegates, contains a theory of rights that depends on a Supreme Being, not man, for its validity. The Declaration states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is possible to see in these words an affirmation of the Founders’ religious faith. Arguing for our religious rights DOES NOT mean that we hate or despise members of the LGBTQ community. We love all, even if the bill should pass the Senate. Nonetheless, this bill is terrifying in that it will force people to violate their religious convictions and discriminates against people of faith. If we go back over 200 years, government persecution of religious freedom was one of the pillars that forced the United States to separate from Great Britain.

In stating that people’s rights were given to them by their creator, the Continental Congress endowed those rights with a legitimacy that knows no parallel in mortal sources (i.e., written by man). What God has given to man cannot be suffered by any monarch or government (this is in the Declaration). Liberty is the inviolable birthright of all.  If a man wants to marry a man or a woman a woman, they can do so. I believe that most members of the LGBTQ will leave churches alone, as well as faith based small businesses; but, there will be enough that will force the issue on others for media attention and lawsuit purposes.

The Declaration contains several other references to a higher power. The introduction states that the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” entitle the American people to a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the conclusion, Congress appeals to “the Supreme Judge of the world” for the rectitude of its intentions and professes its “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In each case, reference to a deity serves to validate the assertion of independence.

Bottom line is that our nation was founded based on the principle of God given rights above all others. This legislation will violate the provision of those God given rights. If you concur then I would encourage you to sign the petition in this email, as well as other petitions of you find them. Also, write to your Senator letting them know your position.


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The Attack, or Blessing, of “The Equality Act”

For those that believe in the Bible (which I pray we all do) – We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. If we truly believe in the bible, then we have no doubt that the bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises. 

If we believe in the Bible, then it goes without saying that we value God’s Word– “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24). The Bible is the most important authority in all areas of faith. Through our understanding and application of the scriptures, we can know God and His truth, experience changed lives, and grow in spiritual maturity. If the above is accurate for all concerned, then you may want to be aware of the “Equality Act of 2019”. The House of Representatives (pushed via the liberal agenda) is sponsoring a new bill referred to as the “Equality Act” (H.R.2282; S.1006).The purpose of the Equality Act is to provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, which include: 

  1. employment, 
  2. housing, 
  3. credit, 
  4. education, 
  5. public spaces and services, 
  6. federally funded programs, 
  7. jury service

The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law—including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government—to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. Bottom line is that this resolution is intended to protect LGBTQ from discrimination for employment, services from anyone, access to bathrooms of choice, and federal recognition of gender choice.

For those that are LGBTQ, this would be a blessing as many feel that they have been disenfranchised or hurt based on current policies and regulations.  For supporters of LGBTQ, this might make sense; but, our focus should NOT be on the leaven of Herod, but on the leaven of His Kingdom. As we know, the leaven of Herod involves an exalting of civil law above God’s moral law – putting man’s law above God’s law.  

Here are what the perceived impacts to Religious Liberties of those of faith as it applies to the First Amendment:

  1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology. Phillips (the cake baker in Colorado) is just one of many Americans who have lost income because of their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Others cases involve floristsbakersphotographerswedding venue ownersvideographersweb designerscalligraphers, and public servants. These cases are just the beginning. The same policies used to silence disagreement over marriage can be used to silence disagreement over the biological reality of sex.
  2. It would compel speech. A VA county school board voted unanimously to fire a veteran teacher over the objections of his students after he refused to comply with administrators’ orders to use masculine pronouns in referring to a female student who identifies as transgender. Vlaming did his best to accommodate the student without violating his religious belief that God created human beings male and female, using the student’s new name and simply refraining from using pronouns altogether. Unfortunately, the school still considered this a violation of its anti-discrimination policy.
  3. It could shut down charities. In Philadelphia, just days after the city put out an urgent call for 300 additional families to foster children, the city halted child placements by Catholic Social Services because of the organization’s belief that every child deserves both a mother and a father. Most of these children still languish without foster parents. 
  4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.  Any disagreements to this? Some communities are now moving to completely remove sports from high schools and community recreation activities. 
  5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals. Medical professionals would be pressured to treat patients according to ideology rather than their best medical judgment. Christians Doctors will be in jeopardy. 
  6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children. This has already happened. In Ohio, a judge removed a biological girl from her parents’ custody after they declined to help her “transition” to male with testosterone supplements. Similar cases are proceeding through the courts with children as young as 6 years old.
  7. It would enable sexual assault. A complaint under investigation by federal education officials alleges that a boy who identifies as “gender fluid” at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, sexually assaulted Pascha Thomas’ 5-year-old daughter in a girls’ restroom. The boy had access to the girls’ restroom because of Decatur City Schools’ transgender restroom policy. A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would give male sexual predators who self-identify as females access to private facilities, increasing the likelihood of these tragic incidents. The school has refused to amend their policy.  

If you have a desired position on this matter, I would highly encourage you to reach out to your House of Representative person and inform them of your position.  You can find your representative at the following: https://www.house.gov. Let your representative know of your position. 

As liberals control the House, this will very likely make it to the Senate. If you oppose this action, you may also want to let your Senator know of your position on this. You can find your senator at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm


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