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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Liberty

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Liberty is the essence of America, one of the three God-given, unalienable rights demanded in the Declaration of Independence. The Liberty Bell tells us to “Proclaim liberty throughout the land.” [Lev 25:10], while the Statue of Liberty tells the world, “Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Liberty provides the opportunity for individuals to become whom God made them to be. Paul wrote in his letter to the chuch in Galatia, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.” [Gal 5:1]

Do we confuse liberty with licentiousness, thinking that liberty means we’re free to act selfishly, at the expense of others? I was taught that my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ends where yours begins. Liberty means that we’re governed internally by the laws of God written on our hearts, rather than by an external, controlling force. Only in this state are we truly free.

In this nation, we once lived in the freedom that safe limits provide. The laws of God establish boundaries for our neighbors and ourselves. Wouldn’t you rather live in a society where you can leave your house unlocked, knowing that your neighbor wouldn’t steal from you or that your children can play outside safely from dawn to dusk? Wouldn’t it be better if Americans didn’t lie, steal, murder or rape each other? Those things will not disappear from life completely until evil is defeated once for all time, but a government of responsible, self-controlled citizens is much more free than the one we are devolving into now.

A society must be organized by some form of government to function. Anarchy, communism, monarchy, oligarchy are options.  Are any of these better than the one we have under the U.S. Constitution?

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Separation of Church and State

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The term “separation of church and state” is bandied about today as if it were a vital part of the U. S. Constitution. Not only is it nowhere to be found in that document, but the phrase has come to mean the exact opposite of its original intent. “Separation of church and state” has been used to systematically dismantle our  Constitutional rights granted by the First Amendment.

Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda, said, “If you tell a lie long enough, people will eventually start to believe it.” He also stated, “The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape it.” I’m afraid that has happened in this case.

So what is in the Constitution?  The First Amendment states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Therefore, Congress is prohibited from establishing a state-controlled religion or denomination like the one the Pilgrims fled in coming to America. In England the king was head of the church, as well as the government, so he could punish those who violated the religious edicts he imposed. Our founders envisioned a country where Christians could practice their religion freely as long as they respected the rights of others to freely practice theirs.

The phrase “separation of church and state” was penned by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. In 1801, the Baptists, concerned that the First Amendment would not go far enough to protect their religious liberty, wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson. He replied that the First Amendment “created a wall of separation between the church and state” so the federal government would not be able to infringe on their rights to practice their religious beliefs.  View the letters here.

Two days after he wrote the reply, President Jefferson rode his horse down Pennsylvania Avenue to church, as was his usual practice.   By the way, the church he attended was held in the United States Capitol Building. Obviously, the framers of this republic saw no problem with Christian worship in a government building.

Although Thomas Jefferson may have been one of the least religious among our founding fathers, he knew the importance of a moral, educated society in the proper functioning of the government he had been instrumental in forming. He knew that Christianity provided the self-control that is necessary in a free society.  He had seen God’s Providence in the birthing of this nation, one founded on Christian principles.

I don’t think he would’ve been very happy about the use of his words today.

Two Days

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Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday. I don’t ever remember them occurring on the same weekend, but I’m sure they do ever so often. Maybe for them to fall together this year is prophetic.

While we honor all American veterans on Veterans Day, Memorial Day is set apart to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to this country. The United States is free today because our vets chose to put their lives on the line for our liberty. Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. These true heroes did just that. To each of them and their loved ones throughout our history, we owe an unpayable debt.

Pentecost is one of seven feasts ordained by God in the Old Testament, occurring fifty days after the feast of Passover. On a particular Pentecost about two thousand years ago, Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration, as was the custom.The apostles were together, probably in the upper room where they had recently celebrated Passover with Jesus, the night before His crucifixion. The resurrected Jesus had ascended from earth to heaven several days before, telling them to remain in Jerusalem until they received the power God had promised them to enable them to be witnesses of His Kingdom in Jerusalem and throughout the world. The second chapter of Acts describes the events on that particular morning. A violent, rushing wind filled the house, and tongues of fire rested on each of them. They began to speak in languages that they didn’t know. A crowd gathered outside, drawn by the commotion. Those in the crowd were amazed to hear uneducated Galilleans speaking the mighty works of God in their own various languages. Even more amazing, Peter who had only weeks before denied Jesus three times, now filled with the Holy Spirit of God, spoke to the crowds. With no notes, just the power of God, Peter recounted the story of Jesus. The hearts of three thousand Jews were pierced, each changed forever. The world was never to be the same.

Jesus laid down His life for us. Because He made the ultimate sacrifice, we are able to access the power of the Holy Spirit. This power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to each of us.  As we allow Him to fill us with His life and love, we are able to lay down our need for control and self centeredness, and live the lives we were destined to live.

The Cruel War

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A war is raging for the heart and soul of  this nation, but that’s nothing new. It began when Lucifer led a rebellion of angels against God and His heavenly forces, before man ever appeared on the face of the earth, and continuing ever since. The struggles we encounter every day are not against each other, but against spiritual forces in the heavenly places. The weapons of Satan’s warfare are not guns and bullets, but the deception of his lies.

Satan’s first lie occurred in the Garden of Eden.  God made man in His own image to be fruitful, to multiply and to take dominion over the earth with only one restriction. They were not to eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, because that act would result in their spiritual death. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening, and all was well in Eden, that is, until Satan appeared. He caused Eve to doubt God and His motives, suggesting that God didn’t want them to eat the forbidden fruit because then they would be like God. Of course, they already were! But you know the story, Eve ate, and the results were downright disastrous for us all. No longer were we humans governed by an intimate relationship with a loving God, but by our own consciences, mind, emotions and physical senses. In that state we were easy targets for Satan, and the war on earth between good and evil began.

The devil is a liar, and often comes disguised as an angel of light. Many times, what looks like a good thing to do in our humanity isn’t the best choice. We become little gods, judging ourselves and each other, while the devil spews his evil lies to keep us at war with one another. Political correctness replaces true righteousness, licentiousness replaces true liberty, and religious systems replace true relationship with God.

So what is good? Jesus responded to someone who called Him good, “Why do you call me good? Only the Father is good,” meaning that only the thoughts, attributes, actions and character of God are good; everything else is evil (worthless).  Don’t get me wrong.  We still know right from wrong. That’s the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  But without the guidance of God’s Spirit, we walk with scales over our eyes, often unable to discern the devil’s lies from God’s Truth.

All is not lost; there is good news. God’s perfect justice required a penalty of death to pay for the original sin and those that followed. His perfect love, His Son Jesus Christ, paid that penalty to redeem the whole world once for all.  For whoever will receive that gift of life, the debt is cancelled, relationship with God is restored, and God’s Spirit resides in him again.

And so, the war rages on. God says He will not contend with man forever. At some point in history,  God will win the war. Will you choose to believe the Truth or the lie?

The Sixties

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Something happened to the United States in the sixties. I’m not sure I know why it happened. Maybe the seeds of communist propaganda from the fifties began to bear fruit. Possibly the birth control pill made free love too free? Perhaps God obeyed the edict of the Supreme Court that He was no longer allowed in our schools. Most likely all were a contributing factor, but no matter what, things went awry, driving our culture to the depths of self-centered, post modernism that exists today.

The lifestyle in the fifties was relaxed. The country was breathing a sigh of relief after the struggles of the great depression and World War II. Moms were home with the kids while dads worked. The bad guys wore black hats; the good guys never killed anyone. Fathers actually knew more than their children. When students got in trouble, usually for talking in class or chewing gum, they were punished again at home. Only the best kids made the team, and only the champions got trophies. Students that couldn’t pass their classes failed. We left our car doors unlocked. Certainly things weren’t perfect,– racial injustices existed and the cold war was heating up. People robbed, kidnapped, murdered, abused, and lied. Evil has always existed, but in the fifties we recognized it for what it was.

Then came the sixties: “Free Love” , “Peace”, “Make love, not war”, sit-ins, psychedelic drugs, nudity, sex, Woodstock, Student for a Democratic Society (SDS), hard rock, “pigs”, the generation gap, women’s lib, environmentalism, civil rights marches, Viet Nam, assassinations, spies and counter-spies, the Bay of Pigs, the Russian Missile crisis, JFK’s New Frontier, LBJ’s Great Society, Medicare, Department of Education, busing. The revolution was supposed to make it all better. But has it?

What have our “rights” gotten us? Women can now fight in the military. Yea! We’ve pumped trillions of federal dollars into the medical industry, inflating costs to the point that we can no longer afford medical care. Students have been treated so fairly that they no longer have to know anything to graduate from high school. Those below the poverty level have been cared for so well that they are now enslaved to the federal government, and their numbers are growing. Mothers and fathers are killing each other and their children. Children aren’t able to play outside because it’s not safe, so they relate with pretend friends on social networks. Pornography, which is easily accessible on the internet, is called free speech, but Christians are called racist, bigoted, intolerant for speaking the long held principles of this nation.

We have it all backward now,–good is called evil, while evil is called good. God spoke to that through His prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light, and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight! … Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!” [Is 5:20-21,23]

Have we really become more free? Is this what we really want?

Hello world!

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I am a baby boomer, raised in the 50’s in what my daughter calls an innocent time. Compared to what I see on television and on the movies, as well as life in general, I guess she’s right. I was in college when the big changes occurred, free love, revolution, anti-war riots, sit-ins, love-ins, you name it. We are now reaping the seeds that were sown against the family, church, and general American values based on our founding documents. I’m part of the last generation to really know the extreme changes in our culture from then to now, and it grieves me that the liberty we’ve enjoyed may be lost to my children and grandchildren. I plan to do whatever I can for such a time as this.

E Pluribus Unum

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The founders of the United States of America described the essence of this nation by the motto E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one”.  They believed that free individuals could organize and govern themselves, and for over two hundred years, they have been correct. Our democratic republic has become the strongest, richest nation in the world. Today we are in danger of losing the freedoms that made our country great. Our history is being erased; our system of government is being dismantled; truth is being distorted. America could now better be described as “out of one, many groups pitted against each other for political gain.”

Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” If we are to remain free in this generation, as well as those to follow, we must trust God and put loyalty to our country above loyalty to our gender, ethnicity, political party, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. We must relate as individuals, heart to heart.

My hope is to provide a forum for dialog among Americans. We each have unique perspectives to lend to the discussion. If  we will talk to each other with respect for individual differences and without talking points, maybe we can restore the heart of this country. Just maybe, we can solve the problems that have divided us to become “one” once again.

Is that a pipe dream? Are we so alienated that we can no longer hear what the other side is saying? Maybe we really all want the same things, but extremists on either side have distorted our words so much we can’t understand each other. Can we think any more deeply than a slogan allows? We won’t know if we don’t try.

I’ll go first each week. It’s a dangerous proposition to become vulnerable with you, but even more so not to. Join me if you dare.  Remember, E Pluribus Unum.