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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Deliver Us From Evil

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 Waking up to the news of the horrendous shooting in Aurora, Colorado this morning has led me to think and pray about evil. How can a human being walk into a crowded theater and take innocent lives? For most of my life psychologists and others, including myself, have attempted to explain actions such as these by blaming them on failures of others in their lives to meet their human needs. Others blame bad things on God and turn from Him. But it’s time that we call it what it is,– evil.

God gave Adam and Eve only one commandment,–not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity [AMP], because if they did, they would surely die. Ultimately, their choice was life or death. It wasn’t God’s will for them to choose death, but out of love, He gave them free will, knowing that only by choice can an individual truly love another, even God. Since Adam and Eve chose to listen to Satan’s cunning deception instead of God’s warning, shame, blame and guilt entered Eden, and we now inhabit a fallen world.

God is good and everything that is good comes from God. This may sound extreme, but it’s not: evil is everything that is not of God. That includes things that are worthless, wretched, flawed, wrong or wicked, as well as adversity, distress and grief. When things like the senseless death of an innocent child occur, many among us first blame God, because we think deep inside that things should turn out good, since God is in charge. But that in itself points to our desire for God and His goodness and righteousness to reign in the world. We wrongly blame God for Satan’s work. Why? Because Satan is the father of lies, disguised as an angel of light.

What I do know is that God loves each one of us, and desires for us to come to Him. He made that possible by choosing to die for us on a cross. In Christ, death has been overcome. God wants each of us to be overcomers, not victims, choosing to trust Him to be victorious over whatever we encounter in this sin-filled world. He has empowered us to be victors over sin and death by His Holy Spirit living in us, thereby, overcoming evil with good. When we choose God, we choose life, light and love. Any other choice leads to death, darkness and self.

God’s ways are higher than our ways, so it’s beyond our understanding to explain why God sometimes intervenes in tragic situations, and sometimes He doesn’t. But by all rights, in Aurora, Colorado, the tragedy should have been much worse. Thank you, God, that it wasn’t.

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Have We Been Deluded?

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I’m going to quit talking about this soon (maybe!), but I recently heard a news personality say the first amendment was “freedom from religion.” See what I mean from my last post? We must get back to what the founders meant, not what the court’s have changed the Constitution to mean. One more time, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This is not freedom from religion, but freedom from Congress’s establishing a religion or interfering with individual religious exercises. How much clearer can this be? How do we expect justices to correctly interpret a 2000 page bill if they can’t get this one right?

The Bible says Satan “deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” [2 Thess 2:9-12]

Have we been deluded? Consider the following:
  • The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock with little more than their Geneva Bibles and their Calvinistic teachings that church and civil government should be separate and that man can serve God in any area of life. They knew first-hand the tyrrany and persecution of a state run religion, and they realized the importance of education in achieving their goal. Toward that end, they passed the Old Deluder Act in 1647, recognizing “the chief project of that old deluder, Satan” was to keep people from learning the true meaning of the original Scriptures.
  • The New England Primer, published by Benjamin Harris in 1690, was used by students into the 19th century. The Primer used the Bible to teach reading. Note the content of the 1877 edition, especially the questions at the end.
  • Upon completion of the Constitution, the Second Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance off 1787 to determine how new states should be added to the union. One of the its stated purposes was to “extend the principles of civil and religious liberty.” [Section 13]. “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” [Section 14, Article 3]. The Congress saw the need for schools to teach children religion, morality and knowledge, in that order. They knew that citizens educated in Biblical principles were necessary for good government. “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power, they groan.” [Prov 29:2]

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “History will also afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion…and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.”

Have we been deluded? Have we listened to the lie long enough to believe it? What do you think?

While We Were Sleeping

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So how did we get from being a Christian nation to whatever we are now? How did the First Amendment change from being a protection of our religious liberties to one that disavows them? When did a phrase written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson come to mean that prayer, Bible reading or any other religious activity establish a religious denomination? After all, Jefferson used the phrase to  insure the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut that the First Amendment erected a wall of “separation of church and state” so that all religious practices would be protected from intrusion by the state, unless they “worked ill to their neighbor.”   And when did the public come to believe that this phrase written twelve years after the First Amendment was in the Constitution, and in fact, was the meaning of the First Amendment?

To find out, we must follow the trail of the phrase “the separation of church and state through the Supreme Court.

  • Reynolds v. United States (1878): The court used Jefferson’s letter in context to determine that individuals could not use their religious rights to violate civil laws, thus, defining the roles of religious and civil jurisdiction. In this case, Mr. Reynolds could not use his Mormon religion as a reason to violate the law against bygamy. Other possible violations might be polygamy, human sacrifice, infanticide, and, now, honor killings.
  • Everson v. Board of Education (1947): The opinion of the court surgically excised the phrase “the separation of church and state” from the context of Jefferson’s letter and added ” which must be kept high and impregnable”.  But they ruled that using the establishment clause of the First Amendment in this case would violate the free exercise rights of the defendants.
  • McCollum v. Board of Education (1948): The court ruled that the school’s provision of 30 or 45 minutes of voluntary, religious instruction was not allowed because the founders wanted children to learn Bible precepts, not a particular denomination. So the opinion distinguished between Biblical Christianity which was Constitutional and denominational Christianity which was not.
  • Engels v. Vitale (1962)The court disallowed the following, generic prayer to be said at the start of a school day: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.” Since the prayer was non-sectarian, any religious activity was now seen as the establishment of a religion.
  • Abington v Schempp (1963): was joined by Murray v. Curl: This is the famous Madelyn Murray O’Hair case in which the the Court ruled that Bible reading in school violated the establishment clause. This is said to be the case that kicked God out of our schools.

Several atheist plaintiffs and nine justices on the  Supreme Court had finally succeeded in breaking down the “wall of separation of church and state” and did it by using Jefferson’s phrase against us. Now, most Americans believe that the First Amendment of the Constitution is “separation of church and state” which means that God is not welcome in our schools or government. As a result, He’s not in our culture either.

Thomas Jefferson warned in his letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Nov, 1819:

If the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, …then the Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law …

Is America a Christian Nation?

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Did you know that in 1892 in the case, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed that yes, indeed, the United States is a Christian nation. The Circuit Court in New York had decided that the church’s hiring of a rector from England was illegal under the law forbidding corporations to import foreigners as a source of cheap labor. It’s a long, but interesting decision, especially in light of some of the issues we face today.

The opinion of the court, penned by Mr. Justice Brewer, concluded that applying that law to a situation involving a church rector violated the spirit of the law. In so doing, he wrote “we are a Christian nation”. The decision cited many supporting precedents, including the following:

  • Commission to Christopher Columbus from Ferdinand and Isabella
  • First colonial grant to Sir Walter Raleigh from Elizabeth
  • Charters of Virginia in 1606, 1609 and 1611
  • Mayflower Compact
  • Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania Charter
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Constitutions of the various states

He concluded with the following:

There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people. While, because of a general recognition of this truth, the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394, 400, it was decided that

“Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; . . . not Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”

It’s important to note the distinction between “Christianity with an established church and tithes and spiritual courts” and “Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.” True Christianity resides in the heart, not in a set of legalistic rules.No one can force Christianity on another, although many have rejected the faith because of attempts to do so. All, no matter their belief systems, are able to live freely in this nation as long as they abide by the rule of law and do no harm to any other in their religious expression. Those freedoms are available precisely because we are a Christian nation.

Celebrating the Fourth of July

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Today we celebrate the birth of America’s freedom. Fifty-six men gathered 236 years ago to pledge “their, lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” in their stand for liberty against the powerful British Empire. Take the time to read the Declaration of Independence and its grievances against the King George. You might find some of them applicable even today.

When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

Thomas Jefferson

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

Benjamin Franklin

If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by Him… Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.

William Penn

It truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and his Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy, if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.

Daniel Webster

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.

John Quincy Adams

God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.

John Adams

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Gal 5:1

Happy Independence Day!

What Happened to the Supreme Court?

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The recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent discussion of factions of the court cause me pause. What happened to impartial jurists who rule on a law’s constitutionality based on the US Constitution? Isn’t the reason that justices serve for life, unless they retire or are impeached, to protect the court from political decisions?

According to CBS News, those inside the court claim that Chief Justice Roberts, unlike other conservative justices, “pays attention to media coverage…he is also sensitive to how the Court is perceived by the public.” Though we may never know what influenced his decision, it appears that Roberts may have bowed to outside political forces from the media to protect the reputation of his court. If this is indeed the reason he changed his original view, what does this have to do with the Constitution?

We have moved so far from the original intent of the court with liberal and conservative wings that it is no longer trusted by many Americans to do what is was instituted to do. The latest Rasmussen Reports shows that a majority of Americans believe “the high court is too liberal and that court justices pursue their own agendas rather than acting impartially.”

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, spoke to the situation that we now find ourselves in:

 Changes in the constitution ought not be lightly made; but when corruption has long infected the legislative, and executive powers: when these pervert the liberties of the people; if THEY tamely submit to such misgovernment, we may fairly conclude, the bulk of that people to be ripe for slavery.

Chief Justice Roberts rightly stated that the commerce clause has been wrongly used to justify the overreach of the federal government. He was correct that there are consequences to elections. But, he rewrote the law to arrive at a convoluted justification for his decision. Furthermore, in so doing, he instituted a precedent that allows the federal government to tax any behavior it deems unacceptable, a giant step toward totalitarianism.

We must pay close attention to the people we choose to represent us. As we have seen many times, we cannot always believe the words of candidates, or their opponents for that matter. Instead, we must look carefully at their records. We cannot allow others to make these choices for us, because at this time in history we are “ripe for slavery.” We must not shirk our responsibilities as citizens. We must not “tamely submit to misgovernment.”