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Category Archives: Our country

Times They Are A’Changin’

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Everyone has a worldview, a set of beliefs that guides his or her understanding of the realities of the world.  As I have researched, read, processed, and most importantly, prayed about our country in the last few weeks, the thing that has crystallized in my thinking is that the changes in America are a direct result of a changing worldview.

Judeo-Christian principles prevailed from man’s arrival on the shores of this new land until my adulthood. This excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s address to the Constitutional Conventional states it eloquently, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

The convention gave us a government that is subservient to We the People, the rule of law that superintends the individual, and, as a result, a nation of individuals free to pursue life in any way they choose as long as they do not violate the rights of others. Stipulating that there have been failures along the way, especially in the area of civil rights, these beliefs led to what is known as American ingenuity and the American Dream. Individuals free to compete, fail, take risks, suffer injury and succeed have made us who we are as Americans, and people from all over the world have flocked to our shores to get a chance to become Americans, too.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled in Engels v. Vitale that corporate prayer in school was unconsititutional. The following year in the infamous Madalyn Murray O’Hair case, Abington v. Schempp, the court added Bible-reading to the list of no-no’s. These two cases prevented school children from being allowed to practice their religion freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Not only were prayer and the Bible-reading removed from schools, but it was necessary to rewrite the history of our country and demonize American heroes to cleanse our culture of the influences of Christianity.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said, “What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces.” My generation dropped the ball. Why? I don’t know. We were involved in life, not realizing the changes that were occurring in our children’s schools, expecting that they were learning the same things that we had learned. We didn’t want to be accused of being “war mongers’, “racists”, and now “homophobes.” We were tolerant of others because that’s what our faith teaches.  We knew that it was impossible to force our faith on someone else, because faith is a matter of the heart, between an individual and his God.

Now, right is viewed as wrong, and wrong, right. The lie has become the truth. Christians today are accused of being mean-spirited hate-mongers. Amazingly, if you really listen carefully, most of the accusations seem to come from mean-spirited hate-mongers.

Is it too late? I believe the answer is a resounding “No!” We have a chance to turn things around because some of us Baby Boomers remain who have experienced both sides of things.  But, if we are to save the American Dream for succeeding generations, we must fearlessly pick up the ball now.

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?

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.

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?