Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let's Be Honest With Ourselves

Earlier today, my favorite presidential candidate, Sen. Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination.  This undoubtedly clears the path for Gov. Mitt Romney to earn the party's nomination and subsequently challenge Barack Obama this November in the general election.

I've heard from many like-minded individuals that they wouldn't vote for Romney for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, his Mormonism, his moderate political stances, his changes of heart over key issues, and the fact that his healthcare plan as Massachusetts governor was a fore-runner for the curse known as Obamacare, which we are currently hoping is upended in the Supreme Court.

Let me ask you a question.  It's multiple choice, and there are only two choices.

A.  Mitt Romney
B.  Barack Hussein Obama

If you picked A, your vote goes for a candidate who admittedly does have some concerning issues over his changing views on social issues, but he's also a successful businessman who should make much better financial and economic decisions than the current occupant of the Oval Office.  Additionally, Mormons are devoutly religious and mostly conservative people; Romney will certainly not trample religious liberty in the same way the corrupt Obama administration has.

If you picked B, your vote goes to the enemy of liberty, to the one who has attempted to seize more power from the hands of the American people than any elected leader in our history, to the one who has accumulated more debt than all American presidents before him combined in only three years in office.  It gets better- in recent weeks, the Trojan Horse president has started a media race riot over a controversial shooting in Florida (which happens to be a key swing state), betrayed potential Israeli war plans, had a hot microphone incident with the Russian president, and threatened the justices of the nation's highest court over his illegitimate healthcare plan.  Besides, do we even know exactly where this man was born?

If you are reading this blog, I have a feeling that you lean right; therefore, my concern isn't that you'll vote for Obama.  My concern is that you won't vote for Romney because he's a Mormon or because your favorite candidate didn't win the nomination.  My favorite was originally Rick Perry; after he was effectively demolished during debates, I discovered that Rick Santorum was the patriot I'd been looking for all along.  Don't get me wrong, I think Rick Santorum is the best thing the Republican Party has seen this side of Ronald Reagan.  I believe that he's going to play a big role in American politics in the coming years; however, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to vote for the Massachusetts moderate (as Newt Gingrich might say) in November to do my part in ridding our nation of its socialist tyrant.

We must remember to pray for our leaders.  Every day I find it more difficult to do that, other than praying that he and his cronies won't continue to screw everything up.  If you don't have your own presidential prayer made up, I recommend this one:

"May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership."- Psalm 109:8

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bridging the Gap

In my February 28th article, "It's the End of the World...Again", I discussed why modern eschatology (speculation over "end times") pushes non-believers away from pursuing Christianity and how the church scarcely even realizes that she is her own worst enemy in recruitment.

It is my intention today to highlight ways to bring Christianity into the forefront of your life and make it attractive to those who otherwise would reject it as boring and ineffective.  Remember, we can sit back at home and complain non-stop about how things aren't going our way, how the nation is becoming too secular, and how people walk all over Christianity, but nothing will improve until we work to reform the individuals around us and in our communities.  After all, our nation is made up of those people.

"Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."- James 1:23-24

Liberalism and secularism are enemies of Christianity.  For the purpose of an example, let's use a generic American city that would have been considered conservative in 1942.  Liberal movements from the sixties began to influence the city, and by the time the large-scale government safety net swept over the area, liberalism and government dependance were at an all-time high.  We can see this in many large American cities, where practitioners of political correctness have silenced many Christian outlets by branding them as "bigots" for simply promoting and encouraging traditional values and general morality.  As angry as it makes us to hear those things, we have no choice but to reach "across the aisle" and begin reconciling lost relationships.  "Tending our own gardens" won't accomplish anything.  Today's cultural divide is vast and cannot be bridged unless we promote three critical concepts: the appeal of Christianity, acceptance of those who call us "bigots", and a positive worldview.

We've all heard people say, "Christianity just didn't work for me", as if it were something to be fished out of a medicine cabinet and tested for effect.  Any true Christian understands that accepting Christ doesn't mean that you're going to be instantly rich or permanently free of worldly troubles, but I've seen many people grow cold toward the faith in the face of death, disease, and financial disarray.  It is of utmost importance that we highlight the inherent value of Christianity while remaining honest and affirming the imperfection of not only modern adherents to the faith, but also the shortcomings of nearly every single figure of Christianity.

The Bible teaches us lessons in parenting, choosing leaders, financial wisdom, discipline, courage, faith, vision, hope, love, sacrifice, perseverance, and many other critical aspects of our Earthly lives that appeal to secularists and Christians alike.  The Scriptures are a message of abundant life, not one of oppression. In them, we find room to dream, confidence that we were created by the Master's own touch, and courage to stand back up from our failures.  These are the lessons of hope that must be imparted on a society that searches constantly for fulfillment in everything but God.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."- John 3:17

Second, we must practice acceptance of those whom we tend to condemn.  This does not mean that we must condone actions and lifestyles forbidden by the faith, but we are to accept our fellow man in the same way that Christ accepts us.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

I am as guilty as anyone for judging and despising those who defy Christianity with their lifestyles and demonize its adherents with their tongues.  I believe I picked up those bad habits in conservative southern "hellfire and brimstone" churches where the congregation tends to be so zealous for righteousness that they can't stop hatred of sin from growing to a hatred of sinners; however, it is true- secular America is turned away from Christianity in the most part not by what we believe, but by hypocrisy within the church.

Take this example from a text message conversation I had with a secular friend this week:


Me: "One of the groups I am most upset with is my own Christian church.  All this basking in negativity and not moving forward with positive outreach has killed a lot of otherwise positive influence."

Him: "That's what bothers me about most churches.  They are against gays and abortions and preach that.  But no one seems to care about acceptance or helping others."

Me: "Exactly my point.  The outward projection is unwelcoming.  I would help a gay man at my door as much as I would help a Tea Party man.  The focus is best put on putting emphasis on your ideas and why (they are good) instead of targeting people.  The case for traditional values can be made in that sense without giving the impression of outright hatred."

Him: "I know.  I think this is one of the major reasons why young people are turning away from the church."


My friend probably has a different idea of the word "acceptance", but the point is clear: these types of individuals, people in need, find churches unwelcoming because the people come across as hateful.  What's the solution?  The solution is in outreach.

"...faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."- James 2:17

Outreach doesn't necessarily confine itself to handing out soccer balls in Nicaragua.  Outreach can be anything that you invest your time and energy in for positive purposes.  My wife and I have friends over for poker nights and talk about life and faith and many other things over beers, football, and casino chips.  We've hosted Thanksgiving dinner for our single friends.  We have friends that cook meals for couples that have recently had a child and are exhausted from all of the related events.  Find a way to come across as welcoming to people who aren't as acceptable within your circle of friends and you may see a positive difference in the way your faith is viewed.

Finally, Christians must do a better job of exhibiting positive attitudes in regard to world events and the status of our nation.  No one likes to emulate failure, so why would anyone want to practice a faith that doesn't even offer hope to its own adherents?  I believe Christians are not merely along for the ride, but that we are to write the meaningful pages of history.  If you believe that failure is the only option for America, then you lack vision and need to refer to the writings of Paul:

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever..."- Ephesians 3:20-21

or Luke:

"...'What is impossible with man is possible with God'."- Luke 18:27

As we approach elections, we are reminded again that our people are looking for solutions.  They want a better economy, a better future, honest leaders, and vary in their desires for social change (or lack thereof).  All of these needs stem from perceived problems, so what has been the solution of many in the church over the past few decades?  The Rapture!  Of course, how convenient- we can just ride out the problems instead of using the providence of God to advance his kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, as we have been commanded!

When people realize that Christians can provide real-life solutions based on Scripture that have measurable results on all of society for the good, much of the world will turn to the faith and apply its tenets to everyday life.  The resulting social change will better the America (and the world) that our children and their children will inherit long after we are gone.  The only thing is, these things won't happen by themselves.  It takes a change in attitude for all of us.

"'...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.'"- Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Summoning John Paul Jones

We've all been following the GOP race for the upcoming presidential nomination.  If you're like me, you've seen enough of the debates and you wish Newt Gingrich would humbly bow out of a race that it looks increasingly unlikely for him to have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.  Regardless of your enthusiasm over any of the remaining four candidates, one thing is for certain- you've certainly heard the assurances of the liberal media that their anointed one, President Obama, will be easily re-elected this November.  Even the president himself said, "I've got another five years".  I hope I can look back at history books someday in my old age and remember those famous words.  They'll be buried in there somewhere with George H.W. Bush's "read my lips" gaffe.

Looking back at history, one can find that we have had ten one-term presidents since the office was first occupied by George Washington in 1789.  Included in that list are several strong presidents, including John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Bush.  The last time I checked, unemployment was pushing nine percent, nearly half of Americans didn't pay taxes, and the vast majority of Americans thought the country was headed in the wrong direction.  So why is the media trying to tell me that this current president will be re-elected?  There are two reasons:

First, they have an agenda to push.  It is a politically correct strategy of appeasement made to appeal to mainstream viewers that do nothing but sit at home and watch TV.  Political correctness, as we all know, is simply tyranny with good manners.  We are talking about a media that publishes stories implying that Americans burn Korans out of bigotry rather than as a means of eliminating a method of communication for enemy prisoners; consequently, controversial stories are pushed out and American soldiers lose their lives trying to quell riots in a barbaric and primitive country.

Second, people believe them.  A co-worker of mine is a conservative Californian (yes, they do exist) and plans to vote for the Republican nominee this November.  He went on to tell me that his vote "doesn't matter" because of the progressive population that seems to always turn California blue.  Others say that there are simply too many Americans dependent on the welfare state for there to be a chance for conservatism to again govern the land.

Let me slap you in the face with the big hand of reality.  Just 16 months ago, Republicans captured the House of Representatives and nearly took the Senate.  Americans are fed up with the curse of liberalism and progressivism.  Gallup surveys say that conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1 in America and even moderates are becoming more conservative.  When you give credence to the MSNBC or Huffington Post propaganda that Obama will easily be re-elected, you discourage potential allies in the all-important upcoming vote to send the Obama administration into the history books.

My readers know about my propensity to reach for my history books when trying to make a point.  Today I am pleased to tell you of the story of Captain John Paul Jones.  Jones was the commander of the U.S. naval vessel Bonhomme Richard during the Revolutionary War's Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779.  Outgunned in a fight with HMS Serapis, Jones made every effort to lock the ships together, which allowed his Marines to carry the fight onto the British vessel.  It was during this time that Jones responded to the British call for his surrender with his famous words:

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

The British continued to press the offensive and asked him again to "strike" his flag of surrender, to which he replied:

"I may sink, but I'll be damned if I strike (surrender)."

Guess whose ship wound up sinking?  Well, it was actually Joneses' ship that ended up at the bottom of the sea, but it didn't sink before Jones and his victorious men had boarded the HMS Serapis and continued their mission.

We need to figure out if we want to surrender or if we want to fight on.  Right now the media and the water cooler progressives want you to know that Obama can't be beaten.  They want to offer you an early surrender and show you why his administration is so beneficial to our country.  I ultimately believe that we the people should not put our hope in the president for the well-being of our nation.  The people, driven by their Godly values and dependence on the One who ultimately provides, are responsible for that.  A moral and responsible people will elect a man who reflects those values; in contrast, immature and morally bereft people will elect people who could care less about adherence to moral principles that built our country into the greatest country on Earth.  With that said, a strong head of state and a strong supporting cast in Congress is instrumental to putting us back on the right track.

"When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order."- Proverbs 28:2

"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."- Proverbs 29:2

I hear groaning everywhere I go, and I'm sick of it.  I'm sick of the state-run media and I'm sick of hearing people whine and complain about how terrible everything is.  Are we going to surrender and put our heads between our legs for four more years of Obama, or are we going to begin to fight?

Take a lesson from John Paul Jones and don't get sidetracked from doing your duty as an American citizen.  While politics may be seen as a personal matter, you should understand that this is an important election for you, me, our kids, their kids, and their kids after that, and as far as the American eye can see, and there are plenty of people more interested in American Idol than government.  Fixing the attitude of apathy is truly change we can believe in.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Consider the Source

If you're familiar with my blog, you certainly understand the extent of my conservatism, traditional beliefs, and patriotism.  If you understand those three concepts, you also can understand why I like Rick Santorum so much.  His opponents are quick to point out his so-called bigotry, sexism, and desire for a theocracy.  Since the mainstream media, with the exception of Fox, is run by liberal activists, much of the population is led to believe that Santorum is an evil and horrific opponent of liberty and human rights.

Political correctness is a curse that creeps in a little bit at a time.  You've all seen it in practice at work.  No longer is that nice old man who mops the floor after work known as Fred the janitor, he's now Fred the sanitation custodian.  Even in the realm of military, there was a movement to replace the rank of "private" with the rank of "warrior" so as to not demean the private.  As a former lieutenant fresh out of college, I never felt offended by being addressed by the title of the lowest officer rank.

These seemingly innocent examples turn into tyrannical efforts to silence churches and military chaplains alike over their duty to speak out about matters of marriage, abortion, or birth control.  While I don't condone the use of racial slurs or the deliberate insulting of others, it is critical that freedom of speech is not silenced in what many believe to be the "the land of the free."

Peer pressure to accept progressive movements that promote and tolerate sinful behavior often puts Christians in a difficult spot at the workplace.  One of my co-workers knows about my excitement over Santorum's campaign and once chided me by saying, "why don't you just move to the Eastern Bloc?", over my traditional views on marriage and child-raising.  He said this with the conviction of someone who was speaking to an enemy of freedom.  My response to him was simple: "Was George Washington a bigot?", I asked.  He couldn't give me a straight answer.  The awkward pause continued until an eavesdropper quipped, "I guess if he lived today, he would be a bigot.".  While that reply is hard to grasp while thinking of one of America's greatest icons, he was right- today's brainwashed media would paint one of our greatest heroes as a bigot.

Santorum is seen as a bigot because he doesn't like contraception (his own personal preference, not an indicator of a pending law banning it), gay marriage, or women serving in combat-coded specialties.  Can you guess what other famous American shared similar feelings?  I'll make it multiple choice in case some of you aren't big on history.

A) Madonna
B) George Clooney
C) George Washington
D) Lady Gaga

If you guessed "C", you have passed today's test.  Are you like the oak tree that stands its ground against the fierce and blowing storms, or are you like the waves tossed by the ocean?  Values never change over time, no matter how much pressure is exerted by lobbyists to bring "social justice."

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."- Hebrews 13:8

The next time you feel like there's no hope for the values of your grandparents to resurface in society, do yourself a favor and turn off the news.  Stick to your playbook, the Bible, because it works one-hundred percent of the time that you apply its truths to your life.

"The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near."- Proverbs 10:14

In the coming years, we will see the truth of Proverbs come true.  You see, while many Christians are busy sitting at home and waiting for doomsday, there are some that are using their lives to further the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  The Question Evolution campaign has launched an all-out assault on evolution with 15 questions that no atheist has been able to answer yet.  Consider the following excerpt from their blog:

Our Question Evolution!Campaign group wants to promote the 15 questions for evolutionists for the long term as we want to pave the way for some very significant things we see happening in 2020 and beyond which are expected to be very positive and significant developments for Bible believing Christians, pro-lifers and religious conservatives. 

Consider this key information relating to the United States: 

The Birkbeck College, University of London professor Eric Kaufman wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? concerning America: 

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.
Of course, we expect the above tipping point in America to positively affect the proliferation of Biblical creationism as well - especially with the aid of the Question Evolution! Campaign. 

If you're older, stop losing faith in the young guns of American Christianity.  If you're younger, stop buying into every negative theory that your hometown church pitches regarding our future here.  Collectively, it's time to move out of the shadows and make our voices heard with our actions and to quit pointing fingers at the Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, or whoever else we think screwed up our country.

The next time someone calls you a bigot because you believe that in the beginning God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, consider the source.  A bigot is actually defined as "someone who is obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions."  We have the source of truth, which is the Word that never changes. The other side just throws a fit because you have an opinion that guides your life in the same fashion that many of our founding fathers did.

Yes, my opinions certainly differ from theirs.  They really don't like my opinions.  They dislike like them so much that they are willing to push for "hate speech" legislation so I will be silenced if I dare stand in the way of the progressive train.  It makes me wonder just exactly who the true bigots in life are.  Are they those who know what makes a nation prosper and seek to influence society in that direction, or are they those who refuse to stand for the right to free speech that has been a hallmark of American freedom for centuries?

You decide.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's The End of The World...Again

I vividly remember being a teenager at a Christian high school when the new millennium was at hand over a dozen years ago.  We were in assembly and listened to one of the seniors play his guitar and sing for about an hour.  When he had finished, he spoke to us and confidently declared that the "rapture" was certainly near because many European nations were on the verge of switching to the Euro dollar as a currency.  Instantaneously, my veins coursed with adrenaline and all of my goals flashed before my eyes: college, career, marriage, fatherhood.  I was still two years from becoming a Christian, yet I still knew the horrifying tales of God's wrath that the schoolhouse prophecy experts would feed to their students.

Fast-forwarding to today, we are all still here.  Do you remember May 21, 2011?  That was another doomsday that never happened.  Harold Camping decided to double down on his failed 1994 prediction and also whiffed on this attempt.  We all (well, most of us) know that Camping is senile and out of his mind, so what's the problem?  We absolutely have to be able to correlate the fact that by spewing forth such foolishness, Christians are marginalized in the eyes of a society that badly needs a spiritual awakening.  It's not just Camping, but a plethora of false prophets have flooded the market with un-Biblical nonsense like the Left Behind series because anxious and gullible believers gobble them up at break-neck speed.

I spent the night of May 21, 2011, in Afghanistan.  I remember reading some of the most ridiculous stories, including one of a mother slitting the throats of her children to save them from the coming "tribulation".  As sorrowful last meals were shared across the world, I researched these supposed "last days".  What I found changed my worldview forever.  Before you tell me that my eschatological (eschatology: the study of the end of things, particularly the end of the world) views aren't a salvation issue and shouldn't be brought up, think again.  Many people who would be open to the church and the faith are pushed away by these sadistic and inaccurate views of the times we live in.  That, my friend, is a salvation issue.  Indeed, no one pushes more people away from the church than the church itself.  Other famous doomsday predictions include:

53 A.D.- Thessalonians fear they have missed the second coming.  Paul is prompted to write a second epistle to them.

400 A.D.- Through a series of calculations, Hippolytus predicts that there were still 200 years left.

968 A.D.- Otto's army is panicked by an eclipse that is thought of to be the end of the world.

994 A.D.- Famines and plagues in Saxony lead to last days paranoia.  The year 1000 is fast approaching and brings many predictions with it.

1033 A.D.- One thousand years since Christ's crucifixion- another numerical focal point for end times.

1420 A.D.- Taborites of Czechoslovakia predict that all the world's cities will be destroyed by fire in the near future.

1666 A.D.- Bubonic plague, the numbers 666, and the Great London Fire cause many British to believe the end is at hand.

1914 A.D.- Jehovah's Witnesses correlate the start of World War One to Biblical prophecy and Armageddon.

1988 A.D.- 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988.  I can give you 24 reasons, one for each year, why that book was a flop.

You can clearly see that humans have been busy predicting the end of this world for two millennia.  That was only a sample of the mine of data that could have been displayed.  Let me set the record straight: I do believe in the second coming of Christ; however, I do not believe in "end times" or any other series of events that leads to the second coming.  This point of view is known as preterism.  Preterists believe that most eschatological prophecies were fulfilled in the first century A.D.  Most people suffering from last days madness today, such as Joel Rosenberg, use not only Revelation to supplement their books, but also Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew 24.  Matthew 24 contains Christ's "Olivet Discourse":

"Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  "Do you see all these things?" he asked.  "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.  "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah,' and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains.  Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation', spoken of through the prophet Daniel- let the reader understand- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.  Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.  How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now- and never to be equaled again."- Matthew 24:1-20

The last days crowd gets excited every time a tsunami wipes out an entire city or country or when tensions flare up in the Middle East.  People are literally convinced that CNN and Fox News are carrying stories straight out of Revelation.  In all actuality, the Olivet Discourse is summed up quite simply when viewed through the lens of preterism.  In the paragraph above, Christ is referring to his coming in judgement.  Don't believe me?  Look at the history books.  In 70 A.D., the Roman Army, led by Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and sacked the Jewish temple.  This is the same Jewish temple that Jesus, forty years earlier, had marked for destruction (not one stone left on top of another).  Let's look at other key points, which I have set in bold:

many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Messiah' (v. 5)- Historical records indicate that Israel was full of magicians and sorcerers who claimed themselves to be divine and gave many signs to watchful crowds.  Eusebius, in 325 A.D., wrote of several men who led rebellions (particularly Theudas, who is mentioned in Acts 5) and claimed to be the Christ.

wars and rumors of wars; nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (v. 6-7)- Prior to 70 A.D. and the sacking of Jerusalem, four Roman caesars were violently killed within 18 months of one another.  Syria and Arabia nearly warred, but the death of Tiberius prevented this.  Bardanes and Volageses declared war against the Jews in this timeframe as well.

famines and earthquakes (v. 7)- Aside from the documented earthquakes in the Bible (Christ's death and the prison escape of Acts 16), we have historical documentation that five notable earthquakes took place between 46 A.D. and 62 A.D. in Crete, Rome, Apamaia, Laodicea, and Campania.

handed over to be persecuted and put to death (v. 9)- John was the only disciple to live out his days, yet even he was persecuted.  All of the others were martyred.  Additionally, Christians suffered greatly under Nero, who blamed them for starting a fire in Rome in 64 A.D.

gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world (v. 14)- Read Paul's introductions to the Romans and Colossians and the descriptions of the spread of the Gospel (documented in Acts 2:5 and 17:6) and visualize what the perception of "the whole world" in those days was.

standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation' (v. 15)- Christ is referring to the Roman Army that is desolating the Jewish temple.  They are led by Titus.

Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. (v. 16, 19-20)- This is Christ's warning of the coming desolation and the "end of the age"- the Jewish age.  He said that they should pray for the attack to come on any day but the Sabbath because the city's gates would be closed on that day, which would prevent the escape of Jews from Jerusalem.  The cold of winter would impede a timely escape from the invading army.

The truth is written plainly in the Bible and is supported by history.  Why are so many church leaders still focusing on so-called "end times" when we still have a "current time" to make a difference?  Well, what do you expect from a culture that doesn't understand either ancient or modern American and world history?  The last days craze doesn't stop at Matthew 24.  It goes on to Revelation, where people relate corrupt politicians to a frightening beast who will rise to power and destroy Christians all over the world.  Did you know that the word "antichrist" is found in only four Biblical passages, but not even once in Revelation?  John uses it only in his other writings to describe those who oppose the Gospel.  Joel Rosenberg exploits Old Testament texts from Ezekiel 38-39 to imply that Russia and Iran will conspire to attack Israel, with whom God broke ties to in 70 A.D., in these "last days".  Apparently the word rosh is supposed to mean "Russia" in many eschatological circles- this is how Russia has been unfairly depicted as the typical end-times bad guy for years, even though Ezekiel was likely discussing events that are documented in Esther 9, five centuries before Christ.  I would be interested to see what kind of home he lives in or what type of car he drives, because he is obviously raking in the money from people who would rather stand by idly as society goes to hell instead of getting involved in building communities and helping people in these "current times".  Will he admit that he's a false prophet when his latest conspiracy falls through?

I'm getting long-winded here, so I'll get to the moral of the story.  How can we, as a faith, expect to impact peoples' lives when a large segment of our people spread stories of horrors to come, chaos, and general negativity?  How can our country recover when the true agents of change, Christians, chalk up the failure of the United States to prophetic inevitability?  Nearly all who follow Christian eschatology hold a negative outlook of the future.  Why should we bother marrying, having children, pursuing careers, voting, or even getting up in the morning if everything is all bound for failure?  Furthermore, why would any non-believer want to join such a miserable and brooding group of people?

"Where there is no vision, the people perish..."- Proverbs 29:18

Why did Christopher Columbus sail the ocean blue in a day where the Czechs had already predicted the impending doom of mankind?  Why did our founding fathers go ahead with the rebellion against England and the Constitution if the collapse of America and all other icons of Christendom were guaranteed by Scripture?  This truly is a situation where Scripture isn't even needed to solve the argument.  Contemporary Christian eschatology defies logic.  You don't need Scripture to understand that there is something bigger than you, me, and the rest of the universe out there- God.  You don't need Scripture to understand that pigs on a farm and their inborn ability to select a partner of the opposite sex supports natural sexuality and throws out any idea of homosexuality being a normal way to continue humanity.

We will never recover our nation as we know and love it if Christians don't play a part in it.  I firmly believe that God wants to bless us and will bless us, but only if Christians quit watching American Idol and get busy in the "current times."  The way we view our world determines how we behave.  Instead of subscribing to the same negative drivel about how we will soon be stamped with a "666" emblem or be killed, or how we are doomed to failure, turn to Acts 2:34-35:

"The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?  I believe Christ will return when his enemies are put down by His people.  Call me idealistic, but I envision a world one day that is sold out for Christianity.  Not just in the United States, but throughout the world.  We have more Christians here than anywhere else on Earth, so why don't we get busy throwing out evils in our society that are tolerated by a corrupt government so we can advance the kingdom (thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven- sound familiar?). When we throw off our own self-imposed chains, we will again be unstoppable.  We must offer life to the world, not gloom, doom, misery, and unavoidable defeat.  Just as the Jews wandered for forty years, so we will wander until our minds are right for the true mission: bringing the world under the obedience of Christ.

The victory of the Gospel in history is inevitable.  Will you play a role?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Should Christians be Wealthy?

Most Christians are familiar with the words of Christ in the following verse:

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God."- Mark 10:25

For those untrained in theology, the verse serves as a serious warning to those looking to build up wealth.  Consider the following verse:

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty."- Proverbs 21:5

I believe that Christ was referring to the love of money, not the possession of it, which keeps a man from a right relationship with God.  In fact, I believe that financial discipline, lack of debt, and generosity are three great hallmarks of Christian living.

I am a shamelessly huge fan of Dave Ramsey.  I believe that he is one of the great leaders of our time because he focuses on the proven fundamentals of finances.  He constantly reminds his audience that he preaches "Grandma's" way of handling money; unfortunately, the lack of parental guidance produced by general neglect and the epidemic of divorce has largely purged such fundamental principles from the teenage syllabus.

As we all know, the financial system is in its worst shape since the Great Depression.  American voters are more concerned about the economy than they are about Afghanistan, entitlements, and social issues.  While many factors have impacted the economy, I believe it is where it is because people simply don't handle money responsibly.  We, along with most of the Western world, are literally addicted to credit, from the top of the federal government to the lowest level of earners.  The downturn of the economy is symbolic of the financial state of your neighbors left and right of you and of the young couple shopping at the mall while already thousands in debt.  In short, the economy will recover on its own when people, on a very large scale, get their own financial houses in order.  Ramsey would be in agreement with me as I say that neither government nor any elected leader will be the fix for the economy.  We are the solution.

The American political system is in shambles for many reasons.  One very prominent reason is the extent to which dishonest gain has influenced "leaders" to side with lobbyists.  Such alliances help erode the moral fibers of our nation and advance a politically correct agenda that favors the few at the expense of the many.  Perhaps such people should have been taught this basic truth:

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight."- Proverbs 11:1

Money is a form of both power and influence.  This is where stewardship comes in.  While the corrupt will always seek to persuade influential people to accomplish their goals, the prudent Christian can support worthwhile organizations that are determined to preserve that which is sacred- our heritage as a Christian nation.  The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is led by capable attorneys who have recently saved a statue of Jesus at a Montana World War II memorial from removal.  The statue had been at the center of controversy after the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, questioned its Constitutionality.  They also intend to battle ObamaCare and constantly work to preserve freedom of expression as it pertains to religion.

The easiest way to avoid developing a love of money is to give it away.  This, of course, means that you must first have some money to give.  Some give ten percent, but the average evangelical Christian gives only 2.5 percent of his income to God's work.  While the actual amount you give should be between you and God alone, you cannot demonstrate dedication to the advancement of the gospel while constantly hoarding your resources.  This includes your own time.  Why should we expect anything but a society that pulls away from the religious values it once embraced when faithful adherents are cutting corners on giving of their time, money, and resources?

When a family operates on less than they make and has no debt, they set the stage for passing on the habit of self-reliance to future generations.  Poor financial habits lead people to depend on others to keep their necks above water; this is where the federal government steps in and increases societal dependence, which enslaves the rest of the public to make up for the shortcomings of their neighbors.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave."- Proverbs 22:7

Military officers are expected to be the best and brightest in every formation.  We are expected to be the standard-bearers in every aspect of leadership- speaking, writing, motivating, and physical fitness are some examples.  We are expected to not only meet the standards, but set the standards.  Likewise, Christians should set the standards for humanity in every area, which includes financial discipline and success.  What does it say for the faith when Christians pinch pennies, but point out the ills of society at every chance they get?  Adherence to Biblical financial wisdom leads to success one-hundred percent of the time.  If society saw Christians as fiscally responsible and financially prosperous because of their doctrine, don't you think they would be curious as to what that doctrine said about life, family, and eternity?

I understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to make even an average salary; however, we all have the ability to budget, pay off debt, and eventually build wealth.  It's not going to happen overnight.  We should be content with our relationship with God alone, but that doesn't mean we can't pave a successful path for our children to follow by learning how to handle money God's way and putting it into practice.  I will end with one of my favorite Ramsey nuggets of wisdom:

"Excellence equals diligence plus time."- Dave Ramsey

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feminism Exposed

Once again, our relentless news cycle has forced me to divert my intended article in favor of a more current and pressing issue.  The last time this happened, I wrote my popular "Whose Side Are You On, Anyway?" piece through rage-induced clenched teeth.  In the midst of Rick Santorum's current surge, liberals have worked overtime to dig up as much dirt and set as many booby-traps as they possibly can.  Leave it to them to dig up and dwell on clips of Santorum's personal opinions on the role of females in the military in hopes that it will stop him in his tracks.

Fortunately, I don't think this will make many conservative-minded women refrain from checking his name in favor of the current president.  What amazes me is that the liberal media has flipped out over an issue that many people agree with Santorum on!  As a military officer, I work with women on a daily basis and have served with them in a deployed environment.  In certain jobs, they occasionally outpace their male counterparts; however, I firmly believe that the battlefield is not the proper testing ground to advance a politically correct idea that women should be allowed to serve in infantry and armor MOSs (Military Occupational Specialty- in short, your job title).  His only mistake in saying what he did was a political one.  He should have deferred those decisions to generals, the subject-matter experts.

I frequently assert that issues such as economic woes, class warfare, crime, and divorce are merely symptoms of a larger problem.  I believe that problem, the cause of the symptoms, is a breakdown of the American family.  Starting almost instantaneously after 1962's Engel v. Vitale removed prayer from public schools, divorce rates spiked.  Along with those increasing numbers came an increase in nearly every other negative statistic imaginable, including teen pregnancies, incarcerations, and violent crimes.

I support Rick Santorum because he stands for family values.  Say what you want about earmarks, but I can respect a man who postpones his presidential campaign to look after his three-year old daughter when she goes to the hospital due to complications from a disease that will almost certainly end her life at a very young age.  On marital "equality", Santorum always gives a reason for his disapproval: "Every child has a right to be loved by a mother and a father."

Feminism is a very dangerous movement because it threatens to further destabilize current families and casts doubt on coming generations of parents and their ability to raise responsible and morally sound children.  In 1958, The Naked Communist was written by Cleon Skousen.  In it, Skousen outlines a forty-five point plan that would be used by communist nations like the former Soviet Union to subvert the United States and her allies and send them on a downward path to communism.  Goal #40 is to discredit the family as an institution.  I will write more on The Naked Communist later.

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which he is the Savior."- Ephesians 5:23

The institutional family is headed by the husband, who provides for his wife and children.  The mother is intended to serve in a nurturing and supportive role as ordained by Scripture.  Many of you reading this probably have a grandmother who was married at eighteen or nineteen.  This goes to show you that only recently has it become a priority for females to continue formal education and delay marriage until the mid-twenties.  This gives me an easy answer as to why the average marriage age is rising, but leaves a lot of grey area as to what an acceptable educational and career path for a young woman looks like.

My wife has three college degrees and is a professional in a highly specialized field.  I am not against female education and careers, but I strongly believe that if those pursuits violate the priorities of God, family, country, and career, they have gone too far.  How can a woman possibly expect to support her husband and children if they fall in the priority line behind "career"?  I think Rick Santorum would agree.

Gary DeMar, founder of American Vision, wrote a fine article entitled "Why Liberalism Will Die By Its Own Hand".  It can be found at http://americanvision.org/5518/why-liberalism-will-die-by-its-own-hand/.  In this piece, DeMar points out staggering trends between birth rates of conservatives and liberals, as well as the frequency in which liberals tend to kill their unborn children.  The same liberals described by DeMar are the ones ready to send Santorum to the gallows for his traditional views on the wife's role in the family.

"A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."- Proverbs 31:10-12

Do you think King Lemuel was speaking of his wife in a demeaning way?  In a way that infers that her rightful place is in the kitchen?  Absolutely not.  As a team, they can accomplish anything.  Bringing him good and not harm all of her days, she certainly raised their children to be respectable and contributing members of society, not entitlement-minded brats with no sense of work ethic.

Every spring, major league baseball players descend upon Florida and Arizona for Spring Training.  For weeks on end, the players take routine fielding practice and hit balls from a tee.  Pitchers focus on mechanics and getting their bodies in shape for the long season.  The focus is clearly on fundamentals.  Similarly, we need to get back to fundamentals.  The economy isn't an overnight fix.  It's an eighteen-year fix that starts at the birth of every child who is eventually taught to balance a checkbook and not spend more than he makes.  Morality is not inherent- it is taught by a family headed by a father and nurtured by a mother.  If that mother is more concerned with throwing off the shackles of motherhood and the role of the woman in the family than she is about being a wife and mother, she will not succeed in her primary mission, that of raising a responsible and God-fearing family.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."- Proverbs 22:6