Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whose Side Are You On, Anyway?

Just in case you haven't had enough of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and other associated gatherings of our nation's degenerate base, make sure you don't miss out on today's inspiring update from Rhode Island.

A group of Occupy Wall Street protesters disrupted a Right to Life rally and threw condoms on Catholic school girls inside the Rhode Island state capitol building.

Respecting our nation's right to free speech, these wonderful Americans thought it would be a good-natured gesture to shower these girls with condoms in light of recent mandates forced on the Catholic church by the Obama administration.

On the topic of free speech, Father Bernard Healey, executive director of the Rhode Island Catholic Conference, had this to say:

"It's disgraceful behavior.  The week before, the pro-abortion people had their rally and no one bothered them.  Apparently freedom of speech only applies to those who agree with you."

Right on, Father.  Liberals think they own the rights to tolerance, when in reality they only tolerate your views if they completely match their own.  One of the downsides of our Constitution is that it allows equal ground for complete idiots to carry on like they have in this "Occupy" movement since September.  It disgusts me even more to think that I've willingly sacrificed time with my family and risked my well-being only to see that the freedoms our soldiers preserve would be used for such evil and destructive purposes.

This brings me to a very abrupt point.  If you are supporting of these types of movements, of the new liberal agenda, of an administration that continually grasps for more power- then you need to do an azimuth check and look at the direction of your life and the condition of your own morality.

Not long ago (1960s), our two major political parties used to align only slightly to the left (Democrats) and right (Republicans) of the middle of the political spectrum.  They disagreed primarily on how to take care of the poor.  Unfortunately for Americans who care about our future generations, Democrats decided to allow their own undoing by adopting socially destructive "progressive" causes that, if put into practice, destroy the moral fibers of any society.

When I was a young boy one summer at the YMCA, my friends and I got in a great deal of trouble.  While I was throwing rocks at trees with another friend, a few other boys were lobbing large clumps of dirt and rocks at passing vehicles.  We didn't think anything of it until one of those huge dirt clumps smashed into the window of a very large dump truck and almost caused the driver to wreck.  Naturally, we all took to the hills.  Little did we know that this driver would pull over and find the nearest camp counselor.  Our goose was cooked and we were in a world of trouble.

While I didn't throw anything at passing vehicles, I was considered guilty by association.  Additionally, I had the opportunity to do the right thing, which would have been to discourage my friends from throwing things at the vehicles.  Even after that, I could have reported it myself to the counselor if they refused to behave.  In a similar way, many young kids keep bad company and end up doing hard time for murders and armed robberies that they didn't commit, but could possibly have discouraged from even happening in the first place.

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."-Philippians 4:8

If you've read this blog before, you've seen that verse.  Now let's do a practical exercise.

Which of the following fall under the category of noble, upright, pure, and admirable?
A) Waving American flags, protesting abortion, supporting traditional marriage, thanking police and others for their service
B) Burning American flags, throwing condoms at girls protesting abortion, advancing "social justice", defecating on police cars

If you chose 'A', you are correct.  You are well on the path to rescuing our country from her current path.  If you answered 'B', you need to immediately snap out of your media-induced moral coma and read about the people and principles that made this country great.

Take a good look at those two pictures.  In one, you see Americans waving flags and signs that urge our leaders to turn back to our founding principles, which include minimal government impact in life, less taxation, and a pledge to encourage a general sense of morality among the people.  In the other, you see fools who have probably never worked for anything, who think that they should be entitled to a cut of your hard-earned paycheck that should be going toward your family's nutrition, your house payments, and your retirement.  Their fellow protesters have further edified society by committing arson and assault and battery, and by forcing even greater spending needed to produce security necessary to account for these morons.  Again, they may not all be card-carrying socialists, but they certainly fall under the category of what Lenin dubbed "useful idiots."

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."-Isaiah 5:20

If you were a Democrat in 1960, then I don't have a problem with you.  Before you get your feelings hurt, let me be clear in stating that I am not a Republican.  I am a strong conservative.  I simply vote for Republicans because they are the only politicians with any semblance of values and adherence to the principles that made America special.  If you are still a Democrat, take a long look at the picture of the occupiers and say to yourself, "I'm going to vote for the same person that those people are going to vote for."  Do you really want to be associated with the scum of society?

"Do not be misled: 'bad company corrupts good character.'"- I Corinthians 15:33 

It's time to stop putting up with nonsense from the loony left.  We all need to be more vigilant in pointing out evil for what it really is and promoting that which is truly good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Importance of History, Part II

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."- Proverbs 14:34

If you read my previous article, The Importance of History, Part I, you surely took note of the statement made in 1798 by John Adams that explained how the Constitution was only adequate for moral and religious people.  Before I dive into the second exposition of history's importance in pointing the way to righteous living, I must set the record straight: while America is hurting and struggling with a state of moral starvation, we've never been perfect.  More than ever, now is a time for hope.  The comparison you will soon read is not meant to discourage Christians, but rather to encourage them to become active participants in their communities and to stand up for what they believe in.

Ancient Rome, the mightiest of antiquity's empires, was known to have intensely persecuted Christians in the first three centuries under the rule of emperors like Nero and Diocletian; Christianity's popularity exploded in Rome in 312 A.D. when the Roman General Constantine embraced the Christian God and the symbol of the cross as his source of strength and defeated General Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.  He proceeded to become emperor and Christianity was eventually proclaimed the official religion of the state.

By the fifth century, the Roman Empire was falling apart piece by piece, little by little.  Even though Christianity was the official religion of the empire and many faithful Christians lived within Rome's boundaries, societal decay was largely in effect.  While many other causes, such as bad policies, numerous enemies, and power-hungry leaders, contributed to Rome's eventual collapse, it is hard not to notice similarities between our nation today and Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries.  In similar fashion, the United States is still largely Christian, even if many people only nominally claim adherence to the faith.

In 1947, Dr. Carle Zimmerman penned Family and Civilization.  In his work, Dr. Zimmerman listed eight internal signs of a declining civilization (Reference 1):

1) The breakdown of marriage and rise of divorce.
2) The loss of the traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony.
3) The rise of Feminism.
4) Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
5) Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
6) Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept their family responsibilities.
7) A growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
8) Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.

The similarities are startling.  History tells us that Rome was full of societal and cultural decay.  Many Roman emperors were noted for their sexual perversions.  Homosexuals of the day militantly advanced their causes and were so prevalent in upper classes that birth rates declined enough to limit their influence in government and society.

Rome didn't necessarily suffer from all eight maladies listed above, but in parts of America, they are all present.  Organizations like NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) seek to legalize sex between men and boys who are willing to consent to such foul perversion.  Feminism is destroying the worldview of otherwise productive young women by telling them that a life spent raising children and supporting a husband is nothing short of subjugation; consequently, supporters of feminism tag team with sexual deviants to further convolute the idea of what a normal American family looks like.  These liberal causes seek to set humanity free of the "bondage" brought forth by Christian principles.

"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.  The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."- John 6:63

Is a collapse of the American society imminent?  The answer to that question lies with you.  Rome didn't fall in a day.  Rome would have persevered if her many Christians took a stand for what was and still is right.  Likewise, we shall fight on and preserve our heritage for coming generations if we take hard rights over easy wrongs and call evil what it is every time we see it.  We must be ready to be seen as "outcasts" and "bigots" if we are to stand for virtue and advance Christendom.  You must have a voice in your home, your community, your school, your occupation, and amongst your friends and family or we will meet the same fate as Rome.  I cannot overstate the importance of an oft-used verse in my writings:

"...the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."- I John 4:4

If we are faithful and take the Lord at His Word, will He not be faithful in return and bless our efforts?  The power behind us is greater than the power that drives the enemies of God.  I decline to accept the commonly accepted teaching that Christians will be defeated and persecuted to the point of extinction at the time of Christ's return.  Such an attitude is defeatist.  The Scripture is clear when it says:

"The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."- Acts 2:34-35, Psalm 110:1

We have work to do.  I suggest we get busy before we end up atop the scrap heap of history.  America's ultimate hope lies neither in the Republican Party nor in economic growth; it lies in the hands of heaven's ambassadors to Earth, who depend on the very Word that gives life and hope to both men and nations.


1) The Tulsa Beacon


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Importance of History, Part I

George Santayana once said, "Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them."  I would contend that it can also be said that those who forget the ingredients of success are destined to make a gigantic mess of things.

One of my biggest grievances against the liberal agenda is that liberals tend to hold tradition in very low esteem.  They are ignorant of the historical foundations of the institutions that uphold our civilization.  Marriage has been a sacred institution between man and woman since humankind walked the earth; now they want it redefined.  Men have toiled by the sweat of their brows since creation to provide for their families; fear not, "social justice" pledges to erase poverty from the country forever.  They seek a Utopian society where everything is perfect.  Christians understand that only the Kingdom of God itself will be perfect and free of worry and strife.

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."- Proverbs 26:11

In my last article, "Tim Tebow and the State of Christianity", I addressed the peculiar eye cast toward those who publicly live a life of active faith.  This is a recently learned behavior.  It truly perplexes me when complaining parties seek to claim "separation of church and state" in an effort to have any Christian influence in their lives eradicated and declared unconstitutional.  I've written previously on the true meaning of Jefferson's phrase, "separation of church and state", and I suspect that these same people would be equally surprised to read the following quotation of John Adams, the second president of the United States.

"...Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other...Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but 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, 1798

Interestingly enough, Adams seems to have had prophetic insight to our time, where many our elected statesmen seek liberty and freedom through economic policies, stimulus packages, and political correctness rather than by returning to our Constitution, which itself was inspired by the "moral and religious people" that he described in 1798.

If the driving forces behind our present societal decay knew anything about the foundations of this country, their views on so-called "imposed morality" and "separation of church and state" would be forever altered.  Most Americans greatly admire George Washington, but how many would change their tune if they knew how he handled the case of Lt. Frederick Enslin, a practicing homosexual in the Continental Army?  In 1778, in the midst of the American Revolution, fighting against the world's foremost military power, Washington personally saw to it that Lt. Enslin was expelled "with infamy" from his Army because of the corruptive nature of his sexual practices.  Early states imposed harsh punishment, ranging from hard labor to death, on those found to be homosexuals.

I point this out because I believe homosexuality to be the ultimate form of self-gratification and rebellion against God.  While we are all sinners in His eyes, nothing erodes the family more than divergent views caused by tolerance of homosexuality and promiscuity within society.  Without families, children are destined to fail as young adults and beyond.  Not only are these foul practices tolerated in our culture, they are encouraged!  California has ordered that high schools educate students on the contributions of gays and lesbians to society.  Below is a list of their important contributions to anyone outside the gay community:


There you have it.  This is not a time to stand by and see our culture rot.  I believe America will return to a way of responsibility and conservatism in one way or another; however, I hope and pray that it comes as a result of the efforts of faithful Christians and virtuous Americans instead of a complete societal collapse that leaves us with no choice but to start over.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."- II Timothy 4:3

In the verse above, Paul describes to Timothy times that have replicated themselves over centuries.  Fortunately for us, everyone is constantly searching for what is true and right.  That is why there are so many broken marriages, penniless bank accounts, and illicit drug users- they are all looking for ways to make meaning of their lives, unaware that true fulfillment and purpose comes from devotion to Godly living and responsibility under that law.

We still have a vote and a say-so.  The only way to turn back the tide on societal decay is to invest your time and energy into the lives of people and encourage them in the right way of thinking.  This may take some time, but I trust that the efforts of the faithful will pay off.  To move forward in time in a positive way, we must first step back into time and pledge to never forget our history.  It is a history that provides a road map to success and a path to life for a nation in need of a moral compass.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tim Tebow and the State of Christianity

            If you followed the NFL playoffs this weekend or watched the ensuing coverage, you have certainly seen that the New England Patriots defeated Tim Tebow 45-10.  By listening to the talking heads on TV and reading the words of stone-throwing journalists, it seems that it was indeed fifty-three players versus one, and that the poor Christian quarterback fared like his ancestors of antiquity when facing the lions at the Roman Colosseum.

            Back in reality, we all know that football is a team sport and ultimately all players share in both victory and defeat.  Is Tim Tebow a great passer?  No, but in time he may become a solid one.  Is he a great football player?  I would argue that he is, both in terms of athletic ability and his ability to motivate teammates.  Most importantly, and without contest, Tebow is a credit to both humanity and Christianity.  We are talking about a man who praises his opponents for their victories over him, who won’t bask in the spotlight afforded by his own victories, and who spent his spring breaks in college in The Philippines serving those who truly are less fortunate by providing medical care and upgrading their living conditions by whatever means were available.

            This is not a sports column, but rather a brief look at the state of Christianity in the American public eye.  I am certainly not a doomsayer.  I hate it when people do nothing but complain about how “everything is so bad”.  Instead, I am pointing out Biblical truth through the life of America’s most popular athlete.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”- John 15:18-19

            Those, of course, are the words of Christ spoken to the twelve disciples.  Several verses in Scripture allude to Satan’s role as ruler of “the world” (See 1 John 4:4).  In modern translation and in short, I believe the reason Tebow is hated by many is because he reminds them of their unfulfilled potential for good from one of the world’s largest platforms.  To their credit, living a righteous life is indeed incredibly difficult.  Married Christian men will readily admit to you that it is hard to keep their eyes off the opposite sex.  It’s easy to find a reason not to give up your time for volunteering in hopes that others will fill those roles before you feel obligated to.  Tebow finds a way to throw off the chains of fame and criticism to lead a victorious life that is impacting the lives of many for good.

            In theory, we should say that Tebow is doing his job as a Christian.  Christ was unjustly hated by His own people for opening the eyes of the blind, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and lame, and providing a living example of how to be a model citizen and human.  The Jews of Christ’s time expected their Messiah to be a military leader that would lead them to national glory and overthrow the foreign rule that had been prevalent in their land and over their people for centuries; when He professed that he was the long-awaited Messiah, they killed him on grounds of blasphemy because he didn’t deliver what they had expected, earthly victory.

            Similarly, Tebow doesn’t fit the bill of a typical superstar or celebrity.  He’d rather provide hope for sick and dying kids instead of using his spare time to gratify himself.  Americans are accustomed to the James Deans of the celebrity world- those who disregard authority and put forth an image of individuality and “coolness”.  These lifestyles, as we can learn from Dean’s, are always empty and self-destructive in the end.

            When we see good political candidates who are pro-life and promote responsible lifestyles and traditional values like marriage, the left always brands them as “bigots” and “homophobes.”  Texas Governor and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry promoted “The Response”, an August 2011 prayer event, and the media responded like he had just ordered them to be shut down.  Christianity is the religion our nation was founded upon and from which the foundations of our Constitution were drawn up.

            Christianity should not be foreign to the people of this country, especially when a vast majority of our people still claim adherence to the faith.  We don’t need to go door to door with tracts or stand on the corner of busy intersections with “Repent or Die” signs that only turn people away.  We are to spread our faith with the actions of our life.

“…faith by itself, if not accompanied by works, is dead.”- James 2:17

            No one wants to be hated, but the only way for true change to come is for leaders to be hated for their virtuous actions.  Those who do the hating are of the world.  Similarly, those who hate Tebow are of the world.  Have you heard anyone in your church rail on for a half-hour about how much they despise Tim Tebow?  There are some people who have opinions that just don’t matter; therefore, we shouldn’t care what they think of our conduct, so long as it is in keeping with the teachings of Christ.

We’ve seen that many leaders adored by “the world” have recently brought us the painful realities of “social justice”, “marital equality”, and a nanny state in an attempt to retain office and appease the constituent that wouldn’t vote for them if they acted in accordance with the morals of our national foundation, Christianity.

            It is much better to take a hard and unpopular right over an easy wrong.  The further down the proverbial slippery slope public opinion goes, the harder it will be to reverse and go back in the right direction.  Americans have always been known for an indomitable spirit of reliance upon faith and self, not government, to overcome all obstacles and make something of their lives.  This is why we are called “the land of opportunity.”  The time for teaching right principles and making a stand for the hard rights in life is now and the results of doing so are worth more in the long term than your short-term popularity.  Remember the belt of truth and make a stand for what is true.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”- II Timothy 3:16-17

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Your Responsibility as a Citizen

"Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked."- Proverbs 25:26

It is not uncommon for concerned Christians to know fellow believers who could care less about politics and government.  Personally, I wish I could care less about them; unfortunately, neglecting them has led us into a great deal of social and economic woes lately.  For a Christian to turn a blind eye to the affairs of government is to issue them a blank check to do as they please with your freedoms and liberties.

I am convinced that August's Washington earthquake was a result not of seismic activity, but of the founding fathers of this nation rolling over in their graves.  Under your very eyes a menacingly large government prowls, fueled by your ever-increasing tax payments.  The danger of this growth is blood-curdling.  President Gerald Ford said, "a government big enough to give you everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything you have."  If you turn to the news, you will see examples of various liberties, especially religious and economic liberties, being taken away from those who once held them dear.

Fortunately, we have a hand in this.  In the same way that people voted these chains onto themselves, they can also vote them off.  Many people, out of what they call "generosity", support a nanny state that enables the poor rather than encouraging them to walk in the ways of self-reliance that generations of "under-privileged" Americans walked.  These types of people re-produce in droves, encouraging each new generation to become a full-fledged burden of society from cradle to grave.

Our job is to show people the error of their ways.  I will write later on the values of conservatism, but will focus primarily on the importance of being involved in government for now.  As I've mentioned previously, too many Christians, feeling shunned by an increasingly secular demographic, are more concerned with their own affairs and prefer not to "meddle" with society's dealings, thus withdrawing themselves from being a difference maker in the real world.  That is not what Christ calls us to do in the Great Commission of Matthew 28.  We are called to go out to all nations and shine as light.  "All nations" can be read as "Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea", which is in itself correct, or as "the United States and all that is within it, like the government, entertainment business, food industry, and educational system."  If you look closely at that latter list, three of those four are led by and composed primarily of the secular liberal mob.

To simply give up is not one of your options.  I believe this course will correct itself in one of two ways. The first and best way would be for Christians to step up and take a stand of faith and courage, hoping that our influence will rub off on society.  Don't forget that you have divine power on your side.  Consider the words of Paul and his efforts:

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow."- I Corinthians 3:6

Do you ever stop and wonder if God is waiting for us to make a move so he can pour out his blessings on our land?  When we share the Word of God with others, we are acting in faith.  We are hoping that that individual will be receptive to what we have to share, but we also realize that God will ready the heart of the listener when, if ever, that time is right.  Similarly, truth, including the logic that brings forth sound governance, comes from the same Word.  Truth always gets through when God wills it to.

The second way the course will be corrected is more drastic, but equally effective.  Evil and foolishness simply cannot sustain themselves.  If we don't take a stand, the entire political and economic system may fail so miserably that we Christians will then be forced to step in and re-establish order.

I like to use California as an example when it comes to voting.  Though California hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 (George H.W. Bush), the state is not as hopeless for Republicans as some of the ones in New England are.  Outside of California's many large coastal cities lies a vast sea of red on the electoral map.  Unfortunately, the tendency for the state to elect liberal candidates has certainly dimmed the hopes of these conservatives.  The problem is this- what if five million people feel like their one single vote is pointless and don't vote because the state "always goes blue"?  If this year's Iowa Caucus proved anything, it's that a handful of votes often matters.

Finally, if you don't vote, you have no reason to complain about the way things are going.  I'd be willing to bet that if every Christian showed up to the polls for any election that he or she could cast a vote at, we'd have none of the issues that we anguish over today.  Furthermore, the futures of your children and grandchildren are based largely on the legislation and policies set forth by the elected leaders of today.  We presently live under a dying social security system and crushing debt incurred through many failed programs that were intended to help society.

If you want to live in freedom, start being a responsible citizen.  Be educated on the platforms and voting histories of those that you may potentially vote for and be sure to pass that information on to your fellow voters.  To simply not care is to make yourself into the polluted fountain described in Proverbs 25:26.  Many have died to protect your right to suffrage.  Voting is not just your right, it is your responsibility.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The First General Order

As believers, we are called to soldier on in the name of Christ.

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." II Timothy 2:3

Since through the Word we are conscripted into a mightier, non-Earthly Army, we conduct our affairs and relationships with others through God's orders.  Amongst the first things any soldier, either enlisted or officer, learns upon entry in the the United States Army are the three General Orders.  I believe that the first General Order also applies to our spiritual lives.

"I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved."

This order takes its origin from the practice of standing guard, presumably over sleeping comrades, while also being responsible for protecting property, weaponry, and installations.  To abandon post without proper relief, or to slumber on the job, could bring potentially disastrous consequences.  Similarly, you and I are called to a mission here on Earth, which is for every believer in every walk of life to share the story of Grace with everyone we come in contact with.  This doesn't mean that we have to knock on doors and harass people; we must remember that love and devotion cannot be forced.  That is why the Lord, short of illness and tragedy, gives us long lives in which we can build relationships that positively impact the lives of others and influence the well-being of a nation in all facets and measurable statistics.

I wrote previously on the dangers of idleness within the family of believers.  A downward spiritual spiral opened up in America in 1962 when prayer time in public schools was ruled unconstitutional.  Half a century later, many in the church still tolerate the mounting evil in society in the name of the policy of "separation of church and state", which is a myth I debunked in my previous article, "Are you tolerating idleness in your life?", from 1 January 2012.  In a sense I feel like many "soldiers" who could otherwise impact society for good have abandoned the very post that we are called to guard through II Timothy 2:3 and neglect the ground that we can gain through the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

In the military, lazy service members approaching retirement are said to be "retired on active duty."  Sadly, many Christians are content to sit back and wait for "the Rapture", hoping that they will get to leave our Earthly issues behind.  While I believe in the Second Coming of Christ, I do not believe in "end times".  I see such speculation only as fuel for a film and book industry that rakes in millions from those who devalue the power that lies in their faith.  Knowing what God demands of his church, it makes no sense to me that He would send us on a scavenger hunt to piece together a puzzle that will tell us only when to be idle because things are coming to a close.  There is an old adage I enjoy- "Why polish brass on a sinking ship?".  If everything is destined for failure, then why should we bother electing honorable leaders, having children, saving for retirement, or continuing education?  Attitudes like these are defeatist and will only prolong the lingering moral decay in our nation and world.

What can we do to combat such defeated viewpoints in our own circles?  We have to be goal-oriented and truly understand and believe in the power of Christ in us.  God doesn't see time as we do.

"...with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."  II Peter 3:8

To insist that Christians cannot be victorious and what we strive for cannot come to fulfillment because of speculative prophetic inevitabilities serves only to sow seeds of doubt in the body of believers and in what we can truly accomplish when we go forward in faith.  I believe that this nation can be restored.  We can offer up lip service to heaven, but if we don't believe in our heart of hearts that the prayers can be answered, we should not expect to receive anything.  Consider the following passage from James.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." James 1:5-8

Yes, James specifically mentions wisdom as the requested blessing, but why should it differ with anything you ask God for?  If you ask God for spiritual revival and for good leaders, but your preoccupation with inevitable Earthly defeat and last days madness overwhelms your faith with doubt, then you clearly should have no reason to believe that your prayers will be answered.

I will close with the words of our athletics chaplain in college.  He defined faith as "the confident assurance that what you hope for is going to happen."  Our founding fathers had a dream that was America.  With the help of Providence, we patriots and believers cannot be stopped in reclaiming what was clearly established by God's own hand.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fitting the Armor of God for an Earthly Mission

The highlight of my week thus far has been watching Senator Rick Santorum shock the nation with his performance at the Iowa Caucus.  I don't know what the future holds for his campaign, but I hold sincere hope that he will be the Republican presidential nominee.  There is a lot to admire in Santorum.  First and foremost, just to be clear, there are no perfect candidates.  I don't expect the potential President Santorum to be perfect, either; however, he has shown me in a few short weeks that he is able to succeed and transmit his viewpoints and standards to others without a lot of monetary backing.  Most importantly, he has shown that he will face his political adversaries with unflinching truth.

Today, Sen. Santorum engaged a group of college students in New Hampshire and was confronted on his view for so-called gay "marriage."  Without retracting or reshaping any previous statements, Santorum stuck to his guns and threw out this jewel:

"God made man and woman.  Every child in the world deserves to know and be loved by their mother and father."

He was not there to please a crowd.  He is there to remain true to his principles that support the traditional Biblical family.  Do you know why society opens up a can of worms about the definition of marriage and the optimal structure of the family?  It's because we've allowed individualism and political correctness, all in the name of "tolerance", to grow beyond realistic boundaries.  It all ended with Santorum being booed by several of the students as he left the stage.  How refreshing is that?  For once we read about a prospective leader who isn't more interested in people-pleasing than he is in the truth.

Santorum understands that we can no longer run from our problems or simply hide our heads in the sand, hoping that societal issues will magically clear themselves up.  Let's look at the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-17.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

We live in a fallen world.  Whether you believe in a new Earth (around 6,000 years old) or an old Earth is irrelevant.  Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, the game has changed.  This isn't meant to sound like Star Wars, but I truly believe that everything in life is light versus darkness, hence our struggle against the spiritual forces that influence people to commit evil acts in our own day.  Paul used the imagery of a Roman soldier of his day girded for battle.

The belt of truth is symbolic of the piece that protected the vital organs and systems of the soldier, such as the intestines, liver, and stomach.  With critical damage to any of these, the soldier could not live.  Likewise, truth is our safeguard against the enemy's number one strategy, deceit.  Gay "marriage" didn't originate in a day.  It has grown from an attitude of "turning a blind eye" to such misconduct that has been growing since the 1960s.  With our symbolic belt of truth, we are to recall the truth that we know and stick to it at all costs, even if it is unpopular.

The breastplate was intended to protect the heart, lungs, and vital arteries critical to sustaining life.  When we put on righteousness, we "take off" the old man that was condemned to death with Christ.  By simply recalling the very nature in which we were purchased, we understand the name we uphold and we make it more difficult for ourselves to stumble.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

The shoes referred to by Paul are symbolic of the action that we are called to, hence the term "readiness".  As the Roman soldier was to be quick to respond and move under threat of death, we are to react and take action rather than stand by idly.

The shield of faith is our guard against anxiety, discouragement, and the attacks of the enemies of Christ.  We are to recall that we have a greater force on our side than our adversaries do on their side (1 John 4:4).  By its very nature, it allows us to continue walking forward in spite of "flaming arrows", the verbal and written attacks of those who desire to see the progress of truth stopped in its tracks.

Protecting the brain, of course, was the helmet.  Its strength permitted the soldier to continue fighting even after suffering a blow to the head.  In a similar manner, our thoughts are to be guided by the message of salvation and are not to be deterred by opposition we may face in pursuing good and decent goals.

Finally, the Word is our sword.  It guides our decisions, inspires us to fight on, and impacts the hearts of those who constantly search for fulfillment in everything but legitimate truth.  This Word is truthful and doesn't try to appeal to popular opinion.

Senator Santorum's performance today, while unpopular at face value, is a perfect vignette of the armor of God in action.  Had he dodged the topic of "marital equality", he would have acted outside of Paul's intentions in Ephesians 6 by retreating from the aforementioned enemies of truth.  Interestingly enough, Scripture mentions no protection for the back.  This was not omitted accidentally, for in those days the Roman penalty for cowardice in battle was death.  Likewise, we are not to run from these issues as the church did for so long.  We are to confront them head on, or our retreat will spell death to the morally governed culture that we long to preserve.

Run or fight.  The choice is yours.  Will you stand up for truth or will you hope others step up in your place?  I choose to fight.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who do you look up to?

My mother has a saying that she learned from her father- "if you lay down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas."  Surely, those we admire are those we tend to emulate.  For Christians, the ultimate role model is Christ; however, the intent of this article is to touch beyond the "churchspeak" answer.

I was in the gym yesterday lifting weights as the radio played in the background.  In between recordings of what some like to call "music", the hosts would discuss the latest in celebrity relationships and breakups.  My mind moved to the recent drama in the news over the termination of a 72-day marriage between "starlet" Kim Kardashian and NBA forward Kris Humphries.  Beyond the fact that I know marriage to be a sacred institution that demands our lifelong devotion, I was disturbed by the fact that Kardashian is famous, for the same reason as Paris Hilton, for being the star of a leaked sex tape.

The divorce wouldn't be news, nor would any celebrity relationships, if there wasn't money involved in reporting it.  Do you think I care that Jennifer Aniston is having a baby?  No, but many people are more concerned about Hollywood happenings than they are in nurturing their own families.  "What's in it for me?" is the same attitude that keeps crooked elected officials voting for godless ideas and funding for destructive programs listed under the guise of social justice.

When I was younger, I collected autographs of baseball players.  I love baseball with all of my heart and over the years have come to admire many players, both for their skill on the field and for their contributions off of it.  As a collector, I was serious.  I could recognize players in street clothes and I would often mail off, with success, for signatures.  In the collecting community, Mike Marshall was notorious for being a tough sign.  Marshall, who pitched for 14 years and won the National League Cy Young Award (best pitcher in league) in 1974, was a good but unspectacular player.  He has indicated that he has no intention of being part of the memorabilia industry; this is understandable, as many collectors will have small children get multiple items signed by a star player, only to put them all on eBay later that day.  Instead, Marshall says that people, if they want to collect signatures, should collect them from people that positively influence their lives: parents, teachers, firemen, policemen, the list goes on.

While I certainly have no issues with legitimate collectors, I see Marshall's point.  Many times in life, we idolize those who do nothing to edify others.  Sports is one thing, but I don't understand the fascination with the celebrity world.  The influence of Hollywood in our culture is one of the saddest things I've seen.  Its impact is so great that Joseph Stalin said he could control the world if he could control Hollywood.  When a movie like Courageous, produced by a Georgia church, comes out with its challenge to husbands and fathers and blows away Hollywood giant-budget films, it offers hope for real change that can occur in our country.

So who do you admire?  Do you fill your time surfing around like a busybody, waiting to see what Lady Gaga is doing to advance the latest push for tolerance and acceptance of destructive principles in our society?  Instead, there are many things we can lift our eyes to.  The world consumes celebrity news because they are looking to be fulfilled by the "utopian" lives of others, even though those very lives, even flushed with millions of dollars, are likely among the most hollow and empty on the continent.  Be fulfilled in what is good.

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

Never underestimate the power of looking to what is positive.  Half of all marriages in end divorce today.  The figures are nearly identical even among Christians.  Do you think that the influence of the entertainment industry in our lives has anything to do with it?  Absolutely.  If whom we admire runs from partner to partner (I'm looking at you, Brad Pitt), then why can't we?  If Lindsey Lohan can live a life of luxury and simultaneously be a drug addict, why can't young girls do the same?

When I was seven years old, I was placed into the second grade class of who was thought to be one of the strictest teachers in school.  I grew so fond of this teacher that I requested her again later in elementary school and was placed in her class.  I still stay in touch with her and recently thanked her for the impact she had in my life at a young age.  Even though I grew up in a home that was encouraging, she was never reluctant to share with our class the importance of selflessness, be it in the military or in our own lives, patriotism, choosing hard rights over easy wrongs, and settling disputes.  These are the types of people that Mike Marshall was referring to.

For application, remember your first priorities.  They are God, family, country, career, in that order.  The first commandment states that we are to have no other gods before God.  Note the lowercase "g".  The Lord wasn't referring only to Buddha, but to the gods of busy-ness, entertainment, sports, careers, even your own family.  Devotion to his principles makes straight our path.  Likewise, I trust that a return to Godly principles will again set straight the path for this nation.

"That person (who follows the law of the Lord) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers." Psalm 1:3

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Beyond faith, our families are our earthly source of strength.  A strong marriage is a safe haven for the weary.  My wife loves me whether I sink or swim.  Where families are built strong and built to last, there is hope and there is success for a nation.  I will talk more about the importance of a strong nation in future posts.

Finally, your attitude in doing your work and the degree of excellence you demand of yourself influences others around you.  Go to any underperforming section of nearly any workplace and you will find defeated attitudes and disgruntled workers.  Consider that which is excellent- always own up to your shortcomings and when you pledge your undivided attention and dedication, mean it.  I will sign off with the video below.  After this speech (which came after a deflating and unexpected loss), the 2008 Florida Gators went on to win nine straight football games and the national championship.  Behold the power of surrounding yourself with positive teammates and role models.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Are you tolerating idleness in your life?

If I've been convicted of anything in the last year, it's the presence of idleness in my life.  It can take many forms, whether it's excessive video gaming, mindless internet surfing, or procrastinating in lieu of taking on important projects.

This makes me question what exactly the American Christian church was doing nearly a half-century ago in 1962 when the Supreme Court, in Engel v. Vitale, deemed that school prayer was unconstitutional and had to go under the premise of "separation of church and state."  Interestingly enough, it took several decades for the courts to inaccurately interpret the words of Thomas Jefferson in an 1802 letter to believers in Danbury, Connecticut, which stated that he, as president, would ensure that "a wall of separation" would be placed between church and state.  In the context of the rest of that particular letter, Jefferson clearly meant that our government, in dealing with religion, was meant to protect public religious expression, not prohibit it.

In 1962, 97% of Americans claimed belief in God; unfortunately, the courts appealed to the 3% and struck down prayer in school.  Ensuing cases placed further sanctions on religious expression in schools and other public venues, and we now know what has happened since.  Teen pregnancies, violent crimes, fatherless homes, and a belief that absolute truth is unknowable are all prevalent in today's America, but were few and far between fifty years ago.

Not to harp on the church, but from my observation, Christians today are more concerned with "tending their own back yards" instead of being involved in "all the world", which includes perceived grime such as political office and collegiate teaching positions.  Christ gives us a direct order in Matthew 28 with what is known as "the great commission."  In it, Christians are instructed to go out to all the nations (all the world and everything in it) and make disciples.  Politics, government, and other conspicuous positions are also part of this world, and when Christians no longer have a say-so in these areas, society pays the price with misguided policy from the halls of government and misled youth that come from our so-called "institutions of higher learning."

To reclaim our American heritage and status as a light in the world, it is essential that what Christ calls "salt of the earth", Christians, get involved in all aspects of society and make our position known.  Such influence ended the slave trade in America and in England, has impacted the practice of abortion in many states, and set the framework for our Constitution.  It is again needed to defend unborn life, protect the definition of marriage, and drive corruption from the government of this nation.

Are you sharing your solutions?  Or are you hoping that someone else will take up the slack?  When I played football in high school, we offensive linemen would drive the blocking sled.  When we were fresh, the sled slid freely as we drove it from one end of the practice field to another.  Compare that to everyday life.  When the economy is good, when things are going well, frustration is usually kept quiet.  Eventually we would tire of pushing the sled, often loaded with coaches, and a couple of us would rely on others to push while we caught our breath.  Almost instantly, the sled would come to a screeching halt.  Similary, when real life impacts and the economy goes south, morality decays, and our political parties are in a bitter power struggle, are we to stand on the sidelines and hope that another picks up our slack?

The moral of the story: be involved in all aspects of American life.  This doesn't mean that you need to start organizing your U.S. Senate campaign tonight; however, you can volunteer to coach a little league baseball team or a youth football team.  You can volunteer in church groups.  Local schools are run by a committee of parents and local adults who influence school policy.  Congressmen and senators receive e-mail and actually will write you back (I have had success in this realm and my opinion positively impacted the results of a presidential attempt to hack military retirement).

This is all part of my worldview, which I will expand upon later.  If you are interested more in the Christian past of this nation or the true meaning of "separation of church and state", I encourage you to acquire a copy of David Barton's DVD, America's Godly Heritage.

Until next time, be blessed and start out on your journey to both a happy and productive 2012.