A Great Day!

Cross“If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or family—anything you like—at a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow room and contrasts weren’t quite so sharp; and that there’s going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing.”
-C.S. Lewis – That Hideous Strength:

Christians – conservative ones that is – have been fretting. With apparent good reason: our culture is going more and more away from a Christian-based value system, the brutal physical attacks on Christians abroad, the political and economic sanctions of believers at home, and the almost-overnight changes of definitions of marriage across the land are just a few of the daily news items that stress followers of Jesus. Our America is very different than the country that our Founding Fathers established and envisioned.

Yet, with today’s decision from the Supreme Court to over-ride state’s rights and enforce a definition of marriage on states that believe differently, the church has been given a chance to be reborn. For too long the steeple has been synonymous with American culture instead of the Christian kingdom. We proclaim a Godly moralism essential to patriotism instead of preaching obedience to Christ out of pure love for Him. The tax-exempt church – while free to buy fields for soccer and building projects – has been muted in having a cultural impact instead of being a voice in the wilderness that might be penniless but powerful. Today, all that has changed.

Today, we can show love to those with whom we disagree, to those who seek to shut down our businesses and churches, and to those who would want to see us keep our faith silent and to ourselves. While insults and sneers are sent our way, may we demonstrate love in all that we do or say.

Today, as culture seeks fulfillment through the unholy, we can bring holiness. Just as survivors of ship-wrecks die of thirst after drinking ocean-water, so too will this culture perish by binging on the immorality that has become the standard of today. When followers of this culture are empty, the message of Christ that we bring – the message that is different from all things in culture – will bring peace and assuage their thirst.

In other words, today the church can stand against the gates of Hell, proclaiming the kingdom of God that is both at hand and is coming. Today we can love all who come within our doors while showing them a way to live that is holy and just. And today, we can go and make disciples of every nation by demonstrating through word and deed the love of Christ.

What a great day!

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Still No Answer

open-colorado-road-1442365-mA couple of years ago, I asked a question to which I got a grand total of zero responses. I once again ask the question of those who are on the left of me (which I admit encompasses quite a few people): Now that homosexual marriage is the law of the land in many states – and probably will be country-wide by the next presidential election – are those who pushed for these changes happy with the resulting upheaval of those who do not agree with it?

I am not talking about people who beat or molest homosexuals on the street or the workplace. Neither am I talking about churches who gather at funerals and cast insults upon the grieving families. People like these are monsters at best. They should be shunned, condemned, and persecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No. I need a ruling on the question of your stance on the issue of the government forcing a bakery to make a cake for a homosexual marriage – even though such a marriage is against the beliefs of the owners. Or on what gives a government the right to force a photography agency to to take pictures of a homosexual union ceremony or be held in contempt of a Human Rights Act. I want to know – from those who rejoice at the recognition of your freedom to love whom you want to love – is this truly what you want to have happen?

Because if that is the case, you are going down the same road as those who oppressed you and from whom you have been set free. You have replaced one set of intolerances – oppression of homosexuality – with another set. You have argued for years that we must all be free to live our lives according to our personal being and choices – but now by your silence on this question you sign on to the persecution of those who hold to views different from your own.

Does a black-owned bakery now have to make cakes for Klu Klux Klan rallies? Does a photography studio owned by a homosexual couple now have to provide services for the Westboro Baptists? Or, does your silence only pertain to those who disagree with homosexual marriage?

I have written before of my contempt of CAIR and other Muslim organizations when they are not on the front lines of condemning attacks and atrocities committed by Islamic terrorists. Just as those organizations should lead the way in denouncing those acts, so too should those on the intelligent left be the loudest voices in halting the oppression of beliefs. Business owners take a great deal of risk just running their company – what right does the government have to force them to use their talents and skills in ways that run contrary to their set of of beliefs?

Surely you understand that the recognition of your rights does not – and must not – mean the dissolution of someone else’s. It is impossible that you do not see that such sanctions by the government on belief systems will always be universally oppressive in the long run. I cannot believe that you would want to see people face fines, sanctions or closure of their business – not because they committed a crime against you – but simply because their deeply-held belief structure says they cannot serve you.

So why are you silent?

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On Probation

GOPNovember of 2014 brought an incredible change to Washington, DC. The rising cost of healthcare brought on by Obamacare, an indistinct and dangerous foreign policy toward radical Islam terrorists, immigration, and the Keystone Pipleline all drove the polls towards the GOP.

So, naturally, they led with an abortion bill.

Trust me, I am very much against the insane amount of abortions that go on in this country – especially since the vast majority of them are not performed for health reasons. (The Guttmacher Institute).  However, as has been proved countless times, Republicans ALWAYS lose on moral/lifestyle issues at the national level. Thankfully, the abortion issue has been taken over by the states. As Lamar Alexandar once said “Abortion is wrong, let the states handle it.” (On the Issues)

Republicans need to understand that the reason they won in November is that they had previously lost on the moral issues that so many had to put into their platforms. Free from these moral anchors (many of which I supported by the way) the GOP should have been free to do what they do best – the economy and foreign policy. These are the precise reasons that voters sent them to Washington. Americans do not necessarily trust the Republicans more on these issues than they do the Democrats, rather they distrust them less.

To borrow a phrase from Ann Coulter’s stance on the McCain candidacy, many voters got drunk and then voted Republican.

Instead of having a plan and putting it into place the moment they stepped into office, 28 days into January the Republicans still seem to be running around without any sense of direction. We should be seeing headlines such as “Republicans send bill to Obama to build the Keystone Pipeline” or “Individual Mandate Repealed in Congress”. To my utter frustration, we see news stories about Boehner’s speaker position and dissarray in the party about Obamacare. The Republicans have wasted valuable time – and trust – on leadership problems and votes on issues that divide the party – not to mention the country.

The Republicans are on probation to see whether they can govern and provide a viable alternative to the mess that Democrats have created. They should be sending bill after bill to Obama’s desk – or at least to the Senate – and then making sure the American people understand that it is now the Democrats that are the party of “No”. Low-hanging fruit such as the oil pipe line should have been in the hopper by now. A well-crafted response and plan to healthcare should have gone – excuse the pun – viral weeks ago.

Hopefully, the Party of Lincoln will get its act together and start governing. I trust that they will spend less time worrying about the next election and more about correcting the course of this nation. Perhaps they can prove that they are indeed worthy of the trust that has been given to them.

Please let it be soon.

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We Dont’ Need More Voters – We Just Need Qualified Ones

VoteI am tired of having my well-considered vote neutralized by someone who really should not be voting at all. Why should my ballot be counterbalanced by someone who thinks the Presidency has the most power in our government, who when asked if women’s suffrage should be abolished answers in the affirmative in order to end females in pain, and when questioned takes the third because supposedly they do not want to quarter soldiers in their house.

The Founding Fathers would be aghast at the idea of a universal right to vote. While admittedly mixed in with some racism, the Framers realized that voting cannot and must not be a universal right. The opportunity to vote was initially restricted to land-owners. By 1840 the property requirement had all but disappeared, and by 1964 universal suffrage for all citizens was the law of the land.

I think, though, that we have missed the point of the early restrictions on voting. Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and crew were among the most progressive statesmen of the day, but they also knew that an unlimited Democracy would never work. “Democracy,” opined Franklin, “is four wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” In steering away from a Democracy to a Republic, the writers of the Constitution also wanted to be sure that those who participate in the voting booth have a stake – financial and otherwise – in the outcomes of those polls. Because they wanted to only be left alone and be free, these Americans kept in check the ever Weberian tendency for government to expand and grow beyond what was initially intended.

Keeping these things in mind, I think we need a radical look at exactly whom we let in to create hanging chads. While land-ownership certainly cannot be a requirement today, as many well-qualified voters rent, I think the underlying assumption that came from owning land would still apply. In other words, what if we make voter qualification based on civic responsibility?

Consider, then, R.K. Sample’s four-step guide to voter qualification. All four must be met in order to be allowed entrance into the voting booth:

  1. A United States Citizen, with a photo id to verify.
  2. Over the age of 18 and who is not claimed as a dependent on his/her parent’s income tax.
  3. Employed full-time, is self-employed, or whose spouse is employed full-time or is self-employed, or who is retired after 30 or more years in the workforce or whose spouse is retired after 30 or more years in the workforce.
  4. If retired, no more than 20% of monthly income is sourced by Social Security.

The outcomes? Those who want to exercise the privilege of voting will need to prove citizenship – taking away from the possibility of foreign influence in our elections. Students – who while working hard to get an education but have no real responsibility – will not be able to cancel out the vote of those whose hard work enables them to be in school. Individual initiative and responsibility through employment will translate into more limited government at the polls because it would be felt directly in the wallets and pocketbooks of taxpayers. Finally, those who rely substantially on the government will not be allowed to influence policy, nor can they be pandered to for a vote to keep the paychecks coming.

So – become a citizen of the greatest country on earth. Grow up. Get a job and take responsibility.

Then go vote.

 

 

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The Out of the Way Church

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
-Matthew 16:18

The Out of the Way ChurchIt stood as a silent beacon of hope. Only farmland and the bleakness of East Tennessee in winter surrounded it. There was no gym or recreation center. It only had one building, with architecture of no real consequence. There was no flashing sign, no marquee proclaiming its presence on the web, and parking was both in the lot and on the grass nearby. It was out of the way, and only my errands on that road made me aware of its existence.

But this little country church was exactly where it should be.

When Peter finally accepted his role as the founder of the organized church, he never forgot that its primary role was to be the great proclaimer of the Kingdom. As history has demonstrated, the forces of evil and hatred have time and time again assailed the walls of the church, but have broken like waves upon cliffs of stone.

In order to do that, however, the church was first and foremost local. All throughout the travels of Paul – and affirmed by Peter – the great missionary planted churches in order to take care of the local needs of Christians. These churches – often no more than house gatherings – were to take care of the poor and the widow, to instruct in faith and witness, to pray for the government in whatever form, and in all things to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.

The combined might of the Roman Empire was no match for this simple idea.

Think what would have happened if the American church had adopted this idea of outward expansion of the church thirty years ago at the beginning of the “tall steeple” movement. We would not have the sprawling campuses that describe many churches, but the country side would be dotted with buildings that call together the people of God. We might not have worship centers that can project pyrotechnics that would be the envy of any rock concert, but we would have sanctuaries where Christians can humbly gather to worship their Savior. We might not have Executive Pastors, Chiefs of Staff, or other hallmarks of the postmodern church. But what we would have is a local church that addresses the unique needs of the community, in all things proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So here’s to the small church that stands alone in the back roads of East Tennessee. Your building might not be the newest thing on the block. Your sanctuary may be drafty in the winter and stifling in the summer. Your pastor may have to work another job in order to support his calling to be a shepherd of the community of faith. But against your simple walls, not even the Gates of Hell can stand.

The church is Christ’s deep longing
And His good pleasure too.
His every word and action
Is made with her in view.
His heart’s love is established,
And nought can Him deter;
Before the earth’s foundation
His thoughts were filled with her.
The Church is Christ’s Deep Longing

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