Freedom

Memorial Day has ended. I’ve been hearing a lot of people complaining about their so-called loss of “freedom” during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing against the idea of maintaining safe health protocols. So, on this Memorial Day we witnessed a lot of people herding themselves together at beaches and other places of recreation, celebrating their brand of freedom by choosing not to distance themselves from each other or wear face masks while crowding together.

They say they are choosing to be free. Yet their idea of freedom is not the same as mine. If you notice the name of my blog, I am and have always been For Freedom. There is an abundance of information available to anyone who in interested in what our freedom means. There were many events on television and videos posted on line honoring those who gave their lives in the service of defending our freedom. And in that sense, this Memorial Day was serious, sobering and even sacred.

But the pictures of partying crowds were not so honoring. Nor did they teach us anything about true freedom. To those who choose to celebrate their so-called freedom by crowding together in unprotected ways, I would remind them that freedom does not mean you can do whatever you want to, whenever you want to. That’s called license — a selfish, uncaring and two-dimensional substitute for freedom.

In order for all people to enjoy freedom, each of us needs to equally consider the freedom of everyone else. You cannot have individual freedom outside the context of community freedom. You can’t just be free to do what you want. We cannot exercise our freedom without assuming responsibility for, and accepting the consequences of our acts. Therefore you cannot have a truly free society without the practice of personal restraint.

Tyranny is allowed to happen when citizens no longer engage in self-restraint. Either people restrain themselves or the government will do it. In order for people to govern themselves, they not only need to be smart, they need to have maturity, wise judgement and self-control. But these qualities have been on the decline for decades in this country. We continue to be dumbed down, and act more and more like children, well into our so-called adult years.

So this is the thing: you want to go to the beach with your family and friends. That can be done in a way that does not foster the spread of the virus. You can choose to keep a safe distance from others. You can choose to limit the size of your group. You can choose to wear face masks if you are going to be up close and personal with others. That would be the responsible thing to do. That would be exercising self-restraint. That would be prudent.

The folks who chose to join together in their mobs on Memorial Day were being irresponsible and unwise. They could have had their fun without risking the increase in the spread of this disease. I wonder how their irresponsibility will translate to how they vote (or if they vote) in November?

Will those in government who have abused their authority be voted out? Will those in government who have appealed to the good judgment and responsibility of their constituents be re-elected? Will common sense be the will of the people? Or will those who supposedly clamor for freedom vote for “free” money and services, which always come at the cost of freedom?

If these folks really want their freedom, they better vote out the socialist/globalists that have been trying to usurp our Constitutional freedoms ever since that outsider was elected President and started shaking up their good-ol’-boy ruling class network made up of phony politicians, entrenched bureaucrats and propagandists pretending to be journalists.

The results of the upcoming election will show just how much Americans really want to be free.

Posted in Freedom, Government of the people, Memorial Day | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bernie’s Words

In light of the effective and compassionate job the Trump Administration has been doing in uniting all Americans to face the COVID-19 crisis, I find it amazing and totally unacceptable that Trump’s enemies continue to snipe at him, whipping up panic, confusion and distain for our President. I originally wrote this article a few days ago, but held off publishing it, because I felt we need as a nation to put our differences aside and come together as one people. But after seeing how the radical press continues to find fault and carp at Trump — even in the midst of this national emergency — I’ve decided to publish it after all. They hate Trump more than they love this country and their strident voices are working to keep us divided. Their words are as destructive as Bernie’s words. They need to calm down and shut up.

 

When a politician speaks, how do you know he is telling the truth? For decades I’ve been hearing the words of politicians — words of analysis, words of promise, words of hope and words of confrontation. But never like today’s political talk. In the past, the politicians who won election were the ones who said “the right things” — the things that people wanted to hear. I’m now afraid that many people want to hear dangerous and destructive things.

On March 11, 2020 Bernie Sanders reiterated the outrageous and irresponsible accusations he’s been making throughout his campaign. He began by saying, “Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country.” Never does he actually proffer evidence or specify reasons to justify his outlandish statement. He simply makes the accusation and repeats it ad nauseam until enough voters begin to believe it to make an impact on public perception and public opinion. 

Most often, once politicians are elected, they never actually do what they said they would do when they were only a candidate. As a result, we are comforted with the popular assumption that all politicians are liars. The electorate’s lack of trust in politicians is mitigated by an almost total loss of collective memory. Once elected, politicians do the darnedest things. But when they’re up for re-election, they start saying the right things all over again, and win yet another term in which to screw things up even more than they did before.

It’s a wonder that “We the People” keep re-electing these doofuses. Congress’ approval rating has been hovering below 30% for decades while the disapproval rating hovers around 75%. The only possible explanation for a consistently high rate of re-election is that the voters disapprove of everyone in Congress except their own Senator or Congressman. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Obviously Americans have a complete lack of objectivity when it comes to how they vote.

In their current political struggle against the populist Trump administration the progressive Left has resorted to repeating lies about the president, accusing him of every evil under the sun. Bernie Sanders is one such accuser. He appeals to people who want the government to do stuff for them and make their life easier and grander. He uses words to deceive, as bait to attract the unsuspecting to a social order inevitably destined to become a tyranny. 

Bernie’s words are not used to inform the intellect, but to inflame the emotions. Bernie is a rabble-rouser in the Bolshevik tradition. His lying accusations are not just a product of a personal character flaw of his own, but they arise from a systematic strategy aimed at defeating Trump and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of our free society. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Nazi propagandist, is noted for describing this strategy: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

Bernie called Trump a pathological liar but made no effort to prove it. Name-calling and hyperbole is what you resort to when you have no substantive argument to defend your own position in a disagreement. In real terms Bernie has nothing to offer Americans that can compare to what Trump has already accomplished in three short years. Other than Bernie’s lies and accusations, there’s no there there. 

But he went on, saying the president is “running a corrupt administration and clearly does not understand the Constitution of the United States and thinks he’s a president who is above the law.” So, apparently the recent exercise in impeachment meant nothing. Despite the partisan Democrat accusations, Trump was exonerated. But to those who hate and fear Trump, accusations alone should be sufficient to force him out of office. Regardless of the law and regardless of the facts, it’s still clear to Bernie Sanders that Trump is guilty. It is Bernie and his supporters who do not understand the Constitution. They don’t care about the Constitution. All they “know” is that Trump is a criminal. They know it because they know it, and that’s that.

An example of such false “knowledge” is the oft-repeated claim that Trump mocked a disabled news reporter. Those who claim this “know” it’s true. Nevertheless, it is not. I wrote about this in my article, “It’s A Lie!” https://retiredday.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/its-a-lie/ in which I make clear that what Trump was mocking was the reporter’s hypocritical back-peddling on previous statements he had made. Trump’s attack was on the reporter’s lack of intellectual integrity, not on the man’s disability. 

I’ve noticed that this is a typical pattern in the attacks on Trump by those who hate him. The flames were fanned in the now debunked Russia hoax when Trump was accused of appealing to the Russians to find the 30,000 emails of Hillary’s that were missing. Everyone with a sense of humor knew it was a joke — except for Trump-haters who are always looking for ways to distort and accuse and lie.  

If you keep repeating a lie, you even come to believe it yourself. Bernie finished his list of accusations, calling Trump a “racist”, a “sexist”, a “homophobe”, a “xenophobe” and a “religious bigot”. At this point, common sense would warn us to calm down. But Bernie wouldn’t let that happen. His reddened face, angered eyes, snarled lip and shaking finger were signs that his diatribe was only getting started. And that’s how it goes with Bernie. He’s trying to get your blood boiling. If you’re what Rush Limbaugh calls a young skull full of mush, that’s exactly what’s happening. Still, it isn’t limited to the young. It also is found in older folks who have already bought into the socialist lies that America was built on bigotry, cruelty and racism. 

Take a breath and pause long enough to consider this: is it really possible that President Trump is so evil? In light of his leadership in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis it is unreasonable to think an evil person would be doing such a great job. If he were a racist, why would he have taken so many actions that have benefited minorities? If he were a sexist, why would he have appointed more women to positions in his administration than any previous president? How exactly has he shown himself, either in word or deed, to be a homophobe? To me, the word is meaningless and the charge baseless. 

The charge of “xenophobe” undoubtedly comes from the fact that Trump has restricted access to our nation from known terrorist-supporting (Islamic) countries in order to protect us. Yet, the fact that those executive orders were found to be constitutional when challenged in the courts holds no water with the Trump-haters. They attack the originalist justices on the Supreme Court, and want to impeach them too, because like Trump, they are also evil. 

And finally, there is the charge of “religious bigot”. This name-calling has got Bernie in over his head. Not so long ago people were accusing Trump of being an atheist. But since he’s been President, he has consistently mentioned God and faith in his speeches, often referring to everyone’s right to worship God according to their own convictions. Trump has done more to restore religious freedom in our nation than any other president I am aware of.

So, if you take these accusations at face value, you’re not using your head. If you buy into these repeated accusations, you are only allowing your emotions to be manipulated. Every one of Bernie’s accusations is bogus. They aren’t real. They have no justification other than a negative judgment in response to the style of Trump’s persona. Bernie uses highly-charged emotions to whip up a mob mentality. He is a rabble-rouser, and if you buy into his rhetoric you are part of that rabble.

The Bible says to test everything and hold fast to what is good. Perhaps we should all do that, rather than stoop to character assassination and name-calling. 

Posted in Freedom of Speech, Government of the people, Politics, Slander | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Trump Isn’t Genteel Enough

Lawrence Richard, in a February 23rd article about Judge Judy Sheindlin’s support of presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, wrote, 

“Judge Judy is not the only celebrity to endorse Bloomberg. Film director Clint Eastwood, a gun-toting libertarian, recently revealed that he supports Bloomberg. Eastwood said even though he approves of “certain things that Trump has done,” he’s put off by his brash personality. “I wish Trump would act in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names,” Eastwood said. “I would personally like for him to not bring himself to that level.” 

I’ve heard this sentiment from many sources, both from media commentators and personal acquaintances. That sentiment peeves me even more than Trump’s brashness. I lived through what seemed an endless succession of “genteel” Presidents who said one thing and did another, who broke promises and broke faith. Their outer appearance may have seemed statesmanlike but in the end, their legacies were style over substance, party politics over national unity and global “cooperation” over national sovereignty.  

Before Trump, more and more people began to wonder why the American government — not just the President, but the Congress and Courts, too — seemed to be concerned for the well-being of everyone in the world except for regular, law-biding, tax-paying, middle class Americans. Why were “We The People” expected to take care of everyone else while our own elected officials made it harder and harder for us to do for ourselves?

What did these polite, genteel Presidents accomplish? Huge numbers of jobs were lost due to companies relocating to nations that offered cheap labor. Entrepreneurism at home suffered greatly from the heavy burden of unreasonable overregulation (see the video: https://www.facebook.com/prageru/videos/562950130973393/). We adopted a repressive stranglehold on petroleum energy production which was counterproductive to economic growth because we were sold an irrationally politicized idea that carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuel poses the catastrophic threat of “climate change”.  

Allow me to take time to address this issue of climate change. Before you write me off as a crazy “denier”, read the English subtitles in this video, (unless you speak German): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jNzaoV0kss I challenge the reader to scientifically justify those fear-mongering threats we hear so often, such as “If we do nothing we only have 12 years to live.” I am not anti-science. The global-warming/climate change hoax is 100% political. They fake their science, rig their models, make up data. It’s all a political ploy to control populations through regulations and taxes that produce no benefits other than stuffing money into politicians’ pockets.

Before Trump, more and more average Americans were feeling disenfranchised. Every election offered “genteel” candidates who said the right things in the right way and made promises that won votes. But those promises were never kept. Bottom line, they were lies — nice sounding, genteel lies. 

Then came Trump in all his brashness — a brashness that continues to offend the sensibilities of those who oppose him — despite the fact that he has done so many positive things as President that have directly improved the lot of ALL Americans. Despite the lies told by his detractors, his tax cuts have helped taxpayers while stimulating the economy. His deregulations have stimulated small businesses. He has helped farmers, created the highest all-time employment, lowest all-time unemployment. He has helped racial minorities more than any other President. (They suffered under Obama.) And he has done much to restore religious freedoms that had been encroached on by previous administrations.

Trump has restored respect for the United States of America all over the world. No longer are we seen as the rich uncle who gives in to a soft touch. Now we are beginning to regain our international stature as leader of the free world, a willing partner to allies but a force to be feared by our enemies. We are in fact helping our allies and trade partners more and helping our enemies less.

He has appointed judges who are “originalists”. In other words, they believe the Constitution means what it actually says, and isn’t a “living document” whose meaning changes with time.  That’s important to those who believe in the “inalienable rights”, spoken of in the Declaration of Independence as having come from God. It is not the government that confers rights. God confers them to us because he creates us to be free. 

Jurists who made Roe v. Wade the law of the land assumed the governmental authority to permit the “right to choose”, to kill an unborn child. But God never gave government that authority. By restoring the legal philosophy of original intent to our courts, President Trump is helping our legal system to reflect more godly and righteous standards. 

These are just a sampling of Trump’s accomplishments in office. Am I saying Trump is perfect? No. But he is the first president since Reagan of whom it can be said, “What you see is what you get.” What he say’s he’ll do, he does, unless Congress or the courts prevent him. Keep in mind, he has been trying to accomplish what he told the voters he was committed to do. Those are the things the American people want him to accomplish. That’s why he got elected. Despite the unrelenting, hate-driven resistance against him, that’s why he does what he does. People elected him to do those things.

But there’s a problem here. Trump’s political enemies are so incensed by his successes that they will do anything and everything imaginable to destroy him — regardless of the good things he has done. The main thing they do is lie. They have painted him as the devil before he even took the oath of office, and have continued to paint that picture with lie after lie. Their problem is that in terms of his policy effectiveness, there is no substance to their anti-Trump bias. It’s all based in his style. 

The thing they really can’t tolerate is his so-called “brashness”, which sets him apart from their political level. He doesn’t play by their “genteel” rules. He says it like it is. It may sound rude, but you can take it to the bank. What you see is what you get. But the Deep State hates an honest politician.

Clint Eastwood should know better than to say, “I would personally like for him to not bring himself to that level.” Back in the 70s a friend of mine knew a man who entered his car in a car show. Mr. Eastwood just happened to be looking at this man’s car, which was cordoned off by a heavy velvet rope on brass stands to keep people out. Eastwood ignored the barrier, stepped over the rope and moved toward the car. The owner yelled at him to get away from the car. Eastwood looked at him and said, “Do you know who you’re talking to?” To which the owner replied, “Yeah, I know who you are. But you don’t know who I am. This is my car, and if you don’t get back on the other side of the rope I’ll knock you on your ass!”

I’m sure Mr. Eastwood would have preferred a more genteel behavior from that car owner, but he had no business presuming he could have access to another person’s property on the basis of his celebrity. And Trump is just like that man who invested untold hours and money restoring his car. He cared enough about what was his not to let anyone get over on him. 

Crooked, leftist politicians can’t stand that about Trump. But I’ll take Trump over all those genteel wannabes who regularly flip flop on what they say, or worse yet, smile and stab you in the back. 

Posted in Politics, Trump | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I Hate Religion

I wasn’t raised in the church. I didn’t become a believer until I was 31. When it came to spiritual beliefs, what mattered to me was how my life might be personally impacted. I resisted formalities, was turned off by rituals and church felt like being pressured to surrender my individuality in order to conform to the group identity.  

Religion never made me a better person. Religion never brought me to God. Yet, when I try to talk about my faith, the conversations invariably take the form of discussing religion. For all intents and purposes, religion actually distracts us from realizing who we are in relationship to our Creator and how that relationship defines our lives.

Even earning a PhD in theology will not necessarily bring a person closer to God. But the fear of the LORD is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. One must begin by believing in God. Learning then becomes building upon and growing in one’s faith. But I do not call the process of seeking God and growing in faith “religion”. As I see it, religion is mainly outside things we tack on to our faith.

For anyone who is interested, there is an article at https://frankpowell.me/jesus-hates-religion that explains the shortcomings of “religion” per se, as compared to true Biblical Christianity. It has become a trite saying that Christianity isn’t a religion, but a relationship, and I’ve come to see that saying so can be a bit off-putting to people, even if they are genuinely interested. 

Yet that is exactly my side of the story. I came to Christ personally. I didn’t come to a decision to follow a certain religion. I had always hated religion. What changed my life was deciding to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Deciding to attend a church came later. My decision to follow Christ is what changed me — what saved me and got me on the right path. My decision to start going to church helped me grow as I learned that God wants believers to grow and serve together on our spiritual journey. 

That part definitely involves “religion”. But religion doesn’t produce righteousness. It can only express righteousness. So if there is no righteousness to begin with, religious expression is just an exercise in hypocrisy.

A part of me wants to say that God hates religion. But he gave the Hebrews a perfect religion that had they followed it perfectly would have produced blessings beyond measure (Deuteronomy 7:12-15). The truth is that God hates false religion. James 1:26-27 says,

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

In Amos 5:21-25 God lists many of the things we associate with religion as things he does not consider worthy. Scripture is clear. If you fill your life with so-called religious practices yet continue to mistreat others and live in sinful ways, then your religion has no value.

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Perhaps you have already concluded that since most “religious” (church-going, Bible-thumping) people are hypocrites, how can you rationally consider anything they say? They’re all a bunch of losers, using their religion as a crutch.   

If so, doesn’t it strike you that they claim to have a strength that is greater than their own weakness? Will you ignore the “higher power” they point to on the basis that they are too fault-ridden to believe? If this presents a quandary to you, then you do not really understand who Jesus Christ is or what he has done for all humanity. 

Do you know the gospel? That’s just a word that means good news. When you know you are already condemned, it’s good news to hear that Jesus has redeemed you. But here is the first obstacle to receiving this good news: not admitting we already stand condemned before God. That means all of us — every human being.

We make the mistake of asking, “Why would God condemn me?” Isn’t he supposed to be loving and forgiving? Our error is that God hasn’t condemned us, we have condemned ourselves. It’s called sin. Now days a lot of people refuse to admit that sin even exists. But those of us who are honest with ourselves know that sin has infected our very being — not just in specific acts we can point to, but in the very character and nature of who we are.

So, what is the exact nature of our condemnation? We are imperfect beings created in the image of a perfect God. There are many wonderful things in life to enjoy. While on the other hand, there are many circumstances that give us pain and sorrow. This life is a blend of blessings and curses. We can accentuate the positive and look at the sunny side of life all we want, but in the end we all die. And that is the curse. We are condemned to die.

Romans 6:23 explains, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Again, the good news that Jesus offers eternal life is apparent to the person who knows they deserve death. Here is the love and forgiveness of God. In spite of our sin, if we by faith accept the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross as atoning (paying) for our sin, ask him to forgive us and receive him as Lord, then we no longer stand condemned. We are forgiven. We are in Christ.

The Bible verse that led me to decide to live for Christ is John 1:12: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. If you don’t know who Jesus is, read from the beginning of this chapter. Start at John 1:1. Jesus is God. God the Son. He voluntarily laid down his human life as the only possible perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. 

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ~ John 10:18

But the Christ not only died for our sins, he triumphed over death itself — the very curse of all mankind. He rose from the grave, ascended into heaven and raised us up with himself. Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 Paul summarized:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

If you have not yet received forgiveness from God, whenever you are ready to ask, he is there to listen. But don’t expect that by “being saved” or “becoming a Christian” all of the problems in your life will disappear. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” But we still need to deal with the daily realities of our circumstances. There is no quick fix. The process of sanctification is more of steady growth than sudden, dramatic change. Walking by faith takes persistence and patience. At times you might even see yourself as a hypocrite.

A good thing to remember is the encouragement Paul gives us in Romans 6:10-14:

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

If you want this, just pray a simple prayer. The exact words don’t matter, but what’s in your heart. Something like… Jesus, forgive me for my sinfulness. I believe you are God the Son. I believe you died on the cross for my sin; that you were buried but rose to heaven on the third day according to Scripture and are seated at the right hand of God the Father. And I receive you as Lord and Savior. Help me to live the rest of my life according to your will and to the glory of God the Father. Lead me, strengthen me and help me by the power of your Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Posted in Bible, Christian Faith, Jesus Christ | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney says he believes in God and is a very religious person. But what God does he believe in? Mitt Romney is a Mormon. It has been long established by sound scholarship that Mormonism is a cult which deviates substantially from historical Christian orthodoxy. 

A repeated principle found throughout Scripture is the admonition against either adding to or taking away from the word of God. Mormons regularly disregard this issue by accepting sources other than the Bible as authoritative. 

As a result, Mormons use many of the same names and terms familiar to historical Christianity, but with definitions, meanings and characters that are in stark contrast to established Biblical norms. They change definitions to fit their theology.

The God of the church of the Latter Day Saints is different from the God of the Bible; the Jesus of the Mormons is different from the Jesus of the Bible; their concepts of salvation, resurrection and eschatology all differ from Biblical Christianity. 

Mitt Romney says he hasn’t slept past 4:00 AM in months because he’s invested so much time and effort researching the facts relevant to the impeachment of President Trump, resulting in his decision to vote for guilt and conviction. I wonder if he examined the facts that much when it comes to the tenets of his own religion. Because I know from my own research that the more familiar you are with what the Bible teaches, the more you see the deceptions of Mormon theology.

Fundamentally, there are only two ways to view the impeachment of the President. Either he is presumed to be guilty or he is presumed to be innocent. House Democrats (as well as the media) have consistently been clear for three years in their repeated accusations that they have already judged him to be guilty. So much so, that on the very strength of those accusations, they feel Trump should be impeached.

But that concept turns American jurisprudence on its head. In this country, a person is always presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is the job of the accusers to prove their contention of guilt. It is not the job of the accused to prove his innocence. 

For all of Mitt Romney’s moral pontifications to the contrary, the House managers failed to prove their case. Despite repeatedly claiming they had irrefutable proof and incontrovertible evidence, they in fact did not. All they could do was to repeat their accusations and use language of mischaracterization and outright lies.  

Mitt Romney, as well as those who are opposed to President Trump, not only go along with the presumption of his guilt, but lean on that argument, even rejecting evidence to the contrary. On the face of it, that’s un-American. As I looked at the leftist extremists visibly demonstrating their opposition to the President’s State of the Union Address, I could not help feeling the deep distress that these people are not just anti-Trump. They are anti-American and essentially anti-freedom. They are a threat to my freedom.

Mitt Romney claims to be acting in good conscience by voting to oust Trump from office, but the entire foundation of his beliefs and the basis of his principles are not only flawed, they are false to begin with. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There is a difference between what the farmer harvests from his fields and the excrement he uses to fertilize the soil.  

Posted in Principles, Religion, U.S. Constitution | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Morning In Martinez

The other day I had one of those bone density scans. Turns out my bone density is low. The medical term is osteopenia. This is in spite of the fact that I’m doing everything right: getting the proper exercise, taking the right calcium and vitamin D supplements, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m just getting old. As much as we fight it or deny it, it’s the way of all flesh.

The appointment was in Martinez which is only 13 miles from home. Some 20 years ago we lived in Martinez, but these days my travels rarely take me in that direction. The bone scan appointment was one of those rare occasions. 

I felt an immediate affinity for the technician who did the scan — a middle-aged woman with a gentle spirit. She gave the impression of being a believer. You may be wondering what I mean by “believer” because people can believe in lots of things. But I say there is only one true thing worth believing, and that is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, as revealed in Holy Scripture.

My visit wasn’t long enough for me to explore her belief system but as I was leaving, I said, “Merry Christmas!” She thanked me and said, “Some people are afraid to say Merry Christmas”. I answered, “Not me” and she replied, “Me either”.  

As I walked back to the car I wondered why people insist on separating one another on the basis of color. To my way of thinking, there is only one human color: melanin. While it’s true that melanin produces a variety of subtle pigments, the main difference in skin colors is in the concentration of melanin. The more you have, the darker your skin. The less you have, the lighter your skin. 

[Upon re-reading this for the umpteenth time, I realize I’ve neglected to say why I got to thinking about this. The reason is that I am “white” and the lady technician was “black”. But rather than feeling different from her, I felt connected to her in a real way.]

Literally speaking there is no such thing as a “black” person or a “white” person. If there were, then we would also see a lot of gray people walking around. But instead, we see many variations of browns and tans. 

I was talking to my wife about this and she told me that there have been twins born where one is light-skinned and one is dark-skinned. If you think about it for a moment you will understand the reason. There is only one race: the human race. 

Have you ever stopped to wonder why people make such a big deal out of categorizing others by the color of their skin? Objectively speaking, it is a baseless, childish, stupid thing to do. There are so many better ways to categorize people, take for example, Martin Luther King Jr’s suggestion: the content of a person’s character. 

As I got back to my car, I had the impulse to drive down to the marina, one of my favorite haunts when we lived in Martinez. Driving down Alhambra Ave. I saw that many of the businesses were new, while some of the old, familiar ones had gone. 

And just as I was trying to assimilate these changes, I drove by the old apartment where our daughter had grown up. One Christmas we bought a live, potted Christmas tree. It was very tiny and only cost a dollar or two. Eventually, after it had grown several spindly feet, Marilyn and I transplanted it next to the sidewalk out front. When Marilyn was in college we moved to Concord. By then the tree had grown some, but it still didn’t give much shade to the front window.

But now, as I drove by, I saw that the tree towered over the two-story building. Its branches totally covering the lane I was in, closest to the sidewalk, and stretching half-way across the other lane. I was not prepared to grasp the time it had taken to grow so much. And by comparison, it seemed so little had happened in my own life. If I could only step back, perhaps I could see it.

I drove through town, down Ferry Street to the marina, past locals on bicycles who didn’t seem to be going anywhere in particular. A woman with her foot in a cast was using a scooter to push herself along in the middle of the road. She was in no particular hurry, and as I waited for her to get out of the street so I could pass, I wondered why she didn’t use the sidewalk.

Once at the marina, car parked and walking on the trail, I found myself in a different world.  Recent rains had produced muddy ground. Puddles abounded. The winter grass had sprouted along borders and open spaces in colorful contrast to the earth-tone tangles of cat tails and unnamed marsh growth. Most people would call them weeds.

But if you’ve ever see an Andrew Wyeth painting with wild, wind-blown grasses, you know what deep beauty “weeds” can possess. These were browns and grays of native plants that flourished this past Summer…even one patch of a faint, whitish violet. For a moment my thoughts returned to the meaninglessness of “black” and “white”. 

Dead or dormant now, the thick, woody tapestry evoked the somber, sober grace of God. There is wisdom in the changing seasons…wisdom that prepares us for change.

I crossed the slow stream where one Summer I’d seen a large turtle sunning itself on a log, and followed the worn and lichen-covered walkway through the reeds to the duck pond. Well, it’s not strictly speaking a duck pond. You also see geese, gulls and various wild birds I can’t identify. 

An elderly couple was watching the birds with a pair of binoculars. I asked them if they knew what kind of birds were wading there. They had long legs and seemed to be almost striped with layers of grey and white and black and brown. They told me the names, but names I forget. What I remember is that one of them has orange legs and during mating season all their plumage turns orange. 

You see a lot of people walking their dogs along the marina trails. Seems like they’re all happy and friendly. One gentleman was walking a poodle mix. I commented, “Beautiful dog!” to which he said, “This is George. He comes here every day.” 

“Hi George,” I said, as I petted the soft ears and muzzle. “Enjoy the rest of your day.” I never did get the man’s name. 

Most of the time when you look people in the eye and say hello, you’ll see a reflection of the same appreciation you feel for just being there. It’s as if you can read people’s minds and they’re all saying, “Isn’t life better today because we came here?”

Some people come to the marina to fly kites. The off-shore breezes are perfect for that. Some people come to fish off the pier. And some like to jog along the trails. But most folks just seem to like being there, enjoying the openness of the scenery. You can look across the wetlands to the tree-pocked hills that surround Martinez; you can look across the Carquinez Strait to Benicia and watch the boats going by — sometimes big, ocean-going ships.

On the pier, pigeons lazily sunned themselves along the leeward edge. They barely took notice of me as I walked by…they’re that used to people on the pier. After a while the crisp December breeze compelled me to bring this trip to an end and go home. Coming back to the marina had been like visiting an old friend. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it. 

On the drive home I was jarred back to “normal”. Freeway construction made the traffic more stressed than usual and I was reminded of the hectic pace we come to accept as our regular way of life. I got back home well before lunch, thought about how full my morning had been and wondered why I don’t do this sort of thing more often. I guess it was because today wasn’t just routine. It took a medical appointment to break my habits and a willingness to be spontaneous to do something outside my normal pattern. 

Thank you, Lord, for that. Help me to be open to do this kind of thing more often.

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The Spirit Of Christmas

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”  ~ Isaiah 42:1-9

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.”  ~ Luke 1:35

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…”  ~ Isaiah 61:1-2a

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  ~ Luke 4:20-21

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  ~ John 14:6

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 6:23

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  ~ Matthew 11:28-30

“…and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.”  ~ Isaiah 61:2b-3

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!”  ~ Revelation 11:15

 

 

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Seeking Unity

 (based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

According to Chuck Smith’s commentary, despite their giftedness, the church at Corinth was rife with carnality. This tells us giftedness does not equal spirituality. Realizing this fact should motivate us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Paul appeals not by his own power or authority, but by the name of Jesus, that the Corinthians turn their eyes away from self-identification based on personal preferences, and instead be unified in following Jesus and proclaiming his gospel.

This appeal holds the same intrinsic value today as when Paul first voiced it. In John 17:20-21 Jesus prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

But the Church today continues to struggle to attain to such unity. What can you and I do about that? How can we end divisions and become united in mind and judgement?

Chloe’s people reported to Paul that there was quarreling among the believers in Corinth. At least they were honest and open about their divisions. They all knew where everyone stood. Today we tend to hold our disagreements close to the vest. We avoid making waves in order to keep up the appearance of unanimity. Not unlike the hypocrites Jesus called whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27), we tend to act nice on the outside while keeping those things that divide us hidden inside.

Those in the church of Corinth were outwardly drawing their lines of distinction:

“I follow Paul.”                                                                                                                                         “I follow Apollos.”                                                                                                                                  “I follow Cephas.”                                                                                                                                 “I follow Christ.”

I include “I follow Christ” in this list of divisions because it was used in a quarrelsome way, coming from an attitude of superiority. Those who used this phrase weren’t actively seeking unity, but justifying their own judgementalism, implying, “I am right and you are wrong”.

In Paul’s rabbinical style he responds with three rhetorical questions:

“Is Christ divided?”                                                                                                                         “Was Paul crucified for you?                                                                                                       “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

The Corinthians well knew what Paul was saying. And so should Christians today. Christ did not call Paul for recognition and acclaim. Nor does he call any person to be elevated above others in some special church hierarchy. In Mark 10:45 he said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And he told his disciples, “…he who is least among you all is the one who is great” (Luke 9:49).

Modeling the Great Commission, Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). He was simply called to preach the gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

This is the church’s single unifying purpose — not the eloquence or wisdom of individual messengers, but the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). We can all take steps to deny our “selves”, lay aside our various pet preferences and opinions, turn to Jesus and find our unity in him. Unless we do, we will never really be able to love one another (John 13:34-35).

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

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The Christian Vote

Habakkuk 2:4 gives us the saying, “the righteous person will live by his faith.” Romans 1:17 rewords it slightly, saying, “…as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.” Other verses, such as Galatians 3:11 repeat this concept. But what does it mean to live by faith? 

Language experts tell us that faith goes beyond the mere mental agreement with an idea. Faith is an action word. It’s not just saying we believe something, it’s putting our convictions to work, expressing what we believe by how we live. 

This is best illustrated by James 2:14-16:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

According to My Faith Votes, “25 million Christians who are registered to vote won’t vote in the upcoming presidential election unless we motivate and equip them to vote!” A CBN article from September 20, 2019 cites even worse numbers:

The goal is to get Christians across America more engaged in the political process – 90 million Christians in America are eligible to vote, but as many as 40 million fail to vote in Presidential election cycles. And 15 million are not even registered to vote, according to the My Faith Votes website.

Between 25 and 40 million registered Christians not voting? 15 million not even bothering to register? However you cut it, these are big numbers. Sadly, I think lots of Christians  feel discouraged and disenfranchised, and withdraw from community and national involvement because they feel alien and alone.

While we are called to be separate from the sinful world (2 Corinthians 6:14-17), this is a call to purity in our relationships, our worship and our righteous living. We are still to be light and salt to the world — not hide who we are from our neighbors (Matthew 5:13-16). Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” 

I believe that voting is a vital part of being a good citizen and a fundamental way all Christians can “live peaceably with all” by serving their community, State and nation. Voting is a very practical way to influence the world around us with godly judgment, a Biblical perspective, and the love of Jesus Christ. 

The USA is designed to be self-governing. When Christians do not vote, they are allowing the ungodly to govern us. Please Christians, register to vote. And when the time comes, do your civic duty and vote! Let God use you to influence the society we live in. 

One final thought: Back when all nations were ruled by kings, God often brought harsh judgments down upon those nations because of the deeds of their kings. Now we don’t have a king to blame. We only have ourselves. If God chooses to judge our nation, the responsibility will be 100% ours because we freely elect our leaders. The onus is on us. 

Put your faith into action in 2020!

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Show Me Your Papers!

On our 41st anniversary my wife and I bought some wine. The check out clerk said, “I’ll need to see some ID.”  “Why?” I asked. The store requires it. We check everyone’s ID who buys alcoholic beverages. I told her she must think I’m a teenager with a premature aging disease that makes me look older than I am. She didn’t laugh. 

The law says you must be 21 years old to buy alcohol. I’m 74 years old and I certainly don’t look anywhere near 21. There is no reason to card a 74 year-old. It’s nonsense and I told her so. But she wasn’t listening. She didn’t care. She had her job to do. Period. No discussion. “We card everyone.” And that’s that.

There are a lot of folks out there who don’t seem to be bothered by this in the least. In fact, they’ve become used to providing their identification and other personal information at the drop of a hat for the convenience of making some purchase. Not only is personal information required when you make internet purchases or use various apps on your smart phones, but many stores offer savings which require your phone number and email address. 

When you make purchases now days, giving them money isn’t enough. You also have to give them your personal information. Most people seem to accept this practice without question. But frankly, it terrifies me. I see it as no different from measures taken by totalitarian states to control their subjects. And by control, I mean restricting what you can do, where you can do it and how you can do it. 

When you live under a dictatorship, you can be walking down the street minding your own business and for no cause the police can demand that you show them your papers. How does that kind of authoritarian power begin? At some point, people get used to being required to show their identification and personal information in order to receive some benefit. This is an example of what is called the boiling frog syndrome.

The theory is that if you put a frog into a pot of hot water it will try to jump out because it is aware of the danger. But if the water in the pot is comfortable to begin with and is gradually heated to the boiling point, the frog won’t be aware that he is being cooked until it is too late and it will make no attempt to get out of the pot.  

Americans are very much like that unaware frog. The water is getting dangerously hot and they don’t know it. They are fat and prosperous, enjoying everything credit can buy and government can promise. But theirs is a flawed fantasy which is fundamentally unsustainable.

Basically, the fantasy is socialism — the idea that government can bring about equal and satisfactory conditions for everyone, which on the surface appears to be a noble, if not loving goal. The problem is that it isn’t real. History proves that, and so it comes as no surprise that those who support socialism ignore the history of socialism. 

The fatal flaw of socialism is the power of the state over the people. Socialism always restricts personal freedoms and requires greater and greater government authority to enforce those restrictions. Socialism is based on the power of government to restrain its people. But freedom is only possible when the people exhibit their own self-restraint. 

Historically in America, that self-restraint was based on most people’s belief that they were held accountable to the God of the Bible and his standards. In general, people did what was good and right not because government demanded it but because that was what God wanted them to do. Our American form of government was designed with the idea that people were to do for themselves and that the role of government was to protect their God-given rights to pursue their own lives, liberty and happiness. 

This design was in the context of a culture that taught Biblical love and compassion for one’s neighbors. The idea of helping the poor had always been seen as a matter of personal charity, community service and church ministry. It was not seen as being primarily the job of government. But as we have become less of a Christian nation, we look less to our own personal response and expect more from the government.

On October 11, 2019, speaking at the University of Notre Dame Law School, Attorney General Bill Barr echoed a sentiment of our founding fathers. He said that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that a “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.” 

He also said, “And this is really what they meant by self-government. It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislature. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.” 

The principles of self-restraint and personal responsibility are what make our form of government work. Socialism is the exact opposite. As we walk away from those principles and embrace the control others have over us, we will continue to lose our freedoms while they gain power in determining just how we live our lives, what liberties we have and what happiness we are allowed.

We are coming close to the “Show me your papers!” stage. How far beyond can we expect to see the mark of the beast imposed? Are you ready for that? From Revelation 13:15b-17

…cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also, it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Things are heating up. Are you getting used to it? You have a choice: either jump for freedom or boil like a frog.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. ~ Acts 16:31 

Posted in Belief in God, Bible, Freedom | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment