Truth In Front of Ours Eyes

Recently my wife has begun writing, from a Christian perspective, about popular culture – music, books, movies, etc.  Her premise has been that the soul cries out to God even if the person doesn’t yet realize it.  We have long talked about how, if you listen carefully, you can hear the questions, the pains, the need for the Creator within the secular words and stories told as the author, performer, or director as they try to put the cries of the soul into their work.  It’s a wonderful way to speak with people about God and the longing of their hearts and souls, via questions that often can be broken down into “I wonder why…” or “I wonder how…” that open the door from concepts that are easier to speak about with nonbelievers to concepts of God that are harder to explain and even harder to understand without a baseline understanding that believers are blessed, hopefully, to have already.

Applying this to another part of life is the application of popular culture to understand current events.  With that said, the event I want to talk about is the Donald Trump phenomenon.  Donald Trump is a businessman who decided to run for President.  He’s running as a Republican and has entranced many conservatives to his bandwagon, yet the concepts he talks about and the words he uses are those of a liberal demagogue.  He identified a yearning in the American public and he is playing to it perfectly.

What yearning?

Anger.

Americans are angry at the government, at politicians, at men and women who promise the moon and then either fail to deliver, or turn around and do exactly the op opposite of what they promised in the first place.

Americans are angry at a lack of justice.

  • Justice under the law (Trump’s initial rise can be directly attributed to the hard line he took on illegal immigration and the promise to punish law breakers and “send them back” and promises of building a wall that another country will finance – never mind that we would have to declare war on Mexico in order to force them to pay for it.)  Also, the criminality of actions by politicians such as Hillary Clinton – lying about the contents of a private, unpermitted, unsecured, and unprotected email server in her home during her time as Secretary of State in order to avoid the documentation preservation rules for all Federal government appointees and employees – used to be called what they are under the color of law – espionage and fraud.  When oaths and laws mean nothing, the law-abiding grow angry.
  • Social justice (the intolerance of the tolerance movement is something I’ve written about before as there are “activists” that aren’t just happy with being permitted to do what they please, but rather want you to celebrate their behavior and their uniqueness as superior to your own – gay marriage/adoption movements, Black Lives Matter, and other such movements fall into this camp squarely.  It has even got so absurd that “All Lives Matter” has been called a racist phrase because Black Lives are apparently more equal than yours.  When you are told that you are worth less and someone else is worth more for any reason is racism whether you are black, white, yellow, red, or green.  There is no justice when ANYONE is elevated above another and the aggrieved grow angry.
  • Economic justice (When banks deemed “too big to fail” are given money via the Federal Reserve, which increases the volume of money thus decreasing the value of money and robbing everyone of stored wealth and income, there is a growing feeling of a economic aristocracy.  When businesses, with politicians beholden to them for campaign contributions and future employment as lobbyists, have laws and taxes written on their behalf to squash competition in the open market or to have the economic advantage of a decreased tax burden comparatively to others in the same market – the government is seen as picking winners and losers.  When good hard-working people lose their jobs because their businesses are regulated out of existence due to profitability problems, when good hard-working people lose their homes because banks deemed “too big to fail” and given money freely to avoid their seemingly inevitable bankruptcies won’t rewrite the terms of their mortgages and force a family into destitution how can there be anything other than a growing anger.

I’m sure you sense a theme now.  Anger is growing in this country.  It is palatable now.  There’s no sense of courtesy anymore.  No consideration of the other person.  No compassion.  What is your first reaction when someone does something unexpected on the road while you’re driving?  Cursing, yelling, honking, aggressively driving with a vendetta toward the other person?  Are these symptoms of love or anger?  I think the answer is obvious.

With this in mind, consider this quote from the great sage of film, Yoda.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

We have passed the point of fear.  The fear is there, but it is deeper, it is foundational.  The fear that our country, our way of life, is changing permanently.  That the freedoms, rights, and privileges we hold as Americans are lessening, not growing.  This is true whether you politically are left or right of center.  There is fear that our jobs are not secure.  There is fear that an economic wall is not just being built, but has been built by those in the highest tier to prevent anyone that they don’t want from joining their ranks.  There is fear that everything that has been accepted as given for so long is simply not so, and the fear is that if the givens are no longer constant, than how can we function without playing “the game.”

Fear leads to anger.

History can be our guide here because the world has seen rises to power like this in the past.  The circumstances of today closely mirror the circumstances of another time and the leaders that can spring out of times like these can restore us or drag us down into darkness.

  • Long-term bitterness makes brazen, bully-like tactics appealing as they see the candidate, in this case Trump, as their champion.
  • Ineffective government and laws give the perception of dual justice systems where certain crimes are excused for those deemed “worthy.”  Equal justice demands equal enforcement, so when selective enforcement is practiced openly faith in the government, police, legislators, and courts is eroded.
  • The usage of money by bureaucrats and politicians to enact personal policy via businesses, lobbying groups, and induced behavior (such as enforced purchases under pain of penalty – The Affordable Care Act mandates ALL people buy health insurance because they were born) reeks of corruption and tyranny.
  • The 24/7 news cycle and unmitigated lying and misleading by politicians (answering one question they want to answer instead of the question asked for instance) has lead to a soundbite culture that hinges not on ideas, but on emotions. It is not a far leap from there to attaching those negative emotions to a race of people, or a political belief, in order to ratchet up anger specifically directed.
  • The Cult of Personality around Mr. Trump is one in which his most ardent supporters don’t care what he says, does, or could do.  They support him fully, leading them to attack those that disagree verbally and, in some cases, physically.

Anger Leads to Hate

The time-period that I referenced above is the 1920s and 1930s in what was then called the Wiemar Republic.  We know it now as Pre-Nazi Germany.  The same conditions and cultural conditions were in place then as now.  I’m not claiming Donald Trump is the new Adolf Hitler, but the comparisons are worth considering.  At what point does he, or his bandwagon turn from expressions of anger to expressions of hate.  At what point do the long knives come out?

Hate Leads to Suffering

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Galatians 5:22-23

I don’t sense any of the these attributes in Donald Trump, or anyone I’ve met who truly believes he is the best candidate for President this year.

I don’t argue to change your vote, your preference, or anything like that, but I do ask that you, regardless of who you support this year, to examine WHY you support them.

Are you making a decision out of fear? Anger?  Hate?  Suffering?  Do decisions made in the heat of passion or despair ever work out well?

Loving Your Neighbor

~ Radical thoughts to follow. ~

So many Christians these days are stuck in thinking of God as the almighty Creator of the universe, the final judge and authority on everything good, and they fear this powerful deity enthroned in unfathomable power.  They get so caught up in the God who utterly crushed Sodom and Gomorrah, caused the ground to swallow up disobedient men whole, and sent bears to maul dozens of “youths” in response to a curse by His prophet after their “teasing” of him.  If that is the God you know, you are missing Him… essentially in a forest for the trees moment.

Now let me get this straight – the God I’m talking about did all of those things, but He is so much more.  The God I’m talking about is not vengeful and destructive – He is creative, He is merciful, He is loving.  He is not hovering somewhere up in space ready to cast down lightning and hurl giant hailstones at you if you stumble and fall in trying to serve Him.

This is why the concept of God the Father is so important.  Think to your own children if you have them.  As a father, we only want the very best for them.  We teach them, guide them, influence them, discipline them, and love them as much as we can before we turn them loose on the world.  God the Father is no different, except that He doesn’t want us to ever get turned loose, but rather to turn back to Him – to love Him in return and to become not just His child, but rather also His friend.

Few men in the Bible were ever credited as friends of God – Abraham, Moses, David. These men didn’t go on and do measly things either. Abraham is the forefather of two great peoples – Jews through Isaac (by extension Christians) and Muslims. Moses became the first civil rights leader the world has ever seen – he led an entire nation from slavery to freedom.  David established Israel as a nation-state and also provided the family lineage for the Son of God to be born with a royal bloodline.  These men also give us a stark contrast though because of their friendship with God – Moses talked God out of destroying the idol worshiping Israelites, but He also repeatedly angered God as well to the point where he was forbidden from entering the Promised Land at the end of the decades-long journey to freedom.  David had a man killed because he thought his wife was smoking hot and wanted her for himself.  Neither of these men were perfectly moral, but they sought and loved God for who He was and unconditionally on their parts.

It is friendship with God that brings with it God’s unconditional mercy.

Instead of fearing God because of His righteousness, power, and judgment, we should strive to befriend God because He is right there waiting for us to do just that.  It’s all that He wants as our Father…. the absolute best for us.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:37

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear the Government?

In response to Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) and the filibuster of President Obama’s nominee John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, two prominent senior Republican senators stood up and slammed him for putting on a show.

He did a disservice, a disservice to a lot of Americans to make — make them fear they’re in danger from their government. They’re not! They’re not! American citizens have nothing to fear from their government.

Senator John McCain (Arizona)

Senator McCain has been around long enough to remember some critical points in our own history which would seem to not just partially, but completely contradict his stance that Americans have nothing to fear from government.

internment

1942 – Internment of the Japanese Millions effectively imprisoned within the domestic United States having committed no crimes.

kent state

1970 – Kent State University. Four students killed when Ohio National Guard troops fire on a protest.

waco

1993 – Waco, Texas.  82 American citizens (including children and infants) shot or burned to death by the ATF, FBI, Texas National Guard, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Army Special Forces (in violation of Posse Comitatus).

This is just a few of the more prominent examples of exactly why Senator McCain is completely wrong.

Do the people have a reason to fear the government?  History is an excellent arbiter in the end and time and time again it has been shown that we have every reason to fear the tyranny of government’s sledge hammer.

Do not speak to fools,
for they will scorn your prudent words.

Proverbs 23:9

Senator Paul, thank you for your stand on the Senate floor, and Senator McCain, I think it might be time for you to consider retirement.

Easy

Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.

President John F. Kennedy

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person 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 1:1-3

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

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.

Ephesians 6:10-11

While I am not Catholic, I pray for Pope Benedict and for the wisdom of the Cardinals in their selection of the next Pontiff, that it not be the wisdom of men, but that of God.

Balance

Great stuff today at Arctic Pilgrim.

He asks and answers an often heard question after a tragedy or atrocity.

Where is God? 

Was God there when Cain killed Abel?

Was God there in the gas chambers with the Jews at Auschwitz-Berkinau and Treblinka?

Was God there when the World Trade Center collapsed and the Pentagon burned?

Was God there in the middle of the hurricane over New Orleans? Over Staten Island?

Was God there in Newtown?

Is God there when your own personal hell is raging around you?

Isn’t that a terrible question to ever consider asking?  How hopeless you must feel to ask such a question and doubt the power and presence of the Creator Himself.

Where is God?  He’s right there in front of you.  His arms are wide open and He wants you to see Him, to love Him.  Sometimes terrible things happen in this world, but through it all, the hand that holds yours through it, if you let Him, will be His.  Just ask Genelle Guzman-McMillan, the last survivor pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

 

 

Firm

One of the most well-read and God-loving men I know has as one of his guiding principles that when phrases or concepts are repeated in the Bible, there is a distinct and incredibly important reason.  For instance, the combination of “Fear not,” “do not fear,” “be not afraid,” etc are in the bible hundreds of times.  Why is that?

Simply, if God, the eternal, all-powerful, Creator of every last subatomic particle and ampule of energy in the entire universe and beyond, is on your team, then really, what does it matter what is arrayed against you?

Something I have heard a lot of late amongst conservatives and patriots is a lament, a deep-seated concern that perhaps we are outnumbered.  To this I say what does it matter?  Does it matter if we philosophically outnumbered?  Does it matter if we are physically outnumbered?  Does it matter whatsoever how many people attack us verbally, disrespect us publicly, or assault us physically?

Even in the most dire of circumstances where you are being hunted or persecuted for your beliefs, you have one amazing thing on your side if you have the Lord of all in your corner.

So what should you do?  Should you cave on your principles in the face of a numerically superior enemy?  Should you compromise on your principles?  Should you do whatever it takes to survive?

Stand firm.

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

2 Chronicles 20:17

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.

Exodus 14:13

We rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:8

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
    but the righteous stand firm forever.

Proverbs 10:25

Stand firm, and you will win life.

Luke 21:19

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks.

James Lawrence

What does it look like to stand firm?

Imagine a shield wall.  Tens, hundreds, thousands of foot soldiers with interlocked and overlapping shields arrayed and shielded on both sides by something immovable, like a rock wall.  You hold fast, assured that your sides are protected just as well by your comrades in arms… but as a Christian, that faith does not need to be in men, but rather the God of the universe.

I read a book not long ago that spoke about “the covering” as something God bestowed on David and his mighty men (Benaiah, etc) in combat.  They did not understand it, but when they were under “the covering,” they were invincible.  Standing firm, or standing fast, in faith is much like that… you are within that shield wall and you are untouchable.

Regrets

***Heads up – stream of consciousness writing follows today.***

I have the privilege of being surrounded by faithful men in many walks of my life.  As I write this, I just got home from spending a few hours together with many of these men studying the Word of God.  How easy it is to share your faith in such a setting.

It is supportive.

It is loving.

It is reassuring.

It is easy.

But did Christ call us to walk the easy path?

During the course of our conversation tonight, we explored the concept of being beyond reproach.

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

1 Timothy 3:2

This passage is considered to be the requirements for a position of leadership within the church, but I believe it to be an instruction for all men, as overseers of our families and leaders within society.  Now you might say that you’re not a leader and don’t aspire to be.  Are we not called to help lead others to Christ?  To point the way and serve Him by fulfilling the command to go forth and make disciples?  Does that not make you a leader of a sort?  

Do I portray myself to lost souls beyond reproach?  Am I living in the world or am I living as Christ’s ambassador in the world?

I find myself questioning if I had let Christ work through me on others as much as I could.  I try to show and act with love toward others, but in every circumstance?  Do I do everything to fight injustice and to show mercy as He has directed?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

If I did not answer “no” I would be lying to myself.  I can do better.  I must do better.

So, back to one of my original questions – did Christ call us to walk the easy path?  We know His burden is light as becoming obedient to Him and the Father is to free ourselves of the debt and consequences of sin.  But we also are told that we will face trials, temptations, persecution, ridicule, and rejection.  None of that is easy.  I think we are to live our lives for Christ without regret, without fear, with love, with honor, and with faith overflowing.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14-25

Where am I going with this?  Simple, I have faith.  I firmly believe that Jesus Christ came to Earth fully God and fully human, was crucified, rose from the grave, and ascended into Heaven.  I believe that the Father and Son love me so much as to not just forgive my sin, but to completely wipe it out.  Why should I fear living openly for Him so that others might see His glory and faithfulness to me? Will He not arm me for whatever battle I may face in life?

FDR had it right when he said “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

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