Nov 292016
 

World PeaceLast night I was given the honor of being asked to speak at the Porterville Peace Rally. These were my comments.

Good evening. My name is Rick Groves. Most of you don’t know me, and all of us are far too complex to nail down in a few words. So, by way of personal introduction, I’ll just say I’ve been known to teach a little and to preach a little. But mostly to just love people around me. And I love to tell stories. Time permitting, I hope to share one or two with you here tonight.

I want to thank the organizers of this Peace Rally for this lovely chance to share some words. I received a call from Kayleen Murello last Tuesday inviting me, and I was extremely surprised and quite honored she had taken the time to run me down. I cannot begin to express what a blessing it is to be included and awarded this wonderful opportunity.

Tonight, my friends, we’re having a Peace Rally. Peace is the freedom from disturbance. It is quiet and tranquility. It is harmony.

We all desire these things.

To say the world does not contain evil would be a false statement or hopelessly naïve. But to realize the world is comprised of a greater and far more powerful good is not simply reassurance. It is reality.

Good does not always triumph, but the lessons of history are that evil wins for only a short season. The undefeatable spirit of humanity always rises up and retakes the victory. And we will have victory.

To achieve victory takes two things: The brave action of a group coming together to stand and fight for what’s right, and the brave action of an individual standing alone to fight for what’s right.

Nothing worth accomplishing has ever been achieved without both. It takes cooperation and it takes leadership.

It’s been said the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. If we hold this as true, then its corollary is also true. Good people doing something are the only thing necessary for triumph over evil.

And so we come together tonight as good people taking action for a cause that is right.

And make no mistake, this involves all of us together. You cannot say this doesn’t affect you.

I promised a story, so here’s one of my favorites. You may have heard it before. If so, you’re about to hear it again.

There once was a mouse…

The mouse peeked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. “What wonderful food might this contain?” the mouse wondered as his little nose sniffed the air. He was terrified to see it was a mousetrap!

Scurrying to the barnyard, seeing the chicken, the mouse screamed his warning, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head, and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can see this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I just cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse ran to the pig and told him, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse dashed to the cow and said, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m really sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So the mouse, head down, feeling dejected, returned to the house to face the farmer’s mousetrap….alone.

That very night, a sound echoed through the house – the single abrupt snap of a mousetrap capturing its prey.

The farmer’s wife, awakened by the noise, rushed through the darkness to see what was caught. In the deep shadows, she didn’t see the poisonous snake whose tail was wedged in the trap.

With a ferocious strike, the snake’s fangs injected venom into the soft flesh of the farmer’s wife’s leg. Awakened by her scream, the farmer rushed to her and killed the snake with a butcher knife. He called the doctor, who came right away and removed as much poison as he could and gave her medicine, but her fever would not go down.

Everyone knows that chicken soup is the best treatment for a fever, so the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard to collect the main ingredient.

But the poison continued to do its deadly work, and her sickness continued. Friends and neighbors sat with her round the clock and, to feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

Alas, the farmer’s wife did not recover – and on the third day, she died.

She was well-loved by all and her funeral drew so many people that the farmer slaughtered the cow to provide enough meat to feed them.

Meanwhile, the mouse with great sadness stared out from his crack in the wall. He had tried to warn them…

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem, and you don’t think it concerns you, remember this little story. When one of us is threatened, we’re all at risk. Together, we are all in this journey called life.

So keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to give support and encouragement. Never forget that each and every one of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry – our lives are woven together tightly for a reason.

You know, when I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.

I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation – and I could indeed have changed the world.

We change others only by changing ourselves and then demonstrating that change to inspire others. And when they are inspired, they become that group that stands together to change the world.

Aesop tells the fable of an old man on his deathbed summoning his children around him to give them some parting advice. He asked his oldest son to bring a bundle of sticks that were tied together.

“Break it,” he said.

The oldest son, also the strongest, strained and strained, but with his greatest effort couldn’t break the bundle.

The other sons also tried, but none of them could break it.

“Untie the sticks,” said the father, “and each of you take a single stick.”

When they had done so, he called out to them, “Now, break them!”

Each stick was easily broken.

“You see my meaning?” said their father. “Apart, you are fragile. But stand together, and you cannot be broken.”

We’ve hopefully enough time for one last story.

A squirrel perched on a branch talking to a dove that had landed there. “Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” he asked the bird.

“Why, nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the squirrel said.

“I once sat on the branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow – not heavy, not a raging blizzard – no, just like a dream, without a sound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch – nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off under the weight of the snow.”

Having said that, the squirrel flitted away.

The dove thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”

An old Texas Baptist minister from way back in the day named Joseph Fort Newton said, “Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” I’m going to challenge you here tonight to figure out how you can build a bridge and by so doing tear down a few walls. This refers back to my earlier comment about standing alone as a leader.

Are there any leaders in this group tonight?

If so, start leading.

Because, after all, like the little mouse tried to warn us, we’re all in this together.

And like Aesop’s tale of the dying father, together we are invincible.

And like the squirrel showed us, it may be your voice that makes a difference in this world.

So I encourage you tonight, stand together and love one another. Teach others around you by your demonstration how to love.

I have experienced personally what it feels like to be mistreated and to be on the receiving end of unfair discrimination. Long ago decided I will not tolerate intolerance, will speak and act against it.
I will stand with you and will not abide that others treat anyone with hatred or violence.

I know many in this community and this country who will pledge the same.

May I leave you with some wise words uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Thank you.

Nov 052016
 

freedomFull Speed Ahead

While historically I haven’t gotten too excited about politics, I find myself rather obsessed as of late. Try as I might, I just can’t help being drawn back into a very opinionated position. Here’s why.

I care about my planet, my country, and even more about the people around me. I don’t want to see harm come to any. But I see its inevitability if we don’t alter our course quickly. The Titanic is about to hit the iceberg.

 

Divided We Stand

We’re at a pivotal moment in our country’s history. Yes, all moments are pivotal. But this are more the most in this generation. We are choosing a path affecting not only our own generation but subsequent generations as well. We are making choices for our children, and our children’s children, including those yet unborn. Even deciding whether some children will be born at all.

There is a biblical passage spoken by Jesus quoted by Abraham Lincoln in a speech given June 16, 1858 at what was the Illinois State Capital in Springfield. I’ve had the honor of standing where that speech was given.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

We are a nation divided. Divided by ideologies. Divided by politics, aspirations, motivations, convictions, religions, and morals. We are divided by our words, unable to agree even on the meaning of many, or whether some are even tolerable and allowable. Freedom of speech has become even more precious as many seek to stifle it. It is precious because words convey ideas and concepts. If you control the words you also control the thoughts, leading people into mental slavery. Assimilating them into a fabricated society created by forces seeking to dominate for their own selfish ends. Freedom morphs into servitude. Liberty erodes into bondage. The three-class system becomes a class of only two — master and slave.

Do you want to be free? Or do you want to serve masters who will devalue then cast you aside in pursuit of their own greed and lust for power?

What do you desire for our country? Of the inevitable one thing or the other Mr. Lincoln so eloquently spoke of — slave or free — which do we become?

It’s your choice.

 

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry Out If I Want To

I’m a registered Independent, so I can praise or bash any party or candidate without remorse or responsibility to my professed political alignment. I can pick and choose what I consider the best choices across party lines. Although committed to many things, corrupted politicians are not included. If I were aligned to any particular parties, it would be to Common Sense and What Works factions, unfortunately, non-existent groups.

Historically, there have certainly been elections with poor candidates. But in the almost six decades of my life, I’ve never personally witnessed such a miserable selection. Still, we must decide. However, many in their ongoing rhetoric have urged others to make quite foolish choices.

Today’s political arena allows for multiple parties, but only two matter. If you are Libertarian, Green, Independent, or otherwise apart from Democrat or Republican you’ve the chance of a snowball in Satan’s hand of procuring the presidency. As appealing as it may be to consider these alternatives, it simply will not happen. At least not yet. Things will certainly change in the future. But for now, it’s status quo and these are the powers that be.

So the foolishness of the intelligent falls into two strategies: voting for a third party candidate, or voting for no one at all. Both actions throw away a perfectly good vote for no positive reason other than potential self-satisfaction by making a positional statement no one will hear or care about. It would be nice if the political elite would hear the voice of a nation fed up with crony-ism. But the quest for authority far outweighs the morality of serving the public good. The ears that should hear are deafened with wads of money and promises of power. If the voice of a disheartened people if heard for even a moment, the lure of corruption quells it to quick silence.

So vote for a presidential candidate other than Democrat or Republican if you want. But it will make no positive difference.

However, in some instances, I agree casting no vote indeed makes perfect sense. Voting is an American right, not a responsibility, and an uninformed voter knowing little about current issues, candidate positions, global realities, and historical perspectives is a quite dangerous thing. To be blunt, ignorant people should decline to vote because they risk the country’s future based upon media sway rather than informed opinion. Before the haters strike, every properly registered adult citizen certainly has the right to cast their ballot. But similar to one not exercising their driving privilege while drunk, please don’t exercise your voting right when you are intellectually incapable of making a knowledgeable decision. Just sayin’.

For the intelligently informed, come noon on January 20th, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will sit at the big desk in the Oval Office. Your third party or null vote will not change that. So voting for one or the other is the only effective strategy. You’ll have to decide which one. The presidential election is not like foregoing a night at the local movie theater because you don’t like what’s playing. One will definitely hit the big screen, and you’ll be in the audience whether you like it or not. (Unless, of course, you leave the country as many have sworn to do. And with some of those who have professed this, for the betterment of society, they hopefully make good on their threat.)

 

The Enemy of My Enemy

There is an axiom dating to the fourth century that can be summed as “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” suggesting that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. In this case, the advance of liberal immorality, unworkable economics, control of the masses, and the destruction of capitalism are enemies against which many of us fight. Not to mention corruption to the greatest degree. Unfortunately, there is a majority faction fighting for, rather than against, this as well.

While an enemy of your enemy is not necessarily the best of friends (or even a good one), a strategic alliance at least temporarily can potentially benefit both participants. When faced with the undeniable presence of a singular of two evils, the only possibility is to choose the least until conditions change and a better choice is presented. We saw this on a global scale in World War II as countries divided between Allies and Axis to bolster the military positions of each side. The world would be considerably different today if unity during that time had not taken place. Arguably, without our allegiance with Russia who by far suffered the most casualties in the effort, we would be speaking German today rather than English. And living under a Fascist regime rather than in a Democratic Republic.

 

Who Fights Against Us?

This enemy today in my estimation is the Democratic Left. While some of their ideas are palatable and workable, many are not. For example, the creation of a welfare state ruled by an ever-strengthening and ever-expanding controlling government is an antithesis to our country’s founding philosophy and is a stepping stone on the path to socialism and communism. While potentially good-intentioned, the Left’s errant agenda is paving the path to hell so well-described in the old and oft-quoted saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” And Ronald Reagan once quipped, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

The liberal Democratic Left is majorly comprised of self-labeled Progressives. A term I consider to be a self-contained oxymoron since much of the change they urge is far from progress. At its core, it is simply Socialism, something the world has tried and failed to make work repeatedly, albeit now re-branded and preceded with the word Democratic. But it’s far from new and improved.

Democratic Socialism is still Socialism. Having democratically voted for it does not change what it is. I can go out with a group of friends and either vote we grab a pizza or be dragged along to the parlor. The round dough covered with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on the table is still pizza. Socialism is Socialism regardless.

And the current advance of it in America is by no means new. It’s been pushed for since the 1800’s but is now once again touted as revolutionary in an attempt to present it as a new way of thinking to those ignorant of history and its lessons. Thankfully, so far it is a revolution fought by words and not by violence. But this is unfortunate as well. Violence would be quelled. This revolution is fought under the guise of cloaked intellectualism. And the ideas are indeed theoretically intelligent. But theoretical and applicable are not the same thing. And in many cases even when applicable still remains highly undesirable.

Consider that intelligent application of science led to the creation of atomic weapons which have the potential for destroying a significant percentage of our population and our planet’s ecosystem in minutes. Can you argue this is a good thing?

All change is not progress.

Intelligence not guided by wisdom is an incredibly dangerous thing.

So we must look not only toward what would be desired in perfection, but we must also consider what is reasonable and right. To do this we must examine moral imperatives and psychological realities. To attempt a perfect solution for imperfect people, although it would be wonderful if it were otherwise, will invariably fail.

People have the potential for doing extreme good. There is in the human heart the God-given ability for love, sacrifice, bravery, charity, and honor.

However, there is an enemy of our fallen souls giving the potential for evil. In that same heart resides the capacity for hatred, greed, cowardice, theft, and deception.

Only the naive and foolish believe otherwise.

But the Left does not recognize this and seeks to enslave the people under a controlling government there to give them sustenance, protection, and rights, all for their own good no doubt. The Left seems of the mindset that people cannot be self-directing without the guidance and support of strong rulers injected into their lived daily. This is perhaps no better illustrated than Hillary Clinton’s assertion that to raise a child requires a village.

This mindset carries the implication that while they espouse belief in the inherent human good, they really believe more strongly in inherent human evil and must, therefore, control the people as one would control sheep with a shepherd. The “sheeple” are unable to fend for themselves.

This is in effect slavery of the very worse kind. It is enslaving people while giving the illusion of freedom. It is convincing people they are free by camouflaging the very chains that shackle them as ropes they can use to pull themselves up.

 

I Went to the Enemy’s Camp

Democratic liberals seem to enjoy hurling explosive descriptions such as racist, bigot, sexist, anarchist, terrorist, and other epithets and pejoratives toward others who do not see the world as they do. I find it rather ironic that those who claim to be enemies of hate speech use such hateful speech against others. But, apparently, it becomes hate speech only when someone besides them is spewing it.

Why is it the party describing itself as champions of the people fighting against evil and corrupt Right-Wing Conservatives pit one group against the other instead of drawing them closer together? Why is it in their eyes gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, black vs. white? These divisions enslave us all, creating factions that will each fight for dominant identity — and will eventually lead to a showdown.

History is not simple cause and effect, but a complex hybrid organism involving many components. Any seeking to simplify this will be spouting nonsense. But to aid in understanding we humans tend to categorize and organize events into a fathomable discourse. Pair with this humanity’s complexities in self-awareness, self-description, self-denial, and self-delusion, and we must conclude we are a race based as much on falsehood as on truth.

That stated, this is a blog post, not a research document. It’s by nature an opinion-editorial. Therefore, by necessity, much more is left out than what can be included. I would challenge you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. But let’s examine a few slivers of history.

Note: This next section will be a bit lengthy, even in it’s abbreviated form. Feel free to jump past it if you just want the conclusions of the article without supporting historical events.

 

In the Beginning

With roots going back to the Democratic-Republican Party formed in the 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in opposition to the Federalist Party, many have forgotten or never knew the modern Democratic Party began with the election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828. Perhaps Jackson’s greatest contributions to American history were the owning of hundreds of mistreated black slaves at his Hermitage Plantation in Nashville (I’ve visited this location and while he lived quite well, his slaves lived only slightly better than animals), and his signing of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 to steal Native American ancestral homelands from southern tribes (Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations) and relocate them to western reservations in Oklahoma so the land could be grabbed by the states. Despite strong arguments against this, including protests by Davy Crockett, who was a National Republican, greed won out and Jackson’s quick signing of the act led to the Trail of Tears, a forced Native American relocation during which thousands perished due to exposure, starvation, and disease.

Racial inequality was a founding mindset of the Democratic party. They hated the fact that Lincoln’s Republican party had not only emancipated the slaves but even allowed them to be elected to public office.

Google the following names: Hiram Rhodes Revels (America’s first black senator), Benjamin Turner, Robert DeLarge, Josiah Walls, Jefferson Long, Joseph Hayne Rainey, and Robert Brown Elliot. I think you’ll be amazed and appalled at their stories of struggle, success, and oppression. These were all black men who rose above their shackles due to the liberation by the Republican party but were condemned by the Democrats.

By 1875, Republicans, black and white working together, had passed over two dozen civil rights bills. But their momentum screeched to a halt in 1876 when Democrats took control of Congress. Determined to prevent blacks from voting, Southern Democrats devised legal roadblocks like requiring literacy tests, misleading election procedures, redrawing election lines, changing polling locations, creating white-only primaries, and even rewriting state constitutions.

How do you think they gained Congressional control?

By the mid-1860s, the Republican Party’s alliance with blacks had caused a noticeable strain on the Democrats’ struggle for electoral significance in the post-Civil War era. This prompted development in 1866 of a new pseudo-secret political action group whose sole purpose was to help gain control of the electorate. This new group was known simply by their initials KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and worked as the strong arm of the party using acts of terrorism including murder, lynching, arson, rape, and bombing to oppose grant of civil rights to any who were not white, racially-pure, native-born, Protestant U.S. citizens. They wore white hooded costumes to represent the ghosts of Confederate dead to conceal their identities and to frighten their victims.

Though some historians disagree, most concur that Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader, Confederate general, and pledged delegate from Tennessee to the New York Democratic National Convention of July 4, 1868 was chosen as the first Grand Wizard and assumed control of the organization, turning it from a social group into a militaristic, hierarchical entity. One of Forrest’s most controversial actions as a field commander during the Civil War was the ruthless massacre of over 200 Union soldiers — many were formerly black slaves — after Fort Pillow had been captured in April 1864.

In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated the Klan’s primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican state governments, people such as Tennessee governor William Gannaway Brownlow and other “carpetbaggers” (Northerners who move to the South after the Civil War) and “scalawags” (southern whites who supported the Reconstruction and the Republican Party).

Historian Eric Foner wrote, “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”

Forrest’s grandson wrote in the September 1928 issue of the Klan’s Kourier Magazine, “I have never voted for any man who was not a regular Democrat. My father … never voted for any man who was not a Democrat. My grandfather was…the head of the Ku Klux Klan in reconstruction days…. My great-grandfather was a life-long Democrat…. My great-great-grandfather was…one of the founders of the Democratic party.”

Under Forrest, the Klan’s violence grew almost uncontrollable. PBS’ American Experience reports, “In the time leading up to the 1868 presidential election, the Klan’s activities picked up in speed and brutality. The election, which pitted Republican Ulysses S. Grant against Democrat Horatio Seymour, was crucial. Republicans would continue programs that prevented Southern whites from gaining political control in their states. Klan members knew that given the chance, the blacks in their communities would vote Republican.

“Across the South, the Klan and other terrorist groups used brutal violence to intimidate Republican voters. In Kansas, over 2,000 murders were committed in connection with the election. In Georgia, the number of threats and beatings was even higher. And in Louisiana, 1000 blacks were killed as the election neared. In those three states, Democrats won decisive victories at the polls.”

According to the Archives at Tuskegee Institute (reported by the University of Missouri – Kansas City) 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States between 1882-1968, brutally taking the lives of 1,297 whites and 3,446 blacks.

If you’d like to learn more about the Democratic/KKK alliance, you can peruse the thirteen-volume set of Congressional investigations dating from 1872. The official documents, titled Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire Into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, proves beyond doubt the KKK’s prominent role in the Democratic Party.

Report of the Joint Select Committee

 

But the Republicans and Democrats Switched Sides

Many decry the fact that Republicans and Democrats swapped parties, but an effective study of circumstances lead to this being an unsupported conclusion. Quite the opposite actually. The more true statement may be that as society and circumstances changed they swapped strategies and people changed their minds. The Democratic Party was more conservative and agrarian from the onset and have evolved to become extremely liberal. The Republicans who were pro-business have become less classically liberal (a different stance from modern liberalism) and more conservative. But neither party swayed from their platforms. Republicans still fight against slavery to this days, seeking freedom for capitalistic ventures. Democrats still fight in favor of it with big government intervening in everyday life. The definitions merely changed.

The Republicans lost its ruling majorities during the Great Depression of 1929-1940 when Democrats formed the “New Deal” coalition under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Arguably this strategy was a power play to garner support of labor unions, liberals, religious, ethnic and racial minorities (Catholics, Jews, and Blacks), Southern whites, poor people and those on relief during a time in which economic factors focused on housing and hunger were used to gain political support. For good or for ill, this marked the beginning of America’s movement into a welfare state. And certainly many positive strides were made by the Democrats during that times (don’t mistake me as thinking they’re entirely bad), such as the creation of the National Labor Relations Board and implementation of the Social Security Act. Recovery was admittedly steady and strong until 1937 when generous policies fueled by rampant spending evidently caught up with themselves. Unemployment jumped from 14.3% in 1937 to 19% in 1938.

Sadly, entry into World War II in December 1941 allowed the U.S. to regain full employment. War mobilization and massive war spending doubled the GNP (Gross National Product). Military Keynesianism (increasing military spending to increase economic growth) brought full employment. Federal contracts were cost-plus. Instead of competitive bidding to get lower prices, the government gave out contracts that promised to pay all the expenses plus a good profit. (Democrats love high taxes and government overspending of money we don’t have.) Factories hired everyone they could find regardless of skills, simplifying work tasks and training the workers. And the Democratic federal government paid all the costs. Millions of farmers left the farms, students quit school, and housewives joined the labor force.

The emphasis was for war supplies as soon as possible, regardless of cost and inefficiencies. Industries quickly absorbed the slack in the labor force, and the tables turned such that employers needed to actively and aggressively recruit workers. As the military grew, new labor sources were needed to replace the 12 million men serving in the military. Propaganda campaigns pleaded for people to work in the war factories. The barriers for married women, the old, the unskilled — and (in the North and West) the barriers for racial minorities — were lowered.

Democrats leveled the playing field with munitions that leveled the battlefield. However, the National Dept skyrocketed, reaching almost 119% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1946. One must rightly question whether it would be different under Republican guidance. But unfortunately, when you strip away the cloak many are using to hide and finger-point current numbers, we are approaching that kind of number again under Democratic control with 104.17% being reported by trendingeconomics.com as of this writing. They try to lay blame to the Bush Administration. But much of this rise is reported during Obama’s second term.

But back to the slavery discussion. So how it re-defined? If you cannot subjugate by force, then subjugate by reliance. Democrats spearheading social reform and social justice urged impoverished Americans to rally behind them. However, the odd part was that for all this social sabre-rattling, the New Deal programs were racially segregated. The largest relief program, the WPA (Works Progress Administration), had 10,000 supervisors in the South. However, only 11 were black.

Thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s (National Recovery Administrations) wage minimums because some white employers thought the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes,” causing many blacks by 1933 to refer to the NRA as the “Negro Removal Act.” A study found this put 500,000 African Americans out of work.

But since blacks felt the sting of the Depression so severely, even more so than whites, they welcomed any help because they had no other choice. By 1936, nearly all African Americans (and many whites) shifted from the “Party of Lincoln” to the Democratic Party because of economic necessity — a sharp realignment from 1932, when most African Americans voted Republican. New Deal policies helped establish a political alliance between blacks and the Democratic Party that survives into the 21st century.

This strategy can be no better summed up than by the unproven quote by President Lyndon B. Johnson credited by Ronald Kessler’s in his book Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution as remarking, “I’ll have them n*ggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.” Do I know whether he said it? No. Is it possible considering another one of JBJ’s racist quotes we know as factual? Yes.

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days, and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before: the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this — we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

Oh, those white liberals looking out for minorities’ best interests… Wee bit pesky, aren’t they? In my estimation, evidence supports continued racist and other sub-group agendas used for personal and political gain as evidenced by the many remarks we’ve seen in Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks.

Let’s consider the Civil Right Act of 1964, something modern Democrats are quite eager to brag about. This was after the alleged Democratic reversal and the Republicans had already become the bad guys, correct? Well, maybe we should first consider this bill came about from the work of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower? Let’s also consider that Democrats filibustered the bill’s passage for 57 days. Leading the Democrats in their opposition to civil rights for African-Americans was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Byrd, the longest-seated Senator in Congress (who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan) spoke against the bill for fourteen straight hours. Democrats called Robert Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.”

But what does the voting record for this bill show? A substantially greater proportion of “racist” Republicans supported it than did Democrats.

The original House version:

– Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)

– Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

Cloture in the Senate:

– Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)

– Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version:

– Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)

– Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:

– Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)

– Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

While Democrats fight tooth and nail to spin it otherwise, if one really wants to judge the liberal Democratic mindset based upon factual support, let’s consider this. If Republicans have become so racist in modern times, why do they still outvote them for equal rights under the law? And why do Democrats still vote in favor to such a lesser degree? So many more voting records reveal this same pattern. I’ll not take the time to discuss, but it will make terrifically valuable education if you’d care to do a bit of research.

 

The Modern Chant and Rant

The current Democratic Party has vocally sought to overturn, re-interpret, and re-write portions of our Constitution and to make enemies of those who would stand in their way, such as the National Rifle Associate (NRA) and Citizen’s United. Hillary Clinton has vowed to bolster the Supreme Court with those who will overturn, re-interpret, and advance the political agenda the Democrats desire, effectively removing one leg of the three power balances our founding fathers outlined in our establishing documents to keep government in check. If allowed to happen, it will at minimum unbalance our government for decades and perhaps at worst be a deciding factor in its fall.

An agenda of discrimination and hatred disguised as its opposite is being advanced. To hold one accountable for crimes neither committed nor condoned merely because of skin color is racism and vilification every bit as evil as that which liberals claim to war against. Yet they do not connect this in their thoughts clouded by emotion. They do not see this results in stirring up greater strife rather than alleviating it. They see this incorrectly instead as uniting our country rather than the truth that they are dividing it.

For example, even though I am a white man I have never owned a slave, nor would I. To do so would be one of the worst sins I can imagine. Conversely, there are very few if any blacks who had ever been enslaved in our country. Yet I am persecuted because of this. Blacks also carry the stigma of now centuries ago slavery of which they are constantly reminded of by liberals who continue the oppression. Is there racial inequality? Absolutely. Some minorities have been denied opportunities because of ethnicity. But also Affirmative Action has meant that many could not achieve things for which they were better qualified because the opportunity by law had to be given to one less qualified due to the amount of pigment in one’s skin. Both positions are racist and an unfair and unworkable solution.

The solution lies not in unfair advantage or disadvantage, but in equal opportunity for success while realizing the past is exactly what it is. The past. It cannot be changed. But it can be overcome. But not by reminding and dwelling upon it and hating others for what they did not do.

Let’s actually make the playing field level. Regardless of color, ethnicity, creed, or religion, each individual has been given by God (and is recognized in our Declaration of Independence) the right to the pursuit of happiness. Whether we attain it is up to us, not to some government entitlement program.

What liberals seem unwilling to admit is the natural human predilection of self this pursuit describes. If one is denied that of which they are deserving, frustration develops. And this frustration often reveals itself in violent anger. And oddly enough there is also a natural aversion to receiving things of which we are undeserving. When we are given that which we are not due we often feel offended and catered to. This is condescension, and we do not like it. The self is undermined and made to feel less than a real person. Again, frustration, anger and violence are often the results. Such is the Democratic way.

 

Who You Gonna Call?

Are Republicans any better? Not much, but a bit. Their support for Capitalism also breeds corruption and greed. But, until societal evolution allows a better choice, consider Democrats represent the pulling of limited resources into a pool of society that produces little in return. Republicans represent putting resources into a pool of society that can, in turn, become self-sufficient producers to give back.

The difference may be summed up as having an ear of corn. I can eat the corn as a meal and have nothing left after having eaten for a day. Or I can plant the corn and raise a crop over time to feed not only myself but also my neighbors.

I am not espousing enthusiasm for Trump. Far from it. I personally do not feel he will make a great president. His character flaws will prevent that. However, he is the most appropriate choice based upon my moral inability to allow the other choice to claim the most powerful position on the planet.

Remember we are not electing a personality, or even really a person for that matter. We are filling a position. While it’s great to work with nice people, even jerks can do a great job. And conversely, the nicest can fail when they don’t have the appropriate skillset. Or the appropriate convictions and motivations. We need to separate the question of who we would like to spend time with apart from who can do the best job. And who will pave the path toward the best future?

Another question when casting your ballot in November is not even really about who you want for president. The president is limited to two terms — eight years maximum. But the president sitting in office will appoint three or four people who will be there for potentially decades and set the course for generations. Do not think about this as merely electing a president, consider who are you “electing” to the Supreme Court. Do we ant to lose freedom? Do we murder those who would otherwise become part of our next generation? Do we lose our religious freedom and have it replaced by government sanctioned beliefs?

Yes, the pro-business stance of the Republican Party ensures they will steal from us. They want our money. But at least they are honest about it. Hundreds of times a day I’m assured of that by myriad advertisements declaring such. The Democratic agenda is much more insidious, declaring one thing in words and quite another in actions.

I will give this to the Democrats. Their desire for enslavement one limited to only blacks is not inclusive regardless of color, ethnicity, social class, economic class, sex, or gender. They now desire equal opportunity enslavement of all, with an elite ruling class overseeing all who knows so much more what is better for the individual that the individual ever could. In that, they have certainly changed from hating and enslaving a certain group.

Yes, we are choosing between two evils. One wants to steal your money and is in the open about it. The other wants to steal your very soul and assimilate you into their collective.

If I’m wrong, God forgive me and help me. If I’m right and, as a nation we vote wrong, may God forgive us and help us all.

Yes. Both candidates stink. But hold your nose and cast your vote. Which do you deem the lesser evil?

 

Apr 192013
 

broken_leg_kittenAt the Stanford Eye Clinic in Palo Alto, CA on August 29, 2011, a sight I will likely never forget passed through my eyes and into my heart.

A lovely Asian family – father, mother, and daughter – slowly crossed the waiting room floor, the aged father maneuvering one small, weak step at a time, his quivering hand gripping a cane for support while his daughter steadied his other arm. The mother, herself old and worn, shuffled alongside.

What touched me was the young woman had a cast on her left foot wrapped with a black support brace. It was clear she was also having a great deal of trouble walking, and her expression revealed it was quite painful. But she could still walk better than her father and was noticeably stronger, so as a loving daughter she supported him regardless of her personal difficulty and discomfort.

What a perfect model of Christian service…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)

As mentioned in my last post, I struggle with those inner voices saying I’m not good enough to serve, that I still have too many fleshly weaknesses to help others around me in their Christian walk, and that for such an imperfect person to speak of a perfect god God is the height of hypocrisy. But I’m discovering more each day the truth of how very weak we all really are when compared to the absolute strength of Christ that we are being perfected into and will attain not in this life but in the next life only. It is through our mortal weakness that God’s strength most fully manifests.

So rather than bemoaning our own shortcomings we should instead use the strength we are given to do the best we can wherever we are now. While we are not strong to the best degree, we have strength to some degree. The young woman could not lift her father and carry him across the floor, but she could certainly support him along the way.

Focusing on our weaknesses and comparing ourselves against others only further debilitates us. We then imagine what we cannot do and do not see what we can do.

Should I not swim since I’m not Michael Phelps? Should I not cook since I’m not Bobby Flay? Should I not invest for retirement since I’m not Warren Buffett?

Should I not sing praises to the Lord since I’m not TobyMac? Should I not evangelize since I’m not Billy Graham? Should I not give service since I’m not Mother Teresa?

None of us are truly strong. Yet none of us are truly weak. We are all somewhere in the middle and we are all a work in progress. And the wonderful reality is that when we admit and embrace our own frailty and instead focus on God’s strength He does amazing things through us. It is not our strength he requires. He provides that. It’s our obedience to His will and the love in our heart for Him and for His children that is important to God.

“…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45 ESV)

It is to the servant’s heart that God supplies strength. When we cast aside selfishness and replace it with selflessness we become that light on the hill through which glory shines. He then smiles and says this is my child in whom I am well-pleased. Through our weakness He makes us strong.

You do not have to be rich to help the poor. You do not have to be mighty to lend a helping hand. You do not have to be eloquent to say a kind word.

There are always those less fortunate than us, whether physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually. When we become that servant who does not see himself or herself, but instead sees Christ living inside, the power of God is instantly there to do things we could never do on our own.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (Hebrews 11:32-34 ESV)

What do all of these have in common? They took action not for themselves, but for the glory of God and for the benefit of others.

Like the loving daughter did for her father, in the strength of your own weakness whose arm can you support today to help them through this journey of life?

 

Apr 142013
 

There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 14:12 ESV

pathI have always interpreted this to mean that when we ignore God’s ways and instead cling to our own that the results are personal and tragic loss, generally in the form of moral wickedness, sickness, financial ruin, psychological problems, and eventually physical and spiritual death. I still think this is the core meaning, but like most passages of scripture, there is layer upon layer of wisdom as we dig deeper. It seems no matter how often I return to a passage thinking I have already mined every precious nugget from those golden words, there is a new vein from which to extract some further insight from the Holy Spirit for application in my life.

So it is with these words as well – and at the moment they are very convicting to me, actually causing tears of repentance to flow as I begin to understand what I am risking, not only in my life but in the lives of others.

I share this because I wonder how many people are struggling with the same self-doubts and fears? How many know in their heart what they should do, yet there are crippling thoughts which cause them to remain silent and still? How many of us still adhere to our own ways that seem so right, and not God’s ways which are absolutely right because we are not trusting completely in His guidance?

I wish with all my heart that I could write inspired and anointed words declaring the righteousness and holiness I have attained in my walk with Christ, but the truth is I have very little of either. I am striving but far from arriving. So all I can write about with a clear spirit is the ongoing war between the light of Jesus and the inherent darkness which seeks to retain possession of my body and soul.

For reasons far beyond what I can cover in this single blog post (but will delve into more deeply in future writings) I have always struggled against my calling, giving far too much heed to every word of the enemy and to every imagining of my mind, easily finding a multitude of reasons why I cannot and should not bring the Word of the Lord to those around me. What credentials would allow me to speak on such things? I have never attended seminary. What church has appointed me a minister? What proof do I have of the revelations and insights I have been given? Who really cares about what I’m saying anyway?

Intellectually, I realize the most holy of men to ever walk this earth, except our Saviour, were far from worthy of their calling. But for such a thought to travel from the brain to the heart to become wisdom is often a long and arduous journey. In my mind, I know that God has always called the unqualified, esteeming their obedience more valuable than their talents. Yet my heart still struggles with understanding whether this is true in my life as well. Doesn’t this apply only to other “special” people?

Or does it indeed apply to me as well? And to every other person called as a child of God?

So what is the destruction that ends those things which seem right to us? Is it only our own personal destruction? Or when we have been disobedient to our calling do we perhaps also risk destroying others? Sins of omission exist in addition to those of commission (James 4:17). So is personal unworthiness an excuse for inaction that I can bring before the throne of grace on judgement day when asked, “Did you do what I called you to do?”

I have struggled often with whether others (plural) would heed the words I speak or write, and whether I was a proper vessel to bring these words forth. But the Holy Spirit asked me today just how many must heed? Did not Jesus teach us that although He has a hundred sheep if but one (singular, not plural) is lost He will leave the ninety-nine to retrieve the one who is lost (Matthew 18:12-14)? It is the same with my words. If they reach but one person and bring that person to Christ it is worthwhile and helps fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15) that Jesus proclaimed to us as He ascended back into heaven to prepare a place for us when He returns.

And so, with the realization I am not, nor could ever be, qualified or worthy of bringing His Word to anyone, I must nonetheless respond in obedience to the calling to speak those things the Holy Spirit places upon my heart. I lovingly hope that those who hear and read these mortal words will not see me – but will instead see the glorious light of the message inside the filthy and unqualified messenger. Let me become nothing, for He is everything.

The way that seems right to this man, the self-justification of avoiding doing this very thing I am now doing, if I continue upon that path, leads not only to my destruction, but perhaps unwittingly prevents another soul from being saved that could otherwise gain heaven by accepting the precious gospel message. For that reason I must speak, even as an unworthy messenger.

I cannot allow such blood on my hands.

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. – Exodus 4:10-12 ESV

Blessings and wisdom to you…

Aug 292012
 

Prophesy is one of the spiritual gifts of the new covenant church, and one that is perhaps not practiced as often as it should be. However, it must be done with proper guidance and caution. The prophesy of the New Testament is NOT the “Thus sayeth the Lord” of the prophets of old, but we’ll discuss that in-depth in a different post. For that reason, I seldom publicly share personal prophecies I receive, but after some things that happened yesterday this is the word I received after prayer this morning. Since God is no respecter of persons, I feel an urgency to share this one because there is perhaps something contained within that may edify, strengthen, and confirm promises to others at a time they really need this. May you be blessed… 

open-armsBe of good heart because I love you and I receive you as My own, yet you feel you are not good enough to be acceptable to Me. But I tell you that in you I am well-pleased. None are perfect in the Earth, but I have not called my children to be perfect – only to be perfected. And you, My son, are being perfected, and I love you.

You fall down often, yet you repent quickly. This is the true mark of My sons and daughters. Do not hold onto the sin, for this will only isolate you from Me. Not because I reject you, but because you reject yourself and then you pull away from Me in shame. Yet I am always willing to draw you near. You think that by repenting many times a week or even many times a day for your failings that it weighs heavy on me, and that I will soon tire of your failures. But this is not so. My holy scriptures say to forgive one another seven times seventy times each day. My beloved, if I can command My people to forgive, how much more can I forgive you? I see your failures and I forgive them as soon as you ask, never thinking of them again, but I see all the more your successes. When you fall am I not always there lifting you back up, setting you upright, and bringing you further up the slope of my holy mountain? Do I not with my own hand dress your mind with the armor and place within your heart the weapon you need for the battles you face? Have I not always been there to guide and protect you in even your most difficult trials?

You have sought My truth and I bless that. So many seek My hand and the promises of what I can do for them. But you have sought My face and have asked earnestly for My truth to be revealed to you, not for what it will gain you in this present world, but because it is indeed truth. You have sought relationship with Me rather than simply My blessings. You have asked to see My people as I see them, to look upon them with My eyes of grace, to hear them with My ears of understanding, and to accept them with My heart of love. Since you have sought My face and My truth, I will also extend my hand to you and grant what you ask and then multiply it exceedingly.

Your gifts will become stronger. You will prophesy My Word to many and will speak with the boldness of a lion, yet with the gentleness of My love. For My truth is sharper than the sharpest sword, and it will cut the sin from any who perceive it, leaving intact the good creature I originally created them to be. You will speak My words of knowledge and My words of wisdom that I place within you with holy authority, for I remember My promise that I will reveal to you the deeper mysteries. You will teach others and through your obedience they will receive My grace and the blessings I have for them. You will speak in yet other tongues, uttering the new words I place in your spirit, and you will know their meaning for you and for My people. It is from these new words that prophecies will arise as you build yourself up in stronger faith. For you have also prayed that your faith will increase greatly, and this thing I will do for you.

You will be witness to miracles that cannot be explained other than by the presence of My hand, and when you speak and touch people they will be healed in mind and in body according to their needs. And when this happens I will heal their spirit and draw them closer to Me. You will be My witness, and your hand will be My hands, and your voice will be My voice.

My son, you have long wandered in the wilderness, but I am now leading you into the land I have promised. To a place of abundance where you will drink the milk of My truth and eat the sweet honey of My blessing and healing. Doors that were shut are now opened and once you pass through the way back to your past is sealed. On the other side new adversaries await from which you have been protected until you have been strengthened to face them. But fear not, mighty man of valor, for I am forever with you, even unto the end of this age and beyond, and never will I leave you nor forsake you. These enemies will be slain by My hand as you face them in My name. These agents of the enemy are defeated by your standing boldly in the knowledge of I AM within you.

Arise, my son, and go forth in the promise that I give to you. Climb up My holy mountain and marvel at the things I am bringing forth in your life.

I love you forever, my son. In you I am well-pleased, and forever you will be in My presence. Your sins are forgiven. And forgotten.

Aug 102012
 

chick-fil-aThere has been a social media war going on since Dan Cathy honestly answered the question about his viewpoints on the definition of marriage. While the media storm now appears to be settling, the debate will continue for a long time as American society deals with the issue.

What saddens me most, however, is the behavior of those on both sides of the fence. While I defend Christian values, I am often embarrassed by the behavior and attitudes I see from some of my brothers and sisters. It offends me even more than what I hear from those who hate Christianity and traditional values since they are not be expected to know better. But we as followers of Christ certainly should. And we have a responsibility to defend righteousness in a biblical way, not through hatred and condescension.

The following is a conversation I took part in on the New York Observer’s website that I thought I would share with you:

 

Post that got my attention:

Why do Christians seem to forget that they are making a choice to believe the Bible? It’s not the law or guidebook for our nation. Many of us in this country don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. I personally believe people are born that way. The only “sin” I see is a group of people spending their time deciding to hate people who have done nothing to them. Why don’t you forget about what other people are doing, and worry about your own sins.

 

My Reply:

Why do anti-Christians seem to forget they are making a choice to not believe the Bible? In our nation, you have the right to choose. But believers happen to believe there is an absolute right and wrong. Murder is wrong. Child molestation is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong, but we certainly do not hate the homosexual. The only time I hear hatred is from the anti-Christians, not from the Christians themselves. As you say, we must certainly worry about our own sins, and to not warn others about a lifestyle choice that can cause harm to themselves is the sin of omission. We certainly have plenty to clean up in our own lives, believe me. But we do not hate anyone, and I am routinely in contact with gays who know my beliefs. We seem to get along by them not forcing their position on me and I do not force my position on them. And I truly love them. I believe that the feelings are mutual. The only intolerance I see for the most part is the intolerance of moral viewpoints, which I find quite sad. Morality, regardless of what historical revisionists may try to deny, is what our nation was founded upon. I agree that America is not a Christian nation, but it did certainly start out that way.

 

A Reply to my Post:

Now, if we can only see morality as an evolving viewpoint.

I don’t believe for a second that all Christians are as you say, non-hateful, and neither would I agree that most share your view that you can coexist with people who you believe lead wrongful lives without forcing your position on them. “Forcing” is not the word we’re looking for here though is it? You believe that people who aren’t believers need to gain the faith in your religion, do you not? You believe in “spreading the word” so that your religion is known to all, correct? It isn’t forcing, no, but the simple act of “warning” others about their lifestyle choice is what is really being discussed here. That in itself, is the intolerance of Christianity.

That being said, I believe religion is wrong. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, all 1001 different religions that the world has now or has seen in the past. It is wrong because it is the spreading of moral viewpoints that are, for a large part unreasonable, not to mention ancient in their creation. Until we can define morality in terms that has nothing to do with religion, then we will always have a mess of intolerance within this world because there will always be different moral standpoints on what is, as you say, absolute rights and wrongs.

I think in pretty much any moral standpoint, we can agree that murder, child molestation, and stealing is wrong, but to compare those with homosexuality is rather absurd in this day and age. The first 2 are quite a bit more offensive than stealing as it is, but what if we’re talking about murdering for the belief, the faith if you will, in a moral standpoint? You know where I’m going with this, right? Is it in your nature to tolerate murder? It is rather odd, don’t you think, that as far as we’ve come along we still haven’t developed a reasonable insight as to what should or shouldn’t be tolerated as morally correct. Maybe this is just the point where you claim Christianity for that correctly developed moral perspective and I say you’re wrong?

On a side-note, I imagine that the sanctity of marriage is far from what it once was. It is more of a legal binding nowadays, which is why the religious implications of marriage should be abandoned, or vice versa. The point is if 2 people choose to be committed to one another, regardless of who they are, they should be entitled to the same benefits, or no one should be entitled to anything.

 

My Reply:

First, thank you for taking the time to respond. And thank you for doing so in an intelligent, well-thought-out, and logical rhetoric. It’s quite refreshing and very much appreciated. Your post has sparked so many things in my mind that I owe you yet another thank you as well (I think…because you’ve created a lot of work for me. LOL). There is so much to explore with misinformation on both sides of the fence that I’ve just purchased a domain for a website specifically for that purpose. So while I cannot respond to everything you mention in-depth in this venue, let me do a relatively quick fingernail scrape of the surface if you’ll perhaps indulge me.

As you aptly state, I agree that not all “Christians” are non-hateful. But I use the quotation marks since “hateful Christian” is arguably an oxymoron, and in the truest sense of our faith such cannot exist. Therefore I would tend toward the viewpoint that the ones who hate are actually not Christians at all. Most of the Christians I hang out with (admittedly not all) really do love people and truly believe that we are all far from perfect. So how can we possibly hold others to a level we ourselves cannot attain? And if we are not kind and forgiving of others, how can we expect God to extend His mercy to us? Jesus specifically taught that to love those who love us is easy and worth nothing. Everyone does that. To love those who hate us is where the true test of faith comes in.

And I know exactly where you are coming from in many of your statements. I personally was raised in church, and then as I grew up I saw so much hypocrisy that I became very cynical toward religion in general and wound up hating God and church people for a quarter century. During that time there were few things I could have done wrong that I didn’t, and I never missed an opportunity to blast religion in all its various forms. I had some really great intellectual arguments to prove beyond all doubt the folly of religious fantasy. So I’ve used your same arguments myself many times over the course of many years. I was a really proficient sinner.

And I still hate religion. Probably more so now than ever before. Although I’ll bet our definitions differ slightly of just what religion is. And I still bash Christians when I see them doing stupid things that make us look foolish to the world. Quite bluntly, if I were not a Christian knowing some of the things I know now, I would hate Christians too. We can be a pretty flaky bunch at times.

Do I spread the Word? Yes, at every opportunity. Are you not in effect also spreading your own viewpoint with your rebuttal? You believe religion is wrong. I respect that. But is spreading the gospel any better or any worse than spreading an anti-gospel? When we believe in the value of something, as the social creatures we are, we tend to share it. Otherwise Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, and all Madison Avenue advertising would have no reason to exist. I doubt that you spend your entire day defending your non-religious position. Nor do I spend my whole day defending my Christian one.

And based upon our values, yes, we do offer it to all who will receive it at the appropriate time. But it cannot be forced upon anyone. All you can do is offer. And the very best witness for Christ will actually say nothing, but merely allow others the opportunity to observe his/her life, and then individuals can make their own choice as to whether they want what a Christian has or not. If they do, they will ask. That’s when the discussion starts. You’ll never find me yelling, “Repent!” on the street corner. That’s absurd and in the realm of the mentally unstable.

Christianity is definitely not for everybody. Some people will never become Christians. According to scripture it’s not even made available to all. But that’s a whole other discussion. The point being, each person must decide on their own what is true and trying to force someone to believe something they cannot yields nothing worthwhile for either participant.

As far as morality being an evolving viewpoint, let’s say that I agree with what you are saying if we can agree to define morality as “society’s definition of acceptable behavior”. Societal morality is indeed evolving now, as has been the case throughout all of history. But does absolute morality as a gauge of right and wrong change? By definition it cannot, or it is no longer an absolute morality.

If you believe that all religion is wrong, are you saying that you do not believe in a deity of any type? If not, then what is your gauge of morality? If there is no deity, then life evolved through random chance alone, and is therefore devoid of any moral standards. Morality places value in the worth of something. But if we are merely the random assemblage of elements, molecules, and cells which evolved into tissues, organs, and unexplained cognizance, then we have no inherent value whatsoever. We are a roll of the cosmic dice. Nothing more. Our value would be exactly the same as a rock, tree, or worm.

But you mention that we can agree that murder is wrong. How can it be wrong to kill something with no purpose nor any reason to exist?

If we are but a random self-creation, then “morality” as such would have to be based upon some benefit to survival or evolution, would it not? So kindness, unless it can show a value in the survival quotient, isn’t morally necessary. Perhaps freedom has no tangible benefit since a controlled population can accomplish more than a chaotic one. What wrong is there in molesting a child if they are merely a random occurrence? Why is stealing wrong in this scenario? Isn’t there actually a survival benefit to me being able to obtain what I need from someone who already has it? Isn’t there something about survival of the fittest in the science books I’ve read? Using this argument for a moment about the same-sex marriage controversy, what then is the survival advantage of a union that cannot reproduce?

Ah, perhaps you do believe there is a worth to people? And it’s about personal choice. Is that what you are saying, the freedom to decide for one’s self? Just as all marriages should be free from sanctification, we should have the freedom to choose one partner, tire of them and then choose another? But doesn’t that point back to the worth of the individual and say that inwardly we actually do believe that we are more than merely a random chance?

Isn’t it odd that people everywhere from societies all over the world share such common laws and such common belief in the core values of what is right? Freedom and justice are right, while assault is wrong, murder is wrong, rape is wrong, not paying taxes is wrong, etc. How did so many different people arrive at such similar conclusions independently of one another?

Could it be there is actually something inside of us that inherently functions as a moral compass? While we may disagree on the details, I think in the larger picture the entire world comes together closer than we may think in that area. And for a very good reason.

Personally, my only complaint about same-sex marriage is the term marriage. I think it specifically means the union in a covenant relationship vowed before God between a man and a woman for life. If society accepts same-sex unions and gives same-sex couples the same rights that a husband and wife currently enjoy, so be it. It certainly will not keep me awake at night nor urge me to hit the streets with a picket sign. I can personally think it’s not right, but who am I to judge? It’s not my business what they do behind closed doors, and we all have to account for our own choices and actions. I have my own sins to worry about, and believe me I have plenty.

Will I claim Christianity for a correctly developed moral perspective? Since we all see through the glass darkly, and there are many aspects of life scripture doesn’t cover, I have no right to do that. In the arena of this article we are commenting on, scripture does say several things. It clearly states homosexuality is wrong. But it also states that I am not to judge another as sinful, since I need to worry about my own sins first. We are taught that Jesus prevented a woman convicted of adultery from being stoned for her actions, so just because something is wrong doesn’t mean it cannot be forgiven. And we are instructed to be respectful to the authority of our land since all government is created and ordained by God.

So from that my stance is that I will choose in my own life to not practice homosexuality but will not harshly judge others who do, knowing that like any sin committed by any of us, it can be forgiven by a kind and loving God. And if the laws of our land say they have the right to be together, then I will comply with that legislation. Regardless, I will not discriminate under any circumstances since we are all occupants of the same planet trying to do our best between cradle and grave. So will I say that you’re wrong? The absolute truth is I don’t know. I’m living by faith, and I’m too busy trying to keep my own life in order for it to matter a whole lot.

But let me end with this thought. As a Christian I am now happy and content. I can look at others with eyes of love, instead of those hate-filled eyes I used to peer through. I sleep well at night, believing all my needs are met. I believe in the promise that I will never have to face any challenge I am not given the ability to overcome, so my days are pleasant. And no matter what this life may bring, when I die I shall be raised again and become a citizen of a glorious kingdom in which I shall live forever.

Let’s say that I’m wrong and you’re right. I’ve been good to people. Generous and loving. I have family and friends who care for me, and I for them. I feel tremendously good about not who I am, but about a God who loves me in spite of all my shortcomings. So I wind up living my life as a happy fantasy and then I go to the grave peacefully without fear and never wake up. Regardless, it’s been a good, fulfilling life.

But what if I’m right, and we are not here by chance alone but are divinely-created citizens of a fallen world filled with sin, and there actually is a just God who holds us individually accountable to the standards He has set? For a lot of people’s sake, they better hope I’m wrong.

 

A comment from another:

Very well said!

 

And another:

amen!

 

I was blessed by the two very nice replies to my post, but I did not hear back from the originals to continue the discussion. Perhaps I simply bored them so much they went to other pursuits. But hopefully they thought about it, and the Holy Spirit allowed the goodness of Christ to be perceived. For that is the only thing that can truly change us. It is never about winning an argument or making a valid point. It’s about the deep and sudden realization there is something greater than all of us combined, and that greatness is a kind, loving, merciful, yet just and holy God who cares deeply about every creature in His creation.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13:34-35 ESV

 

Jan 122012
 

archeryThe more a bow is bent, the further the arrow flies. There has been a sometimes painful and difficult stretching of God’s people over the past many years to prepare them with fresh anointings, manifestations of greater gifts, and the falling of new mantles to heed the callings in our lives to fulfill God’s ordained plan. 2012 is the year we are propelled forward as the Lord loosens the arrow of His people to hit the target of His glorious future.

Nov 052011
 

toothbrushWhen I asked my lovely wife whether she would buy a used toothbrush, I got the totally expected response, “Eeew! Gross…” And I’ll bet most folks would chime in with a similar opinion. We certainly wouldn’t want a stranger’s dirty past making its way into our mouths.

But I ask you, isn’t that sometimes what we as Christians do? When we accepted Jesus as our lord and savior we became a new person (John 3:3) and the old person is passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). If this is the case, why would we let the old words from our own strange and dirty past invade our mouths?

The Power of our Words

Follow me for a moment if you would…

Our words have power. After all, the world and all that is in it and surrounds it was created by the power of God’s words (Genesis 1:3-26), and He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:27).

His image isn’t His physical likeness, obviously, since He is the invisible God – a spirit with no physical form. But He breathed into us His very essence and that includes the desire and the ability to create. And it includes using the power of our own words for good or for evil. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and both Solomon and Jesus pointed this fact out to us very emphatically.

Solomon said that where the word of a king is, there is power (Ecclesiastes 8:4), and has not Jesus Christ Himself made us kings (Revelation 1:6) as well as priests?

Jesus said that we can speak without doubt to a mountain and it will move (Mark 11:23), being cast into the sea if we command it and believe without doubting.

That certainly sounds like power to me.

Let’s couple this with some other scriptures starting with Romans 4:17. Note the phrase, “calls those things which do not exist as though they did”. Yes, this passage refers to God. But remember His essence of creativity was placed within us, so we too can call into being those things which are not. Consider “The 4th Symphony” did not exist until Tchaikovsky called it forth. America did not exist until Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers declared we were independent. Black civil rights did not make tremendous strides in our country until a southern Baptist preacher proclaimed that he “had a dream”. The world is indeed changed by the power of our words.

If you are married, you did not gain your husband or wife until you said, “I do…” And if that is not proof of the power of our words to bring forth monumental changes to our lives, I can offer no greater evidence.

The True Source of Power

But be careful here and do not mistake the meaning of this. Do not think this power is from within us. Instead, it is a gift from God that He has given to us – a minuscule measure of His infinite authority. And without Him we can do nothing. Without Him we ARE nothing. We are divinely created, but we are not divine. We are creative, but we are not the creator. We wield power, but we are not the source of it.

Psalm 37:4 explains that when we delight in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our hearts and therein lies the source of this power. It is God Himself blessing us and caring for us and empowering us to fulfill His command that we subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28), to use all of its vast resources in the service of God and man.

Let’s look at another way our words have power from above – our words are the method of our salvation. Romans 10:9 explains that we are saved by confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. That is the most awesome use of the power of words any human will ever wield.

Continuing our exploration, let us remember that Jesus has promised that when we abide in Him, and His words abide in us, that whatsoever we ask will be done for us (John 15:7). He further tells us that whatsoever we desire when we pray, believe that we have received it, and it is ours (Mark 11:24).

Aha, that word “desire” shows up again. Remember Psalm 37:4? The promise that God gives us the desires of our hearts? Shall we now join that with Matthew 12:34 that tells us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks? Not quite, but we’ll come back to this point in a moment.

With Power Comes Responsibility

Matthew 12:22-36 recounts the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man who was blind and could not speak and how the Pharisees accused Him of being able to do so because He received His power from Satan, the prince of demons. Jesus has much to say about words in this passage.

First, note that it was through the power of words that the Pharisees sought to condemn Jesus, but He instead turned it into an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson. It is here that we learn there is an eternally unforgivable sin. While one may make speak even against Jesus himself (such as did Paul while he was still Saul before his conversion) and yet be forgiven, to speak against the Holy Spirit is forever unpardonable (Matthew 12:32, Mark 3:29). Thankfully, this sin can never be committed by a Christian (that’s a topic for a different teaching on a different day), but it demonstrates the terrible consequences of evil words.

Second, note that Jesus further warned that we will give an account of every careless word we speak on the day of judgement (Matthew 12:36) and that by our words we will be either justified or condemned (Matthew 12:37). Doesn’t justified or condemned sound remarkably like the life and death mentioned earlier?

Third, Jesus said that a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things, while an evil man, out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things (Matthew 12:35). How do these men bring forth good and evil? Why, by the very thing the whole passage is about – by their words.

And where is their treasure? Jesus told us. It’s in their hearts. Also, let us consider another similar thing Jesus said in Matthew 6:21. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What is our treasure? It is those things we prize most. It is our values, those things we place above all others, our greatest desires, those things that we believe most. This is the treasure that fills our hearts.

Now let’s go back to the passage in Matthew 12:34 that teaches us out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Putting this all together, we learn that we speak with the God-given power to create those things we value and believe in most. What we value and what we believe is what we speak, and those things we speak have the power to justify or to condemn. So really, it’s the value of what we truly believe that will bring us life or death – and we will talk about those things.

What’s in Your Mouth?

What things do you talk about? For that, my dear brother or sister, will reveal the treasure in your heart, and therefore your future. My hope and prayer is that you are speaking positive, encouraging, edifying, and uplifting things based upon the promises of God in your life, and that you see them manifested with thankfulness and wonder in the most miraculous of ways.

Or are you perhaps speaking words of doubt, anxiety, worry, and negativity?

“I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bills. The economy is just getting worse all the time. I’ll never find the right husband (or wife). I hate my job. My kid’s always getting into trouble. The doctor gave me bad news and says I’m not going to get better. I know God has done great things for others, but I don’t know if He’ll do it for me.”

If you are, this is the old person talking. So get the dirty toothbrush out of your mouth and get a new one.

“But it’s hard, Brother Rick,” you may be saying. “I’m just being realistic. It’s natural to worry about things.”

You are so right. It’s perfectly natural. And 1 Corinthians 2:14 says the natural man does not accept Godly things since they are foolish to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

So stop being natural, and be – as my daughter is so fond of saying – SUPERNATURAL!

It will take practice, but it will produce tremendous rewards both in this life and in the next. On many occasions I’ve said kiddingly (with all seriousness) that the church doesn’t always offer truth in advertising. We proclaim how easy it is to be saved, yet we fail to warn how hard the process of renewing the mind can be. And that’s what this is all about. We must renew our mind and think differently than we did in the past.

In addition to salvation and eternal life in heaven, Jesus wants us to see the kingdom of heaven here on earth (Matthew 6:10-11) and in John 3:3-6 He teaches us that we cannot enter that kingdom unless we are born again. This is the renewal process.

To be renewed we must hear the word (Romans 10:17), study the word (2 Timothy 2:15), and speak the word (Jeremiah 23:28) over and over until it penetrates to our very core and becomes so real in us that we automatically recognize and overcome the old voices that would speak as strongholds in our mind (2 Corinthians 10:5). When we truly believe, the possibilities are limitless (Mark 9:23).

Once we think differently and line up our thoughts and beliefs with what God promises for our lives, we change the treasure and the abundance in our heart. When that happens, our words, which have such awesome power to create, will bring forth wondrous blessings in our own lives and in the lives of others.

Since you’ve been speaking like that you look marvelously beautiful! That new toothbrush is giving you a radiantly dazzling smile.

Or is that simply God’s glory emanating from your mouth?

woman smile

Oct 312011
 

penny_2002Another story that’s not mine. My wife forwarded this to me in an email, and I wanted to share it in case you’ve never seen it. 

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend.. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer.. She casually mention ed that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it,” he said. “Read what it says.”

She read the words, “United States of America.”

“No, not that. Read further…”

“One cent?”

“No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?”

“‘Yes!”

“And… ?”

He explained, “And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as my response to God, that I do indeed trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient…

Dec 212010
 

I didn’t write this, and wish I could credit the original author. It is quite good, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s Winter Pageant. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his Teacher, and she assured me there’d be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor.

Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row – center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.” The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”. The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

“C H R I S T  W A S  L O V E”

And, I believe, He still is. Amazed in His presence….humbled by His love.

Again, HAVE A BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON. Merry Christmas Everyone!