A Good King?

Picture this.

The tiny kingdom was finally coming out of its icy coma. Their leader, the wise king Hans, had been working diligently to bring them through the cold safely. His people were grateful, but sad. In reality, Hans was not from Arendelle at all. He had married the young princess just before her sister killed her through sorcery, then died herself, or at least that’s how the story goes. The princess is buried in the royal cemetery, her grave marked by a large stone just as her parents were, so they say.

But that’s not the truth. The king had never loved his bride, he married into the family to get the throne. Among some of the people there is a rumor that he killed the sorceress-queen himself.

Actually, neither of those are true, though they almost became so. The setting I’m referring to is from the Disney Movie Frozen, about two sisters, one of whom had spectacular abilities to create ice out of nothing. In the movie, Hans is portrayed as kind, wise, and strong, a good leader. Only those who watch the whole thing know the truth. Would Hans have been a good king? Probably. He had the training and the qualities. But should he have been king?

The answer is unanimously NO. He had no right to try to win the kingdom through deception. Another scenario.

Nya, super powerful warrior judge of Agur, had the strength and the wit to shrewdly guide her country. But what she seemed to have forgotten was that a ruler had already been called out: the King. “No matter. I’m stronger and have better stratagem. I should be queen.” She must have thought, as she staged a violent takeover of Agur and destroyed the royal family.

Could Nya been a good queen? Uh, probably not. Would she have protected the borders and kept out enemies? Sure, but she was already doing that. She had no right to take over the throne, nor did she have the ability to keep it and keep her people’s hearts at the same time.

Sometimes the ruler is incompetent, sometimes he is immoral. It seems to be hard to find a good king or queen. Because someone else is better qualified, should we toss out the rightful king?

Well, I might get in trouble for this, but I believe the answer is no. Romans 13:1 tells us plainly “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” That can be hard to do.

Of course, that does not mean that we should do whatever he tells us good or bad. That also doesn’t mean respecting those who take over the throne by force or deception, like our two models up there. If the true leader is still there, we can and should try to do the right thing and put him back. But we can do what people put above us tell us if it is not wrong, and if it is, we shouldn’t be afraid to tell them so. John Knox lived in a time full of evil in the monarchy. He was tired, he seemed to have no effect on the stubborn queen, but he persistently preached to his leader.

I’ll close with the words of Opal. “Don’t you see? You might have skill, power, wit, and so many other gifts. But Nya. Oh, don’t you see that God chooses who he will? You were chosen to defend. Another was chosen to rule. And just because you were chosen for one thing, does not mean that you were called to another.”

“Many are chosen for gifts, but only one is called to rule.”

Art and Beauty

When God created the earth, he could have made it simply practical with no elements of fun. But God has a sense of humor and made things for us to laugh at. He could have made all creatures the same. But He is creative and reveals that to us in the wonderful variety around us. He made us in his image, which means that we can be creative too, not in the same magnitude as he is of course, but in the feeble sense that crayon drawings and modeling clay sculptures fit into.

These artistic attempts of children are prized by parents, and I believe God loves it when we use our creativity too. After all, when he gave the directions for the tabernacle, they included sculpting, embroidery, gold work, engraving, jeweling, and several other skills that are still valued for their beauty. He didn’t ask for simply a functional tent, though any clean one would have sufficed. He wanted their best.

God delights in beauty. He spread it across what we call nature: the frosty blue of the night sky in winter, with tiny stars sparkling like jewels; the deep greens of leaves in the early morning, sparking with dew; the rippling fur of a cat in their perfectly formed waves and the shimmering scales of a fish…all of these were his ideas.

Many of us are inspired by all this beauty to try to create some of our own. So we spin and we paint and we build. Unfortunately, the beauty and magnificence can have a catch: the poison of fallen human pride.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

The tower of Babel might have been the most magnificent piece of architecture of history. The people who had survived the flood forgot about God, but they did not forget about the skills they had developed prior to the destruction. They wanted to use their work to make a name for themselves, to prove the pinnacle of their knowledge. But God saw their pride and destroyed the work of their hands, in a way they did not expect.

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

Sadly, art can be twisted and turned so that it is no longer beautiful. Everything not done in according to God’s laws can be destroyed, no longer how talented the artist. But I am not writing to try and discourage artists, but to encourage them. Guys, you know your skills. You know what’s right. If something feels wrong, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Spend time in the Bible. Listen to good music. Because music is an art form as well, as is photography, and several other venues.

Accordingly, be wise. You probably wouldn’t look at weird or creepy art, so why look at pictures that fit that description, or listen to music that might not be good? You mind has a conscience, and it usually is a very good indicator of what is good and what is evil. So remember, “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it all for the glory of God.”

Icepocalypse Traumatizes Texans

Over three hundred Southeast Texans have ended up in the hospital due to the arctic weather that froze water on these flowers.

Over three hundred Southeast Texans have ended up in the hospital due to the arctic weather that froze water on these flowers.

 

SOUTHEAST TEXAS – A weather phenomenon so rare in Southeast Texas that it has been deemed a “once-in-a-century” occurrence, a trail of snow and ice left by a polar vortex has shut down must commerce and nearly all roads.

 

Most Texas residents have never experienced such inclement weather in their lives.

 

Long-time Lumberton resident Donna Wanto Becolde said, “It swept through here on Thursday night and Friday morning, and all the while it was basically a blizzard of snow and sleet and freezing rain. Approximately a quarter inch of frozen stuff bombarded the Lumberton area. It’s a wonder that I live to tell the tale.”

 

Texas law enforcement officers have been seeking out Southeast Texas residents to ensure that they were still alive in the 33 degree weather.

 

“Why, we was about to go swimming when all of a sudden, the temperature ducked below 72 degrees. I think my daughter might have gotten frostbite,” said a concerned Silsbee father, detailing the surprising beginning of the incident.

 

At least three casualties have been reported from the “icepocalypse” or “snowmageddon” – as inconvenienced and suffering Southeast Texas individuals have dubbed it.

 

“One man walked outside, and unbeknownst to him, the temperature was a lethal 49 degrees. His last words were ‘What is this feeling?’ as he collapsed to the sidewalk – by then strewn with cold raindrops,” said the man’s neighbor.

 

Despite the casualties, traffic disasters, and power outages associated with weather below freezing, most Southeast Texans have survived. Approximately three hundred have ended up in the hospital because of the weather. One woman suffered a heart attack after seeing a snow flurry.

 

Authorities have already assured citizens that counseling will be available to traumatized residents who have endured experiences that include the sensation of sleet falling on one’s head, being forced to turn the heater on, and other such uncalled-for cold weather problems.

 

“It’s far from over,” continued Donna Wanto Becolde, “We’ve still got a lot to deal with before the temperature returns to a reasonable average … I can’t remember having experienced a winter this cold.”

 

The innocents: Part 2

In Germany, during and before WWII, there was a terrible thing happening called the Holocaust. In reality, all mass murders of people are called ‘holocausts’ but this one was especially bad because it was so great a tragedy. Many betrayed the Jews to save their own lives and interests. These people are thought of with aversion. “How could you see this happening and not try and stop it? Why did you help them do it?”

There were two people mentioned there: the person who did the wrong thing and the one who didn’t do the right thing. Often it is easy to incriminate those who make bad decisions. But is it really any better to not do the right either?

The evil of abortion should be stopped. But often we are over-eager to try and blame someone, and people are hurting. Abortion is painful: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Those mothers who survive it are often scarred. But the temple does not care about such trivial matters and considers it worthless.

One of the worst problems is the horrible apathy we have for the subject. We all agree that it is wrong, but we almost never try to do something about it. “So? I can’t do anything without hurting me.” But that is beginning to change.

People of my generation are starting to make a stand. Children, young adults, teens. They and their mentors, people unafraid to take a stand, are fighting for the life of the children around them. Some have experienced the pain of abortion and realize just how evil it can be. But most stand because they know what’s right, and “Thou shalt not kill” turns into “You shall not murder.”

There is need for more. Years and years ago (41, to be exact) yesterday a woman’s plea was exploited and tampered with until it became Roe v. Wade. Then that ruling was mangled and became what it is today. Death is often justified by the law. But the law will change.

Everyone has a purpose, even before they are born. It’s scary to imagine how different life would be if they were here. 57 million of them. It would make a whole other immigration issue. But they are no longer with us. We can stop it from happening to anyone else. We can make a difference.

Maybe you’re not a protestor. Are you a writer? Write about what needs to happen. What about a singer? Put on a show, spread the word, raise money. An artist? Use your skills to show people what is happening in a way that steals their hearts.

Everyone can make a difference, by giving time, talent, or money. But it’s not for me to choose…

That is your choice.

Why Government Exists

supreme court

 

Government exists. Why it exists is a question that is not only difficult to answer, but difficult to ask. With the various philosophies, worldviews, religions, and economic systems that make up how a government operates and what it does, the actual meaning of government’s creation is lost in the hugeness of the debate and the variety of opinions.

 

Left-leaning respondents are likely – because their entire policy is shaped around this assumption – to explain that “government exists to take care of the least fortunate.” (Actually, a drawn-out “uuuuuummmmmmmm….” is the most predictable reply.)

 

Extremely left-leaning answerers will probably claim that government’s purpose is to end class warfare, end income inequality, and create standards of justice and “fairness.”

 

Authoritarian, right-leaning replies may include, “To provide a police force and military and to establish regulatory agencies to enforce standards that will provide for a smoothly-operating society.”

 

But in reality, neither of these responses can be considered entirely correct. (“Ummmmmm….” comes the closest, I would think. )

 

The entire reason that government exists: to protect rights. Our government has entirely lost sight of its function, chasing any false trail and yelling “Squirrel!” at the mention of any possible new objective. Government does not exist to make life easier or society harmonious — although that is an after-effect of what good government does — good government exists merely to protect the fundamental rights of the individuals who truly can make life beautiful and comfortable.

 

The federal government has adopted as its own functions caring for the poor, entertaining preschool-age children, bailouts, energy subsidies, public utilities, healthcare clinics and financial assistance, paying millions of dollars to funding robotic squirrels – you see what I mean now when I mentioned that bit about the tree rodent – and who knows what else.

 

Through the regulatory fog and bureaucratic jungle, the U.S. government has rid itself of the function and the purpose that justified its existence. Washington is working together to forget about its mission entirely, and in recent years has apparently been successful: life, liberty, and property are by no means secure – especially if you are an unborn child, a military veteran, or a small business owner.

 

After 1973, there was essentially no reason for the government to exist after the implementation of Roe v. Wade. The right without which none others are possible was demoted to the rank of government privilege – a judicial whim, a politically-correct move that allegedly signified something-or-other about rights, ironically.

 

The government has forgotten about the sanctity of life, thus it is time to alter or abolish this government, as the Founders declared should happen in such cases.

 

Pain and heartbreak – the eternal hole in the lives of would-be brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers – is not worth the leftist status symbol of abortion on demand.

The Great Divide: Part Four

The Liberty Window -- Christ Church, Virginia

The Liberty Window — Christ Church, Virginia

The old adage don’t talk religion or politics has for decades been accepted as words from the wise – advice worth heeding – in social circles, family gatherings, and public settings of all kinds. However, despite leftists’ efforts to make this backwards philosophy, occasionally useful as a peace-keeping tool, the law of the land (lest you offend someone) religious and political discussions comprise many, perhaps most, earnest conversations. Strangely, however, when religion or politics pop up in an after-dinner deliberation or in a casual confabulation, the topics refuse to surface together. American government, churches, and culture despise conjoint symposia of religion and politics as if this activity’s aftermath could be worse than the black plague, universal insurrection, and an earthquake rolled into one incredible catastrophe.

 

Alas, the leery reaction the inseparable questions of religion and “politics” receive in public settings is uncalled for, overly dramatic, and in the end, ludicrous. Churches should talk politics, and government and citizens should talk religion: the two issues are strongly connected and when properly functioning, even depend on each other. This aversion to conjoint religious and political discussion is merely another contributor to the widening chasm between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives – but even more so in the ever-polarizing politics felt on an omnipartisan level.

 

First of all, the churches’ refusal to discuss politics and the public sphere’s denial of religion itself is a problem that has led to a death spiral in national character, culture, and government.

 

At a time when a fledgling nation overcame the world’s foremost military power at the time (the British Empire), politics and religion were closely connected: American clergymen left to fight the war, and the clergymen that were left “talked politics” immediately from the pulpit. The American Revolutionary War was disputed, tumultuous, and one of the most outstanding reasons that the United States is in existence today; but there is a side to the war that few Americans – few people, no matter where they live, in fact – have learned or realized: its religious implications and motivations. If the current prevailing cultural “mandate” had been instituted in the 1770s – don’t talk about politics in church, or religion in politics – one can only guess where the world, and this continent and its inhabitants in particular, would be this year. Marxists love this policy, and they hate – hate with all their might – the preachers who say a word or two about political issues whether social or fiscal.

 

When churches and social conservatives refused to acknowledge the corrupt powers that gnawed at their right to exist as Christians, the very foundations of the republic began to disintegrate. The foundation is continuing to fracture. It is the duty of Christian leaders to educate their congregations on political events and what these events mean for freedom — whether speech, religious, or financial freedoms. It is also the duty of the congregation and the individual to heed the truth, as well as seek out more of it on their own. The Black-Robed Regiment, the patriotic fighting clergymen, truly angered the British. As Bibliotheca Sacra, a British periodical, noted in 1856, “If Christian ministers had not preached and prayed, there might have been no revolution as yet – or had it broken out, it might have been crushed.”

 

This is the predominant reason why social conservatives should become involved in more than just social issues: fiscal progressivism, even in moderate forms, eventually means socialism – and socialism means no religious rights to speak of, much less to protest about their absence.

 

Likewise, government has the right and need to acknowledge religion. For the past hundred years or so, plentiful nonsense has been circulating that the “separation of church and state” disallows any religious involvement in government. Period. Prayer even in local public schools is effectively illegal, thanks to political correctness. Suppression of conservative Christian non-profits is the norm, and if Congress opens in prayer, be sure that “in Jesus’ name” will never be tagged on the end – although just about any other god will be permitted. (You know, for diversity.)

 

The reason that the First Amendment specifically says what it says is so that government officials, the government itself, schools, citizens, organizations, and churches could freely express their religious beliefs, not so that any and all religion would be stamped out to avoid “offense.” Establishment of religion is far from what leftists are now claiming, it must be noted; and the Founders themselves left the American people far from subtle clues as to what they intended the First Amendment to mean. Prohibiting religious speech in public meetings or public property is a gross error on the part of lawmakers. If one problem with the U.S. government should be fixed, it would be the burdensome restraints on religious liberty imposed on both the public sphere and its property and the private sector and its churches.

 

The United States’ churches’ only course is to focus on the public sphere and current events in general; to make aware the slumbering churchgoers, who are blind to the very force that dissolves their rights; and to first and foremost ignore the apparently unofficial consensus that to talk politics in church is an aberrant and even offensive practice. It must be done. And who but you to do it?

 

In street conversations, or over Thanksgiving dinner with family members, not talking religion or politics can be a good thing. In the pulpit, however, it is left up to the pastor, preacher, leader, or teacher to talk religion and politics, and for the congregation to listen and delve into details on their own – otherwise, the United States will continue in this path that Russia, China, numerous European countries, and all “progressive” experiments have led before: a place entirely devoid of religious rights — a government built purposefully, deliberately without God and without any room for Christianity or Christians.

 

It is yours to decide: will you bridge the Great Divide?

 

Chosen ones: The sentence

darknessJullietta gulped and dropped her eyes as she approached the judge. Nya was standing, dressed in a greenish dress that seemed to  spread out like a poison cloud. Her eyes were keen and glittering, her face slender and well shaped, her hair black and entwined with green beads. In her hand was a heavy gold-covered pitchfork-looking thing that Julietta had never seen before. Julietta had the feeling that she had been pretty at one time, but fear and hatred had replaced the prettiness with ugly fury.

She spoke. “What is this, captain.” Julietta shivered. Her voice was just as Opal had imitated it: cold and deadly. “A child that I found. A maid, I suppose. She was attending the prince. Nya’s eyes lit up. “The prince. The Child?” The guard nodded. Nya stretched out her hand and touched Caro. “Yes. This is the one. This is the one we spare.” Julietta stood like a statue. She fought desperately to keep herself from a screaming fit, and tried to calm herself by wondering why Nya had such a fascination with her baby brother. It didn’t help much.

The guard grabbed her shoulder. “What about the maid?” Nya looked unconcerned. “What about her? If the child takes to her, let her stay. I do not care about the life of one servant.” Her eyes flashed. “Have you found the royal family?” The guard paused. “I only guard the door. From what I’ve heard they are mostly in our custody. There was a bit of a panic when the prince was missing, and there is a rumor of another princess, but we cannot tell.”

Nya turned and walked off. “Take them to the boat. We need to go home.” “Home, sir?” Nya spun about, obviously annoyed. “To the core, of course. The people will be in uproar after this act. We need to keep the prince safe. Julietta’s heart, which had lifted as she realized that Nya would not kill her, sank. The core was a watery wilderness near the center of the planet. Once hidden there, the few remaining loyal would be unable to find them.

Holding Caro tightly, Julietta walked (led by the guard) towards the pier that had once led to the royal family’s boat. Julietta didn’t see it anywhere, and wondered if they had stolen or burned it, to prevent escape into the water to the island on the other side of the straight. In its place was a dirty looking boat that lurked in the water like a sea-monster waiting for prey. Into that boat they were pushed into, the hatch locked above them.

There on the boat, Julietta stroked baby Caro’s head. “What’s so special about you, brother?” She whispered, holding him close. “I know she wants you for her own, but don’t worry. I’ll keep you safe.” And even though they were alone in the darkness, she felt peace.

 

The innocents

With a painful cry his life was over. It had only lasted a few months, and then his mother had turned him over to the priest to be sacrificed for her sins. Maybe it was hard for her. Maybe it wasn’t. We just don’t know.

That was the way life was like in ancient Canaan. It was a time without God. The children of Israel had become placid in their faith, and they did nothing to stop the people in their congregation from going over to the temple of Molech and destroying their own children. The priests still preached at the tabernacle and in the little chapels. But what was the message? Dry, crusty laws that had nothing to do with life. They would not speak of the true law: “You shall love the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”; “You shall not murder”; “Of every life I will take an account.”

Maybe the people of Israel had despaired of following the dead religion taught and followed one that seemed to work, the vile practice of sacrificing that which God holds the most precious. Hebrew girls dutifully watching and hoping that God would take revenge on the innocent child and forgive them of their sins. They did this until they were destroyed or carried off.

I’ve often thought about life in ancient history. What if I was born in that time? I’ve never wished that; at least not since I realized (when I was seven) that they had no bathrooms back then. Now as I’m growing older I am glad that careless wishes do not come true.

Life in the ancient world was horrible, too horrible to be described. No one was safe. If you were a man you would be all right, unless there was a war. Then you would be slaughtered if your side lost, or if you had nothing to do with the battle, you might become enslaved.
“Ok, then,” I thought, “I wouldn’t be a boy anyway. They wouldn’t hurt a girl, right?”

Wrong.

The ideas of “Women’s rights” and the right to life were completely foreign concepts. If you read ancient literature, like the Iliad or the Odyssey, you will find that girls often had the worst of life. If you happened to be rich or royal you might have a nice life, but if your kingdom fell, you would be taken as a slave by the conquerors. And kids had no worth at all.

So where did the ideas of “All men are created equal” “fair trade” “Choice” and “Women’s rights” come from? They didn’t come from Greece. Rome? In those days women were treated a little better, but if a child was unwanted they would abandon him on the streets. But suddenly in the middle of the Roman empire something changed. What was it?

A small baby was born and raised in a small village in a tiny country called Israel. He died a miserable death at the age of thirty-three, as a criminal. And he only had a handful of followers. But that handful spilled out and contaminated the whole roman world. In CHRIST dignity was restored. In CHRIST the unloved were given a home. The rich and poor shared all that they had. And Christianity became the first “welfare” program; except that it actually worked.

But then something changed, maybe the people forgot what had happened, or maybe they began to slack in their zeal. And now we have today: Preachers teaching what they think people want to hear. And millions of young girls willingly letting their children die to further their own purposes. Most of them regret it immediately. Most of them feel that they are forced into it.

The Children who know the truth should share it to the aching, who are afraid to speak up for the shame that covers them because of their choice. They should spread the word of hope before it’s too late.

The Great Divide: Part Three

Social conservatism doesn't agree with government funding of Planned Parenthood. Well, neither does fiscal conservatism.

Social conservatism doesn’t agree with government funding of Planned Parenthood. Well, neither does fiscal conservatism.

Christianity is famous for its religious instruction to financially assist the poor, feed the hungry, visit prisoners, aid widows and orphans, and provide relief – spiritual and physical – to people around the world. An ideal world is a world where everyone who is able participates in such charity. Occasionally believers adopts worldviews that endorse government charity, entitlement programs, and even state-run fine arts programs. However, forced charity completely misses the Christian goal, and good intentions don’t pass the test in the religious sphere or the financial sphere.

 

The difference between intention and reality is of the utmost importance in all discussions, but in this discussion particularly: feeding hungry children is a worthy goal, but whether or not the government can actually feed the children is another matter altogether. The very first reason that Christians should not support government poverty relief programs is that these programs are nothing more than failed experiments. Trying the same thing and expecting different results is a famous definition of insanity, it must be noted.

 

From a more theological stance, Christians should also refrain from establishing government programs because this is Jesus’ order to the church, not the state. Although other organizations relieve poverty, provide food, and offer shelter, the idea that the church could utilize the government to accomplish this unique mission is absurd. The state is a vehicle that will eventually seek to snuff out charitable “competition” and religion. Government programs are constantly sucking funds from private sector ventures that would have sought, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to end the poverty problem had the money remained in the grip of dynamic market forces and job creators rather than the currency-plumbing apparatus of the tax collector. Even if the government could feed hungry children, should it?

 

Although religious leaders all likely realize that weaponry and war are necessary at times, Christianity is a tranquil religion that frowns upon the use of violent force. Government is force. In fact, government is violent force. When the state is more like Santa Claus than an accumulation of force in existence merely for the protection of rights, immorality is sure to seep into the welfare system: funding for abortions and incentives for fracturing families are two government policies that Christians cannot in good conscience fund. Refusing to pay up leads to a harsh punishment that could include lifetime in jail.

 

Reality is a much less simple world than the intent-fueled fantasy that leftists use as basis for their policy, and government can’t feed hungry children effectively or efficiently no matter what it does. It is left up to the church and other private sector charities which cannot fully accomplish their mission when government is involved. Theologically, caring for widows, orphans, and the poor is a church duty which Christians cannot and should not hand over lock, stock, and barrel to government goons. Even if the government is involved in poverty relief, the Christian’s only course is to continue to provide aid. Lastly, welfare programs are extremely vulnerable to special interests – which are likely in conflict with religion itself. Since paying taxes is not optional, Christians should remain wary of any type of public welfare programs. It is clear that adherents to social conservatism have no option but to combine forces with fiscal conservatives.

 

Crutches

My brother sprained his ankle. He is using crutches to get around. Obviously, this was to keep him from injuring the tender leg, but eventually the leg got better, but there was still a problem. When you injure yourself, your whole mind is bent on keeping the part of the body from getting hurt again. And when the member heals, the mind still thinks it is hurt, so it goes on an all out campaign against using it. This process of resetting your mind is often harder than it is to take care of the wounded leg.

Adam had to use crutches until his foot got stable, and then the hard part of giving them up came and he decided that he needed them too much. He’s gotten better, doesn’t need them as much, and will probably be out of them soon.

Crutches are awesome inventions. They keep you safe for the most part. But crutches have a purpose. What if someone who had a perfectly good foot suddenly decided to use crutches. If you asked them why, they might say “They make me feel more comfortable, and more safe. I’ll never hurt my foot now!” Of course, that’d be crazy. They might end up hurting their foot for real from an accident on their crutches that they don’t need.

Unfortunately, some Christians can be silly like the imaginary person with crutches. They get comfortable with what they know and lean on it, content to stay where they are on their crutch. They refuse to get better, refuse to grow up, and reject the good “legs” that God has given them.

This is often more common than the silly example of the fine person with crutches. People can like the attention they get as “injured” and decide to stay there. It’s like Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. But Peter was never elected to an important position in a church. We don’t want “The Christian who never grows up” because that’s not  what we’re called to be. Sure we start out as children. But are we supposed to stay there?

No.

1 Peter 2:2-3 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up into salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Crutches are great. But there comes a time when we need to grow out of them.

Little Things

Today we arrived home with seven dogs in our back yard. All of them were big and new to us, and we had a hard time chasing them all away. Our own dogs were no help at all.

It all started when a cute little dog named Blue followed us home. We of course took her back to her owner, but she found out the way to our place and stopped by several times to have someone to play with. Some of the dogs must have seen her trips back and forth and followed her, sparking dominance battles that turned our yard into the coliseum.

It was a small thing, but it ended up in a vet bill. We’re starting to wonder what we are going to do with cute tag-a-longs that follow us. As we have lived here in the country we have given names to the dogs we see, like Rex: the territorial large white dog that guards a herd of cattle; or Romeo: a large white dog with a heart shaped patch on his head. Then of course there was Curly-Q, who had funny ears, and Juliet, who followed closely after Romeo.

And now we have these dogs around all the time. It’s almost like we can’t get rid of them. And somehow, I think I have a point in this post. Like those dogs, there is something where the first one seems innocent, the second strange, and then it’s out of control. What is it?

The little things. Small lies, tiny “borrowing,” slight cheating, or a tiny bit of laziness start small and soon grow out of control. We can’t do a thing about them. That is when you have to pray to be rescued from the trap of the little things. Because the big things we see right away, right?

For me, my little thing was gaming, computer or video. I started out only playing every once in a while, but soon it got control of me and I was addicted. For others it might be more serious stuff, but they grow from tiny seeds. The effects can be permanent. So what should you do? Watch out for the little things, because even though they seem small, they are the most deadly of all.

The Great Divide: Part Two

What should the position of the church be in matters of "politics"?

What should the position of the church be in matters of “politics”?

Capitalism has long been portrayed as greedy: Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Bedloe in Petticoat Junction are iconic characters that might come to mind when “corporate greed” is mentioned. The 1980s, a decade of economic recovery and booming enterprise, are also known as the decade of greed. Big businesses are automatically considered to be voracious monsters bent on exploiting the public. This bourgeoisie institution should be taxed, leftist howler monkeys conclude. Christians are occasionally apt to dismiss the entirety of the free market system as merely a necessary evil; or even worse, as an unnecessary evil that should be eradicated.

Freedom’s only alternative, of course, is excessive government: interventionist or socialist, it makes little difference. (As Ludwig von Mises noted, middle-of-the-road viewpoints lead to socialism.) Although other followers of Christ or adherents to the church are opinionated that social welfare programs are a moral must, it is still socialism behind a mask of Bible-based euphemisms. Christians that consider utilizing the government as means for fulfilling their religion or deem the free market as greedy are in dangerous theological ground, and are inherently incorrect in these assumptions.

First and foremost, the alleged greed of capitalism is disproved when the very nature of free trade is shown: mutual benefit, since providers want money more than a product and you want a product more than money. Government is by its very nature coercive and exploitative. Its uninterpretable whim is your command, whereas the free market can only do its best to make you want to buy its product or sign on the dotted line.

Governments have the power of signing your name on the dotted line for you, whether that means military service, death, immense legal costs, jail-time, a failing business, or loss of property. Although the free market can seem cheesy, obnoxious, or a bit like the Wild West, imagine the seriousness and morbid mandates of Soviet Russia. Big government advocates can’t beat the power of individual choice (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the abortion debate). Every human holds a deep incentive to act in his own self-interest, whether this human works in government or in the private sector. The difference is in how he can fulfill his self-interests: by the sword or by the advertisement?

Greed is much less intimidating when it is not in a centralized executive position or in bureaucracy backed up by the nation’s military and law enforcement officers. Whom do you fear, Wal-Mart or the Internal Revenue Service? Perhaps too easy a question. Wal-Mart’s policy is likely not Bible-based, but at least you can choose whether or not you shop there; the IRS will, first of all, have no sympathy, and second, will not share your beliefs as it enforces its illogical, money-sucking mandates.

Secondly, social welfare advocates have long tugged at the most instinctive heartstrings of the American people. Generosity is a piece of cake, so long as the other fellow’s money is at your disposal. By the Bible, which makes a strong argument for property rights, this would be known as thievery.

It may be true that it is not just for children to go hungry, or for homeless people to freeze in the streets. Christians know this as an important function of the church, and other religions or social causes also adopt this cause as their own. The elderly have long been disputed as needy, young adults have seemingly forever been described as requiring assistance for their growing families or college funds.

However, caught up in the business of handing money to the elderly, minorities, growing families, the homeless, college students, preschoolers, small business owners (ahem), disaster-stricken areas, single mothers, disabled folks, and unemployed workers, governments have entirely forgotten about the taxpayer.

Awarding disadvantaged — which, by the way, truly is a relative term — parties with the public purse can only lead to a national death cycle by election for the democracy, and a constant devaluation of currency and certain death by debt for the dictatorship. The taxpayer, meanwhile, always suffers: eventually money is needed to bail out the taxpayer, who is in turn taxed to pay for his own bailout. Then government takes a chunk out of his paycheck simply to return some of the paycheck.  This is basically the essence of socialism. (Although a discussion about property rights is in turn, it will not be delved into at the moment.) The idea that compassion is giving 90% of a stolen dollar  designated for social welfare to bureaucrats and a measly 3-10% to the needy is a misinformed revision of generosity.

Additionally, the Christian faith stands for a core set of values incompatible with big government. Big government (interventionist or socialist) is, by its nature, a power that considers itself higher than God. Ronald Reagan’s simple truth — that if America is no longer one nation under God, it will be one nation gone under — says more than an entire book on the subject might cover.

Socialism is a governmental economic system that denies God; without God, there is no justice and no moral code whatsoever. Thus, socialism assumes that government is the world’s supreme power. The idea that government is “it” implies a dark, dark reality in Communist countries: there are no rights except what the state allows. In this world, justice is not absolute, it is what the Communist state says right and wrong is.  It surely seems that the socialist state is a faraway occurrence; yet socialism is a creeping vine that quickly overtakes even a healthy republic.  It is true that Jesus ordered believers to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but  He likewise ordered  believers to worship Him and Him alone. When government considers itself God,  continuing to support that government may be tantamount to  worshipping at  another altar.

The principles of the blasphemous governing power of socialism are poorly disguised in the modern Democrat Party; in fact, the press releases of the Communist Party and the Democrat Party are difficult to differentiate. Government without God is closer than previously realized. It is offered by the same down-home political party that offers social welfare programs, aid to the poor, and a crackdown on those greedy capitalists  – all of which at first glance seem like Christian goals.

The next time that you mutter under your breath that prices are too high and people are poor thanks to those selfish souls like Bedloe and Potter, perhaps you should remind yourself that the only alternative is more of the same thing that is driving prices up already: interventionist government. Bedloe may be a tree-worshipping cult member and Potter may be an atheist; but never fear, the the free market is here. (In a way.) Just don’t shop from them. You should, however, be concerned when these greedy, miserly villains become the brainpower behind your government.

 

To write a good Story

 

Though Nala here does not exist in this world, she lives on through the imaginations of our family.

Though Nala here does not exist in this world, she lives on through the imaginations of our family.

Call me a fantastic, but fantasy is just my kind of thing. As the oldest, it was my assumed role to make up the games that we all played. That involved a great deal of imagination and ridiculousness, as well as some knowledge of history so that Mom didn’t think we were nuts. Unfortunately, I had the ridiculousness, imagination, and reading skills to whip up that sort of thing, and I was hooked.

Characters don’t have to be believable, I found, just likeable. A fairy who likes video games, a unicorn that turned into a dog, and a lost history waiting to be claimed that doesn’t exist outside our small circle: these were our creations. Yet there was always a longing to be concrete in what we did. We went from animals to cars to both together, mixed them with some Legos and promptly got bored. As a last resort, some large plastic dinosaurs were called out to annihilate the small kingdom so there was no incriminating evidence.

As I’ve gotten older, this fantasy has worked its way into the pencil and the keyboard, as I refined my writing and drawing skills while still creating wonderful adventures for our animals to investigate. Eventually we ditched the animals altogether and pretended that we ourselves were the characters: noble knights, valiant warriors, wise leaders, humble servants, and evil fiends. I tried to write the history of our war-play; I’m still trying.

But as I’m starting to reach adulthood, I am starting to worry about my characters. Will they continue on when we grow up, or will they simply fade away, only to haunt us when we think of them in random conversation? Out of panic, I realized that the only way to save them is to let others know.

So I continue to write. With legends and history at my past, with authors and books with me, and with uncertainty in my future, I write. Most of my work is silly, but I work on it. I feel that I owe it to these small people that I have given life. Names like Strike, Trixi, Nala. and Ginkgo mean nothing to you. But they are as big of a part of our childhood as is the things we learned, and I don’t want to forget about them any more than I want to forget history.

Now, my writing is more reflective than imaginative, but there is more that no one can see that is waiting to take the world by surprise. Many people write good stories, I want mine to be the kind that people are willing to wait for. I want my stories to be good enough and thrilling enough to keep people reading. I also want them to be virtuous and the kind that parents aren’t afraid to let their children read.

But I’m not there yet. Like Jo from Little Women, I still have no buyers for my “greatest” work, that isn’t here yet. But to us, they haven’t died. After all, Tolkien wasn’t popular for years, and I might not be. Yet I have hope that someday someone will take it and run with it, someone who will not try to take out the good that is woven through it…and that it will live on through the people it reaches.

Now that’s a good story worth writing.

Your Servant, Abigail

I’ve always been interested in the story of Abigail from the Bible. I mean, her story is involving. A woman whose gracious intervention saves her household and her husband, then later becomes a queen.

And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel.  Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. (1 Samuel 25:2-3)

Abigail was the wife of a semi-wealthy sheep herder named Nabal, which means’ fool’. Though we don’t know why she married fool, we do know that he lived up to his name. While David was running from Saul, he ran into some of Nabal’s shepherds. Probably the shepherds were expecting attack or robbery from the large group of men that followed David around, but that is not what happened. Instead, David’s men protected and helped the shepherds. Since David had been kind, he expected Nabal to be kind back and asked for some food for his troops.

But Nabal not only refused, he insulted David and his band. Unfortunately, David responded in like manner, telling his men to attack the foolish man. The servants understood what was happening, and went to their mistress for help.

Being blessed with a beautiful cousin named Abigail, I already have a picture in my mind of what happened. Abigail; whose name means “Joy of my Father” or “Resourceful;” sprang into action, gathering food and provisions for David and hurriedly preparing to intercede for her house.

As a housewife, Abigail wasn’t expected to throw herself into the position of protecting her household: that was her husband’s job. Yet she didn’t let that get in her way, she saw a tragedy waiting to happen and she stopped it, easing David’s anger with her actions and words while concealing the fact from hot-headed Nabal. She was humble, treating David with respect, but righteous, keeping him from evil.

Eventually she told Nabal, and for some reason he died. After he died, David took this wise woman to be his wife, and they had a son. Abigail was not perfect, nor did she have a fairy-tale ending to her story. After all, Bathsheba came along, and there was the pain that the following events caused. But there is a lesson that comes from this woman of God.

Abigail had been called to submit, even when it was tough to respect a man like, well, fool. But she remained gracious and humble, even to a rag-tag group of men like David’s band. She might not have known that David would soon be king, but she was truly worthy of honor. Not because she was proud, but because she showed honor to those who maybe didn’t deserve it, and God rewarded her.

Annointed one

 

In the Old Testament, Moses was commanded to have mixed a special anointing oil that was different than any other. Its purpose was to make holy and pure the articles of the tabernacle. But it also was used to set people apart for the work of God.  This anointing oil was used to set apart Prophets, Priests, and Kings. Often, when the King and the Priests were evil along with the people, God had to raise up prophets, who would do the work of a priest sometimes (pleading for the people) or for a king sometimes. (to protect the people)

 

Each of these groups had a specific purpose. The prophet’s job was to tell the people the will of the lord, if needed. The priest was supposed to be the mediator between God and man. And the King was to protect his people and to teach them about God. But often all these failed. The prophets got a few extra jobs, and there was a king who tried to be a priest, but none of these did all three: mediate, protect, and reveal.

 

But Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of all three of these posts. As a prophet, he told his disciples the will of God. As a priest, he offered the perfect sacrifice (himself) and continues to plead for us before God. And as a king, he rules forever over all, and protects us from the greatest danger: death. He perfectly fulfilled the law. And that is something to rejoice about.

 

But man

Unfortunately, I have to keep going with the ‘buts’. Last time I proved that ‘but’ can be good, but now I have the sad task of making it bad again.

While mercy is involved, the words “But God” can be amazingly beautiful. But when sin and doubt gets in, the result is often nothing but pain.

Luke 9:61-2 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In this case, the man started out full of zeal, but was turned back by his own hesitation. I wonder if he ever came back. Maybe not.

Another sad theme is found in the prophets. The people were sinning, and they ignored God and did what they wished. They still offered sacrifices but they did not truly believe.  God refused to accept their sinful offerings and ignored them right back, often to their destruction.

In those cases, the words “But God” are words of judgement, not of mercy; judgment against the “But man” that spins a sad web of despair through the pages of history. If all we had was “But man” there would be no hope.

But God loved the world, so much that He was willing to send His son to a nation that didn’t even care, and who were hostile to His presence. And now He promises never to leave us. We could be worried about only a promise…

But God never breaks His promises.

The Great Divide: Fiscal Conservatism, Social Conservatism, and Christianity

This structure, intuition tells us, has nothing to do with the unassuming (and sometimes modest) buildings that host our churches. But such is not the case.

This structure, intuition tells us, has nothing to do with the unassuming (and sometimes modest) buildings that host our churches. But such is not the case.

Ever widening, growing more bitter by the minute, and morphing into a pretense for ridicule, the gaping gulf between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives baffles, bewilders, and splits the conservative vote. This “great divide” of sorts is a serious problem from a theological stance. The problem has manifested itself in a more disturbing form in recent years, as unwitting Christians, whether covertly or unabashedly, advocate the very expedient by which religious liberty is snuffed out and liberty is eradicated.

 

Whether bystanders, involved citizens, or active participants of the public sphere, Christians are typically outspoken on issues including abortion, traditional marriage, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Perhaps it is a mixed blessing that Democrats get everything wrong, thus providing social conservatives an obvious choice come election time. But aside from that, marginally uninformed Christian voters have little incentive to adhere to fiscally conservative ideals.

 

Although libertarian economists and free market advocates constantly prove and demonstrate the benefits of laissez faire economics, many Christians have either not embraced the idea of free markets or have openly accepted its opposite, commonly for three reasons.

 

  • First and foremost, capitalism has long been portrayed as greedy. Leftists have misused scriptures to further this mistaken view: the Israelites’ ideal economic setup and Jesus’ instructions on aiding the poor are ripe for misinterpretations and misapplications. Christian principles have no correlations whatsoever with socialist talking points, but with with enough twists and turns and unclear definitions, leftists manage it. In the eyes of a new convert or an uninformed Christian voter, capitalism — the basis of fiscal conservatism — pales in comparison to the alleged assistance the left offers.

 

  • The intentions of sincere big government advocates can be nothing but charitable aspirations of justice and balance. Christians, although moderately fiscally conservative, sometimes adopt policies leaning towards interventionism. Yes, feeding the world’s hungry, ending poverty, and spreading “democracy around the world” seem like noble causes. Followers of Christ are all too eager to accept that the best means for accomplishing these goals is through jack-booted federal agents carrying tasers, guns, and piles of legal nonsense.

 

  • Too often, Christians have little or no understanding of basic economics, local politics, or even the workings of government. It is occasionally the fault of pastors and teachers for ignoring these topics altogether, but more often than not, individuals refuse to hear what their church leaders say. Many insist that matters of public policy should never be mixed with religion, and vice versa, a demand that has in essence introduced a deadly strain of apathy and ignorance in the church. This has resulted in vast undereducation in the area of policy, which clearly leads away from fiscal conservatism.

 

These are the reasons why a progressive tax system is at first quite appealing, why redistribution seems righteous, why authoritarian government somehow makes sense, and even why the death penalty can seem unwarranted. A master of demagoguery and a famously false “Christian” who interprets the Bible like he interprets the Constitution, President Barack Obama has utilized stretched scripture numerous times. For instance, at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, the President claimed that progressive taxes were endorsed by God himself; he tied it in with a faked-out, vague example found in Luke 12:48, claiming that in the area of taxes, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

 

Big government in theory is utopia; in reality, it is the IRS, a place that can only be described as the opposite of heaven on earth. The worst part of this calamity is that, just like the place that it apparently tries hard to imitate, bureaucracy is one of the closest things to eternal life that we will ever see on this earth. Christians usually stress matters concerning their religion, accepting ideas or customs that do not seem to conflict. Dollars and cents and obscure federal agencies offer the illusion of complete separation from religious matters. In reality, government and religion are inseparable. This is the main reason — a reason that leads to many other reasons — why Christians should automatically be fiscal conservatives: big government’s concord with Christianity is a skin-deep guise employed by leftists to capture votes.

 

The idea that the state is superior to man and above God Himself, the basis of all big government, is against the intrinsically Christian values of equality, independence, property rights, and justice. While there was over a half-century long period in which churches largely ignored public policy, a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Sadly, this glimmer is like a sunrise on the day of your execution. Increasing hostility towards Christianity mandates that Christians become involved in protecting religious liberty. Neglected rights are disappearing more quickly than snow melts in Houston.

This topic of fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, and their relation to Christianity is one that must not be simply mentioned. It must be expounded upon; thus this is the first in a five-article series explaining the interaction between Christianity and public policy in our present day, and what must be acted upon immediately.