Peace or Right?

The scene comes straight from a novel: a evil villain captures a good guy, but just as he is celebrating his success, someone he loves falls deathly ill. The good guy might be the only person who can save her, but would he let his enemy help? He could either make peace, and get his friend back, or be right, and risk losing her.

All right, so I made up the scenario, but the idea is the same: at what cost peace? Everything has a price, and those who tell you otherwise are selling something, as someone sarcastically commented. Peace is precious…how precious?

When we’re living our lives, at leas in our family, peace seems to be the chief end of our family. I mean that, of course, in the best way possible. But think about it: 7 kids in one house with two imperfect parents, two awful dogs and two flawed cats, a messy house and a stressful extended family….it’s a recipe for discord.

In this time period, we usually treat peace like the One Ring: we buy it, though at great pain. Or, if we don’t buy it, we end up killing each other anyway. Peace is lucrative: you can’t be sure that it will “stick” with you or whether it will fly away.

Of course that choice is based on what you choose to do. In most cases, you have a choice: press the point and chance winning the argument or quit early and avoid that person. I’m not sure if that’s good for peace, but it really has helped us out. Ignore the people, and they’ll forget the quarrel.

Actually, that doesn’t work too well. Normal kids don’t forget quarrels. They let them go but bring them up at the best possible moment. How can we truly achieve lasting peace?

Perhaps history can give us a glimpse of what is needed. Does being at peace come from prosperity? From self-sufficiency? From power? Not really. A nation might be strong and rich, but full of turmoil. Without peace, those things soon pass away. Almost all things will.

I suppose we’ll get out into the world sometime and realize this struggle is ongoing. We realize that this choice of “right” or “peace” becomes harder and harder to choose. We might not have to make life-altering decisions like the made-up one in the front, which is straight from a novel for a reason, but on the other hand, isn’t every choice we make life-changing?

In our house, we want to be right. Is  that normal? Is it right that everyone must be…well, right? Not really. The chances that everyone could be right at once are ridiculously low. How could they be? In every argument, there has to be at least one person at wrong, and usually both people are.

The biggest problem is mediating between the two arguing parties. It’s hard to tell which side to side with, without actually seeming to side. If you do, your status as mediator is over. Digging through the layers of hurt and wrongs is difficult. But someone has to make peace. It won’t be easy, but it’s needed.

In our history, we’ve been mixed up in hundreds of these conflicts. We’ve tried to save all the world with our…I’m not sure what. We need to think of what it’s worth. Smaller countries pay for peace. Larger ones fight for it. People barter, bargain, quarrel, and quibble for it.

Some people justify paying off larger countries for peace. They say that they are keeping the peace. In the end, they’re simply putting off war. There is no peace if both sides are unwilling. That’s the thing that we seem to have forgotten. Peace only comes when the person on one side of the issue comes forward to sacrifice and say, “I was wrong.”

That’s the real issue. Which is better, to be right, or to have peace?

I’ll let you decide.

Chosen Ones: Time runs down

Nya turned and glared at her servant. “What do you mean, by coming to me this way? Where is the prince? And what has happened to your hand?”

Dawes bowed and cast a wrathful glance over his shoulder. “My Grace, the Prince is running himself ragged, trying to gather support for his lost cause. My guess is that he plans to try and take over the government. But he would be hard-pressed. The people do not listen to madmen.” “They listen to you.” The false queen said archly. “And there is little difference.”

“We were able to capture one of his band.” Dawes said quickly. “Gino. The shepherd.” Nya stiffened and turned to face him. “Gino? He is here?” “Yes, my lady. I have brought him.” Nya grabbed his bandaged hand and tore off the cloth. Then she laughed. Embarrassed, Dawes quickly replaced it; as quickly, that is, as one can with one hand.

“So he has gone that way, then.” She said, more to herself than to anyone else. “That is useful. A weak boy like Gino shepherd’s-son is easily managed. Bring him here, Dawes. I wish to speak to him. Immediately.” Dawes bowed and walked off. Nya laughed to herself. “Our shepherd friend has done us a favor by his foolishness. Quite a favor, indeed.”

So Gino was brought out; tired, sad, but determined. “What do you have to say for yourself, then, Gino?” Nya asked sharply. “What have you been doing?” Gino said nothing, but glanced at his feet and examined closely the wood trim on the floor. “I asked you a question, boy. What have you been doing?” Nya said more loudly, stepping forward.

Gino looked at her. “Begging your pardon, ma’am, but I’m not a boy anymore. That was long ago.” His eyes alNya and Gino fademost made Nya despair of her purpose: they were so sad, yet so calm. But Nya would not be turned easily.

“Only a day in the reckoning of the ancients.” Nya said lightly. “But in truth, you have something there. Twenty-seven is quite ancient.” She mocked. Gino again was silent. His silence irritated her. Gino had always irritated her. Once it was because he was so frightened, and she despised him(though what child wouldn’t be, after being thrown into prison alone and unprotected?). Now she wished he was frightened. It would make things easier.

Nya glanced at him again. He refused to look at her. Even now, they were defying her! The Chosen would never give. Chosen… “What happened to Dawes’ hand?” She asked, pretending to study the roofing tiles. “I shot him, God forgive me.” Gino muttered, already guessing her plan. His pride was gone, but his wits stayed about him.

“But you know the writ of Chosen. Revenge is for the Creator alone. So you have broken from that, as I have.” Gino said nothing. “And are no longer Chosen.” Again, nothing. Apparently, Gino had been thinking about this the whole time. She wasn’t making any progress here.

“Why are you so stubborn with this?” She asked, almost exasperated at his silence. “There is nothing for you here.”

“Yes, nothing!” Gino said loudly, surprising her. His eyes were like black coals, burning with inner fire. “Nothing, you say, but your service. I may be in chains, dear Nya, but I have my heart. My mind is made up. There is nothing for me here, nor anywhere else, because of my actions. But that does not mean I have given up the fight. There is no place for me in this kingdom, but there is for others, and I’m striving towards that goal.”

Nya stepped back as if she had been stunned. So did Gino. The fire died, and he hung his head, ashamed. A slow smile crept over the wicked ruler’s face. “He does have power in him.” She mused. “And a bad temper. Perfect.”

“I’m sorry.” Came a soft voice. “That was wrong of me. Will you forgive me?”

Nya laughed. “Forgive you? Why would I do that, rebel?” “I don’t know.” Gino said sadly. “No one will, I’m afraid. But I will not help you, Nya. You might as well not try.”

Nya stalked out of the room and went after Dawes. “Where is everyone? Dawes! Where is he?” She yelled at a lady maid. The girl shook her head and began to arrange flowers on the table. Nya dashed the flowers off the table. “Tell me!”

The maid bowed. “Dawes is with the soldiers. What would I know about soldiers?”

Eventually, Nya found the missing Dawes. “I want you to tell me what he said to you, and I mean exactly.” She hissed, banging her fist on the table. Dawes looked surprised. “He simply said that it was his duty.” He said lightly.

Nya stared at him. Her eyes twitched. “Do you mean that they are going to use their ‘Chosen’ religion to gather followers? He actually told you that, and you let them? Weren’t you listening, or are your ears made out of rocks?”  She shook her head. “Never mind. You know nothing of this.”

Dawes stood up. “What do you want me to do?” Nya tapped her trident against the wall. “We can’t let the clergy join this rebellion.” She said, turning severely towards the temple. “We need to make sure that those who are still true to their fictional creator don’t get involved. And we need to make sure the people stay out of it too.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shortly after the girls left, Andrew ran over. “Read this!” he said quickly, handing Davis a sheet of paper. It was a notice. “From this day forward, the Queen has established a festival in the capitol, in the temple, where all will…pledge allegiance?” He looked up in disbelief. “What is the Queen doing?”

“No one will go for that.” Rocket laughed, but Andrew shook his head. “They’ll have to. Read on.” Caro took the paper. “All who refuse are traitors, basically, and would be accused of helping us. They would be wiped out.” “The queen is making sure she doesn’t have anything to worry about.” Davis growled.

Caro shook his head. “Think about it! Thousands of men, traveling to the capitol!” “I think as soon as the get there, there will be forced conscriptions.” Davis sighed. “The army would grow exponentially.”

Cory and the twins looked at one another, frightened. “If we go, they will arrest us for being traitors.” One twin worried. “But if we don’t go, they will destroy our families.” The other added, folding his arms. Caro shook his head. “We’re going. Nya has provided us with the perfect cover! We don’t have to worry about entering the city, because there will be so many people there that we can slip in. It will be perfect.”

The men hesitated. Rocket stepped forward. “I have neither family nor friends to worry about. Let’s go to the capitol!”

The Injustice of Compulsory Attendance Laws

Do kids really do better when forced by law to attend a government-run "education" facility for twelve years?

Do kids really do better when forced by law to attend a government-run “education” facility for twelve years?

“When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state — every state — requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18,” declared President Barack Obama at the 2012 State of the Union — old news for political analysts and journalists. Yet it highlights one of the least questioned and most cruel of government restrictions: compulsory school attendance.

From around age six until eighteen or so, a school-age child is left with few alternatives but to eat government-prepared lunches, live in a government-run building, participate in government-run activities, and study material vetted and chosen by the government—why not put bars on the door and make the children wear prison uniforms with numbers on them?

Parents, students, teachers, and legislators argue and protest about class size, curriculum content, school lunches, and standardized tests, but they cannot see the forest for all the trees—while other school issues are important, the root cause of them all is the idea that the state should control a child’s physical location, what he learns, and how he learns it. Abolishing compulsory school attendance laws is a good place to start bettering Americans’ education.

Perhaps it seems that compulsory attendance laws can effectively be considered null and void, since alternative school choices (private, online, and home schooling) are available; on the contrary, government has an intentional near-monopoly on education, requires children by law to attend some form of school, and only grudgingly allows other options.

For instance, it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that homeschooling received the full legal legitimacy it deserves. Even then it was and is hampered with reservations and regulations. All other things being equal, public schools are of such dismal quality that there must be laws forcing parents to place their children in them.

As it is now, anyone who chooses alternative education choices must pay for their children’s learning twice—once for taxes, and another time for tuition elsewhere. Thus even children who manage to break away haven’t done so entirely. The state’s bloated leviathan of a public school system is designed like everything else that the state manages, meaning that any private competition has to deal with its own costs and the costs of its public counterpart.

Those who maintain that public schools ought to exist in conjunction with a strong private school system to help school choice contradict themselves; anything run by the state requires citizens to fund it. Indeed, the injustices of the public school system extend far past mere finances and the impracticability of private competition.

If an innocent adult were ordered to spend each weekday in a prison and could not leave until a bell rang, there would be an outcry. If it were revealed what he had to do and learn there, the outcry would be uncontrollable. Yet most American children are forced into that life with no way out.

Although parents squabble over particulars, most don’t care one way or another—this is due to the fact that they (correctly) assume education is important for lifelong success. It is for a vast majority of people, but that does not mean it needs to be required or provided by government; nor does it mean that the busywork government schools often force students into constitutes a good education.

In the end, compulsory school attendance is nothing more than a gross violation of liberty and basic human rights. Through a citizen’s lifespan, government steals the first twelve or thirteen years and probably thirty years after (the worker a child grows up to be, of course, must pay taxes).

If education is as important to “enable” students “to succeed in a global economy based on knowledge and innovation” as the federal government says it is, parents and children would find schools to their liking on their own, without forcing millions of taxpayers to foot the bill.

No, Mr. President: compulsory school attendance, paired with the monopolistic reign of public education, is a state intrusion into private lives. The negligible benefits it offers are outweighed by the heavy costs in dollars, time, and liberty.

 

Originally published on turningpointusa.net

No Grounds for Arresting the Groundhog

groundhog

“There are no grounds for arresting this groundhog.” says Phil’s lawyer.

Police in Merrimack, New Hampshire, have issued a warrant for Punxsutawney Phil, the celebrity groundhog given the annual task of either predicting an early spring or six more weeks of winter.

Police claim that “we have received several complaints from the public that this little varmint is held up in a hole, warm and toasty … He told several people that winter would last 6 more weeks, however he failed to disclose that it would consist of mountains of snow!”

In addition to this wild claim, they allege that Phil is “armed and dangerous.”

However, according to New Hampshire law, Phil has done nothing to deserve the warrant—it’s a “gross violation of free speech and personal liberty,” according to several legal experts.

“If Phil were the cause of this snow, we might have legal grounds to arrest him,” said policy analyst Rachel Clark, “However, Phil did not cause the snow, he only predicted it. This is a textbook example of the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy.”

Clark continued, “Predicting an event and publicly announcing it is a form of free speech that we need to protect. Weathermen and groundhogs don’t deserve arrest for wrongly predicting weather.”

Protesters are rising up in support of the groundhog, and many of them are saying that the entire ordeal is strictly unconstitutional. Punxsutawney Phil did not sign a legal contract, but did agree to the Groundhog Ceremony several days ago, his lawyer tells us.

“He was only told to look for his shadow, nothing more,” the groundhog’s spokesman explained.

The Groundhog controversy is expected to heavily influence the upcoming Merrimack elections, and state police are closely monitoring the volatile situation.

Co-written by Joshua Swearingen. 

Honor the Flag

20130908 1549 Flag Rotunda US Capitol - 16x9

I went to the funeral of a soldier not long ago. The ceremony wasn’t that much different from any other. It seemed as if there was none. But then, at the very end of the service, something happened that made it different that any I had ever seen.

 

Just as we were wondering what would happen next, (we had forgotten to get programs) a loud clear song began to play from somewhere we couldn’t see. Taps.

 

I heard that Taps was written during the civil war. That makes a lot of sense. There’s a sweet sorrow in its notes, a feeling that is very hard to grasp or control. I suppose that’s why it’s played at funerals.

 

But music aside, there was a strange difference to it as well: there was a soldier in the front of the church. I didn’t get it at first, but it soon dawned on me that she, and the soldier playing Taps, were paying their final respects to the deceased soldier. Included in this service was the folding of the flag.

 

Never have I seen such thorough, caring, loving handling of the emblem of our nation. When I thought of what those soldiers did for us, it became even more amazing. These people, and many others like them, risk their lives defending the sacred honor of the flag we think so lightly of.

 

Every fold, every star of that flag had to be carefully considered as they folded and unfolded it. The church was still as everyone watched. Perhaps they caught the spark of patriotism that instantly enflamed me. Why are we so ashamed, anyway?

 

As I study history, I begin to realize how special we are. We were so small, so insignificant. We fought. We failed. We fell. But somehow we succeeded and built this nation. From the beginning it was fraught with trouble. We did the wrong things many times, trying to figure out what to do. For some reason, You still visited us, pouring out Your spirit on us even though we didn’t deserve it. God, why here? Why us?

 

I suppose we’ll never know. But God uses the weak to shame the strong, which brings us to the chilling reminder that we are not safe on this pedestal. Believe it or not, we were not promised freedom to do what we wished. Our country is beginning to fade.

 

But as those soldiers showed me, America isn’t dead. Faith isn’t dead. Duty isn’t dead. If God wills it, we can once again thrive in his word. But that means obeying the authorities, even when we feel like they’ve lost their brains somewhere outside of the capitol.

 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t protest wicked laws or obey them if they clash with scripture. What I’m saying is that we need to have a little more pride in our country. We should try and take better care of it. The blood of patriots stain our flags if we slip into decadence. Honor the flag, and remember.

 

The Glitch in the System

texas capitol at night

Texas Democrats, republicans, communists, libertarians, economists, businessmen, and taxpayers have all reached this enlightened conclusion: the federal government is corrupt.

Each of them proposes a solution to abuses of power and funds—they’re all absolutely positive that they have the one unbeatable answer to Washington’s financial turpitude, the only resolution to this centuries-old problem—and then they bombard the populace and government with mail, flyers, television spots, radio ads, lobbyists, phone calls, protests, lawsuits, party coups, and new politicians (or old ones with new promises).

Political parties think that the answer is to shift the balance of power so that their largest voter blocs are the beneficiaries, and not the victims, of government-imposed burdens, financial or otherwise.

Corporations and their mercenary lobbyists vouch not for greater freedom, but for more regulations and fees on the backs of their competitors. (Political entrepreneurship of this sort slowly gives the state a grip on all participating industries.) State governments (including that of Texas) aren’t much better.

Ordinary citizens stick to a sincere but currently ineffective tactic when it comes to combating political corruption; their method—sending another new man, “our man,” the perfect one who won’t give in to pressure—is rather futile these days.

This tactic is akin to sending a lone chipmunk into a standoff with a pack of wolves; or perhaps it’s better described as trying to repair something that is already a total loss.

Governmental power, a tool of coercion, is an invitation for corruption. Considering that the federal government has an almost unlimited scope, we shouldn’t be too surprised that it is incurably addicted to doing clever little things with earmarks and funds and bureaucracies.

Liberty-loving activists fight each trick every step of the way; sometimes they win a battle, but they are certainly not winning the long-term war for freedom. Americans have tried reforming the government and opposing its antics, but never with lasting success. Almost everyone blames political parties or individuals working in Washington for the corruption; but swapping the individual or party has no long-term effect or benefit. When the work itself isn’t meant to be done, it matters little who does it.

The glitch in the system is the system itself.

When a car is damaged so extensively that repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth, the owner scraps it and replaces it. Despite the best efforts and “progress” of voters and activists for half a century, the inexorable growth of government’s size and scope continues. “Repairs” in Washington have already cost Texans too much in cash and time.

The damage to the American republic is so extensive that the costs of repairing it are more than it’s worth. But what is there to do other than keep patching it up indefinitely?

Working within the political environment has failed us for decades; but almost all of the alternatives are clearly far worse than our current situation. Some American leaders are proposing a constitutional convention—but this is beyond foolish in a political environment where even inherent rights like the right to life, the right to bear arms, or the right to free speech are called into question by the same representatives who would be tampering with the nation’s most important set of laws.

Mercilessly cutting off politicians from their offices and replacing them with new ones has been tried. And it has failed. Power corrupts, and the leaders that voters think can limit themselves in this regard merely decide to use their privileges in the pursuit of different endeavors—and the phenomenon of unelected bureaucrats makes matters much, much worse.

The state, once it has taken hold of something, will not give it up until literal or metaphorical blood has been shed.

The solution to preventing and eliminating governmental corruption is getting rid of opportunities for it—in other words, shrinking the size of the government in the first place and vigilantly suppressing its natural tendency to balloon into a bureaucratic institution of tyranny.

For Texas, the best way to solve the problem of corruption and abused power is to pull out from the malfunctioning American government altogether. Despite what pundits are claiming, secession is a real possibility. It’s the last and best answer—and Texans are starting to realize it.

The Pretentiousness of Central Planning

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial
A free economy is incomprehensibly complex: it is a massive, entangled, incredible web of intertwined individual action, preference, choice, and value—a system willed by no one, controlled by no single person, and improving the situation of all whom it touches.

Adam Smith called the force that holds this web together (and directs its movement) the Invisible Hand: it begins when individuals work through the capitalist system for their own betterment, yet unintentionally benefit the whole of the market through their voluntary mutually beneficial exchanges.

In a display of arrogance nearly as astonishing as the marvels of the economy, advocates of big government are certain that this system can and ought to be conquered and managed via state-owned cubicles.

If “pride goes before a fall” were a law of economics, explaining central planning’s universal, consistent shortcomings would be effortless.

Advocates of big government are certain that a bureaucratic elite—operating on glorified progress reports, news bulletins, and caffeine—can arbitrate the correct balance and relationship between the trillions of variables involved in each economic transaction.

For big government and its inevitable bureaucracy to function properly, it must be staffed by godlike central planners capable of deciding whether a citizen deserves an extra pair of socks, a teenager ought to go to college, or if an industry is important enough to warrant a new facility.

Big government handcuffs Smith’s Invisible Hand and tries to lead the market where it “ought” to go with words on paper and guns to back them up.

If you count on an efficient economy under a government-run system, you count on central planners’ ability to judge the effect of every ultimatum they issue and understand each individual’s perception of value, profit, and loss. Economic calculation in a socialist or interventionist system is impossible.

In the end, the only way to forcibly control an economy and still enjoy any degree of efficiency is to become omniscient—to get inside people’s heads, to put numerical monetary value on things that can’t be quantifiably valued, to understand complex relationships between goods and services, to know everything that individuals can understand about their own situations, and to know how the sum of this information works together.

Big government’s explicit assumption that central planners have a right to micromanage your existence (and that they’d be better at it than you are) makes it easy to see one of the state’s many loathsome attributes: pretentiousness.

 

Originally published on turningpointusa.net

Heroes and Cowards

Kyle&MooreMuch has been said recently about the new Clint Eastwood directed film American Sniper. A lot of good. A lot of bad.

The film tells the story of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in American History.  Kyle served four tours as a Navy SEAL in Iraq, accumulating 160 confirmed kills.  His actions saved countless American soldiers.

Some of the film’s more famous critics include comedian Bill Maher, actor Seth Rogen, and director Michael Moore.

Rogen equated the movie to a Nazi propaganda film and Maher made multiple comments about Kyle being a “psychopath patriot.”  Michael Moore, the keyboard warrior that he is, tweeted saying “We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

Let’s break all of this down.

Seth Rogen, the man that makes movies full of vulgarity and pot-smoking deadbeats, is criticizing a film that shows the reality of war and tells the story of a man that protected American troops from terrorists.  He’s probably just jealous that his new movie was all but forgotten when American Sniper premiered.

Bill Maher is a comedian.  A controversial one at that.  He makes his living by saying things that many see as offensive.  He mocks patriotism and the military.  He can do this because people like Chris Kyle protected his right to do it.

I’m not even sure where to start with Michael Moore.  The ball-cap wearing butterball is claiming that snipers are cowards. He’s criticizing someone who shoots enemies that can’t shoot back.  But, apparently, Mr. Moore doesn’t understand how war works.  If you get a chance to have an advantage over your enemy, you take it.  You can’t call a man a coward just because he’s more advanced than his enemy.   Well, I suppose you can when you’re Michael Moore.

But in more recent news, the Islamic terrorist group ISIS showed the world its true face.  And suddenly nobody’s pointing out Chris Kyle’s flaws.  You see, ISIS killed Christians.  ISIS beheaded 5 year olds.  ISIS drenched a man with gasoline, locked him in a steel cage, set him on fire, and filmed as he screamed and flailed until he died.

And yet Kyle’s critics are silent about all of this because even they can’t deny that his actions pale in comparison to the death and destruction that ISIS is causing.

They’re silent because it’s not edgy to criticize terrorists.  Bashing a lifesaving American soldier keeps them relevant.  Condemning evil doesn’t.

Jesus Came For Sinners.

Jesus came for sinners       

Forgiveness For All.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.- 1 John 1:9

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.-Psalms 103:12

Many people who first hear about Jesus the Christ, they do not feel like they are worth saving — that, somehow or some way, their sins are unforgivable.

Jesus doesn’t have a measure on sin. He views them all as equal. Look at it this way: If you made a bar graph of each sin increasing in order by the way you view them and put them side by side, you would see the way sins reflect to you and by your judgement. But God is in Heaven looking over us, and He sees the top of the bar graphs equally.

Every sin is equal because just one tips the scale of sin. No one is perfect and people who think they have never sinned cannot go into to heaven.

In Luke 18:9-14 it states,”To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evil doers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

This is amazing! We all need to understand that every man, every woman, and every child has sinned. We were born into it. It is unavoidable. To say that we are not sinners is yet another count on the Sin Tally. Jesus passed to all of us his own pure blood to cleanse us all. As long as you humble yourself you are forgiven before the eyes of the Lord.          

Pontius’ Decision.

I take my heart in my hand, O my God , O my God. My broken heart in my hand: Thou Hast seen, judge thou. -Christina Rossetti

Many people know Pilate as the man who ordered the death of Jesus Christ. Many do not know the full story on what had happened before the choice that led him to be killed.

Pontius Pilate had a lot of power; as the mayor, he held a great deal of responsibility in his land. But when the elders came with a man who was alleged to have conspired to destroy their town (although they had no evidence against him), he became worried. So in a stroke of genius, he decided that this was not his rule but that it was Herod’s. Jesus was not from Pontius’ area, so he sent Jesus to Herod and the next day was returned in an elegant, purple robe. (Luke 23:11)

Pilate thought that since Jesus’ crime wasn’t evident, he could just punish Him and then later release him.

But the crowd uproared and still demanded Jesus’ death. Pontius was befuddled; the crowd grew large and demanded the death of Jesus despite the absence of proof of crime. He had been thinking and fasting to find a solution and then he talked to Jesus. “Are you king of the Jews?” And Jesus replied,”Yes, it is as you say.” (Luke 23:3)

What could Pontius do? The elders were yelling and screaming for Jesus’ death and there was nothing he could think of to do. Later, his Pontius’ wife sent him an urgent message reading : “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” Despite all the signs that Pontius was given, he had ignored them all.

Since Jesus’ accusation occurred during the Passover, Pontius had the choice to release Him. So he brought out the true criminal Barabbas (there was definitely proof of his crime) and said, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?” And clearly and without hesitation the crowd shouted, “Barabbas!” Pontius then asked, ” What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” And the crowd roared, again without hesitation, “Crucify Him.” (Matthew 27: 15-24)

Now Pontius was scared. His power meant nothing so he tried reaching out to Jesus to try and talk and find a way to save him and asked, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus said nothing. “Don’t you realize I have the power to free you or crucify you?”  And Jesus answered, ” You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:8-11)

Pontius tried to save Jesus but the crowd grew more raucous and out of control. So he washed his hands in front of the crowd and screamed, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility.” And they took Jesus and crucified him. (Matthew 27:24)

The point of this story is that Pontius, Judas, Barabbas, the Crowd, and the World were responsible for the death of Jesus. No man’s hand could be clean as they watched Jesus’ death. He was innocent of all crime and he took the crimes of us all. He forgave us all.

Barabbas was a man who committed murder and a host of other sins. He was a personification of our sin nature, yet the crowd released him and Jesus forgave him. Judas was the disciple who followed Jesus and then betrayed him, and Jesus forgave him. Pontius was the man who allowed Jesus to be taken, beaten, and then later crucified, and he too was forgiven. If Jesus can forgive these people, the people that killed him, don’t you think he can forgive you too?

 

Jesus Didn’t Come For The Righteous.

All the wisdom of the world is childlish foolishness in comparison with the acknoledgement of Jesus Christ. -Martin Luther

Where is the foolish person who would think it in his power to commit more than God could forgive? -Francis De Sales 

Everyone has been given a chance to be forgiven and not a single person ought to live unaware of Jesus’ sacrifice. If we deprive a man the word of God because we didn’t think that he deserved it, doesn’t that make us just as bad as that man? (Matthew 6:37)

In Luke 5:27-32 it states, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the of name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples,”Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them,”It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”” (Luke 5:27-31)

Let me repeat that last sentence for you: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. You cannot say you are not sinful and expect to get to heaven. Jesus did not come for perfect people; he came for sinners. He came for us.

Do not worry that you are not worthy of God’s forgiveness: we are all short of perfection. You cannot say that Jesus doesn’t want to forgive you, because he already has. All you have to do is accept it.

In Luke 7:36-50 the verse says, “Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping , she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and then put perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is- that she is a sinner.’ Jesus answered him,’ Simon, I have something to tell you.’ ‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon replied,’I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus answered. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon,’Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her own tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered the room, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not pour oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’ Than Jesus said to her,’ Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘ Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'”

The woman was perhaps the most sinful woman in that village and Jesus Christ forgave her. He forgave her and looked past the countless sins she committed. So if he can forgive her, why not you?

Christ Is Here.

We love him, because he first loved us.- 1 John 4:19

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.- John 16:27

Do not try hiding yourself from God because you will only be fooling yourself. God is omniscient, here, there, everywhere, and at all times. He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and the only reason you exist is because He willed it. God does not make mistakes, and you are definitely not one of them; so do not hinder yourself from Him. Because He is already waiting on you, all you have to do is accept Him.

God is with you always, and He has never left you.

So let me pray for you: Let Jesus bring peace when there is worry in your life. When you hunger, let you be well-fed. When you are thirsty, let God quench it. If there are tears and stress, let God wipe the tears away and throw the stress into oblivion. I pray that when you are tired, you find yourself well rested. If you are sick, let Jesus heal you of that ailment. And if you are always trying to find someone to talk to, I pray that God is there listening to you. I pray that you forever follow God and you never find yourself off the path God has chosen for you. And if you do find yourself off the path, I pray that you find your way back. In Jesus’ everlasting name, Amen.

The End. (Thanks)

Now thank we all our God, With heart and hands and voices. Who wondrous things hath done in whom his world rejoices.-Catherine Winkworth

Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom , and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. -Revelation 7:12

Hello, it’s Greg again! I just want to thank everyone who reads my blog and that it is only because of you guys that this Outpost is amazing. Thank you for reading my posts and please feel free to comment, correct, like, or share me. Thanks very much and God bless.

 

Lessons from dragons

All right, I admit it. I’ve written three things about dragons, and I know that they aren’t for everyone. It’s hard for some people to get excited about giant fiery reptiles.

Or is it? Dragons have been around from the beginning, it seems. Mesopotamian legend involves a dragon named Tiamat. Ever since that rather strange beginning, legends have exploded about these creatures. One of my favorites may not be legend: an ancient carving depicting a man riding on some sort of long-necked reptile. The discovery of flying serpents further whets our appetite for flight, as do those of giant eagles in fossil layers.

I wonder if the paleontologists have seen this yet. Their dating might be off slightly.

I wonder if the paleontologists have seen this yet. Their dating might be off slightly.

 

One thing I can’t help but wondering is if Dragons have become the scapegoats, and have been given attributes that they never had. Or could it be that legends are simply distant memories long forgotten?

There has to be some connection between the dinosaurs we unearth and reconstruct and the dragons we laugh at or cheer for. After all, people didn’t just look at an alligator and make up one with wings. There has to be some sort of reference. Unfortunately, that’s a story for another time.

When you think of dragons, what do you think about? Here are some common ideas.

  • Greed
  • Grace
  • Pride
  • Massive Size
  • Fire
  • Destruction
  • Flight
  • Evil
  • Cunning
  • Magic

Greed: Everyone has seen it, from Beowulf to the Dawn Treader: Dragons are greedy creatures. I wonder how this legend came about. Perhaps our ancestors knew something we didn’t, and observed the dragons hoarding something. Perhaps like magpies, the reptiles were attracted by shiny things. Maybe our fathers used these strange creatures as an object lesson against greed, and the image stuck.

Smaug

Smaug, the Great and Terrible

Whatever the reason, we’ve always seen dragons as greedy and wicked creatures, full of cunning. One of our culture’s new favorite examples of this is Smaug, the fearsome worm from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Hobbit. Notice that I did not say villain. In truth, Bilbo and the others realize that they are their own worst enemies. But again, that’s another story.

Smaug has no need of his amazing horde, but he cannot give it up. He knew it, piece by piece, and it gave him no pleasure. He would not permit it to be lost, even though it did nothing for it except glitter in the emptiness. Beware, ye who strive after riches. All greed is blessed with a dragon’s curse. That’s why I value Galadriel’s blessing in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Galadriel, a powerful elf-queen, gave gifts to the company at their parting from the fading world of Lorien. Her words were uncertain, but hopeful. “I do not fortell, for all fortelling is now vain; on one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli Son of Gloin,that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.” For a dwarf, a fitting gift indeed.

Grace: You have to admit that there is a certain grace about any creature in flight. The slow dive of the falcon and the flittering flight of a sparrow attest to God’s creativity at making these streamlined creatures. But what of a dragon?

To be perfectly honest, we have no idea of the grace of a dragon. When we dig up a skeleton, which comes up in bits and pieces, we can’t tell if the dinosaur moved easily or clumsily. Some clues are left, like how the bones connected and moved. But unfortunately, we’re left to our own devices for the most part.

However, we’ve been told from our legends and histories that dragons are serpentine and lithe. Think of the flying dinosaurs, Pterodactyl and his friends. I seriously doubt that he moved in a clumsy manner.

Pride: The portrayal of dragons as prideful is interesting. I suppose it has to do with the fact that dragons, like all serpentine creatures, were associated with Satan, whose pride is mentioned several times. A particular dragon, known in Job as Leviathan, says this about the powerful creature: “He sees everything that is high;
he is king over all the sons of pride.” (Job 41:34) Something that big and strong has a good reason to be proud. Through the ages, this attribute has lived on.

fireworms

Tiny fireworm dragons from Dragons: Defenders of Berk

Massive Size: From the skeletons we’ve dug up, we have a pretty good idea of the size of dinosaurs, or dragons, but as I’ve said before, those are not very good examples, because most of the massive ones were very old, just as alligators are biggest after they’ve been growing for ten years or so. However, even as youngsters, these creatures were huge! For all it’s worth, dragons could have been the largest creatures of God’s creation.

However, we’ve also found dragons…I mean dinosaurs…the size of sheep. And even of chickens! These are not as well known, but were there all the same, and were the natural exception. Even now, modern dragons can be found in all different sizes, through the imagination of writers and animators.

Fiery breath: Job 41: ” His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.” (Job 41:18-21)

Though we haven’t found any fire breathers in the fossil record, it’s not like we have any clues. From looking at a skunk skeleton, we can’t see that it’s anything more than a cat. Chemicals and organs, unfortunately, aren’t preserved. We have no idea what color dinosaurs are, or if they could breathe fire, but from the stories and record left for us by

The Red Death, from the movie How to Train your Dragon, destroys a whole fleet with its breath.

The Red Death, from the movie How to Train your Dragon, destroys a whole fleet with its breath.

those who went before, I think there’s a pretty good evidence that dragon fire is no legend!

Destruction: Everyone knows that a dragon isn’t to be messed with. Massive size and fiery breath leads to a lot of trouble! Though in the beginning, this wasn’t a problem, dinosaur/dragon fights would cause a lot of damage to the area around them. It’s pretty easy to see why most people would consider them a nuisance, and would try to drive them from the land. But with their scaly hides, this was easier said than done.

Flight! By far  the most amazing of all the dragon attributes, God in his creativity made them with an amazing variety of wings, tails, and bodies to help them soar. Why did he make these strange creatures? Who knows! But I’m glad he did, and the fascination with dinosaurs and dragons go on. Imagine…flying!

Evil: Since the beginning, the dragons have been associated with evil. It’s because of the snake-lizard-dragon difference. It’s not hard to see why. With wings and scales and a reputation of being magical, they would seem terrible. Let’s not mention that they were probably nocturnal, like Bats and some other flying animals. Going out on silent wings under the cover of darkness, they would have seemed work for the evil one. They might have even been used in his worship, as other animals have over the centuries.

Cunning:  “Now the serpent was more crafty than all the beasts of the field.” (Genesis 3:1) It’s not hard to imagine how this image would transfer to dinosaurs or dragons. Perhaps people believed that they were simply winged snakes. But there have never been any stories of stupid dragons. That would be strange.

All the same, I believe that dragons would have the kind of intelligence we attribute to Dolphins or monkeys or however we measure brainpower. Just as other creatures are sneaky to catch their prey, meat-eating dragons could have been feared not only because of their size, fire, and fear factor, but also because of their extensive trapping power.

Magic: Throughout history, dragons have had a magical reputation. As time went on and the stories became more and more fantastic, magic has seeped into the legends. Though I

eustace

Eustace, an enchanted boy, sympathizes with the talking mouse Reepicheep in The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

doubt dragons ever had magical powers or any abilities beyond those of other animals, the magical reputation remains. Maybe, if we find any hiding somewhere today, the magical aspect will fade away.

All the same, Magic is a large part of dragon mythology. Stories of enchantments and fairytales of cunning and wicked dragons are ingrained into our history. I have a feeling that if we found a dragon, several people would be disappointed.

Companionship? Imagine! Living with dinosaurs and dragons in a perfect world! Imagine flying with them and not being afraid. Now that is something that the dragons franchise has done so excellently. It feeds on our longing for something greater. But as I’ve already touched on this, I’ll paint you a picture.

Dragons and people living together? What kind of dream is this?

Dragons and people living together? What kind of dream is this?

Large reptilian creatures, no longer to be feared, living in a perfect world even more splendid than they. With no enmity between creatures, the serpent and the lamb rest together. A lion steps forward in a reverent yet confident manner and bows before his king. That’s what we have to look forward to. A world where dragons aren’t even noticed because of the wonder that the land holds. Who lives there. Who has called us.

Isn’t that better than an island full of dragons?

Red Tape: Violent and Inefficient

It’s a dimly lit detention facility.

In the background a light bulb buzzes; the heavy sound of human breathing steadily reverberates down the halls. The springs of a cot squeak; rubber shoes squeal against the floor.

The conspicuously-clothed criminals pent up in this concrete-clad cage strike up a conversation.

“So, what are you in here for?” a rough-looking character says as he leans against the wall, with his clenched fist resting on his hip.

A man with a weasel face, thick-framed glasses, and greasy hair is hunched over in the corner, watching as events unfold.

Rather rebellious-looking and shifting uneasily, a young fellow towers by the locked entrance. He knows the question was addressed to him. Yet the silence prevails.

“Well, c’mon,” the demanding questioner continues, “We don’t have all day.”

“Actually we do,” he corrects, “But I ain’t a patient person.”

The young man looks down at the floor, his face turning red.

“Blogging without a license,” he gulps. The gruff individual who asked the question stares, wide-eyed. He isn’t sure he can match it.

The weasel-faced man nods, and points to the rough-looking man (his mother never told him it was rude to point) and mutters, “Ol’ Jim here planted patented pumpkins two falls ago. Big lawsuit. You probably saw it in the news.”

“What are you here for?” the young one asks the weasel-faced man.

Weasel-face scratches his head, and looks up.

“I sold organic raw-milk goat cheese to homeschool moms,” he pauses, “In New York no less.”

“You know what’s more?” Jim the rough-looking fellow adds, “’fore he was sent to solitary, I spent five weeks in thuh’ same cell as Trademark Tim.”

The young man is new to prison life. He asks, “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

“Fresh-face, eh?” weasel-face says, “He started up a package delivery company and used the color brown. You know the rest.”

They all shudder. They know they have to watch their backs—the inhabitants of this nightmarish “detainment facility” are obviously capable of anything.

 

When everybody’s a criminal, the law can’t mean anything.

d.c.

The town that paints everything red.

More and more often in the United States, ordinary people are inadvertently turning to a life of crime; and because the federal government is so determined to stifle honest work and efficient free enterprise, this sort of “crime” definitely pays.

In fact, the cost of complying with bureaucracies’ arbitrary regulation is so exceedingly burdensome that it’s enough to destroy entire markets and firms—to say nothing of millions of lost jobs and vanishing economic efficiency.

Red tape is more than just inefficient: it is violent.

A government’s one function is to protect life, liberty, and property—thus murderers, rapists, and thieves ought to be considered criminals.

But clearly those who do nothing to deprive a person of life, liberty, or property ought not be punished by the state, and when they are, the state is surpassing its bounds and is no longer legally valid. Even if the “criminal” would not have violated the non-aggression principle, the government’s henchmen would in their enforcement of their petty federal ultimatum.

Regulations that dish out thousand-dollar fines and prison time for legal “offenses” like unlicensed hair-braiding or out-of-the-home freelancing are doing precisely what the state is meant to prevent: infringing upon inherent rights.

The state-sponsored aggression that ensues when a regulation is broken is nauseatingly inconsistent and harsh, dictated by the mood of a bureaucrat. Kids selling lemonade without a license can get a criminal record before the age of ten; bakers or photographers can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because they turn down a customer; someone who crosses a powerful corporation with a strong D.C. presence will be cut down in the prime of life. (I mean this in a mostly figurative sense.)

Many who lean towards free markets but can’t help but think that there ought to be a set of ground rules for each industry are overlooking the fact that laws are not magically supported by words printed on paper: the law is backed up by guns, fines, pepper spray, prison time, promises of death, and life-ruining lawsuits. Are most of the federal regulations threatening these things worth those punishments?

In the end, the mass of federal regulations torturing the economy is unwarranted interference in individual choice, a brutal manifestation of state aggression against the citizenry, and an absolute breach of legal equality. These regulations present more than moral problems: practical problems (including overfilled jails, criminalization of half the population, dramatic economic slowdowns, and inconsistent enforcement of laws) also make our foolishly large collection of regulations far from worthwhile.

Little laws here and there almost always sound like they’re for the best; the contents of voluminous thousand-page laws seem to be prudent; the powers afforded to bureaucrats sound fair enough—but this is not the case, and never will be.

Happy Birthday, Mendelssohn.

mendelssohn

Today is Felix Mendelssohn’s 206th birthday.

(Although he’s not as famous as Beethoven or Handel, you’ve almost certainly heard his wedding march.)

Known as the “happy composer” of the Romantic Era, Mendelssohn kicked off his musical career in earnest at the age of 17 with his fabulous Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture.

In 1829 he launched the Bach Revival with a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion, which had not been performed since its composer’s death in 1750.

He was a devoted Christian and wrote two extremely famous oratorios, “Elijah” and “Saint Paul,” as well as five symphonies (the Italian and Reformation Symphonies being the best known). His music was cheerful and lighthearted, but was exceptionally beautiful and well-constructed.

Immediately after Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, anti-Semitic Richard Wagner began a smear campaign against Felix — who was Jewish — and as a result Mendelssohn too came close to obscurity. In the 20th century, Hitler banned Mendelssohn’s works.

But there’s one important question to be answered: why was Mendelssohn so happy relative to contemporary composers?

Probably a great deal of this happiness hinged on the fact that he lived a somewhat affluent life and never really had financial struggles, unlike the chronically depressed and death-obsessed likes of Hector Berlioz.

However, what truly distinguished Mendelssohn from other Romantic Era composers was his faith in God and purposefulness in life. He knew what he was living for, and rather like his hero Bach, he intended his music for the glory of God.

Mendelssohn’s best-known works:

Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave)

Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture

Reformation Symphony

Italian Symphony

Violin Concerto in E Minor