Category Archives: Politics

Discussions about POLITICS and GOVERNMENT. POLITICS and GOVERNMENT at all levels – Federal / State / County / City / and Local. This category is about all things that interest me in POLITICS and GOVERNMENT.

A New Dynamic

When I started LRPSP three plus years ago, I had no intention or desire to have a blog.  I did not set out to simply archive my thoughts for all the world to peruse. If you have read any of them and taken pause, been blessed, or given new thought to some subject, then I am truly humbled and pleased.  However this was not my original goal.

What I really envisioned when I started this journey was a discussion. A debate of ideas. And debates and discussions take multiple parties. The Scriptures say that  “iron sharpens iron”. And one lone voice cannot sharpen itself nor lead others to sharpen themselves.

I have long believed that we must each run our own race. I can no more stand before God in your stead than you can stand before Him in mine.  Therefore you must grow as I must grow. And you must seek truth as I must seek truth. And hopefully I may intone a thought that inspires others to think deeper, but others will intone a thought that causes me to think deeper.  I don’t want to just share on a blog, I want others to begin or continue a journey in their lives that will lead them to a Creator that loves them and desires a personal relationship with them, as He does me.

I have also desired to consolidate voices into one strong accord. A choir of voices if you will. A choir is made up of parts, yet when they sing together, each part comes out in beautiful harmony that pleases the soul.  I know your time is valuable.  And I also know that there are many great voices, most much greater than mine, out there that may bring true value to your life.  I’ve desired to bring voices together here on LRPSP to help maximize your time and search for that material.  I’ve longed to build that choir.

Today I am very happy to announce that LRPSP is beginning to build that choir.  It is with great humbleness and honor that I welcome a new Contributing Editor to this site.  My Christian Brother Mitch White is joining LRPSP to add his voice and his part to the discussions that take place here.

This will afford you, those that linger on this site to read a few words, a new perspective.  You will now be able to consider topics from a different point of view and perspective.  And I know that will bring even greater insight and blessing to your life.

Welcome Brother Mitch, to LRPSP.  I, and I hope others, look forward to all that God has to share with us through your voice.  It is truly a New Day here on LRPSP and it is exciting to look forward to all God has in store for us as we each journey to know the Great I Am more personally in each of our lives.

Are You Rich?

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, recently addressed the Harvard University graduating class during which he said:

“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,”

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a concept that has gained quite a bit of attention recently.  Finland has recently started experimenting with the idea and Canada and India are giving it consideration.  Finland may be the first country to practice UBI, but it is hardly the first Government to do so.  The city of Livorno, Italy began a UBI program in June of 2016.

Switzerland rejected a UBI referendum by more than 75% of voters.

It is interesting that supporters of UBI view it as the means of addressing income inequality in society today.  It is interesting that this particular reporter terms it as an urgent necessity.  Definitely something we must absolutely have.

In my estimation, UBI is nothing more than a repackaged welfare (see definition 3) program that is completely socialistic in nature.  These ideas are nothing new and have been around for thousands of years.  Consider the account from Mark 14:3-8 in which some self-righteous people where quite upset at what they considered a waste of money.

It is interesting to me that we hear very little about the fact that Jesus was in the home of Simon, a leper, when this story is recounted.  Or the fact that the woman that brought the box of alabaster apparently had the resources to possess it, and yet she also came to the house of the leper (something a person of wealth would not normally do).  But these are thoughts for another time.

The point I’d like to get to in the account is that there were those that pondered the thought that the ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence and the proceeds given to the poor.  Basically welfare.  Socialism.  Sell the goods of the rich, and give them to the poor.  A concept put forth by the Jewish culture some 2,000+ years ago.

As long as there has been inequality in the world, which Spiritually occurred about the instant that Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit, and Physically has been since about 30 seconds after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, mankind has been looking for ways to make things equal again.

Of course in doing so we have been ignoring the words of Jesus when he answered those very same self-righteous distractors with:

And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.”

I relish the fact that Jesus told them that (basically) they could do good for the poor whenever they wanted to.  I kind of feel the same way about those crying out about inequality today.  No one is stopping you from helping the poor and you don’t need to wait on anyone else to start.

The interesting thing about all of these social experiments to me is that the terms are all relative.  Compared to most (or perhaps even all) of my wife’s family, we are very rich.  However, compared to the people that live just six miles down the road from me, I might be considered poor (the houses in the community six miles down the road average $2,750,000.00 per home.  About 7.37 times the cost of my home).  And those folks could even be considered poor when contrasted to Mr. Zuckerberg.

Another interesting thing to me is that Jesus actually said that those that would inherit the kingdom of heaven, would be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).  And with good reason too.  God cannot help you if you are rich.  The rich people of the world don’t run to God every night asking for their next meal or a place to lay their head.  Only the poor people do that.  Sometimes we lose our dependency upon God because we become too rich for him.  We no longer need his help.  We are self-sufficient without him and are happy to keep him on the shelf in the event that bad times come our way.

And yet we still feel like we need to play social games with society.  We need to wipe out inequality.

Alright, I’ll play along.  I’ve got a proposition for Mr. Zuckerberg:

Hey Mark, if you’re reading (and I know you’re not) let’s try a small scale UBI experiment right here at home.

I currently make a little over $130,000.00 USD/year.  I’ll use that as a round number.  I have (roughly) six years to retirement (I could conceivably retire earlier, but lets go to minimum retirement age).

My idea of a “new idea” is to purchase a yacht (how about this one: Sea Ray Fly 460) and to make the Great Loop while writing about the experience and the people I meet here on this Blog.

But obviously I can’t do that on my present income.  I would, of course, still need to meet my basic family expenses, for six years at my current salary that would be $780,000.00, I’d have the cost of the yacht, about $750,000.00, and I’d have the operating expenses of the yacht itself, lets estimate $200,000.00/year or $1,200,000.00 for six years.  That would be $2,730,000.00.  We could just round that up to $3,000,000.00.

Why doesn’t Facebook hire me for a $3,000,000.00 USD contract for six years (I’d bring some diversity to the company since I’m sure you’d agree my political, social, and religious views are different than your own) and I’ll become an ambassador traveling around interviewing people about their situation in life, compiling statistics on exactly what a correct UBI would amount to, as well as exploring the mechanics of such a plan to see if it could realistically be met.  At the end of the six years I’d sail off into retirement, and you could evaluate just how well your $3,000,000.00 was spent.  A social experiment and you get an employee out of the deal as well!

I’ll be waiting for your call ………………….

United States Presidential Elections Continued (Part 3)

This post is a continuation of my previous two posts.  If you want to read this post in context, go back to this post and read through sequentially.

I left you in my last post with the thought that I find the current allegations by women against the Republican nominee for President of the United States Donald Trump to be too convenient, contrived, and too coincidental to the leaked tape of his (so-called) locker room talk.  They hold little credibility when compared by the same measure to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial hearings.

But the last thought I’ll leave you with is the comparison of the physical and historical evidence.   In President Bill Clinton’s case we really do know that he ‘walked the halls of power with his pants around his knees’.  We know this for a fact because of the stain left upon the blue dress.  This, as you may recall, was confirmed through DNA testing.  One might wonder if any of Donald Trump’s accusers will be able to produce any similar evidence.

I don’t really need to provide this, but I will, in President Bill Clinton’s case there were not any real dissenting witnesses.  In Donald Trump’s case, there are those like Natasha Rickley that have come forward to paint a picture that does not quite line up with the stories put forth by his accusers.

However you  compare the cases, it seems clear that Donald Trump is at least equal of the same verdict as President Bill Clinton and should be acquitted of all charges.  But the media doesn’t seem to want to draw this conclusion.  They would rather charge forward, needlessly trying Donald Trump in the press without just cause.  A case they seem unwilling to bring against candidates they support wholeheartedly.  That is a fair and balanced press for you.

I could spend time a lot of time making a case for Donald Trump to be our next President.  But the counter would just be all of the reasons why others don’t believe he should be.  So instead, please allow me to make a case against Hillary Clinton,  You see, I do not believe that the United States of America can afford Hillary Clinton as President at this time.  And given the nature of our political system, the alternative is Donald Trump.  One of them will be President of the United States of America.  I pray that it will not be Hillary Clinton for the following reasons:

  • Probably at the top of my list is Hillary Clinton is Pro Death.  She is for the killing of unborn babies in every conceivable case.  If you are Pro Life (Christian/Catholic/or just a respecter of life), and you intend to vote for Hillary Clinton, I’d respectfully ask that you not show up at the March for Life.  At least be consistent in your actions.
  • A close second is Hillary Clinton is Anti Religion.  She said it herself as reported here.  Hillary Clinton does not believe that the Clergy should interpret and expound upon God’s word.  She believes that the only thing that should be preached are those things that align with her own world view.
  • Hillary Clinton is Anti Freedom.  Once again, she said it herself.  She has publicly stated that the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.  Forget the Constitution or the separation of powers.  The only thing that matters is Hillary Clinton’s own world view and her ability to force it upon others.  If you value your freedoms, a vote for Hillary Clinton is sure to erode them.
  • Hillary Clinton is Anti Military.  I’ll admit some guilty knowledge here, but it has been pretty well established that Hillary Clinton has not been a supporter of the U.S. Military in the past (you need look no further than Benghazi to substantiate this).  If you desire a strong America and a Military equipped to protect our homeland and our allies and other interests in the world today, a vote for Hillary Clinton will not get you there.
  • Hillary Clinton promotes socialism.  She wants to fix the current healthcare system in America (the Obamacare law) by guiding us towards a single payer system.  Federalization of the healthcare system for all Americans is socialistic.  It is contrary to the values this county was built upon.  If you desire to protect and promote American democracy, a vote for Hillary Clinton will work against you.
  • Hillary Clinton is Anti Economy.  Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, her ideas of larger government, confiscatory taxes on the wealthy (who are the ones carrying our tax burden to begin with) are not what America needs right now.  America’s economy is currently very fragile with almost nonexistent growth and an anemic job market.  A vote for Hillary Clinton could push our economy into a free fall that would take years to recover from.

Personally, I do not believe that America can afford Hillary Clinton as President at this point in our history.  In a few weeks, we will all decide.  I pray that God will place the President in place best equipped to preserve our prosperity and our freedoms.

Here is a first ever on LRPSP.COM – A poll.  Our first ever, non-scientific, completely free, and non-binding election poll.  It costs you nothing except a couple of clicks of the mouse.  So why not go ahead and play along?  This poll is completely untracked and anonymous:

Submit

United States Presidential Elections Continued (Part 2)

So this morning I left you with some thoughts on the current Presidential Election here in the United States of America, in this post: I Attended The President Clinton Impeachment Trial.  I’ll continue that discussion here.

The point I was trying to make when I left off this morning, was people are quick to impose their own self-righteous, moralistic views  on others, but they don’t want to consider others views in their own world view.

Which is EXACTLY what they accuse Christians of.  I’m accused of wanting to impose my moral values on everyone else (Which of course, is absolutely not true.  I simply want to exercise my freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  AND – I actually am an ordained minister and thus at least somewhat qualified to do so.  If it just so happens that I, in correctly filling my God-given mandate to proclaim his word, you are convicted by the Holy Spirit of God that you are in sin, well I am sorry.  I hope before God I fulfilled his will correctly, and accurately represented his word, as I am called to do.  But your conviction is between you and God.  I personally expect nothing from it.  You are free to go about your business as you see fit.  But I digress.)

So, Mr. Anderson Cooper.  YOU want to play the moral card?  I’m the one that should be outraged here.  Why do you get to decide that when I speak the truth about God’s word and homosexuality that it is hate speech, and then turn right around and decry Mr. Donald Trump for his use of language regarding women?

It isn’t conservative Christians that have taken away free speech in America, it is duplicitous liberals who want to control the very essence of our lives.

For most of my entire adult life, I’ve had to sit in the workplace and listen to people take the name of my Lord and Savior in vain.  I’ve had to silently sit by while people swear by God, ridicule God, make God out to be something he is not, and yet I cannot even say that God’s word says that homosexuality is wrong.  That is hate speech.  That is hurtful.  That is demeaning.  Really?  Well all of the speech I’ve endured concerning my religion and my faith, is equally hurtful.  Equally as hated.  And equally demeaning to me.  I’ve endured it for decades.  Why doesn’t the other side step up to the plate and do the same?

Alright.  I perceive you’re screaming at your screens about now that you get my point on the speech, but that the question was concerning actions that the speech described.  I also perceive (based off my current word count), that there is going to be a third blog post continuing my current diatribe.

You can decide for yourself as to whether Donald Trump’s words were vulgar, hurtful, disrespectful, and language that should not be used.  And I would probably agree with most of you.  However, if we are going to analyze Donald Trump’s words and parse them through some special moral parser, then it is only fair to do the same thing with Hillary Clinton.  But when that is done, suddenly free speech goes out the window.  Suddenly there are protected categories.  You see, I believe that Donald Trump is free to all the vulgar language he wants to use.  Because if I am free to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then lives are changed and vulgar speech is changed.  But if we start deciding in this country what can and cannot be said, then we might as well just move to North Korea, or the old Soviet Union, or Iran,  because our freedoms will have been lost regardless.

But the question (and current allegations) concerns Donald Trump’s behavior more so than his words that were used.  So I’ll move on.

Suddenly, after the scenario at the debate I described in my last blog post played out, women have been coming out of the woodwork to say that they indeed, have had their space violated by Mr. Trump.

As near as I can tell, from the current set of allegations, the stories are ranging from supposed incidents in 2007 all the way back to 1986.  A span of 9 to 30 years.

And my question is Why now?  Why at this point in the election cycle are we suddenly hearing from you?

Let’s consider the fact that within days/weeks of the Oval Office incident, Monica Lewinsky had confided in her friend Linda Tripp.  And it wasn’t long before Linda had told someone who had told someone else, and suddenly someone is coming into the Oval Office saying “Mr. President, We have a problem.”  Bill Clinton’s charges were while he was still in Office.  As near as I can tell, Donald Trump’s charges are at least a decade old (and in a few cases multiple decades old).  What happened?  Why did it only take a few days for Monica Lewinsky’s story to grow legs and leave the compound but for Mr. Trump the stories have been tightly locked away for decades?  You’ll pardon me, but I am highly dubious.

I might also inquire as to the nature of the alleged altercations.  I mean, for all I know, if they really did occur, they could have been consensual.  Isn’t that the claim that was made about President Bill Clinton?  Hey, it was consensual so why do we need to go sticking our nose into it?  And before you trot out the former Apprentice contestant all in tears and visibly shaken over her ordeal in 2007, let’s go check with Monica Lewinsky, because perhaps the passage of time has brought her to her senses as well.  I’ll bet that Monica Lewinsky now realizes, that as a young woman she was taken advantage of by the most powerful person in the world, and was made to believe that she was OK with it.  But now, 28 years later, she probably realizes just how horrible and demeaning it really was and is ready to break down and cry before the cameras.

And with that equally controversial thought, I’ll leave you once again until my third post on this line of thought, this evening.

TO BE CONTINUED ……..

I Attended The President Clinton Impeachment Trial

I opened this can of worms, and now I’m stuck with seeing it through to the end.

When I started this blog site, I looked at areas of discussion that would interest people and keep them engaged.  These are generally the areas we are most passionate about.  Politics is one of those areas.  However, when I originally added politics, I was not necessarily thinking of political races for office.  I was considering discussions that were political in nature.  That is, discussions that revolved around the governance of society.  Our laws, our freedoms, our methods of meeting needs as a society.  This is the broader and, in my view, more important discussion.  We all live in a society in one form or another.  There are very few, if any, people on Earth today that are a society of one.  And societies, by necessity, must have rules and regulations, and governance of those rules and regulations.  And that is the important discussion.

However, given my previous post, I Am No Saint, and given the latest news reports, it would be disingenuous of me to leave things hanging as they are.  So I will continue on down this path no matter how ugly it gets.

First of all, I actually did attend the portion of the President William Jefferson Blythe Clinton impeachment trial that was open to the general public, for the period of time I was allotted (and that was allotted to each person seeking to attend).  I attended the trial for several reasons.  First of all it was historical.  President Bill Clinton is only the second U.S. President in history to be impeached.  Neither of the two were removed from office (both were acquitted after Congress failed to gain the necessary two-thirds vote).  Secondly, I was interested in the proceedings.  It is not often in one’s lifetime that the opportunity affords itself to see government in motion in real-time.  I was fascinated with the process and wanted a glimpse into the inner workings of the congressional process.  And, as a bonus (if you can call it that), there were a lot of celebrities in the audience.  We got to sit on the same row, about five or six people down from where Whoopi Goldberg sat (I’m pretty sure her views on the trial were the exact opposite of mine).  Funny side story about that:  We watched Whoopi come in and sit down.  The person she sat next to greeted her when she arrived and they shook hands.  After a couple of minutes she got up and left the chamber for a few minutes.  While she was gone, the young man sitting next to the person that had shaken Whoopi Goldberg’s hand leaned over and whispered something to them.  The person chuckled, nodded, and then shook the young man’s hand.  I pointed it out to my wife at the time, commenting that obviously the young man wanted the opportunity to say that he had shaken the hand that shook Whoopi Goldberg’s hand (right after Whoopi had shook that hand).

So I was at the Bill Clinton impeachment trial (for a few minutes of it anyway) and know first hand, how seriously (or not so seriously) those proceedings play out.  And it was serious.  President Clinton was charged with perjury concerning his testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  And while he was acquitted of both charges (and thus not removed from office), the dividing vote (50 – 50 in the Senate on the Obstruction of Justice charge) speaks to the highly political nature of the proceedings.

It is a simple question.  Did he willfully give false testimony while duly sworn before an appointed body concerning his relationship with a White House intern?  I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, he did.  And you can either agree or disagree with that, but the legal system spoke and we have our justice (or lack thereof) today.

The interesting thing to me is the political rhetoric at the time.  The feminists who supported President Bill Clinton came out of the woodwork to decry the proceedings.  They claimed that the President’s personal sex life was private, and of no concern to the people.  They claimed it was consensual and that what two adults do is none of the business of the rest of us.

Today, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is getting his own impeachment for perjury trial in the general media and free press of the United States of America.  This stems from an answer he gave in the second Presidential debate with Former Secretary Hillary Clinton.  When pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper about whether or not he had actually done the things referred to in his comments to Billy Bush, he replied “No, I have not.

And, obviously in response to those words, several recent claims have been leveled against Mr. Trump that would seem to suggest that he was being somewhat less than honest (one such story here).

In effect, Mr. Trump is being tried in the media for perjury (interestingly enough, just like President Bill Clinton was tried before Congress for the same charge).

Now I personally find these charges to be ludicrous and comical in nature, but I will do my best to treat them as seriously as they possibly can be given the circumstances.

To begin with, I am actually shocked at the outrage over Donald Trump’s comments.  I thought what a couple of guys talked about in private was between themselves and not any of the business of the rest of us, correct?  Why is it that Mr. Trump’s talk concerning women is so far out of line as to be considered grounds for public persecution and Former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s words are not?  And yes, I know, if it weren’t for double standards, liberals would have no standards at all.

We allow flag burning in the United States of America.  Protected by the courts (some of the highest in the land), as a right of free speech and expression.  And flag burning means, the flag of the United States of America.  The National Flag.  Try that in North Korea, without getting shot.

And before the language police go to far, consider the fact that the inevitable outcome of limiting free speech, is to eventually restrict your own freedoms and liberties in the future.

And with that controversial thought, I’ve reached my self-imposed limit for a blog post.  I purposefully set out to make my blog posts, readable, digestible, posts that one can read and contemplate in about five-minute sittings.

So ….. TO BE CONTINUED ……. In another post this afternoon.

I Am No Saint

I have a sermon entitled My 10 Greatest Sins.  It is actually a discourse on The Ten Commandments, however I talk about them personally and how they apply directly to my life.  I explore them from the standpoint of how I am guilty of each.

I’ve only preached this particular sermon a couple of times in two different places.  I ought to bring it out more.  The interesting thing about this particular sermon is, that it is illustrated (verb, definition 2) by sin in my life.

And the thing that makes that interesting is that every single course on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I’ve taken, every great preacher that I’ve discussed sermon delivery with, every instructional work I’ve read on the topic of sermon delivery, has told me (and will tell you) that you never, ever, talk about your own sin.  Let alone illustrate points of sin out of your own experiences.

And I understand why that instruction is there, however, I have one small problem with it.  And that is Paul of Tarsus.  Paul did not shy away from informing Timothy that he was Chief amongst sinners (I Timothy 1:14-16).  Paul was straight forward with the early Church because he knew they were aware of his past (Acts 7:57-59).

You may not personally be aware of my past (though there are those that are), but you should not assume that my sins are few and my transgressions lite (just as I do not assume that for anyone else in the world).  Paul of Tarsus may have been foremost amongst sinners when he walked the Earth, but today, I tell you that I am Chief amongst sinners.

You may inquire of me who I have murdered and why I am not in jail for it, but you should consider that one does not have to physically end a life in order to take a life.  You and I impact people around us every single day.  And given the chance, we impose our will on others.  And where we win, we rob others.  And where we hate with an intense hatred, we murder those people in our hearts.

So yes, I assure you, even though the breaking of God’s law may not meet your particular definition, I have broken them all.  And I believe that is by His definition, not mine, and I don’t believe I could stand before the Throne of God and defend any one of them were He to chose to charge me with any of the 10.

So I am Chief amongst sinners.  You may ask, so what is my point?  How does myself being the biggest transgressor of God’s law in the world today have any meaning or effect in anyone else’s life or the world around me?

Well you are (hopefully) reading this blog, are you not?  Are you not contemplating your own arguments, defenses, introspection, and evaluation of your own world view at this very moment in time?  I believe you are, whether you admit it or not.

And it is important, because by doing so you evaluate my positions and arguments and use that information to conclude your own agreement or disagreement.

You see, the dirty little secret is: I could really care less if you agree or disagree with me that I really am Chief amongst sinners.  That is really my position before a Holy God and how I approach my own world view.  I understand that when my sin is great, His Mercy is greater.  When my transgressions are  not loveable, His Love loves more.  When I am pathetic and hopeless, He finds Value and Hope.

It is not that I make myself a great sinner in order that His Salvation becomes greater, it is I recognize that I am great sinner so that His Great Salvation is not diminished.  And I believe the great songwriter/theologian William R. Newell understood this principle when he penned the words (At Calvary):

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!

No, it doesn’t really matter to me much at all if you agree or disagree with my self characterization.  What matters to me is that you understand that I believe it, and that it then becomes part of your evaluation of your own understanding for the purpose of the discussion.

Which brings me to the thing that is pressing heavily upon my soul, and that is the pending elections for the President/Vice President of the United States of America.

Within the last 48 hours or so, we’ve now discovered the so-called October SurpriseDonald J. Trump has expressed some pretty ugly views about women and used some very vulgar language.

And now, apparently, the entire Republican Party leadership wants to abandon him.  Many prominent leaders have called for him to step down, to abandon the race (story here).

And I have but one question: Has the entire conservative electorate (in the United States of America) lost their collective mind!?!  The election clock is ticking and we have less than 30 days until the people of the United States of America vote for (ostensibly) the leader of the free World and somehow the answer to lewd and insensitive talk (I am sure that there have been recent examples, but what is currently being put forth is 10/11 years old) is for the nominee to step down?  And do what?  Hold another Republican Primary?  Have those in charge place their presumptive candidate forward?  Less than 30 days before the election is to be held?

AMERICA: If I, whom am Chief amongst sinners, am allowed by a Holy and Righteous God, to preach His word, to espouse on this blog, to represent Him here in this life, can we not find it in our hearts to be a little more civil towards the person the majority selected as their nominee?

Consider the alternative.  The opponent doesn’t face her mistakes (sure she said she made a mistake having a private Email server, but that didn’t address the issue).  She has always skirted her own accusers and condemned those who have brought the spotlight to bear on her transgressions.

The fact is, America just cannot afford Hillary Clinton as President.  The Nation is probably near bankruptcy as it is.  And she is certainly not the one to be casting any stones.

Donald J. Trump has sinned in the past, and he will sin in the future, but he is still the best choice for America, and he is my choice.  And I pray that God will spare the United States of America by placing him in office.  And I pray you will join me in that prayer.

By-the-way – I lied.  I titled this post I Am No Saint.  But I am a saint.  Not because of anything I’ve done, or will do, or ever could do, but because Jesus Christ has redeemed me through his work upon the Cross.  But when you look at me you will not see a saint.  You will see anything but saintliness and you would agree with my post title.

Hopefully when you look at Donald J. Trump, you will not see the sinner, but rather a President.

Are Your Decisions Based On Knowledge or Understanding?

Job 38:3636 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?  King James Version (KJV)

Have you ever wondered how someone could purport to hold the exact same set of beliefs as you and yet seem to be on a totally opposite page?  I have.

For example – consider the United States Democratic nominee for President, Hillary Clinton.  Former Secretary Clinton claims to be a Christian and hold with Christian values.  And yet she strongly supports abortion (a position opposed by nearly every major religion of the world, including Hinduism and Buddhism) and has even called on people of faith to change their religious beliefs and cultural biases (YouTube Video).

Here is the quote from her speech:

“Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

I think to myself, “Wait-a-minute.  Abortion is wrong.  It is murder.  It stops an innocent human life before it even has a chance to defend itself.  Furthermore, there is enough teaching in Scripture to clearly make the case that it is immoral and against God’s desires for our lives.  I understand it is the law of the land … BUT, I could never support it.  I will never change my beliefs about it.  I will never bend my cultural biases regarding it.  To do so would be to deny my Faith.  And my FAITH is foremost in my life.

Former Secretary Clinton, in her remarks calling on people to alter their religious beliefs, has, in reality, just discriminated against me on Religious grounds.  Supposedly a protected category.  Which is an interesting discussion in and of itself, but is not what I want to focus on today.

What is just jaw dropping, mind-boggling, puzzling about this is: why in the world does someone who claims to hold Christian beliefs, call on people of the exact same set of beliefs to change them?  What does she understand that I don’t understand?  And why is she just as sure that her position is the correct one, as I am that my position is the correct one?  How can two separate people lay claim to the exact same moral code in their lives and yet draw two totally opposite conclusions and understandings?

Most of my Christian life I have heard pastors and teachers refer to the (allegorical) 12 inch difference between an eternity in either Heaven or Hell.  What has often been referred to as the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.  It is the allotted distance between the brain, and the heart, in the average human being.  However I never gave it much consideration.  The illustration has always been given as a picture of the difference between an unsaved person, and a saved person.  I have never once seen a study that described it any other way, nor have I come across any study that has applied it to any other application.

It is difficult to research common euphemisms or pithy sayings like this.  They almost always fracture into a myriad of directions the further back in time you go and it is almost impossible to source them back to single individual, time, or event.  However, that being said, I believe this one might have grown out of an understanding of Job 38:36, at least I would like to believe so.

In Job 38:36, God asks Job a question.  His question is – who was it that gave you understanding and wisdom?  And in doing so, reveals that there is a huge difference between knowledge and understanding.

You see, what Job 38:36 is saying in a nutshell, is that you put knowledge in your head, but understanding is placed in the heart.

What’s the difference?  Well consider this, if we have a law of the land, say a speed limit placed upon a particular highway, I can learn the traffic laws.  I can know how to read and interpret a speed limit sign.  I can know how to properly operate a vehicle such that it remains within the confines of the speed limit as prescribed by law.  I may even know the reasoning that went into establishing that law.  All of that is knowledge that I hold in my head.  But it takes the understanding in my heart to actually put that knowledge into practice.  It is my wisdom and understanding that guide me to following and implementing that law.

This now explains two things to us.  One is why in the world former Secretary Clinton and I can be on two totally opposite pages in life, and Two, why her call for those of us with different views to change our religious beliefs is so dangerous.  It is because the difference is between knowledge and understanding.

So NO, former Madam Secretary.  I do not, and will not change my religious beliefs and cultural biases.  Because my religious beliefs are rooted in an understanding within my heart, and not just based on the knowledge that is in my head.  My wisdom guides me in this matter and I understand that God teaches that abortion is wrong.  And that is not what I say, it is what God says.  And for me to abandon that, is to abandon God.

My prayer is that all of us would be careful with our wisdom and understanding.  You see, if God is not the one placing wisdom within your innermost parts and understanding within your heart, then who is?  Is it Satan?  Because he will step in and fill any void created by a lack of action on our part.  Our seemingly exasperating differences of opinion and our exhausting rhetoric is easily explained by the differences, not in our knowledge (the facts in our heads), but by our understanding of that knowledge (the wisdom in our hearts).

I’m not worried about what is in your head.  I’m worried about what is in your heart.

American Politics Are Maddening

As most of the world is probably aware, the United States of America is in the midst of an election year.  And the political stage is down right maddening.  There are two major parties (see definition 5) in the U.S. Electoral system and a number of smaller, organized parties.  There are also several smaller movements that aren’t really parties at all.

Of the two major parties within the U.S. political system, the Republicans are generally thought of as the Conservative Party and the Democrats are generally thought of as the Liberal Party.  Both parties are made up of members that may loosely be divided into camps of fiscally conservative or liberal, and socially conservative or liberal.  And both parties will have some level of mixed membership, meaning a member might be fiscally conservative yet socially liberal.

Within the U.S. political system, fiscally conservatives are generally for smaller government with less government spending.  They tend to concentrate government into holistically government only functions.  Things like defense of the Nation and international trade and commerce.  Whereas fiscal liberals are generally for bigger government with broader government programs.  Things like welfare (see definition 2) and socialized medical care.

Also within the U.S. political system social conservatives tend to want to either limit the government’s power, or at least delegate power to the States, over social issues.  Things like abortion and gun control.  Whereas socially liberals tend to want to have those things regulated at the Federal level.

All parties ostensibly have members from all different world views in them.  Each individual aligns with a party that most closely resembles their own world view for a variety of reasons.  But few (in my humble estimation, very few) actually have considered their own world view closely enough to be able to state why they make the choices that they do.  Everyone is out after their own best interests, but few can articulate what those best interests are or why they even want them.

If your world view is atheistic and you truly believe there is no God, then  you cannot possibly ascribe any meaning to life.  Your only interest in an electoral cycle is what fits your own best interests.  And I believe we are seeing that happen today.  If we are to believe the polls (most of which have been woefully inaccurate this election season), there are an unprecedented number of young people (we’re talking 18 to 30 years of age here.  What might be termed college and career age) that support Senator Bernie Sanders, a liberal democrat.  This is especially odd when you consider the generation gap between these young voters and Senator Sanders.  He is 74 years of age, old enough to be their grandfather or in a number of cases even their great-grandfather.  I’d love to construct my own poll and find out just how many of these young people would support their grandfather for President of the United States.  And yet they support Senator Sanders.  Why?  I believe it is because as a Socialist, Senator Sanders is promising them the world.  Everything is going to be free and fair.  It will be a utopian world.  And because the U.S. Has now raised a couple of generations of godless youth, they now buy into this fabricated utopia because they have no theological basis in their lives to discern the truth and they perceive the utopia promised to be good for themselves.

If your world view is agnostic, you are once again driven by only what is good for you.  Agnostics are slightly different in that they don’t expect (or necessarily want) the utopia, but they do expect to be left alone.

However, if your world view is theistic, then you should at the very least expect that a god somewhere is in control of it all and you should at least consider the part that he plays in it all.

It is specifically Christians within the theistic group that intrigue me the most this election cycle.  For some reason, Christians seem to believe that unless a Christian is elected to the highest offices of the land, they will lose everything they hold dear and consider of value.

Christians should consider history though.  President Jimmy Carter professes Jesus Christ.  So did President Ronald Regan.  And so does President George W. Bush.  All three were radically different U.S. Presidents, and all three presided over the country in events that have led us to today.

As a Christian, I personally believe that God Himself sat all three upon the throne (because His word tells me that he does so).  And yet we continue to lose the moral ground and the souls of millions of Americans (and as I just stated, I believe we have now raised a couple of generations that are both un-churched and that are godless).  This should speak volumes to us today.  If you are doing something because you believe you have to maintain some status quo, or because that status is not being maintained, you might suspect that something is wrong.

And indeed I do believe there is something wrong.  And that is us, Christians.  You see, God doesn’t want leaders.  He wants followers. He doesn’t want us to maintain the status quo, He wants us to follow Him and He will maintain the status quo for us.  It is His plan, not our plan that should be played out.  He doesn’t need our agenda, even if we believe we are doing it for Him.  He simply wants us to follow Him.  And given the split in the State elections and in the rhetoric that is going on, it is clear that we are not following Him or else more of us would be on the same page.

You see, I don’t need a Godly President, I desire to see a Godly people.  And a Godly President doesn’t provide for a Godly people.  A Godly people provides for a Godly people and a Godly Nation.  And that has to start with US, not the President of the United States of America.

If Christians were to render unto Caesar what is Caesars’, and unto God what is God’s, I believe we would see a change in our land.  We need revival in the land, and a man professing to be a Christian as President does not afford that.  Christians need to follow Jesus Christ, not some man they believe to be Godly whom they believe will revive their values or otherwise protect them from further erosion.

Do You Want to Change the World?

Currently, here in the United States of America, we are going through an election cycle for the President Of The United States. The candidates making their pitch to the citizens for the highest office in the country, each have a vision for how they would change things for the better. They all want to do something, and sometimes, what that something is, is hard to discern. They also want to bring their vision of change ostensibly on behalf of the people they represent. Seemingly without regard as to what that change would mean to the people or how it would affect them.

How about yourself?  Have you ever wanted to change the world?  Have you ever wanted to right a wrong?  Build a bridge?  Or tear down a wall?  Have you ever wanted to unite people?  Or divide the good from the evil?  I think all of us, to some extent or another, have wanted to impart our own particular version of change upon that area we can affect, at one time or another.  We all, seemingly want to change the world.

My question is why?  Why do YOU, personally, want to change the world?  To what end?  And what would be accomplished?  And this is not a matter that is particular or unique to any one group or world view.  Christian’s want to CHANGE the world for Jesus Christ.  Atheists want to CHANGE the world by stamping out (supposed) religious fantasy, and even Agnostics want to CHANGE the world by having everyone else just leave everyone alone.  And somehow I can’t help but believe we’ve all gotten it wrong.  And the group I am most concerned with today is the Theistic group.  Because that is the group that I believe actually has the most potential to effect a change in the world, IF they were to do their part.  And here is why I believe that is so ,,,

If your world view is Atheistic, you cannot possibly believe there is any outside or external influence upon the forces in the world today.  It is a closed system and, as I have argued in past posts, is subject to the physical and meta-physical laws of the universe around us.  The mere fact that you even want to change the world was set in motion (supposedly) billions of years ago at the outset of the (so-called) Big Bang.  You can no more change the world than you can defy the laws of gravity or nature.  Everything around you is governed by a set of events you have absolutely no control over and has no meaning attached to it.  It just is what it is.  So why do you need to effect any change to begin with?  All of time is going to play out governed by the laws of the universe whether you like it or not.

If you are Agnostic in your world view you really shouldn’t care one way or the other.  After all, Que Sera, Sera.  Whatever will be, will be.  The problem the Agnostic faces is that they truly cannot be left alone.  The Agnostic has to exist in a world alongside both Theists and Atheists.  And at some point they are going to be infringed upon.  At some point the Agnostic is forced to care and to act in their own best interests.  And even that is a misnomer because even then the true Agnostic shouldn’t really care.  Why would you?  A true Agnostic would just go with the flow.  They are along for the ride and hope that it all sorts itself out in the end.

The Theist however should believe in a God.  A Spiritual realm that has an external influence upon the world and that is acting out on a greater plane than we see or experience here in the physical realm.  And this is the group I have the greatest concern over.

Christians want to CHANGE the world for God.  And yet as Theists, the Christian should recognize that it is their very God who is in control.  It is he who orchestrates change in the life of a person and it is he who moves to effect His will in the world today.  The ONE thing a Christian should want is to get out-of-the-way and let God work!

Nowhere in Scripture do I find the commandment to CHANGE the world.  Christians so often misinterpret their own directives and try to apply them to others around them, when in reality, they are only commanded to follow.  The question I would ask is How can you be following if you are constantly trying to change the direction of others around you?

Christians believe they are to be the Salt of the earth (a concept I’ve addressed in this post before).  Christians can’t preserve the status quo.  Nor are they intended to.  Christians as Salt should be the savor in the world.  That which makes the taste palatable.  And one might ask whom they are making the taste palatable for?  Why God of course!  Not for others or ourselves, but for Him!  The great I Am.

Christians believe they should be the Light of the world.  But light has never caused me to change my path in and of itself.  It has illuminated my path and helped me along my way.  But it has never directed my path.  Light illuminates, but it does not direct or dictate a way to go.

So what then should we do?  I have always told my congregation that they have one obligation in their Christian lives.  And that is to keep their eyes on the Cross.  A Christians obligation is to simply take up their cross and follow after Jesus Christ.  When your eyes are on the Cross of Jesus Christ, everything you see will be filtered by His sight, by His will, and for His Glory.  And then He will effect real change in the world we live in.  Not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done.

So what about you, Christian?  Do you want to change the world?  Then keep your eyes on the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Take up your cross and follow after him.  By applying all of your attention to the Creator of the Universe and by simply following Him, Jesus Christ, you WILL become the Salt and the Light of the world.  And the world WILL change.  Not because of what we have done, but because of what we have STOPPED doing.  Stop trying to CHANGE the world and allow the Sovereign God to work and the world WILL CHANGE.

Why Did Peter Have A Sword?

I’ve heard a number of sermons on the passage found in  John 18 over the years.  In this Chapter of the Bible, John recounts the point in Jesus’ life where he is taken into custody by the Roman Guard at the insistence of the Jewish Religious Leaders of the day.  In all of the sermons I’ve heard or read or studied on this passage, no one has ever asked the question “What was Peter doing with a sword?”

Say what you will, but the fact remains that Peter, who was consistently in the presence of the Son of God, carried a weapon on his person.  And we must assume here that at no point did Jesus Christ ever instruct Peter to do away with his sword.  Jesus knew that Peter carried the sword.  And Jesus knew the purpose of the sword.   And I don’t think Jesus was surprised at all that Peter drew his sword and used it to cut off the ear of the high priests’ servant.  The idea that the Son of God did not know what was going to occur within the garden that night is a fallacy in the understanding of God himself.  And yet Jesus allowed Peter to accompany him to the garden that night carrying his sword.

The idea that we are not in a battle and are to protect ourselves and our loved ones is simply an egregious one.  Jesus Christ came to this earth in peace being born of a virgin, but he will come again as a God of justice and of war.  And his servants will accompany him armed and prepared for that battle.  I will be numbered among that army.  And the only reason for that army is to fight a battle.  A very real battle that will, unfortunately be fought within the physical realm.

And so I am curious as to why no one wants to ask the question “Why did Peter carry a sword?”  There might be many answers to this question.  A sword, after all, could have been a very useful tool in Peter’s profession.  Peter was a fisherman and a sword might have had all kinds of uses.  However, Peter was in the Garden of Gethsemane and was many miles from any body of water.  Furthermore, a sword might have required more upkeep in the harsh environment around water than a more simple knife.  A sword would have also been a more expensive option for Peter during that time.

My speculation is Peter carried the sword because he was prepared to defend and to fight.  A cause and a purpose that obviously was with justification and was not counseled against.

There are Governments today that want to control the sword.  Because when you control the sword, you keep the people in subjection.  Here in the United States of America we have the specifically identified right to “keep and bear arms”, the right of the sword.  Or in today’s world, the gun or firearm.  This is a right that is not afforded many in the world today.  But it is one that I hold precious and take very seriously.

There are those in the world today that want to remove the sword from the hands of the people, however they don’t want to give up the sword, they want to keep the sword in the hands of those that govern or control the people.  And they have many reasons or arguments for making this case.

They argue that possession of a firearm leads to accidental injuries or deaths.  And this is true.  But possession of a car, or fire, or chainsaws also lead to accidental injuries or deaths.  And the Governments are not out to control or take those items away.  In some cases, a lot of cases, there are items in our everyday lives that lead to many more injuries and deaths than a firearm and Governments do not call for them to be banned or even as heavily regulated.  The one difference is unlike a car, or fire, or a chainsaw, the firearm gives the individual the power to rise up and take their destiny into their own hands. The sword allows people, as has been demonstrated many times in history, to rise up and fight a just fight for a just cause.

I appreciate the role that Governments play in protecting the people.  I myself have served in armed units of the United States Military and I work for the United States Department of Defense today (and have for many years).  But I also recognize that when the thief comes in the night that Police may not be there in time to protect me or my family.  There is a time when I may need the equalizer that is the sword to ward off a would be attacker that wants to do harm to myself or my family.  I also understand the deterrent that is the sword should an unjust regime rise up and try to control the people.

And so I, like Peter, own a sword.  I, unlike Peter, do not live in a State that allows me to freely carry (bear) that sword, but it is still a right that I believe in and strongly support.  The sword potentially allows me to be part of the good fight should the need ever arise.

We know there are Spiritual battles in today’s world, but Spirtual battles spill over and manifest themselves in the physical realm.  And we need to be prepared for both our Spiritual and our physical battles.  The last battle will certainly be fought in the physical realm even though it will be among Spirtual forces.

There will certainly come a day when our swords will be beat into plowshares and the lion will lay down with the lamb, but until that day comes, we should be good soldiers in both the physical and the Spiritual realms.  And I, for one, stand ready with my sword.  I may die by the sword, but I am much more likely to die in a traffic accident out on the nations highways, and the fact that I may die by the sword is not reason enough to willingly lay down my sword nor do I believe it is just cause for those that would take that sword away.