Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

Authority – Not of this Realm (part 5)

November 2, 2014

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. — Preamble to the Constitution

It is, Sir, the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that this Constitution shall be the supreme law. – Daniel Webster

Last time, I said that if the officers of our government are godless men, then the course of our nation is determined by an evil wind. This statement is true, yet still falls short of the truth, for they are of us.  As Daniel Webster observed, we the people of these United States are, under God, the ones responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a representative republic.  A republic the like of which the world has never seen before.  But how has it gone wrong?

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money. – Alexis de Tocqueville

That’s the rub isn’t it? Congress’ approval rating overall is in the neighborhood of 15%.  But, if you ask about an individual’s own congressman the number, though it too is at an all-time low, hangs in there at just above 40%.  Apparently, de Tocqueville was very astute.

My belief is that the government we have, is (still) representative of the spiritual state of the majority of the population. Elected officers pay lip service to serving the needs of the people in the same way that dwindling numbers of people pay lip service to serving God; all the while, both are laboring to serve self.

The scriptures record the exile of the nation of Israel to Babylon. The prophet Jeremiah gives us much insight into the judgment of God in that instance.  But what I want to draw from Jeremiah today is this from chapter 29:

“For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

The ultimate purpose of judgment is restoration. All of the fortune lost with the demise of the “American dream” is meaningless, if our hearts do not long for the restoration of a relationship with the Almighty.

To my way of thinking, the highest responsibility lies with the remnant who have not yet abandoned their walk with God, made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus:

 [If] my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. [2 Chronicles 7:14]

This passage does not say that we have to get the lost to turn from their ways to bring about healing restoration.  It says the people of God need to swallow their self-righteous pride and turn from their wickedness and seek to enter a renewed relationship with Him.  I will reiterate that for Americans, the government we are commanded to be in subjection  to by Romans 13 is a representative government.  It was designed to be a Constitutional Republic, with the rule of law protecting the rights of minority viewpoints from the might of the majority.  Gradually it has come to ignore inconvenient content of the Constitution and more closely follows the prevailing views in the culture.  That is, it is more representative than it was intended to be.  What we have ruling over us, is representative of us.  If we don’t like it infringing on our “inalienable rights”, primarily it is we who have to change.  I submit that we should individually exercise our freedom to go back to God our Healer.  This change cannot be imposed from without.  God Himself will not violate the free choice He has given us.  He sees more value in freedom than we do.  I long for us to find that freedom together.

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Authority – Not of this Realm (part 4)

October 19, 2014

Do not fret because of evildoers; that’s the opening of Psalm 37. Most of us recognize the nature of fretting as being worried about something we have no direct control over.  A trip through the dictionary will reveal that there are physical meanings to the word that give more insight to the insidious nature of being vexed over the uncontrollable.  You will find a sense of cutting a groove through chaffing or wear, corrosion, or even agitation.  Hence, properly understood, don’t fret.  It will corrode your sense of well-being and wear you down.

As the Psalm spoke to me today about evildoers, I found my thoughts going to the masterminds in government and finance. These are men whose sphere of evil influence encompasses us all, in that they are convinced of their right to impose their twisted ideals on the rest of us.  That these men occupy my thoughts at all reveals that I have not yet successfully given these worries to the Almighty.  Look at the passage closely.  His faithfulness to uphold those who are His own is the very core of this passage.

It is the Heart of God to uphold those who love Him. If we draw close in a relationship with Him, the machinations of evildoers pales in the distance.  As I have asked Him about the evildoers, He has reminded me that they are empty and lost.  Having rejected help by His Heavenly power, they are rudderless derelicts driven by an evil wind.  I pray for them, that some glimmer of truth might dawn to turn them from their self-imposed path of destruction.  Especially since they intend to take us with them.  How much better that they should see the light and turn from evil than to continue the drive us toward shipwreck.

I had an epiphany regarding this situation during my morning prayer-time earlier this week. John 15:5 recounts Jesus’ statement that apart from Him, we can do nothing. He was talking to those who were already followers, so this should be understood to mean “Unless you abide in Me, you can do nothing effective for the purposes of God” (good).  I see that all the effort to drive God from the public arena, under the banner of “separation of church and state”, guarantees that government can do nothing good as long as that mistaken belief holds sway.  Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here.  I am a strong believer in the constitutional tenet that government must not do anything to establish a religion or interfere with the free practice thereof.  However, if the officers of government are godless men (whatever their assertions), then the course of the nation is determined by an evil wind.

Authority – Not of this Realm (part 2)

July 27, 2014

Did the limitless Creator of the universe’s uncountable stars also institute flawed government bureaucracies and command us to obey them? That is the inescapable crux of Romans 13, and I’m trying to decide how to reconcile myself to it. This is the second installment on the authority of God, and what He appears to do when delegating it.  At the moment, we are dealing with His conferring of authority on earthly governments.

One of the things that the passage in Romans 13 does, is illuminate the proper function of government. It says God intends that government act as His minister to reward good behavior and rebuke evil behavior. The choice of the word translated minister is instructive. It is the Greek word διάκονος, (pronounced dee-ak’-on-os) the same word from which we get deacon – one who serves. This passage makes it clear enough that God grants authority to government to serve His purposes. Most developed nations have foreign ministers to many other nations. Bestowing authority on a minister isn’t a foreign concept. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) A reliable foreign minister doesn’t act on his own, he acts on behalf of his government. He makes it his business to know what is expected and is faithful to carry out his duties.

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Do you ever hear the word “gridlock” used to lament the notion that there is not enough agreement between parties for Congress to be able to “get the peoples work done”? My assessment is that gridlock on Capitol Hill would be a wonderful thing. I do not believe we have it. Here’s why I say so: In 1925, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) comprised a single volume (pictured above).  By 1998, according to the Office of the Federal Register, the official listing of all regulations in effect contained a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes that claimed 19 feet of shelf space. (This is the most recent estimate that I have been able to locate that included page count.) In the succeeding years, it hasn’t gotten smaller. By 2007, the shelf space had increased to twenty-five feet.  The current version of Title 49 (transportation) takes up nine volumes, while Title 26 (Internal Revenue) occupies twenty volumes. The purpose of the CFR is to define the law, and thereby regulate the behavior of every conceivable entity. One cannot, even with a determined effort, READ the law. (At 10 minutes per page, I estimate it would take 20 years of a normal full-time work schedule to read it through once). Not that reading it would do much good. The court system and all of the legal professions is based on the understanding that to be useful, the law has to be interpreted by trained experts. It is impossible to know it.  It is therefore impossible to follow so many laws in an intentional way.  I laugh when I hear complaints about selective enforcement.  How could it be otherwise? Odds are, there are statutes on the books that you are violating. You could be prosecuted, if those charged with enforcement decided to invest the effort. Does the illegality of your particular doing rise to the level of evil behavior that the government is charged in Romans 13 to bring the wrath of God down on?  I hope not.

I admit I don’t really understand the desire to cling to this massive body of legislation and bureaucratic regulation over the principle that Paul talked about in Romans 7:6. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. And in Romans 8:2 — For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.   Jesus talked about love for God and others as the basis for all the law (Matt 22:36-40). That kind of minimalist approach to the law (law in the sense of describing how God wants us to act) seems to me to accurately reflect the intention of God for the believer – freedom!

Those that love God have a powerful motivation to please him and do right. In fact, that Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is setting us free, and it is glorious!  The Psalms are replete with praise for the rightness of God’s law.  The trouble comes in when some use their freedom to not follow God, which God in His sovereignty, allows. They have no real expectation of something better later. The only rational path for such an individual is as much anarchy as he can get away with. Which, brings us back to Romans 13:4, which states that the government, acting as the minister of God, “does not bear the sword for nothing”. Proper government has the duty to restrain the unrestrained evildoer, by force if necessary. And so, we get to twenty-five feet of printed regulations: man’s laws.

Is this government carrying out its proper function as described in Romans chapter 13? Is it a faithful minister of the authority bestowed on it from above? We’ve established pretty clearly that there are laws on the books that can be brought to bear against any possible wrongdoing.  Still, Jesus had some choice words for the lawyers of His day; “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” – Luke 11:46.  Somehow, I think God takes a dim view of excessive rulemaking.

Does an assessment that the system is out of control negate the validity of the claim that it derives its authority from God?  Before we go too far down that road, it would behoove us to remember that Paul was writing within the Roman Empire, though before Nero began torturing and executing Christians.

More to come on the subject of God’s authority…

Authority – Not of this Realm (part 1)

July 20, 2014

Recently, as I meditated on a scripture passage commanding subjection to governing authority (Romans 13), I realized that I needed to do some diligent accounting work as to my attitude about the same. My own apologia on this subject is anything but settled. Anyone who has read this blog over any significant span will know that I maintain that much of the force currently being applied by those in government is in violation of law. Both the Constitution and natural law are regularly ignored for some political expediency or the advancement of a contrary agenda. The principles that our founders wrestled with and forged into the Bill of Rights (ratified near the end of 1791) are still supposedly treasured by the people, but found inconvenient by our leaders. Certainly, the spiritual laws and precepts that we Christians attempt to follow are being maligned while governing authority rides roughshod over our convictions, even as we decline in numbers and apparent influence.

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Iowa Privacy Fence – July 20, 2014

While my most charitable view is that many of the openly-stated aims of one political party tend toward evil, I am forced to admit the other party is actively complicit in that same evil. They posture conservatism while actually engaging in artifice and pretense. Their actual ends are indistinguishable from those of the party of the first part. Conservative Christian believers want to believe the subterfuge that claims to oppose the evil of the openly stated aims of the “progressives”. We have often resigned ourselves to following wrong shepherds, thinking them the lesser of two evils. These “leaders” seek only their own befit, at our expense. We the people are loathe to admit that the two parties are effectively one.

Looking around, the other sheep seem as bewildered and disillusioned as I. Some have succumbed to an attitude of fatalism. Now, fatalism is a doctrine which has adherents who are blessed with a self-fulfilling terminus. I was astonished this week to hear sometimes-comedian, sometimes-wise, and indisputably-intelligent Dennis Miller openly espousing fatalism on his radio program. The government holds all the power, he said. There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t fight city hall. If you do, they can make your life hell with IRS audits, inspections, and trumped-up legal charges ad-infinitum. Resistance is destined to go down in flames. His recommendation: don’t worry about it, hug your kids; eat a nice meal with your loving spouse. Enjoy your life. I think all of these things are fine and right, as long as society holds up, and you are able. But I don’t think they answer the question of what to do about government run amok.

What will I do, then, with the injunction to be subject to the governing authorities, with the assurance that there is no authority except from God? I am unconvinced the fatalist is correct and unwilling to be found to be working at cross purposes to the Almighty. I am just as sure that incessant complaining about the status-quo is activity that is ineffectual, and probably harmful. Therefore, I am determined to explore authority from a Biblical perspective. I have looked into the scriptures on this subject enough already to know that this is a hard row to hoe. If you share these questions, I invite you to come along. I pledge to give this inquiry as much time as I am able. I also commit to give full consideration to questions, comments, and suggestions.

(I am writing from my own experience as a citizen of the USA. But, this country has no monopoly on governing authorities who seem to be failing to carry out the stated purpose of opposing evil. I think we are going to find in the scriptures a balm for wounds worldwide. I hope we recognize a plan of action along the way.)

 

 

Dealing with Loved Ones

November 21, 2013

If you believe that someone you love is doing something that will bring them serious harm, what do you do? You recognize, assuming they are adult, their absolute right of self-determination. You recognize their beliefs don’t align with your own. For that matter, an ever-growing number of peoples’ opinions on the matter don’t even come close to yours. They used to. But, not these days. Your way of looking at it is deemed outdated and old fashioned at best. We’ll leave less charitable assessments for later. Still, you don’t see it ending well. You even recognize that you are looking much further down the road than they have even considered; perhaps further than your loved-one may think matters. Do you mind your own business? How convinced are you of a negative outcome? How negative to you think the outcome is likely to be? How permanent? You know from observation that the other is highly invested in the track they are on. You know from past experience that effective persuasion on the subject is mostly already countered by a made-up mind. You easily understand how convictions work; you have your own. So, what do you do?

It’s historic!

August 30, 2013

Liberal-leaning individuals and those best characterized as dyed-in-the-wool conservatives overwhelmingly agree; We should do nothing – absolutely nothing – in Syria. Who cares if the red-line-drawer-in-Chief loses some face?

Intelligence insider: Syria, World War III & the hidden objective

August 28, 2013

If you don’t think what you hear on the news makes sense in any scenario you can imagine; consider this angle: (click the link)

By the Blood of the Lamb

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The Land of the (used to be) Free

August 8, 2013

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/08/snowdens-e-mail-provider-is-closing-cannot-legally-say-why/

St. Lo France

July 4, 2013

Today, I am presenting a link to a historical page worth reading.  My personal connection is that my family lost my Dad’s older brother at St. Lo.  I don’t think anyone in the family knew from word they received whether his death was the result of enemy fire, or because of the mistakes detailed in this article.

http://www.30thinfantry.org/st_lo_battle.shtml

http://media.nara.gov/media/images/29/19/29-1900a.gif

Glass Half Empty

April 17, 2013

I don’t usually think of myself as a glass-half-empty kind of guy. As staunch supporter of the rights guaranteed citizens by the US Constitution, I should be overjoyed that the Senate failed to pass their background check legislation today by a 6-vote margin. Still, I can’t help wondering how the forty-six Senators — who at some point took a solemn oath to uphold the constitution — took the position they did today. I wonder, what do the words “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” mean to those oath takers?

The choice of the word infringed is interesting, don’t you think? It immediately brings to mind exactly this kind of nibbling at the edges, knowing they can’t get away with the whole slice at one go. I hope next election day, we can make the halls of Congress half-empty of those oath breakers.