Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fear ruled the day

Fear ruled the day when..
  • The progressives newspapers of the 20's wrote about the dangers alcohol on society
    • we passed the 18th amendment to ban the production and sale of alcohol making law-abiding citizens criminals over night.
  • The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 
    • we interred 110,000 Japanese American citizens in camps on FDR's executive order 9066, taking away their land and property (many never got their farms back after the war).
  • The Cold War with Russia caused 
    • the black listing of American citizens based on "hear-say" arguments under McCarthy
  • When 19 hijackers flew 4 planes into 3 buildings and killed over 3000 American citizens
    • we gave away our right to not be unlawfully searched and seized to the TSA
    • we passed the Patriot Act allowing the FBI to do warrant-less wire-tapes and searches
    • we passed the defense bill giving the military the power to arrest indefinitely without trial any American citizen if they are "suspected" of terrorism.
  • When 20 children and 6 teachers were gunned down by mentally disturbed boy
    • Congress wanted to put limits on the 2nd amendment banning the sale of certain guns and limiting the amount of ammunition a person can carry.

Will we ever learn?

Do we really know the true meaning to the words:

        "The land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No one needs...

It all starts with those 3 simple words:  "No one needs"

No one needs.... a 32 oz. soda  (Mayor Bloomberg of NYC)
No one needs.... a incandescent light bulb  (Obama's EPA)
No one needs.... to expect privacy with their emails (Patriot Act)
No one needs.... to make over a million dollars (Obama's Tax)
No one needs.... to fail (Bank bailout and our Education System)
No one needs.... to learn from their mistakes (Housing bailout)

Also used by progressives is the direct opposite preamble: "Everyone needs...."

Everyone needs.... cheap health care
Everyone needs.... a college education
Everyone needs.... a house
Everyone needs.... an equatable wage to live on
Everyone needs.... easy access to abortion

But where does it end?

Using those words, a government can claim any and all decisions and property of its citizens.  As I wrote in an earlier piece, what is at the very heart of this discussion is the question of "self-determination".  Progressives hate that word with a passion, because to them the average citizen is too stupid to make the right choice and therefore all bad possible decisions must be taken away.   They liken us to little-children who must be watched over and protected with safety-locks, video-monitors, fences and dull plastic toys.  They see themselves as the parents who know better in all circumstances what is best for all of us.

[NOTE: I find it ironic that they still trust us to vote for the right politicians]

One must also find out where these progressives have gotten this new found power to peer in ALL of our lives at once and make these assertions.  Do they have magical powers?  Do they have crystal balls to gaze at?  Are they God?  But of course they don't have any of the former abilities, but no one ever calls them on it.  

Today the discussion is all about gun control and what kind of guns and amounts of ammo the citizen needs to protect themselves (forget the fact that the 2nd amendment was written to allow citizens to protect themselves from an out of control government that ignores the constitution).  Senators snub their noses at us and tell us, "6 bullets in a clip should be adequate protection from any home invasion you might encounter".    To them, they are being more than gracious after all many feel that if left up to them we wouldn't be allowed to own anything this dangerous in the first place.

But let's consider a less life-or-death area of life. Let's consider the category of "Climate Change" and how the words "no one needs" could be used to take away more of your self-determination
  • Can the government decide how big of a house you can live in?  
    • No one needs a house larger than 2000 sq-ft.   
  • Can they dictate what kind of car you drive? 
    • No on needs a car that goes over 100 mph.   
  • Can they dictate how many children you can have?  
    • No one needs to have more than 2 children.   
  • Can they dictate how far you live from work?  
    • No one needs to live in the suburbs.  
  • Can they dictate how you get to work?  
    • No one needs to drive their own car to work you can all take the train  
  • Can they dictate what your thermostat is set to?  
    • No needs to have their house heated above 66 or cooled below 78.
Now of course some of those statements look absurd in today's world (like not having more than 1 child), but given enough time and brain-washing from the education system, any of these can become reality. 

The question isn't IF ... but WHEN.
  




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My "needs"

Piers Morgan on CNN LOVES to ask his guests on his show, "Who needs an AR-15?"  or "Who needs a magazine that can hold over 10 rounds of bullets?".  The answer he wants is "No one" of course.

The question I would like to ask him is "Who needs a house over 4000 square feet in size?".  It's the same basic question, and most likely he would be as hesitant to give an answer of "No one"  for the same reason as I would not give him the same answer for his question.  It shows the absurdness and the audacity of it all.  Who are YOU to question MY NEEDS!   I alone will determine the level of protection I need now or in the distant future and not you!

The whole gun debate falls on 2 central basic human rights.
  • Self-Determination
  • Self-Preservation

Self-Determination
It's very easy for people like Piers Morgan to sit on their lofty perches and snobbishly look down their noses at us little-people and determine for us what our "needs" should be or not.  Our country was founded on the principle that that individual knows best.   They know best, because they see the evil that is around them.  They are there in the trenches.  If they live in Detroit they might need more protection.  If they live in suburbia, they might (for the time-being) need less protection.  But government can only implement a "one-size-fits-all-approach" for all 300+ million of us and it doesn't work.  Our founders said that they trust the average citizen to be good, decent, caring and to do the right thing.  To people like Mr. Morgan I say, "I ALONE WILL DETERMINE MY NEEDS IN THIS LIFE AND NOT YOU!"

Self-Preservation
From the time we are born (and even conceived) life wants to go on living.  Every animal on this earth yearns to live another day and see another sunrise.  The founding fathers called this "nature's law" and to violate this law was wrong.    Even those who don't believe in God, must accept at least these fundamental and self-evident principles.   To prevent or inhibit a person's basic need to protect themselves is a crime against humanity itself.

People like Piers Morgan have elaborate security-guards following them to and from home each day and most likely each of those guards is carrying one or more guns with 6 or more bullets each.  If necessary his security detail could unleash a flurry of bullets on any would-be assailant.  Piers Morgan would need to be the one to determine if that level of protection is warranted or not to preserve HIS life.

All I ask is to be given the same basic right as well


Monday, January 28, 2013

Never again!

The 2 words, "Never" and "Again" are diametrically opposed to each other and seem odd to put them together.  On the face they seem like an oxymoron, but these are often the words spoken at tragedies like Sandy-Hook by politicians who want us to believe that their next law will somehow prevent such tragedies from re-occurring.

After WWII, we uttered these same words as well, for after the attack on Pearl Harbor we imprisoned thousands of law-abiding Japanese-American citizens.  We did this because we were afraid of them.  They were a different culture which we did not fully understand and we were very suspect of their patriotism.   Because we wanted to sleep better at night we took away the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" from a group of law-abiding citizens.

Now here we are "again", fearing for our children's safety and willing to "sacrifice" the freedoms of others for our security.   We say the 2nd amendment must have "limits" and freedoms must be curtailed... sound familiar?

Will we ever learn!

PS - there are over 55 million elementary school children in our country and on the day that Sandy-Hook occurred,  which means that 99.99995% of all children who went to school that day came home safely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crying WOLF!

We all remember the story of "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf" from our kindergarten days.  In the story a boy decides to cry wolf to get the towns people to run out to help him as a joke.  But after several "jokes", the towns people turn a deaf ear when the boy cries "wolf" for real and he is eaten by the wolf.

Today, conspiracy theories have run a muck in our country.   The JFK conspiracy made for a good movie by Oliver Stone in the 90's.   After 9-11, conspiracy theories arose that our own government ran planes into buildings to start a war with Iraq and Afghanistan. Then during the Katrina catastrophe, conspiracy theorists said that Bush ordered the dikes to be blown up to create a larger amount of destruction. 

Now we have Sandy-Hook conspiracy theorists saying that our own government sent agents into an elementary school to shook 20 children and 6 adults and blame the shooting on a mentally ill teenage boy and his mother (some theorists even want you to believe that it never even happened) all so the government could drum up support to remove the 2nd amendment.

To me most of these theories are from people who, like the boy-who-cried-wolf, desperately want attention and to get that attention they are willing to "fool us" any way they can.   They want to appear smarter and more informed than everyone else and thanks to the internet now, they can even get paid for it on YouTube by how many clicks they get.  We, then, are reinforcing their sickness by visiting their videos and passing them along to our friends.

Why do we want to  believe conspiracy theories?

We don't like random acts of evil
Because they help us make sense of the world.  We don't like random acts of violence in our lives.  It makes us feel uneasy about our world and what might happen to us.   We would rather believe there is someone behind the scenes pulling the strings because then it becomes less random.  While it does make our world more sinister on one hand, on the other hand it makes our life more ordered.  This especially becomes more necessary when dealing with situations in which people who are either mentally disturbed or influenced in a diabolical way such as the case with radical Islam.  We would rather think that "rational" people are behind the action rather than to accept the fact that not everyone in this world is "rational".  It's easier to believe that men in room somewhere are flying the planes like giant drones into the Twin Towers rather than 19 middle eastern men who had been living among us planning our destruction.

Reinforces our views
It also reinforces our dislike for those in power.  When Bush was in power, the left loved the conspiracy theories, because it reinforced their belief that Bush was evil and not to be trusted.  It provided "proof" to them that he as a "war-monger" and capable of great harm to the world.   Now that Obama is in power, many on the right are drawn by the Sandy-Hook conspiracy because it reinforces their belief that Obama is evil and willing to do anything to spark a revolution in the country. 

The sad thing is that these conspiracy theories will eventually jade us to such a level that we will not recognize a REAL conspiracy when it does occur and we will have lost ALL faith in our government officials in the end as well.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Local Governments: our Achillie's Heel

While our attention is focused on what is happening in Washington DC (inauguration, debt debates, scandals, speeches, etc..) others are working at a much much lower level in our country.  Recently it came to my attention that back in 1991 our country, thanks to George H Bush, signed on with the UN and their Agenda 21 (21st agenda) program.  While this program was never ratified by the Congress as it is not a treaty but instead a "non-binding voluntarily implemented action plan" (see Wikipedia) which seeks to establish "sustainable development". (Is this what George H Bush was talking about when he said in his inauguration, "We see the forming of a new world order" ?)    

This is what is called a "bottoms up program" as it does not go through Congress down to the states, but instead works at the local level across our country.   Through its attachment to the UN it is viewed as having the "power of law" when in fact it has none of it.   It is socialism on a world-wide scale, but its implementation is in our own communities. 

This brings me to my discussion of Achilles Heel.  According to the myth, Achilles mother Thetis, dips him in the river Styx (which separates the living world from the under-world) making him immortal in all places except of course, his heel.   Achilles goes on to be a great warrior and invincible in battle, until the battle of Troy where he is shot by Paris with an arrow in the heel and kills him. 

The moral of the story is that we are only as strong as our weakest point just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.   For our country, our weakest point is not a single point but instead many single points spread over our country in the form of local boards.  These local boards dictate to us what we can build, where we can build, how we build and for whom we build.  The people on these boards are often voted into office with only a few votes being cast in our elections as they are largely ignored by us.   Yet these officials can and will have the most visible impact on our local families and lives. 

Armed with fancy brochures from "planners" who have been trained by people connected with Agenda 21, they will push for things like "smart growth", and "sustainable development".   They will say that growth must take into account the needs of future generations (so we are supposed to have crystal balls to help us determine what those needs are?).   They will gather communities together in small groups to gain "consensus" saying "what do you think about our plans for your community?".  But they are not interested in your input.  No one will be taking notes. There will be no follow up or modifications of their plans.   Your attendance is all that is needed, for by doing so they can claim that you gave them your "OK" and they have your consensus to go ahead with what they had planned already.

Does this sound too much like "Conspiracy Theory"?   It's not.  I urge you to go to the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICLEI_Local_Governments_for_Sustainability_USA

Also, please check out the follow YouTube video from a Democrat who is trying to get the word out on this.  (Its over an hour long... but very well worth the time)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEHWsdimVO4





Monday, January 14, 2013

Rights == Risks

I recently wrote on my Facebook page that "all rights pose risks to our country. It is the price tag of freedom".  Here I would like to expand and discuss this further in detail.

Every right we claim as citizens poses a risk to either our personal or national security as it can be exploited by people who wish to hurt or destroy us.

"Freedom of Speech" for example, allows us to say anything about our country.  It doesn't say for example that we have only the freedom to speak the truth only.  We an speak truth or lies, good and evil,  praise or slander.  Those who hate our country are welcome to say whatever they want and in the case of our universities, even get paid for it.  The risk is that our children and grand-children will be brain-washed into believing we are a hate-filled, bigoted, racist, genocide-loving, greedy country that has never done anything right.  We must be willing to take the good with the bad, but we must also be willing to take the verbal-stripes for standing up for what we believe and confronting those who lie about our country's history with the truth.

"Freedom of Religion" poses its own set of risks today.  With Islamic terrorists on the loose who believe a radical form a Islam that wishes to bend every knee in the world (Islam means "to submit") to Allah some in this country may use our "Freedom of Religion" as a way to enforce their beliefs on others.  We cannot forbid them from building their religious buildings or schools in our country, but we can and should shine the light of truth on what they are teaching.   We can and must stand up and say that Radical-Islam is not consistent with our countries beliefs.  We need to understand that other religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism do promote the general welfare of our country in teaching, honesty, care for others, hard work, love and appreciation for our government. While Radical Islam does not uphold these values and believes our government must be replaced with a Islamic based form of theocracy.

"Freedom of the Press" poses risks to our society because it does not limit what can be said or printed. Like the Freedom of Speech, it allows others to say in printed (or electronic) form whatever they want.  It actually goes beyond the freedom of speech because it allows more people to be offended than just those within my voices "ear shot".  I can harm people well beyond what a microphone can afford me to do and I can do it with non-verbal forms of communication in the form of pictures as well.  Pornography is an evil that has been around since cavemen have been writing on walls and today there is so much on the internet it boggles the mind. Some argue that the Internet needs to be regulated to limit this kind of material.  While the founding fathers never foresaw the day when we can distribute information as fast as we can today,   we cannot and should not stop it.

"Right to Bear Arms".  This right has received a lot of attention lately with the tragedy at Sandy-Hook.  It goes without saying that having an armed society poses a great deal of risk.  However, our founding fathers saw having an "unarmed society" posed an even greater risk.  Thomas Jefferson himself felt that a revolution was needed about every 25 years or so.  One might argue that the Civil War was made possible by the 2nd Amendment when the southern slave states to attempted to leave the Union.  If it were not for the 2nd Amendment and the free access to guns, the southern states might not have tried to leave the union and would have continued to exert their influence on newly formed states to promote slavery and thereby prolong slavery in our country.  Also, it was what drove our fight for independence in 1776.  When the British came to the Concord bridge in 1775 was it to just pick a fight with the colonists?  No.  It was to seize the guns believed to be stored there and had it not been for the arms they owned, our fight for independence would never had occurred.  In short, Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "Where the people fear the government there is tyranny, where the government fears the people there is freedom".

"Right to Privacy".   This right has been under attack profusely in the last decade since 9-11.   Fear is a major force and is used to manipulate us.  Like the fear induced in the 2nd amendment, we fear the unknown.  We want to know what others might be doing that might harm us.  We, of course, do not believe our actions would ever be called into question, but that OTHER person certainly needs to be examined.  Then one day, WE become that OTHER person and now our activities are under scrutiny.  Those in law enforcement begrudge this right as they say it prevents them from doing their job.  They say it slows them down because they have to go to a judge and prove their need for wire-taps or warrants to search peoples houses.  But that is EXACTLY what the amendment is meant to do.  It is meant to slow down the government because a government that does not have these "brakes" becomes a "run-away-train" capable of doing incredible harm to its citizens.  Our forefathers had no such protections from the British government.  If they suspected you of anything, they could enter your premises and take whatever they felt they needed.  Can terrorists use the right to privacy against us?  Of cource they can.   But making exceptions to the rule eventually leads to it always being the rule rather than the exception. 

    As a society, we have given up many of our privacy rights.  At the airport we expose ourselves to radiation in electronic screening that peer under our clothes looking for guns, knives and explosives.   We allow our wives and daughters to be ogled by old men and touched in areas they should be afforded every form of privacy. All in the name of terrorism.   Many say it's all in the name of "the greater good" but to what limits will the greater good require me to give up my dignity as a human being.  For this is what it privacy is all about.  Dignity.   From our holes in our underwear, to how we look undressed, our privacy affords us our dignity to stand in public unashamed of who or what we are.  When the Nazi's took the Jews into the camps, one of the first things they did was make them undress in full view of the guards.  This was done to steal their dignity and make them feel less than human both in their own eyes but also in the eyes of the guards who would later execute them.  We read story after story and see You-Tube videos all the time of children and the elderly treated horribly by the TSA.  We say "Where is their common sense?  Where is their sense of decency?"  The answer is, they no longer see you and me as humans but only as air-cargo that needs to be shipped somewhere.  You are no more than a faceless, soulless electronic image on a screen. Your dignity as a human being has been erased like a thousand others who have come through their lines.  We allow ourselves to be treated as "guilty until proven innocent" rather than the other way around.

   Do you want to be treated with dignity?  Then you must afford all others that same expectation.
 
"Right to a speedy trial".  We have seen the cases where clearly the person is an evil person by what he has done in the past and now they are caught again.  But the evidence is murky and unclear.  If the police had more time they could maybe make a better case.  We would like to keep such individuals in jail for as long as possible because there they are no risk to us.  Sometimes bad people (ahem... OJ Simpson) get away with crimes they should not, but what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.  Do we want to be kept in jail for years on end (this was what happened to the colonists) without a trial?  Of course not.  So we must take the good with the bad.


Like a teeter-totter where one end only goes up if the other side goes down, freedom (through our exercise of rights) can only go UP if our expectations of being secure go DOWN. 

















Monday, January 7, 2013

Hymn writers vs Song writers

    My father was a Lutheran school teacher for 32 years.   He also was a church organist, choir director (children and adult), and Sunday School superintendent.   I had him as a teacher for 3rd and 4th grade and remember him combining his love of music with other areas of education.  I remember well him combining music and history together by having us students take a hymn writer and research their life and music to present a research paper to the class.  In doing so, he showed us the incredible lives these men and women lived that made them the hymn writers they were.

   My favorite was John Newton.  Born in 1725, he could be described as one of the foulest humans to have set foot upon the earth.  He became a captain of a slave ship carrying black slaves from Africa to the Caribbean.  He often had sex with the female slaves on these voyages and was known for his cruelty.   When he was in the navy he tried to leave and was stripped to the waste and lashed with a whip in view of 350 men.  During a voyage his ship nearly sank and promised to God to change his ways if he was spared.  Newton was spared and he did change his ways.  Even while still in the slave trade, John Newton held services on board his ship, but after several years decided that this was not acceptable and left the slave trade altogether.  He became a minister and an advocate against the slave trade with Wilbur Wilberforce.  His most famous hymn is of course, "Amazing Grace" which has been the subject of countless books, movies and documentaries.   John Newton later said, "My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour".   Only by his life can we truly see the grace of God.  Like a diamond put on black velvet, so Christ's grace is only seen more brightly by our sins darkness. 
   
   Other famous hymn writers of note are:

  • Martin Luther: reformer and hymn writer wrote "A mighty fortress is our God".  Luther was declared a heretic by the Pope and was a marked man.  He had to move from town to town in disguise to keep from being killed.  
  • Issac Watts : a non-conformist (did not attend the Church of England) was unable to attend Oxford because of his beliefs.  His father was imprisoned for his beliefs as well. He wrote songs like "Joy to the World", and "When I survey the Wondrous Cross" and many more
  • Paul Gerhardt : wrote "O Sacred head now wounded", suffered horribly in Germany during the "30-years War".  Because he refused to sign an edict of Elector Friedrich  Wilhelm I, which limited free speech regarding religion, he was deposed from  office in 1666 and wasn’t even allowed to conduct private worship in his own  home
  • William Cowper : wrote "There is a fountain filled with blood".  He suffered depression and was even committed to a mental hospital.  Later he worked with John Newton to write hymns
  • Anne Steele: wrote "Father: What'er of earthly bliss".  She was paralyzed due to a horse accident.  Later she lost her fiance just hours before their wedding when he died while bathing in a river.
  • James Montgomery: wrote "Angels from the realms of glory" was imprisoned twice for his views on abolishing slavery.  
  • Horatio Spafford: wrote "It is well with my soul". He knew suffering. Lost everything he owned in the Chicago fire.  Later, for health reasons moved his family to England but lost his 4 daughters when their ocean-liner crashed into another ship. It was later that he penned this famous him.
Now compare these men and women to the likes today and they pale in comparison.  For example, one such new artist by the name of Rebecca St. James, became Christian song writer at the age of 12 (I am sure she learned a lot about the hardships and difficulties of living in her short 12 years).  Sandi Patty who was the darling of the Christian Music industry and sang at President Bush 41's inauguration, later filed for divorce from her husband after it was revealed she was having an on-going affair with a member of her band.  Amy Grant married Gary Chapman in 1982 and later divorced him in 1999 and in 2000 married Vince Gill who had been previously married to Janis Oliver.

But its not just their lives that gives you pause, its also their songs:
  • "Me and God" by Josh Turner.  All I can say here is, "me first"
  • "Holes in the floor of Heaven" by Steve Wariner:  better get a termite inspector up there ASAP
  • "When I get where I am going" by Brad Paisely:  
    • When I get where I'm going,
      On the far side of the sky,
      The first thing I'm gonna do
      Is spread my wing and fly.

      I'm gonna land beside a lion,
      And run my fingers through his mane.
      Or I might find out what its like,
      To ride a drop of rain
             All I can say here is "What drivel!"
  • "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood:  This is by the same artist who in another song condones breaking headlights, keying the cars paint and ripping leather seats in the song, "Before he cheats".  (I think she won a Grammy for that one too)
  • "Angels Among Us" by Alabama:  sorry, but knowing the our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promises to "be with you always" is enough for me.  Many today opt for "angels" because they are not seen as "judgmental" as God is.
  • "The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery: this song barely can be called a Christian song. Talks of a girl abused by her father and mother and taken by social workers to a new family.  Only talks of Jesus in that she held onto a picture of him when she hid from her parents. 

Kind of sickens you doesn't it?

Writing Hymns vs. Writing Songs
   The main problem with songs used in churches today is that they were never written to be used in churches.  Unlike the hymn-writers of old, who wrote their hymns specifically for the purpose of being used in a church and sung by old and young alike, good singer and bad singer; the songs written today are meant to be sung by professional singers on the radio or in concert.  While a professional singer can take a hymn and sing it as a solo, the opposite is hardly ever true.  Too often, congregations struggle to keep up or hit the notes required by the song and the "praise band" leading the church ends up being a "concert band" instead (and I sometimes wonder if they want it that way).
 
Personal Story
   I personally have come full circle in my life in regards to Christian Music.  When I was in high school I loved the Christian music scene.  I had "The Imperials", "Don Fransisco", "Stryper", "Amy Grant", "Rez Band" and many others.  I went to their concerts, bought their tapes, and listened to them constantly on the radio.   I used to argue with my Dad saying "Why can't we sing these songs in church?"  and felt that other churches were more "with it".  But these songs infected me with a disease that almost killed me.  That disease was Emotional Spiritualism.  I "felt" I was saved by what I "felt" in my "heart".  I would sin and then "cry" to God for forgiveness.  I developed an unhealthy relationship to God in that I thought God forgave me because "I was sorry" and not because he was a gracious God.  I often used these songs and records to heighten my awareness of being "forgiven".   Like  a drug dealer it always took more of the drug the next time, until finally in college there was no more.

   It has taken a long time for God to dry me out.  When I began to attend church again after college I thought I would just go back to my old ways.  But God had a better plan.  He stripped me of all that.  It didn't work anymore.  It was fruitless. I needed to rely on God and what he has already done for me in Jesus Christ and nothing more.  Thanks be to God he didn't let me continue in my destructive ways.


Friday, January 4, 2013

We can't lose!

I love the game of football.  It is a microcosm of the world with battles played on on the grid-iron rather than out on the open field with guns, tanks and planes.   I love watching all the strategy that coaches employ with rushing the quarterback, playing sneak plays, running out the clock and more.

Sometimes during the course of the game, a defensive player might step off-sides during a pass play.  You see the flag go up and you know what it's for.  The quarterback knows this as well.  He knows a penalty is forthcoming against the other team and they are going to get a 1st down no matter what happens during the play.

Does the quarterback stop the play and just take the penalty?

Of course not!

He continues the play, knowing he can try a longer pass down field than what he may normally do.  He has nothing to lose.  If the pass is intercepted, they will take off-sides penalty and the interception will be nullified.   If the pass is caught and they get more yards than the penalty, they will decline the penalty and take the yards gained on the pass.

Sportscasters call this a "free play", because it changes the entire outlook of the quarterback.   He has nothing to fear because the outcome is certain.  They are going to get a 1st down no matter what.

For us as Christians, Jesus has given us a "free play" as well.   The outcome is certain.  We are going to heaven no matter what!   Does this mean we should just sit and wait for "the call"?  No.  Instead we should have the outlook of the quarterback and throw caution to the wind and "go for it!"

Thursday, January 3, 2013

God's purpose

"Hindsight is 20/20" so the saying goes.

Starting a new year, we often look back at the previous year and wonder "what happened and why?". It's easier to look back in history and see God's hand in history than it is to look at our own current situation.

When I was in high school I, like many my age, hated history.  It all seemed so unnecessary at the time.  Then when I got into college I had an awesome college professor at the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana by name of Professor Thomas Scanlan.  Sadly he passed away in 2009, but I feel he left part of himself here with me.   He taught a class called "Roman Achievement" in a theater that would sit 2000 students.  I was one of those lucky few that got to sit and listen as he showed slides and discussed the entire Roman history and culture (all without notes).   Through this class he showed how those in the past were not much different from us today and that we owed much of our culture and world to them.

It was during this class that I saw what God was doing "through" the Roman Empire to advance HIS goal of reaching out to a broken world.  The Romans provided everything he would need to deliver his gospel.  (I later found out that he was a long time member of the Catholic church as well)

Roman roads:
  "Make straight the way of the Lord!"  (John 1:23, Is 40:3) .  This verse often is used for John the Baptist, but I also feel it has prophetic message about the coming Roman Empire which would make the straightest, flattest, easiest to ride on roads of its time.  Rome did not go around mountains, they went through them.  Rome did not go down into gorges, they built bridge straight through them.  Rome did not simply travel on dusty cattle trails, they built roads of brick and stone.  These roads were of coarse used so they could move their armies to wherever they were needed as quickly as possible.  But GOD used these roads as well.  Jesus and his disciples walked these roads constantly and could go from one part of Judea to the next.  Later Peter, Paul and other apostles would walk these highways and carry the good news to the entire Roman empire.


Roman coin:

  Before Rome, every city and country had their own coin.  Traveling was made difficult because you had to exchange your coin for theirs (or just carry gold with you).  But under Roman rule, the entire world was using the same coin.  It was like the VISA card of old.  Good anywhere and anytime.




Greek Language

The Greek language gave the disciples 3 main advantages never before seen.

Globalization 
    The entire Roman world spoke Greek/Latin.   Communicating the gospel would never be easier.  Under Alexander the Great, the Jews were forced to translate their scriptures to Greek.  This would never have been done on their own accord.  But thanks to the Greek Empire, it was accomplished.  This meant that the whole world would have access to the scriptures and not just Hebrew/Aramaic speaking Jews. It also allowed peopled like Paul to write letters to a large variety of audiences (Corinth, Galatia, Thesolonica, etc) using a single language and no need of a translator.  These letters would later be compiled into what we now know as the New Testament Epistles and be read by other people outside of those original recipients.

Exactness to detail
    Another advantage that the Greek language presented to the early biblical writers as its exactness.  With a word for every use (for example there were 4 different words for "love"), a writer could describe what happened with great detail so there was little or no confusion on the readers behalf.  Some of this is lost in its translation into English, but scholars are able to return to the original text and determine the writers full meaning.

Complete alphabet
   Finally Greek had one additional advantage over Hebrew. Vowels.  The Hebrew language lacks vowels and so a reader must "insert" them as they read.  For example, we can still read the following statement below:

    Th quck brwn fx jmpd vr th lzy dg

But some may be a little harder to figure out.

     Fr scr nd svn yrs g r fthrs brght frth n ths cntnnt  nw ntn, cncvd n lbrty, nd ddctd t th prpstn tht ll mn r crtd ql

   The reader must already "know" what they are reading otherwise, words like "thus" and "this" or "at" and "it" or "to"  would be indistinguishable.

 

Roman Peace:

The Roman Peace (called "The Pax Romana") was an integral part in the spreading of the Gospel to the world.  The Roman empire supplied over 500 years of relative peace.  The world would never know a time of peace as long as this ever again.   This peaceful time allowed the disciples to travel to every corner of the Roman empire with relative safety.   This peace also gave the people of Rome the luxury of contemplating the Christian faith and doctrine.  I say "luxury" because often when we are afraid we hunker down as humans and often become afraid to change our ways .. especially our religious ways.  In ancient culture this was even more the case since when wars, disease or natural disasters befell them, "the gods" were thought to be angry and man felt that he needed to appease them to make things right again.   It is during those times when people are most resistant to hearing about other religions and other gods (don't want to upset the apple cart). This luxury was used by God for his good as well as the good of those living at this time.


Roman Justice System:
   While not perfect, it was a major improvement over what was before.  The existence of written case law and consistency was necessary.   The Roman concept of religious plurality was an important ingredient for the spread of Christianity.  Of course, later on, Rome would declare it illegal to be a Christian as it was not well understood and did come in conflict with the Roman religion of emperor-worship, but early on it was largely ignored and allowed.   Compared to previous "governments" where the religious priests were politically connected to the kings and leaders and often prevented other faiths from taking hold, this world view was a welcome and improved change over previous empires which sought to erase other cultures religions. All Rome wanted from the regions they captured was their money (taxes) and their allegiance. Religion was, for the most part, inconsequential to them.


God's purpose for all of this:
One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 5:6

     You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly

The words, "at just the right time" reminds me of what we often see in the movies.  Often they contain what screen-writers call "an inflection point".   It's a time when all seems lost and the main character is going to die or lose everything that things change for the better.  It's at "just the right time" help arrives in either the form of the police, the military, or the needed legal witness comes into court.

So also, "just at the right time.... Christ died for the ungodly".   When all the pieces were in place, God came and dwelt among us, lived with us and later died and rose again for us.  Did the people at the time see what God was doing?  Probably not.   The people of Rome thought that all these comforts and improvements were all for their use and amusement, but God had bigger purposes in mind.  At the same time, many of the Jews were angry and frustrated by being taken over first by the Greeks and later by the Romans.  They wanted their own country back.  They yearned for the days of David and Solomon again.  The glory days of old.  They thought that if they could just turn their hearts and people to God and keep all of his commandments (especially the Sabbath laws) for just one day God would reward them with a messiah to rule them like David on a physical throne.

We are, in some ways, not much different than them.   We too "yearn for the days of old".  We want leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to reappear and rule like they did.  We "yearn" for a country where we don't have 60,000 pages of tax law, and 200,000 or more pages of regulations.  There are some people who we wish were our leaders but are not.  We hope that the SCOTUS would overthrow Obama-care but they don't.  We hope the people would wake up and elect Romney but they don't.  We long for the media news outlets to return to "journalism" and "hard news" rather than daily drivel they provide.

We cry "What are you doing God?"

But God is involved and nothing happens unless he allows it to happen and his purpose is larger than ours.  I believe we want our country back for our own selfish desires.  We want it back so we can return to our selfish ways.  We want it so we can depend less on him and more on ourselves.  That is the underlying truth of the matter.  We want our country back to the ways of old so we can rest in that glory, like the Jews of Jesus time did.  I am sure many prayers were sent up to God in that time and the answer kept coming back: no No and NO!

Maybe we are getting that same answer today for the very same reason.  Maybe God is using our current situation for HIS greater glory.  (I don't pretend to have some great insight here into God's plan, as I am just as blind as you are)  Maybe the United States role in God's plan has reached its apex, and now it's time to start a new chapter towards his final ending.  To me, we have set ourselves up for a global-economic-collapse the world has EVER seen since the destruction of Rome.  And like Rome, the US has provided all the ingredients (money, communication, travel, weapons) for this final chapter.

While this may cause fear and trepidation for many, for those who believe, we know that God has a greater purpose in mind:

                         THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD!


Does this mean we should stop trying to correct the course our country is on?  Of course not! To me, knowing God's purpose changes how I see things around me and my outlook towards the future.   We may yet lose this "earthly battle", but knowing God has a greater purpose allows us to have hope even when everything seems to be going against us. You might say its a "win-win situation for us".  We cannot lose.  If we fight for our country's future and change its course.. great!  If we fight and it does not change its course and like the Titanic hits its "economic iceberg" ... we know it will be for God's purpose and in the end we win!

No matter what we have the hope of a better future.