A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Founding Principles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Founding Principles. Show all posts

July 2, 2023

Independence Day: Supporting The Cause of Liberty and Freedom!

Do you feel it?  The electricity in the air is tangible. Nerves are taut and frazzled. Do you see it? It's a wariness and a weariness; most notably in the eyes and voices around you.  There's a readiness and a resolve.

I've heard it said more and more lately ..... "I'm so ready for it all to fall in, so we can start over and build from the ground up. Then maybe we can begin where we started and re-institute small government, and return the power to the people. Until we do, we will continue to lose our personal freedoms until we won't recognize ourselves anymore. And I can't stand this slow torture."

Why would anyone wish for the destruction of our economy, our political system, our way of life? Let me attempt to answer those questions.

Perhaps it's because we still have a modicum of freedom-loving spirit still in our DNA.  Maybe what brought those earliest settlers to Jamestown in 1607 and fueled the fire of liberty in their descendants in 1776, still courses through our veins.

I contend that the American soul recognizes that God intended us to live as free men, and it is inherently against our human nature to surrender our ability to become all we can be. We rejoice in our own accomplishments, instead of degrading our innate talents through entitlements and handouts. 

Another component of the "let it all fall in" mindset is the desire to avoid a slow Argentina-style slide into Depression and destabilization. This coincides with a "just rip off the bandaid and let's start the healing" mentality, instead of prolonging the pain by slowly picking at the edges of the adhesive and lengthening the duration of the suffering.

Now, don't get me wrong --- Americans aren't quitters. We don't give up! But anyone who thinks we can turn this massive ship of debt, corruption and constraint around needs to examine the social, historical and ideological forces at work. This situation didn't just happen overnight, and we instinctively know we're headed in the wrong direction. You see, Americans are innovators, trailblazers and pioneers. We chafe under oppressive limitations; we perform our best (and our country benefits most) when enterprise is allowed to flow; free and unfettered.

We will admit to our own failings; we fell asleep on the job. We didn't protect and preserve what was diligently carved out for us by our Founding Fathers, and was fought for and died for over the last two hundred-plus years. And I think that weighs heavier on our hearts than we want to admit. We've wasted our heritage and our God-given blessings. And we want to make it right!

So that's why there are so many of us who want to take on the mantle of leadership and responsibility that is so desperately needed in these times. We are ready to pick up the pieces and re-establish the precious principles that set this nation apart from any other people or country in history.

We don't relish the hardships and misery that will be a necessary part of pushing that re-set button. But we're ready to quit pretending the economy is in recovery; the culture is healthy; and our leaders have our best interests in mind. The quicker we face the music, the faster we can regain our footing and get back on solid ground.

As James Madison so eloquently expressed in 1787, "Is it not the glory of the people of America that, while they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example, of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theater in favor of private rights and public happiness .... Happily for America, and happily we trust for the whole human race, the founders of the nation pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate."    

The emphasis in the previous sentence is mine, and it is the very reason I can understand the desire to get on with our reconstruction as a nation. Sometimes the only way to "improve and perpetuate" a great design, (or in modern terms, "to revive and keep alive"), is to let it fail and rebuild it stronger and to a higher standard. We know what that looks like and we're ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Everything you just read was a post I wrote in May of 2012! Can you believe that was eleven years ago? Somehow, by God's Grace, as we celebrate this 4th of July, the nation is still hanging on by a thread. As precarious as it seemed in 2012, we have slid even further down the rabbit hole. We are more deeply divided along the lines of politics, ethics, culture, and morality. The battle between Good and Evil is more pronounced and more evident. God has pulled back the curtain, revealing the wickedness, lawlessness and depravity of the Evil One and his servants upon our nation; forcing us to take a side. 

For the last 11 years, we've pretty much been able to avoid making that choice. We've limped along, hoping and praying that some righteous leader would lead us out of our crippling national debt; heal us from a devastating world pandemic; and restore our individual freedoms that have been increasingly stripped away. But now, we can no longer fool ourselves that our beloved nation is on the verge of collapse, both from within and without. Have we ever seen the future look so despairingly fragile?

I submit to you that 247 years ago, we were facing a similar crisis. Much like today, the inhabitants of the 13 colonies were divided regarding the road the nation was going down. And full support of the Declaration of Independence was not supported by all members of the Continental Congress. A representative of Congress rode horseback 80 miles to reach Philadelphia and break a tie in support of independence. In fact, the names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were withheld from the public for more than six months to protect the signers. If independence had not been achieved, the treasonable act of the signers would have, by English law, resulted in their deaths. They believed that strongly in their bid for freedom!

Do we have that same spirit, that same commitment to independence today? I love that this year, I am hearing more people say they are celebrating "Independence Day", rather than the "4th of July". I think that is in keeping with the spirit of what this holiday represents. After all, our Founding Fathers wrote a document titled, The Declaration of Independence. This was an important step in the evolution of a nation and of mankind.  The Founders of our nation were declaring that they were ready to live their lives as free men, unencumbered by the heavy hand of an oppressive authority; that they wanted to live their lives according to the "Laws of Nature", which in the 18th century meant certain fundamental principles or moral standards that were apparent to everyone.  This thought was perhaps best expressed by English philosopher John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government: "The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule."  These laws of nature were understood to be that which the God of the Universe had instituted when He created man in His image.

On this Independence Day, 2023, it is important to know and understand where we came from. Let us renew the hopes of Samuel Adams, upon which this nation was founded: I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may long enjoy her independence and freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue ... The sum of all is [this], if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.

So what shall our destiny be? Can we restore our virtue [our honor, our goodness]; or will this nation just be a footnote in history, known for its violence, corruption, and debauchery? July 4, 1776 was a day of far-reaching consequences; just as these days are.  We are faced with no less a serious choice. Will we continue to labor under repressive directives from a governing body that pays no mind to our concerns? Or will we decide that our liberties are precious and worth standing up for? I contend that there is not much difference between the significance of that July 4th and this one. The only question is, are we as brave and committed as they were? And believe me, the future of our children and nation -- and maybe even their survival -- depends on understanding the significance of July 4th and why it is worth celebrating our independence and freedom. 

In summary, I think it is important to keep our history in focus -- both where we were just 11 years ago, and where we have come since 1776. I want to finish by quoting once again from my favorite Founding Father, Samuel Adams. Mr. Adams was something of a firebrand, and was not afraid to confront his fellow countrymen over their subservient nature. What he had to say to them in 1776 is just as relevant today.  Ponder his words: "If ye love wealth better than liberty, [and] the tranquility of servitude [better] than the animated contest of freedom -- go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!"

That may sound a little harsh, but we are at a time in our nation's history when you must choose your path. Are you willing to crouch down to those that promise to feed you? Or are you willing to stand for something more honorable and noble? Will you depend on the iron fist for your crust of bread, or will you make your own loaf?  Sam Adams was among a unique corps of men who understood that the right to make of themselves what they wished could never be compromised. It was a truth they understood as "self-evident". And they were willing to sacrifice their very lives for it. Are you?

1 Peter 2:16     "[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God."


December 5, 2021

America's Greatness As Defined By Her History - Part One

Today, I find myself immersed in one of my great loves ... the study of early American history. When I was a child, as soon as I could read books with any depth, I devoured everything I could lay my hands on regarding the founding of our nation and the American Revolution. In fact, I was so inspired by the bravery and fearlessness of the early colonists and patriots, that I often wished I had lived during that promising period of our history. The challenges they faced in determining our national identity, form of government, and fabric of society were monumental by history's standards. Yet, what we ended up with has been a beacon of hope and potential for the entire world.

And so, in a desire to revisit the founding character of America, I am taking a free online course from Hillsdale College, called "The Great American Story: A Land of Hope". For those unfamiliar with Hillsdale, it is a private conservative liberal arts college in Hillsdale, Michigan. Founded in 1844 by abolitionists known as Free Will Baptists, it has a liberal arts curriculum that is based on the Western heritage as a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. It operates independently of government funding and prides itself on instilling the timeless truths of Learning, Character, Faith and Freedom in its students.

The Great American Story: A Land of Hope is taught by Professor William M. McClay, and I yearn for this course to rekindle my soul with the spark of pride and enthusiasm for my country; to once again discern God's divine intervention that my childish mind and heart were convinced were present at the founding. Dr. McClay is the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. He received his Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University, and is therefore quite qualified to teach on this subject. I am only two lessons into the 25-lesson course and am already reinvigorated with how the distinguished American DNA was created, and I will be writing on the rediscovered principles of how unique the American experience has been. I see God's hand on our history and pray that He has not yet removed it!

As excited as I am about recognizing the providence of our existence, I am also greatly saddened at seeing how it has deteriorated. But first, I want you to clearly discern the meaning of that word providence. It was a word that George Washington often ascribed to the good fortunes of the new nation: "Glorious indeed has been our Contest: glorious, if we consider the Prize for which we have contended, and glorious in its Issue; but in the midst of our Joys, I hope we shall not forget that, to divine Providence is to be ascribed the Glory and the Praise." The word providence means the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power; it is God's will, His divine intervention, and His predetermination. As I hope to share in coming blog posts, we have received incredible favor from the God of the Universe in our short history. We are unique, and even through our mistakes and errors, we have, for the most part, remained great. 

Just consider the ways in which America defied the conventional methods by which countries and nations had come into existence. American history is significant and consequential. If, as many history and Biblical scholars contend, the Roman Empire was the human political entity that God used to prepare the world for the birth of the Messiah and for the spread of the Salvation gospel, then the founding of America may be just as equally significant. The founding of America was intended to be something new and an improvement on older nation empires because it began with an amazing mixture of radical ideas that encompassed things humans had hoped for for centuries; and there was the incredible opportunity to make it happen.

Among that mixture of ideologies was a faith in a Biblical God (for most of them); a knowledge of the Classics; and an acquaintance with the different forms of government that were available. Or, as Dr. McClay says, "They brought the whole meaning of a civilization with them to a new place and then they started over. They brought everything but the aristocracy". And that made a fundamental difference in the structure of America. The underlying theme of America is that it is an innovative idea; a land of hope; a land of refuge; a land of opportunity for everyone; it represents a second chance. And above all else, the hope of America is a spiritual concept.

I plan on sharing other concepts of what America means to the existence of the world in future posts as I progress through the course and as the Lord leads during our current experience. But for now, I want to take a hard look at a quote credited to French political philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville after a visit to pre-Civil War America. [NOTE: Presidents of the U.S. down through the years have used this quote and attributed it to de Tocqueville, although there is no evidence he is the legitimate author]. Nevertheless, the following quote has often been used to describe the uplifting and poetic hope of America: I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her public school system and her institutions of learning, and it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good America will cease to be great.

I totally believe in the premise of that last line -- America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great! For me, it is impossible to consider this quote without taking a look at how well we are preserving those lofty attributes. Is the greatness and genius of America still evident in the fertileness of our fields and in our rich mines? Or have we handed over the production of our resources to demagogues? [By the way, the definition of a demagogue is "a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by arousing the common people against elites, especially through oratory that whips up the passions of crowds, appealing to emotion by scapegoating out-groups, exaggerating dangers to stoke fears, lying for emotional effect, or other rhetoric that tends to drown out reasoned deliberation and encourage fanatical popularity]. 

And what can we say about our world commerce/trade? Are we still great and exemplifying genius, or have we outsourced all that to foreign nations? What about our public school system or higher institutions of learning? Seems to me that ever since we removed God and His providence/protection from our education system, we are less great and certainly don't look like geniuses. And can we honestly say we still honor the democratic process of government or the supremacy of the Constitution in carrying out our rule of law? The last few years have seen a rapid decline in the original intent of both. Finally, do our pulpits flame with righteousness, or have we substituted preaching the justice, mercy, and love of a righteous God for compromising with the world and our 50l(c)3 overlords? We need to return to the thoughts of those who saw the original vision for this country -- they met situations as dire and serious as our own [including threats from foreign powers, plagues, and domestic division] to make their hopes prevail. We need to know how they did it! There is value in preserving and studying our history. And revising history for the sake of cerebral conflicts with changing modern standards not only modifies truth, but threatens our greatness.

So, as I draw to a close in this beginning dialogue about the greatness of America, I want to leave you with two quotes. The first is by Dr. McClay, himself: In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men's reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present and get us past that idiot delusion of the exceptional NOW that blocks good thinking. The second quote is by John Dos Passos, an American writer, and one of the major novelists of the post-World War I “lost generation,” who gained a reputation as a social historian and as a radical critic of the quality of American life: That is why, in times like ours, when old institutions are caving in and being replaced by new institutions not necessarily in accord with most men's preconceived hopes, political thought has to look backwards as well as forwards.

Can America retain her Goodness, and therefore her Greatness? It is evident that forces, both spiritual and in the physical world, are desirous of ending her prominence on the world stage. Can we re-ignite that flame of individualism and God-given rights and purpose that were the origin of our founding? Can we look back and embrace what was good about the original vision of America; that we honor the God whose protection allowed for the creation of a nation that believed in the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Can we learn from the eradication of evils we allowed to stain our history; how to conquer slavery of men and establish self-rule and independence, while remaining in union with each other? And can we agree that Governments exist solely for the purpose of protecting our God-given rights; that they derive their powers from the consent of the governed, not from the self-declared rights of self-appointed Kings? 

We are at a crossroads in our national history. We can still see and remember the origins of our founding. But the forces that would erase those memories are actively engaged in changing our history and instituting new principles. I am so happy to have this course as a reminder of who we used to be, and who I believe we can still be. Join me in praying for God's continued protection of this great nation that was clearly founded on His principles and with His approval. Ask Him to forgive us our trespasses and restore our righteousness, as we walk in our purpose for this nation and the world!

Jeremiah 29:11    For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

November 11, 2016

Valley of Decision: Don't Let The Father Of Lies Steal or Destroy Our Nation

     How sad, that on this Veteran's Day, we are seeing such acrimony and malice being exhibited post-election.  It is estimated that over 1.1 million Americans have died in service to this country since its inception.  I hate to think that the memory of that monumental sacrifice is diminished in the wake of unrealized election results.  I can recognize that one-half of the nation is disappointed at the outcome, but I truly am grieved at the excessive and unreasonable responses -- everything from abusive language and insults, to the calls for violence, destruction, and revolution.  And believe me, if the election had turned out the other way, I would feel the same if I saw such rancor and resentment.
     For those of us who have prayed for peace, reconciliation, and a return to moral absolutes and true liberty, I think we are a little aghast at the venom and poison being spewed.  But what else should we expect?  If President-Elect Trump is to be a genuine instrument of God, then isn't it likely that the Enemy is putting his own game plan into motion?  And let's be honest, we know that Romans 13 tells us that all those in authority have been granted their position by the permission and sanction of God.  Whether Donald Trump holds office as an indicator of God's Judgment or Restoration remains to be seen.  We can be hopeful -- and should be -- at this point, but there are lots of decisions to be made in the coming days that will set our nation on its future course.
     I can't help but compare this tenuous time to what it must have been like when Abraham Lincoln took office and the nation, like now, was so divided in its political character and complexion.  President-Elect Lincoln took a cautious approach in the days leading up to his inauguration, being careful to offer an olive branch to his former opponents, while making it clear that he would take a firm stance on preserving the nation.  And, just as now, he found it necessary to remind the citizens of America that we share a common heritage.
     In the closing remarks of his Inaugural Address, President Lincoln said, “In your hand, my fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
     How appropriate for each of us ... to decide if we are willing to let our differences tear us apart; or if we can find a way to come together for the common good.  How we make that very important decision will have tremendous consequences for this nation.  Because it is clear to me that we have allowed ourselves to be indoctrinated and lied to, while we remanded our civic duties to a federal government who only looked out for themselves.
    I happen to believe that God established this nation.  The Bible tells us, "From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands" (Acts 17:26).  We were appointed to this nation at this time, and there is a purpose for both our lives and our country.   As a Believer, I happen to think our purpose is to glorify God.  Unfortunately, too many have listened to the Father of Lies and their purpose in life has become to exalt, elevate, and enhance themselves.  They listened to the Devil whisper lies of entitlement and privilege, so that they have forgotten that it is God "who gives to all [people] life and breath and all things".  Instead, they now believe that it is the Federal Government who provides all things, and they bow down at the altar of the man (or woman) who promises the most.
     I would caution all who are reading this blog today to be careful about falling into this trap.  Whether you are cheering at the prospect of a President Trump, or are devastated over "what might have been" with a President Clinton, we must not put our hope and trust in a clay vessel.  Yes, we must reside as citizens of the United States until we are called to our heavenly home, and it is reasonable to want a prosperous and free life.  But our first responsibility, as Christians, is to be a part of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.  And there is no place for hatred or division or exploitation or alienation in that Holy government.
     REMEMBER:  the Devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Don't let him steal the brotherhood you share with your fellow man.  Don't let him kill the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness that resides in your heart.  And don't let him destroy your testimony of the Word!  As President Lincoln solemnly swore, We must not be enemies!  Let's recognize our true Enemy and do not allow him to devour us!
     We have been down that road before in this nation, and it has caused a grievous and grave wound upon our land.  So, please pray for our nation and our leaders; it is time for us to come together and heal.  The next two months until Inauguration Day will be a time of momentous decisions.  Let us remain steadfast in our purpose of reconciliation and resolution, and not make the same mistakes the nation made prior to Lincoln's Presidency .... Six weeks later, the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War began.  May God have mercy on our nation!

And thank you to all the Veterans who have done their part to preserve this great nation... I am especially proud of my father, my uncle, my cousin, and my nephew.  I am grateful each of you answered the call!

Acts 17:30    "Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives]..."

July 8, 2015

I Am Encouraged!

     You know, it has been so easy to take God for granted as we live, in what I believe, is the most blessed country in all of modern history.  We have lived in a land that has, for the most part, only known prosperity.  And during those hard economic times, we were still flourishing when compared to the rest of the world.  But let's face it ... we felt we didn't have to protect those blessings; they just seemed to flow from the magnanimous hand of God.  Let's face it ... we not only took His grace for granted; we abused His faithfulness and have treated His commandments so shabbily.
     I will admit that the last couple of weeks I have felt little hope that this nation could turn back to God, but I am here to announce that there are signs of hope on the horizon.  Let me just run you through a few scenarios that have popped up on my radar in the last 24 hours ... the first is what I find amazing in a culture that worships celebrity and fame.  Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, an outspoken Christian and Super Bowl champion, recently revealed that he and his girlfriend, pop singer Ciara, have decided to wait until marriage to have sex.  But it is his explanation that makes me shout for joy, and gives me hope that God is still speaking into this generation.
     “She was on tour; she was traveling, and I was looking at her in the mirror, I was sitting in the dressing room, she was getting ready to go…and she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her,’” Wilson recalled. “And I was like, ‘Really, right now?’…And he goes, ‘No, I want you and need you to lead her.’ So I told her right then and there, ‘What would you do if we took all of that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?’…And she was relieved.”  Now here is a young man who not only isn't afraid to go against what our culture promotes, but is man enough to say that he puts his obedience to Jesus ahead of his fleshly desires, and is willing to fulfill the role of leader, as God intended.
     Next is a bit of hope that actually comes from the political scene.  In the midst of the controversy over the Confederate flag, South Caroline State Senator Lee Bright stepped up to the podium and spoke boldly about what he saw after the Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.  “Romans Chapter 1 is clear. The Bible is clear,” Bright cautioned. “This nation was founded by Judeo-Christian principles, and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you.”  He went on to say that the acceptance of gay marriage could mean that America is no longer a nation under God, but a “one nation gone under” — a reference to a 1984 speech from President Ronald Reagan during which Reagan said: ”Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”  Bright continued his speech by declaring, “The devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him."
     Hope was also evident in the sermon, if you will, that Glenn Beck gave at a Texas megachurch:  “We are facing all kinds of trouble in our country and in the world. And we have talked about the soldiers that have protected this nation, but I want to spend a few minutes talking to you about our responsibility now to protect this nation,” Beck said. “We are the front line. We are the last line of defense, and if we fail, liberty will be lost.”  But how do we get there?  Beck said, "It is only through God that we will pull our family, and our nation out of the grasp and the jaws of hell, and bring it back to a Christ-centered nation where we need to be.”
     Who are we as a nation, he asked.  “Who are we? Because most people don’t know. And what keeps us going? Most people, again, don’t know,” Beck continued. “We came here for a reason. We are a covenant nation. We’re the only ones besides the original state of Israel that made the covenant with God.”  Now, I will tell you that the millions of secular Americans won't like Beck saying we are a covenant nation, but it is the truth!  From the moment the Pilgrims landed on these shores, they dedicated this land to God, and the founding of this nation was credited to the "Providence of God" by the very men who fought to establish it.  Now, that sentiment is beginning to ring once again across the land.
     Another state representative, this time from Oklahoma, is continuing his battle to keep a statue of the Ten Commandments on the state capitol grounds.  Although the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the statue violates the state constitution, Representative Mike Ritze maintains that the monument is a historical necessity that provides context for all citizens regarding the emergence and crafting of American law.  “I like history, and I look at history and what we were teaching our children … we wanted to link them to as much as the original history — different facts that are being erased in our history,” he said. “In no way, shape or form did we want the monument to be a religious symbol. This is historical heritage of our birth as a nation and birth as a state.”
     But, as I have mentioned before on this blog, the Satanic Temple, a New York group, has railed against the Ten Commandments display, and fought Ritze at every turn.  They even announced their own plans to place a satanist monument on capitol grounds in contrast to the Judeo-Christian-themed display. The group’s members have temporarily halted those plans in light of the Supreme Court decision, and will likely place the display in another state, which proves the point that they have an agenda to destroy Christian influence in this nation.
     For now, it looks as if Representative Ritze has lost the battle, but as more people begin standing up for our faith, I think that the devil will find that his battle plan to go against the state is a lost cause.  In fact, two North Carolina pastors have decided to place a Christian flag above the American flag on poles outside of their churches — actions that they hope will inspire Americans to take a stand for their faith.  “As I was changing the rope [on the flags] one day, the Lord just laid on me that He is first and when He told me that, I switched the flags around," said Pastor Walter Wilson. The pastors want to make it clear that they will serve God before Government, and they are openly and enthusiastically encouraging others to publicly display their loyalty to our Sovereign God.
     And finally, I found hope even in the sad story of the woman who posted a letter online to the father of her aborted baby.  What courage that must have taken, knowing that the feminist crowd would berate her, and there were sure to be negative responses from complete strangers.  Although she did not invoke God as part of her decision, the heartache and grief of her loss was expressed in her final words ... " I was convinced that I was right, and I didn’t need your opinion. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t talk to you because that life was half of you. I’m sorry that I didn’t confide in you and face my fears. I’m sorry that you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye… or even say hello. I’m sorry that you missed the opportunity to be a father. I’m sorry that you didn’t get a choice. But you never know… I may have saved you the endless thoughts, the deep-ridden regret, the aching emptiness as the due date draws near. I may have saved you the guilt of being free of that responsibility and pressure. I may have saved you the anger and fear. But I may have deprived you of one of the greatest joys in your life just as I have done to myself. And there are no words to explain how cruel and selfish I was in making that decision without you… there are no words to express an apology with the utmost sincerity. Please forgive me."
     If that emotional post makes one woman stop and think before committing an act that she will regret, then there is hope that the tide is turning against abortion, which is so offensive to the God of all creation.
    None of these events have taken the country by storm, and none are being shouted from the rooftops.  But all of them happening in one week gives me a spark of hope that people are awakening out of their doldrums and their easy acceptance of our culture.  I'm hoping those who call themselves Christians will stand up and defend the faith.  I'm hoping that every American will remove the scales from their eyes and see that the path we're on has changed direction ... we are no longer looking up towards that shining city on the hill, but are free-falling down into a pit of confusion and chaos.  So, forgive me for being optimistic -- even if it's short-lived.  Maybe there has always been these bursts of hope, and maybe it's just that I am needing them now more than ever.  I'm just so happy to see a little ray of sunshine in the middle of the darkness.  

2 Corinthians 12:10   "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

July 4, 2015

Will Future Generations Understand The Meaning of 4th of July?

     That might seem like a superfluous question.  But just take a moment and watch this video of Americans in this generation that don't have a clue!  You might think it is a humorous display of how little Americans know about our history, or why we celebrate the 4th of July, but I find it extremely disturbing.
     The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a very important date in world history, although the 4th wasn't actually the date it was signed.  That occurred on August 2nd.  No, July 4, 1776 was the day the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence.  July 4th became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.).  It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout our new nation.  So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they associated with it.
     But it is more than just a date in the founding of our nation.  It symbolizes, for the first time, that leaders of men recognized that "Nature's God" had given all men certain rights that could not be usurped by tyrannical governments.  Specifically, it says,  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ... 
     And, yes, I recognize that this seems hypocritical in light of the fact that many of the Southern Founding Fathers were slaveholders.  The writings of the Founding Fathers show that many of them acknowledged that slavery violated the natural rights of the enslaved, but knew that the abolition of this abhorrent practice would need to take a back seat (for the time being) to the larger goal of securing the unity and independence of the United States from Britain.  Sadly, they "kicked the can down the road" to be dealt with by a future generation; although the reality is that the freedom of the nation needed to come before they could address the freedom of the slaves.  That issue would be dealt with in a mere 84 years when the new nation was ripped asunder by the Civil War.
      So, what exactly was meant by "unalienable rights"?  As I wrote in a February 9, 2013 post, I would venture to say that most Americans have a distorted idea of what "unalienable" means.  I would further conclude that they think it takes its meaning from the word "alien", signifying that these "unalienable" rights were unfamiliar or foreign to men of that time.  That is a wrong interpretation, and we actually mispronounce the word altogether.  In 1776, when the Declaration was written, this word was not pronounced as un-alien-able; the correct enunciation was un-a-lien-able, as in "a lien", a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt.  For instance, the bank holds a lien against your car, until the note is paid off.
     What the Founding Fathers were actually saying was this:  the natural rights that have been given to us by God are not subject to a lien by any king or ruler; they are ours to possess outright. In other words, our rights are not determined by governments; or granted by them; and cannot be legislated by them.  It was the first time in the history of the world, that a nation of people dared to declare that they recognized God's rulership and authority as being above that of any monarch or crowned head.
     This was an important step in the evolution of a nation and of mankind.  The Founders of our nation were declaring that they were ready to live their lives as free men, unencumbered by the heavy hand of an oppressive authority; that they wanted to live their lives according to the "Laws of Nature", which in the 18th century meant certain fundamental principles or moral standards that were apparent to everyone.  This thought was perhaps best expressed by English philosopher John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government: "The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule."  These laws of nature were understood to be that which the God of the Universe had instituted when He created man in His image.
     Those same fundamental principles and moral standards are still in place in nature; and the need to declare that these laws are above the laws of men, should still be as important today as it was on July 4th, 1776.  THAT IS WHAT WE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING TODAY!!  Yet, how many Americans have lost sight of the reason this day exists?  How many recognize or understand what was accomplished on this day 239 years ago?  How many realize that what the government has done in the last two weeks violates the very essence of the Declaration of Independence?
     I invite you to take the time to read this historic document.  Read the Declaration of Independence and then tell me if we, as a nation, have honored the spirit in which it was written.  While you're enjoying the day with your kids and family, ask yourselves if we any longer resemble the ideals upon which this country took such a courageous leap.
      When I compare where this country was in 2013 when I wrote that original post, and how far we've slid in a little over two years, I am astounded.  And I imagine that most Americans are too busy to even care or notice.  So, if you are one of those Americans who don't even know why this day is a holiday, then you have a choice ... you can go back to your hamburgers and hot dogs, or like the people at the beach in the video, laugh it off as inconsequential; OR you can do a serious study comparing who we were in 1776 and what we've become, and determine that it is worth fighting for and make the effort to teach your children its importance.  Because believe me, their future -- and maybe even their survival -- depends on understanding the meaning of July 4th and why it is worth celebrating.

1 Peter 2:16     "[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God."


April 28, 2015

New Terminology: What Is The Meaning Of "Space To Destroy"?

     Let me be clear ... I am merely a simple woman who relies on my spiritual discernment to instruct my thoughts and opinions.  I do not claim to be perfect, but when I hear something more than once on the same day, I tend to see it as an affirmation of something that is, at the least, reasonable to consider.
     Yesterday, on the front page of the Drudge Report was an article titled, "The Odd Tactic of Giving Baltimore Protestors 'Space' to Destroy".  Also, yesterday, I heard a recording from Bastrop, TX, in which a spokesperson at a meeting between the public and officials with the Jade Helm military exercises announced that "space would be given to both protestors and those who wish to destroy".  That just seems so counter-intuitive to the nature of peaceful protest, does it not?  So why would this particular terminology be used?
     I understand the anger and confusion over the mysterious death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray.  There seem to be no concrete explanations as to how his fatal back injury occurred.  It is natural for citizens to demand answers and to express their outrage publicly.
     Similarly, there is much confusion and suspicion over the explanations given for the military exercises known as Jade Helm, especially in Texas.  So, what might the two events have in common, and why would comparable language be used in describing what law enforcement and city/county governments will allow?
     Could it be that once it is established by local law that protestors have been given "space to destroy", any attempt by property owners to defend their possessions or premises will be against the law?  The mayor of Baltimore was quoted as saying, "We work very hard to keep that balance [between free speech and destructive elements], and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."  Are we to interpret that to mean that some destruction of personal property is permissible in order to guarantee free speech?  How much is too much destruction?  What rights do property owners have to protect their property against public -- but government-condoned -- destruction?
     It would appear that we are once again blurring the line of the original intent of our Founding Fathers and what the new "intellectual" concept of government is becoming.  According to the Foundation for Economic Education, "The Founding Fathers upheld the economic view of property. They believed that private property ownership, as defined under common law, pre-existed government. The state and federal governments were the mere contractual agents of the people, not sovereign lords over them. All rights, not specifically delegated to the government, remained with the people–including the common-law provisions of private property. Consequently, the constitutional rights regarding free speech, freedom of religion, the right of assembly, and private property rights are all claims that individuals may hold and exercise against the government itself. In brief, private property refers to the rights of owners to use their possessions which are enforceable against all nonowners–even the government."
     Then there is the specific terminology in the Fifth Amendment, which states, "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."  I know that in the use of private property for the Jade Helm exercises, it is being promoted that land owners approached the government offering the use of their property.  I know that at least in one instance, this is not true.  The property owner was approached by representatives of the government.  So, by declaring that use of the land was consensual, is this a way to avoid reparations in case the "space to destroy" gets out of hand?  In effect, does it do away with the rights of property owners to defend themselves?
     And what of the store owners and shopkeepers and homeowners in Baltimore?  If protestors are given a license and "space" to destroy, how will they be compensated for damages to their property?  What rights do they have to protect their personal property, if the City of Baltimore has established a right and space to destroy?
     In fairness and honesty, I will tell you that the Mayor of Baltimore has attempted to clarify her statement by saying that there was never any intent to suggest that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate.  I certainly should hope not!  But we all know that once that impression has been conveyed to the public, there is no taking it back.  You must decide for yourself if it was intentional, or not.
     The bottom line is this:  All Americans should have the opportunity to voice their opinions peaceably, while respecting the laws of the nation and the private property of individuals.  That being said, I suggest that officials carefully consider how their terminology will be interpreted.  I cannot imagine any manner in which "peaceful protest" and "space to destroy" belong in the same sentence!

Isaiah 64:6    "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."


November 12, 2014

What Are We Looking For?

     It has been one week since the 2014 Mid-term elections changed the political landscape in our country.  Already, it seems that everyone is looking forward to 2016's Presidential election, and prepared to proclaim the next "savior" of America; the man or woman who is most likely to return us to what the country was meant to be.  But do we truly understand how far off track we are, and to whom we should turn?
     At the present, I think a majority of the country recognizes that what we've got now is not working.  But how many of us know that the original intent of this nation was to set up a form of government that would allow its citizens to assume the "equal station" in life that offered them the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness to which Nature's Laws and Nature's God entitled them?  So the question for me, becomes two-fold ..."Do we know our history and what those terms mean; and how does it apply to us, moving forward?"  Ultimately, does our history matter?
     I remember studying the Declaration of Independence in my middle school American History classes.  It always seemed such an important and noble document, and was a reminder of the grave responsibility taken to determine how this nation wished to be governed.  To any serious student, it is apparent that the men given this great task deliberated over how it would be presented to, and accepted, by the people.
     We've all been privy to the argument since the Declaration was written, that the Founders were not Christian men, but Deists.  By the popular understanding of their time, that means they believed that God created this world which included His natural laws of science, morality, and politics; but that He did not actively participate in the affairs of men or nations.  That would mean that our Nation's Fathers gave God no credit for the deliverance of this republic through the trials of its founding, nor would they have thought He had a place in its governance... that He was kind of an absentee Landlord, so to speak. That theory simply does not seem to be supported, based on the following statements:
George Washington:   "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor."  
John Adams:  "As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him."
Benjamin Franklin:  "My dear friend, do not imagine that I am vain enough to ascribe our success [in the American Revolution] to any superiority…If it had not been for the justice of our cause, and the consequent interposition of Providence, in which we had faith, we must have been ruined. If I had ever before been an atheist, I should now have been convinced of the being and government of a Deity!
John Jay (First Chief-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court):  "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
Thomas Jefferson:  "God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." 
James Monroe:  "When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good."

     These are just a few of the quotes that are ascribed to the men who ruled us in the dawning days of our Republic.  Do they sound like men who thought God was inactive or idle during the turbulent years of this nation's establishment, or that He did not have a place in the administering of its government?  Although they sometimes used such 18th Century words as "Supreme Ruler" or "Creator", or "Divine Providence", it all points to the fact that they believed a nation could not succeed without the involvement of God; that He should be the ultimate power behind a government. In fact, the language of "Divine Providence" is throughout all the documents and letters of our early leaders.
     That term asserts that God is in complete control of all things ... the universe; the physical world; the success and failures of individuals, AND the affairs of nations.  The Founders believed that the purpose, or goal, of Divine Providence is to accomplish the will of God. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things.  They surely believed that God had a purpose for this nation, and they ascribed the miraculous defeat of Great Britain, and the establishment of the United States of America, as a sign that we were preserved for a reason.
     I know that there are many in this country that would dispute this interpretation of the founding of our nation.  I know that not only would they give God no credit for our existence, but they would insist that we were never meant to be governed by God-fearing men. To them, elections are not the territory of God, nor should they be.
     But in my Biblical world view, every nation that has abandoned God or rebelled against Him, and followed their own ways, has reaped the consequences of their defiance and disdain.  Just as Jefferson said, "Can our liberties remain secure, if we do not attribute them to God?"  Unfortunately, I see far too many people looking to find "the Man" to guard our freedoms in the upcoming 2016 election.  And, like Jefferson, I fear that God's justice "cannot sleep forever".
      Many of us are still riding on an "emotional high" from last week, and hoping that we might, at last, be delivered from what ails us as a country.  We are busy casting about for the perfect person to right what is wrong, and to lead us out of this wilderness.  But, I'm afraid we've relied on men for too long; and until we recognize that no man has the answer we need, we will not be delivered from this downward spiral.
     As I watch and hear all the major newspapers, media, and political big shots insert themselves into the contest for the highest office in the land, I am waiting for some recognition that our next President should be a man who will govern "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence" and that he will pledge "his Life, his Fortune and his sacred Honor" for the benefit of the country.
     While our Founders may not have been strict, orthodox Christians, they firmly believed that they needed God to intervene and intercede for them in their time of uncertainty, trial, and war.  Do we need any less?  We have spent far too many elections casting lots, and leaving our decisions up to chance --- It's time to turn to The Word, the Spirit, and Prayer to discern God’s will for our nation.  It may be our last chance.

Proverbs 14:34      "Righteousness dignifies a nation, but sin disgraces a people."

October 18, 2014

America ... Who Have We Become?

     I wake up each morning wondering if I will still recognize my country.  It is sometimes overwhelming to read and hear what has happened overnight.  One day it is that Pastors in Houston, Texas are being threatened with subpoenas to turn over their sermons; auspiciously to probe for political content -- which by the way, is a clear violation of Freedom of Speech.
     The next morning, I read that Jerusalem Online is reporting that during a TV interview in France, our President remarked that since 1.5% of the entire U.S. population is Muslim (and which accounts for only 0.3% of the world's Muslim population), we should now be considered "one of the biggest Muslim nations."  Other than a smattering of alternative media sites, this surprising declaration is all but ignored.
     On other days, I try to wrap my head around why we would quarantine whole families, and shut down schools, because someone took a flight on a plane that an Ebola patient had previously flown on -- yet do nothing to stop flights from Ground Zero in West Africa, where the disease is originating and raging.
     Here in Texas, we hear daily of the mounting kidnappings, deaths, and cartel invasions along our southern border with Mexico; yet, we are excoriated for calling for border closures.  We Americans used to feel safe and secure in this country; that we could trust our elected representatives to put America first.  Now, we are more worried about protecting "fledgling democracies in West Africa"; illegal immigrants who are "only seeking political asylum"; and everything and everybody who opposes Judeo-Christian values.
     I just wonder how heart-broken Billy Graham must have been to say that, "America is just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah."  At 95 years of age, Reverend Graham has seen the ebb and flow of America's fortunes. He knows, better than most, that this nation is being swept along on a flood of immorality, greed, and pride.  He would be justified, at his age, in giving up on us -- we used to be the light of the world; now that beacon is covered in the filth of corruption and depravity.
The right of freedom being a gift
from God, it is not in the power
of man to alienate this gift and 
voluntarily become a slave.

--Samuel Adams
    Yet, Dr. Graham reminds us that this nation was founded by men who believed in prayer, and the Power that established this nation can resurrect it, if we will return to Him and pray for forgiveness.  He firmly believes that this downward tide of history can be "turned by prayer".  Where are the other leaders of this nation, like him?  "Leader" doesn't have to mean powerful men in government, or famous televangelists; it can be anyone who is willing to step up and show the way towards a better future for this country.  Each one of us can play that part!  Have we become a nation so lazy and disconnected that we've lost our way?  We are on the verge of letting our inheritance slip away, and no one is aware of it!
     Will future generations wonder why we were ever called "Sweet Land of Liberty"?  Will your grandchildren and great-grandchildren ever experience the individual freedoms that we were born with?  Lest we forget, no other nation in the history of the world allowed their citizens to make choices independent of a ruler/governing class.  We Americans have enjoyed rights not held by citizens down through the ages.  We have the right to say what we want (as long as it doesn't harm another), to worship as we choose, to assemble in peaceful protest, to live where we want, and to work at whatever craft we desire -- all privileges that we take for granted.  And, because of our complacency, these rights and individual freedoms are eroding.  Our descendants may scarcely recognize them.
     Our Founders believed that our freedom as a Sovereign Nation rested on our Individual Freedoms as citizens.  They are wholly dependent on each other.  The soul purpose of the "fundamental changes" that, we as a nation have accepted, were to revise and revamp who we are as a country and a people.  And that goal has almost been reached.  All of our political posturing and social arguments will not turn this ship; the tide is too strong.
     So, the question becomes ... will we follow Dr. Graham's advice and turn to prayer?  Because, I can promise you that this is the only hope we have.  It is too late to return to our origins by the ballot box, social protest, or democratic overhaul; it is incontrovertible that we have wasted the legacy of our forefathers.  But there is one thing we need to understand ... God established this nation, and through His Sovereignty, He can allow it to be destroyed.  However, that judgment can be stayed -- if we will humble ourselves, seek His Face ... and pray!  

Psalm 33:12   "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!"

October 14, 2014

Our Loss of Economic Freedoms Echoes The Reasons We Fought the American Revolution

     Freedom and Free Enterprise ... they go hand-in-hand.  So when the Cato Institute released its 2014 Annual Report on the Economic Freedom of the World, it was bad news for the U.S. -- we didn't even finish in the Top Ten! And, yes, the Cato Institute is, by its own definition, "a public policy research organization — a think tank – dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace."  Those who will want to dispute its findings will do so on a partisan political basis, but the facts don't lie ... we are losing our economic freedoms; the very ones that preempted the founding of this nation.
     Breitbart.com, in their article on this Annual Report, informs us that "as recently as 2000, the US ranked 2nd in the world, in terms of boasting a free economy. The US's declining ranking will lower future economic growth."  That is something that should concern every American; and not just for the impact on our wallets! It has as much to do with the "freedom" part of the report, as it does the "economic".  And here's why:  The Cato Institute measures 5 broad factors in scoring each country's economic index ... 1. Size of government; 2. Legal structure and security of property rights; 3. Access to sound money; 4. Freedom to trade internationally and; 5. Regulation of Credit, Labor and Business.
     In case these considerations sound familiar, they are listed in our Declaration of Independence as reasons for our grievances against Great Britain, and became aligned with the eventual causes for our Revolution and the founding of a new nation.  But, today, are these causes even recognized as crucial to the American experience?  Have we lost the sense of who we are in the midst of a bloated government and a sea of entitlements?  Do we not see that the encroachment on our personal liberties, along with excessive regulations and the intrusion of the U.N. in our domestic affairs does not fit who the United States was designed to be?
     In case it has been a while since you had an accurate history lesson about our nation, let me remind you of what the Founders meant in the Declaration of Independence; that we "are all endowed by our Creator ... with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."  Those three principles are the bedrock of America's development -- no matter how they have been maligned.
     The meanings of "Life" and "Liberty" haven't changed much in 230+ years.  But it is important that we understand what was meant by "The Pursuit of Happiness".  To early Americans this phrase was known to represent the individual right of every free citizen to own property and pursue a living.  That was "Happiness", and Americans knew it was ours, by the grace of God.  Today, the American Dream still resonates around owning your own home and being able to receive fair wages for an honest day's work.  However, we've pretty much discarded the part about God being responsible for our blessings.  I'm absolutely convinced that has played a part in our failing economic condition.
     By including that phrase in the Declaration to the British Monarch, the Founders hoped that we would keep inviolate, not only our responsibilities to preserve the Constitutional Republic, but preserve our enduring hunger for personal rights and liberties that guaranteed not only a man's right to  personal property, but that resulted in competitive and fair enterprise.  This country was not founded on the beliefs of "community property" or "state-regulated commerce."  And that's what was at the center of our complaints against King George III.
     The list of "Oppressions" and "Grievances" by Thomas Jefferson and his Committeemen sound eerily familiar... the stalling and refusal to pass laws left the colonists "exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within".  The King established "a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance" -- sounds like the IRS to me.  Furthermore, it was pointed out, King George "combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation."  And as it pertained to their Economic Freedoms, it was pointed out that the tyrant king was "cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world [and] imposing Taxes on us without our Consent."  Does this make you think of U.S. trade practices that hurt our economy, and the Supreme Court decision that rendered the Affordable Care Act a tax?
     But perhaps more than any other principle, it was the Rule of Law that the Colonists cherished the most.  And the Cato Institute's Annual Report sheds an unflattering light on just how much we have neglected that standard.  Per the report, "Protection of persons and their rightfully acquired property is a central element of economic freedom and a civil society. Indeed, it is the most important function of government. The key ingredients of a legal system consistent with economic freedom are rule of law, security of property rights, an independent and unbiased judiciary, and impartial and effective enforcement of the law."
     Breitbart.com summarizes it well:  "The increased use of eminent domain to transfer property to powerful political interests, the ramifications of the wars on terrorism and drugs, and the violation of the property rights of bondholders in the auto-bailout case have weakened the tradition of strong adherence to the rule of law in United States... The rule of law has long been the foundation of America's economic prosperity and liberty. The US ranking in this area has plummeted to a terrible 36th place in the world. This, combined with increased regulation is stifling US economic growth."  Quoting the Annual Report, the website observes, "[t]o a large degree, the United States has experienced a significant move away from rule of law and toward a highly regulated, politicized, and heavily policed state."
     So where do we go from here?  Needless to say we do not score well in the five categories for economic freedoms.  The size of our government is clearly prohibitive, and it is obvious we don't have access to sound money.  And as long as we continue to over-regulate Commerce and ignore the rule of law and property rights of individuals, our economic future will continue to slide.  Just as the Founders determined, when there is weakness in the Rule of Law, and an improper appropriation of property rights, economic freedoms will be inhibited.  It's time that Americans reacquaint themselves with trustworthy American principles.  It won't be a quick fix, or an easy one; but one that  is necessary if we are to regain our standing in the world... then, as now, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor depend on it.

James 1:25   "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."


July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Reflections

     This Fourth of July feels different.  In the past, I've always felt our liberty and freedom were assured; that the soul of 1776 was still recognizable in our nation.  But for the first time in my life, our future seems ....  fragile and vulnerable.
     The one thing I know for certain is that I still believe in the "Spirit of 76".  I am well aware of how this country defies all the odds; that the freedom and independence we have known for the last 238 years is not a natural state of mankind in the world.  In fact, this country broke all the molds when it came to men and what rights they possessed.  "Natural and inherent" rights became a new philosophy that challenged the old order of kings, aristocracy, and the elite.
     But what did our Founding Fathers mean when they claimed that "all men are created equal ... and endowed with certain unalienable rights...."?  I think John Adams explained it quite well:  ""I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government; Rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe."
     It seems to me that our Founding Fathers believed in the concept that we are not all created with the same talents or circumstances, but we are created with the same rights to become all that we can be; all that God has made us to be.  I believe that they defined a "right" as something endowed at birth that cannot be taken away.  They expanded that philosophy to include property rights and economic freedom as integral and essential parts of man’s natural rights.  They developed this unique ideology from the example of their ancestors; the Puritan work ethic valued hard work, providing for one’s family, and the right to keep the fruits of one’s labor. That was then .... do we still hold to that principle?  Or, does our government see its role as making us all be the same, and leveling the playing field, regardless of efforts and accountability?
     It seems to me that Government is increasingly deciding which rights people and groups are "endowed" with.  And if they are the "giver", then they reason that they can also take those rights away.  Hence, our property rights are no longer sacred nor protected.  In fact, the "natural" rights that our Founding Fathers so authoritatively manifested have been redefined as government-guaranteed economic opportunity and security.
      I truly believe that the group of men who convened in July of 1776, were Divinely-inspired.  For the first time in history, the idea was born that men could be free of the restraints that repressed them. But the Founding Fathers understood that men were not perfectly good so they needed to form some sort of government to secure their natural rights. But just as important, they needed a government constrained by the consent of the people.  James Madison expressed it eloquently:  "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
     But they also new that this never-before-tried form of government would be fragile and subject to corruption.  That's why, at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when asked if the Founders had crafted a Monarchy or a Republic, Benjamin Franklin replied, "A republic.  If you can keep it."  And my, how difficult it has been to keep it!  Down through the nearly two-and-a-half centuries this country has existed, malevolent forces have battered our walls of freedom.  The Republic has managed to survive threats from Communism, Socialism and Progressivism; although all have managed to erode the original vision of those inspired men.
    If you can keep it .... Did they know we would let it slip away?  But could they also conceive that there would be those of us who would recognize that what they accomplished was worthy of fighting for; and that their vision would still burn in the hearts of patriotic souls?  I think Franklin's reply was a subtle warning ... our freedom was not, and is not, guaranteed.  The Founders knew that men and governments would endeavor to increase their power and control at the expense of our individual freedoms because freedom is not the natural state of the world.
     That's why President Ronald Reagan's words sound so prophetic today:  "[Freedom] must be fought for, protected, and handed on [to our children] for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
     How do we protect these fragile freedoms; these freedoms that we are on the verge of losing today?  Has this erosion occurred by "the consent of the governed"?   We certainly seem to have fallen asleep on the job.   How do we change direction, and is it too late?  There are many Americans who would tell you that we failed Benjamin Franklin -- that we've lost it.  I refuse to believe that!  As Reagan eluded to, we must reinvigorate ourselves; know how remarkable and rare are this country's founding principles and teach that fact to our children.  Then we must make sure that we take advantage of the extraordinary system that has been instituted and elect honorable men who will preserve those principles.
     We must return to being a moral nation; not adopting moral relevancy, but a moral code of conduct that breeds responsibility, accountability, and recognizing the rights of others.  Finally, we must renew our efforts as watchmen of our freedoms; guard them and fight for them.  If we cannot return to a knowledge and recognition of the unparalleled freedoms that were established in this country, as well as stand up as moral men and women, and vow to protect our rights, then I'm afraid we may have nothing to celebrate next Fourth of July.
     But, if, as I suspect, the "Spirit of '76" still exists in our DNA, then I set my sights on the day that we can once again proclaim, as did Oliver Wolcott, a signer of the Declaration of Independence 238 years ago today, "It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations."  Amen!

2 Corinthians 3:17    "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

June 27, 2014

Surprises From SCOTUS

     I must admit that I am mildly surprised at the recent decisions by the Supreme Court.  Although I am still skeptical that the Constitution has more influence than Politics in their recent determinations, I sense at least an attempt to fulfill their Judicial obligation in the governing of this nation.
     It's actually very simple.  The Supreme Court's primary role is to interpret the Constitution.  In essence, they interpret the meaning of laws, and oftentimes determine what national policy will be when it applies law to specific disputes.   And that's where Politics often takes precedence.  After all, it is the goal of each incoming President to appoint Justices that will support his political agenda.  It then remains to be seen to whom these supreme lawyers of the land owe their allegiance ... the man and the culture, or the Constitution.
     This week at least, SCOTUS seems to have kept their eyes on the fundamental principles of our Founding document.  First up, and in an astonishingly unanimous ruling, the Court announced that police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.  In writing his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Modern cellphones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet or a purse. A conclusion that inspecting the contents of an arrestee’s pockets works no substantial additional intrusion on privacy beyond the arrest itself may make sense as applied to physical items, but any extension of that reasoning to digital data has to rest on its own bottom."
     Roberts further stated that cell phones bear little resemblance to the type of brief physical search that is common during an arrest; due to their storage capabilities, they are actually mini-computers.  While I applaud this securing of our Fourth Amendment right of undue search and seizure, I'm not entirely comfortable that Roberts wrote that law enforcement could seize and secure a cellphone until a warrant is obtained to search its contents, should they (law enforcement) fear destruction of evidence.  How easy will that be to allege?  But at least we now know to insist on a warrant before turning over our cell phones.
     Secondly, in a stunning decision for a politically-split Court, SCOTUS's first case involving the Constitution’s recess appointments clause ended in a unanimous decision holding that President Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012, without Senate confirmation, were illegal.  The President invoked the Constitution’s provision giving the president the power to make temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess. 
     Justice Stephen Breyer said in his majority opinion that a congressional break has to last at least 10 days to be considered a recess under the Constitution.  In effect, they rejected the President's argument that the Senate was on an extended holiday break and that the brief sessions it held every three days – what lawmakers call “pro forma” – were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling seats on the NLRB.
     The Constitution requires that the Senate and House must get the other’s consent for a break lasting longer than three days.  Recess appointments are nothing new; both Presidents Bush and Clinton took advantage of this Constitutional clause.  But Obama was the first president to try to make recess appointments when Congress explicitly said it was not in recess.  This ruling appears to institute a return to the governing rules of the Constitution.
     Then there was the decision that extending a buffer zone 35 feet from abortion clinic entrances violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.  The Justices were unanimous in their decision.  However, The Boston Globe reports that while the court was unanimous in the outcome, Chief Justice Roberts joined with the four liberal justices to strike down the buffer zone on narrow grounds. In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion for carrying forward ‘‘this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.’’
     The case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester, Massachusetts.  Mark Rienzi, who represented the protesters at the Supreme Court, said, ‘‘The government cannot reserve its public sidewalks for Planned Parenthood, as if their message is the only one women should be allowed to hear. Today’s decision confirms that the First Amendment is for everyone, and that the government cannot silence peaceful speakers. That result is good news for Eleanor McCullen, and it is great news for the women she helps.’’  I agree!
     Of course, all eyes are on the expected decision next week on the Hobby Lobby case.  The question this case is seeking to solve is whether for-profit companies have a right to exercise religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law passed in 1993 that states the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability."
     At the heart of Hobby Lobby's case is their owner's contention that their "religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception." Because of the religious nature of Hobby Lobby's business, they assert that they are entitled to a religious freedom exemption from the Affordable Care Act's mandate because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — the same exemption that has been afforded to nonprofits with a religious nature.
     Whatever the Court decides, it will most probably not decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act as a whole.  But it would be a step towards protecting religious Americans from the pressure of an autocratic government.  I hope they make the right decision.  For me, God's law always trumps man's law.  We will see.

Acts 5:29     But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men."