America’s Blessings

Many American Christians believe the United States has been blessed because we have been a “Christian nation.”
 
Many also believe that the United States has become less Christian, and that we have begun to lose God’s blessings as a result.
 
How do most American Christians respond? By fighting to keep the blessings, rather than fighting to make America more Christian again.
 
We spend far too much time and effort fighting politically to keep the blessings. We spend far too little time and effort fighting spiritually to turn Americans’ hearts and minds back to Jesus.
 
This is idolatry.
 
And, I believe the idolatry of believers, not unbelievers, is why God is withdrawing His blessings.
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My Faith

My faith isn’t about being a good person; it’s about being loved and forgiven despite not being a good person.

My faith isn’t about telling others how bad they are. It’s about telling them about the One who loves them and offers them a relationship and forgiveness.

My faith isn’t about making myself a better person; it’s about the Holy Spirit making me into the person I could never make of myself .

My faith isn’t about following a list of dos and don’ts. It’s about following the One who loves me unconditionally, and gives me the desire to be like Him.

Thoughts on Judge Kavanaugh and the #MeToo Movement

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”  (Matthew 7:1-2)

The recent rise of the #MeToo Movement has brought the issues of sexual abuse, sexual assault, and rape to the forefront of public discussion and debate.  The pendulum has swung from dismissing most claims of sexual impropriety to accepting such claims.  Evils that have been swept under the rug are now being acknowledged and addressed.  The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the subsequent claims of sexual assault that have come out during his confirmation hearings have made these issues the focus of public attention.   Did Kavanaugh sexually assault women in high school and college, or are the women lying?

I think the pendulum swing in attitudes toward sexual abuse claims has been a good thing, but I also think the pendulum has swung too far, and needs to move back toward the center. We’ve moved from the extreme of doubting most claims to the opposite extreme of accepting almost every claim. The problem in both cases is that people jump to a conclusion without due process, without objectively examining the evidence to arrive at an informed opinion. All claims of sexual abuse should be taken seriously, but judgement should be held until the facts have come out. Believing one side or the other should wait for the evidence.

What makes the Kavanaugh case more complicated is the political motive, on both sides. There are many on the right who would do anything to swing the Supreme Court to the right, including putting a known rapist on the court. And, there are many on the left who would do anything to prevent the Court from swinging to the right, including deliberate false rape accusations against an innocent man. The Kavanaugh case is so heavily politicized that the truth has become irrelevant. Almost everyone on the left believes the accusers, and almost everyone on the right believes him. And most in the middle are sick of the whole situation and just try to ignore it. The truthfulness of the claims has become inconsequential.

Jesus said we will be judged by the same standard we use to judge others.  When the nation unfairly judges Kavanaugh and his accusers based on their views about Roe v. Wade rather than the merits of the accusations, we open ourselves up to similarly unfair judgement.  The time has arrived when people are being tried and convicted, not because they’ve committed a crime, but because of their ideology.  And, I believe these sorts of accusations and convictions will increase.

As the nation drifts further from the truth and toward political correctness, God is judging us.  His judgement has included giving us evil leaders, in both major parties.  His judgement has included allowing us to reap hatred and division.  If we continue to ignore the truth, God’s judgements will become increasingly severe.  Unless we as a nation repent and turn back to God, things will continue to go downhill.  The measure we use will be measured back to us.

 

 

Reflections on 9/11

As I reflect back on the tragedy of 9/11, several things come to mind.

First, my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost someone that day.  May God grant you peace.

Second, I’m realizing how much 9/11 still impacts us today.  The rise of Donald Trump was, in large part, because of fear of another 9/11.  Much of our nation’s foreign policy is a direct result of 9/11.  We’re just now finally coming out from under the economic recession caused by 9/11.  The way law enforcement is trained and deployed has completely changed as a result of 9/11.  The underlying fear of another 9/11 impacts almost everything we do.

Third, I’m realizing that we’re forgetting.  For the younger generation, it’s just a chapter in their history books, like Pearl Harbor was for my generation, or the Civil War was for the generation before mine.  For those of us who are old enough to remember, the memory of the horror is fading for many of us.  History forgotten will repeat itself.  I hope and pray this never happens.

Last, I’m reminded of how fragile and short life is.  If 9/11 had never happened, many of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day would have died by now of other causes.  Life is short, and we never know when our last day will be.  Everyone dies; the only questions are when and how, and what happens next.  We have little control over the when and how.  God offers us a choice through Jesus Christ for what happens next.  My desire is that people would settle the question of what happens next by trusting Christ as Savior and Lord, then live whatever days they have remaining on Planet Earth to the fullest.  We only get one shot at life; there are no time-outs or do-overs.  I want to make the most of the one chance I have.

Jesus and the President Caught In Adultery

Then the liberals and Democrats brought to Jesus a President caught in adultery. And when they had set him in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this President was caught in adultery, in the very act. We can’t stand him, and we think he should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, hoping that they might have something they could twist to accuse the President. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger:  Al Franken.  Bill Clinton.  Barney Frank.  John Edwards.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at him first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground:  Gary Condit.  Anthony Wiener.  Gary Hart.

Then those who heard it, ignoring their conscience, said, “Shut up, Jesus.  Stone him!  Stone him!”  And they began to hurl rocks at both the President and Jesus.

Then Jesus turned to the President and said, “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.”

And the President said to Jesus, “Whatever.  My lawyer paid her to be quiet.  She should have been quiet.”

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.  You all, on the other hand, are condemning yourselves to Hell by ignoring Me, by choosing to walk in darkness.  I’m out of here.  When you’re ready to listen, let me know.“

Then Jesus shook the dust from His sandals and left that region.

My Evolving Thoughts on School Shootings and Gun Control

As my thoughts on gun control and mass murders continue to evolve, two things have become crystal clear to me.  First, what we are currently doing isn’t working.  And, second, the sound-bite, blame game, quick-fix solutions being proposed won’t do anything to stop the shootings.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

The psychiatrists, social workers, politicians, pundits, and law enforcement experts cannot agree on the causes of the current epidemic.  Some blame guns.  Some blame a lack of mental health care.  Some blame the decline of morality.  Some blame violence in movies, music, and video games.  Some blame poor parenting.  Some blame racism.  Some blame bullying.  Some blame the breakdown of the family.  Some blame the NRA.  Some blame economic inequality.  Some blame turning away from God.  Some blame Obama and the Democrats.  And some blame Trump and the Republicans.

The proposed solutions are equally contradictory and muddled.  Ban all guns.  Ban some guns.  Arm teachers and school staff.  Raise the age to buy weapons.  Provide more funding for mental health.  Hire armed veterans to secure schools.  Offer free conceal-carry classes.  This list goes on.

What nobody seems to want to do is to put ideological dogma aside and to sit down to discuss the problem and solutions rationally and pragmatically.  People are more concerned with pushing political ideology than in finding solutions that work.

I don’t have a bunch of letters after my name, and I’m not an expert, but I am a reasonably intelligent, well informed, and thoughtful person.  It seems to me that the causes of mass shootings are extremely complex, and vary considerably from case to case.  It also follows that there are no simple solutions to a problem with such complex and varying causes.

Both the left and the right make valid points.  Easy access to high-powered, multi-round rifles obviously makes it much easier to shoot a lot of people, but so do “gun-free zones” where the assailant knows his victims will be unarmed, easy targets.  And while it’s clear that someone that shoots up a school is mentally unstable, it’s equally clear that the vast majority of people with mental illness are of absolutely no threat to others.  Most gun owners are law-abiding citizens and responsible people, yet many mass shooters use firearms they purchased legally.

How do we solve the problem?  Again, I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but it seems to me the place to start would be for each side to begin listening to what the other side has to say.  Those on the right need to understand why the left is so terrified of unregulated gun availability.  Those on the left need to understand why the right is adamant that gun ownership is just as much an absolute right as free speech or freedom of religion.  We then need to come together to find practical ways to protect people from these attacks, as well as addressing the complex social, religious, political, emotional, and medical reasons why people shoot other people.

It seems common sense to me that if conservatives believe “extreme vetting” is necessary to keep terrorist immigrants from entering the United States, it might also be necessary to keep terrorists and violent people from obtaining certain types of high powered semi-automatic weapons.  It also makes sense to me that mass killers are less likely to target a school where teachers and staff are known to be armed and trained to defend themselves and their students.  Obviously, not all teachers would want to be armed, and nobody should be required to violate their conscience and be forced to carry a weapon.  And many communities would rather risk an armed attack against an unarmed school than to permit loaded weapons in classrooms.  These choices should be made by individual states, communities, schools, and teachers, with significant input from community members, parents and students.

Woman with AR-15

It also seems obvious to me that the causes of the rise in mass-shootings are related to the causes of many of the other societal problems.  We have seen an increase in mass shootings, racial violence, hateful rhetoric, violent bullying, sexual assault, and violent protest.  Behaviors and beliefs that our nation once abhorred are now not only tolerated, but are embraced and celebrated.  We have given up our God-given moral compass, and replaced it with a moral Ouija board.  Conservative Christian leaders who once denounced racism, fornication, and blasphemy now defend a racist, adulterous, blasphemous president.  In the past, our leaders worked to try to unify our nation and work for the common good.  Today, our leaders work to divide our nation to promote partisan ideology.  Technology has isolated us as individuals; parents no longer discipline their children or themselves; schools teach that we are meaningless accidents of evolution; churches teach that we cannot take the Bible seriously; and we blame others rather than taking responsibility for our own actions.

We dehumanize the unborn to justify abortion, and then we wonder why some people dehumanize others to justify mass murder.  We teach that morality is whatever our hearts tell us is right and wrong, and then we are surprised that some people’s hearts tell them mass murder is right.  We teach people to blame others because they are helpless victims, and then wonder why some people think it’s OK to take revenge against those they believe victimized them.  We make mass murderers famous, posting their names and images on the evening news, and then we wonder why the next person tries to kill more than the last.

How do we prevent mass shootings?  We return to the values we once believed.  We teach our children that they are loved by God and that each person has great value and worth.  We become less isolated, and more caring of our neighbors and associates.  We encourage people to arm and defend themselves, while making it harder for deranged people to get access to high-powered, semi-automatic weapons. We stop making mass murderers famous.  We stop glorifying violence.  We do a better job of identifying those with violent tendencies, and get them help.  We start listening to each other and work together, rather than blaming and demonizing each other.  We repent and ask God to forgive us, and sincerely ask for His guidance and wisdom.

American Conservatism Has Left Me.

Ronald Reagan drew me into conservative politics.

Donald Trump has shoved me out.

I didn’t change; American conservatism has changed.

Conservatism under Reagan used to include traditional values, like treating all people with dignity and respect, even when you strongly disagree with them.  It used to include the idea of winning over the opposition by building consensus.  It included building the economy to help all people to be able to better themselves financially.  Conservatism under Reagan was based on integrity, decency, and a Biblical view of morality, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or economic status.

American conservatism under Trump is completely different.  Name-calling, shaming, and disrespect have replaced treating all people with dignity.  Divisiveness has replaced consensus-building.  The economy is rigged to help big business at the expense of the middle class.  Conservatism under Trump is based on hypocrisy, humiliating the opposition, racism, elitism, and defending sexual abusers.

American conservatism no longer fits my Biblical beliefs.  Liberalism and Libertarianism never did fit.  I can no longer consider myself a conservative or a liberal, a Republican, a Libertarian, or a Democrat.  I’m now just a politically unaffiliated Christian, trying to serve my Lord and Savior as best I know how, completely repulsed by how American politics has degraded.

I will continue to speak out against the immorality, divisiveness, hypocrisy, and corruption I see on all sides of the political spectrum.  If this offends you, unfollow me now, and go hide in your safe space.