Move the Dakota Access Pipeline!

It’s rare that I agree with liberals on anything.  I’m a conservative Christian with libertarian leanings.  On environmental issues, I rarely agree with the left-wing environmental whackos who believe humans are an invasive species and are causing global warming.  I believe our natural resources should be used in a responsible manner.  Take care of the environment, but develop our natural resources for the benefit of all.  However, there is an environmental issue that’s been under the radar of the mainstream media where I’m finding myself on the opposite side of the fence from where I usually stand.

Near the small town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, activists have been protesting the construction of a crude oil pipeline which they say threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and others downstream.  The protests, which began with a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe back in April, has grown to an estimated 2000+ people from dozens of tribes across the nation as well as non-Native supporters.  The occupation and protests have been extremely peaceful, with only a handful of arrests for minor incidents.  The rhetoric on social media from non-Native people has been extremely vulgar and racist, and the mainstream media has either demonized the protestors or ignored the protests completely.  The state of North Dakota has blocked off access to the protestor’s camp and removed water tanks.

What’s the Dakota Access Pipeline?

pipeline mapThe Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a new approximately 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline currently under construction which would carry crude oil from production areas in northwestern North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry the oil to the Gulf Coast refineries.  The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., a Texas-based company.

Why Are People Protesting?

There are a number of reasons why protestors are fighting construction of the DAPL:

  • The proposed pipeline crosses under the Missouri River just a few hundred yards upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation, and a leak would potentially destroy the main water source for the Reservation.
  • A leak would also affect the water supply of millions of people further downstream.
  • The pipeline would disturb ancestral sites that the Sioux hold sacred.
  • The pipeline would violate provisions of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • They believe the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project.

Historical Context

By Kmusser - self-made, using National Atlas data and original treaty descriptions.

Map by Kmusser from Wikipedia

In 1868, the Treaty of Fort Laramie established the Great Sioux Reservation, which covered the western half of South Dakota and parts of North Dakota and Nebraska.  This treaty was almost immediately broken by the United States Government.  The United States has subsequently used legislation and force to steal the majority of the land, leaving the various Sioux tribes with ever shrinking reservations.  The Sioux were stripped of their culture, their lands, and their language.  Their children were forced to attend government and church run boarding schools, often hundreds of miles from their families, where they were further stripped of their customs, language, and religion.

Conditions today on the Sioux Reservations are deplorable.  Reservations in North and South Dakota are among the poorest places in the United States.  The Standing Rock Reservation has an unemployment rate of over 80%.  Alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide are rampant.  Most housing is extremely substandard and would be condemned anywhere else.  Only about a third of students graduate from high school.  The tribe lacks basic medical care, infrastructure, and economic development.  There are very few resources to change any of these conditions.

In this context, for the United States government to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline along a route that threatens the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation is reprehensible.  The government has already stripped them of almost everything they had, and now threatens to destroy what little they have left.  This is morally unacceptable!

The Solution?  Move the Pipeline!

While many of the protestors want to do away with the pipeline altogether, the best solution I see is to move the pipeline further east to avoid having to cross the Missouri River.  The pipeline could be routed along the boundary between the Missouri River and James River watersheds, minimizing dangers to water supplies and avoiding culturally sensitive areas.  Another option would be to route the pipeline east to the existing Keystone Pipeline, either connecting with the existing pipeline, or building a new pipeline parallel with it.  Both of these two options would cost the developers more than the current proposed route, but would reduce the potential environmental impact and avoid the ancestral sites the Sioux hold sacred.  The oil companies would get their pipeline, and the Sioux would have their clean water source.

Litigation

The Standing Rock Tribe has sued developers over the DAPL, and developers have counter-sued the tribe.  A federal judge is expected to rule by September 9.

How Can I Support the Protestors?

Contact your representatives in Congress.

The protestor’s camp has a gofundme page:  https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp

Legal defense fund:  https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf

 

Over the Edge, Plunging Toward Destruction

I used to think that the United States was teetering at the edge of disaster.  I no longer believe this; we’ve deliberately jumped off the edge and are plunging toward destruction at the bottom.

Bush and Obama are not what caused this; they are merely symptoms.  And neither Trump nor Clinton can save us.

The United States was founded on Biblical principles.  For the most part, we followed Jesus Christ and built our values around the Word of God.  Although evil has always existed in America, we knew it was evil, and most of us worked to get rid of the evil.

Today, we’ve mostly rejected Jesus Christ.  We follow whatever we want to follow, and embrace evil as “diversity” or “protecting our rights.”  The American Church, for the most part, embraces behavior that the Bible clearly labels as sin, and claims it’s the only “loving” thing to do.

Although the prophet Isaiah was talking about Israel, he pretty much nails the situation in America today:  “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

As it was in Israel, so I believe it will be in the United States:

Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people;
He has stretched out His hand against them
And stricken them,
And the hills trembled.
Their carcasses as refuse in the midst of the streets.  (Isaiah 5:24-25).

This year’s Presidential election only confirms my belief.  We the people have selected the two most corrupt, evil candidates in American history as our Democratic and Republican nominees.  It doesn’t matter which one is elected; either way, we’re putting an evil person into the highest office in the land.  Many Christians are saying, “Yes, Hillary’s evil, but at least she’s not Trump,” or “Yes, Trump’s evil, but at least he’s not Hillary.”  And they’ll go on to talk about what will happen to the Supreme Court and Congress if their candidate isn’t elected.

I’ve got a news flash for you, Christian:  Either way, we put evil into the White House.  Either way, God is judging us for our lack of faith in Him.  Either way, we are plunging to our destruction.  And either way, nothing will stop the destruction other than repenting, and once again turning to Jesus Christ, rather than trusting in ourselves.

This election is not about whether Trump can save us from Hillary, or Hillary can save us from Trump.  It’s about whether we continue trusting our politicians to save us, or once again turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.

I fear America is about to crash and burn.  Then, out of the rubble, God can make us His people again, if we so choose.

Obama Has Lost Touch With Reality

President Obama is delusional.

“The world has never been less violent, healthier, better educated, more tolerant, with more opportunity for more people, and more connected than it is today,”

~ President Obama, during a speech at the White House Summit on Global Development, July 20, 2016.

“…less violent…”  Nice, Munich, Dallas, Paris, Baton Rouge, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Syria, Orlando, Baghdad.

“…healthier…”   Obesity, zika, AIDS, heart disease, cancer, measles, malaria, MRSA, skyrocketing insurance costs.

“…better educated…” Declining test scores, declining job skills, declining STEM education, failing schools.

“…more tolerant…” BLM, Donald Trump, ISIS, Westboro “Baptist,” anti-Christian, anti- LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, Al Sharpton.

“…more opportunity…” Declining wages, rising food stamp participation, declining household incomes, increased poverty, recent college grads can’t find jobs, declining home ownership.

The Sinking Ship

Listing Ship

Once upon a time, a passenger ship struck a reef and tore a hole in its hull.

As the ship began to sink, it listed to the starboard (right) side.  The passengers on the left side were unhappy.  They got rid of the captain, and replaced him with a new captain who turned the ship so that it listed to the port (left) side.

The people on the right side were now unhappy, so they got rid of that captain.  They replaced him with a captain who turned the ship so that in now listed to the right again.

The passengers on the left and the passengers on the right began to argue over whether the ship would sink faster listing to the right, or listing to the left.  Each side would get rid of the opposite-leaning captain, and replace him with one that would turn the ship to their side.  Each time the direction of the ship changed, it listed further and further to either the left or right.  As the ship swung further to the right, then the left, the passengers on each side became angrier and angrier.  Each side became convinced the ship was sinking because it was the other side’s fault.

Eventually the ship sank, not because it was listing, but because everyone ignored the gaping hole in its hull.

The sinking ship is the United States.  And we’re sinking fast.

 

The problem is not that we have swung too far to the liberal left or the conservative right.  The problem is that we have a gaping hole in our foundation that neither side is willing to recognize and address.

The United States was founded on biblical principles.  The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were based on biblical concepts.  Granted, we have never completely followed those principles in actual practice – we did allow slavery and we did exterminate millions of indigenous people, among other things.  Nevertheless, we generally acknowledged right and wrong based on biblical principles, even though we often failed to follow those principles.  Our foundation was based on God’s truth, even if we didn’t always follow the truth.  God blessed us as a nation, because we acknowledged Him.

Somewhere along the way, we began to reject the truth.  Cracks appeared in our foundation, and God’s blessing began to diminish.

We swung to the left under F.D.R. and Truman.  We swung back to the right under Eisenhower.

A little further to the left under Kennedy and Johnson.  Back to the right under Nixon and Ford.

Hard swing left under Carter, with an ever harder swing to the right under Reagan and Bush 1.

Clinton swung us left again, Bush 2 back to the right.

Obama has nearly capsized us to the left.

Now we’re fighting over whether to allow Hillary to push us further left, or whether to have Trump jerk us completely over to the right again.

The problem is, the cracks in our foundation have become gaping holes, and we’re too blind to see it.  And, we’re reaping the consequences.

Americans no longer have a biblical foundation for their worldviews.  Both the left and the right openly defy God.  The left openly mocks biblical truth regarding sex and marriage.  The right has abandoned biblical truth regarding the poor and greed.  Although many on both sides give lip service to God, the vast majority of our leaders and most of the population live as though God is irrelevant.  Because we have rejected God, we are reaping what we have sown.  We are reaping terrorism, racism, hatred, and fear.

America is sinking fast.  Unless we repent and turn back to Jesus Christ, we will destroy ourselves.  We must plug the gaping hole in our national foundation.  It won’t matter if we capsize to the left, or to the right.  The result will be the same.  We will be destroyed, unless we turn back to God before it’s too late.

What Is My Biggest Problem?

What is my biggest problem?

 

It’s not the government.

It’s not the economy.

It’s not other people.

It’s not a lack of opportunity.

It’s not my health.

It’s not my job.

 

My biggest problem is myself.

 

I am a sinner.

I’ve always been a sinner.

I will always be a sinner until the day I die.

I can’t change it by trying harder.

I can’t change it by being more religious.

I can’t change it by doing more good stuff.

There is nothing I can do to stop being a sinner.

It’s who I am.

 

Only Jesus can change me.

 

Only Jesus can fundamentally change who I am.

All I can do is trust Jesus.

All I can do is to quit trying to change myself,

And give my life to Jesus.

Give my sin to Jesus,

Give my will to Jesus,

Give my dreams and ambitions to Jesus,

Give everything to Jesus.

 

My biggest problem is myself.

And I cannot fix myself.

Only Jesus can fix me,

And all I can do is get out of the way

And trust and follow Jesus.

 

You are your own biggest problem.

And, only Jesus can fix you, too.

Who Can Save America?

The United States of America is more divided than at any time I can remember.  We are divided by politics.  We are divided by income.  We are divided by religion.  We are divided by ethnicity.

The current campaigns for the Presidency exemplify this division.   Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has used the most divisive political rhetoric I’ve ever heard, and has drawn protests and threats from many different groups, from far-left liberals to far-right conservatives.  Other candidates are exploiting Trump’s rhetoric to further divide Americans.  It seems that all of the candidates are seeking to divide Americans into “us” versus “them,” although most do it far more subtly than Mr. Trump.  From Bernie Sanders, it’s the “have nots” versus the “haves.”  From Hillary Clinton, it’s women versus men and the white majority versus racial minorities.  From Donald Trump, it’s anyone who disagrees with him versus those who don’t.  And, from Ted Cruz, it’s anyone who supports the Democrats or Trump versus conservatism.  We have candidates who want to make us into a socialist state, who are being sued for fraud, and who are facing possible FBI indictment.  There have been protests, some with violence; threats against candidates’ families; and threats of more violence.

Trump-Protests

America is a mess.  The police have been accused of racially motivated killings.  Police officers have been assassinated.  Protests are becoming more frequent and more violent.  Terrorism and mass murders are becoming common.  The average household is becoming poorer, while the rich are becoming richer.  Abortion, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, and sex outside marriage are widely accepted, and pedophilia, polygamy, and bestiality are gaining acceptance.  Greed and power are considered to be virtues, and caring for others is considered less important than taking care of self.

Who can save America?

Depending on who is asked, the answer varies.  Many point to Trump, Sanders, Clinton, Cruz, or Kasich.  Others point to third-party candidates from the Libertarian, Green, or other parties.  Many point to ideologies, such as conservatism, liberalism, democratic socialism, or libertarianism.  Some point to the government; others point to the free enterprise system.  Others say that no one can save America, that the decline has become too great ever to overcome.

trump-clinton-sanders-cruz

In order to answer the question of who can save America, we need to look at what made America great in the past, and what changed to cause America to decline.

I contend that what made America great in the past was following Biblical principles, and what has caused its decline has been the rejection of those principles.

adultery_BibleThe United States was never a “Christian Nation,” whatever that means.  We were, however, a nation built on Biblical principles.  The Constitution and Bill of Rights were based on the Bible.  The vast majority of Americans were Christians, or, at least had a respect for Christianity and Biblical principles.  The principles found in the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount were the foundation for American ethics and law.   We were never perfect; we allowed slavery, and we tried to exterminate indigenous peoples.  However, the opposition to both was led by Christians who decried the practices on Biblical grounds.  The concepts of individual responsibility and caring for others were both embraced.   And God blessed the United States because of our respect for Him and our commitment to Biblical principles of morality and law.

Americans no longer have this ideological foundation.  By and large, Americans have rejected Biblical principles.  We no longer accept individual responsibility for our actions, nor do we accept our responsibility to help the less fortunate.  God and the Bible are openly mocked; those who hold to Biblical morality are ridiculed and hated.  The laws are changing to permit and encourage sexual immorality, greed, and other ungodly practices, while penalizing those who follow Jesus Christ.  As in the days of the judges of Israel, everyone does what is “right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Even the Church has largely rejected Biblical principles.  We pick and choose those bits of the Bible we like, while ignoring the rest.  Most of mainstream Protestantism and Roman Catholicism did this many years ago, but now, even much of Evangelical Christianity is doing the same.  The goats are leading the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46); we have become the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14-22).  And God has cursed us (Galatians 1:6-9).

churchconstruction

Because we once respected and largely obeyed God, He blessed us; and because we have now rejected what we once knew to be the truth, God has now removed His blessing.  America is in decline, because we have rejected that which made us great in the first place – God’s blessing for obedience and respect.

Who can save America?  Not Obama, nor Trump, nor Sanders, nor Clinton, nor Cruz or Kasich.  No political leader can save us.  Only Jesus Christ can save America; and He will not save us unless we repent and turn to Him once more.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Psalm 33:10-12

 

 

 

Life is Tough…God is Good

Life is Tough…God is Good

As I have scrolled through my Facebook news feed for the last 24 hours, I have been struck by how tough life is. A good friend of mine has been moved to hospice as a result of complications from a lifetime of smoking. Another friend from childhood is losing a battle with cancer. A young mother from my church is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. My country is being divided by hatred, racism, terrorism, politics, ideology, and greed. Many people struggle to keep a roof over their heads and adequate food on the table. Good jobs are hard to find, and people that have them are in fear of losing them. People struggle with depression, fear, sickness, anger, hopelessness, and death. Life is definitely tough.

Where is God in all of this? It seems most people have given up on God. They see God either as a fairy tale or as uncaring and distant. Even many born-again Christians struggle with the feeling that they cannot live up to God’s expectations and fear that He is unhappy with them and punishing them.

The bad news is that our world is slowly being destroyed by sin. It began in the Garden with Adam and Eve, but like a cancer, it has continued to spread ever since due to the sin of each of us. It’s not God’s fault the world is crumbling; we have brought it on ourselves by our constant rebellion against the God who created everything “very good.” Our collective sin is what has brought on death, disease, poverty, racism, and hatred. And, there is nothing we can do to stop it. We’ve tried legislating morality, but it doesn’t work. We’ve tried religion, irreligion, education, indoctrination, love, hate, freedom, and tyranny, and none of it has done anything to slow the tide of self-destruction that grips our world. We are under a curse (Genesis 3). We’re headed for self-annihilation, and we cannot stop it. Life is tough.

The good news is that God has a plan, and you and I can be part of His plan, if we choose.

LifeIsToughShirtGod is good. Rather than letting us annihilate ourselves, God’s goodness, mercy, and love demanded that He give His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for sin on Himself. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sin is what has torn us away from our Creator, and sin is what tears us apart from each other. Sin is what has brought on disease, hatred, poverty, racism, and death. Paul again explains that, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He continues: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here’s the goodness of God: Despite the fact that we are destroying His creation by our sin, God has already begun the process of restoration. The restoration began with the cross of Jesus Christ. Individually, it begins when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Paul explains in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” He develops this idea of personal restoration further in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The goodness of God is not limited to individual restoration, however. The earth and humanity has been cursed because of our sin (Genesis 3). Paul writes, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:21-22). The apostle John explains that the curse will eventually be removed: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1, 4). He continues, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3).

Here’s the deal: For those who continue to reject Jesus Christ, there is no restoration, and no hope. Life stays tough, and eternity is a literal Hell. However, for those of us who turn to Jesus Christ, repent of sin, and make Jesus our Lord and Savior, the process of restoration begins immediately. The goodness of God begins to change us. The process begins immediately, but isn’t complete until we are with Jesus in eternity. God doesn’t want people to become religious or spiritual; He wants a restored relationship with us. God’s goodness has provided the means for restoration through Jesus Christ for all who are willing to receive it.

Life is tough, but God is good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GcBBPbtfoI