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.

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.

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.

So Earthly Minded, You’re No Heavenly Good

The old Johnny Cash song says, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”

I think the problem is usually the opposite. Too many Christians – myself often included – are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

We get caught up on social media with who should or shouldn’t marry whom, who should or shouldn’t own guns, who should or shouldn’t be allowed to enter the country, and who should or shouldn’t be President.

We are so busy telling people how we should fix this broken, temporary world that we neglect to tell others how to become part of the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Abortion, racism, sexuality, poverty, violence, politics, immigration, health care, taxes, the economy… Yes, they are all important. But they’re all temporary. When we die, they no longer affect us. When our children and grandchildren die, they will no longer affect them. All that will matter when we die is whether or not we have received Jesus Christ as Savior.

It’s simple: If a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, their sins are forgiven, and they spend eternity in Heaven with Him. If a person has not received Christ as Savior, their sins are not forgiven, and they spend eternity in Hell away from Him. And it’s not just after we die; If a person has Jesus, they have the Holy Spirit now to help them through this mess we call life. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, no help getting through the mess.

Christian, don’t be so earthly minded, you’re no heavenly good. I’ll be working on it, too.

Why do People Support Abortion?

I honestly don’t understand how a rational person can support abortion rights.

To me, the argument against abortion is very simple, and goes something like this:

  1. Murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human being, and is immoral.
  2. Abortion is the intentional killing of an embryo or fetus.
  3. Embryos and fetuses are innocent human beings.
  4. Therefore, abortion is murder, and immoral.

The arguments for abortion rights seem to try to refute this argument in one of three ways:

  1. The most common argument is that embryos and fetuses are not human beings. However, I have yet to see a cogent rationale for this belief. Every argument I see is based on emotion or is utterly subjective.  Genetically, an embryo is human from the moment of conception. There is no other point in human development where scientists can objectively say, up this stage, the embryo/fetus is clearly not human, but from this point on, it is.
  2. The second common argument I see is that murder isn’t necessarily immoral. This view usually presupposes the first argument, that the unborn aren’t human beings. The rape, poverty, abuse, and birth defects arguments generally fit in this category. Sometimes, the “a woman’s choice” argument fits here as well. Again, I have yet to see a cogent rationalization for this view.
  3. The third argument I see is that abortion should be legal despite the fact that it is murder and immoral. This view is where the “a woman’s choice” argument usually fits. To me, this is the most illogical argument of the three. If murder by abortion should be legal, why not all forms of murder? Why make anything illegal?

The only justifiable exception I can logically defend is abortion to save the life of the mother. If both the mother and the fetus are expected to die without the abortion, and there is a reasonable expectation that the mother’s life can be saved if the abortion is performed, then it is better to lose one life than two. At the same time, every attempt should be made to save the baby as well.

I would very much like to understand why individuals who support the pro-choice position believe abortion is justifiable. If you are an abortion supporter, I would appreciate your comments. Please keep them respectful and on-topic. Disrespectful or irrelevant comments will be summarily deleted.

 

Pine Ridge Mission Trip 2015 – The Journey Continues

Me at Pine Ridge - photo by Stacey

Me at Pine Ridge – photo by Stacey

My daughter Stacey and I, along with about 20 other people from our church, spent a week at Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota for a mission trip. On Saturday, August 8, we headed home.

We got up extra early that morning, grabbed a quick breakfast, and loaded the vehicles for the 1,100-mile drive back to Fairfield. As we were loading, one of the Next Step staff members told me that the left over materials had been delivered to the people I had met. Wilbert Sr. lives next to the home I had been working at all week, and his son Wilbert Jr. was staying with him for the summer. The home had been seriously damaged in a spring storm, and with the left over materials, the two Wilberts should have just about enough materials to make repairs before winter. Reportedly, the Next Step team woke up Wilbert Sr. as they were delivering the materials. Before they had even finished unloading, Wilbert was out in the yard, in his pajamas, with a claw hammer, yanking the remains of the old siding from the damaged side of his house.

The trip home was mostly uneventful. We traveled US-18 eastward across the southern edge of South Dakota, caught I-29 south to I-80 east. After spending the night in Peoria, we took I-74 home. I grabbed a handful of geocaches at rest stops and gas stations along the way. We arrived back at Fairfield on Sunday afternoon. I put a total of just over 3,000 miles on my car over the 10-day trip.

Probably the strangest thing that happened on the entire trip involved the dog we picked up on Friday. We were stuck at a construction zone on a dirt road in the absolute middle of nowhere when a dog appeared by our cars. Assuming the dog had been abandoned, we took it to the animal shelter in Pine Ridge. Assuming the dog would never be claimed, and eventually euthanized, one of the women from our group went back to the shelter, adopted the dog, and took it back to Fairfield with us. As luck would have it, this particular dog, unlike the vast majority of Rez dogs, actually did belong to someone. And, the person who owned the dog happened to be a high-ranking tribal leader, who, apparently, lives in the absolute middle of nowhere, and wanted their dog back. So, the dog had to be packed up and shipped back to Pine Ridge. Of all the hundreds of dogs in Pine Ridge, we had to pick up the wrong one!

A lot has happened since the trip. I’m back to my normal routine, and have been very busy, as evidenced by the fact that it’s taken me six weeks to finish this series of blogs. I took Stacey back to Virginia for her second year at Liberty University, and took a side trip to Georgia to find some very old geocaches.

photo by Stacey

photo by Stacey

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pine Ridge, trying to find ways to continue helping the residents. I’ve been in email contact with Denver American Horse, Veterans Service Officer for Oglala Lakota County, who runs the shelter for homeless veterans, and with Leon Matthews, who owns the Higher Ground coffee shop and writes a column for the Lakota Country Times. I’ve already signed up for next year’s trip to Pine Ridge with our church, along with Stacey and my wife, Ellen. This will be Ellen’s first trip to Pine Ridge, and I’m hoping she’ll be as drawn to work with the Lakota as I have become.

Our church is raising funds to rebuild the trailer purchased by Aimee, the young single mother of three children living in her car. We’re working through some local Pine Ridge folks to try to get the trailer inhabitable before winter hits. As a back-up plan, John and Nadine have offered to let the family stay with them.

Bruce and Marsha from Lakota Hope will be visiting Fairfield next month, to share with our church their hearts for the Lakota people, and their vision for ministry in the area. We’re also trying to get John Two Bulls out for a visit, to share what his ministry is all about.

Pine Ridge - photo by Stacy

Pine Ridge – photo by Stacy

Mission work isn’t just about going someplace, doing a project, and telling people about Jesus; it’s also about building long-term relationships with people. For those followers of Jesus at home, we need to support those in the field, not just with an occasional online donation, but by building relationships, and with prayer. Whether we are middle-class suburbanites from southwest Ohio, or native Lakota on the reservation, or missionaries who have moved somewhere to work full-time in missions, or anyone else, as followers of Jesus, we are all in the same family. We are all part of the body of Christ. And, we all need to work together, with our different talents, resources, and gifts, to share the Gospel with those who aren’t yet in the family.

Please pray for Pine Ridge. Pray for the economic situation to improve, for the continuing suicide epidemic to end, for an end to the gang activity, and for their health and safety getting through the winter. Most of all, pray for hearts to be opened, and for many to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Pray for the spiritual protection for the Christians on the Rez. And pray for those who are working to bring revival to the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Pine Ridge Sunset - photo by Stacey

Pine Ridge Sunset – photo by Stacey

*** If anyone would like to help financially with the work that’s being done at Pine Ridge, you can either contact me, or send a check to Fairfield First Baptist Church, 1072 Hicks Blvd. Fairfield, OH 45014, and indicate that the money is for the Pine Ridge Fund.