The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes in our Bible may have been King Solomon of the Bible, but scholars are not absolutely sure that it was him. In any case, the book is chock full of incredible wisdom. One of my favorite verses tells us that there is nothing that is really new, just repackaged ideas that keep being brought back up over and over throughout history: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). If you know enough history, you realize how true this is. Many of our seemingly great advancements in the modern age were thought of before and are just rehashed with a new technological flair. Television seems like a great marvel, but it is just the digital reproduction of dramatic stories. We’ve had drama for thousands of years. The car is just a mechanical version of chariots of which we’ve had various versions for thousands of years. Many of the great advancements in medicine are just the discovery of ancient techniques or drugs that were known about thousands of years ago but were forgotten in the chaos of history. The computer is just a digital device that calculates.
We don’t really do much new with the computer. We calculate, process words, and play games – which are all things which we’ve had or known about for thousands of years. The abacus has been around for thousands of years; it’s just an old mechanical version of our modern calculating machine. The games may be a new version of different things or might pull together aspects of games which were not pulled together before, but role-playing games and war-games have been around before. It’s hard to find something that is a really new thing, a really new idea. Most ideas build on what has been thought of before. It only seems new because we forget things so easily in the clutter and chaos of history. Perhaps the airplane is something new or the technological advancements that turn the airplane into a ship for space travel, but human flight even has been toyed with for thousands of years. Not only are our technological and scientific advancements mostly rehashed versions of something that went before, but also our political ideas are old news.
The idea of strong central government that operates as a god, does all things for all people, supposedly the best of our ideas and the best of our people, is one of the oldest ideas in the book. If you research the history and the oral tradition of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) as I have, you will see the beginning of our modern ideas about government there. In verses 4 through 6, you see the old, worn-out belief that government can do anything if we only pool our resources and get all our “experts” in one place. In fact, many oral traditions about the Tower of Babel reveal what was the real purpose of the tower. These ignorant people wanted to build a building that would be higher than the possible level of the flood waters in case God should decide to send a flood again in punishment for man’s wickedness. In effect, these people were trying to use government, the collected resources and intellect of the people, to put them beyond the reach of God. Of course, this is the foolishness of pride, that makes people think that they are better than they are and more capable than they really are. Pride blinds us so easily into exalting ourselves way beyond the reality of who we are.
This idea of getting beyond the reach of whatever God can possibly throw at us was rehashed recently, in fact, in the disaster movie 2012. The movie 2012, which was released in 2009, was just another rehashing of the liberal/progressive idea that was launched at Babel, that no matter what God may devise, we collective humans can come up with something to outsmart Him. In case, you missed the point of the movie, I invite you to look back at the basic plotline. Throughout the movie, people are scrambling to get out of the way of tremendous disasters throughout the earth, but unbeknownst to them, the governments of the world had foreseen this disastrous turn of events and had built a fleet of gigantic boats to house the best of humanity so that they could ride out the New Great Flood, a modern version of God’s judgment of the Great Flood in the Bible. This is just the old idea of what the builders of the Tower of Babel thought, that their collective resources and intellect could outsmart God.
But God in His Omnipotence and His Limitless Intelligence, can so easily sidestep our foolish attempts to get beyond His Judgment or His Control. Remember, He created the universe. No matter where you try to go or what you try to do to get beyond His Reach, He will be there when you arrive, asking what took you so long. God even warns us in the Bible that our collective resources and technological advancements will NEVER put us beyond His Reach. “Though you ascend as high as the eagle,/ And though you set your nest among the stars,/ From there I will bring you down,” says the Lord (Obadiah 1:4). In fact, I believe God just sent us such a message on February 15. There was a gigantic meteor strike in Russia that captured worldwide attention that day. But if you remember, NO ONE saw that one coming, AT ALL. If you remember, the big story of the day was the near miss of Asteroid 2012 DA14. They didn't even know about the meteor that struck us until it happened. Many reporters and scientists called this a “coincidence.”
But you do not have to be a mathematician to figure out that the odds of these two events happening simultaneously are probably too high to calculate even with our computers. When you have a chance occurrence like that, you can bet that God is trying to get our attention, and He is reminding us of the truth of Obadiah 1:4. It doesn’t matter what we do as nations and it doesn’t matter what collective resources and how many “experts” we cobble together, when God gets really serious about bringing His Righteous Judgment on the people of this planet for our collective wickedness, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING we can do to stop Him. Just like with the meteor strikes, we will throw all our resources and effort into one thing, but God will sucker punch us in our blind spot. I think perhaps it is time for people to get serious about our repentance before God gets really serious about His Judgment.If you are not walking with God in fellowship, I pray that you would set that right today, either by inviting His Only Son Jesus into your heart (the exact words you use don't matter), or by returning to His Fellowship if you have already been saved by Jesus. If you are walking in the Center of His Will, I pray that your walk with Him will be all the sweeter in these last days since you know that His Glorious Promises to Return are on the near horizon.
One of the most important institutions established by God that has made human accomplishment and advancement possible is the family. I believe that God taught people to form this institution in order to make human society stable and to give it a conscience. Family is, of course, the training ground for most, if not all, human beings. And it is the place which we form our strongest memories while we are in the innocence of childhood. I’m sure that there are some that slip through the cracks and never experience what it means to belong to a family. And, unfortunately, since we live in a sin-fallen world, our families do not always live up to what they are supposed to be. Moreover, since family is so important to the stability of civilization, it is against this institution which Satan has brought most of his mischief. He has encouraged bad parents to abuse their children, treating them like property or like objects without feelings. And he has encouraged bad parents who treat the raising of their children like a hobby on which they expend ridiculously little effort and which they gullibly accept any ridiculous advice from the “experts.”
There seemed to be a common strain of parenting when I was growing up that I would best describe as laissez-faire parenting, in which the children were pretty much left to their own devices with little interaction from the parents, perhaps as these parents were following the foolish guidance from the “expert” Doctor Benjamin Spock who told parents to allow their children to “express themselves.” Doctor Spock’s 1946 book Baby and Child Care sold over 50 million copies and has been translated into 42 languages. It is probably the most influential child-rearing book after the Bible. Unfortunately it turned out to be monumentally wrong. Learning is not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes, like a broken clock, even the experts turn out to be right. The problem with many “experts” and their education is that they have little actual experience in the “real” world, and they don’t ameliorate their lack of experience by referring back to people who have experience or by consulting a tried and true source like the Bible.
Anyone who has lived for at least a few decades knows that you cannot replace real world experience by cracking the spine on another book, unless it’s the Bible. You might gain a little bit of wisdom by what you read or by observing others, but there is always a limit to what you can gain in this method. To complete the process of education, you must ALWAYS get your hands dirty in the real world. Even God uses this system of experiential knowledge in training us. You can bet that, if He teaches you a moral lesson in church, in your prayer time, or in your reading and meditation on the Bible, then He will follow that up with a real-world chance to use that moral lesson in your daily life. Another limitation on education is that too many universities are condescendingly skeptical of systems of morality such as Christianity that have stood the test of time. This does not mean that an education is a waste of time, but that one should always keep a critical eye when confronted with new information, balancing it against other systems of knowledge that you know to be true, such as the Bible. Many reject this amazing book that is full of wisdom and has been tried and proven for thousands of years in human history, but they automatically swallow any new theory that is fed to them by the “experts.”
Unfortunately, I’ve lived long enough to watch as so many “experts” burst onto the national cultural scene, breathlessly telling us some new bit of information which no one ever thought of before and which only they are privy to, only to see them discredited a decade or two later by new information. Doctor Benjamin Spock was one of those “experts” that turned out to be unbelievably wrong in just about everything that he espoused in his writings. He apparently even admitted to his inaccuracies later in his life, although this was too little, too late, as perhaps millions of parents used his ignorant advice to raise a generation of people that were unbound by any moral system. It is ironic that so many were so gullible to follow unproven theories so easily even while they were rejecting the Bible which has survived the test of time and always turned out to be true. Unfortunately, this is a common story for humans in history. Too often we have ignorantly lined up to follow foolish philosophies like passive lemmings, marching straight to our destruction, over and over again.
I pray that you will remember to defer to God on wisdom in all things so that your life will be better and more satisfying.
God can easily, miraculously, create anything out of “thin air” (ex nihilo) that His children need, providing for all of the needs, desires, and requirements of life for ALL of His Cherished physical or corporeal children spread throughout this world. He is even more generous with His spiritual children, those saved by Jesus. Just as He provided the manna that the Israelites ate in the desert, God can, if He so desires, produce anything out of nothing since He has complete power over matter and energy. He also proved this power by Jesus’ miracle of feeding the five thousand. There is nothing impossible for God. However, although God can do this, He often chooses to work in a more humble way, using the resources that are already there, and working through people around you to meet your needs. He usually chooses to bring His children together, sometimes for very brief encounters, in order to meet the needs of one or both of the people meeting. It is foolish to ever put God in a box and say that He only operates this way or that way. But there are people who try to put God in a box by only accepting His work a certain way. Such people always miss out on much greater blessings by trying to limit God.
It is this foolish attempt to limit God that is at work in the occasional story you hear of someone refusing medical treatment because they want to be “healed by God.” They think, in their ignorance, that God does not work through other people for His purposes. In their very limited understanding, they limit God by believing that He only operates directly and miraculously in a big flashy way that indulges their pride. Again, while God can do that If He chooses, He normally prefers to operate in a much more subtle, gentle, quiet fashion because He is not a God of pride and flashy things. Satan is the one who prefers big flashy things because he is the father of arrogant pride. But sometimes people are very ignorant or prideful and start believing that God can only operate a certain way, or in their selfish, ignorant pride, they only want God to operate in their lives in a big, flashy way. But make no mistake about it, the quiet way that God operates in the small things and through other people is just as miraculous as the big flashy thing that many people seem to want from God. Remember it is still God orchestrating the events that will meet your need or answer your prayer. If He brings you into contact with “just the right person” at “just the right time” and they have “just the right answer, response, or resource” that perfectly meets your need, that most certainly is a miracle.
I remember a conversation I had with my cousins years ago while I was still in my teens. We were hiking on the Appalachian Trail on a 10-day hiking trip with my uncle and were stopped for the night to camp. While looking for firewood to cook the evening’s meal, my cousins and I began talking about God. I remember one of my cousins saying that he wasn’t too sure that God existed, so he was waiting for God to do something big to prove His existence. According to my cousin, he would then turn to God once he saw proof. Of course, this is a very prideful way to approach God, and God does not respond to pride. He only responds to a humble heart. Moreover, the God of the Bible usually comes in the humble, quiet way. A good illustration of this is the passage in 1 Kings 19 where a voice tells Elijah that God would come to him. Elijah then watches while a big whirlwind comes by, but God is not in the whirlwind. Then a big earthquake comes, but God is not in the earthquake. The a big fire comes by, but God is not in the fire. Then, at last, God comes, but in a still, small voice.
Although humans in our ignorance and pride seem to prefer the big flashy thing, such things are usually of Satan. God usually operates in a smaller, more quiet way, although He is sovereign and He can operate any way He chooses. But why does He usually choose to operate in the smaller, more humble things? He does so because it forces us to listen harder, to concentrate more. He wants us to struggle for our faith so that it is real to us and so that we become stronger and better people for the struggle. He also does this because it is the most loving and gentle way to operate, so since He is a Loving God, he operates in a loving way. Additionally, the still, small voice is more intimate. God wants to be intimate with us. He doesn’t want to be an aloof God that flings things at us in a big flashy way and then stands way back. He wants to get down into the intimate details of our lives and share the most mundane, humble things with us because that proves His love much more and because He simply enjoys sharing our lives with us, even sharing the smallest, most intimate details.
I pray that you will experience God’s Tremendous Love today and that you will share with Him in all the details of your life, no matter how small.
I have written about John Locke and his political philosophy which he published in 1689 in his Two Treatises of Government. In his writing, he argued rightfully that all men are made equal by God:
“It is evident that all human beings – as creatures belonging to the same species and rank and born indiscriminately with all the same natural advantages and faculties – are equal amongst themselves. They have no relationship of subordination or subjection unless God (the lord and master of them all) had clearly set one person above another and conferred on him an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.”
His arguments come straight from the Bible.
God shows no partiality to any man, considering them all to be equal since He made them all and loves them all equally as His children: Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, Galatians 2:6, Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28, Deuteronomy 10:17, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 34:19, and Acts 10:34.
God wants us all to treat each other equally as well, giving respect to EVERYONE no matter what they look like nor how rich, poor, powerful, or powerless they are: Deuteronomy 1:17, Proverbs 18:5, Proverbs 24:23, Proverbs 28:21, 1 Timothy 5:21, and James 2:1-9.
It is this viewpoint of equality before God that our founders took when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was not some kind of super genius that thought up these ideas by himself. He did not write the Declaration of Independence by himself, although he was the chief writer of it. But he was simply borrowing the ideas for the document from the Bible and from John Locke who, in turn, had gotten his ideas from the Bible as well. As our founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence, our rights derive from “Nature and Nature’s God.” Since these rights come directly from God, they belong to us automatically. No king or legislature can rightfully take away these rights. They belong to us and cannot EVER be taken from us. Additionally, this idea of Gods laws being stamped upon nature itself is an idea that the Greeks revealed to us as they discovered it from observation of nature and the various orderly laws that govern the universe, first through Plato and Aristotle. And it is this natural law, God’s law stamped on nature itself, that Romans 1:20 is referring to.
The “invisible attributes” in Romans 1:20 are the laws of nature and the evidence of a Tremendously Loving Creator in the amazing complexity and order seen throughout nature and the universe even down to the smallest bits of subatomic particle or the smallest of cellular organisms that make up the world which we see and experience. The Ancient Greeks sensed that there was a God by their intellectual observations of the incredible order, complexity, and beauty of the universe. Many Native Americans even sensed this God from Nature, as they followed a “Great Spirit” before we “civilized” them with our ways and our knowledge. This is proof of Romans 1:20, that, even people living in a natural, rustic state without access to our Scriptures or our modern knowledge, can discover that there is a God as they see evidence of His Creativity, Order, and Love stamped on nature itself. Living simple lives in nature, they could clearly see and feel that there was a Loving God somewhere out there that was providing food for them, either in the animals that they killed and ate, or the fish that they pulled from the waters, or from the bountiful, delicious foods that could be brought from the ground. They sensed and understood even in their natural state that all this bounty, beauty, and order could not simply be an accident (which makes these simple people much smarter than the Darwinian evolutionists who want us to believe such absurdities as: accidents resulting in higher order or synchronized events in nature just serendipitously happening without any force of causation). In arriving at the knowledge of a Great Spirit, you have to admire the Native Americans for seeing in their natural state what many in our modern world just can’t seem to see due to their own pride or willful ignorance, refusing to even consider the evidence of God.I pray that you will enjoy fellowship with Our Tremendously Loving God today and every day.
In the 2000 movie, The Patriot, Mel Gibson stars as the central protagonist Benjamin Martin who is a widower and father of seven children. In the movie, Martin gets swept up into the events of the American Revolution. In one scene, Martin is attending a political assembly in his home colony of South Carolina at which the assembled men are discussing the possibility of independence from England and subsequent war. In one heated exchange in the assembly, Martin asks the question: “Would you tell me please, Mr. Howard, why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can.” This is, indeed, the very delicate argument that our founders were considering when they decided for independence from England and George III. They understood how easy it would be for the noble experiment of independence to devolve into an anarchic struggle for power just like the power struggles in their mother country during the English Civil War (1642-1651) and the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485).
Our founders knew it would make absolutely no sense to exchange one form of tyranny for another. Moreover, it would make a mockery of their arguments, such as presented in the Declaration of Independence, for moral authority to reject George III’s rule in favor of their own independent governance. Ironically, that is the very argument that we are currently engaged in now in our current political discourse. Too many of our countrymen are willing to trade off our tremendous inheritance of freedoms in exchange for the “mess of pottage” of a government that takes care of all of our needs, i.e. a socialist government, or a socialist democracy, whatever you want to call it. Too many are willing to accept the tyranny of a strong, unfettered central government that grows stronger by the day as we ask it to do more and more. Do not be deceived, this is a dangerous situation which we will one day soon regret very much. The tyranny of this huge government is already upon us.
If you have taken a flight in this country, you have put up with the tyranny of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The stories of their assaults on the freedoms and dignity of our American people have now become too numerous to count. There is a new story every week, and there is no telling how many incidents are going on without making it into the papers or the internet. The things that the TSA is doing are a blatant violation of our fourth amendment rights against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” No amount of security is worth trading off our very dear freedoms. We have traded the tyranny of terrorism for the tyranny of poorly trained, sociopathic civil servants who abuse our dignity with impunity. This is both a Democrat and Republican problem. Both of the political parties are complicit in setting up this tyrannical agency and allowing their abuse to go on without challenge. I truly do not understand how we have gotten to this point and why Americans do not get angry and do something about this.
I pray that you will enjoy the freedoms that we still have and that you will thank God this day for your freedom.
I pray that you will bear with me for a short discussion on the political theories that led up to our system of government when our nation was founded in 1776. In understanding these works that preceded the argument for our system of government, you can better understand why our founders chose this system of shared powers and the "consent of the governed."
Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan was published in 1651 toward the end of the English Civil War (1642-51). In this book, Hobbes argued that the people gave up their rights to the king in a social contract in exchange for social order, for peace and security. He claimed that, without the government maintaining order, the people would devolve into anarchy and would lead horrible and violent lives.
In describing this "natural state" of man, Hobbes wrote, “In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
As a result of man’s natural state, Hobbes claimed that monarchs had absolute authority in their social contract in order to keep the public peace. He even stated that this absolute authority extended to power over matters of faith and doctrine. Of course, Hobbes was only making a sycophantic argument for the English system in which the king was the head of the church ever since Henry VIII made his split with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. Furthermore, Hobbes argued that the monarch’s absolute authority could NOT be divided or shared and that it could NOT be challenged by the people. Of course, he overlooked the fact that many people have led quite peaceful lives outside of the protection or authority of government throughout human history.
Another political philosopher that took up the argument of the divine right of kings to rule in absolute authority was Sir Robert Filmer, who published his Patriarcha in 1680, 29 years after Hobbes’ Leviathan was published. Supposedly, Filmer was taking the arguments of Hobbes and perfecting them, even trying to establish a connection to the Bible for authority. His main argument rested upon the idea that God had given Adam absolute authority over the earth, and that this authority passed down directly to monarchs. Filmer was taking his argument for Adam’s authority from Genesis 1:28 in which God gives mankind complete authority over the earth and permission to do as he pleases with the natural resources of the earth. The problem with Filmer’s argument is, of course, that the authority God gave was a general authority for all people and that this authority did not extend to domination of anyone over any other person.
Our earliest systems of government in the New World were based upon the Bible initially since that was the only book that most of the earlier settlers had in their hands and in their heads as they arrived for the earliest of our settlements and began to write those first governmental agreements or compacts such as the Mayflower Compact of 1620. You will see in the Mayflower Compact the motivation of these early settlers: "for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith." Such overtly Christian statements can be found in all of the early agreements and governmental charters of the original settlers, including the constitutions of all 13 colonies. Moreover, all such documents were tremendously influential on the thinking of our founders and set the context for their discussions of a united government for all 13 colonies. There were, however, a few other influences besides the Bible and the Christian faith. By the time that they wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, many of our founders, if not all, had also read the theories of John Locke, a Christian political theorist. In arguing against the absolute authority of kings, John Locke published in 1689 his Two Treatises of Government: An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. His argument was a repudiation of Locke’s and Filmer’s arguments for absolute authority of monarchs.
While Hobbes had argued that man in his natural state was prone to anarchy and, therefore, needed a very strong civil authority to keep him from this anarchy, Locke’s argument was a little less extreme. Locke argued simply that man in his natural state was completely free to do as he pleased but that he could not completely enjoy his freedom since there was no common authority to keep the peace between him and his neighbor if any dispute arose.
Locke wrote: “IF man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.”
So, in opposition to Hobbes’ argument of the absolute authority of monarchs, Locke wrote, instead, that men entered into government by mutual consent for the betterment of all.
This idea of the mutual consent of the governed is the driving force of our government. Under our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, we do NOT believe that government EVER has absolute authority. In fact, they were very pessimistic about the possibility of government tyranny since they had seen the examples of history in their mother country, England. This is why they chose a system of government with a separation of powers when they wrote, and the states adopted, the Constitution of the United States. In addition to the separation of powers to curtail the possibility of tyranny, our founders established the authority of our government upon the "consent of the governed" in order to limit its scope of authority. As such, the authority of our government is always limited to the extent that it does what is best for the people. When government no longer acts in the best interest of the people, then it no longer has authority to act under our chosen system of government as established in our National Charter, the Declaration of Independence. In fact, it is this argument of authority from the will of the people, the consent of the governed, that was our justification in our Declaration of Independence for the rejection of the authority of King George III. Therefore, without this consent of the governed and without a government operating properly for the good of all the people, our government has NO moral authority
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the Bible was the most frequently quoted document, by far, in all the thousands of documents that our founding fathers produced. I had a hyperlink where you could read the article about this, which gave all the details. In that article, there were two studies done which proved overwhelmingly that the United States was formed as a Christian nation. In the article, there was the study by Doctors Lutz and Hyneman at the University of Houston and there was the study of founding documents in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Holy Trinity Church v. United States, dated February 29, 1892. Between these two studies, thousands of documents from the founding of our country were perused to determine the mindset and the influences on our founding fathers. In both of these studies, overwhelming evidence was produced that we were a Christian nation when we were established. That does not mean that we were a theocracy. The founding fathers did not want a theocracy because they had already seen what would happen with a theocracy from the English Civil War when Cromwell came to power. But although our nation was not founded as a theocracy, neither was it founded as a purely secular institution without any influence of Christianity.
There are people who have been trying to argue that our country was intended to be run separate from any and all religious influence, and they have appealed to a single document by a single one of our founders to make the argument – ignoring the thousands of other documents which influenced our founding and the hundreds or thousands of other people who had at least as much influence on our nation’s founding. John Adams had more influence on our nation's founding than Thomas Jefferson did, and Adams DID NOT believe in total and complete separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson was not a king. He was not a saint. He was not a god. And he certainly did not speak for ALL the American people. He was the primary writer of one document (The Declaration of Independence), but not the only writer of it. So it is ABSOLUTELY ABSURD to take a single line (out of context I might add) from a single one of his letters and build an entire doctrine or philosophy on it (i.e. the “separation of church and state”). But this is how ignorant or self-interested people work and have always worked. It’s no surprise. Whenever they can’t win the argument, they either start calling you names (ad hominem attack) or they start distorting the record, using deceit. They figure that, if enough of them start telling a lie enough times, then the uneducated masses will start to believe it. This is exactly what has happened with the entire “separation of church and state” issue. One man and one letter do not trump ALL the other people and ALL the other documents. That’s NOT how democracy works.
To get a flavor of how religious and Christian our founders were, you only have to look at the Declaration of Independence. At the time that it was written, there was a long-running philosophy which held that monarchs were appointed by God to rule, and therefore, they could do as they pleased because they were working on God’s behalf. As you can imagine, this led to all sorts of abuse of power. So, over the centuries various groups of people tried to establish a body of rights for the people that worked outside of the power of the monarchy, and as such could not be attacked or withheld by the monarch. The Magna Carta was one such document which established rights for the people that the monarch could not usurp. By the time that our nation was founded, various philosophers had argued over the rights of the monarch and the rights of the people. One famous philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, wrote a book titled The Leviathan, which argued for the divine right of kings to rule. He wrote the book during the English Civil War in order to make an argument for the absolute power of the king, unfettered by the people.
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will enjoy the blessings of liberty this day and that you will thank your God for the many freedoms you enjoy in this country or other countries where you may be living.
In our modern society, it is hard to find anyone who will admit to the heavy influence of God, Christianity, and the Bible on our nation’s founding. Many people try to argue that our founders were all deists. Indeed, there were a couple of founders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin that had deistic leanings, but even their philosophies and writings do not show purely deistic thinking. These two men had a hodge-podge philosophy that reflected their broad reading of the best books of the time. But they were also like most of our founders who read directly from the Bible quite frequently and quoted from it copiously. It’s hard for us to understand the very religious Christian culture that these people lived in because we’ve become too proud and too smart in our material success to believe in the God that gave us all these gifts. So, we have made the same mistake that the Israelites of the Bible made over and over again. Every time that God blessed the Israelites, they would get proud and start thinking that their success came because they were “special” people, so they would rebel against Him. This is the same arrogant thinking that pervades the intellect and discourse of many of our countrymen.
Please don’t be deceived. God’s judgment is coming like a freight train. It has already started in some parts of the country where people are heavily secular and have rejected God almost completely, such as the northeast. I shudder to think what else will happen to our nation as our proud people refuse to repent. We are already reaping the consequences of our sin in many areas of our society as our institutions are crumbling one by one. Like many people in our modern, secular society, God may in His Indulgent Will allow us to follow our own willful path of sin, but we cannot escape the consequences of our actions since His universe is set up under His Spiritual Law. God’s Law is stamped on Nature itself, so that the effects of it are unavoidable. You cannot get “beyond the long arm” of this law. The upshot is that, if you disobey God and live a life of sin, you may at some point think you’re getting away scot-free from any repercussions, but bit by bit, the wickedness that you sow will consume you, making your life miserable, full of fear, brokenness, defeat, pain, etc. The Bible tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
I want to invite you to look closely at the words in this verse and to think about them. First, the Bible uses the generic pronoun of “man” to refer to all people. So this verse applies to everyone. Second, when it says, “do not be deceived,” it is saying that, if you do not believe the truth of this verse, then you are only fooling yourself as it is absolutely true. Third, the main truth that it is communicating is that there is a spiritual law stamped on nature itself such that, whatever you sow, however you live, whether good or bad, you will reap the rewards or consequences of what you do – not just in the afterlife in Heaven or Hell when you stand before God to be judged for your life, but also in the here and now. I’ve seen this happen so often as people’s lives just disintegrate from the willful path of sin they have chosen. I’ve seen it in the lives of many people, including a few soldiers that worked for me during my military career. Sin most definitely has consequences.
I pray that, if you are not walking in fellowship with God, that you will rectify that today. If you are walking in fellowship with Him, I pray that God will work in you abundantly so that you can be a shining light to those in darkness around you.
Recently, I was at a Bible study class where the teacher was discussing faith. She made a couple of comments that gave me pause. While she was correct in stating that faith is sometimes about trust without having seen the evidence or the manifestation that proves what we are believing (Hebrews 11:1), she was incorrect in suggesting that faith is ALWAYS about blindly trusting. There certainly are moments of blind trust, but there are also many moments in which we see the fruition of prayers and in which God shows us that He is very real and that He has complete control over all events in life if He wishes as He answers our prayers in a concrete manner. The moment of salvation, the moment of our new birth, when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, is one of those moments of blind trust as we invite Him into our hearts even though we do not fully understand the magnitude of what we are doing at the time. But this is the tiny mustard seed of faith that God plants within our souls at the moment of salvation, the seemingly tiny act of trusting in Him and accepting His Plan for Salvation. That tiny act unleashes spiritual power in our lives and on the lives of those around us as He gives us access from there on to all of His incredible power.
Once we enter into covenant relationship with Our Creator through His Chosen Door, His Glorious Son Jesus, we are then His spiritual children. And He loves us so much that He can’t wait to enact His Plans for us that He knows will bless us, make us into better people, give us a satisfying life, and make us a blessing to all others that we come into contact with. This is the "abundant life" spoken of in John 10:10. There are, however, moments when God will require us to have blind trust in Him, to submit to His Way as He executes His unique, individual plan for our life, develops our character, or builds our faith in Him. But the truths that God communicates to us also have concrete, real-life manifestations if we put Him to the test. Yes, we can “test” God if our hearts are sincere, if we really desire to trust in Him but just can’t get past some spiritual stronghold or some thought or belief that is in the way. Malachi 3:10 challenges us to test God in His promise of blessing to those that give Him a tithe (one tenth) of their earnings. But there are other verses in the Bible where God allows people sincerely seeking Him to test Him. If we are not sincerely seeking Him, perhaps pridefully and sarcastically trying to prove that God does not exist, then He will not respond to our sinful attitude. But if our hearts are humble, and we just need some sign to prove that it is God who is speaking to us and asking us to do something that may seem crazy, He invites us to challenge Him with some kind of sign.
He is indulgently willing to allow us to challenge Him and ask for proof in some kind of sign so long as we are truly seeking Him and wish to obey whatever He is asking us to do. This is exactly what happened when Gideon was told by God that Israel would be delivered with Gideon leading the way in his nation’s deliverance. Gideon was a little weak in His faith and had a hard time believing that God was going to perform such a tremendous act through him. Perhaps Gideon, being a humble man, found it too hard to believe that God would do such a tremendous thing through him. Perhaps he was like many of us are, knowing what a flawed instrument we truly are, and not having enough faith that God can and does do great things through very flawed instruments. So, perhaps that was why Gideon asked God to perform the miracles of the wet and dry fleece. This is the real story of the Bible. It is not a story of what God did through great people. It is a story of what great things God does in spite of working through very flawed people. We are all inherently flawed instruments. But in God’s hands, in the hands of the Master, He can do wondrous things through us – not because we are great, but because He is Great and All-Powerful. If He chooses to work through flawed instruments like us, then all the glory goes to Him, just as He deserves all glory for being the Tremendously Loving, Majestic God that He Is.
I pray that, today, you will come to know this Tremendously Powerful God personally through His Glorious Son Jesus, if you do not already know them personally. If you are already saved by Jesus and walking in fellowship with God, then I pray that you will personally experience in a real and concrete manner the tremendous miracle of God working through you.
You probably already heard the story about country music star Mindy McCready taking her life last Sunday at her home in Arkansas. By all accounts, she had lived a very troubled life for several years now. From the Standard, a newspaper in the United Kingdom:
“The platinum-winning singer had a complicated personal life, marked by a history of substance abuse, suicide attempts, family disputes and tragedy. Both her children were removed from her care this month while she was ordered to undergo rehabilitation. She was discharged last week for outpatient treatment, but her sons remained in foster care, said the BBC.”
It is tragic to hear that even someone with so much talent and success didn’t feel like her life was worth living, but it is absolutely true that money and success cannot buy you happiness or satisfaction with your life. Those with so much going for them are sometimes very tortured souls with deep pain in their hearts.
So many people these days are surrendering to their troubles and committing suicide. Among our returning warriors in the services, suicide is at epidemic levels. Military leaders don’t seem to know how to deal with the situation, so they are grabbing at some strange strategies that are touted by the “experts” as being efficacious in solving the problem. Unfortunately, these strategies are a band-aid to a sucking chest wound. I’ve researched these programs and they amount to nothing but pop psychology, another version of the old claim that you can re-imagine your world if you are unhappy with it. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a positive outlook, but this belief in positive thinking has limits when it runs smack into the brick wall of hard reality. This re-imaging strategy has been around probably since the beginning of mankind’s presence on this planet. People keep reviving it, repackaging it, and offering it up as a solution to all evils, a veritable panacea, a cure-all for every ill.
The Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa wrote a poem about this re-imaging of the world and about its serious limitations. He had been to his Zen Buddhist teacher several times seeking wisdom in helping him to deal with his great pain in the deaths of his family members. Each time the teacher told Issa that he shouldn’t fret over his troubles because all things in this life are an illusion. But when Issa returned to his home and realized that he still felt real pain about his tragedies, then he knew that the teacher’s philosophy was no real solution for facing life’s tragedies. In a poem by the title “A World of Dew,” he wrote:
The world of dew is, yes,
a world of dew,
but even so
The uncertain ending of the poem reflects his skepticism about the Buddhist philosophy of his teacher and also, once we know the story behind the poem
, we realize that the last line reveals his deep dissatisfaction.
Life can be very tragic as it was for Issa. For most people, life is filled with pain. There are no easy solutions to our problems, but there is one sure place to find solutions, and that is with God. Only He will truly understand our pain and our burdens when we lay them at His feet in prayer. Only He has the spiritual power which will give us strength to go on and to live through these pains. Moreover, only He can fill us with the peace that passes all understanding. It would be easy to blame God although God is not at fault. In this sin-fallen world, evil is rampant, and Satan is very active. So the very fact that we exist day-by-day without being consumed by all this evil is proof enough that He already intervenes to protect us from worse tragedies. In Lamentations 3:22, we are told: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,/ Because His compassions fail not.”
It is very easy in the midst of all these troubles to think about suicide, thinking of that act as an easy way out. I know that I have been there. During the worst periods of my PTSD in the years after Iraq, I thought about suicide and wished for death every single day. Now that I am past those painful years, I still feel pain occasionally when something happens to reopen the wounds on my heart and soul, but I rarely think of suicide, and when I do, I usually reject the thought right away. During the really hard years, the one thought that kept me going was that I could not leave pain behind me. So many people become blind to reality and the feelings of others and mistakenly think that no one cares. But I can guarantee you, in the aftermath of a suicide, that people still living will feel pain at this death. Sometimes people you don’t even know very well are affected negatively by the suicide. It is not an easy solution, and it is not a good solution.
If you are living with pain, I pray that you would have the strength and courage to fight back or to withstand the pain. I also pray that you would seek Jesus out in prayer and that you will allow Him to give you His Perfect Peace to fill your heart so that you can bear the pain. Above all, I pray that you will not give in to your pains and attempt suicide because you will leave behind tremendous suffering by such an action.