Monday, December 28, 2015

Police Under the Gun

I wade into the subject of police shootings very reluctantly. But since I haven't waded into anything on the blog in more than a month, it might be a good idea to say something.

This is one of those "no win" subjects, from what I've been able to discern from the various media I've watched, read, etc. People have their viewpoints on this one, and they're not likely to be swayed by much I'd say. Especially those who have a personal, vested interest in the issue.

Police are human beings who have families and loved ones. The ones who get shot by police (or the ones who shoot at and sometimes hit/kill an officer have families and loved ones. There's plenty of grief to go around.

It should go without saying that we all know that, like any human institution, there are "bad apples" and bad characters. But with that given, most police officers I have known (and I've known some quite well and are personal friends) are dedicated to their professions. They hit the road every day and night never knowing for certain if they'll come home again. Their wives, husbands, and children know it too.

When someone gets shot and killed, it's a tragedy all the way around. If a police officer is forced to draw a weapon and fire, it's a tragedy. When someone does an "I shot the sheriff," it's a tragedy. But as tragic as these tragedies are, there is one factor that incenses me, and it always has. It's the individuals and activist groups - professional agitators - who have a vested interest in keeping gasoline on the fire. Instead of trying to calm things down, to bring peace and work things out in a rational balanced manner, they instead use the grief and anger of other people to make money, to get their faces on television, and use the issue as a bludgeon to get their way on a host of other matters. And they're usually left-wing matters.

I know how police are trained. When you are told to do something by a police officer, you do it. If there is an issue or rights violation of some kind, there are right, legal channels to address it later. But you comply. If you do not comply, it is THEIR JOB AND THEIR TRAINING to force compliance. That means if they have to take you down hard, they will take you down hard. And most of all, if you dare draw a weapon on them - gun, knife, baseball bat, anything else, your chances of being fatally shot just went up exponentially. This applies to any person, and ethnic makeup is irrelevant. I can guarantee you - if I were to pull a gun or a knife on a police officer, they would respond to the threat accordingly and do what they have to do to bring me under control or end the threat. Again, THAT IS THEIR TRAINING.

Outside of the "bad apples," whom I believe are a minority, most officers will do their best to try and de-escalate a situation and get it under control. They do not want to have to use their gun, their taser, their batons, tear gas, etc. They simply want you to comply with what you are told to do. Comply, and in the vast majority of cases there will be no problem.

I watch some of these very sad shooting incidents. Some of them have been genuine police abuse and that needs to be addressed. I'd say it often is addressed and the officers in question are fired and charged when warranted. In other cases, the eventual investigation vindicates the police, except to those who already have a ginned up ax to grind, and no exculpatory evidence will matter. They're in full lung protest mode and they won't stop screeching until they get their way. Nothing will satisfy them. Nothing.

How about teaching your children and teenagers NOT to pull firearms on a police officer? How about not rioting and setting businesses on fire? How about not going after police with a baseball bat or other weapons when they get called to your neighborhood because of some commotion? Good parenting and insisting your children obey the law would really help. Keeping families together and having a father and mother in the home and IN CONTROL would help.

The police need to examine and re-examine some things also. What are their policies about deadly use of force? What about when they are confronting a situation when a subject may have a mental issue? What methods short of lethal force can be used to bring the subject into custody for treatment or other adjudication? Police yourselves, and if you know you have a bad apple or two on your force, get them out of there. Now.

Now the elephant in the room. So much of this of late has been tied to racism. I've heard more of racism in the last seven years of the Obama Administration than I've heard in my life. And it angers me. At HIM. Instead of being a healer and a unifying figure, which we all wanted him to be and that he could have done so easily, he instead cannonballed right into his agitating, Alinskyite, "community organizing" methods and ripped the country up. He pitted people against each other instead of bringing them together.

I know I'll probably have the racist epithet thrown at me. Don't bother. I ignore it with the contempt it deserves. Even though I am a conservative and did not vote for Obama because of that - it was his far left liberalism that turned me off, not his race - I did have high hopes at first for his presidency. I was proud that America had made so much progress and elected an African-American to the highest office in the land. I didn't expect to agree with everything he did, but I had hoped that he would prove to be a moderating, unifying figure. On that, along with much else, he disappointed. His presidency is more of a tragedy for the African-American community than they realize. He's been such a disaster that there may be great reluctance to vote for another. Unless of course, minority demographics overrule and growing minorities vote for one SIMPLY BECAUSE they are a minority rather than whether they'll be a good president and good for the country.

I could vote for Dr. Thomas Sowell. I could vote for Dr. Ben Carson. I could vote for Clarence Thomas should he leave the Supreme Court and run for president. I could vote for Herman Cain. There are a number of great African-American leaders out there who would want more than anything else to heal the land and be a unifier. But instead, we got a radical activist with a pen and a phone who has done very little but agitate and be as divisive as he possibly could.

Barack Obama might be able to spend some of that energy he spends on attacking his opponents and wanting to rob people of their firearm rights and do some work dealing with the issues in the African-American community that are the root of many of the problems that exist. The breakdown of the family. High crime. Unemployment. And you can find quite a few African-American pastors and other leaders who will say that. These thoughts didn't originate with an ex-media occasional political and social commentator.

My heart just breaks tonight. For the black families who lost loved ones. For the police officers out there who have been falsely charged, and have to pay the price because one or two of their number proved to be unworthy of their badges. It breaks for the country because we continue to be torn apart.

Ultimately the Gospel is the answer. Repentance is the answer. Forgiveness is the answer. But that is a message more and more people don't want to hear. It will take a miracle of God to save this country. And this country may well have run out of the sand in its hourglass.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Christian Music Wars: Reprise?

This is a subject on which I've touched before, and wade into again with some reluctance. Among many things that will raise ire very quickly in church circles is the subject of music. And it doesn't have to be just music within the walls of the church building during the worship service to get a flame war started.

I first got a taste of the ugly side of Christian music when at a secular station of all things - a station where there was a Southern Gospel program that aired from midnight to 6 a.m. Since I had to do the shift on weekends and programming was pretty much left up to the person on air overnight within limits, I decided that at least one night a week ought to be given to what was then called "Jesus rock," "Jesus music," "Contemporary Christian, etc. Judging from the first couple of times I played any (and we're talking Keith Green, Second Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, Love Song, etc - hardly heavy metal/Black Sabbath type stuff. It was all really rather tame) - oh, my. To some callers who expressed themselves with voices throbbing with outrage, you might have thought I WAS playing Black Sabbath! Burn this radio announcer heretic at the stake! Doesn't he know that only fiddles, steel guitars, and quartets are biblically anointed! For shame!

Get over into the church world, and you'll find the worship wars are alive and well, sadly. Rather than bringing the body of Christ together, recognizing we're all made differently and wired differently, people feud over what kind of music style is done during the service. The main focus of course should be worshipping and glorifying God, not our own desires and tastes, but you wouldn't know that by the snits some people can have. I long ago decided that I'm not going to waste what precious time and breath I have arguing over music style. It's a stupid argument (and don't waste my time quoting Bill Gothard - I do not agree with him. End of story). There are different music styles and have been since human beings strolled the planet. God isn't concerned about style. He's concerned about message and truth. And that actually brings me to my real subject.

I find as I get older my music tastes—which have always been rather eclectic—are broadening out. I had never been much of a country fan (with the exception of instrumental bluegrass). Southern Gospel quartets were not at all my cup of tea. I am appreciating and even enjoying them now, even as I can still pop on DeGarmo and Key's "Straight On" album and rock out. Again, the style isn't the issue to me and never has been. It's the message.

For the time being, I'm going to withhold names, but I've been watching a lot of Southern Gospel stuff with Mom lately. And as I've gotten interested in the groups, I have done some reading online including The Singing News, various websites devoted to the genre, etc. I've also seen a lot of different artists up sharing the same stage singing great old hymns together. And that's where some of the heated controversy is at the moment.

Some are very bothered by the fact that there are artists participating who, to put it kindly, don't seem to evince much of a Christian testimony in their daily lives. Their normal music on the country charts can be pretty raw from a moral/biblical point of view. But they share the stage and sing along with those who, from what I can tell, DO make every effort to live what they say they believe and keep a good testimony before a fallen world. The ones who are bothered say so, and sometimes in a very ugly spirit.

Others are concerned over doctrinal matters. And for me (and anyone who knows me knows this) - biblical truth is ALWAYS my first concern. The rule of thumb for me is that there are core, non-negotiable doctrines of the faith, and then there are secondary doctrinal matters where salvation is not an issue. But some make these secondary matters tests of fellowship.

One side says that they are "grace Christians," and that doctrine doesn't matter. Doctrine divides. Just love everybody and pay no attention to biblical truth. Hey, we're all singing about Jesus, aren't we?

The other extreme are "law, fire and brimstone Christians." They'll fight over anything and everything if it doesn't meet their particular test. You see, hear, and feel very little if any love or grace out of them. It's all judgment and condemnation. And between the two camps, it's a take no prisoners, ugly war of words and self-righteousness.

Where am I in all of it? I hope I strike a true, biblical balance. I believe in grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. I believe in the power of God to change lives through the Gospel—any life. The prodigal can still come home in repentance and find love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

But. However. And you knew that was coming, didn't you? Extremes tend to go too far in both directions. A disturbing trend (it's been largely in the Contemporary Christian camp but in recent years has become an issue in Southern Gospel) has been toward the heresy called antinomianism. Things go so far over on the grace side that no repentance is expected or even desired. Lifestyle and speech doesn't matter. Live anyway you want and talk anyway you want. Just as long as you "love," behavior doesn't matter. Doctrine doesn't matter. Just unify and get together. Unity at any price. Unity over truth. No way, Jose.

I disagree. Vehemently. TRUTH is what unifies. The ones sowing division are the ones bringing in false doctrine and teaching. Pay close attention now. What is the greatest commandment in Scripture? Loving God. The second greatest commandment is loving one another. What qualities does biblical love of God and one another have? The answer is in 1 Corinthians 13. "Love does no wrong." In other words, if I love God, I will not want to sin against Him. If I love others, I will not want to sin against them or lead them into sin, or tell them a lie about biblical truth. True biblical love and the kindness of God leads us to REPENTANCE. Turning the old life behind, and walking forward into newness of life. "Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!" (That's Bible talking there)

A faith and a belief without repentance is not a genuine faith. When you believe the biblical Gospel—that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead for your justification—it changes your life forever. That is not to say you won't battle the old nature. You sure will, and will continue to battle it until glory. But the new nature created in you at salvation (with the indwelling Holy Spirit) wants to lead you into a deeper walk with Christ, and sanctification - OUT of sinful lifestyles and behaviors that grieve the Lord. You do not WANT to live and talk in ways that grieve the Lord or compromise our witness.

Above all, we dare not compromise the Gospel. If we are in Christian music ministry, and we are unequally yoked to anyone who denies the biblical Gospel, its a problem. A big one. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone, and to God alone be the glory. Any "gospel" that adds human works to salvation is a false Gospel. And if we give false doctrine a public platform or seem chummy with those who espouse it in a ministry setting, we will be held accountable for it.

It gets a bit knottier when we mix the secular and sacred. I have never thought that being a Christian meant that you couldn't do secular music or enjoy secular music. You do, however, need to be selective about your listening choices. A Christian musician is not mandated to HAVE to only do Christian music. We need lights in the world, and I rejoice that many are out there. Christian singer David Phelps put it well, that the older we get, we realize the "secular" and "sacred" are more intertwined than we realize. Martin Luther and John Calvin realized that centuries ago too.

But what about those who are actually in Christian music, and use their music as a platform for ministry and reaching others for Christ? It is there that you really have to evaluate what you are doing and why. It is there that you have to be certain you are not compromising the truth, and giving "hearty approval" to things that Scripture condemns (Romans 1).

The big driver in all of this ought to be love. Real, biblical love. Love for truth. Love for God. Love for one another. And if the love we exhibit is real, it will not be the type willing to leave people in sin or sluff it off. Sooner or later, we're going to have to get to the Gospel and the need for a Savior. And that means that the sin issue and lost state of those who do not know Christ will have to come up. Eventually the claims of Christ on everyone must be faced and answered. If we do not end up on that road, in essence we are wasting the talents God gave us for a purpose.

I can hear the comments now. "You won't win anyone by condemnation! You can only win people by 'loving' them!" People want the warm, fuzzy, friendly Jesus who carries lambs, not the Alpha and Omega Jesus who will return one day as Judge. We can't pick what divine characteristics of Jesus we like and ditch the rest like a smorgasbord. We must take Him as He revealed Himself to be.

To be sure, if all people hear out of us is law, condemnation, death, and salivating over Hell, it will be a turnoff. They need to see our love, our kindness, our good deeds. They need to see Christ's love in action in us and through us. And that actually helps give us the opening and right to speak, although I hate using the word "right." We have the right already because we've been commissioned by the Master. I'm talking about the practical application of that right. People will know we are Christians by the love we demonstrate toward one another. But that is only one side of the coin.

Let's strive for obedience. Let's strive to be fully orbed believers who tell the whole truth, not just part of it. In the right heart and in the right spirit. Be a Daniel. Do not compromise. But let your love show in what you do and say. Otherwise, all we are leaving is cotton candy, which tastes sweet at first, but melts fast and leaves a bad aftertaste.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Today, I would like to recommend a ministry for your prayerful support—Slavic Gospel Association, which has served evangelical churches across Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the former Soviet countries of Central Asia since 1934. The website is linked here and I encourage you to check it out. 

SGA supports Russian-language Bible training through sponsorship of several evangelical seminaries and Bible institutes. They provide Russian-language Bibles and Christian literature, ministry to children including orphans, sponsor Christian summer camps for children, sponsorship of missionary pastors/church planters, and so much more. 

One of the things I appreciate so much about SGA is their attention to sound doctrine and the careful handling of God's Word. Prayer is also a key emphasis. The founder of the mission, Peter Deyneka, Sr., was known for his motto: "Much Prayer, Much Power. Little Prayer, Little Power. No Prayer, No Power." Above all, as you'll see, the "G" in the logo stands for Gospel, and the Gospel is central. 

So please, when you get an extra moment or two, browse SGA's website, and consider sending a gift. Russia and Ukraine have been back in the news, and it has largely been negative press. But the churches are not the government, and they are proclaiming the ultimate solution to the problems of their countries—repentance and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They need your prayers and ongoing support now more than ever. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Welcoming Back The Zombies!

My blog hiatus (unintentional) is being interrupted today to send high praise to the reunited 1960s group, "The Zombies."

It's very rare that a band comes back together after 50 years, and receives the kind of ovation they have been getting. But it's deserved. Bandleaders Colin Blunstone (vocals), keyboardist Rod Argent (keyboards, backing vocals, and primary writer) and their bandmates have a new album called "Still Got That Hunger." It was a crowd funding project, so you know the fans have been clamoring. The band delivered, and despite their ages, the guys sound like they did in 1968 - the date of their last huge hit, "Time of the Season." They brought their A game.

I have been listening to it all week, and it's rare that a new album gives me this kind of pleasure. The music is classic baroque pop. The music is upbeat, positive, and even joyful at times. That in and of itself is a rarity and a reason to buy it, considering the negative stuff being put out by the industry these days. The band's performances and vocals are fantastic, and if radio does the SMART thing, they'll get behind it.

You can get a taste of the album here at the Rolling Stone, and it is available via Amazon and I think the band's website. My radio broadcaster ear picks Blunstone's "Now I Know I'll Never Get Over You" as the radio ear candy single, but the musician side of me picks Rod Argent's "Chasing the Past" because of it's wonderful jazzy piano, unique melody, wistful lyrics, etc. I'm really, really liking it. I think you will too.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Remembering Genesis in 2007

It's hard to believe eight years have gone by since Genesis' 2007 reunion. The photo to the right was taken at their first of three shows in Chicago—the first two of which were sold out. And as always, the concert was fantastic. Great lights, great sound, intriguing LED video displays. At the time, that was the largest LED screen yet on stage. More trend-setting.

In the years since then, the fans have been yearning for another reunion or album—especially with Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel back in the lineup. Sadly, since Phil Collins injured his spine during this tour and underwent surgery, he has not been able to play drums, at least to his accustomed standard. When he did his most recent "Going Back" album a few years back, he had to tape the sticks to his hand with gaffer tape because he had no feeling in his hands. So this makes any reunion pretty unlikely unless there is a divine miracle for those damaged nerves.

Be that as it may, I'm thankful to the guys for decades of great music and a lot of fun. If this 2007 show was indeed their last hurrah as band, I'm glad I got to see them play. One last time. They're in my prayers.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Gay Marriage: What's An Official to Do?

Right now, I'm sure most of you have heard/read of the big blowup over the county clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses, citing her Christian faith. Knowing I'll eventually get asked my view of the subject, here it is. I see I only had one or two posts last month, so maybe this will help begin catching me up for September.

Being a Bible-believing Christian, I must subscribe to biblical standards on this issue as an individual. The Bible makes it clear that we are to obey the laws of the land unless they demand that we disobey God. We are not, and never have been, a theocracy. An elected official in a secular, statutory position such as a county clerk cannot pick and choose what laws they will or will not obey. I believe the clerk must resign her position until the law is changed, or delegate issuing the licenses to someone else such as a deputy if allowed to do so by statute. 

Now, if the state were to order me as a minister of the church to marry someone in disobedience to biblical standards, that I would refuse to do as the state has no authority over the church. The state also cannot command individuals (or churches) to violate God's Word - and if it tries, we must disobey no matter what the cost. The Bible itself makes clear that, at times, there will be consequences for adhering to our faith, up to and including death.

The America of the 2000s is not the America of the early to mid-20th Century, or of 1776. The culture and demographics have changed, and there is no longer a Christian consensus in the country. Ironically, part of the reason for that is because the church abandoned its prophetic role in the culture, opting for the "social gospel" and watered-down faith for the sake of popularity. The faithful preaching and teaching of God's Word has been largely abandoned except for a remnant. Unless God grants a miraculous spiritual revival, things are only going to get worse from a biblical perspective. We were warned about this in advance by the Lord Jesus Himself. Why are we so surprised? 

As an interesting aside, the late King Baudouin of Belgium temporarily abdicated in 1990 because the Belgian parliament had passed a pro-abortion rights law. He could not grant Royal Assent to the bill in good conscience, but to refuse Royal Assent would have provoked a constitutional crisis. So he abdicated for 24 hours until the law was promulgated by ministers, and then he reassumed the throne. That was probably the most peaceful way of dealing with it, but I would think he could have just refused assent and let the chips fall where they may since refusal of assent is supposed to be a crown right. 

But we're in America, not Belgium.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Debates or a Root Canal? Hard Choice.

I am going to have a hard time watching these FNC "debates" with 10 Republican candidates. I've expressed some of my dissatisfaction before, but it needs saying again.

These are not debates. They are press/news conferences, with the candidates answering pre-selected questions from news media, who quite often let their bias-slip show under their dresses. Aside from having a completely ridiculous number of people running, making it impossible to really AIR OUT any issue, you are not going to get a clear or accurate picture of the candidates and how they stand with any detail. Sound bites do not tell you anything of substance. 

If we want a DEBATE, then we need to have two of them at a time or some workable ratio. It needs to be under traditional debate rules—the kind you would encounter in any high school or college forensics program, assuming you can still find one. The moderator if there must be one MODERATES and does not become part of the debate. You choose the issue, and then you let the candidates slug it out about why their ideas are superior and why they disagree with their opponents. No name calling. No smart aleck remarks. No impugning of motivations or character simply because they have a different point of view. Keep it on the facts.

1. Here is what I would do on said issue. My opponent wants to do this, but I disagree, and here is why I think his/her ideas will not work. Here's why mine will.

2. The opponent has the same chance, and both candidates (again under TRADITIONAL debate rules) has the chance to offer rebuttal.

Keep it off the networks. Put it on C-Span, where there won't be any commercials or other interruptions, and they won't be worried about time. Yes, it won't be "sexy" television, and the reporter/anchor/moderators will miss a chance to show the rest of us great unwashed their unmitigated brilliance. They won't get to zing a candidate with an editorial crack and then cut the candidate off so they can't respond either. If I was running the debate, they'd get hauled out of the auditorium by the scruff of their necks.

It wouldn't please the media, but we the people—the voters and the taxpayers—might just learn something of substance. And if we can't be bothered to pay that kind of attention to the issues of the day, we might as well be called Orwell's proles, stay home, live at the pub, and enjoy our collective ignorance while our statist overlords mother hen us to death. You see, we're too stupid to manage ourselves. ‪#‎CynicismOffTheChart‬

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Unborn Babies and "Parasites?"

The ancient cult of Molech in action.
Abortion raises heated feelings on all sides of the issue. I get it. As a former radio guy and news director, I've known that a long time and have covered many a protest and news conference. 
Earlier this morning on Facebook and Twitter, I saw a posting referencing a tweet put up by author Anne Lamott, a theological liberal and favorite among Emergent Church types. I saw the original tweet in question, too. Lamott tweeted out support of Planned Parenthood in the midst of the current controversy over PP and their alleged sale of organs and other body parts from aborted infants. Because I know of Lamott's views on other issues, the fact that she's a liberal on the subject of abortion did not surprise me at all. 
What DID surprise me is what an individual tweeted in DEFENSE of Lamott. This particular individual acknowledged the humanity of an unborn child, then proceeded to call the unborn baby "parasitic" and the mother the "host" of the parasite until birth. 
I am just aghast. Seriously?!? Are we really that far gone in our society? Is our conscience seared that badly? Think this one through just a little. If you're an expectant couple, when you anticipate the birth of your child, watching a plate or ashtray wiggle on Mommy's tummy as the pregnancy gets farther along, do you see your little child to be as a "parasite?" I mean, when you think parasite, you think of an intestinal worm, body lice, etc. But an unborn baby? 
This is just too much. If that is the mentality some have, then it's not too large a leap for me to imagine the cult of Molech coming back, and people throwing their firstborn into the flaming arms of the idol. The one good thing in something as ghastly as this is that I'm seeing many who have been pro-choice or pro-abortion rights are rethinking their position on this issue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Cecil" and Misplaced Outrage?

I suppose before I head into what I want to say, I'd best put up a "disclaimer" of sorts. Or at least a run-down of what my views on hunting and fishing are.

I love nature and wildlife. It's part of God's creation, and man has been charged with stewardship of that creation. However, I am not a pagan who worships "Earth Mother Gaia" or a radical environmentalist who thinks the best thing that could happen to the planet is for all human beings to die.

I have no problem with going hunting. I would never hunt just to kill an animal and have its head as a trophy on my wall. I would hunt for meat to feed myself or the family. Never simply for "sport." I do not like these big game hunts in Africa or other parts of the globe. It's simply killing an animal to have a photo of yourself with the game you bagged or again, to mount or stuff the animal for a brag piece in your house. There may be other reasons to kill animals, such as the rabid dog, the nuisance raccoon that's attacking you or your kids from under your back deck, rats in the attic, etc. But I would not hunt just for the sport of it. And in that light, the story about the killing of "Cecil" the lion is a sad one for me.

Now, having said all that, I am getting a little bit aggravated at the ginned up outrage around the planet over this. To drive a dentist into hiding? Seriously? If you don't like these hunts, then lobby the governments of the countries in question to ban them.

But now, my real sense of outrage. I wish some of the media and folks having a virtual stroke over the shooting death of a lion would show some of the same outrage at Planned Parenthood and the alleged infanticide for sale racket going on there. I think killing an unborn child and selling off its organs is far more egregious an offense than a big game hunt.

But our current generation's sense of proportion has been cockeyed for a long time now.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Razing History? Enough!

Before I make my comment, I would like you to have a look at this article from the Connecticut Post. Let it sink in.

And now,  I hope what I say here will provide some food for thought. Thought seems to be in short supply right now.

I tend to frown on knee-jerk reactions in response to the prevailing wind as it is, and the prevailing wind is getting ridiculously putrid. The NAACP (or as it's called sometimes, the National Association for the Advance of LIBERAL Colored Persons) is pushing for American Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson to be removed from memorials, monuments, event names, and other things because they were involved in slavery. 
Seriously, are we now going to completely deconstruct American history? Blow up Mt. Rushmore? Raze all the memorials around the country? Think a minute, please. 
We used to learn in history that people (including leaders, monarchs, the average citizen) were "products of the times in which they lived." One needed to understand the times to fairly evaluate. It's always easier in hindsight. If we all had lived in the late 1700s-early to mid 1800s, would we be any different? Can we be sure that we'd be sitting on our high and mighty thrones looking down our noses at everyone who went before us? Or would we have made the same choices they made?
The great thing about "The American Experiment" and the much-maligned, much-misunderstood "American Exceptionalism" is the fact that our very system was designed to learn, grow, and change when necessary. The Constitution was made very difficult to amend on purpose, because Founding Fathers like Jefferson etc. knew freedoms once lost are almost impossible to get back. They knew the dangers of absolute power. But they also knew that some alteration may be needed over time, and when such alteration became necessary, the vast majority of the people would hopefully be the driving force behind the change. The system was also set up that, if some law, decision, order, and even court ruling, was mistaken - it could be reversed and corrected later. Bizarrely enough, Jefferson himself was against slavery, although he had views on race that we hold askance now, thankfully. But again, it must be seen through the times in which Jefferson lived. Even Lincoln, "The Great Emancipator," held views toward blacks that would be considered racist today. Is it impossible to imagine that, given enough time, both Jefferson and Lincoln would have eventually evolved to discard even those views? 
This push to wipe every vestige off our history because we think we're so morally superior to the Founding Fathers is ridiculous. Yes, they were flawed men and women. Yes, they made mistakes. Yes, they even sinned egregiously at times. But that's who we are as a people. I personally do not like how Native Americans were treated in history. Even then, we have to ask the question of how Native American tribes treated each other before we ever got here. Humanity is fallen and does things fallen people do. No one has the right to a halo. 
I tremble to think how we will be remembered in 200 years. If we can nonchalantly talk about crunching up unborn babies for body parts over wine and salad, we may not be remembered too well. I can see a few presidential libraries being razed and portraits being removed from mansions, statehouses, courts, and legislatures. 
History has provided us with enough truly evil figures who do not deserve monuments other than to remember their evil, such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, etc. Can we save our ire for that type of figure, and not blot out every vestige of American history so we can pat ourselves and assuage ourselves of collective guilt for every bad moment in time?

Friday, July 17, 2015

American Exceptionalism: Not What You Might Think!

One thing I do wish SOMEONE on the talking head panels would point out - perhaps no phrase these days is more misunderstood or distorted for political convenience than the term "exceptional nation" applied to America.

American exceptionalism in its origin did NOT mean that Americans in and of themselves were better than anyone else on the planet, or our people worth more than anyone else on the planet.

It meant this: given world history in Europe, Asia, etc - America was a concept—an ideal—where the social contract was set forth in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The ideas of personal freedom and individual responsibility, coupled with a healthy recognition that God governed in the affairs of men, were the fruit planted and nourished unlike any other countries governed by monarchies or dictatorships. Our republic used to be called "The American Experiment" for a reason. We were a country like no other, and that is why drew millions here from around the world. 

This is close to being entirely lost. Those who want to fundamentally change America from the ground up have to be successful in uprooting our philosophical foundation for their efforts to pay off. So they redefine "American exceptionalism" to mean an inherent arrogance and conceit that we're better than anyone else and entitled to whatever we want. That is a false definition, but unfortunately I have a hunch it is precisely what generations of American students hear in school, university, and of course, much of the media.

One final aside: I don't dispute that there ARE some who actually do hold the opinion that being American makes us better than anyone else to whom God gave breath. To their shame and loss. But we defeat that notion by resurrecting and teaching what the REAL meaning of the term is.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Please Pray for Joey Feek

I was grieved last week to hear the news that Joey Feek—one half of the husband/wife country and Gospel duo Joey and Rory—had to undergo about 10 hours of surgery for a reoccurrence of cervical cancer. It was classed as Stage 4. While the surgeon is optimistic and believes he got most of the tumor, Joey is still in for a long, hard ordeal with chemo and radiation.

You can listen to this brief little hymn clip that Joey sang shortly before they wheeled her in for surgery. This is such a special couple to me. Their love for one another and the Lord is so evident. Please join me in praying that our miracle-working God will touch Joey and heal her completely from this cancer. Pray for Rory and the family as they walk with Joey through this ordeal. And may the Lord be glorified.

Friday, July 03, 2015

An Annoyed Aside to Blogger

As you'll notice from the previous post, the formatting is somewhat messed up. For speed, it's much easier for me to copy and paste text rather than having to rekey the whole thing. And as usual, when I copy and paste, I have to go back and fix spaces, odd characters that were not in the original, etc. I do not have time to do that today. But it's very irritating. You ought to be able to copy and paste "as is" without having to go back and spend hours re-editing and cleaning. I don't have time.

And They Don't Even Get 30 Pieces of Silver

(Sola's Note: Joseph and I have been friends for many years. He's a brilliant thinker. Posted with permission)

By Joseph Ravitts

Here I am, sixty-three years old at the time I write this, and I'm being reminded of high school. Teenagers will debase and embarrass themselves in frantic efforts to be more popular; to gain the approval of the football quarterback and the head cheerleader; to be cool. And mere trifles like their own parents, or genuine friends who aren't cool enough, are often thrown under the bus in the process. Nor does it stop when they go on to college. Nor does it stop in adult society and the workplace. Whatever trend, or faction, or well-hyped lie gains popularity, fools will dump everything of real value for the sake of believing that now they're "insiders" at last.                                                

We've all seen celebrities who only are celebrities because someone _told_ us to regard them as celebrities.  Right now, collective celebrity status has been conferred on a subculture of people who don't like a basic rule for human relationships which has worked for THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RACE. Accordingly, millions of professed Christians  are stampeding  to beg for the approval of this latest "head cheerleader;" and, revealing their true priorities in life, they have decided that if Jesus Himself wants any more attention from them, He is required to join them in slavishly agreeing that marriage must be redefined because the cool people want it redefined.   
What I have just said is a generalization, and we can't afford to _stop_ with easy generalizations.  There are many different ways by which people _arrive_ at this feeling that same-sex "marriage" is the cool thing that must be accepted.  I will try here to place the possible underlying motives on a sort of  scale, from the least blameworthy to the most blameworthy. Of course, a person capitulating to the gay aristocracy may have two or more of the motives at the same time. The motives are my central interest here; the _effects_ of homosexuality have been discussed elsewhere to good purpose, which is why the hard left wants all dissent to be gagged and silenced. Keep in mind that I'm talking about _straight_ persons who decide to give a blank check to _other_ people's aggressiveness in homosexual behavior.

The least blameworthy motive is a desire to make amends for all the times when homosexual persons, like Harvey Milk, became victims of criminal violence. This, unlike most of the motives, reflects credit on the person who feels it. But gay radicals exploit it shamelessly, pretending that American homosexuals NOW are in every bit as much danger from gay-bashing crimes as they ever were. That's why they want us to go on believing that Mathew Shepard "was murdered by right-wing Christian homophobes just because he was different." This lie has been well refuted by now; not only were Shepard's killers not any kind of Christians, but one of them was a _bisexual_ man with whom the victim had formerly had sex.   

The next most decent motive is an emotional concern for "fairness." It's redundant to call this motive emotional, since they all are; but a purported ethical position on fairness is less _obviously_ emotional than the perfectly human feeling of horror over a violent death. So I say explicitly that  this one is emotion-based.  Since popular culture  has invested over four decades in convincing us that the only justice is _distributive_ justice, it has become easy to say, "Just give everyone the same thing." Once people are waving the word "equality" around frantically enough, they can prevent themselves from _thinking_ about whether the particular equality du jour can fit inside the _definition_ of the thing we're trying to be "equal" about. From the Bronze Age forward, everyone has always understood that marriage brought males and females together-- first of all to make babies and raise them, but affection was also known to arise. Now, however, gays only need to press the emotional button of other people's wish to see distributive justice, and the same button disconnects all awareness of the significance of the fact that gay relationships _don't_ create children. Fertility and barrenness  are declared to be equal, because we want to be "fair."     

The last motive I can think of with any positive moral element in it specifically points to children. Orphaned, abandoned or abused children are tragically numerous, and isn't _some_ sort of parenting for them better than none? Well, yes, a three-year-old is less likely to starve in a home with gay caregivers than she is in an alley; and she is less likely to be physically injured in the care of two lesbians or two gay males than in the clutches of a drunken sadist who loves beating defenseless children. But "better than  nothing" is not synonymous with "best." It is a self-evident fact that gay caregivers deprive a child of one sex of parent in a primary role. I have not seen or heard any gay person _answering_ this  objection, only _denying_ that it has any importance. We've just come through about forty years of being endlessly told that women _must_ be included in every area of human activity, but now suddenly it's okay to _exclude_ women from being full-time hands-on mothers in gay-male households. 

Speaking of children, another factor assisting the gay-marriage cause is the nationwide undermining of parental authority _over_ children. Television and movies have been telling us for decades that children are brilliant and parents are stupid, and this attitude has leaked into real life sufficiently that parents are under pressure to agree with practically everything their children do. I remember the first time I saw the TV talent show "The Voice;" there was a girl contestant who had done her best to look like a boy, and who openly and fiercely expressed utter scorn for the whole concept of femininity to which her _Christian_ parents had been accustomed. The parents were shown briefly, and they had capitulated to her perversion. Hard for them to do otherwise, with the game now rigged against them. 

Next.... there's laziness. Plenty of nominally Christian people want to take the path of least resistance. Even when no threat of death, grave bodily harm, arrest, or impoverishment is at issue, they don't want to have to bother _examining_ any complex questions. They want everything to be made simple, and what could be simpler than repeating the one-syllable word "love" without asking whether some approaches to love might be accompanied by unwise and unhelpful choices? But forced simplicity is the _enemy_ of understanding.

Closely related to laziness is fatalism. Some Christians carry the idea of predestination so far as to imagine that _whatever_ happens, loathsome though it may be, must have been positively _desired_ by God, not merely permitted. On that view, any attempt by us to change or influence _anything_ in the world around us equals "rebellion against God's will."                                                                                                                                                    

It keeps going downhill from here. Next we have plain pragmatic FEAR. Considering the indisputable fact that people today _don't_ get punished for saying that _traditional_ marriage is bad,  but _increasingly_ do get punished in some way if they dare to disagree with homosexual dogma, there is realistic cause to be afraid of what will happen if you swim against the current. Can you say "They fired the boss of Mozilla," boys and girls?    

Then there are professed Christians who never did have the boldness to take a public stand for the truth of Biblical faith, but who would have been able to get away with just not saying anything. What leads them to decide _not_ to be silent, but rather actively _join_ the campaign for anything-goes pansexualism? I said above that the desire to be thought of as hip and cool, the longing to be one of the enlightened humanists, was reached by many paths, hence this listing.  But some people START OUT FROM this desire for in-crowd status. It certainly is overwhelmingly powerful, and will cause the brain and the backbone to fall right out on the ground, where they lie forgotten right next to everything that may have been learned from Godly parents.

Which brings us to the _very_ worst of the motives which have come to my mind. More than any of the others, this motive will cause a person whose own sexual taste still is heterosexual to become _similar_ to the gays in an important way. Tragically occurring even among persons who have appeared to be Christian for many years, it is the desire FOR GOD NOT TO HAVE REAL AUTHORITY; the desire that we should be able to dictate to Him, instead of obeying Him. It is the desire to call the shots for the Almighty, telling Him, "We're more sophisticated than You, so if You want us even to bother with Your church anymore, You need to accept us rewriting Your Word." Those who confront God with this ultimatum think they are doing God a favor by consenting to worship their own customized version of Him, a version which exists only to give blank-check approval to whatever the revisionists want to do, say or have.    

Yet even these traitorous apostates, who have (in their own minds) cut God off at the knees, will flatter themselves for being ever so "spiritual."  And when an informed and Bible-believing person raises any challenge to the gay-marriage dogma, in a supreme irony, they accuse _that_ person of "not acting Christian."       

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Flags, Fury, and Fundamentals

History (and theology) has been a lifelong study of mine, as readers of my blog know. I have weighed in from time to time on matters related to the Civil War, racism, etc. Since the Confederate battle flag controversy has begun raging again, I might as well offer some comment, but with a different twist. 

Not long ago, I said elsewhere online that it's a difficult issue for me with my Southern roots. While the cultural climate right now declares that the flag is nothing more than a racist symbol, that is not quite accurate and the issue is far more nuanced. People still argue today over the causes of the Civil War. To be sure, a few nut jobs out there and racist groups have taken this symbol and use it to push their ugly, hateful ideology. But most Southern people do not see the flag in that light. I do not agree at all with FORCED removal of the flag. But as a Christian who sees the cause of Christ as my only reason for being, I am willing to give it up for the sake of love. Many blacks today see it in a racist light and it's painful to them. I understand that. Given the dynamics of a leftist educational establishment that marches in lockstep with the media and church leaders who are more liberal political activists than they are pastors, you'd be fighting a very uphill battle in trying to give a more balanced view of both the flag and the Civil War. 

And let's be clear. You cannot credibly deny that slavery and racism were involved in the Civil War, and racist attitudes persisted for years after it was over. I find it ironic that the Democrats use this as an issue to bash Republicans, but Southern Democrats were the ones who created this flag and wanted to maintain the institution of slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Many early black leaders were Republicans. It took Republican support to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The political dynamic changed over the years, and quite a few of these Southern Democrats migrated over to the Republican Party. But it's disingenuous for Democrats to run from their history. 

But that's another subject. Right now in talking of being willing to give up the flag for love's sake, I'm talking about a matter of the heart first, with the Gospel as the paramount driver. Anyone who knows me or heard me on the air knows my feelings about race baiters and gas throwers like Al Sharpton. He has a "Rev" in front of his name but I have never heard the man preach one Gospel sermon. Ever. 

Here's what I used to say on Christian radio a lot - to the fury of some of more politically active Christians who usually misheard what I was saying. While I support Christians being politically involved and making our voices heard, I believe that far more time and money was spent trying to effect societal changes through politics and the ballot box than we spent proclaiming the Gospel, winning people to Christ, and then allowing the Holy Spirit to effect His changes in peoples' hearts, which has direct impact on worldview, morals, values, etc. Remember Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority in the 70s and early 80s? Millions of dollars raised and a few political victories, but in time it was swept away and the nation went further left. In the 80s and early 90s, the Christian Coalition largely took the Moral Majority's place. Millions of dollars were raised and a few political races were won, but in time it was swept away and the country moved farther to the left. Conservatives (theological and political) never gained any control of educational institutions, media networks, film studios, or any of the other things that help move the needle in the culture. 

Worst of all, generations of kids grew up absorbing the impact of a lefty educational system and a society that largely embraced postmodern thought. In the church, we were so consumed with drawing people in through marketing techniques, hot worship bands, stage shows, and a watered-down Gospel. Postmodern theology took its toll, and today we have resurgent antinomianism as a result. Look at the Republican field and see what we have. 20 some odd candidates running, and among them how many will end up being truly constitutionally conservative, and willing to FIGHT for it? How many got elected over the past 35 years with Christian conservative support and money, only to end up caving to the left about every time when it counted. If I'm tired of anything, I'm tired of that more than anything else. I'm tired of being fooled by so-called constitutional conservatives, and I'm tired of the church aping unbelievers to be cool and trendy. If the church gets back to being the church, and gets busy proclaiming an unwatered down Gospel, we just might be surprised at what happens in the culture. Let's do both - speak our minds and vote in elections. But the Gospel is our top priority. At the judgment seat of Christ, we're not going to be asked how much time we spent working for a political candidate or fighting for a temporal political or cultural symbol. We'll get asked what we did for the Kingdom. My time on earth is getting shorter and shorter. I don't want to waste any more time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Significance of the Rainbow

Knowing I have a mixed audience, I tread a careful line. I have fellow Christians as well as non-Christians who are part of my life. I have never been ashamed of the Gospel, but also recognize that some will never (outside of divine intervention) will never see things as I do. But this hit me so forcefully today in the Sunday school I am teaching that I had to share it here. As my Lord said 2,000 years ago - "Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear." 
If God is anything, He is consistent. The parallels between Bible days and today are often amazing. Follow me in thought here, with this as a given: if you do not share my faith, blow it off and ignore it. If you have a more liberal view of my faith, blow it off and ignore it. If you share my Bible-believing, conservative evangelical faith, see it and be amazed. 
Per the Bible, God destroyed the earth in the Flood in the days of Noah due to the totally wicked, corrupt practices of the people. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their evil, wicked, corrupt practices. While non-believers assume Christians are only concerned with sex sins, the truth goes much deeper, and sex sins are only a part of it all. Greed, violence, robbery, hate, etc. are all in the mix. 
How interesting it is to me that when God destroyed the world in the Flood, He gave the Noahic Covenant including the rainbow as a sign of His promise that He would not destroy all life through water again. He kept His promise and has not done so. But the Lord Jesus, in prophesying what would happen in the Last Days before His return and the final judgment, said things here on earth would be as it was "in the days of Noah, and in the days of Lot." And what does the gay rights movement choose as their symbol? The rainbow. They do not see that the rainbow was the sign of a covenant reached after God destroyed the antediluvian world due to sin. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was all part of it. 
We are now under a state of grace, where God commands all to repent and trust in His Son for forgiveness of sin and salvation. It is not cheap grace, but grace paid for by His precious blood, and if we are truly born again, we will have the same attitude toward sin as He does, and want to turn AWAY from it, not toward it. We are in grace now, but the sands in the hourglass are running. Instead of seeing our warnings as loving, and sharing the desire of the Lord that not one should perish, but turn from their wicked ways and live, the unbelieving world calls us hate-filled bigots.
And they adopt the rainbow as the ultimate sign of rebellion and giving God the middle finger, rather than remembering the history and reason the rainbow came into existence in the first place. 
If I was someone who drooled at the mouth at the thought of sinners going to Hell, I could well understand the caricature of evangelical Christians. But God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither do I. I would much rather that people repent and live. 
And to blunt the final, expected retort, I do not write any of this in self-righteous judgment. My own unregenerate heart is as black and wicked as anyone else's. I need the Lord, and only through faith in His shed blood on my behalf can I hope to enter eternity forgiven. I hope that is the message people hear, but I am not optimistic. Instead of a loving, prayerful heart praying that my loved ones will be saved and live, I no doubt will be called a hateful, judgmental bigot. Another sign that many do not even want to hear or understand. And further confirmation of the Lord Jesus' own warnings. "They hated Me before they hated you. And they will hate you because they hated Me first."

Monday, June 08, 2015

Tony Banks: Best Political Song (With a Jaundiced Eye)

Not the clearest photo of Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks that I could find, but I liked the shot of him surrounded by keyboards. So I used it.

But this isn't about Tony's brilliant keyboard playing. It's about his brilliant writing. I wish Tony's albums had gotten more of a listen by radio. Each album had songs that were hit worthy. But one in particular from his solo album "Still" always stands out because it has to be one of the most deliciously keen, incisive, and cynical takes on politics I've seen. It's called "Red Day on Blue Street." You can give it a listen here.

What is almost preternatural is that this song came way before Bush vs. Gore in 2000 — really before the whole "red state vs. blue state" thing became a byword. And that got started when USA Today published a map of that election showing a mass of red states where George Bush won a vast majority of counties across America, but the Electoral College decides presidential elections. The map was a bit misleading because it did not take population centers into account.

Another thing: Tony is English, and typically isn't all that concerned with American politics. I think his target was politicians in general. I have a hunch the song is applicable in the UK and in America. The Tory/Conservative Party in the UK is not exactly comparable to the Republican Party in the States, although there are some similarities. Also, the Labour Party is not an exact duplicate of the Democratic Party in America.

All this said, Tony delivers a sharp stick to the gluteus maximus of politicians, and I enjoy every minute of it.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

You Can't Blame Anyone Else

Something worth pointing out and letting it sink in within the community of believers (and some application to those who do not believe). This has been on my mind quite a while, and it's especially important for parents, children, families, etc. I've had some experience with all three. 
People will let you down. Me included. It's a fallen world, and we all are fallen human beings. Even the "best" of us. I wish most sincerely I could go back and fix every error I ever made, every time I didn't live up to what I say I believe, every time I hurt someone. I can't. All I can do is ask God for forgiveness first because He is the ultimate offended party, and then ask those whom I've hurt for it. I can't erase the past no matter how much I might want to erase it. That is one comforting thing about the central truth of Christianity—saved by grace through faith. I thank the One who paid the price for my sins and who cleanses me of all unrighteousness. 
However. (And you knew there was a however coming, didn't you?) We tend to blame other people for our own sins and lack of faith and obedience to the Lord. If we grew up as children in a Christian family and our parents or believing family members let us down, that's our excuse for not walking with the Lord. If we're not believers ourselves, often our excuse is to point at those who are and say, "Look at them! They're no better than anyone else! Hypocrites!" How often have I heard that through the years. 
News flash. When you stand before God yourself, you will not be able to point at anyone else and what they did (or didn't do) as a way to squirm out of your own accountability. God will be interested in what YOU have done. That is not to say He won't hold others accountable for things they did. He most certainly will. But you will not be able to say "My parents/relatives/friends/ were a horrible example and witness, so this God business is a bunch of bunk and I'm going to live the way I want to live. So there!" It will be you and God alone, and you will be asked about your own life. For those who grew up knowing and hearing the truth, and rejected it, the judgment will be all the more severe. 
I know I have stumbled. I continue to stumble, and as long as I'm living in this body of flesh, I will continue to stumble. Please forgive me when I do. But I won't give up the fight, and my desire is to live godly in Christ Jesus. I'm not going to throw my faith into the garbage can and habitually live an ungodly life just because some fellow believers may have failed me. My Christian life is all about being conformed over time by the power of the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ. Being TRANSFORMED. Having my MIND and way of thinking renewed to where it matches His. Viewing things the way He views them. Showing the same mercy and grace He shows me. Living a LIFE of repentance. Waiting eagerly for the day when this body of flesh will be left behind and I will be in His presence - the day positional sanctification becomes complete. Glorification. 
One more thing. Parents and caregivers need to remember this one. Children must have faith of their own. They will not be saved because of your faith, or through your relationship with God. They can go to church, youth group, summer camps, missions trips until the cows come home, and be no nearer to heaven than the most distant atheist. They must have their own real, personal, saving faith in Christ. You must set the example and teach the lessons. Point the way to the bread. But the child has to personally interact with the Lord and deal with their own sin problem. You can't do it for them. I'd love to see my entire family saved and walking with the Lord. But I can't force it to happen, nor is it ultimately my responsibility. Just don't be a stumbling block.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Now THAT'S a Striper!!

Don't ever let anyone tell you there aren't big fish in the Ozarks!

Take a peek at the new Missouri state record for striped bass—60 plus pounds—caught on Bull Shoals Lake at the MO/AR border. Here is a Fox News article on the catch with all the details. Apparently the fish was caught from the bank and not a boat.

I can't help but chuckle with fond memories of my late Uncle Ernie, my fishing buddy. We spent years fishing together twice a year on Lake Charles in AR. Those days sadly came to an end in 2007 when he got sick, and my folks back home began to decline in health making the journeys impossible. But the funny - Ernie hated stripers with a passion. He was a crappie fisherman through and through. He was mad at Fish and Game for stocking stripers, and believed they served no other purpose but to eat crappie fingerlings. If he saw this picture, he might cuss. But he'd also congratulate the fisherman on landing such a monster.

I'm also reminded of another funny. Ernie and I were coming in off the lake one evening when I noticed a rod and reel I had baited up at the pier bowed nearly in half. We got the pole and went back out in the lake to land whatever it was, and it turned out to be an enormous buffalo. Rough fish like buffalo, carp, etc. were never admitted catches. I took a picture of it on the pier, and Ernie said he never wanted to see it again.

Of course, when I got home, I had to show my cousin Paul, also a fishing buddy of Ernie's when he was able. Paul is sadly no longer with us, and was in the hospital when I took the picture of the buffalo to show him. I told Paul, "Ernie says he doesn't want to see this again." Paul put the picture in his pocket and replied, "Well, he's gonna see it again." We laughed.

Oh, do I miss those days. Someday, Lord willing, I'll be able to go back.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Time to Disband the Boy Scouts?

I suppose we should have seen this coming. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—after having helmed the forced recognition of homosexual men and women into the U.S. Armed Forces, now heads the Boy Scouts of America. He is now demanding that it's time that the Scouts drop their long-standing opposition to homosexual scout leaders.

If you want to read an article (and there are many) on the subject, I will link you to this one from The Christian Post

This angers me from several different directions. Long-term readers of this blog (and thank those of you who have stayed with me for months of no regular posting—you all know why) are familiar with my stance on the homosexual issue. My position is the historic biblical one. And it was the same position that the Boy Scouts have held for decades—really since their inception. The Boy Scout oath demands high moral standards. But now, our society's malevolent change agents are insisting on forcing their way on everyone whether their religious convictions or moral standards allow it or not.

It is not a question of legality. The Scouts are a private organization and have the absolute right to set their membership standards. Why Bob Gates was chosen to head the Scouts knowing his history and liberal viewpoint on this issue is beyond me. Something tells me a lot of Scouting parents were either sold a bill of goods or were deceived.

Mr. Gates insists that it's time to change. Why, Mr. Gates? Why MUST the Scouts change? Why is the historic position of the Scouts "unsustainable?" It is only unsustainable if people refuse to grow a spine and stand their ground. I would love to see someone try and force me to change my standards (and actually NOT mine - they are the Lord's standards applicable to every human being whether they like it nor not). Don't waste your time trying, because it ain't happening.

If the Scouting leadership no longer has the moral backbone to stand their ground, and if the organization is going to surrender to shrill, loud activists who are a single digit minority in the population, then maybe it is time for the Scouts to dissolve. They are no longer the historic Boy Scouts of America, and no longer stand for the same values.

I should not have to repeat this again, but I will because many who may read this post won't take the time and read other things I've written on this. This is not bigotry. This is not hate. This IS disagreement. This IS opposition to a course of action that I believe will be ultimately and eternally harmful to the country as well as to unrepentant individuals who choose to live this lifestyle. There is no sin that exists that is not common to man, and every single person out there, including me, is a sinner in the old nature that needs redemption. Sin manifests itself in different people in different ways, and my sin might not be your sin. I found redemption through belief in the Gospel and faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. I lovingly want others to know the same joy and forgiveness from God that has been graciously granted to me - one must undeserving. But you can't be saved without knowing you need a Savior, and you can't know you need a Savior until you recognize what sin is. So save the bigot remarks. I reject them entirely, and no matter how loud someone might bleat them at me, it will have no effect. It is a false charge.

I will reiterate something I have often said. The single biggest mistake traditionalists (churched and outside the church) have made is allowing the homosexual activists to take a BEHAVIOR and redefine it in the same way/context as a racial or ethnic group. Had that been nipped in the bud, we would not be at this pass now. But by and large, the argument has been needlessly ceded. And people simply aren't using their foresight and brains to see where this can lead. Once THIS behavior is given shielding under the cover of law and constitutional protection as a minority group, what other behavior will be added to the list later? Think about it a while. It isn't pretty. Whatever your particular unsavory predilection to sin, in time you might be able to accord yourself a minority group status with constitutional protections, with the freedom to engage in your chosen sinful behavior to your hearts' content. And you can use the power inherent in law to force it down people's throats.

Think I'm exaggerating? Think I'm building a straw man? Really? Give it time and we'll see. Once society has begun jumping cannonball style into the septic tank, it will take a divine miracle and change of heart to bring reversal. That's not impossible, but I don't expect it. I expect judgment from God. In fact, I think all of this is PART of God's judgment on this land for its sinfulness and unfaithfulness to Him.

It doesn't make it any easier to watch.

P.S. While I'm at it, watching FNC I just became aware that the Scouts have now banned water pistols and rubber band guns. Seriously?? Whatever hope I had that reversal and restoration was possible is now gone. The leadership has now officially lost its mind and backbone. Cash in the chips.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Sad Day for America AND Israel

I'd like you to have a look at this article in Newsmax about the relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While I, as a journalist, would be reluctant to use words like "hate" unless I knew the hearts of both gentleman, I think the article does a service in highlighting the awful state of relations between the current Administration and our closest ally in the Middle East.

I've always said on this blog, on the air, and in personal discussions that my support of Israel did not mean that I have agreed with everything done by an Israeli government, whether headed by Likud or Labour. But my support for Israel as a nation, her people, and her right to exist is unwavering. The main reason is biblical and theological, but right up there with theology is basic Western values.

While I am always an eternal optimist, I am a temporal pessimist. I do not know if America will ever be able to recover from the damage the Obama Administration has done to the country. But the Obama Administration would never have been able to get in office to do the damage if the country was not already ailing in the spiritual department. We can partially blame a compliant, sycophantic media for not vetting Obama in the first election. But we also have to blame ourselves for being complacent, inattentive, apathetic, lazy citizens. We have to blame ourselves for not remembering the country's founding principles and passing them on to our children. We have to blame ourselves for not keeping an eagle eye on the educational establishment—from primary and secondary education all the way through to college, university, and graduate school. We have to blame ourselves for letting television, radio stations, and newspapers fall into the hands of those who do not have this country's best interests at heart.

We have to blame many pastors and churches for abandoning sound doctrine as taught in the Word of God. That is central. We have become worse than Laodicean. It's a crying shame, and the bill is about to be paid in full.

Unless we humble ourselves and pray. Then, it is possible God will heal and restore our land. But my hope for that, quite frankly, isn't high. Sooner or later the cup of iniquity runs over and the Lord has to get the rod of judgment out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nailing "Westboro" Biblically . . . Between the Eyes

Today's post is one that I am pleased as punch to share with you. It comes via our friends at the Cripplegate blog, and it is one of the best, biblical responses to the aberrant Westboro "Baptist" Church—the late Fred Phelps' bunch.

I have written about the Westboro crowd before, and the abysmal witness they're being for the Lord they claim to serve. But Jesse Johnson posted the following commentary, along with a short, great video message delivered with the Westboro protesters in the background. In both, you will see the true message of Christ sharply contrasted with the virulent hate of the Westboro clan.

So, please check this out. Pass it along. And yes, pray for this misguided family who in reality are serving as agents of Satan in bringing shame on the true Gospel and the body of Christ.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

America: 1776-????

After a very, very long dearth of posting (possibly the longest since I began this blog in 2005), I return today with some thoughts sparked by the usual cesspool of politics now that we're getting ready for another presidential year.

I'm getting very tired of hearing that conservatives/traditionalists "don't care" because of our skepticism and/or opposition to new government programs to accomplish some sort of "good" for society. It gets nauseating after a while. If you oppose some new "entitlement," you'd rather see people starve to death, go without health care, be homeless on the street, etc. The utopian left is very, very good at shrill ad hominem and the guilt trip. As a rule, the media helps them convey this message and serves as an amen corner, and—also as a rule—conservatives are not very good at slapping back at this nonsense. One of the difficulties we face is that we tend to view things long term and philosophically rather than the immediate. Now, philosophy matters. It matters a lot. Remember, ideas have consequences and words mean things. But people in general aren't thinking long term and down the road. Because the supposed "need" is in their faces, it's easy to whipsaw them into supporting some kind of government action or program to deal with the "need."

I was just watching Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He was interviewing Vermont's Sen. Bernie Sanders, who, although he is identified as an independent, is actually an admitted socialist. He is thinking of challenging Hillary Clinton, who supposedly isn't left enough for him. He talked about health care being a "right." Not long ago, actress Eva Longoria was on a commercial championing a hunger-battling campaign. Nothing wrong with that, but she said that nutritious food should be a basic "right." You see, people of that philosophy have a very, very different view of "rights" than that of our Founding Fathers. They saw certain rights as granted by God, inherent and unalienable.

The left believes that rights come from government. And believe me, there is an enormous difference in consequence of that belief. Under our Founders' view, rights cannot be lawfully taken away. They are inherent. Under the left's view, rights and privileges are pretty much the same thing. The government giveth, and the government can take away.

I used the photo of the American frontiersman for a reason. This country was founded by individualists, not collectivists. We were founded on freedom, and freedom as they saw it meant exactly that - freedom. You make it by your own hard work, ingenuity, diligence, etc. You don't need the government telling what to do, or what you can and cannot do. You don't need (or expect) the government to guarantee your success in life. You don't need the government to give you every goodie in the world (and they're only able to give goodies away by picking everyone else's hard-earned living through confiscatory taxation). Free men take care of themselves. Enslaved men depend on the nanny state.

What about the needy? What about those who can't help themselves? At one time, this area was the province of the churches, local communities and charitable groups until government began elbowing itself into the picture. The problem with the government solution is that it doesn't stop. Government worshippers will never run out of "good causes" that require funding, and to get the funding, they have to raise your taxes and take more of your freedom away. Money that comes through the government comes with strings. And there will never be enough money to satisfy them.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he introduced the idea of Social Security in the 1930s, knew full well what he was doing and even admitted it. I won't use the language he did in commenting on government checks, but he knew that once people began getting the checks in the mail, woe to any politician that suggested doing away with the program or even reforming it to be more effective. Money talks, and when people get benefits, they want to keep getting benefits. But someone pays.

I don't want anyone reading this to think that I don't believe in helping the needy. My philosophy first and foremost is filtered through Scripture, and God commands us to help the poor. But that command is not carte blanche for unlimited government. It's a command to individual believers to help the poor. I'm not even opposed to temporary welfare programs for hard cases. But when welfare becomes generational, it's a problem.

In the same Bible where we are told to care for the sick and needy, the Apostle Paul said, with good reason, "If one will not work, neither let them eat." That was inspired by the same Holy Spirit that inspired the command to help the poor and sick. But if you turn the notion of "rights" on its head and make food a "right," someone could in theory just lay on their can and do nothing, and you would still have to feed their laziness because it's their "right" and "entitlement." Government programs eventually become filled with waste, fraud, and abuse, and bloated beyond measure. Social Security was, in its origin, only intended to be a SUPPLEMENTAL income for the elderly. But look at what all has gotten tacked on to these benefits in subsequent years.

Same thing for health care. If you turn health care from a service into a "right," then the fallen human nature kicks in and before long, you're wasting billions of dollars taking care of people whose illnesses are lifestyle-related and they refuse to alter their lifestyles. Where is the balance between compassion and enabling behavior that (again, LONG TERM) only worsens over time because there is no incentive to stop it.

In the end, there is no easy answer. Jesus Himself said the poor would always be with us. And they need help. But to oppose utopian, freedom-robbing, paycheck-robbing, bottomless pit government solutions is not a lack of compassion. If the solution ends up eventually killing the patient, I wouldn't call that compassionate.