If the People

Today, as we read the newspaper or tune into the news station, we are witnessing a crisis point in the history of these United States of America. We are seeing the culmination of a decades long attempt by some to transform our society. It may sound strange to some, but we live in the freest, most prosperous country in the history of the world. Consider that our country is a place where tens of thousands of people every year are willing to risk their lives traversing the desert, the vast Gulf of Mexico, walk miles through dangerous, guerrilla warfare infested lands and pay large sums of money, just to cross into the U.S. Yet, observing the current situation and behavior of people in America, one would think we live in the most oppressed country in the world.

When asked by Americans in 1787 what type of government the delegates of the Constitutional Convention were planning to form, Benjamin Franklin responded “a republic, if you can keep it.” That “if” was not just in the mind of Franklin, but all those who participated in crafting the U.S. Constitution. It was a great many “ifs” which led to the language in our founding documents.

If we want to keep it, we better start recognizing that,

…if U.S. history was taught with greater emphasis in school, Americans would understand how great this nation is and have the utmost respect for those who endured great sacrifice and struggled to establish a free nation, first as settlers and then as participants in the Revolutionary War to secure the freedoms we so greatly enjoy…

…if the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were actually read, studied and discussed in the classroom and in doing so compared to other forms of government in the world, people would realize the wisdom of our founders who were more interested in giving power to the people instead of taking it for themselves…

…if Civil War battlefields were visited and the stories of those involved were read, people would understand that there were deeper principles at stake beyond slavery and denying this would mean a great many good men died defending slaves they never even owned or intended to own…

…if monuments were actually viewed with an eye towards understanding the reason for their existence, people would realize many of them represent individuals who had the most to lose as a result of giving themselves fully towards a cause, but yet were ruled by principles and convictions, not the wavering of popular opinion…

…if parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were given the time of day at family gatherings to tell their stories of what it was like to live and serve through the Great War, the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War, they would hear first hand accounts of real sacrifice, commitment and integrity in the face of uncertainty and against all odds…

…if service in the military was the experience of most Americans, whether as a military member or military spouse, people would recognize the meaning of sacrificial commitment, of taking a lifetime oath, and would never again need to be convinced that we are the freest people in the world and that freedom requires a high cost…

…if economics was taught in school, people would recognize that throughout the history of economic trade, free market and supply side economics has always led to a prosperous nation…

…if world history and culture was taught in school, people would recognize without a doubt, that every person regardless of ethnic background is more prosperous in American than in any country around the world…

…if the pledge of allegiance was required to be recited in school each day, by every student and taken seriously by school administrators, people would learn at an early age the importance of loyalty and quickly come to an understanding about the great cost associated with flying a piece of fabric decorated with thirteen red and white stripes and fifty stars in a field of blue…

…if getting married occurred sooner in life and having children was viewed as a joy and not a burden, people would understand what it means to be responsible for another person and be less motivated to riot, loot and destroy property, recognizing it would lead to a person not having the ability to care for their family…

…if churches were no longer simply centers for community organization, but taught the importance of theology in every aspect of life and focused on teaching men how to be men of conviction and women to be women of truth, people would see true unity, not the exchange of truth for popular opinion…

…if discipline and respect were no longer viewed as antiquated principles which only applied to our “unenlightened, unscientific” forefathers, the United States of America would not be filled with people who never matured past sixteen years old and demonstrate their ignorance daily on social media…

…if morals and values were encouraged, taught and given the proper place as necessary for the existence of a civil society, people would no longer view them as optional forms of oppression which call for the dismantling of law, order and justice…

…if we recognize all of this, we can keep our country.

The democracy of our nation has been challenged numerous times in the past, but now we seem closer to the brink of losing it all than perhaps ever before in our 244 year history. Yes, there have been protests and riots in the past, but never on this scale, and never before did elected officials, sworn to protect and defend the rights and property of citizens, set aside their duties to appease a mob. If you want to keep this republic, this democratic form of government, this country, this land, these freedoms, then we must speak up to have our voices heard once again. Once again we, the people, face an incredible challenge, which will test our resilience and our resolve to keep our country, our culture and our government for this and future generations. So what are we going to do about it?

Returning From COVID-19 with Honor

While the entire country and much of the world is in isolation due to COVID-19, it probably feels like your life is on hold. We are all still in the process of unwillingly adjusting to a life which involves a significant amount of time at home, unable to engage in many of our normal social and recreational activities. Our normal social life is nearly non-existent or it exists merely through seeing each other as pixels on a screen. Most of us are probably either on the edge of going stir crazy or passed it two weeks ago.

We are all finding different ways to get through this crisis, but we shouldn’t forget that getting through is not the only thing that matters, but also how we get to the end. Every Air Force aviator is required to attend survival school which includes a simulated prisoner of war camp designed to instruct each person on how to survive imprisonment by an enemy combatant. An important aspect of this training is not simply surviving until the end of the ordeal, but returning home with honor. The military is not merely concerned with living to the end of imprisonment, but the manner in which the individual conducted themselves. This is why the motto of every POW is “return with honor,” not just return.

There are many stories in the Bible of people who survived incredible ordeals which placed tremendous pressure on them. David was forced to be on the run for months in order to survive Saul’s threats on his life. Elijah lived in the wilderness after fleeing from Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness away from human interaction all while being the recipient of temptations directly from Satan. Paul was imprisoned numerous times throughout the course of his ministry. In each of these cases, what mattered was not just endurance to the end, but the way in which they endured to the end. It did not matter that they were forced into these situations which required them to overcome unique challenges, they were still required to finish honorably.

Our normal life activities might be on hold and we are indeed facing unique challenges, but what will never be on hold is the necessity for us to live according to God’s Word. National emergencies, pandemics, disasters or other crisis are not legitimate excuses for us to abandon our obedience to Christ or act in a way unbecoming of a Christian. Jesus made it clear during His earthly ministry that it is those who “obey my commandments” (John 6) who demonstrate their love to Him. Would we say our love for Christ should be suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? If anything, we are most likely depending even more on Christ during this time. We are turning to God in prayer to ask for patience, strength and endurance, but are we also loving Christ through obedience? Do we unintentionally view love for Christ as only being manifested through prayer (petitioning God when we need something) or is it also through faithful obedience?

During COVID-19, people are finding ways to survive our current situation. Based on the recent data, there has been a significant increase in video streaming, online gaming, alcohol consumption, pornography viewing and other online related activities. The world is finding different ways to cope in the midst of this crisis, looking for ways to survive until we return to normal. As Christians our calling is not just to return, but to return with honor. Our calling is as new creations in Christ who are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom 12:2). It means that in any circumstance, crisis or not, we are not to be given to “drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy” (Rom 13:13). Instead, we are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). Paul warns the church at Thessalonica about the danger of laziness and idleness which can lead to sinful behavior (2 Thess 3:11); a danger also mentioned several places in Proverbs. We should be intentional about being diligent in using our abilities for God’s glory, not squandering the time He has given us. 

At some point in the near future, life will return back to normal. The question is not simply will you return, but how will your return? Will it be a return with honor, where you look back with satisfaction in knowing your life, even in the midst of a crisis, was still focused on giving glory to God in your thoughts and action? Or will it be one surrounded by regret? Will the future stories of your survival through this crisis be one worth telling or one worth burying? Our love for Christ is revealed through obedience to His commands and the reflection of this renewed heart and mind regardless of the circumstances. As those who represent the Bride of Christ, we are called to humbly submit in obedience, knowing He is “with us always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Your Value? Mother Knows Best

We all know the phrase mother knows best. Most of us remember it as a tactic used to convince us to listen to their mothers, but for Beto O’Rourke and his supporters, it is also their approach to abortion. In a recent campaign event, the 2020 Presidential candidate fielded a question from a member of the audience regarding late-term abortion. The individual asked the former congressman whether his life had any value on the day prior to his birth in 1989. This question was a direct reference to O’Rourke’s opinion expressed during a previous campaign event in Ohio, during which he stated his favor for third trimester abortions.

Continue reading “Your Value? Mother Knows Best”

Why Legalism Can’t Be the Answer

Recently, I had a conversation with someone who explained their frustration at the amount of churches in America continuing to push a legalistic view of Christianity instead of applying theology to real life. She wasn’t against the need for discipleship, accountability and holding to biblical principles of morality, but rather the constant focus on enforcement of these principles through rule making. I couldn’t agree more. What came to mind was the phrase, “I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls that do.” It is a phrase which focuses on behavior, not the heart and fails to recognize the complexities involved in moral decision making within the modern society. If Christians are going to face the issues of today, a legalistic approach will simply not suffice.

Continue reading “Why Legalism Can’t Be the Answer”

Equipping the Front Lines

Serving in the military comes with the potential of being deployed to the front lines of battle where you can expect to come face-to-face with the enemy. For this reason, the military invests billions of dollars every year into training, equipment and technology designed to adequately equip and prepare personnel for the task of executing military action whenever it becomes necessary. Military leaders recognize the need to prepare for when military force is necessary, not if it will be necessary. Equipping and training happens before engagement with the enemy, not after the first strike.

Continue reading “Equipping the Front Lines”

Stop Making Women Inferior

There is an increasing trend within the evangelical community to equate the instructions set forth by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 to male chauvinism and sexism; as if to hold this position results in women being classified as inferior. It is sometimes claimed that Paul was merely attempting to remain within a culturally established boundary in order to “become all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22). Based on what we know about the Apostle Paul, it seems unlikely he would back down on this issue in the face of societal pressures, but not in other areas.

Continue reading “Stop Making Women Inferior”

Prioritizing Our Distractions

The phrase “being on the right side of history” has become increasingly popular today. Often it is used as a tactic for persuading people to align with a popular opinion on controversial topics. Western civilization as a whole seems increasingly consumed by this idea of ensuring history judges them rightly, so they are willing to adopt an ideology of acceptance for nearly any type of behavior, idea or decision with the only condition being it does not cause harm to anyone. In essence, no harm, no problem. Given this, it often seems as though this age will be known as the Age of Acceptance, but in reality, it will probably be best know as the Age of Distraction. 

Continue reading “Prioritizing Our Distractions”

Preacher, Don’t Leave Jesus in the Tomb on Good Friday

Since my youth, history has always been of particular interest to me. Individuals or organizations who provide a daily listing of historic events in the form of a “on this day in history” typically receive my attention. With the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France this particular week will no doubt result in 2019 being added to those future lists of historic events. Yet, from a liturgical perspective, this week on the calendar will always be one of significance, since the week prior to Easter has long been associated as a week focusing attention on the specific activities associated with each day of the week leading up to the actual death and resurrection of Christ. Many churches emphasize a sort of “on this day in history” approach to observing the events leading up Christ’s death and resurrection. Good Friday and Easter morning are filled with the gathering of the local church for corporate worship, with some churches still including a Thursday evening service, intended to focus on the upper room activities, particularly the institution of the Lord’s Table.

Continue reading “Preacher, Don’t Leave Jesus in the Tomb on Good Friday”

Marriage is Not a Sidecar

How do you define marriage? In a world surrounded by so many different voices telling you what to believe, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that question generated fifty different answers, even among Christians. Is it just two people living together and having children or does it involve something more profound? Let’s be honest, even if you did have a good answer to that question, is that how you are living out your own marriage anyway?

Continue reading “Marriage is Not a Sidecar”

The Church Who Forgot Why it Was

We are living in a time when confusion about the church is greater than it has ever been. New models of church ministry seem to form every week with people intent on staying in step with every new fad which comes along within the culture. There is nothing wrong with integrating cultural forms into church practice, in fact this is a necessity for missionaries bringing the gospel to new people groups around the world. What matters is not the model, but the biblical foundation on which the model is built. What a local church believes about what the church is (and is not) will determine what the church looks like. It will drive what the church prioritizes and how it structures itself.

Continue reading “The Church Who Forgot Why it Was”

Don’t Forget These People on Sept 12th

It is right that we should memorialize September 11th because it will forever be remembered as perhaps the greatest tragedy in our lifetime. On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people died in less than 120 minutes as part of a single, yet complex act of terrorism. The memories of that fateful day are still burned into our minds. Jumbo jet airliners crashing into two icons of the New York skyline, the Pentagon in flames from a third airliner impact and a smoldering crater in Pennsylvania instead of a building because of the brave actions of Americans onboard. A day which witnessed people jumping from the World Trade Center towers to escape the flames, first responders rushing in to save lives with no thought of their own and the eventual disappearance of two massive towers which once overshadowed the NYC skyline. Memories which will not and should not be forgotten. Memories which tell a story of how morally depraved mankind really is when such evil is even possible.

Continue reading “Don’t Forget These People on Sept 12th”

When the Church is the First Man

A flurry of debate has surrounded the recent announcement by actor Ryan Gosling that a new movie portraying the Apollo 11 lunar landing would not feature the planting of the American flag on the moon. The reaction to this decision by an American filmmaker set many Americans into a righteous fit of indignation; declaring the decision as yet another example of Hollywood’s attempt to sway the culture away from the idea of American exceptionalism. In removing such an important part of one of the most historic events in modern history, “The First Man,” is now being considered persona non grata by many Americans, who perceive this as an attack on what has always been viewed as an American achievement. Adding insult to injury, Gosling stated “I think this [lunar landing] was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.” Such a statement has never accurately represented the public’s perception of the event and even as news of this achievement spread across the world in 1969, it was nearly always associated with the word America.

Continue reading “When the Church is the First Man”

The Problem Is Reading

The vast attention this week on Senator John McCain is a reminder that despite one’s political views, his death marks the passing of a political giant. McCain served America as a high decorated naval aviator, an uncompromising prisoner of war during captivity in Vietnam and most notably as a U.S. Senator. James Baker recently wrote that John McCain was one who “understood the importance of compromise” in politics, especially in a nation more intent on “wagging political battles than finding ways to advance the common good.” He rightly points to the fact that our social media frenzy culture is partially to blame because of the continuous attempts to use these platforms as a means by which to hold national debates on political issues which are deeply rooted in sometimes complex philosophical issues. Considering the cultural context of the statement, it is a strange dynamic to perceive of a society which places such a high value on education, but yet simultaneously considers it possible to debate such complex issues through 280 character tweets and Facebook emojis. This is really the point of James Baker, Americans are largely more interested in the battle than in discussing the ideas which determine the battle lines.

Continue reading “The Problem Is Reading”