Wednesday, January 28, 2015

National repentance will restore American exceptionalism

U.S. Representative Steve King of Iowa [3]
I cannot count the number of times I have heard my fellow Christians repeat 2 Chronicles 7:14 when talking about the need for spiritual renewal in America. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” [1]. American Christians have been talking about the need for this national repentance way before I ever came to Christ. It is understandable why spiritual leaders interested in the health of the U.S. keep quoting this. The founders of America founded it as a Christian nation regardless of what the critics say. That is not to say they meant the United States to be a theocracy. There has never been an official national religion here. The Constitution forbids the federal government from establishing a national church. The abuses of government-runned churches were what the founders fled from in fact. Our spiritual makeup was decidedly and boldly Christian however. America was 98% Protestant in 1776 [2].

It is those Christian foundations that make the United States of America an exceptional country. Exceptionalism does not mean that Americans are born better than other people. It does not mean we are better than other people in the world. It means the foundations of our country are vastly unique from any other that has ever existed. It is because of these unique Christian foundations that the United States has been the most successful and prosperous Gentile nation on Earth. The United States has been an exception for freedom in a world that has been mostly known for tyranny and oppression. America has bent over backwards to make up for its past where it has experimented with tyranny and oppression itself. It is not perfect and never has been. That cannot discount what the country has been and what it has accomplished though.

U.S. Representative from Iowa Steve King asked his audience to elect a conservative President to usher in the next era of American exceptionalism late last week. He said we need a President who will rip Obamacare out by the roots by passing a simple 40-word bill he has that would make it as if Obamacare were never passed in the first place. His other major points were restoring the Constitution, its separation of powers, strengthening the national defense, and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service [3].

These are lofty goals that would be great to have in the next President of the United States. Where this prescription to cure America’s ills misses it is at the root of the problem though. Obamacare, the abuse of the Constitution, the President acting like a monarch instead of an elected official subject to laws, and the growth of government are all legitimate problems that need to be addressed to restore the fruits of American exceptionalism. The core of American exceptionalism is our dependence on the triune God of the Old and New Testaments. All of these other problems are just manifestations of a deeper spiritual problem that could only be cured by a 21st century Great Awakening-style movement among the citizenry. Our government is a reflection of the overall population. Government will be cleaned up when America’s population stops being Christian by self-label only and actually begins to live for the God in whom they say they believe in when asked by a pollster.

SOURCES

  1. 2 Chronicles 7:14. Modern English Version. Bible Gateway, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+7%3A14&version=MEV
  2. Kosmin, Barry A., and Seymour Lachman. One Nation under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society. New York: Harmony, 1993. 28-29. Print.
  3. Petroski, William. "Steve King: Let's Restore the Soul of America." Des Moines Register. Rick Green, 24 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2015/01/24/steve-king-iowa-freedom-summit/22271113/

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Persecuted" movie and Christian legal persecution in America

I saw 2014’s Persecuted movie a couple of days ago finally. I thought the movie was pretty good. I wish it would have focused more on the impact of the fictional legislation known as the Faith and Fairness Act on society as a whole. They covered it well for an action movie though. I guess I am just too much of a documentary kind of guy. It was very suspenseful and had a lot of action though. The movie “depicts evangelist John Luther as the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform. When a Senator frames Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. An evangelist turned fugitive, Luther’s mission brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.”

One of the central themes of the movie is the Faith and Fairness Act as stated above. The fictional legislation requires Christians to only speak of their faith in a way that does not claim exclusive truth and “respects” other beliefs. There is no current legislation that goes to this high degree of censorship. Attacks on America’s religious freedom are more frequent than ever though. Legal organizations like the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian Law Association, and several others exist for the sole purpose of defending the religious freedom of Christians in the United States and to stop those who wish to silence them. The very fact that there is such a need for organizations like this in our country today is a sign that religious freedom is under attack in this county. It might not be as bad as it is in other parts of the world. It might not be as bad yet as the culture is in the movie. All movements start somewhere though. The movement to marginalize Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ needs to stopped in its tracks before it can get any stronger.

Goochland County School Board in Virginia has a policy that would force teens between the ages of 14-18 to stand before the School Board to be interrogated about their religious beliefs in order to determine if families in that county have the basis to homeschool their children on such grounds. In another case, Pastor Clyde Reed of Good News Community Church in Glendale, Arizona will have his case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year after his church had strict rules imposed on them regarding their signs by the city. The city even threatens fines and jail time for those who do not comply despite the fact that it violates the church’s religious freedom. Meanwhile, political and ideological signs have much more leeway in what they are permitted. Thirdly, Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran was recently fired for statements in a book he wrote about homosexuality in a religious context. These and so many other cases of legal persecution against Christians in the United States are not to be equaled to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world who are tortured, separated from families, and even killed. It would be foolish for us not to take notice of what has been happening in our country, try to stop it, and then try to reverse it before we or future generations end up facing that as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Manning goes down to former team

The game between my favorite team (the Indianapolis Colts) and the team led by my favorite quarterback (the Denver Broncos) did not disappoint. I would have liked to have seen it go down to the wire. It was still fun to watch nonetheless. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13 in Denver tonight. The Colts now move on to face the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship next Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The will will represent the AFC at Superbowl 49 on February 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Andrew Luck threw two touchdowns and had a total of 265 yards. Peyton Manning was back to his usual playoff self with a less than capable performance that included only one touchdown and a 26/46 completion/attempt ratio. I thought the Broncos finally caught a break with 7:00 to go in the third quarter on what looked like a fumble recovery by Omar Bolden who “bowled” over by punt returner Josh Cribbs, but Cribbs was--incorrectly in my view--ruled down by contact and the Colts got to keep the ball rather than the Broncos getting the best field position they would have had for the whole game. The Colts defense only allowed a below average 88 rushing yards. They held the Broncos to just 4/18 on third down conversions. Jonathan Newsome even stripped the ball from Manning, resulting in a turnover. The Broncos only scored three points in the second half.

I would have liked to have seen this turn out differently for Peyton Manning and the Broncos. I would like to see him get at least one more Superbowl ring before he retires even though I am a lifelong Colts fan. The Colts will be around way after Peyton Manning retires and--barring significant injury--so will Andrew Luck. Peyton Manning should and will be considered one of the best quarterbacks ever whether he comes back next year or not. How many people can say they even have one Superbowl ring? I hope this is not the end for Peyton. He has had a great career if it is. What we know for sure right now though is the Colts are moving on. Next up for the Colts are perhaps their biggest rival, the New England Patriots. The Colts may just have a shot if the Colts defense can do to Tom Brady what they did to Peyton Manning tonight. That is one giant “IF” though.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Karl Rove and the WMD cover-up


Iraq’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction was presented by the Bush Administration as one of the biggest reasons for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003, although it was not the only reason. One would expect a political opponent that is against the war would try to discredit the cause for going. That definitely happened, but what is surprising is that Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove did more to cover up the WMD in Iraq than perhaps anyone else.


The natural question would be, “Why? Wouldn’t it benefit the Bush Administration to have WMD in Iraq brought out into the open since that was the centerpiece of their case for removing Saddam Hussein?" Rove did not think so apparently. His exact words were to “let these sleeping dogs lie.” Pentagon reports said that some of these discarded chemical weapons started showing up as early as 2004. The evidence of these weapons included over 500 discarded sarin and mustard gas shells. Karl Rove and other political aides did not want to rehash the arguments over WMD because they thought it was a losing issue for them given the growing negative national perception of the war thanks to lamestream media coverage.

Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and others cited the Pentagon reports that discuss chemical weapons in Iraq, but there is at least one major Iraqi official that was part of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle that can verify this information as well. Former Iraqi general Georges Sada says in a 2007 discussion and in his book “Saddam’s Secrets” that Syria received WMD from Iraq in the summer of 2002, nine months before the U.S. led coalition invaded Iraq. He also said that they had been hidden there since 1991 and were only sent to Damascus under the guise of humanitarian aid to Syria after a flood there. That timing would fit with everything that led up to the invasion because so much time was wasted with U.N. resolutions leading up to it. People who have already made up their minds about George W. Bush, the battle of Iraq in the war on terrorism, and the case for going to war may not be persuaded mainly because no amount of evidence can persuade them, no matter how convincing. Hopefully getting the truth out will cause some to rethink their position and remember the reasons for the war on terrorism.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thoughts on "Hiroshima: BBC history of World War II"

We watched a program last night on Netflix that was produced by the BBC back in 2005 about the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and the aftermath for its citizens. It was graphic and heart-wrenching in many ways. I encourage people to watch it if you get a chance just because of the pure historical significance of being able to hear firsthand from people that were still alive what it was like in the aftermath of the nuclear attack. War is not good. There is nothing pleasant or enjoyable about it. Yet, the sad truth is that war is sometimes necessary. The horrors should not be denied. The suffering should not be watered down. The negative impacts should never be sugar-coated. That does not mean that we should stop short of recognizing that war is sometimes a necessity to protect good and stop evil from advancing or continuing.

Let us use as an example of this necessary hardship of war the Hiroshima documentary that inspired this particular post. I felt that it did a very good job of portraying the general mindset of the population at that time. Everyday citizens--even children--were being taught how to harm invading American soldiers. The American soldier sees someone, assumes they are not an enemy combatant, and the next thing you know his life is being threatened. Not only that, but Japanese soldiers were being taught how to arm their bodies with explosives and throw themselves under American vehicles in order to cause casualties. Even medical orderlies were being taught how to do this. With people that committed to a cause, where they see their own emperor as a god, what other choice was the American government supposed to make? You can march in there, face who knows how many casualties, traumatize the soldiers with the prospect of having to kill a woman or maybe even a child. The alternative would be to do something so devastating that it would break the backbone of even the most committed of people. The United States wisely chose the latter option.

I am not about to suggest that use of nuclear weapons, widespread or otherwise, is the answer every time we face a determined enemy. However, I do see parallels in the way the Japanese are described in history and on this documentary with the current war on Islamic terrorism. They are perhaps even more determined than the Japanese were. You have to be fully committed to your cause to perpetrate acts like those that were done on September 11, 2001. The brainwashing of a population to murder people and commit atrocities to further a cause is exactly what leads to massive attacks like what happened here over 13 years ago. There are even parallels with the Japanese who saw the emperor as a god with those who believe in the false god of Islam. The Japanese were willing to kill in the emperor’s name. Muslims are willing to kill for Allah.

It is incredibly frustrating to know that the United States is being blamed for defending itself against the enemies that were responsible for the September 11 attacks as if it is somehow wrong to do so. It is just as frustrating that there are people that think the use of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were somehow evil or motivated by cruelty. Nothing could be further from the truth in either case. In the case of the nuclear attacks on the Japanese cities, President Harry Truman even offered the Japanese armed forces the choice of unconditional surrender before giving the green light for the attacks. They flatly rejected the call for surrender. Japan put the United States in the unenviable position of having to choose between a prolonged war where who knows how many more thousands would die or what the outcome would be or a quick, decisive action that would be so devastating that Japan would be foolish not to surrender. What was left? When mercy was interpreted as weakness, the United States took decisive action to show that it was anything but weak.

The timing of seeing this documentary parallels well with the current debate that has been rehashed in our country today over the lengths we should go to in order to get information from captured terrorists about future attacks and current threats facing our country. There are people that still say the United States does not have the right to use enhanced interrogation techniques to get information from terrorists and their sympathizers. However, with an enemy that is so determined to do anything they have to do to win, to the point of killing themselves to destroy others, I don’t see anything wrong with the enhanced techniques used to gain information from those that have been captured during the war on terror. The enemy then and the enemy now may not be the same. The situations may not be the same. The motivation may not be the same either. Yet our resolve for victory and the belief that there is no substitute for victory should be just as strong now as it was then. If it is not, I shudder to think what will happen to the world as a whole, not just the United States.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two of every animal?

I always find it interesting how so many Sunday school lessons as well as common belief about the Great Flood during the time of Noah says that there were two of every kind of animal on the ark. That is not what the Bible says. "Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth" (Genesis 7:2-3 Modern English Version).

So where does this idea come from that there were two of every kind of animal on the ark? It comes a few verses later in Genesis chapter 7. “Everything that creeps on the land from clean and unclean animals and birds came in two by two, male and female, to Noah into the ark, as God had commanded Noah” (Genesis 7:8-9). Notice that the animals came in two by two, but there was not two of every animal.

Okay, so what? What difference does it make? How does this affect my life in any way? It affects us because it goes back to something I was talking about the other day on a Facebook status. One of the ways Satan gets people to doubt God is by getting them to question His Word. “Did God really say…” he asked Eve. If we don’t believe in the power of God’s Word enough to quote it accurately, what does that say? What does it say to others who are watching and listening to us when we talk about the importance of what God has to say to us? Realistically, I know no one is going to throw away their faith in Jesus over a detail about the number of animals that entered Noah’s Ark. However, we need to make sure we are using the Bible accurately. It is not a nit-picky, I have to be right issue. It is a biblical authority issue. Biblical authority has come under attack. One way this has been done is to change what God meant in Genesis. I will save the arguments over the age of the earth, “what is a ‘day’” and all of that for a later post. I just feel that it is vitally important for reclaiming the authority of the Bible in our society that if we are to do so, we must begin quoting it as it is and believing it when it says something.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Manning meets military couple

I grew up in Indiana. I was an Indianapolis Colts fan ever since I started watching football when I was a kid. I will probably always be an Indianapolis Colts fan. So it is no surprise that I am also a big Peyton Manning fan. I became such a fan of his that when he started playing for the Broncos, my lifelong loyalty to the Colts became divided between them and the Manning-led Broncos for as long as he plays there. He just went up a few more points in my book after reading what he recently did for a man serving in the military and his wife.


Kristen Patterson is originally from Brookville, Indiana and now lives in North Pole, Alaska. She wrote Peyton Manning a letter on September 21 asking to meet him on behalf of her husband, Army Sargent Ryan Patterson. Unfortunately, she forgot to include details on how to reach her. Manning received the letter and the Broncos organization spent three months trying to find them, which they eventually did. It’s too bad they didn’t have anyone who works for the NSA on speed dial. They could have saved a few months of work. Anyway, the couple was finally able to personally meet Peyton Manning in Cincinnati before the Broncos game with the Bengals.

Of course, Peyton Manning is not the only quarterback that would do this. I am sure there are many that would. I just thought this was worth sharing since I am a biased fan who wants to pass along good news when my favorite player gets noticed for doing a good deed. The NFL playoffs begin today with the Broncos getting the weekend off with a bye. They will not have to play until next weekend by virtue of being the number two seed in the AFC. The full text of the letter and more details on the Pattersons’ meeting with Manning can be found here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Reflections and looking forward

It has been a good 2014. A lot has happened this year. Shelby started first grade. There are times when she gets behind in her work and we have to spend time playing catch up. There are times when it is tough and a struggle and sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and keep going because we know it is in her best interest. In the end, she always shows us what we already know. She is a very smart little girl and there is nothing she cannot accomplish.

We have some four-legged friends that have become part of our family. We had to give one of them to another family, but that first cat ended up being a seed that we planted unknowingly. In response, God gave us two wonderful kittens that love all of us and bring joy to our home. Galaxy and Ginger have only been here about four and a half months, but it feels like they have been a part of our lives from the beginning. We had a little bit of a scare earlier this month health-wise for Galaxy, but God has seen fit to allow us to be with us longer, hopefully for many, many years to come.

Holly and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary this year. To some, it may seem like we did not do anything super spectacular. We did not take any trips. We did not do anything out of the ordinary other than going to Applebee’s and Chili’s, but that time with each other (and with Shelby) made it worthwhile just like every other day. I had some struggles at the end of the year that made me appreciate them even more than ever. I am truly thankful to God for all the gifts He has given me. Those two are the best gifts of all.

I don’t have a crystal ball and even if I did, to try to look into one to predict the future would be unbiblical. None of us know what the future holds. We don’t even have a perfect idea of what will happen the rest of today. As it looks today though, Shelby will be starting second grade in April so our apartment will continue to be a classroom and tutoring center. We pray that our home church will grow bigger than it ever has. We may be going to Walt Disney World for the first time in a few years some time this year. I would also like to go visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky and my hometown of Columbus, Indiana some time this year. There are a lot of people up there that I have not seen for a while and would really like to again.

Whatever happens this year, remember to put God first and keep Him first throughout the year. If you are already a daily Bible reader and follower of Christ, good for you. Keep up the good work. If you’re not a follower of Christ or have been putting off your decision, the beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to begin a new life in Him. If you are trying to be a follower without the daily discipline of reading and studying Scripture, the beginning of a year is a great time to start. There are many great Bible reading plans out there that will help you read through the Bible in a year if that is something you are interested in. Whatever it takes and whatever your plans are this year, put God first and keep Him first. God bless you all.