America…and Law vs.Grace

 

I sometimes find myself pondering what seems to be the discrepancy between our Rule of Law and standing in God’s grace.

…and many times I’ve wondered, how does one justify the supposed hand of God in the creation of the governing systems of the United States, when those systems are law-based, and yet His way is one of grace & faith? Aren’t these two ‘methods’ mutually exclusive?

Clearly, the Rule of Law in America has proven more than successful. We became THE world superpower. Some in other countries hate us because we excel. I don’t think it can be effectively disputed that the blessings & favor of God has crowned America up to now. Therefore, our systems of law must not be against God’s plan. Just the opposite must be true…so…

Am I missing something?

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As I’m listening to a lecture on the Constitution…or maybe reading something along those lines…like a bird flitting across my line of sight, I catch glimpses of answers. They are there, joyfully, quickly. But if I don’t write them down, well…you know how that goes! So I’ve decided to attempt to round-up a few of them, and write them down here…

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I got delightful insight on this quandary from, surprisingly, an Economics lecture. Yes, economics…Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College in Michigan, in his introduction to Economics 101, presents the picture of man as being a political being, with an innate desire/need to live within a political system of laws, or some form of government. History is replete with evidence of man living under various forms of law & government.

History is also replete with evidence of man’s innate desire to worship a higher Power, to practice some form of religion.

The change in religious practices that emerged from Christianity were, according to Dr. Arnn, the essential root of being governed by kings & rulers to being governed by…consent. In other words, ‘We, the People’. In other words, Christianity eventually produced America and her Constitution.

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…so, for starters, let’s first travel back in time to ancient Israel. Those Hebrews were loaded with laws! Besides the basic Ten Commandments, there were laws covering just about every conceivable situation, moral, civil and criminal. Rulers & kings were appointed to ensure that those laws were obeyed. God Himself gave those laws, so they weren’t to be trifled with. Not a lot of leeway or flexibility goin’ on back then.

Fast forward a little bit. Jesus Christ has walked the earth, taught, and been crucified. His resurrection sealed the Eternal Deal.In Him, we are free from law. Biblical New Covenant Christianity repudiates all those Old Testament laws, judges, & rulers. Now what? We are still basically the same human beings, with that same innate need to be governed. Hmmm…

…so at this point, perhaps we can conclude that law was meant to have its limits?

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freedomNow…this lifestyle of ‘no law’ made possible by the blood of Jesus was made available to all. “…whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev.21:17)  This offer is extended to people of all nations, throughout the whole world. But the realm from which this freedom is offered to us is actually not of this world. (John 18:36) Think of it, perhaps, as an overlay, or strata, upon your daily life, invisible but there nonetheless. Underneath this ‘umbrella’ of the God who makes Himself available to all will be people from all countries, with different governments & laws. These laws are not meant to intrude into His dimension…ergo, again, perhaps we can conclude that law was meant to have its limits.

Limited government?

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“…in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth…”  (Ephesians 1:10)

A magnanimous, sweeping statement like this Scripture seems to support my growing belief that the United States of America is in fact a word from God. It is a living word. From America the Beautiful we can see, if we want to look, a demonstration of the ways & principles of God in action, in consort with mankind. We see God walking with men. We see Satan in action, adversarial & malignant, opposing the Son of God at every turn. ( If you doubt this, look at the world around you, look at the lives around you…look at your own situations.)

Perhaps we are seeing – over the years producing Revolution, birth, young nationhood, government, Civil War, industry, technology – the outworkings of new life in Christ. If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.

I wonder if God wants to show us, throughout world history and culminating in America in these days, the perfection of His ways, not ours. Down through the ages, He has brought mankind through laws enforced by kings, rulers & armies to a place where man is so much more free than he ever was. Those olden times throughout civilizations, their declines & rebirths perhaps symbolize the tenaciousness of Old Testament law. The Declaration of Independence, hallelujah, brought us into the light. Bold & glorious words bearing truth changed history. In them we find a realization of New Covenant power.

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Man, however, cannot be fully & finally free on his own. Not gonna happen. The Son makes us free, and that as we continue in His Word (John 8: 31,32).  So I wonder, then…despite her best efforts, even though the Constitution of the United Statesof America is implemented as intended by our Founders…can America ever fulfill God’s best & ultimate Plan for us? Is the United States the final experiment in world history? Maybe she was launched for the purpose of teaching mankind that, as good as it can get here, still…His Plan is at the end a spiritual one. In Christ. Our most perfect of laws can’t produce “gather{ing} together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth…” (Ephesians 1:10)

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Author’ note:  My conclusion above is in no way meant to imply that any one of us, who loves our country and our Constitution, should EVER stop standing for liberty & justice for all, forever. 

God continue to bless & protect America.

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Way before the Founding Fathers…

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

Just as I am fully convinced of the hand of God in the founding of the United States of America, so too I am equally convinced of the same in the centuries-earlier explorations, discoveries, & events that preceded that founding. Patterns that I’ve seen before re-appear, as do similarities of incidents.

To the great detriment of the generations to come, appearing as well are the familiar manifestations of assumptions of superiority, personal delusions. arrogance. A root of slavery went down almost instantly. And that age-old culprit, the love of money (specifically in this case, gold) wasn’t far behind. Learning about Christopher Columbus’ journey to a new land, finally named America, is bringing with it, for me, both awe & si shame. My personal reactions, though, matter not, because Columbus was the one chosen by God for this monumental task.

 
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It was not until 1991 that a centuries-old Spanish manuscript, written by Christopher Columbus…

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…sometimes Keeping the Faith is Hard…

Events have transpired in my life, over the past year, in such a way as to have very much hindered my writing pursuits.  “Jesus, the Revolution & You” while never leaving my heart, has even so floated to the back burner of actual production efforts.  Mainly, I’ve re-blogged previous posts.

I’m writing today simply because I want to get my toes back in the water.  A slight reprieve from what has become an unexpected lifestyle routine has been given to me today; so, after lollygagging awhile, I’ve decided to let the dishes sit,  leave the laundry in its pile, and forget about responsibilities in general.  I’m headin’ towards the water’s edge!  Perhaps some  encouragement for others, similarly re-routed in life, can be salvaged from my current experiences.

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I have worked all my life.  Because I’ve been trying to walk with the Lord, and follow Him, I did not pursue a career – even job training.  I never felt that He was leading me to do that.  At age 50, I did believe He was leading me to choose between either that course of action, or writing.  Though it may have appeared foolish and risky, I chose writing.  It was an easy decision.  I knew that I had writing ability and had never really used it.  I also knew that if I should die any time soon, I would not regret not having, say, pursued a career in law…but I would SO regret having wasted the gift of creating with words.

It took a few years to realign my routines & activities with more creative pursuits.  Long story short, finally, last March, I retired.  Finally, I could write.  EVERY indication pointed in that direction.  And I still do not believe I erred in my decision, but…though I prayed, got numerous confirmations, sought counsel, thought & thought about it…and had a very clear vision of unobstructed, prosperous writing bliss…and would bet money that God was leading me to follow this path….

…it is almost a year later and I have done almost no writing.

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The details aren’t important here.

What is important is faith.

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I remember hearing a pastor once say, while preaching on 1 Peter 4:19 regarding suffering, that if after you enter a situation, it changes in a way that causes you difficulty/suffering etc., and you yourself are not responsible for the change – then it is God’s will.  Now I am really not lovin’ hearing about suffering of any kind.  But, things come to pass and there you are, somewhere you hadn’t intended and don’t want to be.  If you are not yet one of His, it may be easy for you to just leave.  But once the Lord has a hold on you…not so easy.  You may not be happy where you are, but your heart is inclined towards “…Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  You are getting a hold of that pearl of great price, and will not let go.  It is not just for you or about you, is it?  You endure, for the joy set before you, hallelujah.

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A very helpful principle to consider, in times of deprivation & disappointment, is that of death & resurrection.  More than once, I’ve heard messages on this subject.  In a nutshell, when God gives you a vision, it may come to pass that right afterwards, everything relating to it goes kaput!  In fact, circumstances lead you in the exact opposite direction.  God said “Up!” but you find yourself “Down.”  Someone once outlined the three R’s of such situations – revelation, reversal, then reality. Like a seed being planted, in a dark, pressured place, roots go – where?  Down.  Then, over time, results are manifested.

Keep the faith.

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When I ‘stumbled’ upon this Scripture about a week ago, my heart leapt.

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”   (Hebrew 10: 35, 36)

Each of us who believe have our own walk with Him, and each of us hear Him.  You can ascertain, even faintly, what specifically His will for you might be.  His sheep hear His voice, and another’s voice they will not listen to…so…test out your thoughts on this.  An event is about to happen, and when it does, you will understand.  And you will be glad you stayed the course.. 

…on the Giving of Gifts, etc. at Christmas

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

For those of you who may have read my recentChristmas posts, I direct this, uh, warning: my next words will make it appear that I’m doing a complete 180′ on the whole ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ theme. Be assured, that is not my intent at all! I just have a real problem with religiousness. Some don’t realize, so did Jesus…

Years back, I listened to a Christmas Eve message, via radio, broadcast by Jack Hayford, at that time pastor of the Church Along the Way (I think that was the name) in California. ‘Born-again’ celebrities attended his church. I think he is a very cool guy.

Pastor Jack was saying something like this: he had a real problem with ‘religiousness’, too, meaning, persons who had a thumbs-down ‘tude towards the celebratory aspects of the Christmas holiday, giving gifts, etc., and having parties. For the rest of my life…

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The Chronicles of Narnia: Not Just for Kids!

An abundance of possessions does not  make up the substance of one’s life; food & clothing, while certainly necessary, are also not that substance. (Luke 12:15, 23)  Jesus cautions against accumulating provisions, commodities and wealth of various sorts while remaining scarce toward God. (Luke 12:21)  Now, life in this world requires so much just to survive – we need ‘things’!  And He knows that.  I don’t believe the issue here is having wealth or possessions but rather pursuing them, being anxious & distracted over them and in the process, missing the Lord.

Living life is tricky business.  Everyone’s path is unique.  How you get to where you’re going takes a lot of time, effort & energy.  Heartache and pain will be part of the journey; mistakes will be made &  regrets will probably be felt.  There can be times of great joy, jubilant victories, moments of deep satisfaction   There is so much in life to occupy our minds & our hearts & our time that it is easy to be, or become,  ‘scarce toward God’.

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If you are someone who knows and believes the Word of God, but perhaps decades of life in this world have wearied you, and worn down a strong, joyful & brilliant faith to one of a dull luster, may I suggest something?

Watch Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I used to work in a Bible bookstore many years back, and I knew about this series of books by C.S. Lewis. But I had never read any of them.  My understanding had been that these were a children’s series, so my interest wasn’t exactly piqued!  Today, at age 62, after spending three hours earlier today glued to the television, I thank God with all my heart that He created a man such as C.S. Lewis, and deposited within him the desire and the ability to write such stories.  Perhaps others would not be affected as I was today, but by the end of this movie, my belief in Jesus Christ the King of kings was stronger than it has ever been.

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The mythical land of Narnia first appears as a wondrous, magical forest, blanketed in snow.  It is breathtaking.  We have no clue that Narnia has been held hostage for 100 years in a permanent winter, and without Christmas, by the wicked White Witch of Narnia. Gradually, her influence and power is revealed to us.  We begin to see that ageless conflict between good and evil portrayed by the

Jadis, the White Witch of Narnia

chillingly beautiful witch Jadis (who calls herself ‘queen’ of Narnia but is not) and her officers & the inhabitants of Narnia, satyrs, centaurs, and forest creatures.  Four young children from the real world stumble into Narnia while playing hide-n-seek, when the youngest hides in an imposing wardrobe.  Pushing through layer after layer of plush fur coats to the back of the wardrobe, she falls out of it into Narnia’s snowy wood. Soon, her siblings follow. And we fall into Narnia and its enchantments with them.At first, the web is gently spun.  Gradually, the symbolism becomes more apparent.  When we approach Jadis’ malignant castle, its foreboding darkness brings quickly to mind memories of the frightening domain of the Wicked Witch of the West. It is becoming clear that Jadis embodies our adversary the devil; when she demands the death of an ignorant young transgressor because of the “deep magic” which requires his blood, we recognize Old Testament law.  Woven throughout Narnia are the consequences of life not covered by the grace of God, but instead the dictate of heartless law.

With an almost hushed excitement, word is spread that the mighty lion Aslan has returned.  When we finally see him, there is no doubt who He is.  I don’t know that any scene in any movie has ever impacted me the way that the sight of Aslan, slowly but willingly climbing the steep stone steps to the altar of his death, did.  Hordes of demented, hideous beings thronged about, and converged violently.  I don’t believe His crucifixion has ever felt so real to me. When Aslan intoned, “It is finished”, it seemed as if the Spirit of God Himself was speaking.

When the stone altar on which Aslan was left dead, collapses thunderously, and we then see that He is not there…He has risen…I think I let out a shout!

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” proved to be a powerful and compelling film.  It left me jubilant, and renewed.

May it do so for anyone & everyone who chooses to watch it.