It Started Way before 9/11…

…a post from December, 2010…

Jesus, the Revolution & You

In the days following September 11, 2001, I heard something like this from the Lord : that He took no pleasure in that horrendous, vicious wounding of our nation. While many who stood behind pulpits, or listened from pews in front of them, preached judgment on America for her sins, I heard something else. I heard that a silent poison had been spreading, and was far more advanced than we knew. Stopping its spread required perseverance and a ’never forget’ mentality, and these in turn required such a wounding as the catastrophic tragedy that took place in New York city that morning. A lesser event could fade from memory, and not elicit the sustained vigilance necessary to combat terrorism and preserve our land.

This was how I understood what I believed was shared with me that day.

Today, I understand more. I understand the poison that had been spreading was…

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Freedom Entangled…

Despite the fact that I have many times thought, how fortunate we who live in America are, I don’t think I actually really ‘get it’. When it comes to being free, I’ve always known that lifestyle. For me, it comes with the territory! I’m accustomed to freedom, and without realizing it, assume it is the norm. I expect it.

…and though the headlines scream otherwise, I still don’t think differently. Freedom, like air & sunshine, seems to be a condition that is & should be everywhere – a daily reality.

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Jesus spoke of being free.

Christians (and I am one) often quote His words: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” It is important to remember that these words are settled within another truth: “If you continue in my Word…”

So it seems that steps must be taken, in a specific direction, to become & remain free. Forces are always at work to recapture. The flow of a free life can be halted, strangled, maybe stopped. There is a Divine remedy, though, to thwart &flag-barbed-wire-140 overcome the enemy who robs us of our freedom. There is a Way to turn back the tide.

The fact that there are these malevolent forces with evil designs upon our freedom, should tell us something about freedom itself – it is highly valuable, and a threat to those who seek to steal & destroy it. That we even HAVE it at all is miraculous, isn’t it? That we have it at all seems to say, You are favored. That it takes the Mighty God to give us freedom, and the way to keep – that we can’t have it simply by our own efforts – should teach us how precious it is.

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…and so I think that the spiritual battles fought to overcome a thieving enemy are played out in the real-world battles & wars that continually besiege the earth these days. The prize sought by this enemy isn’t really territory, or rulership & sovereignty. It is your freedom. Your life.

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Be aware of the preciousness of this prize. But also know that true, ultimate & lasting freedom has its roots in the Son of God, who said, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth  shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Start your journey there. If you’ve wandered too far out of this Way, go back.

He’s still there, and He hasn’t changed.

American flag & soldier_2

Iraq, ISIS, and Obama…Is There an Answer?

I was one of those (probably few) Americans who never believed we should have pulled out of Iraq. Naïve though I (probably) am, I still do not fault then President George W. Bush for invading this Middle Eastern country. I am (again, probably) one of the only people left who still thinks that ‘weapons of mass destruction’ was not a ploy to get us over there, in order to facilitate oil acquisitions or the money-making war machine. Color me obtuse, but I think there very well may have been WMDs in Iraq, that were somehow successfully re-located or deeply buried. We had to go there, be there, and if we had stayed there, today James Foley, Jeff Sotloff, David Haines and Alan Henning might still be with us.

I am still unable to comprehend how any thinking person could see a future where a barely stable, newly-freed-from-Sadaam Iraq would NOT be re-invaded by other, more vicious & hostile elements, if left to its own defenses. And how those elements would NOT gain a foothold, find a haven, then spread out from that haven, if unobstructed. ( And when I say ‘spread’, I don’t mean just in the Middle East.)  To me, the math was simple. I know a minimal US presence was supposed to remain in Iraq, but more than minimal was needed. Commanders on the ground knew it. But the majority of Americans and the Obama administration, along with the Iraqis themselves, chose otherwise.

Understandably.  Americans were war-weary, and attention & resources were badly needed on the domestic front.  But a long-term, very probable consequence of US troop withdrawal was…ignored? Or not even realized? And then one day we heard the horrifying news that almost overnight, Iraq was being overrun by brutal extremists, quickly gaining & holding ground. And spreading.

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Writing this article will not change what happened, and I certainly am no one of military or political influence, to shape a future course. So I don’t know why I’m even writing it. I just know that it’s been on my mind, doesn’t fade away, and so I need to do it.

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I mention now & again, that I am not and have never been a supporter of Barack Obama. I never trusted him, though in the earlier stages I didn’t know why. I also at times mention that I believe the Scriptures show us that it is God who raises up & brings low kings and governments. For this reason, I’ve stopped overtly ‘bashing’ the President. I can’t afford to expend precious time, energy & health in such negative efforts. Instead, I have to find, if I can, positives in this man and his administration.  If I can.  I also pray. Beyond that, it is God’s call and on His shoulders.

When you have previously opposed someone almost absolutely, it takes effort to listen with an open mind. In matters as serious as stopping the spread of ISIS, I want to be able to support this President’s thoughts and strategies. Watching him on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, believe me, I listened. Without prejudice.

I think my first & strongest impression of Barack Obama, as he answered host Steve Kroft’s questions, was of a deep, implacable assurance.  Not arrogance, nor intractability. He was sure of his answers.  His knowledgeable assessments and explanations – as I perceived them, at least – reassured me to some extent.  But they did more than that.  Even though the entire interview may have been staged, I realized how little I knew about such overwhelming atrocities as extremist invasions, and how ill-equipped I am to even consider faulting the judgments of the experts. In anything. Way above my pay grade.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean that my initial (and ongoing) impressions of the President were/are wrong.  Maybe my beliefs & ideas are valid ones, trumping existing policy if ever implemented.  But…I’m not the one in the saddle. I’m not the one with the years of hard experience & the knowledge that comes with that. Others are, and maybe I need to let that trump my opinions & impressions in life-and-death matters of international import. Maybe many of us should now see such things this way. Sometimes, the wrong person is in the job, engaging in a subversive agenda…yet still, some good results.

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…this being said, I don’t advise throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And what I mean by that, in this case, is I can’t disregard my own six years of severe distrust of this President. Going back to Victor Davis Hanson’s article “Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama”   – the first such article like that that I’d ever seen – through to Andrew McCarthy’s recent piece  The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist” (It’s a fictitious name the Obama administration invented to deceive us), Mark Levin’s declaring emphatically that Obama is in a full-blown cover up of ISIS, and everything else I’ve read, seen, or heard in between, I cannot pretend ignorance. I cannot blithely skip through the field of daisies, chasing butterflies & assuming everything is light-hearted and lovely. I know much better now.

…so while on the one hand, I am stepping out in faith, trusting God enough to trust President Obama in this instance and moment of global threat, on the other hand I’m saying, But I still don’t trust him, and probably never will.

I find my way out of this dichotomy in the words of King David: “LORD, my heart is not haughty…neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” (Psalm 131:1)   I remember that Proverbs 21:1 tells us that the LORD holds the king’s heart, and turns it “whithersoever He will.”  I, and all of us, must with one accord now have as much faith and hope in God’s hand on our leadership as we can, not only in prayer and fasting, but in our thinking and our words as well.

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Hands

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…More than just a Government ?

Last 4th. of July I began what I intend to make a tradition: I read the Declaration of Independence aloud. (So far, I’m the only person present at the reading.) This year, while reading those hallowed words that explained & proclaimed the American Revolutionary cause, I also began to get unexpected glimpses of parallels with things not necessarily ‘political’. These glimpses will, I know, become full visions, if I am not just imagining them. If I am not just imagining them, surely others have been graced with such…insight.

My conviction that the hand & works of the Lord run through all of American history, for a strong & definite purpose, grows every day. There is not much about which I have no doubt, but I have no doubt about that. I think I am coming late to the party! as the almost tangibleness of His invisible things become more manifest to me. We read in 2 Corinthians 4:17 about affliction “…working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” and are counseled to look at those things which are not seen. I suspect that the United States of America is a powerful representation of those unseen things.

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“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

What impacted me especially, in this statement in the beginning sentences of the Declaration of Independence, was the idea of the consent of the governed. That some form of government among men is necessary cannot be disputed. The heavy-handed concept of government might be inherently assumed. Clearly, with tyrants & dictators, it is. There, the people fall prey. Perhaps they have never known any other way.

(But there is another Way.)

God is on the march, and He has plans for men.

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We begin our endeavors with high hopes & grandiose plans. Then, we usually start hitting roadblocks, right? Sometimes, roadblocks hit us! As the sparks fly upward, man is born for trouble, we read in the book of Job. (Job 5:7) I hate that this is written, but…it is. We can usually safely assume, at the very least, glitches along the way; but often serious difficulties, conflicts & divisions rise up.

So it is & has been in governments among men. The reason for that is that governments are composed of men. Our Founders knew this well, and did not expect perfection, or a problem-free republic. In the Federalist No.51, James Madison astutely wrote: “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

‘Glitches’ began rearing their hostile heads early on in the young United States. Prior to the framing of the Constitution, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress had failed so miserably to govern that a return to monarchy was being considered as the only defense against chaos. George Washington doubted that the young nation could exist much longer without “…having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union…” (Athearn, Robert G., American Heritage series, Vol.4, ‘A New Nation’)  Such crises led to four months of constant, intense & sometimes bitter debate during the Constitutional Convention, where the Articles of Confederation were scrapped, and agreement was finally reached on the new Constitution of the United States of America.

Safeguards against the inclinations of man at his worst were implemented into our Constitution, to the best of our forefathers’ ability. In his closing speech at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, while acknowledging not entirely approving it, Benjamin Franklin also acknowledged astonishment that the finished Constitution of the United States of America approached so near to perfection as it does.” (Ravitch, Diane & Thernstrom, Abigail, eds., The Democracy Reader)

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So…men struggle to achieve the goal of a free nation. Such a nation requires government.  And perhaps we see in the heart, the form & the functioning of the government & citizens of the United States of America a parallel to the corporate body of Christ and the individuals within it. And thus, a glimpse into the heart & desire of God.

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Just as the American governing system is comprised of many persons who serve in a hierarchy of various offices & functions, so Christ operates His government on this earth through His people, who serve within a Divine structure, as many members of one Body. Yet “…all members have not the same office.” (Romans 12:4) The optimal functioning of the body of Christ on earth requires the willing participation of…His people. God want co-workers. (2 Cor.6:1, 5:19)  He wants us to agree with him, so that we can act in accord with His purposes. Although the Lord can do as He pleases, it is not in His heart to subvert us, or force us to work with Him. He wants our consent.

He wants the consent of those over whom He would be Lord.

Consent of the governed.

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Depending on your Point of View…

On this Memorial Day, 2013, I had occasion to re-read this post from May, 2009. Though a bit wordy and with a few mistakes, I decided to reblog it today.

May the mighty God continue to bless the United States of America, always imparting His mind and wisdom to our leaders.

Jesus, the Revolution & You

In my reading and studies of our nation’s beginnings, I am frequently struck by an angle or viewpoint that may not be the one usually pursued.

It is said that there are two sides to every story, right? (Personally, I maintain there are at least three…!) Have you ever considered viewing the American rebellion years leading to the events of 1776 from the perspective of the English monarchy? Not, of course, that England was in the right – it just makes for, may I say, an interesting approach. From our viewpoint, perhaps ‘absurd’ would be a better word, in light of where America stands today… I just find it intriguing how a situation, or an individual, can be perceived so very differently by those involved, or by on-lookers, based on…based on what? Needs? Desires? Duty? How we can be so absolutely certain of a thing, but time may soon…

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Constitutional Sovereignty…Yay or Nay?

 “The American response should be that we recognize no higher earthly authority than the Constitution, which no valid treaty can supersede or diminish.”  

 (John R. Bolton, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, concerning ‘international law’ versus Constitutional authority)

    

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In the Hillsdale College lecture series “Introduction to the Constitution”,  Part 4,  Dr. Larry Arnn, president of the College, distinguishes between Constitutional rule and bureaucratic, centralized government rule.  Both, he points out, are at work in our nation today.  He believes the time is coming when Americans will have to make a choice.  He uses the analogy of a house divided, stating that it cannot remain so indefinitely.  I wish he were wrong, but I fear he is not.  I wonder if the majority of Americans realize that such a crisis situation is and has been developing in our country, and that a day of reckoning may be appearing on our national horizon in our lifetimes.  If many American citizens are not even aware that liberty-threatening danger exists, how will they know what path & course to choose to avert that danger, when they are asked to do so?  Or when they must do so?

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of upholding the Constitution of the United States of America.  As I am not  a student of Constitutional law, I can only assume that interpreting it must often prove to be complicated, depending on circumstances – not so black and white.  Yet, in seeking this ultimate goal of upholding the Constitution, there are no shades of gray.  To the very best of our ability, abiding by this powerful founding document is the only wise choice for those who love liberty.

Our Constitution was not something created to be pushed aside or dismissed.  According to Dr. Arnn, the very word ‘constitution’ embodies the idea of something very big being set firmly in place.  In comparison to its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution waxed triumphant. Whereas the Articles allowed for no executive, judicial, taxing or enforcement powers to be given the central government of the new young nation, the Constitution authorized, arranged, and yet restrained these things for the common good.  Whereas the Articles rendered the government of those days so impotent that George Washington attributed the near-disaster at Valley Forge to it, and Thomas Jefferson, in a still Revolutionary 1781, lamented the future of the United States to be “going down hill” because of this weakness, the Constitution granted the government, through Congress, the right & duty to remedy such potential catastrophes. Congress was given the right to prepare for & declare war. (Article I, Sections 8.11 – 8.16)  The Articles of Confederation merely bonded the states in a “firm league of friendship with each other.”  Without some centralized authority, States could and often did disregard requests from a government that had no power.  Bickering & animosities, boundary quarrels, commerce and money issues developed between states.  Civil officials and American representatives overseas went unpaid, as well as our soldiers, who then mutinied.  State sovereignty was operating on overkill, resulting in riots, mobs, revolts, exorbitant taxation & business closures. Talk of monarchy was beginning to be heard, even among its opponents.  George Washington saw conditions “…fast verging to anarchy and confusion.”  He wrote, “I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power, which will pervade the whole Union…”   (Robert G. Athearn, The American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States, Vol. 4,  p.282,283 )   Radical government restructuring was critical to the survival of the United States of America. A convention called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation produced instead the supreme law of the land, the Constitution of the United States of America.

And that has made all the difference.

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy

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With the exception of the Internet and technological advancement in every area, I would submit that any kind of situation or crisis that may develop today existed back in the days of America’s founding.  Essentially, people are the same. We still want and need the same things today as our forefathers and their families did back then.  Sure, travel & communications time is greatly reduced and weapons have much greater destructive capabilities, but the people who produced these commodities & inventions…still people like those who sat in the Constitutional Convention, like those who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Saints & sinners alike.  Perhaps impatient, wanting freedom and/or power, needing to eat, wanting to socialize & marry…with the potential for both good & evil…able to think and speak and act.

We, and they, can go or could’ve gone either way, towards liberty, towards love…or over to the dark side.  (Sometimes within the same hour!)  So my question is, if this Constitution of the United States of America pulled a struggling, near desperate nation out of the jaws of the lion back then, and lifted her to heights only dreamed of  & debated about by other societies in other times, why would abiding by its principles not prove just as effective and beneficial today?

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…1776 yet Continues in my Heart…

“…those who study…the American Revolution and the years immediately  following it cannot escape the conclusion that this was…one of the great periods of history in which to be alive.”   (Robert G. Athearn, A New Nation, American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States, Volume 4)

We live our lives day-to-day, so many similar details & routines swallowing up those days.  This is the nature of things.  Pretty much unavoidable for many of us.  For me, these details & routines play out in the United States of America, the land first set aside for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Considering this, it seems that my experiences here should be much more vividly colored!  They should be pulsing, thrilling, and rivetingly focused.

Well, much of the time, they are not.

Splotched  on top of what they are not,  frequently enough to weigh me down, are  forays into things Islamic and Middle Eastern.  I am led down the paths of the knowledge of jihad, sharia law, homeland security, and counter-terrorism.  Because of these things, I have also felt the weight of the glory of profound honor for our troops.  Because of these things, every day, more & more I deeply respect and highly value all those who serve in our covert operations, our surveillance and our intelligence missions.  

I can live the life that I do, the way that I do it, because these men & women, these soldiers & patriots, serve, defend & protect the American homeland and the American way.  They make it possible.  Because they make it possible, the environment necessary for freedom to flourish and be maintained yet continues.  In that environment may yet continue debates over Constitutionality, national and political challenges, government scandals…protests, strikes & sit-ins…the good, the bad & the ugly can continue to come and go in these United  States of America.  And if you have the eyes and heart to see it, amidst & throughout it all, is the spirit of the men & women who started this ball rolling over 235 years ago.

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Let’s take Congress, for instance…

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – the American people complaining about their elected representatives in the House & Senate.  I am not saying the complaints are without good reason – I’m just saying, complaints frequently abound!

Well, so it was in 1783.

Of course, the scenario at that time was quite different from today’s.  The United States of America was barely just born.  Can you even imagine it?!!  On the verge of a final peace treaty with her former monarch, a fully free and independent new nation, burgeoning with magnificence, her potential boundless.  Where, oh where to begin?  Most fortunately for America, “Never has a young nation been so richly endowed with vigorous leaders” because  she “…had need of all the brilliance that the Founding Fathers could bring to bear…” (Athearn)   That potential, boundless though it was, was fraught with risk.  How does one harness freedom?  Yet without some sort of guiding rein…some form of structure…anarchy, chaos and destruction could be lying in wait in a rocky, uncharted future. 

At this time, the United States had the least government of any country in the civilized world.  A far cry from Washington, D.C today, isn’t it?  All over the Internet, I see cries for less government.  People hate Washington.  Many are the times I’ve read/heard the general sentiment, ‘Let’s fire ’em all, elect a whole new Congress’.  Turns out the Congress of post-Revolution days wasn’t all that popular either.  For different reasons, perhaps, but  I think it bears pointing out that Congress was “abused, laughed at, and cursed in every company”. (Athearn)  Congress was so abused, in fact, that in the summer of 1783, they literally fled for their very safety, from Philadelphia to Princeton, New Jersey. They had to escape  across the river!

Elias Boudinot

Aggravated to the point of mutinous revolt, Philadelphia & Lancaster troops surrounded Congress Assembled at Independence Hall, demanding back pay for their military service. Both the Congress and its President, Elias Boudinot, were held hostage there until they somehow managed to slip away and seek the protection of the New Jersey militia. 

…sooo…irate, disgruntled citizens of the United States of America, thronging the streets of Philadelphia, protesting economic conditions & demanding satisfaction…bearing arms, no less!…sounds like America to me!  The way it is, the way it was and the way it was intended to be. 

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Sadly – yet almost with a twist of wry humor – not only were citizens disgusted with Congress, it sounds like even Congress was disgusted with itself.  There was a six month period, through 1785 into 1786, during which there were only three days “when enough members were present to conduct business.”  This kind of discontent & frustration reminds me of  the mood often prevalent at my place of employment – many of us, if we did not need the money, would just throw in the towel.  One scenario government, the other civilian, centuries apart yet with a familiar ring  –  America then, America now. 

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Independence Hall

…lest I should be remiss and overlook an opportunity to encourage, let me point out here that because of the conditions & circumstances producing the above events, and others soon to follow, a Philadelphia convention was eventually called, seeking remedies.  That convention resulted in the unparalleled Constitution of the United States of America.
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