Monday, December 17, 2012

The Space Between

More gun control! Better legislation regarding the mentally disturbed! We raise our voices to say something that will help us somehow endure the painful insanity of 20 dead children in Connecticut. 

 We frantically search our mind for anything that will move us back from this horrible aberration and return us to the peacefulness of normal. And, no doubt, in the intensity of our present emotions, we will find new mechanics to make our society more and better controlled.

And it seems we must do this for the sake of our own sanity. Because we know, deep down, that what happened at Sandy Hook and in many other such instances is, on some level, endemic to the species. 

 And, while most of us, on a normal day, would rather die, ourselves, than harm a child, we also know very well that, as a group, we are not absolutely impervious to lapses in the certainty of normal. So, we are tormented by the possibility of those abnormal days.

Maybe, our slip will stem from mental illness, as in Sandy Hook. Maybe it will come through a moment of road rage. Maybe aberration will find us in a moment deluged by alcohol. Or, maybe we will lose ourselves because of the fierce emotions of a broken heart, or some grinding abuse, or some deep disappointment.

There are a thousand directions from which our variance can come. And that awareness frightens us as a species. And so we look for better ways to contain ourselves and make our behavior more certain.

Many do look to laws and legislation. But, while those things are helpful and necessary, they are not really the headwaters of the solution – especially in a society as free as ours. 

 With this higher level of personal freedom, also comes the opportunity for higher levels of personal and social misconduct. And, in fact, the progressing reality in America is that the society has very intentionally moved away from the mechanisms which help us hold at bay the dark side of liberty.

For example, we have more recently embraced a parental attitude which says it’s OK to dispense with implanting a respect for the values and authority of a holy God in the heart of our children? But, is it really OK to send a child into adulthood and into society without their own well vetted moral compass?

What, then, will guide them when they are deciding whether or not to drink and drive, or use drugs, or resort to violence? Will we, as parents, always be there when they are deciding whether or not to risk their future to premarital sex? 

 Is it really reasonable to believe that we will always be there to guide them every time they are faced with reckless, or dangerous, or immoral choices? We, absolutely will not.

But, God can be there. He can accompany them through every moment of every day in their mind, their value system, and their conscience. And yet, as a society, we are quickly trending away from His influence on the hearts and minds of our children – and on our own, for that matter.

As a further example of this vector, we have largely surrendered our children to base and violent movies and video games while neglecting their exposure to the Church and the Bible? And we seem also to have surrendered to the idea that public schools and peer groups are an adequate replacement for loving and available parents wielding a resolute “veto power” and well proven values to pass along?

If, in the wrenching emotions of such national tragedies as Sandy Hook, we are desperately looking for redemption and answers, we would be well served to simply return to the old ones. The best way to hold the line against social aberrations and the excesses of freedom is to begin with the inner person. Our best hope is to reinvest ourselves in the cultivation of a government within the heart of the citizen.

The larger reality is this.  A society that is not first governed in the heart of its citizens is not truly governed at all.
This is true because, in the space between the gaze of a police officer, and the reach of law, and the decrees of political governments, people will always do what they want to do. And that space where there are no external controls always exists.

So, the real hope of any society is that the heart of its people will simply incline to good and right things. Then, we are truly governed – even in the space where no one sees.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Double Down Devotion

OK, I admit it. I listen to the politicians talk in their capital rotunda interviews. I listen to the pundits give analysis. And I listen to my people (family and friends) making their case, expressing their point of view, decrying conditions, defining the facts as they see them. And, I do the same, myself.

But, my question is this. Who in the world are we all talking to?
We all go on and on, as though we were making our case before some “Cosmic Political Referee” who might be persuaded to side with us and settle the issues once and for all. And sometimes, it seems we imagine some vast, untapped voter pool who can be persuaded to come along beside us and suddenly change the balance of power in our favor.

Really?  Who are we kidding? That empowered political referee is just not out there? And, that unspoken voter pool is silent for a reason – they don’t exist.

The hard reality which patriotic, conservative Americans must face is that no political reinforcements are coming. There simply aren’t any.

So, here is my suggestion. Why don’t we stop appealing to some imaginary political force, and start appealing to the supreme force in the universe. And, instead of spending so much time "talking to the hand" of those who adamantly oppose us, why don’t we simply take the hand of the One who made us.

If we have a case to make, doesn’t it make more sense to get on our knees in humility and make it to Almighty God? Isn’t that smarter than talking to the uninterested, the unempowered, and the un-convincible? Isn’t it better to take that same level of energy, and angst, and intellect and aim it toward someone who actually has the power to change the situation? Did I mention that He is - ALMIGHTY!

If we can persuade Him to our cause – nothing else really matters. So, maybe we ought to stop addressing our “imaginary friends” and our avowed political enemies, and just persuade Him, convince Him, sway Him to act in our behalf.

If we're looking for a "Referee," it's God. The Divine Referee is the only one who actually has the power to settle this life and death argument between the darkness of liberalism and enlightened America? And, we will lose this argument to the Darkness without His help.

So, as patriotic Americans, isn't the better course to simply embrace a real lifestyle upgrade? Could we not just double down on a new level of personal devotion to, and respect for, God?

This is the real key to our delimma. It is only as God notices a rising tide of humility and devotion in the national character, that He will be persuaded to arrest the social and financial devastation that militant liberalism is inflicting on this nation.

"Double Down Devotion" - it's a much better plan than trying to talk our way out of this mess with our “imaginary friends.”

           *****

You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart - God

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Interpretations

I hope you can bear with me for three short paragraphs while I wax a bit abstract:

When we look beyond the small panoramas of the daily tedium, we realize that, indeed, the Apostle John had it right. In his writings, he portrays life in terms of Light and Darkness, and the tension which exists between the two. *1

We now know the meaning of the apostle’s analogy. The Light represents an accurate perception of reality, or truth - especially God’s truth. The Darkness represents a false interpretation of reality, or delusion - especially the delusions authored by Satan. So, the idea is that our perception of reality is defined by one or the other of these views.

Thus, either the divine voice interprets reality to our mind, giving us a true perspective on the circumstances of life. Or, the satanic voice interprets our reality with a deceptive alternative view, so that we no longer see reality correctly - as God sees it.

Alright, I’m done with “waxing.” Now, let’s look at how these ideas play out in the more concrete terms of this American culture.

America, in service to God’s purpose, was raised up by Him for a very specific reason. It was to champion the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the modern world. There are many more facets to America's existence. But, this is God's priority for her.

As the practical means to serve that purpose, God has used American capitalism. And, in the process, He taught the culture to embrace these primary values: personal liberty, personal responsibility, charity, and faith. And from these economic and philosophical threads the Creator has woven the unique fabric of the American culture.

And, though there have been growing pains, glitches, and mistakes along the way, for America’s first two hundred years, this mix has been a winning combination. This blend of elements has, indeed, enabled the nation to accomplish its divine purpose. 

 It has also made the nation benevolent beyond any other. It has made her ever more just. And, it has made her broadly and wildly affluent.

Thus, America has truly been a bright and shining reflector of God’s light and goodness to all peoples of the modern world. And, bottom line, the Darkness “ain’t” one bit happy about that.
The Darkness, the satanic antithesis to God’s light, has its own designs for America. The intention of the Darkness is to bring down this instrument of divine enlightenment. And it has found willing servants for its plan in the leadership of the Democrat Party and their supporting network of elitists and "sell out" special interest groups.

Under the pretentious banner of “Social Justice,” these servants of the Darkness, whether wittingly or unwittingly, intend to rip apart the good fabric of American life, and reweave it into a much more sinister pattern. Their intention is to use the coarse fibers of Marxist Socialism to do this. This political philosophy necessarily leads to a demanding and intrusive central government, much diminished civil rights, and the micro regulation of citizens and institutions.

The Democrat plan to achieve this transformation of the American culture is really just a simple one-liner. It goes like this. “By whatever means - make every citizen and institution dependent on (and therefore subject to) the central government.”

So, for example, states are made dependent by the money which is returned to them from federal funds for transportation, education, social programs, etc. Business is made beholden to government through contracts, loans, crony capitalism, and bail outs, as well as the need for favorable laws and regulations. Citizens are made dependent on the government through give-away and entitlement programs, government provided medical care, retirement and disability programs, etc.
And on and on it goes, the plan being to eventually engulf all of our citizens and institutions in a similar way. Then, as the number of “federal sucklings” swells to a sufficient level, the harsh intent of these Socialist schemers will emerge as an empowered national tactic - without pretense: “Do as we wish or know the pain of our disapproval.”

The Darkness and the liberal elitists who serve it have every intention of extinguishing the bright light of America by this simple, “sell your soul to us” method. And, they intend to do so while keeping their treachery carefully cloaked under noble sounding rhetoric and the pretext of serving the "higher social conscience.”

But, in truth, the Darkness cares nothing for any moral high ground, social or otherwise. The Darkness cares only about extinguishing the light of God’s love and benevolence. Their real intention is to remake America, and ultimately the world, into a place where only the views of the Darkness shape and rule reality.

Indeed, American politics do not happen in an existential vacuum. As do all other things, they occur, just as John indicated, in the context of this larger struggle between true Light and deceptive Darkness. And, the vortex of this great conflict draws all of us in, on one side or the other. Be assured, our political affiliations in these days make very clear the true allegiance of our soul.

May a merciful God dispel the liberal darkness in America before its natural outflows can become our just deserts.






*1. John 3:16 – 20

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Big Disconnect

There are two realities which we must embrace in this life in order to “get it right.” First we should embrace the reality that God is holy. And second, we should understand that humanity remains always accountable to His holy value system.

So, “The Big Drama” tends to go down like this. In America, we have many people who, like unruly children at play on a long summer day, have somehow dismissed the fact that "Dad" will be home at five o’clock. So, as the day wears on, they simply ignore his established rules for the family.

And, when mother Wisdom attempts to correct them in order to save them from later punishment - nothing doing. They only become more incorrigible, choosing still to ignore the five o’clock realities. 

 Why, because, for them, they are not realities. They are merely the idle threats of a prudish old woman with antique ideas and not one clue when it comes to having "real fun" in life.

So, they write off Wisdom. And they write off the rules. And, they do as they please, and all the more so as the day wears on, eventually throwing out even their respect for the Rule Maker.

Thus, is the big disconnect in this present American culture. It is a widespread kind of mental oblivion when it comes to God's governing values. In fact, we have many "wayward children" who have so far dismissed the Rule Maker from their personal world view that He is simply a non-issue for them.

So, for example, these disobedient children have no reservations about throwing off the God defined sexual mores’. Thus, they easily embrace twisted, and base sexual behavior as in same sex pairings. 

 These "care free" citizens often think it fine to murder children in their mother’s womb as a matter of personal convenience. They tend to believe it better to live by the expedient of the moment than by any divine rule.

And, this great disconnect has, indeed, broadly touched our culture. Thus, in every venue of our national life, we are now divided by the vastly differing values between those who embrace a Holy God and those who don't.
And because of this division in America - for now - there is no longer a universally recognized moral referee. Nor is there any longer an argument-settling set of values, such as we once knew through God's preeminence in the nation.

And sadly - for now - there is no decisive way to expose the folley of these wayward children of the darkness. There is no way to win the intellectual argument of right and wrong with them. Their arrogant disconnect with the truth, and the authority behind it, is so complete that there is simply no basis for explanation. They have so thoroughly replaced the divine value system with the confused concoctions of their own "higher conscience" that God's truth has become incomprehensible to them.

So - for now – we are left with only this maddening stalemate between the enlightened values of God and the dark values of the disconnected. Yet, there remain two possibilities for breaking this stalemate and once again establishing God's truth in the nation.

The first is the possibility of a Spiritual Revival in the country. We can always hope, and we should already be praying that the Holy Spirit would sweep over our land to once again refresh a national embrace of our Creator and His holy values. And, this is certainly the course which faith and true charity would choose.

However, this failing, the alternative means of correction remains eminent. And this alternative has nothing to do with a voluntary response. It has only to do with the hour.  The reality is - It's almost "five o’clock."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Attacking The Arrow

The writer of Proverbs said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." So, that wise writer advises us to watch out for the condition of our heart "with all diligence." But it would seem that such scrutiny and self-discipline are not a priority for most in the country today.

As a result, the collective heart of our nation has become degraded. It is a simple matter of mathematics. Within a nation there are many individual hearts which, when taken together, create a kind of "composite national heart." And the big numbers are on the side of baseness these days.

However, I was once told that, in one way, it is safer to hunt a lion with a bow and arrow than with a gun. (Stay with me here. I know that last turn was a tight one, but we gotta' go to Africa, just for a minute to finish this conversation.) 

It seems that if the archer is off the mark, the lion sees the arrow that has wounded him and attacks the arrow, believing it to be the source of his trouble. So, the archer stays safe.

But, in the case of the gun, if the shot is not well placed, the lion will turn and attack the hunter. Because he cannot see the bullet, he attributes his pain to the right source.

The point? To solve our national problems, we must stop merely attacking the arrow. It may be the source of our pain, but it is not the root of our problem. We certainly have to take care of practical, everyday political and fiscal concerns; but, we must never forget that those things are only "the arrows."

The real source of our trouble lies within ourselves. The issues of life, as the proverb says, always, in reality, revolve around the condition of the heart. There would have been no Enron debacle had the CEO of the company simply had a good heart. 

There would have been no need for a Wall Street bailout, if the Wall Street players were well governed within. Fanny Mae, and Freddy Mac, and the Social Security Trust Fund would be perfectly healthy today if good hearts had been directing and managing those institutions.

When you think about it, a nation of people not governed in their hearts is not really governed at all. If we only behave and do the right thing when someone is looking, with what then are we left. We are left with the necessity of a police state.

But, in fact, even then, we cannot hire enough policemen; we cannot pass enough laws; we cannot form enough oversight committees to govern a nation that has no inner, heart government.

 It is not the constitution and the laws of this republic which distinguish it and make it great. It is the righteous hearts which embrace and honor those things.

Our basic instinct is, of course, to take the most direct action to stop our pain. So, we just "attack the arrow." We make up our minds to hire and fire our politicians. We develop new economic strategies, etc. etc., etc.
But, in reality, we don’t have a political problem (though we do). We don’t have economic problems (though we obviously do). But, what we have first is a heart problem. 

We are not well governed within, as a people. And, until we are, no matter how intensely we wrestle with the "arrows," the pain will just keep on coming.

How do you stop the demise of a nation? You point it back to God, the Fixer of Hearts, and let Him do His work on a national scale. This may not seem the most direct solution; but, in fact, it is the only course which will correct the mathematics of good and evil in the national heart.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Above All Keeping

Nations, like people, draw their greatness from their value system. And, like people, they rise and fall on the worth of that value system.

Our system of values, whether national or personal, is composed of various standards, morals, ethics, ideals, principals, tenets, and beliefs which are important to us, and thus deeply held. And these values shape who we are, what we do, the quality and worth of our existence, and generally, how we end up.

The large difference between our personal value system and our national value system is, of course, the “sharing” aspect. Our national value system is distilled from the entirety of the population to become only those values which we hold in common. Our national values are those values which we are willing, as a nation, to embrace and employ to establish order and guide our course forward.

And so, we come to the present American dilemma. We are conflicted, as a nation. We are no longer certain who we are or what we should do, because our individual citizens have become very diverse in the values they hold. Thus, we can no longer distill from our whole society a clear set of deeply and widely held beliefs. So, we have become “a house seriously divided.”

From our early history up to the last several decades, Americans were broadly impacted by the Christian world view, if not the faith, itself. The nation, as a whole, held a widespread confidence in the values which Christianity brings with it. Thus, the vast majority of our citizens have historically believed in and actually employed those values to shape their character and guide their actions.

These deeply held values include honesty and integrity, love and respect of fellow man, respect for human life, and accountability and responsibility toward others. They include personal initiative, the belief that good must and will prevail, mercy and forgiveness, a concern for character and reputation. They also include charity and hospitality, a deep respect for justice and fairness, respect for all things holy, humility before men, and a profound humility before Almighty God.

Now, however, these and other Christian values are no longer settled issues within the American conscience or consciousness. Presently, all are being vehemently challenged in the national debate. And these proven and precious tools for a sturdy social construction are coming to disuse by increasing numbers of our citizens.

And, so much so, that the loss of our cultural grip on these worthy values, and the slippage of their grip on us, has now become undeniable. Realistically, we are forced to admit – the Christian value system is no longer efficiently and effectively shaping the composite character of the country, and less so with each passing year.

Now, we are considering, and far too often choosing, a competing set of values. They are the values of the Darkness. And they only ever lead to a diminished quality of life and ultimate failure.

This value system includes such values as a preference for the momentary expedient over principle, a disapproval of absolutes, cheating, selfishness, greed, minimal investment, baseness, forcefulness, hyper-materialism, hypocrisy, subversion, irresponsibility, fatalism, and the highest levels of arrogance - to mention a few.

More recently, it has been these dark values which are enjoying a momentum in the "national heart." Thus, these qualities are, more and more, shaping our national character and behavior. And already we can easily note their diminishing impact of the quality of life in America.

And the present societal condition is conducive for that trend to continue. We have a serious breakdown of the parental role. We have institutionalized the philosophy and teachings of the Darkness in our schools.

Add to these, the multi-form media presence which is constantly promoting ugliness in the culture, and the present weak influence of the Church, and the stage is well set for an eminent social catastrophe in America.

Nevertheless, ultimately, it is all about the value system. Whether we speak of a nation or the individuals within it, the proposition is simple and intrinsic to our existence. We do, indeed, rise and fall on the quality of our value system.

The Bible puts it this way, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” No individual is truly well governed unless he or she is well governed in the heart. And no nation is truly well governed unless it is well governed in the hearts of the vast majority of its citizens. So, as usual, the Bible provides the key to success, both for Americans - and for America.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Genesis Voice

Long ago, in a perfect place, a voice was heard making promises. It was a smooth voice, as articulate as a scholar, and as affable as a pleasant friend. Essentially, it said this, "I can show you a better way forward. All you have to do is believe in yourself. Then, you can cast off the old paradigms, with all of their restrictions, and embrace a new truth which will place your destiny firmly in your own hands and change everything."

And that treacherous voice was, in part, exactly right. Everything did change. Paradise was immediately lost. Mankind became entirely broken - and broken hearted. Death became an invariable part of the human existence. And real access to God was lost.

And, no doubt, at the end of it all, that same dark voice could be heard laughing a sinister laugh of sarcastic satisfaction. "See," the serpent must certainly have quipped to the first couple, "everything has changed, just as I promised. Enjoy." And, for the first time, mankind tasted the deep bitterness of what it is to be a very great fool.

I hold a simple world view. It goes like this: "There are really just two primary influences in the world." One is God’s. His influence is the expression of all that is good, and descent, and worthy, and holy in life. The Godly influence always promotes an agenda of true and pure goodness.

The second primary influence is Satan’s. It is always dark and deceptive, employing treacherous tactics to enable the subversive purposes of evil. This Satanic influence is never straightforward, or honest, or truthful.

So, these two influences, with their opposing agendas, are really the only two basic influences in the world. The rest of us are merely subscribers and/or amplifiers to one or the other of these. 

It doesn’t really matter if we are a president, a pauper, a pinhead or a patriot. Whenever any of us express our own influence upon our world, verbally or otherwise, we are really only identifying with one or the other of these two primary voices and their respective agendas of good or evil.

I came to this ingenious way of sorting things out because of something Jesus said in the Gospel of John, chapter 8. There, He said to some who could not grasp His point of view, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it... And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."

Now, I know that to share this simple binary world view with Jesus is to do so at the expense of my own credibility with some people. And that is especially the case with those elitists who fancy themselves the more sophisticated thinkers of our time, the world’s unassailable "higher consciousness," and thus, the best intellectual hope of the species. However, my thinking is that, at the point of that last conclusion, they may want to look toward their own credibility, rather than bother with assessing mine.

But, be that as it may, here is what I know. The Darkness has 3 kinds of "children". Some are very aware and committed to the causes of Satan. They are the true devotees to the dark agenda. They understand perfectly, the hatefulness, the violence, and the treachery with which they are involved. And, they are deeply committed to getting it done.

Then there are others who are merely "fellow travelers" with the dark crowd. These cohorts are not quite so aware or committed, but they have some vested interest in the darkness. These subscribers often couldn’t care less about good and evil, moral or immoral. They really don’t care whose voice they are listening to or following, as long as it promises prosperity etc. So, for the possibility of some momentary gratification, they will ride anybody’s bus - even Satan’s.

And still others in our culture are simply the dupes of the Darkness. These are the na├»ve’ and the deluded. These are the poor, sad creatures who sincerely believe themselves to be children of light, people of the higher conscience. They have no idea that they are actually serving the dark agency.

So, these well-intentioned people are drawn in by noble and conscientious endeavors which they can heartily believe in. But, whether by choice or delusion, they never quite come to see the other end of the dark influence which advocates for the killing of innocent unborns, for example, or the legitimizing of immoralities like homosexuality and gay marriage. Indeed, their ignorance makes them completely the dupes of the Darkness.

So, Jesus has it right. In our American culture, as in every other, there are those, of whatever level of commitment, who loyally follow this articulate, high sounding, and affable voice of the Darkness. And, as the children of the Darkness, they quickly dismiss the divine ideas of right and wrong, to enlarge their own.

Nevertheless, using the simple lens through which Jesus and I view the world, it becomes easy to distinguish the light of God’s graceful impact from the darkness of Satanic treachery. And, in doing so, one thing becomes very obvious.

If the present culture does not alter its present level of involvement with the Darkness, we are very certainly destined to hear that sinister Satanic laugh once again.
One more time, that gloating, sarcastic voice will surely utter, over the smoldering ash heap of our national greatness, "See, everything is changed, just as I promised." And one more time, we in America will taste the deep bitterness of what it means to be a very great fool. May God forbid.