The Silence of Good Men

Good men are distracted

Many good men – especially Christian men have become relatively silent when it comes to speaking up in regards to current events and politically related discussions. Many good men avoid doing anything politically related for various reasons. One obvious reason is that we have become too easily distracted.

Distractions can be leisure activities, entertainment, movies, television, phones, computers, sports, video games, etc. That doesn’t mean that we should avoid these things completely. Good men need time to their leisure. The point is that these things should not take priority over the Lord, our families, or our nation. Yet that is exactly what has happened to many good men. And that is part of the reason that our nation is suffering so much. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Many men don’t know how to be courageous because they have experienced little discomfort in life. As Americans, we have experienced a great deal of luxury and comfort. When we become comfortable in our lives, we must be reminded that we still have the responsibility to live our lives in a courageous manner. We must stand for that which God calls good. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

Good men are afraid

There are so many things wrong in our nation, which has led to many men giving in to their fears. Many good men believe that life is hopeless. We believe that our current situation is to dark to confront. Yet, in the midst of difficulty God calls us to… “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

We need to stop telling ourselves that the enemy is too great. We need to remember that the Lord is with us wherever we go and whatever we do. He will fight for us, but we need to show up. Our trust in the Lord should always conquer our fears of what other humans can do to us. “In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” Psalm 56:4

Good men are confused

We have convinced ourselves that we shouldn’t participate in politics, but participating in those things that distract us seems to be completely acceptable. The idea that salvation is the only thing Christians should discuss is a completely false, but popular belief these days. That is not to downplay the high importance of speaking about salvation. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) clearly states that we are to “make disciples of all the nations”. Yet, Jesus also stated… “teach[ing] them to observe all that I commanded you“. Jesus commands us to teach others of every command He has given us.

Therefore, we are free to discuss whatever we have been previously commanded by God. Paul the Apostle spoke in regards to current events in his time. Of course, Jesus himself spoke about the issues that were at hand at that time. The issues in those days and the issues we face today are all politically related, since politics is simply the way we govern our lives. And God’s word declares that we are to expose evil deeds of all kinds… “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” Ephesians 5:11

Good men should not be confused about speaking the truth. Jesus came to testify to the truth; all of it (John 18:37). Good men need to be reminded of their responsibilities to the Lord, their families, and their country. Our relationships with the Lord would grow. Our relationships with our families would grow. And our nation would be in a lot better shape. Our silence and our lack of action has led us to this point, so we must no longer be silent and we must take action. “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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And They Called it Independence Day

A timely reminder

As Britain has recently demonstrated, national independence is still valued by a large number of people in the world. #Brexit became a more trendy hashtag than many members of media might have originally expected, once the final vote came through. And as Britain exited the European Union, many Americans were reminded of another quest for independence, which occurred almost 250 years ago.

The founding father’s reasoning for declaring national independence was in large part due to their desire to worship God as they believed He led them to. Consider the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights… “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The founding father’s didn’t want the government to force people to worship based upon laws given by the state. The First Amendment was written with the idea of people freely worshiping God in mind.

National independence is good

National independence has at times been criticized by Christians. It has been said that the independence that we have experienced in the United States has led to apathy among Christians. And that apathy has led to lukewarm faith. However, it can be argued that our apathy has been accelerated much more by our own selfishness and sinfulness as a group of individuals, than our experiencing independence as a nation. Apathy is not produced by national independence or the lack there of. Apathy is produced by a lack of faith or a lack in our individual relationships with Christ.

We have become apathetic because we have forgotten how to love God and one another. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

God made the nations so that they would inhabit the whole earth (Acts 17:26), but not for the nations to become dependent on each other. He made the nations independent so they could independently remain dependent on Him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” Psalm 33:12

Pursuit of happiness

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” While many debate the intent behind the founding father’s reference to a “pursuit of happiness”, it seems reasonable to believe that at least some of them believed that it equated to the pursuit of God.

“There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation, than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in its popular sense, as referring to the immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false.” James Madison

As we celebrate this Independence Day, may we remember that God gave us independence and the freedom that we have so that we would choose and pursue Him… “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him…” Deuteronomy 30:20

Sword Free Zones

That time Jesus banned swords

Sword violence was rampant while Jesus lived on the earth. Fortunately for those who lived during that time, Jesus issued a decree and banned swords from certain areas of the nations. Thankfully, sword violence decreased dramatically once Jesus established a law that permanently removed swords from those particular areas. Potential criminals agreed to no longer carry swords in those areas and the people were safe.

Does that story sound accurate? It shouldn’t, because it isn’t true. Yet it is the same type of fantasy land that some Christians live in today. Our nation experienced another tragedy last week and some Christians believe that the way to fix the issue is by making it more difficult for people to own firearms. They believe in so called “common sense” gun laws and proclaim that… “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”.

Why didn’t Jesus ban swords or create sword free zones when He walked the earth? He certainly had the authority to. That would have brought peace to the earth, right? No, but the answer is quite simple. Jesus knows where violence comes from. Violence is rooted in sin. Our sinful desires are what cause us to fight, steal, and murder. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2

Weapons aren’t the problem

Sword free zones wouldn’t have solved anything, because mankind is rebellious to God. Mankind has experienced murder from almost the very beginning. Cain killed Abel with what some scholars believe was a rock (Genesis 4:8). David killed Goliath with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17:49). Members of the Sanhedrin stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:59-60). Things haven’t changed much throughout history. Sinful mankind will use just about any tool they can get their hands on to murder.

Jesus knows that weapons are not the cause for murder. Jesus knows that murder comes from the sin in our hearts. And Jesus knows that banning weapons does not change hearts. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:19

Die by the sword

Jesus never told his disciples to get rid of their swords. In fact, Jesus told his disciples to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus did say the following words… “Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

However, those words must be taken in context. Jesus was speaking directly to Peter after he cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus was telling Peter that he would die if he didn’t sheath his sword. It was not a blanket statement in regards to owning or carrying weapons.

Instead of advocating against firearms, we should be praying for the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, along with their families. We should be seeking Jesus and asking that our hearts would be right with Him. We should confess our sins to Him and repent. We should be praying that He heals our land. “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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

The Great Conspiracy Against Jesus

Conspiracy theorists are crazy

Mel Gibson starred in the 1997 movie “Conspiracy Theory“, and portrayed a seemingly crazy man (Jerry Fletcher), who believed in a variety of conspiracy theories. It turns out that he was correct about at least one of the conspiracy theories he believed in, as Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart) actually attempted to keep conspiratorial secrets hidden by drugging and abusing him.

We should admit the fact that conspiracy theorists are crazy, right? And since they are crazy, it is perfectly acceptable to condemn them and look down upon them, right? After all, the Bible doesn’t speak to conspiracy theories or even mention the word conspiracy. The majority of people don’t seem to believe in conspiracy theories, so why should we? Why should we believe in conspiracy theories, when the government, Hollywood, and mainstream media generally reject such crazy ideas?

After all, conspiracy theories such as MKUltra are absurd, right? As Lee Corso (ESPN, College Game Day) would say, “not so fast, my friend”. It turns out that MKUltra was proven to be a very real mind-control test that was authorized by the CIA in 1953. Test subjects were given mind altering drugs, such as LSD, while having the impression they were assisting in medical research. The MKUltra conspiracy theory was found to be a conspiracy fact in the 1970’s.

Jesus is arrested

It is interesting how often Christians use the phrase “don’t judge people”, yet when someone mentions a conspiracy theory, many Christians harshly criticize and reject the conspiracy theorist. Many times we judge others simply because their ideas don’t conform to our preconceived notions of truth. Yet, how do we know that our preconceived notions of truth are correct? Have we really researched everything we believe to be true?

The word conspiracy is found in the Bible. While different words (schemed, consulted, plotted) are used in place of conspiracy in some translations, they all have essentially the same definition. In fact, the most important conspiracy of all time is recorded in the book of Matthew. “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” Matthew 26:3-4

Jesus was the victim of a great conspiracy. The chief priests and elders conspired against Jesus by having Him arrested and killed. Of course, Judas played a role in the conspiracy against Jesus as well. All this to say, that if you believe God’s word to be true, you also believe in at least one conspiracy theory that is now known as conspiracy fact. Interestingly enough, the disciples seemed to believe Jesus when He foretold of this conspiracy. “…”Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?””

Conspiracies do exist

A conspiracy is defined as “a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal”. Therefore, a conspiracy theory is simply a belief of a plan between two or more people to cause harm. These days there are too many conspiracy theories to even begin to keep track of. And the truth is that there are some conspiracy theories that are factual and some that are fiction. It is as simple as that. Since not all conspiracy theories are fiction, we should at least be open to hearing about them.

Don’t be fooled into believing that all conspiracy theories are true, either. There are some conspiracy theories that are far from the truth. We shouldn’t believe everything we read or hear (1 John 4:1). However, we should be willing to follow the truth wherever it leads us. Whether we are watching t.v., listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, searching the internet, or talking to friends, we should be cautious in what we believe. Pray to the Lord for direction in the things you should believe to be true and research multiple sources before arriving at a conclusion. “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15

At the same time, don’t be too quick to dismiss someone’s thoughts just because they are different then your own. Maybe you will learn something from someone else, if you take the time to listen to what they have to say. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 Most importantly, if you don’t know what to believe, take it to the Lord. He will guide you to the truth!

Jesus is not a Socialist

Jesus doesn’t endorse Socialism

Socialism is not a new idea. As a political movement, socialism began during the Industrial Revolution. However, it has been a thought in the minds of men and women for much longer. There are those who say that even Jesus taught us the principles of Socialism. Although, it goes without saying that many people have a misunderstanding of what socialism is and what Jesus teaches in regards to money.

Socialist apologists explain that the greatest benefit of Socialism is that it creates equality and it provides prosperity for all. Socialism is “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies” (Merriam-Webster). The key ingredient in Socialism is government control.

Jesus’ teachings on money are not an endorsement of socialism. Socialism is government enforcement of the redistribution of wealth. Jesus clearly teaches us to make a choice to give what He has first given us, void of government intervention. “Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ~ Matthew 19:21

Pay your taxes

Jesus commands us to pay our taxes (Matthew 22:21). Paying our taxes involves an act of obedience to Him. It is tempting to view taxation as an us versus them mentality. However, this command from Jesus applies to both citizens and government officials. “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7

Jesus commands all of us to “give what you owe them”, so it is applicable to the tax payer and the tax collector (e.g. Matthew). Jesus does not condone government abuse of collecting taxes. Biblically speaking, taxes are used to collect money for the benefit of the nation, state, or city (Ezra 6:8). Taxation becomes theft when one individual’s money is taken from them and given to someone else.

That doesn’t mean we should stop paying our taxes when the government abuses their power with that money. Jesus did not give us conditions for paying our taxes. However, it does mean that the government officials who abuse their powers are accountable to God for their sins. Taxation for the purpose of legal plunder is not glorifying to Jesus. It is theft! And God’s word declares to everyone… “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

Jesus desires generosity

God’s word makes it clear that Jesus is not a Socialist. To be fair, Jesus is not a Capitalist either. He is our king! Although free market Capitalism most closely resembles Jesus’ teachings in regards to money. Capitalism in its purest form allows individuals to make choices in regards to what they do with the money they have been blessed with. Skeptics of the free market claim that Capitalism is flawed because it leads people to greed. However, this is a flawed perspective. Greed abounds in any economic system (even Socialism), because we are sinful beings.

Socialism does not make us equal. In fact, it does almost the exact opposite. Socialism takes from some and gives to others. Eventually it leads to less production, since many individuals no longer desire to work once they no longer have to. In essence, Socialism promotes laziness. Socialism may be the radical idea of sharing, but not the kind of sharing that Jesus teaches. Jesus never commanded the government to force us to be generous. He commands individuals to be generous by giving to the poor out of love.