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America, Look Up

The importance of America returning to Christian principles and Traditional Family Values

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Christians and Guns

Are You Distracted?


As a child, I heard adults say on many occasions that time seems to fly by faster as one ages.  Honestly, I never knew the reality of that statement until becoming an adult.  It does seem each year passes by at a faster clip.  Here we sit on the eve of 2016 and I’m just now used to writing ‘2015’ on my personal checks.  Maybe the days speed by in a blur because of our hectic schedules and varied obligations.  We run here, race there, barely finding time to breathe.  Careers monopolize much of our time with the other waking hours spent shuttling kids to basketball games, theater practice, or church activities.  Seldom do we simply pause and consider the most important things of life.

There’s a story found in the Gospels addressing the importance of this ‘pause.’  Mary and Martha find themselves in the position of hosting Jesus and the Disciples.  Martha immediately concerns herself with preparing a meal for thirteen men.  I can see Martha rummaging through the cupboards, pulling ingredients, cooking utensils and slipping on an apron.  As she organizes her thoughts, she realizes her sister hasn’t joined her in the kitchen.  I see her peeking into the living room, hoping to lock eyes with Mary.  When Mary ignores her sister’s laser like glare, I see Martha banging pots together and clearing her throat in an abnormally loud manner.  When all efforts to draw Mary’s attention fail, she takes her complaint to the Master.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Martha assumes Jesus will side with her, sending Mary to help shoulder the work of meal preparation.  I see Martha crossing her arms with a smirk as she readies for Jesus gentle reprimand of her slacking sister.  However, Jesus responds in a manner completely unexpected.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset  about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What had Mary chosen? To sit at the feet of Jesus.

The chore of fixing a meal distracted Martha from sitting at the Teacher’s feet.  In two thousand years, not much has changed.  We live in a society full of distractions.  News agencies seldom focus on the real issues, magnifying minor stories to protect their political ideologies.  For those unwilling to investigate for themselves, the journalistic “sleight of hand” keeps the masses uninformed.  This strategy bodes well for ideologues weaving webs of destruction to topple American Exceptionalism.  But there’s even a greater problem.  Christians.  Yes, Christians.

For years, followers of Christ have chosen to sit quietly on the sidelines watching America’s harrowing ride to “hell in a hand basket.”  Christians remained silent when one loud and overbearing atheist complained about prayer in schools.  When Roe versus Wade was argued at the Supreme Court, Christians largely held their tongues disbelieving a refined society would be allowed to legally destroy the life of an unwanted child.  And now, decades later, when Christians voice concerns, their views are largely ignored or dismissed as being intolerant.  And why?  Because only a small percentage of Christians choose to speak up.  Many Christians continue to believe a polite society avoids religious and political topics.  Based upon the current political and ideological climate of our Country, maybe that old philosophy needs to be tossed aside.

If we truly care about the future of our children and grandchildren we must take those truths we learn at the feet of Jesus and implement them in the world around us.  Remember, Jesus informed His disciples to

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the thing that our God’s.”

This holds true provided Caesar’s edicts steer clear of conflicting with the Law of God.  When the Government enacts laws failing to honor Biblical truths, we must stand firm on the Word of God.  We must remove the self-imposed muzzle from our mouths and make our voices heard.  That’s my intent as we embark upon another new year.

As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Baptists and the Grand Old Party


Christianity Today published an article exploring the idea that Southern Baptists and Republicans share a much too close relationship.  In fact, the title “For Southern Baptists and GOP, Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” sets the stage for various Southern Baptist leaders to express concern over the Protestant denomination’s chummy ties to the Grand Old Party.

In a comment made in 2008, then Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said,

“I have cautioned Baptists about being lockstep with any Party.”

More recently, leaders of Baptist21, an organization of younger Southern Baptist pastors with reformed leanings wrote,

“There continue to be perceptions in our culture that the SBC is in bed with the Republican Party,”

Is that such a bad thing?  At least the Republican Party shows a bit of respect for God.

Several years ago, a friend and I discussed the Democrat Party.  My buddy expressed frustration that many in his family continued to vote for Democrats.  In attempting to sway his relatives he kindly explained,

“This Democrat party isn’t your Grandmother’s Democrat Party.”

A few decades ago, little difference existed between the parties in regards to moral issues.  Even if both sides of the aisle failed to see eye to eye on issues of domestic and foreign policy, Republicans and Democrats honored God and Country.

Today, an ever widening rift exists between the two.

In 2012, people attending the Democratic National Convention booed to keep the mere mention of God and Israel out of the party’s platform.  After the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the President “painted” the colors of the rainbow on the White House with special lighting.  This public display slapped both God and traditional marriage adherents in the face.  Most recently, a pro-life organization posted videos of Planned Parenthood executives haggling over the prices of “fetal tissue” harvested from aborted babies.  This atrocity should infuriate both parties.  Instead, both Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, claim these video makers are launching a “concerted attack” on those championing women’s rights.

Do I claim Republicans always tow the straight and narrow?  Absolutely not!  However, at least most Republicans embrace life and traditional marriage, and for Christians these two moral issues should be attractive.  In fact, if Christians support a candidate who supports abortion on demand and gay marriage, aren’t they being complicit in those abominations as well?

I’m not suggesting Pastors slap “Support Ted Cruz” bumper stickers on every members’ car.  I understand the necessity of Pastors refraining from endorsing candidates from the pulpit.  But the issues…the issues are another story.

During the last election cycle, a church member called asking me if I’d decided upon a Presidential Candidate.  I explained I couldn’t recommend a specific candidate, but I shared that I based my decisions on the social issues.  The economy means little if we abhor and ignore the moral standards of God.

Maybe Southern Baptists shouldn’t be in bed with the Republican Party, but maybe they should at least share the same house.  After all, morals matter.

 

 

A Culture of Deflated Balls


It’s challenging raising kids in today’s culture.  One of the character traits we drill in our children is honesty.  Jesus said,

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

For those who know Christ, emulating Jesus should be at the top of our “to do” lists.

Decades ago, the culture encouraged honest living as well.  Shows like “Andy Griffith,” “Leave it to Beaver,” and the “Walton’s” taught the importance of living a life of integrity, honesty being a much sought after and respected virtue.  Today, not so much.  One of ABC Family’s most popular shows is “Pretty Little Liars.”  Because of high ratings, it’s been airing for seven seasons.  What has happened to the popularity of truth?

As a child, my parents washed my mouth out with soap when I told a lie.  I learned quickly a strong distaste for Dove Bars and made it a habit to tell the truth.  As a child, I was held accountable.  No differentiation of lies existed.  Little white lies and great big lies fell under the same category, lying.  At a very young age I learned,

“Honesty is the best policy.”

In a recent study, 53% of the people polled shared their mistrust of the President.  Personally, I can’t believe it’s that low.  A few months ago, the President confidently stated “not a smidgen” of corruption existed in his Administration.  For those paying attention, they realized his statement resonated with truth.  Instead of “not a smidgen,” there’s a colossal amount of corruption in his administration.  Though many bash  dishonest politicians, and rightly so, this trait of dishonesty permeates other areas of life as well, with little or no consequence.

A few days ago, sports reporters jumped on the news of the New England Patriots and deflated footballs.  According to NFL rules, footballs must be inflated to a certain level and then checked prior to kick-off by a league official.  Between the official check and the coin toss, someone deflated the footballs.  Lowering the air pressure enables the quarterback to grip the ball with more authority and on cold days makes the ball softer to catch, a perk for the wide receivers.  Would the Patriots have won had the balls been inflated properly?  Absolutely.  The Colts played miserably.  However, one team attempted to get an edge over another through dishonest means.  How’s a Dad supposed to instill honesty and sportsmanship when a cheating team might win the Super Bowl?

There’s only one way.  I must direct them to embrace the teachings of the Word of God.

The word “Christian” literally means, “Little Christ.”  One way to imitate Christ is to be people of our word.  John 8:44 shares plainly,

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

In other words, we’re never more like the devil than when we lie.  That nugget from the Bible strikes a chord with people.  I’ve never met anyone excited about the prospect of relationally favoring the devil and his modus operandi.  Yet, “Pretty Little Liars” ranks highly with its viewers.

Instead of ignoring the importance of truth telling, let’s be people of integrity and of our word.  And let’s remember the oft quoted statement from Bejamin Franklin,

“Honesty is the best policy.”

And by the way, there’s nothing pretty about lying…..

 

How the VA Stole Christmas


This past Sunday I filled the pulpit as my Pastor wrapped up a week of vacation.  I chose to deliver a message built around the visit of the Magi.  I titled the sermon, “How the Grinch Almost Stole Christmas,” the Grinch of course being King Herod.   One of the points presented was Herod’s hostility to the new King.  I compared his hostility to the animosity against Christmas in America today.

A few days ago, I read a story written by Fox News and Commentary Radio Personality, Todd Starnes.  He reported about VA hospitals around the Country refusing gifts, carols, and cards if these wishes used the phrases “Merry Christmas,” “God Bless You,” or included Scriptural references.   At one hospital, a school wished to sing carols, but before the kids visited the patients, the VA sent a list of “government approved” songs, 12 in number.  Frosty the snowman made the cut, and knowing the current Administration, probably “Barry Did You Know.”  Any references to the sacred and spiritual meaning of Christmas wound up on the banned list.  I shared this news with our Congregation and unexpectedly, I found myself choking back tears.

Yes, over the last couple of years God’s certainly tenderized my heart, but I didn’t expect the tears on Sunday morning.  Sitting in the congregation, my dad sat teary-eyed as well.  My grief stems not from a sadness for myself, but for the future of my children.  For an instant, I imagined the school children of Grace Academy in Prosper, TX, hunched over their desks, meticulously drawing Christmas cards to cheer men and women recovering from wounds suffered while defending our Country.  I pictured them drawing Christmas Trees, Stars, and Stables, each buckling down to give their very best.  I also envisioned the disappointment on their faces as they discovered any cards wishing America’s brave warriors a “Merry Christmas” or an appreciated “God Bless You” would not be shared.  How does a teacher who instructs about the Constitution explain that political correctness now trumps the First Amendment?

It’s quite possible future soldiers attend this school, but when they become old enough to enlist, why should they place their lives on the line for a Country stripping away the Constitutional rights their fighting to protect?

Two thousand years ago, King Herod failed at eliminating Christmas.  Today, once again it’s the Government actively working to erase any public vestiges of Christmas, and without the Grace and Mercy of God, the America we’ve grown to love, celebrations and all, could become nothing more than an ancient memory.  But there’s good news.

Ban Christmas.  Outlaw Christmas.  Bow at the white round base of Frosty the Snowman.  No one can take away the spirit of Christmas nor the reason we celebrate.

And that’s the birth of Christ.

So, the VA didn’t nor can it steal Christmas but instead it swiped away encouragement and cheer.  And what do I say to that?

Bah, humbug.”

*Update:  I contacted the Grace Academy School.  This was the school that made Christmas cards for soldiers, but the VA refused to allow the Students to pass them out if they referenced “Christmas” or had Scripture.  I think it would be awesome if we sent the school thank-you cards for attempting to make our military wounded’s Christmas brighter.  I received the response below from the school along with mailing information.

Mr. Ridenour, Thank you so much for your kind words. The entire 6th-9th grade students were responsible for making the cards (52 students). Thank you notes would be such a blessing to these students to show them that they are supported in their efforts of standing up for what is right. You may send them directly to the school,

ATTN: Mrs. Chapman, Math and she will ensure that they are shared with the students.  Grace Academy of North Texas 4255 E. Prosper Trail, Prosper, TX  75078

Should Christians Disarm?


 

A couple of years ago, a teenager asked for the Bible reference reminding Christians of their obligation to obey the government, provided no demands violated the Laws of God.  The exact scriptures failed to come to mind, but I knew the reference could be found in Paul’s writings in the book of Romans.  Later in the day, I typed in a few key words and pressed “Search.”  Bingo!  Romans 13:1-7.  I texted the findings to the young man and awaited for follow-up questions.  The next inquiry he posed threw me for a loop.

Should Christians Disarm?

He explained his question by posing the following scenario.  If the Government orders the confiscation of all guns, how should Christians respond?  Do we obey the government in this instance?  These were questions I’d never pondered, but ones I sincerely wanted to investigate.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve given the question considerable thought.  The issue of the “right to bear arms” stirs the hearts of Americans on both sides of the political aisle.  Most conservatives strongly support the Second Amendment, while many liberals vehemently oppose, claiming the “living Constitution” needs a long overdue overhaul.  Joseph Story, a prominent 19th century lawyer and jurist on the Supreme Court penned that the Constitution has a:

“…fixed, uniform, permanent construction.  It should be…not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

This premise suggests that judges should not veer from the literal text’s meaning, and according to quotes by the Founding Fathers, American citizens deserved the rights of gun ownership.  Thomas Jefferson said,

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.  The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in the government.”

However, the question remains, if the federal government enacts legislation to disarm its citizens, should Christians peaceably comply?

When the Founding Fathers gathered to hash out the wording of the Constitution, three long months of vigorous debate ensued.  After months of arguing, haggling, and heated discussion, a welcomed spirit of consensus permeated the hallowed halls of the Pennsylvania State House.  The Founders settled in to inspect the final product emanating from the spirited deliberations.  Washington and Madison believed a Divine Hand guided the efforts calling the Constitution a “Miracle.”

Other Founding Fathers concurred.  Charles Pinckney of South Carolina said,

“When the great work was done and published, I was struck with amazement.  Nothing less than that superintending hand of Providence that so miraculously carried us through the war could have brought it about so complete….”

Alexander Hamilton agreed with his sentiments saying,

“For my part, I sincerely esteem it a system which, without the Finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”

In other words, the Founding Fathers experienced something supernatural at the Convention, prompting these great statesmen to credit God for the outcome.

Maybe this is a stretch, but here it goes.  If God inspired our Founding Fathers to create the document esteemed as the “supreme Law of the Land,” the writers made no mistake in including a fundamental “right to bear arms.”  So, is the constitution infallible as the Word of God?  Of course not!  But God does still inspire people today. Songwriters, poets and storytellers occasionally credit God for ideas, marveling at how quickly the finished product appears on paper.  The Founding Fathers credited God for the same type of wisdom flowing from the end of a quill pen.

Daniel Webster wrote,

“I regard it (the Constitution) as the work of the purest of patriots and wisest statesmen that ever existed, aided by the smiles of a benign Providence; it almost appears a Divine interposition in our behalf…the hand that destroys our Constitution rends our Union asunder forever.”

Maybe oft times controversial conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh sums it up best,

“You know why there’s a Second Amendment?  In case the government fails to follow the first one.”

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