Tuesday, December 25, 2012

B.C. & A.D.


This is a popular photo of a lamb and lion.  I wish I had my great aunt's painting to share.


I still remember a Christmas card my grandmother received years ago from her twin-sister that was very meaningful.  It had a painting that she made herself of a lion and a lamb together which is a  symbol of the restoration of all things.  She was a gifted artist.  Inside the card she wrote how time was split because of the birth of a baby.  Our history is written in the terms of B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, which means "in the year of our Lord."  Each year that goes by bears this signature that Christ has come. 

      During  this time of year there was an old movie that was popular years ago called "It's A Wonderful Life."  The story taught a moral like a good story should.  The lesson it gave was that one person's life has a chain reaction that influences many lives to a degree that is impossible to calculate.  Taking a look at Jesus' life we can see that he influenced people to a greater degree than any other person in history.  In a writing that is popular with believers and non-believers alike, James Allan Francis in 1926 wrote the following short description of Jesus' life entitled, One Solitary Life:
"Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.









Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…"

      The Bible says he came in "the fullness of time."  This is evidenced by the way he fulfilled prophecies that would not be fulfilled at any other time in history.  The Seventy Weeks of Daniel give the very time period that he had to live in order for the prophecy to be fulfilled.  After 70 A.D. the genealogies of individual Jewish families were destroyed and no other man would be able to prove the credentials of the promised Messiah like the detailed lists in the gospels.

      Christ came at the fullness of time and changed time for all time.  Have a blessed Christmas!



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Where Does the Blame Lie?



I've held on to this sketch for a long time.  I'd like to thank  the artist.   It portrays well what we do when we make ourselves the center of everything.

Two brothers were walking out in the field together.  They had great parents and they had everything they needed.  Their parents were well educated and the boys were given the best education available.  This walk in the field was different from others, and it became all the more obvious when one brother returned alone.  He had blood on his hands.  I'm referring to the first murder of human history found in the Bible by the very first brothers. 
I share this story to shed some light on the recent school shooting in Connecticut and other heinous crimes that have happened recently. 
The blame has been going in all the wrong places.  The sad fact is that things like this are used as opportunities to give people that are power hungry more control.  It is the concept that the government will take care of us.  They want to tell us they will prevent these things in the future.  How? Look at the 9-11 tragedy.  They started a new government department and took away Constitutional rights of citizen's privacy in airports.  Look at the hurricane disasters.  "We'll stop that from happening again!" More power and money granted.  The point is that there are many things beyond the scope of the government's help  and it's wrong for them to pretend that they prevent certain things. 
     When Cain killed his brother it wasn't because he was off his medication (though who would say he was in his right mind?)  He recognised after the fact that his life would be in danger and his reputation was done.  You couldn't say he didn't get a good education as his parents were the wisest people living at the time.  You couldn't say he grew up in a bad environment as his righteous brother was brought up in the same environment.  It certainly wasn't the club or weapon he used that was the problem.  The problem was his love of self.  God had already confronted him about how he needed to change, but God left him with a free will; and with that free will he did the unthinkable and the unknown until that time.
   
     I watched a video of a father of one of the victims in the Connecticut shooting explain that he knew that this happened as a result of free will and that free will is great gift though it can be used so wrongly.  For that reason God continues to seek to reason with men just like he did with Cain saying,  "Come and let us reason together..."

      There is an email that "went viral" back a few years ago that was the testimony of Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Joy Scott, a victim of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado.  He gave it on May 27, 1999 before the Subcommittee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee. These are his words:

"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers." "The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field.
The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart. "In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA.
I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent."
"I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy-it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room.
Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. "I wrote a poem that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:"
Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You've stripped away our heritage,
You've outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"

You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!
"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact.
What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.
We do not need more restrictive laws." Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.
Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched! We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored.
We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!" "As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right!
I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA- I give to you a sincere challenge.
Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"
References:
God asking men to reason with him.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Isa&c=1&t=KJV#18
Cain kills his brother.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Gen&c=4&t=KJV#8
Darrell Scotts testimony
http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bldarrellscott.htm

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Doctor's Condition Diagnosed By God's Word

     
This is a true story as related by Brother Norman telling how a doctor was brought to freedom by the testimony of a dying workman and his cherished Bible.

      William P. Mckay grew up in a Christian home, but at an early age he rebelled against the faith of his parents.  He didn't need God!  He would do his own thing!  He would be glad when he could leave home and do as he pleased -- call his own shots-- make his own way -- pursue his own career.

      At last the day came when he was leaving home to enroll in a university for the study of medicine.  As he was packing up for his departure, his mother gave him a new Bible.  She had written a loving note on the flyleaf encouraging him to read God's word and assuring him of her love and untiring prayers for him.  He had indifferently stuffed it into his bags and set off for college. 

    He never opened the Bible his mother had so tenderly given him and never gave it another thought.  Then one day, short of money, and needing some incidental item at school, he sold the Bible for a few coins at a pawn shop.

     Years went by.  McKay got his degree, graduated from medical school a full-fledged doctor and set up a practice in a bustling Scottish city. 

     More years went by.  One day a poor workman who had fallen from a high scaffold was hastily carried into Dr. Mckay's clinic in great pain.  Upon examining him,  the doctor sadly looked into the young man's face and said, "Son,  I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but there is nothing I can do for you.  You have suffered massive internal injuries.  You cannot live more than a few more hours--- a few days at most."

     The workman blinked a few times and then, giving McKay a weak smile through his pain, said, "Well, that's alright, Doctor. I guess that just means I'll get to see the Lord Jesus sooner than I ever thought.  He is my Savior, and if I die---well, then, I'll get to go to Heaven and be with Him."

      Somewhat startled by this reaction, McKay sympathetically asked, "Do you have any relatives that we can contact for you?"

     The young man answered, "No, my parents have both died and I am all alone in the world.  But I wish you would send for my landlady where I am rooming.  I owe her a little bit and I have enough in my pockets to pay her.  Ask her when she comes to please bring me the book."

     "What book is it that you want?"  the doctor asked.

      "Oh, just tell here to bring the book," the man replied, "She'll know which book."

     When the landlady came she brought the injured man a well-worn Bible, which he read almost constantly as long as he had strength to hold it.

     The young man held onto life for four days, then slipped away.  Often the nurses mentioned to Dr. McKay how cheerful he was in spite of his pain and how courteous and easy to care for he was.  They also shared bits of conversation he had with them about how Christ had changed his life and of what he was looking forward to in Heaven.  In spite of himself, the doctor was reminded of the Christian home he had grownup in. 

     A little while after the undertakers had come fr he young workman's body, a nurse brought an armful of items in to the doctor and said, "Dr. McKay, these are the belongings of the young man who just died.  What shall I do with them?"

     "What are they?" asked the doctor, hardly looking up.

     "Oh, just his coat and boots and wallet--- and of course, that old Bible that he was always reading as long as he could hold it up."

     "I'll just lay it all here on my desk for now," said McKay, reaching them from the nurse.

     As he laid the things down, he held onto the Bible for a bit, then, impressed by how much use it had obviously had, he opened it near the back and slowly let the pages fan through his fingers.  The pages were smudged with much turning.  Many passages had been underlined and some notes had been written in the margins.  He read a few of these and thought of how much this Bible had meant to this young man and how he must have loved it.  At length he came to the flyleaf just inside the front cover.  Suddenly his hands trembled so that he nearly dropped the book.  There was the inscription his own mother had lovingly written to him so many years ago.  The very Bible he had neglected and later sold for a trifle had transformed the life of this poor workman and led him to  faith that enabled him to smile at death.

      Well, you can guess the rest of the story.  The worn old Bible wasn't done in its work of  redemption.  It was also the means of leading the one for whom it was originally intended back to the God of his parents. 

     Perhaps you have met Dr. McKay before.  Have you ever sung in church that grand old Gospel song, Revive us Again?  In your hymn book, where it gives the authors of the songs, you will find the name, William P. McKay above this one.  This is the same William McKay who long ago had carelessly stuffed his praying mother's gift Bible into his luggage and set out for college.  He later became a dynamic preacher of the faith that he once tried to ignore. 

     Here are the words of his well known revival hymn:
http://www.scriptureandmusic.com/Music/Text_Files/Revive_Us_Again.html


Go here for Willaim McKay's own words describing this story:
http://www.hymnalaccompanist.com/Story/story-c3.html




    

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture

Nurture

Nature                 vs.
                                                                              
           A while back, I remember a conversation that I had with a purported atheist.  He introduced me to the Nurture-Nature debate.  I discovered that this is an argument that is used as an excuse for immoral behavior.  Of course, without God morals become simply an opinion.  The idea is to stand behind the side of "nature" and say "I was born this way, therefore it's okay."  The truth is that even from a Biblical paradigm we were born with sin.  Believers can agree with those that make this argument in this respect.  He informed me that there is an opposite behavior called "nurture."  Nurture is considered unnatural and undesirable from his point of view.  It is from a parent or anyone that tries to change "natural" behavior.  While believers can agree that it is against our nature, specifically our sinful nature, to follow prescribed laws that come by revelation (the Bible), yet we hold firm to the belief that obedience to Christ and his precepts are both desirable and healthful.   

     Please understand that these words are being used in ways that stretch their real meaning.  As I said, when he said "nature" he was unknowingly referring to sinful nature.  We could take the word "nature" and use it in a way that would mean "the established or regular course of things" and the word would mean something positive for those of us that adhere to divine revelation.

     This is an interesting study and what I related above isn't reflective of all the ideas behind this debate.  The Marxist and Communist believed that it was the environment that determined men's beliefs and that was the basis behind concentration camps.  They thought if you just put man in an environment where there was no beauty and no good that man would throw away his belief in God.  Those that didn't fit this experiment were destroyed. The Fascists took a different approach and thought that everything was determined by ones' genes.  The best would survive in the end and they thought they would help it along.  This was a type of theistic evolution where they thought they were doing their god's work, but through the Darwinian survival of the fittest.  Counter wise, Biblical Christianity has a long history and of the strong and fittest protecting and helping the weak. 

    I find it funny that honey bees are now being thrown into the Nurture-Nature debate with recent studies that are said to support the nurture side.  As a beekeeper, I like telling people how the bees give a diet to the queen bees that makes the difference whether they develop into queens or worker bees.  Researchers have found that the diet actually changes the genetic structure of the queen bees in the short term.  Of course, the queens lay eggs that produce bees with the same genetic code bees always have had, but the special diet makes gene changes within the queen.

     There is no question that our genes play a role with how strong or large we may be and how quick we might think.  There is no question that our environment has an influence on all these things.  Studies suggest that almost 80% of health problems like cancer are influence by our diet and environment.  Some of these things are in our control and others aren't.  We aren't in Eden anymore. The role of genes and the influence of our environment does no negate the fact that man has a free will.  I believe that the influence of our genes and environment are huge in many ways.  The thing to be concerned with is what we do with what we have been given (see Matthew 25:14-30).  When it comes to the moral issues of our day we can be swept by the current, or we can swim against it. 

References:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101102171606.htm

Here's a message about genes by A. Wilder Smith
http://media.sermonindex.net/0/SID0541.mp3

The Bible, Matthew 25:14-30
 http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Mat&c=25&v=14&t=KJV#14

Early definitions of nature and nurture:
http://www.1828-dictionary.com/d/search/word,nature

http://www.1828-dictionary.com/d/search/word,nurture



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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Blessing of 55 Cents


     One day I was trying to figure out how many glass honey jars would fit into a flat rate box .  I had folded the box, but had not taped it because I didn't plan to use it right away.  I had left it on a stool with the glass jars still it (not the best thing to do).  My youngest sister, Charity, who was ten years old and just turned eleven, came along, and as it was her duty to clean the kitchen she grabbed the box to use the stool.  Much to her surprise, the bottom opened up, and all jars fell to the floor. One glass shattered.  I heard the noise and came to see the result of leaving my jars in a precarious position.  As I cleaned my mess, Charity asked me how much the jars cost.  I said, "Around fifty some cents."  She said, "Just a minute, I'll be right back."  And she was right back with 55 cents in her hand.  I said, "You keep it," in a gentle way.  Later when I came to my room.  I saw some change on my bed stand.  I tried to think where it came from until I noticed it was 55 cents. After relating this to my sister, Wendy, she said that was cute, but it was my fault for leaving the box as I did.  I agreed, and assured her that Charity would get her money back.

      Perhaps the reason this incident blessed me so much is because it is the common courtesies and the sense of responsibility that is so missing in our culture. I just saw a handmade sign that said sarcastically, "Thanks for hitting my cat and not stopping." With the irresponsibility comes a lot of anger because of thoughtlessness.  This isn't the first culture to go through this.  Edward Gibbon spoke of this in his classic book "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" when he wrote:
      "In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security.  They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all - security, comfort,and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."

     Gibbon's analysis of what happened to Athens could very easily become a future historian's analysis of America if there isn't some major changes in personal responsibility.  It will have to be individuals that recognise their responsibilities.  I believe it must come with a spiritual revival with many people recognising that even if they don't see all the rewards of their labor here in their lifetime that they will see all things made right in the life to come when all things are judged rightly.  Whether or not we live to see our culture embrace responsibility, we can see a little slice a paradise in our own homes with God's help.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Brave Little Flower & Reasons for Thanks


                         
      This past week I saw a Thanksgiving greeting from Joni Ericson Tada. As a teenager she became paralyzed from the neck down from a diving accident.  Today she has an international ministry helping encourage others that face physical challenges.  She said that she has recently been fighting a battle with breast cancer.  In this new battle she thanks the Lord that she has a new platform to build God's kingdom. Here I see a woman that fulfills the command "In everything give thanks."

      In this post I'm reprinting an article by Brother Norman.  It made me think of Corrie Ten Boom and the prisoners she knew in the German concentration camps that tried to remember all the good things they knew before their world was tipped upside down.  If this post in some small way helps you recognize God's blessings to us in the beautiful freedoms we know, it will fulfill my purpose in sharing it.

                         Occasions for Thanks by Norman Ward

     It is Thanksgiving week again, therefore I guess an article on the giving of thanks would be appropriate.  This shouldn't be hard to come up with seeing that everything we have, everything we are or everything we hope to be is a gift from God and thanks to Him are always in order.  This thought brings to mind the Scripture that exhorts us, not only for one special day, but for every day: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

     Strangely, it seems that in ordinary practice, often those who have the most for which to be thankful for are the greatest hands to just smugly take everything for granted, while those who seemingly have little to cheer and brighten their life have a more pronounced "habit" of thankfulness.  As a noted preacher from way back in the 1500's once observed, "The greater God's gifts and works, the less they are regarded."

     By way of illustration of this "phenomenon," hear what Viktor Frankl, survivor of the infamous Nazi death camp known as Auschwitz had to say of the experience of himself and other prisoners whose personal property, freedom, dignity and hope had all been stripped away.  They knew they were facing death, either by slow starvation, harsh overwork or the gas chambers.  Frankle wrote, "Prisoners in the camp dreamed at night about such things as bread, cakes, a nice warm bath-- the very things that in our former lives we just took for granted every day."

     Frankl also wrote of an occasion when some prisoners were moved from one concentration camp to another.  He said, weak and despairing as they were, they eagerly peered out the little barred window of their prison railroad car to gratefully take in the beauty of the snow-capped Alps, rivers and farming areas they passed through.  All these were the scenes many of them were very familiar with in their carefree days of freedom, but now they intently drank in their beauty with a new appreciation.

     Gerta Weissman was a prisoner in another Nazi death camp.  She recounted a spring morning when she and hundreds of other fellow inmates stood at roll call for hours on end, nearly collapsing with hunger and fatigue.  But they noticed in one corner of that cold, bleak, depressing gray courtyard that a little flower had poked it's way up through a crack in the concrete.  Although forced to mill around weak and stumbling in such crowded conditions every woman there took great pains to avoid stepping on the brave little flower.  They felt much thankfulness for that one spot of beauty in their ugly and heinous world.

     After the war she was asked how they could find courage to go on in those horrible conditions. She said once while in the camp barracks, staring out a grimy window pane at nothing but barren concrete, the question came to her mind, "If by some miraculous means you could be anywhere in the world right now instead of here, where would you want to be?"  She cherished that thought for awhile and here weary mind considered many possible answers.  "But," she continued, "you know, the scene that kept coming to my mind was mental picture of our living room in my childhood home; a warm fire glowing in the stove, Father reading his newspaper, Mother sewing, my brother and I doing our school homework----in other words, an ordinary "boring" evening at home---- that is precisely where I would most like to have been miraculously transported to!  I realized that the commonplace settings of life were what I was most grateful for."

     The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that if the stars appeared in the heavens only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event that would be! But, because they are there every night, we barely notice them.

      Helen Keller once said, "I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during their early adult life It would make them deeply thankful for sight and the joys of sound."

      To sum up, thanking and praising God is jut a good thing to do.  Moreover, it is Scriptural to thank and praise God.  A good spiritual exercise for this week would be to read Psalms 105, 106 and 107.  All three start out: "O give thanks unto the Lord..."  They recount the numerous miracles and blessings God gave to the children of Israel.  (Some of them might remind you of miracles and blessing He has given you.)  If so, praise Him in your own words.  Four times in Psalm 107, the writer pauses in his recitation of God's blessing to exclaim, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men."  So, let's get with it.

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread


     Every day we are bombarded with messages to grab our attention.  It's really amazing how much is spent in order to get our attention.  The reason for this is because there is a lot of power in getting a message to the masses.  This was evident during the recent elections with the record amounts of money being poured into "swing" states. 

     The real issue in getting people's attention is the quality of the message because our time is so valuable.  The value of the message can be lost because of the shear quantity of messages we get.  As a small business owner, I want to get people interested in my product. I'm able to share about my product with enthusiasm because I believe in its value.  This is true with the conflict of ideas.  Each side is fully convinced that the idea they have is right.  Just because we might be right or have enthusiasm won't necessarly mean what we have will sell.  We need to get the information to others and convey that what we offer is truly in their interest.

      An illustration of this is the invention of sliced bread. Otto Fredrick Rohwedder was a jeweler that knew he had a good idea and sold his jewelry stores to fund it.  After building a prototype of a bread slicing machine a fire burned down the factory he housed it in and destroyed it and his blueprints.  After taking few years of coming up with the funds to build a machine, he sold one in 1928.  Within five years there was more sliced bread on the store shelves in America than unsliced. Otto's idea was around for years before it really caught on because of the circumstances he found himself in.  After large bread companies bought his bread slicing machines the popularity of it was so great that when the government made sliced bread illegal in 1943 as a conservation effort the ban was short lived.

  I believe the concept of true freedom is desirable, but it is not being transmitted to the degree competing ideas are.  This is not an accident as the goal to transmit the opposite concept was outlined in the Communist Manifesto many years ago.

     There is a beauty in having private property and belongings, to be able to work with the promise of reward, and to not begrudge those that have already gotten there.  Those that oppose freedom would have us to turn against those that have reaped the benefits of freedom.  None of us will enjoy those freedoms, which is sometimes called the American Dream, if we don't have the good sense to be happy for others that are successful from great ideas and hard work.

     The man that came up with sliced bread must have been on to something because I'm hard pressed to find any bread at the store that's not been sliced.  In the past, the desire for freedom has spread like wildfire.  It could happen again. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hymn To The Welfare State & A Visit to the Gods of The Copybook Headings


I miss the old lever and curtains type voting booths!

To commemorate this day in history the following hymn is presented as a reflection of attitudes that have brought us to where we are at:

The Government is my shepherd, therefore I need not work.
It alloweth me to lie down on a good job.
It leadeth me beside still factories; it destroyeth my initiative.
It leadeth me in the path of a parasite for politic’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of laziness and deficit spending, I will fear no evil, for the Government is with me.
It prepareth an economic Utopia for me, by appropriating the earnings of my own grandchildren.
It filleth my head with false security; my inefficiency runneth over.
Surely the government should care for me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in a fool’s paradise forever! — author unknown

America is not following a map to freedom, but of serfdom.  Perhaps most disturbing is that people are feeding on lies.  We are told "the best is yet to come" and yet the ingredients are disastrous.  I think of the promise of peace, yet we see what happened to America's ambassador to Libya. 
I think of the promise of no want because of keeping the barbaric practice of abortion.  Poverty
continues, and the worst poverty is of the soul. I'd like to share some excerpts from a poem by Rudyard Kipling that were written over a hundred years ago.  See if they don't describe the world we live in today.

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller life
(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said the "Wages of Sin is Death."

Yes, they tell us they believe in loving your neighbor, but they don't know how because of depraved human nature.  The generosity they offer is stolen from the pockets of others which in the end will not be sustainable because it destroys initiative to produce.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "If you don't work you die."

My grandpa always said history repeats itself.  Right now we'll watch as people keep burning themselves and are left wondering why things are going the way they are.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man--
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:--
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Destruction comes with the government as our shepherd.  When we have the Lord as our shepherd there comes peace that passes understanding, true productivity that comes from following His principles, and a happy ending.

                                  Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters. Rev. 7.17
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How Jury Nullification Rescued a Quaker

Because a few jury members practiced jury nullification to protect this man,
America has reaped untold blessings from this Quaker's life.


     Since publishing a post about the forgotten right of jury nullification, I've been asked if this is a Constitutional right.  It is a Constitutional right in that the Constitution gives the right of a trial by jury.  This can be established when historical purposes of a jury are considered.  The power of jury nullification, for the most part, has been unquestioned, but many believe it is a last resort against tyranny and that it should not be made known to jurors. 

      It is interesting that one of the most prominent stories of jury nullification comes to us from a character in history that had a profound effect on both America and England.  If jury nullification had not been practiced to help this man we would not have a Liberty Bell, no Independence Hall, and no state called Pennsylvania.  This man's name was William Penn.  It was in 1670, and William Penn was on trial in England for breaking the law.  What was the broken law?  He was preaching without a license, and teaching things from the Scripture that were not accepted in his day.  There was no question that he had broken the law, but four of the men that were part of his jury pronounced him "not guilty" because they knew the law was an unjust law as William had harmed no person nor their property.  These jury members were punished in a harsh manner in order to make them change their minds.  They were tortured for nine weeks in prison getting wet with urine and feces spread on their bodies because of not having rest facilities.  They went days without food or water.   Prison in that time was different from today. They would not change their decision.  One of the men, Edward Bushell, a wealthy owner of an international shipping enterprise said, "My liberty is not for sale."
      Because these men decided to not back down, this unjust law called the Conventicle Act lost its power and  Freedom of Religion was acknowledged and became law in England in the English Bill of Rights, and was later repeated in America under our First Amendment.  William Penn's life was spared because if "guilty" had been his verdict he likely would have been executed.  Eventually Edward Bushell was released from prison because of the concept of "habeas corpus." Edward's trial also started a movement that I'm excited about today that is called "freedom of the press."
     Other important events surrounded this pivotal case of jury nullification.  All American colonies except one implemented a trail by jury because they saw the need to preserve people's liberties.  William later left England to come to America and established Pennsylvania.  He remembered the things he went through and sought to make a place that had just laws.     William recognized that freedom comes from God and he gave a prophetic type quote when he said, "Men must be governed by God, or they will be governed by tyrants."

Sources:
Citizens Rule Book
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification
http://www.awesomestories.com/famous-trials/penn

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roadkill and The Dangers of a Free Lunch


   
We live on a road that zigzags quite a bit and cars go pretty fast as it is a main road in our area. Not far from our house is a wooded area. One day a raccoon walked across the road not far from the wooded area. He happened to get struck by a car and was dead in the middle of the road. Soon after a opossum came through and thought that Mr. Raccoon looked like lunch. Well, Mr. Opossum wasn't quick enough with his lunch because along came a car and he died too. Not long after that, Mr. Opossum's brother came along. He liked his brother so much he decided to eat him.  Unfortunately, like his brother, speed wasn't a family virtue, and his fate was that of the one he ate. He became crow food. The crows seemed pretty smart and had lots of food for days. A turkey vulture wanted to join in for dinner, but seems he wasn't that fast either and was another casualty on that indiscernible heap. I couldn't help but thinking if this would be a continual cycle, and how big this heap could get, but it seemed to end there with feathers all over the place and a big wing that stood up in the air.

It would seem there must be some good morals to this story like “Beware of free lunches” or the quote by Thomas Jefferson that says, “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate and Inconsistencies

    As the election swiftly approaches, the media is making lots of headlines declaring poll research and the most memorable comments by the contestants.  One question I've been asked is if I watched the presidential debates or the vice presidential debates.  I've had to confess that I didn't when they occurred, but have since watched the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.  As the media said it, was very lively.  When asked about this debate, I replied that the issues are more important to me than the performance of the challengers.  What I found after watching the debate was that both challengers were inconsistent.

     The most important issue that I can see in the political realm is the protection of life.  This is the primary purpose of  government.  The fundamental purpose of government is to punish the evil and protect the innocent.  Now we have the very opposite happening to the unborn, the disabled and the elderly.

      How did these men show inconsistency?  We could talk about issues like the debt crisis that neither politically party has answers for because they both see the problem as the solution (I'm referring to the whole money system that is based on debt).  With the most important issue of the sanctity of life both men were not consistent with their personal views and their political policy.  They both have allowed political expediency to dictate their public policy in regard to protecting  the most innocent and most vulnerable segment of society.  Both men said they believe life begins at conception.  Both say religion holds an important area in their lives.

     The position Biden took was to say his public policy is not influenced by his personal beliefs.  How could it be that a man that has tremendous power to do good will not because the truth he knows in his heart can't influence his public policy?  The truth is that he does allow his personal views to influence his public positions because he later defended his position by saying that abortion was only a matter of a woman choosing what to do with her own body after he said he believes life begins at conception.  His role to protect the innocents goes beyond political affiliation as his responsibility as a public servant is to uphold the Constitution and protect people's rights including the right to life.  For that matter, his responsibility goes beyond the Constitution to the law of nature where we understand it is wrong to kill the innocent.  His responsibility in protecting life  goes beyond the law of nature because of the law of heaven which says "if a man sheds blood, by man shall his blood be shed."  Under the callused belief that Biden expressed no one would be safe.   

      Ryan made it known that his beliefs are the same publicly as they are privately.  He expressed his desire to be consistent and not two-faced.  But then his challenger reminded him of how he changed a position he had before he joined Romney's campaign.  He was against all abortion.  His new position allows abortion in the cases of rape and incest.  The problem is that the innocent party, the unborn child, should not become the victim of murder even if his life was the result of a tragic situation.  He is a real person that is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life.  The tragic problem with taking compromised positions like the exceptions that Ryan took is that it undermines his credibility.  His purposes might be good, but I believe that taking a pragmatic approach will only complicate matters and chip away at giving real solid answers.

     America needs real answers, not great debate performers. I think it is great if someone can express the truth with clarity. The problem is that the truth won't always be popular as Romney found out when he mentioned the problem of having so many people receiving entitlements.  Yet, to truly find answers that will pass the test of time, we need people to speak the truth without apology.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jury Nullification, A Forgotten Right




                                          Ken Miller might have received a "not guilty" verdict
                                         had jurors known the true rights they have.


There is a forgotten right that many are not aware of that the founding fathers gave to the citizens of America. This is the ability of jury members to not just determine if a defendant is innocent or guilty, but also have the ability to judge whether a law is just or unjust. This is called jury nullification. The name almost sounds opposite from what it means as one might first get the impression that the jury is nullified, but it is speaking of the ability of the jury to nullify the power of a bad law. The jury members can not change law, but they can restrict a law they deem unjust from being enforced. This was a wise safeguard that was given by wise men with a lot of foresight. 
Taking time to fulfill the duty to be a jury member can be inconvenient, but it is a privilege and right that is to be cherished.  It's not very helpful to complain about our eroding freedoms and then not be willing to practice the ones we have.

There was a news story that caused me to think about how the truth of jury nullification needs to be publicized.  This was the case of a pastor who received a felony conviction for trying to help a woman protect her daughter from being given to someone she didn't trust.  This was alleged to be against a court law.  The case was given to a jury to decide the case.  The directions were given to the jury to decide if the pastor broke the law.  The case was more convincing that the pastor broke the law and he was convicted as being guilty.  One jury member appeared to be emotional because of the decision.  Though we don't know why this was the case, if it was because the jury member believed that the law was unjust, that jury member could have said "not guilty" and the pastor would not have received the felony charge.  The pastor would not be faced with going to prison and being separated from his family.  This is the power that that the founding fathers left with us that gives the power to one individual in a jury to determine if a man is pronounced not guilty.

Most juries in the United States are told by judges that they are to only judge the facts that are given to them and if those facts violated a law.  This has left people without the knowledge of their true right to also be able to judge the law that was said to be violated.  John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said, "The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."
In the first jury trial before the Supreme Court the charge was given to the jury that said, "...it is presumed, that the juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that the courts are the best judges of law.  But still both objects are within your power of decision."  In other words the real power of decision is with juries; the judge is to act as a referee that is bound by the Constitution.

     Perhaps in the future more people will be aware of what "jury nullification" is, and, being armed with knowledge, be able to stop the enforcement of bad laws.

References:
Ken Miller Support Site
 NY Times article on Ken Miller

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Price of Freedom



Freedom is intertwined with America. Our nation was founded on the principles of freedom. Yet what is it and how is it lost? Though it is in the very fabric of America, it is being lost because we have forgotten its cost. What is its cost? Risk. This is the issue after attacks or contaminated foods or massive layoffs by large companies. We are given a choice after these events. You will hear the politicians say how they will help prevent these things from happening in the future. Our choice will be freedom or security. This is the issue of government health care. Human nature is drawn toward security. The argument often given is it would be better to go through the inconvenience of some lost freedom than to lose one's life, or get sick, or lose a good paying job. Yet our founders recognized that freedom was of such value that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and sacred honor to obtain it. Why did they do it?

America's founders lived under oppression. They knew it was not something to pass on to their children. They were thinking of you and me when they declared independence (the opposite of dependence on government) with a firm reliance (dependence) on God. As Thomas Jefferson said, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" These words are inscribed in the walls of the Jefferson Memorial. This is why the Bible is outlawed in nations that hate freedom. Men love power and want others to depend on and worship them. If people rely on God it is that much less power to man

We rejoiced to see the Berlin Wall come down, but it was not the end of Communism. It flourishes here as we pick up pieces of socialism here and there. The idea of freedom is loved because of our heritage, but is not protected because it is both compromised and confused for security.  Sometimes this security is false security, and almost certainly it is temporal.

We all make decisions that involve freedom or security.  It is best when individuals are able to make these decisions rather than others.  Consider this argument in the current "health care" debate.  The socialists argue that many seniors make poor decisions in their health insurance plans and therefore someone else should make the decisions for them.  We probably all can see some good logic in this, but it totally annihilates a very important factor: freedom.  We also know that there are many seniors that make very good decisions and that freedom is very important even if it means potential risks. 

The price tag of our freedom has been set much too low.  If our forefathers died for it, would it be too much for us to take some of the risks and toil needed keep it?  That which is promised to us to be medicine is poison. It is our responsibility to recognize the the difference.