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A Psalm for Election Day

November 8, 2016

 

 

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

It’s always been this way. American politics in 2016 is full of absolutely nothing new. Nations rage. People plot and scheme and set themselves for gathering power. As another Psalm notes, there are no good human beings, much less countries. We’ve all turned to our own ways and desires, swearing that we’ll cast off the cords that God has bound us with, regardless of how we vote or who wins.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

But God’s not worried, not in the least. He’s in heaven laughing. Puny, pointless attempts to bend the sovereign hand of the Lord almighty fold in the face of the resounding call that the King has already been decreed and enthroned. There’s a ruler, and he’s not being elected today. The Father put him in place millenia ago and he’s not going anywhere. Clinton, Trump, Putin, Nero, Pharaoh, and even Satan himself shake with fear when God speaks.

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

When God speaks he says that his Son – Jesus of Nazareth – both inherits and rules every nation on the earth. His rule is so powerful that he can crack a nation into pieces like you would a clay pot. He is, after all, the only begotten Son of God. He takes after his dad and laughs at any attempt to go against his will. Election day? Let’s have a good laugh.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

  • Psalm 2

The lesson for this election day? Watch out, presidents, congressmen and women, supreme court judges, mayors, and every leader regardless of political party or religious affiliation. Bow and kiss the Son, because he’s the one who’s really in charge today. All your power and pomp and circumstance and billion dollar campaigning is worthless if you are not among those who have taken refuge in him.

The same goes for those Americans casting their votes today. When it comes down to it what really matters isn’t who you vote for. It’s whether or not you’ve come to Jesus and knelt before his throne, submitting yourself to him as the true ruler.

 

 

Culture

Third Party

August 1, 2016

 

 

 

Is it ok to be ashamed to be an American, at least at the moment? Sorry Lee Greenwood. Because that I am, in large part due to the utter ridiculousness of the current election cycle. Oh, I love this beautiful country and am blessed to live here and am incredibly grateful for the men and women who have given their lives to defend the freedoms we have, but we seem to be on a spiral towards destroying ourselves, arguing and name calling rather than getting over our differences and working to fix things.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about politics on this blog, but there’s one thing that’s been a recurring comment made to me in the dozens of inevitable political conversations that come up throughout any given week as the move closer to the elections. It generally goes something like this:

The talk bounces back and forth between Trump and Hillary and each of their horrid constellations of accusations, hear-say, and outright lies, and then someone (often times me) brings up the fact that there are other people running for the office of President of the United States. Everyone nods sagely and agrees that those third party candidates seem a more appealing than either of the major party candidates.Then comes the comment that is apparently expected to, bafflingly, end any delusions about voting for a third party. It’s always something to the effect of, “Yea, but that’s just throwing away your vote. If vote for (insert third party candidate) you’re basically voting for (insert major party candidate).”

Seriously, where did this idea come from? Why is voting for a third party candidate who may not win the same as voting for a major candidate? Do our votes only count if they go to the winning team? That seems to be the logic at work in most of these conversations that I’ve had, and I don’t think that it makes any sense.

Just for fun, let’s put this kind of thinking into play in a few different scenarios and see if it works.

Scenario 1: Nazi Germany. Your options: join the Nazi party, escape to England to live with a cousin, or remain and rebel by secretly helping Jews escape the country even though you will most likely be caught and killed.

Is rebelling in secret the same as joining the Nazi party because your rebellion won’t defeat them? The logic that says “voting for a third party who may not win is the same as voting for a major party candidate that you really don’t want to win,” rebelling would be exactly that.

Scenario 2: You enter the grocery store to buy some fresh vegetables. There are three brands to choose from. You’ve done your research. One brand employs slave labor (but hey, they treat their slaves pretty well) to harvest their vegetables. The second brand uses pesticides that are known to cause cancer and that your child is allergic to, but they’re realllllly inexpensive. The third is a small local, ethical, organic brand that’s been struggling to stay afloat financially and may soon be bought out by the first brand.

Is buying the third, local brand the equivalent of supporting the first?

Scenario 3: You’re 14 years old and there are two dominant social groups at school, the jocks/cheerleaders and the preps. Between the two of them they control pretty much the whole social sphere, with the jocks being dominant. Much lower on the totem pole are the nerds and the punks. You’re new to the school and dislike both the jocks and the preps and how they treat people. What group will you choose to join?

Is joining the nerds or punks the equivalent of joining the jocks? Maybe you should join the preps, since having one more on their team might allow them to win.

 

I could give dozens more scenarios, but hopefully that communicates my point. Voting for a third party, if they align with your beliefs, is not the equivalent of voting for Trump or Hillary or whoever the major party candidates are at the time. Your vote is a statement about what you value. The purpose of it isn’t to put you on the winning team. It’s to communicate to our government in some small way what you believe, and that communication happens regardless of whether the candidate you vote for wins or not.

If there was any time in the history of our country that we need something other than one of the major party candidates, this is that time. As two of our founding fathers noted, there is a great danger to America if we are operating on a two party system. John Adams wrote,

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
– John Adams

And George Washington in his farewell address at the conclusion of his presidency echoed the sentiment about the dangers of “factions” in politics and how such parties with their sole leaders would bring great harm to the liberty of the people.

“The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”

In my opinion we would do well to heed Adams’ and Washington’s warnings (albeit a bit lately) and look a bit wider than our current, broken two-party system.

A stool doesn’t function well with two legs. There are plenty of other options out there when you vote this fall. You may not agree with any of them. In that case, don’t vote if that’s what you feel you need to do to communicate what you believe. But please, please don’t buy the lie that your vote is wasted if you don’t vote republican or democrat.

 

 

 

Culture, Life, Spiritual Warfare

Fear Not

March 2, 2016

 
We live in an age of terror. Where fifty years ago the average person’s main news outlets were the local newspaper, a few radio stations, and word of mouth, today we’re standing in the middle of dozens of channels of global news. We’re inundated with the flood of horror stories from around the globe and across our country. Video of ISIS murdering dozens in Syria, a barrage of articles about armed stand offs within our own country, radio discussions about rogue nations testing possible nuclear warheads, and plenty more. The world is increasingly operating on a foundation of fear.

Nowhere is this more clear than the current American presidential race. The vast majority of political candidates are using fear as the main driver for their campaigns. Be afraid of muslims and vote for me because I’ll keep you safe. Be afraid of financial collapse. Be afraid of the establishment. Be afraid of the rich and the banks. Be afraid of the future. Fear is, sadly, the politician’s most effective tool.

Hard truth time. If your mind is filled more with fear and worry than faith and worship, you’re dishonoring God.

Every day we’re given hundreds of reasons to live in fear. And, to the delight of the Devil, fear and worry have become the default for many Jesus followers. We, like the world we live in, get swept away by the torrent and fall prey to Satan’s attacks, forgetting that, as the Apostle Paul writes, “true love casts out fear.”

When we partner with fear and let it direct our thoughts, we’re denying God and affirming the evil one. I want to take one verse and three key moments in Jesus’ life and remind you today that you literally have no good reason to live in fear. As George Whitfield said, “We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” What do those who are invincible and immortal have to fear?

There’s a moment early on in Jesus’ ministry where he’s teaching a crowd of Israelites and they get so ferociously angry at his words that they try to arrest him in order to kill him. John summarizes the moment by writing, “These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 8:20). Note that last sentence; “because his hour had not yet come.”

Safe from arrest

These seven words make a massive statement about just how secure our lives are. Jesus couldn’t be arrested because his hour had not yet come. The Father had a time set for his arrest, and it wasn’t then. No matter how vicious the crowd, no matter how fiercely they desired his arrest, Jesus could stand unafraid because his hour had not yet come and until his hour came he was invincible.

We serve the same God that Jesus did. He has the same care and power in our lives. No matter what the political reality of the present or future may be, no matter how viciously people oppose us, no matter how angry others may be, we are utterly safe. We have nothing to fear, because God is good.

Safe from Satan

Later in his ministry as he nears his betrayal and murder, Jesus says to his disciples,

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:30-31)

Catch that? Jesus calmly notifies his followers that Satan is coming for him, but he’s not afraid. The devil has no claim on him. Oh, he’ll go along with things and be crucified, but not in fear. He goes to the cross in faith, “so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

If you are a follower of Jesus you have the same Spirit that he did. You can, by faith, say with equal boldness, “the ruler of this world has no claim on me” and face even the most potent of demonic opposition without giving an inch to fear.

Safe in death

The story doesn’t stop there though, as you probably know. Jesus goes forward in love and is crucified. He dies, but even in death Jesus doesn’t give way to fear. He is utterly confident that his Father is sovereign even over the power of death. Jesus is just as safe in death as he was in that moment at the outset of his ministry when the Jews wanted to arrest him.

You too, like Jesus, can face even death with confidence. Paul writes in Romans that those who are connected with Jesus will surely be resurrected like him. Even in dying you’re secure.

Here’s the deal, my friends- fear focuses on the situation; faith focuses on the savior. We live in a world that says “be afraid, be very afraid!” ten thousand times a day. We have a savior who has said, “Do not be afraid, I am with you always” and proven it a million times over. Whose story are you going to buy? What kind of life are you going to live?

I for one don’t want to let fear define how I live. I want to be a love promoter, bold and laughing in the face of fear because I know my Father is the one with all the power. He has all the power and he’s promised that he’s going to use it for the good of everyone who have put their faith in Jesus. Get on board. Build your anchor on Christ, the firm foundation. Set aside all worry and doubt and trembling and embrace the truth; if you’re in Jesus, God loves you and is for you. You’re invincible. What do you have to worry about?

 

 

 

Commentary, Culture, Fallout Revisited

Fallout Revisited: Politic, 1650

January 7, 2014

Fallout Revisited is an occasional series of posts that dig back through the five plus years of posts here on The Everlasting Fallout and bring to the surface things that I believe are still timely and important. This post was originally published February of 2009 here.

———————————————-

 

It might be imagined that men who sacrificed their friends, their family, and their native lands to a religious conviction, were absorbed in the pursuit of intellectual advantages which they purchased at so dear a rate. The energy, however, with which they strove for the acquirement of wealth, moral enjoyment, and the comforts as well as the liberties of the world is scarcely inferior to that which they devoted themselves to Heaven.

Political principles, and all human laws and institutions were molded and altered at their pleasure; the barriers of the society in which they were born were broken down before them; the old principles which had governet the world for ages were no more; a pat without a term, and a field without a horizon were opened to the exploring and ardent curiosity of man : but at the limits of the political world he checks his researches, he discreetly lays aside the use of his most formidable faculties, he no longer consents to doubt or to innovate, but carefully abstaining from rainsing the curtain of the sanctuary, he yields with the submissive respect to truths he will not debate.

Thus in the moral world everything is classed, adapted, decided, and forseen ; in the political world everything is agitated , disputed, and uncertain. In one is a passive, though voluntary, obedience : in the other an independence scornful of experience and jealous of authority.

These two tendencies, apparently so discrepant, are far from conflicting. They advance together and mutually support each other.

Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculty of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of the intelligence. Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.

Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. The safe-gaurd of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

That quote, from Alexis de Tocquevile’s Democracy in America, which I just finished reading, brought to my mind a rather interesting train of thought. First off, I must highly recommend the book…I’m only 30-something pages into it and am amazed at some of the astute observations that de Tocquevile makes about America and its birth which are greatly relevant to our country today.

De Tocquevile makes the point that one of the unique things about America’s early years was the unprecedented freedom of political thought; “in the political world everything is agitated , disputed, and uncertain,” yet at the same time in the moral (religious) world there was almost no movement. He presents here, though subtly, a fair picture of the much touted and much mis-used idea of separation of church and state, declaring that far from the state being beyond religion’s reach, it is religion which sees the political field as the place in which religious men may exercise their mental capacity to the full. His statement that, “the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength” delighted me. It is absolutely true that religion thrives greatest when it is free from forced supports (ie. a “state religion” that is sanctioned and supported by a governing body).  The places where the Christian religion grows the most deeply and widely and bears the most fruit is the places where the state, far from supporting it, even goes so far as to condemn and persecute those who follow the Way.  That, I believe, is the essential true meaning of the seperation of church and state. The state simply is not meant to support any religion.

What struck me was the fact, as I stated, that the early citizens of the New World held their religious beliefs in almost complete stasis, not changing or even debating change of them. In contrast, their political discussion was as broad and varying as the land in which they had settled. De Tocquevile seems to point to this as a reason for their success and ability to have such liberty without abuse of that freedom. ” The safe-gaurd of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.” If religion gaurds morality and morality is the best security of law and freedom, then religion is most certainly necessary for a country that desires to have a free people.

It seems to me that we in America today have gotten things rather backward. Where the early settlers were free in their politics and held no parties or boundary lines therein we have a country that is sectioned into democrats and republicans with almost no possibility of someone without the backing of one of the two parties holding any significant office. Where America’s birth came from religion being solid, definite, and unmoveable, the culture now is one where religion is the thing that is bantered about in discussions and used as the playing field for the excersize of the human mind.

I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t part of the cause of so much of our struggle today. Are we all discussing the wrong thing? Maybe we should be debating and breaking down the “barriers of the society” and politics rather than focusing so much on whether God exists or whether Catholicism and Christianity are the same. Those of you who read my blog know full well my position on religion, but that is beside the point at the moment. If the things that we are debating are in completely the wrong field, how will we ever find the answer? A man struggling with all his mental power write a novel will never succeed in solving a mathematical equation.

That’s my thought for the moment. Leave your comments if you have any of your own, and, once again, I would highly recommend de Tocquevile’s Democracy in America. It’s a great read!

Prose

Politic, 1650

February 16, 2009

It might be imagined that men who sacrificed their friends, their family, and their native lands to a religious conviction, were absorbed in the pursuit of intellectual advantages which they purchased at so dear a rate. The energy, however, with which they strove for the acquirement of wealth, moral enjoyment, and the comforts as well as the liberties of thr world is scarcely inferior to that which they devoted themselves to Heaven.

Political principles, and all human laws and institutions were molded and altered at their pleasure; the barriers of the society in which they were born were broken down before them; the old principles which had governet the world for ages were no more; a pat without a term, and a field without a horizon were opened to the exploring and ardent curiosity of man : but at the limits of the political world he checks his researches, he discreetly lays aside the use of his most formidable faculties, he no longer consents to doubt or to innovate, but carefully abstaining from rainsing the curtain of the sanctuary, he yields with the submissive respect to truths he will not debate.

Thus in the moral world everything is classed, adapted, decided, and forseen ; in the political world everything is agitated , disupted, and uncertain. In one is a passive, though voluntary, obedience : in the other an independence scornful of experience and jealous of authority.

These two tendencies, apparently so discrepant, are far from conflicting. They advance together and mutually support each other.

Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble excersize to the faculty of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of the intelligence. Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.

Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. The safe-gaurd of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

That quote, from Alexis de Tocquevile’s Democracy in America, which is just finished reading, brought to my mind a rather interesting train of thought. First off, I must highly recommend the book…I’m only 30-something pages into it and am amazed at some of the astute observations that de Tocquevile makes about America and its birth which are greatly relevant to our country today. I hope to address one of those observations in brief here, and perhaps at length in a later post. For now, I’m writing off the top of my head, so here goes.

De Tocquevile makes the point that one of the unique things about America’s early years was the unprecedented freedom of political thought (“in the political world everything is agitated , disputed, and uncertain.”) yet, at the same time, the moral (religious) world there was no movement. He presents here, though subtly, a fair picture of the much touted and much mis-used idea of separation of church and state, declaring that far from the state being beyond religion’s reach, it is religion which sees the political field as the place in which religious men may exercise their mental capacity to the full. His statement, “the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.” is one that delighted me. It is absolutely true that religion thrives greatest when it is free from forced supports (ie. a “state religion” that is sanctionted and supported by the governing body). In the case of Christianity this is seen quite obviously. The places where the Christian religion grows the most deeply and widely and bears the most fruit is the places where the state, far from supporting it, even goes so far as to condemn and persecute those who follow the Way.  That, I believe, is the essential true meaning of the seperation of church and state. The state simply is not meant to support  any religion.

But that all is quite far from where I meant to go. That’s what happens when I write off the top of my head…I write places I didn’t plan on. So. Back on track.

What struck me was the fact, as I stated, that the early citizens of the New World held their religious beliefs in almost complete stasis, not changing or even debating change of them. In contrast, their political discussion was as broad and varying as the land in which they had settled. De Tocquevile seems to point to this as a reason for their success and ability to have such liberty without abuse of that freedom. ” The safe-gaurd of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.” If religion gaurds morality and morality is the best security of law and freedom, then religion is most certainly necessary for a country that desires to have a free people.

However, it seems to me that we in America today have gotten things rather backwards. Where the early settlers were free in their politics and held no parties or boundary lines therein, we have a country that is sectioned into democrats and republicans with almost no possibility of someone without the backing of one of the two parties holding any significant office. Where America’s birth came from religion being solid, definite, and unmoveable, the culture now is that of one where religion is the thing that is bantered about in discussions and used as the playing field for the excersize of the human mind.

I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t part of the cause of so much of our struggle today. Are we all discussing the wrong thing? Maybe we should be debating and breaking down the “barriers of the society” and politics rather than focusing so much on whether God exists or whether Catholicism and Christianity are the same. Those of you who read my blog know full well my position on religion, but that is beside the point at the moment. If the things that we are debating are in completely the wrong field, how will we ever find the answer? A man struggling with all his mental power write a novel will never succeed in solving a mathematical equation.

That’s my thought for the moment. Leave your comments if you have any of your own, and, once again, I would highly recommend de Tocquevile’s Democracy in America. It’s a great read!

-Thefallout