Tag Archive | Constitution

The Lost Art of Reading Billboards

Motel SignBillboards have long been a fixture across the landscape of our country. Just drive down nearly any state highway or interstate, and you will be witness to massive advertisements for any number of businesses, products, services, or causes. From ads for fast food to political candidates to massive marriage proposals, people use billboards to communicate any number of products and ideas.

And in my 70 years on this earth, I don’t ever recall a single time I passed a billboard and witnessed an individual standing on the side of the road, screaming at that billboard while waving a picket sign. A billboard must meet certain community standards in order to be erected in the first place. I see any number of billboards on a daily basis that are advertising something I don’t necessarily agree (or disagree) with.

When I see these, I do what all normal people do… I just keep driving. I don’t stop and scream at the billboard. I stay in my car, maintain my speed, and have probably forgotten about it within a mile.

Wouldn’t it be great if people viewed what they see on the internet and social media the same way they view billboards?

It never ceases to amaze me, the time and energy people put into running something down that they disagree with on the web. In a letter he wrote in 1946, Albert Einstein said something almost prophetic…

“I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives — a disastrous byproduct of science and technology. Nostra Culpa (our fault)!”

Even in 1946 — long before home computers, digital technology, and the internet — Einstein saw technology “depersonalizing” our lives as individuals, and the way we interact with each other. Today we witness people say and do things on the internet — and when I say ‘internet’, I am including social media — that they would never have done even 25 years ago. We see “digital courage” on display on a regular basis; people hiding behind a computer screen, espousing their particular brand of hatred and vitriol from the safety of their bedroom… things they would never dream of saying to another person’s face.

Recently, our church had what we called All American Day. Our church has a long history of patriotic events, dating back over 30 years. I love this country, and I am thankful for the grace God has shown us over the last nearly 250 years. I believe the blessings of God on our nation are worth celebrating. This year, we invited former presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee to be our guest speaker. Subsequently, we did a little advertising on social media to promote the event. The text of the ad read…

Governor Mike Huckabee will be speaking this Sunday at Abba’s House in Hixson! Join us for patriotic music and an inspiring message by Gov. Huckabee! The service begins at 10:30am. Abba’s House is located at 5208 Hixson Pike.

No political agenda. No partisanship. No campaigning for a candidate. A former governor, who happens to be a Christian, was speaking about our nation.

What ensued over the next few days was a series of ill-informed, uneducated, judgmental, and even vile posts by people who disagreed with or disliked the idea Governor Huckabee was speaking at our church. While there were many posts that were positive and/or neutral, many crossed the line into absurdity and profanity that we would not even allow on the page. People launched into uninformed and unfounded personal attacks on Governor Huckabee. Others launched into attacks on President Trump. Still others became “Constitutional scholars”, and launched into arguments about the First Amendment, separation of church and state, and the Johnson Amendment (calling into question our church’s tax-exempt status).  I even had one person who proceeded to attack a speaker who spoke at our church several years ago (in an event that was not even sponsored by our church) who has no affiliation to politics, Mike Huckabee, or President Trump.

But what was probably the most disheartening were the attacks commentors made on other commentors, calling them childish and profane names, and belittling total strangers for being hopeful about our nation and our future.

Now normally I don’t respond to comments and criticisms, particularly on my blog. This “conversation”, however, goes to a bigger issue: Decency. I am used to criticism; I’m a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so in a world that is hostile to Him, it comes with the territory. What gets me, though, is the way people instantly become experts about everything they disagree with, which amplifies the idea that, as a believer in Jesus Christ, trying to “fit in” in such a world is not possible.

Here are a few fast facts pertaining to these posts…

  • Former-governor Huckabee is no longer a political candidate. The fact is, before he was Governor Mike Huckabee, he was Pastor Mike Huckabee. More than a decade before he entered politics, he was the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. One of his former bosses, evangelist James Robison, once said of him…

“His convictions shape his character and his character will shape his policies. His whole life has been shaped by moral absolutes.”

  • The Johnson Amendment (regarding political speech from a pulpit), has to do with the endorsement of a political candidate. Since Mr. Huckabee is neither (at this writing) a political candidate nor endorsing one, this really was a non-issue. In fact, all one has to do is a simple YouTube search, and you will find a variety of politicians (and candidates) who have spoken in churches, from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump.
  • There were several comments about the First Amendment and “separation of church and state.” The fact is that the term “separation of church and state” is not in the First Amendment, or in the Constitution at all for that matter. The phrase separation of church and state came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury Connecticut. The actual text of the First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Jefferson quote 1

While the First Amendment was never meant to keep the Church out of the State, but in fact, to keep the State out of the Church, liberal interpretations of the First Amendment, combined with a mis-interpretation (lack of context) of Jefferson’s words have led us to where we are today. The fact is, Jefferson’s own writings (as well as the writings of many of the founding fathers) bear witness to not only his belief in God, and to his belief that our liberties as a nation are a gift from God. Does it really stand to reason that we should eliminate, from our public life, the very God credited with making our public life, as we know it, possible?

 

“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?”
~ Thomas Jefferson

 

  • In the social media posts, the word “hypocrite” was bandied about quite a bit. The fact of the matter is, hypocrisy is, by definition, the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. The fact is, nearly everyone exhibits hypocrisy in some form or fashion (if you claim to be a law-abiding citizen, yet you speed, you are, by definition a hypocrite)Monitor 4But here again, for the believer in Christ, fighting against the labels the world attempts to put on us is an untenable position; if we stand unwavering on the tenants of Scripture, particularly with regard to issues of morality, we are labelled “intolerant, bigots, homophobic, judgmental,” etc. But the same people who use such terms to describe people who stand on their Christian moral standards and beliefs are as equally unforgiving of any Christian who appears hypocritical in any way, form, or fashion. Essentially the argument is, “You are going to criticize me if my Christian belief system is counter to your political, social, or moral ideology (ie: if I am NOT a hypocrite), but you are going to criticize me for being a hypocrite if I don’t live my life perfectly in keeping with what I claim to believe.” Are you seeing the absurdity here, in trying to please those who you are never going to please?

I could go on for days, but I would like to bring this all back to the bigger issue I alluded to…

Decency.

While there will always be critics and naysayers, regardless of the topic, there should be an understanding that such “dialogue” is not the acceptable norm. There should be a way, in civil society, that we can “disagree without being disagreeable”, and respond to each other with dignity and respect. It seems that the more tech-saavy we become, the less decent we act. We should be able to have public discourse without the need to go to verbal war. We should be able to have honest debate without vitriolic hate. In the Bible, James implores the believer…

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

In Proverbs, we find this truth…

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. ~ Proverbs 15:1-2

Someone much wiser than me wrote that. It seems like pretty good advice for all of us. We can be uncompromising in our beliefs without being uncharitable in our speech. We should all strive to be passionate about our convictions without being profane in our words and attitude. It is possible to strongly disagree, but do so with unquestionable love, or at least civility.

Maybe it’s time to view social media the same way we view bilboards…

Read… and keep on driving down the road.

Have a great weekend!

Pastor Ron

Unhinged

trump-swearing-inOn November 8, 2016, the American people spoke.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United Sates.

And from that time until now, individuals, groups, and organizations have become increasingly hostile, hateful, lawless, and… well… unhinged.

We have seen protests, riots, assaults, and rampant crime in our streets, all under the guise of 1st Amendment rights. We have gotten a front-row seat to unprecedented obstruction with the “slow-walking” confirmations — courtesy of Democrats in the Senate — of President Trump’s cabinet (in fact, not since the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 has a president had to wait this long to have his cabinet confirmed). We have been subjected to a steady string of “false news” reports from a media openly hostile to our new leader and leadership. We have become witness to the spectacle of Hollywood liberal acolytes using award programs and entertainment platforms for the purpose of lecturing the “uneducated masses” on the evils of President Trump, Vice-President Pence, and anyone associated with them — seemingly from birth.


The 1st Amendment of the Constitution has long been a cornerstone of the American way of life. To know that we can worship, believe, speak our mind, and have a free press without fear of persecution from the State is a right we should be able to count on.
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution declares…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

IMG_1905Many of those who rallied behind the lawful election of Barack Obama, and told those on the opposite side of the aisle to “deal with it” are now becoming increasingly hostile to the rule of law. When “We won!” was the reply to those who disagreed with the incoming flood of immoral and, in some cases, arguably unconstitutional legislation, those of a Republican or Conservative bent did not flood the streets, obstruct traffic, destroy property, and participate in disgusting and offensive demonstrations.

Of what do I speak? Well, for anyone who has (some might say ‘wisely’) not viewed news programs or current events, allow me to get you (partially) up to speed…

  • On January 20 (Inauguration Day), rioters took to the streets in parts of Washington D.C., throwing rocks at police, smashing storefronts, and setting vehicles on fire, apparently in an attempt to disrupt the Inaugural parade route. Over 200 were arrested and charged with felony rioting (a federal offense that, if convicted, carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, and up to a $250,00.00 fine).
  • On January 21, The Women’s March on Washington took place on the streets of Washington D.C., and around the nation. While the group’s policy platform includes “reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious discrimination (primarily that against Muslim Americans), LGBTQ rights, gender and racial inequities, workers’ rights, and other issues“, one of the co-chairs of the march was Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who allegedly advocates Sharia law. Among the highlights of the march were women dressed in “vagina” costumes, profanity-laced tirades and pontifications by celebrities such as Madonna, Ashley Judd, and Scarlet Johansson, and the marked absence of any pro-life women’s groups (who were told they were not allowed to participate because they were pro-life).
  • On February 1, riots broke out at UC Berkeley as the result of a scheduled lecture by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulous, a gay “right-wing” commentator, had to be escorted off campus by police amidst the cancellation of his lecture due to violent protests that included Molotov cocktails, masked agitators, and personal assaults on innocent bystanders. In the end, the campus upon which the “free-speech movement” began in 1964 has become a bastion of censorship and intolerance by the very people who are screaming for tolerance.

For all of their protests, riots, whining, and foot-stomping, those who protest our new administration seem to be missing an important fact…

We are a nation of laws. We pride ourselves in the rule of law. While other countries devolve into chaos and madness, America remains stable because of our laws. And while the former administration made it a point to ignore certain laws it didn’t agree with (particularly regarding immigration and social issues), the Trump administration promised to return to the rule of law. While liberals try their best to derail this administration at every single turn from doing what the American voters tasked it to do, those same voters are, for the most part, in favor of President Trump’s actions. Interestingly enough, the same people who are for the stonewalling of the Trump cabinet are the same people who are criticizing President Trump for not moving faster in accomplishing the goals he set forth in his campaign.

Seems a bit like criticizing a sprinter for not running faster… while ignoring the fact that his foot is chained to the floor.

So criticisms, tantrums, and protests aside, what does the Bible have to say about submission to authority…

 Coffee Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. ~ Romans 13:1-7

“Those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.” In the King James Version, it says it this way…

“…and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Regardless of what any of us think of a politician or leader, we would do well to heed the words of Paul in this passage. Whether judgement falls as the result of our earthly actions by the hands of authorities here on earth, or judgement is stayed and awaits us in the afterlife, we can rest assured that God is good for His word, and that judgement for acts or rebellion against God-ordained leaders is inevitable.

I have lived through many presidents in my lifetime, and I have probably never agreed with any of them 100% of the time. Still, while I might be critical at times, I have always been careful to pray for our leaders, and while standing for what is right, do so in a law-abiding fashion. It seems that the words “civil disobedience” have come to mean whatever methods people decide upon in the heat of the moment. It is one thing to chant, picket, and protest outside of a building. It is quite another to violate someone else’s rights by burning property, physical assault, and making threats of violence. While it is lawful under our Constitution for an individual to stand up and regurgitate whatever banal ideology they choose, it is not lawful to threaten to kill the President or hurt innocent people. Signs and slogans make you a protester. Threats and violence make you a criminal thug. While one may land you in the newspaper, the other will likely land you in jail.

For the last 8+ years, many laws have been ignored simply because they were socially unpopular, particularly laws pertaining to immigration (hence “Sanctuary Cities”), and social/moral issues. As President of the United States, the person who occupies that office has taken an oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution“. That includes abiding by the laws contained therein, or any laws passed legally through the legislative process set forth in the Constitution… whether or not that particular President agrees with their validity or not. The President himself is answerable to the people for how he carries out his oath. If a President disagrees with a law, then he has the right to have those in Congress try to advance legislation to repeal such laws.

I would contend that the ire against President Trump may have less to do with his lawfulness (or perceived lack thereof), and more to do with the reining in of an attitude that “laws were made to be broken”. Many (if not most) of the protests I have seen are people fighting back against the rule of law, protesting what should be common sense enforcement of the laws of our land. Whether it is immigration, gun control, etc… in most cases, we don’t need more legislation; we simply need to enforce the laws already passed and on the books.

At the end of the day (and to coin a phrase), there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s dusting off a Constitution that has long been ignored.

Ready… FIRE… Aim…


So I’m perusing my news feed on social media the other day when I see this headline…

“Chip and Joanna Gaines Under Fire for Maybe
Having the ‘Wrong’ Views on LGBT Issues”

“Maybe”…

Please, take a moment and let that sink in.

“Maybe.”

Chalk outline - crossThe story, posted in The Daily Signal, discussed how the HGTV stars of Fixer Upper were in hot water with some outlets such as BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan over the fact that they attend a church where the pastor still believes that homosexuality is a sin. Now, bear in mind that the Gaines couple, who happen to be born-again Christians, have never spoken publicly (that anyone seems to know of) about their position on homosexuality and/or gay marriage.

Cue the sirens of the “Thought-Police“.

So, if I’m getting this straight, now we have gone from…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you speak out against what the Bible calls ‘sin'”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you think something is a sin”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if I think that you think that something is a sin.”

Folks… we, as a society, have officially jumped the shark.

First_amendment_engraving,_Washington_DCPolitical correctness has indeed reached a tipping point, and for the left-wing crowd that wants to be able to say, express, and champion every progressive, “enlightened”, offensive, and ungodly idea under the auspices of “free speech”, well… here’s your First Amendment at work.

Our nation is sorely divided over LGBT issues. According to The Daily Caller article

According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, 37 percent of adults in this country still oppose same-sex marriage, while 55 percent approve. That means over a third of Americans are still against same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, among Christians, 54 percent thought that homosexuality should be accepted in society, per a 2014 Pew study—which means that up to 46 percent thought it shouldn’t be. Among Protestants, 44 percent believe that homosexuality should be discouraged in society.

However, as a minister of the Gospel for the vast majority of my life, I will continue to stand on the truth of the Word of God, and its definition of sin. In our day and time, with cultural forces being brought to bear on those who believe in the inerrancy and timelessness of the Bible, it would be far easier to go with the flow, follow the crowd, and preach an “I’m ok, you’re ok” doctrine that marginalizes holiness and righteousness in the name of a twisted and corrupted definition of “love”. But that isn’t how it works. The laws and principles laid out in God’s Word are sovereign and unchanging. What God says is sin is sin, for He is not bound to bend to the whims of culture and political correctness. He is God Almighty, unchanging from eternity to eternity.

In I Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter), Paul says…

    Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (v. 4-8a NKJV)

As a minister of the Gospel, I speak out against things that the Bible calls ‘sin’ — not in spite of love — but because of love…

… Love that puts up with being called a bigot or a homophobe because of my love for the souls of men and women who are without Christ.

… Love that is willing to risk ridicule and derision for the sake of truth.

… Love that wishes, as Christ did, that “none should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

But I digress… a little.

The fact is that political correctness in America has reached a point of toxicity, hypocrisy, and absurdity that warrants a long, hard look by the next administration into the injustices and persecution of conservative individuals who have simply stood on their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and faith, while other — more politically correct — individuals are given a pass on the basis of those same rights.

And for the “who are you to judge me?” crowd to now begin persecuting people because of what they MIGHT believe??? Is that not the very essence of being judgmental? (I wish I could say this is a joke, but you really can’t make this stuff up.)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. ~ Hebrews 4: 12-13 (NKJV)

In the end, God is the Judge of all. Until that time, whether conservative or liberal, right or wrong, we must all be ready to be offended in some way by some person who has a differing viewpoint from our own. That is the whole essence of discourse or having a conversation — to share differing ideas and opinions. 

And who knows… in the process, we might actually learn something about ourselves, about others, and about what it means to live and exist outside of the bubble of our own ideas. As Christians, we might actually become better informed to make the difference that Jesus called us to make, in the lives of others and in our world. We might start changing minds and hearts because of, not just a message of love and forgiveness, but a lifestyle and attitude that uncompromisingly walks the talk.

 

Election 2016: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

KS77849With the close of the final Presidential debate of 2016, our nation now enters the homestretch of the most unusual and heated political campaign in our history. With so much information, misinformation, and misleading journalism out there, I think it is appropriate and timely to step back for a moment, take a deep breath, look at what it is that makes us great as a nation, and what is and is not important when it comes to policy and personality.

Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and a Constitution to which every president swears allegiance. One has but to look at the writings of people like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and countless others of our founding fathers to find this to be true. Still, we have those in the seats of power who would twist our heritage, rewrite our history, and try to push an agenda that is contrary our historically Biblical values, our Constitution, and to sanity itself.

How can a person claim to be supportive of our founding documents (of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”), as well as the rights of children, and yet support the heinous and barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion?

You can’t have it both ways.

How can a government expect to have any moral authority when it excuses the crimes of the rich and powerful? How can our leaders effectively lead when the halls of our state-houses are flooded with corruption?

You can’t have it both ways.

How can a journalist feign indignation and “shocked” outrage at offensive words and “locker-room banter”, yet smile and laugh through a reprehensible, profanity-laced interview where the interviewer refers to her as a “piece of a**”, discuss having a “threesome” with he and his wife, and discuss and disparage others who struggle with weight issues (among many other things unfit to publish here)?

You can’t have it both ways.

The Presidential oath of office reads as follows…

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

How can the person who utters these words, yet repeatedly tramples on the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold not be guilty of dereliction of duty in the breaking of that oath?

You can’t have it both ways.

How can a person talk about supporting national security, yet support open borders, increased refugee acceptance from Islamic countries, and policies that put that very national security at risk?

You can’t have it both ways.

How can a “news” media that financially supports any political candidate expect the American public to believe they are unbiased?

You can’t have it both ways.

I could go on for hours with regard to the hypocrisy that has permeated our culture. But  I will instead leave you with a couple of quotes by the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world
that it leaves to its children.”

What kind of society will we leave our children? Will it be a society of hypocrisy, corruption, and misguided political correctness, or will it be a society endeavoring for truth, justice, and righteousness? It is in our hand to decide.

Bonhoeffer also stated…

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running
along the corridor in the other direction.”

AppealSlowly and steadily, our society has changed trains, while Christians, Conservatives, and Constitutionalists have done little to stop the it. Those in power want to fix what ails our society by doubling down on the bad decisions that have put us in the position we are in. As Christians, we have — not just a moral obligation — but a Scriptural mandate to support, not the perfect candidate, but the candidate who is going to do the most in guiding our nation back to a place of safety, sanity, and sanctity. We must put the rhetoric, tabloid journalism, and social media debate aside, put on the whole armor of God, and vote with the mind of Christ. It is time to get off of the vehicle of self-serving destruction, and get on a path of repentance and restoration.

We are now less than three weeks from Election Day. I encourage you…

Pray to God.

Seek His face.

Follow His leading.

Vote.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ II Chronicles 7:14

The Unraveling of America

With less than one month until the election, America hangs in the balance.

This week on Ron Phillips from Abba’s House…

 

The Conspiracy of Silence

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
~ Marcus Aurelius

Candidate XOn April 24, 2015, Hillary Clinton gave her first speech as a presidential candidate for the 2016 election. She made it clear that, if elected president of the United States, she will push for legislation providing unlimited access to abortion. Her remarks were made at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit, a feminist group that shoulders the pro-abortion agenda.

While her progressive viewpoints were not surprising, during the course of her speech she made a statement that caused me to sit up and take notice.

As she continued to rally the crowd, Ms. Clinton said, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed for the sake of giving ‘access’ to women for ‘reproductive health care.’” The comment was a shot across the bow at pro-life advocates and countries with pro-life laws.1

Keep in mind, the stated goal of the socialist/progressive movement is to fundamentally transform America. In order to do that, according to Ms. Clinton, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” So what was she really saying? In order to reshape America, certain “old fashioned” views and other long held beliefs and traditions must be removed.

The real question is this: Is mainstream media a sympathetic “co-conspirator” in promoting and propagating the progressive agenda? To answer that question, you have to ask a second question: Is mainstream media biased against those who hold a strong conservative belief system? Is America receiving a subtle, subversive push toward a progressive agenda at the hand of media reports on the issues of the day?

“Since citizens cannot cast informed votes or make knowledgeable decisions on matters of public policy if the information on which they depend is distorted, it is vital to American democracy that television news and other media be fair and unbiased.

In a recent Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans said they believe that the mass media slant reports in favor of the liberal position on current issues.

[The bias] is not the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy – [there is] an unconscious “groupthink” mentality that taints news coverage and allows only one side of a debate to receive a fair hearing. When that happens, the truth suffers.”2

According to the Society of Professional Journalist code of ethics published on the spj.org website, “Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair.” Journalists are charged in the ethical code to “avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.”3  Presenting the facts without injecting opinion, philosophy or ideology should be the goal. As you read, listen or watch the news, how is it possible to know if the reporting is biased? I have discovered biased reporting falls into one of the following categories:

Bias by omission – leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time; bias by omission can occur either within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another.

Bias by selection of sources – including more sources that support one view over another. This bias can also be seen when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe,” “observers say,” or “most people believe.”

Bias by story selection – a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of either the Left or the Right, while ignoring stories that coincide with the opposing view.

Bias by placement – story placement is a measure of how important the editor considers the story. Studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline.

Bias by labeling – bias by labeling comes in two forms: The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels, or vice versa. The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal or a conservative as a conservative, but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group.”

Bias by spin – bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other; spin involves tone – it’s a reporter’s subjective comments about objective facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective look better than another.4

Adapted from my most recent book,
The Unraveling of America
by Dr. Ron M. Phillips
with Dr. J. Tod Zeiger
© 2016 Abba’s House Media

 

  1. http://www.lifenews.com/2015/04/24/hillary-clinton-pushes-abortion-in-firstspeech-as-candidate-too-many-women-denied-abortion/
  2. https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
  3. https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/types-of-media-bias/
  4. https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/types-of-media-bias/

The Judas Paradigm

 He had a kind boss, but for some inexplicable reason,
that wasn’t enough.

He had seen amazing things at the hands of his master, and thousands of people were touched by his goodness. Yet, as in many cases, the saying of him was definitely true… “No good deed goes unpunished”. And when betrayal comes with a pricetag…

Well, where do we sign up?

judasHe waited for the opportune time to spring his trap — a time when all was quiet, the adoring crowds were gone, and he was relatively alone, except for maybe a few of his closest friends. His accusers were seconds away in hiding, just waiting for a sign…

A kiss. Yes!!! Such a sign of affection would be unmistakable for the wolves hiding in the shadows.

By now, if you know anything about the life of Jesus, you have probably figured out that I am talking about His betrayal at the hands of Judas Iscariot. With his singular act of betrayal, Judas entered the ranks of the most despised individuals in Biblical history, joining names like Cain, Goliath, Jezebel, Absalom, and many others. Yet his betrayal of the Son of God moved him straight to the head of the class; Judas had betrayed God for 30 pieces of silver, and although remorse soon set in, and he tried to undo the damage he had done, some things cannot be undone.

In a matter of days, Jesus was tried, convicted, killed, and rose from the grave.

Judas, on the other hand…

(For the whole story, read Matthew 26 – 27:9)

So how does one go from a position of favor to embracing a curse? How does one go from a place of honor to dying by suicide, and being buried in an unmarked grave? While I’m sure the other eleven disciples were somewhat surprised by Judas’s betrayal, none of this caught Jesus by surprise. After all, this historic betrayal had been foretold hundreds of years before…

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9

And was again alluded to in Zechariah…

 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.”
So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me.
So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into
the house of the Lord for the potter. ~Zechariah 11:12-13

So what drove Judas to betray the Creator of the Universe to a self-serving and self-righteous bunch? What path did Judas take that led him to the hanging tree? What are the symptoms of The Judas Paradigm?

  • Judas had no faith. In John 6, Jesus puts before His disciples some pretty tough language about what it takes to follow Him. He recognized that there were many of His disciples who did not really believe, and their desertion bore out this fact (v.64-66). In the face of unpopular and controversial teaching, they bailed out. Even when given the choice to leave, and hearing Peter declare, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 68-69), Judas still masqueraded as a follower, and gave the illusion of devotion and trust. 
  • Judas had no respect for the sacred. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume (John 12), Judas objected. “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (v. 5). The next verse reveals that Judas had no care or concern for the poor, but that he was a thief, and as the one tasked with the care of the money box, he regularly stole from the money that was given to Jesus and His disciples for their needs and the care of the poor.
  • Judas had no loyalty to the Truth. Because of the deceit of his heart, Judas was ripe to be used by the devil. John 13 bears out the fact that the rest of the disciples were clueless to his deceit (v.28-29). In verse 2, we learn that the devil had “put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot” to betray Jesus. At that point, he was considering his betrayal. But when consideration turned to commitment, Satan entered into him (v. 27). At that point, he was totally under the control of the demonic. In spite of the fact that Jesus had, in an act of abject humility, just washed Judas’s feet (as well as the other disciples), Judas maintained his destructive path that ultimately took him to the grave.

In our world today, we are seeing The Judas Paradigm alive and at work in our homes, our churches, and our government.

As statistics bear out, we are seeing a decline in the organized church in America today. Children are abandoning the faith of their parents for convenience, comfort, and a feel-good Gospel that requires no sacrifice, no commitment, and no tough choices. The goal is relevance and inclusion, at the expense of Truth and holiness. We have so blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular that the message of the blood of Jesus has been lost in pop-psychology and moral relativism. We have forgotten the words of Jesus, that fly in the face of this 21st century mindset…

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” ~ Matthew 16:24

When we lose our faith, it’s open season on what is sacred. We are seeing that at work in America today. Our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution) were written by men of faith that held the teachings of the Bible as guiding principles in their authorship of these documents. You cannot disregard one without catastrophic results to the others. When we removed the Bible from a place of prominence and respect in our society, it was a matter of time before our nation’s founding documents followed suit. The assault on our freedoms that we are seeing now, with utter disregard for The Constitution, is unprecedented. With the fate of the Supreme Court in the balance, America stands on the edge of a precipice. This year’s election will determine whether we move away from the edge, or plunge headlong into an abyss of lawlessness and Godlessness.

Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. ~ Proverbs 29:18

It’s easy to be loyal when people agree with you. But when society stands in opposition to the Word of God, we are forced to make a choice: We are forced to choose between the acceptance of the world or the approval of God. But make no mistake about it… if we choose the acceptance of the world, it puts us at odds with a Holy God. James 4:4 is pretty clear on the subject…

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity (hostility) against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. ~ James 4:4

Yet we are seeing an astounding number of “Christian” churches and pastors who are ignoring this dire warning, and condoning what God condemns. We are seeing politicians who — because of personalities — have abandoned their principles, promising to support a candidate who represents everything that is wrong with our political system, and who promises to continue us down a path of secularism, hedonism, and liberalism. The Judas Paradigm (spirit) allows loyalty to the Truth to take a back seat to our own comfort, feelings, and agenda. If we don’t like criticism, we cower to conformity. If we don’t like the messenger, we reject the message. If the road gets tough, we retire to the median and resign ourselves to being another casualty to a society bent on running over the righteous and off the cliff.

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9a

God is still looking…

He is looking for those who have faith, however small.

He is looking for those who recognize and respect the sacred.

He is looking for people of honor, who are loyal to Him.

He is looking for those who will stand when the crowd sits, be loud when the crowd is silent, and be faithful when the crowd is faithless.

He is looking for those who will gaze defiantly into the face of The Judas Paradigm, and refuse the 30 pieces of silver.

He is looking for YOU!

Pastor Ron