Tag Archive | politics

Living smart in a smartphone world.

Creación_de_Adám hands

There is an old adage…

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

The problem is, we live in a time of sound-bite-driven and movie-trailer-style culture. We want to be able to wrap up our assessments of others into nice, neat packages, put a bow on them, and divide life into “simple” categories. We want to define others by how they fit into our agenda, without the messiness or benefit of personal relationship. We have become “experts” at the 30-Second Evaluation, without considering the years (and moments) leading up to that evaluation. We don’t often take into account the bad morning (of history of events leading up to that bad morning) before we pass judgment. We look to the surface of appearance and circumstance without considering the depth of another person’s experience, psyche, or soul.

So how do we remedy this as a society? How do we regain the decency and humanity we have lost in our social-media-driven, sit-com addicted culture? Here’s three ideas that may be a good place for you and me to start…

WWJD?

It sounds a little simplistic, and a bit of a throwback to the ’90’s (remember the WWJD bracelets?), but there’s a lot of truth in that little acronym. “What would Jesus do?” is a legitimate question, especially for anyone who calls himself or herself a follower of His. So, when it comes to relationships, what is the example He sets for us? How did Jesus treat those close to Him? We find in the Gospels many examples of how He responded to people in various situations.

 

  • judasAfter Peter denied Him, He gave Him another chance without throwing His failure up in His face (John 21).
  • When the woman accused of adultery was brought before Him, He offered her mercy, then with a simple question, shined a light on the hypocrisy of her accusers (John 8).
  • He wept at the loss of a friend (John 11), lovingly corrected Martha over her frustration with Mary (Luke 10), and used the Truth as a defense in the light of criticism.
  • He quietly dismissed Judas from the upper room and Last Supper without calling attention to his imminent betrayal.

So how does Jesus see those around you; the odd, disagreeable, quirky, and unpleasant? In the face of the misfortune of another, would Jesus break out His camera phone and put that misfortune on public display, or would He pick that person up and become an agent of healing?

ACTION STEP: Before you react to another person, make the decision to ask yourself how Jesus would respond in that situation. Better yet… ask Him.

Open your eyes.

In the “ME” culture in which we live, it’s easy to pass by and not notice the suffering of those around us. When we are surrounded on every side by voices that are telling us to “look out for #1”, we must make a conscious effort to get out from in front of the mirror, get our noses out of our smart phones, and stop staring at the ground. We must notice what is going on around us, the beauty of God’s creation, and the needs of others at the end of our reach. It’s amazing, for a society as connected and “caught on camera” as we are, that we have become as blind to the needs of others as we have. Jesus didn’t wait for someone to come into the synagogue to be healed or ministered to. He hit the streets, visited the homes of “publicans and sinners”, and made Himself available to the masses. His life was the antithesis of the self-preservation mindset we see today.

 

ACTION STEP: Commit a couple of times a day (for starters) that, when you go into a public place, you are going to turn off your ringer, put up your cellphone, and take notice of those around you, looking for a way to be of assistance to someone else.

Listen.

Monitor 1One of the things that drives me crazy about politics is when, in a debate or interview, someone won’t answer a direct question. It is as though they have paid no attention to the question, and simply use their response as an opportunity to change the subject, and advance their own agenda. In the Bible, the apostle James encourages us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak…” (James 1:19). Too often, instead of really listening to what someone else is saying, we are simply working on formulating a pithy or intellectual response while they are talking. We are HEARING, but not truly LISTENING. Really listening requires undivided attention, focusing on the person who is speaking, and if they are in front of you (ie: not on the phone), observing facial expression and body language. There was a time not long ago when we were NOT connected 24/7; NOT constantly looking at Facebook and Snapchat, and NOT at the instant beck-and-call of every email or phone call. And you know what? We survived! We probably had a better quality of life, and definitely had better interpersonal relationship skills. Honestly, short of some sort of personal or dire emergency, when you are having a conversation, there should be nothing more important at that moment than the person sitting across from you with whom you are conversing.

A group of ministry friends of mine were having dinner with the pastor of a church where they were ministering; five or six men sitting in a restaurant conversing over a meal. About three-quarters of the way through the meal, the pastor looked up and exclaimed, “I just want to point out something. As we have been sitting here, the thing I have noticed is the way John (one of the guys at the table) has engaged everyone here. He has been listening to everyone, and has made it a point to draw every person here at the table into the conversation. That is a rare and wonderful ability.” In pointing out this observation about John, the pastor revealed that he, too, had been listening and observing, and had taken an interest in all of the men at the table. He was right… these days, that is a rare ability. Too often, we simply use our silence as the time in which we formulate our next opportunity to say something seemingly wise or clever.

ACTION STEP: The next time you sit down for a meeting, dinner, or just a conversation, encourage those you are with to turn off their phones, and put them in a place to the side, out of sight and mind. Whatever it is, it can wait. Commit to being a better listener.

We are made in God’s image, and it is the nature of God to want communion and fellowship with us, His creation. We all need someone to confide in, someone to talk to, and someone to listen to. It preserves our humanity. It makes us (and others) less lonely. It improves the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.

For those of us who are believers in Christ, I am reminded of this saying…

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So, I encourage you… saddle up, head out, go forth, and reconnect with the world around you. See others the way Jesus does, and take the time to draw them into your circle.

By drawing them into your circle, you might find them drawn into His heart.

 

Pastor Ron

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

Mike Huckabee is in the House for All-American Day!

Mike Huckabee

Anyone who knows me knows how much I care about this country. Throughout my 50+ years of ministry, I have desired for America to come back to God, and for revival to once again burn like a wildfire in our land. I know that, in order for that to happen, it takes the people of God getting up off of their pews, out into their communities, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will hear.

img_0184Another thing that it takes for revival to happen is for men and women of God to stand in the public square, and to proclaim unashamedly that Jesus is Lord, that right is right and wrong is wrong, and to be champions of truth, the poor and the unborn, and to be a voice against the ungodliness that has leeched into the walls and halls of our government.

Governor Mike Huckabee is such a man.

This Sunday is going to be a special time at Abba’s House as we welcome Governor Huckabee for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸. There will be stars and stripes, Patriotic music by our choir and orchestra, fireworks, and a special word for this hour by Governor Huckabee.

So join us THIS SUNDAY (July 2) at Abba’s House for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸! I would love for you to be my special guest. Service begins at 10:30am.

P.S. If you can make it earlier, come at 9:15 and check out our LifeGroups. There’s always room for one more, and you’re always welcome at Abba’s House!

All American Day

Patriots and Partisans: Restoring America

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For the last couple of weeks, all eyes in the political arena were fixed on Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Democrats and liberals from across the nation poured money into the campaign of Democrat Jon Ossoff in his bid to defeat Republican Karen Handel. Ossoff outraised and outspent Handel in what became the most expensive race in U.S. House of Representatives history. Liberal actors and entertainers endorsed Ossoff. Liberal politicians campaigned for him, trying to tie Handel to their perception of President Trump’s unpopularity.

In the end, Karen Handel won a decisive victory for the Republican majority, and liberal Democrats were once again left with just the stench of all of the money they had burned through in their failed attempt to further marginalize the 6-month old Trump Administration.

Candidate XRecently I, along with several others, were given access to some confidential information from a clandestine source inside a liberal think tank. The information we received was disturbing, to say the least.

Those associated with this think tank are determined to execute a coup d’état on our President and our government. While they intend to make it all seem legal, make no mistake about it… their goal is to take down President Trump and his entire administration.

The information we were given outlined the steps of action for their plan.

Dr. Frank Wright of Truths That Transform conveyed the seven steps the socialist/anarchist liberals use to destroy any opposition.

  • Ignore – by haughtily dismissing the others viewpoint.
  • Marginalize – view the person as an extremist.
  • Attack – make up fake news and attack the person through the left wing media.
  • Dismiss – use terms such as “history has sown or experts say…”.
  • Vicious Personal Attacks – use personal attacks on the person so you will ignore their real viewpoint.
  • Restrict – use every effort to block the persons message.
  • Aggressive Legal Effort – use legal force to threaten and attack the opponent.

Normally by step 5 the victim will throw in the towel as we saw with Judge Robert Bork, Sarah Palin, and others. Some have survived the vicious attacks, such as Judge Clarence Thomas, but not without a stained reputation.

Then along came Donald Trump.

Monitor 5He met every one of their attacks with a determination not to be defeated, and has now made it to Level 7 — Aggressive Legal Effort. The liberal left have turned to a “special prosecutor” to bring false charges against the President in an attempt to thwart him in the media and public perception.

Remember — liberals believe that “the end justifies the means” and they will lie, cheat, unify, whine, create anarchy, demonstrate, attack physically, and yes… even resort to murder. We’ve seen it before our very eyes in recent days. One of socialist Bernie Sanders’s followers tried to murder Republican legislators at a ball practice about two weeks ago. According to eyewitnesses, the shooter expended more than 50 rounds of ammunition over a 10 minute period before being taken down by police.

There is nothing any more deceptive, dirty, or mean than a cornered liberal. They will never lose or exit gracefully. They have to be voted out or thrown out.

So, how do they control America? There is a “deep state” — a “shadow government” — that crosses all political lines. Only the fictional Netflix series “House of Cards” even hints at the darkness, deception, and death caused by the “hidden government”.

Now, before you think this is all surreal or impossible — conspiracy theory stuff — consider this…

First… They control through NSA surveillance of all communications between American and foreign nations. It is this illegal surveillance that was used against Donald Trump and has now caused the fake charges against him.

Second… Education and the mainstream media are totally controlled by the “deep state.” Most large universities are almost completely anti-American and socialist in their approach. Furthermore, the liberal media uses all its power, resources, and influence to attack political enemies who oppose their agenda.

Third… They control the governmental coffers of money, and through that, much of the business and banking. They can reward and punish financially.

Fourth… They provide immunity and protection for their cronies. The corrupt and criminal Clintons remain unprosecuted while patriots like General Petraeus are criminalized.

Fifth… The “deep state” can silence their opponents through intimidation, coercion, threats, and even death.

America stands on a battle field unlike any we have ever experienced. The forces of hell are operating in the atheistic, liberal, godless entities lurking in the shadows of our great government.

Monitor 1Right now there are brave souls who are daring to try to “drain the swamp” and to clean up our politics. Unfortunately, even the Republican Party bosses are not standing shoulder to shoulder with our President. Those who love America need to send a powerful message in 2018 to the elite in our halls of government… that message must declare, “You will hear us, and you will represent us, or we will unseat you and replace you with someone who will.”

The reason former President Obama never lost a vote while he had the legislature is because they (Democrats) were unified. Unity is the key, and is something in short supply in the Republican party. Do you mean to tell me that the Republicans can unify for a ballgame, but not unify behind the individual the American people chose as President, the agenda we voted for, and the will of the people who voted them into office to represent THEM… for the good of America?

The Bible gives us this dire warning…

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” ~ Proverbs 29:18a

Now is not the time to quit. It is time to pray, to stand, to speak out, to vote, and to believe. It is the time for the people of God to unify, and for those who have the best interests for the continued health, prosperity, order, and security of our nation to do the same.

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When President Obama was in office, there was very little I agreed with him on. I believed his rhetoric to be divisive. I believed his economic policies were destructive. I believed many of his social policies were godless and immoral. However, I decided I was going to pray for him every day. I encouraged others to do the same. We are commanded in the word of God to pray for those in authority, and we did so. Now I encourage every person reading this who disagrees with President Trump — about anything — to pray for him. God hears the person genuinely seeking Him, and rewards obedience, not anarchy and chaos. LincolnAbraham Lincoln once said, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help.” Until you are willing to be a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. You cannot say you care about this nation if you are stubbornly unwilling to pray for those who lead this nation. As I recently read, “Hoping for President Trump to fail is like riding in a plane, and hoping the pilot fails”. What you may find, if you earnestly seek God on behalf of those in authority, is that His will is different from your perspective.

trumps-paradeI believe that the election of Donald Trump was, in part, due to the faithfulness of many who committed to prayer (and fasting) for our nation.  Now we must come together, make our voices heard, demand that the foolishness and childishness of fake news and false accusations be put aside, and for those in the halls of power to come out of the shadows, and get to work for the good of the American people. And for those who are unwilling to do that, know that your days are numbered, that your election is coming, and we the people have influence, determination, and a vote.

It’s time for patriots to rise!

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By the way…

I hope you will make plans now to join us for All-American Day on July 2, 2017 at Abba’s House in Chattanooga. Lots of patriotic music celebrating our nation and our heritage, and a moving message by our very special guest, Governor Mike Huckabee. This is an event you don’t want to miss! For more info, click the image below…

Truth in Uncertain Times

At this writing, President Trump is about to meet with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, at the White House. After that meeting, President Trump will be flying to the Middle East and Southern Europe. He will meet with the King of Saudi Arabia, the Pope, and the leadership of Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is a critical meeting since Russia has signed a pact with Turkey (Togarmah) and Iran (Persia).

I call your attention to the 2,500 year old prophet Ezekiel…

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet…” ~ Ezekiel 38:1-5 (NKJV)

Notice that Russia (Prince of Rosh), to the town of Togarmah (Turkey) and Persia (Iran) are listed as initiating a war which includes the invasion of Israel.

Candidate X

I have repeatedly alerted the people at Abba’s House and our worldwide partners and audience about what was rising in the Middle East.

Contrary to Russia’s so-called involvement with the election, Putin has been moving on the Middle East, having a presence now in Syria for the first time in history.

President Putin, after cutting a deal with the Obama/Clinton administration that dealt away 20% of the uranium (a key component for atomic reactor and nuclear weapon development) resources of America to Russia (and subsequently Iran), the Clinton Foundation received at least $35 million from a Russian controlled company. Furthermore, Bill Clinton received $500,000 to speak at a meeting arranged by the bank that handled the deal.

The conspiracy of a socialist/liberal press and the agenda of Obama/Clinton was betrayed when Putin struck a more nationalist tone, and has now embraced a philosophy that challenges the globalist agenda of the left. For this reason, Hillary Clinton, had she been elected, would have probably engaged a limited war with Russia.

The double-cross included an effort to overthrow Erdoğan in Turkey and Assad in Syria. Erdoğan took over our air force base in Incirlik, Turkey for two weeks, including our nuclear arsenal housed there. This went largely unreported by the media.

The Quixotic Democrats, main stream media, and entertainment liberal-elites are all convinced of their own diatribe, and distracted by their “Trump stole the election using Russia interference” narrative. This has caused much of America to be deceived by the press with its phony talking-points and false propaganda.

While North Korea, Iran, Russia, and Turkey have combined armies of 3 ½ million soldiers, our legislators are “tilting with windmills” as the Don Quixotes of the 21st century.

Truth may not be popular or politically correct, but I have made the decision to give our partners, friends, and viewers the exactly that… the truth. For the last three weeks, we have broadcast a message I brought some months ago warning of this scenario. Each week, the internet level has increased. The public is being stirred from its slumber, and is beginning to see the deception that is playing out before our very eyes.

Blog_AtlantisListen my friend, destruction is coming to Damascus and parts of Iran. This Ezekiel 38 war is not Armageddon; it precedes the rebuilding of the temple as described in Ezekiel 40 and following. You must have this message contained in my books The Hiram Code and the Unraveling of America. You must stand in the truth, for we will be victorious.

Please get this knowledge so you can understand the times. Make no mistake… the church will triumph and our King will return. Until that day, we are under orders from our Commander, Jesus Christ, Who said, “Occupy until I come.”

We are an occupation force in a hostile culture.

Do not be afraid.

Be informed.

Be prayerful.

Be faithful.

Be expectant.

 

Be blessed,
Pastor Ron

The Rebirth of the House of Togarmah

There are events taking place in this world that no one is discussing. While our national media has us transfixed on their agenda and what THEY deem important, the pieces and players are moving into place, setting the stage for potential last days events.

Watch Part 2 of The House of Togarmah here (see my May 1 post for Part 1), and get informed about what is going on beneath the surface of world events.

Facts, Fake News, and Finding Truth

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Throughout the last campaign season and continuing on through the first three months of this year, we have all heard the phrase that has become a staple of public discourse — the allegation and labeling of certain news reports as “fake news”.

We’ve come a long way from the days of Walter Cronkite — the most trusted man in America. Nowadays, “news” reports are peppered with opinion, innuendo, and bias from the very people who are supposed to be objectively reporting what is going on. From the very beginning of many news reports — especially those pertaining to President Trump and his administration — the commentary is framed in such a way as to support a conclusion that may or may not be factual.

Recently, President Trump came to Nashville for a rally. Since Nashville is a couple of hours from where we are in Chattanooga, one of my staff members volunteered to go to the rally and report back what he observed with his own eyes. Here is what he had to say…

After meeting up with a couple of friends outside of the city, we drove to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium for the rally with President Trump. We parked about 4 blocks away (after navigating through streets that were blocked off for security reasons), and walked to the auditorium. At the point at which we reached the venue, it was a little after 2p.m., with the start time of the rally scheduled for 6:30p.m. Upon walking past the front of the venue, we noticed lots of police, Secret Service agents, barricades, and people. The line had long-since formed, and stretched out of sight. There was a small area cordoned off near the entrance where a handful of protesters had gathered. The few signs on display addressed an array of topics and grievances, some of which were fairly odd. If you counted everyone in that area (sign or no sign) as a protester, there might have been about 20.

Street preachers

Street evangelists.

We proceeded past the entrance on the long walk to the end of the line. The crowd was calm, well-behaved, and respectful. Lots of smiling faces of people eager to see the President as people conversed, laughed, and occasionally broke into spontaneous cheers of “USA!… USA!…” and “Trump!…Trump!…”. There were a handful of street preachers with loudspeakers, preaching a message of salvation to a crowd who, for the most part, remained respectful of their right to be there. It was obvious that these people were not there to protest, but were simply there to use the opportunity to share the message of the Gospel with a fairly captive audience. When one of the bystanders engaged one of these men in a conversation, the street-preacher exclaimed that he had been to “other” events, and the current crowd was much more well-behaved and respectful.

#5

At this point in the line, we were only 8/10 of a mile from the entrance.

It was around 2:30p.m. when we finally made it to the end of the line. According to Google Maps, we were about 8/10 of a mile from the entrance. We got in line and began the long wait. Within 10 minutes of standing there, the line grew to extend roughly 150 yds. beyond the point where we were standing. Within 20 minutes, the line was once again out of sight. As we stood in the sea of red “Make America Great Again” hats, I was struck by a few things. In spite of the cold (and it got much colder), people weren’t complaining. The crowd itself was made up of young and old, men and women. There were a lot of high-school and college aged young people, as well as a lot of children. There were people dressed comfortably (sweatshirts and jeans), and others who were attired much nicer. There were poor people there. There were affluent people there. When the street vendors came by with hats, shirts, and buttons, people engaged them in conversation and broke out their wallets to purchase their wares. When the (very) occasional protester happened by with their signs (some of which were quite misguided and/or offensive), the crowd remained respectful and for the most part, did not engage them, even in the face of their contrary (and even bizarre) viewpoints. Those who chose to engage did so without name calling, or hate-filled aggression, but simply spoke to them about their grievance of choice, and shared why they believed them to be in error.

 

At 3:30p.m., the doors opened and the line began to inch forward. At one point, there was a commotion of police lights, and a huge cheer went up as the Presidential motorcade passed by. It was interesting to see strangers become friends, and listen to the conversations about the hope people felt in America once again.

As the line continued to move forward, the sun continued to set, and the temperature continued to drop, the crowd remained vigilant in their determination to see the President. At one point, after standing in line for more than two hours, one of the people standing next to me got a news report from one of the local news agencies on their phone. It was being reported that “hundreds of protesters had gathered to protest Trump”. We couldn’t help but laugh. From start to finish, we witnessed maybe 50 people protesting. Some of the signage of people we initially thought might be protesters turned out to be people who, with no chance of getting in, decided to utilize their time carrying signs in support of the President, and essentially being cheerleaders as they walked up and down the crowd, cheering on those in attendance.

We were roughly 2/10 of a mile from the entrance when President Trump took the stage. Those of us outside broke out cell phones, and watched the LIVE feed of what was happening inside. As the line sped up slightly, we remained hopeful that we would still make it in before the President finished.

It wasn’t to be.

We made it to within 40 feet of the doorway when the President began to close his remarks, and knew at that point that our 4-hour vigil had been in vain.

But actually… it hadn’t for me. I had come for the experience of witnessing first-hand what a Trump rally was about, and while I never made it to the doorway, I think I got just as good a sense of that during my time standing in line. What I witnessed was a lot of people who love our country and wanted to support a President who shares that love. The full house of nearly 10,000 people inside was what the country saw in news clips and social media stories. What they didn’t see was the literally thousands of people who stood faithfully outside, and never made it in… people who still felt pride in being there to support a President who has taken a lot of heat for standing up for them.

Well, my fingers and toes have finally thawed out, and I am thankful for the (albeit chilly) experience of spending a few hours with other Americans who have renewed my faith in the goodness and kindness of her people.

Proverbs 10:9 says…

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes
crooked paths will be found out.

Trust but verify ReaganIn this day and time, finding out truth is not as complicated as it would seem. I believe we have become so used to instant gratification that we determine truth the same way. “If the media says it, it must be true”, may have had some relevance in times past, but today we live in an age where people speak before the truth is known, and report before all of the facts are in. I have seen it become such a vicious cycle: Someone reports a story which is proven to be false, then tries to manufacture data or spin the story in such a way as to try to maintain some degree of credibility. It seems that people have lost the ability to say “I was wrong”, when in fact those three words are a crucial starting point to regaining lost credibility. Oftentimes, an apology can get a lot better response than a defense.

Truth is not subjective. Truth is not open to interpretation. There is not such thing as “your truth” and “my truth”. Truth stands on its own power and authority. The Bible puts a great deal of importance on truth as we read…

The LORD detests lying lips,
but He delights in people who are trustworthy. ~ Proverbs 12:22

I think if we all slowed down and took more of an interest in the truth, we would find that honesty is still the best policy, and that being truthful in the first place is less exhausting that than the ensuing damage control involved when we sacrifice our integrity.

We might also find that the place of truth is the starting point of finding favor with God.