Tag Archive | Thomas Jefferson

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

The Victimization of Truth

Capitol

In the wake of the terror attack in Orlando this past week, the predictability of politicians and the press has not disappointed. Unfortunately, these types of attacks have almost become commonplace in our society, with the ensuing rhetoric that follows being almost equally disturbing… placing the blame everywhere EXCEPT where it justifiably belongs.
So after such a tragic event, why is it so difficult to be honest about the problem? Common sense would dictate that, until you properly diagnose the problem, you will NEVER find an effective solution. John F. Kennedy once said…

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

Appeal

So now we add Orlando to the list of U.S. cities affected by Islamic terror: San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Garland, Boston, Washington D.C., New York…

Where do we go from here?

We go back.

We go back to the place where we lost our way. We can’t hope to understand our future until we understand our past.

When did political correctness trump the truth?

How did we allow minorities of special interests to dictate what was in the best interest of the majority?

img_0183How can anyone read the writings of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, or virtually any other of the founding fathers, and believe for a second that they thought God had no place in our public discourse?

When did the Bible and Judeo-Christian values take a back seat to the enslavement and intolerance of shari’a law and Islam?

On July 3, the truth will come to light.

 

On July 3, we will expose the sinister forces that have worked behind
the scenes, and taken our culture down the “rabbit-hole”.

 

On July 3, we will reveal the causes and the solution
to the Unraveling of America.

 

Unraveling Flag - horiz

Truth: Living Beyond Our Expectations

Creación_de_Adám hands

We’ve all heard it said, from parents, grandparents, and probably countless episodes of The Waltons or Little House On The Prairie…

“A man’s word is his bond.”

There was a time, not too long ago, in which honesty was valued, commended, and expected. Here was some thoughts about honesty from some people more famous than I am…

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. ~ Thomas Jefferson

No legacy is so rich as honesty. ~ William Shakespeare

The high road is always respected.
Honesty and integrity are always rewarded. ~ Scott Hamilton

Fear1Dishonesty has been around since the Garden of Eden. Original sin was the result of dishonesty and deception, when the serpent enticed Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. Since then, men have cajoled and connived their way through history. And while there was a time in the not-too-distant past when honesty was put up on a pedestal as the “golden standard” by which we should live, society began to take a much more cynical view of this virtue…

All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.~ John Quincy Adams

The most important thing in acting is honesty.
If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. ~ George Burns

In his song Honesty, singer/songwriter Billy Joel made this appeal…

But I don’t want some pretty face
To tell me pretty lies.
All I want is someone to believe.

Candidate XSomeone to believe. We all desire to be spoken the truth.Whether it is a doctor giving us a diagnosis, a politician making campaign promises, or a child explaining how the expensive vase ended up on the floor in a thousand pieces, we all want people to be straight with us. The fact is, however, that we have become accustomed to much less. In politics, lies and “back-room deals” have become expected, and we have grown too complacent to alter the modus operandi. On television, we see dishonesty given a pass — even glorified — as long as it serves some noble purpose, whether on a sitcom or the nightly news. As a pastor, I cannot tell you how many marriages and families I have seen torn apart because of dishonesty and deception.

So what does God’s Word have to say about honesty and truth?

In Psalms 15:1-2, the psalmist writes…

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
    He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart…

In 1 John 5:20, we find that truth is a very attribute of who God is…

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

After David’s sin with Bathsheba, as he repented in Psalm 51, he says this in verse 6…

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus tells us what true worship looks like…

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Throughout Scripture, God puts a pretty high value on truth.

So why should we settle for less in our lives, homes, churches, communities, and government?

CoffeeI would contend that we are not too far gone. I would argue that we are not beyond expecting truth — regardless of how painful — from those around us. Getting back to a place of truth and honesty might be painful for a season, but once we you get there with God’s help, and make that your expectation,  you will be amazed at the freedom that accompanies truth. As the saying goes… “The truth will set you free!”

So friend, I encourage you… get back to the truth. Live it. Walk in it. Operate in it. Find the freedom that is yours in Christ through living a life as He did… in truth.

I leave you with a quote by the late Zig Ziglar…

Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.

Ironic, Isn’t It?

Through The Looking Glass2

Life is filled with irony…

John F. Kennedy once said that… “It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” In saying this, he was echoing an old Latin saying: “”Si vis pacem, para bellum.” (“If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”)

Although hundreds of miles apart, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both passed away on the same day… July 4, 1826: The 50th Anniversary celebrating the day they both signed the Declaration of Independence.

In the attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, the only bullet that hit him actually ricocheted off of the presidential limousine, the vehicle designed to protect him.

However, the greatest irony of all is in the words of Jesus…

“Whoever will lose his life, for My sake, will find it.”

The irony of the Christian life is that, in order to have abundant life in Christ, we must be willing to give our lives away, and lay them down at the feet of Jesus. By surrendering our will and rights to Him, we find freedom we can find in no other place.

Freedom’s Holy Light

Lady LibertyA sailor was on his way out of Algeria aboard a ship that contained a sick missionary. Right before the missionary died, he pointed his hand toward the distant horizon and spoke prophetically: “There lies a land there where the seas wash. There is a native people there that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

When the sailor finally arrived home, he told his son – and later his grandson – what the missionary had told him. When the grandson grew older, he also became a sailor. He remembered the old missionary’s words, and wrote many letters and diary entries expressing his desire to see the inhabitants of that land convert to Christianity.

The land the missionary spoke of was America.

The sailor’s grandson was Cristoforo Colombo, or as we know him, Christopher Columbus.

KS77810From the very beginning, our nation had, at it’s very core, a foundation centered on faith in God. While liberals and history revisionists would like to erase every mention of God from the history books, there is no denying the reliance our Founding Fathers placed on The Almighty. Don’t believe me? Listen to them, in their own words…

“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United…”
~ John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever…” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President

“Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.”~ James Monroe, 5th U.S. President

“The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth.” ~ John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President

I could go on and on… and on.

The 4th verse of the song My Country, ‘Tis of Thee sums up the prayers and petitions of these great men appropriately…

KS77849

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Freedom’s Holy Light still burns brightly in America…

That Holy Light which was ignited in the hearts of her Founders, kindled by the dreams of her citizens, fueled by the blood of her soldiers, and sustained in the hearts of her children. It was the Holy Flame that burned brightly during two Great Awakenings, at the Cane Ridge Revival, the Finney Awakening, in the streetlamps of Azusa Street, and in the eyes of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. It is that Guiding Light of God’s love that guided the Pilgrims to the shores of New England, kept freedom’s dream alive in the cold of Valley Forge, illuminated the heart of Abraham Lincoln during the dark nights of the Civil War, was the fire of freedom in the face of imperialism following December 7, 1941, and was the light of hope in the darkness of September 11, 2001.

It was the fire that blazed in the forge from whence came
the timeless inscription on the Liberty Bell:

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
~ Leviticus 25:10

So… let freedom ring.

Let the sound of freedom be heard in the cries of repentance of the people of God. Let the church rise and once again be the vessel that unashamedly bears the message of forgiveness and hope that the world needs to hear.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~ II Corinthians 3:17

No amount of legislation or Supreme Court rulings will change America… only the cross of Jesus can bring real change.

No amount of political correctness will change a single heart… only the love of Jesus can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

No amount of wealth-redistribution can force an ounce of compassion… only identifying with the tears of Jesus can break our hearts for a dying world.

It’s time for we as American Christians to wake up, get up, and go. It’s time for us to get on our knees and pray for a breakthrough… in the White House, the Statehouse, the schoolhouse, and the churchhouse. It’s time for us to be salt and light, look the world squarely in the face and say, “This is going to sting, but THIS is the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It’s time for us to BE the revival we have been praying for, and put our lives out there for that which He gave up His life. It’s time for us to stop asking for God to bless America, but for we as Americans to start blessing Him – through obedience, sacrifice, and holiness.

On this July 4th, I leave you with the words of President George Washington, from his Inaugural Address of 1789:

“In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.” KS77759

May America bless God once again.

“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” ~ Psalm 34:1

At the Crossroads or In the Crosshairs?

Through the Looking GlassOver two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson spoke these words:

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

For the last several years, we have heard a lot about change. But change, strictly for the sake of change, is not necessarily a good thing. Society thinks it is being progressive by becoming more socially open-minded. But with issues such as gay marriage and abortion on the forefront, America is at a crossroads.

BibleSo, what does God think? What does His word say?

The Bible makes it clear that God is holy, that He is just, and that He never changes. When we don’t see His hand of judgment, could it be that His silence is not necessarily a sign that He approves of what we are doing?

Could it, in fact, be that He is simply giving us another chance to turn our hearts and our country back to Him?

By taking a stand on an issue (or issues) that opposes God’s Word, are we merely standing at the crossroads of history, or are we standing in the crosshairs of judgment?

I have a word for the church and the nation this coming Sunday (5/26/2013). I hope you will join me at Abba’s House, or by watching online at http://abbashouse.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=136360