Entry Seven: Random Thoughts

Entry Seven: Random Thoughts

Making America Great Again

If I had the ear of President Trump, here are a few of the things I would mention.

America’s greatness did not come about because of government. America’s greatness came about because of our declared national acknowledgment of our dependence upon God, specifically Jesus Christ. We have strayed from our roots and are far from what the Founders envisioned. There are legitimate criticisms about the inconsistencies between the professions of the Founding Fathers and their subsequent actions, but the ideal was based on the notion that we had a common national heritage and faith, which eliminated the sectarianism that divided the individual colonies and plagued the nation states of Europe, especially England.

That should be the primary object for our national consciousness. Having said that, there are some practical, but not easy, solutions he, and some brave members of Congress, could execute that would Make America Great Again. (Some of these ideas are not my own).

Refineries. To my understanding, we have not had a new refinery built since 1979, or thereabout. Saudi Arabia owns the largest one in our nation. It would be good, if possible, opening regional, independent, domestic refineries to reduce shipping costs, and modernizing aging ones.

Eliminate mandates for ethanol formulated fuels. Beside the limited number of   refineries, the mandates cause the reduction in production of standard fuels due to the misallocation of resources.

Bureaucracies and Regulations.

Get rid of the Alphabet Soup of federal bureaucratic agencies and departments. Restructure those necessary for national security.

Environmental Protection Agency. Let private organizations and the free market provide the oversight to monitor the effects of industry. Let there be legal ramifications if businesses engage in activities that are detrimental to our “lives, liberty, and properties.” Let the states exercise autonomy over their territory.

Open the doors to marketplace principles allowing for competition in energy productions. Disallow monopolies that restrict independent energy production and reward innovation. Citizens should have freedom of choice to what suits their needs. Forbid special interests from using government to coerce individuals to use their products and services or prohibiting/restricting the same of their competition.

Taxation.

Simple. Forbid personal income tax. That amounts to slavery.

Prohibit graduated taxation. That punishes the more productive over the less productive.

Apportionment. Tax the individual states based on their respective populations. Streamline the federal government agencies and departments and lower the demand on services by the federal government, giving greater responsibilities to the states.

Interest Rates

Prohibit compound interest rates. Monthly fees and reasonable penalties based on contract law whereby both parties mutually agree and terms and conditions cannot be altered without a renegotiated contract.

The Senate.

Repeal the 17th Amendment. Restore the power of the states to elect their senators. There is a good reason why the Founding Fathers created the Constitution the way they did. If the states make a bad choice, the power of the people to force their state legislators to correct their mistake is the necessary check to arbitrary and unwise decisions.

Obey the Constitution.

Don’t exercise powers not granted to the Executive Office. This is where Congress needs more integrity to do the job they were hired to do by ensuring the President doesn’t expand their power. Nor should Congress be allowed to concede their authority to the President. If they do that, they should be immediately charged, tried and removed from their offices for failure to uphold their oaths of office.

Overseas entanglements.

Close all of our overseas bases, excluding territories, unless those nations pay us to be there. Bring our military home. Stop engaging in military excursions not directly related to imminent threats or unprovoked attacks. The only exception is to keep our shipping lanes and trade routes open.

Securing the border.

After bringing the troops home, send them to the border. Forget the wall. Treat the illegal problem head on as an invasion. Hold the Mexican government responsible for the act of war that it is. Tell the Mexican government to recall all of their citizens. Failure do so within ninety days will result in the U.S. acquiring a mile per day until the illegals have sufficiently left. The acquired land would become a protectorate territory of the U.S. with similar rights as Puerto Rico. Troops would remain on the new border. Help them become a prosperous, semi-autonomous territory that curtails the need of their citizens to hop the border and acts as buffer state between Mexico and the U.S. Cease hostilities with Mexico once they accept their culpability and hold up their end of recalling their citizens.

 

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Entry Six: Faith the substance of things hoped for

I remember being at the age of nine or ten years old, walking to school during the autumn, maybe on an overcast, rainy day, and being rather melancholy. It wasn’t an uncommon feeling. Some of it was having a sense of loneliness. Part of it were things regarding what was happening in the world at large. I was beginning to have a greater awareness about current events beyond my little world. It wasn’t that I really understood, but I was entertaining deeper thought. That was around 1979-1980.

In particular, I was contemplating events occurring in the Near East that was reported on the news. There were other regions, but Israel and Palestine were regularly at the forefront. At the time, I didn’t understand the religious and geo-political aspects of the confrontations, but I watched the Sunday morning news hours and talk shows with a certain level of curiosity, though I was bored because there weren’t cartoons available to watch. What saddened me were the reports of the violence and killing that occurred regularly. What deeply affected me was how innocent children, women, elderly, and sickly were the victims of the indiscriminate destruction.

Like so many others, I couldn’t understand why people did those thing or acted that way toward other people. I could understand the concept of retribution, as a child would understand it, but it all seemed without reasoning. As a child, I wished people would get along with each other. It was a sentiment based partially on naivety, but part of it was a genuine desire to see peace in the world; again, from the viewpoint of a child.

It was only as an adult that I began grasping all of the concepts that had eluded me as a child. Even during my early to mid-twenties I only had a cursory grasp, but I was growing in understanding. It was after I became a Christian that many of the issues facing the world were beginning to make more sense, but the idealism of my childhood hadn’t been erased, just converted to a newer worldview.

My Christian worldview has both simplified and complicated my previous ideologies and morphed into a broader perspective with the addition of a continued deepening of spirituality.

The Holy Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not [yet] seen.” My hope is in Christ Jesus. The desire to see peace in regions like the Near East and Middle East stems from that faith and hope. Jesus said that he would provide peace, not the peace that the world offers, but peace “that surpasses all understanding.” The Bible also says that hope is not based upon what we see because if we see it, then it is no longer hope. But we are to pray for it. Jesus told his disciples to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” We are also instructed to pray for All men.

Jesus also commanded us to love one another so that our joy may be full. The world would know that we are his disciples by the way we (unconditionally) love each other. But it’s his Holy Spirit that does it. Sadly, the world doesn’t seem to see it all that much and it’s turning them away from believing. On the positive side, when that love does appear, how powerful will be the witness because it won’t be a natural love, but a divine one.

What does that mean for places like Palestine? What can we do if we’re not in a position to directly impact others half-way around the world? Like the saying goes, charity begins at home. We need to start where we’re at. Sometimes, well, most times, it’s harder to do at home because people who are familiar with us know our weaknesses and faults. At the same time, if and when we’ve spent time with Jesus, his love will become more apparent to others that they’ll have to acknowledge the changes. Then again, “a prophet is not without honor except at his own house.” Jesus’ own family initially mocked him believing he was delusional. People who knew him said, “Isn’t this the carpenter Joseph’s son? Who does he think he is?”

We need to pray in faith believing that we are not only heard, but that our prayers will not be forgotten. Which brings us back to “faith being the substance” of what we hope for. Our hope will not be disappointed. But it may be deferred.

My prayer is for the Christians who are stuck in the middle where there is no refuge but in Christ Jesus. My hope is they will divinely manifest the love of God to both friend and foe as a testimony of Jesus Christ to the end healing and deliverance can bridge between the warring factions and divisions. I also hope for the same here at home.

Entry Five: The Resurrection

The resurrection of Christ Jesus is the most important event in world history proving his authority as the Son of God. What is astounding about the resurrection is that Jesus did so under the same faith that he requires of us.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11.1

Jesus, though the Son of God, was required to live by the same principle of faith.

[T]hough he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. Hebrews 5.8

Jesus had to submit himself to the humbling of living in the flesh as opposed to his pre-existent (bodily) form. As such, Jesus had to suffer the shame of the cross, not to mention flogging, and the rejection of his nation, among other things. When confronted by Pontius Pilate, who told Jesus he had the power to release him, Jesus said,

Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. John 19.11

When it came to the cross, Jesus told the disciples that he laid down his life and had the power to raise it up. But Jesus did not use his authority. The chief priests came to arrest Jesus and Peter drew a sword to defend him. Jesus said to him,

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?Matthew 26.53

However, he continued, the Scriptures (the Old Testament) had to be fulfilled. Even on the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed that the burden be removed from his shoulders, but agreed to submit to his Father’s will. That meant all he had to suffer, including death. Yet, he had to trust God to raise him from the grave. Like we, Jesus had to taste death though he is the eternal life.

So the resurrection is as much a story of the faith Jesus had to place in his Father as is it is about our own redemption. Our faith is predicated on his. Without Jesus Christ’s act of faith, we couldn’t have exercised any in receiving the grace bestowed unto us.

This grace enables us to appropriate the faith exercised by Jesus to be applied in our lives.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galations 2.20

Our salvation is predicated by faith in him. Our faith in him comes from the trust, or the same kind of faith, he had in his Father.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2.8-9

In conclusion, the significance of the resurrection, of the empty tomb, bespeaks of the faith Jesus Christ had in God for everything he had to do on earth in the mission of our redemption. We, too, are bequeathed Jesus’ faith to believe unto salvation as we crucify ourselves daily in the hope of our resurrection in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

Entry Four: The Christmas Spirit

Entry Four: The Christmas Spirit

People have argued over the origins and nature of Christmas, and this year hasn’t had its shortage of debates. There are those, both secular and religious, who are adamant that their positions are correct. So, every year, the cycle continues and nothing gets resolved. Feelings get ruffled. Dispositions get agitated. The Christmas spirit gets quenched.

People argue over that Christmas spirit, but what is accomplished?

It’s a sentimental thought, but in practice, not so compelling. Platitudes do nothing more than stroke good feelings that by-and-large are fleeting and of little practicality. True, at least one time out of the year, the season may bring out a general spirit of compassion for your fellow man, but for the rest of the year that same caring dissipates no sooner than the last present is unwrapped.

I take into consideration the big picture. Why do we do the things that we do? Why do we participate in traditions that haven’t produced the stated purposes for which they are observed? There is a dichotomy in theory and practice. It is hypocrisy.

Does that seem a bit cynical? Perhaps. But if everyone would do a little soul searching and meditation, they would come to the same conclusion that we have failed to genuinely demonstrate that spirit for which we claim to honor by the traditions we practice.

Maybe the sentiment is well-meaning, but its outcome is lacking. But would it be unrealistic to expect that we exercise ourselves to blessing people everyday and not limit it to just once a year? The same people who pontificate the Christmas spirit go on to curse the very ones they purport to bless.

To others, that Christ is preached is all that matters. In some respects, I agree. Yet, though Christ is preached, are the people preaching doing it for Christ or are they only using that as an excuse to justify themselves? Some do it out of spite. The apostle Paul addressed that. So, then, the receiver may be blessed, but the heart of the giver may be another story.

Jesus said that if anyone harbors a grudge or an unresolved issue with another person, then they’re to leave their gift at the altar until they’ve made peace with them; then they may come to God with their gift.

We say, “Peace,” to one person only to unleash animosity toward another.

What is the Christmas spirit? It isn’t what we have culturally accepted. Rather, it ought to be the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit; and him dwelling in us. If the Spirit of Christ so abides in us, and we in him, then we ought to be the living epistles (letters) for the world to read.

Let us not be consumed by the deception that we can hold animosity toward another human being while claiming to be ambassadors of Christ who forgave us and loved us despite our faults. Let us share with one another in the grace that has been shed abroad upon us by our loving Father.

That Gift, who is Jesus, was sent to set our hearts free from the bondage of sin that we may die unto ourselves and to live unto him. Let us receive him gladly and with that same Spirit go out to bless others.

Entry Three: “A day that will live in infamy.”

Holy Light

 

Those were the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt to the American people as he announced the United States’ entry into World War II. To commemorate the anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor that precipitated Roosevelt’s declaration, the History Channel aired “Tora, Tora, Tora: The Real Story of Pearl Harbor.” It was, in fact, a propaganda piece that harbored (no pun intended) little more than distortions, misinformation, omissions, and lies to feed the ill-informed masses a carefully constructed narrative.

Toward the end of the program, two of their experts preemptively countered skeptics of the official narrative by dismissively criticizing them and pejoratively labeling them as conspiracy theorists. One went on to say that there was positively zero shred of evidence that Washington, D.C., had any foreknowledge of an imminent attack.

The New American  exposed the disingenuousness of the supposed real story about the Pearl Harbor attacks as presented by The History Channel. You can see for yourself the huge disparity between their accounts by clicking on the links above.

The truth is that the federal government, particularly the Executive Branch, needed an excuse to enter the war because the American people had been historically isolationist in the truest sense of the word. George Washington admonished the new republic to jealously guard against entangling alliances, especially when it came to Europe. Even after World War I, the “war to end all wars”, the majority of Americans didn’t want to once again bail out the Old World. They were still healing from the last time. But the patriotic indignation of a surprise attack was stirred because the Pacific fleet had been left undefended and vulnerable that the Japanese readily took advantage of.

The greatest generation, as anchorman Tom Brokaw termed them, is rapidly fading away as age overtakes them and their memories along with them. What will remain is the history that’s presented, so long as it is forthright, without embellishment or redaction.

The truth is out there to be found. The challenge is if we’re willing and able to accept the truth once we discover it.

Entry Two: Does God believe in a conspiracy?

Entry Two: Does God believe in a conspiracy?

Conspiracy theorist is the pejorative hurled against anyone who challenges the official narrative of events that defy rational thought and conflict with accepted and comfortable paradigms people are loathed to relinquish from their individual and collective consciousnesses. Most often it is because they are subconsciously aware that if they were to entertain notions contrary to their insulated worldviews, then a cold realization descends upon their countenances that creates a dread within them of the possibility everything they believed in was a lie. That’s why the masses largely remain willfully ignorant. That’s why people will become hostile to anyone bold enough to disrupt their blissful ignorance.

“You’re nothing but ‘doom and gloom’,” They’ll accuse. “Nothing but negativity. Why don’t you talk about something that makes us feel good?” They’ll demand. Attack the messenger. Destroy those who would share information that causes emotional discomfort because if truth becomes known, then that knowledge will have to be acted upon; and if not acted upon, then subconsciously the people know they will be held accountable to the truth they received.

But a conspiracy? There’s no conspiracy. The events that occur are random acts, whether of nature or happenstance, not of some concerted effort by a minority of secretive groups. Surely, anyone who believes there is a conspiracy is a nut.

Is that so? Almost everybody believes in some kind of conspiracy. Evidences of conspiracies surround us every day. Conspiracies people are willing to believe are relegated to low-level, primitive actions of criminals, and in some cases, of large-scale proportions. Just look at the news, fiction and non-fiction books, television shows, and movies. We even have laws that address conspiracies. But a grand conspiracy?

Would it surprise you that God believes in a conspiracy?

He tells us in Psalm Chapter 2, verses 1-3:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Authorized King James Bible

God clearly states the conspiracy is headed by the world leaders and the people consigned themselves with their leaders. Notice who they are rebelling against: the Lord and his anointed. The anointed can be a reference to Jesus and/or those who have accepted Jesus as their savior. It’s the rebellion against the kingdom of God and his righteousness (righteous standards).

The prophet Jeremiah explained it in the context of his day:

Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do; but they did them not.

And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah Chapter 11, verses 8-10

Mankind is rebelling against God’s righteousness, and all those who would follow after him, by disobedience, turning a deaf ear to his words, and continuing “in the imagination of their evil heart.” But it’s not just a simple case of rebelliousness. It’s as a unified body of collaborators to oust any semblance of God’s presence in the world. This includes people professing a faith in Christ, but rejecting the authority of God over their lives.

Another word used is confederacy, with a slightly different connotation. In Isaiah Chapter 8, verses 12-13, the prophet has this to say:

12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. 13 Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

Authorized King James Bible

God warns us not to fall prey to the fear perpetrated by those cited in Psalm Chapter 2 who would use that fear to coerce people into their confederacy or conspiracy against him. He’s saying we should not ally ourselves with the enemies of God because we think they will protect us against our fears; fears they would exacerbate toward their purposes. Our reverence toward God should be greater, enough so as to compel us to reject the offer or promise of protection.

Obadiah Chapter 1, verse 7, speaks of what awaits those who fail to heed his warning:

All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border:
the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee:
there is none understanding in him.

Authorized King James Bible

Anyone who becomes convinced to join in the conspiracy, whether by false pretense or deliberately, has been forewarned about the consequences of such an unwise decision. Deception is the key element. The confidence placed in the world leaders will be devastating and the end will be a complete loss.

Is God a conspiracy nut?

 

 

Entry One: Morning thoughts

Entry One: Morning thoughts

It’s early Thanksgiving morning before the bustling preparations for the expected incoming family members accompanied by the cacophony of cluttered noise as four generations gather under one roof.

The peace and quiet, the calm before the storm, helps to collect thoughts and to eliminate the distractions of everyday busy-ness and concerns, in contrast to the chaos to unfold in a short few hours.

Like almost every year, and any given holiday with Christian ties, there is a barrage of what-the-holiday-really-means lectures, memes, quotes, colloquialisms, essays, and the like; pros and cons bantered about in an effort to justify one’s position for celebrating or not.

There are, of course, those of a secular persuasion who are indifferent to, and even perturbed by, the regular discourses and simply want to have a good time by feasting to their gluttonous delights.

As far as the traditional American Thanksgiving is concerned, the arguments are unproductive. The heart of the holiday is an acknowledgement, a recognition, and an homage to God for his blessings of provision and sustenance through good times and hardships.

When speaking about the first event for giving thanks to God, the discussion unavoidably heralds back to the Pilgrims of Plymouth. Though some would try challenging its historicity by dispelling the lore and attributing egregious atrocities against the indigenous population by the Atlantic wayfarers, others would overly romanticize the story. Without rehashing the tiresome talking points and belabored arguments from either side, it can be simply stated the people who survived the dangerous voyage were very grateful to have gotten ashore. Many of their companions were not so fortunate, including children.

As a reminder, they were a religious sect of Christianity who dared brave the unknown future, embarking on an adventure of unknown risks and dangers, without the benefits of modern supplies and conveniences, but with a hope of a better tomorrow because they were fleeing European persecution, placing their full faith and trust in Jesus Christ in the new world.

Suffering from malnurishment and sickness, and lacking adequate survival necessities, God provided the newcomers timely aid by hands of the indigenous people. Gratefulness and relief for the hospitality of the friendly natives, the mostly Puritan group wanted to share in the blessings they received. Conceded, this is a rather simplistic view, but it isn’t intended as an historical account, but instead to offer a glimpse into the faith exercised by the Pilgrims to take on the challenges presented to them with no certainty of success, even taking into consideration the circumstances that led them to their dire condition.

But what does that mean for us today?

Our history has been relegated to nostalgic tales and disputations where we point fingers and hurl disparaging remarks toward one another; instead we should be blessing each other, not cursing. We should be mindful to count our blessings and to honor God who has bestowed those blessings on us, not because we have deserved them, but because despite our iniquities, God has sought fit to grant us the fruitful harvest planted in the faith of our progenitors.