Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A 'Fight Club' Letter to My Kids by Lindsey Murphy

Some of the best writing you'll ever read comes from an author who writes for his (or her) own children.

William Paul Young wrote The Shack as Christmas gift for his kids. He intended nobody else to read it, but a friend found it on the Young's kitchen countertop and picked it up to read. The rest is history.

Whitaker Chambers wrote the classic work Witness for his own children, but the entire western world has benefited from it.

Great literature springs from the heart of a parent who desires the best for his (or her) kids. 

Lindsey Murphy is a writer, educator, and musician who loves to explore the outworking of her faith through the creative arts. She was a contributor to the book Same Here, Sisterfriend and has written for the Engaging Motherhood and StoryWarren websites. 

Lindsey lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and though she writes letters to her four children on her blog Life Abundantly, the wisdom and wit through her writing is classic. I would encourage all my readers to subscribe to her blog. 

Lindsey's parents, Dale and Debbie Denton, are members of Emmanuel Enid, Oklahoma, where I serve. Debbie sent me Lindsey's most letter to her children, an engaging post designed to show her kids "how to engage this world in a winsome, powerful, and most of all, Christ-like way." 

Read on for some superb advice from a mom to her kids with a great deal of wisdom for all us adults in 2020. 


Dear children,

Y’all fight. A LOT. I feel like I need a referee’s uniform and a whistle just to make it past breakfast most days. But I also know that this is good and appropriate for you to be wrestling with at home. See, I can’t in good conscience teach you NOT to fight. This world is scary and broken and confusing, and you’re going to have to throw some punches. So I want you to know how to engage this world in a winsome, powerful, and most of all, Christ-like way. There’s a lot of junk in our world right now that a few of you are just now waking up to. Sadly, there’s not many adults even who know how to engage it well. So as you lean into the yuck of this world and try to find your voice in it, here are my 10 commandments on how to argue well.

10. Know the differences between a fight, an argument, and a debate.

A fight is simply when people throw their feelings at each other. There’s no interest in understanding, compromising, or listening. Walk away from a fight. Every time. There are never any winners in this situation. Even if you “win” a fight, it’s likely the damage you have caused to the other person, and thus to your own personhood, has caused you loss. Walk away.

An argument is a disagreement that is hoping to reach a conclusion. I will say this loudly and repeatedly. Argue to resolve, not to win. RESOLUTION not VICTORY is your goal in an argument. A good argument requires a lot of listening, which we’ll cover in the 9th commandment.

A debate is more of a banter of ideas and is less personal than the first two. A debate is not necessarily seeking a conclusion or resolution, and is often for the benefit of the audience more than the debaters. A debate is an airing of ideas, and exploration of thoughts and logic. Think of it as a persuasive essay in speech form. Emotion, insults, and negativity have no room in a mature, responsible discourse.

9. Listen louder than you speak.

You’ve heard this already, yes? Add it to the throw pillow collection you’re going to curate for me in my old age. The Proverbs are full of references to listening. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” “Make your ear attentive to wisdom and incline your heart to understanding.” Make sure you are truly listening and not just planning your response. Mirror back what you have heard the other person say. “I hear that you are frustrated because…” “I understand that you are fearful of…” Even if you don’t agree or understand, this practice will make the other person feel heard and validated, and will make them more receptive to what you have to say as well.

8. Avoid the use of “always” and “never.”

It’s simply not fair and usually not true. Also, love hopes all things, and giving such definite limits to a person’s behavior or character leaves you both bereft of hope that things can change.

7. Know when to walk away.

It’s ok to set boundaries. You see me do this a lot, don’t you? I’ll storm in a room and break up a fight, then go hide out for a while. This is my boundary saying that I’m not emotionally capable of engaging well right now. You have the right to say, “I can’t do this well right now, can we revisit this later?” or even “I don’t think I’m the person that needs to handle this with you right now.” It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of love to that other person. Want to know why your daddy and I don’t fight? It’s simple: because he won’t. It’s not because we’re both such super patient people (at least I’m not…). It’s because your daddy will not engage my emotion and angst until I am calm and until he’s prepared. I don’t know how many storms have blown over that man’s head, but he is wise not to throw lightning bolts into the mix. Make sure you hear and respect someone else’s boundaries. If someone says they need space, give it. Come together when you’re both ready to resolve (not win).

6. Stupid is as Stupid Does

Just because you don’t understand or agree, doesn’t mean the other person or idea is “stupid.” If your college roommate is passionate about underwater basket weaving, good for them. Move on. If someone else’s religion, politics, music choices, or lifestyle seems crazy to you, know that they arrived there through a complicated series of choices and influences. Each person you meet is a complicated, intricate Image of God. You don’t get to write them off as “stupid,” no matter how much you disagree.

5. Know the difference between thought and truth.

I will never ask you to bend the truth. I am raising you to believe in absolute truth in a post-postmodern age where everything is relative. There are absolutes woven into the very fabric of our beings, and I want you to recognize and be able to respectfully stick to them. That said, there are so.many.things. that we accept as “truth” that are simply cultural, experiential, and temporal thoughts. I loathe the phrases “know your truth” or “living my truth.” That is thinly veiled narcissism in which a person’s experiences become an absolute for their lives. If you want to be a vegetarian because you think eating meat is cruel, that is a choice that comes from a thought, not a truth. And you can disagree with people’s thoughts, and others can disagree with yours. It’s ok. Just remember Who ultimate truth is rooted in, and go back to the Source of His character and His Word. They never change. And as a wise man once said, “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”

4. Be known by what you’re for, not against.

You’ll hear it said that good news doesn’t sell. That’s why the media is always showing us the worst of the world. That’s why scary, upsetting misfortunes are shared more rapidly than funny, happy stories. Similarly, so many people fly their flag over what they’re against, or overwhat they hate. But as believers, we need to be known as champions of goodness- as people who are “for” the good in the world. We can’t fight darkness if we’re not filled with light. For example, I love Classical Education. I love the Timeline approach. I love the literature. I love the learning style, the emphasis on rhetoric, and the inclusion of Latin. But this does not mean that I am against Public Education. (Praise the Lord that we live in a nation where education is accessible to anyone. Praise the Lord for the robotics labs, the chemistry rooms, and the band programs that add to our community.) But If I want to convince someone that they should give Classical Education a try, it would be far better to regale them with all the reasons I love it rather than shredding apart someone or something else. Being “for” something is much more winsome than constantly crashing down on someone else’s party. Are we to confront evil? Yes. But let us be known by our love. Love the good things, shine your light on a hill, and people will be much more drawn to what you admire than repulsed by what you despise.

3. War against Thoughts, not People.

First of all, be so careful not to put people in boxes or groups. Attacking a group of people will always cause defensiveness and is simply unkind and unfair. Don’t go spouting off about “The Democrats,” “The Republicans, “ The Catholics,” “The Feminists,” or “The Under-Water-Basket Weavers.” If you want to address something that represents a group of thought, keep your language impersonal. “I disagree with the Democrat’s policy on…” “I’m concerned with the Republican response to…” “I don’t understand the Catholic church’s stance on…” “I don’t support the Feminist movement to...” Know that each “group” or “body” in our culture, whether it’s a denomination, religion, political party, or movement is made up of complex and intricate image bearers. When you can, engage individuals and hear them thoughtfully. When you can’t, address the rhetoric, thoughts, policies, etc. of a group. Not the people.

2. Be kind or be quiet.

Again, another throw pillow in my future.

We don’t watch the news in the house for several reasons. First of all, because there’s content I don’t want you to be exposed to. But also, because I don’t want you watching grown adults rip each other apart just to prove who’s smarter, more informed, etc. Scripture tells us to speak the truth in love. I’m not asking you to cower or compromise, but you do need to check your motivations before you enter an argument. Are you wanting resolution? Do you have the other person’s best interest at heart (and not in a savior-complex way…)? I ask you children when you challenge me “do you want to help or do you just want to win?” Usually the answer you give is “I just want to win.” (Y’all are still so honest and haven’t learned how to be manipulative yet. Be still my soul.) Truth can be hard. Truth can be painful. But your job is not to convince or change. Your job is to hold a thought/action/attitude up to the light and let the Spirit do the rest.

1. There’s only one hill you need to die on.

I say it all the time: The Cross of Christ is the only line in the sand I will draw between myself and another person. It is the only line I will never step over. When Christ died for me, I died to myself, my own agendas, and my own opinions. My life is his, and my thoughts, will, and heart, should reflect his as well. My politics have changed, my tastes have evolved, and my theology has refocused and reformed. But the fact that He is who he says he is, and the beloved truth that I am his and he is mine is the one thing I will never step over. And in him, there is room to dance, to grow, to change. He is The Word made flesh, the real 10 Commandments fleshed out for us. He has won the final argument and is our advocate now and forevermore. Throw that grace wildly into the world. Fight with strength, with truth, and with love. But fight knowing that the Kingdom is secure and that life abundantly, that sweet gift, is ours to share.



Read more Letters to My Children from Lindsey Murphy at Life Abundantly

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Training for Peace Officers, Not Law Enforcement

Throughout the 1800's all the way into the decade of the 1960s, "peace officer" was the term most often in America to refer to sheriffs, constables, troopers, marshals, and any officer of the state or nation responsible for upholding the law.

Today the old moniker of "peace officer" has been almost eliminated in popular usage, replaced by “police officer” or even the more prevalent “law enforcement officer.”

Sheriff Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show is perhaps the best example of what it once meant, at least to most Americans, to be a peace officer. Of course, the Andy Griffith show was fictional, but it was based on the reality of how Americans viewed officials tasked with upholding the law and keeping peace within a community. They kept "the peace" by being a "peacemaker."

Just a few decades ago, most Americans would point to the character of Sheriff Taylor as the ideal for what we call "a law enforcement official." 

Unfortunately, the professional criminal element in our nation (bank robbers, drug dealers, enslavement rings, etc.) is now so-well armed that our local peace officers have had to resort to obtaining guns and gear normally reserved for the military.

Die Hard (1988)
I can remember the first time I ever thought "Wow! The police look more like the military than they do Andy Griffith." I was watching the movie Die Hard for the first time, and the Los Angeles Police Department came to a crime scene in a tank. Of course, in the movie, the LAPD was battling what they believed to be terrorists who had taken over a high rise in Los Angeles.

The point being,  police now have riot gear, heavy weaponry, masks, and bulletproof vests, and often see themselves as forcing submission on citizens rather than upholding peace in communities.

The militarization of peace officers, turning them into law enforcement officials, is not all the fault of law enforcement agencies. Not at all. Culture has changed. 

When television celebrates crime and criminals, churches are considered irrelevant, God is taken out of schools, and a do-as-you-please philosophy reigns, one can't help but expect that crime becomes more lethal.

I am a defender of local police and understand the incredible stress police officers are under today. That said, America could do better training our police officers to see themselves as peace officers instead of law enforcement.  Keep the peace first. That's the goal. If people are running away, let them go and look for them through old fashioned detective work. Only pull your gun if you feel you are facing imminent harm or death. Otherwise, only think about how to keep the peace. The enforcement of law should be secondary, not primary.

There are still a few individual models of what a peace officer should like in America, peace officers that work in America's major metropolitan cities.

My Facebook friend Kiki Cherry introduced us to one via her Facebook post.

She shared the story of what happened Friday night, July 28, 2017, when Kiki met Fort Worth Peace Officer Sergeant B. Halford. This encounter with Sergeant Halford beautifully demonstrates for us all the best qualities in a local peace officer. 
We had a very cool encounter last night with one of our Fort Worth police officers.
Doug and I were down on Magnolia street, meeting with one of my awesome young Compassion volunteers at a coffee shop there.
 Afterwards we were loitering in the parking lot and saying our goodbyes when we were approached by a panhandler.
She began telling us a woeful story about being homeless, and sounded truly pitiful and distraught. Just then a police officer walked up.
 He greeted us, then turned to the woman and asked if she needed a ride down to the shelter or help getting some food.
Suddenly her whole demeanor....and even her voice....changed, and she abruptly walked away.
He then turned and explained to us that she is an addict and was looking for money to go get her next fix.
 He spent the next ten minutes sharing with us the plight of the homeless in that area, and how we could engage them in a way that would be genuinely helpful but still compassionate.
I was impressed with his servant heart. He knew each of them by name, and seemed to be well acquainted with their stories. Yet he cared enough to not want to enable them in their addictions. He explained to us how giving money can be one of the worst responses to have and can hurt more than help. He also encouraged us that the best thing to do is to volunteer and invest in local churches and organizations that minister to the homeless.
We found out that when he was off-duty he routinely volunteered, even picking up food to take where there was a need and giving rides to shelters. He also owned a small construction company, and would often hire people he encountered and actively assist them to get back on their feet.
We asked him to tell us some practical ways that we could help. I had one of my Compassion business cards on me, and gave it to him so he could send us some information.
By the time we got home, there was already an email in my inbox....with attachments listing organizations that helped the homeless, and practical tips for how to engage in our community.
Thank you, Sergeant Halford, for your service to our city, and for giving of your time to educate us last night. You are definitely one of Fort Worth's finest!
Well done, Sergeant Halford. May your tribe of peace officers increase!

Note: This piece was originally published in 2017 but is particularly relevant today. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Communism vs. Christianity and USA Revolution

Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, gave a speech a decade ago where he outlined the intent of the Communist Party in America.
"We desire to radically transform the United States toward the goal of revolution and the final aim of communism." 
Effective tactics always require an expressed target. The target of the Communist Party is Communism in the United States. The tactic is a revolution.

In 2020, we see their tactics at work.

Karl Marx (1818-1883), the founder of modern Communism, insisted that the dominant capitalist society can only be torn down when people en masse destroy the social, economic, and religious systems of an existing country. The revolution in the streets is to obtain the "4 Alls."

Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the founder of the People's Republic of China (Communist China), expressed clearly to his Maoist followers the 4 Alls he desired for China:
1, Abolish all class differences among the people.
2. Abolish all private production or individual institutions (business) that create class differences (state-owned production only).
3. Abolish all oppressive social orders (end nationalism, end individualism, end capitalism, etc.). Communism, like radical Islamic fundamentalism, has as a goal world domination so that the Utopia (caliphate) is realized by all and it is a "one-world order"
4. Abolish all ideologies that are opposed to communism (censorship and demands for conformity). 
Do those 4-Alls sound familiar to us Americans?

Two weeks ago, I marched with my black friends in a peaceful racial unity rally in downtown Enid. One of the young men (under 30) in front of me, a white man with his girlfriend, had two "Hammer and Sickle" tattooed on his calves. I got to know this young man. For him, what is happening in the United States in 2020 is the beginning of a Utopia in America.

Communism is coming.

Young people have been indoctrinated in our universities for decades. They've been taught that "God is dead" (there is no God, it is said), and that man's mind alone gives to mankind purpose. They've been taught that equality must be demanded, and if it's not given, it must be taken by force through destroying systems of inequality. They've been taught that their purpose for existence is solely this life, for there is nothing after death, and there is no Creator to govern the world.

America's young people have believed these lies. When a man who makes meth in a van is better known in America than the God who spoke the universe into existence with His Word, we've lost a generation. When a man who raises tigers in a zoo in Oklahoma is more listened to than the Lion of Judah, we've lost a generation.

Russians lost their country a century ago.

The Russian Revolution (1917) led to the adoption of the Hammer and Sickle as the official meme of the Soviet Union.

The Hammer speaks of industrial workers (city), and the Sickle speaks of agricultural workers (rural) coming together to forge a common people (Communism).

The idealism of Communism is that the people become one, share all things in common, and the world is at peace.

Sounds terrific, right?

It doesn't work.

Communism creates an order of power at the state level that takes away individual rights (liberty), removes freedom of speech and religion via coercion, and punishes the nonconformists.

The greatest mass murders during the 20th century occurred at the hands of communist government leaders in communist countries.

America was built on the concepts of the dignity for all human lives, liberties for each American to worship and speak freely (as they please), and the opportunity to pursue capital, property, and private businesses without hindrances from the state.

And most of all, the United States was built on the concept that God's purpose for our lives is preeminent.
"In God we trust." 
The Creator teaches people to be humble, loving, good, sacrificial, and kind, and He says there will come a day of accounting for one's behavior toward his fellow man.

The epitome of the Christian faith is to love one another as God has loved us. We'll give the shirts off our backs for those in need. That's America.
Communism is built on the belief that there is no God, and the only way to help those in need is to abolish the systems that created class distinctions. Communism lies, harms, destroys and kills. 
America needs to awaken.
It is America's Christian character, our nation's capitalistic economy, and the government's protection of individual liberties that have made people from all over the world want to come to America.
It's time that we see through the smoke and realize that the end goal of the 2020 revolution is to fundamentally change the structure of America.

Don't let that happen on your watch. The battle we face isn't about politics. This isn't about Democrats vs. Republicans, blacks vs. whites, haves vs. have nots.

This is a struggle for the very soul of our country.

It's a battle over life itself.

America was founded on the belief that any individual, through faith in God, hard work, personal discipline, and power over one's self, could live the American dream.

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and other communist ideologues have convinced a new generation to look at the world differently. Young people now believe that their only hope for success is to take power over others, not self; to take what is not theirs because it should be theirs (instead of working for it), and to demand absolute conformity over ideas. The cultural shame prevalent today for disagreeing or saying something different is enormous. What happened to encouraging people to be free and to the habit of engaging others in respectful dialogue over our differences?

Wake up, America, before its too late.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Two Reasons I'm a Christian Identifying as Baptist

In the year 1644, nearly 400 years ago, several Baptist pastors and churches came together in London, England to issue a Confession of Faith.

A confession of faith is a written document that declares what a particular sect of Christianity believes.

These 17th-century London Baptists wished to disassociate themselves from the continental Anabaptists, desiring the British Anglican establishment of church and state to know that London Baptists were not continental Anabaptists.

In the title of their confession, a confession which became known as the 1644 London Confession of Faith (also called The First London Confession) these Baptists write:
 "(we) are those CHURCHES which are  commonly (though falsely)  called ANABAPTISTS." 
The belief that 21st century Baptists in America are the spiritual descendants of continental Anabaptists (e.g. Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, etc.)  is refuted by the source documents, no matter how much modern Anabaptists try to tie Baptists with them. Anabaptists pledge allegiance only to Christ's government and refuse to bear arms in defense of civil government and protest wars in general, preferring to become captives via foreign conquerors than to take the life of other human beings during wars.

In 1644, Baptists in London wanted the leaders of the new English Commonwealth government to know that London Baptists would fight to defend the Commonwealth, though they were not Presbyterian in faith like Oliver Cromwell and his army. Cromwell, who had led his army to overthrow the British Crown government during the English Civil War (1640), distrusted Baptists because he wrongly deemed them to be Anabaptists. Baptists, Cromwell thought, would not fight to defend the Commonwealth.

It is important to note that the 1644 London Baptists wrote their confession two years prior to the infamous Presbyterian Westminster Confession.  If one wishes to see how Baptists historically differ from Presbyterians, one only has to compare and contrast the 1644 London Baptist Confession with the1646 London Presbyterian Confession (Westminster).

Historian Henry C. Vedder called the 1644 London Confession "one of the chief landmarks of Baptist history."

Baptists, unlike Anabaptists, are able to distinguish between "church and state" and live in both worlds easily. Baptists see no conflict defending the state while serving Christ personally. What a Christian does in defense of the state is not the same thing as what a Christian will do daily in his private life. Yes, there's a dichotomy, but it's a division of responsibility taught in the New Testament.

The government, according to the Bible, is appointed by God and "does not bear the sword in vain" (Romans 13). Christians lay down their swords. The government picks it up. If a Christian is in support of the government, the sword is borne in its defense. The government's role is to punish criminals, protect borders, and to promote the common good of its citizens.

Baptists understand this, and that's the first reason moral reason why I'm a Christian who identifies as Baptists.

But there's another theological reason. Baptists have historically believed it is unnecessary to use the Law in the conversion of sinners.

The 17th century London Baptists were clear that it was absolutely unnecessary to use "The Law" (meaning the 10 commandments or anything else associated with the Mosaic Law) as prefatory to sharing the gospel. Listen to what they wrote in Article 25:
"The tenders of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners are absolutely free, no way requiring, as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, terrors of the Law, or preceding Ministry of the Law, but only and alone the naked soul, as a sinner and ungodly to receive Christ, as crucified, dead, and buried, and risen again, being made a Prince and a Savior for such sinners."
Someone might ask, "But how does a person know he or she is a 'sinner' without the Law?"

Answer: Mankind's refusal to reflect the image of his Creator predates the giving of the Mosaic Law, and as such, it is unnecessary for the Law to press on a sinner's conscience his or her spiritual condition.

Truth be known, people are spiritually "dead" in through trespasses and sins, not through God's fault, but by their free choice. Their consciences have been seared by their repeated selfish behaviors, and their soul is dead to God.

Therefore, what is needed is not for a good man to be convinced of his sin, but for a dead man to be raised to spiritual life. A sinner must die to self by experiencing a new birth. Article 24 of the First London Confession states:
"That faith is ordinarily begot by the preaching of the Gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or capacity in the creature, but it (the creature or hearer) is wholly passive, being dead in sins and trespasses, does believe, and is converted by no less power, then that which raised Christ from the dead." 
Here is the important takeaway from this first historic Baptist Confession.

The 17th century London Baptists believed that people should love the ungodly (for Christ died for the ungodly), preach Jesus Christ indiscriminately (for it is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation), and refrain from using "the Law" as a preparatory work of the gospel.

Christ saves. We love. Christ transforms. We proclaim. Christ judges. We embrace.

When an evangelical gets those things reversed, we try to save people from their sins (and can't), we try to transform behaviors (through rules and laws, and only fail), and we wind up judging people because of their sins (and that's not our job).

Established Protestant denominations (Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc..) have historically believed opposite of Baptists regarding the Law. They've taught that the Mosaic Law to be absolutely essential to the conversion of sinners, and without condemning sinners for their sins, there will never be any salvation.

The Presbyterians write in Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession:
"The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator who gave it. Neither doth Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen, this obligation. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly"
Thus, two of the major differences between Christian denominations and Baptists are:
1. The Christian denominations emphasize the union of church and state while Baptists separate them, and,
2. The Christian denominations impress the Moral Law as an instrument of conversion while Baptists simply love the sinner and tell them about Christ. 

For example, Christian denominations have historically believed and taught that Christians are obligated to observe a Sunday "Sabbath." They emphasize the 'authority' of pastors/elders to hold people accountable to the Law, similar to the manner in which Old Covenant priests had 'authority' over the laypeople of Israel. The modern church (building) is similar to the historic Temple in Jerusalem. The Mosaic Law is Christianized in most Christian denominations because it is seen as the eternal law of God.

Baptists, on the other hand, see the Law as pointing to Jesus Christ, the Fulfiller of it.

The Law of Moses is a schoolmaster that takes us by the hand and leads us to Christ, our Teacher. Jesus the Messiah fulfilled every portion of the Law (i.e. 'every jot and tittle') and then caused it to 'disappear' in order to establish a 'new and better covenant' with a new and better law (Hebrews 8:13).  That law, called The Royal Law, is "to love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:35).

The New Covenant promises us eternal blessings because of the obedience of Another. We are declared 'righteous' by God because we abide in Christ by faith, receiving righteousness that is not our own by any obedience to Law, but "a righteousness that comes from God and is found by faith."

Therefore, we Baptists exalt Christ and live lives of love that image Him.

Though Christ is 'foolishness' to the Greeks and a 'stumbling block' to the Jews, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life for us. When we come to know the Truth, the Truth set us free.

The reason I am a follower of Jesus Christ who identifies as 'Baptist' is because of historic Baptist theology.

The state should be the state and not act like the church. The state protects borders, promotes the common good, and punishes criminals.

The church of Jesus Christ should be the church and not the state. The church feeds the poor, houses the homeless, loves the prisoners and criminals, and proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The reason we live in a convoluted political climate in the USA is that political liberals want the state to act like the church and political conservatives want the church to act like the state. In Baptist theology, the church and the state are two different entities, and the two should never encroach on each others' borders.

Unfortunately, the historic moral, philosophical, theological, and biblical viewpoint of Baptists is in the minority in America. And that's a shame since Baptists played a huge role in the Founding of the United States. 

Friday, June 05, 2020

The Reason I Happily Participate in a Protest March

Why is it that disagreements in politics, theology, current events, and other issues often (not always) result in anger, hostility, name-calling, and relational separation?

That's a question that deserves a thoughtful answer.

It seems that the messenger is attacked when the message is uncomfortable, embarrassing, or in the hearers' minds, harmful.

All of us have seen this or have experienced it, but hopefully, we don't partake in it.

Attacking a person for speaking, writing, or defending things that you don't believe to be true is a sign of immaturity.

Free speech must be cherished and protected for a society to be civilized and progressive.

You may not like what the other person says, but we must protect the rights of every fellow human being to freely say or write what he or she believes.

We must learn in our multicultural world to talk *with* those who hold views other than our own.

Our natural reaction to something we deem harmful is to "push away."
When the mosquito stings, we squash it. 
When the food tastes bad, we spit it out. 
When a persons reeks of body odor, we stand away. 
But intellectual and emotional maturity brings the realization that encouragement for others to freely speak what they believe without personal retaliation is beneficial, not harmful.

The mature person respects the dignity and the humanity of the messenger regardless of the message and protects the natural right for the messenger to freely speak his or her mind.

In a free, civilized, and mature society, people bring close others whose political, theological, and cultural persuasions are different, and they listen and engage in thoughtful dialogue.

Mature leaders entertain facts, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, dialogue and discuss varying disagreements, and refuse to personally attack the messenger, no matter the message.

Many, however, in these difficult days, never leave their intellectual childhood. They continue to react to difficult messages by making the messenger the issue.

Saul D. Alinksy, in his book Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals writes that:
Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.
There is no defense to ridicule. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

Ridicule comes from radical believers.

Dialogue comes from dignified believers.

Dignity, civility, and respectability are the ingredients of a civilized society.

I believe in a distinct moral, theological, and philosophical construct that is based on nature and Nature's God. I also happen to believe in a precise message of Good News based on the God of the Scriptures, a Good News that gives hope to every human being. 

That said, I have no problem coming close to those who disagree and listening to them.

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, I will join a protest march that begins at 10:00 am in Government Springs Park. The reason that I happily will participate in this protest march is not that I necessarily believe the message that is being conveyed by the protest marchers. 

Rather, I respect the dignity of humanity represented in the march and wish to make new friends who may not see the world the way I do. 

In other words, I wish to be part of a civil society that respects the dignity of every messenger, whether the message is believed by me or not. 

I will not push away. I will not squash. I will not run.

I will come close. 

If you'd like to help Emmanuel Enid and Forgotten Ministries by volunteering to cook hamburgers or pass out water, show up on the east side of Government Springs at 9:30 am (Saturday, June 6, 2020) or at 580 Coffee House (20 volunteers needed at the park, and 10 at 580 Coffee).

March begins at 10:00 am and should be over at we feed those who come. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A Word of Encouragement for You on a Hump Day

There is no greater pain than when we hurt, plead with God for relief, and find heaven remaining quiet.

Let's be honest.

As Christians, there is no more bitter experience than facing a monumental trial that seems destined to do us in, and when we ask God for relief, He seems deaf to our cries.

As adopted children of the King, nothing is scarier or more disconcerting than to believe the Throne Room is locked, keeping Him from hearing us in our time of need.  All of us have been there.

There is a day for all of us when God seems not to hear our cries.

When that happens, no matter when that day occurs, it's a tough day. It's a Hump Day. It's tough to get through to the end.

Next time that feeling arrives, take a few moments to think about your ear. 

Take a close look at your ear in the mirror. Do a little research and discover the delicate intricacies of this amazing human instrument.

It takes more faith to believe your ear evolved from amoebas than it does God created it in your mother's womb.

God fashioned you ear, and through your ear, you hear the world around you.

The ear is so precise, so beautiful, so profound, so breathtaking that Charles Spurgeon once said (Metropolitan Series, vol. 35, p. 66):
"An aurist who explained to you the mechanism of the ear should make you feel that an undevout aurist is mad."
I agree with Mr. Spurgeon. No man can examine the ear and explain its intricacies and not be a devout believer in God.

But more importantly, every Christian who has a working knowledge of the ear should receive tremendous encouragement that God hears our pleas and our prayers on all occasions and at all times. Listen to the Psalmist's words:
"He who fashioned the ear, does He not hear?" (Psalm 94:9 NAS).
The Psalmist is using irony. It's like your mom or dad used to tell you when you were a sophomore in high school, acting as if you knew better than them, "Do you not think we know what's going on?"

In fact, I can almost hear the irony in the words of the Psalmist. The word "fashioned" in Hebrew is translated "planted" (KJV). It is a Hebrew word used throughout the Old Testament to speak of God's activity in creation. God created your ear. He planted it. He fashioned it.
The God who designed and created your ear, do you not think He can hear?
In Psalm 94 God's people have been crying out in agony because "the wicked were triumphing" (v. 3). Those who were committing evil were saying "hard things" against God's people (v. 4). They "break in pieces the people of God" (v. 5), and they even afflict the poor, defenseless, and fatherless (v. 6). "How long?" God's people cry, "How long?"

The Psalmist's response to the petitions of God's people is a clear cut path to encouragement and comfort for those of us who wonder if God hears us when we plead for mercy in our time of need.
God planted (created) your ear. He, above all others, always hears everything. He will respond to my pleas. In due time, God will "rise up for me" (v. 16). The Lord "will be my help" (v. 17). "Thy mercy, O Lord, holds me up when I slip" (v. 18). "The Lord is my defense" (v. 22). Take comfort my soul. My King is on His throne and He hears me.
The ancients had a subtitle to Psalm 94 that went along these lines:
 "The Psalm to be sung on the fourth day of the week."
The fourth day of the week is what we call Wednesday or Hump Day.

Psalm 94 is a proven encouragement for any hump day in our lives. Next time we doubt God hears our prayers, we ought to study closely the human ear. "He who  planted the ear, does He not hear?" (Psalm 94:9).

 In His time, at just the right time, God will rise up for you and be your defense.

The God who fashioned your ear hears.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Switzerland Is a Model During These Days of Rage

American citizens defending Natural Rights
The United States turns into a nation of crime at night.

By day, protestors are peacefully marching for needed change in our country. I'm for them. I'm doing all I can to empathize with the protestors and to listen carefully to their concerns. I'm also acting in our community to bring about racial reconciliation and needed change

But the night rioters are a different matter.

The rioters and looters who are destroying property and lives across America should be shot in the act.

No exceptions.

 I realize that those destroying lives and property during this 2020 America uprising often justify their actions by pointing to the Boston Tea Party.

That's a weak argument.

I remind my readers of an axiom from history.
One war's rebels are the next war's dictators.
Is America at war? Possibly. I don't know. The legal protests are good. We should always encourage and support legal protestors. We should also always support our local law enforcement officers. One bad apple doesn't destroy the entire barrel.

But as an American who happens to be a follower of Jesus, I feel compelled to let you know that I am armed and ready to shoot any person who breaks into my house or business seeking to destroy my life, my property, or my family.

Natural Law demands such a response from me.

As a follower of Jesus, were I just talking about my life, I may choose to lay down my life and turn the other cheek for your sake. That's my decision. It's a decision made between me and God.

But as an American who has the responsibility of protecting the lives of others, and as one who's been tasked with defending and protecting private property for the common good, and as one compelled to protect my family and neighbors from harm, know that I will defend by force any attempt to encroach on the Natural Rights of life, liberty, and property of my fellow Americans.

America's existence depends on the willingness of its citizens to defend life, liberty, and property.

I recently finished reading the book Target Switzerland.

The author brilliantly explains why the people of Switzerland were unconquered during two World Wars, particularly when Switzerland sat in the middle of lands being fought over.

"Why did Adolph Hitler not invade Switzerland like he did every other European country?"

There are FOUR reasons:
(1). Every man in Switzerland from the age of 20 to 55 is a member of the Swiss militia and was trained, equipped and ready at all times to fight a guerilla war against any invading force.
(2). Marksmanship is the national sport in Switzerland, and every male is required to be a marksman and trained with his gun to shoot well, so that during World War II there were nearly one million trained snipers ready to fight any invading force.
(3). According to Target Switzerland, Adolph Hitler knew that to invade Switzerland would mean certain death to his officers because the Swiss militia were trained in their guerilla warfare tactics to target colonels and above. To defeat a nation of one million snipers would require a commitment of 6 million troops, for the ration of conventional soldiers needed to defeat guerilla militia is 6 to 1.
(4). In short, Switzerland has historically maintained neutrality by focusing on the defense of the homeland instead of the invasion and occupation of foreign lands.
The United States during these difficult times would do well to imitate the Swiss.

The only business not destroyed. True unity.
Our Founding Fathers studied Switzerland in the formulation of our national documents. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states:
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Our Founding Fathers believed a well-regulated militia was NECESSARY for national security.

In these turbulent days, the homes and businesses defended by citizens armed with weapons are surviving.

I am a Christian. I may choose to lay down my life if you attack me because I don't fear death.

But I'm also an American. Church and state are different in my mind.

When a man is destroying property, seeking to harm people that I love, and encroaching on a property they do not own to destroy it, I will take my weapon and enforce Natural Law.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I will never feel shame or blame by those who say I should "turn the other cheek." 

I'm an American.

I am the government.

If I choose to lay down my gun and die at your hands, I do so because my King has told me to take that action. But my King has also told me to "honor the powers of government" (Romans 13).

Again, I am the government.

Were I you, I wouldn't try to guess which hat I'm wearing when you encroach on me. It will be one of two: either my Christian hat or my American citizen hat. I separate church and state.

So if you come breaking into my house or business to harm, destroy, or kill, I very well may claim my God-given Natural Right to protect my property, my family, and my life by force.

And as you lay dying on the floor of my home, I will treat you for your wounds, and ask you if you are ready to face your God.

But only those who respect life, liberty, and another person's property are prepared to meet Him.

He is Nature's God, and He's given us Nature's Law.