He was born in Boston the last of seventeen children. His parents He wanted their little boy to have a career in the church. He attended school only two years before giving up on formal school and thought being a tradesman was a better life. Working for his brother as an apprentice, he learned the printing business.When he submitted a letter to his brother for publication he was turned down as simply to radical. Undaunted, he began writing to the paper with a false name and the identity of a middle-aged widow. When his brother was jailed for three weeks , he was released from the constraining editorial comments. His pseudonym said, “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and not such thing as public liberty without the freedom of speech.” He left town and his brothers’ business a political fugitive.No one thought Benjamin Franklin would ever amount to much.2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”We all need redemption!
The defining difference between Liberals and Conservative has often been proposed as the acceptance of science over liberty. One group would include a scientific reason for any proposal. Whether it be Global warming, wearing masks for all time, universal healthcare, wealth inequality, and identity politics, each may well be associated to a statistic, scientific study, authority of record, or cultural norm.
As we enter the holiday season, mandates have been set as to the size and place of our celebrations of love, thanks, appreciation, and fellowship. And these mandates are all made by scientific reasoning.
But where is the liberty of free choice? Why does science seem to overrule our own ability to determine for ourselves a personal response to risk? In 1966, a distinguished Canadian-born anthropologist Anthony Wallace confidently predicted the global demise of religion at the hands of an advancing science: ‘belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge. Science over the free exercise of faith was his prophesied result of our culture. Social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicted all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy.
If prediction is true, I want no part of it. Give me the liberty to make my own decisions. Yes, I will be accountable for my decisions, but I was created in the image of God. And with that image comes the possibility of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control. And all these things cannot be legislated against or demanded from anyone. Science does not provide any of these things. All science provides is despair, turmoil, cruelty, apathy, greed, and legislation.
Tell me what you think.
How are we to assume we have a better idea of how to make over our American culture? How can we simply say, “my own intellect is better and I can conceive and implement a better way of making a new process to make our culture better.” How is my mind or your mind, any better than the cumulative wisdom and practices of two hundred years? How is my mind, my understandings, my process, my politics, my take on what is right and wrong, more suited to the task of molding my culture than the sum of eight or nine generations before me.
A politician once ran for President of the United States on a platform of “Hope and Change.” I often see the need for change for a thousand reasons. Inequality, social class, life taken as a whim, liberty limited by government, and even the pursuit of happiness has hundreds of regulations and restrictions. All of them were implemented in the name of justice. They all seem to shout for change. We are on the edge of great decisions for our country.
At issue is the current political majority demands change by the implementation of additional restrictions and regulations. More kinking of the hose in the hope that everyone will get enough water.
But is this new “change for change sake” methodology, this social solution better than what has gone on before. Is our United States Constitution to be thrown away just because someone has a better idea? Can we permit the rule of Law to be circumvented by personal fiat? How does a body of men and women, each with their own agendas, seem to be bent to change our country just for the sake of change?
Help me to understand.
What is the cause of violence? For what reason does a person “get into the face of another” and shout and curse and spit vitriol? I think is it simply sin. You see, sin is a riddle, a mystery, a reality that is difficult to define. It is often ignored because there is no personal responsibility if there if it remains a nebulous concept. Often, we try to think of this idea called sin and think of it as wrongdoing or transgression of some standard. But it also includes the failure to do what is correct, prudent, loving. Sin offends people, it is violence and lovelessness pointed and directed toward others. But more than that, it is disrespectful to God.
The concept of sin is very complex, and the terminology associated with is also very complex. And when I try to reconcile all the opinions of what is lawful and what is not, it is easy to be caught up in a definition hell. To make a differentation between peaceful protest and rioters is charged with political condemnation. Simply to say, all lives matter is seen as racist. But in reality, it is not about definitions or even spin or fake news. It is about the expectation of my behavior in relationship to all around me. To repeat the admonition of Jesus, “However you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the law and the prophets.” The cause of violence is simply not doing what you expect others to do to you.
It is going to happen whether we like it or not. The presidential election. It has been touted as the most important in this or last century. It is discouraging to contemplate the two candidates running for the highest leadership position in our country. Both and neither seem to check all the boxes for me. Never-the-less, the election will be held, and someone will be in the white house for four years.
In the middle of the sometimes heated discussions of politics, we are distracted from the headlong ubiquitous degradation of America’s moral foundation and fundamental liberties. My inclination to discover what their vision is for the future and vote for that future. I want to do my civic duty. My vote is not about the personal values of the candidate but the change or lack of change for our country.
Yet there are many within the church who strongly disagree about one or both candidates. I have heard some will not vote, out of protest. Others condemning anyone one not seeing it the way they do. Others explicitly state their mandate is only to vote if it does not compromise their Christian witness whatever that means. And others say, “If you don’t vote you are not Christian.”
My thoughts here are from my study of the Bible. Both candidates profess the Christian faith. Where is my responsibility to include in my criteria for voting the genuineness of their Christianity? Where does it say a criterion of who is the best leader in this time of turmoil, pandemic, and social unrest, be based on my judgment of Christian their character? I can’t find it. Judge as you would be judged.
Our political decisions may well lead to discussions and even to outward persuasions, but I will not judge. That kind of Judgement is God’s and I am not looking for a job. I Cor 4:5 states that Jesus will judge. It is for him alone to bring to light what is now hidden and to commend or rebuke. So my friends, let us “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, [bear] with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Let us not dismiss our own faith by doing anything else.
I am a WOKE Christian. Now before you get all judgmental on me, let me explain. The original use of this word was back in the 1940s quoted in the Atlantic. It quoted a black United Mine Worker as saying, “Waking up is a damn sight better than going to sleep, but we’ll stay woke up longer.” It was a way of saying I am aware of social injustice. It has been adopted, for the most part by minorities of all races and ethnicities. But the meaning is still the same. To be aware of how society marginalizes and makes efforts to minimalize anyone who is different. In the 1960s, WOKE could more generally mean “well-informed” in Black English, but it still strongly aligned with political awareness, especially in the context of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950–60s and appearing in the phrase, “stay woke.”
So what do I mean when I say I am a WOKE Christian? There are so many in our society that has been and is both marginalized and minimized because of perceived differences. When I say I am WOKE, I am stating for the record I am aware of social injustice. I believe the spectrum of talent, intelligence, and drive includes everyone. Those who are WOKE, exclaim that all those in the spectrum of life are not given the same access to opportunity.
Restriction of opportunity has been pictured as prejudice, racism, hate, and discrimination, of which I can neither support nor permit in my life as I live in my Faith in Jesus.
Facebook, the news, and politicians all seem to be screaming at me. Each trying to emphasize the terrible nature and reputations of opposing politicians. Republicans or Democrats both have their problems. Both would require my vote for them to the exclusion to the other. They have become so apart and divisive, there is no middle ground.
Now, this is where I get into trouble. I am trying, as a Christian, to understand the differences between the two prominent political parties and their stands on the access of opportunity. Is one party trying to limit access to all? Is one party providing pathways to opportunity over the other? A comparison is needed to determine the most “limiting” faction.
As a Christian, I must start my examination by saying, “everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” Romans 3:23 and that Jesus died for everyone 1 John 2:2. This includes those who run for political office. Every candidate has equal access to the grace of God. And lastly, it is not my place to judge anyone based on their faith; that is God’s job, not mine. All politicians are limited by a sinful nature. I must concern myself with the policies and promises, not the moral content of their personal lives. It is not my place to judge the spiritual nature of another.
Therefore, I must, if I am WOKE, vote for the candidate I believe will do the best job to overcome injustice in any form and restrictions of access and opportunity. It falls on the rule of law, justice and, equality.
I am not saying I must set aside biblical principles. Politics matters to God. Politics and the choices they make can well mitigate some of the effects of a fallen world. The society around us should multiply and flourish. After all, Jesus, in everything he did was a motive to uplift or make better. He healed lepers, gave hearing to the deaf, opened the eyes of the blind. Every effort in his life, death, and resurrection was to redeem, restore, and empower. Jesus was WOKE. It did not matter if they were Hebrew or Gentile.
Recently the President of the United States was found not guilty of charges set against him. Some would say it was just politics. And mostly I would agree. I think the whole thing was about limiting access and therefore an opportunity for him to do the job he was elected to do. I think the process was not about the abuse of power but simply a difference of opinion. It was a process wrought by fallible people with fallible judgments. It was more about a self-perceived set of standards.
Character has always been a factor on the political stage. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and every other president had their detractors. Some voters that did not vote for President Obama only on the criteria of his skin color. These restrictors of access are accountable to God.
Again, I am a WOKE Christian. My vote is not based on perceived character. I do not know what is in the heart. Only God can do that. I vote for the person who is most likely to give equal opportunity and access to everyone who is being governed. And for me, that specifically includes my right to shout I am a Christian and I understand and care.
So, who is the most WOKE in politics today? The pickings are few. If I would take out the judgmental aspect of my choice, I am left with a decision of which would increase the opportunity of all. What is the track record for this specific quantifiable question? Which one will set the standard of access? And which one limits access and therefore opportunity to thrive.
Let’s start with the big one; Pro-life V Pro-Choice. Which would seem to limit access and opportunity? I must say taking a life severely restricts the access and opportunity for the child. To abort a life up to the minute of birth is simply not WOKE.
One party seems to welcome all, including all faiths, ages, races and sexes and the other jumps over the moon when a Catholic schoolboy wears a MAGA hat to a rally.
One party seems to be promoting religious freedom for all faiths, even for Christianity. Christianity seems the most beleaguered and limited and ridiculed. One party sees the value of faith the other tries to marginalize and mock faith of any kind.
Of the two parties in this contest, one fought for both the 1964 Civil rights Act and the 2018 justice reform to reduce mass incarceration. One party was founded as the Anti-Slavery party and the other voted against every effort to open access and opportunity to the enslaved population.
Of the two opponents in the political world, one encourages the right to disagree and make voices heard and the other seems to what to silence civil discussion even on college campuses.
I applaud the need for every person to have access to healthcare, but in the application it impacts access. All the rhetoric talks about healthcare but it really is about insurance. It is about who pays. A Faith based Hospital is required to conform to a single standard that allows for abortion and the right to die measures.
One party has given us the elimination of terror threats from across the world and the other gives us unisex bathrooms. One believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, while the other says it doesn’t matter.
Not only has Trump not drawn us into a nuclear war, but he also relegated ISIS and Iran’s murderous General Soleimani to the dustbin of history. Not only has he pursued regulatory reform and created millions of new jobs, but his administration also heralded the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for Latinos and African Americans. Combined with sweeping criminal justice reform, Trump’s policies are not just symbolic, but real steps forward in our country’s enduring quest for racial equality. Not only has Trump sought tax relief for families and children, but he has also been the greatest protector of unborn lives since the atrocity of Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell’s Senate has confirmed 187 qualified, originalist federal judges.
Neither party has the high ground as models of Christian virtue and sinlessness. I must choose one over the other. President Trump may well not deserve it, but nobody does if the only qualification is being an unbroken, infallible, sinless, politically correct automaton.
We live in a broken world; sin, hate, prejudice, and discrimination is rampant. Our lives are our decisions. While President Trump is a most unlikely banner holder for the WOKE, our lives are better for it. Millions of forgotten and disenfranchised men and women of all races and creeds and faith have been renewed and are blossoming through the actions of this man. And it is this blossoming of circumstances that ultimately matter most. “I am WOKE”.
Chesterfield wrote that “without a good moral soil, art and reason will never flourish.” As I look around me, whether in politics, art, music, reason, discourse, conversation and culture, it is all about self. The culture today is one of no central moral soil. We have no real moral compass that allows art and reason to find a home. Without an environment of living for more than self, there will be no great art, no great discourse, no great progress, no great furtherance of life.
I just don’t see this infertile soil of morality today nurturing the best things, the progressive things, the living things that makes life worth the living. Trying to live in a culture where what ever is good enough, is nothing more than a life of just getting on. It is a life of pure pragmatism. It is a life without hope. It is a life of what ever works. There is little trying to make things better. It is a pragmatism which settles for the moment and never for the possibility of future. It is a place where majority ideas and thought patterns become the new norm. Further, this new norm changes from day to day.
Our culture just follows along, just staying a step ahead of the slowest. Never excelling, never having a thought of our own. The mantra says, “What ever works for you must be good enough for me.”
I read some parts of social media. The idea for a place to share your thoughts and ideas is a great concept. But it has become a place of redundant re-post after re-post. No new ideas, no sharing of who we really are. All shares are of things or ideas of others that agree with you; fully expecting by taking the effort to post something at all is making the assumption that someone might be persuaded to think like you. There is no critical thinking, no trying to learn of the person behind the pretty head shot picture. There is no effort to learn more or to understand. It is all being more impressive and thought provoking by posting someone the common drivel of some one else. There is no discourse for understanding. “If you don’t agree with them, that must be your problem.
Meaning, purpose, commonality, adventuring spirit, an ever pushing ahead is simply not tolerated. And heaven forbid if I disagree with your post. “Don’t do that, it offends me.” If you are going to post an idea of someone else you need to be able to defend that position, not to sit in the corner yelling, “I don’t love you anymore mommy.”
All that remains for our unthinking pragmatism is a comfortable existence of being OK. No excellence, no reason, no meaning, no purpose, no excitement, no zest, no reaching out, no life but the status quo. In the end, in doing only what works for you in the moment, will result in the discovery that it simply does not work for you. Your life becomes a habitual malaise. Contrary thought is condemned. Finding the reason for action becomes just too much work. Purpose becomes, “just getting along.” Life is nothing more than “safe spaces” and political correctness. It is a place where everyone gets a trophy. It is an environment where equal rights become a demand for equal results. There is no place for excellence.
It is only in finding more than self, more than the status quo, more than just getting along, more than pragmatism, more than being politically correct, more than being the perfect mediocre. It is only within the eternal does the temporal find its relevance. There is nothing without that eternal compass, that fertile soil seeded with the eternal which gives life more meaning. IT is not things, or posts or the number of likes.
It is an eternal environment, not a temporal temporary that brings life. It is only in the eternal that you ever really live. Why? Because it pushes us onward, one step at a time, toward the better way.
I am not a “gloom, despair, excessive misery” type of person. Most of the time I strive to seek out the light at the end of the tunnel. But I am discouraged by our nation. It seems that God seems without substance. God has become almost unimportant. God has become an afterthought. God has become so inconsequential that He has become a supplement, something that you take at night to help you sleep. To me, God in America has become a necessary item to place on a shelf to be called upon when things get so bad that He is pulled of the shelf and shaken up like a holy talisman. If we take a poll, which we seem to think is the only way to figure out what we really believe, God may well still believe in God’s existence. But as one philosopher said, “we may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgments no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertiser’s sweet fog of flattery and lies.”
I don’t know where the line is, but it is there. When does our apathy, poll driven, and politically correct country cross the line to where God has had enough? In my studies this week on the Minor Prophets, I read, “A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” Nahum 1:2,3.
It was his favorite spot.
High above his hometown of Moresheth. Though it was quite a hike up the mountain, it was his place of worship, his place of prayer, his place of solitude, his place of getting above it all and just be still and know that the LORD was God.
It was high enough to see afar off the edge of the Mediterranean sea. The blue was metered by the distance and late fog that rolled in about this time each evening. The sun was about to dip into the sea. It was a special time between Micah and the God of Judah. It was a moment of pure religion and worship.
In an attitude of prayer. He watched the sun just touch the sea. Light was slowly dimming, to Micah it was a parable of his life. The colors around him became less and less. Twilight was his hour of meditation. A time of quiet before God.
Below was the plain of GAD the ancient home of the past enemy of Philisita the home of Goliath. In the quiet of that moment his mind went further up the mountain to its crest. There was the cave that David had hidden in from Saul. On the other side was Bethlehem. And even further was Jerusalem. Jotham had replaced Uzziah and he was even worse leader, filled with sin and idolatry.
Micah had witnessed the wrath of God when Judah’s sister nation fell to Assyria. Some of the Israelites made it out. With nothing more than what was on their backs they had move back to Judah. It was a boarder crisis. And with them came their worship of Idols, wickedness and a bent toward the depravity of their hometowns.
Looking again to the setting sun. The very edge was now touching the horizon. Dipping its edge into the water grave of the sea. Sun suddenly was clouded by a fog, intercepting its rays. Darkness came quickly like a great judgement. The day, the light, the warmth suddenly vanished. With the quickened darkness came a sadness, a loneliness and a pent up anger.
How long will your mercy meter your justice? When will your wrath become stronger than your love?
Looking at our own world I too ask. Looking at our nation in turmoil where no one wants to help the regular person. YES LORD, HOW LONG WILL YOUR MERCY METER YOUR JUSTICE? WHEN WILL YOUR WRATH BECOME STRONGER THAN YOUR LOVE?
Based upon the first chapter of the minor prophet Micah.
I don’t understand. I wake up and the first thing I hear is the news on in the living room and I am blasted by the latest scandal, the latest opinion that is contrary to the ones I have. I wonder how our “Christian nation” arrived at a place where our college students don’t think and just react to the latest rhetoric pumped from a tiny screen. I am aghast that our government seems unwilling or unable to just sit down and talk with each other. Rather they are so polarized they would rather the country fail than not get their ideological viewpoint undermined. I sit here questioning seeming fluid self-declared gender identity sweeping our culture, thrown in the face of God-created differences.
It is not just secular tidal waves that loom on our horizon. The church is being changed by these forces. The church is called to change the world, not the other way around. I read of what we would call mainline churches just giving up on basic Christian beliefs. “Mary wasn’t a virgin, she was just a maiden.” “Jesus did not raise from the dead, it is just an allegory.” It has become more of what you do than what you believe, “Live the good life.” The church no longer talks about the blood of Jesus providing a life-changing salvation. It is all about an entertainment of the senses in a joint expression of euphoria as a substitute for worship.
As a result, there is a cultural relativism. There are no absolutes. “We don’t need theology, we need a social application of cultural norms,” is touted at the latest seminar or church conference. The sheep have been set free to roam where ever they think is best.” And they have taken this relative culture and ran with it. Running toward destruction.
We must get back to basics. Where we hold standards high. Where the truth is the truth. Where the Bible is the basis of life. There must be an evangelism in our church. We must show unity, we must love one another. There are mainline churches across this great nation that are dying because they are not connected to the True Vine.
I pray for the church to be filled. I pray for the church to be called to prayer. I call for the church to change our culture. I pray that the great churches of America have a genuine revival of the Spirit of God.
And with this revival will come a change in our country.