Two Masters? Make up your Mind!

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Every person is subject to the issue of primary allegiance. Everyone believes in something which takes precedence over everything else in life. This allegiance shapes and informs the way a person lives and determines how he treats other people. The world would be a far better place to live if people would consider this question on a regular basis and answer it honestly in their own hearts. It is likely that most people either are dishonest about it or have never given it any thought at all.

I can’t condemn anyone for their refusal to think this through or their ignorance about it. I have only come to a full understanding of it recently and am still trying to sort out the implications in my own mind. However, what I do know beyond doubt is that there is a lot of stuff out of whack in our world and we’ve got to decide what we’re going to do about it.

One area this can be seen very plainly is in the socio-politico-economic realm. It is becoming clear to me that the rule of Jesus Christ and the rule of the humanist State are on a collision course. Sooner or later, the professing Christian is going to have to choose between these two governments. Is the Christian’s primary allegiance to Jesus Christ or to the State? Where does the Christian draw the line against the actions of the State? Should the Christian ever draw that line?

“No man can serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other or he will despise the one and worship the other.” These words of Jesus Christ, loosely paraphrased, are as true today as they were two thousand years ago when they were spoken. His words were meant to contrast God’s salvation vs. the inordinate love of money, but there are many instances in history where people have lost everything, including their lives, because they refused to worship the ruling system. The Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians is a good example. Many thousands of people were literally slaughtered for one reason—they recognized that the rule of Jesus in their lives took precedence and authority over the rule of the emperor. They asserted that there was only one Lord and his name was not Vespasian, Titus, Nero, Trajan, or Domitian. This was viewed by the political rulers as treasonous insurrection and they acted as States always do when faced with opposition—use whatever means are necessary to eliminate and crush it.

Today America is becoming more humanistic, more socialist, more demanding, more brutal. There is virtually no place left in the United States that is not touched by the long, regulatory arm of the State. More than eighty thousand pages per year are added to the Federal Register, which have the force of law as soon as they are written. Wars are started and fought at the whim of the President who doesn’t even bother to ask permission any more. Special interests and lobbyists persuade Congress to write laws which will benefit them regardless of who it will harm. Police brutality is on the rise. Justice has given way to “law enforcement”. No one is exempt; everyone must pay and we pay dearly.

Can a person profess to be a Christian and still support the State system which is against many, if not most, of the principles of the Christian religion? Again, no person can serve two masters. This is where the rubber meets the road. Here is where self-conscious thought about what it means to be a Christian comes in because these two philosophies are at odds with each other and can never be reconciled. In order to avoid any misunderstanding on that statement let me rephrase it. The rule of Jesus Christ and the rule of a secular humanist State are in conflict with each other and every self-conscious, professing Christian has to make a decision as to which side he is going to serve. There is no straddling the fence, no playing both sides. It is one or the other, but not both.

There is one aspect of both these governments which is the same—each one seeks to bring all its constituents into total, unconditional surrender to its rule. Jesus demands that of his followers and so too does the State. This surrender is brought about over time and in history as individual people are converted, peacefully or violently, and assimilated into the realm. Both the Church (the visible representation of Christ’s rule on Earth) and the State (the highest representation of man’s rule on Earth) are engaged in this endeavor which can only be viewed accurately over extended periods of time.

It is important to understand one major difference between these two.

Jesus Christ extends His rule in the earth through love, kindness, compassion, generosity, self-control, humility, etc., and forgiveness of those who transgress the rules. This is completely non-violent and unforceful in nature. People come into the Church voluntarily and without coercion. People are set free by their willing adherence to the truth as they progressively allow the Holy Spirit to take over their lives. His way leads to life and liberty for the individual believer.

The State, on the other hand, extends its rule through the use of brute force, mandatory compulsion, directives, orders, legislation, etc., and punishment or retribution against those who are opposed to it. There is nothing voluntary about the State. It is “follow the rules, or else.” The State rules by violence or the threat of violence. As people are subsumed into its culture, they are increasingly bound, restricted, and enslaved by bureaucratic red tape at all levels of government, from federal to local. The end of the State is the death of freedom and slavery for most people.

Let me be perfectly frank. There is a war going on here, a spiritual war to be sure, but a war nevertheless. It is for the hearts and minds of men everywhere and there is no place on Earth which is left untouched by it. It has existed from the very beginning and will continue until the very end. Everyone is involved in it. Whether a person actively acknowledges it or not is irrelevant.

Many times in history this war has become physical. There are numerous instances when the State has “declared” war on the Church and engaged in violent, aggressive action to defeat and stamp out its enemy. This is increasingly the norm in America today. More and more the State is encroaching on territory which belongs to the Church. The State is demanding that the Church submit its authority to that of the State, even if that submission goes against what the Church stands for.

There may very well come a time in America when each Christian has to make a decision in this regard. Will I live for my King, Jesus the Christ, even if it costs me everything up to and possibly including my life? Will I throw in the towel on my professed beliefs and transfer my allegiance to the opposing side, the State? This is something which you must be prepared for beforehand. When the time arrives, if it hasn’t already, that the State tells you to act contrary to your stated beliefs, you must have already determined your course of action or else you will follow the State’s orders. Refusing to surrender your life to the rule of King Jesus means that you will surrender it to the rule of the State.

The words of Elijah (1 Kings 18:21) ring as true today as they did when he spoke them on Mount Carmel thousands of years ago. I have loosely paraphrased them. “How long will you waver between two opposing views? If the LORD is sovereign, follow Him. If the State is sovereign, follow it.” What’s interesting is the next sentence. “And the people did not answer him at all.” They were waiting to see who was going to win the battle before they made a choice. We cannot go down that road. The State is going down. Jesus is going to win this war. And the next one. And the next. There is only one possibility of ultimate victory. Choose wisely and, once you have chosen, do not back down.

Travesty of Justice Continued

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See “Travesty of Justice” below for background.

I missed a point in my earlier post which I want to bring out. This is quite important.

It concerns a statement near the end of the article in question (link to the original report here)

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_71e52318-35e5-11e2-a347-0019bb2963f4.html

which says that “(Ravalli County Justice) Bailey voiced hesitation for releasing Lowry on his own recognizance.” The reason for his hesitation was this. “I worship that flag…” “I put my life on it.”

Now wait just a doggone minute. Bailey was reluctant to release Lowry on his own recognizance because he…was a potential flight risk? Swore that he’d finish what he had started? Represented some possible danger to himself, his neighbor, Stevensville, Ravalli County? No, on the contrary, Bailey expressed hesitation because Lowry had attacked and tried to destroy the flag which Bailey worships.

This is completely out of line for a county judge and he should be called on it. If the article in question is written to accurately reflect the truth of the matter, then it seems that “Justice” Bailey allowed his own personal feelings, emotions, and beliefs to overrule his duty to administer the law. The only thing he should have considered in deciding whether to release Lowry before trial were these two things. Was Lowry a danger or menace to anyone within the community? Would Lowry have bolted if he were turned loose? If the answer to either of these questions was “Yes”, then Bailey should have immediately ordered him held in jail until the hearing. However, if it could be determined that Lowry was neither a danger or flight risk, then there was no reason not to turn him loose on bail or his own recognizance . There should have been no hesitation at all. Mr. Bailey’s viewpoint concerning the flag should not have even entered the conversation.

One definition of a tyrant is that he rules by fiat in complete disregard for the law or his subjects. Do I need to say anything more?

Travesty of Justice

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A month or so ago, I wrote a Letter to the Editor concerning an article in the Ravalli Republic (Ravalli County, Montana). The full text of my letter can be seen below. The link will take you to the original article. Since I was allowed only 300 words, I couldn’t respond to the full extent I thought necessary. I will try to do that here.

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_71e52318-35e5-11e2-a347-0019bb2963f4.html

    (Beginning of letter)

The article at the top of the Nov. 24 issue of the Ravalli Republic reported that Larry Dan Lowry, Stevensville, was sentenced to 29 days in jail and 100 hours community service for burning his neighbor’s flag.

There are a number of things wrong with this whole incident, but I want to mention only one. Keep in mind that I am making my case according to the way the article is written. There may be other relevant facts of which I am not aware.

Nowhere is mention made of any kind of restitution awarded to the owner of the flag in question. Was Lowry ordered to pay compensation for the damage done to his neighbor’s property? He should have been. The neighbor was the one who suffered loss. He was the one Lowry acted aggressively against.

We live in a perverted culture. A man can destroy something owned by another, be incarcerated for 29 days, and have his “debt to society” paid. Yet, Lowry did not commit a crime against some nebulous construct known as society, he committed a crime against a man, his neighbor. Lowry does not “owe” society anything, he owes his neighbor everything. Unfortunately, the victim, his other neighbors, and all the taxpayers of Ravalli County, will now be required to pay to keep a known criminal alive, well fed, and housed for the next month. Where is the justice in that?

Our criminal punishment system is completely out of whack. Restitution to the victim would go a long way to restoring it to sanity. The concept of restitution is at least as old as Exodus 22:6, in which it is stated that “…he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.” This is real justice. We need to start thinking that way again.

    (End of letter)

1. According to the article, the neighbor who called the police told them that Lowry was extremely intoxicated. Did the police check this out? Did they notice any visible or apparent intoxication? Did they charge him with public intoxication? If so, what happened to the charge? If not, why not? Public intoxication is not something to be taken lightly, especially when violent and aggressive behavior is involved.

2. The article states that “Lowry was originally charged with a felony charge of desecrating the flag…” This charge was later dropped. I shouldn’t wonder.

a. First, the Supreme Court has held that burning the American flag is a constitutional right. (Texas vs. Johnson, 1989, and also, U.S. vs. Eichorn, 1990) See this website for more information. http://civilliberty.about.com/od/freespeech/p/flagburning.htm After the Court made its second ruling, there has never been a serious question about this issue. If it is the law, as it clearly is, then Lowry could not have been convicted of burning or desecrating an American flag. Wisely, the law in Ravalli County decided to drop the charge.

b. Second, the term “desecrate” should not be applied to any action which damages or destroys an American flag, or any other flag for that matter. The word desecrate has reference only to something which is holy or considered sacred, and the American flag is emphatically not holy nor sacred. (For further definition, follow the links.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desecrate

There are those who would argue (and probably will) that the flag is indeed sacred, but sacredness involves taking on the attribute of God, Who is holy. As Christians, we are commanded to be holy because God is holy. This is seen in Lev. 11:44, in which God says, “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” To counteract those who might scream “Old Testament”, I will point to 1 Peter 1:16, in which the Apostle Peter says virtually the same thing. God is holy, people are supposed to be holy, flags are not. It simply doesn’t matter how much someone vererates or is in awe of anything natural or man-made, unless it is God Himself or a person made in His image, it cannot be holy and therefore should not be considered sacred.In fact, I can think of only one other case where we are to keep something other than God or ourselves holy–the Sabbath Day of Rest, (Ex. 20:8) and that is only because God Himself has ordered it. Even then, it is not the Sabbath which is holy so much as it is our actions to keep it that way.

3. God states plainly and clearly in Exodus 20 that we are not to worship anything or anyone except Him and Him alone. “You shall have no other gods before (besides) me. You shall not make any (manufactured) image of anything to worship, bow down to, or serve…” (Ten Commandments, 1 and 2, very loosely paraphrased). Yet, at the end of this article is the statement by none other than the “Justice” who administered “justice” in this case. “I worship that flag,” Bailey said at that original hearing. “I put my life on it.” Wow! Here’s a man who is charged with dispensing justice according to law, who openly proclaims that he values the American flag more than he values the One Who is the Law. This is rank idol worship and, unfortunately for America, Mr. Bailey is not alone. There are literally millions upon millions of people in this country who revere the United States, its flag, and everything that flag stands for, whether it is right and just or not.

Justice, for Mr. Bailey, apparently does not come from God’s Word, but instead from man’s fickle law, in which case it is not justice, but punishment. 29 days of jail time and 100 hours of community service may not a bad idea. At least, Lowry will be sober when he walks out of jail, but this hardly answers the questions I raised above about restitution to the victim, whose flag he burned and the innocent parties who have to pick up the tab.

Far better would have been for Bailey to order Lowry to pay back the value of the flag twice over (for the first offense) and pay all the court costs, including what it cost Stevensville for the police work. This would have made it a very expensive flag, which Lowry would probably not want to pay a second time. In addition, if Lowry really was drunk at the time, Bailey could have ordered him to be jailed for a short, specific time, say two days to sober up and contemplate his situation, with the stern warning that the sentence would be doubled the next time it happened. Furthermore, Bailey could have ordered Lowry to pay the county for the jail time.

Consider the result if my advice or something similar were followed. The man whose flag was burned comes out ahead, the man who burned the flag comes out dramatically poorer and (hopefully) wiser, no taxpayers are nicked for the costs, and justice is served. What could be better? Nothing, absolutely nothing. God’s Law is perfect and cannot be improved upon. When we learn that and implement it, we will all be better off.

Evolution and Violence

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Ever since Charles Darwin published “Origin of Species” in 1859, we have been taught that people evolved from lower forms of, well, something. After slithering around in the primordial ooze for millions upon millions of years, eventually our ancestors crawled up on dry ground and started climbing trees, becoming monkeys in the process. Some untold millions of years ago, we decided not to be like those any longer and started to chart our own course in the world, which hasn’t been the same since. This (or some variation of it) has been taught in the State schools for generations and millions upon millions of children have grown up believing this hogwash. My apologies to the hogs!

Think about it this way. If we are taught from the get-go that we are animals, nothing more than animals, and no better nor different than animals, the odds are pretty good that we’re going to act like animals. The question to ask, then, is how do animals act? From the ones I’ve been around and the National Geographic shows I’ve seen on television, I’d say that they are only concerned with four things–food, water, sex, and survival, all of which are tied up in a neat little bundle. Animals everywhere, at all times, fit into this description. You can protest all you want about how your pampered French poodle is different, but I know and can say with certainty that if it gets loose outside by some miracle, within five minutes it will revert back to being a dog and start looking for the nastiest, dirtiest pile of “whatever” to roll in. Regardless of how much it loves you, it is still a dog and will act that way, given the chance.

Animals usually kill other animals for food. Occasionally they kill them during battles to decide which one will get the girl. Sometimes self-defense enters into the picture and once in a while one will go mad with rabies and infect other animals with the disease, resulting in death. I have even seen cats catch mice and play with them for sport before finally issuing the “coup de grace”. This is completely natural for them and cannot be considered as wrong or evil because they are acting instinctively and don’t know any better.

Man, however, is a different story. Regardless as to the origin of man, whether we arrived on the scene via evolution, space aliens, God, or some other means, man knows the difference between right and wrong. One major reason man has survived and prospered over the millennia is because we have known what we could and could not do to our fellow man, and have suppressed the urges that would have killed us off if given free rein! It is because we control ourselves and our “natural” instincts that man has grown stronger, smarter, and more dominant.

Where in the world did this self-control come from? Animals don’t have it. Monkeys, from which we’re supposedly descended, don’t have it. If our “ancestors” didn’t have it and we didn’t receive it from them, then where and how did humans get it? Either we learned it on our own by sheer accident over umpteen millions of years and umpteen billions of failed attempts to get it right, or else it was given to us by someone else, far older and wiser, from outside the species.

Contrary to the evolutionary theory, man was created by God. From the very beginning, God gave man (and man alone) the ability to distinguish between right and wrong behavior. Man was made in God’s Image, animals weren’t. Man knows, animals don’t. It’s that simple. It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know without even thinking about it that some things are just plain wrong.

Considering the fact that we’ve been “educated” for over 150 years in Darwinianism and that we’ve been “enlightened” to the idea that God is dead, never existed, or has been removed from Our Presence, is it any wonder that some people act like animals? Perhaps, though, I should rephrase that because animals don’t decide one day to run amuck and kill dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands, or millions of their own species the same way that man does. People alone kill other people without any reason because they want to, not because of self-defense or to gain access to fertile females and the food cache, but simply because they have a desire to. This is evil and it is the suppression of that evil which creates safety and security within society.

Why should we be surprised that Adam Lanza decided one day to kill twenty-seven people, including himself? Why should we react in horror because Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb which destroyed a Federal building and the lives of 168 people in Oklahoma City? Why should we expect that someone like Hitler, Stalin, or Mao would restrain themselves instead of murdering up to 100 million of their fellow men? What’s the big ruckus about abortion on demand anyway, which has resulted in the deaths of upwards of 60 million unborn human beings in the United States alone since January 22nd, 1973. Hey, we’re all just acting out our natural instincts aren’t we, and besides, there really is no right or wrong. Truth is relative. We’re all dead in the long run. Fact is, some of us are dead in the short run, like maybe only five or six years worth as in the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School or less than nine months if you’re brutally ripped from your mother’s womb.

Fact is, as long as we cheapen human life by comparing ourselves to animals and slime, we are going to experience the cheapening of the value of human life. Today, in the minds of many, human life is worthless and some even insist that we need to cleanse the planet of most of the “parasites”, not meaning, of course, the ones who will do the “cleansing”. Of course! The ones who want others to die don’t want to be killed themselves. According to them, someone else has to die so that they can live.

Amazingly, someone else thought of that a long, long time ago, even before the world was created. The Bible tells us that God planned, predestined, and worked it out in history that Jesus Christ would die physically so that we, sinful human beings, could live spiritually. We live today because He died and was resurrected. We don’t live to ourselves, though, because as redeemed, born-again persons made in the Image of God, we have to live with each other peacefully. We restrain ourselves with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to show and model the love that God has shown and modeled for us.

The further we remove ourselves from this model and this love, the more our society self-destructs. It can be seen everywhere across the entire world. If we want to get off the path of gratuitous, self-serving, mindless violence, death, and destruction that modern man seems to be hell-bent on racing down, we have got to come back to the Truth, that man is made in God’s Image, that there are consequences of our individual and collective evil actions, and that we must forsake and abandon them–before it’s too late for us.

God is, according to His Word, a fair judge and more than willing to give us time to change, but His patience does not last forever. Sooner or later, He will act on behalf of righteousness. It would be far better for us if we were to alter our course before that happens.

Losing Debates Ungracefully

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In the world of debate, there are only three types of people.

1. Those who have pertinent, thoughtful answers. They may be right or wrong, but at least they have an honest response to the question posed. Lively debates can occur when two or more people of this type are involved.

2. Those who have no answers and keep quiet because they recognize that they don’t have answers. These people may be willing to listen to another point of view and change, then again maybe they aren’t.

3. Those who have no answers, but aren’t willing to keep quiet. Instead, they attempt to slander their opponent. Not only do these people refuse to admit they don’t have answers, but they aren’t willing to listen to anyone else who does. They are certain that they, and they alone, are right and that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is wrong. End of argument.

Long ago, Socrates said that, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” That was true then and it is still valid today.