Legalize Pot Now, Mr. President

Whether you like him or hate him is irrelevant, Donald Trump can do something which a large majority of Americans would support–order that the Federal Government decriminalize the sale, purchase, and use of marijuana.

It is past time for the US to come to grips with the pot issue. Worldwide, trends are moving in the direction of decriminalization. Uruguay and Canada have already done so. Mexico will soon join them. Individual states are moving to make pot legal in one form or another.  The Feds are on the losing side.

Polls show that Americans, by and large, wish to see the Feds so-called “war on marijuana” end. Sooner or later this will happen. Inevitably, a large amount of the national economy will be removed from the black market and brought out into the open where it can be participated in legally. In addition, many people, non-violent offenders, who are presently incarcerated for the sale or possession of pot could be set free to rejoin society, enabling them to become productive citizens and slashing the immense cost to taxpayers to keep them behind bars.

The movement to change government policy on marijuana has become crystal clear—it will be modified in favor of more personal freedom. President Trump can go down in history by giving this issue a huge push in the right direction—declare that the US will make marijuana free and legal. Washington has lost this war. Now is the time to admit it openly.

The Reality of an Unbelievable Doctrine

               Sometimes, the theories and postulations of scientists require a great leap of faith to swallow them. Sometimes, they are simply unbelievable.

               Astrophysics, for example, has enjoyed a splendid run on television “infomentaries” (Discovery, History, PBS, etc.), presenting theories about the origin of the universe as if they were gospel. Night after night, there is a constant drumbeat about how the Big Bang happened 14 billion years ago, how our own sun lit up a few billion years later, and how Earth came into being 4.68732807 billion years ago, give or take a few million.

               They tell us that all the elements around (and in) us were spat out by exploding mega-stars umpteen billion years ago and, in fact, Earth wouldn’t exist at all were it not for such explosions. Gold deposits around the world and the huge lithium deposits recently found in Afghanistan are here today, compliments of super-novae a long, long time ago and far, far away.

               We are constantly reminded that Earth was once nothing more than a vast cloud of dust and gas. These dust and gas particles eventually started to clump together, by Gravity, and remain inseparable forever, or at least until some outside force split them apart. Over eons of time, more and more particles decided to join the group (I could have fun with this) until a rock was formed, which clumped together with another rock forming a bigger rock, which…You get the point. Eventually, enough of these rocks were brought together and morphed into a sphere around a core of liquid, molten iron and, Voila!, Earth.

               At some point, the comets arrived bringing the seeds of life and precious, life-sustaining water. (Where the comets got the water from is still a mystery.) From these gifts and the other elements generously sent to us by the stars, Gravity bless them, has evolved all the life forms that have ever existed.

               I am not making this up. I’ve seen it on television and we all know that if it’s on television, it must be true. But wait, as the pitch goes, there’s more. Oh, yes, much more!

               What really blows my mind is the “pinnacle of understanding” as I heard it directly from Stephen Hawking one day. Hawking is a demi-god who is worshipped in the astro-physical universe and, like E.F. Hutton, when he speaks, everyone listens. Anyway, he made the claim that there was a point in time (if time existed at all) where the entire, material universe was condensed, by Gravity, into a spot smaller than the smallest part of an atom. Everything was crammed in. Every constellation, galaxy, star, black hole, planet, gas cloud, was squeezed so small as to become non-existent.

               What really makes this interesting is that the material in the universe we can see and know about makes up only 5-10% of the whole universe, with the balance being made up of so-called dark matter, which we can’t see and know hardly anything about. Hawking believes that this dark matter was also included in the original mix and everything, both the matter we see and the matter we don’t, became one infinitely small amount of 100% pure energy, which simply exploded at the Big Bang and has been expanding, evolving, and creating ever since.

               Imagine, if you will, trying to compress one single tiny grain of sand into a state of virtual non-physicality, pure energy and nothing else. Imagine a force so large that Earth itself could be put into this position. The earth is 7, 926 miles in diameter (at the equator) and the sun is 865, 000 miles in diameter, give or take. Many stars are hundreds or thousands of times larger than our sun. Arcturus, for example, is supposed to have a diameter of 44 million miles.

               We live in a small galaxy called the Milky Way. There are an estimated 100 to 250 billion stars in our galaxy alone, yet there are galaxies out there which are far, far larger. Furthermore, it is estimated that the number of galaxies in the universe total in the hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions. We cannot even comprehend the number of stars this would make, let alone all the planets, black holes, quasars, dust and gas clouds, etc., which comprise the “known” galaxy.

               Multiply this phenomenal, stupendous mass by nine to ascertain the size of the dark matter that we don’t know about and you come up with an incredibly large, unfathomable amount which Hawking expects us to believe was once smaller than the smallest part of an atom.

Hunhhh??? They expect us to believe this????

Evidently they do, because all this is told with a straight face as if it were indisputable fact. Yet, the vast majority of astro-physicists, including Hawking, will tell you they don’t believe in God. How ridiculous is that? On the one hand they promote a theory which completely boggles the mind, which is so grandiose that the average person simply tunes it out, but they ridicule and demean anyone who claims that the universe was created by God and is sustained by His Spirit and rule.

It is, I suppose, theoretically possible that Hawking is right about the physical part of the universe, but he is dead wrong about its origin. I find Hawking’s hypothesis totally unbelievable, simply because I cannot wrap my mind around the logistics of the matter. I cannot comprehend the universe being squeezed so much that it virtually disappears into nothing but energy. This raises the question of where did this energy come from in the first place, but that’s another matter. The universe did not explode out of nothing nor did it originate from a (non)spot of pure energy.

Scientists of all ilk vehemently defend this theory, but it takes an incredible amount of faith to believe something like this. Truthfully, it is so much easier to believe that God simply spoke—and it was. The Bible tells us that God spoke it into existence. God didn’t start from a spot of energy, He started from nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This is what I believe. Who is going to tell me my faith is misplaced.

[Note: The above article was written four or five years ago, but never published. Since then, Stephen Hawking has died. Nothing else, as relates to this article, has changed.]

Venezuela, Putin, and the Order of Things

RussiaGate and the lynch mob mentality to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency at any cost have been ongoing for more than two years, with very little to show for it. The main premise is that various members of the administration, both past and present, actively worked with and were directed by Vladimir Putin and Moscow to elect Trump, denying Hillary Clinton the White House. The main tune sung is that Russia “interfered” in and unduly “influenced” the election, thereby giving Trump the win.

Election meddling by foreign powers is improper and should be resisted vigorously. Right? Of course, right!

How, then, do we explain the open, aggressive push to oust Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela and replace him with
Juan Guaido, who is a self-appointed wannabe? Is that interference or what?

It does no good to make excuses or try to explain the difference. This is blatant hypocrisy on the part of Washington. It’s a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Whether anything ever comes from RussiaGate or not is debatable, but it is certain that the West is deliberately trying to dictate to the people of Venezuela who their president will be. This is wrong. It needs to stop.

The end of risk (and fun).

On November 14, 2018, I watched NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. One of the “newsworthy” items which aired was about flying motorcycles, which appeared to be very similar to the now ubiquitous drone, but large enough to carry a person. You can have one for the paltry price of $150,000.

What caught my attention, though, was the concern voiced by Holt and the news correspondent, as well as the local anchor in her preview. They all brought up the issue of safety—numerous times. Is it safe? Is it safe? Is it safe?

Thought #1. Who really cares? It looks like a lot of fun. I wish I had the money to buy one.

Thought #2. Government ought to, in the name of all that is well and good in America, totally ban and outlaw these machines. No matter how well they’re built nor how much demand there is for them, if they can’t be guaranteed 100% safe, then they shouldn’t be built or sold. In fact, any efforts to bring these machines to market should be put on hold until the goal of complete safety can be reached.

Of course, the first thought is my independent, natural inclination (I am, after all, a man), while the second is pure out and out sarcasm. Please understand that.

Abortion and the non-agression principle, Part II

“…libertarianism is not at all a philosophy of life. Rather, it is a very, very, very limited philosophy. It pretty much asks only one question: “when is violence against another person justified?” and pretty much gives only one answer: “only in response to a prior use of violence, or threats.” That is, violence may properly be used only in defense, not offense. When the latter is engaged in, the perpetrator should be punished. That’s libertarianism in a nutshell,…”

Is Libertarianism A Philosophy Of Life? No.

Gasoline on the fire!

Although many people might think otherwise, the debate over abortion is centered on one question—is the unborn fetus a person with an inalienable right to life? Or not? Women’s rights are peripheral to this.

If it is true that a fetus is a person, then Walter Block has exposed a contradiction of the NAP on this issue. Any attempt to terminate a pregnancy through abortion would be an act of aggression against an unborn person.

Of course, the opposing view is that an unborn fetus is not a person and can be treated in any way desired by the woman, without interference from anyone else. If this is true, then there is no inconsistency within the NAP.

This is the question which must be answered. Either the fetus is a person or it is not. Either/or, but not both. There are no other choices. If it can be shown that a fetus is a person with the innate right to life, it will be impossible to defend the “right to choose.” On the other hand, if it can be proven to NOT be a person, the pro-life argument collapses into a quivering pile of nothingness.

If Zager and Evans were correct in their prediction, “…you’ll pick your sons, pick your daughters too, from the bottom of a long, glass tube…”, the personality of the child will be visible from the very beginning. As technology improves, viability will be pushed to an earlier and earlier date, which will erode any claim that the fetus does not become a person until an arbitrary point in time is reached. The use of ultrasound, imaging, and medical science will continue to support and bolster the pro-life position that a live, human, individual with a personality all its own exists. These are going to be extremely difficult hurdles for politics and rationalization to clear, regardless of judicial orders.

The burden of proof rests heavily on the pro-abortion side of this debate. It has the more difficult task of proving its point. Efforts to show that fetuses are not persons will prove, in the long run, to be futile and insurmountable.

The difference between these two positions cannot be reconciled. It will never be settled nor agreed upon. It is an “all or nothing” war of conflicting ideas. The NAP is skewed toward “women’s rights” and, as a consequence, does not allow the right to life to be extended to all unborn persons, only those who are “wanted”.

If libertarianism is a horse carrying its riders to freedom and the NAP is the saddle those riders rest on, then the abortion issue is a burr under that saddle. It will always be there, irritating and counter-productive, until it is removed and ceases to be a problem. When will that be? How will it happen? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future, but I believe it will have something to do with individuals gradually and peacefully changing their minds and then changing their ways. Repentence, in other words. Hopefully, libertarianism won’t end up as Bob Seger put it so brilliantly, “…caught like a wildfire out of control, til there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove…”

Where do we go from here? My answer, short and simple–keep moving. Don’t allow this single issue to tear us apart. A solution will appear, sooner or later, and it might be quite a lot later, maybe not until the year 6565. Doesn’t matter. Keep moving.

Abortion and the non-aggression principle

I have a lot of respect for Michael Rozeff. I read his articles and letters regularly and usually do not find anything with which to disagree. In a recent post on Lew Rockwell (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/abortion-my-theory/), however, he wrote something which just grated on me and, apparently others as well.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/abortion-a-response/

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/12/bionic-mosquito/you-are-not-viable/

Michael Rozeff is wrong. Something does not have to be capable of life outside the womb (with assistance, of course) in order to have being. (An unhatched bald eagle does not need to be capable of living outside the shell to be considered worthy of legal protection.) He says that “Fetuses that cannot survive outside the womb are not yet human beings…” (Which is like saying that a chick which cannot survive outside the shell is not yet an eagle.) My question to him is that if they are not human beings, then what are they?

Being means existence and it is scientifically undeniable that a human life exists. If there is no existence, there is no need of argument. The new human being (zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, unborn child) IS, emphatically so, and therefore HAS being.

Even after 23 weeks of pregnancy when a fetus can conceivably survive outside the womb, it cannot live without care, nurture, and a protective environment, in other words, exactly what is needed to survive before 23 weeks. Furthermore, when a person becomes old or disabled and cannot survive without care, nurture, and a protective environment, does she, according to Rozeff’s argument, lose her so-called right of being and risk being “aborted”. Did Terri Schiavo become a non-being and were all the lengthy machinations over her life and death simply much ado about nothing? Or did they really matter?

Everyone needs assistance from other people to survive and live at some point in their lives. Everyone, without exception! There has never been nor ever will be anyone who simply springs into being who does not require care, nurture, and a protective environment at some time in his life. If one’s innate right to live is contingent on his ability to live independently of others, then we are all in trouble, since none of us are truly independent.

Rozeff uses the argument that if a woman wants an abortion, no one can deprive her of it. It is her “right”, if  you will.  What this line of reasoning does, however, is to give pregnant women the authority to violate the rights of their unborn offspring, at their own discretion, without repercussion, hindrance, sanction, or punishment. He then attempts to get around this dilemma by declaring that “viable, with assistance” is the determining factor in deciding when an unborn fetus actually becomes a “person”, which approximates the Roe v. Wade ruling of the Supreme Court. He never says what the unborn fetus is before it reaches that point. I repeat my question—if it is not a human being, then what is it?

The NAP is dead. Long live the NAP!

It appears to me that the NAP (non-aggression principle), so beloved by libertarians everywhere, has a fatal contradiction. On the one hand, no one can (should be able to) force a woman to carry her pregnancy to term. On the other hand, no one should be able to initiate aggression against an unborn human being by killing and aborting it. These two positions are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. Either the NAP will allow women to act aggressively against their unborn children or it will accord protection to unborn children against that aggression until a point is reached when viable separation (eviction, birth) can occur. Either one or the other, but not both! The problem lies in deciding which of these positions is supported.

In an earlier blog post, Rozeff lays it out quite well.

“…to resolve this problem of definition and starting point philosophically or religiously, we need to specify what a human being or person IS. What IS this “I”? What is the BEING that “I” am, and that you are?”

Exactly! What is a human being? What is a person? This whole argument over abortion and women’s “right to choose” is going to forever hinge on these two questions. How do we determine the answer to them? What will be the TRUTH that we point to and anchor our decision in? Dogmatic religious beliefs? Scientific fact? Fluctuating social mores? Fickle political whims? Regardless of the method used, someone is going to be upset with the result. There will always be someone who feels that the decision is wrong and must be changed to better reflect their own opinion.

Human beings ARE. Being is real and is a gift from God or, if you prefer, a random chance of accident. Before pregnancy, a child can be hoped for or dreamed about.  After death, people are considered memories. While alive, however, he or she IS a person, no matter how young or old. The right to live is granted to persons everywhere simply because they are, by virtue of being, persons.

The political definition of “person-hood” is something else entirely, an abstract notion which is conferred and can mean anything at any time. (Dred Scott, Jews in Nazi Germany, e.g.). This so-called person-hood is a “right” given by certain powerful people to other less powerful people and can be taken away at any time, depending on the whim of the moment. Just because five members of a nine-member panel say that a human being does not become a “person” and have “rights” until he or she is viable does not necessarily make it so.

It is inevitable that aggression will be forced on someone—either the woman or the fetus. Someone will have to undergo suffering against her (or his) will. How do we determine which will be the one to suffer? The methodology used today, right now, is politics. If you make a loud enough noise, you will be given what you want. At someone else’s expense!  For a long, long time the loudest noise has been made by the pro-abortion crowd, which has attempted to justify its position by declaring that unborn human beings are not really “persons”. Since at least Jan. 22, 1973, this has been the deciding factor.

When viewed from a purely moral (right vs. wrong) standard, it is obvious that abortion, as it is practiced today, is a heinous crime against the most vulnerable persons among us. This morality does not have to incorporate any religious beliefs in order to be valid. The scientific facts are enough—an unborn fetus IS a live personal human being and, as such, requires that measures be taken to care for, nurture, and protect it until it becomes capable of independent living, with assistance, of course. The NAP must apply, despite protestations to the contrary! Sadly, the moral viewpoint is denigrated and dismissed in much of the discussion of this issue. Instead, it has taken a back seat to the idea that some people have more “rights” than others and interference with those “rights” is a blatant aggression. Rights have become more important than what is right.

I do agree with Rozeff that the government should not support or subsidize abortion, but I am emphatically opposed to the idea that it should not outlaw it. The common view of government is that it exists to protect those within its domain against outside aggression and to offer justice and redress in case such aggression occurs. Until and unless the day comes when every individual is a government in and of themselves (in other words, not until the end of time), certain people are going to be dominant and make the rules, while other people submit and do as they are told. No question! Because of this, I have no problem at all with government ordering a pregnant woman not to abort her unborn fetus, under pain of punishment.

In the post cited above, Rozeff makes this statement.

“…people need to understand their essential be-ing in order to understand how they should treat one another.”

Perhaps he should consider rephrasing this statement to read that “pregnant women need to understand…how they should treat their unborn children.” Perhaps abortion proponents should consider “doing unto others in the same manner that they would like to have done unto them.” Perhaps the Humanity Bureau will rise one day to determine who should live. And who shouldn’t.

Until everyone is protected from aggression, no one is safe.

Lying, Indignation, and Crocodile Tears

In his press conference on Wednesday, January 15, President Barack Obama made certain statements about “gun control” and what he intends to do about it. Two of those stand out to me as hypocritical and personally damning. Gun control is the least of Obama’s problems. When he stands before God Almighty to account for his life, God isn’t even going to mention gun control. He will, however, ask Obama to account for his words.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” –John Adams (1770)

1. “Protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be divisive. … I asked Joe [Biden] to lead an effort along with members of my cabinet to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe. … This is our first task as a society — keeping our children safe. If there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life we can save, we have an obligation to try it. … I think about how, when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now.” (Copied from an article on the Patriot Post, follow the link to see the entire post.)

http://patriotpost.us/alexander/16328

Mr. Obama’s hypocrisy is blatant. Every single day, more children are violently murdered in abortion (infanticide) mills than are ever killed by lunatics in schools. If he were completely consistent with his own rhetoric, he would immediately start pushing to eliminate the murders which happen because a “woman has the right to choose.” If even one unborn child’s life was saved because of his action, wouldn’t he have the obligation to try? According to what he said, he should act now to protect the most vulnerable among us.

The fact is that school children aren’t the most vulnerable among us, unborn children are. School children have buildings with lockable doors around them, unborn children only have wombs. School children have adults who can act on their behalf in the defense of their lives; unborn children have no such legal protection. School children have mothers and fathers who love them and want to see them come home, unborn children are not automatically guaranteed that.

Why doesn’t Obama mention this? Why doesn’t he clamor for the lives of 1.5 million unborn children who are viciously murdered each year in America? The silence is deafening. The obvious answer is that he doesn’t want to. There is no political traction for him by going down that road. In fact, if he did start to make noises to that effect, he would see his “support” vaporize like frost on a sunny morning.

2. In the press conference, Mr. Obama made it clear that he was going to move ahead on “gun control”, with or without Congress’ approval or assistance. He mentioned that he would push to vigorously prosecute those people who made false statements (lied) when applying for a background check prior to purchasing a firearm. Apparently, lying to the government is serious business. At least, it is when a person is trying to buy a gun.

My question is this. If lying (perjury, making false statements) is so bad that the federal government must come down hard on the perpetrator, then why don’t we see that action taken in other matters, for example, Eric Holder’s role in the Fast & Furious scandal? See here,

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20115038-10391695.html

and here, for potentially incriminating statements made by Holder.

http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/04/holder-less-than-candid-misled-on-fast-and-furious-at-hearing-members-say/

What about the President’s own sworn vow before God to uphold and defend the Constitution? What about his actions taken to murder American citizens without due process of law?

“In April 2010, …President Barack Obama placed al-Aulaqi on a list of people whom the (CIA) was authorized to kill because of terrorist activities. The “targeted killing” of an American citizen, sometimes described as an assassination order, was unprecedented…The U.S. deployed unmanned aircraft (drones)…to search for and kill him…succeeding…on September 30, 2011. Two weeks later, al-Aulaqi’s 16-year old son, Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi, a U.S citizen who was born in Denver, was killed by a CIA-led drone strike in Yemen.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki

Now, before you get your knickers in a knot, understand that I am not “terrorist” friendly and do not support violent actions for political gain. Instead, by using these examples, I want to point out the blatant hypocrisy in the President’s attack of fraudulent statements on background checks while turning a blind eye to his own and those surrounding him. According to Obama, truth-telling is relative to the situation and if he has anything to say about it, he will be the one to determine what is true and what isn’t.

If Mr. Obama was really serious about rooting out lying and perjury in the government, he would start with his own house. How likely is that to happen? My guess is that pigs will fly first.

Eventually lies catch up with you. Even if Obama never answers to an earthly court concerning his perjury, he will be haled in front of a heavenly one. Invoking the name of God in an oath is not a laughing matter nor should it be taken lightly. He hasn’t learned that yet. Hopefully he will before he leaves this world behind.

Two Masters? Make up your Mind!

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.

Hezekiah Revisited

I don’t claim to be perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I know where my weaknesses are. There have been more than a few times where my actions have been in stark, vivid contrast to what I said I believed. However, over the last few years, I have been working on this and now make the self-conscious effort to operate under the principle that I should live in conformity to my stated philosophy, worldview, and creed. There are still times I slip, but they are fewer, farther apart, and easier to recover from.

Any American who can read the signs knows that this country is in some serious doo-doo. It would be easy to start listing the reasons why, but I really don’t have the time or space to hit every one. Besides, it’s a lot easier to hit a far-distant target with a rifle than it is with a shotgun. Therefore, I’m going to focus on one target and fire one bullet.

Can anyone say Republicans?

Before you start attacking me for being un-American, charging me with treason, or questioning my salvation, let me say that I don’t have any love for the Democrat Party. Or the Libertarian, Green, Communist, Nazi, and People’s. All of them are full of people who espouse one set of beliefs, but act another way when it’s convenient. And beneficial to them, I might add. For the record, my political views are most closely aligned with the libertarian viewpoint, but even within this so-called bastion of liberty and freedom, there is what I can honestly call rot. But that’s for another time.

Let’s get back to the Republicans. We are told over and over again that Republicans are the party of fiscal conservatism. They are the ones who are most concerned about government spending, the deficit, American debt, etc. We hear that they will restore the country to financial sanity if we just vote them into office and give them the power to work it out. Election cycle after election cycle, ad infinitum, until it makes us sick to hear about it one more time.

Right! And pigs fly too!!

There was a time where the acronym NIMBY (not in my back yard) was used frequently, most commonly with reference to building nuclear power plants. We don’t hear it much anymore, but the spirit of NIMBY is alive and well. This fits in well with the dominant attitude so prevalent in America today. Cut! Cut the deficit! Cut government spending! Don’t, however, even think about cutting my own special interest. Go ahead and cut somewhere else, but not in my back yard. You can protest as loudly as you want, but with respect to this topic, the Republicans are as bad as the Democrats.

Consider Chris Christie, for instance. Governor of New Jersey. Conservative. Republican. Sweet Darling of the Right. Presumed shoo-in for the Republican Party presidential nominee in 2016, 2020, or beyond if he should decide to run. Yet, how fiscally conservative is he anyway? Think about what he said and the way he acted because John Boehner (another fiscally conservative Republican) failed to expropriate sixty billion dollars to bailout all of the “victims” of Hurricane Sandy. You can read his comments here.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57561665/christie-blasts-boehner-on-sandy-bill-shame-on-congress/

Let’s think about this for a moment. This country is in the worst financial position that most of us have ever seen, up to our eyeballs in debt with no end in sight. The deficit grows larger every minute. So does government spending. Economically speaking, any sane person would say that we really need to call a halt to it before it destroys us. Supposedly, the Republicans represent sanity, but that’s not what is being manifested. We have a “fiscal cliff” to avoid, yet one of the leaders of the Party of Fiscal Prudence and Budget Restraint screams bloody murder when his ox is gored. Surely, Mr. Christie, you can see the light here, can’t you? Or are you listening to your constituents who scream bloody murder because their ox has been gored. Perhaps Christie is looking ahead to the next election where he can “honestly” say that he brought home the pork, $60, 000, 000, 000 worth, to be exact. Perhaps the voters of New Jersey will be so grateful they will put him back into office for another term. Perhaps the country will be so enamored of his generosity that he will be compelled to run for President next time and save us all from our own disasters.

Perhaps it really won’t make any difference. After all, with budgets running four trillion dollars plus and growing, deficits in the range of sixteen trillion plus and growing, long-term entitlement commitments (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) estimated to range from $100- 200 trillion dollars, 60 billion is a drop in the bucket. The question is, however, where will it end and who (or what) will put an end to it? Certainly, if Chris Christie has anything to say about it, the end won’t come on his watch.

This reminds me of King Hezekiah. You can get the full story in Second Kings 20, but for our topic, the following quote is sufficient.

“Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord. The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”

Ah, yes, now we’re getting somewhere. Peace and security in my lifetime. Prosperity too. Who really cares what will happen when I’m dead. What difference does it make if my grandchildren have to pay through their noses so long as I get what I want? Life is too short to be painful. After all, as John Maynard Keynes so famously put it, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” For those who aren’t familiar with Keynes, he’s the fellow who convinced governments everywhere to start deficit spending. Today, he’s dead, but his legacy lives on, like the Hydra which can’t be killed and we’re all paying for it. Unfortunately, not all of us are going to die before the Babylonians roll into town.

I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to change Gov. Christie’s mind. I won’t be able to convince John Boehner to stand firm and refuse to write any more bad checks. I can’t persuade Paul Ryan to start producing budgets which actually work. But I can change how I think about the way I live and I can stand on my own feet without expecting that the taxpayers and citizens of this country will bail me out as soon as it gets uncomfortable. Furthermore, if I pull back my outstretched hand and convince enough others to do the same, it might be sufficient to make a difference. In the long run. In the short run, we’ve already gone off the “fiscal cliff.” That little blip of a show the other day was simply an outcrop we smashed into on the way down.

Whether we want to or not, we’re going to learn what it’s like to be taken off the teat. It’s past time to be weaned. It’s time to grow up.

Slander, Libel, and Professing Christians

It used to be that people spoke to each other respectfully and graciously, more or less. To be sure, there were times when the conversation reached lows which could only be considered repugnant and unworthy according to the moral character of the day, but they were not common nor preferred.

How far we have fallen!

If you follow blogs or news sites which promote any type of opinion, you will almost always find comments from followers which do not even attempt to debate the issue. Instead, these commentors post words which would have been considered off-limits only a few years ago. Maliciousness, name-calling, slander, and libel are now allowed as acceptable behavior, even on blogs which protest that, according to their Posting Policy, such things are not to be tolerated.

Below is a definition from Wikipedia (edited very slightly) which I think is a good description. I am posting it so that no one can mistake my intent when I declare that I will enforce my own posting policy on this blog. See the Comment Policy tab at the top of the page.

“Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, traducement, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation a negative or inferior image. This can be also any disparaging statement made by one person about another, which is communicated or published, whether true or false, depending on legal state. In Common Law it is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).

In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false, and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slander)

What bothers me about this whole affair is that people who claim and profess to be disciples of Jesus (Christians, in other words) engage in this exercise as much as those who are not Christian. (Don’t belive me? Go to any blog which is “conservative” and/or Republican in nature, pick an article, scroll down to the comments, and see for yourself. If you have trouble locating these, let me know. I will give you specific links.)

Generally speaking, the people who follow and subscribe to conservative, Republican blogs and news sites confess to be Christian. Many of these are proud to admit that they have been “disciples” for 20, 30, 40 years or more, yet they attack someone who shares an opinion which doesn’t fit well with their worldview and/or offends their sensiblilities. Why? Why do so many think that they have the freedom or right to air the vicious, mean, unloving comments they post? Do they talk this way to each other face to face? What do they hope to gain by this conduct? How do they think they are honoring and lifting up the Name of Jesus by the way they carry on?

Apparently, these people have never learned what the Bible has to say about this. Let me quote various scriptures.
1. Colossians 4:6–“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (New American Standard Bible (©1995))
2. Proverbs 15:1–“A gentle response diverts anger, but a harsh statement incites fury.” (International Standard Version)
3. Proverbs 15:28–“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” (NIV)
4. Ephesians 6:12–“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (English Standard Version)
5. Luke 6:45–“The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Amplified Bible)

Did you hear that? Out of the evil that a man stores up in his heart will come words from his mouth. There is only one logical conclusion to this–those who speak nasty, foul, demeaning words to others have evil stored up in their own hearts. It is inevitable that the people who think this way will speak in the same manner.

What really surprises me (it probably shouldn’t) is that these people express amazement and wonder when they are called to account. I do this on a fairly regular basis, not because I am any better than they are, but simply because I have learned what it means to vehemently hate this particular sin and am not afraid to say so. Occasionally someone will thank me for helping them see the error of their ways, but more often than not, I am either attacked myself or completely ignored.

What will it take to raise the tenor of the conversation? It’s quite simple, actually. As individuals, we have to admit that we are sinners and that we sometimes we say things we shouldn’t. In that case, we have to confess the sin and stop repeating it. Also, we must realize that we are representatives of Jesus the Christ and that, when we use derogatory, hurtful, unloving words against someone else, it is His Name, reputation, and kingdom which suffers. In addition, we need to come to the understanding that, again from the mouth of the Master, “…as you give, you will receive.” If we don’t want someone else speaking that way to us, we need to stop speaking that way to them.

There are laws which prohibit such speech and which have penalties against it. However, I am under no illusions as to the effectiveness of these laws. The legal system would be completely swamped if it started enforcing them. What would be far more effective is for the various blogs/news/Internet sites to police their own policies and simply refuse to post such comments. This probably won’t happen on a large scale, because a blog which did this would probably lose readership and revenue. The Almighty Dollar wins again!

No, the only way this is going to be substantially effected is for individuals to know what is right to say and to refuse to say anything that is wrong. Individual responsiblity before God is still the primary vehicle for positive change in society. I have committed to this course and am looking for others to follow suit. Are you in or out?

Travesty of Justice Continued

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

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

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.

Eating My Words

In the post below, In the Wake of Massacre, I made certain predictions about what this country would not be facing as we move forward in our national grief. I must admit, with great pleasure, that I have been completely wrong about at least two of those–our insatiable appetite for violence and the heinous crime of abortion.

I said that we would probably not hear much about the pervasive and murderous violence in our society, especially that which emanates from Hollywood in the form of movies and TV shows, and video game producers. I also said that we would probably not discuss the violent horror known as abortion on demand in connection with the mindless violence of the Newtown shootings. I was wrong on both counts. In fact, from what I have seen on the Internet and (sparsely) on the broadcast news, these issues have been brought up and are being vigorously debated. This makes me quite happy about the future of our country.

I am not alone. Many others are thinking along the same lines. Like Elijah, I realize that there are others “out there somewhere” who hold to the same beliefs and convictions as I do and that God has not left me alone or without support. I will never know how many others of like-mind there are, it is enough to know that they are there and working for the same God and cause as I am. May His Will prevail!

This would be an appropriate time to quote Tiny Tim. “God bless us, every one!” And a very blessed Christmas to all of you.

P.S. I have included a link to an article, “Guns, Mental Illness, and Newtown”, in the Wall Street Journal which I recommend. Check it out. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323723104578185271857424036.html

In the Wake of Massacre

In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT, where 27 people (20 of them between the ages of 5 and 10) were killed, there is one prominent question. Why? Why did this happen? It seems that no one has any answers except the same old tried and truly failed, but they are easy to find if you look in the right place.

It is certain that there will be an immediate increase in the clamor over incidents of this nature. President Obama has said that there will be “meaningful action”; presumably he meant tighter and more restrictive gun control. Many other leaders have also joined in, with the consensus seeming to be that we can’t avoid talking about it anymore, but have to come to grips with the issue.

There will also be a renewed focus on the “mental” condition of the people who commit these types of criminal acts. We will probably be subjected to scores of “experts” who will expound their favorite theories as to why someone acts this way and what we must do to serve as a counterbalance to their unsocial behavior.

My guess is that the “culprits” in this act of violent barbarity will be these two strawmen. They are convenient and many people will use the emotion of the moment to try to get what they want from the situation. Besides, if we can make these the scapegoats, then we have no real incentive to explore the deeper causes of violent behavior. Oh, yes, there are deeper causes and we must face them squarely.

First, I predict there will be very little discussion about violent and murderous video games, television shows, and movies to which young men are subjected to from the very beginning of their lives. We will not talk about how someone growing up with digital murder finally decides to try it out in real life to see how it feels or to vent a lifetime of built-up rage. After all, there is no proof that playing with matches ever causes someone to light a forest fire or burn a house down. Besides, we all like to indulge. Don’t we?

Second, there will be no connection between this shooting and the undisputed fact that every year millions upon millions of small, helpless children under the age of nine months are legally killed before they are born. Some will protest that these are two completely separate issues and that it is unfair to even try to pair them. Violence is as violence does, however, and a young man who hears about women regularly ripping their unborn children out of their wombs might very well think that he should be excused if he joined in the carnage.

Third, there will be absolutely no mention made about the way that our young men and women go overseas into small towns and cities and slaughter hundreds and thousands of innocents. Absolutely none! If there is one sacred cow which cannot be sacrificed on the altar of Exceptional Americanism in the name of maintaining our lifestyle and making some people fantastically rich, it is our military, the most powerful killing machine in the history of the world. Why is it perfectly acceptable to shoot, bomb, and incinerate millions upon millions of innocents abroad, yet be completely repelled and outraged when it happens here?

America has become a violent place. Violence permeates every seam, nook, and cranny of our culture. It is everywhere and there is virtually no escape from it. We watch it on TV or the movie screen, play games with it on X-Box, practice it during abortions, promote it with our political views, cheer and applaud our military or the men and women who perform on WWE,  and myriad other ways. We are America and we are violent. We love violence. We thrive on violence. We are to blame. We are all guilty. Our society is made up of individuals and a very large part of those individuals, a very large part indeed, are violent. It is time for us to admit that “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

What are solutions to prevent school shootings like this one? Longer prison terms for violent offenders? Tighter restrictions on gun ownership? Turning legitimate gun owners into pariahs and criminals? Blaming someone’s mental condition because he broke? Blaming society? These will probably be tried and will not work any better than they did in the past. What, then? I can think of three answers, one which will be rejected outright, one which is actually happening now behind the scenes, and one which must happen but will be resisted as long as possible. Respectively, they are:

This will go nowhere. Every school district in the country ought to purchase a high-powered, high-quality pistol for all of its teachers and administration, teach them how to use the firearms, and require them to be carried while on school property. They ought to issue body armor for all their personnel. Armed, trained, and ready educators could have easily shot this young man right at the start and eliminated virtually all of the heartache he caused. Instead they cowered in closets and under desks. It would have been so easy. It will not happen.

The one solution which has some legs would be for parents to realize that the government can’t protect their children any better than they can educate them. Parents should take the initiative in this and immediately pull their children out of these “indoctrination centers” and put the responsibility for the education of their children squarely where it belongs—on their own shoulders. There is serious movement in this direction.

What must be done is to admit as a nation that we have failed, that we have sinned before God Almighty, and that we need to make a change of direction away from the appalling nightmare we are in. We need to start, as a nation and society, to become outraged by violence, any kind of violence, and start demanding that perpetrators, whoever they might be, are severely punished. We need to start asking forgiveness from God and allow His Holy Spirit to begin working in our own hearts, our hearts first of all, and then those of the people around us. We need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and that we must submit our murderous desires to His rule in every area of our lives. This, too, will not happen, at least on an official level, but it should. There is no better answer.

Newborn Babies, Hardened Hearts

 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (NIV, Psalms 51:5)

 “Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. (Amplified, Psalms 51:5)

     Sin has a grip on us from the very beginning. We are born into this world as sinners. There is no getting around that. Anyone who tries to deny that has never been around a newborn baby.

     Babies are completely dependent on someone else for their health, sustenance, and welfare, but at the same time, they are also completely selfish. When they are hungry they demand to be fed and they don’t care how inconvenient or costly it might be to anyone else. When they need a diaper change, they proclaim it and demand attention. They are only concerned with their own needs, wants, and desires.

     This attitude changes as they grow older. As babies are trained, they begin to understand that they must overrule their own wants and desires for the good of someone else. Over time they progressively overcome the hold that selfishness has on their life and eventually, if they live long enough and wish to, they can become quite unselfish. This is a gradual process and all of us experience it to some degree or another,  but it is never fully completed while we are in this life. As long as we are alive, we will have to struggle against that selfish, sinful nature.

     The issue which must be resolved is not whether we were born that way, but what we do about it. Everyone has to confront this. It cannot be avoided, although people everywhere try and then make excuses to justify their behavior. “I was born that way.” “There is a gene which predisposes me to act in this way.” “The Devil made me do it.” I have heard these (and many more) with respect to alcoholism, homosexuality, and mental disorders, among others, but life is not fatalistic. Instead, we are supposed to exercise control over the way we think and to change the way we think when confronted with the truth. The simple truth is, however, that giving in to our “true nature” or “preconditions” is a sin in itself and is completely and totally repugnant and abhorrent to God. It is not the sin nature which is the culprit here so much as it is our stubborn, willful refusal to confess it as such and abandon it forever. We just do not want to.

     God is fair. “…God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons.” (Amplified, Acts 10:34) I will go even further. God does not show any partiality toward sin. Any sin is enough to keep us out of His presence, any sin at all and He does not care about the situation or circumstances which caused us to sin. It does not matter to God at all that we were born sinners. He expects and demands that we overcome our sin and become like He is, holy and righteous. “But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all (emphasis added) your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (Amplified Bible, 1 Peter 1:15, 16, Lev. 11:44)

     We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who lived in a state of holiness without sin, without ever allowing sin to rule him in any area of his life. This seems impossible to us, but the Bible clearly explains it this way and then directly orders us to strive toward that goal ourselves. We do not have the option of living sinfully, we are told to change. The problem is that, unlike Jesus who sought to be submitted to God in everything, there are many, many areas of our lives which we don’t want to let go of. We want to maintain control. We want to be our own masters. We want everyone else to satisfy our needs. We want, we want, we want…!!! We continue on like newborn babies, always screaming and crying because our needs and desires aren’t met and we never get beyond that nor reach the fullness and potential of the destiny that God wishes to give us.

     Unlike babies, however (who don’t know any better), we are fully and consciously aware that we are sinners and knowingly choose to act that way. A baby acts instinctively whenever it is hungry or needs a diaper changed. We are deliberate in our demands. “I know what I want and I want it now! Right now and I don’t care who has to suffer or be inconvenienced for it!! Just give it to me!!!” We scream when our “needs” aren’t met. We kick when we don’t get what we want. We stir up a fuss and ruckus in order to satisfy our selfish desire, but we do it out of a self-conscious and deliberate awareness that we are wrong and that God has declared our heart attitude and, therefore our actions, sinful.

     What is the answer to this problem? 1 Corinthians 10:13 explains it quite well. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

     There are at least four things here to touch on. 

          1. You are not unique. Your situation is nothing that someone else has not already experienced. Quit preening. Quit belly aching.

          2. Satan has nothing new. He has already exhausted his bag of tricks. Once you’ve seen it, you will recognize it when it hits you later. Furthermore, you will know what to do when you do see it again.

3. There is a way out of any temptation, but you must be willing to take it. If you are not willing, you will never escape its clutches and bonds.

4. If you are willing and truly want to overcome temptation, God is there to help you. He is faithful to keep His end of the deal, but you have to hold up your end. There is no other way.

Rights and Metamorphosis

I am 54 years old. I grew up in a conservative, Republican family which shaped my values and thoughts during my early years. When I became old enough to think for myself, I started to shed many of those and adopt my own. I don’t think like I used to and, even today, find myself questioning some things which I used to hold dear.

I have always been a fervent supporter of the right of free speech, the right to own a gun, the right to assemble, the right to not associate with others I don’t want to, the right to live wherever I do want to, etc. Probably the vast, vast majority of people, especially conservative Republicans, would agree with that stance.  In fact, I became actively involved with the Libertarian Party during the 1980 presidential election and actually ran for State Representative two years later. This was directly related to my view that no one, including God, should be able to tell me what I could or could not do and I was more than willing to put my money (and time) where my mouth was.  I was my own man, my own master, and I lived that way for years.

In the early 1990’s, I surrendered my life initially to God, grudgingly and out of a position of utter desperation. I hated it and resisted the pull of the Holy Spirit until I couldn’t hold out any longer. Since that time, I have been slowly and gradually been giving over control to Him.

Eventually, there came a tipping point where I could not hold back any more and simply gave up trying to be my own boss. I had been moving in that direction for some time and was finding it easier and easier to submit to God’s will. The final shift happened quite recently, starting with the compound fracturing of my left leg in two places, just above the ankle. This immediately put me flat on my back for a number of weeks, at least three, during which I didn’t stand up at all except to go to the bathroom.

I can still remember (and will never forget) the moment that my resistance to God turned the corner for good. I was lying on the sofa with my leg propped up, contemplating my situation, considering my options, and just generally trying to make sense of where I was. I began to talk with God about this and was quite shocked at His immediate and forceful response. “I can break you any time I want, just like a dead stick.” Clear as a bell. His exact words. I am not making this up!

My immediate response was, “Whoa, I give up!” (not necessarily my exact words, but the meaning was clear), and there has never been any question about my life’s direction ever since. I know Who is Boss and even though I argue from time to time, in the end, I have to admit I’m wrong and need to change course.

What does all this have to do with a discussion of “rights”? Everything, it seems, because I have come to a realization that I have no rights at all. I only have what God gives me and when He takes it away, it does no good to fight about it. What has developed in its place, in my philosophical worldview, is the understanding that, while I don’t have any rights, I do have responsibilities which I am supposed to perform.

Rights, as we know them today in America, are really only limited freedoms which someone has decided to grant us. Freedom of press, freedom to own guns, freedom to marry, et al., are simply concepts which we may enjoy, but which can be taken away just as easily as they were granted. Don’t believe me? Think about anything, anything at all, which you hold close to your heart. Is it truly yours? Can it be taken out of your grasp? If it can, it is not yours at all, but belongs to someone else more powerful than you. Even your life is not your own, you will give it up in the end. Instead, everything that we view as “ours” is entrusted to us to use in a spirit of stewardship. This is not to be confused with ownership. We have no rights, we do have responsibilities. Ultimately, everything we have been given, every responsibility we have belongs to God and we have to answer to Him for the way we use them.

Where does this leave us on the issues of human rights, then? Should we even think about the “right” to keep and bear arms? Should we work to keep our freedoms and maintain our legal right? My answer is and always will be an unequivocal, “Yes, absolutely!” I have a responsibility before God to protect myself and my family from outside aggression. If that responsibility involves the use of guns, then I am obligated to act that way and wouldn’t even hesitate if it became necessary. No one, absolutely no one at all, has the lawful authority to tell me I can’t. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if there is ever a conflict between conforming to legislation which requires me to give up my gun and being faithful to my responsibility to protect my family, I will take the tack of the apostles–“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Furthermore, when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He didn’t even blink. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart AND love your neighbor as yourself.” If I have a responsibility to use firearms to protect my family, then so too does my neighbor and I have no authority to tell him that he can’t. Taken a little farther along, this means that I do not have the authority to elect a Congressman or President who will tell him for me. I can’t support any type of legislation that would restrict, regulate, or prohibit my neighbor’s ability to carry out his responsibility to God.

I am responsible to God alone for my life and actions. God is the one who calls the shots and the only option I have is to submit or refuse to cooperate. I will do what I can to resist the “gun grab” by the State and its minions and lackeys, but if the day comes when I am arrested, charged with a crime, prosecuted, convicted, and punished for refusing to abide by a man-made law which prohibits personal gun ownership, then so be it. I will accept that as God’s Will for me at that time and will make the most of it for His glory.

My rights do not concern me anymore.

Guns, Stuff, and Life

      I have owned a lot of guns in my life, rifles, shotguns, pistols. I have fired an enormous amount of ammunition through those guns. I have carried weapons on my person defensively. I have studied gunsmithing and completed a correspondence course in it, for which I received a certificate. I like guns.

      Today, I have none. Not one. I do not own a single gun of any kind. It is possible that I may never again own or possess one. Why? What has changed?

     My wife has a different view towards guns.  She hates them. She has never owned a gun. As far as I know, she has never fired one.  When the kids were little and there was the possibility that one of them could be hurt, there was valid reason for not having one in the house. Today that isn’t relevant. They are grown and gone off into their own world. I could take the easy way out by saying it is because of her attitude, but I won’t.  There’s not a chance that I’m going to blame her because of the situation. It’s not her fault. If I did that, I would be admitting that she wears the pants, rules the roost, and tells me what I can have or not have, which is simply not true. She doesn’t do that. If I truly had an overwhelming passion to possess a gun, she might not like it and might express her view forcefully, but in the end would acquiesce to my desire. Shoot (no pun intended), the way our society is self-destructing, it is entirely possible that she might come to me one day and ask me to get a gun so that we had a means of protecting our home against violent offenders of our security and privacy.

      No, there are other reasons why I don’t have or own guns. The only one I’m interested in mentioning here is that God has stripped and is stripping away all my self-defense mechanisms. He is teaching me to trust Him completely for my safety and security. Guns aren’t the only thing being stripped away, but they are part of the process. The fact is that I have gone through a long, hard, sometimes torturous lifetime of relaxing my grip and allowing God to have full control of my being. I won’t say that my guns were given up when my cold, dead fingers were pried away from them, but I will say that my fingers were certainly pried off, one at a time, and it was a very painful experience.

      Most of my other possessions have been removed in the same way. Virtually everything I have ever “owned” has been taken away in one fashion or another, usually in the form of making bad decisions in the heat and emotion of the moment. Today, I live in a small log cabin (rented, not owned) which is adequate for my needs, but would be considered sub-standard by most other Americans. I have an F-150 (13 years old, still in reasonably good shape), a work trailer, the computer I am writing this article on, a few pieces of furniture, enough clothes to keep me covered and warm, some small hand tools, a very small bank account, a few other miscellaneous items, and a dog who lives with me, but isn’t really mine. Altogether, the value of everything (including the dog) probably wouldn’t be more than a few thousand dollars. This is the sum total of 54 years of accumulating possessions for myself.

      However, my needs are met. I have adequate food, wood stored up for the winter, good water available by simply opening a spigot. My income is not substantial, but the bills are paid each month. I am able to afford small luxuries like coffee at Starbucks whenever I want or to take Cindy out for dinner once in a while. I am able to give to others of my time and ability, sometimes money, on occasion.  These are things which could be taken away from me at any time, except that wherever I am and in whatever situation I find myself, I will always be able to give to someone else out of my time and ability, not necessarily money.

      In addition, I have spent my life learning, absorbing knowledge, and educating myself. I have an incredible amount of talent and natural ability, some of which has been developed to one degree or another. Some hasn’t been discovered yet. I have an enormous potential to affect and shape my world, much of which has been wasted by selfish, stubborn, stupid living. I have a great ability to beneficially affect the lives of the people I connect with, whether they are close or far away, whether I know them or not. These are things which cannot and will not be taken away from me until the day I die or become comatose.

      I also am learning what peace is. I am starting to understand love. Happiness is beginning to well up in my soul. My relationship with God is no longer being blocked by the things, material or otherwise, which I used to call mine. There are still times when I trip up and fall or have to hurdle some obstacle in my path, but these times and obstacles are becoming fewer, smaller, and farther apart. I believe that, finally, I am beginning to see the Light and am starting to understand what life is all about. My life, which is not mine, is being lived progressively less for myself and increasingly more for the glory of Jesus the Christ, whose Spirit lives within me and constantly and daily guides me toward the Truth. I can now stand with John Baptist who wrote 2000 years ago, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

      Would I trade what I have now for what I have lost? Ha! Not a chance! Not a chance!!

Orders are Orders! Obey or Else!

Orders are orders! Anyone who has ever been in the military can attest to this statement. Military personnel are taught from the very beginning that an order is to be obeyed without question, without regard for personal safety or conscience. “Do as you are told, or else! Move, dammit!” When a person’s life is in danger, this may be a good avenue to follow. Certainly, soldiers in the army do learn to trust their superior officers and expect that they will do what is right and necessary to protect those under their command. It is also a fact that blatant, widespread disregard for orders would result in a breakdown in the chain of command, causing havoc throughout the entire system.

Sometimes, however, personnel do disobey or disregard orders for one reason or another. This usually results in a swift and serious inquiry into the matter, with those declared guilty punished severely. Court-martials of those charged with infractions are not for the faint of heart, with good reason. Order must be maintained and orders must be followed.

Is there ever a time or circumstance where an order may lawfully be disobeyed or disregarded? Theoretically this is possible, but in reality it hardly ever happens. Generally, we don’t hear about it. One time, however, it did and changed the life a of man and his family so dramatically they were never the same. Documentation of this can be seen in Acts 16: 16-34.

The Apostle Paul and his associate Silas had been thrown into a prison under lock and key. Prisons in those days were brutal places where many of the prisoners did not come out alive or, if they did, were severely physically and emotionally wounded. The guards in this case were probably Romans since Phillipi, the city where this happened, was a Roman colony. They were responsible to see that none of the prisoners escaped and kept guard at the potential cost of their lives. It was highly imperative that no prisoner under their watch, absolutely no one, ever got out except at the order of an official who had authority to grant freedom.

The keeper of the jail knew this. In fact, he knew this so well that when he found out the earthquake had broken the cells open and the prisoners were free, he didn’t wait for the “court martial” to pronounce judgment. He understood that he was a dead man and he drew his sword intending to make the realization into a fact. Immediate suicide by his own sword was preferable to a protracted inquiry and execution by someone else.

On finding out, however, that the prisoners had not escaped and that his life was not forfeit, he acted completely contrary to custom and to orders. He had been told, literally commanded by the magistrates, “keep them securely”, but verse 34 says that he brought them into his house, feeding them, and tending to their wounds. This cannot be seen as keeping them securely by any stretch of imagination. To say that he “kept them secure” by bringing them into his house is nothing more than trying to make the most of a bad argument. The fact is that he set them free. He gave them liberty against orders to keep them imprisoned. He deliberately disobeyed what his superiors had instructed him to do and acted in another manner altogether.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that he didn’t question his orders or try to rationalize his action to anyone. He simply acted. He knew that God was orchestrating the situation and that his duty was to a power far, far superior to the town magistrates. He knew what was right, knew what he had to do, and did it. Because of this, the Bible tells us that his entire family was saved and baptized. I will go so far as to say that because of his actions, the episode was written down and recorded as a remembrance and lesson for future generations.

History is full of accounts of men and women who stood up to authorities and defied their orders. There is a case of this mentioned earlier in Acts where the apostles had been commanded by the Jewish authorities not to speak about Jesus or to preach the gospel in His name. What was their response? They continued on regardless, boldly talking to anyone who would listen. They did not allow fear of retribution or punishment to stop them from doing what they knew they should. This resulted in their imprisonment which would have probably been followed by severe punishment, except that God miraculously released them.

Ultimately, the apostles were brought before the council during which the high priest asked them whether or not they had been told to refrain from their message. Immediately, they answered him with these words, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Basically, what Peter and the other apostles were saying was that even though the authorities ordered them to speak and act in a certain way, if it went against what God ordered them to say and do, they would disobey and disregard the orders of the authorities. No ifs, ands, or buts!

Is there ever a time when a person is to disobey a direct order from an authority above him? Can a member of the military ever refuse to carry out an order which he knows is contrary to the orders given to him by God? The answer is and must be an emphatic, unequivocal, unwavering “Yes, absolutely!” How far would the Nazis in Hitler’s Germany have gotten if the individual persons involved had refused to slaughter and incinerate their families, friends, and neighbors? Would the Comanches at Sand Creek have been massacred if Colonel Chivington’s soldiers had refused to fire repeatedly at point blank range into the defenseless tipis?

What does this mean for someone who is not a military man? What about those of us who are Christian and doing our best to live our lives in a godly manner? What if the Supreme Court decides that it is not legal anymore to protest or to speak out against abortions? What if we are prohibited from “preaching” against the homosexual lifestyle? What if we are told to spy on our neighbors and to turn them in if we think that they are doing something subversive, knowing that doing so means we probably will never see them again? What if…? What if…?

The question for us is something we need to answer in our own hearts and it is something which should be settled before any scenario like those above ever happens, if they happen at all which is not certain. Regardless, unless we know what our answer is and how we will respond, we will probably be caught in a state of fear, ambivalence, and non-action. We need to have it fixed in our own minds, souls, and spirits that when we have to make a decision between what man says and what God says, our answer is going to be the same as Peter’s—“We must obey God!”

As the social, political, and financial structures of the world deteriorate and fall apart, the conflict between man’s edicts and God’s Word grows more and more pronounced and visible. It is very possible that some of us will have to make a choice between following orders and acting in disobedience to God or following orders and defying man’s authority. We may come to the point where obeying God means the loss of everything we hold dear, up to and including our lives. This is not new, however, because many of the apostles, including Paul, were murdered because they simply would not be quiet and accept the status quo. Would we have that much courage? It’s something we should think about. The times, they are a-changing, and we may have the opportunity to find out.

Free Will, Predestination, or None of the Above?

Within the Christian Church, there has always been a vigorous controversy over the issues of free will and predestination. If you want to slog through an earlier debate between Luther and Erasmus, follow this link.  It’s tough reading, though. http://wadsworth.com/history_d/special_features/ilrn_legacy/wawc1c01c/content/wciv1/readings/lutheras.html

I want to offer my own viewpoint of the discussion as neatly as I can, but it is not my intention to come down on one side or the other. I do not want to reopen this can of worms. Personally, I think that the whole argument is much ado about nothing. We have missed the real issue. What I would like to focus on is another side to the debate which is not usually heard nor seen. The results of generations opting for this third way can be seen and felt everywhere today, with catastrophic consequences, in the past, the present, and in the future unless we change our direction. With that in mind, allow me to plunge in.

Free will (as it is seen by many Christians today) teaches that we have been given the power as moral agents to make our own decisions and God will not interfere with nor override those decisions. There are positive consequences if we make the right choices, i.e. within God’s will, and there are negative consequences if we make the wrong choices, i.e., outside God’s will. The obvious question here is what is God’s will? This leads to the second question. How can a person know if he is in God’s will? It is entirely possible that a person who literally lives his life asking whether or not he is making choices within God’s will could easily become paralyzed and not able nor willing to make decisions. However, refusing to make a decision is, by default, still making a decision.

Ultimately, however, the thrust of the whole free will argument comes to one conclusion–man is the determiner of his own destiny. Man chooses life or death. Man chooses to grasp the life ring when Jesus throws it to him while he is drowning. Or not. Consequently, man is the agent of his own salvation if he so chooses. If taken to the logical end, it becomes a salvation of personal work, but has nothing to do with grace. Except, of course, for the life ring.

Predestination, on the other hand, teaches that everything, everyone, every decision, every action, every thought, is controlled by a Sovereign God and that we only follow the “script”, so to speak. We simply respond to God’s directive–“robot” is the derogatory term used by those who are not in favor of this line of reasoning. The obvious questions, though, are: Does this mean that God creates sin? Is God responsible for sinful actions? How can anyone “choose” to be saved unless God dictates? What about those who spend eternity in hell without any choice in the matter? Doesn’t this make God hateful and unloving?

Ultimately, this leads to fatalism and personal irresponsibility. There is nothing I can do because my life is exclusively controlled and manipulated by God. Therefore, I cannot and should not be held liable for my actions, words, or thoughts. If a life is lived with this understanding, it becomes one of futility and worthlessness. If taken to the extreme, it becomes a salvation of grace, but has no room for personal work.

Christianity teaches that we are conceived, born, live, and die in a spiritual battle between good and evil. God and Satan. Love and selfishness. Right and wrong. There is no escape. There is no choice. It is here, we are here, we are in it and all we can do is live for one side or the other. If we live on the right side, we will experience eternity in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. If we live on the wrong side, we will experience eternity in Hell with Satan. The only choice we have is which side we will follow. This is orthodox Christian doctrine and has been preached this way for thousands of years.

The problem that I have in the discussion of “free will” or “free moral agent” is not whether God disassociates Himself from our decisions or controls them exclusively. It is something else entirely and it can be described in four words–neither God nor Satan. If we truly have a free will, then we should be able to come to the conclusion (and many have) that neither God nor Satan exists.  Heaven and Hell are non-existent. Eternal glory and eternal torment are figments of the imagination. Man is subject to no one. According to this thought, the only place God (or Satan) exists is in the minds of those who wish to believe. These people are deluded, uneducated, unscientific, politically incorrect, stupid, rabble, less than human, etc., and must be saved from themselves or eradicated by those who know better.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so does politics. In this third version of “free” will, without God, something must take his place. That something is Man, humanist Man, secular humanist Man, and he has done so with a vengeance. If God and Satan do not exist, then man, being the highest form of life and intelligence, automatically becomes supreme. Man becomes subject only to man’s laws and man’s word. There is no limit to what man can do. Might makes right and the most powerful determine what is right for everyone else, at least in word and quite often in deed.

Unfortunately, power generally devolves to the most evil persons, that is, those who will stop at nothing to accomplish their ends. They will use any means to reach their goals, even if it means pain, suffering, or impoverishment of others, less powerful than they. Lenin (and Marx before him) said that “religion is the opiate of the masses” and he did his best to change the world into his own viewpoint. Unfortunately, however, all he created was death and destruction on a massive scale. Today, the Soviet Union is gone, but socialism is still thriving throughout the world, especially in the halls of modern Western academia, where it is preached as gospel to millions of eager learners in some watered down, but still highly effective, form. Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, the Hutus, Sudan, Napoleon, the British Empire, and the conquistadores are among those who have viciously pursued power at the expense of their fellowmen. Even the United States is not exempt–consider the way the American Indians were treated from the Pilgrims onward and the way that Iraqi civilians were slaughtered during and after George Bush’s war on Saddam Hussein.

Money is also pursued the same way. After all, money is power, and if someone, somewhere, less fortunate has to suffer so that Citibank, Haliburton, or Boeing can prosper, so what? After all, what’s good for GM is good for the country. At least it used to be that way, before GM went bankrupt and survived only because the federal government bought it out with massive amounts of money extracted from the citizenry.

Today, the State represents the highest form of achievement that humanist man has reached. It holds sway over everything within its grasp and it is always grasping for more. Anyone who doesn’t conform to the ideal of the State becomes an enemy of the State and is subject to pursuit, persecution, prosecution, and punishment. The State recognizes no rivals and will not tolerate them if they do emerge. Everything and everyone must become a vassal of the State. No stone is left unturned in that endeavor. Wars are fought, small-time or would-be dictators must be broken or deposed, individuals and countries alike must be overrun and assimilated. Eventually, if the direction of movement continues, everyone will be subsumed into a world government, which will be accountable to no one and which will hold all accountable to it. God, in other words.

One of the hallmarks of statism is that everything can be made right by fiat or legislation. The people who buy into this concept preach it incessantly. If there’s a problem, pass a law. Create a program. Force the beneficiaries to conform to the rules. Force everyone else to pay for it. How many times have you said or heard someone say that ‘there outta be a law’? This philosophy is what Gary North calls “salvation by legislation”. We strive to make rules and make people bound to those rules, then declare that they are designed to set us free.  In other words, we are only free if we are bound and the more everyone is bound, the more everyone is free. The humanist declares that we are free of God’s Law, but then proceeds to work to make us subject to man’s laws. This is exactly what Satan attempted when he rebelled against God and it is not surprising that his followers are trying the same tactics. It should also not be surprising to find that they don’t work any better. The ultimate future of free will is that man will find himself enslaved and bound more tightly than ever before.

For the Christian, however, there is hope. Contrary to the beliefs of many, it is not the end of the world, the Blessed Hope, the Glorious Rapture when King Jesus comes back to bail out all his followers and slap the evildoers silly. Instead, the answer can be found in Psalms Chapter 2.

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and his anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder and cast their cords from us.'”

“He who sits in the heavens laughs. The LORD has them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’….’You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise, be warned, rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss His feet, lest He be angry and you perish in the way for His wrath is quickly kindled.”

For anyone who is aware and paying attention, this is visibly happening all over the world. God Himself does not recognize rivals nor tolerate them if they do emerge. The State is bankrupt, not only financially, but also morally. It has only one answer for the problems which are popping up and crying out for attention—more of the same. The end of the State is in sight and, if a World State is ever created, it will not last. God has declared that his people will be set free. Jesus Christ came to set people free. The Holy Spirit is working in history to set people free, not only from Hell and the clutches of sin, but also from the greedy grasp of people who wish to rule over others. The fastest growing religion in the world today is Christianity and wherever it rises and flourishes, slavery and bondage crumble and disappear.

It is not coincidental that the concepts of free will and humanism go hand in hand. Where Christianity embraced the thought that God would distance himself from their decisions, atheism and godlessness rose to fill the vacuum. Where Christians abandoned their God-given mandate to act as rulers over themselves and their own spheres of influence, non-christians seized power and used it for their benefit. To the extent that Christians choose to act as “free” moral agents, unfree, immoral agents usurp control over them.

Contrary to popular opinion, free will is not the issue. Who will be sovereign ruler is. Obedience to God’s will or rebellion against it is. Every individual, family, tribe, culture, society, and nation has only one choice that really matters–surrender and submit to God or you will surrender and submit to someone else. There is no other option. It is never a question of “free or not free”, but rather whose freedom, which freedom do we choose. Refusing to make a choice is still a choice. Implicitly, those who choose neither God nor Satan have chosen Satan and by doing so, they have become accomplices to his plan to impose his rule on everyone else.

Answering Fools

Prov. 26:4,5 in my own words.

If someone makes a statement which is foolish, ridiculous, and stupid, don’t answer it in the same way or you will be seen as foolish, ridiculous, and stupid. Sometimes the best thing is to say nothing at all. However, if you do answer, use wisdom. By doing so, you can change the course of the conversation and it may be that the person who made the original statement might actually learn something.

Paul Ryan’s budget plan. What a joke!

Even though there are probably people who deny this, everyone instinctively understands that the Democrats will never balance the Federal budget. Not so with Republican true-believers, since there are many who still cling to the notion that the GOP really is the “good” party. For example, witness the millions who think that Paul Ryan’s proposed budget is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Sorry, folks, but I have to prick your balloon.

If Ryan’s budget was (miraculously) instituted in the next fiscal year and strictly followed thereafter, it would not produce a positive balance for another 27 years. Twenty-seven years! This does not take into account the almost certain probability that it would be discarded as soon as the American people felt the pain brought on by adherence to its “austere” regiment. I think I can safely say that its life span would probably not extend as far as the Romney/Ryan term of office, if they should somehow manage to win.

27 years. What a joke. All this by a celebrated budget miser and celebrated all over America by millions of deluded, miserably blind, so-called fiscally conservative voters. But, hey, at least he’s not Joe Biden.

(Ed. Note) I went back and researched this a little more and realize I made a mistake. The “official” time frame is actually only 23 years, not 27. Small comfort!

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/29/politics/balanced-budget/index.html

 

Losing Debates Ungracefully

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.

My view on Presidential Election 2012, USA

Now that the political scenery of the presidential election is becoming sorted out, a few observations might be in order.

  1. It doesn’t matter which party wins the White House, both the Republicans and Democrats are in the hip pocket of the people who pull the strings.
  2. Nothing substantial in politics will change if Romney/Ryan actually beat Obama/Biden. American society will continue down the path of profligate spending, outrageous deficits, expanding government, and continual war.
  3.  The political, social, and economic climate in this country and around the world is going to get drastically worse. Neither Romney nor Obama will make things better. They are part of the problem and have no solutions except for the same old, same old.
  4. The general health, wealth, and safety of the average American citizen will continue to worsen despite promises by all candidates to make things better.
  5. Faith in government and the American dollar is rapidly diminishing. Whoever wins the election is powerless to change that.
  6. No matter which candidate wins, four years from now we will look back at 2012 and view these as the Good Old Days.
  7. Anyone who expects and believes that changing the man at the top will benefit the man at the bottom is in for a rude awakening. If the shoe fits, wear it.

The Cost of Discipleship

There is a song which is sung in many Christian churches which contains the line, “Have you counted the cost if your soul should be lost?” Most of the time it’s irrelevant because virtually everyone singing it has already been saved, but I suppose that sometimes someone might hear the words and respond positively. Regardless, we really should consider what eternal hell would cost us and take every step necessary to avoid it. At the same time, we should consider the cost if our soul should be saved. How many of us do that? How much does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus the Christ? What is the price of following God’s will in our lives?

Of course, we know that Jesus paid it all, that His atoning death erased any debt we owed to God as restitution for our sins. In that sense, we have nothing to pay. There is no charge to us on that account. Salvation, however, even though it may be free does not come without cost to us, because when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we acknowledge Him as our Lord as well. It is no good to say that Jesus is our Savior if we refuse to submit to Him as Lord and He demands a very heavy price from us: total, unconditional surrender and obedience to His will.

How many times has someone walked through church doors saying the right things, but later leaving because they were unwilling to submit some area of their life to the Lordship of Jesus? How many times in our own lives have we wrestled with this very issue? How many times has God spoken to us about something which He wanted to change, regardless what it was, and we resisted Him? Jesus says that, “…if anyone comes to me and does not hate…his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine.” In other words, unless we are willing to give Jesus total, unconditional control of our lives, unless we are willing to become completely submitted to His will, we cannot be His disciple.

This is a hard saying. Many people would turn away (and have) from it, but these are not my words. Instead, they come from the lips of the only one who can demand that. The fact is that this complete submission to Jesus actually happened definitively at the moment of our salvation. From that point on, as we are willing, it becomes a progressive surrender of our will to His, until God’s will becomes more important to us than our own. Until God becomes #1 instead of #2 or #345. Until we can honestly say with Jesus, “…not my will, but yours…”

You might protest that you’re doing all the right things. You tithe, pray, read your Bible, go to church at least an hour a week, give money to poor people, etc. What more does God want anyway? If this is you, let me point you to the story of the rich young ruler who did all these things, yet was unwilling to give up the one part of his life which was blocking his entrance into the kingdom.  (Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-23) In fact, Scripture tells us that there are people at the judgment who will say, “Lord, Lord, we did all these things”, yet He will answer them, “Get out! I don’t know you.” God wants our hearts. God wants us to have no idols. God wants us to give up those things which keep Him from taking His rightful place on the throne of our hearts. The price of discipleship, the cost of following Jesus is that we lose our lives, that we die to ourselves every minute of every day.

What are some of the things we have to give up? First and foremost, I believe, is that inner drive and determination to be independent. To be our own boss. To call the shots ourselves. This was Adam’s sin. Adam wanted to decide his own life and determine his own version of right and wrong.

God speaks to us from time to time about something we need to be free of. It could be pride, greed, lust for power, sex, money, or material things. It could be fear, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, or the desire for revenge. It could be a relationship which is dragging us down. It might be apathy, laziness, or hardness of heart toward spiritual matters. Whatever it is (and I have only scratched the surface), if God says, “This is cluttering up your life, get rid of it!”, respond in a positive manner. Just do it! We must come, by God’s grace, from a point of total rebellion to total submission.

Why are we so unwilling to give Jesus the lordship of our lives? I believe it boils right down to one thing: we don’t trust Him. We don’t trust Him to supply all our needs, to protect us, to watch over us. Because of this, we grasp and clutch all these other things hoping that they will fill that area in our lives which only God can fill. We just simply don’t trust Him. Yet, God has a way of working His will and orchestrating circumstances which bring us to the point where we have nothing else to trust in, where we realize we can’t make it on our own, where we willingly allow Him to become King and Lord.

When Jesus saw that some of His disciples were deserting him, he asked the Twelve if they wanted to go as well. We would do well to remember Peter’s answer, “Lord, where are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life.” Indeed. Where else are we going to go? In fact, as the world system increasingly breaks down and becomes more and more chaotic, this question becomes more and more prominent.

Jesus has the words of life. There is nowhere else to go.

Caleb and the Power of a Tough Mindset

Originally written, Friday, June 10, 2011

I had a revelation yesterday. Bear with me.

I had just started a new job at a company which builds log and timber frame buildings. My job is to stand on large timbers which have been sawed and use an adze to make them appear hand-carved. I stand all day long bent over, swinging the adze like a pick. Needless to say, it’s hard on the back and hands, but I’m getting used to it and feel pretty good.  It’s all piece rate, so the more I complete, the larger my paycheck.

There are two young men who started the same time I did. Being young, they haven’t learned yet that the only way to get anything done is to get into it. They like to talk, look at their blisters, complain about their aching hands, etc. Good fellows, but they’re probably working for a lot less than minimum wage.

Yesterday, I stopped for a minute and watched them. I thought about going over to tell them that they needed to work through their pain until they could ignore it. Immediately the thought came to me about Caleb, who was as strong when he was 80 as he was when he was 40, and I understood that one of the reasons for this was that Caleb had learned to work through his pain. After a few minutes, I realized that my back and hands no longer hurt and I worked pain-free for the rest of the day.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and can apply it to an emotional or spiritual sense as well. People have to learn to work through their emotional pain, their spiritual pain in order to be set free from it. It’s hard, oh yes, it’s hard, and many people shrink from it because it hurts so much, but to become like Jesus, it is absolutely necessary. I have learned something and will never let go of it. It has already transformed the way I think. I will never be the same again.

(Ed. note.)  Approximately one year later. I am working as crew boss on a large custom house construction. It has been hot, hot, hot, and everyone on the job is glad when the end of the day arrives. I am the oldest man on the job, but I can easily keep up with the younger men and sometimes surpass them when durability is counted. Why? It might be that I have learned to be tough, to hang in there when the going is hard, and to work through the difficult times. Sometimes mental toughness far outweighs physical capability.

Peter’s Dilemma and the Choices We Make

Imagine that you are in a prison. A dark, dirty, dank prison. A dark, dirty, dank, rat-infested, cold to the bone prison. And, as if that’s not bad enough, you have chains bound to your wrists, which are securely fastened to the wrists of the two soldiers who are beside you as you sleep. There are other soldiers (fourteen more, to be exact), well-trained and alert, who stand between you and any hope of escape. Additionally, there are the doors of the prison, huge, strong, made of iron, impregnable. You couldn’t get out unless you had an acetylene torch and a bazooka, neither of which is in your possession at the moment. To make matters worse, you know that the king, who had you arrested, has already executed one of your best friends and, since this action pleased your enemies, he plans to do you in as well. In fact, you are sleeping for the last time because he is going to cut off your head in the morning. After the trial, of course, which will be open and just, with the best lawyers possible arguing your defense. You will get a fair hearing in front of a jury of your peers, who will be able to see the truth about your case.

Yeah, right. Pigs fly, too. You’re dead and you know it. Requiescat in pace.

Acts, chapter 12. Peter. One of the most loved disciples of Christ. Always getting himself into trouble through his impulsive, impetuous actions. Never stopping to think about what he did or said, especially since that day when he was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. After that there was nothing to live for and talk about except his Lord Jesus, regardless of where he was or who was listening, which landed him exactly where the powers that be wanted him. As good as dead!

There he was in his chains, stretched out between two Roman soldiers, sleeping. (How could anyone sleep in a situation like that?) Regardless, Peter was sound asleep. Then,  suddenly someone was smacking him in the ribs, shining a flashlight into his eyes, and shouting, “Get up. Get up!” Talk about rude awakenings.

We know the rest of the story. How the chains fell off his wrists when he got to his feet. How the doors opened (and closed) automatically. How the guards never saw or were aware of what was happening. How the angel led Peter, still dreaming, down the street a full block before disappearing. How Peter finally woke up and realized he had been set free by the hand of the God who rules kings. We know that he went to the house of his friends who were together, praying for him while all this was happening. We know that after he convinced them that he really was who said he was, they proceeded to tell everybody about it while Peter took off for a safe house. And we know that the soldiers, who were only doing their duty and couldn’t have prevented his escape if they had known about it, took Peter’s place on the guillotine.

I have some questions.

What if Peter, on feeling the angels fist, on seeing the cell light up like a lightning bolt, on hearing the words, “Get up! Now!!”, had simply refused. What if he had convinced himself that it was only a bad dream? What if he really didn’t care whether or not Herod chopped off his head? What if he had set his face to “do it my way or no way”, in spite of knowing what was going to happen to him and that he was being offered an avenue of escape from it? What if? What if??

I know what would have happened. In the morning, the guards would have jerked him to his feet, dragged him off (without breakfast, mind you) to see King Herod, who would have found him guilty for any reason or for none, ordered him executed without delay, and that would have been the end of Peter. If there was an obituary column in the local news scroll, his name would have been listed the next day. He might have even merited a mention in the police report.

We are all, to some extent or another, in a prison of our own. We are guarded by sentries far more alert than any Roman soldier ever was. We are bound down by chains and weight far heavier than the iron which held Peter. For us, in our own strength, by ourselves, there is no hope. We are doomed! And yet, and yet…in our misery and despair, someone keeps jolting us awake. We see a light and we hear someone speak to us, “It is time to get up. You can be set free!”

Jesus came to set us free. He said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” He also said, “I am…the Truth…” We know that He sets captives free and prisoners at liberty. But, knowing all this, why do we have so much trouble when He comes to our own personal prison cell and expresses His desire to set us free? Why, indeed, when the obvious answer to our dilemma is to stand on our feet at His command, in His light and presence, only to feel and see those fetters fall impotent to the floor at our feet?

I know the answer. There is only one conclusion to the question–we don’t want to. No more excuses. Let’s get right down to brass tacks, bare knuckles, and the bald-faced truth of the matter. We simply don’t want to. We prefer to lie in our chains, squalor, and misery, rather than be set free by the command of the King. Better to die in bondage than to acknowledge that He, and He alone, is able to free us from our dungeon. Pride. Stupid, foolish, arrogant pride. We are too proud to admit that we can’t do it ourselves and we aren’t willing to allow anyone else to do it for us. Admit that I am incapable of saving myself? Better to die first!

This is exactly what happens. This is exactly the way I am.

(Ed. Note: I wrote this five or six years ago when I was dealing with the consequences of stubborn, stupid, foolish, arrogant pride. I have since learned (and am learning) that it is easier and far better to simply get up when Jesus or the Holy Spirit speaks to me.) May you be so blessed.

Bogging down the Bureaucracy

Friday afternoon, when it became evident that I wasn’t going to get my trailer registered or licensed with the State of Montana, I hooked it up and drove to Missoula anyway. I had been given some firewood which I wanted to get and didn’t have any other way to move it. Fortunately, I wasn’t stopped or ticketed for “transgressing” the Law, but if I had been, I had an answer ready.

The clerk had given me a form to complete when I had the inspection done and I still had that in my truck. If necessary, I would have told the cop my story, pulled out the form, and asked him to inspect the trailer then and there. If I was on my way to Missoula, I would have been looking for a police officer and grateful for his assistance. (This was true, to a degree, although it was a very small part of  the equation.)If I was travelling back home, it would have been that the trailer had been in Missoula (which was also true) and that I was taking it home to unload it so that I could have it inspected.

It’s amazing the novel ways a person can come up with to sidestep the strictures that the State seeks to place on him.

P.S. If anyone takes exception to my methods, please keep in mind that I fully intend to have the trailer inspected, approved, registered, and licensed. I’m just not horribly concerned about getting it done immediately. All in good time. Everything comes to those who wait.

P.P.S. I checked the VIN# on the trailer against the one on the (valid) Florida registration and discovered that the VIN was indeed correct. Why did it show up on her computer as invalid? I don’t know, but I can think of at least four reasons, the least damning being that she simply made a mistake inputting the number. Ah, well, get the doggone thing inspected and tagged, and give them what they want–my hard-earned dollars.

 

Small Town Bureaucracy

I thought it would be easy.

When we moved from Florida to Montana almost two years ago, we used a small trailer to carry our belongings. Due to a shortage of funds, I did not register or license it right away. The other day, however, I had the money and wanted to get it done so that I could use it without worrying about blue lights flashing in my rear-view mirror because of the expired Florida tag.

I thought it would be easy, but since the registration and licensing requires interaction with bureaucrats, I should have known better. Friday morning, I drove to Hamilton (approx. 25 miles) and went into the appropriate office, where I stood in line for at least 30 minutes. When I was finally able to approach the clerk and tell her what I wanted, her immediate response was to inform me that since I didn’t have a title with me, she couldn’t process the request. End of story. End of session. Move on! Next!!

On my way back home to get the title, I realized I didn’t have a title to the trailer, since Florida doesn’t issue titles for trailers which have a net weight of less than 2000 pounds and mine only carries a net of 1100. When I got home, I went to the “official” Florida DMV website, printed out the page which declared this, and drove back to Hamilton. At the licensing office, I again stood in line until I was summoned, “Next!”. The clerk was a different woman and I simply told her that I had brought the trailer with me from Florida and wanted to register it here. When she asked me about the title, I told her that Florida doesn’t issue them for this size. She confirmed this online and immediately pulled out a plate and slapped it on the counter in front of me.

I thought it would be easy, but I should have known better. She wanted to know what the make and model of  the trailer was, but I had to tell her that I didn’t know that. She informed me that she couldn’t proceed any further without the make and model. I asked her if I could check it out when I got home and call her with the information, but was turned down. I informed her that this was the second trip I had made to Hamilton that day and I didn’t want to have to make another one, but it didn’t make any difference. She had to have the make and model. Then, to top it off, she informed me that the VIN# shown on my Florida registration was not valid, and that I would have to have the trailer inspected by a police officer to verify the correct number. She gave me a form and told me that nothing more would be done until the inspection was complete.

At that point, what could I do? I told her that I understood she was only doing her job, but that this episode showed why it is so difficult to get anything done, to which she just looked at me, shrugged her shoulders, and made it very plain that I should move on and quit wasting her time. Next!!

Here’s the Catch-22. I cannot move the trailer “legally” on the highway because it is not licensed or registered with the State of Montana. I cannot license or register it until it is inspected by a police officer. I cannot get it inspected unless I take it to a police officer, which would require moving it on the highway. Potentially, I could be given a ticket for taking it to an inspection in order to make it legal. More than likely, this would not happen, but it could and, if it did, I could be forced to pay a fine for attempting to comply with the law.

What a joke! If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny. However, this is the way that government works. My question is this. As long as I am not harming someone by towing my trailer, why should I have to jump through all the hoops to make it “legal”? If there is no harm done to anyone because I tow it down the road, why should I have to even have it registered or licensed? Unless I cause harm to someone with that trailer, why should the State of Montana even care that I am towing it on the road? Obviously, because it wants to control me, my actions, and my behavior and it wants to be paid for “enforcing the law”.

There are only two real answers to these questions–control and money. Everything else is peripheral to these two items. The clerk at the office in Hamilton doesn’t care about anything except her salary, which she ensures by forcing everyone else to submit to the control of the law. The bureaucrat who wrote the law doesn’t care about anything except his salary, which he ensures by constantly proposing and writing new regulations . The legislator from this district doesn’t care about anything except that he be re-elected next term, so that he can continue to draw a salary by exerting control over his constituents. Etc., etc., all the way to the top. Governor, US Congressman, President. They don’t care. Write rules, collect money.

Needless to say, this whole sorry episode made me quite upset and put a heavy damper on the rest of my day. Not to mention that I still have to look forward to “The Inspection” and make another trip back to Hamilton for a third try at the gauntlet. Until then, I’ll move my trailer when and where I want to, whether it is Montana approved or not.