Monday, July 9, 2018

The Age of Religious Complexity

A. W. Tozer remarks in The Pursuit of God, “Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity.” 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, June 1, 2018

My Speech at Memorial Service - Corinth Cenotaph (May 30, 2018)


In May 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Union veteran's group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan, issued a righteous decree that May 30th be a national day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the American Civil War. The day was to be known as Decoration Day. 
What did people do on Decoration Day?
  • People from every walk of life laid flowers on the graves of their war dead; and,
  • They creatively decorated them to honor the sacrifice of those who lay beneath the soil that entombed them
Today we gather in this silent city of the dead to memorialize, to preserve the memory of, these brave men and women who contended with our enemy in mortal combat in order that these United States might be clothed in freedom for every man, woman, boy or girl - regardless of their race, creed, or even early country of origin.  
It is fitting that we conduct ourselves in this way each year.
We hold to a tradition at the Corinth Fire Department that at the start of our business meetings, we recite The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Many of our civic groups do the same. We can be heard repeating the memorized lines, "And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."I asked myself last evening as I stood to pledge, "Do I really affirm these words, or am I just intoning them out of habit or request?” I want these words to mean something to my children and grandchildren so that they carry with them the pride that I hold for this nation and her people.
So I put my hand to my chest, and with full voice, in invite you to repeat with me The Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag. Of the United States of America. And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all." 
My friends, we, as Americans, possess something special, and wholly unique in the world. We steward something worth fighting and even dying for. But we must never allow minor irritants to become major distractions along the way to achieving our God-given purpose as a people.
Pettiness, disrespect, sectarian loathing, spoken and written untruths and even the dishonoring of our nation’s most cherished institutions must cease, for they hold no place among a people so blessed by their Creator.
I implore us, in the name of God, to resist such blatant misdeeds, that we might be a people for whom it can be said, “They are a city on a hill; a people set apart for special use.”
Let us Pray: “Our Lord and Our God. We gather here to memorialize those who have given so much so that we could be the beneficiaries of such great blessing. We ask that You guide our nation today as we sail into uncharted waters both here and abroad. Hold those who lead us at every level of government. Call us afresh to pray more for them than to criticize or judge them for their motives, for these are truly known only by You – and You see.
Draw close to the men, women, and children who grieve the loss of a loved one for whom we now gather to commemorate. They are ours – and we are theirs – and we stand with our hearts and hands wide open to help them.
We ask You again to bless the United States of America that she might be a blessing to the world.
In Your Name, I Pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Receive the Gift He Offers

All that is required of you is to open your heart and receive the gift he offers. There is an endless amount of God’s presence to receive. He is a vast and endless ocean that will never be fully discovered. But still he calls you to come and dive in. The Bible commands us in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit,” to be filled with God himself. (Craig Denison - First14 5/3/2018)

Monday, December 18, 2017

How to Learn Something about God

"If you can set your self aside, you will not perish. You will learn something about God."

Kushner, Lawrence. God Was in This Place & I, I Did Not Know—25th Anniversary Ed: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning (Kindle Locations 661-663). Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill of Rights Day 2018

The US Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York,
on Wednesday the fourth of March,
one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg
Speaker of the House of Representatives

John Adams, Vice-President of the United States
and President of the Senate.

Attest,

John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Sam. A. Otis Secretary of the Senate.

*On September 25, 1789, Congress transmitted to the state legislatures twelve proposed amendments, two of which, having to do with Congressional representation and Congressional pay, were not adopted. The remaining ten amendments became the Bill of Rights.

Amendment #1 - Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment #2 - The Right to Bear Arms
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Amendment #3 - The Housing of Soldiers
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment #4 - Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment #5 - Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Amendment #6 - Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment #7 - Rights in Civil Cases
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment #8 - Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment #9 - Other Rights Kept by the People
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment #19 - Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fifty-six Years Ago Today

What were you doing 56 years ago today? 

Back then, it was a -19-degree day in January and the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. He gave a clarion call: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Powerful words, and necessary, if we were to move forward as a nation and change the course of history under his leadership.

It was a special day for me because it was the day of my birth. I remember none of the happenings of the day (obviously) but I've always liked that I was born on the day J.F.K. was sworn into office.

As we stand on the threshold of a new day for America, I reiterate the message of Kennedy to you as a firefighter in Corinth and a citizen of the greatest nation on earth: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Once you ask the question, whatever answer you get back, will you ask God to help you and then just go and do it? Then we really can "Make American Great Again!".

Carpe Diem!