Seasonal Change

557791_3956999365521_1533113132_n  A few days ago I took my kayak and spent the afternoon on a small, clear mountain lake, fishing. It was miles north of where my wife and I live and the place is amazingly quiet. Our home is in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains so it really does not take me that long to find myself on a quiet stream, pond or lake in the cool shadow of those ancient peaks. One thing I can always count on is that it will be cooler, and the air will be clearer as I begin the ascent into those rugged hills.

There is something about spending a day in the mountains that calms my soul, refreshes my mind and reconnects me to the roots of my childhood. Not that I want to be a child again, or that I dislike my current life. No, in fact I absolutely love what my wife and I have, and I cannot imagine any other life than the one we built together. Yet getting alone in those places of weathered solitude seems to adjust my view of everything in ways that is so needful at times.

Going back to my ancestral home territory, the place where my family put down deep roots, and lived out our family history, stirs something in me. I feel an ancient call rising up inside that pulls on my heart and settles my mind. The rich smell of pine-scented air, the delicious taste of cold mountain water and the symphony of sounds that fill the woods as animals forage to store up their winter’s supply of food, are all primal things. They amplify a cry within me to simplify and focus my own life. They allow me to once again get hold of those things that are really important.

The other thing that hit me was how quickly the seasons can move along in the Northeast. I saw a few splashes of brilliant red on the hillside and that was quite a shock. We have had a few cool mornings, high 40’s and low 50’s and it caused the locals to fire up the wood stove and drive off the early morning chill. Those cool mornings are what triggered the early change in the leaves. Beyond that, I felt something else as I paddled along. There it was, a distinct drift in the wind that was cooler as it came over the mountains from Canada. The clear, northwest flow, and the kind of clouds that came with it, told me our “seasonal shift “ had already happened. In all honesty it left me a bit unsettled because I knew in my heart that things were soon to begin changing in a big way and I was not ready for that yet.

No, fall is not here, but the early indicators of its fast approach from Canada are now present. For those of us who grew up in these mountains we clearly see the handwriting on the wall. Like it or not, “seasonal shift” is a clear indicator in the atmosphere that change is on the way. Basically it means that summer has been formally given it’s eviction notice. The warm weather has not yet moved out, but Autumn has begun to move a few of it’s belongings into our area. The cool undertone in the air, the heavier clouds, the dark, cool rainy days and the northwest shift in wind all mean that in a few short weeks the mornings will get colder and Fall will take up residence once again.

What’s my point? Until I embraced this “seasonal shift” that is clearly pointing to Fall, I could not enjoy the rest of summer that is still here. However, had I decided to fight and dislike the indicators that are all around me, I would have missed the final days of summer’s glory and dreaded the inevitable result that is sure to come anyway. The bottom line is simple, how I decide to walked through a moment of change determines my outlook for the present, and my ability to enjoy the future when it arrives.

Is there a “seasonal shift” happening in your life right now? Please understand that I am not talking about a change in your natural circumstances, even though that will happen as well. What I am referring to is that feeling of definite change in the spiritual environment of your life, but you can’t quite define what it is. Do you sense a distinct change in how the winds are blowing? Are you seeing splashes of color in the distance that were not there before? Do you see a different kind of cloud on the horizon that has left you wondering what is to come? Are you feeling a bit unsettled about everything and not sure what to do about it? If you answered yes to the above, then you are living in, and will have to walk through a “seasonal shift”, and this is a wonderful place to be.

God never feels the need to tell us what He is about to do. He may, but He more often just begins to do something and wants us to keep walking and trusting Him as we go. If He mapped everything out then the adventure of living the Christian life would be so much less exciting. Our God is not boring and neither is serving Him. I am convinced that He does what He dose to shake us up and move us forward when we have gotten stuck. Perhaps what you are feeling right now is His way of telling you to get ready because He is about to pull you out of the mud!

Let me remind you that He is able! He can do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you ask or think. However, you will have to walk through that change first in order to get what lies ahead. Relax, go with the flow and never forget that God is good. Spend time in His presence, in His word, in prayer and in worship. In fact, begin to purpose in your heart that you will enjoy the ride. Let go of your need to be in control, and allow yourself be amazed by the beauty of everything that is changing around you. In the end you can trust God and know that He will cause every “seasonal shift” to work out for your good. Once you have this basic thing settled, you can allow each new season to bring new grace and truth to you life. The bottom line is simple, you can’t stop it anyway so you might as well learn how to enjoy it!

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You Don’t Pet A Rabid Dog

rabid-dogOver the years I have discovered that most people really try their best to do what is right. They may not always succeed, but I think they do try their best. When failures come I also am convinced that most people will then feel the press to do what they can to make things right. Once again they may not always succeed, but unless someone is emotionally broken, or they are mentally ill and have no relational skills, they do try to work through things.

How do you respond when you have a chance encounter with that rare individual whose mind and heart have been given over to the dark side? I had such an encounter yesterday, and honestly it caught me completely off guard. I have not lived a sheltered life by any stretch of the imagination, but this brief interaction was so off the charts that it left me speechless, and believe me, that really takes some doing!

It was my yard cleanup day and I was driving my Trailblazer with a load of brush hanging out the back. I stopped, looked both ways, saw no traffic and slowly made a right hand turn off my street. The road was clear and I moved onto the cross street on my way to the brush drop location in town. Just as I moved into my lane a motorcycle shot out from around the end of a building and flew straight out of a driveway just to my left. He was moving at a high rate of speed and had to apply his brakes or run right into the back of me.

I ride a motorcycle and I knew he was going way too fast, but he successfully made the needed maneuver and corrected his own error in judgment. In all honesty had I looked a second time before pulling out I might have seen him, and I definitely would have waited for him to fly by. Fortunately nothing happened, but the moment he realized he had to slow down, the atmosphere shifted. Was he grateful that he had avoided an accident? No.. not hardly! He rode down the street behind me and then roared his engine as he made the next left. However, all the while he was behind me, he was giving me the “one finger salute” and revving his “rice rocket” until it nearly blew a gasket.

What shocked me most of all was the additional dimension he added to this one act play. All I can say is it sounded as if someone had inadvertently broken open the sewer line of hell. What began to flow out of his mouth at the top of his lungs was the most vile, unrelenting, unclean things I have ever heard. It was so bad that people on both sides of the street stopped to look at him, frown and shake their heads in total disgust. There was a level of base vulgarity and pure malevolence vomiting out of his mouth that was so bad it saturated the air around him and made everyone feel unclean. Even after he turned and ripped off down the next street you could hear him screaming filth and obscenities.

What do you do when you have a chance encounter with someone like this? Do you stop and try to reason with them? Do you try to apologize even when it was a mutual mistake and not just your fault? Do you keep going and hope they go away? I’m not so sure there is a simple answer when you come across people who are in this degraded condition. As hard as it may sound, I have to accept the fact that it is not my job to fix every problem. Nor is it my place to discover if someone even wants the problem to be fixed. Some people are so far gone that the best solution is to give them a lot of room and just let them keep going.

As a guide, my father encountered people like this at times in the backwoods of the Adirondacks. When he did, he had one unbreakable rule that he lived by. It was a simple rule that served him quite well over the years. He said, “You don’t pet a rabid dog”. After meeting up with my friend on the motorcycle I think dad’s advice has passed yet another test of time.

This encounter reminded me of why God gave specific instructions to the Jewish nation when they were about to go into the Promised Land. There were certain people groups living in the territory that were to be totally blotted off the face of the earth. Every living thing connected to them had to be put to death. Why? Because they were so far gone, so saturated in sin and the occult, and so given over to demonic influence that they would eventually defile everything they touched. They would never submit to God and their vile influence would defile God’s people, eventually robbing them of the blessing He intended.

Have you encountered a rabid dog lately? If so, my hope is that you did not try to pet it or get it on a leash. Some people are best left alone and eventually the police will deal with them. As for you, let such encounters just roll off your back, pray for them, and don’t allow words that are unclean, vile and filled with vitriolic anger to infect your world. Some things you just have to face with reserved grace and let them blow by. When you do, it costs you nothing but when you don’t everyone may end up paying the price. Better to give room to such people so they can pass by and fade into the distance. Life is way too short to waste any time trying to pet a rabid dog. If you invest your energy in those you love, you’ll be glad you did…. and so will they!

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A Change In Thinking For National Transition

My wife lived in Hollywood years ago. She worked in the movie business and is no stranger to those who are well off by the worlds standard. The funny thing is, living that lifestyle did not impress her or influence her in a negative way. Oddly enough, when we fly into Los Angeles to visit family, I am the one who is impacted by the “way-more-than-enough” lifestyle that is so prevalent in that area.

Let me make something very clear, I am not one to bash those who have tapped into a more financially abundant life. Those who are in the upper income bracket have talent, ability or giftings that put them there. No one should be criticized or attacked because they have been able to maximize their earning potential. That is the wonderful part of how our financial system works in America. Those who correctly position themselves to take advantage of the gifts and talents they have, and work harder, will always prosper. This is the beauty of capitalism, and historically it has worked quite well in establishing a higher standard of living for Americans.

Until recently, we have been a shining example for those who desired to come up from poverty and join us in becoming more than what they are. There is no other country in the world but ours where this is possible, and I am proud of that fact. However, as the political climate has grown divisive over the past 6 years, and we have begun to free fall into a welfare mentality, there has also been an unbridled hostility towards those who have the finer things in life. Strange as it sounds, none seem to be considering why these finer things are available to those who have them. Stranger still is the fact that what we hear in the media is the cry of those who want these finer things but don’t have them. What is disturbing to me is that people want these things at the expense of those who have actually earned and deserved them.

What we are witnessing in Obama’s America is the birth of a new kind of society. This is one where politicians, and the causes they decide to champion, rule unimpeded by the stroke of a pen. It is one that see’s people who have more-than-enough as bad, and those who want what others have as underprivileged victims. For the first time we have a political climate that is hostile to individuality, wants no accountability and desires to control those who walk in self-governance. It embraces and rewards anyone who looks to the government for provision, and applauds those who willingly surrender their personal freedoms in order to freely get what they have not worked for and do not deserve or appreciate.

Welcome to the realities of an entitlement society! This is a new brand of socialism that has been slowly creeping into the American culture. It has ridden into our lives on the back of a failing educational system. It has grown stronger with every new bill that has been passed to provide more handouts to those who find excuses not to work. It has gained support through the regulations and statutes that have been systematically put in place to make us a safer and more tolerant society. It has taken root and been promoted through a welfare system where morality is absent. Where meeting every need and want of those who think they deserve the best in life is the goal, even though they have done nothing to qualify them for that life.

What has been the outcome? Working Americans no longer trust any government agency and they despise politics in general. Adding to this is the fact that the government has attempted to make it so we no longer trust each another. This should bring to mind another time in history. I taught world history and it reminds me that during World War II the common people in Germany were the target of the state and they were actually rewarded for turning each other in. It sent a chill down my spine when I bought my hunting/fishing license and there were numerous questions unrelated to that activity. Then, on the wall I saw posters that boldly proclaim it was our civic duty to turn in poachers or anyone else we suspected of illegal activity. Does that sound like a police state to you???

What else do we see happening in Obama’s America? Well, prayer has been banned while “safe sex” is taught and condoms are handed out like candy on Halloween night. The result of this invasion of “planned parenthood” into our schools is that the number of unwed mothers has skyrocketed. This in turn has placed a massive financial burden on taxpayers and many schools must now provide daycare services or abortion counseling. The suicide rate among teens is at an all time high and the US has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world. Divorce rates are through the roof and more people are opting to just live together.

The above is an open attack on the biblical nuclear family, which further impacts the stability of the nation. Delinquency among children is at an all time high and the drop out rate from school of these at-risk kids is at its highest rate ever. The outcome of all this is unsettling to say the least. The number of people who have a lower education and who are on welfare has exploded. For many, government assistance has now become a generational way of life. In the minds of millions, their monthly welfare check is now viewed as a paycheck, and they seek to discover new ways to work the system in order to “get a raise”.

The solution we heard from our president was frightening, He concluded that the problems were caused by selfish rich people and that their wealth must be spread around. This may shock you but I absolutely agree. However, that wealth redistribution should happen weekly in the form of a real paycheck that is handed out because someone has gotten a job and they have earned a salary. We don’t need more rules or a higher minimum wage to make sure things are fair. We need more people who are willing to work and earn an honest living. There is no better way to spread the wealth around, and no faster way I know of for anyone to get their dignity and self-worth back than to get a job.

Do you want to see this nation return to it’s real vision and release it’s people so they can prosper? Then what follows are a few suggestions I have for those of you who may be listening.

#1. Tax everyone, rich and poor, individual and corporation, at the same percentage rate. No loop holes , no overtaxing the rich or under taxing those with a lower income. Everyone pays the same percentage on whatever their actual income may be. And yes.. tax those who receive a welfare check because that is still income. Those on welfare can contribute back into the system they are depending on. Also place a cap on how much welfare income can be,  no matter how many kids people have.Welfare is supposed to help but it should never be the only income. Most of all provide job training for people on welfare so they can get off it.This will serve to help them find a job, limit family growth they can’t afford, and it will make them feel good about  being productive members of society.

#2. No welfare for those who drop out or are thrown out  of school because of bad behavior. No welfare for those who refuse to work, who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have a continually repeating criminal record. Welfare should be a short term privilege for those who have worked and lost their job. If someone was fired because of illegal activity or poor work habits then no welfare is deserved and it’s time to pay the price and be responsible for bad behavior.

#3. Welfare should be earned just like unemployment. No work invested means you have not earned any financial support from the taxpayers. If there is ever any fraud or illegal use of welfare money, that person is permanently cut off.

#4. A welfare check should be based on the actual receipts for correct spending. The initial check should be issued with instructions on how it must be used. All subsequent checks will be written as a reimbursement for the exact amount of receipts that the person brings back for legitimate expenses. Squander your welfare money on drugs, gambling, alcohol, tobacco, pornography or other wrong things and you’re all done!

#5. Provide income incentives for men and women who are a married couple. Give them tax breaks, give them reduced interest rates when they purchase a house or a car. Give them additional tax credits when they have children or adopt. Anything that strengthens the nuclear family strengthens the nation and our laws should reflect that.

#6. Eliminate the standard deduction when filing income taxes. Give direct, dollar for dollar credit to those who have legitimately contributed financially to recognized non-profit organizations. Why should anyone have to meet a certain giving level before all that they give counts? And why should those who gave nothing get any deduction at all?

#7. Abolish the IRS completely. Have all tax payments made directly to banks that are federally run and privately monitored. This money would then be placed directly back into the governments accounts and could be redistributed for immediate use where needed.

#8. Set up a separate agency apart from congress that reviews all grants, spending and subsidies where the government is currently giving away money. Those who make the laws should NEVER be the same people who give the money out. This agency should be made up of CPA’s, financial experts and those who are knowledgeable when it comes to the proper spending and distribution of large sums of money. This independent agency would be there to review and approve or reject requests, and distribute the funds on a defined distribution schedule through out the year, not in a lump sum. It should monitor all proof of spending and then have the power to immediately suspend funds from those who do not comply with the spending standard, or who mismanage the funds they got.

#9. End the ability of politicians to become lifetime political figures. Limit every elected politician to one ten year term, and a second five year term, if re-elected. This gives them plenty of time to develop a strategy and implement it for the common good. It also allows fresh blood to come into the political process. If at any time it is determined that the person has lost their political base, or that the people are dissatisfied with their performance, then a vote of confidence could be taken by a public vote the first Thursday of November. If the vote goes against the person, they vacate their office by January 1st and the individual who came in second in the original race takes office in their place. Provide a salary and a basic operating budget but eliminate all freebies to politicians. No free car, free plane rides, free health benefits, free postage or advertising and no massive retirement packages. Serving the public should be a short term honor not a lifetime all expenses paid membership to the Hilton.

#10. Give every existing business in America, and every new business, a 5 year break from taxes so they can build their company, hire people and plow that money back into business development. Give a reduced tax rate to any business that allows employees to take part in profit sharing. As the business profitability goes up it will be directly reflected back as a financial increase to the employees. In this way both the store and the employees are happy and both have a strong incentive to continue to do better.

#11. Provide trade schools to enhance the skills of those who are not academically oriented. This nation was and still is built on skilled, honest laborers and we desperately need more.

#12. Give incentives for people to own land and restart small sustainable farms or a family garden to feed their own family rather get food stamps.

#13. Expand the hunting and fishing seasons so people who hunt and fish can better provide for their families and depend less on the government.

#14. Leave small Independent contractors alone. Don”t regulate small business to death. allow small businesses to earn up to $50,000 without massive regulations and with some tax incentives.. This promotes small business and independent financial growth for the everyday American.

Can we change this nation? I say we can! But it will take specific adjustments in those areas that have promoted the problems we are now facing. Unless there is a clear and decisive break from the direction we are going, my concern is that the nation we knew, and loved, will permanently be no more. If that should happen, ask yourself one question, who will fill the vacuum that is left? Can you think of any other nation but the United States that can bring hope and vision to a world that has become increasingly hostile and unsettled? I can’t and if you are honest, neither can you! The bottom line is simple, if we don’t change we will not survive, and if we don’t vote well we will not change. The future of America is in our hands!

The Power Of Principles

Every person who is placed in a position of leadership desires to see their area find the order, commitment and enthusiasm that will cause it to flourish. In an attempt to see that happen, leaders often fall into a trap that seems good when it is first set in place. However, after months or even years of attempted development, things may or may not be better off, and to the frustration of the leader, the same issues are usually still showing up.

If you feel this is the case in your life, I want you to consider something. I was sitting quietly before God and praying for the people and things in the Church that I love. As I sat there something very specific rose up inside me and I realized that I had never thought of things quite like this before. It jumped within me with such strength that I knew it was God providing me with some much-needed insight. Below is the overview of what that encounter was. I hope you enjoy it!

Leaders are often encouraged to provide a set of rules or guidelines to bring order to their department. These are written out on paper so that each member in the team knows what the boundary lines are. They know what is expected of them and they also know what will happen if they don’t meet the minimum standards that have been established. The result is that over time, those on the team figure out just how much “wiggle room” there is when they can’t meet that standard. Eventually, everyone discovers what the real balance point is between the rules and the failure to meet them. This is called reaching the place of “equilibrium”.

What is the outcome of reaching this point? Well, to begin with, leaders who adhere to the rules will become legalistic. That is, they will constantly be confronting team members about the importance of meeting the “standard” and most team members will submit to that form of leadership. However, in their striving to not break the rules they eventually become tired and the moral of the team drops off, even though the team in general has come up a few steps. Basically, legalism brings the performance up but it drags the moral, the vision and the energy of the team down. In the end this is counter-productive and any gains do not last for long.

Leaders who are not legalistic will discover they constantly have to make exceptions for certain team members. These leaders will soon feel as if they are being taken advantage of. In time, as the inconsistencies continue, they will be viewed as weak and that the standards that were set really are not standards at all. Over time it becomes clear that certain members never seem to connect the dots or get their act together. This constant stream of failures and irritations rises up between them, other team members and the leadership. Worse that that, these team members often feel a wavering degree of commitment and when they are present, they bring no genuine sense of purpose or improvement to the team. This ultimately translates into a painful lack of team unity and a breakdown of personal trust.

Biblical leaders, those who have God’s heart, are not rule makers, yet they do have well defined guidelines and clear standards. They are not list makers or legalists, but they do provide consistent guidance where and when it is needed. They bring order and growth to their place of responsibility by providing vision and instilling principles into the team rather than rules that need to be monitored and discipline that needs to be administered. This kind of leadership opens the environment of the team so that people automatically want to work together and they really see the importance of their part.

This happens because principles are never just something to be taught. They are a way of living that is embraced. They become part of the fabric of life within people and are demonstrated through a lifestyle, which shows up in all they do. Vision may set the goal for the standard of excellence that the leader desires to achieve, but principles allow team members to achieve them. Through principles, the vision is constantly promoted and lived out, and team members find encouragement and personal fulfillment when they move into it.

Principles become a part of the team member’s life rather than a rule they must meet. They change the heart perspective and that manifests in a lifestyle that naturally demonstrates the desired excellence. When we are able to instill principles into a team, the rules become a secondary issue. This is because the vision for excellence starts to flourish and grow on it’s own and the standard of excellence is automatically embraced within every team member.

Of the two styles of leadership mentioned above where do you fit and how do the members of your team see you? Are you an irritated rule maker that has to police your department because people don’t care and don’t measure up? Are you a frustrate rule bender who feels forced to make exceptions in order to keep things in place and maintain the progress you have made?

Perhaps it is time to consider instilling principles within the hearts of those you lead rather than enforcing the rules to control their behavior. Principles are inside, guiding beliefs that encourage us to move towards higher ground. Rules are an outside force, a burden that measures our performance and monitors our failures. The first encourages us to excel and it adds our strength to the strength of the team. The second demands us to conform and it allows us to participate so we can maintain our place and team performance. One builds with the backing of people the other builds on the backs of people.

When all is said and done, the power of principles is the key that unlocks the best in everyone. Why not take a good hard look right now at how you have been leading. It could be that your frustrations and irritations are only symptoms of what your leadership style is. Begin to lead from principles and you may be shocked at the change that happens all around you. In the end it’s our principles that build what is lasting. This is because rules can build an organization, but only principles can build a life. Which would you rather build?

 

 

The Value Of Your Word

I have gotten quite an education over the past few weeks when it comes to the value people place on their own spoken words. I was brought up by a generation that prized what came out of your mouth. My parents came out of World War II and they considered carefully what was said. For them words were as good as a signed contract. I was trained from this same perspective and once I speak something I do it and that is the end of the story.

I would guess this thinking is more a reflection of what is in the heart of those involved than it is the actual words that are said. We always speak from what fills our heart, so those who have a basic foundation of honor and responsibility speak to that end. They say what they mean and fulfilled their word. Those who do not come from such a high place speak what is to their advantage, and then they do whatever works best for them. In other words, what they say means nothing, and no honor or veracity backs it up.

My first experience with the lack of verbal integrity in this generation came just two weeks ago. My wife and I have been looking to buy kayaks. We were given finances over a year ago for them and I was about to track one down through Craig’s List in our area. I sent a text to the owner and sure enough it was available. I made arrangements to swing by the owner’s house later that afternoon with the money and the intention to buy it. We agreed on the price and as far as I was concerned it was a done deal.

I was on my way to get my kayak and sent the seller a text saying I was on my way to pick it up. To my surprise, a text came back in a few minutes that amazed and saddened me at the same time. The person had apparently just received a little bit better offer from someone who had stopped at his garage sale. His text read, “Don’t bother to drive out here, I just sold the kayak for more money”. Without so much as a second thought or a desire to honor his own word, he sold my Kayak out from under me, and never even offered an apology.

Then came my second experience just this week. I had seen a great kayak on Craig’s List and the owner said “Everything MUST go. I am moving. Make a reasonable offer and it’s yours”. So I offered $300 and via text he accepted on the spot. He even sent me a picture to confirm what it was. I agreed it was exactly what I wanted and I would be there on Saturday to pick it up. I was happy, he was happy and we both got what we wanted. Ya right…..

As I was making plans to drive and get my kayak in comes the following text: “I have someone who will be here just before you. If he decides not to take the kayak I will let you know”. What the….. ??? Is this the Twilight Zone and have I fallen into a time warp from hell where no one is good for their word? My response was short and to the point. “I though you were selling it to me? Since you have no integrity don’t bother calling. … I’ll pass on it“.

How about you? What is your word really worth? Are you someone who means what you say, or do you say whatever you need to, and then shamelessly do what is to your own advantage? Ethics, integrity, honesty, righteousness; these are the foundations of a healthy society, and the bedrock of a sound mind. Enduring nations and honorable people are built upon them, but without these basics nothing can stand for very long. My prayer for America is that the next two elections will put into office those who set a moral and ethical gold standard. If we fail to do so, the downward spiral we have seen over the past 6 years will accelerate, and who knows where we will hit bottom. The facts are quite simple, we will either be part of the solution or part of the problem. Which will you be?

The Lie We All Were Taught In School

I had a good laugh last night and that is quite something considering all that is happening in America right now. As I watched the Fox News Chanel, there on the Kelly File was the current leader of N.O.W. (National Organization of Women). She was being interviewed by Megan Kelly because the organization had publically “black listed” 100 organizations that don’t promote their agenda of on demand abortion, or the wholesale distribution of contraceptives to anyone at any age.

Who was on this “dirty” list? Well for starters Hobby Lobby and an order of Catholic Nuns who selflessly care for the elderly and for those who are about to die. That gives you some idea how far “off the bubble” N.O.W. is. As the interview continued something happened that demonstrated the philosophy of N.O.W. is not just disturbing, it is ungodly and simply un-American. Yet, overshadowing this plethora of twisted philosophies was the unwavering, confident ignorance of the woman being interviewed. Had I not been a human biology teacher and a student of American history, her false statements would have gone unnoticed.

What hit me first was an absolute lie she told in stating that an IUD did not, I repeat, did not cause the abortion of a fertilized egg. Megan Kelly questioned her on this point several times and each time she smiled with a smug confidence and absolutely affirmed that an IUD is not an abortive device. Kelly looked it up on the internet during the show and sure enough it was classified as an abortive devise. Any high school aged child knows this is exactly what it is. So… this is the organization that black listed some Nuns and called them “dirty”?

Then came the final straw of ignorance for me. With the same smug look of confidence she calmly threw out the “separation of church and state” as the final antidote for killing any influence of religion in our country. She stated it as if it were something written in our founding documents, or it was something our founding fathers had promoted in order to contain the spread of religion. In other words she, and most Americans, have no clue what our founding fathers defined the “separation of Church and state” to actually be.

First of all this concept is not a law, it is an idea stated by Thomas Jefferson in a hand written letter. In fact, it cannot be found in any of our founding documents. This includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Secondly it does not mean that the church and the state are non-compatible or that the church should not have an influence on the government. When looked at in context, the idea supported by Jefferson was just the opposite, and that is a deadly shock to every liberal in America!

Then where did the term come from, and what does it really mean? Here is what actually happened in history. Please read on so that the spell of ignorance might be broken off your life. Once you know the truth you can have an honest and intelligent conversation with those who pointedly throw this idea out to defend their position, yet they don’t have a clue as to what it really means.

In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, heard a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was about to be made into a national denomination. That is, they thought the government of the United States was going to step in, take it over and make it a state run religion. Thus it would end up being the State sanctioned religion just like the Church of England was in England.

That rumor distressed the Danbury Baptist Church quite a bit. As a result the church leaders fired off a letter of concern to President Thomas Jefferson. In this letter they voiced their great concerns should this indeed be true. On January 1, 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter back to the Danbury Baptist Church. In this letter he assured them that no such thing was going to happen. He further stated that, (and I quote from that letter) “the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state.” That’s it folks ! It was a letter to a Church, not a legal paper in a court of law. How Ironic that this very thing is now used to batter the church into voiceless submission.

What he stated so simply was very clear. The United States government was set up in such a way that it could not interfere with or direct the establishing of religion in this nation. What happened in England would not happen here. In essence the freedom of religion was a God given right that the national government had no right to control or regulate in any way. Religion in America was free to flourish without government interference of any kind. This is freedom of religion at it’s best and Jefferson wanted to reassure the Danbury Church that all was well.

Atheist and liberals of our day have reinterpreted this simple but profound idea. To fit their agenda, they have falsely taught an entire generation that this concept is part of our law and sadly, today most believe that it is in our founding documents. Both of these ideas are completely wrong. Beyond that, these same people have actually changed the intent of what Jefferson said and re-introduced it as something just the opposite. It has now come to mean that religion has no place in the government, and laws should be made to keep the influence of religion out of politics. In other words, “freedom OF religion” has now been reinvented as “freedom FROM religion”!

What have you been taught? Do you falsely believe that religion, specifically Christianity, has no place in our government? If so, you are one of millions who have been lied to and subtly influenced into an atheistic frame of reference. This is totally contrary to the foundations of our nation and it does not agree at all with the writings of our Founding Fathers. Consider the truth of what I have written. It could very well be the thing that sets you free to enjoy the life God intended when He allowed this nation to be founded. Freedom of religion, or freedom from religion? The first one leads to life the other to a life of self-imposed bondage. Which one will you embrace?

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American Foundations? Part 5

My fifth, and final blog on the Christian foundations, and biblical heritage of America, will move in a direction that was brought to my attention just last night. Like so many homes in America, our home hosts a mid week Bible study. Here a small group meets to pray, have fellowship and study the principles of God’s Word. During our discussion about patriotism and our place as Christians to influence the nation, my wife pulled out her computer and found a copy of “America The Beautiful”. As we sang those stirring patriotic words, I was struck by the phrase “America, America, God shed His grace on Thee…”.

There it was once again, God was at the center of the American culture and our national way of life. This one phrase caused me to rethink some of the basic institutions of America. Was God intertwined in more things and we have simply missed His presence? Thus I began to take another look at our great nation and here is what I found.

In every courtroom in America people are required to raise their right hand, place their left hand on the Bible and swear to Almighty God that they will “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” They don’t swear to Buddha or Mohammed. Likewise, Every President who has ever been sworn into office take their public oath by placing their left had on the Bible and raising their right hand. This is done as a sign of submission to God and as a pledge to uphold our constitution and the laws of the land.

Every session of Congress begins with an opening prayer. Congress itself has a Chaplin who is available to pray with and pray for the members of the House and Senate. History records that Congress itself authorized the funds to print and distribute Bibles to those who were part of the first 13 States. Funds were even provided by the federal government to send Christian missionaries with Bibles into the western part of the nation to help settle that wild region.

Public education in America was established upon the foundation of the reading of Scripture. The “McGuffey Reader” was used for over one hundred years as the basic educational tool in America. It is filled with excerpts from the Bible and practical wisdom for everyday life. Our first universities were founded with the expressed purpose of training up and educating ministers for the spread of the Gospel. Go back and look at the foundations of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. You will be stunned by their clear vision to instruct, develop and send out godly leaders into American society.

Until just recently, every child in our public schools was required to recite the “Pledge Of Allegiance” which states “..one nation under God with liberty and justice for all”. In fact it was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who signed into law in 1954 the insertion of “one nation under God” in that pledge. Likewise, until just a few years ago, it was common practice for public schools to provide religion classes, or to dismiss students once a week so they could receive religious instructions at the church of their choice. Prayer was a common practice at the beginning of every school day and at least one Bible could be found on the bookshelf of every classroom.

Go back and look at the original constitutions of the first thirteen states in America. There, for all to see, are bold proclamations of the founders faith in God. Nearly every one of these promoted Christianity as that which qualified people for public office and nearly all of them acknowledge that their state found it’s sovereignty and strength from the God of the Bible. Those who hate God and want to deny our foundations may lie about history, but history never lies about itself.

America has always been a nation that found it’s strength, and embraced it’s heritage, with two strong arms. One arm being it’s fierce love of liberty and the other, a belief in the Bible and dependence on the God of that Bible. Thus, President Franklin D. Roosevelt confirmed this when he called our whole nation to pray, and he prayed on public radio during the difficult days of World War II. If we abandon this source of national strength by our own willful ignorance, we abandon the very foundations upon which we are built. Remove those foundations and we have orchestrated our own demise.

As you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July consider how we got here in the first place. Our nation was not the creation of brilliant men seeking to promote their own agenda of a better life. It was not the concept of a utopia where people would be free to do as it pleased them. America was a divine experiment. God placed it in the hearts of those who were longing for a place to freely worship Him without government interference and control. There they could serve the God of the Bible and serve others for the common good.

America is a unique place unlike any other in the earth. It has been forged in the furnace of affliction and washed in the blood of those patriots who died believing in it’s truths. It is not a perfect nation and perfect people do not live here. However, it’s ideals and vision for the people gives them hope that anyone can be more than what they are. By God’s grace it will continue to be so for generations to come. Happy Birthday America!