Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If you're expecting to read about American Idol, the television show, you may be severely disappointed in this article. If, perhaps, you are always open to new information, you may find a small amount of satisfaction in what is about to be presented to you. If you have an aversion for truth, you may become angry at pondering the following facts.
It has been proposed by many in American culture that idolatry is rampant, idolatry being the insatiable pursuit and accumulation of material wealth. Admittedly, becoming rich seems to be in the forefront of many lives today. Much of the activity we see on a daily basis is nothing more than the active plans to keep up with others or surpass them in the accumulation of things.
This proposal, true though it may be, is easily hidden among the normal activities of everyday life. It's hard to convince someone that they are involved in inordinate idolatry when they tell you that they are simply trying to provide for the fundamental needs of their family as well as planning for the future. When what to the rest of the world is considered a luxury is viewed by Americans as a necessity, it is difficult to make a case for idolatry. The activity usually proceeds without modification, a mixture of prudence and greed.
I am willing to propose, however, that there is a single idolatrous action which is more pervasive among Americans and, at the same time, is the most public of acts. In fact most have been taught to engage in this one activity since they were children in school, never giving a second thought to the nature of this action. But before I identify this specific act, I'll refer to a source which will provide a clear line of demarcation for our understanding the significance of this act.
The ancient nation of Israel had a Prophet who foretold of the Messiah to come. Among other details, this Prophet Isaiah told of Jesus who "shall stand for an ensign of the people." (Isaiah 11:10) This Messiah would be set up as "an ensign for the nations." (Isaiah 11:12)
This word translated "ensign" in the King James Version of the Bible can also be translated as banner or flag. The Prophet is telling us that one day this Messiah, who we know to be Jesus, will be set up as a flag over the nations of the earth. He will be the one person who will unite the earth in peace and rule as the visible focus of all earthly allegiance.
This declaration by the Prophet carries a level of significance which fails, for the most part, to enter our understanding. Most Americans would read this and shrug. Sadly, most American Christians would do the same thing. Yet, ask them about the impact of 911 on this country and you may find it difficult to shut them up. American interests around the world, especially in fighting terror will be lifted up in word for all hearers to consider. All things American have taken on a significance not seen since WWII. A patriotic fervor unseen in this generation has taken hold and it was especially evident in the months following 911 through the initial phases of the War in Iraq.
Interestingly, this patriotism which traversed all potential boundaries was evidenced in one item, the American flag. And Old Glory garnered one thing from a multitude of Americans which many never gave a second thought about. Old Glory received their allegiance. It mattered not the location, whether on the steps of the national Capitol in Washington D.C., the neighborhoods of the nation or the far flung reaches of the globe. The American Flag was given due allegiance.
There might be some who would immediately offer an appeal to common sense and say that everyone knows that we don't really give our allegiance to the flag itself. Everyone knows that allegiance can only be given to a person, specifically, a living person. This point would seem to be the common sense view to hold, wouldn't it? Yet, the words of The Pledge of Allegiance, which are recited on a regular basis by many, say specifically, "I pledge allegiance to the flag.." Do we so glibly utter words of such magnitude? Is it so easy to make such an excuse? Or are the words completely meaningless?
Another point which some might make is the fact that everyone knows that the flag is not alive. It is simply a piece of cloth with colors arranged in such a manner as to provide an identify to a country and its citizens. It is an inanimate object. To attempt to ascribe life to an inanimate object is to revert to less enlightened times. Modern civilization doesn't engage in such dark practices as giving allegiance to living objects. Such historical idolatry isn't becoming of the educated citizens of a modern democracy.
At this point, the argument runs head on into the specific thoughts of an august and elite group of Americans. They are specifically known as Senators and Congressmen of the United States of America. They are the representatives of the citizens of the United States. And what they do is considered the work, will and voice of the people. In fact, their work on behalf of the people is written down for all to peruse. It is completely public. And believe me when I say that they have spoken very accurately the thoughts of the people. And what is their verdict on behalf of the people? .............The flag is alive!
Fortunately, this fact can be easily verified by anyone since it is contained within the pages of law known as The United States Code. Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, Paragraph(J) states the following: "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered to be a living thing."
If you need a few moments to contemplate such a pronouncement, please do so. Such a bold statement should reach to the depths of our being and inform us as to the true nature of certain activities long considered truly American and God honoring. No one said full disclosure was free of shock or discomfort.
WOW! The real American Idol!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
- "In the United States, Christians have all too often vacillated between two extremes—the God-and-country, wrap-the-flag-around-the-cross mentality or on the other hand, the simply passing-through mindset.
- The former was illustrated a century ago by the president of Amherst College. He said that the nation had achieved the "true American union, that sort of union which makes every patriot a Christian and every Christian a patriot." This form of civil religion is supported by politicians who welcome it as a prop for the state, and by Christians who see it as enshrining the fulfillment of the vision of the early pilgrims.
- The passing-through mindset is represented by those who believe they are simply sojourners with loyalties only in the Kingdom beyond. They believe that faith is an entirely private matter, and that they are under no obligation to the community or country in which God has placed them."
Colson then proceeds to present what is considered to be a modified, though biblical, balance of the two extremes as summarized in this statment.
- "The Christian position is beautifully balanced. On one hand, we don't deify our country. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and that's where our ultimate allegiance is.
But the only place for expressing that allegiance is in the concrete loyalties God calls us to here on earth—including loyalty to country. We can't love mankind in the abstract; we can only really love people in the particular, concrete relationships God has placed us in—our family, our church, our community, our nation."
I'm afraid I must radically part ways with the words and ideas of Mr Colson on this subject. Is it because I have a particular political agenda that I'm pursuing? A resounding Yes! I do have a distinct political agenda, one reflected from the pages of Scripture. And it starts with one of the political extremes Mr Colson refers to, that of only passing through. While it is true that we are only passing through, Holy Writ reveals an ample amount of detail as to how that 'passing through' is to be conducted. Surprisingly, it is not as an isolated exile, but something interestingly more.
The Scripture references which detail this conduct include Hebrews 11:13, where the Old Testament saints "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth." The word translated strangers literally means "alien" and the word translated pilgrim means "resident alien." In other words, we are foreigners on this earth. The next Scripture reference comes from the Apostle Peter when he tells the "strangers" (resident aliens - I Peter 1:1) to submit themselves to the King and all governing authorities as well as the laws they pass. Furthermore, Peter tells us to do this in the capacity of "stangers and pilgrims" (I Peter 2:11), not as birthright citizens.
The significance of the People of God living our lives as foreigners is seen in the fact that a foreigner has no original stake within his land of foreign sojourn. His rights are limited by law, because his land of birth is elsewhere. All rights while in a foreign land are prescribed by law and generally do not rise to the level of a natural born citizen. This creates a distinct difference between the foreigner or resident alien and the natural born citizen.
Another significance of the People of God living our lives as foreigners is seen when the Apostle Paul says that we are Ambassadors for Christ. An Ambassador is one who is sent by one country to represent the interests of their home country to a foreign country. An Ambassador is always a foreigner in relation to the country he or she is sent to. It is impossible for the citizen of one country to be an Ambassador to his or her own country.
As a foreign Ambassador of Christ, it is our foremost duty to present His official word of reconcilation to the lost citizens of this world system. Herein lies the basis for "concrete relationships" around us. The citizens of this world, whether they be family, community or nation, need to hear how Christ has made provision for them to transfer their political citizenship and allegiance from their present country to an entirely new one, what Peter refers to as "an holy nation" (I Peter 2:9). Nowhere are we commanded or even encouraged to enter the political arena of this world in order to promote the claims of Christ. In fact, you find none of the Apostles of Christ advocating such activity for others because Jesus had already told them that the World hated Him and the World would hate them also. Neither do you find them engaging in such a pursuit. Even Paul, who by birth possessed the highest form of Roman citizenship (by birth), failed to apply the benefits of that citizenship except to save his life or to preach the gospel. In fact, on at least two occasions, they were one and the same. He always conducted himself as a foreigner on this earth, just as the saints of old did.
In no way does this leave us with a vacuum of political activity. God's People have a variety of needs and concerns which Christ has delegated specific authority to address. This authority descends directly from the Throne of Heaven itself, from which also derives our citizenship, and carries with it political duties for the foreign Ambassadors living on this earth as heavenly citizens. Not known widely to many, this arrangement is specifically reflected in American Law. God has graciously seen to it that in this country at least, He has provided His People the legal means to carry out His political concerns among His Kingdom citizens. All others are considered foreigners! That is an eternally concrete reality!
So, on this Holy Day of the United States of America, wherein is remembered the actions of a select group of men when they chose rebellious independence from British authority, remember that the Children of God possess a political inheritance of much greater value, Dependence upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For it is this Declaration of Dependence alone which provides us the rich blessings of Eternal Liberty!
The World has never seen such Politics!
Yet, the very reason is given by Paul in both instances. We pray for public officials holding authority over us so that they will be saved. That's right! Paul tells us to pray for the salvation of those in Public office. Why?
The reason is very simple. Because biblically, the realm of Secular government is presumed to be inherently separated from a Holy and righteous God. The Leaders of this world system we live under are deemed to be in need of a renewed heart through faith in Jesus Christ. They need to be saved!
Are we surprised to hear this? Why? It's simply the Word of God. And after all, aren't we talking about "Secular" governemnt? Secular means "not sacred or holy." Christians and non christians alike refer to government being secular. So why do we in America tend to view "unholy" government as "Christian?" Was Paul wrong? Or was he emotionally reacting to the pagan Roman Empire? Did the Founding Fathers have knowledge they failed to share with us which would have corrected this false notion of the Apostle Paul, seeing they formed a "Christian" republic? Why, if we live in a Christian republic, is the government still referred to as secular?
Maybe the Bible is out of date?
Maybe Paul knew what he was talking about. Pray for the salvation of all public officials!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
So, based on all they know about the Bible and Public Law, most people don't think twice about the presence of Flags within their particular House of Worship. Their attitude would more or less be, "If that's the law, that's the law. Who are we to tell the government how to arrrange the flags in buildings? We are peaceful people and it would be petty, indeed, to fail to obey the law over such an insignificant issue. It would essentially be unchristian."
Please note that I spoke of this attitude as being based upon the knowledge of people, what they actually know about the issue. This is a rather normal state of affairs with most of us. Many decisions we make and positions we hold on issues are based on our personal knowledge. And most of us have found ourselves having to amend our decision or position after coming across knowledge which put a decision or issue in a vastly different light. And most of us have not apologized for these changes, though some may have been difficult to arrive at and implement. But the point is that these changes were implemented based on strict knowledge.
So, with all that I have said so far in these two posts coupled with your personal knowledge of flags, whether from the Bible or Federal Law, what is your position? Do you consider the issue important enough to take the time and effort necessary to really form a position? If not, why?
Let's also address your personal knowledge. Where does it come from? From where does it originate? Has your knowledge been gained through personal effort whereby you have personally searched for and gained this particular knowledge, whether it be from the Bible or from United States Federal Law or some other source? Or has this knowledge come from a third party? Is this third party someone whom you are personally aquainted with? Or are they a public figure, possibly disseminating information based upon their profession? Or does their position automatically command a certain amount of respect so that when they speak, they are presumed to be speaking that which is correct and applicable to those hearing their message? Or has this third party received their knowledge from yet another party?
So, if you take your religion seriously, where does this issue rank in importance? Have you ever thought about the possibility of flying an American flag or any other flag in the presence of worshippers in a religious service being considered idolatry? Is that preposterous to you? Or do you at least take the time to contemplate the possibility? If so, what exactly is there to contemplate? Does the Bible speak clearly on the subject? If so, what does it say? What about Federal Law? Could it possibly contribute to this subject and and assist in bringing clarity?
Do we really desire clarity? Does our walk with God prevent us from searching for and finding Truth to live by? Are we content to maintain the status quo? Are we afraid of what we may discover if we were to begin to search for the Truth of this matter? Are we afraid that we may be required to make changes in our lives, even our religious lives? Are we afraid of the possibility that we might not be very willing to make such changes? Are we afraid of the potential cost of such changes?
If we are really afraid of this endeavor, maybe we should ask ourselves another question. Whom do we really serve? Whom do we really live for? For whom do we plan our lives? Do we make certain changes in our lives strictly for ourselves? Or does God enter the picture in any manner. How much do we include Him in the conduct of our lives? Is our inclusion of God nothing more than lip service? Do the true intentions of our heart lie elsewhere? Or is God considered, not just a part of our life, but "Life" itself? Is the way God would have us live the way we really want to live? Do we desire the same thing as God? Do we think like God? Do we adopt His thoughts for our own? As I stated, whom do we really serve?
You might be wondering what this has to do with idolatry and Old Glory. Well, most people respond to issues such as this from an emotional point of view. Serious thought is many times given minority status in comparison to emotional rhetoric. It's far easier to react emotionally than to maintain an equilibrium of truthful consideration. And it's far easier to join others who react emotionally than to stand alone in Temperance. Regardless of what your ultimate conclusion is on this particular issue, a proper response should entail a careful mission of fact finding which will give you the best chance of arriving at the proper conclusion. And that conclusion, with supporting facts, should be able to stand on its own. That means that it does not require the assistance of anyone, not even yours. So any amount of emotional rhetoric will not bolster the foundational conclusion one iota. That's because Truth is self sustaining.
So, please consider what I have written. Your answers, which only you and God will know, will determine your response as we continue to seriously grapple with this issue.
To be continued..................
Sunday, July 01, 2007
The sad fact is that Christians today are fighting a Holy war of their own trying to prove these words of Jesus wrong. It seems that people claiming the name of Christ are constantly trying to fit in. We seem to be enamored with the approval of those who blatantly rejected Christ in the pursuit of other things. And yet, we want to be like them. We want to experience the success they have obtained. We want to exercise the power they have accumulated.
And the whole time we seem to be pursuing this approval, they are sending us a message that we seem to be unaware of. Or at least, we ignore it. They are telling us what Jesus said. They are telling us that they hate us and the God we supposedly stand for. Oh, there's another message they send us, also. They will be happy to offer their approval of our pursuits if we will but follow the same path they have, a path which includes nothing of God. This is a path where the only thing that matters is what pleases our self. Instead of denying yourself many things in life in order to please God and live according to his ways, we are told that we must indulge our appetites and continually whet that natural desire for all things selfish.
Loving your neighbor? Not if it gets in the way of my success! Giving to others? Only if it gets me further along on my career path! And so we begin down the slippery slope of service to others for the sake of myself. We gladly join others in their self righteous groups dedicated to the public service of congratulating themselves for their selfless dedication to others. Of course, if all this recognition is a bit too much for your conscience, you can always quit! But then again, you would forfeit all the goodwill from others so carefully constructed according to your plans for success. I believe it was Solomon who said something about all being vanity and vexation of spirit.
The fact is that being a Non-Conformist is not exactly the most comfortable position to be in. As a Child of God, I am constantly being presented with requests, and sometimes demands, to change this or that. The message is being constantly broadcast to me that I need to change because I am wrong to live the way I do. My beliefs are wrong because they aren't the same as others who name the name of Christ.
Some who believe that I am not about to change attempt to reach others in my family, namely my wife and children, in order to save them from my non conformity. After all, why should they bear the shame and reproach simply because their husband and father says this is the way God requires us to conduct our lives?
Fortunately, I am not going to give account for my life on this Earth to any other mortal human. But I will stand before a holy and Eternal God who loved me and died for my sins. Non-Conformist that He is, He allowed His creatures to hang Him on a tree because that was the plan. And He didn't allow anyone to deter Him from fulfilling every aspect of that Plan, even death. Of couse, part of that plan was also rising bodily from the dead, a future hope for all who believe in this same death, burial and resurrection.
So, all Non-Conformists who are Children of the Most High God need to keep one fact before them as they face opposition and pressure to change. We serve the ultimate Non-Conformist who allowed nothing to keep Him from the instructions of His Father for His life on this earth. With such an example before us, let us proceed, trusting Him to provide all the Non-Conforming Grace necessary for our every situation.
And those who oppose us? Unless they ultimately bow their knee and heart to Christ in faith, their non-conformity will have eternally dire consequences.
With as much public sentiment that has been stirred up ove this issue, you would think that the electorate would pay close attention. Instead, it seems that they are simply reacting to the various political strings attached to their mouths and other body parts. Of course, such instantaneous and autonomous action on the part of the body politic is a revered tradition dating back to the American Revolution. The only thing missing to date is a few misplaced mob actions whereby rallies are constructed on the spur of the moment and an angry electorate opens the recesses of their hearts to let the Powers that Be know their true feelings as well as their potential violence. As I said, this type of resistance and opposition is an American tradition, a birthright. For those of you unfamiliar with such patriotism, please refer back to your American History.
Regardless of where you find yourself in the midst of this debate, it is always good to give ear to those residing in the past who have come through tumultuous events, for their perspective can give a sense of peace to those who may find themselves on, what they consider to be, the losing side of a political struggle; in this case, immigration. FDR, considered to be by many as the one stabilizing personality bridging the Great Depression and WWII, is quoted as saying, "If it happens in politics, it was planned that way."
Such conspiritorial comments will not be given credence by many, but the comment by one involved in such numerous intricacies of American upheaval cannot be ignored. So I choose not to. And I hope you don't either, especially when it comes to the future upheaval surrounding the American immigration issue. And upheaval is coming. When? I don't know, but it can't be very far off into the future. To what extent will this upheaval be? That depends of the reactions of the people of the United States. But here are a few notes to keep in mind as you view this dramatic change unfold on the North American Continent.
First, the American Government is at its core, a globalist government. Though founded as an independent Nation, its ultimate aim has always been the same; a One World Government. E Pluribus Unum, "out of many one", is the epitome of this goal. In fact, there was a certain segment of American Founding Fathers who believed that America was a prophetic fulfillment of the last great Empire, the Revived Roman Empire, prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to this Earth. The history of America since her Founding has been one of ever increasing involvement in World Affairs to the point where America is now viewed as the World's Policeman.
As a result of America being a globalist government, America, as a nation, cannot be immune from the plan of globalisation. Eventually, the consolidation slowly taking place around the World will eventually affect the United States. In fact, it's part of the plan. The last, but maybe not the least, of these effects will be the merging of America with other nations into a single regional entity. In fact, this very public plan is already being implemented within the Bush Administration with Canada and Mexico. It doesn't make your local headlines, but the actions are definitely public.
It seems that, as a result of the implementation of this plan, the immigration issue seems to have been caught in a political bog. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It simply is a political reality that what the conservativeRepublican portion of America wants will not come to pass because it is in diametric opposition to the plan of globalization for the Western Hemisphere. While National borders may retain their present positions, the sovereignty of individual nations will be effectively sacrificed on the altar of Globalization. In effect, almost everthing President Bush has mentioned in his official plan, will be implemented. The political fight is nothing more than windowdressing to give the ultimate outcome some semblence of legality, a reality which has been planned for a long time.
The preamble of the United States Constitution refers to this as forming "a more perfect Union."
And all this time you thought it was "We the People," in charge!!!!!!!!!!!