Posts Tagged America

Mending Fences

Barbed Wire Fence

Howie Homestead Fence Line.

Following the past election cycle, (2012) I saw something in myself which concerned me. No doubt, many of my gracious friends and family have known this about me for a long time but I am sometimes (believe it or not based on my body profile) a little slow at coming to the table. Prayerfully, I decided to break away from my typical outspoken, opinionated, arrogant self to remain (almost) silent over the past few years about political ‘things’ while interacting on social media. My ‘absence’ was unannounced (funny how silence works that way) and is not significant enough to have made any difference, truly I am not so arrogant as to think it was even noticed by anyone, but I have been quiet on social media so I can just observe. For now, I will break the silence long enough to share (for what it’s worth) my observations but I will do my best not to tread on things of a specific political view. So, from the ‘for what it’s worth’ corner of my square brain, I offer the following observations.

I’ve noticed there are a lot of people who have not honed the skill of critical reading. (I have theories as to why this is the case but I won’t share them so as not to bore the two or three who may read this post in entirety.)

Many people sift through ‘information’ to find a tid-bit or nugget to prop up their preconceived theory or position while ignoring the greater context.

Intellectual integrity, in my opinion, is greatly shown in the measure of graciousness one affords for a differing view.

Absolute truth is cast away, with absolute certainty, by some for the oft touted ‘sophisticated’ idea of truth as fluid and changing.

The thoroughbred of genuine, intellectual discourse and debate, is almost lost in modern society and has been traded for something of far lesser pedigree.

For some folks, feelings are everything.

Social media is an interesting experiment. It is my observation, a lot of people (myself included) have become far less ‘social’ over the past decade. Restaurants used to have an ambiance about them which allowed social interaction and conversation with folks as they enjoyed a meal together. Not so much anymore. Many restaurants blare music in order to ease patrons from the burden of conversation and even offer wifi to allow people to stare at their phones and ignore the persons with whom they are seated so they can post a picture of toast online.

One more observation. Our great nation suffers from a serious division which must be healed if our Republic is to survive. I’m not speaking about political division… American politics wield division as a sword to leverage a particular agenda. The division of which I speak goes far deeper than political party affiliation and carries a longevity of impact far greater than election cycles. Our nation suffers division because the only bastion of genuine hope in this world has, in large measure, faulted in its purpose.

Christians (in general) have missed the mark of our calling and the signs are all around us. Over the past 8 years it has become clearer to me than ever… people are seeking hope and are tired of their circumstances. Many cannot articulate why they are driven by this pursuit for hope and, sadly, the Church has allowed the carpetbaggers and drummers of the political arena to sell ‘hope’, something they know precious little about. Lots of folks misplaced their trust, and lest you think I am speaking of ‘them’, let me be clear… a whole lot within the Church are guilty of this as well. While lots of Christians have been preoccupied with things of no eternal value, the hurt of people around us has been compounded by those who know nothing about binding up wounds or genuine healing. It breaks my heart to see some Christians further compound the hurt of others by employing behavior & speech which creates deeper wounds and then celebrate it as a victory while the wounded limp away from them.

During the American Civil War our nation suffered a very similar divide and, likewise, faced a similar moral & spiritual dilemma. Nearly all of the major denominations of Christianity suffered division during this period because Christians lost clarity of their spiritual calling. The Restoration Movement suffered almost no division during this era simply because they were driven by truth and remained focused on their eternal purpose.

Christians… for healing and restoration to occur we must wake up! With this in mind, and based on my above mentioned observations, I humbly suggest the following for consideration.

If ‘your’ candidate won, don’t gloat. From a purely non-spiritual perspective, we are all Americans whether we agree on all things or not. Be the gracious person and reach out with genuine friendship to others whenever possible. Keep in mind, for some of you this will require taking off your hat and extending a sincere apology for acting in an ungracious and unbecoming manner. We are still required by Christ to be humble, aren’t we?

Focus on the ‘main thing’. People need Christ because genuine, sustaining hope is only found in Him. Political promises are worthless but the promises of Christ are reliable beyond measure. Share the hope of Christ and act as if you know what you’re talking about.

Allow your speech (or social media posts) to be seasoned with the grace of Christ and use words with caution. Sensationalistic and brash behavior may win a few high fives but in the broader audience they tear at credibility and seldom show the true spirit of Christ.

Mending fences is a tiring and unending task for the rancher… but it is necessary. Mending fences is humbling because you feel the pull of the line and realize you aren’t as big as you think you are. Sometimes the wire is beyond repair and needing replacement in sections and most of the time it is a tangled up mess at best. At the end of the day, as you look down the row and see a nice, taught and straight wire, you have a sense of accomplishment couched by the perspective of only a small staple or wire tie holding the integrity of your labor in check. Fence mending is tough work but it makes for much better neighbors. It’s time to do the hard thing, the humble thing, the necessary thing… and mend the fences which have been long ignored.

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The American conviction of Truth

I have always enjoyed American history… really, history in general. One of my favorite classes in High School was South Dakota history, and I loved every history course in college. My passion for history has thrust me into the category of fascination with historic facts often ignored or intentionally overlooked. My TV remote is seldom used to navigate from channels like History or the Military channel. However, I am bothered by the once subtle rewriting of history which has recently transcended into an aggressive and intentionally biased presentation of history against Christian faith.

Statue of Liberty under colorful sky

It has always been interesting to observe the tactics of such critics, which have become so predictable. Challenge the event or present doubt in its authenticity. Then, if this does not provide the desired results, turn against the figure of history or the authors involved in preserving the account. Recently, charges have been made against Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and even Abraham Lincoln. Everything from sexual immorality, drunkenness and slave ownership have been thrown out against them… even purporting that Lincoln was homosexual. And there’s no shortage of “history experts” who share this taint of bias to exploit their claims and sell books in the shadow of their fleeting 15 seconds in the limelight.

As mentioned, one of the tactics of the “higher critics” of history is to attack the character of historic figures. It must be noted with no doubt such character bears impact upon the event, however, even if a historic person’s moral fiber is not of highest quality it does not remove their place in history. To attack the moral character of prominent figures in American history is almost always a smoke screen tactic employed to distract the common public from the moral standards these same figures embraced as a whole. I suggest it is entirely possible to have moral failings and, yet, not embrace those moral downfalls or try to justify them. Certainly, every leader in human history (with the only exception being Jesus) have had personal flaws. The current trend of culture is to exploit those failures or flaws into something they are not, to wield them as leverage against such individuals in an attempt to excuse modern moral failings or suggest such leaders would support these same behaviors.

Perhaps no greater charge has been made against American history than that against the influence of Christian faith on the founding and structure of this Republic.

Many have falsely claimed America as a “melting pot” of religious expression, and yet, our founders never intended such. In fact, our founders were quite unabashed about their contempt against other religions.

1796 Farewell Address of President George Washington:

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

Washington’s Farewell Address

Notice Mr. Washington’s statement toward the end of the above quote:

With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles.

He is, of course, speaking of the Christian faith. How is it possible our founding fathers could have “intended a culture embracing a melting pot of religious expression” while Mr. Washington celebrates the common faith? You see, American history nor the writings of our founders do not support the melting pot concept. In fact, they condemn other religions by pointing out the highest moral value of Christianity. Those who would suggest the melting pot concept have also twisted the “Church and State” concept presented by Mr. Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association to mean absolutely no Christian influence in American politics. The hypocrisy of such a position is easily shown in the climate of “political correctness” toward our “friendly Islamic” neighbors.

Modern social commentators love to call America a “melting pot” or “mosaic” of cultural and religious expression. However, such a description is not fitting America’s founding principles, nor is it supported in her history.

Simple put, America has the unique founding principles of a nation defined by Christian faith. Our model for justice comes directly from the pages of Christian Scripture, as is so prominently evidenced in the engravings upon nearly every federal building and monument in our nation’s capitol. Our founding fathers provide a wealth of material in support of their entire support of Christian faith, and the establishment of a wall of separation which prevented the government from imposing a particular form of religious expression upon the people. Even founders who have been redefined by history as “unbelieving” or “deist” have printed works which impress their support of Christian faith.

One need not look very far to realize the undercurrent of such a trend. To “dumb down” or remove faith from the pages of history simply opens the door wider for immoral living.

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Lunar Landing & the Bible

Conspiracy theorists have been balking Neal Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin’s moon walk of 40 years ago today, July 20th, 1969. This type of dispute dates back to the Apostles… not the dispute over the USA arriving on the surface of the moon… but, the Bible has faced the same type of assault.

Remarkably, the claims against the Bible fail under the same methods of validation common to the American Astronauts of ’69.

Let’s take a little moon walk of our own as I prove my point.

Pundits of the Moon Landing cite a number of points as “evidence” against the Lunar landing, including (non-exclusive list):
1) No stars showing in the sky/space background of the moon photos.
2) Numerous, distinct shadow angles cast on the surface of the moon from the Astronauts, Lunar landing module, flag & equipment.
3) Footprints of Astronauts were exceptionally well preserved, as though in “wet sand”.
4) The seemingly large number of photos taken by Astronauts.
5) Incredibly high cost of such an expedition would have been prohibitive.
6) Danger of radioactive exposure would have been beyond human tolerance.

I could go on, but, suffice it to say that there are a number of claims made against the landing. Ultimately, critics claim that NASA was involved in an elaborate hoax in order to intimidate The Soviets during the Cold War, and deceive the American public.

Now, I was just a young chipling when Armstrong & Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon, however, I’m a history geek and have enjoyed lots of books, radio & TV interviews, and documentaries on the subject. Additionally, I’ve personally viewed videos, many on live newscasts, of every American space launch since ’69, and I have something to say to those who are critics: prove it.

You see, as in any charge, the burden of evidence falls upon the one making a claim. We have huge volumes of eyewitness accounts, living Astronauts, reporters, and every-day American citizens who can overwhelm the ignorance of such claims against the Lunar Landings through their own testimony.

So, you’re wondering, “How does the moon walk of ’69 have anything in common with Biblical reliability?” I’m so glad you asked!

Critics have leveled claims against the Bible for centuries, and not a single claim holds against the evidence presented by sources which validate the Bible. Surprisingly, as in the case of the moon landing, critics began to audaciously level claims while the Biblical writers were still living, just like modern claims against the Astronauts. Critics follow the same course: Level criticism against the “contradictions”, then move on to the source of authority, then lower the threat by claiming “partial hoax”.

Criticisms against the Bible have included “contradictions” in the use of language, geography, specific account details and authorship. (To name only a few claims.)

In a wonderful way, such criticisms actually provide further validation to the Scripture. How? They open the door for those who are honest enough to be open minded in their search for information. Such a scholar will find bountiful evidence to confirm the reliability of Scripture, and erase the validity of such claims.

Consider the following:
Thousands of eye-witnesses to confirm the accounts of the Gospels, and Jesus’ ministry, substitutionary death, burial & resurrection. Confirmations provided in miraculous, complete healing of physical ailments, as well as numerous other miracles… calming the sea, feeding thousands, and raising the dead. Even the Apostles were enabled to raise the dead, and you cannot get better eye witness account than that of a person brought back from the dead!

Another powerful tool in the arsenal of evidence is that of Prophecy. Biblical prophecy, by definition, is revealed by God directly to a messenger, and provides two types of messages: Forth-tellinga proclamation of truth for the immediate audience, and foretellinga detailed description of events yet to come. A Biblical prophecy was highly detailed, specific & 100% accurate. To add to this powerful tool, we have yet another: Archaeology. Archaeology bears great confirmation for Biblical accounts, having discovered written languages, cultures, cities, events & people cited by critics as having never existed.

Further, we have such a huge volume of manuscripts of hand copied Scriptural writings that a conspiracy to “invent” Christianity proves to be impossible. Sheer logic & experience tells you that people are driven by greed. If such a conspiracy existed… hunger for pay-offs would have brought to light powerful evidence to contradict Scripture by this point. And yet, by contrast, we find men & women who have literally given their lives in order to preserve the Scripture. Very few people are willing to give their life for something they know to be false… you cannot spend money in the grave.

The “contradictions” cited by critics prove to be only 0.05% of the volume of Scripture. (Direct quote from Bible scholar Bruce Metzger) They are comprised of errors in punctuation & spelling, none of which affect doctrinal teachings at all. This means that the Scripture is 99.95% accurate to it’s original (autograph) writings. Since we do not have the original writings (autographs), some critics claim that they Scripture could have been altered by those participating in a conspiracy. The volume of copies actually proves quite the opposite of the critic’s claims. Such a small amount of variation between hand-copied documents proves that the scribes were taking very serious their task of preserving the documents. If the conspiracy were true, individuals would have been tempted to interject their own “versions” resulting in greater diversity in accounts… such is human nature. By contrast, we can confidently hold to the fact that the Scripture held in our hands today is very accurate to the original.

Some would say that we cannot be sure of this, since we do not possess the “original” to act as a standard. We need only turn attention to the founding, charter documents of America as evidence against such an idea. In spite of all our best technology & efforts, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence are fading into illegibility. When (not if, but when) these documents fade away, will they be lost to history? Certainly not! How? By the incredible volume of copies… volumes so vast in number and readily accessible… which have already passed comparison to the still present & legible originals on public display today.

In order to pull of such a deception, one would have to destroy the original, (or at least hide them away) and confiscate the copies… which would have to be in secret so that no one would see the deception taking place… and replace the copies with alternate versions. In addition, those involved in the conspiracy would have to remain perfectly silent about all of it. Now, add the difficulty of international exposure, since the charter documents are found all over the world, you’d have to do this simultaneously & secretly with every copy. Additionally, what about the “lost” of forgotten copies which could resurface? Do you see the difficulty?

There are a number of great apologists, outside of NASA, which confirm the accounts & destroy the claims against the moon walk. Similarly, we have a number of non-biblical, secular sources to confrim the Scripture… not the least of which if archaeology.

The Bible stands the test against the critics… but, as I said earlier, the burden of proof falls on the critic. So, I say, let them deal their worst, for if the Scripture proves to be false I shall like to be the first to know it.

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