Tyrants, Geese and Ganders

Tyrants…we all seem to think we know who they are, and that we can spot them.

Most people who were ruled by Tyrants didn’t see them coming. They were duped into believing that the Tyrant was just a ‘good guy’ looking out for them…right up until they realized that he wasn’t so good, and wasn’t actually looking out for them…just themselves.

In the USA, some of our Republican friends thought of Barack Obama as a tyrannical leader. He didn’t go through congress to get his agenda across (at least, not after the Republicans took over leadership of both House and Senate). He had “a pen and a phone” and just did what he thought was right, utilizing Executive Orders to establish policies that he knew would never make it through congress. Republicans (myself included) thought this was ‘soft tyranny’, and wondered where it would lead.

I am pretty sure that’s part of the reason that Donald Trump won.

However, as one who has always been concerned about President Trump, we have to watch carefully.

Tyranny, after all, can come from both the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’.

Just because a Republican is in office and ramming through policies that some on ‘the right side’ are in favor of does not mean that he should rule as a King…or a Tyrant!

President Trump needs to go by the Constitution…checks and balances…just like we called on President Obama to! We need to be able to ‘keep him in check’–a big part of the reason that the Founders put the ‘separation of powers’ into the Constitution!

As my mother used to say, ‘What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander’. I think this is the kind of thing she meant (although she’s not an expert on either Geese nor Ganders, so…).

Anyway, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to take a ‘big picture’ approach to laws and policies in our land.

When we think about it, no one person–not Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan, Obama or Trump–should be a power unto themselves.

No one is that perfect, but the Lord Jesus! HE is one we can trust implicitly…no one else!

Certainly not a President.

So, what should we do?

  1. Pray for President Trump, his cabinet, and congress–that they’d be humble before the Lord, and lead accordingly. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
  2. Stay informed.
  3. Don’t assume that someone is ‘right’ or ‘good’, just because they’re ‘on your side’ of the political aisle, and conversely…
  4. Don’t assume that someone is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, just because they’re on the other side of the political aisle.

We must get to the point where we can examine the merit of a policy, law, etc. not because ‘our side’ put it forth, but on it’s actual merit, from a Constitutional…and even Biblical…point of view.

We must get to the point where we can admit that ‘our guys’ are wrong occasionally…both left and right. Otherwise, the divide will get bigger, the animosity will grow…and the future is even more bleak.

In short, we need to have INTEGRITY in our politics (as in every area).

Are YOU willing to make that stand?

#IntegrityInPolitics2017

What Can We DO?

Last week I shared a post that probably irritated just about everyone. In that post, I made clear my feelings about the Presidential Candidates this year–and the character concerns I have re: each of them. I observed that this slate of candidates was the predictable outcome of a culture which increasingly rejects God and elevates ‘self’.

I also called for the Church–those of us who love Jesus and worship Him as Savior and Lord–to ask God to ‘revive’ us–meaning to show us our sin, our apathy, and to stir us up so that we love Him and Worship Him with all our hearts, and that we let His light ‘shine’ through us.

So…how’s that going?

I have been doing some things, personally, to help myself focus more on the ONE who rules above all nations, and less on this election, but I’ve been wondering–and some have asked, ‘What can we DO?’.

Let me suggest 5 things:

1) PRAY!pray

  1. Pray for the candidates! That’s right–pray for them. Pray that God would show them their need to humble themselves and seek His wisdom.                                                                                                                                               King Solomon, regarded as the wisest ruler of all time, earned this reputation primarily because, when asked by God what he wanted above everything else at the beginning of his reign, he answered this way:“Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,[e] for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!” (2 Chronicles 1:10-12)These candidates are surrounded by people who make them think they’re the most brilliant, wise, powerful people in the world, and they don’t need anything but for the rest of us to follow them. They need to humble themselves before the Lord. (James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.”) I encourage you to pray for these candidates–all of them.
  2. Pray for US–the American People! Pray that we would ‘push back’ from the ‘conventional’ wisdom, to step back from the way we’ve done things before, and to SEEK THE LORD! May we have a heart to know His will, to do what honors Him!

2) Get Informed!

  1. Do NOT accept the media narrative on this election–Yes, these are two SERIOUSLY flawed candidates…but what is more important–their personalities or their positions on the issues? Do you know what they are?
    1. For example, what does each candidate think about the Constitution of our great country–is it something to be ‘updated’, or something to be held to? Is it something which limits our freedom, or which limits the government’s power?
    2. What do they think about the ‘Free Market’? Do they want to leave businesses largely alone, depending on the American people to ‘vote with their wallets’, or do they want to regulate things and increasingly take over American businesses?
    3. What are their positions on Moral issues? What do they think about Abortion, for example? Are they in favor of any limits, or do they think abortion should be legal and unrestricted–even to minutes before full-term birth?  What do they think about marriage–is it a sacred institution, instituted by God, or is it a conventional construct of society, which can be changed to fit society’s definitions? There are many more of these issues–do you know the Candidate’s positions?

3) Be a Good Steward of your vote!

  1. Pretend your vote was actually a $100 bill–and God would hold you responsible for what you do with it. Would you give it to Hillary Clinton? Would you give it to Donald Trump? Would you give it to Gary Johnson, or one of the ‘other’ candidates? Or, would you elect not to give it to anyone, prayerfully turning it back over to God without ‘spending’ it?                                                                                                                                            I have been praying about this very thing, and I’m still unsure exactly what I’ll do. There is one reason I may end up using my ‘$100 bill’ and casting a vote, however, and that is…

4) Consider the long-term implications of your choice.

  1. What difference will it make if ‘your’ candidate wins…or another does?MUCH! whichever candidate wins will have enormous influence for decades–on things like the Supreme Court nominations, Religious Liberty and the right to Free speech; Economic recovery (long overdue) and economic freedom; Health care freedom and the very survival of Health Insurance companies; Military strength and policies; Immigration–legal and illegal–and whether our ‘borders’ (and therefore, citizenship) mean anything at all…the list goes on!

5) Therefore, I bring you back to #1: PRAY!

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Do not fear, pray! God is on His throne, and that will not change–no matter who wins!

One thing is for sure: If we will humble ourselves and pray, stand boldly on His word, and love others to the very best of our ability, that will have enormous impact on the future of our country, and our world.

If we don’t, then the determination of who becomes President will not matter all that much.

 

National Anthem–to Protest, or not to Protest?

Tonight, like millions of people across the nation, I went to a High School football game. I went to see our local Comstock Colts break the longest active losing streak in the state of Michigan…and they did so with a hard-fought victory over the Bronson Vikings tonight…but that is another story!

Just before the game began, the Announcer asked everyone to stand and face the flag for our National Anthem. Honestly, I was relieved to hear that they did not say something ‘p.c.’, like ‘Please rise for our National Anthem, unless you are otherwise inclined’, or something like that. I was also happy to note that all players and coaches from our team (I confess–I didn’t even look at Bronson’s team) stood at attention.

The band played, and I sang the words…quietly (still, apologies to all within earshot), and I was thankful. Thankful that, at least so far, the ‘p.c. police’ haven’t invaded our High Schools in this way…yet.

It also got me reflecting on Colin Kaepernick’s protest–and the others who’ve joined him.

Yes, he has the right to protest. America does protect the ‘Freedom of Speech’ in the first amendment.

However, it makes me wonder about several questions…

  1. What is the ‘aim’ of those who protest? Is it to raise awareness to some perceived-or-real ‘wrong’ in our country? If so, I would agree–there are many things ‘wrong’ with our country. However, it is still The Place that symbolizes freedom and liberty for all the world–even with it’s inconsistencies. Ironically, the very fact that there is a ‘right’ here to protest shows the idiocy of doing so.
  2. When will there be a ‘win’? What will a ‘win’ be defined as? In other words, ‘Cool–you can protest–so when (if ever) will you stop’? What will need to happen in order for you NOT to feel the need to protest any more? What is Colin’s ‘victory’? Is there one–or is it just about ‘making a point’ (and being in the limelight)?
  3. For a multi-millionaire quarterback, who is paid like that to PLAY A GAME in our country makes me think that maybe there’s another reason for Kaepernick’s protest…he never protested when he was starting, but did so just before he was to be cut….Hmmm…

Here’s my take on the National Anthem: I think it symbolizes the PROMISE of our country–the PROMISE of ‘the Land of the Free, home of the brave’. I think it stands for, and points ever-forward to the hope that one day, we will live out the ‘true meaning of our creed’.

To be sure, we haven’t ‘arrived’ yet, and there are issues to be resolved. There are individuals, and groups, who frustrate me with their lack of respect for  freedom, liberty, diversity, etc. However, I think our nation is SO FAR ahead of other places that, to protest our National Anthem is to say “I can’t support you because you are not Perfect”.

To that, I say, “Guilty as charged; we are NOT perfect”…but we are moving closer.

We are improving.

We are respecting each other…and are getting nearer to our goal.

 

Most of us don’t know that the Star-Spangled Banner–our National Anthem–actually has 4 verses.

Read this last verse in the rhythm of the first verse (which you know so well)…

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

THAT is worth standing for–whether in a High School football game or in the pro’s.

Just my opinion.

Pastor DaJo

Bonus: Check out this clip from “The Sum of All Fears”:

Sacrifice (with video)

How do you say ‘Thank You’?

Today I am reminded of the men and women of our Armed Forces.

I am thankful for their service to our country, and their willingness to risk it all for our freedom, liberty, and way of life. They are often called on to put their lives on the line for us, and they do so willingly.

I know that, without them, our country would not–could not–exist today.

The freedoms that I, and so many Americans, take for granted are only possible because of the millions of men and women over the years who have answered the call.

I am especially humbled and quieted when I think of those over the years who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and have given their lives in defense of this country. ‘Thank you’ is clearly not enough, and a ‘salute’ doesn’t do it, but what else can I say? What else can I do?

I can humbly honor them and their families–who have joined in that sacrifice–by quietly reflecting on them, thanking God for their willingness to serve and give themselves for the just causes of freedom and liberty, and I can vow to fight in my own way to insure that those things are not given up in my lifetime.

Jesus said “Greater love has on one than this: That they lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

You have shown that kind of love to your fellow Americans, and we thank you.

To those who are serving, Thank You. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

To those who have served, Thank You. We are honored to have you with us.

To those who’ve laid down their lives, We stand in your debt. We are honored by your bravery and strength. Thank You!

Thankfulness–It’s great Every Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is one day that most of America stops and, for a brief moment, expresses thankfulness for all our blessings.

…but WHO are we thankful TO? Fate? Karma? Some existential Force?

No!

I think it’s important that we acknowledge that we are thankful to Almighty God for His blessings.

The scriptures say: don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:16-17)

Throughout our history, it has been important that we stop and thank God for all His blessings on us.

President George Washington’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation said:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty

God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November [1789] . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him
our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Later, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln would offer this proclamation:

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of
the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Today, in the midst of our own tumultuous days, we need to stop and thank the Lord for His continued blessings. Freedom and liberty continue to be blessings that we experience here in the United States of America, and those enable us to experience many other blessings–faith, family, friends, football, food, fun…and lots of other good things!

Today is a GREAT day to give thanks…but so it tomorrow and Saturday, a week from Tuesday, and next month.

Let’s try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and make sure that we express it–to God and to others–often!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for YOU!

Could We Do It Again? Would we?

D-Day.

June 6, 1944–the day on which approx. 160,000 Allied Troops landed on the shores of Normandy, France in a relentless effort to push Hitler and his troops out of France, and to take back Europe, standing against Fascism and tyranny.

At least 9,000 men lost their lives in the battle…in that battle alone. However, the Allies kept coming…wave after wave, they refused to give up. General Dwight Eisenhower reminded them that “Th eyes of the world were upon them”, and that they were part of a “Great crusade” for freedom and liberty.

Those men (18-22 years old) knew, when they jumped out of their Amphibious Assault Vehicles, that they may not make it. First, there were the 8 foot waves with 80 pounds of gear on their backs…then there was the relentless machine-gun-fire, then the mines, the obstacles…then the cliffs!

Yet, they kept coming.

Why?

Why not just turn around, go back home, and try to get comfortable in their lives again?

Why? Because liberty and freedom were under assualt! If the Nazis weren’t stopped there, they would never stop–after all, they believed they were the ‘chosen race’, and they wanted to wipe everyone else off the face of the earth (or at least to rule over them).

QUESTION:

Could we do this today? Would we?

In today’s culture, where instant media brings us graphic visions, do we have the stomach for war? Do we have the iron will that those men did–not only to speak out, not only to stand up, but to put their lives on the line–to stop evil?

There is still evil in the world, and all it takes is one person or one group with a big weapon who believes that they have the right to exterminate or dominate others to start something.

If that happens, will WE stand up? Will THIS generation rise to the occasion?

Today, President Obama declared June 6 a national remembrance day.

In a declaration Friday, he said, “Seventy years later, we pay tribute to the service members who secured a beachhead on an unforgiving shore — the patriots who, through their courage and sacrifice, changed the course of an entire century. Today, as we carry on the struggle for liberty and universal human rights, let us draw strength from a moment when free nations beat back the forces of oppression and gave new hope to the world.”

Good words.

I hope we still believe them.