Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Politics”

One Way To Free Yourself From The Surly Bonds Of Common Deceptions

Dear children,

Sometimes different things get mixed up and start swirling around together in such a way that makes them dangerous.  They can get so out of hand, in fact, that they wind up tearing lots of stuff up while standers-by watch, wide-eyed and gasping with hands over their mouths.  If you could pretend for a moment that separating the debris from the wind in a tornado would render it harmless, that would go a long way in helping me to explain what I want you to understand here.  For the truth is, in a lot of different things that seem to bring confusion, if we could separate the parts that make them that way, it might bring clarity.  In short, we need to be able to look at the whirlwind while discerning the dust from the wind.  I have learned that it is possible to train oneself to do this.  If I could teach you to do the same, perhaps I can help save you from some confusion, or at least to better understand the confusion that you will be finding yourself emersed in.

The difficulty in getting this across is first one of words, for I must attempt to explain it well enough, and with enough examples to get you started, while at the same time not bore you too much.  So, in order to attempt that, I’ll simply move right into a few kinds of examples of what I’m talking about:

Education and morality -I was working with a man recently who told me that his 16-year-old step-son was living alone in another state.  So I asked him how the boy was coming along without adult oversight?  He answered by telling me that the young man was making good grades.  But that didn’t answer my question.  He was confusing good grades with morality. You will find this to be quite a common thing.

As for me, I’ve seen news reports where young people have gotten into terrible trouble. The response from those who knew one of those involved was all too common. They always seem to be shocked. And, they’re shocked because, after all, the kid did make good grades.  You are living in a culture that idolizes education, and as such, I think it may be a little challenging for it to separate its little god of education from its morality. So when you are older, know your children’s heart as much as you are able.  Don’t confuse their smartness, or their accumulated knowledge, with their goodness.  And remember that really smart people can be really evil too while mental slowness is by no means a sign of a moral handicap.  I’m personally thankful for that one.

Another similar thing to education that gets mixed up with morality is health.  I asked a woman once why she thought her daughter’s fiance was a good man for her.  She seemed as though she had been caught off guard by the question. It was as if the thought had never occurred to her.  After thinking a bit she finally said that it was because he was healthy.  “Oh”, I said.  Still, many others confuse beauty with morality. But probably worse than anything else along these lines is the confusing of feelings with morality, as in, if it feels good, it’s moral.  But all of these are totally separate things and should be discerned from each other when deciphering the realities that whirl about you.

The institutionalization of sin – As I write this we await what might be the greatest spectacle of hubris ever put on display by man.  Nine judges are going to decide if a square can be a circle. Of course, that’s not what they’re really deciding, but it might as well be because deciding whether or not a man can marry another man is equally as absurd.  Of course, the court’s decision will have no bearing on reality, but rather it can only succeed in changing the meaning of a word: “marriage”.  It will also determine in many ways whether or not we will be a nation that plans on living in reality or some fantasy land.

But be that as it may, the Church has for some time been in a difficult place concerning such cause-celeb sins of our day, only because so many in its midst have not separated the debris from the wind.  As is typical, there are many things that are happening at the same that must be understood separately if they are to be understood at all.  For example here are two things that work together.  On the one hand, Jesus clearly taught His followers to love their neighbors as themselves. And I am inclined to believe that Jesus did not mean to exclude those who practice any certain sin as being our neighbor.  But, on the other hand, there are political movements afoot that are much greater than any one individual and we must not confuse a poor soul with a political movement.  These movements appear to have as their goal the wiping away of all vestiges of God, family, and Church as the Bible defines these entities; preferring instead to redefine them in ways that are more malleable and palatable.  They approach under the cover of compassion, and they seem to only be requesting from the Church what Jesus commanded of it anyway.  But Jesus also taught that the Church is the light in this world.  He never taught us to have compassion for political movements that seek to justify sin.  Sadly, many Christians bristle at the suggestion that there should be any resistance to these movements because they are simply unable to differentiate between resisting collective evil and loving an individual caught up in that evil.

We are to preach the Gospel to the individual, which includes repentance and forgiveness.  We are to shine a light into dark places in this world, which we know will cause it to hate us, and our Savior.  But Jesus tells us that some will repent and become redeemed children of God.  We are to be the very hands of God, pulling individuals from the torrents of collective evil, and not fearing what man thinks of us for daring to call those torrents evil.

Judging others – Sin destroys.  So, we have on the one hand your sin.  And then on the other we have my sin.  And the two are similar things in that they both destroy.  But they are different things too, in that we are two different human beings.  When a loved one calls us out on our sin we have a choice. We can feel attacked, and we can make counter-accusations, but in doing so we cause a destructive whirlwind.  If I, your father–or someone else who is a friend–points out sin in your life, it is a loving thing for them to do and you ought to see it as such.  It is foolish to evade such love by daring them to “judge” you because they themselves are not without sin.  If anyone wants to discuss the sin in my life, let us do so. There is much to discuss. But let us not discuss my sin at the same time as we discuss theirs.

If we dare not help each other pick the splinters from our eyes, we will end up both blinded, and the best we could ever hope for is to not wander into a pit. Blinded is where much of Christendom lives today, but you don’t have to live there.  Thank the brother who loves you enough to hold you accountable. And don’t be afraid to love others enough to hold them accountable.   It is important to understand that no one else’s sin makes your sin not sin.  Desire to live righteously.  Ask the one who points out your sin to help you overcome it as you help others in any way you can.

______________________

So here I have given you just a few examples of how some things that would otherwise confound can be better understood.  I hope that you will train yourself to disassemble them and grasp and interact with their component parts separately.   If you work on thinking in this way it will become your second nature, and you will be all the wiser for it.  I pray that you would grow in this area.

Your father

The Main Stream

Dear children,

We are all in this life faced with a choice between being in the so-called “mainstream” and not being there.  You will hear that word bandied about a lot in your life and when you do hear it, it will almost always be used in what is called a logical fallacy that argues in favor of something on the bases of “everyone else is doing it”.  So if you don’t either do it or agree with it being done then you’re not in the “mainstream”; and that’s suppose to be bad.  Unfortunately, this convinces many people to go with the flow, (pun intended) because it is only natural to want to fit in and be accepted.

But that word, “mainstream”, connotes a river flowing down hill.  It is flowing according to the course set by the happenstance of geography; and according to the least amount of resistance.  And it is flowing with great force.  Its flow might be temporarily impeded at times, as with a dam, but the river will overcome and destroy the impediment eventually. It is always only a matter of time.  In the middle of the river the current is strong and that is where the greatest mass of water exists and moves .  But then you have the water that is close to the edge that might be flowing slower, or perhaps almost not at all.  I think therefore that the word is quite accurate as it describe the masses of humanity.  I would also say that I do not want to be in the mainstream, nor do I think that that we are called by God to be there.  So let us go to the scriptures and see why.

Let us begin with one of my favorites which is Romans 12:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Rom 12:2)

Paul could have just as easily used the word “mainstream” instead of “world”, because in reality the main flow of this world is based on how the world thinks.  Our thinking is formulated.  We think about things according to a framework that is either installed by our culture, or by something else.  That framework is constructed of points of reference from which we make determinations and judgements.  Those who are in the middle of the river do not feel the current.  Their reference point is the water around them, which appears to be sitting still.  Rather it is the river’s edge that is moving.  But here God calls us to another set of reference points for our thinking.   He calls us to touch the bottom of the river, to stand up, and to begin our walk to the edge.  But as soon as we attempt to stand, the current becomes powerfully obvious.

We also have this gem in 1st John chapter 2:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.   (1 John 2:15-17)

John is also giving us a contrast between the mainstream and our walk with God.  Those in the mainstream love the mainstream.  They work hard to appeal to the thinking of the mainstream, with all of its lusts, and they are proud of the fact that they “fit in”, and they do not like those who don’t.  If you walk out your life with your feet on solid ground, that is, not being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14) you will experience the ere of this world.  But for me, being hated by the “mainstream” is comforting and assuring.  It is when I find myself in agreement with this world’s thinking that I become afraid.  And that is as it should be because Jesus warns us that the world first hated him and it will hate us also.  He also warns us to be concerned “when all men speak well of [us]” (Luke 6:26).

The idea of being called out of this world’s way of thinking, as it turns out, is not a New Testament idea.  We have God calling Noah out the world and into an ark that separated him and his family from the “mainstream”, which killed everyone. And again, we see God beginning the operation of redeeming His world by calling Abram out of the world as Abram knew it:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you...”  (Gen 12:1)

After God called Abram into his new life, he gave him a new name, Abraham, the progeny of which, many years later through providence, ended up in Egypt.  And then God called His children out of Egypt as well.

And then in the end of the scriptures we see again, as we read in the apocalyptic writing of Revelation, God commanding “His people” to “come out” of what might well be considered the “mainstream”:

“For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”  I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. “  (Rev 18:3-6)

Remember that the mainstream flows downhill.  It does not war against its flesh, but on the contrary it embraces and celebrates it along with all of its carnal desires.  (Romans 1) Rather than war against the flesh, they war against those who do “war against their flesh”.  But man knows deep down all is not well.  He knows that he is in trouble.  So many attempt to console themselves beyond the approval of the masses by adopting the parts of the Christian religion they like.  They find consolation by extracting verses from scripture like the one that promises that God will remember our sins no more. (Heb 8:12)  But this promise is clearly only true for those who are hidden in Christ.  In this passage from Revelations, it is a downright terrifying thought that God “has remembered her iniquities”.

There is one passage that is perhaps the most explicit and poignant when it comes to calling people out of  the “mainstream”.  Jesus is crystal clear in this short passage that following Jesus is not mainstream, and the mainstream are not following Jesus:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Matt 7:13-14)

Not only are we to make our way out of the mainstream–and its thought forms and lifestyles–we are to then walk along a narrow “stream”, so to speak.  The water in this path does not push you along with great force.  It is quiet and gentle, and there is peace to be found in its midst.

We are living in radical times.  The battles being waged against God and His law are hot and often.  The force of the mainstream, which was impeded for a time in the nation into which you were born, has breached the dam.  There are tumultuous times ahead for those now floating comfortably in the backwaters.  But if you will be found in Christ, while you will not be spared trials and hardships, if you will cling to him you will find your feet always planted on the solid rock that cannot be swept away by the raging torrents.

Dear children, we don’t know how strongly our feet are planted until the floods come.  But I pray that that your feet, and our, your parent’s, feet will be planted firmly.  I pray it often that God would fix us fast to His Son in order that we would not be swept away.  All around us it is happening.  Everyday news comes of some church, or man of the church, who has lost his footing and has been swept away.  So as the scriptures point out…

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
(Ps 91:5-7)

 …so I pray for you.  May it be so dear LORD, may it be so.

Your father

Nothing Doesn’t Attack Anything

Dear children,

You will live your lives in a world with competing worldviews.  But it is worse than that really.  It is not as if these worldviews are in amiable competition for your allegiance.  They are at war with each other.  It is a war of ideas, yes, but eventually wars of ideas become bloody.  You,  my dear children, will pick a side in this conflict.  There is no avoiding that fact.  You will be touched by it as well, no matter what side you choose, even if that side is one of pacifism, Unitarianism or live and let live.

If you follow the path that I’ve pointed out for you, that is to say, if you follow Jesus, you will likewise be attacked in any number of ways.  Scripture is clear on this matter.  So in this letter I would like to paint those attacks with a wide brush and then point out something worth noting.  But fist let me define the key term, “attack”.

To attack a thing can generally mean to act violently toward it.  Or it can mean to impugn or challenge its cognitive structure, as in the “idea”.  While both of these kinds of attacks on Christianity are happening today, I want to focus on the latter of the two, and specifically on the fact that these attacks should be interpreted from two different perspectives.  The first of these perspectives is the actual challenge to your worldview.  If someone, for example, is challenging your belief that there is a God by offering his believed evidence that there isn’t, then that evidence must be dealt with.  I’ll call that the offensive perspective.  An offensive action is being taken against your beliefs.  The second perspective I’ll call the “defensive” perspective.  Every attack emanates from its own belief system, or worldview, and therefore is a thing open to attack itself, and which ought to be defensible.  Because of their immersion in this culture, most whom you will encounter will not even realize this because their belief system is “normal”, which is just another way of saying that it is what everybody else they know believes too.  It more than likely will have never occurred to them that they hold a view which itself requires a defense.

I would have your minds work so as to think within the framework of both of these perspectives, always.  As a Christian you are not, nor should you ever be, solely held to defending your faith against those who are attacking it.  You will find that defending your faith is a much easier task, even in your own mind, when you are able to challenge the challenger and make him defend his faith also.  His faith will generally come in one of  two forms.  The form that you are most unlikely to encounter is the one that insists that there is no god.  But there is another from just like it, which you will encounter often, even from many who profess to be Christians, that will insist that thought there is a god, you can’t know or be certain what he requires.   You will navigate attacks from these worldviews more easily when you realize that they are in reality nothing more than attempts at usurping your faith with theirs.  But be sure that in the end, they offer nothing more or less than faith also.

Life requires faith.  You will put your faith in something, be it a Utopian idea, a man, a religion, a government or any number of other things that can easily be turned into an idol for worship.  While you will encounter some who have faith in the gods of differing religions, and yes, the people of those faiths will–and if they are being true to that faith, should–attempt to win you over to their faith. These are easier to think through because it is plain to see that your faith is being challenged by another faith that does not attempt to hide its own beliefs nor the fact that an attempt at usurpation is happening.  But you will face precious little of that sort of an “attack”  in your lifetime.  The attacks you will experience rather will come from a faith that doesn’t see itself as faith at all, for it is a faith in man.  And though it will seldom be admitted to you, the name of this faith is “Secular Humanism”.  It bills itself as not being based on faith because it points to what it calls science, and it worships no deity.  Or, the deity that it does worship is indistinguishable from the government and the prevailing “morality” of the age.   But rest assured, this faith contains all the elements of just another religion with all of its ordinances, worship requirements, systems of morality, redemption and even its own little gods.

For this reason I would admonish you to study your culture.  Know it.  Understand that attacks on your faith are not coming from nowhere or nothing.  They have a source, always, a belief system from which it attacks.  Realize that it, like all other religions, are at war with God and His law, and it means to win.  Understand that those who fall away from Christianity, and embraced this Godless culture, have not fallen away from religion but have merely exchanged the one true God for an idol.  They have simply allowed that God be usurped by an idol, which in your culture’s case, is man.

I wish, dear children, that you could simply embrace the love of Christ and live out the rest of your life in peace and tranquility, and to a certain extent, you can though your belief in Jesus.  But the Bible is clear.  Trials will come… many trials.  You will either traverse those trials with the light of God’s word, or you will traverse them based on some other belief system.  But know that they will come, and you will walk through them.  I plea that you hold onto Jesus tightly, who promised us that, though troubles will come in this world, He has overcome this world.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”
(John 16:33)

Your father.

Three Things You Need To Know About Politics

Dear children,

You will find in your life that there are only two things about which people can be trusted to passionately disagree: politics and religion.  That’s because the individual mindsets that undergird these kissing cousins are rightly the root of every controversy because they mark the intersection of life, truth, and reality.  Most will contend that there should be a wall that separates the two.  Those who say such things are being foolish and naive.  They are asking for others to do something that they themselves  can’t pull off. They are, in fact, asking for the impossible.

So in this letter I would like to give you three basics to consider when you are thinking about politics.

By “politics” I mean the process of sinners choosing sinners to govern sinners

Man is fallen, and just because any man (or woman) has convinced over half of a group of people to vote for him, that doesn’t suddenly remove his sinful nature.  On the contrary, power has a way of leeching our sinful nature to the surface. The first basic is this: man is not basically good.  This is a true statement even for those elected to government, and perhaps even especially for those elected to government. Knowing this will put you a long way ahead of your countrymen when it comes to politics.

Our founders understood this basic truth about man and so gave us a government with divided powers.  But that was an age still steeped in a Biblical worldview.  The government was therefore formed by a people who had an understanding of human nature that reflected reality.

This is not so today.  Even most people who attend a Church somewhere reject this basic truth concerning man’s depraved condition.  So these two realities should not surprise you: One, that many will be willing to believe that there are a select few who are benevolent and righteous, and two, they’ll be willing to make them their little gods in Washington in hopes that they’ll usher in a Utopian paradise.  But merely believing a thing does not make it true.  What is true is true, and no amount of denial will make truth or its effects go away.  So unlike those around you, who see gods and devils in Washington, it would be wise for you to not expect very much in the way of righteousness from your elected leaders.  That they might eke out a few decent laws is at best unlikely, and at worst a pipe-dream.

Politics is downstream of culture

Never forget that if a tsunami washed in and killed all 545 politicians and judges in Washington DC, the 20 percent of the society that votes would simply vote other people with the same “religion” back into office.  Reprobates do not elect righteous politicians.  So if you want to change government you will want to do two things.  First, start by spreading the Gospel and discipleship.  The Bible says that when we are born again that we are new creatures in Christ and have gained the mind of Christ (1st Cor 2:14-16).  It also says that the new disciple will see things differently, that he will have a different perspective on life and therefore will have a different perspective on what kind of laws should be governing the land.  He will know that elected sinners are not the final arbiters of good and evil, that taking wealth from one sinner and giving it to another is not compassion, charity, or loving, and that all men who have been given the reigns of power ought to be viewed with a healthy dose of suspicion.  He will also know that no man, no matter how righteous, is going to change the culture by forcing external behaviors.  The heart must be changed and only the Gospel is can do that.

Second, you must think intergenerationally.  You must look beyond your own life and into the future.  Societies are not won due to the work of one generation, nor the outcome of one election.  I, your father, hold no hope in seeing a better land for you with my own eyes.  My hope is that you, if you do the hard work of first teaching your own children, and second, of spreading the Gospel, might see a glimmer.  Scripture tells us that children are like arrows shot into the future.  You are my arrows, and I pray that you will be sharp and true, and not only that, but that your children would be the same.

Politicians are political

Always remember, for the man to win an election he must convince only about 20, maybe 30, percent of the people to vote for him.  20 percent you ask?  Well yes, something like that, because as best I can determine, only about 40 percent of your fellow countrymen actually vote, and the politician will only need 1% over half of those to win.  A good politician, that is, a person who is good at politicking, will know this, even if his constituency does not.  So when you hear a politician say something that you find to be outrageous, just remember he is not speaking for the benefit of all, but to only a relatively small group of people.

Also, it’s important to realize that every human does what he does because of a motivation.  Voters and politicians are no different.  Voters may well want free handouts from government and thus are motivated to vote likewise.  Others want to keep what they earn rather than have it confiscated, and so they also will vote likewise.  All want righteous laws, but all define “righteousness” differently, and so they vote accordingly.

Politicians are motivated also.  This is natural and normal, unless the politician actually and foolishly thinks he is a little god. They realize that no matter what they want, good or bad, selfish or altruistic, they must win elections to make it happen.  So they are necessarily motivated to please enough people to bring that about.

In conclusion

Politics is people and people are political.  Where two or more are gathered, there you will find politics.  One person will emerge the leader, even if there are only two.  That does not mean that the leader always gets his way, but only that he will be the one behind every decision the two–or more–make together as one.  Add ten people and it gets more complicated.  Add a hundred and little factions begin to emerge.  Add a couple thousand and then there are even more factions which begin to coalesce into parties.  The individuals exert themselves in the factions, the factions exert themselves in the parties and the parties exert themselves on the whole.  This is how things are.  It is reality.  No one in a group ever gets what they want; no one.  The final outcome will reflect the collective morality of the people, but not necessarily their collective will.

So I pray, as your father, that you would gain wisdom from the scriptures and vote accordingly.  Remember that the natural state of man in his six thousand years or so of history is slavery, not liberty.  Either way, fix your eyes on the author and perfecter of your faith and run the race laid out before you with perseverance.  Preach to and disciple your children in the Gospel, even as you live it out before them.  Pray that God would instill it into the hearts of your children, your children’s children, and your children’s children’s children.

Your father

Post Navigation