“Worshiptainment”

There’s a blog written in 2014 by Mike Livingstone making its rounds on social media again called, “The Heresy of Worshiptainment.

It warns against lights, smoke machines, props, and performances among other things in modern worship services. He says, “The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business.”

I have been in full time ministry since 2008 as a youth pastor and quite frankly, anywhere I was needed.
In February of this year, our minister of music stepped down. Having a background in music ministry, I accepted the position of worship pastor.
I have incorporated lights, a smoke machine, multi-tracks, lyric videos, and “cool” music.
I have ideas from time to time that can be off the wall.
Thankfully my Pastor is forward thinking and at least considers some of the more “out of the box” ideas I have.
Once, he asked me the question, “What makes an idea a gimmick?
After some thought, I concluded that it’s really the heart and motivation behind an idea that defines it.

In Mr. Livingstone’s piece he quotes David Platt.
What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?”

I’ll one up his question.
What if we take away the building, met outside every Sunday morning at 5 a.m. in the rain or snow?
What if we sat on hay bales with no instruments only singing Psalms?
Livinstone goes so far as to say A.W. Tozer got it right in saying “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”
This type of thinking is backward, and quite frankly dangerous, for a myriad of reasons. One being it’s based on the assumption that their church is closer in structure to the first century church of Jesus’ time than ours today.

For whatever reason there’s a whole sect of Christianity that enjoys eating their own.
You know them.
They’re the “Oh my God you serve donuts and coffee in your foyer?” crowd.
They’re the “You go to that church where the Pastor dresses too trendy, his wife is too pretty, he preaches with an iPad, and uses The Message translation so it must not be inspired” bunch.
When will we ever get past this way of thinking in the church?
Unless your heart is the wrong place, God will absolutely show up with the lights, lyric videos, and “cool music.” Some of my closest friends are pastor’s and incorporate these things in their services. I know them personally, and I know they have a heart for God. As a matter of fact, they probably do more in a week for the Kingdom of God than most christians do in a year.
Click tracks, smoke machines, lights, and loud music don’t hinder the Holy Spirit…
People do.

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Those pesky liberal judges.

Everybody knows those pesky liberal judges are to blame for the legalization of abortion in the US right? Republicans will overlook a multitude of a candidate’s sins if they just promise they’ll nominate conservative judges.
So every election cycle Republicans nominate the same “moderate” Republican to run in the general election and we’re told we have to vote for him, for a multitude of reasons but mostly, to block those liberal judges from infiltrating the SCOTUS.
We’re told abortion will never be outlawed without a  Republican to nominate good conservative judges.

I scroll through social media looking at the whole spectrum of political posts and I wonder why recent history is so easily forgotten.
With Roe v. Wade in 1973 the SCOTUS voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion with a 7 to 2 vote. Of the seven who voted to legalize the slaughter of unborn children, five were appointed by Republican presidents.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Five of the seven votes to legalize abortion were from Republican appointed Justices.

Flash forward to 1993 for Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
There were eight Republican appointed Justices and one Democrat appointed Justice who voted against Roe v. Wade. This case could’ve been the catalyst for overturning Roe v. Wade. But alas, another failure on behalf of conservative judges.
Reagan/Bush appointed Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter formed a plurality upholding Roe v. Wade. 

It’s not just conservative appointed judges that are terrible on abortion. Maybe a good conservative President could do something the courts refuse to do? Flash forward again to George W. Bush’s administration. And be sure and remember the Republicans had all three branches of government long enough to implement whatever they wanted. Under the Bush administration Planned Parenthood received over $2 billion, maybe more, in funding. Under Bush federal funding for Planned Parenthood increased every year, slightly more than it did during the Clinton administration. The dismal argument given here would be Planned Parenthood doesn’t spend federal money (your money) on abortion. In reality, every federal dollar given to them allows them to spend a non-federal dollar on abortion.

It makes you wonder what Republicans would run on if abortion was illegal? If you ignore the rhetoric and look at actual facts, the two parties are almost identical.
I’d be shocked if abortion is ever outlawed.
You can’t legislate morality.
Morality can only come from a heart change, and true heart change only comes from an encounter with Jesus Christ. We’re called to be ambassadors for Christ on this earth.
Not politicking activists placing our faith in a broken worldly system.

It’s amazing to me the Christian response of, “What do we do then? Just not vote and watch the country go to Hell? We have to do something.”
I’m not anti-voting, but I’ll tell you that two minutes on my knees in prayer can do more than the thirty minutes or more it takes you to vote.

You can blame the judges, politicians, or the system but true change will only come when our hearts are in the right place. Go ahead and vote. I won’t be condemning you for it but don’t be surprised in four years when we hear the same rhetoric and the same old tired arguments from both sides of the aisle.

Disposable Marriage

Date nights… Date nights here at the Banks Ranch are very few and a million miles in between. But that’s the life of a “big” family. So when an opportunity presents itself, we go for it. A few weeks ago was one of those days. Thank God. Seriously, I LOVE date nights. I love being with my wife and spending time with her without interruptions. You parents know what I’m talking about. “Mom, hey mom, Dad, daddy, hey dad, DAAADDD!” You guys that don’t have kids and don’t date your wives; you’re idiots. And that’s my professional opinion.

Well, we ended up eating Hibachi with two of our closest friends and then off to the movies. I had no idea what to expect out of this movie because I hadn’t even seen the trailer, and had no clue who was even staring in it. Wow… Five minutes in and we were way out of our element!
It. Was. Raunchy.
I wish we would’ve left but we stuck it out.
I wanted to leave! (Don’t judge me. Get the plank out of your own eye and we can talk about the speck in mine!)
So there we were hunched down in our seats looking around hoping no one recognized us while looking at the floor for a good majority of the movie. Adding insult to injury the theater was absolutely packed. Ugh. I couldn’t help but look around and see what we’ve come to as a society. Don’t roll your eyes and think we’re killjoys or prudes.
We’re not.
And I’m not one of those Christians who believes playing heavy metal songs backwards reveals chants to Satan. But this movie unabashedly undermined the sanctity of marriage, celebrated infidelity, and made an absolute mockery of wedding vows AND parenting. This flick was putting out some seriously unbiblical messages concerning marriage and had a not-so-subtle anti-faith message.

The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17

If faith comes by hearing the word of God then the opposite must also be true. If we’re constantly bombarded with an anti-faith message it wears us down. Especially concerning marriage. It causes us to doubt God, to doubt our spouse, and it stirs up jealously. A line in the movie from the lead actress has stuck in my mind since. She was lamenting the fact she was married young and “missed all of her twenties.” She was justifying her desire for adultery because she’d missed the dating scene by being married at 20. So why’d this stick in my mind? Jill was 20 when we were married and so was Jill’s best friend. I’m looking around at the theater patrons while they’re cheering and rooting for the “other man” to prevail and win over this conflicted wife. And I’m thinking, “how many women in this theater wish they were sleeping with this young good looking Latino?” This is the attitude of marriage these days. When things are difficult it’s just easier to give up on your spouse and your marriage and move on to someone else.

I wish everyone would look at marriage, or any relationship for that matter, and ask where the problem is. Is the problem really the other person or is it with our self? I read a statistic saying fifty percent of first marriages and sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. So maybe, just maybe, all the problems people think are their spouse’s fault are actually problems with themselves? Then they give up on their spouse and carry all those issues into their new marriages.

I’ll admit it… Jill and I missed a lot by being married young.
We missed opportunities for heartbreak.
We missed opportunities to compromise our purity.
We missed the heartache that comes when you’re being lead by your head and not Holy Spirit.
I think about all the wonderful things we would’ve missed had we not have gotten married young and it saddens me. We would’ve missed the opportunity to grow up together and know each other on a level of intimacy most people will never know because they just give up too soon. We were married five years before we had our first child and we learned a lot about life. Just like any relationship we’ve had our ups and downs and moments of despair but we’ve stuck it out because we choose to love each other and honor our vows. There were times the enemy came and yelled untrue things in our ear, but we chose to be different and beat the statistics.

Marriage wasn’t designed to be disposable. Marriage was designed by our creator God as a life long commitment to bring glory and honor to Him. Our job, as a married couple, is to point people to Christ and raise our children in a Godly home with two parents who deeply and very passionately love each other, extend and show grace, care for, and put each others needs ahead of their own.
I love my wife.
I’ll defend her and care for her until my last breath.
Husbands, set out to love your wife like Christ loves the church.
Wives, honor your husband.
When you truly love your spouse, your love doesn’t hinge on emotions.
It’s grounded in a fierce and exclusive devotion to the one you love.

Wonder Woman Wednesday

This week’s Wonder Woman Wednesday is mother of four, wife to your’s truly, and the best educator to ever chalk up a black board – Jill Banks!

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Am I little biased? No, I’m a lot biased!! But that doesn’t make what I write any less true. I’m going to get in trouble for this blog post but I’m taking my chances. Almost every week Jill chooses someone special for Wonder Woman Wednesday on her blog so now it’s her turn!

Jill has been a constant source of joy in my life since the summer of 1995. Seriously, she even makes Monday’s worth waking up for. I love this woman with ever fiber of my being. People use the term soulmates to describe a lot of couples but look it up. In Webster’s you’ll see that Soulmates is defined as Jason and Jill Banks. She’s my first and last true love.

She’s accomplished so much in her life but never brags about it. Jill’s humbleness is pretty amazing. And she’s the hardest worker I know. Somehow she’s earned two Master’s Degrees and became Nationally Board Certified while raising babies AND being a Proverbs 31 wife. Every week she writes her blog that ministers to so many people and still manages everything else. She’s always been great at multitasking too. I remember her first job so well. She’d get up at 5 am and off she’d go. That didn’t change when she had Max (our oldest) either. Jill was a nursing mother. Which in this day and age is a huge feat in and of itself. She’d head out the door before dawn, hook her breast pump up to the cigarette lighter plug, and pump on her way to school. You really can’t make this stuff up. Fifteen years later and she hasn’t lost her passion for teaching or making her student’s lives better. There’s nowhere we can go where you don’t hear, “Hey Mrs. Banks!” And she remembers all of her students.

Her patiences is beyond mind numbing to me. She’s so patient and gentle with our kids. I’m ready to just give up and run head long into a brick wall and there’s Jill… Calm. Cool. Collected. If I can be half as good a dad as she is a mother, there’s a good chance our kids will grow up to be superheroes. And what about the kids in our youth group? She loves those kids unconditionally and thinks of them as her own. Truthfully, don’t ever hurt any of those kids because she will hurt you. (She’s and advanced green belt in Chun Kuk Do. She only quit because Mr. Clark was uncomfortable with her being so far along in her pregnancy with Reagan and still doing Karate!)

She runs our house so well. I’m not even kidding. There’s a chalkboard in the kitchen she fills out every week with our schedules. We’ve vowed to not let our children get so involved with everything that there’s no time for family. And Jill rocks it. Monday through Sunday is carefully planned and executed with precision. Did I mention she runs our small business? I get a lot of credit for the success of our business but she schedules and keeps track of everything. I’d be a mess without her!

Jill we all see how amazing you are. You’re beautiful inside and out and you’re a wonderful example for our children and our community! I’m not a great enough wordsmith describe how much I love you, how much you are loved by everyone in your life, and how amazing you are.

You are my Wonder Woman.

Love and Marriage.

Jill and I have a wonderful love story together. The other day I went through a big bag of love notes she’d written me while we were dating. Yup, I kept ALL of them. Some were written while she was in class at Russell High School and some were written while she was away at Georgetown College. It was evident from the very beginning we have something special. As she so adorably put it in a note from September of 1995, we’re like peas and carrots!

I (barely!) graduated in ’95 and she graduated in the class of ’96. We knew each other through school but weren’t friends. I didn’t exactly sit at the cool kids table… I do remember crushing on her when she’d come in Ms. Thompson’s 6th period math class, my senior year, to pick up the attendance sheet but that’s as far as it went. Sometimes I’d say hi and she’d say hi back. It was the summer of ’95 that Steve Cremeans and I went to the Ashland Town Center to get the new Silver Chair CD when I ran in to Jill. She told me later how she debated whether or not to speak to us! Funny how one encounter can change the course of your history. I’ll admit I was instantly smitten with her. There was something about her that absolutely captivated me and we quickly became best friends. We fell in love fast and it’s evident from that priceless bag of notes.

Here a few things I’ve learned about love and marriage through the years.

For God’s Sake… Communicate!

Fast forward to December of ’98 when we were married. Seriously, I had no idea how to be a husband so I just faked it the best I could. Marriage is hard, ESPECIALLY at the beginning. We both had expectations that neither of us met and we struggled in a few areas, especially in communication. Really, it all came down to communication. She’d talk and somehow her words would go in my left ear and then magically escape through the right one. I had to learn the hard way that problems won’t just go away if you don’t think about them or just ignore them. Some of the problems we’ve struggled with throughout our marriage were even evident in a few of those love notes. I’ve had to learn how to listen and ponder words that are said. I’ve learned to not just formulate a comeback in my mind while she’s speaking. I’ve made it my purpose to actually listen while she’s talking. Then taking it to heart and responding- or not. Sometimes it’s better for me to just shut up!

Hold Yourselves Accountable.

Jill is my most loyal and valuable confidant. I tell her almost everything with complete confidence and without fear of condemnation. This isn’t something that just happens. You have to work on this and hash out all the details and perimeters before you ever begin spilling your guts. Although we’ve always had accountability to some extent in our relationship, it literally took us years to get to this place of trust and confidence. And we’re still working on it! We’ve learned to take practical steps. We have a written accountability contract that we very thoughtfully wrote out, prayed over, and then signed. We keep them in obvious places where we can be reminded of them often. Seem extreme? Maybe. But we battle a real enemy that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. And that’s exactly what he loves to do. Especially with marriages.

Your Wife Should Be Your Standard Of Beauty.

Never compare your spouse to anyone else. Period. End of story. You’re dishonoring them and God when you do. The grass is NEVER greener on the other side. Everyone poops. (Unless you’re an android!) Everyone farts. Everyone wakes up with bed hair, stinky breath, and crust in their eyes. You’ll never be content in your marriage if you’re comparing your spouse to someone else.  You’ll never be right with God while your imagining having sex with another person, staring at a jogger, watching porn, flirting, or giving place to someone else above your spouse in your heart. Your heart has room for only two. Jesus Christ and your spouse. In that order. Jesus said if you even lust for another woman you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Matthew 5:28 (NIV) says:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Wow! That’s not a boat I want to be on. When I think of beauty I think of my wife’s eyelashes and her gorgeous blue eyes. I think of her soft lips and how she unashamedly kisses me. I dream of her beautiful smile and thank God for her precious one of a kind personality. She’s beautiful inside and out. And God has given her to me.

Love and marriage isn’t for the weak. Love isn’t something you fall in and out of, and unfortunately real life isn’t like a romantic comedy. Love is a verb. Love is a decision. Love is practical. Love serves.

1 Corinthians 13 4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Don’t get me wrong, my heart still flutters when I see Jill, and I still get a little giddy when she kisses me and what not. (More what than not!) Because she’s my fantasy. No other woman fills my thoughts or my dreams. She has my whole heart. We’re leaving a legacy and we’re in it to win it! I look forward to our kids and grandkids reading those notes one day and seeing a legacy of true love and God’s grace in ole Maw and Pa.

Fathering Is Hard… Happy Belated Dad’s Day.

My Four Babies

We have four kids… Yes, FOUR KIDS. What? Nobody has four kids in the 21st century! Jill and I have been asked some humdinger questions through the years. “Jill’s pregnant again? You know how that happens right?” What an odd question to ask an adult. The funny thing is the same people asking this question were the same people in our reception line at our wedding, asking when and how many kids we were going to have. “Wow! Four babies, you must really love kids.” Well, I guess. But I really love Jill. Hence the answer to the first question! Seriously, the uncomfortableness knows no bounds…

Being a father is hard. Besides being a husband it’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had. I’ve failed, I’ve triumphed, and I’ve been ashamed. I don’t have a degree in fatherhood. I wish there was such a thing because I’d major in it. Actually I’d double major in parenting and husbanding. Then after graduating I’d go back and teach so I could share all the crappy mistakes I’ve made with all those poor impressionable students. I didn’t have what you would call a traditional upbringing. From the 3rd grade until the 8th I was raised by both of my grandparents. Papaw, my father figure, died when I was 12 and my Mamaw took over the reigns for the remainder of my formative years. She couldn’t teach me to fight but I know how to make biscuits and gravy. You can weigh those lessons out for yourself. My childhood wasn’t easy but I learned a lot of lessons that I use to this day. My Papaw was a tradesman and worked up until a year before his death. It was only when he was too sick that he stopped working. I saw what hard work was like the times he took me to his job sites. I learned how to provide for my family from his work ethic.

I have A LOT of great Mamaw and Papaw stories. I remember being picked on in the hood when I was little and got beat up pretty bad. When Papaw found out it was on! One time he put a baseball bat (the one he carried around in his backseat for any poor schmuck that may have crossed him. I have said bat to this day) in my hand and told me to take care of the bully. The other time he jerked me up and put me in his car. When he came out of our house I noticed his pistol was stuck in his belt and off we went. It wasn’t a pleasant conversation with that bully’s dad. My Papaw was a recovered alcoholic who watched, and read, gritty westerns his entire life. Point being, he’d hit you with a ball bat, his wild stallion of a Cadillac, or shoot you. Either way, you were going to leave his boy alone. Not exactly what Jesus would do…

Jill and I have made mistakes. We’ve been insulted, talked about, and criticized. My boys have been called brats and troublemakers. Once I was told I wasn’t fit for leadership in the church because of their behavior. We’ve heard it from church family, strangers, friends, and family. Some of it was true and some was unfounded. And it hurt. Things people say usually come back around to you. People who are our friends. Close friends. It used to bother me, but not anymore. I really couldn’t give two flips what people’s opinions are of me. (Although, you better have a good opinion of Jill. Otherwise I’ll punch you in the throat. Just kidding… but not really.) I’ve matured and my boys are growing into men of God. My girls are growing into Proverbs 31 young women. Through those hard times I’d wonder why these people weren’t offering up prayers or practical advice to help to us. But that’s people. Put your trust in people and you’ll always be let down.

We have dreams for our children. We pray for them everyday. Jill has always prayed for their future spouses. We want them to be happy but being happy isn’t our goal. Our goal is to point them to Jesus Christ and when they’re growing in Him then joy and fulfillment will come. I’m working everyday for my kids to always see Christ in me. I want to expose them to the power and working of the Holy Spirit so eventually they’ll become what they’re exposed to. I’m raising future leaders. Ladies whose first love is Jesus Christ in which will be the standard of their future boyfriend, when they begin dating at 30 years old. And gentlemen who put the welfare of others before their own, treat women with the respect they deserve, and love their future wives like Christ loves the church.

Jill sent me a photo from a trip to Kroger with Reagan. She really can’t do anything with out one or all of the kids tagging along… That’s another story. It began to storm while they were in the store and without hesitation Reagan ran from inside the store to the car to get an umbrella so mommy wouldn’t have to walk to the car and load up the groceries in the rain. Sometimes it’s the little things that encourage you the most.

Reagan at Kroger

 

Jesus The Socialist.

Bernie

This is not an endorsement of any candidate running for President. I would never stoop so low as to support any of the candidates running for either party’s nomination. If you are one of millions supporting a candidate, that is between you and your conscience. With that being said, the success of self described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders has brought Socialism to the forefront of debate and has legions of Americans, Christian and others, arguing that Jesus was a Socialist. It is a mantra chanted with every modern election but this time around it seems to be louder and much more prevalent. I have heard it said, among other things, Jesus was a Socialist hippy living in a commune with His disciples. Jesus was a lot of things but He was not a Socialist. Nor was he a Capitalist, Communist, Fascist, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Conservative, Liberal, or an advocate of any other system of worldly government or earthly kingdom. He was the author and the finisher of our faith and the architect of a heavenly kingdom.

For the sake of clarity let us define what true Socialism is. Socialism is the organization of a society in which business and production are owned by the government. Goods, and a person’s wealth, are distributed by the government and there is no private ownership of property. Basically the government forcibly takes income from one person, keeps a portion of it, and distributes it as they see fit. This type of system in more modern times has usually been spurred by violent revolution, and in very few cases by majority vote.

Jesus did not come to earth to spur political change or start a revolution. This is more than evident for the entirety of the New Testament. The common misconception for the Israelites at the time of Jesus was He came to lead a violent rebellion or revolution against the Roman Empire for the occupation of Israel. And when they found out this was not His mission He was quickly rejected by many. When Jesus was being arrested Matthew 26:55-56 (NIV) says this:

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Does an unarmed teacher whose small band of disciples deserted Him sound like a political revolution? Of course not. He was not promoting or condoning an earthly political system. To twist scripture and who Jesus was/is into advocating a political structure or school of thought is a perversion of His message and a major misunderstanding of the Gospel. It is also thinking on the level of the religious and political folk who were so brazenly opposed to Jesus in the accounts of the New Testament. After all, it was religion with the help of government that killed Jesus. Jesus refused to build and bow to an earthly kingdom and so should we. One example is Matthew 4:8 -10 (KJV):

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Some argue our government should be structured by Jesus’s example of communal living and charity i.e. feeding the poor, caring for the sick, etc. In the book of Luke (KJV) Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Jesus did not say or imply that the government, or your neighbor, should take your belongings, keep a portion of it, and distribute it to anyone. Nor did He say the taking of your property or wealth was acceptable by majority vote. To put the responsibility of feeding and clothing the poor on government’s shoulders, is not what Jesus taught. He taught personal individual responsibility, sacrifice, and giving. It is far too easy to be generous with someone else’s wealth.  And if you are an advocate of government or anyone else taking someone else’s livelihood, for any reason, you are supporting theft and making the earner a slave to the state. If you forcibly take income from one person to give to another it is immoral. It is absolutely in ere when a person advocates the government do what God has called the individual to do. The scripture calls for individuals and the church to care for the poor.

It is human nature to project who and what you believe onto your god, believing he or she is just like you. And that god is on your side in every conflict. After all, every nation that has ever been in war has believed God, a god, or gods were on there side. Stop projecting who Jesus is based on your own bias or party platform. Who Jesus is is clearly written throughtout the whole of scripture.

Jesus the Socialist? Not hardly.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Render Unto Caesar… Is it “Christian” to pay taxes?

Uncle Sam

Here are a few everyday taxes that  we “pay our fair share of” for you to ponder. There are hundreds more.

Federal Income Tax
State income Tax
Payroll Tax
Social Security Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
State Sales Tax
Gasoline Tax (Federal and State)
Utility taxes (Water, Gas, Sewage, Electric, Cable TV, Phone, etc.)
Various licenses (Just a Tax by Another Name) for Hunting, Fishing, Marriage, etc.
Car Taxes (License Plate, Transfer taxes, New Car Surcharge, Motorcycle, etc.)
Hotel Taxes
School tax (State and Local)
IRA and Investment Taxes and Penalties
Inheritance Tax (Federal and State)
Small business Taxes (Too Numerous to List)
Dog License/Permit (Tax by Another Name)
Air Travel Taxes
Boat Tax (Watercraft, etc.)
Gift Tax

I have heard it argued that it is, in fact, the Christian’s duty to pay taxes. And that it is the Christian’s Biblical responsibility to pay them blindly, without question or hesitation. Please allow me to be just a little nit picky here. First of all, one does not pay taxes, taxes are taken. Taxation is coercive. No matter how noble the cause, no matter how justifiable the ends may seem to be; if you forcibly take income from one person to give to another it is theft and it is immoral. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, whatever the excuse, it is immoral and is nothing less than theft. In the book of Luke (KJV) Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Jesus did not say or imply that the government, or your neighbor, should take your belongings, keep a portion of it, and distribute it to whomever. Nor did He say the taking of your property or wealth was acceptable by majority vote. Which would mean to any reasonably thinking person that taxation is not justifiable for any reason, whether it be noble or not. The majority of taxes are not allocated for noble causes in the least. Your tax dollars are funding illegal and immoral wars, abortions, erroneous and failed social programs, foreign “aid”, government salaries and pensions, and thousands of faulty projects, boondoggles, and bridges to nowhere. You and millions of others are funding, without a voice, an out of control, immoral, and wicked behemoth.

It is laughable to hear the term “government funded” thrown around so flippantly when it comes to government’s pet projects, grants, social programs, and so forth. How could an entity that does not produce anything have any honest means to provide anything? Government does not produce anything because it uses coercion to fund itself. The very heart of the state is taxation. Taxation, especially the income tax, is immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional. You would be hard pressed to discover any genuine constitutional scholar that could successfully argue the legitimacy of the income tax. Nor would you find a true teacher of the Gospel teaching a legitimate Biblical excuse for such an obvious and unjust crime against an individual. Your wealth is being robbed from you at an increasingly alarming rate. There are a plethora of taxes with new ones being voted to law on a regular basis. As of 2014, the number of pages in the federal tax code was 74,608! Imagine how long the tax code will be in thirty years. Perhaps in the future the governemt will abandon taxes altogether, control all of your income, and give you a stipend? It is not an outlandish statement considering the enormity of the tax code, the out of control spending from the government, and the increasing number of politicians and government employees who bleed the system. So the next time someone puffs out their chest to brag about what the government does with our money, just remember Washington, DC, per capita, is one of the richest cities in the world. Remember that the next time you struggle for money to pay for gas so you can drive to your second job. All the while your representatives in DC are being driven to their elitist functions and parties by their driver in a government owned vehicle with gas you paid for.

The biggest argument I hear from Christians who are so eager to do their civic duty and pay taxes is from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV). Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Your immediate response to this would be to take it at face value with a knee-jerk reaction saying, “Yeah, there it is. Jesus condones and promotes taxes… So you better pay your fair share!” But that is a very easy and shallow argument. The best teaching I have ever heard on this scripture is from Jeff Barr. Among other things he says: “Over the centuries, theologians, scholars, laymen, and potentates have interpreted the Tribute Episode incorrectly as Jesus’ support for the payment of taxes. First, this interpretation does not square with the political climate of the times. The Tribute Episode is set in the middle of a decades-old tax-revolt against Caesar’s tribute. Second, the rhetorical structure of the Tribute Episode, itself, contradicts any interpretation that Jesus supported paying taxes. Third, the Gospels contain episode after episode of subtle sedition. The Tribute Episode is just another of these subtly seditious scenes. When seen in the context of subtle sedition, the phrase “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” means that the emperor is owed nothing.”

It is no more a Christian’s duty to pay taxes as it is for the Christian to knock on their neighbor’s door and take their wallet at gun point. Charity is not supporting the government taking people’s wealth and redistributing it and stated very plainly it is supporting stealing. Even if it is done by majority vote, because theft by majority vote is still theft. True charity is voluntarily giving one’s own money, from the sweat of their own brow, without threat or law.

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV) Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

 

 

Ten Random Facts About American Politics.

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I used to be a loud and obnoxious political junkie. Even worse, I mingled politics with my faith. Then I started to read books about foreign policy, economics, and study real history. I meditated on God’s Word and let His Spirit speak to me about my role as a Christian in politics. I turned off Fox News and talk radio and began to actually think objectively. Here are ten facts about American politics in no particular order.

1. American politics is like professional wrestling.

Behind the scenes they’re friends and partners. Writing a script and planning well crafted distractions. Their only difference is rhetoric.


2. The GOP doesn’t mean “God’s Own Party.” 

A reformed DC insider once said Democrats and Republicans go to the same parties, sleep with the same whores, do the same drugs, and drink the same drinks. He said Christians would be shocked if they knew the reality that is Washington DC.

3. Christians lose credibility being involved in politics.

Take the 2012 presidential race for example. Christians publicly supported Mitt Romney and mainstream Christian ministers publicly endorsed him. One big problem: Romney is a Mormon. So Mormonism is a cult and will send me to Hell, but you want me to vote for Romney because he’s great for the country? Of course most of Christianity has accepted, or is starting to accept, Mormonism as just another Christian denomination. Thanks in part to Mitt Romney’s success in helping make their cult mainstream.


4. Vote for the lessor of two evils.

Voting for the lessor of two evils is still voting for evil.

5. Campaign donors.

Most, if not all, of the presidential candidates in modern times have the exact same top donors to their campaign.

6. Politicians are bought and paid for.

They should all be required to wear suits that look like Nascar uniforms.

7. There is a such thing as class warfare.

It’s us versus them. “Us” meaning everyone, and “them” meaning the ruling class. The ruling class includes ALL politicians (including your guy) and everyone politically connected.

8. Show me the money.

Washington, DC and the surrounding area is the wealthiest in the world.

9. If you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain.

If you do vote YOU don’t have the right to complain. You’re perpetuating a broken and criminal system. If your vote really mattered there’d quickly be an alternative to voting put in place.

10. “We” don’t do anything.

Never ever say “we” when referring to anything the government does. “We” don’t tax, go to war, give foreign aid, hand out entitlement checks, give bail outs, etc, etc, etc. the government does. Ours isn’t a government for the people by the people. It’s a government of a few well connected family and friends. An exclusive club you’ll never be a member of.

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