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.

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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.

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.

 

 

The Iran Deal

Nukes

Other than knee-jerk hysteria, hype, and slanted opinion; do you really know what this Iran Deal is about?  Let me be clear here: I in no way support the government of Iran. Nor am I a fan of President Obama, or ANY politician for that matter. But this deal could possibly be the only thing Obama has done right, or will do right, in his entire presidency.

Iran was never a weapons threat. They have not invaded or made a preemptive strike against another nation in a thousand years. It is time to move past the rhetoric from some of Iran’s leadership and look at their actions. Even Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have said they have NEVER feared an Iranian first strike, even if Iran had a nuclear weapon. The Israelis only fear is that an armed Iran would limit their freedom of action in the entire region. In other words, Israel would not be able to wage wars in the region if Iran did, in fact, develop a nuclear weapon.

The United States has had a cold war with Iran since 1979 when the hostages were taken. In 1979 the Iranians overthrew the American imposed dictatorship that the CIA helped to install in 1953 by overthrowing Iran’s democratically elected government. Iran has been repeatedly threatened with aggressive war from not only the United States but others across the region for years. The rhetoric from both Iran, the U.S., and Israel is nothing short of chest thumping pomposity for mostly political gain.

In the deal, Iran has taken their already safe guarded IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) civilian nuclear electricity program and agreed to significantly scale it down limiting their enrichment percentage to 3.67. This is industrial electricity grade uranium 235 and cannot be used for a nuclear bomb. The deal also says they will use everything they produce without stockpiling it. The Iranians have also agreed to shut down their second facility which only enriched up to twenty percent, still short of bomb grade and was used for their medical isotope reactor given to them by President Gerald Ford. They will also be bringing in Americans to assist them in reconfiguring their Arak facility so it does not produce and rely on heavy water. The water will be so polluted with other isotopes and waste that it will be completely useless for bomb making. They do not even have the reprocessing facility used to make the waste into useable plutonium if it was not polluted. They are also going from twenty thousand operating centrifuges to five or six thousand.

In this deal the Iran nuclear program will be the most inspected in history. All the facilities will be under the inspection agreement. The program was always safeguarded but now any reasonable thinking person could draw the conclusion that it is doubly safeguarded. In other words, any person who is not politically motivated can draw the right conclusion.

So does Iran want a nuclear weapon? Probably. But why would they not? Everyone around them has one. I hope Iran never develops a nuclear weapon. My wish would be that no nation, including the United States, on the planet would ever possess nuclear warheads.

So what does this deal really mean? For starters it could be the end of the cold-war with Iran. Especially considering the sanctions aimed at them will be lifted as a result of their cooperation. Sanctions never damage or hurt a government to any degree worth mentioning, but they do damage and hurt a country’s populous. A populous, by the way,  that includes Christians (who have been there for centuries), innocents, missionaries, and peace loving people who wold love nothing more than to live their lives.

So why all the hype? It seems to be a right of passage for every presidential nominee to threaten and condemn Iran. Mostly because it appeals to the overwhelmingly ignorant population stirring up a misguided and perverted swell of patriotism. It also ensures job security for the huge Israel lobby in DC who funnels the wealth of small nations into these campaigns. Interestingly enough these same chest thumpers never condemn Saudi Arabia’s atrocities.

So other than rhetoric from the U.S., Israel, and Iran; what makes you believe Iran has the ability to develop a nuclear bomb? Is it the candidates who profit from the lobbyists? Is it the doomsday TV evangelists who profit from the hype? Or is it talk radio or cable news getting their talking points from the highest bidder? If you believe that Israel is God’s chosen people, and God will protect them at all cost, then how could Iran destroy Israel even if they had a nuclear bomb?

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Christmas time in Iran.

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Nativity scene on the streets of Tehran.

Joel Osteen is not your enemy.

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This is for those Christians who ordain themselves “fruit inspectors” or consider themselves God’s “Holy Ghost police force.” It is not just about Joel Osteen. So many other ministers have been publicly raked across the coals for one reason or the other by Christians who consider themselves obligated, or feel it is their purpose, to expose and malign those Christians they do not agree with.  Let me start by saying I do not watch or listen to Joel Osteen. I have listened to him in the past but never on a regular basis. I am not an expert on Joel Osteen or his ministry, but neither are those who are so eager to bash him. I have done enough research to know that most of the stories circulating on the internet concerning him are either taken out of context or just false. Again, this journey is deeper than Joel Osteen. It is about the self-righteous piety on display by Christians publicly beating their chests like ancient Pharisees. Some Christians today are like vicious attack dogs. They are so eager to scream about supposed, and actual, short comings of any minister.

The one thing that sticks out to me concerning the criticism of Osteen and many others is their positive and encouraging message. Some have deemed their message the “feel good Gospel.” Like somehow if a Pastor is not preaching against sin at every opportunity, it is not the Gospel. The funny thing is those people who love it when ministers preach against sin, soon change their tune when the minister begins to preach against their sin. The Bible says it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. Romans 2:4 (NLT) says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

Plastering Joel Osteen or any minister’s face all over social media is not healthy. I dare say it is not Godly. There are ministers I would not walk across the street to see but it is not my job to rally against them. Let’s be honest, it is not Biblical to slander, accuse, or lambaste any minister’s character publicly. In Matthew 18:15 (KJV) God tells us, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

If a minister commits an atrocity, lies, or spreads false doctrine; God will deal with them. Their public presence will ultimately fail. As Biblically based Christians we do not condone false doctrine; nor do we promote or defend it. If you do not like Osteen or any other minister’s message, do not listen to it. Find someone who you feel is well balanced and speaks the whole of the Gospel.

Remember that you are not the Holy Ghost Police – stop eating your own and remember Joel Osteen is not your enemy.  Satan is our enemy and he would love nothing more than the church to tear itself apart from the inside out. Next time you are inclined to share the latest attack article or status, try praying for that person.
It may just work out to be the best for you, and them.

American Church: Get Divorced… From The Government.

Marriage License

The rhetoric from both sides of the so-called “gay marriage” debate is nothing short of detestable. The “tolerant left” and the “Christian right” are spewing out hateful and hurtful hot air at a fever pitch. And… it is exhausting. How many bridges have you, as a Christian, burned? Is your opinion so important to you that you have to get it out there for the world to see, regardless of how much influence you lose? And to the non and liberal Christian; is your rainbow profile pic so important to you that you risk the chance of souring your relationships with those who do not agree with you? Your false sense of caring and your skewed sense of love is prideful at best. “Look at me! Look at how tolerant and excepting  I am!” “If you disagree you must be a close-minded country bumpkin.” Please… With that being said, lets get down to the brass tacks on the matter.

The church, whether it be intentional or non-intentional, has cared far more for the government’s definition of marriage than they have God’s definition of marriage. This is where we, as Christians, are wrong. Most Christians think of marriage as just a legal contract, almost exclusively in a civic sense. Which explains why the divorce rate among those claiming to be Christian are just as high or even higher as non-Christians. (Really the only thing a Christian needs to divorce is government.) Maybe Christians are afraid same sex “marriage” will threaten the sanctity of their fourth marriage? Marriage is not a legal institution justified and made legitimate by the state. Marriage is a spiritual institution given its legitimacy by God through an officiating Christian minister. It is a lifelong monogenist commitment between one man and one woman as defined in the Old and New Testaments. The government’s definition of marriage should not matter in the least to a believer. To belabor the need for a constitutional amendment for a definition of marriage to come from the highest echelons of government is a poor witness and only lends credence to government, implying its legitimacy is higher than God’s. It ultimately places government above God’s authority.

A minister friend of mine conducted a wedding for a very devout Christian couple and forgot to mail the proper paper work to the state. The couple received a letter in the mail requesting the paper work be mailed in. In a panic the couple contacted my friend fearing they were not really married because the paperwork for the state was not filed. They actually thought they were living in sin because of this. This is a Christian couple who stood before their congregation and made a marriage covenant before God to one another. This is what we have come to as a church. Where a marriage license, which is just a tax, is held in more esteem than the Word of God. This is a heart issue and idolatry problem. For more on that read my blog entry called American Jesus And The Religion Of The State. 

So the next time you find yourself calling for America to repent, maybe you should be a little retrospective. Perhaps God is calling for you to repent? The next time you feel the need to call for political action you should remember that this Supreme Court ruling has presented a grand opportunity for the church to divorce government once and for all. A chance to sing a sovereign anthem to the King of Kings and not a king. An opportunity to serve in the King’s court and not the jester’s. A chance to follow the wind of Holy Spirit and not the winds of political theatre. Christianity is not a political action committee. Remember this: We are strangers. We are aliens. We are not of this world. Our hope isn’t in a nation-state or its laws. Our God isn’t government. Our hope isn’t government. Our destiny isn’t government. Ours is a new covenant. Our citizenship is HIS kingdom. Our definitions of sacred institutions aren’t defined by any person, regardless of position or appointment. Start meditating on God and His Word and stop being a shill for government and its dictates.

American Jesus And The Religion Of The State.

American Jesus

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 (KJV)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

I believe in the true meaning of the separation of church and state. Actually I believe in the separation of state and everything. But nonetheless; nowhere in the Constitution do the words “separation of church and state” appear. This phrase has become the most twisted phrase in modern vernacular pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. The founders of the United States were opposed to a state sponsored church. It really is as simple as that. The first amendment guarantees that Congress shall not establish a national religion. On the flip side of that it says Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. Here we are living in modern times and the church has put itself in a box. Stifling it’s right to freely exercise the right to exist independently of the state. Far too long the church has slept quietly while major denominations and prominent leaders pimp themselves out as cheap whores to political special interest groups and their party of choice. Statism and idol worship have even crept their way in to the church like a deadly silent plague cleverly disguised as patriotism and honor. The church should be governed solely by God and led only by the Holy Spirit without pagan practices and worldly influence. Most American churches are adorned with idolatrous symbols and led by those who are more influenced by political winds than they are of the Holy Spirit.

Anyone that has spent anytime in Sunday school knows the story of the three Hebrew boys; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar ruled the land during their time and he made a giant image of gold demanding all his provincial officials bow and worship it. Anyone who refused would be thrown into a blazing fiery furnace. The Hebrew boys watched over the province of Babylon at the time of the idol’s dedication. At the dedication some astrologers brought it to the king’s attention that the Hebrew boys neither served the king’s gods nor worshiped the golden idol. King Nebuchadnezzar was outraged and interrogated the boys. The king gave them an ultimatum; either worship the idol or be thrown into the fire! The boys refused so the king became enraged and had the furnace heated seven times greater than usual and he threw them in. To the king’s amazement the boys not only survived the blaze but were miraculously rescued by a fourth person in the fire. The boys emerged from the fire without even one singed hair on their heads. So great was the miracle that there was no smell of smoke on them and their robes were spotless. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted in the one true God and defied the king’s demand to worship other gods and idols. They were willing to give up their lives rather than worship anything or anyone other than their God. It is important to note here that King Nebuchadnezzar did not ask the Hebrew boys to worship the golden idol with exclusivity. He asked them to worship the idol in addition to their God.

In many ways modern Christians worship government, in addition to God, much like pagans worship their false gods and idols. They look to government for their protection and sustenance and faithfully expect it to be their supplier and provider. Government is exonerated and its officials are extolled like they have been ordained by God to lord over the populous. Churches very openly fly the U.S. flag higher than the Christian flag and their platforms are often adorned with nation flags. I have no ill will towards the flag and see nothing sacrilegious about businesses or homeowners displaying them if they choose to. Even wording that one hundred years ago would have been reserved for holy objects is now referred to for state objects. For example, if someone were to destroy a U.S. flag the media, and common folk alike, will say someone has desecrated the flag. To desecrate something means to destroy something that is sacred. The word sacred means that the object is connected with God or used for religious purposes. Church choirs sing hymns to the state on or around national holidays and special services are dedicated to honor the state and its vast military industrial complex. All of this without even the slightest apprehension from clergy or parishioners.

Within Christianity there are Christian organizations solely dedicated to promoting legislative action and political agendas. While these things are not entirely bad they still miss the purpose of the Great Commission. You will not find one example in the New Testament when Jesus ever condones the use of government or legislative action for a godly end. Furthermore, you would be hard pressed to find one instance or example of early generations of the church promoting political agendas by protesting or boycotting certain groups of society, calling for special amendments to the constitution, or demanding special elections. Boycotts and protests simply isolate Christians from those they are called to minister to. Taking legislative action against those we are called to reach is a non-spiritual attempt to use man’s institution of government to try to achieve something that can only be achieved in the spiritual realm. Even if these organization succeed in their efforts, they have not changed anyone’s hearts or minds. They will have only won a political battle driving a wedge further between them and non-Christians.

What Christians fail to see is government is coercive in nature and inherently evil. I cannot imagine the early church singing songs praising their country or lauding their politicians. We must rely on God and Him only. We should pray the Holy Spirit convicts our leaders of their horrendous sins and makes their paths straight. First Timothy 2:1-4 says, “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. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It is time for Christians to step up to the plate and do what God has intended for us to do. For too long the church has chased its tail and fervently supported political agendas at a fever pitch. Sadly the American Christian church has become a state religion that resembles a political action committee far more than the Church of our Lord. State worship is blatant in American Christianity and sadly it is encouraged and promoted. I fear American Christians have made Jesus to be an American Jesus proudly pictured with a Bible in one hand and the U.S. constitution in the other.

Do you serve the American Jesus or the Jesus of the Bible?

I Am a Political Atheist.

“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:27 (NIV)

Yes, it is true, I am a political atheist. I do not believe in elected politics or the almighty god of democracy any longer. I will admit I used to be a political junkie and election night was my Super Bowl. I would argue the doctrine of what I thought was conservatism like a fiery Pentecostal evangelist. I was right, you were wrong, and that was the end of the story. I was an apostle of Shawn Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh and I new all the clever RNC talking points spewed forth by the aforementioned. I thought I was educated in the way of elected politics, political theory, conservatism, and what the Bible said about who and what to vote for but I was dead wrong. Blasphemy was common place and I did not even know it. I actually thought Republican and Christian were synonymous and if Jesus were here in the flesh He would actually vote, and even worse vote a straight Republican ticket. An awakening began in me around 2004. The Spirit of the Lord began to deal with me concerning these matters and I began to read books and essays on economics, elected politics, political theory, history, and Christianity’s role in politics. I was becoming what the political elites and the media do not want you to be; educated.

No meaningful change ever comes from elected politics. Sure, they will throw you a bone from time to time by lowering or raising a tax or passing some controversial bill, but it is just a dog and pony show. Voting has become a sacred cow. Election Day is akin to a holy day to be revered and respected by the masses and voting is considered an honor similar to a religious rite. After all, “good men and women died for our right to vote.” A good majority of polling stations are even in churches. In election season you will hear the same pitch over and over. “If you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain!” It is my opinion that the folks that do vote do not have the right to complain. The voters are the ones perpetuating a broken system and voting for the proverbial “lessor of two evils.” The problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is you are still voting for evil. There is no choice in elected politics. You have two sides arguing over two candidates who are bought and paid for by the same corporations and supported by most of the same special interest groups. In reality it is only their rhetoric that is just somewhat different. Politics is like professional wrestling. In front of the camera the wrestlers are enemies but behind the scenes they are friends and even write their next match’s script together.

Senate races are especially amusing to me now. The age old argument is you have to hold your nose and vote for candidate A because you do not want candidate B’s party to win the majority. But so what if one party has the majority over the other? Americans are either incredibly optimistic, ridiculously naive, or the majority of voters have early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. One only has to go back a short time to see the folly of the, “majority will run amuck” myth. In 1994 after the Republicans won the congress with the “Republican Revolution” and Speaker Newt Gingrich made his “Contract with America” the Republicans repealed nothing. That is right; nothing. All their talk of the bloated Clinton controlled government and they repealed nothing. Government, on their watch, just got bigger. More recently under Bush II’s administration when the Republicans controlled every branch of government, government grew more than even FDR could have imagined . The spending was astronomical and the policies were detrimental. The TSA, No Child Left Behind, The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (the largest socialized medicine scheme since Lyndon B Johnson), and countless other boondoggles were ripe with fraud and cronyism that would would make LBJ look conservative. Bush’s numbers in his first four years, while his party controlled Congress, added almost $350 billion to the federal budget.

The Republican pander to the religious-right is especially sickening at election time. A lot of Christian Republicans will tell you they are a one issue voter and the swing of their vote depends on the candidates position on abortion. If the Republicans did not have the “pro-life” platform to run on, they could not run. If they really wanted it abolished it would have been abolished by now. And what constitutes being pro life? How could someone claim to be for life and lobby to bomb civilians? The Republicans controlled the government under Bush and essentially they could have rammed almost anything through but here we are years later and abortion is still legal, government is a tyrannical behemoth, and Bush’s extra-constitutional exploits paved the way for Obama’s follies. It is astonishing to me how Obama supporters could still hate Bush. Obama has taken the Bush Doctrine and ran with it. Obama shares a myriad of commonalities with Bush; so much so you would think Bush never left office. For example both administrations had enormous bailouts, out of control federal spending, colossal unemployment numbers, stimulus packages, assaults on civil liberties, huge expansions in social medicine, executive orders, and more illegal wars and skirmishes than all administrations combined. Any reasonably thinking and educated person would look at the two administrations and draw one conclusion, that these two are one.

So what is a good Christian political atheist to do? It is simple really. Pray and believe God for the best despite the ridiculous propaganda and folly of the ruling class. A Christian should only look to the Bible for their example. There is no example of the early church promoting political revolution. Jesus could have came to earth and set up an earthly kingdom here. The Jews fully expected Jesus to helm a major political revolution. In fact, Satan promised Jesus that very thing if Christ would only bow down and worship him. The Word says in Matthew 4, “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.” I cannot even begin to imagine the Apostles advocating and promoting Caesar the way Christians advocate politicians. Even if Rome would have been a “Christian” nation you would not have seen politicking in the early church because it only causes division and bitter divide amongst believers and those we are called to reach. No substantial or meaningful change will ever come from elected politics, if it did voting would be outlawed. Change will only come when people wake from the slumber, really educate themselves, turn off Fox News and CNN, and study unbiased history while seeking God’s will.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

Your Foreign Policy Is Wrong.

Lesley Stahl discussing U.S. sanctions against Iraq on 60 Minutes in 1996: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.” (May 1996)

“F**k Saddam, we’re taking him out.” –President George W. Bush (Said to three U.S. Senators a full year before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.)

“God is pro-war.” -Jerry Falwell (January 2004)

You would be hard pressed to find a subject more misunderstood in modern society, and especially in the church, than foreign policy and war. Christians and non-Christians alike will argue their position with fervent passion with most having never grasped the New Testament teachings of peace and grace or even read a book on the subject of foreign policy. Most could not even find the countries on a map they are arguing to invade! When the calls from Christians to bomb, invade, and occupy foreign lands is greater than the call to reach a nation for Christ there is serious error.

Your foreign policy is wrong when it does not line up with what the New Testament teaches. There are many times in the Old Testament that God directed His people to war but to say this is how God operates in the New Testament age of grace is the opposite of Jesus’ teachings. It also implies that modern governments are hearing from, and are being directed by God on matters of foreign policy. But the United States, Israel, or any other nation’s military is not God’s Army and their leaders are not God’s priests. Furthermore, to say God is on any one nation’s side is ludicrous. God does not look down upon the Earth and see a map with border lines and nation states. There are Christians on both sides of every conflict regardless of what nation they are citizen of or what their government represents. Christians perish, and have perished, on both sides of every bombing raid or invasion in all of history. See Here. But every knee-jerk argument invoked by well meaning Christians seem to follow the belief of what they claim as divine favor and to be in disagreement with the majority of government’s decisions, according to them, is sinful. The Book of Romans is usually the “smoking gun” to end all debate. For example… “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (‭Romans‬ ‭13‬:‭1-2‬ KJV) If this is a valid argument of what this scripture really means, or a worthy excuse to follow government’s every whim, then the Germans under the Nazi regime would be justified by following this misinterpretation and supporting every atrocity perpetrated by their government during the second world war. In actuality Christians are very selective as to which commands they will follow. Most of them would never travel abroad and preemptively kill in mass but let them be ordered by the government to do so and they will because they fail to correctly distinguish between Old and New Testament.

It seems today if you are a Christian you are automatically expected to believe that God is pro-war and blesses every skirmish, war or invasion. But being pro-war is not a traditional Christian position, nor is it a traditional conservative position. American Christians should study the Word without the dark cloud of political bias hanging ominously above their heads. They should also study the hatred and disgust of war by the early church fathers. For example, Justin Martyr said this of the peaceful nature and heart of early Christians: “And we who had been filled with war and mutual slaughter and every wickedness have each one all the world over changed the instruments of war, the swords into plows and the spears into farming instruments, and we cultivate piety, righteousness, love for all men, faith and the hope which is from the Father Himself through the Crucified One. We who hated and slew one another, and because of differences in customs would not share a common hearth with those who are not of our tribe, now after the appearance of Christ have become sociable, and pray for our enemies, and try to persuade those who hate us unjustly in order that they, living according to the good suggestions of Christ, may share our hope of obtaining the same reward from God, Who is master of all.” Contrast Martyr’s quote, which WAS mainstream thought, with a Methodist’s minister’s quote during the war hysteria at the beginning of World War I: “I would have gone over the top with other Americans. I would have driven my bayonet into the throat or the eye or stomach of the Huns without the slightest hesitation, and my conscience would not have bothered me in the least.” This quote represents the heart of modern Christianity that was birthed during the dreaded Century of War. Also, seeing that the majority of American Christians are Republican, they should study the early conservatives and realize that before William F. Buckley, Jr. (ex-CIA man), and the publication of his magazine National Review, the Republican Party was the anti-war party. The founding fathers were also vehemently opposed to foreign entanglements of every kind. Thomas Jefferson said: “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” The answer for modern theorists seems to be the more foreign entanglements the U.S. Involves itself in then the safer the world will be. If they would study blow black as suggested by the CIA and made mainstream by Dr. Ron Paul, they would realize the folly of their beliefs. Their answer to fix the problems started by dropping bombs is strangely enough, to drop more bombs.

Foreign invasions in modern time and throughout history have been done under the guise of humanitarian missions with the U.S. media being the most vocal supporters. Years ago there was a defector from the Soviet Union who said the biggest difference between the people of the Soviet Union and the United States is people in the U.S. actually believe what the media reports. No modern U.S. invasion has been a humanitarian mission. One example is Iraq. The entire Christian population has been driven out or ethnically cleansed of their communities where they have worshiped since the days of Christ and this is a direct result of the U.S. invasion. The same is true for Libya. It is true that Saddam and Gaddafi were horrible men and even more horrible leaders but the U.S. has no right to invade any sovereign nation, especially without congressional approval. Even with congressional approval it does not make pre-emptive war moral or just. If the U.S. military industrial complex was in the business of humanitarian mission then they would have liberated thousands of people in Africa who have been slaughtered by radical regimes for years.

Most modern Christians are unapologetically militant and ready to bomb any nation for almost any reason. Their hearts are so full of vengeance and blood-lust. Remember, sprinkled in amongst the bomb’s targets are children, women, and Christians dying a death they do not deserve. If there is one thing any U.S. president can count on, it is the support of American Christians and the dumbed down masses for any and all military action. This is in spite years of blow-back and terrorism started by illegal, unjust, and immoral offensive wars. Your foreign policy is wrong.

As for me and my house, we will serve The Prince of Peace…not the God of War.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (KJV)

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 (KJV)

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18 (KJV)