Husband, Father, Friend, Pastor/Coach

Month: August 2021

The Kingdom or the Constitution?

As Americans, we live in a constitutional republic; we get to elect our leaders, for the most part, and if we are dissatisfied with them, we can replace them next time around. In every generation, there is political corruption. There has never been a time in our nation where there was not scandal or political posturing.

America has never been a Christian nation.

I realize that I’ve lost many of you with that statement. I am fully aware of the arguments that support the idea that America was founded upon Christianity, and even to colonize (mainly) the Protestant religion. There is truth in that statement.

The truth is that many European settlers believed that the “new world” was the New Jerusalem. Colonization was almost always done under the banner of God, because monarchs ruled with divine authority. After the nation was founded with a Constitution, many wanted Washington to become King. Thankfully, he rejected it.

Is the constitution based upon biblical principles? Yes. For the most part. Acknowledging a creator is a salient point.

Here’s the burning question for the Christian; the follower of Jesus Christ: is the U.S. Constitution congruent with the Kingdom?

Let’s look at the bill of rights; the first ten amendments, and see how they align with being a Christian. Bear in mind that the entire construction of the Constitution was based upon an adverserial relationship with Britain. I’m going to list the summary from the government’s website in italics, then comment below.

  1. The First Amendment provides several rights protections: to express ideas through speech and the press, to assemble or gather with a group to protest or for other reasons, and to ask the government to fix problems. It also protects the right to religious beliefs and practices. It prevents the government from creating or favoring a religion.

Think as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Does the KINGDOM of God and His Christ provide the right to free speech? Or the right to assemble as I see fit? Or not favoring a religion? Or course not! Since Jesus is my king, my Lord, and my master, He has full control over what I say.

I once had a young man get upset because I rebuked him for gossiping in the foyer. He wrote me a letter stating that he thought since I was veteran I would appreciate the right to free speech. No. There is no right to free speech in the Kingdom. Proverbs has a boat load of information on the use of the tongue, and James teaches us that the tongue needs to be tamed by the Holy Spirit.

Does the KINGDOM make room for “the right to assemble?” Here’s the principle. The early church assembled all of the time, and all of their time was devoted to the Lord. My life is in His hands. Everything that I do with my time, talent, and treasure belongs to the Lord, because He is my King. I am not stating that Christians are to live in some zombie like cult of mind control, but the principle of “I can go anywhere I want to do and do what I please” is NOT a kingdom value.

The most obvious “non kingdom” value of the first amendment is that one religion isn’t favored over another. Followers of Jesus Christ have a mandate that goes all the way back to Mount Sanai, “You will have no other gods before me.” Jesus said about himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father except by me.” John 14:6.

As stated earlier, the first ten amendments are called “The Bill of Rights.” That one word is contrary to a disciple; RIGHTS. When we come to Christ, it is not to gain rights, but to surrender them. “If anyone will follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

As Americans, we fully believe in the strength and the weight of the U.S. Constitution. As followers of Jesus Christ – our King, we learn to surrender our rights.

That’s just the first amendment. What about the second amendment? The right to bear arms. For the kingdom, it would seem that scriptures teach both; lay them down, and pick them up. Now that’s a conundrum. Jesus teaches that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and he also teaches that if you don’t have one, to get one.

So often, Christians are looking for a loop hole verse in the Bible. Here’s the truth: Jesus is King, and He might tell one that it is ok to bear arms, and another that it is not. Think of the War Between the States; both sides claimed that God was on their side.

Jesus plainly stated, when quizzed by Pilate, that His kingdom is not of this world. Furthermore, Jesus said that if it were, he would have his servants fight.

As a citizen of the Kingdom, it would appear that taking up arms or not taking up arms is supported by the King. Each one of us must ask our King! Common sense tells us that we need law enforcement personnel that are Christians. The Centurion with great faith nor Cornelius were expected to exit military service because of their faith.

The third and fourth amendment deal with the government intrusion into private homes. In light of the Kingdom, Peter encourages believers to embrace persecution. (I Peter). This concept is foreign to Americans, for now.

The citizens of the Kingdom will be faithful to their King, no matter the consequences.

more in our next posting…

Pray for Rain

When Faith and I moved to Bakersfield, California, we had no idea it was so hot here…or so dry. The second realization came after the first. The heat was very observable. Just this week, we will have several plus 100 degree days.

The absence of moisture was harder to detect, because everywhere one looks, there are green and lush vegetation. The central valley of California is the fruit basket of the nation.

But we’re in a drought.

The irony of our dry situation is that 100 years ago, folks from Arkansas and Oklahoma migrated here for a better life. They were leaving the dust bowl of the plains behind.

People follow water. Water is necessary for life.

Right now, thousands of acres are burning 300 miles north of Bakersfield. The effects of those fires are traveling south into the valley. There are so many forest fires in the west, that it referred to as “fire season.” Most of the states out west are in severe drought.

We must pray for rain.

Do you mean spiritual rain or literal rain? Yes.

One of the criticisms of the followers of Yaweh was that they were worshiping Him for better crops, better living conditions, and all of their faith was simplistic superstition, and not based in fact.

Modern man has accepted this notion. We’ve discovered how to irrigate, and therefore we don’t need to pray for rain. Man will provide.

In Zechariah 10, these words are written: “ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain. Grass in the field for everyone. “

General George Patton was certainly not a paragon of faith, however, He believed that people of faith actually had a connection with God. He ordered his chaplain to pray for rain, so that the enemy could not advance. The rains came, and the story is told that the General gave the chaplain a commendation.

That story may sound fantastic, but the scriptural call is there for us to see. With God, there is no difference between Him blessing us with what we desperately need; rain to fall upon our drought-ridden land, and for His Holy Spirit to fall upon our drought-ridden hearts!

Pray for Rain! It isn’t just a bumper sticker, or a refrigerator slogan. Ask any of your neighbors, friends, politicians, or fire fighters, “do you think we need more rain?”

Zechariah essentially is saying, “pray for rain when its rainy.” That’s odd, and almost seems contradictory. Shouldn’t we be praying for rain, when we’re in a drought? Yes to both. You see, in other parts of our country right now, its raining, raining, raining.

We can see that and begin to pray, “just like its raining right now over there, so let it rain over here.” We can perceive that and pray it in the spirit as well. “Lord, I see what You are doing over there in that area; setting people free, filling them with Your Holy Spirit, mending relationships, driving devils out; over there, do it here, Lord.”

Let it rain. And when we feel the rain falling, keep praying for more rain.

There is a scripture that reads that He makes it rain on the just and the unjust. We tend to look at that scripture in a negative tone; like a rainy, dreary day. “Well, everyone has a rainy day now and then” kind of attitude.

From God’s perspective, rain only meant judgment one time. Ever since that time, (after the flood), rain means blessing.

“Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need. Mercy drops ’round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.”

Let it rain!

I Miss Mr. Dillon, Too

My Uncle Joy used to always greet me, “hello, Mr. Dillon.” This was because I often dressed up like a cowboy. Chester Goode called U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon, “Mr. Dillon.” Festus called him Matthew.

Gunsmoke was a great television show. When it aired its last episode, it was, at that time, the longest running serial.

The good old days. We miss the the days of yesteryear; the good guys wore white, the bad guys wore black. TV went off after Johnny Carson. I don’t mean turning the tv off; I mean the station went off.

Yes, the good old days. Your neighbors could listen in to your phone conversation if they wanted to. Most of us didn’t have air conditioning. Many didn’t have one car; much less two cars. You know, the good old days. 🙂

In these difficult days, our faith and our commitment to Christ and His mission if often obscured by what we “don’t have” compared to what we have. In our well intentioned longing for things to “get back to normal” we miss what God is doing.

I am a son of the church. In the good old days, we had Sunday School, Sunday morning, Sunday night, well attended revivals, Wednesday night Family Training Hour, Thursday night visitation, and quite often Saturday activities at the church or for the church. There was the Ladies Willing Worker Band, district rallies, summer Camp Meeting, youth camp, vacation Bible school, and hosting the Pioneers for Christ in the summer for door to door witnessing campaigns.

In my teen years, it was normal to arrive early to ride the bus to get kids to church, teach Sunday School, worship, go home and eat lunch, and feed our animals, go to a “singing” at another church in the afternoon, go back to our church for Sunday evening service, and go out to eat with a group after that service. We seldom got home before 11:00 PM on Sunday nights.

I do not regret the good old days for one moment. Those are memories, and they are not intended to be road signs, but landmarks.

Many have concluded that the pandemic has the power to squelch the efficacy of the church because of quarantines. Perhaps we don’t believe that in words, but our actions tell on us.

The early church had no buildings to gather in, but on Day One of The Church, 3,000 were baptized in water, and with the Holy Spirit, (not including the 120). A few chapters into Acts, God’s people are beheaded, beaten, tossed in jail…and the church grew!

The early church had no organized Sunday School, graded choirs, B3 Hammond Organ, or Camp Meeting tents.

In Acts 15, some of the good brethren got concerned. Their traditions – good traditions – were being challenged. They were observing that many non Jewish people were joining the church. Things were changing.

What we often do when things are moving different, or challenges our tradition, is that we make it “spiritual.” “Unless you are circumcised after the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1). The text calls them “certain men.”

You know who “certain men” are? Over the years, I’ve heard this, “pastor, people are saying…” Certain men. The writer of Acts, Luke, either precludes their names because he doesn’t know who are they are, or because he does know who they are!

Certain men are folks who are “certain” that they are correct, and everyone else is wrong. Traditions can hold onto us strong.

Acts 15 records the event. This controversy picked up steam, and they had a convention in Jerusalem to discuss the matter. In the end, tradition did not prevail; because God had shown them what He was doing! A new thing!

We all have creature comforts and preferences. I miss Mr. Dillon, too! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I love Mexican food. If my stomach would allow, I would eat it every day of the week. Now, imagine me saying to you, “unless you eat Mexican food, you’re not right with God.”

That’s a ridiculous notion for sure.

What about our landmarks of our faith? Have we made them a required road map for all to travel?

Can God move mightily on the computer as well as in a church building? He already is.

The early church was building a bridge one plank at a time. The Holy Spirit was moving them at a pace they had never known.

What about now? Can we imagine that God is working through all of the challenges, calling us to a place we’ve never been?

I sure hope so!

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