Monday, September 28, 2009

In the Beginning... (Conclusion)

Interesting how inverting the colors on the Iwo Jima picture makes the soldiers look like white knights of righteousness, amid a darkening sky of sin.

Without further ado, here is the conclusion of the tract that inspired this blog:

The First Amendment also guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, that the government cannot restrict or censure what people can say or report. This was written to prevent the tyranny that so permeated the Old World, at the time of its writing. But with any freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. This freedom extends to the entertainment industry, which has been getting progressively worse since its inception, more and more boldly pushing the envelope of “good taste.” It is sad (and scary) to admit, but since almost everyone watches television, goes to the movies, and listens to music (add to that a growing number of those who surf the net and play video games), the media has the awesome power to dictate what is morally acceptable. And as it continues to push the limits, moral decay continues to worsen.

There is no greater example of this than modern society’s views on sex, sexuality, and marriage. Sex before marriage is promoted in every form of entertainment that there is! Homosexuality, once considered an unmentionable sin, is now being promoted on television, in movies, and in magazines. Even some churches, considered by many to be the last bastions of morality, now accept and support openly gay priests and ministers, in absolute defiance of God’s opinion on the matter. The epidemic is sweeping the country, and the debate on the legality of gay marriages is raging. Its proponents argue that it’s an issue of human rights, similar to the civil rights movement of the middle twentieth century. But we must distinguish between “rights” and “what is right.”

Let’s not deceive ourselves: the reason why the U.S. and state Constitutions do not explicitly define marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman is that, until recently, the idea of men marrying men and women marrying women was considered ludicrous! Genesis 19 recounts the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by the Lord, for the sin of homosexuality. In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul condemns the act as “vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” And again, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” These are not the words of a stubborn bigot; they are the inspired Word of God!

God loves His creation. He loves all people, no matter what they do. That’s why He chose to come as a man and die on the cross. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romand 5:8). Jesus freely gave His life, as payment for our sins. Though He loves all people, he hates all sin. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Likewise, we should love everyone, but hate what they do. If you have children, do you not love them unconditionally? Would you not give your life for them, if need be, just like Jesus did for you? But do you like it when they disobey or do something they know is wrong? Do you hug and kiss them and say, “That’s all right. Go do that again, and encourage your friends to do it, too?” No. If you want to do right by your children, you will discipline and instruct them. You will teach them to do good and eschew evil. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Likewise, we cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption that is all around us. We need to take a stand for what’s right, even at the risk of being scorned and harassed.

Society today confuses love with acceptance. God loves us all, but will all make it to Heaven? Certainly not. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8). “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18). “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 1:8). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6-7). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Our courts have gotten into the habit of interpreting laws with their own eyes, instead of the eyes of those who wrote them. They say with pride that the Constitution is a living document, which changes to adapt to the changing times. The Bible is a living document, too. Though it never changes, it continues to address the fundamental issues that have plagued humanity since its creation. Technology changes. Country borders change. Diseases change. But the everyday problems that every person has to face from day to day never change. The conflict between man’s desire to reach God and his fleshly propensity to sin is as old as the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The answers are in God’s Word: the Bible. Our founding fathers knew that. They read it. They memorized it. They taught their children by it. They even built a country on it.

If you agree that this country is morally going into the gutter, do not sit idly watching. Do not rely on others to do the right thing. Do not convince yourself that this is all about politics, and that should be left to the politicians. Don’t let a vocal minority set the course for the quiet majority. We are a democracy, a government formed of the people, by the people, and for the people. So, get involved! Let your voice be heard, for righteousness’ sake! Read the news with a scrutinous eye, to get familiar with the issues and the people running or already elected for public office. Register to vote, then go out and do it! If you agree with this tract, give it to someone else to read. Find others who feel this way and want this country to return to the high moral standard on which it was founded: God’s Word. The more people wake up to the truth, the more positive a change we can make!

To this end, I urge you, dear reader, to welcome the Bible into your life. Read it diligently every day, from cover to cover. Welcome Jesus Christ into your heart! Ask Him to forgive you of your sins (He’s the only One who can!) and to keep you free from sin. Surrender your life and your will to Him. Trust Him to light your path and direct your feet, to lead you in everything you do. Raise your children by Him. Tell your neighbors about Him! Pray without ceasing! Pray for our country and our leaders. Pray and ask what you can do for Him. We cannot (and should not) force Christianity on people, by making it the official religion of the U.S. To do so would be contrary to everything that God is. But we can steer the country, one heart at a time, back toward the moral standard on which it was founded. Don’t give up! It’s not too late to take a stand for what’s right! Lift up God’s standard… in your heart, your home, and your country!

May 3, 2004

Friday, September 25, 2009

In the Beginning... (Part 3)

Ahhh... admit it: you knew that sooner or later I'd pick this famous pose. This is a picture of a monument, based on the famous WWII photo of American soldiers, planting the Stars and Stripes, after winning the Battle for Iwo Jima. Turns out that the original photo, which was instantly iconic of the war effort, was a little staged by the photographer. After watching a group of soldiers plant the flag, he asked if they could take it out and do it again, so he could take a picture.

But to get back to my story, here is the first half of the tract I wrote:

Lift Up the Standard in America!
Isaiah 59:19

Throughout the course of history, nations used banners, flags, and objects of worship, collectively called “standards,” as symbols of what they stood for and a focal point to rally their armies in battle. While the Israelites of Old Testament times took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, most modern armies use flags. As long as the soldiers can see the flag flying high, they know the battle is not lost. But if the flag falls, so do the spirits of the fighting men, and the enemy overcomes them. But, oh, the glory and the blessings that are bestowed upon a country founded on God, which lifts up high the standard of His Holy Word! “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).

At one time, being an American was almost synonymous with being a Christian. Our nation was founded by people who were devout believers and active in their congregations. The constitutions of the Fifty States not only acknowledge God as the Supreme Being and Creator of everything, but also borrow basic principles from His Word. The Bible was a standard textbook in schools and read in most homes. People’s lives were not easy, but they strove to live by the high moral standard set forth in the Holy Scriptures. Unfortunately, this country has forsaken the underlying principles that forged its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and even taken action to remove God from our schools, our courthouses, and our Pledge of Allegiance. God is being replaced by a misguided spirit of political correctness, and blind acceptance is becoming the new moral standard. This path can only lead to the decline, fall, and ultimately, self-destruction of our great country. I urge every American, regardless of age, race, creed, occupation, or status in life, to return to the standard by which this nation was forged.

The First Amendment implies a separation between Church and State, when it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This reinforces Article VI of the Constitution, which declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Many take this a step further, wanting to remove all mention of God from government practices, literature, and materials. If they succeed, they will have managed to entirely remove the United States from the foundation on which it was built. The simple fact is that one of the primary reasons Europeans emigrated to the New World was to worship God, free from the influence of oppressive and corrupt churches. Many of our nation’s founding fathers were devout believers and active in their congregations. This is self-evident in the words of our country’s earliest legal documents.

Declaration of Independence, 1776

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights….

    We, therefore, …appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do… solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States….
Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776 (after which the U.S. Constitution was modeled)

    That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

    That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.
Massachusetts Constitution, c. 1790

    We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity… of forming a new constitution of civil government, for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain and establish the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.

    As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, … the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

    "I, A. B., do declare, that I believe the Christian religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth; and that I am seised (sic) and possessed, in my own right, of the property required by the constitution as one qualification for the office or place to which I am elected."
Today, the government as a whole and people in general are afraid of religion. They are afraid of the very mention of God or the Bible. They strive to delete all references to God from our Pledge of Allegiance and our schoolbooks. They remove the Ten Commandments from prominent locations in courthouses. They push to loosen the restrictions on the entertainment industry, for the sake of freedom of expression. And we wonder why there seems to be a general degradation of morals. We, as a nation, are setting ourselves up for a fall.

Some would argue that morality and ethical principles are subject to change over time, and that those who refuse to accept the changes are old-fashioned, stubborn, or prejudiced. Those who believe this are living on a slippery slope. If they’ll accept, for example, two men getting married, why not two brothers? If two brothers, why not a man and a boy. If a man and a boy, why not a man and his pet? Where do you draw the line, and on what basis? “Feelings change, people change,” so a song goes, but the Word of God never changes. It is timeless. It is never amended, and none of its edicts are ever repealed.

To be continued...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In the Beginning... (Part 2)

For our first anniversary, my wife gave me a porcelain eagle statue, covered with the American flag. This picture reminds me of that. It also suggests vigilance. There are many areas that we can be vigilant (homeland security, crime, entertainment choices, etc...), but the most important is being on-guard against the wiles of the devil, personally and as a society. Sure, not everyone believes in God, the Bible, or a place called Hell, but that doesn't mean they're not real. For ages, people did not believe in microscopic life or sub-atomic particles, and yet they exist in unfathomable abundance.

So, to continue the story I started last time, I finished the tract and decided to distribute it to everyone I could think of. I wrote the following cover letter:

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you on a matter of urgent importance for our great country. Our nation, under God, has been straying farther and farther from Him, descending into the murky depths of immorality. This is plain to see, if you just turn on a TV, pick up a newspaper, or surf the Internet, and judge what you see by the Bible. This wasn’t a result of the efforts of any single person, group, or organization; we all contributed, either by direct action or passive inaction. I’ve never gotten involved in political issues, but recently, prompted by the latest debates on same-sex marriage, the Lord showed me that I could no longer remain on the sidelines. As an American and a Christian, it is my duty to do whatever I can to help steer the country back in the right direction.

After much prayer, the Lord Jesus inspired me to write the enclosed tract, “Lift Up the Standard in America.” It is my deep and sincere wish that every American above the age of 12 would read it. So, I am sending it out, by post and e-mail, to everyone that I can think of: friends, family, churches, elected officials, TV and radio stations, magazines, newspapers, etc…. None of us can do anything of significance alone, but if enough people wake up to the truth and get involved, wonderful changes will start to take place. I kindly request that you read this tract with your family, discuss it, and share it with others.

The fate of our nation rests not upon ourselves, but upon our relationship with the One who created us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “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.” As I continue to pray for our country, I urge everyone to do the same. I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and tract. May God bless America… again!

To be continued...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

In the Beginning...

Welcome to my new blog, dedicated to lifting up God's standard (as in: flag), against an enemy flooding in from every side! So why is the above picture that of an American flag, instead of a cross or Star of David? Just as God has adopted me into His family, so has America adopted me, an immigrant, as one of its own. And just as God founded His Church on the Rock, Jesus Christ, this country was founded on God's Written Word, the Bible.

First, a little history, not of this country, but of the inspiration behind this blog.

The year was 2003, and Massachussetts was on the brink of becoming the first state in the Union to allow same-sex marriages. My wife and I were outraged. Not sure what we could do about it, we prayed for guidance. The Lord soon inspired me to write a tract, whose title I borrowed from Isaiah 59:19.

"So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."

I loved the double meaning of the word, "standard!" In a simpler age, it meant "flag", but now it more often refers to something against which all other things are judged. And to "lift up" that standard means not only to display it proudly for the world to see, but also to raise the bar, by which our actions and our morals are to be judged. What a wonderful illustration, around which to frame the goal of returning this fallen nation (and world) to its long-forgotten, high moral standard, that was once founded on God's Word!

To be continued...