Archive for Politics

Overcoming the World: Part 10–Be Still and Know

God is our protection and our strength.  He always helps in times of trouble.  So we will not be afraid even if the earth shakes, or the mountains fall into the sea.  God says, “Be still and know that I am God.  I will be praised in all the nations;
I will be praised throughout the earth.
  The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender.  (Psalm 46: 1-2, 10-11 NCV)

 

Been an interesting few months, hasn’t it?  Our nation is as divided as it has been in a century and a half, and this is taking a toll on our families too.  Truth is nowhere to be found in our government, our media or our culture.  This has created an atmosphere of distrust so thick and noxious that even if this country were to somehow raise up a Truthseeker as a leader, who would even believe him or her?

 

Good news—God is still God.  It’s hard to find evidence in these troubled times that He is still on His throne, but where else would He be?  He does not change, no matter what happens down here.  When we say that the world is “out of control,” we mean that it’s out of our control.  It is never out of His.

 

However difficult this truth can be to hold onto when our lives are in turmoil, we must persevere in doing so.  Whenever our way of life is threatened because of what’s going on in the world around us, we have to remember that this way of life was never meant to last anyway.  We are looking forward to life eternal that will not pass away.  For this reason, we fix our eyes and our faith on the things that don’t move.

 

Bad days are going to happen.  Sometimes we will have seasons of life that could last months or years when we don’t feel God’s presence.  We may doubt His goodness, or even His existence.  However, whenever I find myself in such a spiritual funk, I always come back to what Peter said to Jesus in John 6:68, after Jesus asked the Twelve if they were going to desert Him, as many other disciples were doing:

 

“Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

 

I couldn’t go back to my old life if I wanted to, and there have been days where I wanted to.  There are days when it just doesn’t seem worth the effort or the sacrifice that it takes to live the Christian life, because I can’t see the reward from here.  When my fear outweighs my faith, I forget what God has already done, throughout history, and in my life personally.  Some days I just want to chuck it all, but then I always find myself face to face with the question, “OK, then what?”

 

One thing that I have done for myself, and that I highly recommend for others, is to keep a journal of some sort listing every answer to prayer, every unexpected blessing, any time you have seen scripture fulfilled, any change in your life that can only be attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Keep this in an easily accessible place.  I have mine as a document on the desktop of my computer.

 

When times get difficult, or if you’re just in a dry season of doubt, open that up and read it.  Satan can’t get a foothold in your mind if you keep your memories fresh of what God has done for you.  Staying in scripture every day is a good weapon, but it can be even more effective to regularly make the personal connection of where you’ve seen God at work in your life and the lives of those close to you.

 

If you do this, expect there to be some gaps in this journal.  It is not likely that you are going to experience a bona fide miracle every day of your life.  This doesn’t mean that God’s ignoring you.  Learning to trust His timing.  A day always comes when things fall neatly into place, and you can look back and see the progress that led to that point.  You very rarely notice that progress while it’s happening, though.  So when it does, put that in your journal with a note of thanksgiving and praise that God was in control of the situation from the very beginning.  Remember, He can see the end of things long before you get there.

 

It is also critical to remember that God doesn’t always ride in and “save us” whenever we think we need saving.  Sometimes, He lets us go through things for reasons that we aren’t aware of yet.  Sometimes we never learn why in this life.  If we have faith that all of our questions will be answered in heaven, that can help our outlook somewhat.  Remember, God doesn’t come around to our way of thinking; therefore, we must do our best to learn His.

 

The only way to conquer fear is to practice faith.  It has to be exercised just like our bodies.  If you are one of the many who has bought a health club membership, but not lost any weight or inches off your midsection, then you already know that your situation might improve if you actually went to the health club.  Owning the membership doesn’t create actual change.  Owning a Bible without reading it has the same effect.  Knowing about the power of prayer without actually praying—ditto.

 

In the same way, we must keep renewing our minds by reminding ourselves constantly that God does not change.  He does not move.  He is with us and He is for us.  And He always will be.

 

Be still, and know that.

 

Overcoming the World: Part 8–The Struggle

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:10-12 NRSV)

 

 

Back in Part 6, we discussed how fear can gradually wear us down.  By maintaining a continuous level of inner turmoil, we become less effective at pretty much anything useful.  Some of this mental stress comes from what we actually see and hear, but have you noticed that sometimes that thing that bothered you hours or even days or weeks ago still seems to have some hold over you?

 

Now some folks are better at letting things roll off their backs than others, of course.  This is a process I am still learning myself.  But I am not talking about merely having a good attitude here or learning to relax.  I am talking about nagging thoughts and anxieties that linger to the point where a person can be sitting still in a quiet room with no apparent external stimuli and yet be teetering on the edge of a panic attack or a ragestorm.

 

So what’s going on there?  A psychiatrist might look at a person in such a situation, diagnose a disorder of some sort, and throw a pill at it.  I can personally testify that pills do help somewhat, but like any pill, they treat the symptoms rather than solving the problem.  While I do appreciate being able to face my struggles with a rational sense of calm, rather than a perpetual state of frokeoutedness, the struggle remains.

 

So what is the real struggle?

 

It’s not about comfort or safety or a sense of belonging.  It’s not about politics or world affairs or getting the last word in on social media.

 

We all have a common enemy folks.  His name is Satan, which means “adversary.”  He is not some made-up cartoon figure with horns and a pitchfork to scare little children.  He is real; he doesn’t sleep, and his primary goal is your destruction and mine.

 

He begins his attack with fear, attempting to paralyze you into submission.  If he finds that he can not make you afraid of something or someone, then he will use deception, trying to stir up your basest emotions with things that just aren’t true.  If you won’t buy an outright lie, then he will work on you with subtle half-truths.  But if you are a Truthseeker, always on your guard against such nonsense, then he will move on from deception to distraction.  If he can’t win you over, he can at least keep you from doing good.

 

So why is the devil so effective at carrying out his schemes?  Because most of us are unaware that he is even there.  And that’s just how he likes it.

 

Here is the reality of spiritual warfare.  If you are on one train of thought, and something else intrudes on that thought out of the blue, that is not the random firing of a synapse.  That thought that just popped into your head didn’t just pop into your head.  It was PLACED there.  This doesn’t mean you can’t think for yourself.  That’s what you were doing after all before your thought process was interrupted.  But what will you do NEXT with this new thought?  To answer that, you need to know who introduced it.

 

When Christians talk about receiving a message from God, it is almost never an audible voice.  If it is, many times that is a sign of something else going on that is more mental than spiritual (cue the above psychiatrists).  More often, you will hear people use phrases such as “prompted by” or “led by the Spirit.”  Sometimes this is in direct answer to prayer; sometimes it’s seemingly out of nowhere.  However it happens, you can always tell that the message is from God if it is in line with scripture, illuminates the solution to a problem and leads to a good result for all concerned.

 

Here’s where things get sticky.  Sometimes you might have a thought that solves YOUR problem but creates one for someone else.  Sometimes acting on that thought leads to a result that works in YOUR favor, at least for the short term, but has far-reaching consequences that you don’t even notice.  And of course, if you don’t know Scripture, then you have no way of telling if the message you are receiving is in line with God’s will as revealed in His Word.

 

Even worse, if you’re not aware that this spiritual influence is even happening, you probably think that the idea was your own idea in the first place.  After all, no one spoke it to you out loud.  But remember, you didn’t think it up yourself if you were actively thinking of something else when this new thought “occurred to you.”  Satan’s easiest targets are the people who don’t believe in him.  He has the easiest time influencing people who have no idea that they’re being influenced.

 

However, now that you have read this, you are aware and can no longer claim ignorance.

 

(So what do you do now?  Come back for Part 9—The Armor of God)

 

Overcoming the World: Part 5–As Far as it Depends on You

 

Constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them].  Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view].  Do not overestimate yourself.  Never repay anyone evil for evil.  Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone.  If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  (Romans 12:12-18 AMP)
Well, the election’s finally over, and as expected, it has stirred up more issues than it has settled.

 

As is usually the case, Truthseekers were at a loss throughout this election, since Truth and politics are generally not found in the same place at the same time.  Some of us voted defensively, some of us searched in vain for a viable third party candidate, and some of us just stayed home.  Now that what’s done is done, we’re all asking ourselves the same question.  “What do we do now?”

 

Well, the answer is the same thing we’ve always done.  Seek Truth in the common ground.  But how do you find common ground in a nation so divided?

 

I covered a lot of this during the last election in the Us and Them series.  However, since it seems to me that strife and discord have been amped up significantly this time around, I would like to focus on the concept of peace and the part we have to play in it.

 

We are called to hate what is evil and cling to what is good.  In a climate such as this, I would suggest that we focus on the clinging to what is good part.  It’s too easy when emotions are running high to go from hating WHAT is evil to projecting that righteous hatred onto people, which is the line we should never cross.  If the news is raising your blood pressure, watch something else.  If your “friends” on social media are stirring the pot with their ignorance, get off Facebook and go put your face in a book.  Better still, put your face in THE Book.  Remember, all evil things will eventually pass away, and the good will remain.  So why expend our energy on things that won’t last?

 

We aren’t supposed to judge people anyway, but we REALLY need to get past this judging people by whom they voted for.  I think most of us can agree that there were no good choices this year, so why should we judge someone else’s choice?

 

That person you’re angry at because he or she voted differently than you and is venting about it on social media—who was that person to you before the election?  Did you respect him or her then?  So why not now?  No one’s inherent worth is diminished by a single ballot.  Remember that.

 

A Truthseeker’s objective is to end arguments, not start them.  It is not our place to try to inject moral superiority into the discussion.  For this reason, I urge patience above all.  Resist the temptation to “correct” people, even if they are obviously wrong.  When people are angry or upset, the lids of their minds are fastened tightly, and you aren’t going to reach them anyway.  Pray for peace and reason to return to our society, and wait patiently for this to pass, because it will.  Dust can’t settle if you stir it up.

 

Look for ways to be kind to people.  The needy are still needy, so don’t forget them.  Let wherever you are be the “safe space” where discussion of politics doesn’t have to happen.  There are so many other things to talk about.

 

Don’t take the bait when some fool on the internet calls you out, directly or collectively, for how you voted and/or the motivations behind your vote.  Justice is God’s job.  If they have it coming to them, they will receive it in their due time.  This is a good opportunity to practice forgiveness.  After all, our sins are forgiven to the degree that we forgive.

 

I don’t really know that there were any “winners” in this election, but there are many who will lose.  I am not suggesting that the criminal element of our society that would riot and destroy and call it a “protest” should be treated with compassion and understanding, but there are many people who stand to lose something dear to them in the upcoming administration.  Be compassionate while they grieve their loss.

 

Make the most of every opportunity to establish common ground with people, preferably face to face.  Listen to their stories.  See people as individuals and not as members of a group.  Come alongside people in their difficulties.  Focus on solutions rather than problems.  Above all, pray first, and listen carefully for an answer, before presuming to dispense wisdom.  When tensions run high, even the most well meaning of advice can be perceived as an attack.

 

And PLEASE avoid the temptation to seek revenge, whether in word or deed.  That is NEVER our job.  It is natural to feel some sense of satisfaction when the times shift in your direction after they have been against you, but it is not our place to rub anyone’s nose in their own misfortune.  You will never earn someone’s respect by spiking the football.  Just hand it to the official and go back to the sideline.  Justice is God’s job, and part of that is righting wrongs.  It will happen in His timing.  Don’t force the issue.

 

Most importantly, it is up to you to make the first move toward peace.  You will have to use your best judgment with each individual you encounter as to whether that means actively extending an olive branch or remaining silent.  Things are going to be ugly for a while.  They may get out of control for a time as well.  You have a choice to make it better or make it worse.

 

You may not be able to single-handedly fix what’s broken in our nation, but how you treat other people is one thing that you CAN control.  So stand firm, pray hard, and keep hoping for the best.  It WILL get better eventually.

 

DN=: Part 14–Equal Opportunity

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .

(Declaration of Independence)

 

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. 

(George Orwell—Animal Farm)

 

“Equal opportunity” is another way of saying that everyone has the same chance to succeed or fail.

 

However, instead of designating an equal chance at success or failure, “equal opportunity” has become synonymous in our culture with entitlement.  Success is now assumed, and if a person does not succeed, well then that person has been denied “equal opportunity.”

 

But if equal opportunity in the true sense means the same as fair play and justice, then it would make sense that everyone already HAS equal opportunity.  If justice is universal, then so is opportunity.

 

Oh, but wait a minute.  Justice also means getting what we deserve.  So we have equal opportunity to make our own choices, but we also have equal responsibility to own the consequences of those choices.  Sometimes, those consequences are not favorable.

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DN= EQUAL RESULTS

 

 

So it should be plain by now that the “=”movement is not really about equal opportunity at all.  What the “=” community is really after is a life and a world that is free from consequences.

 

The irony is that if the “=” community actually got what it wanted, then it would be UN-equal, since having freedom from consequences would set it apart from the justice that everyone else would receive from making the wrong choice.

 

“=” DN= EQUAL

 

Let me pause for a moment here, because I know a lot of you are wondering: “Why does he keep saying ‘the “=” community,’ when he’s obviously talking about the LGBT community?”

 

The answer is that gay marriage isn’t the real issue here.  Sure, the media and our politicians would like to make it the issue, but in the big picture, it all comes back to a problem that plagues everyone, gay or straight—self-righteousness.

 

Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Romans that homosexuality is not the disease, but merely one of many symptoms:

 

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives.  They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life.

Worse followed.  Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men.  Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love.  And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose.  And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing.  They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating.  Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers.  Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags!  They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives.  They ditch their parents when they get in the way.  Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded.  And it’s not as if they don’t know better.  They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face.  And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!  (Romans 1:21-22, 26-32 The Message)

 

Now that sounds awfully harsh, particularly in the Message paraphrase, but can you deny the reality of that in 21st-century America?

 

One of the saddest things that I have yet seen is when churches water down or discard this message.  It is not a church’s job to provide a safe place for sinners of any kind to come together and “be who they are.”  A church’s function is to bring people together to find out who they are in Christ.

 

Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.  (Galatians 3:28 CEV)

 

That’s right.  The Truth is that we all have an equal opportunity to be equal in Christ.  We have always had it and always will.

 

Sounds simple enough, but ah, there’s that pride thing getting in the way again.  The problem with this simple solution is that it involves surrendering your will, and it is not in our nature to want to do that.

 

So what is left then for those whose pride prevents them from humbling themselves before God and admitting their failure?

 

They find someone else to attack.

 

Christians.

 

Since there is no Truth or common sense in their argument, based as it is upon their own self-righteousness, then the only avenue left to them is to tear down Truthseekers in order to maintain their perception of superiority.

 

And since PC code words are their forte, they have come up with the ultimate man-made nonsense word.

 

(And for that, you’ll have to come back for Part 15)

 

DN=: Part 13–Fair Play

 

“It’s not fair!”

 

Every child ever

 

 

Justice, as you’ll recall, is when we get what we deserve.  It’s interesting, though, to note how abruptly our stance on justice and fair play adjusts depending upon which side of the justice we find ourselves.

 

We sure don’t mind dispensing justice; however, receiving it is a different story.

 

As in so many other situations, our pride is the problem.  If we exalt ourselves to think that we are above justice, and that “the rules” don’t apply to us, then it would follow that we wouldn’t expect to partake in the natural consequences of breaking those rules either.

 

JUSTICE DN= GETTING YOUR WAY

 

So although in truth justice is always fair, it only FEELS fair if we have a clear understanding of what it is that we truly deserve:

 

Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die.  (Romans 5:12 CEV)

 

However. . .

 

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
very patient, and full of faithful love.
 God won’t always play the judge;
he won’t be angry forever.
He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
     because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
 As far as east is from west—
that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
 Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor him.
(Psalm 103: 8-13 CEB)

 

Did you catch the key phrase there?  David repeated it to make sure that you would.  Justice is universal, but God reserves grace for those who honor him.

 

Without this grace, the only thing left for us is justice.  The universal natural consequence of our universal sinful nature is death.  This is the ultimate Truth of our lives, and complete reliance on Jesus for our salvation is the only way out of it.

 

Obviously, many reject this Truth.  Equally obvious is the fact that we all have a choice to accept it or reject it.

 

Nevertheless, for some reason the prevailing mentality in this country has become that one can do whatever one wishes, up to and including a complete rejection of universal Truth, and suffer no consequences whatsoever.

 

We all have desires.  However, a person who is ruled by pride will view the fulfillment of his or her desires as the primary goal.  Those that are successful in fulfilling a few of these desires may quickly begin to regard this fulfillment as an entitlement.

 

Then, in their own minds, they will conceive a bogus sense of fair play, in which they “deserve” to get whatever they want whenever they want, and anyone or anything that would deny them that is guilty of an injustice.

 

However:

 

Many people vie for special treatment from a ruler,
yet genuine justice proceeds from the Eternal.  (Proverbs 29:26 VOICE)

 

Because God alone is righteous, and because God alone determines Truth, it is only by God’s authority that true justice can be dispensed.

 

The eternal, indisputable and universal justice that applies to all humanity is not only manifest in our rights, but also in our consequences.

 

A majority of humans may get laws changed.  A government skilled in social engineering may even be able to get the attitude of a nation changed.  But NOTHING a government or its advocates can do will ever be able to change the natural consequences of a choice.

 

A government can grant or deny privileges.  A government can mandate civil responsibilities.  A government has the authority to set its own civil penalties for breaking its own rules and laws.

 

But a government will NEVER be capable of conferring rights upon any subset of the human race.

 

Yes, this even includes homosexuals.

 

(Yeah, I went there.  Wait till you see where I go next in Part 14–Equal Opportunity)

 

DN=: Part 11–Backwards

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana—The Life of Reason

 

All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.  C.S. Lewis

 

 

Back in the Empty Glass series, we talked about three ways of learning.  There is experience, or making your own mistakes and learning from them.  Then there is wisdom, which is learning from someone else’s mistakes so as not to repeat them.  And then there is common sense, which is collective wisdom that has taken root in a population.

 

Looking at this progression, it is easy to see that common sense is a product of people building upon what has gone before—the mistakes and the corrections of previous generations.  It would logically follow, then, that to employ common sense in one’s reasoning, one must look backwards to history.

 

Nevertheless, our culture inexplicably does not seem to value this type of reasoning anymore.  The so-called “progressive” ideology dictates that everything that exists must be changed, regardless of whether it was working well or not, in the name of moving “forward.”

 

But common sense declares that if you have made a wrong turn, forward is not your best option.  To get back on the road you want to be on, you’ll have to go backwards until you reach the spot where you made the wrong turn, THEN go forward.

 

Obviously, you can’t go forward and backwards at the same time.  For this reason, by completely ignoring (or worse yet, attempting to modify) history, having a “progressive” mentality completely precludes any potential for common sense to be employed, making failure a virtual certainty.

 

The primary reason that Truth Mission exists is to declare war on this intellectual futility.

 

Truthseekers proclaim God and His Word as the source of all Truth, which is unchanging and applies equally to all people in all situations.  Truth never fails, because God never fails.

 

Understanding this, it then becomes clear why Christians look to the Bible for answers when life poses difficult questions.  The Bible has an example for nearly any situation we can encounter in terms of which strategies work and which ones don’t.  Because the Bible is the ultimate source of correction, it will always improve our situation if we heed that correction.

 

More importantly, however, because God’s Word is eternal and unchanging, the lessons to be learned therein will always have value, regardless of the circumstances of the world or our individual situations.

 

ETERNAL DN= OUT OF DATE

 

As we have already noted, one cannot go backwards and forward at the same time.  Therefore, anyone obsessed with moving forward at all costs misses the opportunity for the course correction that only history and Truth can provide.

 

Since one with such a worldview only sees the Bible as a musty old book, and not God’s eternal Truth, the further “forward” they go, the smaller Truth becomes in their rearview mirror.  Since they consider everything behind them “out-of-date,” then the Truth and all who proclaim it become, in their minds, “backwards.”

 

So forward they go, until inevitably, they find a tree in their path, yielding the all-too-predictable result. Busted face notwithstanding, their pride remains intact, since that was what led them forward in the first place.

 

In the absence of the common sense that has been left behind, this pride initiates the blame game by rationalizing: “I am superior to the backwards thinkers, yet I have a busted face.  Those to whom I am superior do not have busted faces; therefore, it must be their fault that my face is busted.  Indeed, they are likely the ones who planted this tree to prevent me from going forward.  I should have the freedom to walk wherever I choose without having to worry about my face being busted!”

 

(So what’s the problem with freedom of choice?  Come back for Part 12–Civil Liberties)

 

DN=: Part 9–Brainwashing

Brainwashing (n.)

1: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas

2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship

 (Merriam Webster dictionary)

 

 Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
    bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
    I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
    counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,
    we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,
    the marvelous things he has done.

 He planted a witness in Jacob,
    set his Word firmly in Israel,
Then commanded our parents
    to teach it to their children
So the next generation would know,
    and all the generations to come—
Know the truth and tell the stories
    so their children can trust in God,
Never forget the works of God
    but keep his commands to the letter.
Heaven forbid they should be like their parents,
    bullheaded and bad,
A fickle and faithless bunch
    who never stayed true to God.

(Psalm 78: 1-8 The Message)

 

 

When you see a child who behaves well in public, what is it you always say?  “The public school system sure has made a great citizen out of that boy?”  Or, “Our governmental programs have certainly taught this young lady how to be a good American?”

 

No, you say, “Their parents must have taught them well.”  If the parents are present, you might thank them directly for being such good parents.  Lord knows if the kids AREN’T behaving, it’s the parents you’re going to blame, right?

 

So if it is this obvious that everything a child is and does is shaped by the examples set by his or her parents, then why does our culture get so bent about Christian parents setting a Christian example for their kids?

 

I don’t want to get to deeply into the issue of homeschooling here, because I have no personal experience with it, either as a student or as a parent.  I’m just talking about the natural education every child receives from daily observation.

 

Education, of course, is a good thing.  If we never learned anything, then we wouldn’t know anything (duh).  And common sense, that is, the collective wisdom of all the I told you so’s from all the parents ever, tells us that the primary source of any child’s education is at home.

 

Face it; we’re all home-schooled, no matter what our diplomas say.

 

Our parents have us from day one, when we are completely empty glasses.  From them we learn to walk, talk, eat, pee and poo where we’re supposed to.  Sometimes they even teach us to read, write and count before we start school.

 

Most importantly our parents, and specifically our fathers, are the primary shapers of our value system, our moral compasses, our sense of right and wrong.

 

So is this education or brainwashing?

 

EDUCATION DN= BRAINWASHING

 

Look back up to the top at the dictionary definition of brainwashing.  It’s not just indoctrination, or even FORCED indoctrination; it is forced indoctrination designed to replace one way of thinking with another. 

 

Parents are teachers, not indoctrinators.  They are filling empty glasses.  A child does not yet have a way of thinking or a value system to replace.

 

Therefore nothing, let me say that once more for emphasis, NOTHING that a parent teaches his or her own children can possibly constitute brainwashing.  This includes the passing on of Christian faith, the bedrock upon which the family has been established generation after generation.

 

So if giving your own children a Christian education is akin to pouring the Water of Life into their empty glasses, then by contrast, cultural brainwashing is coercing an educated person of any age to pour out their water, smash their glass, and take a deep drink from this brand new glass of fruit juice.

 

What do you mean it tastes like Kool-Aid?

 

(For an alternate beverage choice, come back for Part 10: Affirmation)

 

DN=: Part 8–Hate Speech

 

 

Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (1 Peter 5:8 CEB)

 

All of humanity has a common enemy—Satan, the accuser.  The enemy’s primary goal has always been our destruction, but he has been busy developing some new tactics.

 

First to review, you’ll remember that in Part 3, we identified “righteousness” as being a right standing with God the Father, which is made possible only through a trusting relationship with His Son, Jesus.  Those with whom the enemy succeeds in denying this opportunity for righteousness will nevertheless still crave it.

 

However, since they have allowed themselves to be cut off from God’s saving grace, they are only able to manufacture a false perception of righteousness.  In their desperate attempt to elevate themselves in their own minds, they find themselves compelled to disparage others in order to make that possible.

 

The enemy facilitates this process by helping those under his influence categorize people into groups and label them.  Then he directs his unwitting followers to abuse the people in those groups by treating them unequally and criticizing them based on their differences.

 

Over time, these blanket condemnations become a habit, and hatred develops.  If left unchecked by correction, it is possible for this hatred to swell into an epidemic of ignorant bigotry.  This bigotry will then be projected toward the groups of people to whom they are trying to maintain their sense of superiority.

 

Combating this is a struggle we all share.  And it is indeed a daily struggle.  Seeing other people as individual human beings, instead of part of a labeled subset of humanity, requires a generous helping of both humility and critical thinking.

 

Knowing this, our enemy imparts his unwary abettors with a liberal dose of arrogance, which suppresses all traces of humility and artificially inflates their perception of their own intellect, eliminating the prospect of any critical thought taking place.

 

This is where the enemy plays to his greatest strength.  He advises his impressionable followers, “If you can’t convince ‘em, accuse ‘em!”

 

And this is how it plays out.

 

When one of these people attempts to engage a Truthseeker in debate, he quickly discovers the futility of this venture, since the primary objective for Truthseekers is to end arguments, not win them.  Since the arguer finds that he cannot claim the logical high ground, he will then attempt to lower the ground beneath his opponent by attacking his character.

 

But here is the twist!  Since unwarranted character assassination would make him guilty of judgmentalism, he must first deflect his own guilt by accusing the Truthseeker of being judgmental himself, thereby forcing him into a defensive position.  With any luck, the Truthseeker will take the bait, lower himself into the argument, and thus become that which he has already been accused of being.

 

On the other hand, a mature Truthseeker will not take the bait, but will simply hold fast to the Truth, and not change course.

 

When the arguer sees that his attempts at both logic and character assassination have failed, he plays the only card left in his deck by attacking Truth itself.

 

He does this by labeling the Truth “hate speech.”

 

DEFENSE OF TRUTH DN= HATE SPEECH

 

 

The irony of this concept of “hate speech” is that the people most commonly accused of hate speech are in actuality the ones most commonly on the receiving end of it.

 

For centuries upon centuries, Christians have put their trust in the eternal God, in his indisputable and unchanging Word in which He is revealed, and in His universal promises and plan for all of mankind.  In a world where people follow after every wind of change, no matter how ludicrous, we build our lives on the solid rock of eternal unchanging Truth, passing it down from generation to generation.

 

But instead of a fixed and eternal rock, our faith is now portrayed by our degenerate culture as an ignorant and hateful tradition.  We are even demonized for faithfully carrying out our most important responsibility as parents, the passing on of our faith to future generations, with the charge of “indoctrinating” our own children!

 

If parents should not be the ones most responsible for helping to frame the basic worldview and shaping the character of their own children, then who should?  The enemy has some ideas about that.

 

(And you’ll hear all about them if you come back for Part 9—Brainwashing.)

 

DN=: Part 2–Freedom

“All things are allowed,” you say. But not all things are good. “All things are allowed.” But some things don’t help anyone. (1 Cor 10:23 ERV)

 

We are big on freedom in this country, aren’t we?  We have a Bill of Rights in our constitution guaranteeing us freedom of speech, the press, assembly, religion and petition.  When our soldiers go off to war, we are told that they are “fighting for our freedom.”

 

It’s in all the songs we learn as kids.  America is the land of the FREE and the home of the brave.  We are proud to be Americans where at least we know we’re FREE.  From every mountainside, let FREEDOM ring.

 

Christians are also fond of the words “free” and “freedom.”  We also have phrases that we repeat or sing in songs, such as:

  • Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
  • If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.
  • My chains are gone; I’ve been set free.

Nevertheless, Christians can easily fall into the same trap as the rest of the world in the sense of abusing personal freedom at the expense of the freedom of another.

FREEDOM DN= LICENSE TO DO WHATEVER WE WANT

 

 

 

Within a generation of Jesus’ death, both Paul and Peter were dealing with this problem in the early Church:

 

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? (Galatians 5:13-15 (MSG)

 

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. (1 Peter 2: 13-17 MSG)

 

Do you see the tie there?  Freedom = service.  Some translations actually use the word “slave.”

 

Now for Americans, that notion can be jarring.  For Americans of African descent in particular, it can feel like a harsh slap in the face.  After all that this country and its people have gone through to win freedom, God wants us to be slaves again?

??????

 

The original Greek word in Peter’s letter is doulos, which does mean slave, but not in the way we Americans think of it.  When we hear the word “slave,” we think of forced labor.  In other words, a slave’s status is determined by the work the slave does and the conditions under which he is compelled to do it.

 

A doulos, on the other hand, is also a bondservant, or one permanently bound and subservient to a master; however, their slave status is determined not by their work, but by their relationship to their master.

 

The implication then, made by both Peter and Paul, is that to be a bondservant of Christ, one must no longer be a slave to sin.  After all, as Jesus Himself said, “No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24a NIV).”

 

Furthermore, in this context a doulos is a VOLUNTARY bondservant.  We are born slaves to sin, but we CHOOSE to be “slaves” for Christ.  The only way to be in a position to make that choice is to have first been freed from the grip of sin in our lives.  A slave cannot free himself; he can only be freed by the master.  And the Master said this:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  (John 13:34  NIV)

 

And also this:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40b NIV)

 

Therefore, serving God and serving other people are actually one and the same.  So being a doulos to Christ means being a doulos to the world as well, but to its people, not its philosophies.

 

As no one can serve two masters, and as it is impossible to serve both Christ and our own sinful desires, so it is also impossible to simultaneously serve the world while doing whatever we want.

 

This is the reason that no one is justified by their works alone apart from having been freed by the Master, with whom they have a relationship.

 

Which brings up another DN=.

 

(Which will be covered in Part 3–Righteousness)

 

DN=: Part 1–Does Not Equal

Perhaps, like me, you have noticed a preponderance of equal signs lately, on Facebook and elsewhere.  I have also noticed a link between the equal sign and false accusations of “hatred, bigotry and ignorance” being directed at people who are not necessarily on board with the equal sign.

 

This got me to thinking about people and their differences.  Obviously, there’s a whole bunch of us on this planet, and we are all unique, as are our experiences and perspectives.  We all see life a little bit differently, yet it seems that we all also carry with us the assumption that everyone sees life in exactly the same way.

 

I expect this is our natural self-centeredness at work.  If someone doesn’t share our point of view, well, then there must be something wrong with that person.

 

This much is natural, but it seems that in this generation our society has taken this concept to absurd extremes.  Simple misunderstandings of diverse points of view have become breeding grounds for character judgments and demonization.

 

This progression has given birth to the phenomenon known as political correctness, in which people speak in code words with the purpose of not offending others, unless they feel offended themselves, in which case there is another set of code words with which they can label and demonize their opponents without taking the time to hear them out.

 

Anyone else see a disconnect here?

 

I may have found a way to disarm this bomb, however.  If we are speaking with integrity, that is, if we say exactly what we mean and mean exactly what we say, then in theory, we have eliminated the possibility for misunderstanding.

 

One problem with this theory however—people who speak in code also assume that you are doing it as well.  So rather than hearing what you say, which is exactly what you meant to say, much mental energy is wasted trying to figure out your hidden agenda, when you don’t even have one.

 

So I guess that in order to better understand each other, what we need are some clear definitions of the words we say and the thoughts and intentions behind them.  To this end, I have come up with my own variation of the equal sign: the DN= (Does Not Equal).  The purpose of DN= is to clarify the motives behind our words to be more thoroughly heard, and therefore, better understood.

 

To illustrate the DN= principle, let’s start with a word all Americans know–freedom.

 

(And that’s just what we’ll do, if you come back for DN= Part 2!)