Monday, July 16, 2018

America is a Christian Nation

Yesterday at Church Acadiana we watched a special message by Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, called "America is a Christian Nation."  You can view it HERE.  It's a sermon you definitely want to see.  Here is an outline of Dr. Jeffress's message.

INTRODUCTION:

  • Myth:  America was founded by a group of men from a wide diversity of religious beliefs with the goal of being a completely secular nation devoid of any Christian influence.  
  • Truth:  Dr. Jeffress said, "America was founded predominantly by Christians who wanted to build this Christian nation on the foundation of God’s will.  And furthermore these men believed that the future success of our country depended upon the fidelity of our Christian beliefs.  And that’s why we can say, though it is politically incorrect to do so, we say without hesitation or apology, that America was founded as a Christian nation.  And our future success depends upon our country being faithful to those eternal truths of God’s word."

1. THE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE CHRISTIAN FOUNDING OF OUR COUNTRY

Consider the spiritual beliefs of the framers of the Constitution:  Were they neutral?

  • 52 of the 55 men who attended the Constitutional Convention were orthodox Christians. 
  • Two of the founders, Elias Boudenot, and John Jay (who went on to become the first Justice of the Supreme Court), went on to become the leaders of the American Bible Society.  They wanted to distribute the Bible to as many people as possible.  They believed that the message of the Bible could transform lives and set the nation on a proper moral course.  
  • Two of the founders were Deists.  Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin; but even these deists did not ignore the spiritual foundation of our country.  
    • Both of these men worked together to propose a national seal for the new United States of America.  Their proposal was a drawing of Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, following God as the pillar of cloud.  
    • Ben Franklin believed that the Continental Congress should seek God’s blessing in an opening prayer every time they met.  Franklin said, “I have lived, sir, a long time.  And the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth:  that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid.  We have been assured sure, in the Sacred writings, that except the Lord build, they labor in vain that built it.”
Consider the State Constitutions in the early years of our country:
  • Every delegate to the Constitutional Convention had to be elected by their state.  To hold office in these states, you had to subscribe, in most cases, to a religious test for office.  These were qualifications to be a member of the House or Senate in each individual state, and to attend the Constitutional Convention.  Today, Article VI of the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, but the argument is that the founders were Christian.  For example, a delegate from Delaware would have to testify to the following to qualify for the Constitutional Convention:  Article 22: “Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, shall make or subscribe to the following declaration:  I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son; and in the Holy Ghost; one God blessed forevermore.  And do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.”
  • In 1996, Two professors from University of Houston, Dr. Donald Lutz and Dr. Charles Heineman did a study to discover who the founders quoted the most in their writings.  They started with 15,000 documents.  Spent 10 years.  They found that the three men our founding fathers quoted the most were British Philosopher John Locke, French Philosopher Barren Montesquieu, and English Judge Sir William Blackstone.  However our founders cited the Bible four times more often that Montesquieu or Blackstone; and 12 times more than John Locke.  More than a third of all their quotes came from the Bible; and another sixty percent came from those authors who had based their writings on the Bible.  The founding fathers referenced the Bible more than all Enlightenment authors combined.  Ken Woodward, writing in Newsweek Magazine, in an article called “How The Bible Made America,” said, “Now historians are discovering that the Bible, even perhaps more than the constitution, is our founding document.”
Consider some of the things our founders said:
  • George Washington, First Speech after election as President, April 30, 1789:  "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations; and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United states, a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States." 
  • John Adams, second President:  “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.  I will avow that as I then believed, and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and the attributes of God and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.”
  • John Jay, first Chief Justice Supreme Court Justice and coauthor of the Federalist Papers:  “Providence has given our people the choice of their rulers; and it is the duty as well as the privilege of interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
  • John Quincy Adams, son John Adams, and sixth president:  “Why is it that next to the birthday of the savior of the world your most joyous and most venerated festival returns this day, that is July 4? Is it not that in the chain of human events the birthday of the nation is indisolluably linked with the birthday of the Savior.  Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon the earth; that it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
  • John Quincy Adams:  “The highest, the transcendent glory of the American Revolution was this, that it connected in one indisolluable bond, the principles of civil government and the precepts of Christianity.  If it has never been considered in that light, it is because its compass has not been perceived.”
What about the separation of church and state?
  • There is no such statement in the Constitution.
  • 69% of Americans believe that phrase is found in the Constitution.
  • Where did it come from?  
  • In a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut.  In 1801, nine years after the ratification of the First Amendment.  At this time, most states still had state sponsored churches – certain Christian denominations.  And your tax dollars went to support the state church/denomination.  In Connecticut it was the Congregational Church.  A group of Baptists were upset.  They didn’t want their tax dollars going to the Congregationalists.  They had to petition every year to have their money redirected to the Baptist church; they got tired of that hassle and wrote a letter to the newly elected President, Thomas Jefferson.  Jan 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the fee exercise thereof” thus building a wall of separation of church and state.”  The context is obvious.  It is the elevation of one Christian denomination over another.  Never in their dreams did Jefferson or the founders ever believe that the First Amendment would be used to separate our country from its Christian heritage.  
  • As President, one year later, Jefferson authorized a bill to use tax revenues to support a priest going to minister to the Caskakea Indians.  
  • Just two days after writing the letter, on January 3, 1802, he went to a worship service in the capital building, authorized by him.  It was Jefferson who believed in the separation of church and state, and who authorized the use of the capital building for the founding of the first Christian church in Washington D.C. That church met there for decades and decades.  He saw no conflict with the use of the federal government to promote the Christian faith.  
  • The first amendment was never meant to restrict religious freedom; but to protect it.  It was never meant to keep religion out of government, but to keep government out of religion.  It was never meant to keep prayer out of graduation ceremonies, or to keep the Ten Commandments off of the walls of public school classrooms and court houses, or to prevent nativity displays in the town square.  
Consider the early court rulings in our country's history:
  • Runkel vs. Winemiller, 1799; seven years after the ratification of the First Amendment; the Supreme Court of Maryland said, “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established the religion.  Yes the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
  • Church of the Holy Trinity vs. The United States, 1892.  A church was being sued by the government b/c it hired a minister from England and violated federal immigration law.  The Supreme Court rejected that suit against the church.  “No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people.  This is historically true, from the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…  These and many other matters which might be noticed at a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”  
    • The SC in that case reached back to a previous case from 1811, the People vs. Ruggles.  A New York Supreme Court case.  The NY SC said, “Nor are we bound by any expressions in the Constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all or to punish indiscriminately the like attacks upon the religion of Muhammad, or of the Grand Llama (Buddhism), and for this plain reason that the case assumes that we are a Christian people and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines of worship of those impostors.”
  • Vidal vs. Girard’s Executors, 1844:  A wealthy man died in Philadelphia, leaving his proceeds to the starting of a school for orphans.  There was one stipulation; no Christian minister could teach in the school if he was funding it.  The people of Pennsylvania were upset, because they felt that if there were no Christian ministers, then Christianity wouldn’t be taught.  The SC upheld this man’s will.  They said, the fact that you can’t have a minister teaching doesn’t mean that Christianity can’t be taught.  They said, “Why may not the Bible and especially the NT without note or comment be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college, its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?”  They went on to say, “It is unnecessary for us however to consider what the legal effect of such a device in Penn for the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism, or deism, or any other form of infidelity.  Such as a case is not to be presumed in a Christian country.”  
    • The Justice who delivered the majority report was Joseph Story.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1811 by James Madison.  Later in his career he wrote an entire commentary on the American Constitution, used for decades in law schools around the country.  In his notes on the First Amendment said, “The purpose of the founders in the first amendment was to put all Christian denominations on the same level; to keep one Christianity denomination from being elevated above the other; but our founders never meant for Christianity to ever be subservient to other religions in the world.”
Consider the early education system:
  • For the first 150 years of our nation’s history (until the mid-1800s) a school book was used in grade schools called the New England Primer.  It included prayers, creeds and bible verses that children had to memorize.  The following is the beginning of an acrostic that they had to memorize to pass the third grade, an acrostic for every letter of the alphabet:
    • A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. 
    •  Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith. 
    •  Come unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest. 
    •  Do not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord. 
    •  Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 

2. OUR DETOUR FROM THAT CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION (The past 70 years.)
  • 1947.  Everson vs. The Board of Education.  The first time the US SC ever used the phrase “the separation of church and state.”  The State of New Jersey was using tax dollars to support religious schools.  Back then the only religious schools were Catholic schools.  Justice Hugo Black delivered the majority opinion.  He said, “This breaches the separation of church and state which is high and impregnable.”  He was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  The only people they hated more than blacks were Catholics.  Really what he was doing was exhibiting his anti-catholic bias.  Two recent justices, Scalia and Clarence Thomas said this was a bigoted ruling.  Clarence Thomas said, “This doctrine, the separation of church and state, born in bigotry, should be buried.”  
  • 1962.  Engel v. Vitale.  The court ruled that students could no longer voluntarily offer this 22 word prayer:  “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”  Why?  It breached the constitutional wall of separation of church and state.  “A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”  
    • Ironically, every session of the United States Congress begins with prayer.   The prayer has to be submitted in writing because it is printed in the Congressional record.  But in 1970 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a group of students to gather together before school on school grounds and read the prayer printed in the congressional record!
  • 1963.  Abington School District vs. Schemp.  The SC ruled that students could not voluntarily read ten verses of Scripture at the beginning of each day.  They brought in experts to explain why this was a bad thing.  One expert said, “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation they could be psychologically harmful to the children.”  
  • 1967. DeSapin v. DeKalb County Community School District.  The SC allowed a lower court ruling saying that a kindergarten teacher could no longer have her students recite the following poem:  “We thank you for the flowers so sweet; we thank you for the food we eat; we thank you for the birds that sing; we thank you for everything.”  Even though it doesn’t mention God, it could cause the students to think about God and that is unconstitutional.  
  • 1980. Stone vs. Graham.  Copies of the Ten Commandments had been donated to schools in Kentucky and were posted in hallways.  In 1980 the SC said that was unconstitutional.  “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the commandments.  However desirable this may be as a matter of private devotion, it is not permissible as a state objective under the establishment clause of the first amendment.”  
  • Says Dr. Jeffress, “What has changed?  In these 150 years has the Constitution changed and nobody told us?  Is that what happened?  Of course not!  What has happened is that we have allowed the secularists, the humanists, the atheists, the infidels to pervert our constitution into something our founding fathers never intended, and it is time for Americans to stand up and say, 'Enough!  We are not going to allow this in our Christian country anymore!  It is time to put an end to this!'”  

3.  THE CONSEQUENCES OF RENOUNCING OUR CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION AS A COUNTRY.
  • What has happened since we have abandoned Christainity?  Are we better off?
  • William Bennett, secretary of education under Ronald Reagan issued “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators,” in the early 90s.  It studied the trends for thirty years, between 1960 and 1990, the years that correspond with the judiciary’s all-out assault in our country:  During that time there was 
    • a 419% increase in illegitimate births; 
    • a quadrupling in divorce rates; 
    • more than 200% increase in the teen suicide rate; 
    • a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores; 
    • a 560% increase in violent crime.  
  • Today the trend continues:
    • Over 10 million teens in the US drink alcohol regularly.
    • 20% of those engage in binge drinking.
    • Nearly 2800 children die each year as a result of gun violence, and another 14,300 are injured.
    • Nearly one million children are murdered in the womb every year.
    • One in four women in the US will have aborted at least one of their children by age 45.  
    • In 2011, over half a million teenagers became pregnant, with about 30% ending in abortion.  
  • Is this a coincidence?  
    • Hosea 4:6 answers the question, What happens to a nation that forsakes God?
      • "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons."
    • Dr. Jeffress said, “Ladies and gentlemen, God is no respecter of people or nations.  Any nation that reverences God will be blessed by God.  And any nation, including the United States, that rejects God, will be rejected God.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  
  • Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the 50s and 60s said, “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.  Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or to the charter of New England, or to the charter of Massachusetts Bay, or to the fundamental orders of Connecticut, the same object is present, a Christian land governed by Christian principles.  I believe the entire bill of rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it.  Freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under the law, and the reservation of powers to the people.  I like to believe that we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion.  I like also to believe that as long as we do so no great harm can come to our country.

CONCLUSION

Dr. Jeffress concluded with this statement:  “The nation that reverences God will be blessed by God.  The nation that rejects God, will be rejected by God.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018

9 Big Problems With Socialism

Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2016 as a democratic socialist, and he was extremely popular among young democrats.  But what is socialism, and what is the difference between socialism and capitalism? 

Capitalism is about liberty and justice.  Capitalism simply means freedom economics.  That’s why capitalism is called free market economics.  People are free to buy and sell and trade as they please.  If you can produce a product or a service that people value enough to pay for, then you can make a good living, and possibly become wealthy.  In a capitalist economy, the harder you work, the more disciplined you are, the more responsible you are, the better your reputation, the better you will do.  However, if you do not work hard, if you are immoral, if you are irresponsible and lazy, then you will struggle.

Socialism is about equality.  Not equal opportunity, but equal outcome.  Socialism sees income inequality as injustice.  If one man makes $50,000, and another makes $500,000, it is an injustice.  And socialists want to give the government the power to take money from the man who has more and give it to the man who has less so that they are more equal. 

There are several big problems with socialism.  First, it is immoral.  When you take money from someone, it is called theft.  The eighth commandment in Exodus 20:15 says, “Do not steal.”  When you take money from someone to give it to the poor, it is still theft.  And just because the government is doing the stealing does not make it right.  The government has the right to tax people, but only for the general welfare of society.  It does not have the right to tax one man to give to another.  That is called theft.  And it is also called slavery because it forces one man to work for another.  Under capitalism the government cannot take a man’s money and property.  A man keeps what he earns.  He has the right to private property.

Second, socialism punishes success.  Socialism assumes that if you are rich, you got that way by taking advantage of others; and if you are rich, then you are greedy and are not going to share with the poor.  Socialism also assumes that if you are poor, it’s not your fault.  You are entitled to have just as much as the rich man.  And so the government must step in and take the money from the rich to give to the poor.  Socialism punishes success.  Under capitalism the government does not play favorites between the poor and the rich.  Capitalism simply rewards value.  Under capitalism, if you work hard, and treat people right, and develop a good reputation, obey the law, and produce a product or service that is valuable to the marketplace, then you will be rewarded accordingly.  And this opportunity is available to everyone. 

Third, socialism assumes that income inequality is evil.  But the truth is that income inequality is not a problem.  Just because one man has less than another does not mean that an injustice has taken place, or that the man with less is suffering.  The real problem is not income inequality, but poverty.  The issue is not how much you have compared to your neighbor, but whether or not your basic needs are met.  Capitalism does not try to solve a problem that does not exist.

Fourth, socialism assumes that equality is possible.  Again, the big problem that socialism tries to solve is inequality.  Economic inequality, specifically.  The idea is that if everyone had an equal amount of money, then we could achieve utopia – a perfect society.  But the problem is that equality is impossible.  First, as I said, income inequality is not an injustice.  One man having more than another is not evil.  Second, equality is impossible.  Imagine two men.  One man is a multi-millionaire, and the other man earns about $20,000 a year.  To correct this inequality the government takes the multi-millionaire’s money and divides it between the two of them so that they are equal.  They may be equal for a day, but that’s all.  As time passes, inequality will emerge.  Why?  Because the two men are not equal.  They have different skills, different talents, different interests, different values, and they will make different choices.  Eventually one man will have far more than the other, not because of injustice, but because equality is an impossible goal.  It is unrealistic.   On the other hand, capitalism does not try to reach an unrealistic goal.  And it does not assume that equality is a good thing.  Capitalism is about freedom – giving people the freedom to buy, sell, and trade as they wish, and to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Fifth, socialism worships the government.  Under socialism, the government’s job is to right every wrong, solve every problem, cure every evil, fix all inequality, and heal every hurt.  The government is god.  If we would all simply give up our freedoms and our rights and our resources to the all-loving, all-knowing government, the government would make sure that we are all happy, healthy, and prosperous.  The problem is that history tells a different story.  The more power the government has, the more the government oppresses people rather than cares for them.  The more power the government has, the more society begins to crumble and fall apart.  The Bible tells us why.  People are sinful.  If you give too much power to sinful people, they will inevitably abuse it.  The founding fathers understood this, and this is why they created a very limited system of government with many checks and balances.  Capitalism does not worship government; it views the government as existing merely to keep the peace and to keep the rule of law; to ensure that nobody steals your stuff, or endangers your life.  Capitalism expects people to be responsible, self-reliant, and able to take care of themselves and to solve their own problems. 

Sixth, socialism worships money.  All problems are economic; all solutions are economic; all evils are motivated by economics.  Why do people commit crimes?  They are poor.  If only they had enough money, then they would make good choices.  Socialism assumes the answer to every problem is to throw money at it.  For example, America’s public education has gotten increasingly worse over the years.  What’s the solution, according to socialist democrats?  Not competition.  The answer is to give the schools more money.  And so they do, every year.  And every year, the schools continue to get worse.  The problem is that money is not God.  It is not the solution to every problem.  God is the solution.  Virtue is the solution.  Biblical values are the solution.  And money is not the cause of all problems.  Human sin and wickedness is the problem. 

Seventh, socialism attracts people by appealing to envy and greed.  Human beings are naturally envious and greedy.  So when a politician comes along and says, “This rich man has way more than he needs; if you vote for me, I’ll take his money and spread it around,” he naturally gets a lot of support.  When a politician tells the people that it if they vote for him, he will pay for their college, and their childcare, and their food, and their health care, and their housing, and their cellphone, then many people are going to support him.  But again, this is called theft.  It is legal plunder. 

Eighth, socialism attracts people by deceiving them.  Proponents of socialism claim that they are all about equality; they are all about fairness; they are all about helping people; giving people a hand up.  And this is how they attract so many idealistic and na├»ve young people.  It’s been said that if you are not a socialist in your twenties, then you don’t have a heart.  But if you are still a socialist in your forties, then you don’t have a brain.  The truth about socialism is that it is not about helping the poor and disadvantaged; it’s about power.  It is about giving all power and control to the government, with the assumption that the government will take good care of us.  Once they have all the power, all the control, then all problems will be solved.  It is the assumption that the government will take much better care of us than we can of ourselves.  It is the assumption that freedom does not work; government experts must be empowered to control every aspect of our lives.  As well, socialism is deceptive because they make themselves sound very compassionate; very caring; very generous; very loving.  And they make their supporters feel that way, too.  But the problem is that socialists aren’t generous; they are thieves.  Generosity is when you take your hard earned money and voluntarily give it to someone in need.  Socialism is when the government steals your money at gunpoint and gives it to someone else.  Socialism isn’t about compassion; it is compulsion. 

Ninth, the problem with socialism is that it flat out doesn’t work.  Wherever it has been tried, it has led to mass starvation, mass murder, the violation of basic human rights, the loss of freedom, religious persecution, and government tyranny.  2017 was the 100th anniversary of communism.  In an interview with the Daily Signal, Daniel Hannan said, “Communism, in terms of crude numbers, must be reckoned the most lethal ideology ever devised by human intelligence. The Atlantic slave trade killed maybe 10 million people. The Nazis killed maybe 17 million. Communists killed 100 million people.  Every communist regime in the world—Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cuba, all the way down—every single one has relied on Gulags, torture chambers, secret police, firing squads. You don’t find a single exception. Maybe the fact that every time the experiment is tried, it ends the same way is telling us something about the nature of what it is we’re dealing with.”  To see the failure of communism, all you have to do is note that communist countries put up walls to keep their citizens from leaving, while capitalist countries have to put up walls to keep people from entering.  Winston Churchill said, “The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity.  The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery.”

Let me make a few clarifications.  First, socialism and communism are the same thing.  People are afraid of the word “communism,” so communists today like to use the word “socialism.”  Second, socialism is essentially the economic philosophy of the Democratic Party, while capitalism is the economic philosophy of the Republican Party.  Third, the Democratic Party has been slowly and deceptively introducing socialist policies in America under the guise of compassion via income redistribution.  The idea is that the government will help the poor by taking from people who have money, rather than allowing poverty to be solved by the private sector – by churches, charities, families, and individuals. 

We must not vote for any politician is advocates for socialist or communist policies.  Jay Richards wrote, “When we have all the facts before us, then, we discover that Christianity and capitalism are not bitter enemies.  On the contrary, a good Christian can be, indeed should be, a good capitalist.”   Capitalism is not a perfect system, but it is the best economic system the world has ever known, lifting more people out of poverty than any government program or entitlement.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

How to Vote as a Christian

Today we are celebrating our nation's birthday.  It's a good time to thank God for allowing us to live in the USA.  We are enjoying unprecedented freedom and prosperity.  Unfortunately, the blessings we enjoy are not guaranteed to last -- for us or future generations.  Every generation must work to preserve liberty and fight against the natural drift toward immorality and government tyranny.

Christians have a moral duty to vote, and to vote for Biblical values.  Every law is based on values; the only question is whose?  Will our nation be governed according to Biblical values, or unbiblical values?  That depends on Christians.  If the righteous do not vote, then there will be no vote for righteousness.  Our goal is not a theocracy, but a nation whose laws are based on truth and justice, and the Bible is the only book that can guide us there.

How should Christians vote?  Here are five guidelines to help you vote according to Biblical values.

1) Religious liberty, no coercion.

Government is necessary, but it is not God.  The government must not attempt to force people to violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions.  Christian bakers should not be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding.  Medical professionals should not have to participate in abortions, sex-change operations, or other procedures that violate their conscience.  Religious liberty is the first and most important freedom.  If the government grows so powerful that it can force a man to violate his conscience, then it can violate all of our freedoms.

2) Free speech, not censorship.

Some people want to do away with the first amendment and limit speech.  They want to outlaw offensive speech.  Offensive to who?  Offensive speech is actually the only kind of speech that needs to be protected.  Without free speech, whichever party is in power can dictate the words and ideas that can be verbalized.  Without free speech we lose the freedom to debate, to evangelize, to preach, to disciple our children.  There is no such thing as hate speech; only hated speech.  And that is the very speech that must be protected, because sometimes the most hated ideas are the most liberating.

3) Racial equality, not special privileges.

Racism is immoral.  All human beings are created equal.  This idea is found in the Declaration of Independence, as well as the Bible.  By God's grace America has done more than any nation in history to overcome racism.  Today racism is no longer a significant obstacle in the path of black Americans.  However there is a New Racism in America that is alive and growing.  It is not white on black racism, but black on white.  Whites are told that they are racist, even if they don't know it, and they must apologize, repent, and make reparations to make up for their sins.  All problems in the black community are blamed on "systemic" racism, without actually pointing to any racist policies, laws, or actions.  White people are not allowed to speak on the issue of racism, or about the problems in the black community.  And black people cannot be racist because they a minority.  These attitudes, as well as policies such as Affirmative Action are causing blacks to hate whites, and whites to resent blacks.  A house divided cannot stand.

4) Pro-life, not pro-abortion.

Murder is wrong, and abortion is murder.  Over sixty million unborn children have been murdered since 1973.  That's over 3,000 every single day.  If America can abolish slavery, then we can abolish abortion.  Abortion is not about a woman's right to choose.  Half of abortions are committed against baby girls.  What about their choice?  Women should be free to choose, but not to make any choice.  We are all prohibited from injuring our neighbors.  Being pro-life is not about imposing our religious beliefs on people.  Nobody should be allowed to carry out child sacrifice, regardless of their religious beliefs.

5) Capitalism, not socialism. 

Socialism is a nice synonym for communism.  And it has failed everywhere it has been tried.  Not only has it failed, but it has led to the deaths of millions of innocent people.  Socialism is not about equality; it is about power.  It is about taking your freedoms and your property and giving all control to the government, with the belief that the government will take good care of us.  But the problem is that the people in power are tainted with sin.  The more power a sinful man has, the more he will use that power to hurt the people under his care.  Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  That government is best which governs least.  Socialism is immoral because it steals a man's property at gunpoint, gives it to his neighbor, and calls it charity and compassion.  It is neither charity or compassion, but compulsion, theft, and forced labor.  Capitalism is a synonym for freedom -- freedom economics.  It is about giving people the freedom to buy, sell, and trade as they wish.  The government does nothing more than keep the rule of law, prevent theft and personal injury, and enforce contracts.  Capitalism assumes that the social problems of society will be handled best not by the government, but by families, churches, charities, humanitarians, and businesses.

Today America is ruled by two political parties.  Neither is perfect, but there are very clear and significant differences between the two.

  • Republicans are for Religious Liberty.  Democrats are for coercion.
  • Republicans are for Free Speech.  Democrats are for censorship.
  • Republicans are for Racial Equality.  Democrats are for special privileges for blacks.
  • Republicans are for Life.  Democrats are pro-abortion.
  • Republicans are for Capitalism.  Democrats are for socialism.
Do not miss an opportunity to vote.  Attend city council meetings.  Run for office.  Stay informed.  Share your opinion with gentleness and respect (and without fear).  And the next time you go to the voting booth, bring your Bible and vote for truth and justice.

Happy Fourth of July!  God bless you, and God bless America!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Win for Free Speech: Pro-Life Centers Can't Be Forced to Promote Abortion

Free speech is under attack in our country like never before.  And one of the major battles has been taking place in California.

In 2015 California adopted a new law called the Reproductive FACT Act that would force pro-life centers to promote the state's low-cost abortion program.  In other words, the law would force organizations that exist for the purpose of discouraging abortion to use their resources to promote abortion.

But yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the state of California was violating the First Amendment's protection of free speech.

This is very good news for Christians.  Many on the political left are trying to regulate speech.  They want to make it illegal to speak against homosexuality, transgenderism, and gay marriage.  They want to force Christian professionals to create art and messages that violate deeply held religious and moral beliefs.  And they tried to force pro-life centers to promote abortion.  So this is a much needed victory; a reminder to progressives that the Constitution still stands; that freedom of religion and speech will not be discarded; that they cannot so easily burn up America's Christian heritage and remake the country in their own image. 

God is doing some good things right now in our country.  Keep praying, and keep up with your civic duties.  Now is not the time to check out politically. 

Join me this Sunday at Church Acadiana for a special July 4th sermon called, "How to Vote as a Christian."  I'll be discussing religious liberty, abortion, free speech, racism, socialism, and much more!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How to Grow More Like Jesus -- Part 1


God wants every Christian to grow more and more like Jesus in character, conduct, and conviction.  How can we do that? 

1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you be like-minded.”  Strong’s Greek Dictionary says this word means “harmonious; of one mind.”  The Amplified Bible says “united in spirit.”  The Expanded Bible says “be in agreement (be like-minded; live in harmony).  The ESV says, “Have unity of mind.”  So the idea is to be a person of unity.



What does it mean to be a person of unity?  Make every effort to get along and work together with church family. 


To be a person of unity implies that you are plugged into a church.  If you want to grow more like Christ, you have to be a committed, participating member of a church.  There’s no way around it. The church is called the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the family of God, the temple of God, the pillar and foundation of truth; the Bible says Christ loves the church, Christ died for the church, Christ provides and cares for the church, and Christ is building the church.  If there’s anything worth committing to and participating in, it’s the church.  Remember.  When it comes to the church, you need it, and you're needed.

There’s something that every Christian must understand.  God is on a mission in the world to seek and save the lost, and to teach them to obey all of Christ’s teachings.  And God’s plan for accomplishing this mission is not individuals, but churches – communities of believers devoted to making disciples. 

But if the church can’t get along, then the church can’t get things done.  That’s why it’s so important for Christians to be people of unity.

You can grow more like Jesus by making every effort to get along and work together with your church family.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Do Not Steal: Understanding The Eighth Commandment

The eighth commandment is found in Exodus 20:15.  It says, "Do not steal."

What exactly is stealing?  The Hebrew word for steal, ganab, means "the act of taking property from another without permission and in secret; the misappropriation of property; the secret taking of another’s property without the owner’s knowledge or permission; taking something that does not belong to you (Mark Rooker).  The Dake Reference Bible says, "This commandment prohibits secret and open removal of the property of another, any injury done to it, and carelessness about that which belongs to a neighbor."

In in the United States, property theft occurs in some form every three seconds! (J. Holbert, The Ten Commandments, p. 8.)

Consider the many different form of stealing:

  1. Burglary (breaking into a home or building to commit theft);
  2. Robbery (taking property directly from another using violence or intimidation);
  3. Larceny (taking something without permission and not returning it)
  4. Hijacking (using force to take goods in transit or seizing control of a bus, truck, plane, etc.); 
  5. Shoplifting (taking items from a store during business hours without paying for them);
  6. Pilfering (stealing things of relatively little value)
  7. Pickpocketing and purse-snatching.
  8. Embezzlement (the fraudulent taking of money or other goods entrusted to one’s care);
  9. Extortion (getting money from someone by means of threats or misuses of authority);
  10. Racketeering (obtaining money by any illegal means).
  11. Tax evasion (the non-payment or underpayment of tax).
  12. Fraud (wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain).

The eighth commandment teaches four big ideas about money:
  1. It is immoral to steal from others.
  2. It is immoral for others to steal form you.
  3. You have the right to own private property.
  4. You must acquire money and possessions honorably.  There are four ways to do this:
    1. Inheritance.
    2. Gift.
    3. Investment.
    4. Work:  Provide a service or a product that people value enough to purchase.
Why is stealing wrong?  Two reasons:
  1. When you steal, you are not trusting God to meet your needs.
  2. When you steal, you are robbing your neighbor of God's provision for them.
Common Forms of Theft

1) Ways people steal from their neighbor:
  1. Destruction of another's property.
  2. Borrowing and not repaying.  Ps 37:21; Rom 13:8
  3. Voting for the redistribution of wealth.
  4. Illegal streaming and downloading.
2) Ways people steal from their job.
  1. Not doing your best.  Col 3:23
  2. Stealing money and supplies.
  3. Wasting time.
  4. Stealing time.
3) Ways people steal from their family.
  1. Not disciplining your kids.
  2. Stealing money and possessions from others in your family.
  3. Neglecting your marriage.
  4. Not honoring your parents.
4) Ways people steal from God.
  1. Not tithing.  Mal 3:10
  2. Not making church attendance a priority.
  3. Not volunteering.
  4. Prayerlessness.
What is the opposite of stealing?

Generosity.  Using your extra resources to help the needy.  1 Tim 6:18

The Cure for Stealing
  1. Believe that everything belongs to God.  Ps 24:1
  2. Commit to good stewardship.
  3. Start tithing.
  4. Be generous.
  5. Work hard to earn a good living.
  6. Be content with what God has given you.
  7. Be faithful with the little things.

Friday, June 22, 2018

4 Lessons I've Learn About Church Unity

There are four lessons that I’ve learned about unity over the years as a pastor. 

First, unity means getting along.  Think of a basketball team.  What does it mean for a basketball team to be unified?  First, it means that they get along; they aren’t fighting with each other; they are being kind and respectful of each other.  If we don't get along, then we won't get things done.

Second, unity means working together.  Unity is not merely the absence of conflict.  For a basketball team to be unified they all need to be working together on the same goal -- the goal of winning.  For our church to be unified, it’s not enough that we get along.  We also need to work together.  All hands on deck.  Everyone needs to get involved in accomplishing the mission of the church. 

The third lesson that I’ve learned about unity is that it is very fragile.  It is very easy to disrupt the unity of a church.  People get mad and leave the church over all sorts of petty reasons.  That’s why we need to remember two things.  For the sake of unity, be very careful to treat each other with respect and kindness.  And second, give each other lots of grace.  Don’t demand that the church be perfect for you to stick around.  When someone offends you, forgive them.  When you don't get your way, don't take it personally.  Your idea may not be needed, but you are. 

And a fourth lesson that I’ve learned about unity is that it takes hard work.  You would think that if we all just love God then we’ll be unified.  It’s not that simple.  Unity takes hard work.  It takes intentionality.  A church naturally drifts toward division and dissension, not unity.  That’s why Ephesians 4:3 says, “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”