Archive for the ‘Morality’ Category

Morality Is Indispensable for Liberty | Becky Akers   1 comment

Becky Akers

Found on FEE

Morality Is Indispensable for LibertyThose stodgy Founding Fathers! Not only did they study hard, work harder, and marry one woman for life, they also insisted on – get this – morality. As in obeying the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the basic moral teachings of the Bible in general. So strongly did they venerate morality that they frequently observed its unbreakable link with liberty. They believed that moral people alone remain politically free.

John Adams, for example, claimed, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

“While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued.”His cousin Sam agreed. “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.” Indeed, he feared, “A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”

Singing the same song was Charles Carroll, one of the Declaration’s signers:  “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time…”

And George Washington considered morality so necessary to freedom that he spoke at length of their connection in the Farewell Address that capped his career: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”

Clearly, the generation that overthrew the world’s most powerful – and corrupt – empire to establish a new, freer country considered Biblical morality essential to their endeavor. But why? Exactly how do strong ethics enhance liberty?

Washington mentioned one obvious reason in his Farewell: “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?” By extension, those in elected or appointed positions might not respect their oaths of office, either.

Reflexive Thievery

If these were the only times morality protected freedom, we might dismiss the Founders’ veneration of the former as overblown. After all, few of us will find ourselves in either political office or court … wait. I forgot that every American commits three felonies per day.

But even with the police-state criminalizing most of our behavior, lying under oath isn’t nearly as widespread as another sin that enslaves formerly free people. By far the worst threat to liberty springs from the reflexive thievery, a.k.a. socialism, permeating modern culture and politics.

The idea that my property belongs to me alone has become as quaint as “Thou shalt not steal.”That admirer of America, Alexis de Tocqueville, shrewdly analyzed socialism inhis classic rebuke of it in 1848: along with “an incessant, vigorous and extreme appeal to the material passions of man” (i.e., greed) and “a profound opposition to personal liberty and scorn for individual reason, a complete contempt for the individual,” socialism is “always … an attack, either direct or indirect, on the principle of private property.”

Americans today have so completely converted to socialism that mighty few folks even recognize, let alone condemn, that “attack … on the principle of private property.” Rather, they reason, “I need or want it, and you have it, so you must give it to me.” The idea that my property belongs to me alone, and that no one else has any right to swipe even a penny of it, to restrict my use of it, or to dictate how I employ it has become as quaint as “Thou shalt not steal.”

In fact, Americans have redefined “steal.” It now means, “Acquiring property from another person yourself rather than waiting for government to acquire it on your behalf.” So long as the recipient doesn’t wind up in jail, he will eagerly accept anything politicians “redistribute” to him from his family and friends.

Even folks who would never dream of robbing a man at gunpoint of a third of his income, good Christians who attend church and read their Bibles, see nothing wrong with plundering their neighbors via government. Especially when they favor the loot’s alleged recipients (soup kitchens and other “faith-based” programs, foreign aid to Israel, etc). Few worry any longer whether an act is moral; instead, they assume that if it’s legal, it must be OK.

Policies of Plunder

The predatory and “graduated” tax code that allegedly takes “from each according to his ability” to finance Obamacare, food stamps, Section 8 housing, unemployment, Social Security, etc., is obvious socialism. But many, far more insidious instances abound. And in all of them, American morality is not only dead but so deeply buried that these examples disturb hardly any consciences.

Too many Americans applaud plaintiffs who sue innocent entities as shrewd rather than larcenous.A legal doctrine called “joint-and-several liability … states that damages can be obtained from co-defendants based on who is capable of paying, rather than who was found to be more negligent.” Looking for “deep pockets” so that small inconveniences or even injuries can be parlayed into megabucks often means the wealthiest person or corporation near an accident is held responsible, even if he bears little or no blame. Too many Americans applaud plaintiffs who sue innocent entities as shrewd rather than larcenous.

Since World War II, New York City has compelled landlords to subsidize tenants’ rent through its execrable rent-control laws. This legislation decrees how much rent landlords may charge, the amount – if any – by which they may annually raise it(despite whatever increases in real-estate taxes or in the cost of water and sewage the City has imposed that year), and how long the tenant may inhabit his apartment—even if the building’s owner prefers another renter or wishes to sell or renovate his property. This corruption pits landlords against tenants so thoroughly that occasionally the former plots to murder the latter in the hope of regaining his rights. And though rent-control authorizes tenants to cheat landlords, it bites the swindlers, too, by ensuring that New York’s supply of housing remains dilapidated, scarce, and stunningly expensive.

Once accustomed to living off their landlords – or the taxpayers, via Social Security, Medicare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, etc., ad nauseam – voters elect socialists to continue their gravy train. They happily sell our liberty for lower rent and free food. Shameless in their thievery, they prove the Founders’ maxim that only a moral people remains free.

Source: Morality Is Indispensable for Liberty | Becky Akers

First Step is a Wet One   12 comments

Christianity is really pretty simple. Admit that you’ve disobeyed God and cannot fix that on your own, believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, confess that belief where others can hear you, and you’re saved.

That simplicity can make salvation sound like a “get out of jail free” card. It costs the believer nothing to be saved because Christ did it all. Add to it that once you’re saved you’re always saved and cannot lose or even give away your salvation, and it sounds like a great deal.

And, it is! But make no mistake, Christianity will cost the believer something. That’s where the whole confessing part comes in. Undercover Christians aren’t risking a whole lot which is why Jesus said believers have to identify with Him and that they shouldn’t be surprised that their identification with Him was going to cost them something. “The world will hate you, because it hated Me first,” He warned in John’s Gospel

A friend of mine who spent a number of years in the Middle East tells me that the reaction to a Muslim attending a Christian church is actually underwhelming. At least in Turkey, it was. People didn’t get upset about it and the church-goer didn’t seem to think they were risking anything. Until … until they became a Christian in their hearts and then they faced a dilemma. They could continue to attend church and even talk about their newborn faith, but if they decided to be baptized, they faced being marked as an apostate by the local imams. Their families would disown them and sometimes attempt to kill them.

Why? Baptism in the United States is not seen as a big deal, but Muslims perhaps understand it better than we do. For the early Christians, baptism was identifying with Christ. The symbol of being immersed in water and being brought back up parallels Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is also, btw, why Bapists hold to full immersion baptism. If you read Acts, you quickly see a pattern emerge. A person accepts Christ and is baptized. It is rare not to see that pattern and that may just be that it wasn’t recorded, not that it didn’t happen. To the early Church baptism was very important. Why?

Baptism identifies us as partaking in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. It is a public event. It is a first step of obedience in the Christian life. In America, it doesn’t cost us very much to do it, but I know people who haven’t and won’t even though they claim to be Christians. What I’ve learned is that it comes down to a question of control for them. They’ll couch it in all sorts of other terms, but really, they don’t like the idea that they’re showing humility before God and that someone else has to lower them into the water and pull them back up. Obedience is not their primary focus.

In most cases, those Christians remain immature and stagnant in their faith. Just my experience, but I’m pretty convinced of it. Why? Because they refuse to obey at the very first step of their walk with God and the Christian life starts and ends with obedience. All other areas of obedience cannot even get started until they’ve gotten that one out of the way.

How’s Your Prayer Life?   Leave a comment

National Day of Prayer 2013 is Thursday May 2. I rarely participate in these annual events because I pray all the time, so don’t feel the need to join in a national show of how religious we are. So, this year’s theme (Pray for America) is a stretch for a non-joiner like me, but it is also a challenge.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:43-45

I consider government at all levels to be an enemy of the people to varying degrees. Yet the Bible says to pray for my enemies. And I do know the verse “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). The issues that divided our nation during the 2012 elections were of greater significance that the prevailing economy scrutiny, yet played a negative role in the elections. Moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, and defense of religious freedom became subject to attack ads, speeches and debates as candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum with no middle ground. Life was described as either sacred and worthy of preservation no matter what the circumstances or simply a decision to end an inconvenience and not a right. Marriage was described as one man and one woman as it has traditionally been or to be interpreted and redefined based on social moral relativism. Religious freedom was treated as either the right to freely worship God (of various faiths) or something that should be hidden away from public view, proscribed and possibly even investigated as terrorism.

We must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the values of the voting public. Contrary to popular belief, the problem of polarization is not a Washington DC problem. The problem is in our homes, communities and churches. The heart of the American people has changed.

We live in a nation where half of the voting population holds beliefs and philosophies that are contrary to the beliefs of the other half. Increasingly it is difficult to find people who will stand for a strong Biblical world view in government, the military, schools, the media, businesses, and even churches and families. In such a contentious environment, those who try to live “godly” will be hated by a world that rejects our worldview and persecution is rarely far behind hate.

Persecution takes many forms, but the basic idea is harassment, irritation, and mistreatment so as to silence or drive away those subject to persecution. “The fact is, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). That’s a painful thought because we all want to be liked, but when we take a stand against ungodliness in our culture, the ungodly will stand against us. Maybe they aren’t going to feed us to the lions just yet, but to be deprived of your liberty in a free society is persecution.

And our response?

Pray for them.

Ow! Knowing what to do is easier than doing what we know we must do. Jesus directs us not only to pray, but to pray with the same unconditional, never failing, always enduring love that Jesus loves us with. Our natural response to “persecution” from “enemies” is not to pray. It’s to fight back, but Jesus asks us to pray in sincere love for those who hate us.

Praying is not giving up. It’s just recognizing that what is wrong in our society will take more than just our collective will to repair and, frankly, more than one day of a nation bowing its neck to affect a cure.

Whatever Happened to Integrity?   2 comments

Every society throughout history has formed some system of governance. Like all living creatures, humans innately desire to survive and prosper. Some people prefer the path of least resistance and welcome a central authority that does much of the thinking for them. Others have a need to conquer or maintain control over their fellow man. Thus, a ruling class is born. Great nations have, throughout history, taken this to extremes and usually burned themselves into ashes because human individuals are greedy and lust for power.

The antidote for human avarice and megalomania is a set of morals and corresponding ethical rules, originally espoused millennia ago within a religious context, but meant to offer guidance in the dealings of society, to provide boundaries for the ruling class as it deals with the governed and as it deals within its own ranks.

The framers of the US Constitution were remarkably astute about basic human nature, so they set forth a form of government and a written Constitution to greatly limit those who would attempt to rule over the people. They acknowledged that the success and future of the Republic would depend on the honor and integrity of its leaders and citizens.

“Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams)

The potential disintegration of the United States cannot be credited solely to the incestuous makeup of the current ruling class, but also to its abandonment of morals and religion. The Obama administration, the majority of the members of Congress and much of the judiciary, as well as academia and the media, represent the culmination of the degradation of ethics and character within the ruling class.

We started on this course when Congress and the president in the early 20th century discovered they could bribe the public with the public’s own money. The focus of politics began to shift from self-limiting public service and adherence to the Constitution to seeking, centralizing, and maintaining power while amassing individual wealth. Slowly that approach seeped into the psyche of the rest of the ruling class and society and government began the long steady process of compromising time-tested standards of ethics, honesty and integrity, based on Judeo-Christian teachings.

Each step on this march was justified as a moral or societal imperative, a redefined right, or a necessity to save people from themselves. As government grew more intrusive and centralized, the heady tonic of near-omnipotent authority and cult worship moved many politicians to do or say anything to achieve or preserve elected office.

The field of education began to teach that there are no absolutes and no moral or ethical guidelines except to do whatever makes one “happy.” Any problems simply create demand for new programs, which furthers the consolidation of authority in the hands of a select few. Any mention of God was eliminated, as religious values, being timeless and universal, undermine the process of corrupting and remaking society.

The mainstream media, once the watchdog of government wrongdoing, was captured by ideology, lifestyle, and its newfound celebrity status, so that most of my former profession chases whatever is fashionable as established by media elites rather than upholding the traditions of honest news-gathering.

To groups within the ruling class, truth and facts have become obstacles to be replaced by outright lies or obfuscations euphemistically referred to as “spin.” This gradual degradation of integrity and ethical standards has allowed for the acceptance of a philosophy espoused by despots throughout history, and one that forms the underpinning of the character of President Obama, his administration, a majority of the ruling class, and a plurality in Congress.

The Machiavellian doctrine of the end justifies the means epitomizes corruption in any society and heralds the ultimate demise of that same society. Any leader within government or the national community who is captive to that thinking must necessarily be devoid of ethics, integrity, or morals. Remember my earlier post about anti-social personality disorder.

Thus, President Obama and others are willing to lie to achieve their ends, such as the deliberate falsehoods, obfuscations, and manipulation of data that took place during the passage of the Affordable Care Act. These lies are now coming to light after the fact.

There was and remains no hesitation to flout the rule of law and the Constitution, as President Obama did in the takeover of General Motors, Chrysler, the banks, insurance companies, and the appointment of numerous “czars” in avoidance of congressional approval.

Meanwhile, the media, instead of reporting the news, uses the power of the press to manipulate or omit the news to favor their preferred politician or cause and maintain their place in the ruling class.

Politicians and special interest groups are willing to foment racial tensions by inciting animosity and fear among the populace in order to maintain power.

President Obama and his cohorts willingly and deliberately placed the country on a collision course with national bankruptcy through inconceivable levels of deficit spending in order to advance a radical agenda which will permanently empower the current ruling class.

Recently, much has been made of the lack of leadership displayed by the president. Much was made of his inexperience in executive management, but after four years in office, he ought to be more skilled than he appears. “The supreme quality for leadership is uncontestably integrity.” (Dwight Eisenhower). President Obama and much of the ruling class are bereft of that quality.

A national leader or a member of the ruling class without honor and integrity cannot be trusted because he cannot act in the best interest of others, only of himself. Captive to ideology and incapable of change, he surrounds himself with sycophantic philosophical soul mates. He cannot abide criticism, constructive or otherwise, as he will always view it through the lens of personal insecurity. Truth becomes a casualty of unrestrained narcissism. He cannot assume responsibility for failure, seeking always for others to blame. Without honor and integrity as the foundation of his character, failure and further erosion of the future of the country will follow in his footsteps.

The United States is staring into an abyss unimagined in our lifetimes or even our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. The end of America is no longer just a subject of fiction writers. The people of this nation must understand that they cannot turn to the ruling class for solutions, as not only is this source of leadership incapable of providing it, but its members are the catalyst for the country’s potential demise.

We need a peaceful revolution to overthrow the current ruling class. The citizens of the United States must not only elect representatives with proven integrity and character, but also recognize the importance of those traits in their own lives. They – we — must return to being the religious and moral people John Adams referred to. Only then can this current ruling class be replaced by one that reflects the true greatness of this country.

It’s All About Me   Leave a comment

Continuing my inventory of the trends within American society that have caused and will continue to cause the impersonal, undirected rage that leads to mass shootings, I’d like to point my finger in your face … recognizing that there are three more pointing back at me. We are the problem and we will be the solution … if we’re brave enough.

In mental health circles, where I spent the last 15 years as an administrator, narcisstic personality disorder can be boiled down to a simple phrase – it’s all about me and anything that is about you, either doesn’t matter or needs to be beaten to death. I can’t think of a better term than “narcissistic” to describe a father who abandons his mentally ill child, even if he supplies a six figure income to that child’s mother. What is there to say for a mother who prioritizes vacationing over the care and supervision of her unstable son? American culture preaches a crass consumerism that encourages citizens to place the flimsiest of their whims over the needs of others. Murder – for thrill, glory, or whatever Lanza’s unknown motive – is the ultimate manifestation of narcissism. It is the literal destruction of another’s life in the hopes of enhancing one’s own.

As a country, we praise the virtue of the selfless heroics of the Sandy Hook teachers who tried to save the lives of their students with their unarmed bodies, but we ignore as our president orders innocent women and children killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we engage in media approved mourning for Sandy Hook we ignore the decades of slaughter in our inner cities. We prioritize our own interests over those of foreigners and the poor in our own country, which is narcissism.

We can use the Newtown massacre as an opportunity to intellectually, morally and spiritually grow into citizens that cultivate communities of strength, love and interdependence that treat others with respect and care or we can continue to float along as islands, ignorant to the mentally ill in our own families and oblivious to the struggles of people in houses next door to us. We can fearlessly confront the issues that drive violence in our country by addressing the underlying issues as they exist right in our own homes and communities.

But when we lock up all the legal guns so that the average citizen has no means to protect himself, what will we blame when madmen like Adam Lanza use suicide vests, knives, cars driven into crowds, or illegally manufactured guns to take out their victims? These sorts of spree killings happen in countries where personal ownership of guns is highly restricted, evidencing something deeper than just “a culture of guns” is at work in modern man.

Are we so stuck on ourselves that we really can’t see that “the other guy” is no more at fault than we are and that, ultimately, the man or woman in the mirror is the only person we can affect for the better? This country was founded on individual liberty and responsibility and for most of our history, that was the ideal that we followed. What makes any of us think that we are so smart that we can force the man next to us to comply to our will and that will somehow make the world a better place.

That’s narcissism and from our president down to people on the street corner, we are a nation evidencing all the symptoms.

Technology is NOT The Cure   Leave a comment

How very American for us to obsess over an object used to perpetrate a crime rather than examine the root causes and perpetrator of the crime. Millions of people are understandably upset over the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, but to presume that we have it within our power and authority to eradicate such evil and end crime is … well, narcissistic. I’m not terribly surprised that President Obama – an ultimate narcissist – believes “these tragedies must end” as if he can make that happen through executive decree. He does believe that. I’m not amazed that Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews have placed the blame for Adam Lanza’s behavior on the National Rifle Association. They appear to believe that America is one law, one legislative act, one executive order away from guaranteeing the end of violent tragedy.

We humans like to control our environment and when catastrophe and disaster strike, we seek to impose our will. Atrocities make us feel helpless; to regain autonomy, we feel and often act on the urge to “do something”. We don’t much care if the something we do is effective, so long as we act. As it is easier to control objects than it is people, the command to “do something” comes down to gun control.

Let’s leave aside for a moment that Adam Lanza’s mother legally purchased the guns used in the attack, all of which were legal when the “assault weapons” ban existed (by the way). Leave aside the Constitutional argument – our founders believed that everyone should own a gun for defense against the government. Also leave aside that our framers never envisioned semi-automatic rifles, because I would submit that had Thomas Jefferson been able to see what our military has currently, he’d have wanted us to have fully automatic weapons, not single-pull semi-autos. I don’t want to discuss the above because it’s already being discussed to death and it distracts from the very real issues we ought to be discussing. The media and liberal obsession with gun control in the wake of the Newtown tragedy reveals some unsavory truths about American culture that we really should look at.

In Man against Mass Society, Garbiel Marcel connected the loss of the individual in the face of assault from a mass society of conformity, institutionalization and socialization, and the increasing obsession with technique and technical solutions. Norman Mailer wrote, “Technology gives us greater control, but less pleasure.” Technology gives us the illusion of control while also dehumanizing us. Decades after Marcel, Neil Postman called the United States of America a “technopoly” in his book of the same name. A “technopoly”, according to Postman, is a society in which “the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency, that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment.”

Naturally, in a technopoly, the citizenry worships technology. Please look around and acknowledge that we’re there. Millenials drool over their smart phones, we practically deified Steve Jobs, and most urban Americans believe they need a GPS to drive I-90 coast-to-coast. We reached the sorry state of technopoly a long time ago, and there’s no sign we’re recovering from it anytime soon.

As Americans worship the divinity of technology, we come to believe that every problem is solvable with technology. In the case of the mass shooting, the gun is the technological instrument, and if technology is always the solution to any problem, then in the rare cases that there is a problem involving technology, the instrument of technology must be the cause. A law regulating the purchase and use of that technology is the solution to the problem. Such a belief system makes life seem simple. It avoids confronting the reality that evil is always with us and will always be with us. It is the tiger prowling and stalking through the night (William Blake).

Secularism naively errs in believing that all problems are created by man, and therefore are solvable by man. Marcel would no doubt point out, should he be resurrected to appear on a panel for MSNBC, that politics cannot offer salvation, and that technique cannot offer security. Politics cannot offer redemption, though that doesn’t keep politicians from trying.

As America’s political discourse has become more secular, it has become more excitable over State-sponsored solutions. In the wake of Newtown, gun control has offered the opportunity for combining two seemingly separate, but related forms of idolatry – technopoly and governmental divinity. Americans, we would do well to remember that there is no technological solution to a human problem and human beings have been bizarrely absent from the Newtown discussion.

The progressive media immediately jumped on group-think, rather than looking at individuals. The National Rifle Association, the Southern “gun culture”, and the “culture of guns” have all been indicted on MSNBC for the Newtown incident. A culture that loves technique, worships technology, and prays to the expert must demonize anyone perceived as less educated, sophisticated, and advanced. The enemy, in this case, is the “superstitious” (religious), “bitter” (opposed to State-sponsored solutions), “hillbilly” (white and uneducated), gun “nut”. Unfortunately, for purveyors of the gun-control-will-solve-all-our-problems-and-gun-culture-is-evil narrative, Adam Lanza and his family were and are nothing like the typical Southerner with a gun rack.

Adam Lanza was the product of a broken home. His parents divorced years ago, and his father, Peter, had no presence in Adam’s life for the last several years. He paid Nancy Lanza $200,000 a year in alimony and child support, remarried, and said farewell – physically and apparently emotionally – to his family. Peter is the tax director at General Electric – rich, educated, and no doubt urbane. Far from a hick backwater, Newtown is a town of highly educated professionals. Lanza’s surroundings were likely insignificant to him, however. By all reports he was mentally disturbed; diagnosed with Aspergers, his problems seem to have gone far beyond that diagnosis. I worked for several years in community mental health and have known Asperger’s patients. Yes, there is a risk of violence when such clients are overstimulated, but I’ve never met one who, in my uncredentialed, but well-informed opinion, could or would carry out such a heinous act requiring the degree of planning evidenced. His problems seem more along the lines of paranoid schizophrenia. Friends report Nancy Lanza worried about some of his behaviors, but she took no immediate action. She also reportedly took mini-vacations, leaving her mentally ill son alone and unmonitored for days at a time. All of this was after she poisoned his mind with apocalyptic conspiracy theories, and explained why she was stockpiling food, water, and weapons as her way of preparing for the coming collapse of civilization. (There are some topics you discuss with your sane 20-year-old and there are others you don’t discuss with your mentally ill teen). She also trained her son to shoot the same guns he used to kill her, 20 school children, and six teachers (there are also activities you don’t do with your mentally ill kids that you can do with your mentally stable ones). Peter and Nancy Lanza played a role in their son’s behavior and she paid the ultimate price for being a less than adequate parent.

Make no mistake! The blame for Adam Lanza’s murder of 27 people lies first and foremost with Adam Lanza. His parents were negligent and neglectful and deserve part of the blame. Blaming a political interest group, a subculture of mostly law-abiding people or violent movies and video games seems silly and is another futile grasp for control in the face of the frightening. Thoughtful Americans should reflect on the tragedy in order to gain insight into our country. We should resist the shortsighted and simpleminded tendency to fixate on the gun and scrutinize “gun culture”, which had little or nothing to do with this tragedy.

Rather than focus on the problem, we focus on a symptom in the vain hope that if we control the symptom, we’ll somehow fix the problem that we’re afraid even to name. While we do that, what is afflicting us grows worse and we grow further away from the means to solve it. When we’ve locked up all the guns and the terror continues with fists, feet, knives and clubs, what will we blame then?

Say What You Believe   2 comments

You really want to believe in Christ, but it’s going to affect your career, your marriage, your standing in the community. So isn’t it enough to accept Christ in your heart and keep it to yourself? I was asked this question not long ago and the inquirer made a good point. What if someone accepts Christ then dies before they have time to confess their salvation?

Hmmm?

I’ve often accepted as a given that someone could accept Christ on their death bed and be accepted into Heaven, but what if that person were not able to speak and therefore unable to confess their salvation? Okay, now I’m stumped and I will confess that I remain stumped on that portion of the question. My only answer is that God knows what was in that person’s heart and He is the ultimate arbitrator of who gets to enter His kingdom. I don’t know the answer, but I’m convinced that God not only knows the answer, but that Jesus Christ is the Answer, so I don’t really need to know. I think it’s narcissistic of us to believe we have to understand God totally. No, we don’t. He’s God, we’re humans. We’re like ants to Him. We will never fully understand Him and that should be fine with us.

Corinthians tells Christians to judge their fellow believers, so I’m turning from metaphysical questions to the more pragmatic part of the question. Can a person believe in Jesus Christ, but not confess that belief before men and still consider himself saved.

At the risk that you won’t read the rest of this post … NO!

Romans 10:9-10 says “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.”

There are those who try to explain away the meaning of these words and there are those who adhere to them like barnacles to a boat hull, but what is really the answer beyond dogmatism.

First, someone will note that Paul puts confession before belief in verse 9. That’s because (in verse 9) he’s quoting Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 30:14 and that’s how Moses wrote it. In verse 10, Paul’s own words and instructions appear — believe and then confess, which is really the only chronology that makes sense.

The word “confess” here is homologeo the same as used in 1 John 1:9 and means to “say the same thing about something as others have said”. Early Christians risked their lives by saying “Jesus is Lord”. First, the Jews tried to kill them for blasphemy and then the Romans tried to kill them because Caesar was “lord” in their society. So the simple statement “Jesus is Lord” was the most common confession that Christians of the 1st century made and it carried a great deal of importance.

In verse 9, Paul directly states that believing and confessing are both essential for salvation. In verse 10, while believing and confessing are now set apart into two separate clauses, confession is still declared to result in salvation. Confession (homologeo) in this context cannot be as easily explained as that which takes place in the heart as a private act before God as some might hope. The term “mouth” implies an oral confession. God does not need one to “confess with the mouth” for his benefit. He can see into the heart to discern our faith, and grant us justification at the very moment of faith.

Yet the vast majority of NT passages mention faith as the only condition for eternal life. What is more, the Gospel of John, written for the precise purpose of clarifying the condition for receiving eternal life (20:30-31), nowhere states that our eternal destiny is determined by “confessing with the mouth.” In fact, John wrote the very opposite—that one can trust Christ for eternal life (and actually receive it), but fail to confess the Lord publicly. He wrote, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [homologeo„] Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue…” (12:42). John knew of those who did not openly identify with Christ for fear of persecution and rejection, yet they had come to faith that brings eternal life.

To find Paul’s meaning in Romans 10:9-10, we need to investigate the book itself more deeply. In Romans, it is undeniable that Paul’s favorite term for redemption is the heavily theological word, “justification” (dikaiosune). For Paul justification is a legal or forensic term referring to the imputed righteousness the believer receives at the moment of faith. Paul discussed justification in great detail in 3:21–5:11, climaxing his treatise with a discussion of a few of its marvelous blessings (5:1-11). Paul’s thorough treatment of justification was been completed in Romans long before he arrived at the Romans 10:9-10 argument.

In the 3:21–5:11 passage, Paul made absolutely no mention of “confessing Jesus as Lord” in order to receive justification. In these early passages, the apostle repeatedly stressed the need for faith alone, just as the Reformers later discovered. It seems rather strange that in chapter 10 Paul would add to justification by faith the need for “confession” —a concept he completely excluded in the early chapters of his epistle. In fact, Paul never mentioned confession as a requirement for justification in any of his other epistles.

Practically speaking and theologically accurate, justification means “to be declared as righteous as Christ is righteous.” If you’re as righteous as Christ, what more is needed for eternal life? The answer should be evident: nothing more is needed to get to heaven than to be justified in the sight of God (Romans 3:20; 4:2). This is why Paul combined the two concepts in his phrase, “justification of life” in 5:18. For Paul and his epistle to the Romans, there is nothing more needed to get to heaven than to be justified by faith in Christ alone. But nothing in Romans 10:9-10 contradicts this. Romans 10:10a reads, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified…” (italics added, NIV). In chapter 10, Paul is in perfect harmony with his own teaching in the other parts of his epistle.

It’s important to note that Paul is discussing Judaism just prior to this verse and is, in fact, quoting Deuteronomy 30 in verses 6-8, demonstrating that Israel should have listened to the exhortation of Scripture that pointed her to the need for divine help issuing from faith. Romans 10:9-10 is in reality a further interpretation of the truth Paul finds in Deut 30:12-14, namely that the righteousness that comes from faith is available to all, and so is the divine help (salvation) that can follow justification. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 reads,

For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious [difficult, NASV, NIV] for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

The context of the Deuteronomy passage is the speech Moses gave to Israel as they were about to enter the land of Canaan. Moses warned the people against rebellion and predicted that in their disobedience they would be scattered far beyond their own borders and relocated in many nations as a result of God’s judgment of them. But one day (at the Second Coming of Christ) God would bring them back to Himself, circumcise their hearts to be fully devoted to Him (the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31), restore them from their captivity, and bring them into the land to possess it (30:1-11). Nevertheless, Israel at the present time should not complain that God’s revelation was so difficult it could not be obeyed or so unclear that more revelation was needed before it could be believed. They must not think that someone should go up to heaven or cross to the other side of the sea to bring back divine truth and make the people able to obey it. Revealed truth was not distant, but as close as faith in the heart. That which was not revealed belonged to God alone, but what was revealed was given to be believed and obeyed. Divine help was also right at hand. If Israel would only turn to their Lord for help He would assist them in obedience. This help was as near as calling on the Lord, invoking His help with their mouth. In Paul’s interpretation of Deuteronomy, Christ is God’s present revealed truth given to all people in the gospel. Justification through faith in the heart and divine help for obedience to Christ (sanctification) are readily available to all, not just the Jew. Gentiles too can believe in the Lord Jesus and call on Him for help of all kinds. After all, Christ is rich to all that call on Him for deliverance. But first, one must believe in Him before he can call on Him.

One should observe that three times, once in each verse of Deut 30:12-14, the passage adds that Israel must “do” the requirements of the revealed will of God in the law. Paul does not include this phrase in his citation of Deuteronomy 30 but this must be in his thinking. Otherwise, Paul has taken an OT passage that distinctly speaks of obedience to the law and finds in it a principle of faith alone, apart from obedience to the law. This would involve a gross aberration of the original context of Deuteronomy 30. What Paul finds in Deuteronomy 30 is that faith for justification is the supreme prerequisite of calling on the name of the Lord and must precede any confession with the mouth. Calling on the name of the Lord can be done only by one who has first experienced the righteousness that comes from faith (10:6). So faith is the first and foremost response to God’s revealed truth. Therefore, Paul can also summarize both faith in the heart and confession with the mouth with the phrase, “the word [Greek, rhe ma] of faith which we preach” (10:8).

The “word is near” in the sense that when the listener expresses faith in Christ in his heart, Christ will draw near in giving him righteousness (i.e., justification). Once a person is justified before God, Christ can also be near to him for deliverance when she publicly confesses He is Lord and calls on His name. This is the meaning of the phrase, “The word is near you, in your mouth.” The author of Deuteronomy has led the way to this impression with the only other reference in the Book to the nearness of God: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (italics added; Deut 4:7, NASB).

For many Christians Romans 10:9-10 is a favorite series of verses for evangelism. Generally, these verses are cited in order to emphasize the need for faith. You can’t get a requirement for public confession from the verses. The Greek doesn’t support it. However, the practical lesson of this passage is that publicly identifying with Christ has a cleansing and sanctifying effect on our lives. If nothing else, openly confessing Christ makes the Christian conscious of his lifestyle. He now knows that non-Christians will quickly respond to his inconsistencies and compromises with, ‘I thought you said you were a Christian?” Inevitably, the vocal Christian becomes careful to live a godly life because he or she never wants a non-Christian friend to confront him with hypocrisy. The world is certainly watching Christians. But it is watching Christians who can be identified as such. I can be a secret Christian, but I can never be a victorious, secret Christian. One vital principle for victorious Christian living is the public, vocal, regular identification with the Lordship of Jesus.

Evidence for Salvation   3 comments

The essence of Christianity is narrow, for only the shed blood of Jesus Christ saves anyone. The expression of Christianity is very broad, for it affects every facet of our existence. Consider some of the Biblical terms for the Christian which highlight various facets of the outworkings of our faith.

Christian. Christian is a very popular present-day term with a wide variety of connotations. Actually, it is found only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The suffix “ian” is similar in meaning to “ist” (Methodist, Baptist, etc.) or the somewhat more pejorative “ite”. A Christian is one who is a follower of Christ or who has allegiance to Christ. The term was originally a perjorative affixed to Christians by non-believers, but that’s a history lesson we might discuss later.

Believer. A much more frequently employed term in the New Testament is believer (Acts 5:141 Timothy 4:10,12). We have already shown that belief must have some basis or content, so a believer is one who adheres to a particular system of beliefs, namely the teachings of the Bible. Then, in addition to a belief in the historical elements of our Lord’s life and death, a Christian believes in Christ Himself for salvation.

Follower. The gospels abound with references to following Jesus. Jesus invited men to follow Him (Mark 2:14), and Christians are said to be His followers:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-28).

As a follower, a Christian is one who not only believes in Christ, but who follows Him. This implies much more than a mere conversion experience, but a way of life. It means that we will aspire to be like Him.

Disciple. It refers not only to those of the 12 who followed Jesus (e.g. Matthew 5:1), but to those who were His disciples in other places at a time after His death, resurrection and ascension (Acts 11:26,29). Here a deeper level of commitment is implied, as well as a greater intimacy between the Master and the disciple. Primarily, a disciple is a learner and thus, his following Jesus is not out of curiosity but commitment.

Saint. The term saint is one which non-Catholics shy away from using, especially with reference to ourselves. We know that in eternity we shall be like Him, but at the present time this label makes us feel uneasy because it seems inappropriate. While total sanctification will only occur at His coming, the term saint reminds us that holiness is an essential characteristic of the Christian. This is why Peter reminded us of the divine command, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) .

Brother. A vertical relationship with God also creates a horizontal one with all those who are saved. We frequently find Christians called brethren (Acts 6:3; 9:30; 10:23; Romans 16:14, etc.). Christians were never meant to be “Lone Rangers.” Each of us is a part of the body of Christ, with a vital function to perform and with certain needs which can only be met by others in the body (1 Corinthians 12).

Servant/Slave. By far, the least popular synonym for the Christian is that of servant or slave. Yet it is a very common word in Scripture and seems to have been one of Paul’s favorites when referring to himself (Romans 1:12 Corinthians 4:5Philippians 1:1, etc.). Jesus Himself was the supreme example of servanthood (Mark 10:45), underscoring this by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-11). Leadership, in God’s Word, is assumed by servanthood (Matthew 20:27Mark 10:44).

The overall impact of all of these terms is that while the essence of the gospel is limited narrowly to the blood of Christ, the expression of our individual faith is boundless. The modern presentation of the gospel often generalizes the basis for one’s salvation, maximizing the temporal and eternal benefits while minimizing the obligations. This is totally backwards! We are only saved through faith in the death of Christ. That salvation must be entered on the basis of the objective facts of the gospel through the subjective experience of repentance and faith, and objectified by a life of obedience and discipleship.

So is that the gospel you believed? In today’s world, there are many other gospels, but most will not save (Galatians 1:6-9). The shed blood of Jesus Christ is not an element of the gospel, but the heart of it. Search your own heart for the basis of your eternal hope. If you are uncertain, affirm that you are a sinner, deserving of God’s eternal wrath. Submit yourself to God, relying only upon the work of Christ at Calvary for your forgiveness of sins and source of righteousness and eternal life. In the words of Paul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Perhaps you are one of those who has thought of yourself as 75% saved (see earlier post). You believe about Jesus Christ and do many of the things Christians do (or don’t). But 75% is not enough in God’s book. Take Paul’s advice:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Obtaining Salvation   1 comment

The work of Christ on the cross is the objective basis for a person’s salvation (His shed blood—and that alone is what saves us). However there is also a subjective side to salvation. Salvation is the object of our faith, but how we obtain salvation is equally important.

There’s a lot of terminology used to discuss salvation and most of it is not understood. Repentance, belief, born again … what do all these terms mean?

Recognize that the terms we use are translated from Greek, which is an incredibly subtle language. English has limits. When you go back to the Greek, you find that translation is not always precise and that sometimes different Greek words were translated into the same English word, which leads to confusion. I’m not a Greek scholar, but I know one and this is what he has taught me. When I get into portions of scripture that make me scratch my head, I pull out the Greek Interlinear Bible to see if the words are different. Often they are. I also use the Net Bible a lot because it provides direct translation from skilled translators and textual critics, which means I don’t have to become either.

https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Matthew+1

Moreover, we have our own connotations for the words we use that don’t necessarily align with the Biblical terminology.

The word repent is probably the most frequently employed term used when the way of salvation is declared to Israelites in the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Believe, on the other hand, is seldom employed in these gospels, but frequently found in John. Repent tends to view salvation more from the negative side. We are saved from eternal damnation as well as to eternal life. Repentance averts the judgment of God on unbelievers. Frequently, when the word repent is found, judgment is nearby in the context:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with your repentance; …” (Matthew 3:2, 7-8).

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:38-40).

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:4:11-16; 2 Peter 3:9, 10).

Repentance is a change of mind, which results in a change of behavior. It comes from a nautical term that means to change directions 180 degrees. Repentance involves a recognition of our sinful state and the dreadful consequences of our sin apart from faith in Christ. Before we can be saved, we must be convinced that we are lost and doomed. Repentance recognizes this and determines to make whatever changes are required to be saved. Repentance was frequently evidenced by baptism (Acts 2:38) and always by works fitting this change of mind, heart and life (Matthew 3:8). We’ll discuss that later.

If repentance speaks of the “about face” of the penitent sinner, especially his turning from sin and its resulting judgment, faith (belief in action) stresses the positive side of one’s turning toward God by faith in Christ, resulting in life.

“… that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:15-18).

“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).

Belief is a two-pronged matter. First, we must believe that, and secondly, we must believe in or uponFaith must have content. The objective basis of faith is the sacrificial death of Christ. The historicity and absolute reliability of the Gospels’ account of the birth, life, teachings, death, burial and resurrection of Christ are essential to the Christian’s faith. I have heard some naively say, “I don’t believe in doctrine; I believe in Jesus.” But which Jesus do they trust in? Is their Jesus virgin born, truly human and divine? Did He die a literal death and rise bodily from His grave? Doctrine defines the Jesus in Whom we trust. Faith in the wrong Jesus cannot save. Consequently, we must believe

… that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; … (Romans 10:9).

“And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69; cf. John 11:27, 42).

To be a Christian you  must believe in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. It is not the doctrine of the atonement that saves anyone, but the Christ Who died that saves. We must receive Him (John 1:12), and we must believe in Him (Acts 16:31) in order to be saved. While doctrine defines the Christ in Whom we trust, it is the person of Christ that we must place our trust in for eternal life (1 John 5:11-12). Salvation is forsaking any other means of salvation but Christ and casting ourselves fully upon Him for eternal life. We therefore believe that in Him we have died to sin, and in Him we have eternal life.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).

For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions (Colossians 2:9-13).

In the Bible there is no established procedure by which men are saved. In fact, the Scriptures avoid recording any one method by which men came to faith. Everyone to whom Jesus presented the gospel was dealt with individually, not through a formula. Jesus’ use of the term “born again” with Nicodemus clearly illustrates this.

Now there was a man, of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is every one who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things?” (John 3:1-10).

Nicodemus, as a Jew, felt that salvation was a national matter and that being born a child of Abraham was all that it took to be a child of God (John 8:33,39). Nicodemus’ first birth did not save him. Actually, it constituted him a child of Adam, the sinner, and thus a child of wrath and an enemy of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). In order to become a child of God, Nicodemus must be born spiritually, must be born again, this time into the family of God through Christ’s atoning work (Romans 5:12-19).

Nicodemus was a man of his day. As a devout Jew, he had come to think more of a ritual than of righteousness, more of acts than of attitudes, more of ceremony than of Spirit. Jesus had no standard form for salvation. We are not even told by John that Nicodemus was saved at this time. Faith cannot be produced through formulas and so Jesus sought to stress that, in the final analysis, salvation is the work of the Spirit of God, Whose effects we may observe, but Whose working we cannot control or manipulate:

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

Of course, we must participate in the process of being saved, but we do not control the process; God the Spirit does. If the lost are to be saved, we must proclaim the message of salvation to men, for without this men will not be saved (Romans 10:14-15). Men must call upon the name of the Lord, and they must confess Him publicly as their Savior (Romans 10:9,10,13), but it is not a process which we can control. Salvation is fundamentally the work of God, and, chronologically, it begins with Him (John 1:12-13Romans 9Philippians 1:29).

Today the gospel has been so formulated that it is most often presented to unbelievers in a stereotyped fashion. Salvation is sometimes thought to result from following a prescribed formula rather than from simple faith. People believe that walking the aisle, raising their hand, reciting a prepared prayer or signing a card is what saved them rather than faith in the work of Christ upon the cross in their place. While the two fundamental requirements for entering into the benefits of Calvary are repentance and faith, there is no mechanical method by which salvation can be obtained. Many people who walk the aisle are saved, but not all who walk an aisle are saved. External acts will not produce a genuine internal commitment, but a genuine faith will always evidence its existence by actions which are pleasing to God (James 2:14-26Ephesians 2:8-10).

Salvation is always based upon the objective fact of Christ’s death in the sinner’s place, but conversion is a subjective matter involving repentance and faith, which cannot be equated with an act, but only evidenced by subsequent acts of obedience to the Word of God.

A Broken Compass   Leave a comment

I live in Alaska, which is far to the north. It is so far to the north that our compasses don’t point north. They point northeast, toward Greenland, where magnetic north is located. For this reason, if we rely on a compass at all, we adjust it about 23 degrees so that it points toward true north.

A few years back, my family and I traveled to the Northeast to visit relatives and while we were there, we thought it would be fun to go hiking in a forest in the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

Let’s settle a misconception at the outset. The White Mountains are not mountains. By Alaskan standards, they are hills. In fact, we have a few “mountains” here in Interior Alaska that have a higher elevation than Mt. Washington and we call them “domes” because they just don’t measure up to the larger mountains surrounding them.

The lack of mountainous terrain may have resulted in less preparation than we normally would have taken. We essentially grabbed some sun screen, some water, my daypack and set off into the woods. We had a trail map, but it wasn’t the terrain maps we normally carry for Alaskan wilderness treks. In fact, I think I’d want a better map for taking a subway in New York.

But, hey, we’re almost professional hikers, so no problem! Right?  Uh ….

About an hour into the hike, I recognized that the sun was in the wrong place compared to where we should have been on the map. We were faced with multiple choices in paths and it was clear we’d taken the wrong one. I dredged my compass out of the back pack and my husband and I charted a new route designed to take us back to the road. Only it didn’t. Night comes very quickly in New England. In Alaska, we may only have 2 1/2 hours of daylight in the winter, but there’s two hours of dusk at either end of that, so when the sun started to lower, we weren’t worried — until it got dark. Oh, my!

Our daughter announced that she was pretty sure we were traveling in circles. She’d seen this rock formation before. She’s got a photographic memory, so we paused again. There was a moon, which any hiker knows rises in the east and sets in the west after traveling along the southern horizon and it had just come up, so we knew which direction east was. My husband stared at my compass, shooting little glances at the moon.

“Did you change the declination on the compass?” he asked.

Uh, no. We were never planning to need the compass and … oops. After an oh-so-very-polite discussion of how many degrees to remove (we eventually decided to disable declination entirely), we charted yet another course on the less-than-helpful trail map and started out again. We were all greatly relieved when we found blacktop only a half-mile from where we’d left the car.

Lesson?

If your compass is pointed toward the wrong object of attraction, you will get hopelessly lost even in conditions that don’t seem all that threatening, even if you think you know what you’re doing.

Spiritual lesson?

If you think that something other than Jesus Christ is going to save you, you are lost and you will never find your way out of whatever woods you’re in until you admit that you’ve got your moral compass pointed toward the wrong object of attraction.

There are a lot of philosophies out there that seem wise, loving, beneficial, etc. But truth isn’t a multiple choice option and Jesus Christ is the Truth.

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