Tyranny, Anarchy, History and the Supreme Court

Recently I had a writing friend comment on recent activity in the Supreme Court by referencing the historical foundations of this decision and others like it.

I have heard a few people bemoaning the trampling of state’s rights lately and it was good for me to learn more about the background of the discussion. Federalist vs. anti-federalists, Jefferson vs. Madison, and fear of tyranny vs. fear of anarchy; and it all led to the formation of our republic and our balance of powers.

But we don’t live in that world anymore. The public doesn’t know what is at stake, and generally doesn’t believe either tyranny or anarchy are possible in America today. So instead of walking the line between the two we are determined to fall off of it. Historically speaking we fell off in the direction of tyranny.

Funny thing is the tyrants in this case have used their autonomy to mandate anarchy, so we seem to have both instead of one or the other.

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The Philosophy of Children’s Ministry

What you believe about people in general and specifically about children is important.

I am thinking about children this week because it is Vacation Bible School week in our church. For several weeks, from the beginning of decorating to the end of follow up, we make everything in the church center on kids. All of this special attention to children reflects a theological perspective that says they are important.

It is easy to see that Jesus thought children were important, by the statements He makes in regard to kids. For example, He says it would be better for a man to be drowned than to face the judgement from making a child stumble. (Luke 17:1-4)

But the question I want to ask this morning is, why are children important?

I believe children are important because of the way in which growing up impacts the decision making capability of adults. This is why, in the passage named above, Jesus spoke of making kids stumble. He could have used other phrases to indicate harming children or causing them pain, but He instead chose wording which addressed hindering their progress.

This is important because the way a child is raised can determine if they will ever be open to accepting Christ as Savior. It can determine whether they are predisposed towards obeying the law or breaking it. Jesus knows that events in childhood shape the nature of the adult.

But beyond this rather obvious truth, I also believe many people will only have the child like faith needed to trust Christ when they are children. If we do not handle them correctly at this age, then they will never again consider the opportunity to know and serve the Lord.

The worldly perspective on raising children often gets this backwards. They put a great deal of emphasis on protecting kids from physical pain, but pay very little attention to the influences put on them.

Society has decided that discipline through pain is always wrong. I am glad I didn’t grow up today. I think I would be less of a man now if I had not received a few spankings then. The world will ignore my testimony, and the opinions of thousands of others like me, in favor of raising undisciplined kids.

What they pay little attention to, is who influences kids and in what direction. Ideas that are likely objectionable to parents are taught to children without oversight. These lessons come from public education, popular entertainment, and political activity. The world has begun to treat these sources as incontestable.

Similar to this, many assert that children cannot be influenced in meaningful ways until they become adults. This perspective results in individuals assuming they can raise kids neutrally in order to allow them to make their own decisions when they are old enough. This is too late.

The end result is we miss the only chance we have to shape adults, because we believed the wrong things about them as children.

Justice and Injustice

In order to bring about a more just America we need to recognize what justice is and how it behaves. It doesn’t hurt to have an idea of how it contrasts with injustice.

Justice is time consuming. It takes time for investigation. In our soundbite society, whatever you see on the news is likely to be more for the sake of ratings than truth telling. Injustice makes snap decisions based on assumptions rather than clearly understood facts.

Justice is blind to details such as race, gender, income, and political position. Injustice cannot see beyond these points. Justice will see all of human life equally despite any of these issues, while injustice will separate people into groups trying to define the value of each category.

Justice is calm and seeks to spread calm in order to allow true issues to be addressed. Injustice is emotional and seeks to spread anger and other negative emotions in order to manipulate both the offended and the public. 

Justice is quiet and honors boundaries around the privacy of individuals. Injustice screams loudly, and has no boundaries. Justice will prevent the further victimization of those affected, but injustice will force the victim into the spotlight in order to retry their case in public, not allowing them to move on from the trauma.

Injustice can gather a lot of attention. It will likely claim it is going to bring about positive change, but in the process will only be perpetuating itself. Justice will get less attention, but in the long run will see truth served.

Verdin

VerdinThis is a verdin. It’s a small and very common bird of the desert southwest. The verdin has the distinction of being a tireless builder.

They might build 10 or more nests a year, all in the same area.

They will build different nests for nesting (having a family) than for roosting (socializing).

They will build different nests for different times of year. In the hot months the entrance catches the wind to provide cooling, while in colder seasons the entrance will be protected from the wind.

The male and female will cooperate in this building process, with the male building the stick frame, and the female finishing up with the decorative touches.

The roosting nests, used primarily in the winter, will have better insulation and more space, allowing a large number of birds to crowd in together to conserve energy.

All of these facts show the verdin’s skill as avian architects. They certainly do their part for developing livable habitat inside bushes. Their abandoned nests are utilized by a multitude of other animals, and in this way, God uses their predisposition to construction in greater ways.

I think every believer should be aware of God using their daily routines in greater ways too. We might not see how our work, patterns, and hobbies are being directed by God, but we generally only see God’s work when we are looking for them and He wants us to see them. God is always at work, and at work in everything. That would include the little details of your life like your trips to the gym and your time in line at the bank.

The believer who wants to be used by God might only need to open their eyes in order to find they are already being used. But the believer who wants to be used better, can take specific steps to make this possible too.

First look at your life and consider the sins you have begun to downplay or overlook. Sin often hinders our usefulness, and especially unconfessed sin. Second for everything you do, do it to the best of your ability. Put forward your best effort at work and in productive tasks. Even in recreation and life management activities watch for ways to be positive, uplifting, and available to God.

In the meantime consider Hebrews 3:4 (HCSB) Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. God is always at work, but you can do more by focusing on opportunities to cooperate with Him.

Unjust Streets

Several weeks back I saw a press conference in one of our embattled cities where the backdrop was a repeated logo that boldly declared “No Justice, No Peace.”

This sight has stayed in my mind, and been refreshed there every time the tension in America has spread to a new city.

I am not sure what the person who wrote the slogan meant by it. Perhaps they were saying that ultimately we will find peace by creating a society that practices justice. In this manner it could have been a call for justice in America.

But on the other side of the coin, it could be taken as a call for violence, lack of peace, in order to force the nation to behave more justly. This was how I took it, and it seemed to be (as much as soundbites can reveal), what the speakers in front of that curtain were asking for.

The problem is that nothing is more unjust than rioting in the streets. Any person or property caught in the path may meet the anger of the crowd. Instead of injustice occurring individually or in isolated incidents, hundreds of people will be caught in the grind of injustice simply because their homes, businesses, or workplaces are in the affected regions.

The people most adversely affected by violence in the streets are the same ones who were offended by whatever initial event sparked the unrest in their area. In this way the violence in the streets becomes a downward spiral, further disenfranchising and socially alienating those they hoped to help.

I am sure that some of these people are hoping to return to actions similar to those of Martin Luther King. In his era, he was the figurehead for a movement that brought about positive change. But please study your history and remember that he did it by advocating non-violence. He didn’t tolerate roaming neighborhoods, burning businesses, or looting. Nor did he advocate attacking police, not even when they were attacked.

Trying to address injustices in America is important, but doing so by spreading injustice is nonsensical.

The Life Left Behind

Jimmy watched the waves. In his memory he was surfing. In his heart he was a surfer.

But now he was a seminary student, having given his life to Christ just two years earlier. He made a commitment to the Lord to do anything God called him to do. This bold commitment had been followed by a definitive call to preach.

So the surfer boy put away his boards and started taking classes in Bible, theology, and church administration. Yet his faith and his calling didn’t change his identity, they had added to it.

Almost every day he stopped to watch the waves though, because somewhere in his heart he was a surfer. It was the life left behind, but it never stopped being who he was.

When he surfed every day he had almost never talked to his dad. Now they talked daily and his father tells him he is proud of him.

The water is calm today. Good surfing for the smallest of children and beginners, but tomorrow changing weather will bring bigger waves.

He won’t be surfing them though, he will be in his class discussing the doctrine of eternal security. It rubbed him the wrong way. People can knowingly, purposefully stop serving God and still be safe in God’s care?

A young man and his son was entering the water now. The older teaching the younger to balance and steer the board. This made Jimmy think of his father again, although his father had never surfed. His father was a marine, not a surfer. Once a marine, always a marine. His father says that all the time.

The corps had changed his father forever. Some changes are like that. The old man couldn’t stop being a marine if he tried, just like Jimmy couldn’t stop being a surfer. And Christians can’t stop being Christians. You can’t undo God’s work, or the life experience.

Jimmy climbed back in his car and prepared to head to class. He thanked God for a little better understanding of theology.

It was time to make his father proud.

It was time to make his Father proud.

 

It is a busy time in ministry, with Vacation Bible School quickly approaching.  So I am posting less and sometimes reusing posts. The above story was my entry for both Thursday 360 and Christian Flash Weekly. Check them both out if you are interested in reading or writing Christian flash fiction.

Duggar Family Rights

In the discussions regarding the Duggar family over the last couple of weeks, you can see how unthinkingly embittered our country has become. For example, one blogger stated no police report was made because they approached a friend in law enforcement, then later cited the police report as the source for their information.

Many have said the parents are too domineering, causing the kids to be repressed. Then in the next breath we are told the parents made a tactical error allowing the two older daughters to interview. The two daughters in question are legally adults and married, and make their own decisions.

Many have criticized the parents for their actions. They took their son to law enforcement. Criticizing them because they were acquainted with the cop is silly. (In the future will people be forced to find a cop they don’t know to report crimes?)

Others have suggested the parents had blamed the girls instead of the young man, an assertion that is drawn from a combination of the girl’s modest clothing and wild eyed speculation.

Others believe they have a right to pass judgement on the treatment program the parents chose. They assert that doing construction is not the same thing as getting therapy. A little research will show this kind of labor is a part of many such programs, both Christian and non-Christian.

I suspect the real complaint stems from these Christian people responding to their family crisis in a Christian manner. They sought Christian advice, Christian treatment, and afterward practiced grace and forgiveness. They did not feel compelled to choose between their son and their daughters. They did not believe that casting their son permanently out of their house and family was an appropriate response.

In the long run, it strikes me as another example of the erosion of parental rights in our country. Too many people feel the freedom to tell other families how to raise their kids, and some seek to codify their ideas into law.

Passing laws which will take away the freedoms of some of us, will in the long run take away the freedoms of all of us.