What’s That on Your Wrist?

WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? It is a slogan that has been engraved on bracelets and (with sincerity to be sure) glibly spoken by many who admire the Man from Galilee. Let’s think a little deeper about it. Let’s ask…

WDJD – what DID Jesus do? As the divine Son, eternally pre-existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He came down from heaven (became incarnate) to give His life a ransom for many. None of us have existed from all eternity, and our lives are not worth a plugged nickel towards the redemption of even one of our fellow human beings. But the life of the Son of God was of infinite value, and He accomplished redemption for an innumerable multitude. What else did Jesus do?

He worked miracles and cast out demons at will. He unilaterally chose twelve spokesmen to be foundational pillars of His Church against which He promised the gates of Hades would never prevail…two thousand years so far, and the Church universal is still going strong all over the Earth! What else?

Jesus rose from the dead, thus publicly and powerfully declaring the justification of His people. He had previously claimed that at the last day He personally would raise every other human being who has ever lived or who ever will live (John 5:28,29). One of the twelve expressed his supposition that if everything Jesus did were to be written down, the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Let’s add WIJD – What IS Jesus Doing, i.e. right now. Knowing that He died as His people’s substitute and was raised for their justification, another apostle wrote, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)

To share in this activity of our great high Priest is also is beyond our capacity.

In short, in most cases WCDWJD obtains – we CAN’T do what Jesus did! He did and is doing many things we are unable to do or ever expect to be able to do. Therefore, if we want a helpful motto for our walk as His disciples (bracelet optional), why not switch to…

WDJC –what did Jesus COMMAND? He summarized what He commands under two great commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and your neighbor as yourself. To inform our consciences about how those two great, eternal, and universal commandments are to be kept in our particular changeable and personal circumstances, we search the Old and New Testaments.

We rightly divide the whole counsel of God in Scripture. We become illumined as the Holy Spirit works understanding in us and in the rest of the Christian community (congregation) to which we are vitally united and committed.

We gain wisdom for matters like discerning between the humble poor who really need charity and the detestable scammers. We learn how to test the spirits, we come to the understanding of the Psalmist who rejoiced in his love for the breadth and perfection of God’s ever abiding statutes, judgments, and testimonies. By His word, we grow to be like Jesus Who said His very food and drink was to do what His Father had commanded Him.

And once we have ascertained from the holy Bible how to apply WDJC in this context or that relationship…in this trial or that challenge, let us go on engrave on our hearts this determination to be remembered in every context, relationship, trial, or challenge:

IWOJ – I will OBEY Jesus. As one hymnist put it, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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Open Sesame

PROHIBITION: It was was a period in America in the early 20th century of the grace of the our Lord Jesus Christ when producing, marketing, and transporting alcoholic beverages was illegal. A clandestine cultural phenomenon called the “speakeasy” emerged. A speakeasy was a place into which, upon providing a password, you could enter to have a brew or a cocktail and keep company with other social drinkers without fear of being arrested.

PREDICTION: The neo-speakeasy is coming! It will be a place where you can converse without being politically correct. There, you won’t have to worry about being jailed because you failed to use the latest faux pronoun for some imaginary new “gender.”

Relaxing in these islands of liberty you will not be paralyzed by fear that you (ignorant, insensitive bigot that you are) inadvertently might commit the most recently minted micro-aggression, or unwittingly engage in cultural appropriation by wearing another ethnic group’s traditional style of shirt. In the neo-speakeasy, you will not be shamed by the mob because you are capable of forming your own opinions. You will be able exercise your freedom of association and fraternize with others who do the same.

The frequenter of these congenial joints will deliberately leave his cell phone, tablet, or laptop home. Video conferencing, snapchatting, and texting will have gone by the wayside and the proprietor will NOT provide WiFi. Maybe he will have one landline available for emergencies.

So…what’s the physical mouth to physical ear (i.e. vocal) password, friend?

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Can we Keep It?

Unknown woman to Benjamin Franklin (A.D. 1706–90), at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787: “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

(Attribution, the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.)

No nation or nation state in history has enjoyed a more enduring document for the authority of its government than America. We’ve kept that republic for about 240 years. But frankly, apart from a mighty, reviving work of the Spirit of God in this nation we will likely fail to keep it.

Do I rightly surmise that some theophobic bigots started trembling with an indignation resembling religious zeal, upon reading that last statement appealing to Heaven and the One Who reigns there?

Fear not, you foolish ones who deliberately reject humanity’s only Hope. Christians are not into any sort of forced conversion agenda. We only urge you peacefully according to the Gospel of grace and peace to repent and believe on Jesus the Savior, King of kings and Lord of lords. As the non-establishment clause of its First Amendment makes clear, the Constitution did not establish a theocracy.

Yet as the non-hindrance clause of that same First Amendment makes clear, our noble Constitution was created for a God honoring people. The Constitution was begotten in a society which adhered (imperfectly, according to the corruption that permeates this fallen world) to the ethics of the Bible. Even if it is only a formality now, government officers’ right hands still are placed on that Bible when they swear to uphold the Constitution.

So even if the republic which Dr. Franklin and his colleagues gave us does fail, the pervasive and universal sovereignty of that same King of kings and Lord of lords generates unfailing hope in those who love and trust Him. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end! His servants will continue to come under the sword, but they will engage their enemies only with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God preached and taught.

And it might well be that as the peaceful kingdom of the risen and reigning Son of God advances inexorably toward His decreed consummation, a “resurrection flavored” future might obtain for the constitutional civil governments of future generations. Just like Magna Carta of A.D. 1215 wielded great influence for centuries, the U.S. Constitution will do so – perhaps for more centuries.

Perhaps like the fabled phoenix, a new America will rise from the ashes of the old. Better yet, perhaps many nations, as they are discipled according Christ’s great commission, will adopt the precepts of old America’s constitution and even improve it.

As King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon said, “How great are His signs, and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” (Daniel 4:3).

Bottom line, you can’t beat the Galilean! Can’t touch this!

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Does the Bible say “Do not judge?”

Innumerable people with superficial Bible knowledge, or some axe to grind preach this message: The Bible says do not judge! Who are you to judge me!

The Law of Moses says: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. IN RIGHTEOUSNESS YOU SHALL JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOR.” (Leviticus 19:15)

Jesus Christ said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but JUDGE WITH RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT.” (John 7:24)

Paul, Christ’s apostle wrote: “…Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to JUDGE BETWEEN HIS BRETHREN?” (1 Corinthians 6:5)

It is right to privately deem the actions of others as right or wrong according to God’s ethical standard.

It is wrong to act as a vigilante when you judge the deed of another to be wrong.

It is wonderful to give praise or reward when you see another do a good deed.

It is right for public judgments to be made which result in tangible rewards or punishments for those lawfully and rightly judged.

(Emphases added in Scripture texts; the context of which as always should be considered. Leviticus chapter 19 especially has many good and wise precepts about how to live out love for neighbor, the second of the two great commandments on which all the law depends.)

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Another Bill of Rights Rant

“Separation of church and state” is a phrase not found in the U.S. constitution. What is found there is the First Amendment with its non-establishment and pro free exercise clauses:

[The United States] Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion [non-establishment clause], or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [pro free exercise clause]; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The non-establishment clause was intended to prevent the state backed hegemony of any denominational body. Neither the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, or any other denomination would be endorsed by the constitution. The same would obtain for non-Christian religious organizations not known as churches, even though adherents to non Christian religions were a tiny minority in colonial America. For example the first Jewish synagogue in North America was dedicated in Rhode Island, A.D. 1763. Churches have existed here since the early 17th century.

Remember, the tyranny from which our founding founders were rebelling was aided and abetted by an arrangement wherein the state backed a religious body. In keeping with Parliament’s “Acts of Supremacy” in the 16th century, the British monarch was established as the supreme head of the Church of England. King George held this position at the time of the American Revolution (which the king and his court called “the Presbyterian war.”) Our founders wanted no such state-church fusion in the new nation. So separation of church and state is a good precept, understood in that sense.

On the other hand, as the character Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof might say, the First Amendment goes on with its non-hindrance clause. That part of the amendment is commonly ignored by various theophobes, revisionists, and social engineers. It shows that there was never any intent to keep the Bible and the God about Whom it teaches out of public life, especially in the realm of the administration of justice. This idea would have been abhorrent to the founders, whose faith was made manifest and declared along with their independence. And the Declaration of Independence is foundational to the U.S. Constitution (more on that below).

The Christian denominations had their ecclesiastical distinctives, to be sure. Yet they revered the same holy Book and worshiped the same triune God. One fruit of their common faith was the genuine and peaceful tolerance of non-Christian religionists. In keeping with the truth claims of that common faith, the hope of peacefully winning such persons for the Kingdom of Christ was the dynamo of that tolerance.

So separation of church and state is a far cry from the folly of trying to separate GOD from state or from any other realm of the human experience. As used today the phrase is an even “further cry” from constitutional intent. The founders would be enraged by the vehement appeals to a phrase not found in the constitution made by those seeking to prevent religious expression in the U.S. Congress, or anywhere else in the public square. In 2017, a federal court ruled that the U.S. Congress could continue its practice of opening its daily sessions with prayer, a tradition that apparently began with a suggestion from alleged deist Benjamin Franklin.

Establish a state backed religious body, Congress? NO! Be free as a body of elected government officials to pray? YES! Individual members of Congress be informed by religious consciences, and carry out duties in accordance with them? YES!

Since America existed, American elected officials have sworn on the BIBLE to uphold our noble Constitution. Likewise regarding people testifying in American courts. In A.D. 1894, the tax-exempt status churches had enjoyed unofficially since the founding era was enacted into law. Many of America’s oldest and most venerable universities were founded as theological seminaries for the training of Christian ministers. Before state education existed, the Church and private academies were the primary aid to parents who have the responsibility for educating their children, not the government.

The fact that some are striving to tear down crosses, nativity scenes on town hall lawns, Ten Commandments (recorded in the two BIBLE books of Exodus and Deuteronomy) monuments and displays, etc. makes clear that those publicly visible expressions of America’s Biblical foundations were already there; in other words hateful theophobic bigots are not trying to prevent the placement of something new, only to destroy what already is.

(Those bathroom signs showing a human figure with one half wearing a skirt and the other half wearing pants is an example of trying to add something to public life that never was there before.)

The U.S. Constitution was begotten by men who held the worldview expressed in their Declaration of Independence, the document which reveals the matrix of the new nation they wanted to bring forth. Six of the men who signed the constitution had also signed the declaration. Declaration signatories Jefferson and John Adams were overseas when the new constitution was created; there is no reason to believe they would not have signed the latter. Let’s check some of the Declaration’s most salient phrases which honor the Bible:

1. Nature and Natures’ God (No animism or pantheism here!)

2. CREATED equal, endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights. (No foolish “random chance” theories of origin here!)

3. Appealing to the supreme Judge of the world (hmm…can we imagine Who these people, steeped in Bible knowledge, had in mind? Whom did they believe that supreme Judge to be?)

4. Firm reliance on the protection of divine providence. (Providence is a thoroughly Biblical concept and a major American city bears its name. No fortune or capricious forces here!)

In light of all this, let’s ask those who call themselves progressive exactly toward what it is they want our nation to progress? Let’s ask them why they glibly expect everyone to join them as they move toward whatever that destination is? And let’s ask those who want to jettison the Bible what transcendent ethical standard they will put in its place? Let’s ask them to defend the chaos of moral relativism into which they want us to descend!

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Here comes the Judge!

The genius of what the late great Justice Antonin Scalia called textualism or originalism is the humble and sound anthropology – doctrine of human nature – held by our nation’s founders. The precept of checks and balances for the three branches, the intent that the federal government be small and limited, and other aspects of the U.S. Constitution manifest its framers’ adherence to that doctrine.

Technological advances have not changed human nature, and we ourselves are not able to change it; the technology of DNA itself bears this out. Thus it is foolish to regard the constitution as a “living document.” The term itself is an oxymoron. Don’t be bamboozled by newspeak! The U.S. Constitution is a fixed standard of law to which external developments in society such as technological advances must be applied.

For example, consider the fourth amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It is easy and intuitive to recognize that the expression “papers and effects” must now include electronic means of communicating and storing information. That is applying the intentional force of a fixed standard, i.e. a document, to new externals. Those externals have not changed the fact that for human beings, power corrupts and unreasonable searches and seizures will tend to result from that corruption, as surely as small children never need be taught to tell lies.

Moreover, the constitution makes provision for its own amendment. It has been amended, and can be amended again, lawfully. Lawless people who have an arrogant and unsound anthropology conceive of the constitution with a wax nose, presuming that the place of the courts is to twist it to mean whatever they desire.

Like the prophet Habakkuk proclaimed of the Chaldeans of old, “they are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.” (Habakkuk 1:7)

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On the Immigration Crisis

Watch The Terminal again. It is a 2004 A.D. movie directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones with a fine supporting cast*.  The film does an excellent job of showing the perspectives of a visitor to the U.S.A. from another country who is in dire straits. Ya gotta love “Viktor Navorski” and his posse…

There is an ancient and marvelous edifice in Asia, visible only in a most spectacular theater. Admission is obtained by going into orbit around the Earth. Greater general knowledge of the history of the Great Wall of China and how effective it was to achieve the intended purposes of its various builders over the centuries might bring some illumination to us all.

Apparently many non-criminal citizens of Central American countries are fleeing home because those countries (or significant territories within them) have been essentially conquered by hostile drug cartels and gangs.

Why shouldn’t military action against those rogue regimes by those countries’ legitimate governments be encouraged through other nations’ diplomatic relations with them? And though America should increasingly stand down from being the world’s police force, if they ask us for help, why not? Would that not be in our national interest?

The God from Whom comes the right to life and property, the God Who gave us marriage, the parent child relationship, and Who ordained other common and perpetual institutions for His human creatures also established nations. For He “…made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…” (Acts 17:26).

Thanks for reading the preceding suggestions and observations directed to all. The following is directed to those who bear the name Christian.

Let those who name the name of Christ diligently put into practice the prophetic command: “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

At the same time let us heed His warning and admonition, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).

Yes, any godless philosophy and worldview is anathema to our Republic, founded for a society already permeated (imperfectly) with Biblical ethics and values. And yes there are scams. Not all that glitters is gold; some children come here to be sold! Thus the Good Shepherd’s sheep must ask Him for wisdom and great discernment, searching the Scriptures of truth for guidance in the midst of lupine dangers.

The U.S. Constitution gives limited powers to the three branches of the federal government. To the executive branch goes the responsibility to protect American citizens. Trying to use the military or executive branch departments per se as charitable organizations is a very, very bad idea.

Charity is the Church’s calling, and the motives of charity should not be stifled and encumbered by wasteful bureaucracy, but armed with the nimble precision of individuality and creativity.

To what extent have the people of God failed in that calling and depended on the government do things we are supposed to do? What opportunities for the Gospel are passing us by? Are we seeking first the Kingdom of God in how we think, speak, and act about this current distress?

Let a man examine himself…

* Zoe Saldana portrays a Trekker/Trekkie (Star Trek fan) in The Terminal. She went on to play Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the movie reboot of the original TV series.

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