Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Stands The City On Our Watch?

By Mark Alexander

In the aftermath of a momentous election, an election sure to change the course of our nation, it is tempting to despair. On this Thanksgiving, though, let us resist that powerful temptation and instead take stock of the blessings of liberty.

President Ronald Reagan often cited the Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving as our forebears who charted the path of American freedom. He made frequent reference to John Winthrop's "shining city upon a hill."

As Reagan explained, "The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free."

Who were these "freedom men," and how did they eventually blaze the path of true liberty? They were Calvinist Protestants who rejected the institutional Church of England, believing that worshipping God must originate freely in the individual soul, without coercion. Suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their beliefs, a group of these separatists fled to Holland in 1608. There, they found spiritual liberty in the midst of a disjointed economy that failed to provide adequate compensation for their labors, and a dissolute, degraded, corrupt culture that tempted their children to stray from faith.

Determined to protect their families from such spiritual and cultural dangers, the Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1620, sailing for a new world that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. After an arduous journey, they dropped anchor off the coast of what is now Massachusetts.

On 11 December 1620, prior to disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the Mayflower Compact, America's original document of civil government. It was the first to introduce self-government, and the foundation on which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were built. Governor William Bradford described the Compact as "a combination ... that when they came a shore they would use their owne libertie; for none had power to command them."

Upon landing, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service and quickly turned to building shelters. Under harrowing conditions, the colonists persisted through prayer and hard work, reaping a bountiful summer harvest. But their material prosperity soon evaporated, for the Pilgrims had erred in acquiescing to their European investors' demands for a financial arrangement holding all crops and property in common, in order to return an agreed-to half to their overseas backers.

By 1623, however, Plymouth Colony was near failure as a result of famine, blight and drought, as well as excessive taxation and what amounted to forced collectivization.

In desperation, the Pilgrims set a day for prayers of repentance; God answered, delivering a gentle rainfall by evening. Bradford's diary recounts how the colonists repented in action: "At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number."

Property ownership and families freely laboring on their own behalf replaced the "common store," but only after their ill-advised experiment with communism nearly wiped out the entire settlement.

In their simple representative government, born out of dedication to religious freedom, the Pilgrims replaced the rule of men -- with its arbitrary justice administered capriciously at the whim of rulers who favor some at the expense of others -- with the rule of law, treating individuals equally. Yet even these "freedom men" strayed under straits. So could we, if we revert to materialistic government reliance instead of grateful obedience to God. Sadly, we're a long way down that path already.

Closing his farewell address in 1989, Ronald Reagan asked, "And how stands the city on this winter night?" Contemplating our blessings of liberty this Thanksgiving, nearly 20 years after President Reagan left office and 20 generations past the Pilgrims' experience, how stands the city on our watch?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Top-Down Problem

I just received the WA House Republican press release regarding the election of their new leadership team. Rep Richard DeBolt - Chehalis was re-elected as House Republican Leader.

His statement reads: “Our state has been under one-party control since 2005. Today, we have the largest budget deficit in state history, health insurance costs are at an all time high, and education and transportation systems face unprecedented challenges”.

He then adds: “These problems are too big for one party to solve and the best public policy comes from the center."

Say what??

And then, few paragraphs later, he laments about Republican being outspent three-to-one during this election cycle.

I would like to draw a correlation between those three things for Rep. DeBolt to help him clear things up a bit.

First, it is the liberal-left policies of Democrats that have resulted in all the "challenges" he lists.

Second, when Republicans continually abandon principle by jumping to the middle they fail the people of our state and the party they were elected to represent.

Third, the lack of money he laments about is a direct reflection of Republicans withholding their financial support from a party that has abandoned its priorities and principles.

Both voters and donors are sending this message. Is anybody listening?

Apparently this is a top-down problem.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Great Exchange

Over the years, I’ve seen people become increasingly anxious that government should provide for many, if not all, of their needs.

When you hear a radio or TV spot denouncing the President for “taking away our jobs,” or, conversely, praising a would-be President who will “bring jobs to our state” (not to mention fix the economy, provide universal health insurance, and feed, clothe, and house us all), what are you hearing? Isn’t the message-within-the-message, “The government must take care of me”?

Of course, the deadly danger to a democracy here lies in what I call the Great Exchange. The more people find they can get from the government, the more power over their lives they will surrender to the government. The more power the government gets, the less freedom the governed will have.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “If a man won’t work, he shouldn’t eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The book of Proverbs is chock full of admonitions to labor and diligence. Why all these warnings and admonitions?

It’s self-evident that work—purposeful, productive activity—enhances our humanity. Witness the number of retired men who literally don’t know what to do with themselves (with wives only too happy to give them something to do).

The Bible indicates that work is one mark of the image of God in us (cf. Genesis 2:15; John 5:17). To surrender, then, our freedom to work for that which sustains us is to surrender a valuable part of our humanity.

Understand, now, I’m not talking about people who can’t work, any more than the Bible does. Indeed, the church has the responsibility to look after widows and orphans (James 2:27). The criteria Jesus uses at the Last Judgment includes whether we clothed the naked and fed the hungry (Matthew 25:35-36).

In too many places, the church has cheerfully turned over her responsibility to care for the truly needy within her ranks to the government.

Is government, then, more Christian than the Christians who’ve sloughed off what Jesus told them to do? I think not! That’s because those who govern are worried about power, not poverty.

The first order of politics is get in power. If elected, the candidate’s next concern is stay in power. How will such a man campaign, upon what platform will he stand, when he knows that people will turn out in droves to vote for their own largesse?

What frightens me is the growing idea that federal power can solve all our ills. Listen to the ads buzzing like flies at election time, singing the praises of Our Candidate (while damning The Other Guy): Our man will change the country! Our man will give you everything you need and, come to think of it, all you’ve ever wanted! Our man will make all your dreams come true!
What they fail to realize is that, in the process, they must surrender more and more of their freedom.

The erosion of personal responsibility at all levels of life should concern all Americans, but particularly American Christians. After all, what does a Christian do? He works, if he can. He doesn’t pray to the state for his daily bread but to the Father in Heaven. He gives Caesar what is Caesar’s, yes, but not without giving God what is His.

Gary D. Robinson

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Intend To Fight!

We live in a free country. There will be other elections. In the meantime, there will be major battles over life, marriage, war and peace, taxes, judges and a host of things we can’t even anticipate right now.

After 2000 and 2004, the radical Left did not fold up and go away quietly. It immediately redoubled its efforts to defeat us. Leftwing groups organized, raised money, registered voters and, finally, yesterday they succeeded.

Will we be as tough and committed as they were? Or will we slink away demoralized and defeated?

I have already made my decision. I intend to fight!

I intend to do everything I can to save innocent unborn children and preserve normal marriage.

I will defend our country from the Islamofascists and resist the Big Government socialists who want to turn us into Europe.

I will defend free enterprise and the entrepreneurs who grow our economy and create jobs.

I am counting on not being alone.

~ Gary Bauer

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Prayer for America on Election Day

Americans head for the voting precincts today as the 2008 election is now at hand. Already, some 20 million citizens have voted through early voting options. Some expect a record turn-out for today's election. In any event, millions of citizens will participate in the first duty of freedom -- the freedom to vote.

There is so much at stake. We hear every election cycle that the stakes have never beeen higher. In one sense, this is usually also true. There is always the sense that there is more at stake this year than last, and, given the way issues unfold, that perception often seems validated by the times.

Christians face the responsibility to vote, not only as citizens, but as Christians who seekt to honor and follow Christ in all things. But, beyond the vote, we also bear responsibility to pray for our nation.

First, we should pray that God will bless America with leaders better than we deserve. Democratic systems inevitably reflect the electorate's decisions, and these decisions reveal underlying worldviews. And, truth be told, all we can expect from democracy is the government we deserve. We must pray for a government and for leaders better than we deserve. May God grant us mercy as he reigns and rules over all things, including this election.

Second, we should pray that Americans will motivated to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship, yet also that we will be stripped of an unhealthy and idolatrous confidence in the power of government to save us. God has given us the gift of rulers and governments in order to restrain evil, uphold righteousness, and provide for civil order. No human ruler can save. No government official or office holder can heal the human heart, solve the sin problem, or accomplish final justice. These powers belong to God and God alone.

Third, we must pray that Americans will vote by conscience, not merely on the basis of celebrity or emotion. Christian citizens must vote to uphold righteousness and contend for righteous and just laws. But, at the same time, we must repent of moralism and the tacit assumption that better laws would produce better people.

Fourth, we must pray that Americans will vote to defend the least among us -- and especially those who have no vote. This starts, but does not end, with concern for the unborn and for the recovery of respect for the dignity and sanctity of every single human life at every stage of development, from conception until natural death.

Fifth, we should pray that God will prick the conscience of the nation on issues of morality, righteousness, and respect for marriage as the central institution of human civilization. So much ground appears to have been lost on these issues. We need to pray that much ground can be regained.

Sixth, we should pray that God will protect these candidates and their families. They have been through an arduous ordeal and now face the deadline of the vote. They are physically exhausted and now face the judgment of the people. They are public figures, but they are also flesh and blood human beings, who are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. Their families have withstood much. We should pray for their marriages and their children. May God protect them.

Seventh, we should pray that the election is conducted with honor, civility, respect, and justice. We must pray that we do not face another round of litigation after an election. This brings democracy into disrepute. May there be a clear winner, not a contested result.

Eighth, we must pray that Americans will be prepared to accept the results of the election with respect and kindness. This will be no time for rancor, condemnations, and conspiracy theories. Instead, we must pray that God will settle the hearts of the people. May Christians be ready to respond with prayer, respect for office, and a gentle spirit. Others will be watching.

Ninth, we should pray that this election would lead to even greater opportunities to preach the Gospel, and that the freedom of the church will be respected, honored, and protected.

Tenth, we must pray for the church, praying that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ would be strengthened in the truth, grounded in the faith, and empowered for witness and ministry. May the church, the sign of the coming kingdom, be faithful to declare the Gospel -- knowing that this is the only message that will save.May God grant us mercy and grace as we seek to fulfil our responsibilities as citizens -- and our responsibilities as Christians. This world is not our home, but we do bear responsibilities as followers of Christ as we are living here.

May God bless America, not because this nation deserves to be blessed, but because He is a God of grace and mercy.

Oh God . . . save us from ourselves.

Dr. Albert Mohler