Search

Douglas Feavel

AUTHOR OF : "Uncommon Character: Stories Of Ordinary Men And Women Who Did The Extraordinary" (Previously titled: "A Storyteller's Anthology: 26 Inspiring Character Portraits For Our Time")

Category

Blog

Obituary Not Required

Our Western Gregorian calendar marks the year of this Man’s birth. He was conceived contrary to the ordinary laws governing natural life. His birthplace was a barn, He grew up in an obscure rural village, and His parents were plain-living peasants. Their ancestry was fully Jewish – known as God’s chosen people, but often hated by the nations of the world. They were a typical poor, young couple lacking any formal education and possessing neither wealth nor influence.

Yet His arrival was announced by angels and caused panic in one king’s heart and elation in the hearts of three other kings. As a baby, He was prophesied over twice by strangers at the temple during His dedication. As a toddler, He was visited by a team of accomplished foreign scholars who traveled and searched for months in order to locate Him. Approaching his teen years, the wisdom He shared impressed, engaged, and surpassed religious professionals and highly placed lawyers. As a young man, He apprenticed quietly in his father’s carpentry shop until age thirty, after which He worked for the next three years as a traveling preacher without a church building for shelter and without a congregation to support Him.

In the final years of His unnaturally short life, He belatedly demonstrated the fullness of His nature by walking on water, commanding violent storms to be at peace, converting water into fine wine, healing the sick, raising the dead, and multiplying a handful of fish and loaves sufficient for the satisfaction of thousands of His hungry companions.

He never held an elected office, and never had a title; yet multitudes wanted to proclaim Him their king and were prepared to forsake all other appointed and inherited rulers in exchange for just this one Man. He never owned a home, never married nor had children, never attended college, and never gained any formal credentials or positions. As an adult, He never lived in a big city or traveled more than a hundred miles from the place where He was born. He had nothing in this world beyond the simple clothes He wore.

He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries in the world contain books written about Him. He never wrote a song, but hundreds of thousands of songs have been written about Him with more being added daily. He never painted, sculpted, or drew; yet the greatest artists in the history of mankind have consistently sought to honor Him by selecting Him as the subject of their masterpieces. He never founded a college nor earned a degree, but all the schools in the world cannot claim as many students. He never commanded troops, drafted a soldier, planned a troop movement, won a war, or fired a gun; and yet no other leader has ever had more volunteers and followers – most of whom are prepared to die for Him.

He never practiced psychiatry nor studied pharmaceuticals; still, He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors of the world. He cured countless desperately afflicted multitudes without medicine or instruments – even raising several from the dead. He turned no one away while they were suffering, never acted inconvenienced, and never charged for His services. His only incentive was the benefit another would receive.

He was no film or rock star, and He played no professional sports. He never appeared on television, spoke on the radio, blogged or tweeted; yet His words are broadcast worldwide on a daily basis. He turned the world’s concept of greatness and fame upside down while demonstrating true servant leadership. Although He never did any of the things contemporary society considers an indication of greatness or importance, He was a true hero and His life remains worthy of imitation by every generation.

Despite all His good deeds, He was criticized for befriending society’s outcasts and for resisting popular influences and powerful personalities. His words and deeds were forcefully opposed by the ruling elites. His family doubted His motives, and at times thought Him mentally unstable. The tide of popular opinion turned against Him while He was still young. Many were jealous of Him and many others hated Him. Friends deserted Him, one denied Him multiple times, and another bitterly betrayed Him to His enemies. He was arrested by His adversaries, and suffered the harassment and lies of false accusations and a mock trial. Although wholly innocent, He was pronounced guilty, whipped, spat on, beaten, pierced, and sentenced to a criminal’s public death in a painful, bloody manner. He was nailed to wooden crossbeams, set high between thieves, speared, ridiculed, and cursed. As He was dying, the executioners gambled for His only remaining possession, a simple robe. His last words were those of forgiveness and love for the very men who were persecuting Him.

For His burial, He was to be laid in a borrowed tomb donated through the pity of a stranger. At the moment of His death, the earth shook violently and split open, the skies thundered, the sun darkened, and graves yielded their dead who then walked the streets – all bearing witness to His innocence and to the promise of mightier things to come. Although His enemies had tried, they couldn’t destroy Him because even the grave was soon proven unable to hold Him.

Had there been an obituary written at the time of Jesus’ sacrificial earthly death, it would have read similar to this:

Jesus Christ, aged 33, died late Friday afternoon in Jerusalem on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha the Place of the Skull. Born in Bethlehem of Judea, He spent his childhood in Egypt and his youth in the northern village of Nazareth. Jesus was sentenced to death by the state for crimes against the Roman Empire and the Jewish religion. He was crucified along with two other criminals by order of Prefect Pontius Pilate with the approval of King Herod Agrippa. Causes of death were extreme exhaustion, severe torture, unrelenting pain, and profuse bleeding. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, and a member of the royal Jewish House of David. He was the firstborn son of the late Joseph Ben Jacob, a respected Galilean carpenter. He is survived by His mother, Mary, three brothers and two sisters, twelve apostles, and numerous disciples. He was self-educated and spent most of His adult life working first as a carpenter and then as a pastor, teacher, community organizer, and social worker. The entombment occurred just prior to the Sabbath in a nearby hillside cavern previously owned by family benefactor Joseph of Arimathea. In lieu of flowers, the family requests honoring the deceased by embracing His instruction and the example of His life. Monetary donations will be forwarded in his name to local charities.

There was, however, no time or need for an obituary, because three days thereafter, He was resurrected and back even stronger; teaching, speaking, preaching to His friends and family in full view of hundreds. He departed soon thereafter on His own terms and timing. As He left, He promised an imminent future return while leaving His immortal Word and providing a great, new Gift intended to comfort us in the interim. Jesus lives yesterday, today, an always.

Soon the world discovered that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the governments that ever were established, all the kings who ever reigned, and all the presidents who ever held office have not affected history as powerfully or as positively as this one Man’s life. Although more than twenty-one centuries have come and gone since His brief time on earth, He’s continuously been the centerpiece of the human race as its greatest source of guidance and divine inspiration. Many times every week the world over, countless multitudes gather to study His teachings and to show their respect for Him.

The modern world still has difficulty understanding Him. Schools are reluctant to teach about Him. Leaders can’t succeed if they ignore Him. Historical revisionists have tried but can’t erase Him. Scientists remain baffled by Him. Communism, Nazism, and atheism failed to silence Him. New Agers, Hindus, and Muslims can’t replace Him. The proud can’t accept Him. Religion can’t sanitize or convolute Him. And none of the commercial commentators on TV or radio are able to explain His continuing popularity and influence.

Time itself recognizes His earthly presence by its division between that which came before and that which came after His birth. Today, His followers celebrate the date of His arrival on earth as both a holy day and a holiday. Without ceasing, His enemies dispute antagonistically against the mere mention of His name and are hostile to any display of the symbols relating to His humble birth and life. They harass public officials and school boards, they wear out the courts with endless mean-spirited petitions, and they disrupt the celebrations enjoyed by a majority of the population. His symbols are not their issue; it’s the Man Himself: His heavenly ancestry, incarnate birth, Jewish heritage, pure life, selfless death, church on earth, eternal and unchanging existence, renewing resurrection, claim of being God, universal authority, kingdom of saints, eternal judgment, second messianic coming, and His everlasting presence.

The names of the eminent statesmen and thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have also come and gone. But the name of this humble Jewish man multiplies more and more with every season that passes. His life, works, and words are continually studied in minute detail from every possible perspective: historically, educationally, doctrinally, practically, comparatively, medically, critically, devotionally, prophetically, and analytically, and there is always enough to satisfy everyone while keeping them hungry for more. Even though more than two thousand years lie between our generation and His time on the earth, the Son of Man’s name still lives on – JESUS.

Advertisements

What is Faith and What is Fact?

Today, science is believed to be more advanced, and we’ve replaced these old faulty apriorisms — like the earth is flat or the earth is the center of the universe — with new (hopefully) accurate ones. Or, have we?

Are we certain that our current scientific facts about the creation of the universe are correct? Carl Sagan and his colleagues say the universe positively always was and always will be. In saying so, they appropriated and then distorted the language of the Bible, which greatly preceded them. They go on to state that the universe itself resulted from the explosion of a super-compressed grain of pre-existent energy and that, thereafter, the diverse life found within the earth simply evolved from nothing more than a random mix of base chemical elements. Consequently, there’s no god other than the universe itself, and that’s a god with a very small g. There’s no all-powerful, caring, eternal Creator God with a plan. Sagan and his colleagues have a majority of the population deceived into following along with their apriorisms. Perhaps their beliefs really are as foolish as, and more dangerous than, those fifteenth-century ones about the earth that now cause laughter.

Are we certain that our current scientific facts about the creation of earthly life are correct? The Neo-Darwinian theorists who retain a religious-like faith in macroevolution have found no provable arguments in favor of their wild speculation or any against creation. When they look deep into the human cell structure, the only sustainable solution for irreducible complexity becomes intelligent design. From the outward universe to the inward cell, evolution would be a far greater miracle to have occurred than would have creation. Except for the existing apriorism against it, why not go with creation?

Are we certain that our current scientific facts about worldwide climate change (formerly known as global warming) are correct after already missing multiple forecasted dates as to when human life on our planet would cease to exist? Up to the 1970s, scientists predicted the coming of another ice age. Thousands of contrarian experts have put their careers at risk by registering disagreement with CC and backing it with alternative facts and predictions. With its attendant carbon offset credits on greenhouse gas emission caps, CC is more about political control and financial gain, than about saving the globe. The liberal majority says the discussion is over on climate – just as it supposedly is on evolution.  Their opinions are set in concrete and they will tolerate no more opposing research or dialog.

Are we certain that our current scientific facts about when a baby becomes a person endowed with inalienable rights (as well as a soul and spirit) are correct? More than half of the medical population of our nation does not believe that it occurs anytime between conception and when naturally exiting the womb at the conclusion of approximately nine months.  Perhaps, it is more accurate to pose their response as: Does not want to believe in personhood because a counter belief in a clump of organic cells justifies abortion as personally and politically more convenient. The evidence that a baby possesses the potential for an independent life far earlier than the usual nine-month term is incontrovertible and should be the accurate apriorism.

We may never again confuse a spherical earth with a flat one, but there are still plenty of other faith-like myths we accept as facts.

A Nation Divided

A country cannot have national character if a majority of its citizens – and nearly all of its leadership – lack personal, individual character.  If we retain a compromised spiritual outlook that cannot discern or is afraid to label evil for what it is, then we are once again Lincoln’s house divided against itself (quoted from the Bible).  We must be broadly and consistently willing to call evil and good for what they are by their very nature.  Many are selfishly and perversely labeling good as evil and evil as good.  Subsequently, the evidence of division is all around us and continues to grow with cancerous speed.

America and democracy (we really don’t have or want democracy as a form of government; we have and want a constitutional republic with some democratic processes) are not elements of Christianity; Christianity is always able to stand on its own.  Christianity will not be diminished by America’s foolish beliefs and behaviors.  It has frequently stood on its own elsewhere around the globe and in other historical times, but America and our form of government have benefited – like none before us – from embracing it.  America was never fully a Christian nation, but it was undeniably and verifiably a nation founded on the Bible and Christian principles.  It was birthed by people who soundly endorsed both, and the related tenets were practiced or respected by an overwhelming majority of the population.  Just as undeniably, God had (still has?) special purposes for America.

The unique form of government forged in America during the eighteenth century was successful here only because of our biblical foundations and practices. That’s why it hasn’t been successful when we quixotically attempted to transplant it into Islamic-fascist cultures such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Middle East, except Israel. That’s also why it will subsequently fail in America if or when our biblical foundations and practices are destroyed beyond God’s extended favor, mercy, and grace.

 

Second Rise of the International Terrorist Islamic Caliphate vs True Christianity

Europe, especially Eastern and Mediterranean Europe, and Africa, especially Northern and Central, have been nominally reclaimed as their permanent property by a second-coming of an international terrorist Islamic caliphate variously known as ISIS/ISIL or DAESH and by their many military factions like Hamas, Fatah, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah.  These actions are premised on the aggressive religious tenet of once Muslim, always Muslim.  Arab-Persian based Mid-Eastern Islam seeks to again dominate and enslave these countries — yea, the whole world — in a manner not unlike, in more recent history, that of the German Nazis and the Russian Communists.  The Islamic religious-political system already repressively controls the lives of a quarter of the world’s population through sharia law internally, and jihadist violence externally.

Islam is accurately labeled a politically motivated repressive movement, or -ism, with a façade of holiness. When they speak of a caliphate, they mean a single, enormous Islamic state where all facets of life are controlled by one supreme religious dictator who enforces oppressive sharia law. The English word caliphate comes from the Arabic word khalifat, which means “something that has been replaced or exchanged.” They intend to replace Judeo-Christian law, religion, and ethics with their own dark brand. Islam’s goal is to ultimately exchange the one true God with their false substitute god. They will not stop after reoccupying and controlling previously conquered Arab and non-Arab lands; they’ll continue to press for worldwide domination. Political appeasement by the West will not prevent Muslim aggression any better than it did Hitler’s or Hirohito’s. The Chrislam religious movement, which blends elements of Christianity with that of Islam, will only weaken Christianity and promote the ascendancy of Islam.

The word Islam translates as “submission”; it refers, in part, to their core belief in the forced domination of all peoples to its idols and its tenets. Where Islam has gained strength and taken root, those of other religions have four choices: convert, submit as slaves, flee, or die; and their sanctioned means of murder is beheading. The Muslim world knows that jihadist Islam is based on the Koran and the life of Muhammad; they consider it the purest form of their religion. These violent followers are not doing anything that Muhammad himself didn’t do. Islamization is performed on places and heritages, as well as on persons. Muslims have a longstanding practice of forcefully acquiring the locations, buildings, and symbols of other religions, then converting their appearance and functions to match Islam, and, thereafter, claiming they had precedence (their religion permits them to lie to an infidel (any non-Muslim)). This is exactly what they did, for example, in the seventh century A.D. when they built (and rebuilt) the first of their two mosques, Al-Aqsa, on the site of Solomon’s Jewish temple, despite the fact that Solomon’s temple had previously occupied that space one thousand years before the birth of Jesus, and sixteen hundred years before Muhammad.  They’ve made many similar moves with Christian and Jewish sites in Israel and Europe, and wherever else they conquer. This Islamic practice began with Muhammad himself when he literally constructed his false, replacement religion on the far more ancient Judeo-Christian foundations, attempting to variously supplant or usurp our traditions. The Muslim’s purpose was, and remains, to undermine the legitimacy of the two older monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity.

In December of 2013, Islamic leader Abubakar Shekau said, “As for killing Christians … Allah says we should decapitate, we should amputate limbs, we should mutilate…. We are fighting a religious war…. We are fighting Christianity.” This is not just an empty threat, as Muslims have been consistently killing Christians and Jews for the thirteen centuries since Muhammad, and they are continuing in an escalating manner to murder Judeo-Christian adherents numbering in the hundreds daily. They violate them with every beastly means they can muster: terrorism, kidnapping, hijacking, rape and sodomy, mutilation, Holocaust denial, indiscriminate and unprovoked mass murder, hostage-taking, church and synagogue bombing and burning, pogroms, lies, rioting, abducting and enslaving children, forced marriage and polygamy, beheading, threat, fear, torture, and denial. While all may not be officially sanctioned, all are permitted, overlooked, excused, and even encouraged at every level. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, “Radical Islam is a threat to our common civilization…. It worships tyranny and terror. They seek to impose a new dark age on humanity.” The violence threatened and committed by Muslims instills fear in the population worldwide, and that fear silences the majority of opposing voices – a significant deterrent to protecting liberty and a significant win for spreading tyranny. Express any cautions and you are labeled Islamophobic, promote contrary lifestyles (within a predominately Muslim country) or opposition (within a Muslim minority country) and you are targeted with a fatwā-based assignation notice. They operate similar to The Brand prison convict gang outlined in the Gregory Jessner story, but on a massively larger, and thus more terrible, scale. Many of today’s heroes are living under such death notices, and some of the organizations mentioned in this book have suffered acts of Islamic terrorism intended to cripple their operations and eliminate their leaders.

In the August 8, 2006, Wall Street Journal, Bernard Lewis reports: “A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. ‘I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another’s hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.’”

The Voice of the Martyrs and Spirit of Martyrdom (VOM & SOM) organizations — and all true Christians — meet the Islamic enemy of our faith directly, not in kind, but with the Word and the love of God. It hardly seems fair; they don’t stand a chance – either accept grace now, or receive justice in eternity (without the alleged seventy-seven virgins apiece). Paraphrasing what Jeane Kirkpatrick said about Americans: Muslims need to face the truth about Christians, no matter how pleasant it is.

A preponderance of the ongoing ministry at the VOM-SOM is to imprisoned and persecuted people held in the Islamic nations. Initially, the focus was primarily to victims of Communism; today, it is primarily to victims of Islam.  As a singular but typical example, Monica (not her real name) was forced to watch terrorists murder her husband, and then she was partially beheaded and left to die slowly. VOM-SOM contacts obtained, and then financed, her life-saving medical treatments; later they placed her in a safe house and equipped her with a sewing machine as a means of income.

It’s a weak and an evil god who relies on his followers to make and retain adherents by means of such murderous coercion, and only dysfunctional disciples would commonly uphold the practice of rape, genital mutilation, subjugation, denial, honor killing, and physical abuse against their own wives, children, and kin.  Islam is and has long been the only major religion that – on a worldwide basis – sanctions both violence against all non-adherents, regardless of their nationality or race, and violence against close family members. Islamic actions are made all the more despicable when they call upon the name of Jewish prophets and the personage of our Judeo-Christian monotheistic God to justify their perverse behaviors.  They call America and Israel the big and little Satan, respectively, in that they are like the Pharisees who accused Jesus of having a demon while they were the ones operating under demonic influence or possession.

The one true God draws us through love, and shows us the way to purity of thought and action.  VOM-SOM expresses God’s love to His persecuted body in locations anywhere in the world. They call these nations closed and they number sixty, as of this writing, including a few non-Islamic, Communist countries.  From one perspective, closed means that Christians and Jews are not permitted to exit the country and are often deprived, imprisoned, tortured, and killed; or they may not practice their religion and/or are forced to practice a false one.  From the other perspective, closed means that the Bible, humanitarian assistance (food, medicine, clothing, funds), and missionaries are not permitted to enter.

VOM-SOM has five main purposes, which are based on Hebrews 13:3. They are:

  • Encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Provide practical relief and spiritual support to the families of Christian martyrs.
  • Equip persecuted Christians to love and win to Jesus those who are opposed to the gospel in their part of the world.
  • Undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and witness in countries where they have formerly suffered oppression.
  • Promote the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of the faith and courage of persecuted Christians, thereby inspiring believers to a deeper level of commitment to Jesus and involvement in His Great Commission.

Life’s Most Significant Question

Who, then, is Jesus? In Bethsaida, Israel, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus’ question remains valid today. Many men presently say Jesus was a profound teacher and rabbi, a good example, a prophet, a wise philosopher, a miracle worker, and an exorcist, or perhaps, just a really nice or charismatic guy. Is He fully and wholly what and who He said He is: Son of Man, Son of God, Living and Incarnate Word, and Creator and Eternal God of the Old Testament? If one does not accept Him for all He said He is and all that He revealed about Himself to us, then one must reasonably conclude that He is a joker, that He is crazy, or that He is a liar. Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

If one cannot believe all the wondrous things that Jesus’ apostles, evangelists, preachers, teachers, and disciples have spoken and written about Him, then do as Richard Wurmbrand sagely advised: Believe His powerful and worldly enemies. The Pharisees said, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do you care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.” Judas said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” Pilate said, “Behold the Man!” “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person,” and “Behold your King!” The captain of the Roman guard at Golgotha said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

If one demands to see proof that Jesus is God, as His enemies often did, one must be willing to sincerely ask Him in faith for it, and then be teachable and open to receive and to act on whatever Jesus chooses to reveal directly into our spirit and/or into our life. Once presented with the truth, we are responsible for what we do with it. Jesus called Himself the Truth. He cannot simply be ignored; a decision must be made on who He is. The decision is a personal one, a mandatory one, and an eternal one. Once we have been informed, we are responsible for what we’ve heard and we cannot claim ignorance. Jesus admonished us thus: “It is written, have you not heard? Have you not read?” Paul said: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We’re encouraged to choose well from what is set before us. Is He Savior and Lord? Who do You say Jesus is?

 

True Charity

Misdirected bureaucratic provisioning and unearned individual gratification have together served to collectively mask God as our Savior and Provider. Worldly government largesse is substituted for His proper place and our proper role. Wanting what is not ours is envy; taking what is not ours is theft. Personal charitable giving – the conscientious giving and receiving of gifts by and to individuals – is the appropriate alternative. In the realm of government-sponsored charity, want is often confused with need. At its rare best, welfare is a short-term patch; its continuous application is a poor substitute for the necessary moral changes, lifestyle adjustments, and personal growth that collectively nearly guarantee lasting, positive results. This approach requires planning and application that are long-term in scope, not just patching previous quick fixes.

“Today’s socialists and progressives support not only more governmental redistribution but every aspect of the sexual revolution from no-fault divorce to pornography, abortion, the ever-widening LGBTQ agenda, and the legal assault on marriage. All of it leaves women and children at the mercy of the state. When families fail, the state grows to pick up the pieces.” Quoted from “The Realty of a Pipe Dream”, an article by Robert Knight. Ultra-liberalism always has rationalistic and relativistic God-is-dead-and-we-didn’t-need-Him-anyway elements associated with it. As a tried-and-true test, look for this perception; it’s always found underneath the facade of any pretentiously compassionate social proposal, policy, or program; and just beneath the skin of any aggressive proponent of a liberalistic lifestyle, education, or philosophy. We should not accept as the real thing what is only a veneer; the truth is always available, but like the pearl of great price, it must be industriously sought and then held securely.

Generosity is a virtue, but being generous with other people’s money is not a virtue; it’s simply false and Pharisaically overblown. Liberals like to use compassion as another weapon in their continued bullying of conservative Christians by trumpeting how freely they validate every indiscriminate entitlement cause while demonizing our discernment and long-term fixes with their non-stop libeling, name-calling, and disparaging labeling like stingy, selfish, greedy, racist, and uncaring. Author Lynne Truss writes that engaging in such uncivil “abuse is the weapon of the weak.” The truth is – regarding true humanitarian causes, not their political coverings – conservatives have a strong record of out-giving liberals from their personal resources, and evangelical Christians give exponentially more from them than do both liberals and non-Christian conservatives. What liberals don’t mention is that their generosity only extends to foundation spending (e.g. Ford, Annie E. Casey, John and Catherine MacArthur, Robert Wood Johnson) and confiscatory tax revenue spending; that is, other people’s money and not their own money (with the exception of the small-tax portion which a minority of liberals are forced by law to pay). They speak of fair share, but in reality about a third of adults contribute almost nothing because they pay little to no taxes; thus, fair is applied only to getting, not to giving. For fair share to be truly fair, taxes should be levied on all citizens based proportionately on income from all sources, including the freebies. Everyone should have skin in the game, as it helps assure their active participation and interest in – as well as appreciation of – the outcomes related to our common good. Indiscriminate and institutionalized giving is far more harmful than helpful. Replacing God with government does not change His role in our lives, despite the growing faulty acceptance that God and government are interchangeable providences. When something becomes too popular, that’s a certain indication that a sanity-check is overdue, and that swinging the pendulum back toward the center is necessary. To be a success, the society must be essentially Christian in its practices.

The practice of true Christianity is the best expression of, and most effective means of, relevant charity. It requires caring for the needy, both spiritually and physically, by letting God work His purposes through us as we agree with Him and yield to Him – including our purses and wallets. To accomplish these ends, Jesus promoted charitably giving out of our own blessings, time, and production; not forcibly taking from our neighbor and then giving or keeping what is not ours. That isn’t godly no matter what label it’s been accorded; and it certainly isn’t noble or wise. Such methods are neither self-sustaining nor effective, and they are more akin to theft than to charity. These are cleptoparasitic in nature; i.e. parasitism by theft, as when one animal takes food that was caught, collected, or prepared from another animal whose efforts derived it (definition paraphrased from Wikipedia). Robert Knight of the American Civil Rights Union says: “There’s something about deploying the government as a mugger to obtain the fruits of someone else’s labor that appeals to the worst in us. But it invariable leads to poverty, dishonesty and even tyranny.” John Timmer’s Dutch parents hid Jews in their house during the Holocaust. He wondered what motivated his parents to take such risks with six of their biological children in the home. John concluded that God shows compassion (aka charity, care, or welfare) to us, so we are expected to show the same to others. In taking such actions, he says, “rescuers make themselves the equal of the rescued because both are equally dependent on the compassion of God”.

Marvin Olasky asserts that making contributions because they’re tax deductible is not nearly as involved, direct, or effective as offering a room in your house to a homeless person or to a pregnant, abandoned woman. Gilt-edged liberals remotely operate their charitable practices hands-off from a safe distance, assuring that they suffer no personal cost or inconvenience while smugly basking in the reflection cast by their very public humanitarian gestures. Someone must, however, pay the real costs caused by their fallacious generosity, and it’s usually the working/ giving/caring middle class and the Christian outreach ministries. A hands-off approach is in contrast to: Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. (Hebrews 13: 1-3, bold text added)

 

 

The Authentic American Dream

Every lax and easy attribution of victimhood status cheapens the genuineness of those who are truly society’s deserving and suffering members, such as terror victims, Holocaust survivors, quadriplegics, refugees seeking asylum, disabled veterans, abused and raped women, the deaf/dumb/blind, sexually assaulted children, crack babies, and those afflicted with Down syndrome and other serious congenital or acute diseases and physical malformations. There’s no shortage of truly afflicted people who desperately need and are deserving of our attention. Inviting pretenders into their numbers is not doing them any favors and it diminishes the available resources, awareness, funding/donations, and compassion. Many assumed and presumed victims are simply victims of their own bad choices or are plainly defrauding society, such as the lifetime and multi-generational welfare abusers. Other pretenders claim victimhood by playing the race card, gender card, religion card, sexual orientation preference card, and so forth, on into an eternity of minority/diversity statuses, quotas, and causes, each with their own claims of incumbent special privileges and supposedly violated or denied civil and legal rights. Identity-politics, with its superfluous creation of hyphenated minorities and special-interest groups, has done nothing for our sorely needed national integration and harmony, and it has, in reality, brought about overall cultural annihilation through the promotion and pursuit of multiculturalism and diversity objectives.

The massive increase in the welfare lifestyle/victimhood mindset may be partially gauged by a third of the adult population who consistently binge in government-provided economic benefits while paying little to nothing into the source funds via income and real estate taxes, or offering alternative contributions through volunteer work. This increase in government-sponsored indulgence continues to occur even though the standard of living has dramatically improved at all levels of society. There’s no way to fully address the nature of character in America while bypassing a discussion of government entitlement programs and their recipients. Former Senator Jim DeMint, subsequently a Heritage Foundation president, observed that in our nation’s past there were only two ways to proceed in life: the legitimate way (work hard, play by the rules, and live within your means), which led to earned success; and the illegitimate (criminal) way, which – hopefully – led to prison. Now he adds that there’s a third way: living off the largesse of big government. It is not right, but it is legal, and it has become acceptable beyond reasonability and morality. Most welfare programs no longer place much responsibility on their recipients and thus exacerbate the receivers’ moral and civic laxities.

Lifestyle choices are, unfortunately, not factored into the welfare qualification and management equations. Treating all applicants as though they are blameless victims caught in circumstances beyond their control is deliberately turning a blind eye or inattentively failing to apply minimum qualifications and monitoring. It is common practice for agencies to aggressively solicit new recipients in order to deplete, increase, and renew their annual budgets and to insure personal job security – at times even fraudulently adding friends and family to the rolls (sometimes for kickback).

The authentic American Dream is not one of intentionally growing into, and remaining, a government dependent. Governor Scott Walker points out that our opportunities for improvement and advancement may be equal, but the outcome is still up to us. Character and success are built on the dignity of work. I saw a poster that made a lasting impression upon me: “Will work for work.” That phrase connotes plenty of wisdom, not the least of which is an advocacy for performing volunteer work as a prelude to obtaining an associated paying job.

When Is It “Enough”?

Conservatives rightfully ponder whether there’s any upward limit to the growth of the welfare state or government intrusion, regulation, and expansion; that is, whether there is any point where the liberal mindset would be satisfied and willing to rest from further agitation against traditional values and fundamental processes; i.e. to disassociate from a ill-advised mindset that Marvin Olasky has variously labeled promiscuous material distribution, the subsidizing of disaffiliation, universalizing depersonalizers, a culture of delegated compassion, and false comfort (for the giver and the receiver). Each of his descriptors peels away and exposes additional layers of liberal falsehood and deceit as associated with their politically correct labeled programs. I don’t believe there is a point where leftists will say, “Entitlements and/or government are too big” or, “They are not working.” I hold the following five reasons as support for my position.

First, welfare spending is a simple-sounding solution. It sits right at the top of the stack of quickie fixes and is easy to grab and run with, especially since that would be safely traveling incognito and in the same direction as the rest of the pack. Conservative solutions require thorough thinking, research, and implementation planning with post-execution monitoring, and doing so causes one to stand out, perhaps alone. Because these contrary solutions are opposed and ridiculed by the pack, even to the point of personal slander, advocates must be exceptionally brave and are therefore few in number. Second, it’s a practical and proven Machiavellian method to secure the support of the masses for purposes of gaining and retaining political power. Fabian George Bernard Shaw says, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” Third, liberals believe problems like poverty or education are solved just by throwing money at them; they don’t know that solutions require depth and time (see the first reason above). Liberal thinking is: see the problem, throw money at it; still see the problem, throw more money at it. If the problem remains, it must be because conservatives are preventing them from throwing enough money at it. Factually, the money often becomes a major part of the problem. Fourth, they haven’t dealt with the three underlying issues. One is personal sin, like resentment, rebellion, and envy; sin on the part of those allocating the supporting funds and on those receiving them. The second is their genuine guilt (rooted personal sin and overriding rebellion toward God); they falsely assume that this guilt can be avoided or alleviated by mindless funding of issues related to the poor. Until these two factors are recognized and addressed, they remain surreptitious negative influences. Effective remedying of sin and guilt requires responses that promote the healing of their relationships with God and man. The last of the three underlying issues is their erroneous belief in the essential goodness of mankind. A brief review of just the twentieth century should be convincing proof to the contrary. Fifth, giving tax money to the poor is an outlet for liberals to feel self-righteous. Leftists live outside of a truly righteous relationship with God and they are not motivated by biblical principles. Therefore, tax-based giving inoculates them from having to deal with the underlying truths they seek to avoid. After all, big government is their god, so let their god give; that’s what gods are for.

Olasky writes: “Cultures build systems of charity in the image of the god they worship” and “It seems that our ideas about poverty always reflect our ideas about the nature of man, which in turn are tied to ideas about the nature of God.” He goes on to say that in early America, when a theistic God of mercy and justice was the center of our policymaking, our compassion could be described as “hard-headed but warm-hearted”. To tax-and-spend, big government believers, the Christian God is like the conservative citizen: supposedly stingy or unconcerned. Recipients and proponents of everything-for-nothing politics, regulations, beliefs, and lifestyles often wrap themselves in a deceptive cloak they call social justice. It would be more difficult to sell their true objectives if they nakedly called them what they are: Communism, or one of its many insidious sister forms: Socialism, Fabianism, ultra-liberalism, Marxism (including neo-Marxism and cultural Marxism), Frankfort School Philosophy, corporate fascism, and progressivism. All these social change theories and -isms have the same underlying motivations: envy and resentment, as well as rebellion against traditional biblical standards. Claiming to promote an ambiguous and ethereal fairness, the leaders are purveyors of class and race division. Their violent reactions to fabricated hate crimes are the true, overt acts of hatred, thus removing their benign outer sheep coverings to display the ravenous wolves within. Their varying belief systems are slightly different paths to the same destination: a life filled with abiding attitude of ingratitude. Many advocates infiltrated the church, education, and legal professions during and after the 1960s, some disguising themselves as Christians and preferring to appropriate and misuse spiritual and pastoral titles such as Reverend to gain credibility – applying them far more extensively for political purpose and personal gain than for spiritual practice.

Those religious leaders endorsed by the liberal media should go unheeded by true adherents to Christianity – if not outright opposed. Genuine spiritual leadership is sourced in a personal, covenantal relationship with our Creator and its societal expression is pastoral in nature; it’s not a radical political position, a program to solely benefit a factional group, a personal fund-raising platform, nor a fleece-the-rich economic practice. These people are proponents of self-centered, contrived faith, to which they bestow coded labels like the social gospel and libertarian theology, and which they primarily apply to tangential community issues like race or class relations and welfare programs. These are perverted forms of Christianity fashioned into their own worldly image for personal gains in income, popularity, and power. It grossly distorts Jesus’ purpose by claiming, in essence, that He was a Robin Hood-like historical figure who advocated that His disciples take from, and subdue, the rich while giving to those in need, thus making Him an income redistributor just like them. It ameliorates the commandment referencing not to covet the neighbors’ goods. Jeane Kirkpatrick states: “I conclude that it is a fundamental mistake to think that salvation, justice, or virtue come through merely human institutions.” The social gospel is a precursor to Communism, and Communism is always intimately linked to atheism; it is a world system that not only ignores God, but actively hates God and opposes the body of Christ on earth. Psalm 83:2-3 warns: For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.

The practice of true Christianity is the best expression of, and most effective means of, relevant charity. It requires caring for the needy, both spiritually and physically, by letting God work His purposes through us as we agree with Him and yield to Him – including our purses and wallets. To accomplish these ends, Jesus promoted charitably giving out of our own blessings, time, and production; not forcibly taking from our neighbor and then giving or keeping what is not ours. That isn’t godly no matter what label it’s been accorded; and it certainly isn’t noble or wise. Such methods are neither self-sustaining nor effective. Taking from others without their approval is theft, not charity. John Timmer’s Dutch parents hid Jews in their house during the Holocaust. He wondered what motivated his parents to take such risks with six of their biological children in the home. John concluded that God shows compassion (aka charity, care, or welfare) to us, so we are expected to show the same to others. In taking such actions, he says, “rescuers make themselves the equal of the rescued because both are equally dependent on the compassion of God”.

Olasky writes that making contributions because they’re tax deductible is not nearly as involved, direct, or effective as offering a room in your house to a homeless person or to a pregnant, abandoned woman. Gilt-edged liberals remotely operate their charitable practices hands-off from an insulated safe distance, assuring that they suffer no personal cost or inconvenience while smugly basking in the reflection cast by their very public humanitarian gestures. Someone must, however, pay the real costs caused by their fallacious generosity, and it’s usually the working/giving/caring middle class. Peggy Noonan writes in “How the Elites Forsake Their Countrymen” that those in power positions who enact these programs and policies see their countrymen not as countrymen but as aliens who must be anticipated and managed so that those non-elite others remain responsible for getting their hands dirty with implementation and payment of the ultimate costs. She says “affluence detaches, power adds distance to experience….there is a distance between the leaders and the led.” (For clarification, the elitists to whom Peggy and I refer are those at the pinnacle of influence in their fields who directly form public policy and opinion from places and positions like Washington D.C., Hollywood, the mainstream news media, Wall Street, the courts, and the universities – clearly not those in the middle classes who carry the entitlements load or those in the lower classes who are the beneficiaries of it.)

A Life Plan

 

I have some suggestions to help each of our personal stories, written or not, to be good ones. I may not have the track perfectly aligned, but I know I’m close and I think it has lasting expediency. I don’t say that with a cavalier attitude, because it took slow, old me a lifetime to even get this close. First, invite God in to assume His rightful place. You do that by committing your life to Him, asking for His help with important decisions, and continually seeking His guidance. Second, determine what you like to do, what you are good at doing, and what you believe in; that is, assess your talents and passions. God made you with certain unique preferences and equipped you with the specialized skills and the enabling anointing required for your particular calling. Third, keep your eyes open for opportunities along the way. As Vince Lombardi said, “Run to daylight.” God will open certain doors and close others. If you stay in touch with Him, you will be able to tell the difference between the two, and if you make a mistake, He’ll be quick to help you realign. Sometimes you require dreams, prophecies, or visions to jerk your chain and re-center you when you’re far off course. When you’re walking closely with God on a daily basis, the more spiritually extreme actions aren’t required to get your attention. It’s probably a good sign if you aren’t moving from one spiritual goose-bump experience to another. Fourth, and last, be prepared to candidly share your life stories to encourage others; this is called testifying, as in being an open and ready witness to what God has done in your life. The fourth step is paying-it-forward for what you enjoyed within the first three.

This plan may not always be easy to execute, but conceptually it’s that simple. In his cartoon series Pogo (a favorite of mine during middle school), political satirist Walt Kelly stated the plan humorously: “We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.” By the grace of God, it’s easier to write a successful personal story in America today than it has been throughout previous centuries and in any other country. Dinesh D’Souza said that what is uniquely American is our access to equal rights, self-determination, and wealth creation. America has many haters internally and externally, but he shares that America is not the problem – America is the answer. Dinesh means an America characterized by the capital Cs: Christian, Conservative, Constitutional, and Capitalistic. He is not saying America is God, but that God has blessed America because it honored His biblical and covenantal principles. He knows God is the ultimate explanation. God made America a refuge for the world, especially for the Jewish people. Within that refuge, by God’s goodness, are great opportunities so that we, in turn, may fund the gospel throughout the world and participate in its propagation. That’s the big story. We just need to figure out where our own personal page fits into it.

It is more than okay to wholeheartedly pursue the planning steps I suggested; it’s what He intends us to do. When we do what we were purposed to do and enjoy what we do, we are more creative, satisfied, and productive, and we are all the more effective witnesses to His story. As He demonstrated during the six days when He conceived the universe, creativity and productivity are traits of God. Satisfaction is also His, as further demonstrated on the seventh day when He said, “It is good,” and then rested. God encourages us to rest one designated day each week; adopt this practice and do so without guilt, as it similarly yields productivity and creativity for us during the other six days.

The first third of my adulthood I got the exercise of what I’ve proposed close to entirely wrong; then in the middle third I got it about half right; and finally in the last third I got it spot-on. I can tell the difference; others probably can too. My story was a journey from naïve and unconcerned to auto-pilot liberal to oblivious fence-sitter to sincere seeker to conservative and committed Christian.

I understand there are times when life preparations or our occupations are not fun. We have to guard against confusing worthwhile with easy. We aren’t able to select or to know our story’s ending, but we can strive to stay in the race and to finish well no matter the mistakes and regrets along the way. Sometimes we are offered a do-over along the way; sometimes we aren’t. What we can control is whether we squander the time and opportunity we’re allotted and whether we add to our burden through bad choices. We are exhorted to work-out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Applying that statement broadly to the entire course of our lives, I think it simply means we have been assigned a uniquely personal mission, one that is only ours. In pursuit of it, we’ll have to keep checking with our Great Author and Planner to make the necessary adjustments to our story until we finish and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the rest that is prepared for you.”

Each of our stories is vital and worthwhile. Write your life story with chapters where you go for the gold, make the right choice, climb the mountain, enjoy the big adventure, find the love of your life, finish the race, and act the hero. Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). The end of the journey – the conclusion of our life story – is of more exemplary and eternal consequence than how we started, or about the ups and downs along the way. Strive to finish well!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑