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The Blueberry Story

An Indictment of the Graduated Income Tax, Welfare, and Inflation

Blueberry painting is Copyright (c) 2014 L.E. Beal

Andrew stood up slowly, letting the muscles in his back and down the backs of his legs relax.  For hours he had been bent over, sweeping his blueberry rake from side to side, pulling the tiny fruits from their bushes and often working to free the rake from the ferns and other plants that conspired to hinder his progress.  He had filled bucket after bucket with berries and leaves, then dumped them into the winnowing machine that used a large fan to blow away the chaff, letting the berries drop unhindered into one large plastic box after another.  His crew chief, Ted, dutifully recorded the incoming boxes for each of the rakers, then tallied them up at the end of their full day of work—and a full day it was, stretching from early morning when rakers’ feet are wet with dew until late afternoon when their necks are burned from the intense heat of the sun.

While Andrew walked stiffly, empty buckets and rake in hand, toward a shaded area, Ted scanned down his list.  Andrew had the best day overall with 120 boxes.  His younger sister Janet did nearly as well with 100.  He looked down toward the bottom and saw William’s and Archie’s names.  The crew chief liked William’s determination.  He worked as hard as he could, but he walked with a severe limp and was missing his left arm from the elbow down.  He still ended the day with 40 boxes, all of them well earned in spite of his physical challenges.  And Archie…well, he hadn’t shown up the last three days in a row, but he had just called with another excuse and an apology and said he intended to be back at work tomorrow.

Seeing the inequality evident in his numbers, Ted took his pencil and crossed out Andrew’s 120 boxes, instead writing down 90 and adding the other 30 to Archie’s previous zero.  He looked at Janet’s 100, crossed that out too and wrote down 80, adding her boxes to William’s to bring him to 60.

Upon hearing his new total, William was thankful, but he didn’t realize that his boxes had been taken from his friend Janet.  And when Ted called to tell Archie, Archie simply wondered why the chief hadn’t given him more as he had intended to get up and go to work each of the last three days, but something always seemed to come up.  He didn’t particularly care that his boxes had been taken from Andrew—since Andrew had more than he needed anyway.  He was mostly concerned that Andrew still had 60 more boxes than he had himself.  Andrew is no better than I am, Archie thought.  Why should he have more boxes credited to his account?  There must be some inherent bias in the system.

Andrew and Janet knew how hard they’d worked, and they’d both kept careful track of how many boxes they’d raked.  So they recognized immediately that they had been cheated.  The siblings were disgusted and wondered why they had spent those extra hours in the hot sun just to receive no benefit from them.  They had noticed William’s diligence through the day and would have been happy to share out of their abundance if they had thought he had a particular need.  And they had noticed, too, Archie’s repeated absences, but they had no inclination to help him until he had learned to help himself.  Andrew and Janet were outraged that Ted presumed to know better than they how to allocate the fruits of their labors, both in deciding how much to give and to whom.  After pleading their case with Ted to no avail, and after consulting their parents, they went to visit Ted’s supervisor and then headed home for the night.1

Because Andrew and Janet had reported Ted’s theft to his supervisor, Ted was given a stern warning the next morning, but it was not stern enough to make him give up his shenanigans.  He decided instead that he would take a different tack in trying to help out William and Archie.

Archie still didn’t make it out to the fields that day, but William, Janet, and Andrew again worked hard and matched their actual totals from the day before (40, 100, and 120 boxes, respectively).  Rather than take any boxes from Andrew’s and Janet’s totals, however, the crew chief opted instead to just add 35 boxes for William (since he had shown up and worked diligently) and 30 for Archie (since he reportedly would have worked if he hadn’t lost a shoe), bringing them up to 75 and 30 boxes.  Ted figured that since there was no loss to Andrew and Janet, there would be no reason this time for them to complain.  Unfortunately, however, when the day’s boxes of berries were processed, there was only the same weight of berries as there had been the day before, so management decided that the boxes must not have been full.  Being fairly astute, the factory’s owner had no desire to pay a full wage for partial work.  Since the reported 325 boxes only weighed as much as the previous day’s 260 boxes, the factory paid 20% less for each box, leaving Andrew and Janet to receive only 80% of what they were expecting for the second day’s work. 

On the third day, Archie neither showed up nor called to explain.  William still raked his 40 boxes.  As for Andrew and Janet. . . they each raked 40 boxes, then walked off the fields at noon and headed for home.2

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Copyright © 2020

Notes:

1. In the first part of our story, we see the wonders of the progressive income tax and the welfare system.  Andrew raked the most, so he had the highest percentage taken.  Janet was second and lost a bit less than her brother.  William and Archie lost nothing.  And, of what was taken, it went to subsidize those who either earned less or didn’t work at all.  And in reality, if he had been a government bureaucrat, Ted would have also skimmed off a fair share to cover the costs of administering his program of taxation and redistribution.

2. In the second part of our story, we see the effects of inflation.  Because more boxes were recorded than fruit that was harvested, each box was worth proportionately less.  It reduced the value of each the workers’ boxes and became just another avenue of wealth redistribution.  Likewise, when currency is printed and injected into the economy far faster than excess new goods are produced, each dollar in circulation suddenly becomes worth less—whether it is in your purse or wallet, hidden in your mattress, or even saved for the future in your bank account.  Just like Ted’s addition of fictional boxes, inflation (whether called “quantitative easing” or “increasing the size of the money supply”) is simply a more covert form of theft—hidden, but still insidiously devaluing others’ property.

How does God feel about government-driven inflation?  He tells us in Leviticus 19:35-36,  “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.  Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

What Can I Do?

Kudos to our youngest daughter for drawing the political cartoon for this article
after the style of Vic Lockman.

As we have lately seen American heroes being torn from their pedestals, have watched the rioting, looting, and destruction in the streets, and have witnessed the call for anarchy from a relative few result in the disarming of our police, there is an uncomfortable heaviness that has fallen upon many, a sense of hopelessness, a realization that there seems little we can do to right the wrongs.  In one sense that is true—there is little we can do.  Marxist and Communist ideals have been embraced by the politicians and by the populace for a long time, and it is the culminating of those ideals that we are seeing played out today on the American stage.  But if there is yet a little we can do, let us at least do that.  Let our legacy as individuals and as families be that while all Hell moved to destroy our nation, our people, and our founding principles, there were a few godly men, women, and children who cared enough to stand, to intercede, to be willing to lay down their lives in trying to restore morality and liberty for their posterity (for of course, one cannot have liberty without morality—that has become self-evident at this point in our history).

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. 
(Proverbs 31:8)

The place that we have the most power to change anything and to influence those around us is in our own lives and the lives of our families, our neighbors, and our friends.  Let us begin, then, where we can actually make some progress.  Let us begin by taking a long look in the mirror.  Where do I find Marxism and Communism in my life, in my home, in my community?  Don’t be tempted to believe that you won’t find it there, friend.  It’s there.  We are the people.  If it wasn’t in our hearts and in our lives, it wouldn’t be the strong force that it is in America today.  It is real, it is there, and it must be rooted out. 

How do I identify it?  How do I know what I need to change?

I think for many of us, “Communism” and “Marxism” are vague ideologies.  We might know that they are wrong and sound un-American, but we don’t really know how to define them.  Because we cannot define them, we cannot identify their tenets either.  And if we cannot identify something, we do not know when it has become part and parcel of our own thinking.  Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, laid out “ten planks of Communism” in his book The Communist Manifesto.   There are many articles online which list the ten planks with examples of how we have implemented them in American society.  I am not going to list all ten in this article but just point to a few areas where we are living as Communists and need to learn to live again as free men and women.  What follows are summary points (in bold) from several of the basic tenets of Communism so that we may see how they are very much alive and well in America (including in our own communities) and that we need to get serious about “unplanking” them if we are going to reclaim our liberty and have anything left of our godly heritage to pass on to our children and our grandchildren.

1.  Abolition of private property – There are at least three ways you can fight locally to re-establish private property rights.  The first is to retain control of your own property and its management and refuse to try to control your neighbor’s property.  In other words, let’s rethink all those building permits, zoning laws, sundry permissions, setbacks, and other forms of top-down control that keep a man from doing as he sees fit with his own land.  Oh, I know, our minds will immediately jump to “Yes, but if we don’t do such and such to make sure he uses the land rightly, he could use it wrongly!  Why, what if he ________?”  Well, what if he does?  Whose property is it?  Yours or his?  Who paid for it?  Under whose charge did God give it?  And if he uses his property wickedly, do we not already have sufficient laws on the books to combat his folly?  If you are honest, you will see right off with this first point that you have been trained to think like a Communist.  You have been trained to see your neighbor as the problem rather than totalitarianism as the problem.  Liberty is a scary proposition, friend.  Just realize that you cannot have your liberty if you will not allow your neighbor his

A second way to combat the abolition of private property is to fight the land tax.  The time to pay for the land is when we purchase it.  If the town can take our property someday, then we do not own it; we rent it.  Of course, taxes must be raised for necessary expenses in a community, but they should not be based on what we have in our possession, what we have been entrusted with and are attempting to steward, but rather should be equal among the people.  You can see the class warfare bred in this line of “progressive tax” thinking—they have more; they should pay more!  I must ask you, why?  Do they get more services?  If you go to the grocery store with five dollars in your wallet, should you pay more for your quart of milk than a shopper who comes in with only three dollars in his?  The apportionment of a head tax rather than a property or income-based tax means that everybody pays equally for the services available to them—and the fact that everyone would be required to pay an equal portion would keep taxes low enough for the poorest to afford.  That would mean drastic tax cuts, you say?  Many lost services?  So be it.  Let the people decide how many services they want by how much they are all willing to pay.  Why should those who are paying less (by far the majority) decide for those who are paying more?  Marxism rears its ugly head again!

Of course, in order to bring taxes to a level that everyone can afford, services need to be stripped back to those which are essential (think of things that are life-sustaining but virtually impossible for households to afford individually—ambulance and fire service, for example, or the construction of the roads and bridges they travel on).  Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  There are many philosophies taught at our local public school which run completely counter to Christianity, yet we receive a bill every year for land taxes—seventy-three percent of which goes directly to funding the local school.  We can pay it, or we can ultimately lose our property—even though the school is using our dollars to teach a worldview contrary to our own.  That’s tyranny.  So a third thing we can do to fight the abolition of private property is to question all local expenditures and stop believing the lie that the public school system is necessary in order for the children in the community to obtain a good education.  We were a more literate people once, and we were a thinking people.  Public education has led us far from where we once were even with such promises as “no child left behind.”  For those who cannot afford private schooling or who cannot home educate, I think we would find an abundance of community members with generous hearts who would gladly give of their own time to act as tutors or who would give out of their own wallets for truly needy children to receive scholarships.  The difference is large—if I am giving by choice from my own wallet, I have a measure of control over the type of education being purchased and its ultimate success.  But if the money is taken from me in taxation, I have no check against its being misused.  In one fell swoop, I am stripped of my money and my voice.

2.  A heavy progressive/graduated income tax – While we see this at the local level as the land tax, we see it at the state and national levels as the income tax.  The same arguments apply here as in the point above.  If I make $50,000 a year, I should be paying the same tax as someone making $75,000 a year or $150,000 a year.  Why?  Because that’s what is fair and just.  The person making $75,000 does not receive more services for paying a larger share of the tax burden.  Obviously we need to fight this at local, state, and national levels politically, but I would submit to you that first we need to fight and win this bloody battle in our very hearts.  The only possible reason that I could want someone else to have to pay more taxes than I do would be greed.  I want something my neighbor has.  I don’t truly believe he has a right to steward or to enjoy what God has given him.  I want “my share” of his stuff, and I want it now.   (While we’re right on it—why should income be taxed at all?  The Scriptures say the laborer is worthy of his hire.  Did you know that personal incomes weren’t taxed in America until the early days of the Civil War?)

But what about those who are poor?  What about the widow?  What about the lonely?  What about the “disenfranchised”?  Don’t we need all these social programs to care for them?  God has a plan for the poor, the downtrodden, the burdened, and the distressed.  His plan is for the individual, the family, and the church to reach out and help them in the name of Jesus Christ.  His plan is not that what He has given us be taken by the heavy hand of the government and redistributed without accountability but that individuals across this land would see the needs they believe God would have them to meet and have the means to meet them.  We still have the responsibility as Christians to meet legitimate needs, by the way—the theft that is being perpetrated upon us does not relieve us of our duties before God—but it isn’t as easy as God meant it to be because we have allowed our wealth (our resources) to be eaten up by an ever-growing socialistic system whose ultimate aim is notto care for people but to control them.

So while we are looking in the mirror, let us look long and hard and honestly at this important question:  Am I receiving money in my bank account that is being taken from my hardworking neighbors or being borrowed against my children’s and grandchildren’s futures?  Maybe if I am honest, I will see that I am.  But maybe I won’t know what to do about it.  The first thing to do about it is to be humble, to admit that you have been duped.  You were raised in a Communist system, and you have been taken in a Communist trap.  A trap?  Yes, verily.  For I daresay that even if you now realize the duping, you see no way out of the result of it.  If you are a senior adult, be still.  You paid into a rotten system for a lifetime.  You believed the government would be there for you in your old age.  We, your neighbors, understand that.  I think most of us would be hesitant to take that from you at this point.  But, friend, you have children and grandchildren who are young enough to avoid being deceived by and taken in the system if you will only warn them.  They may have to pay into the system (for now) as a “tax” so that they can keep out of jail, but they don’t ever have to apply to receive from the system.  They can learn to save, to do without now so to have later, to go to family and the church with their needs rather than the local welfare office.  I understand that I am saying a hard thing.  Our forefathers were willing to lay down their lives, their possessions, their sacred honor for our (now withered) liberty.  What are we willing to lay down for our descendants?  I don’t mean “we” the nation.  I mean “we” as in you and me.  What am I willing to suffer to try to preserve the right of my children and grandchildren to be free men and women someday?  What are you willing to suffer to save yours from the bondage you find yourself in?

If you are a middle-aged or young adult, think seriously about the future you desire.  Do you want to find yourself in thirty years where the majority of seniors are today?  Does the promise of future “security” mean more to you than the promise of true liberty?  Does getting what you can from a myriad of programs seem only “fair” because you pay taxes after all?  Does taking from others seem insignificant because everybody’s doing it?  Let’s stop looking for excuses to live the Marxist way and start looking for ways to live as patriots.  Stop spending money you don’t have (living on credit) or didn’t earn (living on welfare in any of its forms).  Start saving for your own future and as much as possible for the futures of your children as well.  Stop using other people’s money to feed your family so that you can use your money to feed your vices.  Stop expecting other people to take care of you and start taking care of yourself.  And when you find you have a need that you can’t meet—and we all will at some point because that is one of the ways God gets us to see that we ultimately need Him—get on your knees and ask God for help (but realize that if you want Him to hear you then, you should be talking with Him now).  Go to the local church body and ask them for help as well (but realize that they are going to first be inclined to help their own brethren, so you should be in fellowship with them now and helping to bear the burdens of others).  If you are thinking you don’t need that kind of help because it comes with accountability, just realize that these same people you scorn are paying your way already.  You are taking from them using the strong arm of the government rather than asking for help honestly, and you will answer for that someday.

3.  Equal obligation of all to work – It should not take two salaries to raise a family, so we should question what is going on in America today that makes it hard for husbands or fathers to bring home “enough” and encourages wives and mothers to seek full-time careers.  Marx viewed women as cogs that needed to be plugged into the industrial machine and do their part to contribute to society (not for the good of the woman or her family but for the good of the State).  God beckons Christian women to a more important sphere of influence—the home.  While at first glance work done in the home may not seem to matter as much as work done outside the home, that is due to our warped understanding (evaluating circumstances with a temporal perspective rather than an eternal one).  What do we look at to define success in our culture?  We generally look at how much money somebody is bringing in.  Yet what is money but pieces of paper?  (And I mean that quite literally—especially under our fiat system!)*  Truly, how much a woman makes in her lifetime serves as a poor indicator of how much lasting good she has done.  Remember the old saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”?  It points directly to a woman’s influence beginning in the home and then extending outward.  We have a very small view of the home today.  We do not see it as the center of hope, help, hospitality, healing, education, ministry, and industry that it was meant to be.  (Matter of fact, much of what the home was meant to do has been usurped by big government—we need to get serious about calling upon our legislators to stop rolling out new legislation and start rolling back the multitudinous onerous regulations that are curtailing our ability to act as free men and women and build thriving communities.)

God is not looking to shut up half of the redeemed behind walls and keep them from doing anything meaningful—rather, He has given them the high calling of training up the next generation to know and to follow Him.  He asks that Christian women be faithful in marriage, do good works, care for the brethren and the stranger, relieve the poor and afflicted, look to the needs of the household, and be creative and industrious with the unique gifts that He has given each of them.  (Proverbs 31 and I Timothy 5)   And in response to their obedience, He can multiply their reach and their reward.  If you view this as a small work, friend, take it up with the Lord.  The shards that society has been shattered into today are indicator enough that we threw out something important without understanding its worth.  Being equal with men should never have to mean that we have to be the same as men to have any value.  On the contrary, God made two distinct genders to fully reflect His image.  Men don’t apologize for their role as providers; women shouldn’t have to apologize for embracing the work (and work it is) of running a home, raising a family, and reaching out to the community.  I’ll warn you it’s countercultural and extremely underappreciated in our day, but it’s vital to the healing of our nation nonetheless.  Why?  Because God created three foundations for a functional society:  the family, the church, and the civil government.  If any one of them is broken (and all three are broken in America), that society cannot long endure.  So regardless of what everyone else on your block may choose to do, you can choose to prioritize strengthening your marriage, nurturing your children, honoring and caring for your parents and the elderly, passing on the faith to your descendants, ministering to those with a variety of needs in your church and community, and rebuilding Western civilization by employing the distinct talents God has given you.

Because of the socialistic system we are laboring under, choosing to focus on home and family may require great sacrifice (but then, it required tremendous sacrifice for the Pilgrim mothers and maidens as well).  It may mean living very simply, foregoing things that others take for granted, learning to find joy in serving God together rather than in things, stepping back from the media and advertising that bombard us continually with how we (in their minds) should live or what we should have, being willing to receive help (of a non-governmental nature) when we need it, being ready to share out of our resources when others have needs, and committing to steward well the household income we have—even supplementing in whatever way we can without abandoning the home front or our primary duties—and  trusting God to supply beyond that.     

4.  Free education for all children in government schools – When all is said and done, the biggest investment you can make, the most important thing that you can do today to give hope to the next generation, is to educate your own children and grandchildren to recognize and reject Marxism and to choose to live as free men and women before God.  If somebody else is training your children and the taxpayer is funding it, know that they are receiving a Marxist education—yes, even in your tiny little “all-American” town.  They are receiving a godless, socialistic education that is designed to prepare them to be dependent upon and easily managed by the state in adulthood.  But don’t take my word for it; do the research yourself.  Look into the names behind the development of the public school system and its teachings in America (Rousseau, Horace Mann, Darwin, John Dewey, and B. F. Skinner among others).  Find out what they truly believed.  Investigate the powerful teachers’ union (NEA) and look for the agenda behind their positions and decisions.  And understand that while that sweet lady who teaches your kindergartner and that very nice gentleman who teaches your second-grader might not seem like they wish them any harm (why, you’ve known them for years after all), they are being paid to indoctrinate all the children in the classroom, including yours.  There are even myriad Christians still working in the system across the land.  I understand that they didn’t go into teaching to train up Communists.  They just wanted to be salt and light and reach children for Jesus.  But how can they point children to Jesus when they’re no longer allowed to so much as whisper His glorious name and when all the words they do get to say and all the textbooks and take-home papers they do hand out preach a message and a worldview contrary to His own?

Bring your children home, friend.  Get them out of the system and get them into the Word.  Learn our true, providential history for yourself and teach it to them.  And don’t stop with history—share with them the truth about origins (we are not animals—we are made in the image of God) and art and music and beauty (there are objective standards) and math and language (our thoughts do matter, and our words do have meaning) and a thousand other things!  Only by immersing ourselves in all that is good and holy and godly do we learn to identify and reject all that is not.  I heard a song on the radio a week or so ago which was sung by a husband-and-wife duo—Joey and Rory.  Called “Gotta Go Back,” it reminisces about “the good old days” when life was simpler and not so scary.  It’s all very nice for us to say we’ve got to go back; I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment.  But I fear that the American public is almost beyond caring.  We are daily sacrificing our children to our gods—prosperity and pleasure being chief among them. 

Do you care?  Or are you reading this article and making excuses, thinking I must be talking about somebody else’s school and somebody else’s children and grandchildren?  I’m not.  I’m talking about yours.  If you’re the parent, bring them home.  If you’re the grandparent, urge your children to bring them home—and if they won’t, spend your afternoons and evenings and weekends doing your best to unteach the Marxism and humanism your grandchildren will be spoonfed daily.  One hour of Sunday School a week isn’t going to do it.  Education is “little by little, bit by bit” every day of a child’s life.  British educator Charlotte Mason once said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”  Children need to breathe the very words of life daily.  They need to learn to recognize all that is false by being immersed in all that is true and righteous and holy.

I’ve only touched on four of the planks of Marxism in this article.  It would take pages more to introduce such disturbing matters as the centralization of credit and how our wealth is being stolen through inflation, the takeover of private industry by the government, the abolition of our rights of inheritance, and more.  Please take time to check out the resources in the endnotes and learn more about recognizing Marxism and its tenets yourself.  If we can recognize Communism, we can fight it.  And it is not as easy as playing red team/blue team at the polls.  There are many Republicans who are socialists and purveyors of godlessness as well.  By all means, go vote.  But don’t think it’s going to save America.  Getting in the right politicians isn’t going to do it—the majority of them become corrupt and obtain and maintain power by promising constituents more money (socialism alert—it’s not just “more money,” it’s more of somebody else’s money).  The only way to bring America back to where she started is to rebuild the foundation she had.  She was largely built by individuals and families who loved God and His Word, loved their neighbors, and embraced a multi-generational vision of faithfulness (unlike many modern-day Hezekiahs who are happy enough so long as things are tolerable in their day).  She can only be rebuilt by individuals and families who are willing to sacrifice everything to be and do the same. 

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Note:  I was prompted to write this article because I heard three different Christian women ask the title question within the space of one week, and I know that the answer that the Christian community at large tends to give to this question is “pray.”  Yes, friend, repent and pray, for without God and His mercy, there is no hope for America.  But once you have gotten up off your knees, consider what else God might have for you to do.  The work is large, and the laborers are few. 

Given below are some of my “top picks” for accessible resources on Communism, Marxism, socialism, humanism, and governmental overreach.   Remember, we must begin with our own households and communities and work outward, employing the mote-beam principle of Scripture.  (Matthew 7:3-5)     

  1. As I Read It: One Man’s Understanding of the Constitution by Jonathan S. Beal
  2. A Word in Season (Volumes 1-7) by R. J. Rushdoony
  3. Biblical Economics in Comics by Vic Lockman
  4. When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany by Erwin W. Lutzer
  5. Agenda: Grinding America Down and Agenda 2: Masters of Deceit by Curtis Bowers
  6. IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America by Colin Gunn and Joaquin Fernandez
  7. Select videos from PragerU, such as Who is Karl Marx? by Paul Kengor and Was Jesus a Socialist? by Lawrence Reed

* I do not wish to be flip about money or the necessity of having enough to take care of our families, but I do desire to challenge the commonly accepted narrative that the best we can hope for in life is to grow up, marry (or not), make enough money to be “happy,” and then die…only to be quickly and easily replaced by another well-trained cog.  There is no hope for the individual or for the family in that scenario; there is only ever the relentless machine operating seamlessly with its barely indistinguishable parts.  We do labor in a fallen world; our lives here can never be perfect, but we can do better than that.  We can reject man’s utopian plan (which hasn’t yet resulted in “Heaven on earth” in any nation where it’s been tried) and embrace instead the promise of abundant life in Jesus Christ—first in finding salvation, then in learning to do God’s will (not only in obeying the universal commands which apply to all Christians—those summarized in “love God, love your neighbor”—but also in fulfilling the distinct plans He has for each of us as individuals and as families).   

Thoughts on Disease and Suffering

This article is an excerpt from a newsletter sent out by dear friends, Heap and Jennifer Him, a husband-and-wife team who co-founded Lina’s Hope in Cambodia and are still heavily involved in its day-to-day operations. This couple and their children now find themselves grappling with a stage IV cancer diagnosis for the husband/father. Permission was obtained to republish the section of the newsletter dealing with suffering in hopes that the article and the Scriptures included might be an encouragement to those facing their own dark moments and wondering, “Where is God in the midst of it all?”

We are well aware that there are no easy answers when one allows his mind to enter the Pandora’s box of why God allows disease and suffering. One answer can never fit all situations. God and His ways are far beyond our human understanding. He cannot be put in a box, neither can human beings whom He created uniquely different be put into a box. But we see in Scripture that there are many different times that God allows suffering or disease for different reasons.

Sometimes God allows sickness in order to get our attention—to show us sin in our lives and bring us to confession. In this case, the disease is God’s grace to bring us back to a right relationship with Him. (James 5:6, 14-16) So, we have been taking time to be still with God, ask Him to search our hearts and show us any sin that we need to confess to Him. (Psalm 139:23-24)

At other times, God allows us to experience sickness or other forms of suffering because He wants us to experience a new, fresh dependence upon Him so that we can experience His love and provision in greater ways than before. (Matthew 11:28-30, John 14:27, Isaiah 40:29, I Corinthians 10:13, II Corinthians 2:9) So, we are throwing ourselves into God’s arms in complete dependence upon Him, just like our new baby grandson is completely dependent upon his mama for survival.

Still other times, God allows us to suffer so that in the future, He may be able to use us to help and bless others who are suffering. (II Corinthians 1:3-5) Sometimes God allows us to suffer in order for us to be an example to others to draw other people to Jesus because every human being will suffer at some point in his or her life, and as people see how Jesus is helping us in our suffering, they can be drawn to Jesus because they see that He can help them in their struggles as well. (Book of Job, II Corinthians 2:3-5, Philippians 1:12-14) So, we are asking God to use us in this season to draw people to Him, and to guide us to those people whom He wants us to connect to.

But we also know that sometimes God allows disease, sickness or suffering to come into our lives so that He may do something wonderful and show His power and glory. (John 9:3) So, we have daily been asking God to use this cancer and uncertainty and homelessness and struggle for His glory. And of course, there are other reasons for suffering that we cannot even begin to guess that only God knows, but we do know that all of creation is groaning under the weight of suffering and death, waiting for Jesus to redeem the earth back to Himself, but that in the process, God promises to those of us who love Him and are called by Him that He will turn ashes into beauty and make something that is both good for us and glorifying to God out of the difficult things that look bad (Romans 8).

And even in death, God does not leave us, and we can never be separated from His love, for, indeed, to die is to be with Him forever. (Romans 8, II Corinthians 5:1-10, Philippians 1:20-24) Every person will die someday. The question is when. So, we are trying to remain completely submissive to God’s plans for us, whatever those are.

We are reminded that this world is temporary, and it is only a quick blink of an eye compared with all eternity and all that God has prepared for us. Even in buying a house, we do not see ourselves as buying a permanent home, but rather, that we are just paying our rent ahead for the rest of our earthly life, because eventually we will leave this house and earth behind to someone else so that we can go to our eternal home. We do not assume to know God’s mind or will for us right now in regard to His timing and purposes, but we are continually reminded that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. We are asking the Holy Spirit to help us pray according to God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)

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For more information about Heap and Jennifer, their work at Lina’s Hope, and the children they serve, please visit linashope.org.

All Lives Matter

Almost any child who has been to Sunday School or been raised in a Christian family will recognize these words:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black, and white—
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

And Jesus doesn’t only love children. He died and rose again for grownups too. So by extrapolation we could also sing:

Jesus loves each and every grownup,
All the grownups of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black, and white—
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves all the grownups of the world.

Now, we could stop and have a heated debate over the political correctness of referring to any people group nowadays as “red,” “yellow,” or “brown” (though for some reason “black” and “white” still fly), but let’s not get lost in minutia—clearly the song’s lyricist, preacher Clarence H. Woolston, was trying to be inclusive. And the point is this: even children used to understand something very basic that we have lost in our modern, “enlightened” society. Each of us—because we have been individually formed by an all-wise, all-loving Creator—has intrinsic value regardless of the color of our skin, because we are eternal souls created with an eternal purpose—to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

We in the church need to lead the way by proclaiming oneness in Christ and demonstrating unity with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. America used to be known as a melting pot—not because various groups lost their individuality by settling here but because they learned to live peaceably with those whose customs and cultures might differ from their own and because the majority of those who came here to enjoy America’s freedom realized their opportunity existed thanks to America’s godly heritage, so they were willing to pass that history down to their children as they became part of America’s story themselves.

We must not allow the Marxists to divide us—to turn us against one another, to destroy the progress that has been made since the time when Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We must not allow them to tear at the already fraying fabric of our society and rend us in two. And we mustn’t assume that fixing this is somebody else’s job. Americans have too long been leaving the work of the family and the church to the government. If each of us would just purpose to do what God has given us to do in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, we could begin to mend America’s fabric and restore some hope of a bright future to our children and our children’s children.

So get out there and love your neighbor—red, brown, yellow, black, or white—because Jesus does. Whether infant or aged, rich or poor, urban or rural, sick or well, Jew or Gentile, religious or not, God created that person and he bears His image. Or she bears His image. As do you. Forget about the externals; focus on what matters. Look past your neighbor’s skin color and see the heart. Because at heart we are all just sinners. We are either sinners in need of repentance or sinners saved by grace. That’s what matters.

Eternity is ahead of us, and our days and hours are numbered, but God is not willing that any should perish. When that trumpet sounds, God is not going to verify whether anyone is in a particular people group. Rather, Jesus is going to call His Bride from all the countries of the earth—every tribe and tongue. He is coming for every precious soul covered by the blood of the Lamb. And in that day of immediate transformation into Christlikeness, His followers will all get “race relations” right for the rest of eternity. But we don’t have to wait for the Rapture. Through the process of sanctification, we can have a tiny bit of Heaven on earth today by simply loving God, loving each other.

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Notes:

Third full paragraph—concerning Marxism, a quote from a 2015 video interview with Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter): “We actually do have an ideological frame, myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on sort of ideological theories.” Cristian Laila, author of the article on Gateway Pundit where I first saw the video clip, writes: “Black Lives Matter is seeking to transform America by defunding the police, dismantling capitalism, ‘destroying the patriarchy,’ breaking down the nuclear family unit, emptying prisons, redistributing wealth in the form of reparations among other far left objectives.” And, “Their goal is to bring chaos where there is order, fan the flames of class warfare and demonize Christians and conservatives.”

Laila’s article did not include notation, so I did a little digging of my own and was able to both read and view statements which lend unfortunate credence to her summary by visiting the websites for Black Lives Matter and Dignity and Power Now (which was also founded by Cullors and was created to “end state violence and mass incarceration”) as well as viewing various videos featuring Cullors that are available on YouTube, including one from 2018 where she says, “Whenever people are not getting the things that they deserve, and we can see this across the world—look at Egypt—people are going to rise up.” [all italics mine]. Another from the 2015 video referenced above: “We wanted to call a new black liberation movement that centered on those most at the margin as a part of a political frame to challenge the current system that we live in.” And from the BLM website: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another…”

There are also many supporting statements in the document “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, and Justice,” which details various demands and recommendations from activist and advocacy groups working in coalition with Black Lives Matter. You can read it for yourself here: https://neweconomy.net/sites/default/files/resources/20160726-m4bl-Vision-Booklet-V3.pdf

Disturbingly, Americans are being told not only what they should or should not say (such as being dissuaded from altering the hashtag for BLM as I did for the title of this article) but also that what they do choose to say cannot mean what they want it to! Cullors (from the 2015 video) again: “When we use things like ‘all lives matter,’ or when we say things like ‘our lives matter’ we are actually negating black life, whether that’s intentionally or unintentionally.” I must respectfully disagree. And, to be clear, when I use the phrase “all lives matter,” what I actually mean to be understood by it is this: all lives matter.

Fourth full paragraph—in case “infant or aged” is too subtle in today’s society, let me be explicit. It is God who creates and sustains life, and God who has the right to determine when life is over. Those who wink at abortion and laugh at euthanasia will find in the end that God does neither.

“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb.” Psalm 71:5+6a

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. I Samuel 2:6

Fifth full paragraph—I chose to use the term “race relations” here because it is widely recognized, but I include it in quotation marks because in reality, Scripture shows we are all one blood (all descended from Adam and Eve), one race—human. That is why the blood of Christ is able to cover any soul on earth from any tribe or nation if that person but asks Him for salvation. (See Acts 17:26-28, a part of Paul’s address at Athens.)

Open-Faced Chicken Sandwiches

This is a recipe that I concocted recently and that we’ve been using frequently, especially since finding limits on meat and many other items at the grocery store.  It’s budget-friendly, very filling, and tastes like Thanksgiving.  😊  This is a great recipe for involving multiple family members when it’s time to get it on the table as a couple people can work on the chicken while another makes up the stuffing, another toasts the muffins, another tends the gravy, and so on.  Serves 12.

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken leg quarters
  • 4 boxes of stuffing (6 oz. each), chicken or turkey flavored
  • 12 English muffins
  • 3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted, used for toasting the muffins
  • 1 envelope of chicken or turkey gravy mix (approx. 0.88 oz.)
  • a splash of Gravy Master (optional browning seasoning)
  • a few spoonfuls of flour
  • 7-8 cups of water
  • 3 cans of your favorite vegetable as a side
  1. Rinse the chicken leg quarters and place them in a 7-quart crockpot.  Pour 6 cups of water over them and cover.  Cook on high for several hours and then turn back to low for several more hours until the meat is cooked through and falls easily from the bones.  Once the meat is done, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a plate for “picking off.”  Using a couple of forks, pick through the chicken to separate the pieces of meat from the bones and skin, etc.  Set the meat aside in a bowl, discard the rest (but not the stock!).
  2. Prepare the stuffing according to package directions.  [Note: we drastically cut the amount of butter called for in the stuffing directions as the stuffing will be covered in gravy and have plenty of flavor anyway.]  Lightly butter and toast the English muffins.  Heat a vegetable of your choice.
  3. Pour the chicken stock (from the crockpot) through a strainer and into a roasting pan and put it on a large burner on the stovetop.  Sprinkle the gravy mix over the top and use a whisk to stir it in.  Bring to a boil.  While you are waiting for it to boil, fill a small (clean) pickle jar 2/3 full with cold water.  Spoon several large spoonfuls of flour into the water, cover, and shake vigorously.  Once the stock comes to a boil, stop shaking the flour/water mixture and pour it slowly into the stock, stirring continually.   If the gravy is not thick enough, repeat the water/flour mixture using less water and more flour and again waiting for the gravy to come to a boil before whisking it in.  If you wish to add a splash of Gravy Master, it does give the gravy a nice color and a little extra flavor. Once the gravy is done, stir in the chicken you had set aside.
  4. Place two halves of an English muffin on each plate and put a large spoonful of stuffing on each half.  Use a ladle to cover them generously with the chicken gravy.  Serve each with a scoop of your favorite vegetable and enjoy!

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How to Win the Lottery Every Time

We were talking recently with our children about various financial matters, reading back through an older series of articles on money management with them and talking about the included principles (important ideas such as the 10-10-80 plan where you give ten percent to God, save ten percent so to build an emergency fund, and plan to live on the eighty percent remaining) when we got to talking about risky investments and gambling, and all this led to talking about the lottery.

Lotteries, of course, are designed to make money for those who run them.  (If you were thinking that they are beneficent organizations, think again!)  They gain this money by taking it directly from those who can be enticed to “play” with their hard-earned dollars.   We were reminding our children that it’s never a good idea to buy lottery tickets; they might as well rip their money up and throw it in the trash because it’s rigged to be a losing proposition longterm.  While we were talking though these things, it occurred to me that there is a way that someone can win the lottery every time.  So I told the children that if they’re ever standing in line in the grocery store and are tempted to buy a lottery or scratch-off ticket, they can take the five or ten dollars they would have spent on tickets out of their wallet or purse and move it to their own pocket, considering it “spent.”  Then take that money home, put it in an envelope and stash it in the back of a little-used drawer.  If they are ever tempted again, they should follow the exact same steps—as many times as it takes.  Eventually, someday, they will find that envelope tucked away in the back of the drawer, and they will be a winner twice over.  First, every dollar they ever spent on “the lottery” will still be theirs to spend again on something wiser, and second, they will have learned that a little can add up to a lot over time. 

Remember that even small purchases multiply.  If you buy just five dollars’ worth of scratch-off tickets a week, you will have spent $260.00 by the end of the year.  If you continued that same habit for five years, you would have spent $1,300.00!  Who among us couldn’t use $1,300.00 (or more as this is a very conservative example, given that many people spend much more than that on lottery tickets, and that for decades running)?  Do your children a big favor:  Talk with them about money while they are young…not just one conversation, but many conversations over time.  Teach them how to give back to God, how to save for a rainy day, and how to live within their means on what remains.   Teach them that money is a tool and that God expects them to use it wisely.  He calls us to be stewards, and we will give an answer to Him someday for how we used the talents (financial or otherwise) that He bestowed. 

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”  I Corinthians 4:2

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Have You Thought About Your Children Lately?

A special word of exhortation for mothers this month; I want to remind each of you of the serious responsibility you have (alongside your husbands) to guard the doors of your homes.

I was reading an article early this morning about a young girl who completely lost her way in adolescence and strayed further and further from God’s design for her life.  She was lamenting that nobody approached her to tell her she was on the wrong path until years into her waywardness.  Finally, one day her grandfather sat her down and, with tears streaming down his face, spoke truth into her life and begged her to turn from the destructive path she was on.  That was the beginning of healing for this young woman.  Pray for this precious lady (her first name is Sydney) that she would come to know Jesus and fully embrace God’s best for her future.

This article disturbed me greatly on several fronts.  First, it troubled me that so many adults (including counselors and medical professionals) could watch a young person head down a path of destruction and not only refuse to offer a word of correction but even go so far as to encourage a young woman to continue in sinful and hurtful behaviors.  Oh, that the Lord would help us to be different!  If a young person in our lives needs to hear truth, may we be bold to speak it.

Second, it reminded me how we need to be so vigilant.  Satan wants our children.  He will use whatever means he can to get at them, be it books, magazines, television programs, movies, video games, i-phones, Internet sites, or poorly chosen friends.   Please take time this weekend to look to the state of your flocks, mothers.  Use the following questions as discussion starters or as food for thought so that you and your husband can make sure the hedge fences around your children are all in good repair.   

  • Do we hold the Word in high esteem in our home—reading it, memorizing it, discussing God’s precepts, lifting up the Bible as our final authority and our standard for all decisions?
  • Do our children spend the bulk of their time with us?  Do we know what they are doing?
  • Do we know what our children are reading?  Are there books that have crept in that are worldly or would be otherwise displeasing to the Lord?
  • Do we know what our children are watching and how often?  Are there better things they could be doing with their time?
  • Do we know our children’s friends?  Do we spend time together as families or are the children often alone unsupervised with other young people?  What kinds of games are we playing / allowing?
  • Do we have concerns about certain friends that we’ve been shrugging off rather than addressing?
  • Do our children have access to i-phones, texting, e-mail, Internet?  Why? 
  • Are we mindful of the content of our children’s conversations and correspondences with those outside the home?
  • Are there any magazines, newspapers, or other reading material coming into our home that we might need to cancel?
  • Are there things about our children’s appearance and moral / spiritual development that we should be keeping a better handle on?  (dress, manners, tone, responsibilities, etc.)
  • Are there things in our lives that make us inconsistent models of godliness?  How can we change that?
  • Have we made sure lately that our children know they can come to us anytime with questions and concerns?
  • Have we been taking seriously the duty we have to protect our children?  We make sure they have food to keep them from hunger, clothes to keep them from cold, medicines to keep them from illness . . . what have we been doing to keep them from loving the world?

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start a conversation.  I’m not going to tell you which books, magazines, programs, activities, and technologies you should or shouldn’t allow; those are choices each couple must make for their own home, but I am going to encourage you to hold everything up to the Word and evaluate it again.  And I am going to urge you to guard the innocence of your children as long as you can.  Allow them to be children—to know stability, to know familial love, to know all that is good and lovely and pure, to know that Dad and Mom make decisions they believe to be best for the family—not just for today but to ensure (inasmuch as anyone is able to) a godly progeny as well.  Pray for your children, mothers.  Build hedge fences around them with Scripture’s precepts.  And tell them over and over again that God loves them, that He has a plan and a purpose for their lives, and that if they will only humble themselves and follow Him, they will be blessed.

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold,
Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
Luke 22:31-32a

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* Note of explanation for those who might misunderstand my meaning in saying we should keep our children from “loving the world.”  I am not referring to the people in the world.  God gave His only begotten Son to save people; and He wants us to love them every one.  But the world itself and the things that are in it are not to become stumbling blocks to Christians.  Rather we are called to pursue righteousness.  God says in I Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.”  The fact that we can’t do that perfectly is no excuse for not trying!

Pass the Salt, Please

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told the disciples, Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  (Matthew 5:13)

As Christians we often hear it said that we should be “salt and light,” and indeed, the statement “Ye are the light of the world” occurs directly after the Lord’s example describing believers as salt.  Let’s consider for a moment just what it means to be the “salt of the earth.”

First, and probably most commonly known, salt enhances flavor, making foods more pleasant and more palatable.  What are potato chips or French fries without salt?  Just pieces of potato.  What’s the secret ingredient in much Chinese food?  MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate; it is one of many types of salt.  Just as salt enhances the flavor of foods, a Christian’s walk with the Lord should enhance the beauty and the atmosphere of the culture around him or her.

Imagine that the clerks at a local store are not known for their sanctified speech.  Yet over the course of years of shopping there, acting kindly, and occasionally dropping off homemade treats with tracts, it becomes common for them to stop in midsentence when seeing members of your family, to warn one another to keep the language clean when you come into the store, or to offer an apology if one of them was cursing before seeing you standing there.  That would be encouraging because it would be an acknowledgement that something is different about your family.  Of course, that “something” is not you but rather the Holy Spirit working through you and your family to reach out and touch other lives for the glory of God.

Second, salt is a preservative, keeping deterioration at bay.  In years past, families would store heavily salted meat in the fall for use throughout the winter.  In my mother’s family when she was growing up, they would save eggs in a brine mixture to use during the months when the hens stopped laying.  Throughout my childhood, I can still remember my grandmother splitting fish, salting them, and hanging them out on the clothesline to dry.  In the days before refrigeration was common, salt helped preserve families’ foods for the long term, keeping it from spoiling.  Likewise, through the witness and walk of faithful Christians, the cultural rot of modern America can be halted. 

For example, we can avoid the ever-prevalent movies, television shows, and secular music that celebrate immorality and train us to think in ways opposed to the Lord and His Word.  Instead, we can produce and/or patronize that which is true, lovely, and virtuous; and by our daily walk and conversation, we can call others to remember how our towns, our churches, and our homes looked just a few decades ago – when walking with the Lord was not only respected but was encouraged and was far more common.

Third, salt can be healing.  I grew up working on a lobster boat in the summers.  With the work came all sorts of cuts and scrapes.  By working with my hands in the salty ocean water so much, though, the injuries healed well and remarkably fast.  That gives hope that America’s downhill slide can not only be halted but can, Lord willing, be reversed.  Though the task seems mountainous, take heart; a hundred years of decline cannot be cured in an instant.  Just as a mountain is not climbed in a few steps or even with a quick sprint, America’s cultural cesspool will require a multi-generational solution.  Not only must we be faithful in our day, but we must strive to ensure that future generations carry on the battle for liberty and righteousness as well.

Fourth, salt lowers the freezing point of water.  Anyone living in the northeastern U.S. knows that water freezes at 32o Fahrenheit.  Through the winter months we check the outside temperature, knowing that as it approaches that point, it greatly changes how we drive and how long it takes to get places.  Applying salt to icy roads, however, can cause the ice to melt.  Using a solution of 10% salt and 90% water lowers the freezing point from 32o to 20o.  Increasing the salt content to 20% lowers it further, all the way to 2o.  Just as applying salt to ice causes it to melt, consider how many rock-hard, ice-cold hearts could be softened by consistent, prayerful application of the love of Christ.  And as the number of committed Christians grew, that sort of witness would become harder and harder for unbelievers to ignore as the world changed around them.

And fifth, on the other end of the temperature spectrum, salt also raises the boiling point of water.  Sprinkling some salt in your pot of water means it will require a temperature of more than the usual 212o for it to boil.  We’ve all seen boiling water bubbling furiously, letting off steam, and occasionally boiling over.  As a believer walks with the Lord, the indwelling Holy Spirit can add peace, stability, and a resistance to the heat that comes in the tough times of life.  Just as salt can help keep hotter water under control, so too can a Christian’s quiet responses in the face of adversity point others to the Master.

Was the Lord aware of all these properties of salt when He made the comparison?  Of course!  He created not only salt and us, but anything and everything around us too.  And no doubt He has hidden many more mysteries for us to discover.  As we study His Word and His world, as we faithfully walk with Him day by day, as we share His love with others, then we can begin to see change—one life, one home, one town at a time.  May the Lord grant us the courage to be the salt that will help restore our nation’s faith in Him.

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”  (Colossians 4:5-6)

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So Liberty’s dying. (shrug) What do you want me to do about it?


Concept that Lisa drafted and our youngest daughter illustrated, showing how our influence for righteousness begins in the home and extends outward to our community, state, nation, and the world.   (c) 2019

Depiction of Lady Liberty

We hear a lot today about how if we’re not careful, America will someday slide into socialism.  Friends, we need to wake up.  America already slid.  We have a largely socialistic, humanistic system in place right now.  The education of the majority of our children is government-controlled.  Health care is being taken over by the federal government as well.   We have a glut of obligatory tax-funded programs that are socialistic in nature from Social Security to Medicare and Medicaid to federal housing to farm subsidies and so much more.  Any time the government takes money from the people to fund the responsibilities of the people “on behalf of” the people, that is socialism.  Someone other than you is taking your income and deciding what those monies will fund – even if you strongly disagree with what is being funded.  Take, for example, tax dollars – your tax dollars and my tax dollars – being used to fund abortion, the murder of the most defenseless and innocent among us.  Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  He was one of our founders who was willing to risk his life, liberty, and property to set the people free from the heavy hand of British rule, so he knew tyranny.  And he defined it for us, so we could recognize it when it came around again. 

Let me give you another personal example of how tyranny hits home for us.  We choose to homeschool our children because we believe it is the parents’ responsibility to teach the next generation about God and country.  The public education system in America has turned its back on God and no longer teaches America’s true history or founding principles.  My husband works hard to provide for us, but every time we cash his paycheck, we lose dollars that could have been funding the education of our own children to an educational system that is teaching other people’s children to one day attempt to oppress and persecute ours.  If you think that’s exaggeration, you need to follow the news more carefully.  Christians are being side-lined in America, being told they are mentally ill, being told they have no right to express their beliefs anywhere where someone might hear them, being told they have no right to hold public positions because they hold to basic biblical tenets.  And those are just a few examples.* 

As a nation we have raised up (and are continuing to raise up) generations who do not appreciate Christians and Christianity because they don’t know their own history.  They don’t recognize the gift that the Anglicans, the Puritans, and the Separatists sacrificed to give them in venturing everything to settle this once-wild land.  Nobody is reading them the charter of Jamestown, which refers to the “propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”  Nobody is telling them that In Plymouth we find men and women and children whose voyage – as described in the Mayflower Compact — had been “undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and Honor of our King and Country.”  Children are not being taught to appreciate the integrity of George Washington, who in his farewell address said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”  and ” [R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”  They don’t know the words of John Adams who said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Nor is anybody teaching them the words of the patriot Patrick Henry — “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  For this very reason, people of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship.” 

Christians, we need to start living out our faith in America.  We need to stop being afraid, and start being free.  When people see us, we should stand out.  We should be leading, not cowering.  We should be brilliant lights in a darkening world, healing salt on a festering wound.  When others observe us, they should see and hear a difference.  We need to speak differently, dress differently, act differently, consume differently, read differently, and think differently than everyone else.  The only way for that to happen is for us to be in the Word and unplugged from popular culture.  We need to make the Scriptures the absolute guide for our lives.  We need to evaluate, and as often as necessary re-evaluate, everything about our homes, our careers, our past times, our finances, our dreams, our goals, our priorities.  We need to stop bemoaning the fact that we can’t change the world and do our best to lead in the domain we have been given.  Every one of us has a home, a church, a community.  Every one of us has family, friends, and neighbors whom we not only can but should influence for righteousness.  Every one of us has the ability to pray and turn. 

There is a verse in II Chronicles (7:14) that is widely used in encouraging Christians to pray for revival in our land.  I agree wholeheartedly that we need revival in our land.  Without question we need for God to do a mighty work.  But I think too often we get looking around at others and thinking God needs to do a revival work in them and we miss what these verses actually say.  The verses do not just say for us to pray.  They say “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”   God not only expects us to pray for our nation; he expects us to examine our own lives, clean out the garbage, and become models of virtue for others to follow.  The Scripture clearly says, “humble themselves” and “turn from their wicked ways.”  And it’s talking about us.  The first and most important thing I can do to bring back liberty in America is turn myself from sin and seek God.  And it’s the first and most important thing you can do too.   But if we’re going to skip the humbling and the turning, we might as well skip the praying.  Psalm 66:18 reminds us, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  

Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”  Righteousness begins at home.  There are two verses that we have shared repeatedly over the years with our children.  Actually, there are many verses we have shared repeatedly, but I want to focus on these two this evening :  Psalm 101:2b and Matthew 5:16.  They work in tandem.  The first says:  “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”  Before I worry about the sins of the rest of the state and the nation, I need to ensure that my walk within my own house is right before God.  That touches everything – what I read, what I watch, what I say, where I’m willing to go, what I choose to do with my time, how I spend my money.  Everything.  Only after having removed the beam from my own eye am I ready to help remove the mote in another’s.**  Then the second says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  We were never meant to hide our light under a bushel.  If we know the Lord and love the Lord, we are instructed to shine.  Regardless of what we are hearing in America right now, it’s not only acceptable to talk about your faith, practice your faith, and allow it to permeate all of your dealings with others, it’s commanded!  And God is the Author of Liberty.  So, frankly, anything righteous done for Him can only benefit America.  Any good works done for Him strengthen our nation and benefit the cause of freedom. 

We may never know the effect that our homes and our humility and our obedience will have on our community, our state, and our nation.  God asks that we walk in faith.  That’s not easy.  There are so many other things we could do with our time, so many things that sound more important than being humble and making sure our own houses are in order.  So many projects that seem larger than loving our spouse and discipling our own children and reaching out to our neighbors.   But future generations will rise up and call us blessed if we will focus on doing what God has given us to do.  Strong homes, strong families, strong churches mean a strong America.  Washington D.C. may be our capital, but individual families and homes and churches have always been our heart. 

Sadly, America’s heart is diseased because her families are broken and her houses and churches are shells of what they once were.  Liberty is lying there on life support, unable to communicate but crying out inside for someone to care, to remember, to do something to save her.  Don’t be part of the crowd clamoring to pull the plug.  Be one of the faithful who will kneel at her side and repent for having a part in in her malady.  Be one who will pray for God to intervene and revive her.  Be one who not only believes that He can but that if we are obedient and do our part, He will.  Then, get up and go get Liberty a cup of life-giving Water, because when He answers – she’s going to need it.

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* For documentation of these particular examples, see Culture Jihad:  How to Stop the Left from Killing a Nation  (2019) by Todd Starnes (especially pages 93, 197, and 256).   One caution:  while I appreciate the work Mr. Starnes has done compiling ways that our freedoms are being eroded, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the book because the Lord’s name is taken in vain repeatedly.   An older book with a similar focus is David Limbaugh’s Persecution:  How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity (2003).  It has been longer since I have read the second title, but I do not remember the Lord’s name having been misused by the author.  A spot-check of various pages of that text this afternoon seems to indicate that that is correct.

** To clarify, a Christian should be always reforming, growing more like Christ.  While we will never reach perfection on this earth, we need to be continually holding ourselves to the mirror of the Word and fixing what sins we find there so that we are not hypocritical in our dealings with others.

Mixed-Media Painting: Simple Beach Scene

About a year ago I was visiting a French market in New Brunswick, Canada, with a sweet friend and several of my (also sweet) daughters.  We came across a stand where a local artist had created paintings using acrylics and a variety of found objects from nature, such as shells, bits of driftwood, tiny pebbles, and so on.  As soon as I saw those paintings, I thought of the children in the homeschool group and tucked the idea away in the back of my mind, planning to simplify and adapt the idea for a group craft.  Strangely enough, we arrived home from vacation to find that my grandmother was displaying all the shells she’s collected over the years before getting rid of them.  I asked her if the homeschool group might have the little ones when she was ready to pass them along, and – voilà – we were halfway to having a craft night.  

The scene depicted above was not copied from the artist at the market.  It is a scene I created, keeping in mind that I wanted it to work with a wide variety of ages (so it needed to be simple enough for the younger children but interesting enough for the older ones) and somehow incorporate shells and other media.  The supply list and directions given below name certain colors of Apple Barrel brand acrylic craft paint—which were on a very good sale the night we picked up supplies (Thank you, Lord!)—but you could substitute other colors or another brand or even different mixed media and still complete the project successfully.  Be creative and have fun!

Click here for PDF document containing supply list and directions.

A few samples of finished paintings by children in the homeschool group:

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