I See You Healed

Update: My symptoms have been nearly nonexistent since writing this post. I believe Christ has honored my obedience, because out of my sickness and the message of healing I received, others were also meant to be healed. I was a roadblock to that until I wrote this post. I’m believing for miracles in the lives of those who have read this and those who have yet to read it.

I should have written this a couple of weeks ago. It’s a story that has begged to be written.

I’m dealing with a little health issue. I’ve dealt with it for around three years now, most of that time doing nothing substantial about it. It finally got to the point it was impacting my daily living significantly. So a few doctor’s visits, tests, and a colonoscopy later, I find out that I have ulcerative colitis. Actually, it took two doctors and a nurse practitioner with a colonoscopy in the middle, then one last doctor (the right one) and a second colonoscopy, to find out the diagnosis.

That being said, I’ve been feeling really bad for a really long time. I’m sure I won’t realize how bad until I finally get my condition completely under control. We’re still trying to do that.

Being an Apostolic Pentecostal, I believe in the gift of divine healing. I have claimed and held to the promise of healing. Hasn’t happened yet. No impact on my faith, just some discouragement every now and then when I’m at my worst. Even though I have had prayer many times, I finally spoke publicly to the church about what I have been going through one Sunday. My family has been aware for quite some time and have been praying for me consistently.

So out of the blue one day, I come home from work. I start seeing these little notes everywhere- on the door coming into the house, on the light switch, on and inside of the refrigerator, and on the mirror in the bathroom.

image

My mother-in-law had been in prayer for me that day when God told her to see me healed. So she did. She told my wife about it. Julie took over and wrote all the little notes, taping them all over the house, putting them in my bag I carry to work, and stuffing them in drawers where I would eventually find them. This has been at least two weeks ago, and just yesterday I found new notes that she put in different places. She is still writing those notes. I know she believes completely.

Again in prayer, God told my mother-in-law, “Glen is going to have a collision with healing.” She has been faithful to share each time she hears from Him.

So I haven’t experienced the fullness of healing yet. But I still believe. And I know what my next step should have been all this time. I’m taking it right now.

I should have written this a long time ago. I’m writing it now: I see you healed.

I wondered why so many people have crossed my path lately in need of healing. I’ve been guilty of neglecting prayer where prayer was desperately needed. I rectified one such lapse a couple of weeks ago with a coworker who had been really sick. She felt God move. I she her healed. Another coworker suffered a stroke. But many prayed, and God spared him. He has a long way to recovery, a recovery that may only be possible by divine healing. I see him healed.

I’d love to see you, speak to you, and touch you according to the scriptures to pray for your healing. It isn’t possible to do that for all of you. But I still see you healed.

From your chronic depression, I see you healed.
Your cancer and your heart disease, I see you healed.
Your headaches, tumors, and infections, I see you healed.
Your long-term disabilities, your chronic, recurrent conditions, I see you healed.
Your grief and strife and bitterness, I see you healed.
Your self-inflicted wounds, your unrelenting guilt, I see you healed.
Your traumas that were outside of your control, I see you healed.
Your type 1 and type 2 diabetes, I see you healed.
Your unexpected emergency, illness or injury, I see you healed.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I see you healed.

Some even in Christianity don’t believe what I’m proclaiming right now. I don’t care. I believe for you even if you don’t believe for yourself.

I know that my healing is not just for me. These simple but profound expressions of faith for my healing is not just for me either. It’s my calling to tell you that you are healed. I’ll get my healing as I’m faithful to tell you that your healing is here.

When you experience your healing, do something for me. Cry out to Jesus out of joy and ask Him for more of His Spirit and grace. And share healing with others. When you pray in the name of Jesus Christ, healing will happen.

See more about my faith here.

Belief in God, and What’s Wrong in our Country Today

A theology of endowed rights is foundational to our Nation’s government, ongoing success, and longevity. It’s codified in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,chat among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Recently, a cable news anchor, Chris Cuomo, made this statement:

Our rights do not come from God, that’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.

I contend that theology is the basis of all of our beliefs, individually, whether we recognize it our not. Bad theology impacts our culture and enters our government.

What theology was Chris Cuomo influenced by when he made the statement above? Secular humanism. The belief that man is his own god and creates the definition of right and wrong himself. Interestingly, Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama, in defending his stay on issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples, cites natural law as his basis. The difference between the two viewpoints is illustrated in a statement Cuomo made earlier in the interview:

Well you don’t believe that as a matter of personal opinion, right? But times change, definitions change, we didn’t think blacks were equal to whites, that changed.

Cuomo cites natural law in regard to blacks being equal to whites. After all, God created mankind in His own image. Why can’t natural law, instituted by God, be recognized as the basis of our man-made laws? All of our man-made laws should support and protect people as God-created, with inherent dignity and intrinsic value.

Why can’t marriage between a man and a woman be recognized as protected by that same natural law? The same source of truth protects mankind and marriage as God’s creation.

Cuomo tried to divide religious belief from governance, and it just doesn’t work. Because everything we do is influenced by our beliefs about God- our theology. And in this conversation, by saying, “that’s your faith, not our country,” God is not acknowledged as God, mankind is.

Belief in God that influences our laws and society is not the problem. Trying to live in this divided way, invoking God when we want and pushing him aside when we want, is what is wrong in our country today.

As believers in God’s Word, we cannot be lured into living on the terms created by humanists. Faith in God and His law is central and influences everything. By God’s grace, faith in Jesus Christ influenced our founding, and by that same grace and our vigilance, faith in Christ will continue to guide the course of our country.

Freedom of Speech, the Gospel, and Calling Out Evil

(image via http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Francis)

The Pope’s comments on the Charlie Hebdo massacre are disheartening because of the exception he apparently made for violence in the face of behavior that is considered insulting by others toward Islam.

The Pope said Thursday that while violence is wrong, it is also wrong for people to mock the faiths of others.
Speaking to reporters while traveling by plane to the Philippines, Francis said certain language is virtually certain to provoke an angry, violent reaction from someone.
“You cannot react violently,” the Pope said. He added, however, that if a good friend “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. This is normal.”
Francis added that “you cannot provoke, you cannot insult other people’s faiths, you cannot make fun of faith.”
And the Pope does believe it is a “provocation” to “make other people’s religions a joke” because “things can happen” as a result.

“Why? Why is this world so messed up that I agree with Piers Morgan?”, commented one of my friends on Facebook. I can understand the angst. My belief is that, however much I disagree with Mr. Morgan’s political views, there appears to be a shred of decency in him. And the world is in desperate need of decency.

It is decency that allows someone to disagree with both parties on an issue, and yet, after one of those sides decides to commit murder, the decent person says, “The murderers are evil and wrong,” without the need to qualify anything else.

I have no need to partake of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo. They do me no good at all whatsoever. Whatever message being portrayed is lost on me because I can’t stomach the graphics used to portray the message. I’m sure I would judge many of the views the magazine expresses to be wrong, but how can I say they are wrong to express them? As a lifelong American who values the right to express myself anytime, anywhere, in any way I please, I cannot say those cartoonists were wrong.

We, as free people, understand that there is a such thing as an “off switch” when offensive content comes on our televisions. We “vote with our feet” when we enter a performance that turns out to be offensive in some way. We know we can cover our kids’ eyes and ears and go somewhere else. We don’t buy magazines that portray nudity and pornography, if that’s not what we want to look at. A great portion of the rest of the world, and way too much of America, takes no responsibility for doing what it takes to protect themselves, and instead want to cry afoul at offensiveness. Abolish offensiveness. Shout it down, destroy it (and too often the person who perpetrates it), make it “hate speech”.

I have left the realm of nudity and profanity as I write about offensiveness at this point. Incidentally, the majority of people trying to end offensiveness have no problem with those two things, and would call me a prude for saying that there is something wrong with them. That is exactly why, as much as I hate and avoid many forms of expression that are popular today in the world, I will defend the right of those who spread such filth to do so.

The fact of the matter is, I am the offensive one in the eyes of so many people today. I pray, I believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word and live by it, I’m a minister of the Gospel, I believe in marriage between one man and one woman, I am raising a traditional family (which has been declared dead, by the way), I’m pro-life, pro-protecting-my-family-with-a-gun if it comes down to it, pro-freedom and personal responsibility in this world. I live like I have a responsibility to Christ and my neighbor, because I absolutely do.

And because so much about me is so offensive to the world today, it is in my best interest to stand up for free speech, free expression, free assembly, and freedom of religion. Because if today I am able to condemn someone’s right to speak, then tomorrow I most certainly will be the one facing condemnation.

The Pope did not defend free speech in his remarks. Is the Pope’s reaction coincidental, considering that Charlie Hebdo has also mocked priests due to sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church? Or is the Pope so secure in his ability to continue speaking freely that he isn’t concerned about ramifications of limiting free speech and expression? I’m certain the Pope fears no censorship, but what about you and me?

We have had sermons subpoenaed in Texas. Conservative groups targeted by the IRS. Children and teens required to declare their religion to the government in order to be permitted to homeschool. And on and on.

Freedom of speech allows the Gospel to move. Paul utilized every right of Roman citizenship to move the Gospel across the world. Should we be concerned with being able to do this as well?

Saints in oppressed areas of the world look to the free world, particularly America, and pray that we can keep a firm foothold on the freedoms that make us utterly distinct from the rest of the world. They see our freedom as a blessing from Almighty God, to be cherished and defended.

In a country where all have the freedom to say anything they want, even if it is offensive, there is nothing that can stop the move of the Holy Ghost except our unwillingness to preach the Gospel. The Gospel has no comparison; darkness cannot handle the Light. The Light can stand for Himself and nothing can touch Him.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (‭1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭5‬ KJV)

So mock me and mock my Gospel. I’m not going to shoot you up. I won’t even try to shut you up. But I’ll use the same freedom you have to convince you that there is a better way.

I believe it is time we attack evil and leave free expression alone. It’s time we call out evil doers and have compassion on those who are victimized, not equivocate and resort to terrorshaming people who “had it coming”. Government has excused the latter and neglected the former. Only morally decent people who are not afraid can call out evil and shine light into darkness. And though we may lose our rights as free people one day, we still have the chance today to exercise free speech, defending that right for ourselves and others.

Why My Kids Make It Worthwhile to be a #DadsOnMission

I love the United States of America. I am heartbroken at what we have become. The American nation, and the American church for that matter, need a spiritual revival and renewal. But I am extremely thankful to live my convictions and share those with my kids.

We have begun Bible quizzing with my oldest son. He is 8 years old. He took highest-scoring quizzer in his first tournament, and he won 2nd place team in the tournament along with a buddy.

It has been an emotional roller coaster getting him to study. He simply has not wanted to do it. Tonight, even after winning this past Saturday, he cried as soon as we mentioned studying his Proverbs. Thirty minutes later we were able to start, and after an hour he had settled in and learned 5 new proverbs.

Once we finished studying, out of nowhere, he wanted to have church in his room. He ran to get his bath over with, then set up a chair for a pulpit and pillows on the floor for his brother, mother, and me to sit on. We prayed and sang songs. He asked me to lead the opening prayer and his mother to lead the closing prayer. We all shook hands, hugged, and greeted one another.

He even named the church- Spring Creek Pentecostal Church, after the community we live in. I truly believe that it is a foretelling of things to come. Spring Creek needs an Apostolic church. I think one just started.

imageLittle brother is joyful and does everything his brother does. We spent all of 2014 working as a family on a pro-life initiative called Yes On 1, to pass a state constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for the unborn. A few weeks ago, as his brother and I were working on quizzing, he set up a chair as a display table, with pamphlets and a “Yes On 1” sign, like we did dozens of times at churches and events. Then he said to me, “I need somebody to walk by so I can tell them vote yes on 1!” It was a heart-wrencher, seeing him do what he had seen us do, and having that be important to him at this stage in life, just because it is important to us as his parents.

I don’t write this to convey that my wife and I are super parents, because I, at least, am not. Julie instills so much in the boys that I never could because she is a work-at-home mom, constantly there for them. I need more help as a parent than my sinful pride will allow me to admit. But I am encouraged, and I grow daily, and I ask God for help and cover them with prayer.

And because of the way I see my sons growing, I will continue to be a Dad On Mission, reaching and teaching, to make sure I hand them a baton worth carrying to the finish line.

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Four Guaranteed Experiences, and One Thing You’ll Never Experience, When You Step Out in Faith to Do God’s Work

We’ve been meeting bi-weekly for some time now. The closer we get to November 4th, the more sense it made to be in closer, more frequent contact. Yes On 1 has been a massive undertaking. The goal is to mobilize pro-life voters to pass a historic amendment to the Tennessee Constitution and bring life back to our state. A wrongly decided state Supreme Court decision in 2000 made Tennessee an abortion destination by interpreting a “fundamental right” to abortion in our state constitution and undoing the most basic legal protections for women and unborn children.

Around the time of one of our meetings, our regional coordinator sent an email reporting on the ways many of our volunteers have experienced personal trials as our campaign is coming down to its final days. He also gave us scriptural encouragement to continue on in our work.

As our enemy sees us giving our all in service to others, attacks are inevitable. Here are 4 guaranteed experiences that are destined to challenge you as you seek to do God’s work.

I am going to operationalize doing “God’s work” as doing “service,” or serving others- individuals, groups, or even entire communities. In our work with the Yes On 1 campaign, my wife and I have served voters who needed to understand the issue Amendment 1 intends to address. We also have striven to serve volunteers who are passionate about creating positive change in Tennessee. Ultimately, we hope our efforts serve vulnerable women and unborn children. Service to others is God’s work.

Fear. There are going to have bouts with fear when you set out to serve others. I see fear often in the eyes of social work students I am serving at Union University, who have never yet had to sit across from vulnerable people and be competent, compassionate helpers. The fear of being misunderstood, being rejected, or being defeated can be paralyzing. But you can’t be (or stay) paralyzed. You can’t stay stuck wondering, “What do I do now?” In a world that needs your connectedness, you can’t afford to be shut down and out of the fight.

Frustration. The work of serving others is rife with frustration. Service is messy, under-appreciated, and not immediately fulfilling. One of the questions we ask job candidates at Youth Villages is, “How do you gauge your personal effectiveness?” One of the reasons this question is so important is, if you are expecting to rely on “warm fuzzies” to get you through the difficult days, it ain’t gonna happen. The paycheck won’t keep you on the job either, because too often long hours serving others ends with too few tangible results. People don’t always follow through on your good ideas. And when they do, it isn’t often enough that you will get the gratitude you deserve. Nobody who serves others long does it for a paycheck or a pat on the back. It takes a long-term view and an inner-confidence that you are making a difference through service.

How is this tracking with you so far? Well, take some time to ponder over the first two of four guaranteed experiences you will face when you do God’s work of serving others. We will have two more guaranteed experiences, and the one thing you are guaranteed to never experience, in the next post.

The Meaning in the Mess

I know you’re tired. I am too.

It seems like it never ends. There is always too much to do, and not enough time to do it all. The daily care of, well, everything, pulls, and drags, and threatens to take you down.

And then when you look at all that is going on around you in the world- immoral things, evil things, threatening things, things that were once far away but now seem ever so much closer to home- you know you should care and be involved, but how can you?

You know there are people in need, but how can you help? How can you start to right the wrongs that are in the world? What can you do, with so little time, energy, and resources?

I feel this way. A lot of the time, I feel this way. But I’m in good company- I’m with you and with the Apostle Paul when it comes to feeling this way:

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11‬:‭27-29‬)

In the middle of weariness and pain, hunger and thirst, in addition to all the “daily cares,” it is easy to adopt the attitude of “I can’t, I don’t have time, it’s not my problem.”

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And, focusing on the battle all the time, with all of the obstacles and struggles, will wear you out. Compassion fatigue sets in. Vicarious trauma sets in. We are overwhelmed with the death and destruction that goes on around us, in the world and in our own cities, and our brain has to dissociate from it all for our own good.

The problem is, in a world that needs your connectedness, you can’t afford to be shut down and out of the fight.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭9‬)

There is no joy in this world, but there is glory in the fight. Why? Because when we are in the fight, we receive God’s grace to make it through. In this cycle of pain upon pain, hurt upon hurt, grace is supernaturally injected into our lives, and we find meaning in the mess.

My family and I have been working on a pro-life initiative called Yes On 1 for over a year. We had a meeting tonight and came to a conclusion along with some of our other stalwart volunteers- we feel like we are in a state of limbo. We have 33 days left until Election Day, when we will know if all of our prayer and labor has paid off. All of our hours and sacrifice, conviction and passion- will it make a difference? And besides all of this, the daily cares- bills and work and dangers and trials.

I don’t want to be numb! I don’t want to say its somebody else’s problem! For my sake and your sake and my children’s’ sake, I can’t give up. Neither can you.

My children are watching. And I know it is all worth while on nights like tonight. We ended our meeting in prayer. My boys had been playing in another room. My wife called for them to come in with us during the prayer. They entered, and folded their hands in prayer, with their heads down, as the adults took turns leading in prayer. I asked my oldest son if he wanted to lead prayer. He said no. But after I led for a few moments, he said, “Dad, I’m ready to lead prayer now.” And he said,

Dear Jesus, thank you for this beautiful day you have given us, and for allowing us to come here to be together to talk about Yes On 1, so we can protect women and babies, and so we can fight the abortion army, and Lord, help people to vote yes on Amendment 1, in Jesus name, Amen.

And it’s all worth it. For him to get it, and to have joy in the work we are doing, that he sees his mother and father doing, and that he can pray about with such sincerity- it is all worthwhile. And there I find it- the meaning in the mess, the reason to fight on, the strength to continue to stand.

If I can help you step into the fight with conviction and confidence, I want to know! It’s a combination of planning and deciding and acting. Email me at glengaugh@gmail.com and I’ll connect with you. For the sake of the call- Glen

The Battle Cry

(original photo from the youth service)

These are the speaking notes for a youth service I preached for TN District North American Missionary Nathan McCrury on this past Friday night, Sept. 19th, in Parker’s Crossroads, TN. The service was in an outdoor amphitheater at the city park. They have their weekly services in a community building in the park. Pray for the Parker’s Crossroads United Pentecostals as they lift a battle cry over the community of their calling!

Click here for an audio recording of the message.

The Battle Cry- not a shout of praise and worship. A shout of aggression, determination, a declaration.

2 functions of a battle cry according to Wikipedia- arouse aggression and induce intimidation.

We’ve come tonight to commit spiritual warfare, to break the back of the devil, to take dominion over spiritual wickedness in high places. Be prepared to be attacked by the enemy. But do not be afraid.

Judges 7:9-15 Gideon saw

And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. (‭Judges‬ ‭7‬:‭13-15‬ KJV)

The enemy declared its own doom.
There is a spirit out there, slinging its head, flinging its venom. The devil stalks like a lion seeking who he can devour. But it is toothless, clawless, and powerless. Gideon had to see that before he could go into battle.

Judges 7:15-18 Gideon stood

And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian. And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. (‭Judges‬ ‭7‬:‭15-18‬ KJV)

Arise, he said. He placed them and he placed himself. There they all remained.

Judges‬ ‭7‬:‭19-2 Gideon shouted the battle cry. The sword of The Lord and of Gideon.

So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. (‭Judges‬ ‭7‬:‭19-21‬ KJV)

The battle cry is passed down through generations. What we accept slowly creeps into our generations. What we preach does too. What we practice is more powerful still. But what we war against with our battle cry says more about us than all the rest of it- what our children will take up war against will be a testament to us or a judgment against us.

Satan is writhing. Shout him down. Bruise his head. That’s our legacy. We get to bruise him.

Jesus delivered the enemy to us. He lead captivity captive. All we have to do is take dominion. 

There are things that grieve my spirit going on in this world. When I see what the devil and the culture is making out of our youth, I get angry. When I hear the lies that the world is deceiving so many with, I get beside myself with anger. The way everything is accepted and nothing is rejected. There’s some things we need to reject. The culture is inoculating our kids against the shock that sin is supposed to cause. They’re used to gay classmates and teachers. They hear the stories of premarital sex. They learn how to be tolerant. There are things we aren’t supposed to tolerate.

We, and our students, don’t do the world any good by being tolerant of sin. We need to see that The Lord is on our side. We need to plant our feet and stand in the right. And we need a blood-curling battle cry!

Click here for an audio recording of the message.

The Case for Children

I have written very little this week because I am preparing to speak twice this coming weekend, a youth service on Friday night which I am preaching, and a Sunday night service in which I am speaking on Life and the pro-life Yes On 1 campaign. So with nothing new to contribute, I pulled out this sermon called The Case for Children. I appreciate you reading it. Forgive any errors, as these were speaking notes and I did not proof them for publishing.

A sermon on the occassion of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 19, 2014.

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:13, 14 KJV)

20120606-001648.jpgAs far as we know, Adam and Eve were each created as physically mature adults. But that does not mean that conception and birth were not a part of the creation. God created man in His own image. Hebrews 1:2-3 tells us he is that Jesus is the “express image” of God. We surly remember that Mary was told she would “conceive” and “bring forth a son” (Luke 1:31). So though Adam and Eve were not conceived in the womb, they were made in the image of the only begotten son of God, with the plan that He would be conceived of woman at an appointed time. From the time man was created, there was to be an unbroken chain of life: the life still in the womb not to be excluded from personhood, but to be respected as integral to God’s plan.

If I am honest with you and if I’m honest with myself, i would have to say i have been led before the throne of God by my children as often if not more so than I have done so for them. The first time one of my children led me to God was before my oldest was ever born. At their births I was again taken before The Lord in the wonder of that special event. The first time time they realized what those voices, hands, fingers, feet and toes could do, and how they refused to stop using them once realizing how wonderful it was to scream, laugh, crawl, walk, and meddle in a continuous state of curiosity and experimentation. 

20120630-112635.jpgIf judged by the way the world judges utility and productivity, children have absolutely nothing to offer. But we know better than that. Nothing can melt a heart, incite a rage, induce a chuckle, or provoke conviction like a child. Children provide a peek into the brief period of innocence that mankind experienced before we fundamentally and dramatically ruined our relationship with God and altered our destiny forever. WE NEED CHILDREN, FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

Regardless of the circumstances in which a child may be conceived, the child himself or herself still meets God’s standard, brings God’s blessings, and is for God’s pleasure. 
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 KJV)

“Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;” (Isaiah 44:24 KJV)

In spite of the biblical case for life, we live in a society today that makes it easy to disregard the life of a child purely for the sake of choice. For the sake of self. The biggest reason for abortions is cited as “not ready to have a child.” Gender selection and risk of genetic defect are not unheard of as reasons for abortion. The case is made in the public arena that poverty, risk of abuse or neglect, and the prospect of life-long illness make abortion a humane choice for children at risk of facing such obstacles. 

20121016-002811.jpgThere is no doctrine of “better off dead” in the bible. There is no list of conditions that are too much for God to handle, no situation in which we mortals have to intervene on God’s behalf for the sake of a child. How absurd! But this is not a statement of imagination or exaggeration- we only have to look at the reality of the choices people are making and listen to the volume of the voices rabidly rushing to justify taking human life. Theses voices erode the value of unborn life for the sake of self, but in doing so they devalue the life of every living person.

Jesus entered the world into a climate that brought forth institutionalized murder of children. Herod declared, in his jealousy, for himself and for the sake of his crown, that all children of 2 years old and younger, were to be killed. There is a spirit of Herod in our world today that says taking the life of the innocent for personal preference, in order to protect and preserve one’s way of life, is ok. As a society we are wearing the crown of kingship over our own lives and are willing to sacrifice others, and paint it as justifiable, in order to keep that crown. 

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

The WAY- those who try to say there are many ways to know God use the illustration of an elephant and blind men who are feeling the elephant trying to decipher what it is. All the others are definitely feeling of an elephant. The elephant in the room is this- unless you are following Jesus Christ, you are charting your own course and being your own god. When we decide is situation is impossible and act on our own fears and insecurities, we take Christ’s authority on ourselves and we hopelessly make a mess of it. We reject God’s perfect provision and try to handle things we cannot possibly handle on our own. Jesus is the way out of hopelessness- the way out of no way!

The TRUTH- Truth today is a la carte in the eyes of the world. Pick and choose. Here a little, there a little. The concept of absolute truth is rejected, because in order to claim that there is only one truth is to say that you are right and others are wrong, which is simply not permissible these days. As believers we are discouraged from speaking out because we might offend someone. The issue is that we do not speak the truth in love to people who need to hear it.

The LIFE- the voices that reject absolute truth and a single path to God also reject the absolute value of life. 

The world is making the case for preference. The case for privacy. The case for live and let live. The case for convenience. The case for the mother. The case for “Why should a teenager be saddled with a baby because of one mistake?” The case for choice.

So why am I standing before you today making the case for Children? Because no one is created to die. We are all created to live.

Never before has the taking of human life been presented as so positive, so innocuous, and so liberating, such that masses are deceived into supporting it or lulled into allowing it. I may not be speaking to people who support abortion, but I am speaking to people who are in danger of being lulled into allowing it to happen.

The cause of protecting life is a concern of the living. You and me. 

A First-Day-of-School Dadstory…

How do you manage being your child’s primary educator in your given situation?

The first day of school has come and gone.

It was a partial day; as if everyone needs the chance to ease back into the grind of a new school year. I know we did.

Julie and I have had a lot of discussions about the future and the education options available for our sons. I was a public school student throughout my entire K-12 career. Julie attended a Christian private school for a while, and felt that it was a bad experience for her. We have always been inclined to utilize the public schools, and doubted ourselves very little until last year when the elementary school of choice for our boys closed.

We’re in a system that has been in flux for about 2 years now. I’ll stay out of the weeds on that topic in this post, though I have been very vocal on matters of our local public schools. To put it briefly, we’re concerned, and even if we continue on this track for the coming school year, we belief we’ll have to do something about it in the very near future.

We have been talking a lot about home schooling, and we have gotten an overwhelming amount of encouragement from home school parents to go ahead and make the leap. It appeals to me because I have always felt we as parents should be the primary educators of our children. And we are; we’ve never felt like we “farmed out” our sons’ education, and each of us have our own distinct and notable contributions to the boys’ formal education. Julie has the patience, and I provide the push, which has kept the boys excelling wonderfully up to this point.

The home school parents we have met are extremely zealous about educating their children, which is great. The off-putting part is the attitude that pops up when we say, “We’re not totally sure yet…” Home school parents can’t understand the reluctancy we still have.

Educating your children is a very personal choice. And one thing has helped us feel better about remaining with public school at this point- the People Factor. The worst of situations can be made better with the right people involved. The boys were assigned to two great teachers. When we walked out of open house, Julie said she was relieved because of the teachers they were assigned. The boys were excited. All of that is important. Most importantly, Christ is in control, and we are paying attention.

Believe me, we are watching like hawks.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

How to Grow Stronger in the Race of Life

I’ve never been guilty of taking Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 4:8 as a commandment against exercise; I’ve only ever been too lazy to get the physical exercise I needed. I can get away without running for a while if I get busy, but among the other ways that I grow closer to God and further from myself, running holds a particular significance. Along with praying, reading the Word, and writing, running is one way that I get with God and lay down my burdens.

(Featured photo: we spent our Flag Day enjoying our freedom to do meaningful work and produce something worthwhile. We will be seeing corn and canteloupe soon!)

Paul describes the Christian life as a race, one we are to run with patience, looking to Jesus who endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). We focus on being carefree and unburdened, but this race requires us to take a burden upon ourselves.

To grow stronger in this race called life- Run Burdened

Building strength and endurance requires weight or resistance. After a long absence from running, I decided to combine running with calisthenics and light barbells that I carried while running. A little bit of added weight feels like a ton, until your body gets used to it. But if you can persist, running burdened helps you to be even stronger and faster without the weights when it comes time to compete. There is a benefit to running burdened.

For me, running allows me to lay down my burdens- worries, stress, tension. But before long, I’m picking up other burdens, more beneficial to be borne.

A family member in need, a loved one in the hospital, the state of our community, state, or nation. A lot of meditating on purpose, calling, and mission in life. Something that is beyond a cosmic wish list I hope God will fill for me.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

We’re not promised to run carefree, we can only try to run while carrying the right kind and amount of weight- the Lord’s yoke, easy and light, will teach us of Him.

Some personal burdens are hard to shake, but I can’t stop running.
There are lots of grave needs, close to home and far away, but I can’t stop running.
In the physical or the spiritual sense, if you run burdened, you will grow stronger.

A Tale of Two- Peter and Paul on the Church’s Great Controversy

We pay close attention to Paul’s miraculous conversion, but not so much to Peter’s.

Peter had a divine calling from the Master Himself, and he returned back to Christ after his denial. But I’m not referring to these conversions.

Peter was alone and hungry. He was on a rooftop alone. Then he began hallucinating. Animals of all types came down from heaven. It was food he was invited to take part in to stop his hunger. But he said no. Not only that, but he denied the invitation in a style that was typical Peter. Not just no, but no way. Never. I’ve never eaten anything that is common or unclean.

Peter’s testimony around 24 hours later is much different. “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I am doing what is unlawful to do, because God said so. And there appears to have been no hesitation in his doing so. At a weak point, in an hour of prayer, God spoke to Peter and completely upended the scale; he destroyed the measurement by which righteous and unrighteous was defined. Peter wrote about it later: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Peter was right there at the moment this came to pass. He saw the switch flip in the Gentiles’ favor.

And what were his instructions to them?

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:15-16‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:19-20‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In Acts 15, Peter testified yet again.
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭15:7-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

The final verdict of James included a quote from Amos 9:11. James’ words:
“Simon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭15:14-18‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Amos’ words:
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.”
‭‭Amos‬ ‭9:11-12‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

So we have 2 testimonies- 2 witnesses- to the fact that God saved the Gentiles apart from following the works of the law:
1) Peter’s experience
2) The prophets

“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul called on the words of another Old Testament prophet in Galatians 3:11. In Paul’s defense of the Gentile believers, he proved that the promise offered long ago to Abraham was by faith, not by the law.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:1, 6‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul would be at odds with Peter at a certain point, regarding, if not the substance of what Peter taught, then certainly regarding Peter’s behavior among the Gentiles.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul must have included this story to the Galatians to show them how important it was to him that the Gentile Christians remain free from any regulations that Christ had done away with at His death, burial, and resurrection. Not knowing the “why” of Peter’s behavior in his own words, all we know for sure is that his example in pulling away from the Gentile believers while at Antioch caused others to pull away as well, leaving these young Christians with a potential stumbling block.

After all of this, old, wise Apostle Peter still commended Paul for speaking truth and wisdom: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:15-16‬ ‭KJV‬‬

We’re left to wonder how the relationship between the Two ended. But we can have no doubt that they both faithfully, even if not perfectly, preached the truth in love and paved the way for a glorious Church.

Pro-life: I Don’t Think That Means What You Think It Means…

My wife and I are pro-life to the core. It started with our intentional decision to hold sex until marriage, then to marry and have children that we would love and raise into adulthood, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It extended to prayers for those considering abortion, and donations to our local crisis pregnancy center, Birth Choice in Jackson, TN.
One day in late July or early August 2013, Julie said, “We need to see how we can be more involved in pro-life work.” So I sent an email to the info email address for Tennessee Right To Life, which led to a meeting in very short order, followed by us dedicating the next year and 2 months to campaigning for pro-life Amendment 1. This state constitution amendment, which took 11 years to be approved for referendum and 3 additional years to appear on the ballot, erased a “right to abortion” that had been unilaterally decided by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000.
The amendment passed, and our State’s children and families are safer for it.
We Conservatives are often mischaracterized as being pro-birth, not pro-life. The reason for that is that we do not support big government initiatives that tank the economy, reduce wages, and promote dependence. Some of my earliest memories are of going with my mother to nursing homes and ministering to our elders on a monthly, sometimes weekly, basis. I learned to respect them and value their lives. I grew to join the ministry and become a counselor to at-risk young people. I counsel suicidal youth, many with severe mental health problems. Their lives matter, every last one of them.
The things government does, particularly at the state and local levels, have real-world impact on how families are able to provide for themselves. Declaring everyone “covered” at great cost to consumers and insurance companies does not mean payment will be made when you go to the doctor. I know people who found that out the hard way. My parents have changed insurers 3 times, and the out-of-paycheck amount for my group policy at work has gone up drastically. This impacts the lives of adults and children.
The price of gas and groceries impacts life on a daily basis, and both are about to go up in Tennessee, thanks to a fuel tax increase. They say it’s a net tax decrease, but it isn’t. We have been consigned to hardship, the likes of which we won’t fully know for a while, to make a slush fund a lot more slushy for politicians and special interests.
I believe with all my being that a person should not be discriminated against and marked for annihilation based on his or her age, development, location, or level of dependence on others. That’s what abortion does. I believe that people should have the freedom to secure their liberty and pursue happiness to the fullest extent, with minimum interference, in the greatest land on Earth. This is a place where charity and opportunity abound, where one may mess up, try again, and succeed. That is the Conservative viewpoint: cradle to grave, everyone should have opportunity, no one should have their rights infringed.
This land, however, also is now a land in which entitlement is out the roof and respect for the law and for others has tanked.
Allow me to ask- how is it that, especially in Tennessee, we have so many pro-birth elected employees, but so few who are actually pro-life? They want to make it harder to protect our homes, earn our livings, run our businesses, have vital services like healthcare, and drive up the costs of education, while claiming to be pro-life. I don’t think so. I know we can do better; I pray that we do.

A Tale of Two- The Apostle Paul

Why talk about the Two? Why compare Peter and Paul?
These Two are the two about whom the bulk of the book of Acts is written.
The acts of these two men exemplify the Acts of the Apostles, which really ought to be known as the Acts of the Holy Spirit.
They were men so closely connected to the will of the Spirit, and yet still so completely human- zealous, judgmental, prone to mistakes, but so dedicated to the mission that nothing could tear them away from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

“Saul! Saul!” We don’t know the name of the mother who may have yelled out this name from the doorway of her home in Tarsus. “It’s getting dark! Come inside!” The children would look at this young boy with two names, who spent so much time in the synagogue and dressed in traditional Hebrew attire. There may have always been confusion as to why his mother yelled out the name Saul. And Saul may have winced when he heard the name. Among his friends, he was known as Paul. When he heard the name Saul, not only was play time over, but he was reminded that he was different from the neighborhood kids with whom he played. His connection to those kids would have been the fact that he had a name common to them, and possibly that when he wasn’t in the synagogue school, he was learning a trade, from his father or from an artisan in town. They each had one. Paul was to be a tentmaker.

But that was plan B. The name Saul also was a reminder that his first dedication was to the Torah and the Jewish traditions, to rabbinical teachings and Pharisaical precision- to carry out he whole law of God, as it was understood. I imagine Saul experienced small incongruities as he grew up in a Roman-dominated, multicultural city in Cilicia, such as being called one thing by his mother but a different name by his friends. Like when you want to be called by your middle name but your folks keep calling you by your first.

But by the time Saul was an adult, he had fully integrated his Roman citizenship with his Hebrew ethnicity and culture. “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:22‬ ‭KJV‬‬) is not something Saul learned after becoming an apostle. He had learned to use his duel citizenship to its advantage, to have an audience before the high priest, and to move around all over the Roman Empire as he saw fit to carry out his mission, whether for good or evil.‬‬

“Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭22:1-5‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬
Paul stood before an angry crowd in Jerusalem, accused of teaching contrary to the law, and bringing a Greek into the temple. His accusers, Acts 21:27 says, were Jews of Asia. They were from the territory where Paul had carried out his missions for Christ.

His missions for Christ following his conversion had gone on for somewhere between 10-20 years at this point, and had carried him from Jerusalem to Macedonia, over the course of 3 distinct missionary journeys. His first, in Acts chapters 13 and 14, set the pattern for the missions work to come.

Paul preached to the Jew first. Acts 13:16-41 is his sermon, in the mode of Peter’s earlier sermons, calling on the Jews to recognize the error of crucifying Christ, evidenced by the prophecies of the Old Testament. He declared Jesus to be the Christ, as Peter had done. He called for those who heard to be redeemed. “But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭13:37-39‬ ‭KJV‬

After being rejected by the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet. They felt they had to go into the synagogue and minister to the Jews first, but hearing their “contradicting and blaspheming,” they determined to go unto the Gentiles, who gladly received. They continued in this region for maybe as long as 3 years.

Paul had seen the rejection of the Jews. He had seen the hunger of the Gentiles. He had seen the work of God on the Gentiles, as Peter had when the door was opened to them. So when Judaizers came to Antioch from Judea, Paul had a problem with their teaching the Gentiles to be circumcised in the Jewish tradition.

Paul had no problem with circumcision on its own. He had Timothy circumcised so that he would be above reproach in his ministry work with Paul (Acts 16:3). It was the fact that, having been set free through the Spirit, these teachers were binding the new believers to the old covenant traditions, teaching it as a necessity. Paul was the foremost witness of the work of God among the Gentiles, which was key in the decision to free Gentile believers from the burden of the old covenant (Acts 15:12).

Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16-18:22) we start to see familiar names. After revisiting some of the churches, Paul picks up Luke in Troas. They go to places like Galacia and Phillipi in Chapter 16. It was in Phillipi they met Lydia, a seller of purple, and a Philippian jailer. Paul’s comfort level with his duel citizenship showed through when he would not allow the leaders to simply cast him away after treating him so horribly. Pride? It probably carried some gratification with it, having the magistrates come down and free him in person. But there is a lesson in that, as believers, there is no reason to hinder ourselves by allowing our rights to be trampled on.

Jackson City Council’s Action on Education is an Affront to Good Government

I spoke to many people after the City of Jackson voted to pull their portion of the special option sales tax from funding education. There are a lot of opinions, but most fall, correctly, on the side of our students. The City should not have taken the money especially in the sudden, under-handed manner in which they did. The toxic political rhetoric was fluent-

“We’ve paid more than our fair share.”
“It’s the County’s responsibility to fund education.”
“The County has had $12 million to play with all this time, now they have to put that money in the schools.”
“We just want what’s fair and equitable.”
“We have to fund infrastructure to keep people driving in to shop and use our healthcare facilities.”

The bottom line is there is more massive government spending on the way, there’s debt to be serviced, and this is how the City wants to do it.

Here are some things to consider:

Elections have consequences. The people that have been voted in cycle after cycle have become emboldened by what they see as public approval for their job performance. All of these councilmen, commissioners, and school board members (with a few exceptions on the commission and school board) have track records which have put our city and county in the spot in which we find ourselves. The vote to consolidate schools under a certain funding mechanism (a sales tax increase) set us up for this political relationship and all that comes along with it. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice…

Closely following that point is that the City is dividing the tax dollars into “ours and theirs.” Bottom line- it’s the peoples’ money. They tried to divide it into city resident vs. county resident. Hey, I pay sales tax in Jackson on a daily basis. A lot of folks (about half of the population in the city during the business day I’ve been told) pay those taxes. The greater West TN area and many from across the nation contribute to our school system. Isn’t divisive politics a hallmark of liberal progressivism? It’s here in Jackson, folks.

The state mandate for “maintenance of effort,” which means the local funding for education must stay at least at the current level for operation needs, has a) tied the hands of the County in deciding how to allocate funds for education; b) made them much more reluctant to increase the budget; c) emboldened the City to pull their “donation” to the school system knowing the County has to make up for it. Federal and State mandates tie our hands so badly at the local level and create the problems we face like this one. If it were not for federal mandates, interpreted by federal bureaucrats, we wouldn’t be talking about the reportedly urgent need to build a new jail. It’s time someone stood up against costly big government mandates (see my first point).

Lastly, this is what you get from government education. It’s what you get when you rely on politicians to mean what they say when they promise to create high-quality schools, to follow through on their belief that “the children are our future.” What the government gives, it can take away, or regulate into something unrecognizable and ineffective. We have to stop referring to public education as an education. Children, and adults, are constantly learning. A classroom isn’t required for that. What we’re learning now is that all the promises are for political points.

Let me ask this pertinent question in conclusion- with whom is the City Council earning political points after their decision to remove their benevolent gesture to the school system?

What does “Conservative” Mean When We Talk About Tennessee’s Gas Tax Issue?

I can’t help but return to this quote time and again as I put together thoughts on conservative principles of government:

To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed… Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive. Justice Clarence Thomas

The Declaration of Independence declares our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Preamble to our U.S. Constitution states one of its purposes is promoting “the general welfare.” Interestingly, someone in a public forum once tried to pin that phrase to welfare in the sense of government providing things for people, rather than it meaning a general sense of wellbeing for every citizen.

These documents are essential, and each of them gives principles before fleshing out the manner in which those principles would be enacted. Whatever your principles are, you will act on those principles. And if the principles you profess are not backed up by your actions, then you must not actually believe the words that you are speaking.

In the gas tax increase debate that has been raging on in Tennessee, there is unanimous consent that our transportation infrastructure must be maintained to a high degree without incurring new debt. The two sides of the debate at this time each have their own merits, but there is a fundamental problem with one of those sides- the side that believes in our current state, it is perfectly fine to increase taxes.

We all agree to give up a portion of our rights necessary to create a limited government. Paying taxes is how you and I give up a portion of our pursuit of happiness in order to fund certain government functions that are declared necessary in the Constitution. Roads are among them as a matter of insuring the general welfare.. We expect our portion of a declared natural right to be used wisely and appropriately, and that any additional portion of our rights the government would seek to take would be well justified.

Such is not the case with the gas tax increase.

Many alternatives to raising taxes have been offered. They were all declined.
The government overtaxes the citizens to the tune of almost a billion dollars per year. But this is sacred money, not to be spent on roads, in the eyes of many in the statehouse.

The Senate approved an amended bill that lowers the amount of the tax increase, phases the increase in over the next 3 years, and cuts other taxes deeper than originally proposed. Whereas the Governor’s original IMPROVE Act was billed as “revenue neutral,” This amended bill is touted as “more-than-revenue-neutral,” because the cuts purportedly outweigh the increase on the gas tax.

Naturally, any reasonable person should get right in line behind this plan. But there is a problem. Government and her politicians are always looking out for themselves. It is only by the power of the people that government works for us. Revenue neutral is being presented to mean you and I pay less. What it really means is that the government takes in less.

The original IMPROVE Act was revenue neutral in spite of the fact that the increased cost of transporting groceries would be passed on to you and me. The IMPROVEd Act still lines the coffers of government, and as has been showed to be the case, can and will be used however they see fit.

It’s all our money until it gets into their hands. Then it’s all their money. The sacred money philosophy only goes one way, when they refuse to spend money we have already paid in that is not allocated in any budget, becoming a slush fund for university buildings that will not be named after you, me, or anyone we’re likely to know.

A tax decrease is warranted. Another tax increase is not. Tying the two together is tyrannical. It’s DC-meets-Tennessee. Clean up the corruption? Stop slushing the fruits of our happiness pursuits to float pet projects? Ok, then let’s talk. I don’t expect it to happen, and neither should you. Let’s keep talking in terms of liberty and principles of self-government, and let’s not stop telling our elected employees that we have drawn the line on what they can take.

A Call To Action

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