The First Amendment being spit upon… October 21, 2014Posted by JP in Discussion, Politics, Uncategorized, Venting.
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The United States of America is supposedly a nation governed by laws which, in theory, comply with the dictates of the United States Constitution. You may recall this document from your history classes as the establishing standard of government and law in the USA. It establishes the construct of our government, the rights of our people and the restrictions to law and governance as it pertains to the actions of our government.
It appears however, that various governments, Federal and State, seem to forget about the allowances and restrictions put forth in the Constitution when it comes to the pursuit of personal or political agendas.
Regarding this disdain for the dictates of our Nation’s founding document I could write about our President’s misuse of the Executive Order – which has no constitutional provision or statute explicitly permitting them – but what I really want to touch briefly on the First Amendment to the Constitution, part of what is known as “The Bill of Rights”, and the societal trend to use the unconstitutional phrase “separation of church and state” as a club to beat down religion, or in cases such as which I am now discussing; to completely ignore this Amendment in order to repress, intimidate, and control citizens exercising their freedom of religion.
Think about this:
The text of the First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
This Amendment – this right – guarantees the citizens of this nation two sides of the same coin. In common terms we have the freedom of religion, and the freedom from religion.
The atheist activists in this country have long pushed the ‘freedom from religion’ argument as the governing concept of the first amendment and for the most part the judicial arms of this country have embraced that agenda and have passed laws enforcing that concept. However, what the spirit of the amendment really embraces is the opposite idea. We have the freedom OF religion. We have the freedom to exercise our religions without the influence of the government, or the restrictions of the state.
Two news stories have caught my attention being the impetus for this writing.
“The Knapps are in fear that if they exercise their First Amendment rights they will be cited, prosecuted and sent to jail.”
- Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, Jeremy Tedesco
The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees all its citizens the right to exercise their religion without interference of the governments of this nation. Thomas Jefferson coined the often misused concept of ‘separation of church and state’ in an 1802 letter to Danbury Baptists in which he wrote:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties
It is time for us, as ministers of the Gospel, to stand against the flawed idea that the First Amendment guarantees only the right of freedom from religion and to promote the idea that we have the right, by law, to exercise our freedom OF religion.
The Seven-Fold Purpose of God’s Word June 24, 2014Posted by JP in Discussion.
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Originally posted on JP's Mind:
The Word of God, energized by the Holy Spirit, has a seven-fold purpose in our lives:
Psa 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
Psa 119:130 The entrance and unfolding of Your words give light; their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple.
Under the illumination of God’s Word, we see ourselves in the light of God’s holiness. The Bible sheds light on behavior and actions that displease the Lord and lights up the path that God has designated for you to walk.
John 16:7-11 However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I…
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Father’s Day June 15, 2014Posted by JP in Poetry.
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building the crib,
painting the room,
dealing with your pregnant mom,
8 months along, in August.
Days and nights,
with you on my mind,
measles, chicken pox,
(you shared those with me, didn’t you?)
mumps and flu as well.
Taking off work,
to see you sing,
school plays, recitals,
Weekends spent traveling
vacations, softball tournaments.
Working two jobs,
to give you the house,
the clothes you need,
food to eat,
and a bit of cash for your pocket.
Late nights spent,
waiting for you,
driving the streets
trying to find you
because you did not call.
All the pain, work
love and joy
run through my mind
on this day, my day.
All I have done for you,
all I have endured for you,
I’ve done for my soul,
for my heart, out of love.
On this day, this day set aside
for sons and daughters
to show their love for fathers
you show your love to me,
with a tie.
Sola x5 March 19, 2014Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
Sola Scriputura – Scripture alone.
Authority for teaching and the message of salvation are found in the Scriptures alone. It is the teaching of Scripture that the Scripture is sufficient for all spiritual matters (cf. 2 Pet. 1:2). The Scriptures alone are sufficient for salvation, sanctification and proclamation (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5).
Too many appeal to experience, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, pragmatism, tradition or philosophy in-order to claim and know spiritual truth is an evident attack against the truth of Sola Scriptura. Many seem to embrace many of the above categories before consulting the Scriptures or even embrace them above and in place of the Scriptures. Such trends sweep through the church and distort the biblical doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. If we are going to know the truth about salvation and know the necessary spiritual truth for godliness we must know and protect this affirmation.
Sola Gratia – Grace alone.
Despite the effort of many people who try to obtain or maintain salvation by means of works, the words Sola Gratia destroy such a belief. They affirm that the only basis of salvation is the grace of God. The Scriptures are clear on this matter, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). If one is to have a right standing with God, it cannot be achieved or inherited. Instead, it must be given by grace (cf.Rom. 3:24). Justification or the righteousness of God is a gracious gift given by God and there is no basis, ground or merits in ourselves that makes us deserving of justification. What is grace? The term “grace” refers to God’s favor towards those who do not deserve it.
Sola Fide – Faith alone
Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord. Saving faith is a gift from God (cf. Phil. 1:29 and 2 Pet. 1:1), and with this gift we cling to His Son.
Sola Christus – Christ alone
Faith must be placed in Christ alone for salvation. Without faith “toward the Lord Jesus” (Philemon 5) there is no hope of salvation because He alone is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). There is only one saving and sure object of salvation, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ – “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be the glory
At the end of Romans chapter 11, Paul proclaimed, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). In this verse God is seen as the source (“from Him“), sustainer (“through Him“) and goal (“to Him“) of “all things“. This is why He deserves all the glory. This is the recognition of those in Heaven, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Our response to this ought to be as follows, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). All social activities, work activities, play, Bible study, relationships, eating, talking – every activity we participate in is to be done to the glory of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism opens with the question, “What is the chief end of man?” and it answers by saying, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Passions? March 5, 2014Posted by JP in Stupidity, Uncategorized, Venting.
I’ve been hearing a lot about passions lately. Lots of advice from successful people, career counselors, etc.:
Find your passion in life and do it if you want to be happy. If you hate your job, follow your passions. passion passion passion….
What do you do with your life if you don’t know what your passionate about? I mean really? I do a job and do it fairly well, but I’m not passionate about it. I like to garden and do fairly well at it, but halfway through the season I grow tired of watering, weeding, harvesting, etc. and want nothing more to do with it. I used to write poetry and was relatively good at it, but haven’t been able to write a thing in years and have had no desire to try either. I like to write here, share parts of my mind, but find it often times difficult to even think of something to say…
I would absolutely love to find something in this life that I enjoy above all things, something that I am passionate about, if only to give me an idea of what ‘passion’ really is, what it really means, and maybe something to do with my remaining years that will cause me to wake up in the morning with great expectations instead of resignation of another day of the same ol’ thing.
I deserve it! February 12, 2014Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Scripture.
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The world today (TV shows, Movies, Commercials, print advertisements, etc.) pushes the idea that we deserve things – We work hard and do the right thing so we deserve to have a comfortable life, a nice car, nice home, vacations, good salaries, etc.
Our instincts tell us that we deserve respect for who we are (parents, bosses, and citizens) and that we deserve fairness, justice, equality, love because we offer those things to others.
In essence we have been convinced, through up-bringing, through media, and through the fabric of our society that we deserve our due – we’ve worked for it, we’ve earned it, it is owed to us and it is our right to have it: we deserve it.
I want to discuss the spiritual/biblical concept of what we deserve, and how that leads into the worldly/carnal consequences of demanding our due.
According to Scripture, we have all sinned (Rom 3:10-12, Rom 3:23) and as a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Rom 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15). If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be condemned for eternity. That we live at all is owed to God’s forbearance – an act of God’s mercy.
Not only are we undeserving recipients of God’s mercy, we are also recipients of His grace. We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).
Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Rom 3:24).
In Mark, chapter 10 James and John thought to ask Jesus for their ‘due’, for what they felt they deserved: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said to Him, Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You. And He replied to them, what do you desire Me to do for you? And they said to Him, Grant that we may sit, one at Your right hand and one at [Your] left hand, in Your glory (Your majesty and splendor).
Jesus’ answer to them was that their due was to live a life of service, a life of giving – not receiving: But Jesus called them to [Him] and said to them, You know that those who are recognized as governing and are supposed to rule the Gentiles (the nations) lord it over them [ruling with absolute power, holding them in subjection], and their great men exercise authority and dominion over them. But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for (instead of) many.
For the Christian, in the real world, our scriptural direction is to live a life as a servant to all. To give in all that we do and to understand that when we serve, when we give, it is not a means to an end or an act performed to get something back. We do not serve to be recompensed. We do not give to be compensated, intrinsically or extrinsically.
When we offer respect to an individual we do not (should not) show that respect in expectation that we will in turn be respected. We do not offer compassion with the goal of having that compassion returned. We do not give with the expectation that we will receive – what should underlie all of our service (in any form: respecting, loving, giving, and offering compassion, mercy, and forgiveness) is the knowledge that we do so because God has done so for us, without expectation that such would be returned.
It is fitting, at this point, to examine the true meaning of the word deserve. Webster defines it as such:
verb (used with object), de·served, de·serv·ing.
to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.)
because of actions, qualities, or situation.
verb (used without object), de·served, de·serv·ing.
to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward,
punishment, recompense, etc.
If you look closely at how the word is constructed you see it as de – served, or de – serving. What does the prefix de- mean?
A prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin;
also used to indicate privation, removal, negation, reversal
In essence deserve is a negation of ‘serve’, a separation from ‘service’. It is essentially a diametric opposition to Christ’s example and dictate to serve.
From a psychological viewpoint we need to understand what expectation does to us. If we believe that we are owed something (“I’m the boss and I deserve their respect”, or “I’ve worked hard for this and I deserve it”) we are setting ourselves up for a whole plethora of negative thoughts and feelings when our expectations are not met. We become disappointed, we build resentment, anger, and envy.
Resentment can be sparked by perceived unfair treatment by another person. It could be an injustice, like not getting a deserved promotion, or it could be an insult. Either way, resentment stems from a love of the things of the world and a lack of faith in God and His plan. It is legitimate to recognize unfair treatment, and even to do something about it. But it is not helpful to wallow in feelings of self-righteous anger. The Bible is not concerned with the honor of human pride. An intense emotional response to an otherwise harmless insult may show a lack of spiritual maturity and a love of self – You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too. (Mat 5:38-39)
As David fled Jerusalem, he faced the curses and insults of Shimei. Rather than respond with resentment towards Shimei—and instead of killing him, as was the king’s right (verse 9)—David chose the path of humility. His words are amazing: “If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”. David avoided feelings of resentment by viewing the situation as from the Lord.
Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride (James 1:20), when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Cor 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Eph 4:26-27). One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Rom 6:13-14).
Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Prov 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside. This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.
But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.
When we crave what someone else has rather than being grateful for what God has given, we hurt ourselves. Instead of envying others, we are called to love them.
True love—God’s love—rejoices when others are blessed. There is no room for envy. Love does not seek to benefit itself and it is content with what it has, because its focus is on meeting the needs of the loved one.
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But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, double-minded ones. Be afflicted, and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Forgiven – Even after nailing Him to the cross February 7, 2014Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Faith, Uncategorized.
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FORREST GUMP GOES TO HEAVEN January 2, 2014Posted by JP in Uncategorized.
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The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.
What two days of the week begin with the letter T?
How many seconds are there in a year?
What is God’s first name?’
Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day and sees St. Peter, who waves him up, and says, ‘Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.’
Forrest replied, ‘Well, the first one — which two days in the week begins with the letter ‘T’? Shucks, that one is easy….That would be Today and Tomorrow.’
The Saint’s eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, ‘Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer.
How about the next one?’ asked St. Peter.
‘How many seconds in a year?
Now that one is harder,’ replied Forrest, ‘but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.’
Astounded, St. Peter said, ‘Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven’s name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?’
Forrest replied, ‘Shucks, there’s got to be twelve: January 2nd,February 2nd, March 2nd… ‘
‘Hold it,’ interrupts St. Peter. ‘I see where you are going with this, and I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind….but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question.
Can you tell me God’s first name’?
‘Sure,’ Forrest replied,
‘Andy?’ exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St. Peter. ‘Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?’
‘Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,’ Forrest replied. ‘I learnt it from the song,
ANDY WALKS WITH ME,
ANDY TALKS WITH ME,
ANDY TELLS ME I AM HIS OWN.’
St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said:
‘Run, Forrest, Run.’
Lord, Give me a sense of humor
Give me the ability to understand a clean joke,
To get some humor out of life,
And to pass it on to other folks !