Crossing The Line

 “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” – Ronald Reagan.

Last month, President Barak Obama gave his third State of the Union address. In that speech, he began by reminding us of the end of the war in Iraq, which culminated in the death of Osama Bin Laden. He also discussed problems of the economy in the areas of the auto industry, outsourcing in American businesses, unemployment, education reform, immigration, and alternative energy, among other things. He argued that everyone deserved their “fair share” in the economy and he discussed what he termed “shared responsibility” – where everyone does their part to restore the economy. He also called for “smart regulations.”

Now, President Obama may very likely be sincere, from what I see. He firmly believes that there should be further regulation, increased taxes on the rich, and that struggling corporations should receive “incentives” or bailouts to get them back on their feet. If his dedication as sincere and he portrays, then I applaud him. I also applaud his rhetoric – if only more Americans understood the art of effective public speaking. I also acknowledge that his administration was responsible, largely, for the successful mission against Bin Laden. However, as many of the news commentators observed after the address, this speech sounded more like one expected at the start of a term of office, not a speech delivered three years into a presidency. His track record to date has been poor and I find no real reason to believe that further stimulation of the economy, through government bailouts, is the right course of action. Even if this were the case, though, I would still be forced to speak against these policies, because, though the President’s policies appear inspirational and hopeful, the cost to our national principles if they were implemented would be far too high.

There is a deeper problem here than a concern over poor policy, there is a fundamental issue over expanding government and abuse of power. The office of the President of the United States does not carry with it infinite authority. The United States of America is a nation founded on Federalism. In this nation, there are various levels of government (Federal, State, and local), and three branches at each level (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial).  The powers of the federal government are outlined clearly in the U.S. Constitution. This separation of powers is essential to preserving liberty and success in America.  Unfortunately, President Obama’s statements in his speech showed a blatant disregard for the principles of liberty that our founder’s died to defend – principles that our protected by the United States Constitution.

While arguing for “fair share” is simple and seems self-apparent, there are great implications in the matter – chiefly, who decides what is fair? If the government is the answer, then I absolutely declare that I donot support this policy. For literally thousands of years, political theories have raged about the role of government – and how opportunity and freedom should be weighed against regulation. President Obama’s blind faith in the quality of government determination is frightening to me. It reminds me strongly of Plato’s “philosopher king” –where the elite and enlightened individual rules because of his superior intellect qualifies him for determining societal goods. This reasoning quickly morphs into the more contemporary socialist beliefs that are detrimental to the principles that our Founders fought to protect.

The Founding Fathers of the United States had a remarkable distrust of government – perhaps more so than any other individuals in history. While they ultimately acknowledged the need for some centralized government, they also feared that such an entity could quickly become a tyrant from the same mold as their previous oppressor –Great Britain. The solution our Founders ultimately decided upon would be known as a grand compromise –establishing a federalist form of government –with a centralized federal government with specified roles outlined in the Constitution, and a much stronger state participation in government. In fact, the Constitution declares, in the 10th Amendment that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (10th Amendment).

So, in conclusion, though I admire President Obama’s commitment, I find myself opposed to his methodology because it contradicts the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded, and instead holds to a political philosophy that has been tried countless times – and failed just as often. He is crossing the line. Fairness and equality are not something that can be regulated by government –when they are, the very freedoms that our nation was formed to protect are violated. Fairness in economic opportunity comes at a cost – some people will succeed in business endeavors and others will fail, and this is a sad truth about capitalism –however, I truly believe that a free society that allows the market to determine what is economically “fair” is a much better determinant than government regulation. The principles of liberty, freedom and justice are deeply rooted in the moral integrity of a nation. We must hold to the principles that made America great. As Alexis de Touqville said in his book Democracy in America, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams

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I Am Second Assignment For Class

 

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Suggestions

I freely admit that I am having a little trouble coming up with content to discuss here. I have gotten little to no input from readers, up to this point. For this reason, I’m opening this up to you, as a reader. What would you like to see on here? Research of political issues, coverage of the 2012 presidential race? Or would you prefer a more worldview-centered discussion?

Please leave me comments below! I really want input so I can improve this website, for your interest.

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What child is this…?

Christmastime is here! Happiness and cheer! The lights, the decorations, the presents, the cookies, Santa Claus, elves, and children making out lists of the presents that they want most of all. The same old, comfortable Christmas carols float over the radio in every place of business. Fireplaces are ablaze with crackling warmth and, just maybe, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is pleasant. It’s comfortable. But where did it all start? Why is it that despite the stress of Christmas shopping sprees, Christmastime still bears an appearance of peace and rest?

A theme of Christmas, still recognized, though largely as an afterthought these days, is the birth of a child. Carols such as, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Silent Night”, and “O Holy Night” remind us that there is a deeper meaning to Christmas. Perhaps you even know the Christmas recreation of the classical tune, “Greensleeves” as it was translated into the haunting melody, “What Child is This?” Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that very question? Who was this baby, whose mere birth has been celebrated for centuries? What child is this?

To answer that question, I must take you back to 1st Century Palestine, where this birth took place. A poor Jewish carpenter and his pregnant teenage wife found themselves spending what was both the best and worst night of their lives in a dirty stable, most likely filled with animals, in an insignificant Jewish town. They had traveled a long way to make it to this town, Bethlehem, to register for the census ordered by Rome. When they arrived they found no place to stay, save this stable. In a bit of tragic irony, this very night, the girl Mary, gave birth to her firstborn son, and laid him in an animal’s feed trough –a far cry from the modern, sterile hospital delivery room. What was it about this dismal night that could create the busy and beautiful Christmas season that we know so well today? The only visitors to the stable that night were dirty, stinking shepherds with lanolin-stained hands. What child is this?

This child was Jesus the Christ. His coming had been prophesied since before Abraham gave birth to the people of Israel. His mission was memorialized by centuries of sacrifice in the temple. He was the Promised One, the Son of God, our Salvation.

Promised One

In the book of Genesis, the creation of the world is described in detail. In the space of 6 days God spoke light, darkness, soil, foliage, animals, and even Man into existence. God made man “in his own image” (Gen 1:27). And “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Until the Fall – man sinned and from that day forward, history tells the story of sin and human depravity. God’s beautiful creation had been tainted by evil. What now?

Fast forward a few thousand years. A man name Abram is quietly living his life in a place known as Ur, when he is given a promise from the LORD. He told Abram, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). This man Abram later became known as Abraham and in the centuries that followed, the Jewish legal system was formed. Through the sacrifice of animals, a man’s sins were considered forgotten. However, for each sin committed the man would have to make sacrifice. This system wasn’t working – something would have to change. Deliverance would come through the Messiah, or in Greek, the “Christ” who would save his people from their enemies and cleanse the earth. The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would come from the line of King David and would establish his kingdom forever.

Bethlehem Birth

            Isaiah the prophet prophesied about the birth of the Messiah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). Jesus’s birth fulfilled this prophesy.

King of the Jews

Jesus, the little child in the manger was a decedent of that very line. Both his mother and his “father” came from David’s line, and thus his birth fulfilled the prophesy about the Messiah, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:7).

Son of God

However, not only was this child a decedent of David, he was also God-incarnate. Isaiah declared that, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [which means “God with us”]” (Isaiah 7:14). “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:7).

Jesus’s birth also fulfilled these prophecies. Before his birth, “God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary… “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33). Mary did not understand how this would be, since she was a virgin, however, the angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Her husband, Joseph was not the father of the child, he had no earthly father. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. John takes it even further, in his gospel, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

This baby is Jesus

This child, the Son of God, and the Son of Man was the fulfillment of these and many more prophecies. His birth, though unnoticed at the time, changed the world. But wait, you say, if I remember the story correctly, Jesus didn’t set up a kingdom, he didn’t free the Jews, he was executed at the age of 33! You are quite right; Jesus didn’t set up an earthly kingdom, though he will one day. But through his death and resurrection he broke the hold that sin had on the world, the hold that was started when man first fell in the Garden. His sacrifice for sins was once for all. Through his death he made atonement for sin, and through his resurrection he defeated death.

This is the true story of Christmas. This is the reason for the celebration – Our king and redeemer is born! He has defeated death, he has given us new life! This Christmas season, I challenge you to remember the reason for the season, and praise your Father in heaven. God loved you enough to send his son into the world, and die a criminal’s death, so that you might live forever.

Praise the LORD and Merry Christmas!
~A Renegade for Christ

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Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving day quickly approaching, I think it’s important to take some to time examine what thanksgiving is all about.

One trap that we can easily fall into is failing to grasp the true meaning of this holiday. Just as Christmas and Easter have lost their original meaning, for the most part, I fear that Thanksgiving Day is rapidly approaching the same fate. We know that it has something to do with Pilgrims, turkeys and cornucopias, but what is the real point of this massive feast? Let’s examine three areas, in this discussion: the implications of the word itself, the historical context for “Thanksgiving Day”, and finally it’s application for our lives today.

“Thanksgiving”

So what does “Thanksgiving” mean? That’s simple: the giving of thanks. It’s as simple as that. If I receive a gift that I really like, I will be joyful and thank the gift-giver for their generosity. It’s only natural. Interestingly, “thanksgiving” is a noun, not a verb. It is an attitude directed toward an individual, the gift-giver. Thanksgiving is an attitude toward a person. You cannot truly be thankful of an accident, you must thank a giver. Who then, were the Pilgrims thanking, and why?

Historical Context

In the 1600’s, the pilgrims traveled to what would one day become the United States, in an effort to avoid the religious persecution they suffered in Europe. They came to build a new world, where they would be free to worship God as they saw fit. These individuals suffered much during their journey and during their time at the new world. Eventually they adjusted to their new life, due strongly to the help of natives. It was then that they took the time to give thanks to God for his provision and protection through the hard times. This celebration has carried through to our own time. Thanksgiving Day is a special day in the lives of Americans. A day where we remember God’s provision and blessing to the pilgrims, and for his continued blessings upon our nation and families. It is a day that we set aside to thank our Father God.

What it Means Today

So what does this mean for modern Americans living in the 21st century? For us who live in a world where God is quickly being forgotten? Our “one nation under God” has forgotten it’s Provider and Protector. We continue to celebrate “Thanksgiving” but we neglect to contemplate who we are thanking. While we feast and enjoy the blessings our American lives, we neglect to consider how we arrived where we are today – what hardship and struggle we have endured. We forget about those who have fought and died for freedom, and the God who has continued to bless us, even as we revel in our own self-glory. Thanksgiving has become a time to celebrate the American dream — success and wealth and freedom. My prayer is that each of us, during our feasting and our fellowship with friends – remembers to truly thank God for his provision.

Psalm 100 declares:

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Let’s cry out to God with thanksgiving, this November. 🙂

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Efficacy in Speech

Over the past few weeks, the subject of efficacy of speech has continued to come up, with some regularity. I think it is only prudent, then, to spend some time discussing the subject here.

Speech is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools that a human has at their disposal. It is one of the many factors that separates man from animals – it is a sign of intelligence beyond what is present in the animal kingdom. The ability to speak, though,  is a mild characteristic compared with the ability to speak effectively.

In the world in which we live, there are differences of opinion. Wars, conspiracies, murders, robberies, etc, are all examples of this fact. Interestingly, though, these things are not dependent solely on the difference of opinion. No, they exist (or in the case of murder, robbery, etc… are considered wrong) only when there are those who disagree and try to convince or force the other party to accept their views. We would consider the subject as “arguments” or in a more formal position: “debate.”

Argument is not an inherently bad trait, though. Some of the greatest crises in history have been stopped by effective arguments.  That’s the trick, though – arguing effectively.

Now that we’ve finally clarified what I’m talking about, I’d like to present an example that I have found interesting:

Effective communication is imperative to guide an individual to an appropriate conclusion. (Statement #1)

Good speech helps lead someone to the conclusion you want them to make. (Statement #2)

These two statements communicate essentially the same thing. However, they say it in radically different ways. The first is a more academic approach, the second- pretty simple (maybe even OVERLY simple). I used these two statements to start off a speech I made a few weeks ago, in English class, to draw attention to the use of speech inflections. Learning to recognize these sort of subtleties goes a long way toward improving one’s comprehension of a concept.

Now, you may be wondering where I’m going with this; what my big agenda is. I’ll tell you straight out:  To help people understand the value of communication. I’m not saying this because I think you need to go out and start doing formal debate, nor am I even suggesting that you need to debate controversial subjects (though if you are interested, it can be an fascinating thing to do). All I want to do is to make you aware of the merits and subtleties of debate. Recognize the value, and also the trickery of effective speech. You may have an emotional reaction to a subject, for example. What should you do? First, take a moment to consider why you felt that way. Was their argument that strong, or did they use little tricks to enhance their argument, and make it sound stronger? That’s all that I’m trying to achieve here– to cause you to look deeper when you are faced with a belief, and possibly, to act on that deeper understanding.

Understanding and valuing efficacy in speech, is not strictly a secular concept, it is also Biblical. In Romans, Paul urges believers to no longer conform “to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). Christianity isn’t dependent on blind faith -at least not entirely. We SHOULD understand the way people think. Even God himself stated, Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

I hope this has enlightened you, or at least helped spark an interest in the fascinating subject of speech and debate. I also hope you may have gained some understanding and respect for the value of effective argument.

God bless,

~ A Renegade for Christ

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GOP Candidates

I confess with total honesty that I have not paid very close attention to the presidential candidates for the upcoming 2012 election. In order to increase my awareness and in order to spark some discussion, I’ve composed a poll of the main GOP candidates. Chose the one you feel you would be most likely to support in the upcoming election and please post, in a comment, a brief summary of your reasons for supporting that particular candidate. If you support President Obama, go ahead and post that in the comments as well. 🙂 I’m open to some discussion, but let’s keep things civil.

Thanks for your participation!

~A Renegade for Christ

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