Tuesday, November 24, 2009

President Obama Omits God From Proclamation

Our President, Barack Hussein Obama, issued yesterday his first Thanksgiving Proclamation as America’s chief executive. He continues a long, established and worthy tradition.

However, the President has dramatically changed the nation’s focus. “As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.” In the early days of American history, thanksgiving wasn’t about turkey dinners and neighborly kindness. It was about worshipping God and giving Him thanks for His blessings to us.

In fact, America's first thanksgiving proclamation, issued by Plymouth colony Governor William Bradford in 1623, ordered citizens to participate in a 3 hour worship service.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

President Obama does indicate thanksgiving is to be directed to someone, but it is for“the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation.” So God is out and the coastal indians are in.

Granted, Obama isn’t the first recent President to move our focus from God to each other, but I believe he is the first to omit any personal reference to God. Sure, the word “God” does appear once in his proclamation, but it is from a quotation from George Washington. Sadly, the President’s proclamation is befitting of this new age in which America finds itself.

The President also fails as a history teacher. According to the President, Abraham Lincoln “established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war.” Wrong! Abraham Lincoln established it to give thanks to God. It wasn’t about the “mend of a fractured nation” at all. It was about acknowledging God.

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

What began as a harvest celebration between European settlers and indigenous communities nearly four centuries ago has become our cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. This day's roots are intertwined with those of our Nation, and its history traces the American narrative.

Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed "by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God," and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war. We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation. From our earliest days of independence, and in times of tragedy and triumph, Americans have come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

As Americans, we hail from every part of the world. While we observe traditions from every culture, Thanksgiving Day is a unique national tradition we all share. Its spirit binds us together as one people, each of us thankful for our common blessings.
As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand. This is a time for us to renew our bonds with one another, and we can fulfill that commitment by serving our communities and our Nation throughout the year. In doing so, we pay tribute to our country's men and women in uniform who set an example of service that inspires us all. Let us be guided by the legacy of those who have fought for the freedoms for which we give thanks, and be worthy heirs to the noble tradition of goodwill shown on this day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 2009, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Now contrary to the President’s thinking, thanksgiving doesn’t have a “spirit [that] binds us together as one people”. Thanksgiving and gratitude is more than “FOR” something. It is “TO” someone. Who is responsible for plenty? For freedom? At this point, America’s are divided. Folks like me, say these blessings come from God. I’ll heed the words of Psalm 95

1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

I know this post borders on complaining which seems contradictory to Thanksgiving. But if Emanuel Clever happens to read this post, it isn’t yet Wednesday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Preparation

In our preparation for Thanksgiving, 2009, I’m posting one of my favorite pieces on history: Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation. You’ll notice its focus on God as the Giver of blessings.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prepare for Thanksgiving

Kansas City’s Congressional Representative, former mayor Emanuel Cleaver, recently circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to drum up support for H. CON. RES. 155, a Resolution he introduced this past June. His cause appears to be languishing in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Cleaver’s Resolution is to make the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a “complaint free” day.
Whereas the average person complains approximately 15 to 30 times per day, resulting in roughly 4,500,000,000 complaints spoken every day in the United States;

Whereas complaining keeps people focused on current problems stultifying their innate abilities to seek and create positive, harmonious solutions;

Whereas complaining has been shown by research psychologists to be detrimental to a person's physical and emotional health, relationships, and to limit their career success;

Whereas the `A Complaint Free World' organization is to be recognized for its efforts to encourage people to redirect their minds toward more positive, constructive, and rewarding lives and for its goal to positively inspire at least 1 percent of the global population (60 million people) to become complaint free;

Whereas thousands of people across the United States, including many students, have already adopted the complaint free attitude; and

Whereas `Complaint Free Wednesday' will be observed on the day before Thanksgiving, providing each person in the United States a day free from complaining in order to prepare for a day of gratitude: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--

(1) supports the goals and ideals of Complaint Free Wednesday;

(2) encourages each person in the United States to remember that having a positive life begins with having a positive attitude; and

(3) recognizes and reaffirms the meaning of Thanksgiving by asking each person in the United States to use `Complaint Free Wednesday' to refrain from complaining and prepare for a day of gratitude.

Now before I send you on to the pundits who are having some fun with Missouri’s 5th District Representative, I would like to point out one piece of profundity from the former Methodist minister. Did you catch this line: “providing each person in the United States a day free from complaining in order to prepare for a day of gratitude” ?

My point is that nothing worthwhile comes without preparation. Thanksgiving dinner will not. Neither will genuine gratitude. For Christians, thanksgiving is an extension of worship. Because we’ve been loved by God and saved through Jesus, we are to live every moment grateful to Him and His blessings. Unfortunately, we think good, spiritual things will happen without adequate preparation. It’s why many Christians leave the church parking lot on Sunday morning disillusioned. They experienced no enriching worship. They use words like boring, stale, lifeless and other sundry adjectives to describe the thing they gave no preparation to. They live a week without a relationship with God, no time in Bible reading, serving God, fellowshipping with other believers and instead watch impure TV shows and listen to tawdry music. They probably even bicker and argue with family members as they drive into the church parking lot on Sunday morning, believing that some mystical force will suddenly transform them into thankful, worshipping believers. Their problem? Lack of preparation.

And that is America’s problem as well, Our countrymen will scope out grocery store discounts on turkey; they’ll bake pies and roll out noodles and do other various things to prepare for a dinner on the fourth Thursday of November. Sadly, however, they won’t prepare their hears or their minds to give thanks to their Creator for His magnificent blessings.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

So, thank you Representative Cleaver. It may not be the most eloquent of all bills, but it is a refreshing reminder of truer things.

For those who can’t resist cynicism, go here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wilson's Outburst "YOU LIE!"

I’m sure not whether Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) should have apologized for his outburst of “You lie!” during President Barrack Hussein Obama’s address Wednesday to the joint session of Congress. Specifically, the President was ticking down supposed “lies” of detractors of his socialistic, government controlled health-care plan. When the President said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants, Wilson responded and a whole new sage unfurled.

Time Magazine called it “the heckle heard ‘round the world.”

Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, stated: "I thought the governor [Mark Sanford] had embarrassed us enough, but Mr. Wilson has gone even lower."

In a CNN interview following the Joint Session, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wilson's outburst was "totally disrespectful -- [there's] no place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately." "

I was embarrassed for the chamber and a Congress I love," Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "It demeaned the institution."

And on and on and on go the quotes, pundits, side-stories and rants.

I can’t help wondering myself whether Mr. Wilson crossed the line. But that wondering has gotten lost in other feelings that protrude more strongly into my being.

The first is the hypocrisy. Do you remember the President’s address. During the controversial section when the frustrated South Carolinian blasted forth, President Obama said

Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible.It is a lie, plain and simple [my emphasis].

There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

I suppose one could argue that the President, in those two paragraphs, a) didn’t direct his accusation to any one specifically, only the generic “it” is a lie; and b) used more innocuous language like “bogus claims” “a charge…cynical and irresponsible” “false” and “misunderstanding”. But I think it’s quite clear the President was calling these detractors “liars”.

So, is it acceptable for the President to call “prominent politicians” liars if he doesn’t do it directly? Is that what this controversy is about? That it was the President’s speech and his time to do what he wanted? There is some truth to that in my mind. But the vitriol that’s out there against Wilson seems to overlook the President was doing the same.

Second, and I only have my memory, but Democrats were very disrespectful to President Bush during his several of his speeches. For example, here’s ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel with his round table guests following President Bush’s February 2, 2005 State of the Union address:

“When the president talked about the bankruptcy of Social Security, there were clearly some Democrats on the floor who thought that that was taking it too far. And they did something that, apparently, no one at this table has ever heard before. They booed." [ABC, Nightline, 2/2/05]

I won’t take the time (right now anyway) to show just how President Obama is lying. Ooops, strike that…of how President Obama is enunciating verbage that may not best reflect what some perceive as the reality of a truthful outcome of his health care proposal. But here’s just one quick grab for “Exhibit A”:

“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”


Go here for the video.

"I have not said that I was a single payer supporter...."

on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 in a town hall meeting in New Hampshire

In the end, Representative Wilson’s outburst was unfortunate because it deflected attention away from Obama’s true lies. The President is intentionally trying to mislead the American people to embrace this nightmare.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Bible On Labor

With the Labor Day weekend here, I thought I'd post a few verses of the Bible having the word "labor" in them. So without comment...

Exodus 20:8-10
8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

Psalm 90:10
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away

Psalm 127:1
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Proverbs 23:4
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Matthew 11:28
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:12
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

Hebrews 4:11
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

There Is Nowhere God Isn't -- The Omnipresence of God

Psalm 139: 7-12
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

I have three quick thoughts about this passage and its truth, usually labeled as an attribute of God as “omnipresence”.

It is a clear teaching of the Bible.

AW Tozer (Knowledge of the Holy) wrote: “Few other truths are taught in the Scriptures with as great clarity as the doctrine of the divine omnipresence. Those passages supporting this truth are so plain that it would take considerable effort to misunderstand them. They declare that God is imminent in His creation, that there is no place in heaven or earth or hell where men may hide from His presence. They teach that God is at once far off and near, and that in Him men move and live and have their being.”

It should stop Christians from sinning.

Charles Spurgeon (Treasury of David) wrote:“This makes it dreadful work to sin; for we offend the Almighty to his face, and commit acts of treason at the very foot of his throne. Go from him, or flee from him we cannot: neither by patient travel nor by hasty flight can we withdraw from the all-surrounding Deity.”

It should encourage lonely Christians.

Andrew Bonar (Christ and His Church in the Psalms) wrote “What a comforting thought to a believer! If God’s eye is on me, then I am blessed, though I be obscure, and though I suffer unheeded by man. He is with the prisoner in the Inquisition, with the soldier, the sailor, the miner; yes, he is so truly with his saints, that wherever their dust may be laid, he will find it, and gathering every particle from the dark grave, will raise up therefrom a glorious body.”

Monday, August 31, 2009

God Knows Us All

Psalm 139:1-6
1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

In this great Psalm, the Bible reminds us that we are known by God. The great, eternal, majestic, awesome God knows me and you. We often become proud that we are known by someone important.

Some of my friends and acquaintances have pictures of themselves taken with some politician prominently displayed. Never mind that the politician doesn't know them. It usually got snapped at some rally where they worked or volunteered. But there they are with a president, or governor, or senator. Usually, the famous person doesn't know them at all.

Interestingly, this passage of scripture adamantly declares the truth that God DOES know us. He isn't simply being obliging or congenial like those politicians at those rallies. God really does know us. AND He knows us intimately. When we rise and when we recline.

I think two responses are appropriate.

The first is love and appreciation. If an important dignitary called you to comfort you when you were emotionally distraught, or wrote you a congratulatory letter at some special triumph of yours, your heart would be bonded to that person. We should become endeared toward God.

The second is fear. I'd rather God not know certain things about me. Knowing that He knows should stop me from sinning.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Rick Warren's Departure

Rick Warren, America’s newest neo-Evangelical, spoke this past Saturday at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the Washington Convention Center. I won’t point out that July 4 is a very strange time for patriotic Americans to be having an annual convention, because doing so would only highlight the probability that the ISNA is not very patriotic.

But I will remind Americans that in December 2003, U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus of the Senate Committee on Finance listed ISNA as one of 25 American Muslim organizations that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence” and that terror expert Steve Emerson has said, “ISNA has has been an umbrella and a promoter of groups that have been involved in terrorism.”

According to the Washington Times, Warren began his speech with the common Arabic greeting "Asalam alakum," (‘peace be upon you’), though as a Christian theologian Warren should know only the wrath of God can abide upon Christ-rejecters. Evidently, Warren is becoming more conversant in the Islamic Arabic language. Readers may remember his reference to ‘Isa’ (Jesus) in his Invocation during President Obama’s Inauguration.

ISNA President Ingrid Mattson, trying to diffuse criticism from her own organization, introduced Warren as a "distinguished guest" –someone she had invited because of his worldwide charitable projects—adding that the Saddleback Community Church pastor gives away 90 percent of his salary: "Here is someone who, in charitable giving, is very stiff competition," she said. Of course, President Mattson didn’t mention the millions of dollars Warren keeps from his “Purpose Driven” empire.

"Talk is cheap ... but love is something we do together," Warren stated. "As the two largest faiths on this planet - more than 1 billion Muslims and 2 billion Christians - as Muslims and Christians, we must believe in this. As more than half the world, we must do something to model what it is to live in peace, to live in harmony."

The book of James is thunderous in its advocacy of works alongside of faith. In James 2:17 the Bible states: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." So it is clear the Bible wants both--faith AND works--to exist in the lives of the people of God. And it is true that most Christians err on the side of no works, just simply verbal professions of love for God and their fellow man.

But Warren is proof-texting and erroring on the other side. He wants actions. Loving, kind and helpful actions. There is nothing wrong with that, per se. But the Christian's (and the Christian pastor's) higher calling is eternal. To be paving a way for a Muslim/Christian partnership is far from the gospel.

Warren's statement, reminiscent of Harry Emerson Fosdick and his social gospel, is a theological impossibility. Warren is attempting to draw a wedge between words and actions. His goal of the betterment of humanity, while worthy, is short-sighted and temporal.

In his brief reference to Jesus, Warren said: "My deepest faith is in Jesus Christ. I am committed not only to the good news but the common good. Scripture says 'love your neighbor as yourself.' I am commanded to respect everybody."

Certainly, Biblical Christianity demands respect for others with whom we disagree. But respect does not mean silence. Warren’s emphasis is on good works. Talk can be cheap, but it can also be revealing. And allegiance to “the common good” (the second greatest commandment) can never be given at the expense of “the good news” (the first greatest commandment). To join Muslims in reducing African poverty and suffering, for instance, means to overlook their rejection of Jesus as God and Savior. And obedient servants of Jesus would not do such a thing.

Warren’s preoccupation with prominence has blinded him to his first call.
Southern Baptists (the denomination Warren belongs to) would do well to publically distance themselves from this Fosdick disciple.

P.S. Here’s a bit more of Warren’s swift decline from doctrinal integrity.

P.S.#2 Is Rick Warren in this commercial?

P.S. #3 Now I'm probably bordering on petty, but I've heard Warren speak at several conferences in my former Southern Baptist days. He never wore a suit then, why now?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In Honor of July 2…Independence Day?

John Adams, in a now very famous (or infamous) letter to his wife Abigail, wrote on July 3 of the previous day’s events in Philadelphia where representatives of the 13 American colonies had, after days of grueling debate, voted to approve their Declaration of Independence.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

So John Adams got it wrong. It least the day, anyway. Americans would remember July 4 -- the day the Declaration was formally signed, instead of July 2 – the day it was officially approved. And he missed the part about devotion to God. Americans no longer seem to need God or even honor Him, let alone acknowledge His help in ages past. But on the issue of “pomp and parade” Adams was dead on.

Incidentally, this wasn’t Adams’ only July 4 mistake. He would die on July 4, 1826. As he was passing away, he bemoaned that his political rival and fellow patriot Thomas Jefferson would outlive him. His last words were whispered “Thomas Jefferson survives.” What Adams didn’t know was that hours earlier, the Virginian Republican had already passed into eternity.

Which leads me to point of this post. July 2 is a good day to remember eternal matters in regards to America. Before our Independence Day gets overshadow by the partying aspect of our national and familial celebrations, let’s thank God for His kindness of the past towards our beloved America and plead for His present mercies towards our nation.

P.S. Here’s what John Adams got so excited about:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebrating America!

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom's song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our father's God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

When the Christian Samuel Francis Smith wrote these words in 1831, he was having a bout of patriotism. His fellow classmate at Andover Seminary, Lowell Mason, had asked him to translate some German music into English. Smith evidently figured he would have none of it, and wrote these wonderful American lyrics that served as our country's unofficial national anthem until "The Star Spangled Banner" was formally adopted.

All has not always been well with America. Nor is it so now. Consider, for instance, the words of Civil Rights advocate W.E.B. DuBois who wrote a spoof off of this song:

Of course you have faced the dilemma: it is announced, they all smirk and rise. If they are ultra, they remove their hats and look ecstatic; then they look at you. What shall you do? Noblesse oblige; you cannot be boorish, or ungracious; and too, after all it is your country and you do love its ideals if not all of its realities. Now, then, I have thought of a way out: Arise, gracefully remove your hat, and tilt your head. Then sing as follows, powerfully and with deep unction. They’ll hardly note the little changes and their feelings and your conscience will thus be saved:

My country tis of thee,
Late land of slavery,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my father’s pride
Slept where my mother died,
From every mountain side
Let freedom ring!

My native country thee
Land of the slave set free,
Thy fame I love.
I love thy rocks and rills
And o’er thy hate which chills,
My heart with purpose thrills,
To rise above.

Let laments swell the breeze
And wring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let laggard tongues awake,
Let all who hear partake,
Let Southern silence quake,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to thee
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing
Soon may our land be bright,
With Freedom’s happy light
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

My only addition would be that America, while far from perfect, is to be honored and celebrated. And my only admonition would be to sing and pray to "our father's God" more often. The "Great God our King" can still deal graciously with us and be merciful to a sinful nation.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

George Tiller is Dead

Kansas late-term abortionist, George Tiller, is dead. He was murdered Sunday at his church this past Sunday. Pro-life organizations quickly and appropriately condemned the killing.

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said:
“We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Kansans for Life Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp offered a succinct statement:
“Kansans for Life deplores the murder of Dr. George Tiller, and we wish to express our deep and sincere sympathy to his family and friends. Our organization has a board of directors, and a 35 year history of bringing citizens together to achieve thoughtful education and legislation on the life issues here in Kansas. We value life, completely deplore violence, and are shocked and very upset by what happened in Wichita today.”

Across the state line, Missouri Right to Life President Pam Fichter issued this statement:
“Missouri Right to Life strongly condemns the murder of Dr. George Tiller and extends our sincere sympathy to his family. We have always and will always oppose violent acts in response to the violence of abortion. Missouri Right to Life is committed to working peacefully and legally in our efforts to educate citizens on the tragedy of abortion and to work for legislation that will protect women and their unborn children. We urge all who support the sanctity of human life to offer their prayers for Dr. Tiller, his family, and to pray for an end to abortion.”

Eloquence is something that eludes me these days, so I’ll be brief and rather blunt in my observations of this rather epic event within the pro-life struggle.

First, the tragedy. The murder happened in a church and with the victim’s wife present. She is in my prayers.

Second, the truth of God’s Word. Galatians 6 teaches that we reap what we sow. It is taught elsewhere in Scripture as well. I am not the least happy in this. Rather, I am mournful of the violence that George Tiller sowed during his so-called medical career; and I am sad that more violence was sown this past Sunday.

Third, Tiller evidently was a regular church attender. I am very grieved that he felt comfortable in a church that calls itself Christian. Jesus hates the murder of innocent children. I am disheartened that many who have attended this church (Redeemer Lutheran Church of Wichita, Kansas) have been given a message that abortion is ok. It is not.

Fourth, Tiller has not met the Creator. His Creator. The Creator of the thousands he murdered. It indeed is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God. I have no doubt Tiller is in hell. And for that, I am very, very sad.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I just came across this powerful video based on a John Piper sermon from this past January. It's powerful.

You can read his entire sermon here

Wisdom from Tozer

If you read this blog very often, you know one of my favorite writers from the past is A.W. Tozer. I know I quote him often, but this one was too good not to pass along.

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles. The delicate, brittle saints being produced in our religious hothouses today are hardly to be compared with the committed, expendable believers who once gave their witness among men. And the fault lies with our leaders. They are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men to give to God that which costs them nothing.

Our churches these days are filled (or one-quarter filled) with a soft breed of Christian that must be fed on a diet of harmless fun to keep them interested. About theology they know little. Scarcely any of them have read even one of the great Christian classics, but most of them are familiar with religious fiction and spinetingling films. No wonder their moral and spiritual constitution is so frail. Such can only be called weak adherents of a faith they never really understood.

That Incredible Christian, page 76.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

America's Vulnerability

In yet another area where our nation has fundamentally changed is the area of national security.

Do you realize that the United States of America is vulnerable to a missile attack from anywhere in the world within 33 minutes? The Heritage Foundation has put together a great video appropriately called "33 Minutes".

Missile Defense
33 Minutes

The chief responsibility for government is to "provide for the common defense" and our government is not doing that. SCMagazine reported that recently a computer disk containing missile launch procedures was bought on Ebay!

One of America's greatest leaders, John Adams, said long ago: ""National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."

President Reagan, who's great vision for protecting America was ridiculed in his own day, said in his March 23, 1983 address to the nation:
"It's up to us, in our time, to choose and choose wisely between the hard but necessary task of preserving peace and freedom and the temptation to ignore our duty and blindly hope for the best while the enemies of freedom grow stronger day by day."

It's not too late for American officials to re-embrace the fundamental role of government--protecting its citizens. I've added a 'permanent' link in my sidebar to the Heritage Foundation's film.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Samson and Modern Evangelicals

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of teaching on the story of Samson found in Judges 13-16. One verse in his troubled chronicle is particularly telling. In fact, I'd rank Judges 16:20 in my Top 10 list of "The Bible's Most Tragic Verses." After Delilah shaved Samson's head, she feigned fear and cried out to the sleeping warrior, "The Philistines are upon you!" Samson awoke, ready to destroy all enemies as he had done previously but "he knew not the Lord was departed from him."

How can a servant of God not know God is no longer with them?

I fear the bulk of modern American evangelicals are in the same boat. We do not know we are operating without God, without His blessing and without His help. We know well our powerlessness. But we don't know its cause.

I came across this 'sermon' by William MacDonald. It's worth more than a little reflection. While not deep, it may help us begin a long journey back to God--the source of our power.

Spiritually we are in a shocking condition. The status of many local fellowships is bad news, and deteriorating by the minute.
It is fairly well known that there have been scandalous cases of immorality involving even elders and full-time workers. Of course this type of news never gets into the magazines; there everything is sweetness and light. But the awful truth is that some respected spiritual leaders have fallen into gross sin in recent months and the only reaction seems to have been to hush up the whole thing, lest the word get out and our reputation be impaired.

We have been arrogant, and have not rather mourned (I Cor. 5:2).

And that isn’t all. We have become materialists to the core. Supposing that gain is godliness, we have degraded ourselves to the worship of money.

We have become more proud of the number of successful businessmen in our churches than of the number of men of God. The dollar has become our master. The claims of the businessworld have been given more place than the claims of Christ. The corporation counts more with us than the Church. Our condemnation is found in the words of Samuel Johnson, “The lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless, is the last corruption of degenerate man.”

We have become a status-seeking people. We sacrifice everything for prestige jobs, prestige homes and prestige cars. And we have prestige ambitions for our children.

Truth is that in our mad desire to see them successful and comfortable in the world, we are causing many of them to pass through the fire in this life and to suffer the pains of hell in the next.

Too often we are living double lives. Outwardly there is an appearance of piety and respectability. But in business there are bribery, shady deals, dishonesty and numberless forms of compromise. And in our personal lives there are coldness, bitterness, strife gossip, back-biting and impurity. We are living a lie.

Many of our children have been involved in hard drugs, liquor, free love and sex-perversion. To say nothing of the many others who have become rebels and apostates. We have lived to see the fruit of our permissiveness and indulgence. But are we broken before the Lord?

We have become thoroughly worldly, living for the love of passing things. We have been enraptured victims of the idiot tube, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Most willingly have we been poured into the mold of the world, its fashions, amusements and ideals.

The sin of prayerlessness has been all too apparent. In our abounding wealth and self-sufficiency, we have not had any strong inward necessity driving us to prayer. Many of our prayer meetings need closing down.

And finally there is our pride and impenitence. Rather than admit our low spiritual conditions, we endeavor to hide sin, to sweep it under the carpet where no one can see it. After all, we muse, time heals all things.

But does it? Are we getting away with it? Or are we reaping the fruit of our backsliding in more ways than we care to admit?

What about the broken homes, the divorces, the separations? What about the tears of heartbroken parents and children that cover the Lord’s Table each Sunday morning? (See Malachi 2:13).

When will we realize that God is speaking to us through sickness and tragedy? It is true that there is always a certain amount of sickness, sorrow and accidents. But when they come in unusual volume, and under most unusual circumstances, we should not be insensible to the fact that the Lord is trying to get through to us.

Think of the number of believers who are spending small fortunes in psychiatric treatment. Once again we grant that a certain amount of such cases are to be expected. But when the trickle becomes a flood-tide, it might just be that God is saying something to us.

There are other results of our departure from God. Many of our children hate their parents, and wish they were a million miles from home. The heavens are brass above our heads our canned prayers never seem to get through. God has punctured our bags with holes; we work, and scrimp and save, but never seem to get off the treadmill. Because we wouldn’t tithe to the Lord, we tithe to the doctor, the dentist, and the garage mechanic.

We are suffering a famine of the Word of God. The ministry lacks unction. Too often it is a rehash of the obvious. How seldom in meetings are we conscious that the Spirit of God has spoken to us in power? We live on a diet of pablum. And don’t put all the blame on the preachers!

The worship meetings are often dead. Dull, awkward pauses are the fruit of prolonged occupation with the never-never land of TV. The evangelistic meetings are an exercise in futility – fishing in a bathtub where there are no fish. Years pass without the conversion of one single person.

If we cannot see that God is dealing with us in all these judgments, what more can He do to wake us up? We are like the people in Isaiah 1, beaten from head to foot, yet still too dull, too obtuse to realize that God is speaking.

"Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evil doers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.
Why will you still be smitten that you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil.
Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.
"And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city" (Isaiah 1:4-8 RSV).

We need some prophet, some man of God to lead us to repentance! That is the need of the hour— TO REPENT – to break at the foot of the Cross and sob out the confession so hard to come by, “We have sinned.”

We need to repent in our individual lives to confess and forsake the sins that have brought us into this place of spiritual barrenness. We need to make right personal feuds and animosities, asking forgiveness from those we have wronged.

And we need to repent as assemblies of God’s people. Never in the memory of most of us has a meeting been called for the express purpose of repentance. And seldom in any of our meetings has confession ever been mentioned. But we need to do it. We desperately need to do it.

The time has come, O for spiritual leadership that will bring us to our knees quickly before we are consumed by God’s awful wrath! We need to eat the sin offering like Daniel, making the sins of others our own (Dan. 9:5). We need to lay hold of God’s promise in II Chron. 7:14,

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

It is time to seek the Lord. He is calling us, through the voice of Hosea:

“Return O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips.” (Hosea 14:1,2 RSV).

We have been a proud people, boasting in our heritage of renowned evangelists and Bible teachers. We have claimed a special corner on scriptural knowledge and on church order. We have looked down our theological noses at other believers. Now the Lord has stained our pride. If we only knew it, our halo is shattered.

There is only one hope! “In returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isa. 30:1-5) The way to renewal and revival is to confess the awful truth about ourselves, to make right the wrongs of the past, to forsake our sins, and to get desperate with God about a perishing world and a powerless Church.

Paul said in Acts 17:28 "For in him we live, and move, and have our being..." May it be so once again--Christians totally consumed and preoccupied with God.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Snarlin' Arlen Switches Parties

Arlen Specter, senior senator from Pennsylvania, has announced he is changing his party affiliation from Republican, to Democrat. Surprise, surprise. Snarlin’ Arlen has been in conservative crosshairs virtually ever since he left the Democratic Party 44 years ago.

Most recently, he is facing Pennsylvania Republicans’ wrath over his vote in favor of the Obama “stimulus” package—one of only 3 Republicans to do so. He has been trailing Republican challenger Pat Toomey in GOP polls. Sensing defeat, Specter jumped ship to have a chance to salvage his 29 year liberal career in the Senate.

Writing for his organization’s blog, Lowman S. Henry, CEO of Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, said: “Arlen Specter has acted more like a Democrat than a Republican for years. He is a large part of the reason why the GOP's brand identity became so blurred voters have abandoned it in droves…Arlen Specter never was, is not today, and never will be an ideological conservative.”

I blogged over two years ago about Specter’s pro-death, anti-life views. Specter had said: “I want to take abortion out of politics. I want to keep the Republican Party focused on the vital economic and foreign policy issues -- and leave moral issues such as abortion to the conscience of the individual.” I’m sorry, but economics and foreign policy issues aren’t quite as “vital” as protecting innocent human life.

The real story takes us back to 2004 when President Bush and then Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (who was very conservative) chose to back Specter in his primary run against Toomey in 2004. That was definitely a wrong decision. Now, Specter is showing his true, liberal colors at a time that could prove costly to conservatism.

Specter’s switch could give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. If Al Franken prevails in his court case, Democrats will have 60 Senators.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dismal Circumstances

Life can give us some very unsettling and troublesome circumstances. With their backs against the Red Sea and nowhere to run, is it any wonder the people of Israel were afraid when they saw Pharoah’s army approaching to recapture and/or slaughter them?
And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? (Exodus 14:11)

Being in the belly of a great fish, was certainly a dismal circumstance, so much so it caused Jonah to cry before God “I am cast out of thy sight” (Jonah 2:4).

Jeremiah lamented “He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.” (Lamentations 3:2)

Psalm 31:22 is an insightful verse. David felt so alone, he was sure even God didn’t notice him: “…I am cut off from before thine eyes…” Interestingly, that statement of honest feeling is bracket by two other statements. First, “For I said in my haste…” David realized what he was feeling, wasn’t the true reality. In retrospect, he confessed he spoken “in my haste”. Then, “…nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.” Even in the midst of a dark heart, David knew God WAS paying attention. The Creator was listening.

In chapter seven of his prophecy, Micah was overcome by the moral emptiness of his culture. “Woe is me…” “The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men.” “The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge…” “For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother…” “they hunt every man his brother with a net…” His advice was “Trust ye not in a friend…” and his only hope was in God: “I will wait for the God of my salvation.”

One theme that emerges from those who faced dismal circumstances and a culture bereft of any goodness was that they all focused on God. Some way or another, they found a way to cast their gaze towards heaven’s Glory.

Charles Hadden Spurgeon advised:

Are you unable to sing the Lord's praises? Are there no mercies that you have experienced? Although you're gloomy now, can you forget that blessed hour when Jesus met you, and said, "Come unto me"? Can you remember that wonderful moment when He snapped your chains, dashed them to the earth, and said, "I came to break your bonds and set you free"?

Surely there are memorials along the way that haven't yet become overgrown with moss; let them remind you of His mercy toward you. Did you ever have a sickness like the one you have now? Didn't He restore you? Wasn't He with you? Were you ever poor before, and didn't He supply what you needed? Were you never in dire straights before, and didn't He deliver you?

Arise, go to the river of your experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and let them become lining in the tiny boat in which your infant-faith may float safely on the stream. Don't forget what your God has done for you. Has the Lord never met with you on the mountain? Have you never been helped in time of need? No, I know you have. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they will shine through the darkness, and you will trust in the Lord until the new day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Can you find a way to get your focus on God? You had better, it may be the only way to survive your own present dismal circumstances.

Friday, April 24, 2009

God--Worthy of Reverence

A.W. Tozer, in his book Men Who Met God, said:
Mankind has succeeded quite well in reducing God to a pitiful nothing! The God of the modern context is no God at all. He is simply a glorified chairman of the board, a kind of big businessman dealing in souls. The God portrayed in much of our church life today commands very little respect. We must get back to the Bible and to the ministration of God's Spirit to regain a high and holy concept of God. Oh, this awesome, terrible God, the dread of Isaac! This God who made Isaiah cry out, "I am undone!" This God who drove Daniel to his knees in honor and respect. To know the Creator and the God of all the universe is to revere Him. It is to bow down before Him in wonder and awesome fear.

Psalm 95:6 says:
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Porn Defender at the Justice Department?

David Ogden, President Barack Obama's nomination for Deputy Attorney General, should be opposed.

This article lays out the reason well enough. His confirmation hearing will renew in the U.S. Senate tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

George Washington's Farewell Address

In honor of his birthday, once fastiduously celebrated and remembered by our country, I post President Washington's Farewell Address. It was never delivered orally, but was printed in a newspaper at Philadelphia. Seven days later, it was republished in The Independent Chronicle, a widely read Boston newspaper, published by Thomas Adams and Isaac Larkin.

Regarding President George Washington, Henry Cabot Lodge, a U.S. Senator and Washington biographer wrote "...no man ever left a nobler political testament."

For these trying political days, read these time-honored words:

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected.

Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion. Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water, will more and more find a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rival ships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.

They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it 7 It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils 7 Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the twenty-second of April, I793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this con duct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.