All of life is a test. From the first moments of creation, God gave Adam an infinite number of wholesome choices, and only one restriction: “you shall not eat…” This was man’s first test. Likewise, today you and I face numerous choices that confirm that God still uses tests. These tests prove to us, to others, and to Him, what it is we believe, we trust, and we value. Will we choose right? And how do we even know what is right? Read on…
As we approach another election season, there perhaps is no greater encapsulation of what you and I value, what we embrace, and what we trust, than how we will vote, or whether we will even vote at all. This is the subject I’d like to briefly address via four biblical principles.
— “God controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.” Daniel 2:21
— “It is God alone who judges; He decides who will rise and who will fall.” Psalms 75:7
No political leader/ruler is ever elevated to their position unless God desires or allows for him/her to be. There is nothing any voter can do, or not do, that can thwart God’s will in this regard. The Bible is abundantly clear about this truth. It is God that elevated Obama as well as Trump, and every President before them. Once we understand this truth we’ll understand that it was not any one person’s vote for, or against, Trump (as I did by selecting a third party four years ago) that was the ultimate reason for the outcome in 2016. Your vote will not thwart God’s preordained plan, and the man He will place in the Oval Office in 2021.
🔹”We the People” are not sovereign
— “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21
Sadly, Americans have come to believe the deception that we are our own sovereign masters and that it is “we the people” who control elections and our destiny. This has led to a grossly mistaken belief system, particularly amongst those who claim to be followers of Jesus and the Bible. It has led us to believe that we can know God’s political will, and that God is just waiting on us to determine the outcome of an election. So it leads activists to embrace political activism because, without such, they believe their future is dire.
But as the verse above affirms, you can make all sorts of plans, and you could even rally millions to vote for your preferred candidate, but there is no overriding God’s purpose. It will prevail. Does this mean you should not vote? That’s up to you to decide, based on what Scripture informs. But should you obsess over a political campaign? Absolutely not. Sadly though, we only need to peruse the headlines, the rallies, and social media, to see that millions of professing followers of Jesus are in fact obsessing over this current political season and their preferred candidate, whether Trump or Biden.
🔹The “Vote” test
— “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
At the end of the day, our singular vote is not about “electing” someone but more importantly it reveals what is in our hearts and what we value the most. I have come to understand that our vote is merely a test, nothing more and nothing less. It’s highly possible one might be led to refrain from voting, whether for a season, or even permanently. But, if you feel led to vote, will your vote honor God, and the values He teaches, or will your vote value something lesser, even if the end which your vote seems to achieve might appear to justify the means?
This I believe is the greatest test for believers living in a system that lures them to believe that they are in control. Nothing could be further from the Truth. The enemy is a master of deception and he has done one of his best con jobs when it comes to the role evangelicals believe they are to play in any election. Does our vote honor Jesus? Do we glorify God in the way we vote or do we simply achieve a short term win? Further, do we believe we can bend what we claim to believe, in order to “help” God gain a “victory.”
🔹The “End Justifies the Means” Deception
As short-sighted, temporal minded creatures, it’s easy to justify our actions, regardless of how contrary to God and His clear principles they might be. Sadly, we can seldom see when we have succumbed to an “end justifies the means” philosophy. But the approach to voting and elections by many Christians in America is a prime example of such a philosophy.
There is a story in 1 Samuel 15 about the first king of Israel that reveals how wrong it is to justify bad choices based on a self-determined “good” outcome that might be orchestrated. King Saul had been commanded to utterly destroy the nation of Amalek, including not just the people, but also the “cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys.”
But Saul did not completely obey God. While he destroyed the people, note that the king preserved what he deemed would benefit himself and his people:
— “Saul and his men spared (King) Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.” 1 Samuel 15:9
But when the prophet Samuel confronted the King about his obvious disobedience to God’s command, Saul easily justified his actions as follows:
— “When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded. “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”” 1 Samuel 15:13-15
So Saul blatantly disobeyed God, and was even proud of it. When confronted about it, Saul justified his disobedience by suggesting He was honoring God with his rebellious actions. Samuel however did not accept Saul’s flimsy excuse for his disobedience. Rather, the godly prophet had this to say:
— “But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”” 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Finally, only after Samuel’s bold reproof did King Saul admit the following:
— “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded.” 1 Samuel 15:24
So clearly, while Saul would have achieved what he believed to be a “good” outcome through his disobedience (sacrifices to God), God was testing Saul to see if the king would simply obey God. Sadly Saul failed the test, and Samuel called his disobedience rebellion and stubbornness, suggesting his sin was as bad as witchcraft and worshipping idols. Clearly an “end justifies the means” mentality was not only wrong, it ultimately cost Saul the kingdom, and his life.
There is much more we could write and learn from Scripture relating to our vote, but I hope the above four principles are thought provoking as you mail in your ballot, or walk into the voting booth during this election season.
So remember, God does not need your vote or mine. Rather, He wants us to simply obey clear Scriptural principles rather than our trying to “help” Him. When we obey God, even when it contradicts our “common sense” and peers, we demonstrate our trust in God and His sovereignty. But to obey Him requires that we study His Word, to discover what it has to say about what we should value, and how we should or should not vote. Rather than preserving a temporal nation with our vote, we are called to glorify God, not align with evil, and trust God above all else, even when following God might result in a short term political “loss.”
— “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” Ephesians 5:10-11
— “Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?” Isaiah 2:22
— “What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 31:1
— “He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
— “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 NLT
— “Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.” Jeremiah 42:6
Last week I wrote about my trip to the Indy 500 and the spectacular crash that happened when Scott Dixon’s car went airborne in the 53rd lap of the race. In those few seconds that followed, Dixon’s life hung in the balance. Thankfully, he survived. Dixon’s walking away from the crash was due in large part to the months and years of purposeful preparation by his team, designers, and engineers. They spent countless hours constructing a car that could withstand some of the most brutal crashes one can imagine.
But my focus today is not the crash at Indy, or the incredible design of the cars, but rather what was astonishingly absent from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and poses a grave threat to hundreds, if not thousands of fans. But before I share what was absent, here are a few quick facts about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
The IMS is the largest sporting venue in the United States and the World, with its capacity exceeding 400,000.
The highest attendance ever at the IMS was 350,000, with this year’s attendance exceeding 300,000.
The Indy 500 is held on Memorial Day Weekend, in honor of the thousands of men and women of our military who died while serving our nation. The timing of the race lends itself to a strong, patriotic theme.
This year, Vice President Mike Pence attended the Indy 500, and his motorcade made a quick trip around the Speedway before the race.
The IMS is not only an American icon, but it depicts the American spirit of ingenuity, enterprise and competitiveness. Built in 1909, it has been a part of America for over 45% of our nation’s history.
If you’ve ever attended a race at the IMS, you know that you can often park a mile or two away. You then make your way to the racetrack via quaint, all-American neighborhoods. The thousands of houses that surround the speedway are typical 50+ year old houses, in bustling neighborhoods, often with small front lawns and yards with picket fences. Most of the residents offer up their yards and front curbs for $10-$20 parking per car. They all want a little piece of the half-billion dollars that flood into their community on what is undoubtedly the greatest motorsport weekend of the year in America.
As my friends and I drove to the race track Sunday morning, our spirits were high, but we were also anxious that the forecasted rain would hold off. The clouds were ominous but the weatherman teased all the race fans with the potential that the rain wouldn’t appear until the last half of the race. After finding a parking place a mile and a half away, we began our walk, along with hundreds of other race fans. As we drew closer to the track, the hundreds turned to thousands and the Speedway facility rose into the sky in front of us. Outside the track, people milled everywhere. Backpacks, coolers, bags, raincoats and fanny packs were the norm. The tens of thousands heading for the entrances had one thing in mind — an afternoon of speed, excitement, crashes, and cheering for their favorite driver.
We made our way to one of the dozens of entry points into the speedway and gathered in a line, expecting to endure the requisite security screenings that have become commonplace in sporting events since 9/11. But as we met the IMS representatives checking our tickets and inspecting our belongings, we received a quick, cursory motion through. I observed many race fans, before and after me, who had backpacks, coolers and bags, and the inspection of their items was also very superficial. I spoke to another friend who entered at a separate gate who expressed the same shock over the aloof attitude of the personnel when he entered the gates as well. He was carrying a shoulder pack and the elderly lady didn’t even delve into his pack but just motioned him through with a “you’re fine!”
As I walked past security, I was instantly struck with the fact that not only was there no focused attention to what people were carrying into the venue, but I was also amazed that there were no metal detectors in place to at least catch any obvious weapons that someone might have on their person. Even law abiding citizens with firearms concealed carry permits could have passed through the Indy 500 security that weekend. I shuddered to think how easy it would have been for a terrorist to have walked through with a host of weapons that could have caused indescribable tragedy.
Following the attack in Manchester a few weeks ago, I wrote about the repercussions of ISIS inspired attacks turning from bombs laden with nails to explosives laden with neurotoxins. The Indy 500 last week represented a fertile and high valued soft-target for such weaponry. Given that our terrorist enemies pursue not only death and destruction, but they also seek symbolism in their attacks, what better target could be found than the Indy 500, an American icon that draws the largest crowd of any sporting event in America?
So there is no question that security at the IMS was appalling. I don’t want to pre-judge the owners and management of the IMS, but in this day of grave threats to the security of our nation, and an enemy that is increasingly looking for high profile soft targets, it’s inexcusable that the lives of 300,000 race fans was devalued so greatly at last week’s Indy 500. The reason an attack did not occur last week, and dozens or hundreds of casualties did not occur, was not because of the extraordinary efforts of the IMS and their staff. To the contrary, there was no terrorist attack despite the pathetic security. I can only assume that those seeking the death of our citizens were simply not up to the task last weekend. But must we wait for them to succeed before we get serious about security?
The MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA all require metal detector screenings at all of their venues. Additionally, coolers and large bags are not permitted. Implementing just these two security standards at the Indy 500 would at the very minimum eliminate the likelihood that a would-be terrorist could exploit such a current vulnerability.
As we think of the crash that Scott Dixon survived, in the context of a terrorist attack, there are three aspects to Dixon’s walking away from his horrific crash that should be a part of the IMS security protocol. They are:
Understanding the threat
Preparing for the threat
Surviving the threat
There is no question that Indycar drivers, their teams and owners, understand the threat they face every time a driver strap into his car. Death or serious injury is always lurking. The fact is, the last 100 years confirms that it’s not if you will crash in motorsports, but when. And tragically, for some drivers it wasn’t if they would die, but when they would. So the threat is real.
Because the sport understands the racing threat, they have prepared for it. A few years ago, a crash like Scott Dixon’s would have undoubtedly ended the driver’s life. Yet, with continued testing, refining, and perfecting, a crash that absolutely decimated the car Dixon was in, still enabled the driver to climb out and walk away. I’m confident that Dixon, his family, team members and the entire motorsport world, would agree that whatever amount of capital was expended to prepare for the threat he faced, was worthwhile when the threat materialized.
Finally, because the Indycar series understands the threat, and continues to prepare for it, the vast majority of drivers in the league today walk away from horrific crashes. The same holds true in NASCAR and other racing series. Understand. Prepare. Survive.
But to date in our nation, I fear many, including politicians, business owners and even ordinary citizens do not understand the threat we face. Sadly, tens of millions in America still walk around as if they are immune from terrorist attacks. But Islamic terrorists are here in droves. They’ve struck already. And they will continue to do so, with greater regularity and intensity, unless we understand the magnitude of the threat.
So we must understand, but we must also prepare. I applaud President Trump for not only his understanding of the threat we face, but for his efforts to prepare our nation and cities for the threats. Sadly, he is being handcuffed all along the way by dangerous, politically correct buffoons. And mark my words, it’s just a matter of time before the roadblocks that have been thrown up to thwarts Trump’s efforts result in American lives being lost. But then it will be too late and there will be no amount of course correction that will restore the lives lost because of ignorant and incompetent leaders.
Finally, we will only survive this threat if you and I personally and individually understand and prepare for the threat facing not just our nation, but us individually. My home town of Chattanooga, TN was attacked two years ago by an Islamic terrorist. Five Americans died and more were injured. That’s too close for comfort. But your city could be or will be next. Will you wait until it happens or will you prepare for such a potential? If you want to survive the unimaginable, like Scott Dixon did, then do like he did.
Understand. Prepare. Survive.
To do less is to gamble with your life and those you love.
Manchester. Paris. London. Berlin. Stockholm. Nice. Brussels. Boston. San Bernardino. Orlando. These are just a few of the many cities in the Western world that have felt the scourge of Islamic Terrorism. Sadly, my hometown, Chattanooga, has also experienced Islamic Terrorism, as I wrote about a couple years ago in my article “When Evil Visited Our City.”
The Manchester massacre at an Ariana Grande concert this week, is yet another reminder that Islamic terrorism remain alive and well, in its diabolical quest to subject the masses. Once again, ISIS and their radical accomplices dealt a vicious blow to innocent lives. Over one hundred children and adults were injured or murdered at the hands of a brutal suicide bomber, as he detonated an improvised explosive device full of nails and ball bearings.
As tragic as this attack was, it could be a precursor to something so much worse and massive in terms of loss of life, as noted in this headline from earlier this week:
Isis tests chemical weapons on ‘human guinea pigs’, secret documents reveal
Dirty bombs, whether radioactive or chemical in nature, pose a mounting threat in this escalating battle between Islamic ideology and the Western world. These weapons of mass destruction, small in relative size, but enormous in destructive potential, have been a threat for years. As ISIS pursues chemical weapons to inflict even greater terror, harm, and death, it’s likely just a matter of time before neurotoxins replace nails.
I shudder to think of the future attacks by Islamic terrorists at concerts, sporting events, or other such “soft” targets. And as awful as the Manchester attack was, it could be dwarfed by an ISIS inspired suicide bomber, carrying a backpack with a chemical weapon. The impact from such an attack could be well into the multiple of thousands. And so, the threat could not be more grave and the urgency could not be greater to crush, root out, and thoroughly obliterate the scourge of Islamic terrorism.
President Trump’s trip this week to the the Middle East was extraordinarily timely, as he met with high profile Islamic states and their representatives. His message to them was clear. While America is committed to annihilating the cancer of Islamic terrorism, the ultimate responsibility for destroying this belief system lies at the feet of Islam itself. Will Muslims around the world, step up and purge their cultures, societies, mosques and madrasas? And if not, will our own political leaders take the necessary steps to protect our citizens?
Time will tell, but the sad reality is that the fundamentals taught within the Islamic trilogy (Koran, Hadith and Sira) and the example offered by Islam’s founder, Mohammed, are at odds with an ideology that our politically correct world fancies the “religion of peace.” Sure, there are passages that speak of peace, and there were times in Mohammed’s life that he was peaceful, but the actual meaning of the word Islam is “submission,” although your Muslim friend might tell you it is peace. And one only need read the passages and examples offered by the Trilogy and Mohammed himself, to see where ISIS gains the inspiration for its barbarism and depravity.
Saffie Rose Roussos
So in an age of tolerance, there can be no tolerance for an ideology that seeks to kill us all, including eight year old girls like Saffie Rose Roussos, as she was enjoying a music concert with her friends this week. An attack on Manchester by Islamic terrorists is an attack on us all. But to eradicate this scourge from amongst us, it will require political leaders to first acknowledge the truth of this ideology. Until then, the attacks will not only continue, but they will grow in severity as the body count increases.
Trump. WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Facebook. Fake News. Truth.
You might ask what do all these disparate subjects have to do with each other. Honestly, I could have listed a host of other subjects that, at first glance, might have appeared to have had absolutely no correlation. But hang with me and hopefully I’ll tie them all together.
During the Presidential campaign in 2016, and the years leading up to it, Donald Trump, the candidate and citizen, made a number of claims that, now as he is President, appear to have been untrue… or else Trump just changed his mind. While there are many promises one could point to, the most recent example is Trump’s views of Syria over the years. To be clear, this article is not about whether launching a strike on Syria was a good decision or not, but rather about the reality that a politician will tell you one thing when seeking your vote, but once elected, those promises are worth as much as the money the Federal Reserve prints.
So what is the truth?
A number of years ago the phrase, “Bush lied and people died” was regularly leveled at our 43rd President. The basis for this view was the perspective that President George W. Bush lied about WMD’s as a pretense to invade Iraq. The left, the media, and even many republicans and libertarians, asserted that there were never any WMD’s in Iraq. While the intent of this article is not to re-litigate this decade old debate, it should be noted that there are numbers of reports that purport to validate that WMD’s were indeed in Iraq, including the notion that many of them made their way to Syria.
So what is the truth?
Facebook touts nearly 2 billion active users. That’s a lot of people sharing photos, personal tidbits, recipes, and untold other stories. But Facebook has become a major purveyor of articles that are either totally false or are highly suspect. In fact, Facebook has now set up a manner for its members to report false stories to them. So if you are suspicious, report the post to the Facebook police, and they’ll investigate the authenticity of the article you reported. Which doesn’t mean you’ll get the truth. Rather, you’ll simply get what Facebook wants you to believe is the truth.
So what is the truth?
Over this last year, a new phrase has become commonplace: Fake News. One news source asserts another one is false. Websites now evaluate the claims of others and rate them with Pinocchio noses; the more noses, the greater the lie. And even our President has become accustomed to referring to media outlets he views as his adversaries, like CNN, as “Fake News.”
So what is the truth?
It seems that in the age of Google, Siri, instant access, and terabytes of data, man is no closer to understanding the truth of a matter, than when man was carving images on cave walls.
And that’s the tie between all these seemingly unrelated topics. TRUTH.
So what is the truth? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves over and over. Regardless of where we read or hear a story reported, we should be skeptical, in a good way, of claims we hear in our polarized world today. There is nigh a person, group, party, or nation, who doesn’t have an agenda to push, or a perspective that they cling to.
We all want the truth. But do we have it? And even more importantly, do we present the truth in what we live out everyday in our lives? This is a question I am asking myself in my own personal life.
I’m reminded of these verses in Isaiah 59 that seemingly foretold this present age:
We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord. We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies. Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. Yes,truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.
If you take the time to read the entire chapter in Isaiah, you will find a myriad of societal problems that flow from a rejection of Truth. When we reject Truth, we are in essence rejecting God. Our problems now, as they were in Isaiah’s day, are pervasive. No, they are not limited to Donald Trump, or WMD’s or Fake News. If our government merely reflects its people, what does that say when our politicians routinely distort the truth?
So is there a solution to our Truth problem in America? Well, you and I cannot change Trump, or the Fake News sites, but we can individually commit to pursuing Truth in our own lives. As we do that, we will have taken the first step in the direction of Truth. And as we do, “the Truth will set us free.”
This last year has been a year in which the term #FakeNews gained prominence in America. It seems that everywhere you turn, false reports are regularly popping up as fact. Amazingly, Wikipedia even defines #FakeNews as this:
Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it via the traditional news media or social media, with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.It often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news-stories. They have no basis in fact, but are presented as and believed to be factually accurate…
Pathetically though, Republican politicians are now getting in on the #FakeNews trend in Tennessee and here’s the background.
Republican Governor Bill Haslam proffered a bill he entitled the IMPROVE act (Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy). The bill, as modified, would increase gas taxes in Tennessee over $300 million per year to fund road repairs across the state. However, in order to “offset” the tax increase that Tennesseans will see at the pump and feel in their wallets, the bill would also reduce taxes on groceries, but not by an equivalent amount. In fact, less than half of the increase is offset by the grocery tax decrease.
To make up the difference, Haslam, bolstered by Republican “yes-men” legislators, cobbled together a tax decrease via two other taxes. The first decrease is in the Franchise & Excise Tax, exclusively a business tax. The second decrease is in the Hall Income Tax, a tax on certain investment income, that only a very small percentage of individuals in Tennessee pay. Furthermore, legislation was passed last year, before Haslam’s 2017 Gas Tax proposal, that agreed to phase out the Hall Tax over several years, with a full repeal by 2022.
So, if you consider the details of Haslam’s proposal, it’s clear that the vast majority of hard-working Tennesseans will never benefit from the F&E Tax decrease or the Hall Income tax phase out. And the marginal decrease in their grocery tax will not even come close to offsetting the increase they will see when they fill-up each week at the pump. So the truth is most Tennesseans will see a drop in their disposable income if Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE “Gas Tax” bill is passed by the Tennessee legislature.
As a backdrop to the whole debate over Governor Haslam’s Gas Tax is the fact that Tennessee has enjoyed a record $2 billion budget surplus this last year. Additionally, the surpluses are projected to continue for the next several years. Consider though that the source of government receipts is predominantly from taxes.
So, in simple terms, Tennessee overtaxed its citizens $2 billion last year, and it projects to continue overtaxing them for the foreseeable future, upwards of at least another billion dollars. But worse, rather than use those surpluses, Governor Haslam and many Republican legislators want to raise taxes even further via Haslam’s Gas Tax bill.
As a result of these surpluses, a number of alternate proposals have been offered to simply divert for road repairs a portion of the surpluses in a similar amount to what Governor Haslam is requesting. This would not only replace Governor Haslam’s proposal but it would also eliminate any need for a tax increase.
But here’s where things cross the line from just a bad policy decision to a purposeful act of deception. Governor Haslam’s “yes-men” in the legislature have been pulling out all the stops to push the Governor’s IMPROVE bill through, by hook or crook. But because of the constant efforts by grassroots activists to expose the truth that the flawed bill will raise taxes on most Tennesseans, according to the Tennessee Star, Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) and Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) led the effort to rename the IMPROVE act to the “Tax Cut Act of 2017.”
Yes, you read that correctly. By falsely applying tax cuts that 1) apply solely to businesses (F&E Tax), and 2) were agreed to in a prior year and do not apply to the majority of Tennesseans (Hall Income Tax), Rep. Doss, Rep. McCormick and a host of other Republican Representatives are deceptively pronouncing that a bill that increases taxes on hard-working Tennesseans, will actually cut taxes on them.
Can someone say #FakeTaxCut?
So is this #FakeTaxCut a foregone conclusion? Not hardly. If there is a lesson in Trump’s victory in November, it is that the People can still determine the outcome of their government. But Trump only won because people showed up and let their voices be heard. And that’s the only way that Haslam’s #FakeTaxCut will be defeated — if Tennessee voters pick up their cell phones, and take 60 seconds to let their voices be heard. If you’re willing to do so, then the price of gas at the pump may not go up. But if you won’t invest a minute of your time, then you can count on Republicans, the party of “lower taxes,” to raise your taxes.
As a people, Americans are accustomed to solving most any problem that confronts us. Whether it was leading a world coalition to defeat the Nazis or responding to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, as a nation we have consistently risen to the occasion when we were faced with an existential threat. And, by the grace of God, over our 240+ year history, our nation has weathered even the worst of those threats.
A few days ago, Donald Trump held a press conference in which he described what he inherited from Barack Obama as a “mess.” Specifically, he had this to say:
“As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess! It’s a mess! At home and abroad. A mess!”
He went on to describe some of that mess in his comments. And he spoke of these problems frequently during his campaign:
Loss of jobs Our economy National security A weakening military Crumbling infrastructure A broken healthcare system Spiraling, unsustainable debt A broken immigration & refugee system
President Trump is right that our nation is in an absolute mess. Many have been saying this for a long time. But with the election of Trump, and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the power to address the “mess” has shifted to the GOP. They now possess the authority and ability to implement whatever solutions they deem appropriate to deal with the many crises America faces.
Granted, it’s possible and likely that Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress will implement some sound political approaches and pass worthy legislation that will attempt to address these problems. If this battle was being played out on a football field, Republican efforts might advance the ball a few yards towards the goal line of greater prosperity, security, efficiency, lower taxes and more.
But lest we get too excited, the root of our nation’s problems does not stem from a dysfunctional Congress, an activist judicial branch, or even an unorthodox or confrontational President. Their behavior is merely a symptom of a much deeper struggle in our nation.
There is an old adage that goes: “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.” Fighting spiritual battles with political weapons will never offer a permanent solution. If fans attend a football game and they grow excited by their team moving the ball a few yards, but that team doesn’t possess the plays to score a touchdown, then those fans will be continuously frustrated, despite the brief exhilaration if a first down is achieved.
Likewise, using a knife to carve out a political strategy simply offers the exhilaration of a few short term victories. And while I would not diminish the importance of such wins, from a grander perspective of the battle our nation is embroiled in, these “wins” will be akin to a solitary first down, only to see the ball fumbled to the other team.
The fight our nation is embroiled in is a much deeper fight; one that has spiritual and eternal implications. The Bible speaks of this battle in Ephesians 6:12 — “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
While I acknowledge it is not the role of government to solve spiritual problems, it is possible for rulers or elected officials to compound those problems. And we have seen this occurring for many decades now, through legislation, regulation and policy.
In years past, there was a list of transgressions known as the “7 Deadly Sins” which originated shortly after the time of Christ. That ancient list, drawn from the Bible itself, is a modern day indictment of our own nation:
Lust Gluttony Greed Sloth Wrath Envy Pride
Think through this list and see how they perfectly describe many of the ills our nation is facing.
Lust is front and center nearly everywhere you look: TV, movies, magazines, billboards, internet. It’s nearly impossible to escape.
Gluttony is epidemic in America with more than 1/3 of our citizens obese. And by 2020, it’s estimated that nearly 3/4 of Americans will be either overweight or obese.
Greed is typically associated with Wall Street, business owners, and multi-millionaires. But truthfully, greed is rampant at all socio-economic levels. The entire American culture has been organized around our insatiable desire to accumulate more and more.
Sloth or laziness is synonymous with millions of Americans. While certainly there are many who are unemployed who desire to work, there are literally tens of millions who would prefer to live off the welfare state.
Wrath is seen from DC to small town America. There is no shortage of anger in our nation today. While Donald Trump tapped into a lot of anger, we are seeing different types of anger displayed now that he is our President, and some of that anger is turning violent.
Envy is what drives many in our nation. We lack contentment because we desire what others have. And that desire is not limited to material things but can include status, abilities, and even desiring the characteristics of others.
Pride is seen by some as the worst of the seven deadly sins. By reciting such phrases as “if you believe it, you can achieve it” and other similar concepts, we remove God from the equation, exalting self to the position that only God should occupy.
If you’re like me, I can look through the list above and feel like I’m looking in the mirror for many of these. Sure, none of us are perfect. But how many of us can honestly acknowledge our shortcomings and say we are actively engaged in addressing those shortcomings, through God’s help, on a routine basis?
You see, our nation is a composite of its 330 million citizens. It only reflects what is in the hearts of its people. While we may bemoan the actions of our elected officials, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that they merely reflect what is in our hearts. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So, if we want to solve the many political solutions America is facing, it starts at the most fundamental level — looking in the mirror and beginning to address the spiritual problems in our own individual lives. As we do that, and only when we do that, can we ever hope to solve the seemingly insurmountable political problems facing our nation.
So what say you? Are you ready to start? If so, then get up, walk to the nearest mirror, and join me in saying: “Let’s change America… starting with me!”