Principle: Property/Stewardship

Throughout this blog, I’ve pointed to a number of principles upon which Christians should base their thinking. If we would analyze everything through these principles, we would come to more Biblically based conclusions.

The principle of property is very important. If you look at property from a worldly perspective, you see it potentially in a number of ways. For instance, one can be quite selfish and focus entirely on accumulating “things.” This is one end of the spectrum. The other end is believing that elimination of property is the key to universal peace and harmony. Both are wrong.

The Christian, in thinking about property, should remember this one salient fact: all things really belong to God. We are merely the temporary receptors of what He has given us. So, more properly understood, the principle of property is a principle of stewardship. That word isn’t used much in the world anymore, but it needs to be. A steward is someone who has been given the responsibility to manage the affairs of another. This world, and all it contains, comes from the hand of God. We are allowed to use what He has made. But we will be held accountable for how we use His gifts.

All that we have is a gift. We didn’t “earn” anything, in the proper sense. If we realize that, we become grateful rather than complaining. I also used the plural–gifts–on purpose. We are not stewards of material possessions only. There are gifts that are intangible, that cannot be held in one’s hand.

What are they? More on that in the next post.

Still Thankful?

After this last election, is it possible to still be thankful? Do we really have blessings? Actually, we have more than we realize. Personally, I have:

  • A God who continues to work in my life and through it, who loves unconditionally even while He demands that I learn a deeper concept of obedience.
  • A wife who has stood by me for 36 years, and for whom I have a greater love now than at any time in our marriage–it has matured, even as I have.
  • A daughter and a son who are married and moving on in the life God has given them. This week, my daughter’s family is with us. What a joy to have three grandsons with whom I can spend time, get to know better, and hopefully have some impact on their lives as well.
  • A job that is not simply a job, but rather a ministry, where I have the liberty to teach history relying on Biblical principles for analysis.
  • Material blessings in a way that we have not had for most of our lives. Yes, such things can change, but I am learning, over time, that the Lord is our real security anyway.

As a nation, in spite of the problems and the philosophy of the incoming administration, we are not a spent force. The promise remains: if My people, who are called by My name, will seek My face, repent, etc. . . . Restoration can occur, and if not, He will never leave us or forsake us.

When the Pilgrims held their Thanksgiving celebration (not to give thanks to the Indians, by the way), they had suffered terribly along the way. Back in England they had been persecuted, in Holland they really didn’t fit into the culture and their children were being lured away from the faith, and in the New World half of them had died the first winter. Yet they had persevered and their faith remained strong. They continued to believe that God would honor their faithfulness.

That is still true. If we are faithful, God’s blessings will follow. We never have to wonder about His faithfulness; the real issue is ours. He wants to bless. Will we allow Him to do so?

The Uninformed American Public

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has conducted a new study that probably should surprise no one who is really following the educational trends and the knowledge base of Americans. I’ll let ISI describe the results:

Are most people, including college graduates, civically illiterate? Do elected officials know even less than most citizens about civic topics such as history, government, and economics? The answer is yes on both counts according to a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

More than 2,500 randomly selected Americans took ISI’s basic 33-question test on civic literacy and more than 1,700 people failed, with the average score 49 percent, or an “F.” Elected officials scored even lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent and only 0.8 percent (or 21) ofall surveyed earned an “A.”

Even more startling is the fact that over twice as many people know Paula Abdul was a judge on American Idol than know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

If you are interested in seeing the rest of the results or in taking the test yourself, go to http://americancivicliteracy.org. ISI is also the organization that has recently published three of my articles. If you haven’t read them yet, go to my homepage (link at the top of this blog) where you can access them.

The Real Terrorism

William Ayers has come out of his “cone of silence” since election day. He has appeared on television “clarifying” his youthful acts of terrorism. The bombs weren’t meant for people, he says; they were only aimed at the destruction of property. How comforting to know he was a “nice” terrorist. The people who were killed were apparently just collateral damage.

As despicable as his earlier actions were, what he has been doing since, in my view, is the more longlasting terrorism: infiltrating the minds of children with radicalism. You see, now he is an esteemed professor who promotes material for the classrooms, indoctrinating the next generation with his philosophy and creating more little William Ayerses.

His real legacy will not be his Weather Underground days; it will be the radicalism of the many young people he influences. And when Obama was on those foundation boards with Ayers, he was working with him to spread the radical faith. Now we will soon have, in spirit, an identical radicalism in the White House. Yes, Obama comes across as reasonable, but to those who know what he really believes, his ascendancy is truly frightening.

Is There a God Problem?

Kathleen Parker: The GOP and God

Kathleen Parker: The GOP and God

Today we have another prime example of the difference between a conservative and a Christian conservative. Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist who became controversial during the campaign for impugning Sarah Palin has dropped another bomb on the conservative movement. In her commentary, she has decided to denigrate evangelical Christians in the Republican tent. She states:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

That is merely the introduction. She continues:

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

“Oogedy-boogedy”? Well, all the way through my doctoral studies, I have to admit I’ve never heard the term. I guess I’m just poorly informed. But don’t Republicans need the evangelical vote if they are to have a chance of winning? In an attempt to outdo even herself, she adds:

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners. . . .

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Note the derision in these comments. Evangelicals were once “relegated to wooden crates on street corners.” We are the GOP’s “lowest brows.” And what is really important to her is that we are driving away the secularists and conservative Democrats.

What kind of party would the GOP be if it were largely populated by secularists and Democrats? Would it still be recognizable?

She certainly has the privilege of stating her opinions, but I have the same privilege of responding to them. What we see in this article is one point of view nowadays–exorcise the fanatics! They are bringing us down! I respond: the GOP wouldn’t be as close to winning as it is without the evangelicals. Its identity would be just a weaker version of the liberalism that now dominates the Democratic party. And it would be cutting off the potential blessings of God by shutting out His people.

The Republican party is at a crossroads. Which path will it take?

The Many Deaths of the Republican Party

Herbert Hoover & the Great Depression
Herbert Hoover & the Great Depression

The Republican Party has “died” many times. Yet it always seems to be resurrected.

We can start with Herbert Hoover, whose administration coincided with the Great Depression. Elected in 1928 at the height of economic prosperity, Hoover has ever since been associated with the worst economic disaster in American history. He did help make it happen; specifically, he helped prolong it with his government interventionist policies. But his successor, FDR, was the one who made sure it lasted an entire decade. Hoover gets all the blame; FDR is considered the “savior” of America. Life isn’t fair.

It took a while for the Republicans to return to the top. Not until 1952 did another Republican candidate win the presidency: Dwight Eisenhower. His two terms were marked by an economic upswing similar to the 1920s.

Barry Goldwater Suffered a Major Defeat in 1964

Barry Goldwater Suffered a Major Defeat in 1964

In the 1960s, after the assassination of JFK, then-president Lyndon Johnson took advantage of the sorrow over that tragedy to lead the country into an interventionist stage from which it has never fully recovered.

Due to the shock of the Kennedy assassination and the general mood of the country–ready to try full government intervention–the Republican nominee in 1964, Barry Goldwater, didn’t stand a chance. The electoral margin was so huge that many commentators again suggested that the Republican Party was nearly as extinct as the dinosaurs.

Vietnam, though, proved LBJ’s undoing, and in a year of unequalled civil strife in the 20th century, Nixon was able to gain the presidency in 1968. The Republicans returned from the grave once more.

Nixon\'s Undoing: Watergate

Nixon's Undoing: Watergate

 Nixon brought the soldiers home and won an astounding electoral victory for his reelection in 1972. He lost only Massachusetts and Washington, DC. But that campaign featured the Watergate breakin, which then dominated the news for the next two years, ending in Nixon’s resignation. That debacle did nearly bury the Republicans. They lost so many congressional seats in 1974 that their influence was virtually nonexistent. As the 1976 election approached, it seemed that President Ford (who rose to the presidency through appointment and then the Nixon resignation) had no chance at all. Surprisingly, he almost pulled it off, losing narrowly to Jimmy Carter.

The Carter years, though, were a disaster. I won’t recount all the problems at this point except to say that the economy was the worst since the Great Depression and the Iranian revolution had created the embassy hostage situation, which Carter seemed ill-prepared to handle.

Reagan: A New Beginning

Reagan: A New Beginning

That set the stage for Reagan’s victories–electoral, economic, and in the Cold War. The Republican Party was back again. And even though Clinton won two terms in the 1990s, it is probably (should be) a consensus that Reagan changed the terms of political debate with his policies. Although Clinton was president for eight years, for six of those years, Republicans controlled Congress and remained in control until 2006.

We are now at a place where some people are insisting, once more, that the Republican brand is out of date and nearly extinct. That has been the story for decades, but the story never seems to end there. Can a new generation of leaders actually do some leading? Will the Republicans regain their footing (beginning with a true and consistent message)? We will see. It would be foolish to count them out now.

The Republican Future?

Palin: The New Republican Leader?

What does the future hold for the Republican party? Is it dead? Whether dead or not, what type of “revival” does it need?

I believe Republicans need a couple of key things at this point: first, a clear message that resonates with voters; second, a leader who has the ability to communicate the message.

The message cannot be new. Some want Republicans to walk away from their roots. I disagree. The focus, now more than ever, needs to be on limited government, economic freedom, and a morality based on Biblical principles. Why? Because those are truths that must be the cornerstone of a society. You can’t mess with those truths and expect the nation to prosper.

As for the leader, I am open to whomever the Lord raises up. Yes, I do believe that the Lord is interested in placing someone in that leadership role. Right now, all the attention is on Sarah Palin. She has continued to be maligned in the press, and now from so-called “insiders” from the McCain camp. Yet she has handled herself well in responding to them. She has made herself available to a number of media interviews since the election, and has shown an ability to hold her own.

Is she the person the Lord wants? I don’t know. But my exhortation remains the same as it was prior to the election: pray for her. Let’s see what the Lord will do.