Highly Recommended

In the past few weeks, while writing a book, keeping up with this daily blog, posting on Big Government, teaching a class every Sunday, and continuing to watch over the department I chair at the university—I actually read a couple of books, too. I’d like to recommend them.

Back in January, I wrote about a novel called Deadline by Randy Alcorn. It was thought-provoking and decidedly Christian in its philosophy. You can go back to January 9 to see that review. I’ve now completed that trilogy; I can say without hesitation that the second and third books are just as good, and perhaps even better.

Dominion takes readers into the world of gangs and racial animosities. It does so through the eyes of its protagonist, a black newspaper columnist still struggling with the discrimination of his upbringing, yet rejecting the liberal welfare state as the answer. He’s also groping his way toward a genuine relationship with God after the disillusionment of the “prosperity gospel” he had adopted.

His sister has been killed and he pushes for answers, sometimes in appropriate ways, other times with questionable tactics. His heart has gone cold, but he has to deal with the spiritual questions that intrude into his mind, as well as their application to the city and neighborhood where he lives. It’s a theological, social, and political combination that makes readers grapple with their own attitudes and reactions to injustices.

Deception, the final offering in the trilogy, is written in the first person, through the eyes of a detective who is trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding a murder that seemingly has no answers. The detective has recently lost his wife and carries a grudge against a God who won’t stop people from doing evil. Again, readers are drawn into a theological question that has very practical ramifications for life.

Alcorn uses a technique in all three books that is unique, at least in the books I’ve read to date: he intersperses the action on earth with the experiences of those who have died and have entered into heaven. His ideas of how heaven operates is fascinating. On a couple of occasions, he also takes us down to hell to see what it’s like for a character who has rejected the love of God.

Sound too preachy? Perhaps a little too fanciful? If I were reading this review and hadn’t experienced the books myself, I can see where you might think so. Believe me, though—both books are rooted in earthy reality. Alcorn’s gift is to combine the gritty, seamy side of life with spiritual concepts and make heaven more real than what takes place on earth.

I highly recommend both books, but you might want to read Deadline first to maintain the continuity of the characters and follow their development.

Today’s Surprise: I Recommend My Own Books

In the nearly two years that I’ve written this daily blog, I’ve never, to the best of my recollection (how’s that for a lawyerly term that gets me off the hook if I’m wrong?), advertised for books I’ve authored. Today, though, I would beg your indulgence, since I’ve just had a new edition of one of my books come off the presses.

I first wrote If the Foundations Are Destroyed in 1994. This is now the fourth edition of it, complete with a new cover. Why might you want it? The subtitle, Biblical Principles and Civil Government, tells you what it’s all about. I go through what I consider to be Biblical principles and how they apply to government. These form the basis of all my analyses of current government policies. So if you are a regular reader of this blog, this book will provide a window into why I believe as I do.

I have excerpted some of these concepts on the blog already as an overview. If you are interested in a preview, just click on the “Biblical Principles” category in the right sidebar. To learn more about the book and to order it, go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/itfad/.

While I’m at it, let me talk briefly about the other two books I’ve written.

I did my doctoral dissertation on Noah Webster. While writing it, I had in mind that I wanted to make it into a publishable book. That’s not always easy with a doctoral dissertation, but I made every effort to ensure the writing style was accessible to a general audience as well as scholars. I hope I succeeded.

Webster was the schoolmaster to early America. His speller and dictionary could be found in nearly all American homes. The subtitle, A Spiritual Biography, lets you know that my goal in this book was to chart the course of Webster’s thinking and worldview. At age 50, he experienced a conversion to orthodox Christian faith. How did that affect his scholarly work? The book compares the pre-conversion Webster with the post-conversion man, while offering along the way an accounting of his contributions to American life and culture. To find out more and order this book go to:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/webster/.

In 2001, I completed a study of the Clinton impeachment. My approach was different than any of the other books on the impeachment written at that time. I wrote it from the perspective of the thirteen congressmen—they were called House Managers—who went to the Senate to argue for Clinton’s removal from office. I personally interviewed all thirteen of the Managers in their Capitol Hill offices; this book provides their story on why they thought it was essential to go forward with these impeachment proceedings in spite of public opposition. It’s a study in character and the significance of the rule of law in society.

At the time of its publication, it was a main selection for the Conservative Book Club. Well-known author and editor of World magazine, Marvin Olasky, wrote the foreword for me. This is the only one of my books that is currently out of print (which I hope can be changed someday), but it is still available for those who are interested. For one of the limited number of new copies that still exist, you can order from this page:

http://ponderingprinciples.com/books/misimp/.

If you don’t mind getting a used copy, check out Amazon.

I don’t offer these with any expectation of becoming fabulously wealthy. My primary concern is to disseminate valuable information. I’ve promoted books by a number of authors over the past two years. I just wanted to make sure you are aware of mine as well. I hope some of you decide to add one or more of these to your library.

A Personal Plea

As anyone who has read this blog regularly knows, I am a vigorous defender of the American Constitution, the free enterprise system, and the current peaceful protests and movements to educate the American people on the problems brought about by the Obama administration.

I have used a combination of statements that I believe are based on principle with the best political cartoons to illustrate our situation. The foundation for everything I say is my Christian faith, and I strive to ensure that my statements don’t go too far and that the cartoons I use are not tasteless.

I do believe that a Christian can make strong statements and remain in the proper spirit simultaneously. Even a cursory reading of the gospels and the New Testament letters reveals instances of Jesus and his disciples speaking pointedly about hypocrisy and injustice.

Lately, I’ve had a great opportunity to share on a site with a much larger readership than my personal blog. It’s called Big Government. In the past month, I’ve written three substantial posts for it, and there have been numerous comments from readers. Most of those responses are welcome and respectful.

I have noticed, though, some that seem to emanate from a deep anger. Biblically, anger is not a sin. We naturally become angry at injustices. However, when we allow that anger to boil over into rash statements and ad hominem attacks against those we despise, we have lost the argument already.

There is a justifiable anger in this country right now. We have witnessed in the past sixteen months an outright assault on the very fabric of our governmental and societal institutions. I understand that anger, but we cannot allow it to dictate our words and actions.

Now, more than ever, we need to manifest a spirit of wisdom and inner strength—something that will make those who are caught in the middle [those who are confused by the changes]—take notice. They need to see individuals who stand steadfastly for truth, who know how to control their tempers, and who work consistently for the restoration of our foundational beliefs.

So, there are no cartoons today. All you see is a mass of words. Yet I hope these words will make you think carefully about how you conduct yourself as you join with others to reverse the damage that has been done.

I spoke to a meeting of the 9/12 Project here in my city last Saturday. I told them all about the history of progressivism in America and the dangers we face. When I got to the end, I changed the focus and entreated them to realize that we’re not just a bunch of people angry about the financial situation. Rather, we need to think more foundationally. I said that my foundation was faith in God and in His truth revealed in His Word. That will be my guide as I try to make a difference.

I entreat all of you as well—let’s approach this in the right spirit so that our efforts are worthy of His blessing.

Prayer for the Nation

Yesterday was a national day of prayer. I must admit I was too encumbered by finals week at the university to participate in any public observance. The nice thing, though, is that you don’t have to be with a group of people to pray. Franklin Graham, although barred from being part of the Pentagon event, prayed regardless.

God hears anyone, from anywhere, at any time.

I would like to put my prayer on this blog today. It goes like this:

Lord, we don’t really deserve anything good from Your hand. As a nation, we have put our trust in ourselves rather than You. The leadership of this nation exhibits an arrogance that shuts You out, it’s true. Yet it’s not just the leaders who have closed their hearts—far too many of our fellow citizens either disdain faith in You or  hold merely to the externals of religious belief.

We need repentance, both as individuals and as a collective. It’s no mystery how that occurs; we simply need to humble ourselves before You, acknowledge Your Lordship, and ask for Your mercy. We demand nothing. We just need to know You and Your ways.

Save us individually and as a people. Spare even those who refuse to bow the knee, in hope that someday they may stop being so willfully blind and deaf. Teach us Your truths—Your principles—and show us how they apply to all of life. We ask that Your ways will infiltrate the culture and the government.

Lord, I don’t believe that it is too late. You remain the God of miracles. What You want is a people who retain their faith in You and Your wonder-working love.

May we see that. May we experience it. Restore us, please.

All this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. May He rule in our hearts.

The Calling & the Perspective

Today is commencement at Southeastern University. I’ve now been here four years, so many of the graduates this year started when I did. As I look back on these four years, they seem very short, in retrospect. They seem particularly short when I place them in context of the fifty-nine years I have now experienced. No, I’m not old—I’m seasoned.

I’ve been teaching at the university level for twenty-one years, yet it always remains fresh. Each semester I teach American history survey classes. One would think it might get boring, but it doesn’t. The mix of students is always different and unique. Those survey classes are also profitable for the kingdom of God. Bringing a Biblical perspective into American history is sorely needed in this day—and the students know so little of the history to begin with. In most cases, it’s not really their fault; they haven’t been taught.

I’ve also had the opportunity to develop some upper-level courses that take the students deeper. This semester I offered a historiography course that started with Biblical principles; we discussed just what it means to be a Christian who also happens to be a historian.

Then there was the course on Whittaker Chambers, a name unknown to most people. Yet his monumental autobiography, Witness, has made a profound impact on key individuals in America, most notably Ronald Reagan.

I firmly believe the Lord has called me to this missionary endeavor—yes, that’s precisely what it is. I’m taking the Gospel message into how we perceive the most basic events in our past, and then analyzing what is currently taking place in our society. Biblical principles form the grid through which we see all of life.

Thank you, God, for this very satisfying life’s work. My aim is to remain faithful to the call.

The Production of Wealth

President Obama to Wall Street this week: “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

I always want to approach the topic of wealth from as Biblical a viewpoint as possible. First, I recall a couple of verses in Deuteronomy 8, where we are told, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

From this passage, I extract two concepts: first, no one should be haughty about their wealth—pride is condemned; second, God is the one who set it up so that we are able to produce wealth. There’s no indication that He hates the wealthy—rather, He makes it possible for people to create wealth.

We’re always admonished to use our wealth for God’s purposes, but there is really no limit placed on individuals with respect to how much they can earn. If they keep their hearts right before God, they will use their wealth to help others and grow His kingdom on earth.

It’s rather arbitrary, isn’t it, for Obama to declare that there is a limit to what a person should earn? Who, by the way, is going to determine what that limit might be? Why, the government of course.

Where is that found in the Constitution?

The president earned more than $5 million last year. Did he earn too much? That’s certainly more than I’ll see over quite a number of years. Maybe I should protest the “unfairness” of it all.

Let’s be serious. Obama is not opposed to wealth per se; he just wants to control it and direct it to his friends.

He will criticize others while doing the same himself. I think that’s called hypocrisy.

Then he directs businesses to get the economy moving again, but makes it difficult for them.

Congress is going to need more money to cover all the costs of its programs, so the wealth of the nation needs to be redirected—otherwise known as redistributed—to meet the needs of a voracious central government.

The hypocrisy runs rampant. Then they try to tell us that things really are getting better. In order to come to this conclusion, some redefinition of terms is required.

Have you noticed the similarity between that cartoon and the explanations we’re always given as the economy continues to decline? Well, the rate of decline is not as steep, we’re told.

There is one success story, though, in the midst of the bleakness on the job front.

God gave the ability to produce wealth. I believe He wants individuals to learn how to use it according to His precepts. The wealth belongs to those individuals, not to the government.

Do You Feel Nationally Secure?

I want my understanding of the responsibilities of government to be as Biblically based as possible. Scriptural passages that talk about the role of government seem to concentrate primarily on punishing evildoers and protecting the citizens.

That means we need law enforcement and courts of justice. We also need a military to defend against those who might want to attack us. If we fall down on either of those aspects of protection, we are in danger.

The Soviet Union is no more. We can thank Ronald Reagan and others who worked with him for that. Russia, in its latest incarnation, might become a threat again. It has been particularly unhelpful in our efforts to derail Iran from becoming a nuclear power. A nuclear Iran will attack Israel for sure; it also will be only too happy to sell some of its weapons to terrorists.

We have to be on the alert and vigilant—yet what are we doing? I noted in a previous blog that President Obama has a new nuclear strategy. Many fear it is leading us into dangerous territory by weakening our resolve to defend ourselves.

I’m not comforted by that either. There’s a lack of seriousness that emanates from the Oval Office on the issue of national security.

Iran doesn’t seem particularly impressed by the president’s new approach. What is he going to do if Iran gets nuclear weapons? What will his strategy be at that point? We need to hope it’s not this:

That certainly would fit into his worldview; after all, the rich are the real enemies, right? Oh, and of course certain other people:

Yes, he can be strong when he wants to be.

We need a different worldview in the White House. We won’t get an opportunity for that until 2012. A good start, though, would be a massive overhaul of Congress in 2010. It can be done.