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Eligius: A Good & Faithful Servant

I receive daily stories from the Christian History Institute about the history of the Church and those who served Christ well in their lives. I particularly like the ones that go back in the very early years and inform me of great figures in church history that I had never heard of previously.

Here’s one of those, which I hope will be an inspiration as you begin your work week.

SAINT AND BISHOP Eligius from Aquitaine (in the area that is now modern France) was a deeply honorable and tenderhearted man. Given a donation of land for some monks to build on, he discovered he had taken a foot too much. He immediately went to the French king Dagobert, prostrated himself at his feet, and apologized with tears.

On another occasion, Dagobert demanded Eligius take an oath before entrusting him with some important task. Eligius, who took seriously Christ’s admonition against swearing, begged to be excused. Dagobert insisted. Eligius burst into tears. Acknowledging the saint’s integrity, the king yielded.

During the Middle Ages, Eligius (known as Eloy, or Loy, in England) was a well-known and much-loved saint. Because of a miracle he supposedly worked with a horse and horseshoe, he became the patron of blacksmiths and farriers. His image appeared in English churches.

Before becoming a bishop, Eligius was a goldsmith and operated the royal mint. Even as a layman, he was noted for his love of godly things. He kept his Bible open on his desk while he worked, bought slaves to free them, buried the bodies of criminals, and gave large sums of money to charity and for building monasteries.

When Bishop Acarius of Noyon-Tournai died on 27 November 639, King Clovis II, who had replaced Dagobert on the throne, asked Eligius to fill the vacant place. Eligius, with his deep sense of responsibility, asked for time to prepare himself. In his second year of study, after first having been ordained as a priest, he assumed his new duties. He was consecrated bishop on Sunday 13 May 641.

Noyon is in the vicinity of Belgium. Much of Eligius’s see (the area overseen by a bishop) was unevangelized, and he engaged in mission work among the Flemings, Suevi, and others. By his exemplary life and by tending the sick among his pagan enemies, he eventually converted many to Christianity.

Over his years as bishop, Eligius preached many sermons, believing God would hold him accountable if he neglected souls. One that has come down to us centers on obedience to Christ:  “For he who will be a true Christian must needs keep these commandments; because if he does not keep them, he deceives himself. He, therefore, is a good Christian who puts faith in no charms or diabolical inventions, but places all his hope in Christ alone.”

Eligius died of fever at about seventy years of age on the first day of December. The year is uncertain, and may have been as early as 659 or as late as 665.

Lewis Found Treasures There . . . & So Do I

C. S. Lewis, as a young man, and before he was a Christian, read the novel Phantastes, written by a minister named George MacDonald. He was so taken by the novel that eventually, after his conversion, he delved into MacDonald’s sermons also. He found treasures there, so many that he edited them into an anthology for which he wrote an endearing preface.

I’ve recently begun working my way through this anthology—indeed, it’s now part of my morning devotions—and have found treasures as well. Just this morning, on pages facing one another, three separate pearls stood out to me, and I sensed that God wanted me to ponder them seriously.

Under the title “First Things First,” I was cautioned, as someone who seeks to explain who God is, that something else is even more important in my life:

Oh the folly of any mind that would explain God before obeying Him! That would map out the character of God instead of crying, Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?

While the Lord does want me to explain Him to others, that explanation would be hollow if my life doesn’t match up to what I’m saying.

Another one, titled “The Author’s Fear,” mirrors my own concern as I attempt to write these blog posts and publish books:

If I mistake, He will forgive me. I do not fear Him: I fear only lest, able to see and write these things, I should fail of witnessing and myself be, after all, a castaway—no king but a talker; no disciple of Jesus, ready to go with Him to the death, but an arguer about the truth.

The possibility of being a castaway after all I’ve written over the years is a horror to my soul. I don’t want to be merely a talker/writer. I don’t wish to be only an arguer about the truth. I earnestly seek to be a real disciple of Jesus.

Then MacDonald truly hit home with this entry that Lewis called simply “Salvation”:

The notion that the salvation of Jesus is a salvation from the consequences of our sins is a false, mean, low notion. . . . Jesus did not die to save us from punishment; He was called Jesus because He should save His people from their sins.

Some people just want to escape the consequences of their sins, in this life and the next, rather than wanting to stop sinning entirely. That’s not real salvation. Only when we desire to cast all sin out of our lives are we at one with God.

We should abhor the sins themselves, not just seek to have sins forgiven and then continue in them. That is a false concept of salvation because it is not based on genuine repentance and a heart that wants a relationship with the One who made heaven and earth and our own souls.

I appreciate those reminders this morning. I needed all three.


Any study of American history will show that our system of government requires some compromise. Rarely does anyone get everything desired in legislation. The rule of thumb should always be whether one has concocted a principled compromise or has succumbed to a compromised principle.

As I look at the GOP replacement plan for Obamacare, I’m trying to figure out which type of compromise this one may be. Frankly, I’m far too busy at the moment to delve into all the inner workings of the new plan, but I have tried to keep up with reactions to it. Most conservative groups, it seems, are anything but overjoyed with this particular compromise.

To be fair, we must realize that Obama put into operation something that might be hard to extricate ourselves from completely at first:

Most legislative monstrosities created by “progressives” are like that:

I’m sure there was a lot of debate on how to proceed:

Republicans were bold in passing a total repeal when Obama was president, but how much of that boldness was phony, based on the reality that he would veto anything they passed anyway? They could look principled while not having to deal with the results of their actions. Not so any more.

To all of you who thought Trump was going to go all out and force repeal, you might have missed something: out of his mouth also came the assurance that the federal government would make sure everyone is covered.

Now, how does that square with total repeal?

Let’s be honest here: Trump was saying whatever sounded good; he had no real concept of how to dump the Obamacare fiasco and set up something else. He just wanted to get elected.

So what approach have Republicans settled for?

Good luck with that.

Conservative critics of the new GOP-acare point to the penalty that still remains for those who allow insurance to lapse, while still maintaining that the individual mandate has been eliminated. If you continue to be fined for not having insurance, isn’t that an individual mandate?

One cartoonist expresses how many conservatives are feeling:

Meanwhile, I’ll try to be one of those who offers this reminder: the Constitution says nothing about the federal government having the authority to legislate on the matter of healthcare—at all.

Why not try that and see how the market might meet the need? Naw, too scary.

Scarier than what we have now?

When the Weird Becomes Normal

Bruce JennerLet’s get down to the basic facts here. Bruce Jenner is still Bruce Jenner. He may call himself Caitlyn, but he’s only given a man a woman’s name. He may look different now, but the changes to his sexuality are external only.

Neither is he brave or courageous for doing what he has done, no matter what ESPN decides. In fact, he is going with the flow now, since everyone in the elite circles, including his former wife and his children, are applauding his makeover. Let’s be honest: he will now make millions with a “reality” TV show.

There’s nothing courageous or real about what Bruce has done or what he has become. And I am not the least bit mollified that he calls himself a Republican; all that does is water down the traditional Republican values for which the party says it stands.

Rachel DolezalRachel Dolezal is white, not black. Her parents are Caucasian; she is Caucasian. She may want to “self-identify” with blacks, but she is not black. It’s one thing to align philosophically with a cause, but something else entirely to pretend, lie, and deceive—words that all mean the same, by the way.

If you go into her “story” even more, you discover she has concocted an entire mythology: she had to hunt with a bow and arrow as a child, she actually has a black father, etc.

Here are some more facts: when she was a student at predominately black Howard University, she sued for discrimination against her as one of the white students. Hmm, she apparently wasn’t always “black.” She also has claimed to have been threatened by racists, pointing to a letter she supposedly received in a post office mailbox. One problem: the “letter” had no postmark; it obviously was placed in the box by someone with a key to the box—Rachel Dolezal.

What we have here is someone living in a fantasy world. Yet she is allowed to explain herself on NBC’s Today show as if she is a rational person. She is living a lie; she is the epitome of a liar.

It’s not that I don’t have compassion for her, but she is not a victim of anything or anyone; she has made so many bad choices in her life that she has ended up where she is now. The delusion is self-induced and she is responsible for her behavior.

By the way, I can see a bright future for her as well on reality TV or some other venue.

Bruce Jenner and Rachel Dolezal: the new face of America? When the weird becomes normal, we are on the verge of cultural collapse.

Only a Biblical foundation to our thinking can reverse course for the culture. Those of us who still “cling to our religion,” as Barack Obama so artfully put it, are the hope for our future. We need to be about our Father’s business.

On Kingship (Presumed) & Cynicism

I have a lot to say about President Obama’s little speech on immigration last night, and the ramifications of his actions. Yet what irks me right up front is his attempt to use the Bible to justify what he has done. In his remarks, he solemnly intoned, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”

First, I don’t believe for a moment that Scripture informs his life and actions; using it as a prop was purely political. But there is also the insinuation that the one nation on the face of the earth that has been most open to a flood of immigrants throughout its history is bent on oppressing strangers in its midst.

Frankly, that’s just insulting.

Legal immigrants—people who follow the rules—have never been oppressed, and illegal immigrants—those who chose a different path—have hardly been lined up and executed for their illegal crossing of the border. Never has a country treated a group of lawbreakers with so much magnanimity.

Try crossing into Mexico illegally sometime. That’s when you will witness oppression.

So please, President Obama, don’t insult either our intelligence or our heartfelt receptivity toward immigrants.

The problem with what the president has done is twofold: it defies the entire concept of the rule of law and it is a blatantly cynical political stunt for his own partisan advantage.

While claiming fidelity to the Constitution, Barack Obama has declared that document null and void.

Got a Pen

Too many commentators are acting as if this is the first time he has done this. I would argue he has done it many times, but this blog today doesn’t need to turn into a dissertation—it would be too long to read. And I would argue further that he isn’t the first president to overstep his boundaries. Franklin Roosevelt, by executive order, forced all Americans to turn in their gold to the government. That was pretty dictatorial. He got away with it only because we were in the midst of the Great Depression and he had a stranglehold on Congress.

Additionally, as I’ve taught students over the years, Congress itself has routinely overstepped its constitutional authorization by legislating on matters that are not found anywhere in that document.

So, ignoring the Constitution is not a new thing. But President Obama has highlighted this trend by simply claiming publicly that he has the authority to do on his own what he has no constitutional authority to do. He basks in his own illegal actions, so why should illegal immigration bother him?

He claims Congress has abdicated its responsibility to act, so therefore he must. His rationale for doing so wouldn’t wouldn’t pass the logic test in other circumstances:

Couldn't Wait

He says that other presidents, both Democrat and Republican, have acted in a similar fashion on immigration, citing Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. There’s one glaring difference, though. Both Reagan and Bush issued executive orders solely on the manner in which a congressional action would be carried out. You see, Congress passed an immigration law in 1986; those two presidents were simply laying out a few rules for how to put it into effect. Our current president decided to make his own law instead.

In case you’re wondering: no, the president, in our constitutional system, cannot make laws.

Without a Single Vote

The president oversees the executive branch of the government; he is not the government. When he tries to be the entire government all by himself, he’s no longer a president but a monarch of some kind. The political cartoonists have rightly skewered him for this amazing abuse of power:

Not a King

What makes this cartoon particularly effective is the undeniable fact—recorded for all to see now and throughout future generations—that President Obama, on something like 26 occasions, publicly declared that he had no authority to act on his own on the immigration issue. Yet that now seems to have changed, at least in his own mind. Frankly, I don’t think he ever believed what he said about the limits on his authority; he only said so because he didn’t think he could get away with it. Now, with a stinging electoral defeat and no more elections to worry about, he has cast aside that fiction and acted on what he has really believed all along.

Another cartoonist, though, decided a different image was more appropriate:

Not the Emperor

‘Tis the season.

He will sign the executive order today. I hope he will understand if the general public might see it as something more:

Executive Disorder

The other half of the problem, as I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long post, is the pure cynicism and political nature of this action. It’s Barack Obama rubbing it in the face of his political opposition and casting them as the villains who want to “oppress” the strangers in our midst. They need to acknowledge his power and wisdom:

Kiss My Ring

To further my thesis of his cynicism, I need to point out that as he embarked on his presidency six years ago, he claimed that immigration reform was his top priority. Yet, for two full years, with complete control of Congress at his fingertips, he offered no leadership on the issue. It was all political rhetoric. He’s far more interested in scoring political points against Republicans than solving a very real problem with compassion and respect for the rule of law simultaneously.

You see, his executive order solves nothing permanently. All it does is provide a greater incentive for future illegal immigration:

Welcome Mat

If he is a king, this might be the most accurate description of his reign:

King of Denial

The problems with this presidency go far beyond his response to illegal immigration. They run the gamut of the entire policy spectrum, and we will continue to be subjected to his reign of error for two more years. How will Republicans respond to it? Hopefully, with wisdom and an ability to communicate truth to the public. This “kingship” must be challenged.

Short Break

I will be out of town this week, and without a sure internet connection on my laptop, so I’m taking a short break from my ponderings. I will be back, though, one week from today. Join me again next Saturday.

Why “Pondering Principles”?

Every once in a while, I like to remind readers of this blog just why it’s called Pondering Principles. A principle is a general truth from which one can begin reasoning to proper conclusions with respect to God, man, and society. One must make sure, of course, that the principles one espouses are valid.

Self-Indulgence Principle

Here are some principles I believe are demonstrable in Scripture, and that are confirmed throughout history. These form the basis for all my commentary, whether on faith, culture, education, government, or a score of other subjects:

  • We all bear the image of God within us. We are inherently valuable because of that image. Each of us is distinct and unique, called by God for the purpose for which He created us. That’s why I am strongly pro-life in my views. To destroy innocent children who never have made any choices in life is to destroy someone made in the image of God. The same applies to the handicapped, the seriously ill, and the aged.
  • We were created with free will, and therefore accountable for our actions. God expects us to govern ourselves according to His precepts. We have the capability to make right choices. Sin is a voluntary rebellion against the reasonable and righteous commands of God. This ability to govern oneself extends as well to families, churches, various voluntary organizations, and civil government.
  • The model for civil government can be found in the basic principles God established for ancient Israel. Contrary to popular perception, He didn’t ordain kingship, but instead gave His approval to a system that allowed for representation, the separation of powers, and different levels of government authority. Totalitarianism, in whatever form, is not God’s goal because it violates the first two principles mentioned above.
  • God has given man property, both internal and external, over which He wants us to exercise control. Internally, we have the ability to think, feel, and choose (as already noted), and we must never go against our conscience, which informs us of basic right and wrong. Externally, He has ordained private property of various types so we can learn how to manage things properly. Any economic system that denies private property hinders us from learning in this “school of accountability.” Therefore, I believe that a free-market, private-enterprise system is what this principle supports.
  • Due to that free will given by God, we are to enter into cooperation with others voluntarily. All external unions should be based on internal unity. Forced unions without unity will eventually fail. This applies to marriage, church, all clubs and associations, and even civil government. The United States is the prime example of a government that was deliberated, ratified, and established by the voluntary consent of its citizens. All collectivist forms of government, whether called socialist or communist, destroy the inherent, God-given value of the individual and violate self-government and the voluntariness of union.
  • Only by taking on the character of God, i.e., becoming Christlike, will this world operate in the way God intended. Every deviation an individual makes from the righteousness of God has a ripple effect throughout society. When a society accepts sinful actions as normal—abortion, homosexuality, theft, racism, etc.—there will be disastrous consequences. This flows smoothly into the final principle, which is . . .
  • We reap what we sow. If we sow Biblical principles in our society, we will reap blessings. Conversely, if we sow unbiblical, humanistic seeds, we will suffer the bad effects of those corrupted seeds. In my view, the wide acceptance of evolutionary theory spawned a wide array of evil applications in America. Biological evolution morphed into a social Darwinism that has led us away from God’s path. The key to any sowing of seeds is the education system. When it is controlled by government (first mistake) and then an unbiblical philosophy is inserted into it (second mistake), we create a society that ultimately rejects Biblical truth and the morality that stems from it. This is why I write often about education and its failures.

These principles don’t necessarily cover all of God’s truth, but they are a good start. They form the basis for all of my thinking about how Godly principles should apply to us individually and to our society as a whole. That’s why this blog is called Pondering Principles.