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What If Pearl Harbor Had Not Been Attacked?

Pearl Harbor
U.S.S. Arizona in flames after being bombed

December 7, 2018, was the commemoration of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which occurred 77 years ago. That event propelled America into World War II in 1941 changing the course of world history.

The events leading to the attack reveal that Pearl Harbor Co-Commanders Admiral Kimmel and General Short ignored significant warnings from their superiors prior to the fateful Sunday. Moreover, other ignored warnings and mistakes in communication on the morning of December 7 increased the devastation.

What If It Never Happened?

What might have been the consequences if Pearl Harbor had never happened? For example, what if the warning given on November 27, 1941, had been taken more seriously,

The notice of November 27, to Kimmel, began, “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning,” went on to say that “negotiations have ceased,” and directed the admiral to “execute an appropriate defensive deployment.” Kimmel also was ordered to “undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary.” The communication of the same day to Short declared that “hostile action is possible at any moment” and, like its naval counterpart, urged “measures of reconnaissance.”

Perhaps the attack would have been called off if the Japanese saw the increased defensive preparation of the U.S. Navy 10 days before December 7. If that had been the case, the United States probably wouldn’t have entered WWII until later, possibly not for a long time.

Without the timely entry of America into the conflict, it is unlikely the Axis forces could have been defeated. At the very least, a victory would have cost far more in time, lives and destruction.

What Was Meant for Evil…

 

Pearl HarborLet us make no mistake. The attack on Pearl Harbor was an evil act.

The bombing was a surprise attack resulting in a decisive victory for Japan. The American casualty toll was enormous, while Japan’s was very small.

2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. … Japanese losses were light… 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.

Moreover, the intent was evil as well. It was meant to destroy the American fleet and allow the Empire of Japan free reign to perhaps conquer China and all of southeast Asia.

However, what was obviously meant for evil turned out to be critical to stopping the global evil of the Axis powers. Perhaps, what man meant for evil purposes was used by God for the triumph of good over evil.

Pearl HarborToward the end of the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, we find the story of Joseph, one of Jacob/Israel’s sons. As a young man, Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his own brothers. He serves faithfully and ends up in prison falsely accused of sexual crimes against his master’s wife.

Later, Joseph is released from prison by Pharoah himself in order to interpret some ominous dreams Pharoah has been having. Joseph is rewarded by being elevated to second-in-command of all of Egypt.

A few years pass and Joseph’s brothers are forced to look for food in Egypt because of a severe famine. Joseph meets them and at first, he is not recognized by his kin.

However, he reveals himself to his brothers and they respond with fear. They remember the harsh treatment they inflicted upon Joseph and fear now he will punish them from his new chair of authority.

Here is the account from chapter 50 of Genesis:

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:15-20

War Cannot Be Sanitized

The day of December 8, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan, and it was granted.

Almost four years later, WWII ended with the unconditional surrender of Japan after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. The horror of a nuclear catastrophe became a real possibility from that moment.

A-Bomb Terror.inset.3.12.8.2018
Atomic cloud bursting over Hiroshima, 2 minutes after the explosion, at 8:17AM

Over seven decades have passed since then. Though the threat of nuclear war remains in this world, no use of these horrific weapons has as yet been employed.

In fact, once fearsome enemy Japan has now become one of America’s strongest allies in Asia. That is unquestionably a good thing for international relations and peace.

There are at least two great lessons to be garnered from Pearl Harbor and WWII. The first is that war cannot be a sanitized event.

Attempts to make war less destructive, while somewhat laudable, are also short-sighted. Attempting to prevent war is better than trying to make war more palatable once it is upon you.

A good illustration comes from the classic sci-fi series “Star Trek.” In an episode from season one of the original series, two planets are involved in a war by computer.

Computer attacks were launched and the results recorded how many casualties from each planet there would be. In accordance with a 500-year-old agreement, those numbers of people, randomly selected, were to be killed in disintegration chambers.

Captain Kirk destroys the war computer of one planet because his crew is selected as casualties. The horror of the Planet Council to this action is countered by Captain Kirk’s reasoning.

He tells the head of the Council that they have made war so clean that they have no reason to end it. It has resulted in 500 years of war the two planets had little real motivation to actually come to peace.

Death, destruction, disease, horror. That’s what war is all about. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided! You’ve made it neat and painless. So painless, you’ve seen no reason to stop it. Since its the only way I can save my crew, I’m going to end it for you; one way or another.

Real war, once begun, must be ended as decisively as possible by victory as quickly as possible. The horror of the cost of such a victory should always give us pause.

Evil Didn’t Get The Last Word

A second great lesson from Pearl Harbor is that evil didn’t get the last word. No matter how hopeless it seems and horrible the situation is, God is still in control in ways beyond our fathoming.

The United States was ill-prepared for war with Japan, let alone Germany and Italy on December 7, 1941. I am convinced that somehow, God had a hand in the near-miraculous turn about in less than a year.

Pearl Harbor
U.S.S. Yorktown during the Battle of Midway

In fact, less than six months later, June 4, 1942, the Battle of Midway was a stunning victory of America over the Japanese Fleet.

 

 

 

During the four-day sea-and-air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers while losing only one of its own, the Yorktown, to the previously invincible Japanese navy.

Man may intend much for evil, including world war. But with courage and faith in God, the evil can be defeated, as Pearl Harbor reminds us.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Paul Walsh’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of DVIDSHUB’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of shehan peruma’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of United Nations Photo’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Cassowary Colorizations’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal

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The Left’s War Against Immigration [Video]

Immigration

The hottest story on the planet at the moment is taking place at the southern border of the United States. The unwashed masses of ordinary Americans are being assured by the Leftmedia’s press politburo that illegal aliens rushing the border are only a problem because of President Trump.

The now infamous photo of a woman running from tear gas with children in tow is offered as evidence of Trump’s evil intent regarding immigrants. Surely all those racist and misogynist Trump supporters will realize that the Left is only trying to help open their eyes and they will turn away from this obviously insidious man.

Of course, this means that the Left must ignore or downplay the fact that President Obama did exactly the same thing to other groups of illegal aliens trying to rush the border. Moreover, he did this on hundreds of occasions.

In truth, the Left isn’t interested in engaging the facts of the matter. Nor are they bothered about the destructive fruit of their efforts on the American citizen.

Their sole concern is the completion of their malevolent mission against America. Those people and institutions destroyed as a result are considered acceptable civilian casualties of war for the sake of the Leftist ideal.

Encouraging Illegal Aliens Harms Immigrants

ImmigrationThe truth of the matter is that encouraging illegal aliens to break in and enter the United States harms immigrants themselves. Not the leftist-lionized illegals, rather those who are legal immigrants are substantially harmed.

As a clarification to those who might wonder why I use illegal aliens to identify the wannabe invaders. I use the legal term for these persons, as should be used for we are discussing the rule of law and sovereignty of a nation.

Legal immigrants are really the only people who deserve the title of immigrant. They have earned the name because they entered America respecting the laws of America as their first act.

Many of these same people go through a grueling process to gain their citizenship as an American. A process that is costly in many respects.

These honorable and courageous people are being ignored in the current debate, much to our detriment. They are also adversely affected by invading illegal aliens, and their voices should be heard.

Those immigrants who come to America legally by visa, green card or become citizens are in the same pool of workers as any other American. Thus they suffer the same fate of seeing their wages undercut by the cheaper labor of illegals.

Legal immigrants also suffer just like other Americans with the drain on social and governmental resources caused by illegal aliens. The legal immigrant suffers as well from the increase in crime that often accompanies large numbers of illegal aliens in many areas.

Favoring Illegal Aliens Profoundly Insults Immigrants

ImmigrationThere is a very insulting message sent by the Left to immigrants with their favor of illegal aliens in America. It is the message that their patience, perseverance and hard work were the efforts of fools.

In an excellent piece by Don Feder, he writes,

My wife’s father was born and raised in Barbados. He immigrated to the United States when he was 17-years-old. Although it would have been easy for him to enter the country illegally, he chose to enter legally and stood in line for hours to be processed through Ellis Island.

He was proud to be a legal immigrant his entire life, until his death in 1985. He worked for the United States Post Office in New York City and in Arizona. He also served as an officer in the New York City Police Auxiliary.

Living in Arizona he was very familiar with the influx of illegal aliens and often spoke out against them. He believed that every person wishing to enter the United States do so legally, as he and so many others did.

The hubris of Leftism declares this immigrant a chump for following the law. By leftist thinking, illegal aliens are far more valuable than American citizens, especially those who immigrated legally.

After all, immigrants who become citizens are on record with an oath of loyalty to the United States and its Constitution. Loyal American citizens are always a source of irritation to the Marxist Left and their minions.

Immigration
Immigrants become citizens in Naturalization Ceremony at Grand Canyon National Park

The fact that a former resident of another country would renounce his homeland to become an American is even worse for the Left. That person willingly embraces what they reject; that America is a great country and patriotism is a worthy ideal.

Moreover, illegal aliens are easy to attract and recruit for the Left. They are praised by the Leftmedia and given a plethora of handouts thanks to our Left-leaning politicians.

This serves to increase a population the Left will push hard to turn into a legal voting block. Should that fail, they always have their race card to pull which facilitates not requiring ID to vote and makes voter fraud their art form.

The Border Wall Can Save Immigration

The current situation at the southern border is untenable. Dishonest politicians in collaboration with the lying Leftmedia exacerbate the problem of an illegal alien invasion.

On his November 28, 2018 radio program, Buck Sexton superbly highlighted these lies of the MSM concerning this recent “caravan” of illegals,

Number 1: “It’s mostly women and children.”
Number 2: “It’s mostly valid asylum seekers.”
Number 3: “No criminals (in the caravan)”
Number 4: “No external organizers”
Number 5: “The troop deployment is not helpful”
Number 6: “There is no threat to U.S. personnel posed by this caravan”

Border patrol agents on the scene at the border stated the following revealing the truth and countering these lies.

President Trump made solving this problem the keystone of his campaign in 2016. The promise to “build the wall,” was repeated often during the campaign as the biggest solution.

It is the one major promise which has yet to be fulfilled. In fact, there is no timeline or substantial funding for a wall at present.

This is surprising considering that both the House and Senate have been held by Republicans for the past two years. It is to the shame of many RINO “never Trumpers” that we do not have the needed security of a border wall.

Without such a physical barrier, there is no way to control the southern border onslaught America is under today. If America is under such assault, immigrants are as well.

Israel and San Diego Show Walls Work

ImmigrationThe question of a border wall’s effectiveness has already been answered. Yes, a border wall does work, both in other nations and in America.

American ally Israel and the city of San Diego have both shown positive results by using physical barriers at their borders.

In a 2017 statement by Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis, he said concerning Israel,

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a report titled “Securing Israel: Lessons learned from a nation under constant threat of attack.” The report came after a trip Johnson made to Israel where he met the Israeli prime minister and other security officials. The report notes that the number of people illegally crossing the Israel-Egypt border was more than 16,000 in 2011 and less than 20 in 2016, a 99 percent decrease.

San Diego used to be the primary entry point for illegal aliens in the 1980s and 90s. Almost half of all border apprehensions in the United States in 1991 were in the San Diego area.

“Before this primary fence was built, migrants were coming north with no fencing, no barrier to stop them,” [San Diego Border Agent Tekae] Michael said, noting that before they began constructing the initial barrier in 1991, people were “driving basically straight on through the border.”

“So this primary fence was built to stop those huge loads of people and narcotics,” she said. These days, it’s relatively quiet. Michael notes that on this tour of the border wall, it’s unlikely we’ll encounter many people trying to cross illegally—something that would have been a common sight in the 1980s and ’90s.

ImmigrationPresident Trump was right to emphasize building the border wall during the campaign. His efforts to build the wall in the first half of his first term have been frustrated by his foes both Democrat and Republican.

The president still believes this must be done soon, and he is correct. The wall is necessary for American security despite the whining from the Left.

If the Left really cared about immigrants or immigration, they would support building the border wall. Instead, they chant at their violent protests,

No Trump, No Wall, No USA at all!

If the Left cared about immigrants, they would not support sanctuary cities that harbor illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes including rape and murder. Instead, left-leaning federal judges declare that President Trump cannot withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.

The truth is that Leftists despise immigrants for getting in their path to an imagined Socialist “utopia.” They would rather open the border to a flood of illegals and help destroy the greatest free nation the world has yet known.

Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them, that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. Psalm 106:4-5 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Travis Wise’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Matt Harriger’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Elvert Barnes’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Doryce S’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of North Charleston’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally publshed in TIL Journal

The Second Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

The photo above is part of a larger poster from the Pilgrim Hall Museum. It represents about half of the survivors of the Mayflower that were at the second Thanksgiving.

We have once more come to the time of Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving is a unique holiday because of its origins in American history. It is the quintessential “American” holiday.

However, it is no stretch to say that Thanksgiving in America is not well recognized or observed in the land of its origin. It is, in fact, largely ignored by most of the media (with the exception of football on TV) and certainly by businesses throughout the nation.

If you doubt this, simply visit any shopping mall or large outlets such as WalMart in the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Even online businesses engage in virtual silence concerning Thanksgiving.

This is in some ways understandable. Most would see that in a strictly economic sense, both Halloween and Christmas are far more profitable than Thanksgiving.

However, this attitude concerning the holiday reflects a profound error among Americans. The error of failing to understand that great blessing requires great gratitude from those greatly blessed.

The Astounding Abundance of America Demands Thankfulness

ThanksgivingIt is obvious to almost everyone that Americans enjoy a level of material abundance unmatched and unprecedented in history. Obvious to everyone but many who actually live in America.

The reasons why many Americans are not so grateful are too many to articulate here. However, one of the very important ones is historical amnesia within the populace.

Historical amnesia afflicts each generation to some extent. Experience can only be lived by those existing in a particular time.

The hardships of previous times should inform us to live with abundant gratitude for present abundance. Yet, many learn to quickly criticize conditions which would be the envy of people from a harsher past.

Moreover, many in my native nation do not recognize their current abundance in relation to much of the rest of the world. For example, the average family living in official poverty in America possess multiple vehicles, televisions, computers and cell phones.

Additionally, the diet of such a family is high enough in calories to make obesity a serious problem among the poor in America. Such are the differences between ‘First-world’ and ‘Third-world’ problems.

A look at the origin and motivations for the early Thanksgiving celebrations may help alleviate this harmful historical amnesia. With God’s aid, perhaps it can help foster a little more gratitude among us as well.

Why the Second Thanksgiving?

ThanksgivingMost are vaguely familiar with the characters involved in the first unofficial Thanksgiving. The actual history of events at the Massachusetts Bay Colony is less well-known.

The first Thanksgiving was a profound event and signaled the beginning of a remarkable 40-year peace between the Pilgrims and Massasoit tribe. However, the story of the second Thanksgiving celebration is perchance more instructive on what Thanksgiving should mean.

The second celebration came a couple of years after the severe hardship of the 1621-22 winter made worse by the unexpected arrival of more colonists from England. During a portion of that winter, the colony was reduced to a daily ration of 5 kernels of corn apiece! 

Authors Peter Marshall and David Manuel characterize that time writing,

(Five kernels of corn-it is almost inconceivable how life could be supported on this.) But as always, they had a choice: either to give in to bitterness and despair or to go deeper in Christ. They chose Christ. And in contrast to what happened at Jamestown, not one of them died of starvation.

They survived the next spring due to help also unexpectedly arriving from England via another ship with extra supplies. However, the next planting season of 1623 proved perilous.

Thanksgiving

 

 

 

 

A lengthy drought of 12 weeks threatened all of their crops with destruction. It was so long that,

…not even the oldest Indians could remember anything like it.

However, a remarkable fact was recorded by Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim leaders of the colony. It was their response to the draught and failing crop.

Now were our hopes overthrown, and we discouraged, our joy turned into mourning …because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in His anger to arm Himself against us. …These and like considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end, a day was appointed by public authority, and set apart from all other employments.

The day was set aside and the fasting and prayer began. Winslow records that after eight or nine hours of this going on, clouds began to gather and a rain began which would last the next 14 days straight!

The Celebration of Thanks to God

The Pilgrims repentant hearts brought Divine favor to their land. They were moved to once again throw all of their hopes on God, and they were rewarded.

ThanksgivingThe miraculous change resulted in a bumper crop of surplus corn, which they traded with the Indians. A second Thanksgiving Day was declared and made ready for.

 

 

It turned out to be an even bigger one than the first, with 120 Massasoit braves and the Chief with his wives attending. As with the first celebration, they brought much turkey and venison for the feast as well.

It also turned out to be a wedding ceremony for the Governor of the colony, with the Massasoit Chief as his guest of honor. According to one guest’s recollection, there were about 12 venison, plus a multitude of other meats, such as chicken and pork, and other delicacies served for the wedding alone!

Yet, before any part of the meal was consumed, a very special course was served first,

…on an empty plate in front of each person were five kernels of corn …lest anyone should forget.

ThanksgivingThe creators of what we call Thanksgiving Day lived in a harsh time, harsher than today’s Americans can know. The harshness of their past led to a great appreciation for the times of blessing.

Those Pilgrims also lived in a manner foreign to many today, a manner of daily dependence upon the Lord for everything. A manner which fostered a daily response of thankfulness to the Lord for His provision.

I pray that this Thanksgiving Day will spur us together to live a life of thankfulness to God who has provided so much more than we deserve. Moreover, I pray we will understand anew that His blessings are for the soul to prosper and grow closer to the Lord who loves us always.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Psalm 107:19-22 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Light and The Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Power Books, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Lee Wright’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Omar Barcena’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of WELS net’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of CraneStation’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Sharon Tate Soberon’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
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All other sources linked or cited in the text

First published in TIL Journal

Kindness: The Graceful Virtue

Kindness and grace

Number five in a seven-part series on virtue

The virtue of kindness can be a confusing concept to understand because it can be defined in many ways. Perhaps the best way to understand kindness is to examine other words associated with kindness.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary uses two important words in defining kindness. Those words are affection and favor.

Kindness Is an Expression of Affection

If one demonstrates kindness to another, it expresses a level of affection toward that person. A fine example of how this is manifested in life is found toward the end of the book of Acts in the New Testament.

Kindness and grace

Paul and his companions had just survived a shipwreck and found themselves stranded on the island of Malta. Luke, Paul’s companion and chronicler, records the kind actions of the natives to their group in chapter 28.

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Acts 28:1-2 [ESV]

The Greek word translated here as kindness is philathropia, the same word from which we derive the English word, philanthropy. It means a feeling of good, or fondness of humankind in general.

In other words, a kind person is one who shows an affection for other people in general. Thus kindness could be defined as an inner motivation to help others, even strangers, especially when they are in need.

As we notice in the passage, Luke was impressed by what unusual kindness these strangers showed by their actions. They welcomed them in and made a fire to shield them from the cold and rain.

Kindness Is A Demonstration of Grace

Kindness and grace

The word most often translated as “grace” in the New Testament is charis. Among the definitions of this Greek term is “favor.”

Paul the Apostle writes using this term in Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [ESV]

Grace given by God is more than mercy for sin, though it is certainly that. Grace is also a demonstration of the favor of God.

Kindness is directly linked to grace by Paul earlier in Eph. 2:4-7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ [ESV]

Kindness Helps Enable Grace

Kindness, as noted by Paul in the passage above, ultimately is an act of God. Moreover, it is an act whereby God displays “the riches of his grace.”

The ultimate act of kindness is given to us by God Himself. He sees the desperate need to be freed from death in our sin and ‘in kindness’ supplies grace to meet the need.

The Cross and kindness

How does God do this? Because of His ‘great love’ Jesus is executed and raised from the grave to pay the price for sin and offer the gift of grace.

The grace of God is offered because of the kindness of God. His kindness is shown to others in many ways through we who have already received His grace.

That is a key difference between faiths like Islam and Christianity. Islam demands submission through fear; Christ kindly calls to the heart in love.

Islam says to conquer and kill your enemies to advance the rule of Allah. Christianity teaches that force is to defend and rescue the helpless.

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4 [ESV]

The kindness that one shows to another in ways large and small provide an opportunity for the heart of another to be softened toward God’s grace. To paraphrase an old saying, “I’d rather see a sermon lived than to hear a sermon preached.”

A Modern-day Example of Kindness to Grace

I was attending a Christian music festival a few years ago and witnessed a moving testimony of kindness leading to grace. It was delivered by a young woman who identified as a lesbian.

She gave her story of how her journey into that lifestyle had come about, and I was impressed by her courage and forthrightness. More importantly, she testified of one particular church group and the kindness they showed to her regardless of her sexual preference.

Kindness and grace

She said that it began with an invitation to play on a church softball team. She was a bit wary, as she was also a gay activist who had already encountered other ‘christian’ groups that exhibited hostility to her.

However, she accepted the kind offer because she both loved sports and had a level of trust with the person who invited her. She ended up becoming pleasantly surprised with the treatment this team gave her.

She remembered that her manners were somewhat crude at that time. For example, she would often let loose with a string of profanity when she missed a play or made a mistake in the outfield.

Some of the young ladies on the team were disturbed by this and went to their coach, who also happened to be the pastor of the church. They asked him what they should do about this.

His advice was, “Just keep loving her, mistakes and all.” He knew God would work in her heart when she saw the reaction of loving kindness from His people.

That force of kindness through others did move this woman to seek God’s grace. She responded in sincere repentance and faith in Christ.

Through such kindness, God draws others to see His love and the greatest kindness of all, Jesus dying on the cross for each one. That is why kindness is the graceful virtue.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament, William F. Arndt and F. Wilber Gingrich, University of Chicago Press, 1979

Top Image courtesy of duncan c’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Art Gallery ErgsArt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Evans E’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Evans E’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of BK’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal

Armistice Day 100 Years Later

World War 1
World War 1 Memorial Statue

November 11, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, aka World War 1. You and I know it better as Veteran’s Day.

Veteran’s Day exists on November 11 because of Armistice Day in 1918. The “war to end all wars,” as it was then called, didn’t accomplish the task of ending wars.

In fact, many who have studied WW1 conclude that the terms of Germany’s surrender planted the seeds for the next, and even larger, conflict two decades later.

Be that as it may, it is proper and right to remember the First World War in all its history and the sacrifices it entailed.

How Did the Great War Happen?

The incident which sparked the conflict was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in July of 1914. Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire and he was shot to death by a Serbian nationalist.

World War 1
Statue of Kaiser Wilhelm

This swiftly developed politically until Austria-Hungary sent untenable demands to Serbia as a response to the killing of the Archduke. Austria-Hungary was supported by German Kaiser Wilhelm’s forces, while Serbia was backed by Russia.

With assurance from Wilhelm that they would support Austria-Hungary with their military might, they declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

Within a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and World War I had begun.

The “allies” formed the group headed by Russia at the time. The “central powers,” of Germany and Austria-Hungary were soon joined by the Ottoman Empire and these formed the opposing nations for the bulk of the war.

Fighting In The Trenches

A defeat of German forces at the First Battle of the Marne in Western Europe began the bloody campaign of ‘trench warfare’ which decimated forces on both sides. The Germans had hoped for a quick victory in that battle which took place only 30 miles from Paris.

However, French and British forces pushed the German Army back until the lines stabilized north of the Aisne River in France.

The defeat meant the end of German plans for a quick victory in France. Both sides dug into trenches, and the Western Front was the setting for a hellish war of attrition that would last more than three years.

World War 1
Drawing of French Soldiers at Verdun

Fighting in the trenches during WW1 was a hellish exercise. Combatants on both sides suffered weeks of exposure to all the elements, and a new disease called ‘trench foot’ inflicted thousands.

 

 

 

 

Trench foot, or immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that results from your feet being wet for too long. The condition first became known during World War I, when soldiers got trench foot from fighting in cold, wet conditions in trenches without the extra socks or boots to help keep their feet dry. Trench foot killed an estimated 2,000 American and 75,000 British soldiers during WWI.

The trench-warfare casualties went beyond disease alone. The long battles left mountains of dead soldiers from both sides.

Particularly long and costly battles in this campaign were fought at Verdun (February-December 1916) and the Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916). German and French troops suffered close to a million casualties in the Battle of Verdun alone.

When I first read about the length of the Battle of Verdun I was stunned that it lasted almost a full year! It is difficult to even imagine the level of carnage and suffering produced by just this one battle of the unprecedented Great War.

The Dawn of Modern Warfare

Much of what we now take for granted as part of war made the first appearances in WW1. For example, the fearsome flamethrower made its debut during the war.

Tanks were first used during the battles of the Great War. Here was an armored juggernaut that could move rapidly and rain explosive devastation upon the enemy.

Inset.3.11.13.2018The first combat using airplanes was seen on the European battlefields of WW1. Bombs were dropped by hand on targets, while bullets were fired by rifles from the cockpits of biplanes and triplanes.

With the advent of air power also came the first appearance of aircraft carriers at sea. These floating platforms eventually replaced the battleship and remain vital even today.

Chemical warfare was introduced and gas masks were first used to counter it during the fighting. Terrible concoctions such as mustard gas inflected horrible, lingering death throughout the war.

America Breaks the Stalemate

Americans were uninterested in participating in WW1 under Woodrow Wilson’s isolationst policies. The official American entry did not occur until April 2, 1918 after multiple sinkings of American ships by Germany.

Though the war had been raging for almost four years, the conflict was basically a stalemate until the United States joined the fray. Russia had already withdrawn because of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and signed a peace agreement with Germany.

World War 1
Wounded American in France, 1918

American military forces filled the void left by Russia, and the allies began making swift gains and pushing the enemy back in all areas. By the fall of 2018, most of Germany’s allies in the “central forces” were ready to give up.

The Turks from the crumbling Ottoman Empire signed a peace treaty with the Allies in October, followed on November 4 by the remains of Austria-Hungary. Finally the Germans threw in the towel and the hostilities ended with the signing of the Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The Treaty of Versailles

The official end of WW1 was with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. Germany was allowed almost no voice in the negotiation of the treaty, and was severely punished for its part in the war.

The boundaries of Germany were redrawn and they were assigned to pay war reparations to the Allies. They were also effectively disarmed by being restricted to a small army and only able to possess certain types of weapons.

World War 1
Palace of Versailles

 

 

Another result of the Treaty was the creation of a new League of Nations, which Germany was prohibited from joining until 1926. These and other crippling financial penalties were placed on Germany

The German government signed the treaty under protest. Right-wing German parties attacked it as a betrayal, and terrorists assassinated several politicians whom they considered responsible.

Moreover, the Treaty itself was not approved buy the U.S. Senate as they believed its restrictions were overly harsh. Indeed, Versailles created a growing resentment within Germany which allowed the initial rise of Hitler to the Chancellory in 1933, and WWII six years later.

Why It Matters to Remember

There were more than 16 million casualties during WWI. Destruction of such magnitude demands that we understand what went wrong and how to avoid this abomination.

The Great War has many important lessons for us 100 years later. Lessons we must continue to learn in each generation if we are not to repeat the horrors of that age.

Lessons about the inherent error and immorality of empires. Empires become infected with expansion by force, and wars are then inevitable.

Lessons about how to treat a defeated foe. The rise of National Socialism in Germany might likely have not come about if the victors would not have sought revenge.

I pray that we have learned enough in the past century to remain free and peacefully deal with those who oppose liberty. However, the final lesson among many of WWI was that we must always be prepared for those who will bring war to us, because it really wasn’t “the war to end all wars.”

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

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First published in TIL Journal

Trump Confounds the Left and They Just Don’t Get It [Video]

Trump vs. Antifa

In the first half of President Trump’s first term, political and cultural turmoil has seemed the norm. The consensus of opinion is that America is a ‘divided country.’ One can read that phrase in every news outlet from Left to Right these days.

However, far fewer would agree about the reason for the hostilities. The conservative would say the Left’s juvenile and violent behavior is the reason.

The Left would blame, surprise, (sarc) President Trump. In a manner, both of them are correct.

Blame could be assigned to the president because he has chosen to resist the mantra of the Left. He doesn’t fall into line as Republican Presidents have before.

In that manner, Trump is guilty of confounding the Left and motivating them to stir division and hatred, all the while blaming him for their actions.

Trump Confounds the Left

Inset.image.1.11.9.2018

President Donald John Trump truly confounds the Leftist Political establishment. That’s because he is unlike any politician they have yet dealt with, in three particular ways.

 

 

  1. Trump doesn’t need the job. He can afford to brush aside Leftist critics because he can be independent.
  2. Trump isn’t docile. Unlike previous presidents, he will hit back when he feels criticism is unwarranted.
  3. Trump taps into the people directly. He is masterful at circumventing the Leftmedia through social media and the internet.

These factors combined with the President’s boundless drive and the dedication of his base make him an enigma to leftists. An enigma they are not equipped to solve.

The Left is sent into apoplectic shock when trying to deal with Trump. They have thrown all the vitriol they can at this president to no apparent avail.

The Leftmedia, in particular, are extreme in their hatred for everything about President Trump. They are so absolutely sure that they are in the right that ordinary rules of decorum should not apply to them.

Here is a recent example from CNN’s Jim Acosta. He thinks he is so important that he can ignore rules everyone else has to obey.

This is but the latest of Acosta’s grandstanding and making the story about him. He was justly rewarded for his vanity and bullying by having his White House press credentials revoked.

The Left Will Never Understand

Inset.image.2.11.9.2018The idealogical Left will never understand Trump and his supporters. They are not emotionally equipped to do so.

The Left cannot tolerate discent because they believe they are the educated elite among us. Therefore, they think they are more enlightened than the rest of us and we should listen to them.

This attitude results in a narcissitic view of life. Scratch a true leftist and a grandiose self-importance lies beneath.

This has been evident to anyone who has tracked the speeches of former President Obama both in and out of office. He exemplifies the narcissism of the political Left.

In a mesmerizing video, Grabien highlights all the times Obama referenced himself in his speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday. The total tally: a stunning 119 times. …those 119 self-references surpass the 76 times he referenced himself in his 33-minute gun control speech on Jan 5, 2016, the 28 times he brought himself up in a 12-minute speech following a mass shooting Oct 1, 2015, and just barely edges the incredible 118 times he talked about ol’ Barry in a 33-minute speech in India on Jan. 27, 2015.

In fact, Obama used the first-person singular 199 times in a speech on the economy in Austin, TX. The 2014 remarks were 5,500 words long and,

In President Obama’s speech, he used a first person singular, on average, every 12 seconds.

The most recent exhibition of the former president’s sense of self-importance came during the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections. He decided to continue an unprecedented series of public critiques of the current holder of the presidency.

Bill Whittle gives an excellent analysis of this in a video recorded on 11/5/2018, the day before the election.

Leftist Self-Importance Leads to Fascism

Inset.image.3.11.9.2018One of the latest screeds from the Left is that President Trump is constantly ‘attacking’ the media and the First Amendment. They don’t like that he has called them “fake news,” and “the enemy of the people.”

While name-calling may not be nice, it can hardly be called an attack on freedom of the press. The “fake news” people haven’t been ordered by Trump to stop airing or printing stories, no matter how false.

CNN and their allies may call the yanking of Acosta’s credentials an attack on a free press. In reality it was preventing a showboat from monopolizing the microphone so that others in the press could exercise their rights.

Conversely, the Left has engaged in acts to supress press freedom. Back in 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice illegally spied on reporters, seized records from reporters, and even invaded the home of a journalist.

a federal SWAT raid on a reporter’s home, which resulted in the seizure of her private notes and the likely unmasking of whistleblowers within government. Following revelations about lawless spying on reporters and even charges against a journalist of being a “conspirator” by the Justice Department, the explosive story about the raid unveiled last week is causing a fresh wave of outrage — and deep concern.

The “wave of outrage” and “concern” was short-lived in the Leftmedia of that time. The story was gently pushed aside after a short period of obligatory reporting.

Inset.image.4.11.9.2018Obama was never called a “fascist” after engaging in this clearly fascistic behavior. Trump is called a fascist non-stop by every left-wing journalist, politician, and activist.

Since Trump became president, real fascism has become a common tactic of the Left. One of the leading organizations participating in this is the misnamed ‘Antifa,’ short for ‘anti-fascists.’

The cowardly thugs of Antifa are now infamous for their Gestapo-like tactics at their “protests.” People are routinely bullied, and beaten, and harassed if they express any doubt or defiance of the Left’s storm troopers known as Antifa.

One of Antifa’s satellite organizations known as “Smash Racism DC” recently protested outside in a mob outside the home of FOX News personality Tucker Carlson. He was preparing for his show but his wife was there alone fearing the screeching fascists who almost broke down Carlson’s door.

Shortly before Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson was set to begin Wednesday’s edition of his show, a mob of Antifa protestors descended on his Washington, D.C. area home to threaten him and his family with violence.

Resisting the Left’s “Resistance”

A symbolic title the radical Left has given itself is the “resistance.” This is another misnomer for these miscreants based on their phony labeling of Trump and his supporters as Nazi’s.

They have borrowed the term from the French “Resistance” against Nazi occupation in WWII. The Left uses such a term as they use most words, to bolster their own self-righteous actions.

Inset.image.5.11.9.2018Why do they continue in this hateful direction? It is because they simply cannot admit their own error.

They remind me of a line from the mini-series Nuremberg, spoken by the character of Hermann Goering to a group of fellow prisoners. One former Nazi general blurts out that Hitler should not have committed suicide.

He states that, instead, Hitler should be facing the judgment alongside them. Goering explodes opposing that view because it would mean something intolerable.

It would mean they would be giving the world license to denounce Hitler and Nazism wholesale. It would mean they would have to say, “We were wrong,” and that cannot be abided.

The Left has the same mindset as the brainwashed minions of Hitler. They would rather do or say anything rather than admit, “we were wrong.”

There are two tactics I suggest briefly to aid in resisting the ‘resistance’ movement. First off, engage in patience with prayer, followed by persistence with purpose.

Patience and prayer were presented in more detail in my last piece. Persistence with a purpose must be framed in terms of what the purpose is.

The purpose of resisting the unholy leftist ‘resistance’ is to advance toward a more free republic in a righteous manner. This requires a fully rational, reasonable and peaceful response to political and personal attacks.

It also requires a level of self-knowledge and humility which will admit that help from the LORD is necessary to succeed. Invite God to become the decision-guide for our lives and for a righteous response to the malevolent Left.

These are the best places to start as individuals and to continue with as like-minded groups. Pray, plan, and persist with patience and God’s purpose, the best purpose will prevail.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7 [ESV]

D.T.  Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001.

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First published in TIL Journal

Patience, The Hardest Virtue [Video]

Patience is a virtue

Perhaps the most common word regularly associated virtue in patience. Most have heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue.”

Virtues are supposed to be good characteristics in a person. Attributes that are beneficial and to be desired.

Yet, patience is not desirable to most. Why not?

Perhaps that is because patience is misunderstood by most. Nor do most want to pay the price patience demands.

The Misunderstood Virtue

I submit that if you asked people what they believe patience is, most would say it means waiting calmly for something. Furthermore, when asked if this is a good quality, most would say yes.

However, patience is a seldom-practiced virtue, especially in the information age. The results of one survey in 2015 by a banking group show that,

nearly 80 percent of respondents rating themselves as being patient, but in reality:

  • 96 percent of Americans will knowingly consume extremely hot food or drink that burns their mouth; 63 percent do so frequently

  • More than half hang up the phone after being on hold one minute or less

  • 71 percent frequently exceed the speed limit to get to their destination faster

  • Americans will binge-watch an average of seven TV episodes in a single sitting

Thus while most believe patience is a good thing and that they exhibit it, they actually don’t show it in real life. In fact, the practice of being impatient is much more prevalent.

It has always been the case that impatient people live among us. However, the promise of instant gratification today seems to have enlarged the presence of impatience in the world.

In this manner, the meaning of patience is trivialized. We think to be patient means waiting more than 20 minutes for a meal at a restaurant, or not honking the horn after less than a 10-second delay.

The modern understanding of patience is a surface understanding. What is not understood is that patience exacts a price most are not willing to pay.

The Price of Patience

Price tags

 

 

Patience is simply the quality of being patient.  According to the dictionary, the definition of being patient is to be,

1 : bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint

2 : manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain

3 : not hasty or impetuous

4 : steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity

Notice the words used by the dictionary; ‘pains…trials…provocation…strain…opposition…difficulty, and adversity.’

The price of patience is far more than momentary irritation at being delayed. It is the price of pain, trials, and adversity.

In other words, a truly patient person will be one who endures suffering, and that is a reality all seek to avoid. It makes patience the hardest of virtues.

The Patience of Job

The quintessential story of profound patience is the account of Job from the Old Testament. Traditionally, if someone says that another “has the patience of Job,” it was considered a compliment.

Job prays to GodThe meaning behind this is that because Job stoically endured great suffering, he exhibited great patience. However, a mini-exposition of the book of Job reveals that patient waiting has a different character than we might believe.

Chapters one and two set the stage. God gives permission for Satan to test Job’s faith, and Satan proceeds to destroy all that Job has or loves.

Job literally sits on the ash-heap of his life in apparent silence for the next seven days. Then, in chapter 3, Job comes to the end of his silence by cursing the day he was born.

His ‘friends’ who had sat with him in silence then speak. For most of the rest of the story, they trash Job and claim he must’ve sinned grievously or else these bad things wouldn’t have happened.

The End of Job’s Patience

Job refuses their judgment and defends his wish for God to end his life, as well as defending himself against the charges of his companions. The bulk of Job’s defense is not to excuse himself but to cry out pleading that God explain why this is happening.

Finally, after several pleas and complaints by Job to God, and rebukes of Job by the others, God responds beginning in chapter 38. The Divine words mark the end of both Job’s patience and complaints and hold the key to how patience is indeed a virtue.

Chapter’s 38-41 feature God seemingly scolding Job for his complaints. Job’s words in chapter 42 reveal that he recognizes his ignorance in the face of his suffering.

…Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:3 [ESV]

Job suffered grievously and that caused him to question his faith in God’s judgment. After God spoke, Job repented of his complaints and humbled himself before God.

The LORD speaks after Job’s repentance and provides us with a crucial fact about patience.

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Job 42:7 [ESV]

What was the biggest difference between what Job’s friends said and what Job said? The three friends talked to Job, while Job addressed God.

True Patience Results From Faith

FaithWhen the statements of Job’s friends are examined, they contain basically two things. One is a condemnation of Job and the other is a defense of God’s seeming judgment upon him.

When Job speaks, he is also saying two things. He defends his character and directs his hurt and questioning to God.

In other words, Job talked to God, while the others just talked about God. That is the difference of faith.

Real patience is not simply waiting on God; it is waiting for God. It isn’t to ‘let go and let God,’ it is to let go and seek God even more in the middle of trials and suffering.

Author Philip Yancey explains it this way in his book, “Disappointment With God,”

…the more important battle, as shown in Job, takes place inside us. Will we trust God? Job teaches that at that moment when faith is hardest and least likely, then faith in most needed.

Patience is a virtue because it places faith in what the LORD is doing for His ultimate purposes, even when it involves suffering for us. It puts God on the throne of life and kicks us off of it.

That was a lesson Jesus taught while on earth all the way to His own suffering for us on the cross. He trusted and followed God the Father patiently and would not remove Himself from suffering He knew would come.

Patience is a reflection of faithfully turning to God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 [KJV]

A Great Example in the Midst of Loss

I preached many hundreds of sermons in my 20 years as a pastor. I have listened to many times that amount of messages in my life.

One message touched especially moved me and it is appropriate to mention it here for it exemplifies patience applied in the midst of great sorrow. The late evangelist and pastor E.V. Hill preached this as his wife’s eulogy.

I have listened to this many times and each time brings me to tears. I urge any who suffer trials today to hear this, for it is a great example of real and righteous patience.

 

May the LORD bless you and keep you faithfully patient in and through every trial now and forever. Next time we will look at the virtue of Kindness.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Holy Bible, King James Version, Public Domain

“Disappointment With God” by Philip Yancy, Zondervan, 1988

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First published in TIL Journal

 

The Distinction of Duty

Duty

Number three in a Sunday series on virtue

The oath of the Boy Scouts of America reads,

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

This quote is probably the best application in words of what the virtue of duty requires of anyone, even if they aren’t a boy scout. Duty is defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary in many ways as the word can even mean a form of import tax.

However, as it applies to individual action, Merriam-Webster defines duty concisely as,

…a moral or legal obligation

In other words, it is conduct that one does out of a sense of responsibility and commitment to what one believes is right and moral. The Boy Scout oath is a good framework for examining dutiful action.

Duty to God

Worship and respectThe ultimate duty to recognize is the duty to God. It is first in both order and importance.

Today it is also the least recognized duty among the populace. One metric that is relevant here is church attendance in the nation.

The Barna research group reveals that the vast majority of Americans identify as Christian. Similar numbers also state that their faith is important or very important in their lives.

However, as the saying goes, ‘actions speak louder than words.’ The percentage drops precipitously when the numbers turn to those who actually attend church on a fairly regular basis.

When a self-identified Christian attends a religious service at least once a month and says their faith is very important in their life, Barna considers that person a “practicing Christian.” After applying this triangulation of affiliation, self-identification and practice, the numbers drop to around one in three U.S. adults (31%) who fall under this classification. Barna researchers argue this represents a more accurate picture of Christian faith in America, one that reflects the reality of a secularizing nation.

Granted, this is somewhat of a subjective measurement. In modern practice, attending a ‘religious service’ can mean doing so with a group in an online setting.

Church empty

 

 

The picture is even bleaker when European nations are considered.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary predicts that five years from now, the number of Christians in Western Europe will have fallen by almost 23 percent since 1970. And actual attendance is abysmal, with less than 2 percent of the population darkening the door of a church on a regular basis in Britain, France, or Germany.

These figures should not be taken as encompassing all that is rightly considered duty and devotion to God. However, they are disturbing trends which should serve as a warning to America and the world.

Duty to Country

A duty to one’s country includes a plethora of other duties which support this obligation. For example, it might include a general duty to obey the laws, or pay your taxes, or to vote.

For those Christians who embrace their duty to God, those general duties to God are commanded in the New Testament. Romans chapter 13 is one famous passage attesting to that,

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval Romans 13:1-3 [ESV]

Beyond that, duty to country also includes items such as the urging of Scripture to pray for our leadership.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 [ESV]

patriotismDuty to a country is most often symbolized by the epithet of patriotism and recognized most often by military service. Yet, the idea of a “peaceful and quiet life” prevailing in a national sense requires the critical duty to provide for loved ones and family as well.

The reason providing for the family and loved ones is so important is simple. Unless the family unit can prosper in any nation, the nation itself will fall into tyranny and ruin.

Duty to Others

The next important duty is our duty as individuals to be of help to others as much as we can. This duty can be easily misunderstood as simply giving charity to those in need.

However, though charity is important, it is only one aspect of helping those around us. It includes other factors such as helping our employer by performing our tasks to the best of our ability.

The most profound manifestation of duty to others is to aid and advocate for those whom the Bible calls, ‘the least of these,’ among us. This is fleshed out by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31-46.

Inset.image.4.10.28.2018In the passage, Jesus states some specific actions which characterize duties to those not as fortunate as we may be. He says these acts include feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and those in prison, and clothing the naked.

What is often misunderstood is that duty to others rests upon the individual and not on the government. It is not fulfilling one’s duty to demand that the state care for the needy.

That attitude prevails in socialistic society and it can seem to be a good thing. However, it represents placing personal responsibility on others to help others, which is simply a shirking of duty.

Duty to Oneself

The final duty is the duty to oneself. This is the most misidentified duty of all in modern culture.

The order and conception of this duty is essentially correct in the Boy Scout oath. It says one should strive to be fit and healthy in body, mind, and morals.

PrideYet, in modern society, the idea of caring for or improving yourself have been inflated to the position of the first of all ‘duties.’ I have heard and read many philosophical statements and much religious preaching which promote this concept.

It is a concept at odds with God’s Word. And eventually, it leads to destructive ego-mania tearing themselves and others apart.

The movement toward exalted “self-esteem,” and “self-image” today lends itself toward arrogance in its adherents. A dangerous arrogance that makes self an idol worshiped by a fool.

The Scouts have it right because they are in agreement with the teachings of Scripture. Jesus put it this way,

And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35 [ESV]

Jesus is teaching about humility here. Humility is what makes room for grace in life.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 [ESV]

Christ as servantDuty to oneself does not mean inflating your self-esteem like an ego balloon. To paraphrase the late Dr. D.James Kennedy, “God doesn’t want to give you self-esteem, He wants to give you Christ-esteem.

Christ’s example for us to follow is to serve others, to think of them before ourselves. It is not to think less of ourselves, it is rather to think of ourselves less and others more.

That is the essence of the virtue of duty. To serve God, Country, Others, and Self as best we can.

Next week we will examine the virtue of patience.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

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First published at TIL Journal 

The Left’s War on Science Part 4: Erroneous Economics [Video]

Economics

The first three parts of this series dealt with the leftist distortions of climate change, abortion, and transgenderismPart four examines the Left’s erroneous ideas concerning economics.

Economics is not a ‘hard’ science in the same way as physics or mathematics.  However, economics directly affects ordinary people more than most ‘hard’ sciences.

That is seen whether one is discussing a wealthy nation, such as the United States, or an impoverished country in the third world. The everyday person’s politics are often confined by necessity to economics.

Thus economics is extremely important to the lives of each of us and our loved ones. It is to everyone’s advantage to understand the essential views of economics from both the Left and the Right.

Leftist Economics Exemplify Marxism

Economic theory has many labels. Capitalism, free enterprise, and market economics are some names of the general system favored by conservatives on the Right. Marxism, Communism, Socialism are the Left’s idea of good economics.

CommunismThe basis of leftist economics is found in the economic and political views of Karl Marx. Modern Socialism and Communism trace their roots to his work as a political and intellectual revolutionary in 19th Century Europe.

In 1847, Marx and his compatriot Fredrick Engels wrote the iconic work which birthed  Communism, “The Communist Manifesto.” In short, this formed the marching orders of Communism.

The more important book came much later. The first volume of “Das Kapital” was written by Marx in 1867 containing the philosophy of Communist thought.

It was there that the economic theory of Communism came to full flower. As Marx grew older he focused his thought on Capitalism and what he perceived as its inherent evils.

Marx believed that a Capitalist system was comprised of a class of poor workers who were being exploited by the elite rich. The solution was a state-mandated and enforced “Robin Hood” approach.

That is, the state would take from the rich and give to the poor in order to eliminate both classes and make society economically equal. In the famous words of Marx,

“From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

It Looks Great ‘on Paper’

Image 5 9.9.2018 articleAs a hypothesis, Communism looks great…’on paper.’ The problem which persists to the present is the refusal of acolytes to admit that, in practice, Communism has failed every time it has been tried.

The most recent victim to the terrible results of Communism in practice is the beleaguered nation of Venezuela. Though it is not ‘officially’ under a Communist ‘party,’ the government is unabashedly Socialist, which is a gentle way of saying they are Communist.

Socialists are unable to see that it is the philosophy itself which is unworkable. The most recent example of such is being demonstrated in the devastated nation of Venezuela. The annual inflation rate recorded last month in that country was an astounding 46,305%!

Whether under the late Hugo Chavez or his successor, Nicolas Maduro, the destructive pattern continues. What was once the wealthiest nation in South America is now impoverished and in economic freefall.

Venezuelans are fleeing the nation because of shortages of, well, everything! From groceries to medicines, is almost completely gone.

This has forced many who haven’t yet left to turn to the black market for simple food to eat. That is if they have any money left to purchase it.

For the many unfortunates who cannot afford the ridiculously inflated prices, there is a ghastly alternative.

Aside from chubby dictator Nicolas Maduro and his fellow elites, the Venezuelan people are running out of food and medical supplies. In their starving desperation, citizens have resorted to breaking into zoos to slaughter and eat the also malnourished animals; buffalo, pigs and horses are top choices on the menu.

The destructiveness of the Marxist economic/political ideal goes far beyond even a starving populace. The errors inherent in its theory have produced a death toll far beyond anything else in world history.

The Grisly Death-toll of Leftist Economics

Socialism and deathLeftist economics became center-stage as the Communist revolution in Russia exploded in 1917. Since that time, under various names, Socialism of one form or another has killed more people than any other event, natural or man-made, in history.

Understand that Socialism has various pedigrees, but the same evil end. The Nazi party in Germany was officially known as the “National Socialist German Workers Party.”

Together with Germany’s National Socialism, the Communist Socialists such as the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Communist China have racked up a body count of over 150 million people!

The obvious question this brings to mind is why. Why has Leftist economic practice failed so miserably, and caused such misery?

My layman’s analysis pins down two large reasons for this. One is that governments are not producers of wealth. When the state controls the economy, as in Socialism, it can only control what wealth is already present.

The goal of Leftist economics is to forcibly redistribute wealth in order to eliminate the economic differences between classes in society. In short, to ‘level the playing field,’ economically.

This means that those who potentially could produce wealth as innovators or business owners have no incentive to do so. After all, if they cannot reap rewards for their efforts, why expend the time, energy and money.

Greed

Secondly, Leftism fails because it doesn’t account for the baseness of human nature. It requires a belief that people are basically good; a fatal fallacy refuted by God’s Word and history.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 [ESV]

Marxist-type systems require a blind faith that the sinful nature will not sabotage the goal of redistribution. In other words, it requires people in high authority to be trusted with doling out all of everyone else’s money.

One of the best presentations about this phenomenon was given many years ago by noted economist Milton Friedman. In this short video excerpt of an interview with former TV host Phil Donohue, he presents a clear case against Socialism and for Capitalism.

The Creep of Leftist Economics in Modern America

Leftism has been on a steady creep into American society and politics for many decades. The primary venue where this asserts itself economically is in the progressive income tax system of the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.

Noted economist Walter Williams characterizes the income tax in personal terms of morality.

Surely if a private person took money from one person and gave it to another, we’d deem it theft and, as such, immoral. Does the same act become moral when Congress takes people’s money to give to farmers, airline companies or an impoverished family? No, it’s still theft, but with an important difference: It’s legal, and participants aren’t jailed.

ObamacareIn more recent times, the calamity of Obamacare has been an example of how the state is at best incompetent as well as immoral when trying a socialistic approach to health care.

America herself received a prime example of a Socialist incompetence during the rollout of Obamacare beginning in 2011. The Federal government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars trying and failing to build the healthcare website. Many pointed out at the time that there were a lot of people who could have done it better for a lot less.

Obamacare came under much-deserved criticism both before and after it was implemented. In part, because of that, it has been repackaged under a new label, “Medicare for all.”

This is but one of many forces pushing the free-enterprise Capitalism element out of the economy. However, it may be the most costly of all and risks virtual bankruptcy of the nation.

As the president rightly notes, this is another attempt at a government takeover of health care which would be disastrous. This must be opposed vigorously both at the ballot box and in society.

The only system which honors individual work is a free enterprise Capitalist system. The freedom of the individual is the basis on which God approaches humanity as well.

Unless the person chooses to follow the LORD, He will not force them to do so. Nor does He endorse human beings forcing their will upon others except where a violation of another’s rights is involved.

It is unwise to adopt a system in contradiction to His will. I pray we soon realize that the Left’s economics is very unwise and destructive.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Top Image courtesy of Petras Gagilas’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Kevin Steinhardt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Garry Knight’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of joshua_putnam’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of See-ming Lee’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Jay Oyakawa’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal

 

The Necessity of Truth Today

Truth

Number two in a new Sunday Series on virtues

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. John 18:37-38 [ESV]

Last week I began this special series with a reflection on the virtue of beauty. In my eagerness to begin, I neglected to mention some basic information.

This is the second of seven contemplations on various virtues and their meanings for our lives. There may be others who will disagree on whether seven is too many or not enough.

I would reply that seven seems sufficient to cover the basics for a practical understanding. It is, after all, considered by many to be the number of completion in Scripture.

These are biblical and philosophical musings from this author’s interpretations and point of view. It is my sincere hope that these can prove edifying to others who chance upon them.

Identifying Truth

9955531593_da22ba4ee6_mIn the modern age, perhaps the most difficult task in life is to correctly identify truth. One obvious reason is today’s overload of information, both true and false, appearing in various formats on the internet.

However, it is vital for every person to be able to determine what is true just to live each day. According to dictionary.com, the word truth is defined as,

1.the true or actual state of a matter:
He tried to find out the truth.
2.conformity with fact or reality; verity:
the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like:
mathematical truths.

There are many other dictionary entries for “truth,” but these are the most basic which apply to all the others. The first definition is the least useful because it defines truth as, well, what is true.

Entries 2 and 3 define truth as a concept. Truth is comprised of facts that best comport with what is real.

On a practical level, most people understand that truth must align with reality. Yet the question of Pilate still resonates with many when he asks, “What is truth?”

I believe this is because knowing what truth is seems easier than identifying the truth among the chaos around us. In order to successfully navigate toward identifying truth, we must first understand that truth is absolute.

The Absolute Truth

reality and truthThe truth about truth is that it cannot be denied. Truth is an absolute. This means that truth exists independent of acknowledgment.

In other words, the truth about anything or anyone exists even if no one sees it or agrees with it. This assertion goes against the prevailing leftist view that truth is relative to one or more viewpoints.

The common refrain from the Left is characterized by the statement, “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” The correct response to that statement is, “Nonsense.”

It is nonsense because it is a self-defeating statement. If there is no absolute truth, then even the statement, ‘there is no absolute truth,’ is untrue.

If one claims this statement is true, then we know there is at least one absolutely true fact. However, it is the fact that no truth is absolute!

Truth deals in reality, in facts and actualities of what is and what is not. However, identifying the truth often means dealing with falsehoods and distortions of the truth.

Faith and the Truth

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 [ESV]

FaithThe falsehoods and distortions of the truth exist all around us. In order to both identify and deal with them, we must be intimately familiar with what is actually true.

It is much like someone in a bank who must determine which bills or coins are counterfeited. In order to accomplish this, they must know every possible facet of a real bill or coin.

Yet, even the expert can be fooled by a thorough enough deception. The truth about truth is absolute, but it is also impossible for imperfect humans to know the truth perfectly.

Even science recognizes this and it is reflected in the classic scientific method. What we know as scientific ‘fact’ has been subjected to a process of testing designed to disprove the hypothesis or theory or even a scientific ‘law.’

The reasoning is that if a proposition, such as the Law of Gravity, can have serious doubt cast upon it with an experiment, it is likely incorrect. If that cannot be done, it is very likely correct and true.

Therefore, though the truth is absolute, the certainty of the truth is not. Why not? Because all of us process our environment by placing some faith in our senses to give us correct information.

In fact, that is what human beings have to do to live life at all. Sensory input tells us that we do not exist alone, that we live with others as co-workers, friends, families, and foes.

The Matrix red pillThe only alternative to this is living as though everything and everyone else we see or hear is an illusion of our own mind. Though that is an entertaining concept as seen in the fictional film “The Matrix,” it is not reality.

We are not like the character of Neo in that film. We cannot simply ‘take the red pill,’ to know the truth.

How Can We Know the Truth?

How can we bridge the gap between the truth that exists and our knowledge of that truth? There is no way to do so by relying on human sources alone.

Human knowledge and searching can take us far along the road to truth, but not to the point of perfect assurance. To get there, we must travel the less comfortable path which goes beyond the senses.

Jesus put it this way when speaking to His disciples,

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16,17 [ESV]

Jesus ChristThe ultimate, absolute truth is found through the Holy Spirit’s guidance. That guidance is available solely by trusting in God the Son, Jesus Christ.

A few verses prior to the above citation, Jesus says this,

…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 [ESV]

The truth that is necessary to go about everyday life can be garnered from many human sources. The ultimate truth which gives real meaning to life can only be realized through faith in the One who declares He is both the way and the life as well as the truth, Christ the Lord.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Top Image courtesy of Bill Dimmick’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Mathematical Association of America’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Face Thinking’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of duncan c’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Sarah Fagg’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Waiting for the Word’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

First published in TIL Journal