Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Nothing Has Changed for the GOP

  When I wrote the  book SWINDLED, I made the case that the GOP wasn't the party of freedom that it claimed to be , but rather a loose coalition of power brokers and money movers that, although ostensibly committed to slightly less government, where so terrified by the  candidacy of Ron Paul that they committed a whole slew of atrocities to  block his nomination. These  atrocities included voter fraud, financial shenanigans, and  the skirting of federal election laws.  Over and over again in primary after primary I showed that a handful of people flipped switches and pulled levers in an attempt to derail the  most serious liberty  element the Republican Party has seen in decades from  establishing any  real presence under the tent. One such individual is a man named Reince Priebus.
 Once upon a time, Priebus, but the general counsel for the national Republican Party, but Priebus's real skill seems to be  fund raising. In December of 2010, he stepped down as general counsel for the RNC so he could run for chariman.  In a letter to the delegates he said "I will keep expenses low. I will put in strong and serious controls. We will raise the necessary funds to make sure we are successful. We will work to regain the confidence of our donor base and I will personally call our major donors to ask them to rejoin our efforts at the RNC."  Having secured the job, Priebus was true to his goal, cutting the  party debt by almost half, raising over $50 million dollars. He brought some high level donors on board,  was praised by Ed Gillispie as being "on message" and having done "a great job at raising money, which is the principal  role of the RNC chairman."
  Deep pocket donors  give money to political campaigns for one of three  reasons.  One reason is  protection money, which is why  large corporations routinely finance both sides of the aisle.  No matter which  stooge wins, he's  less likely to bite the hand that has been feeding him. The other two reasons are closely related; access and influence. You pay a candidate so that when he wins, he will take your phone calls and then listen to you.  As  Louisiana governor Earl K. Long famously said " I don't buy senators, I rent them. It's cheaper." Very rarely are deep pocket donors  motivated by  principal or  genuine excitement  over a cause.  Men like Priebus understand this, and court these tendencies. The last thing  Priebus needs is an actual grassroots  movement that  is spontaneous, and can't be either controlled, steered, or tapped for large donations.  Enter the Ron Paul Revolution.

  As the  preparations began for the 2012 election,  Priebus is the individual who  pushed for Nevada to move their caucus date  from  January to February. Nevada has always been a  place sympathetic to the liberty message, and even with a large Nevada Mormon population that  would tend to tilt towards Romney, Ron Paul campaign organizers had reason to  expect great things.  But the GOP  machinery, headed by  Priebus engaged in all sorts of monkey business, including changing the times the polls were open and announcing a Romney victory when only 5% of the vote had been counted and several counties ( including Paul stronghold Clark County) still hadn't reported in. The state GOP chairperson  resigned in the middle of the night while the vote was still going on. The hour-by-hour account makes for compelling reading. Despite all this Paul wound up finishing  2nd behind Romney, and later  snagged the majority of delegates at the state convention, effectively winning the state.
  Oh, but dear friends, the last chapter had not been written yet, because Mr. Priebus ,being the money man that he is,  formed a thing called 'Team Nevada'. Priebus even  wrote their press release saying "
“Nevada is a critical state in the upcoming elections, and that is why the Republican Party is expanding our voter contact and volunteer programs across the state,” The purported purpose of Team Nevada was to expand  RNC outreach in the state.  The real reason  was to funnel money away from the Nevada Republican Party, with its Paulian sympathies, into the coffers of the Romney campaign.  Paul might have won the state, but the money  was going to Romney.
  Rolling into the Tampa convention, the national party was  struggling with impromptu and  possibly illegal rule changes that   finally managed to successfully block Paul's nomination.  One of the men most opposed to the  procedural  malfeasance going on was  Morton Blackwell. Blackwell was actually a Romney supporter, but felt that the rule changed behind closed doors the night before the convention at the behest of Romney s lawyer were  sinister and  'un-Republcian'. He was blocked, delayed, and stuck on a bus for 3 hours while John Sununu went  into hiding, lest anyone present him with a minority report challenging these new rules.  The end result was the nomination of Mitt "I am not a robot" Romney , who was  easily trounced by Barack Obama.
  The reason I  go briefly through all this history is this; 2016 will soon be here, and like the battering husband that swears he'll never hit you again, the GOP will  try to convince you they have changed.  They have not . In fact, they have changed so little that  Priebus and  Blackwell are facing off over yet another round of rule changes. Priebus has been making the talk-show rounds denouncing  convenient GOP boogey-man ( boogey-woman?) Hilary Clinton for everything  that could possibly be wrong with the world in an attempt to pre-empt her political ambitions.  This is  vastly more pragamtic than focusing on  the 'nar-a-dimes-worth-of-difference' between the two parties.  He is  flipping switches and pulling levers as  we speak, and those  GOP 2016 hopefuls  who want access to the war chest of funds have to court him, and have to say the right things. They will have to  either endorse the  warfare state or soften their opposition to it.  They will have to agree to long-standing  state pillaging programs like Social Security, and be willing to  blur the  numbers on issues like immigration.  The staus quo will not be challenged, only nibbled at the edges with  convoluted solutions that only merely shift inappropriate state power from  one pocket to another.  They will do all this while men like Priebus try to convince you that there is an Islamicist under every bush and only a robot with an 'R' after his name can  save you.  They will claim tea party roots while they pocket  vast rivers of money from  corporate donors who then will expect sympathy at best, and corporate welfare at worst.
  The same people are still in charge of the GOP machinery as were in charge of the machinery in 2012.  Don't be fooled.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rick Warren is Exactly What's Wrong with Christianity

  By all means, watch this video so that you have some context for my comments.
  First of all, Rick Warren has been  apostate for years, so I'm hardly surprised.  But he was brought onto this show for the express purpose of discussing his 40 years of  marriage, and the 'secret' to t a good marriage. He certainly  deserves to be  congratulated, and  that accomplishment is worthy of note and celebration, but what happens next is horrific and has eternal consequences.
  Now I'm not stupid. I know  a guy only gets brought on a show like this because he is a known quantity. He wasn't going to say anything new or shocking. Rick Warren was vetted years ago, and they knew he would spew some  self-help-ish platitudes. They knew he would smile for the cameras. They knew he would be a nice guy, and he wouldn't beat them over the head with the Bible.
   I don't claim to be familiar with his show other than  being aware of its existence, but there are a couple of people  on the couch there that I recognize.  Whoopi Goldberg is there, and her hatred of God, and the Bible is pretty well established, despite having a preacher for a father.  In addition she has this warped view of Jesus that doesn't match the Bible.
  A bit further next to her is Barbara Walters who has, at least enough class and  poise to  not  say whatever pops into her head.  Mrs Walters has been at this game a long time, and though  she has a passing interest in eternal things,  doesn't believe the Bible at least when it comes to salvation.
  On the far end is Jenny McCarthy, who has made her initial mark in the world  by exposing her nakedness to men for money. She flouts her  early Catholicism, but claims weird things like salvation being found in her son, as opposed to the son of God.  It's interesting that at the 1 minute mark in this video she seems to imply that  Mr. Warren's faithfulness to his wife  for 40 years  is nearly impossible.  This is  probably  a window into her life more than his. Somehow, despite her pin-up girl roots, she has rebranded herself as  a nurturing supermom and an advocate  for autism cures.  Only in America can  you pull off a turn-around like that.
  So there you have it.  Rick Warren sits on the couch  with an assortment of Bible rejecting, man-hating harpies.  He has been  brought on the show for his opinion.  Behind him on the big screen are lots of pictures of Rick Warren with his  arms outspread and a glowing light behind him, as if he was the Messiah. He's even introduced as 'Pastor' and  Mrs. Walters  claims he is one of the most influential ministers in America. The stage has been set. He has been presented as an expert by the harpies.  Whatever he says next will carry a lot of weight with the audience. The hostesses, trained entertainers that they are at least pretend to hang on his every word.  Not only does he have a rapt audience  surrounding him, he has  a TV camera and an audience of millions.  Millions of people with a Godless eternity before them and the lake of fire awaiting them.  What does he say?
  Pretty much nothing.  He says  nothing you couldn't get from any number of unregenerate  self-help authors. He has a golden opportunity to stand up for Jesus Christ, and instead he says meaningless phrases like 'Love is a choice'. Actually, Mr. Warren, 'love' is a verb.  Sometimes a noun, but usually a verb.  He never one mentions the name of Jesus Christ and only mentions God once in passing as in 'we are committed to God', whatever that means.  Which God? The God of the Bible or the god of Jenny McCarthy?
  The audience and the  hostesses heard him speak for several minutes and not once did he offer them anything more than what they had  come with. They remained without hope, and without God while he pocketed the money and  gloried in the spotlight.
  How hard would it  have been to say something like " The beginning of the foundation of our marriage is a belief in the salvation available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ"  or "If it weren't for Jesus and how he saved me from hell, we wouldn't have a  good marriage." Or " Until I repented and believed the gospel, I had no idea what love even was."  I mean, I'm willing to give the guy  a bit of latitude here.  There are only a couple of reasons he  wouldn't have said  anything like that. One reason is that  he doesn't believe anything of the sort.  The  brainless  empty platitudes he regurgitated may in fact, be his opinion on the matter.  That's pretty scary in itself, but the alternative  may be worse.  He may know the truth and be afraid to say it. If you present the Bible to Jenny the harlot, and her conscience is pricked, you don't get invited back. Oprah won't promote your book if you don't toe the party line.  If that's the case, that he was silenced by either fear or self-love,the blood of millions is now on his hands.
  Mr. Warren is a best-selling author, and quite wealthy, and there is  no danger that the producers of 'The View' will be asking me to come on  anytime soon.  Nobody even knows who I am.  But I decided years ago that I would rather do the job the way God says do it and  by consequence labour in obscurity, than to sell and out and  be put in the spotlight. What Rick Warren has isn't even worth having. A Christianity where God exists  just to  give you a better life now or to   help you lose weight or to fix your crummy marriage isn't a  faith worth dying for, and that's why the Rick Warrens of the world have no martys.  When's the last time  you heard of somebody dying for their 'purpose driven life'?
  What's worse about it all is that because he has the spotlight, and the microphone, people like him   become the  definition of what Christianity is in the minds of the world.  Those of us that try to do right are accused of  being 'mean' and 'angry by comparison. Why can't you be  more like Rick or Joel?  The reason we can't be more like Rick or Joel is because we can't sell out God like they have.
The world promotes what the world approves of, and Mr. Warren..I'm sorry 'Pastor' Warren, isn't part of the solution; he's part of the problem.
  If you want a  gutless, spineless, gelding  Christianity,  you're welcome to it.  I'm going to keep the faith once delivered to the saints.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Big 4-0

 Tomorrow I turn 40 and  between the congratulations that people have so kindly offered me sandwiched with  comments that either I am really getting old or that I am still a young man (I wish  my well-wishers would take a vote or something on this), people have   missed an essential truth; I  never  expected to live this long.  So as  inconvenient  as it is that I can't run as fast or jump as high as I once could , two factors accompany that; I never could  run that fast or jump that high to start with and statistically, I should  be in a  pine box somewhere not running or jumping at all.
  When I  got saved at the  age of 21, I  had already laid in store the seeds of a destructive life. I was in more trouble than anybody had any idea, including myself. I've never been one to do anything halfway, including sin and my excessive tendencies  were going  to kill me unless somebody intervened.  Somebody did, and I owe every  moment since that day to the Lamb of God who rescued me.  Not only did he rescue me from the eternal consequences of  myself, he  has been saving me from myself ever since. I still have very self-destructive qualities and  the convicting power of the Holy Spirit accompanied with the word of God have  conspired together to return to me the mind I threw away.  I owe him not only my continued eternal existence, but every individual day where I have been  clothed and in my right mind.
  It didn't stop there.  He gave me the John 10:10 life with a beautiful wife who has tolerated me for   13 years and counting, 4 kids who are wonderful despite being related to me, a ministry, and friends. Man, have I ever got some friends.  You see, to other people, that  angry violent,  lonely guy I once was is far away in the past but to me he's just on the other side of the mirror. I understand, more than anybody else at least some portion of what it cost Jesus Christ to get me this far. I have some  idea, at least a better idea than anyone else exactly how dark and hopeless the sewer was that I was rescued from. It gives you an appreciation for the light.
  I mentioned friends.  I have this one friend named Doug, and Doug is the quintessential church kid.  He's always been the good kid, and  got saved when he was 9 or 10, after having been in church since he was a fetus, or thereabouts. It's almost sickening, as I have no idea how he can stand me. He has  very little first hand information about how really bad and rotten the world is.  I was there the first time he kissed a girl, and it was such a special occasion we all dressed up for it.  The girl was wearing this white dress.  You should have been there. Anyway, Doug is a remarkably decent human being, and he married this  phenomenal young lady that we  probably couldn't love any more if we tried.  My wife wants our boys to grow up to be just like Doug.  I asked her why she didn't want them to grow up to be like me and she said "They're already like you.". I tried not to  read too much into that.
  Interestingly, Doug is a lot like my wife who is also an easygoing non-confrontational church kid and  a decent human being far beyond what she ought to be.  Doug's wife is intense, impulsive, confrontational, and a tad obsessive.  Do you see where I'm going here? Doug and I , in temperament and  life history are opposites. Doug and I both married  our opposites, which means we are both a  a lot like  each other's wives.  Try not to  let that get too weird, I'm going somewhere with this.
  Doug and I, despite the  differences were rescued from the very same thing.  He was rescued from  back alleys and bar fights and fornication and sin just like I was; he was simply rescued a lot earlier than I was before it had a chance to scar him.  It's common for old ruffians to be particularity grateful for God's grace in that he allows us to salvage so much of the life we were trying to destroy. But the Bible says "No temptation hath taken you but such as is common to man.." so I have to believe that a person recused 100 feet from the edge of the cliff is just as rescued as a guy dangling from the edge, and ought to be just as grateful.  I suppose the case could be made that they ought to be more  excited, and more grateful. They get all the benefits of being me now without any of the detraction of being me  back then.
 Anyway, let me go on record; it's been a good run, and if I never see 41, it's still been a good run, by God's grace. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Movies

  I was on a ‘date’ with my 12 year old.  With 4 kids, you  simply have to designate  certain times as belonging to   individual children, so in the interest of such we had dispatched the rest of the family and we were going to the movies. We were on our way to see Godzilla, (which may be the best money I’ve spent all month) and , we had just enough time to grab a burger at Hardees and wolf it down.
  Now I watch people, out of training and habit and skills of a misspent youth. It has been drilled into my skull all my life that situational awareness will save your life.  My wife often remarks that my  observational skills are almost unsettling, although  it's completely offset by my pathetic memory. I look at everybody's face. I look at everybody's hands.  I read everybody's T-shirt. I look where they are looking, and  constantly read body language. I even catch myself  counting people and mentally noting who is left-handed.  So when a group of young black men came into the restaurant, I noticed them.  They were in their 20’s and most of them had long thick dreadlocks and  black jackets on.  On the back of the jackets was a white polygon with a red star in the center and the black silhouette of an AK-47.  The name written above the logo was ‘The People’s Vanguard’.  I am aware that in some parts of the country this wouldn't warrant a second glance  but in south Georgia in May they stood out like sore thumbs. On the front of their jackets were various  pins and buttons praising Malcolm X and declaring their love and allegiance for Africa.
  It was almost movie time, but I just had to know.  I walked over and I said “Gentlemen, I have to ask;  what exactly is the People’s Vanguard?”  One of them rose immediately to the occasion telling me that the People’s Vanguard was a revolutionary army  determined to implement socialism in America and  seize the reins of power from the bourgeoisie and return the means of production to the proletariat. You and I both know that when a  20 something year old   starts speaking Lenin-ese, somebody has been  feeding him nonsense.
  “So your Commies?”
  Another member of the group, the one without a jacket or dreadlocks hastened to explain that they weren’t communists,; they were socialists.  I said “Well your clothes are covered in Soviet symbology and you just used Marxist terminology.”
“We believe in power to the people.”
“But everybody that says that really means ‘power to me and a couple of my friends’.”
  The conversation was going nowhere and Godzilla was  about to start so I told them  that as much as I would love to sit and talk to them, I had to keep an important appointment, but I was certain I would see them around town.  They invited me to a rally, but I neglected to get the date.
  We got in my car to drive the 2 blocks or so to the theater and my son was tolerating my explanations about the horrific history of their ideas (12 year olds have a hard time  focusing on the history of class struggles I've noticed) when he  asked “If they hate  capitalism so much, why are they eating at Hardees?”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Politics Is An Evil Business

  Several years back I was  accosted at a street festival by a local politician who was running for  state representative.  I'm not sure if they were already an incumbent or not, but they asked me what they could do for me up at the capitol. I  told them they could leave me alone.  I told them to not pass any more laws and  to get rid of  the ones they had.  They assured me they were big advocates of 'limited government'.  What they were really advocates of was big campaign contributions from  corporate welfare hopefuls.  They were handily elected and proceeded to  busy themselves with 'bringing home the bacon' and 'making friends' because after all, that's how you get things done.  Life marched on.
  A few years later,  with Obamacare looming, a friend of mine decided to cast his hat into the ring and challenge the incumbent.  This fellow was a true blue  liberty advocate, a reader of Mises and  Hayek.  In fact, this guy was the guy who loaned me Tom Wood's book on nullification.  We were excited, and my whole family got behind this campaign.  It was a heady beginning.  He  told me that his plan was to run for one term, make a bunch of people mad, and then return home.  The incumbent was  status quo, and our friend was a dangerous  outsider.   Not everybody involved in the campaign was  excited about his libertarian roots. From the beginning I saw that  his extremism was a source of heartburn for the people that were trying to actually get him elected.  As the campaign wore on he was  asked to tone down the rhetoric by his campaign advisers while the small  crowd of crazies  from the living room   encouraged him to continue fighting the good fight.
  What happened next may have been the worst thing to happen to him.  He won.  He did fight the good fight for a while, but the  wheels of the well-funded machinery began to wear at him in the  state capitol.  The things he wanted to get done were blocked and stymied at every turn by 'conservatives' who weren't advocates for liberty, but they were advocates of 'limited government'. His chances of repealing things and nullifying things  grew more and more minute . I specifically remember a heartbreaking conversation we had when he told me that the Republicans in my state would never allow  Obamacare to be nullified, and it was a waste of time to try.  I thought something that I did not say.  I thought 'well then why are you running for re-election?'.
  Speaking of re-election, the former incumbent financed a primary opponent against him, and he  squeaked out a victory.  Somewhere in the middle of that he  experienced some minor legislative victories (however you define victory), and began  to be liked in the  capitol. The people that opposed him and blocked him in the beginning began to  advise him and  endorse his ideas.  I told him in the  grocery store one day that he was no longer the  dangerous outsider; he was the incumbent.  Along the way he pushed for  funding to  help bring home some bacon for his district. he began to talk about the importance of  a politician  providing jobs for the community.  He fell out with the local Tea Party group that he had been an early member of. He  broke a campaign promise to  vote against a tax increase, claiming he had inside information about how necessary  the tax was.  He began to attend Republican dinners and fundraisers.  He began to prepare to run for a third term.
  The  old incumbent and  some  well-heeled friends of   theirs  mounted yet another  establishment pro-corporate welfare candidate against him in the primary.  He was  put in a position to prove all the  good things he had done in his first two terms.  This is measured by  how much money you bring  back home, because its hard to argue  for all the things you prevented from happening after all. He sent out slick multi-colored mailers saying how he has been endorsed by all the GOP hierarchy in my state.   I'm sure he'll do well in the primary, and I'm supposed to go vote in a couple of hours but I don't know what I'm going to do.  I refuse to vote for his opponent, but my friend has become , unfortunately, the lesser of two evils.I say that knowing that, in all probability he will read this.
  Please understand that all of this breaks my heart. I really like the guy. We love his family, and I'm sure he  thinks he's stayed by the stuff. I know the typical wisdom is that you do what you have to do to get the  job done. The typical thinking is that without powerful friends, without playing the game you can't get anything accomplished.  I'm sure he would make the argument that it takes a lot to get there, and it takes a lot  to stay there. I'm certain the case could be made that he wasn't elected to represent just the libertarians, but the whole district..
  My point in all this is not that my friend got caught up in pragmatism, but rather that politics is a horrible filthy,  comprising business. You have to go day in and day out and deal with people who have made it their life's work the practice of acquiring power over other men.  What are the odds they won't get any power over you?  They charm and manipulate for a living. What are the odds you can carry that fire in your bosom and not get burned?  How  can you hope to escape without  selling off at least a portion of your soul?
  If government isn't the answer, then getting involved in government cannot possibly be the answer. Those of us that truly want liberty cannot  worry and fret ourselves with running for office. The odds aren't that you will convert the machinery to the cause of liberty; the odds are that you will be converted. You will be assimilated, and you might not even realize it. If you feel yourself in any danger of 'playing the game', your only hope is to resign and run as far away from the halls of power as you can.   Let lesser men seek power over other men, we've got a world to build. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's Still Theft

I haven’t paid my property taxes yet.  I know, I know, I’m a horrible person. I don’t even feel bad about it, which probably makes me an even worse person who should be rode out of town on a rail after being tarred and feathered.  Slander me, libel me,  cast your slings and arrows as you may, I am unrepentant.
  The truth is, my taxes were due in December and I was eyeball deep into a car repair (that continued on into   almost February) plus the holidays were going on.  Paying my property taxes wasn’t really a priority.  I knew the local county government would send me a series of increasingly shrill reminders, and that whether I paid them in December or January or June, life would go on.  The sun would continue to rise, the flowers would eventually bloom, and, aside from the increasingly shrill reminders, the local county government would even go on.  So though it existed as a thing in the back of my brain, I wasn’t worried.  I would get to it, eventually. Now unfortunately, I couldn’t delay this in perpetuity because, in the world we live in, they will take ‘your’ property away if you don’t pay them ‘their’ money.  Maybe someday somebody will explain to me that particular nugget of craziness.  Either way, I haven’t paid them.
  So now it’s May, and I decided , mainly to put my wife’s mind at ease, we would make plans to pay them. I  worked a little extra and  have  part of the taxes, and  on Friday it is my intention to  go up  there and  hand over, to them, a portion of my life.  But I refuse to feel bad about making them wait.
  We have been debt free except for the house for a while now, and when I owe somebody money, I do fret about it. The other day I bought hay and chicken feed from a local merchant and was a dollar short of the purchase price.  The next day I probably burned 3 bucks in gas to make sure I got him his dollar.  It was a legitimate debt, and so I took it seriously. I had entered into a transaction with him for goods, and I had possession of the goods so he should have possession of the money he exchanged for those goods.  That’s being a good Christian, and a good neighbor; don’t make folks wait for the money you owe them.  If I had been delayed, for whatever reason in paying him, it would have bothered me and embarrassed me. I would have felt like less of a man, and when I finally got him his money, I would have apologized for making him wait.  As I recall I did apologize over the dollar.  A man ought to  pay his bills, and  ought to meet his obligations.
  The reason I have none of these reactions to my tax bill is simple; I don’t ‘owe ‘ them anything.  There was no exchange. They provided no goods and no services, just a demand for money.  In the year since I last paid this money, no county employee has to my knowledge set foot on my property or contributed to it’s upkeep.  My life is absolutely no better or easier after having paid them last year. So by what line of reasoning do they sit up in their air-conditioned office and wait patiently (not really) for my check?  What gives them the right?
  I have a friend whose opinion I respect even when we disagree, and he maintains that taxation is a prerogative of government according to the Bible.  It’s led to some interesting discussions. He cites Samuel’s predictions about the reign of Saul as his ‘proof text’.   It’s at least a more interesting reason than  “Taxes are the rent you pay for living in America”, which was  cited to me by a former co-worker. Be that as it may, the facts are simple. They have done nothing to earn this money, and I will be paying them not because of what they have done for me, but rather what they will do to me if I do not comply.  You will pay or we will remove you from your land. That’s the deal. You will pay what we say when we say it and if we decide we want more next year, you will also pay that. Stripped of all  pretenses, the relationship is entirely one of coercion, and force. 
  I will go up there Friday. Or maybe Saturday.   Monday is a very good possibility.  Tuesday if Monday falls through. Definitely by the end of the week. I am mostly certain they will get  the money by June.  I will go pay them, but I won’t do it with my hat in my hand or an apology in my heart.  I know people who would, and who would  make  various promises about  future deliverance of assets in a more timely manner.  I’m certain the  employees there at the tax office  would  cluck understandingly  at the  good intentions of the  hapless boob standing before them apologizing for being late with money they don’t owe for services they didn’t receive.  The employee probably might even have convinced themselves that the relationship is not one of coercion.  I don’t have time for such games. I will treat their institution the same way I would a mugger ; “Here take the money, we don’t want any trouble.”    I will, at least mentally, liken myself to Hank Rearden, the  Atlas Shrugged character , who told the courtroom

"If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they deem to be their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it - well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Open Letter to Ronnie Dunn

Mr. Dunn,

  I recently saw you on an absolutely horrible  daytime show that used to at least masquerade as a health information program before it  devolved into  celebrity worship and fluff.  You were there showing off your COWBOY tattoo and promoting your new album.  Honestly, sir even though I  once enjoyed your music  I hadn't thought of you in years.  Part of this is no doubt because when I accepted Christ in 1995, he delivered me from  my old music, and so , no offense, you were just a musical echo from my past.  But I remembered  even back then, when people  were giving a summation of your biography as half of the group Brooks and Dunn, they would mention something about you being a Baptist preacher.  Like I said, I hadn't thought about this in years, and my memory is pretty shaky these days, so I decided to do a little  research.
  According to the   Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture , your mother was a "devout Baptist" and you yourself "enrolled at Abilene Christian College in Texas with plans to become a Baptist preacher". Wikipedia  lists you as a psychology major there, and even says you were the youth minister at Avoca Baptist church in Avoca Texas, but you were asked to quit the school because you  were "performing at local bars".  The internet is  pretty silent about whether or not the  church allowed you to continue to serve. I mean  one would hope that a  youth minister  that has been ejected from  Bible college would be asked to resign, but it's a crazy world we live in.
  Now you're not the first to travel this road from the  church house to the  road house. From Elvis to Alabama, to  Nat King Cole to Whitney Houston; it's a pretty common phenomenon.  And the 'almost a Baptist preacher' angle gives you a  certain amount of credibility with dumb Southerners like myself who can soothe their conscience about listening to your  bar music.
  Fame and fortune would soon be yours and  one day little  heathens like myself would delight in your music.  See, I consider that  really ironic.  You had the advantage of a Christian upbringing that I did not have, and yet you chose the sewer that I was already living in. You  picked the darkness after being informed about the light.  You knew about Jesus, and presumably you knew that people like me were going to spend an eternity in hell without Jesus, but other than  giving him a passing reference in a song (in the same line as a reference to beer), you said nothing. In the 19 years after somebody did reach  me with the gospel, as far as I can tell you have still said nothing.  You have never publicly  stood up for Jesus.
  So here we are now, the two of us, almost 20 years later, you and I.  I was once a slave to sin, and have been marvelously delivered by the blood of the Lamb.  You have played the world's music this whole time and danced to the world's tune, and have  been rewarded immensely.  But there you are, presumably saved, presumably heir to the same victory that I  enjoy; with a COWBOY tattoo and  singing a song about wishing you could have a cigarette.
  The role reversal seems  so tragic to me.  You have had the public eye and the public ear for  decades now, and you've used it to  pad your pocket.  Do you really know Jesus? I hope you really are saved, but at the same time, at the Judgment Seat of Christ you've got a lot of explaining to do.

Michael S. Alford
Publick Minister

How to Study Your Bible

  I  can't say much else about  my role in the ministry, but I can, with no apologies make the following statement; I  labour in word and doctrine.  That's not a boast of accomplishment, it's a statement of effort; I put in the  hours.  I  do this because we're commanded to by scripture, but also because I am so dense it takes me a lot more effort to understand something than most of you.
  We seem to be experiencing a dearth of actual Bible study in the day and hour we live in. There are plenty of books  least claiming to tell you what the Bible says, but very little understanding and very little  actual study by the readers.  It's so much easier just to take  somebody's word for it than to   search the whole counsel of God on a matter.  So as my tiny contribution to the  body of Christ, I offer you the principles and practices that have helped me become slightly less of a Bible blockhead.

1. It's all one book-  The Bible is clear that the  actual author of the words you're reading isn't Moses or Daniel or Paul; its the Holy Spirit of God.  The Bible says that "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21)
  Because you have  different books of the Bible  dictated by the Holy Ghost to different men, the 'cultural context' or 'understanding the times in which it was written' is remarkably unimportant. All you need to consider is the context where the words actually are, and how they relate to other scriptures.  There is no need to consider any 'Pauline bias' since Paul didn't  actually author those epistles.  He wrote down what he was told (1 Thes 2:13), and  there were some things he wrote  down that God didn't see fit to  put in the  Bible (Col 4:16).  Looking at the Bible as one book of unfolding revelation and unsearchable layers makes it a lot easier to  let God show you what he said.  That also means if the  scripture repeats itself or  uses the same word or phrase over and over again, even though separated by thousands of years, it's significant.  That's how the Holy Spirit connects  the dots; with words.
2. Read your Bible God didn't give you a Bible to sit on your coffee table; he gave you a book, and books are meant to be read. "Till I come , give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Tim 4:13) The average Christian in America never reads their Bible all the way through, and are  horribly ignorant of what it says as a result.  Sit down and read with  absolutely no agenda in mind. Just read.  Start at the beginning and read through to the end, then start over. Do this until you die. Throw out  your charts and  schedules; just read. As you go through, God will show you things.
3. Believe what you're reading It is my position that I have every word  that God wants me to  have in a language that I can understand.  I believe God inspired it, and it retains that inspiration. I believe God preserved it in English, and that I have it. I can put  my faith and trust in the individual words without worrying about what anybody else says, and without searching for  the 'originals which nobody has.  The body of Christ has been nearly crippled by educated men who sit in condemnation of the word of God and have told  people that , without he help of  scholarship, they can never be sure as to what God actually said. The Bibel says in John 3:34 "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."
3. Take notes and ask questions  I  physically wear out a Bible in about  5 years, and in  the current copy that I use in my  reading, I  have  little scribbled pencil marks all in the margins. A lot of them are  references to other verses. Some of them are dates when God spoke to me about a verse.  Some of these pencil marks are questions like 'what in the world does that mean?' or "huh?".  Sometimes I get the answer later on, and next  time I pass that  pencil mark I can erase it. Sometimes I go years without an answer and I have to eventually try to transfer these notes/questions to a new Bible. Notice that I said 'try', because my track record on transfers is  pretty awful.
  In addition to simply reading, I am an obsessive  researcher.  I  read my Bible with a concordance and a pad of paper handy, and I will look at every single instance of the occurrence of a word. I'll write out  all the verse longhand, and then , starting at the  top, will read them all in context. Sometimes I'll make a chart.  For example, I wondered once if the 'mind' and the 'heart' were the same thing, so I looked up all the  occurrences of mind ( 92 times) and then heart (500).  I wrote them out, made my chart, and about 200 times  into  'heart' I  had forgotten what I was looking for to start with.  That happens.
  The Bible says that we are to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15)
4. Pray You're best bet to get an answer from scripture is to consult the Author. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)  As I've said in other places, my method of  discerning the will of God is to read my Bible and  ask God to show me his will through my daily Bible reading.  Countless times I have asked "God, what does this verse mean?"  By way of an answer, the Lord will highlight another verse which explains it.
5. Fast Don't look at me that way; fasting is a biblical concept when seeking wisdom and guidance from God.  The method and duration of fasting is a whole  separate topic, but  let me just say this; a Biblical fast is  no food only water. Anything less is an 'NIV fast'.
"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." 1 Cor 7:5
6. Last resort- Check a commentary I''m not scared of commentaries, though I  usually don't   deploy them, but the fact remains is that  God gave insight to  men who have lived and died down through the centuries and whatever  question I have, the odds are that I'm not the first person to have that question."And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2)
What  possible reason could I have  for  ignoring this great gift God has  given to the body of Christ down through the centuries of recorded insight?  Having said that, I  summarily dismiss any commentator that corrects the Bible  or tries to tell me what it should have said.  I also take everyone's  commentary with a grain of salt because after all , all flesh is grass.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Blog!!!

 I have  started a separate blog as a behind-the-scenes look at an art project I'm hoping to get published pretty soon.  It will feature stories, original art work, and step by step how to take something from an idea to a book. Please take a look and let me know what you think.