Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Character Matters - at least to me

English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...
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I've written about Political Candidates and Moral Character before and it seems that can only come back around to this topic again. South Carolina is known for picking the candidate for the G.O.P nomination for President of the United States and this past weekend, voters decided on Newt Gingrich, former congressman and Speaker of the House from Georgia. Gingrich is one of dubious moral character, having cheated on previous wives and possibly asking for an "open marriage" from one of them. Surprisingly, Gingrich also won more votes from "evangelical" voters than anyone else with Mitt Romney winning more votes among the "non-evangelical" crowd. What this appears to be is a contest of evangelicals wanting to beat the Mormon candidate rather than picking the best person for the job, that person not being Romney or Gingrich, in my opinion. Surprisingly as well, the endorsement by the self-proclaimed 150 evangelical leaders of Rick Santorum didn't hardly help him at all.  In short, "evangelicals" in South Carolina have lost their moral compass and have chosen someone they knew from Georgia in order to simply beat the Mormon candidate. At least that's how I see it. To me, moral character matters in addition to pro-life records and consistent voting records. Santorum has a consistent pro-life record, mostly, but he does not have a consistent voting record, especially when it comes to big spending. My vote went to Ron Paul, the most consistent of the candidates and the only one most likely to get this country back on track if he were to win the election in November. It's not about beating President Obama, it's about consistency and on that, my conscience is clear.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Church Discipline Scenario: Abortion Doctor

In late May of 2009, abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down inside his church in Kansas (Source: USA Today). Outrage poured out at this doctor's assassination. This particular doctor was not just an abortion doctor, however. He also advocated for and performed many late-term abortions. He lived under the fear that someone would take his life one day with the many threats he had received over the years. What is interesting about this and something I never noticed was that this man was a member of a church, a Lutheran church. He was serving as an usher in the church. During the week, he would kill unborn babies at a point where the baby most likely would survive outside the womb. He would then serve his church on the weekends by ushering. Now that the scenario is being set up and how most Bible-believing Christians see abortion as murder and therefore a should we respond in our own church should a member be known for performing abortions?

Some verses to ponder...

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

(Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

(1 Corinthians 5 ESV)

The latter is referring to sexual immorality, but could refer to other sins in general as well. Would you be willing to execute church discipline on a church member who's occupation is the killing of unborn babies? Should we be practicing church discipline?

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Final Four (G.O.P. style)

Republican presidential candidates are picture...
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So, the Republican race for the G.O.P. nomination for President is now down to four, with attacks mostly coming from the top two nominees in South Carolina. The contenders are Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. If you know me, you know that I'm probably going to vote for Ron Paul. In this day before the South Carolina "first-in-the-south" Open Primary, I'm going to give you another quick run-down of the candidates, with my take on them.

Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House in Congress in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. He is primarily responsible for pushing a balanced budget in the '90s and keeping a Democratic President in check with a Republican Congress. That's about the only good thing I can come up with on him. He is a Southerner (from Georgia) and that's probably why a lot of people around here like him. It's how Jimmy Carter got elected.  Newt has also flip-flopped on issues over the years, so that you don't which way he may go on an issue. He is a conservative, pro-life candidate. He has "returned" to the Catholic faith in recent years and claims to be a family one-woman man now. I don't trust him. He's a rich politician, as they all are, and yet, his personal life has been in shambles. Who is there to believe about his personal life with other women? And yet, he wants to deny what his ex-wife (whom he cheated on) is saying about him with regards to open marriage. We've seen this type of person in the White House before with and intern.

Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts and a businessman who has made a lot of money. He practically saved the Salt Lake City Olympics from going under through his business skills. He is a good businessman. He claims to be pro-life, which is another point toward him. However, he is a Mormon. Now, you may say, so what to the religion side of things, but can Mormons be trusted. They are wishy-washy on their doctrine when it becomes expedient to do so. Their founding and doctrines are very closely related to Islam (with the exception of the everyone becomes a god thing), so much so that they have earned the label, the Islam of America.  If Romney were a Muslim, I'm pretty certain that he would definitely not be leading in the way that he is. The problem with Romney is that he's not consistent in his politics. He was pro-abortion and now is against it. He was for mandated healthcare (instituting it in Massachusetts) and now he's against it. So, who is the real Romney? What's to say he won't change when he's in the White House. He may be another Obama and just full of broken promises.

Rick Santorum was the Senator from Pennsylvania before being ousted by Bob Casey in 2006. Santorum also worked alongside Newt Gingrich in the '90s to push the balanced budget and welfare reform to President Clinton. That being said, he is also very much for racial profiling, even saying that all Muslims should be suspect. Now, who's to say who's a Muslim or not? Can you simply tell by the color of their skin? He wants to keep the Patriot Act around which gives unprecedented powers to the Federal Government over our liberties.  He's all for the failed "No Child Left Behind" law which basically passes children on whether or not they learned what they're supposed to or not. He has voted for many spending bills during his time as a Senator when President Bush was in office. He believes the War in Iraq was justified, when it is widely known that it was a made-up war. Now Santorum may be a family guy. He has a large family and cares about special needs children, even having one of his own. He is very pro-life. He is a homeschool dad and he too is Catholic.  I don't believe he is the fiscal conservative that the White House needs. Romney and Gingrich may be better at fiscal matters.

Ron Paul got into politics because of fiscal matters. Try to find some dirt on him and you won't find any. Most of what you find are distortions of truth and hatchet jobs. One newspaper recently tried to make the case that Paul was using taxpayer money to fly first class when he could be flying coach to save money. That's quite hypocritical considering that probably all the candidates are flying first-class. Paul is the only candidate who doesn't have a house worth over $1 million (it's for sale at about $350K).  Paul desires smaller government, the withdrawal of most of our troops from places around the world in order to rebuild our military to do what they were originally built for - to protect our nation, a securing of our national borders, the abolishment of many federal departments such as the IRS, education, and many others, and he is pro-life.  Some have taken issue with parts of his pro-life stance in his pushing it to the states. But, as a constitutionalist, he's pretty right on this. Unless an amendment is put to the Constitution, it is the state's right to ban or allow abortion on demand. He is the only candidate, I believe that doesn't believe in exceptions to abortion, such as in cases of rape or the woman's life is in danger. Many say his foreign policy stinks. But in reality, it makes sense. Our military is stretched thin, being the world's policeman in many quite random places. He's not anti-war, but he is for "just war". The Iraq War was not just, whereas the Afghanistan conflict was until we lost our focus, that is, not going after Bin Laden.  To be honest, Ron Paul makes the most sense for a Constitutional President. He has what it takes to bring the government back down out of it's debt. President Obama has created more debt in 4 years than Bush did in 8 and there are still people who think he's done something good.  The only promise he's kept is doing something about healthcare, and he only broke it even more.

In Summary, my vote is and will be with Ron Paul. I don't trust the other three candidates, based on their records, religion, and personal lives. Ron Paul is a committed Christian and he lives by his beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only candidate to put a statement of faith on his website. He supports homeschooling and believes in school choice.  He is consistent on every issue he has fought on while in Congress. This will probably be his last time to run for President. Let's make it count and let's not make it something we'll regret. Do you really want another George W. Bush in the White House or do you really want Obama to keep his position? Incidentally, have you noticed how much the media doesn't highlight Ron Paul very much? It's usually Romney in first, Gingrich in third, and Santorum in fourth in the media. The media knows something the average voter hasn't latched onto yet. Paul is probably the only candidate that could take on Obama well.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA, PIPA and the Christian

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18:  Protesters demonst...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Yesterday, many internet sites decided to "blackout" their sites in protest of two bills currently sitting in Congress. One is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA - House Bill 3261) and the other is the Protect IP Act (PIPA - Senate Bill 968). Both are dangerous bills to America's freedom of information on the internet. While I do believe that companies should be able to receive the money that is due them, and that these bills are well-intentioned, I also believe that these bills go too far. As followers of Christ, we should be opposed to online piracy and be willing to fight it whenever we can. However, the language of these bills indicates that every site on the internet will be succumbed to scrutiny and could be seized if even one complaint is raised. Religious sites could be easy targets by those who don't like religion. We've seen this happen in the Apple store when a few complaints caused the takedown of some Christian apps because of "anti-homosexuality" issues with the apps. This could happen widespread on the internet with these bills. I could not write what I do without the fear that I could be taken down because one person felt I infringed on his liberties. Do you see the hypocrisy yet? Or even the dangers? I realize these bills are supposed to be targeting online copyright and piracy infringement. Yet, they can and most likely will be abused for so much more. Contact Congress and let them know the dangers of these bills.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Common Misused Passages of the Bible - Matthew 18:15-20

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

(Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

Many people seem to like to use the last verse of this famous passage from the Bible as justification for any kind of prayer meeting or church service that God is blessing. How often have you heard people say this in a prayer when there is only two or three gathered there? Put the verse into context and we see that this is related to church discipline. Jesus is saying that when there are two or three agreeing on a topic of church discipline or disciplining a brother in Christ in agreement with each other, He is there with them agreeing with them. Of course, it's not vogue to exercise church discipline, but it is Biblical. Thoughts?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Free Porn Filter for Your Home PC or Network

Image representing OpenDNS as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Someone in my small group recently told me about a free online porn filter for your PC that also speeds up your internet connection. I had heard of OpenDNS before, but had never really attempted to use it. Apparently they have added a family parental controls feature for free. There is a premium version, but apparently the free version does quite well. As my children get older and get on the computer more, I don't want them randomly getting to sites as well it protects you from going places you should not go. The features of the OpenDNS FamilyShield are:

  • Instantly blocks access to adult websites. No complicated configuration.
    FamilyShield is pre-configured to block adult websites across your Internet connection.  Just turn it on and go.  The filter is always up-to-date, adding new sites 24/7.
  • Flexible parental controls that protect every Internet-connected device in your home, instantly.
    When you set up FamilyShield on your router, every device in your home gets protected. That means everything: your kids' Xbox, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, and even their iPhone.
  • Built-in anti-fraud and phishing protection.
    Take the guesswork out of identifying fraudulent sites. FamilyShield automatically blocks phishing and identity theft websites.
  • Makes your Internet faster and more reliable.
    Setting up FamilyShield frees you of frustrating, intermittent Internet outages and makes Web pages load faster, which makes your overall Internet connection faster.
  • Free.
    OpenDNS FamilyShield is free to use for home networks. Some limitations apply.
The premium version adds stats so that you can see what's being visited (or attempted to visit) on your network, and premium customer support. Many people recommend adding anti-phishing software and anti-spyware software to your home computers, but I've never had the need for them. I run Avast as my anti-virus software, which includes some of that. It looks like OpenDNS adds to that as well. If you're looking to add quality blocking to your internet for cheap or free, I think OpenDNS is a great solution.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Mormon, a Christian, and a Catholic run for President...

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...
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And people seem to like the Mormon. I know the focus is on New Hampshire today, but the primary I vote in is only a week away, the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary. Actually, there are two Mormons, at least two Christians, and at least two Catholics running. Why define them by their religious category? Because I don't believe that you can separate who you are in your religion from you are as a person, try as one might, especially if one is of another political party. With a week to go, let's examine the top candidates to see where they stand and have stood on issues. Iowa brought out the top three candidates as I have stated in the title of the post.

Mitt Romney seems to continue to dominate the polls right now. He belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but never references his faith in his speeches. Much debate has been going on in Christian circles about whether to vote for a Mormon candidate and much has been swept under the rug in favor of a candidate that might be able to defeat President Obama. Frankly, Romney's record speaks as big of a volume to me as his religion does. He instituted a failing health care plan in Massachusetts, of which the health reform act signed into law by President Obama was based on. He never references that in his speeches and I'm quite sure that he is probably not the candidate to attempt an overturn of the health reform act. Romney also used to be pro-abortion until it appears it became expedient for him to be pro-life. Yes, Romney may be good at business and maybe he turned the Salt Lake City Olympic games into profit, but his record speaks for itself. He was governor of Massachusetts. That gives him executive experience, but that doesn't make him a fit candidate. He cannot be trusted. His religion cannot be trusted. I don't care how much people say that Mormonism has changed. Who's not to say that some prophet will issue a new decree changing something else? Mormonism is not nor will it ever be another Christian denomination unless they throw out the book of Mormon, which obviously does not appear likely. Mormons consider anyone not of the church to be apostate and have some very weird beliefs similar even the Church of Scientology. We know how weird they are. Christianity is not without it's kooks, but we also like to ignore them.

Ron Paul seems to be the top Christian in the race. He has constantly been misunderstood, misquoted, and thrown under the bus. I don't think that's quite fair to him. Sure, he is quite Libertarian in his stances on things, but it's Constitutionalist, for the most part. He defers to state's rights. He is probably the most pro-life candidate running. Remember, he was a former OB/GYN and has delivered thousands of babies. Now, that doesn't make someone pro-life necessarily, but he is very anti-abortion. Some point to a recent debate to try to prove that he's not as anti-abortion as he says, but they miss his point in stating that the Federal Government was wrong in getting their voice in the abortion ring. It should be the states who decide, not the Feds.  He's all for a constitutional amendment barring abortion, but since it's not in the Constitution, we must defer to the states. The same goes for legalized drugs, particularly marijuana. He's not for legalized drug use, but for allowing states to decide the issue. On economics, it's the reason he got into politics. Nixon abolished the gold standard, Paul saw the writing on the wall that we would be in the financial state we are in now, and he got into politics. On foreign affairs, Paul is no different than the founding fathers. We have made a mess of ourselves in Iraq (a war we never should have started). In turn, we made a mess of Afghanistan, because we never finished it. Paul is not an isolationist, as some assume. He is simply a realist. We are losing a lot of money overseas to made-up reasons for war. He has isolated a lot of the Christian voter, however because of his stance on Israel, even though it is probably more Biblical than most of the Christian voters' stances. He is an advocate of homeschooling and parent's rights in raising and educating their children. One thing is for certain, he clearly holds to his line and does not have much of a record of change.

Rick Santorum was the surprise second-place candidate in the Iowa caucuses. To be honest, I don't know enough about Santorum or his record to make an adequate judgment call. I do know he is Roman Catholic. I know he is pro-life. I also know that he has voted for a lot of spending when he was in Congress. I have not seen or heard him speak very much. The evangelicals seem to love him at the moment as an alternative to Romney. He was the author of the Welform Reform Act in 1996, which the Democrats like to take credit for since Bill Clinton signed into law. He is also a homeschool parent and and advocate of homeschooling. The problem I have with Santorum, perhaps, is that he seems too much like the standard G.O.P. candidate. He says all the right things just to get elected and just follows the party line. We've seen this before and we had eight years of war and spending.

I'll do a quick run-through of the other candidates. I absolutely do not trust Rick Perry. He's the other Christian candidate in the race, but he's too wild and unpredictable as a politician. We must remember that he overrode his state legislature to force parents to vaccinate their girls against a sexually-transmitted disease that causes cancer. Is that the kind of candidate you want? He has never gone back on what he did with this. We already have a president that thinks he can force people to do what he wants regardless of the consequences. Newt Gingrich is just another flip-flopper. Sure, he was one of the primary checks against President Clinton in the 1990s, but I don't trust him either. Stands for family values? Really? How many times has he been married now? And how many of those were because of adultery? Who knows anything about Jon Huntsman other than he's a Mormon?

With all that said, let us be careful who we vote for in this election. Many Christians even voted for Obama last election and look what we have. We don't have much. I'll be honest, I've voted for candidates based on electability or just to beat the other candidate. Although, I did vote for a Democrat candidate for Senator in the last election because he was more Republican than the Republican candidate. Someone told me I shouldn't do that because voting Democrat is voting for liberalism, which is really a dumb statement. As Christians, we really need to separate our political affiliation from Christianity. We cannot and should not be simply single-issue voters or voters on electability. If President Obama gets elected again, so what? He more than likely be a lame-duck President anyway, based on the last four years. To be honest, there's only one candidate that I fully trust and it shouldn't be too hard for you to figure that one out. Will he win? Probably not, but at least my conscience will be clear.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free Audiobook for January 2012 - "Knowing God" by J. I. Packer

Cover of "Knowing God"
Cover of Knowing God is offering J. I. Packer's classic, "Knowing God" for free this month. Visit their site, add to cart, and download. Enjoy listening and may be you be encouraged in your faith.

Download Here
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