Who is Watching?

surveillance-signs-y4397371-80618-l11955-lg (1)Have you ever had that feeling that you’re being watched? It may be more than just a feeling. Comparitech, a company that is known for its, Thousands of hours of in-depth tech research, has discovered, the world’s most-surveilled cities.

After studying the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, the researchers at Comparitech have discovered the top 20 cities in the world that are the most surveilled. Of the cities that made the top 10, all of them were in China except London and Atlanta.

The proponents of CCTV cameras say they are excellent tools to help prevent crime and to monitor the flow of traffic. There are many, however, who see a sinister use of this technology. Specifically, the detractors are concerned with the development of facial recognition and the prying eyes of big government: Will the use of this technology make for a safer society at the expense of individual liberties?

While big government might abuse and misuse this technology, it’s much different with our Big God. Solomon said the eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3, NKJV).

When God sees the evil and the good in the world, we need to remember that His justice is balanced by His love, mercy, and grace. In Genesis 6:5, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually; however, three verse later, we see that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

What does God see when He observes your life? May it be a life of justice, kindness, and humility (Micah 6:8).

Are You Bushed?

Sleep-DeprivedBecause I don’t like the government tinkering with my sleep pattern, I’m not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. I’m hoping the government will eventually learn that you can play with a clock, but you can’t turn back time.

It takes some people months to adjust to the change, and they stumble around like a zombie, saying: “I’m bushed.”

Whether it’s an interruption in your sleep or some other issue, there are times when most of us have felt like we’re weary, worn-out, and at the end of our rope.  If this sounds like you, you may need to get Am-bushed.

To understand my terminology, think with me about the plight of the Hebrew people during the Old Testament days of the Pharaoh. The Jewish people were in bondage and in need of help, so they cried out to God in prayer. The answer to their prayers came in the form of a desert-dwelling, leather-skinned, sheep-herding, soon to be deliverer by the name of Moses.

At this point in his life, Moses was disillusioned. He wasn’t living the life to which God had called him, and he was running on empty as he yearned for that elusive something that would change his life.

Then it happened, and it was anything but ordinary.  Moses saw a burning bush, heard a voice, and turned aside to wipe the sand out of his eyes.  Was he seeing a mirage or was he dizzy due to the searing heat of the desert?

It was no mirage–it was majesty.  The burning bush was a bush that didn’t burn; it was ablaze; but it wasn’t consumed.

It was a spectacular sight to Moses, and he was stunned when he heard the voice of God emanating from the bush: I’ve seen the affliction of my people. I have heard their prayers. I know their sorrows. I’m going to deliver them.

Even more shocking to Moses was the news that he was to be the deliverer.  In need of confirmation, Moses asked, “Who shall I say sent me?” God replied, “I AM THAT I AM.”

Moses’ life changed on that day when he was Am-Bushed. He had felt as though he lacked eloquence, but God assured him that he was a diamond in the rough.  He had felt empty, so God filled him. His life had been meaningless, so God gave him purpose.

The life of Moses is an epic account of how God uses the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary. It’s the narrative of what God can do through you.

The Brewmeister: Larger Than His Lagers

libertyWe live in the age of chefs who are masters of culinary delights and connoisseurs of fine ales and home brewed drinks. I find it strange that these epicurean tendencies have tapped the keg of notoriety and made a brand more famous than the man.

In recent years, Samuel Adams Boston Lager has grown larger and more famous than its namesake—Samuel Adams; however, history tells another story. Adams served in several different capacities that benefited the American revolution and the birthing of our nation. Adams was a:

  • Member of the Continental Congress (1774-81)
  • Signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776)sons
  • Volunteer who helped draft the Articles of Confederation (1777)
  • Delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention (1779-80)
  • President of the Massachusetts senate (1781)
  • Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts (1789-94), and also served as Governor of Massachusetts (1794- 97).

In the pages of history, you’ll see references to Samuel Adams as the “Firebrand of the Revolution” and “The Father of the American Revolution.” To successfully achieve the revolution, Adams knew that men of character would be an essential.  In November of 1775, He wrote: Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.

Adams had connected the dots, and he believed there was a link between character and the Creator.  He said: Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness . . . In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator.

Even though Adams had tried and failed in his efforts to brew beer as a business, I think he would rather be remembered less for his lagers in life, and more for his larger than life role during the infancy of the USA.

 

Leaders: Some Rise and Some Fall

 

thumbs upIf you take a causal walk down the self-help aisle of most book stores, you find shelves stocked full of books on leadership.  A common principle in many of these books is the need to study the lives of leaders.

To accomplish this, you can thumb through the pages of the Bible where you will discover a long list of leaders.  Some them are polished and practical; others are hopeless and hapless; but, the stories are fair a fair and balanced account that opens the door that reveals the skeletons in their closets.

Two of the better-known leaders are Saul and David.  Saul, the first king of Israel, could whip most anyone, but his ego got the best of him.  Samuel, the priest, issued a stern rebuke and no-holds-barred reprimand to King Saul: Now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee (I Samuel 13:14).

The man after God’s own heart was David, and he knew the key of his strength would be a dependence on God.  David said: You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).

Like David, we can and should, look to God for strength and guidance:

  • Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.
  • Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.
  • Psalm 23:2-3: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
  • Psalm 143:10: Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

When you begin to trust in the goodness of God, you hear the rhythm and cadence of His voice and begin to walk in step with Him—He leads; you follow.

Solomon said, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Are you a King Saul who continually tried to prop himself up with his own wisdom; or, are you a David who found a life of blessings by trusting God and letting Him direct his paths?

Who has your ear? Whose voice are you hearing?  Which path in life are you walking? Are you following God’s lead?

Number 45: Donald J Trump

trump-penceThe prayers of pastors, are heard at least every four years in Washington D.C., and this was true again this year when Bishop Wayne T. Jackson prayed for President Donald Trump: We ask that you give him the wisdom of Solomon, the vision of Joseph and the meekness of Christ . . . Solomon kept peace among many nations, Joseph dreamt better for the people, and Christ who accepted us all.

Jackson was obeying the mandate of I Timothy 2:1-2: I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Regardless of our political views and how we voted, Donald J. Trump is now the president of the United States; and, whether we like him or detest him, it is our duty to pray for him.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord ~Psalm 33:12

Virtue or Vice

virtue-viceAs a young boy, I was stirred by the words of President John F. Kennedy when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

The prevailing attitude in present-day America is not that which was envisioned by President Kennedy.  Far too many among our lethargic citizenry are a paradox; they consume energy drinks and assume the rest of the country owes them a living while they watch the world go by.

There seems to be more of a focus on a person’s rights as a citizen and what he is owed and less of a conversation that focuses on a person’s obligations and duties as a citizen.  Is this due to a general lack of what the Founding Fathers referred to as “virtue?”

Virtue can be thought of as moral excellence. It is the “conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles.”

The Founders believed our nation would not survive unless its citizens were a virtuous people.

  • Patrick Henry: Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.
  • Benjamin Rush: “The only foundation for . . . a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
  • John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
  • Samuel Adams: “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend of the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue.”

Is a lack of virtue the germ that’s responsible for many of the social ills that plague us? The answer to this question may be seen in the somewhat prophetic statement of Benjamin Rush (1746-1813): “By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime.”

In the Proverbs, Solomon said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people (14:34).”  If righteousness exalts a nation, virtue is the mortar that binds the bricks of its foundation.

 

Dallas: A Grief-Stricken City

dallasDallas, you are in my heart and on my mind.  I am praying for the people who reside within the boundaries of this great city, and those who live in the suburbs.   I’m also praying for those who do their best to serve and protect the citizens of this ever-growing metropolitan area; my heart bleeds blue for the slain officers.

Early reports this morning say these officers were shot by a black man who was frustrated by the recent shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.  Just as the actions of this man do not represent the majority of the people who marched last night in a Black Lives Matters protest, the questionable actions of a few cops do not represent law enforcement officers as a whole.

Vengeful acts of rage that are perpetrated on the innocent as retaliation against a perceived injustice are the illogical acts of malcontents who are a boiling pot of rage.  The tragic events of last night are evidence that a mind that seethes with anger is a mind that is primed to explode.

Please join me in praying for the people of Dallas and the LEOs and first responders across this nation who enter harm’s way to serve and protect us.

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, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. ~I Timothy 2:1-6

Motor Mouths and Idle Chatter

 

ConfidentialWhen I purchased a new computer several years ago, Best Buy packaged it with a copy of a virus protection program called Kaspersky.  I liked the program and would have renewed my subscription except for the fact that it was a Russian company.

I was a bit puzzled by my reluctance to re-subscribe and wondered if it was due to living through the Cold War era. It just didn’t make sense to purchase a virus and spyware program from a country noted for its spying and corruption.

Kaspersky is making news again this week, and guess why—it’s for spying.  The company has developed a program that allows a government or an employer to eavesdrop on your mobile calls. InfoWatch, a subsidiary of Kaspersky, is using technology originally developed for the Soviet KGB, and, they’re trying to market it to businesses and government agencies around the world.

The Russian software company isn’t the only one who has been listening to confidential conversations.  God has been doing it for quite some time, and Jesus issued a warning to motor mouths and their idle chatter: I say to you that for every idle (careless or irreverent) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

In his classic work, Matthew Henry offers an interesting commentary on the words of Jesus: The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Which is more unsettling to you: the eavesdropping of Big Brother Kaspersky, or the thought that God hears every word you say?  As you think about this, I’ll leave you with two other statements for your consideration:

  • 2 Timothy 2:16: Avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
  • Proverbs 14:13: Idle chatter leads only to poverty.

A Capital Problem in the Capitol

United-States-Capitol-Building-in-Washington-DCWhen a business begins to run low on capital, the wealth of the company is diminished, and it can eventually lead to bankruptcy.  A current example is the present tailspin being experienced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals.  The price of the stock has ranged from a 52 week high of $263.81 to a closing price of $69.04 on Monday.  Tuesday it lost another 50% and closed at $33.51 a share.

While this capital loss is a concern to the company, its employees, and the investors, it’s been a real punch in the gut to Bill Ackman.  Due to Valeant’s nosedive his hedge fund lost $1 Billion in a single day.

Bankruptcy is not limited to being just a capital problem.  It can also be a Capitol dilemma.  The legislative branch of our government is over its head in debt and at least knee deep in a bankruptcy of morals.

The solution is not Hillary, nor is it Bernie.  The answer is not going to be found in Donald, Ted, Marco, or John.  I think the remedy to our woes is a fresh resolve to embrace godly principles.

Call me “old fashioned,” but I still believe the Bible, and what the Psalms and Chronicles say concerning the blessings of God on a nation:

  • Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Politics has never solved the capital problem in the Capitol, maybe we should give repentance and prayer a chance.

From McGuffey to Scalia

gettyimages-72815109_wide-17ba1bcd0f4b1bf198c998306097f36a161abf37-s900-c85Justice Scalia died Saturday, and he will be mourned by many. I had a great appreciation for the judge, and the manner in which he interpreted the Constitution.

Tony Perkins paid tribute to Justice Scalia when he said Scalia “believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.”

Scalia was consistent in his argument that the United States is fundamentally religious at its core, and he recognized the relationship between the Ten Commandments and our legal system: “The principle of laws being ordained by God is the foundation of the laws of this state and the foundation of our legal system.”

While the opinions of Justice Scalia seemed dated to some, they were timely statements that harmonized with some of our historic figures:

  • President James Madison:  We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments of God.
  • Patrick Henry: It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice: Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
  • John Adams: The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.

There was a point in our Nation’s history when it was influenced by William Holmes McGuffey, and his McGuffey’s Reader that was first published in 1836. The foreword of McGuffey’s Reader contained these comments by the author:

The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary. The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.

In lesson 37 of McGuffey’s First Reader the author said:

At the close of the day, before you go to sleep, you should not fail to pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm . . . You should ask him for life, and health, and strength, and you should pray to him to keep your feet from the ways of sin and shame. You should thank him for all his good gifts; and learn while young, to put your trust in him; and the kind care of God will be with you, both in your youth and in your old age.

Sadly, McGuffey’s reader lost a little of its Christian emphasis each time it was revised.  The same is happening with the interpretation of the Constitution, the revisionists keep watering it down—much to the dismay of purists like Scalia.

I’ll close with the words of the Great Lawgiver who influenced both McGuffey and Scalia:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  ~Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-6