Separation of Church and State

“The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.” 

Thomas Jefferson said this in an address to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Church. The church was very concerned about the government dictating rules that would clash with their Christian beliefs.

Many today have the whole idea turned tops-turvy, assuming “separation of church and state” (which is not in the US Constitution or any other official document) was made to protect citizens from a church run amuck. 

And yet, in modern times we see the opposite is true. We see a government setting rules and standards on churches and church leaders, pressing and pressuring Christians into accepting sin as normal—arresting, fining, and harassing those who would disagree with the “religion of America”. 

The words of Thomas Jefferson have been ignored. The government is pushing to dictate doctrine and dogma to the church. In fact, the government is ramming their version of religion down our throats and anyone who disagrees is a hater, racist, or intolerant.

Hey guys, if you don’t like what my church stands for go to another church! But let me enjoy religious freedom. Call me a bigot, a racist, a hater, a homophobe, a red neck, a capitalist, a communist, or any other ridiculous name you can come up with. But let me enjoy my religious freedom without fear of government intervention!

Wake up people! Americans should be free to hold various opinions without fear of retribution. Churches should be able to say, “We believe this is sin,” without fear of government intervention. That’s what the wall of separation between church and state is supposed to represent.

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God and Veal Parm

Psalm 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Can you have veal parmigiana without the cheese? Impossible! It wouldn’t be veal parmigiana, would it? Some things need all the ingredients to be what they are. This is true of God, also. Now, don’t go off thinking I’m comparing God to a wonderful Italian dish. It’s simply an illustration. 

There are those who only want to take a small part of God and say that’s all He is. For instance, “God is love,” they declare. That’s it. They get stuck on that one attribute, and neglect everything else about Him.

But, just like veal parm without the cheese isn’t veal parm, God without all His other attributes isn’t God.

“Oh, but God is love! That means He loves me and let’s me do or be anything I want.” Those who make this claim like to compare God to an old grandfather figure who, with a wink of his eye, accepts everything his grandchildren do.

Don’t forget, God is also just. God is judge. God is the giver of laws. God is righteous.

How can we possibly mesh together a loving god with a god of justice and judgment?

Easy. How did He show His love? By dying on the cross. Why did He have to die? Because all people sin and are not worthy of anything but judgment. God, as love, mercy, and grace took our place and died a sacrificial death for our sins.

The trouble with people today is they don’t want to admit they are sinners. Or maybe they have a very narrow (unbiblical) view of what sin is. Or they’ve rewritten God’s word, changing what God declares to be sin as normal and right. 

Wake up! God is love, but you will never truly know His love unless you can first say, “I am a sinner.” 

To declare, “God is love” without understanding how He’s shown His love is like accepting veal parm without the cheese. It makes no sense.

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Are You an Appendix?

What’s your gift? 

Read Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12 and you’ll discover that God has given to each Christian talents and gifts. The purpose–To use them, in the body of Christ (the Christian church), to glorify God.

Paul uses colorful writing to compare the Christian church to the human body. We can see, the human body is made of many parts–arms, legs, toes, ears, eyes, etc. Likewise, the body of Christ is composed of many parts, each member given unique gifts to be used in concert.

So . . . what part are you?

To follow through with Paul’s body illustration, I’d like to throw out the following thought for you to ponder. 

Many people act like the Appendix. They may not view themselves as that. They may look in the mirror of their mind and say, “Wow, I do so much for my church. They couldn’t get along without me.” Yet, if we look at the reality of the situation, they’re appendixes, serving no practical purpose. 

Over the years I’ve dealt with many of these people. Some will brag that they’ve been in the church for years. Maybe their family were founding members. “I have a stained glass window with my family name of it!” Others are blissfully ignorant of the fact that God has called them to minister, instead they think their pastor is the hired Christian. He does all the heavy lifting. “I put my $10 in the offering plate. Isn’t that enough?”

Yet, where the rubber meets the road, the only purpose these individuals serve is as pew dusters.

Maybe you feel I’m being kind of rough. Maybe I am. But if you have accepted God’s gift of salvation, He wants you to be an active member of the church, using your gifts to serve Him.

A couple simple facts about body parts-

  1. They work together.
  2. They serve the greater good (the body)
  3. They are all important for the job they do.

Mull over those points and try to consider how they relate to the body of Christ.

I’d like to leave you with one question– Do you act like an appendix? Stop it! Be a part of the body of Christ. Use your gifts for the glory of God!

1 Timothy 4:14a “Do not neglect the gift that is in you…”

Romans 12:6a “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”

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Just Shoot Them!

Do grumpy and complaining store clerks bother you? They bother me. Like vampires, they drain the shopping spirit right from my very soul. My wife and I were in a store ( a national chain, by the way) and we ran into a soul-draining store clerk. She complained about everything from the management, to their shortened lunch break, to the line of clothing they carried.

Tell me something. Why do perfect strangers think they have the right to grumble at me? Do I have one of those faces that says, “Please gripe and complain. I can’t wait to hear.”

The store should fire employees like this. Maybe take them out behind the barn and put them out of their misery.

We walked out of there, vowing we’d never go back again. Honestly!

The sad truth is, there are church people like this? People who like to complain and gripe about their church? I’m sure you’ve met them. They always have a negative word to say, a complaint about the pastor or the person sitting in the pew beside them; the way the organization is run or how hot or cold the sanctuary is. 

“The sermon’s too long.”   “They don’t sing the songs like they use to.”   “This church is filled with snobs.”

Makes you wonder if visitors to the church have the same response my wife and I had to the store clerk- “We don’t ever want to go back there again.” Unfortunately, churches don’t have the right to take people out behind the barn . . .

Christians, be warned! You are the ambassador of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, you might be the only representative of Jesus Christ that your unsaved friends ever see. So, what kind of a witness are you? What opinion about Jesus and Christianity do these friends gleam from you?

Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

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My Declaration of Dependence

Looking back, here’s something I posted six years ago. I think it is worth sharing again.

It’s the 4th of July. As I look at the state of our nation, I am concerned. We are divided, both sides claiming the ethical high ground. We are so blinded by hate that neither side will listen to the other. We are so morally bankrupt that when deciding right from wrong, no one asks, “What does God say?”
It’s time for Christians to start acting like Christians.
I threw together what I call my Declaration of Dependence. After you read it, I’d appreciate your comments. Is there anything you can think of that I’ve left out?

When a nation, so blessed by almighty God, has turned her back on the One who has done the blessing, when a people pass laws giving no regard to the great Lawgiver, when a society would actively commit sin, not only flaunting it, but condoning it,
then it is time for good Christian men and women to declare their Dependence on God.

I DECLARE MY DEPENDENCE ON GOD

–I Recognize that true life, liberty, and happiness comes from pursuing a relationship with God.
We were made in God’s image. From the beginning of time we have walked away from Him, forfeiting the benefits of that relationship.
My sole source of Life is found only in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice upon the Cross.
My sole source of Liberty comes from Jesus. For true freedom is not political, nor economic. It is freedom from the power of sin. “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
My sole source of Happiness is found in following God’s plan for my life.

–I Recognise there is no other God, save the one shown to us in HIS Word. He manifests Himself as a triune God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In a society growing more exceedingly pluralistic, I will denounce false gods and cling to the one and only true God.

–I will not honor nor recognize any law that is contrary to God’s word.
The laws of our society, at its founding, were based on God’s word. There has been a drastic falling away. Now an individual’s right to Freedom of Expression is considered more important than what serves the betterment of society and what God says.
Our laws are becoming a smoke screen to allow an individual and nation the ability to sin and proclaim it legal.
With this in mind, I will do all in my power, as a citizen of this earthly kingdom, to change the immoral laws when I can, to vote for leaders with Godly views, and to fight and protest the laws that are an affront to God Almighty.
I will also be daily on my face before God, to pray for the return to civil sanity and to pray for strength and conviction for the Christians in our government.
I will also pray for the sinners, so caught up in the carrying out of their horrendous acts that they do not see the eternal consequences.

–I will be obedient to the Word of God
God’s Word, given to us in the Holy Bible, is to be held at a higher level than any other book of religion, philosophy, or history. God has revealed Himself in these pages.
I will study it to the best of my ability.
I will pray that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction on my heart through it.
I will pray for the strength to be obedient to it’s proclamation.

–I will seek to convert the world to true faith.
I believe that without Jesus, a soul is destined to an eternity of Hell and damnation. I will stand before the lost, as a block to that road and proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.
I will do this through my life, through my daily actions, and through my words.

–I will seek the Lord’s forgiveness every day.
I recognize my human frailty. When I falter and fail at the task placed before me, I will turn to God and ask forgiveness from Him. I will depend, by faith, on His promise to forgive and cleanse me through the blood of Jesus Christ. For His Word says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

–I will believe these things unashamedly and unequivocally, not allowing the forces of darkness that seek to conquer this world, to conquer my witness.
So much as in me lies, by the power of the Spirit of God, Who is able to present me faultless before the throne of God, I do hereby declare my total dependence on God and my allegiance in serving Him.

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Is Your God Real?

There is no God!

Shocking thing to hear, isn’t it? Yet this is the way many people live their lives, like the Big Guy doesn’t exist. Even some so called Christians, have a daily life that does not mesh with the existence on an Almighty.

Check the following. Would you answer in the affirmative to any of these?

  1. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.
  2. All gods are the same. We just call him by different names.
  3. As long as you’re good, you’ll go to Heaven.
  4. God evolves.
  5. God loves me and doesn’t care how I live my life.
  6. I am God.

So here’s the thing, if you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above statements, at best your God is like Santa Claus, who’s made up, so you can believe anything you’d like about him. He could be tall, short, old, young. Evil or good. Who’s to say if you’re right or wrong? Have fun! Make him a Martian if you’d like. 

THAT’S NOT GOD!

Unfortunately, this is how many view Him. He’s anything they like. All things to all people.

Let me tell you something, If God IS, then, unlike Santa Claus, He is SOMETHING. He has definite attributes, things that are true about Him, without question. If you believe God is anything you’d like Him to be, then your god is nothing. 

To illustrate-

A man owned a prosperous business. One day he gathered all the employees and announced he was going away for a while. And so he gave them instructions on how to run the company and left

It didn’t take too long before the discussion came up. “What did the boss say for us to do?” 

Various opinions emerged.  “Stay the course.” “Sell the business” “Slow production.” Employees even quarreled over what the boss was like. “He was tall” “Short and fat.” “A grumpy man” “A sweetheart” “He’s not a man at all and if you think he is, then you’re sexist!”

(Sorry. I had to throw that last one in there.)

In the midst of all the disagreement, someone yelled, “Who are you to tell me I’m wrong? I have the right to believe anything I want about the boss!”

There was a tentative nod of agreement, and the company split in a million different directions, each person doing what he or she thought the boss (that tall, short, skinny, fat, brown or blue eyed guy/girl) said. 

Everything was fine . . . UNTIL THE BOSS RETURNED!

Red-faced, some shrank back in embarrassment. “Whoops. We were wrong.”

It’s the same with God. If he is real, then He stands for something. He has qualities. He can not stand for everything. That’s insane.

“But how can we know what He’s like?”

Just like my illustration’s boss left instructions for his employees, God left instructions for us. It’s called the Bible. It gives us the history of His dealings with the world, including man’s sinfulness and God’s ultimate love, expressed through Jesus.

The one who says, all religions worship the same God, just under different names, hasn’t studied what some of these religions teach, because world religions have conflicting God images. They can’t all be true, unless God is imaginary . . . Santa Claus. For those who would hold to this view, God’s a kind of “All you can eat” buffet. Just take what you want and leave the rest.

It doesn’t work that way. There’s coming a day when you’ll see God. Either you’ll die or He will return. Will you be like the employee who shrank back, embarrassed, and said, “Whoops. I was wrong.”?

Tell me something. Is your God real?

Exodus 20:1-3 And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

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Beating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can get so expensive. Flowers, candy, jewelry, dinner out! Where does it end? But this year, I thought I’d figured the perfect solution. I was working on it in my study when my wife walked in.
“What are you doing?”
I proudly held up the picture of a floral bouquet I’d copied off the Internet. “It’s your valentine’s gift.”
She frowned. “Why did you run a picture off? Afraid you’d forget what the arrangement looked like before you got to the florist?”
“No, silly. This picture . . . I mean this highly detailed rendition of the perfect flower arrangement IS your present.”
Again she frowned.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m no cheapskate! I’ll even take my wife to an occasional movie . . . As long as it’s a matinee . . . And we bring our own drinks . . . And popcorn. Have you seen what they charge for movie theater popcorn? It’s robbery.
“So let me get this straight,” my wife said. “The picture is my gift?”
I nodded. “It shows how much I love you, a lesser man would give real flowers.”
“You’re going to have to explain that one.”
“Ok. Number one- We avoid a potential trip to the emergency room.”
Again she frowned.
Boy she frowns a lot. If she’s not careful, her face is going to get stuck like that.
“Real flowers are a health risk,” I said. For all I know you’re allergic to roses-”
“But I’m not.”
“Are you sure? A lot of people develop allergies as they grow older-”
“Older? Are you saying I’m old?”
There is no correct answer to that question. “Then there’s the thorns. What if you jabbed yourself with a thorn. Then it got infected. For all you know, they may have to amputate a limb or something.” I beamed. “I saved you.”
“My hero,” she said flatly.
I pressed on. “Also a picture lasts longer than the real thing. In a few days those flowers would be dead and withered, dropping their decaying petals all over the floor. Then you’d have to clean them up. Look at the time and energy I’m saving you.”
“How considerate.”
“Why, for a dollar at the dollar store, you could buy a nice frame. That picture could last for eternity. Just like my love for you.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You’re so romantic.”
“So you see, my love, this picture is the perfect gift.” I pressed the paper in her hand. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
She looked at the picture, then silently left the room.
I was giddy from my victory. I did it! I beat the Greeting Card Mafia. Everyone knows they run the whole valentine scheme. Why, when other husbands find out about my brilliant move, millions will join me on my quest to give pictures of flowers. I’ll be a hero!
I was reveling in this thought when my wife returned. She placed two papers on my desk: one had a picture of a cooked chicken on it. The other, a woman’s lips.
“What’s this?”
“That’s your supper and a thank you kiss for the valentine’s gift.”
“Huh?”
She patted the top of my head. “Think about how much longer they’ll last.” She walked out.
Friends, I’d like to type more about this, but I don’t have time. I’ve got to get to the florist before it closes.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Cellar Dwellers!


It’s the season of zombies, vampires, werewolves, and demented clowns. But do you know what tops them all? What is so frightening it scares the crust off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Cellar Dwellers.
YES! CELLAR DWELLERS!!!!
“What are they,” you ask.
Those wretched humans who’ve taken up residence in the land of the negative. For every event in life, they can only see the tiny black cloud behind the beautiful rainbow.
Frightening. Isn’t it?
Cellar Dwelling is an attitude that drags you down to death. Negative thoughts become the center of your universe. You wake in the morning, thinking of the terrible day you are going to have. You discuss negatives with your friends. That is, while you have friends. Cellar Dwellers tend to suck the life out of friendship. You even dwell on them while watching reruns of I Love Lucy.
Before you know it, you’re sinking further and further without realizing it’s happening.
One day you awaken to the horrible realization-
YOU’VE BECOME A DREADED CELLAR DWELLER.

EEEEK!!!!!
I have a painful confession to make. I’ve spent time in the lower regions of despair, to the point where I’ve had trouble seeing the light.
But there’s hope! A solution. It’s found in the Bible.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always.”
Two simple words. Words that I hate. Or at least, I used to hate. Especially when I dwelt in the cellar of my mind.
“REJOICE ALWAYS.”
Lord . . . Really? Rejoice always? With all the terrible stuff going on around me? You’ve got to be kidding!
But you know what? He isn’t. He understands the broken, negative world we live in, and He doesn’t want Christians to get sucked into this abyss.
He also knows that rejoicing is a mental discipline we must develop. Whether we dwell on the positive or the negative is a habit. And so we need to develop the rejoicing habit.
Let’s face it, you don’t have to be reminded to do things you remember to do . . . like breathing. In an ice cream shop, no one has to say to you, “Don’t forget to eat the ice cream.” No. But humans have a tendency to move towards the negative.
We must be reminded, “REJOICE.”
Friends, if you fear you are turning into a dreaded Cellar Dweller, here’s my advice. Set the alarm on you phone. Maybe set it for 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and 7 pm. Or for whatever times you want. When the alarm goes off, think of something to rejoice about. “Thank you, Lord, for an alarm on my cell phone.” “Thank you, Lord, for . . .” You fill in the blank.
Get in the habit. Do this for a week. At first, you might have trouble thinking of things to rejoice about. But maybe that’s because you don’t see the great things around you. Maybe you’ve been sinking into the deep, dark, pit of despair of CELLAR DWELLERS!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!
Break the bad habit. Develop a good one.
Rejoice. God is great, and greatly to be praised!

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Interruptions- The Truth About Them

You wouldn’t know it by the attitude I exude, but I like order. The first question I ask my wife in the morning is- “WHAT’S FOR SUPPER?”

I can’t help it. I need to plan my day accordingly. I don’t like surprises. I like to know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it.
What bugs me are the interruptions to my schedule. Can’t people get it through their heads that everyone should be like me? There’s a time to eat, a time to sleep, a time to watch tv, and a time to make phone calls. And the time to call me is definitely NOT when I’m watching tv or eating!

So that’s the way I liked to live my life.
But then something slapped me in the back of my head and made me question the very fabric of my universe. While perusing some of the stories of Jesus I came across the following.
-While walking along, Jesus was interrupted by people bringing kids to Him (Luke 18:15-16).
-He was on the way to Jericho when a blind man interrupted Him (Luke 18:38-43).
-He was in a house, talking to a group, when some people broke through the roof, to lower in a sick friend (Luke 5:19).
I could go on and on with stories of the interruptions that happened to Jesus. It seems like He spent a major part of His time dealing with them.
But wait! Jesus was a pretty important guy. He had a schedule to keep. Yet when the insignificant of life got in the way, He listened and responded.
I realized right then and there, I needed to change the way I looked at the world. Maybe interruptions aren’t mere mosquitos attacking my daily existence. Maybe I should view them as-

The Whipped Cream on the Hot Fudge Sundae of Life. Do you
like whipped cream? I DO!!! As a matter of fact I usually ask for extra. I even steal the whipped cream off my wife’s dessert. I’m evil. But whipped cream isn’t an obstacle, blocking your ice cream. It is a joy in itself, adding that extra oomph to my humdrum existence.
Interruptions should be thought of in this way.

The Rat-a-tat-tat at Your Door.
You’ve heard about opportunity knocking, haven’t you? Sometimes
Christians can be so involved in praying for God’s will in their lives, or for asking God to give them a soul-winners heart, they fail to see the opportunity He gives them in daily interruptions. Listen for the knocking. It may be God dropping a wonderful opportunity in your lap.
So friends, next time someone interrupts your daily existence, rejoice! Go with it. Who knows what God has in mind for you.

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Beware False Swans

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . . It may not be a duck.
My wife and I were driving down a back road in New Hampshire, enjoying the scenery. That’s when we saw it–A swan swimming in a small pond.
“Get a picture, get a picture,” I hollered as I pulled to the curb. Sure enough, the graceful, long-necked bird floated on the water as if it didn’t have a care in the world.
So majestic. So beautiful.
Bushes and trees hampered our line of sight so I moved the car forward and back, angling for the best shots, shouting orders to my wife as she clicked pictures with her phone’s camera.
When all was said and done, we drove away, feeling almost reverent that we’d been privy to such a beautiful scene.
About four days later we ventured down the same road. What were the chances we’d spot our swan again? I didn’t think too good, but low and behold, there it was! What good fortune! Almost a God given miracle!
Three days later we drove by again . . . There it was . . . Still the same spot. As a matter of fact . . . it’s head and neck were angled the same exact way.
Hmmm . . . Something is fishy here.
Uh-huh. My powers of observation are so keen, it only took me three sightings to figure this out. Columbo’s got nothing on me.
Well a couple of weeks later (with three more drive-bys) I came to the conclusion that it was a plastic swan. Or to make myself feel like less of a dolt, let’s call it a Simulated Likeness of an Actual Swan. Hey, the more fancy the term the more money you can charge for the product.
I’d been duped. No. It was probably my wife who’d been duped. Yes! That’s it. Now that I look back, I originally pulled over at her bequest. Kind of like how Eve fooled Adam.
I’m sticking with that story!
So, my friends, beware of plastic swans, or even Simulated Likeness of Actual Swans.
It’s a good lesson in many avenues of life. Even in the spiritual. In Matthew 7:15, the Bible says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
This is a problem the church has had since its inception–Plastic Swans, pretending to be the real thing. Or to be more precise, false prophets pretending to be the real thing, leading people astray.
That’s why John gave some sound advice.
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Don’t fall into the trap of pulling to the side of the road and snapping pictures of fakes. Test others’ beliefs by the divine Word of God.

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