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Last night John Piper published the article “How to Live Under an Unqualified President.” Today the Desiring God staff gathered in the commons area in our Minneapolis offices to watch the swearing in of President Trump, and pray together for him and our nation. What follows is a field recording of John Piper’s unscripted prayer, delivered with no intention of being made public. The below is a transcript of what he prayed spontaneously, reflecting on his article.

Father in heaven, we ask now that your name would be hallowed in this moment, in this room, and in this ministry; that your name would be hallowed in Washington, and hallowed by Donald Trump and his family, his cabinet, the congress; that your kingdom would come, that your will would be done there.

John Piper’s Prayer for President TrumpTo that end Lord, we ask that you would bring Donald Trump out of darkness and into light. Give him a spirit of brokenness and humility. “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). I pray that you would break his heart, give him humility, show him what it feels like to be penitent and to admit he’s done wrong — to confess he was wrong, ask forgiveness from you, and ask for forgiveness from the people that he’s wounded or people that he’s set a bad example for. He needs to be given the gift of faith and humility and repentance, and I pray that you would give it to him.

We’re not eager to have him as an adversary. We would like him as a brother. That will not be an easy transition for him. He’s a very wealthy man, and it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23–24). But Lord, you are able. The disciples threw up their hands in dismay saying, “Who then can be saved?” You didn’t say, “Well, that’s a stupid question.” You said, “With man this is impossible.” Then, you entered the glorious news, “But with God all things are possible” — including our conversion and Donald Trump’s conversion (Matthew 19:25–26). That’s our big, overarching prayer: for the advance of your kingdom and salvation there and throughout this land.

Until that day Lord, in your wonderful providence, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). So, guard him from folly. Guard him from stupid decisions that would damage people, damage America, damage the church. Guard him. Superintend him and the congress in such a way that, beyond their explanation, things turn in a direction that makes for the kind of good that, even though it may not have faith in it, would have the form of faith in justice and love.

We’re asking for that kind of miracle, Lord: that you would surprise even him at what is able to be brought about. Protect him from the deceptions of the Evil One at the level of this providential governance of your way in the world, in America now. So God, I ask that the church would not rely on government and would not rely on a Trump presidency. I pray for evangelical leaders not to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidency with no apparent qualification, no tears, no brokenness, no sadness that he set such an awful example for this land.

Open the eyes, I pray, of evangelical leaders who seem so triumphalist in this moment as to think their way has been brought about and now good things are coming because we can lean on the arm of the flesh the way so many seem to give the indication. Grant that there would be a rising tide leaning upon the Holy Spirit, leaning upon the word of God; that there would be a countercultural dependence upon prayer, rather than the dependence of a power in high places.

Grant that there would be a burden for spiritual awakening, a burden for sharing the gospel, a burden for building healthy, strong, biblical churches in the land, a burden for taking the gospel to the nations of the world. Lord, don’t let us exhaust our energies fretting about the little molehill of this presidency when we have a Himalayan Mountain range of blessings in Christ Jesus. Grant that we would operate out of the fullness of Christ in doing many good deeds in this land. Grant that the church would be purified, and all the corruption and all the worldliness would be removed so that the world would stand up and say, “That’s a strange people. That’s a different people. That’s a godly, humble, servant-like, sacrificial, loving people,” rather than just, “That’s just Republican. That’s just what the world is.”

So God, work a great work of renewal in your church, I pray. May we live for the sake of the salvation of the world, O God. May this land not be our land, but heaven be our land, and the gathering of your people from all the peoples in every tribe of the world be our passion and our burden. Put America down in our priority list, and put the kingdom of God up, and the name of God up, and the church of God up, and the reaching of the nations up. Grant, I pray, that here at Desiring God, we would have a significant part to play in that. O, give us wisdom.

Give wisdom to the content team here, and great skill and wisdom to the technological team here so that together we might make the greatest possible impact to spread a passion for your supremacy, not American supremacy or Trump supremacy or Republican or Democratic supremacy. May it always feel like a heavenly orientation rather than an earthly orientation.

Make us willing, O God, to submit ourselves to the lordship of Jesus, not the lordship to any man who leads. We ask for your help. We humble ourselves under your mighty hand.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes here.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

(By Desiring God. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

 

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John Calvin ends the Institutes of the Christian Religion with a discussion of civil government. In this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols considers what Calvin wrote.

Let’s return to our good friend [John] Calvin and see what he had to say about civil government. The fact is, he had a lot to say. In fact, Calvin ends his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, with a discussion of civil government. In book four, chapter twenty, the very last chapter of the Institutes, Calvin turns his attention to civil government.

He opens this chapter with these words:

“For although this topic seems by nature alien to the spiritual doctrine of faith, which I have undertaken to discuss, what follows will show that I am right in joining them, in fact, that necessity compels me to do so.”

Calvin is telling us that not only should a discussion of civil government be included in his discussion of theology but that it is necessary, it must be there, and so he turns his attention to it. He tells us right off the bat that we need to recognize the distinction between Christ’s spiritual kingdom, as he calls it, and the civil jurisdiction. But just because they are different, they are not at odds. They are both ordained by God, both the kingdom—the spiritual kingdom or the church—and also the magistrate.

Calvin on Civil Government

Image: Southern Methodist University

Calvin also tells us that Scripture has a lot to say about living as a citizen in civil jurisdictions. He says that sometimes we need to live submissive lives. For truly, Christians ought to be the kind of men who bear slanders and injuries, who are open to the malice, deceits, and mockeries of wicked men. They ought also to bear patiently all these evils. That is, they should have complete spiritual composure at having received one offense as they make ready for another.

Calvin goes on to speak about our sometimes living with a perpetual cross. He also tells us, and this is sort of a counterbalancing notion, that even though we need to endure those kinds of insults and hardships, we also need to be zealous for the public welfare. And so, he has much to say about how we speak up for public welfare, how we speak up for what we would say—our natural-law or common-grace principles, or even biblical principles, for that matter. He has a lot to say about obedience to the government, of course, and that’s how he ends this chapter. When he gets to the very end, he also turns his attention to the idea that obedience to man and government must never become disobedience to God. In fact, his very last words remind us, as Peter said in Acts 5:29,

“We must obey God rather than men.”

 And then Calvin adds this:

“Let us comfort ourselves with the thought that we are rendering that obedience, which the Lord requires, when we suffer anything rather than turn aside from piety.”

Calvin is reminding us that if we find ourselves in situations where laws or governments or those in control require us to do something that is clearly against God’s Word, we should not compromise, we should not cower, we should not cave. But instead, we should recognize that we are required to render obedience to God and that we ought to suffer first before ever turning away from our piety and from our commitment. Calvin asks that we would have the courage not to grow faint. And then he ends with these three words: “God be praised.” That’s Calvin on civil government.

Stay connected with 5 Minutes in Church History by getting the weekly podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or via RSS. You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 (This podcast is by Ligonier Ministries. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not emedia network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Thank you for joining us for the First Liberty Briefing, an exclusive podcast where host Jeremy Dys—also First Liberty Senior Counsel—provides an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.

Drive through most towns in America and you’ll see evidence of religion on almost every corner of the community. In residential areas, business districts and even on Main Street, America is filled with houses of worship.

Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania is no different. There, the town has dozens of churches, synagogues and even religious temples. But, what they have not had is a mosque. When the leaders of the local Muslim community sought to build their own building, the city gave them the runaround. Their application was subjected to heavy scrutiny, the zoning board required six separate hearings on the application while other applications were summoned only once. City officials even asked for specific information about the mosque’s members and where they were from.

Finally, the city rejected the application entirely.

Imagine if this were your congregation or synagogue. How would you feel about your City Council making your congregation go through administrative steps that no one else had to go through?

Well, we know how the United States Department of Justice felt. They filed a lawsuit alleging that the City violated the Constitution and laws requiring equal treatment – especially when it comes to zoning.

I hope the DOJ wins.

Protecting religious liberty for all Americans means tolerating a diverse set of beliefs. When a city targets a mosque for unequal treatment, it threatens the religious liberty of all houses of worship.

First Liberty Institute is the largest organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans. Find out more here.

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I’m over 45 and I scare your children. Does my age disqualify me from speaking up about politics and culture? Do I really need to ‘knock it off!’? Andy Stanley says so. I’m Joel Fieri, and welcome to “The Big Picture’ podcast, where we seek to begin and hopefully sustain a conversation about current trends, ideas and issues in the Church and greater society.

Pastor Andy Stanley has gone viral lately with a couple Internet videos, one regarding political fear mongering and the other regarding large vs. small church selfishness. Today and next week I’d like to tackle the first, and then for part three I’ll put my two cents in on the latter.

In case you haven’t heard, here’s the portion of a larger sermon Pastor Stanley gave back in January:

Pretty stern stuff directed at a very specific group of people. Assuming the ‘over 45s’ in his congregation are no different than the rest of us aging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, and since it’s been posted it on the internet for the world to see, rather than being kept an in-house, local church body issue as the Bible instructs (which is another issue for another time), I assume he is also speaking to me. So let’s also assume for a minute that Pastor Stanley had come to me, an ‘over 45-er’, for advice before he preached this sermon and posted it on the internet. In typical Internet open-letter fashion, here’s what I would have told him:

Pastor Stanley, I’m not for recklessly scaring children, and I’ll agree that anyone saying ‘We need a particular politician or party in office or it’s the end of the world’ is badly misguided. And I would absolutely agree that Jesus is our hope and salvation, and that we need to focus on Him, not politics or even culture. Good words, and timely. What I take issue with is your seemingly casual dismissal of the very real possibility of losing our ‘religious liberty’. Granted, if we do lose our religious liberties, Jesus will still be our hope, as long as we keep our eyes on Him. But those liberties were bought with blood, and those of us ‘over 45’ have parents who fought monstrous evils to protect those liberties. We can also vividly remember half the world under the Godless tyranny of Communism. The political ideology that is prevailing now harkens back to those days in some very real ways. It portends a hellish future that very well should ‘scare the children’, because they’re not ready for it.

Lately we’ve seen the world thoroughly salt the church, not vice-versa. Folks who’ve walked longer with God are rightly concerned about the consequences for a society, and a Church, that turns its back on Him, calling what’s evil, good and what’s good, evil. We’re taking our eyes off of Jesus, all right. Not the gentle, intimate Jesus that we sing love songs to in dimly lit warehouses with foggy atmosphere. We see Him all the time. No, we’re taking our eyes off of Jesus the coming King and Righteous Judge who promised to return in judgment. Our worry is this; when He does return, will He find His people faithful in the midst of a very crooked and perverse generation?

Concerns about the current state of our youth and culture go way beyond the stereotypical older curmudgeons bemoaning ‘today’s young people’.

Pastor Stanley, maybe you can help us out with a little guidance in handling cultural changes that are happening so fast it spins our graying heads.

They say politics is downstream from culture, and it’s becoming clear to me that faith is, too. How do we compete with the shock-and-awe assaults on the faith we’re called upon to pass down to our children and grandchildren? It didn’t take long for the acceptance of gay marriage to further plunge us into the redefinition of male and female (or, really, the obliteration of that definition). What do we say to a younger generation (Christians included) that has accepted not only a complete redefinition of marriage, but is now rapidly questioning their identity as male and female? Can we teach our children to ‘focus our eyes on Jesus ‘ if they don’t even accept that they are created in the image of God as male and female? Is there an answer to the mass media and education onslaught that tells us we’re hateful for opposing ideas like same sex restrooms? Can we ‘keep our eyes on Jesus’ and still stand by as men with deep psychological problems share restrooms with our wives and daughters? And what of the ‘under 45’ Christian voices leading our children towards a collectivist and socialist ideology that, at its very core, rejects the existence of God and even an afterlife? Can we ‘keep our eyes on Jesus ‘ and tiptoe around Karl Marx at the same time?

Even ten years ago these questions would have seemed absurd and alarmist.

They’re not now.

Image: Nancy J Ondra

Image: Nancy J Ondra

Awhile back, Pastor Stanley, you also publicly called for Evangelicals to ‘take a break from the culture wars’. Maybe that was called for, maybe not. But is all this really happening because of our transgressions as evangelicals in fighting ‘the culture wars’? Were these cultural seismic shifts lying dormant, like Godzilla, only to be awakened by the nuclear sins of the Moral Majority and some really bad Kirk Cameron movies? Or were they long anticipated and purposeful Satanic attacks on the Church and the very Biblical foundations of Western Civilization?

I go with option two.

So Pastor Stanley, and all those who have been ‘liking’ and ‘amen-ing’ his sermon, that’s why we older folks speak out. Frankly, we’re a little scared ourselves. If you can reassure us that the Church, local and universal, is staying strong and faithful through these assaults, that Christians young and old really are ‘fixing their eyes on Jesus’ and not on the progressive wave of compromise, I think we’ll be reassured. If you can’t, then, while I accept your concerns as valid, I don’t think I can or will ‘knock it off’, And please don’t tell me to. It sounds too much like ‘shut up!’.

Now, finally let me say this; for all I know pastor Stanley has addressed all my worries to those ‘under 45’ in his congregation. I’ve been searching the internet in vain for the rest of his sermon, where he promises to address a second group of people, which I’m assuming are the ‘under 45s’ (if anyone can point me to it in the comments section, please do so). Absent that knowledge, I offer these unsolicited thoughts to Andy Stanley and the online world. I hope it brings clarity and a little balance.

Next week I’ll be addressing the question of just who ‘the children’ we’re scaring really are and why they should be scared, or at least on guard and spiritually armored up, And in part 3 I’ll be giving yet more unsolicited input as to where I feel Pastor Stanley went wrong in his call for parents to abandon their selfishness and attend large churches, while forsaking small ones. It might just surprise you (unless you’ve listened to The Big Picture before). Until then, thanks for listening to the Big Picture.

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Jesus in HD Slider

My goal in this PODCAST? Simple: To keep you out of jail.

Yes, this story in Matthew 17 is THAT positively practical.

It’s interesting to me that of the four Gospel writers (for reasons that we’ll get into in the podcast), only Matthew records this particular story about (of all things) an obscure Old Testament reference to an otherwise obtuse Moses-mandated responsibility, one that Jesus had apparently overlooked or outright rejected.

It’s not surprising to me that Matthew records this. But given the significance of the story, and its practical implications for our lives today, it is very surprising to me that none of the other Gospel writers makes any reference to this curious little episode.

An ever-so-brief snapshot into the life/heart of Jesus.

There’s quite a lot going on here. So we’ll now pick it apart and see what it all meant to Jesus back then, and what it means to us today.

Let’s begin by reading Matthew 17:22-24

22 After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. 23 He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

24 On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”

Now, remember, just shortly before this, while they were in Caesarea Philippi, we read that Jesus told these things to his apostles:

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. (Matthew 16:21)

Correspondingly, we read this in Luke 9:22,

“The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

We see that Jesus is trying to leave no doubt in his follower’s minds that He is going to suffer, die and rise from the dead. Even so, as we will read when we get to His crucifixion, all this preparation seemed to be for naught. They were still filled with fear and struck completely off guard.

Which brings us back to Matthew 17.

Now, there are two parts to this story. The first part is included in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and the second is only told in Matthew’s Gospel.

Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, 31 for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” 32 They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant. (Mark 9:30-32)

They didn’t understand because 1) it didn’t fit with what they had just witnessed and 2) they were in willful denial and could not process such a terrible “end” to Jesus’ story. What had they just witnessed? Jesus simply uttered a word, cast out a demon from a man’s son, and stunned the crowd that was gathered. Jesus’ power over the demonic world was astonished!

Think about it… if Jesus could single-handedly take on and defeat the powers of hell and send a demon away screaming, how could any power on earth be victorious over Jesus?

This is why Jesus was extremely intentional in telling his disciples:

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples,44 “Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.” 45 But they didn’t know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. (Luke 9:43-45)

How could this be?

How could He allow this to happen to Him?

But who was it that handed Jesus over to His executioners? Judas? The Jewish people? Pilate? The Jewish religious leaders? The Gentiles? God the Father? There is Scripture to support each of these.

Jesus didn’t stand a chance, did He?

In fact, according to Isaiah, we are all responsible for His death.

But John 10:17-18 tells us who ultimately did it:

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Jesus, Himself, delivered Himself over to His enemies and went to the cross willingly.

So, immediately upon Jesus showing His heavenly compassion to a father and His demon-possessed son, while the whole crowd was awe-struck, He delivered that incredibly heavy reality check to His disciples.

Talk about an emotional roller coaster!

Then, after being filled with grief, just as Jesus stepped foot in Capernaum, we see the second part of the story, told by Matthew, the former tax collector:

On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”

Why did they pounce on them like this? Well, it’s what tax collectors do. Sure as dogs bark and birds fly, this is what their developed nature does. Especially these particular ones who were employed by the Jerusalem Temple, in particular the High Priest, Caiaphas (distinct from the tax collectors who worked for and collected for the Roman government). Now, the Temple tax was nothing new. It went as far back as Moses’ day:

 Each person who is counted must give a small piece of silver as a sacred offering to the Lord. (This payment is half a shekel, based on the sanctuary shekel, which equals twenty gerahs.) 14 All who have reached their twentieth birthday must give this sacred offering to the Lord. (Exodus 30:13-14)

The second reason they pounced on Jesus was to try to publicly attack and discredit Jesus’ integrity. They wanted to make it publicly known that Jesus was breaking the law of the Torah!

What comes next, is simply CLASSIC!

“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. (Matthew 17:25)

Can’t you just see it? Peter spinning around, simultaneously saying “Yes!” and darting into the house.

And, like any great rabbi, Jesus saw this as a perfect teaching moment.

But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own children or the people they have conquered?”

26 “They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! 

Now, keep in mind that the Temple is God’s house. God resided there behind the great curtain. Jesus is God’s Son. Therefore, from His heavenly point of view, is Jesus accountable for paying the tax for the upkeep of His own house?

No.

He had the perfectly plausible reason not to pay the tax.

But there was another compelling argument for His exemption of the tax, which many people actually claim today.

Let’s start with this: Who ran the temple? The High Priest. Who was the High Priest at the time? Caiaphas.

Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Caiaphas, he was the fifth High Priest to hold that office in the course of four years – an office fraught with politics, skullduggery, intrigue, and even assassination. Yet, within this context, he held the job for 18 years. He was a political animal. There was a reason there was a prison installed beneath his house – nobody messed with Caiaphas. His was not a spiritual position at all. When he was High Priest, it was entirely about political power and money. It’s thoroughly documented by both Scripture and secular records that he saw Jesus as a problem that needed to be eliminated.

And his salary was paid for by the Temple tax.

If that’s not a decent enough reason for Jesus to not pay the tax, I don’t know what is.

In fact, I know people today who use this very reasoning to rationalize their own non-payment of federal income taxes. They claim their heavenly citizenship over their American citizenship. They don’t agree with what their tax dollars go toward, claiming these line items are in opposition to God’s Word.

But that’s not what Jesus said.

27 However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” (Matthew 17:27)

He paid His taxes. He stayed out of jail. At least on that day.

And, for good measure, when it came to governmental taxes, Jesus had this to say:

…show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin,20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

22 His reply amazed them, and they went away. (Matthew 22:19-22)

What was so amazing about this? It was that Jesus said to pay your taxes to the very machine that would eventually put Him on the cross.

Like I said, Jesus, being the perfect rabbi, used that moment as a teachable moment. And, it appears as though His disciples (at least one of them) took the moment to heart, as Peter, in later years, wrote this:

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.

15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. (1 Peter 2:13-15)

Or, as Paul simply put it in Romans 13:6,

Pay your taxes.

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Joining our show this week is my friend David Barton. David is an minister, conservative activist, and author. He founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based organization which promotes the view that it is a myth that the US Constitution insists on separation of church and state.  He is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas. David has been described as a Christian nationalist and “one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians”; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed, that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation. (all this according to Wikipedia… I usually just say that he’s one of my favorite people in America!)David Barton

I met David in Washington D.C., when he offered my wife and I his eye-opening take on our nation’s history and the way that it is taught and therefore understood today.

For starters, when it comes to the American Revolution, students have been taught for several generations now that the main reason for revolt was Taxation without Representation. Now, truly the best way to learn about the reasons for the revolution is to read the documents written by the men who were actually involved. Sadly, most Americans don’t even read the Declaration of Independence, much less any of the other documents of that era – we simply read other people’s opinions and perspectives on the Declaration, the Constitution, etc. That’s how we’ve come to the understanding that the our fight for independence was largely about economics and unfair taxation. Now, while it is correct that Taxation without Representation is listed among the colonies’ complaints, it’s merely one of 27 different reasons why we declared our independence. Technically speaking, it’s actually listed seventeenth on the list, so unfair taxes didn’t even rank in the top half of priorities that our forefathers listed.

However, when we actually read the Declaration of Independence, we find that four of the 27 reasons for us seceding from England have to do with judicial activism. Our nation’s forefathers were tired of unelected judges making policy. They wanted to start a nation where the people could keep the judges from going out of control. Where is that today?

John Adams wrote that one of the two biggest reasons for separating from Britain was religious liberty. In the 18th century, the king dictated which church the people had to belong to, what the people could do and what they couldn’t do, as well as how to and how not to express their faith. THAT is the separation between church and state that was intended when our constitution was written – to keep the state from dictating which religion the people lived out, not to keep religion totally removed from anything having to do with the state.

David is also very active in correcting what is being taught in our classrooms today. He says to understand how curriculum is chosen in our country, it’s important to first understand that 26% of American students at public schools come from California and Texas. Therefore, if someone is going to write a textbook about history, science, or some other topic, it will cost somewhere around $20 million for a publisher to create and distribute a textbook. So, in order for the publisher to recoup that amount of money, they need to get Texas and California on board and willing to buy the textbook. Once the publisher nails down those two key states, they can get their money back. So, invariably, when each individual state announces their standards for what they want their students to know at the end of each year, they had better make sure that their standards are in line with California and Texas, since it’s simply not worth a publisher’s money to make a textbook directed at South Dakota’s (or any other less-populated state’s) standards.

A huge problem happened several years ago, though, when under Gray Davis’ governorship, California went bankrupt and still haven’t been able to get out from underneath of it financially. One of the largest states in the country – the textbook industry’s “golden goose” – simply can’t afford new textbooks like they once did. That puts Texas in the driver’s seat in regards to setting the standards that textbook writers adhere to. So if any publisher wants to be a part of the multi-million dollar industry of writing textbooks in the country, they need to write and teach up to Texas’ standards. Now, in Texas, the state government will pay for the textbooks for any school district that uses state-approved books that meet the state standards. They aren’t restricted to the state’s approved list, but only the books on the approved list will be paid for by the state government. Now, while publishers may slightly alter some of the textbook content for each individual state to meet their standards, it all pretty much starts with Texas.

So, according to this, you would think that the federal government wouldn’t have any role in dictating curriculum at all… but you’d be wrong. The federal government affects what is taught in our nation’s schools by establishing testing criteria. About 460,000 of America’s brightest high school seniors will take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams. To prepare for these tests, these honors students will take AP History, AP Calculus, and AP English among other classes that teach curriculum created by the College Board. Now, these are the kids who will grow up to be our leaders – our judges, governors, senators, teachers, doctors, etc. and this is the last history class that they will take before college. If they pass the AP exam, they are given college credit, and can the forgo general ed level class corresponding to their AP test.

The problem in this is that David Coleman, the President and CEO of the College Board, is also the man responsible for writing the standards for Common Core – a controversial set of standards that have been rejected by districts and states across the country. And not only did the Common Core standards offer “guidelines” for today’s teachers to adhere to, but 142 pages of specific items that teachers need to make sure that the students know.

So, regardless of the standards that the state of Texas (or any state for that matter) has deemed appropriate for their students, the teachers are put in the position of teaching to the standardized tests set by the College Board.

So, what does this boil down to? Well, here are some examples of what is in the new AP History exam: There are no founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, etc.); There is no Battle at Lexington, no Battle of Concord, no Battle of Saratoga, no Bunker Hill, no Yorktown; Actually, there are no battles ANYWHERE in American history; During World War II, D-Day didn’t happen, nor did Midway nor Iwo Jima; General Eisenhower, General Patton, Admiral Nimitz, General MacArthur played no role in the war… nor was there Pearl Harbor, Hitler or the Holocaust.

Overall, what is taught is that the best thing to be learned from America is that you can learn to hate it. There is nothing in the world that is bad except for what came from America. The epitome of this is that America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II, which raised questions about American values.common-core-obey-the-state-comic

This is what is taught in our classrooms, in order to secure the best grades on the SAT and AP exams used to measure merit for college admissions.

What most people don’t know is the truth: During WWII, there were 60 million lives lost in battle (40 million in the European Campaign and 20 million in the Pacific Theater). So, finally, on D-Day, we invaded Europe and decided to take the continent back from Hitler and give it back to the people of the rightful nation states. As the Allied forces marched across Europe, not conquering, but giving the land back to the people, they worked their way to Berlin where the Germans and Italians capitulated. It was then that the U.S. and our Allies decided to put an end to the war on the other side of the globe.

The war strategists came up with what they called Operation Downfall. According to the experts, an Allied invasion of Japan would end up costing between 4-5 million Allied lives, 500,000 American lives and between 5-10 million Japanese lives, depending on how fiercely the Japanese resisted. That made the decision that much easier for President Truman to strategically drop two atomic bombs, which killed 300,000 people from the blasts themselves and ensuing radiation, which drove Japan to surrender.

Now, take a look at the math: The Allies originally were looking at 5-14 million casualties compared to the actual 300,000 people who died. This makes America the heel? Then, we didn’t keep the country. Instead, we rebuilt it and gave it back to the Japanese and they have one of the freest countries in the world with one of the strongest economies. But these American values aren’t taught to our students today.

So, while each state may have the ability to set their own standards for teaching our young people, the federal government, through the efforts and agenda of David Coleman, are actually setting the path of our education system by creating the tests that our kindergarteners through high school seniors have to pass and their teachers have to teach toward.

Then there’s the issue of Judicial Activism. Just recently, in Tennessee, the voters handily passed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions. But, the opposition to the measure immediately filed suit over a technicality they claim negates the vote. It reminds me of 2008 when California voters approved Prop 8, which stated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. However, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the vote, it made me pause and wonder, “Do we really want to live in a nation where a 2-1 opinion between three people could overturn the will of an entire state?”

According to David, no court should be allowed to overrule a balloted measure such as these under the rules of original intent. Going back to the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams led the charge, stating that we had two problems with British Judiciary: 1) They’re not accountable to the people; and 2) They have lifetime appointments.

Now, most people today think that judges, particularly federal judges, have lifetime appointments. Yet, if the founders heard you say that, they would slap you across the face and say, “Read the document!” Not giving judges lifetime appointments was one of the two main issues they used in framing our documents! Unfortunately, our poor educational system has again failed us and now most people in our country believe the contrary.

If you read the Article Three of the Constitution, it says that they are allowed to serve “for the duration of good behavior”. So, what does it mean to act right? Well, if you look at the first six judges that our founding fathers pulled off of the federal courts, and determine the definitions by their actions, you’ll see. They pulled one judge off of the bench for cussing in the federal courtroom. They decided that not having control over one’s tongue is not behavior fitting of a federal judge. They threw another judge off the court for getting drunk – even though it was during his private time away from the bench. They held even the judges’ private lives to a higher standard. Another judge was removed from the court for overturning an act of Congress.

Yet, here we are today, allowing our judges to do exactly the two things that our founding fathers worked so hard against!

So, if we live in a country where judges are not supposed to be able to make policy or overturn the law of the land, what are they supposed to do? Our Supreme Court is actually supposed to merely offer their opinion on the constitutionality of a bill, law or legal matter. That’s why if you look at the language of every Supreme Court decision, at the top of it reads “The Opinion of the Court”. It does not say the Law of the Land, but the Opinion. What is supposed to happen is that then the legislature is supposed to take this opinion into consideration and amend the law, or follow Thomas Jefferson’s, James Madison’s, and Andrew Jackson’s, and Abraham Lincoln’s examples and tell the Supreme Court that they are wrong. They never let the Court Justices bind them as to law – the people elected them! Now, they would consider the Court’s opinions and decisions on the procedures, practices and constitutionality of matters, but the only binding decisions came from the Legislative and Executive Branches.

You see, the founding fathers understood that most policies should be left to local jurisdictions. Even issues such as abortion would be handled locally, if the decision were left to the likes of Washington, Hamilton, or Adams, since it’s pretty obvious that San Franciscans would hold different beliefs on the matter compared to Tulsa, Oklahomans.

Now, in regards to the seventh amendment, or Common Law, there are certain moral rights and wrongs that the founding fathers in the Declaration called the “Laws of Nature”, based on the revelations of 1) what nature teaches you itself and 2) what the God of nature teaches you through the Scriptures. So, if the Bible says that abortion is wrong, then it’s wrong. Additionally, nature itself tells us that it’s wrong. There are over 10 million different species of animals across the globe, and not a single one kills its infants while they are still in the womb. Therefore, abortion is also a violation of the laws of nature. It’s these very laws of nature and laws of the God of nature that are supposed to be the compass for the court and the seventh amendment. This is why rape, burglary, and arson are crimes. All these things are addressed in either nature or in the Scriptures. Other than the things that fell under Common Law, the ninth and tenth amendments gave the authority to the local courts to decide, not the federal courts.   However these days, the federal courts behave as though they are in charge of everything, and by being in charge of everything, every decision is a “one-size-fits-all” ruling, no matter what part of the country is affected by them. This totally goes against the founding fathers’ original intentions that there would only be about a half-dozen issues that the Supreme Court would be allowed to touch, such as an agreement or dispute between another country and the USA; or an issue between a foreign ambassador and America; the federal court could rule on a dispute between two states fighting each other. Other than a short list of issues, every other national decision should be run through Congress and the President. This is guaranteed in the Exceptions Clause of Article Three, which says that Congress is allowed to take and except anything it wants from the courts. Congress could say, “We’re not going to let any federal court rule over marriage (or abortion, or any other issue that doesn’t fall under Common Law) but let the States take care of those decisions. The same could be done regarding fishing, or interstate commerce, or the amount of gluten allowed in a loaf of bread… the courts shouldn’t be able to make these decisions, yet Congress can in a heartbeat. There have actually been over 200 different instances when Congress has ruled that the Supreme Court couldn’t touch certain issues.

You see, it would be very easy for us – the people – to contain the courts if we only understood the Constitution correctly. And since our Congressmen and Congresswomen went to the same schools we did, they don’t understand it correctly, either.

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that each branch of government was given “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”. In other words, if the President started acting like the Legislature, Congress was given Constitutional ability to beat back the President; or if the Courts start acting like the Legislature, there were means given to beat them back as well. The checks and balances go across the board. However, if any of the branches refuse to pick up the “Arms of Self-Defense”, they will get run over.

Think of it along these lines: we are allowed to keep and bare arms, but if I refuse to pick up a gun when a robber breaks into my house, then he is going to have his way with me. So, what we have now are Congressmen, just like citizens, unaware of the “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”.

Part of the problem is today’s law schools. You see, law schools turn out attorneys and these attorneys become judges and legislators. Therefore, we’ve lost the separation of powers, because we have one body (law schools) training two branches that judges have more power and authority than they were originally intended.

It’s because of this very problem that David created Wallbuilders.

Another point that David makes is that the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights all go together. Now, there’s a movement going around today that says, “The Constitution is what we swear to uphold, not the Declaration”.

No, dummies.

Go back to the Declaration of Independence. It starts with 155 wards that set forth the six principles of American Government. It then follows with grievances, giving 27 examples of how our rights had been violated, based on those six principles. So every single thing in the Constitution goes back to those six principles of government. The Constitution was written to make sure that those six principles became governmental action. And even in Article Seven, the Declaration is directly incorporated into the Constitution. To this day, when the President signs a law, it does not say, “In the year of the Constitution”, it says “In the year of our Declaration.” The Declaration is our founding document. Every Constitutional act dates back to the Declaration. Therefore, you cannot separate the two.

Finally, David brings clarity to the “three-fifths clause”.

It’s often brought up to say, “Hey! This proves that the founding fathers were racist, because the three-fifths clause shows that they believed that black people were only worth three-fifths of an individual!”

The truth is actually exactly the opposite. The three-fifths clause was instituted by the anti-slavery founding fathers to make sure that you had full worth for every individual black person in America.

You see, the people of the South said, “Our Constitution says that for every 30,000 people, in our state, we get to have a Congressman, so we’re going to count all of our slaves. (and, by the way, in South Carolina and Georgia, there were more slaves than there were slave owners). So, under the Southern logic, these Southern slave-owning states would have twice as many Congressmen than the free Northern states, and they’d all be pro-slavery Congressmen. In response, the Northern Congressmen agreed that the black slaves should be counted as full individuals – if they were to be set free. But, so long as they were considered merely property, than the Northern citizenry should be allowed to count their property as needing Congressional representation as well – including every broom, table and chair, horse and cow – and for every 30,000 pieces of property we can count, they will elect an anti-slavery Congressman.

That’s how the compromise of the three-fifths clause came to be. This reduced pro-slavery representation in Congress by almost half. It had nothing to do with the “worth” of individuals, but everything to do with representation in Congress and trying to limit pro-slavery representation. It’s very clear in the Constitution, but we simply are taught it wrong in classrooms today.

To find out more about how to correct what’s being taught in our classrooms and to see a more accurate perspective than what is being widely reported in regards to Common Core, check out WallBuilders.com.

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I am honored to have one of my favorite people on the planet join the show this week:  Pastor Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church in Denton, TX (DentonBible.org).  Anyone familiar with my own story is familiar with Tommy.  God used tapes regarding the Book of Ecclesiastes to pull me to His kingdom.

Speaking of Old Testament works, I believe that the Song of Solomon should be taught in every junior high school across our country.  Let the parents opt in or out whether or not they want their kids to hear God’s take on love, sex and marriage.  Then, the kids can go to the typical class and learn how to put a condom on a banana.  And, the best teachings that I’ve heard regarding the Song of Solomon come from Tommy.

According to Tommy, the book sets forth God’s perspective on male-female attraction, courtship, passion, honeymoons, sex, conflict, romance and fidelity to the end.  Over the course of eight chapters, the book walks you all the way through the continuity of marriage.  But it doesn’t do it via a lecture series, but rather it lets you watch the relationship between Solomon and his wife in and ideal relationship – not one built upon trade relations like so many of his wives and concubines, but the girl that he truly loved.

Over the years, though, I’ve noticed that hardly any pastors are brave enough to tackle this oh-so-important bit of scripture.  Or, as Tommy puts it, the text is often “disinfected” by making the husband Christ and the bride His Church – as is often allegorized in other parts of the Bible.  In some ways, the reason why most pastors are afraid of teaching the book literally is because it just might say what it says.  You see, we’re often afraid of dealing with things head on, but God will do just that!

Never, on Tommy’s most romantic or holy of days, he has never measured up to the Song of Solomon.  It sets such a tremendously high standard for gentleness, love, submission, purity, passion – everything that husbands and wives should strive for.  If you look at the scriptures closely, all women want a man like the one described in Song of Solomon and all men want a woman described in the book’s pages.  It just makes sense that God would have something of utmost value to say about the most important relationship on the planet earth – not to mention the most passionate drive (the sex drive) on planet earth.

And, we’re not just talking about the “be fruitful and multiply” part of the relationship between husbands and wives, but almost more importantly: the aspects of creating a home filled with peace, honor and joy.  Without the ability to conduct a home, you’ve got a whole lot of nothing, no matter what else you may have.

Now, when we look at the canonization of the Bible, it’s believed by many that Solomon actually wrote Ecclesiastes in his later years, when he as able to take a step back and observe the world; and he wrote Proverbs in the middle of his life as he was gaining wisdom; and he wrote the Song of Solomon early in life when marriage was more paramount to him.  No matter the order of when each book was penned, he knew that it was important for his nation to learn how a home should be run.  It really doesn’t matter how mighty a nation may be, if its homes are bereft of God’s will, then the nation simply won’t stand.

And speaking of standing on shaky ground, Tommy is often confronted by atheists who tend to ask the same questions:  How can a good and loving God allow evil to occur, to continue, or even originate; and what purpose does evil serve?  How can errant men write an inerrant Bible?  (The answer to this question is:  they can’t.  They must be super-intended men who were overshadowed by God’s Spirit who were then able to do what they normally could not do on their own.)  Atheists also often ask:  Why is there a hell?  Aren’t all religions the same, or why could one be mutually exclusive from the others?  (This is actually an incredibly faulty question:  Buddhism is an atheistic religion; Hinduism is a naturalistic religion where god is the creation; Zoroastrianism is a religion where good an evil are co-equal like Darth and Luke in Star Wars; Islam has one god that is not a trinity nor personal nor even knowable and man must earn or work his way toward god.  And then you have Christianity with the infinitely personal God who is Trinity and therefore eternal and personable, who provides atonement – where God, Himself, dies for the sins of the world, so that mankind can be saved by faith.

Getting back to the first question, it’s illogical to question the existence of God based on the existence of evil, because without God, there is no standard to measure evil against.  It’s like typing a thesis on why you don’t believe language.  It’s impossible because you need what you are assuming doesn’t exist.

I believe that a person’s worldview all begins at their own appointed “starting point”, because you can’t leap to asking “Why is there evil” until you establish where it all began.  For me, I view Genesis 1:1 as the starting point:  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Every bit of what I believe is true begins there.  However, atheists hold that there was no beginning, no starting point, no mind, no creator – just nothing and something came from nothing.  And then over time, plus chance, all that is around us came to be.  As I see it, this creates a very wide fork in the road, especially in regards to ethics.

I guess Tommy puts it best in describing their search for beginnings and meaning:  They’re searching for Jesus without coming through the Bible.  Even Communism was attempting to establish Christian ideas without Christ in the picture.  But the truth is that you have to have a universal and absolute point of reference (i.e., God = goodness), otherwise all other arguments are pointless.

Switching gears a bit, Tommy also did a series on Genesis.  It’s an incredible set of over 30 CD’s, but anyone seeking truth should check it out.  Just one example of the truth and wisdom that he pulls out of the Bible’s first book is the genesis of government:

In Genesis 1, you’ve got creation.  In chapter two, you’ve got man.  Then you’ve got the occurrence of evil and redemption in chapter three.  Then in chapters four and five, you’ve got the origins of civilization, along with the beginnings of art, science and agriculture.  Then, with the great flood, you’ve got the fact that God will deal with evil.  Following that, you’ve got the origins of distinct nations and races with the Tower of Babel.

But, it was after the flood, when God says, “We’re going to do something to try to restrict the evil of man.  Whoever sheds man’s blood (a murderer), by man shall his blood be shed (justice).”  And that was the origin of government.  It’s based upon the dignity of the image of God in man.  Now, flash forward thousands of years, and our own inalienable rights of life and liberty, our ability to bear arms, to make money and generate capital, to speak our minds and have freedom of press – all these ideas are simply reflections of the Bible put into pithy terms by Mr. Madison and his pals.

All this to say, you can’t have a working framework unless you have an interpersonal God who must speak – or the assumption of a God who is actually there and who has made Himself known to man.  The Bible is how God has done this, beginning with Genesis 1:1.  This says that in the beginning, there was a person, God, who made something out of nothing (created) and called it the heavens and the earth.  Without this verse, we are without the beginnings of time, space, matter, origins, and order.  You see, the Bible actually does speak of science and the beginnings of all these things.  It also speaks of morality.  The Bible states that man was created in the image of God, a design of how he is to treat others, and a basic human dignity by which he is to be treated.

This all boils down to the fact that man will know God in three ways:  his creator, his Savior and his Judge.  The first is put upon us, but we each get to make a choice of how we encounter the other two.

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Joining our show this week is my friend David Barton. David is an minister, conservative activist, and author. He founded WallBuilders, a Texas-based organization which promotes the view that it is a myth that the US Constitution insists on separation of church and state.  He is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas. David has been described as a Christian nationalist and “one of the foremost Christian revisionist historians”; much of his work is devoted to advancing the idea, based upon research that many historians describe as flawed, that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation. (all this according to Wikipedia… I usually just say that he’s one of my favorite people in America!)

I met David in Washington D.C., when he offered my wife and I his eye-opening take on our nation’s history and the way that it is taught and therefore understood today.

For starters, when it comes to the American Revolution, students have been taught for several generations now that the main reason for revolt was Taxation without Representation. Now, truly the best way to learn about the reasons for the revolution is to read the documents written by the men who were actually involved. Sadly, most Americans don’t even read the Declaration of Independence, much less any of the other documents of that era – we simply read other people’s opinions and perspectives on the Declaration, the Constitution, etc. That’s how we’ve come to the understanding that the our fight for independence was largely about economics and unfair taxation. Now, while it is correct that Taxation without Representation is listed among the colonies’ complaints, it’s merely one of 27 different reasons why we declared our independence. Technically speaking, it’s actually listed seventeenth on the list, so unfair taxes didn’t even rank in the top half of priorities that our forefathers listed.

However, when we actually read the Declaration of Independence, we find that four of the 27 reasons for us seceding from England have to do with judicial activism. Our nation’s forefathers were tired of unelected judges making policy. They wanted to start a nation where the people could keep the judges from going out of control. Where is that today?

John Adams wrote that one of the two biggest reasons for separating from Britain was religious liberty. In the 18th century, the king dictated which church the people had to belong to, what the people could do and what they couldn’t do, as well as how to and how not to express their faith. THAT is the separation between church and state that was intended when our constitution was written – to keep the state from dictating which religion the people lived out, not to keep religion totally removed from anything having to do with the state.

David is also very active in correcting what is being taught in our classrooms today. He says to understand how curriculum is chosen in our country, it’s important to first understand that 26% of American students at public schools come from California and Texas. Therefore, if someone is going to write a textbook about history, science, or some other topic, it will cost somewhere around $20 million for a publisher to create and distribute a textbook. So, in order for the publisher to recoup that amount of money, they need to get Texas and California on board and willing to buy the textbook. Once the publisher nails down those two key states, they can get their money back. So, invariably, when each individual state announces their standards for what they want their students to know at the end of each year, they had better make sure that their standards are in line with California and Texas, since it’s simply not worth a publisher’s money to make a textbook directed at South Dakota’s (or any other less-populated state’s) standards.

A huge problem happened several years ago, though, when under Gray Davis’ governorship, California went bankrupt and still haven’t been able to get out from underneath of it financially. One of the largest states in the country – the textbook industry’s “golden goose” – simply can’t afford new textbooks like they once did. That puts Texas in the driver’s seat in regards to setting the standards that textbook writers adhere to. So if any publisher wants to be a part of the multi-million dollar industry of writing textbooks in the country, they need to write and teach up to Texas’ standards. Now, in Texas, the state government will pay for the textbooks for any school district that uses state-approved books that meet the state standards. They aren’t restricted to the state’s approved list, but only the books on the approved list will be paid for by the state government. Now, while publishers may slightly alter some of the textbook content for each individual state to meet their standards, it all pretty much starts with Texas.

So, according to this, you would think that the federal government wouldn’t have any role in dictating curriculum at all… but you’d be wrong. The federal government affects what is taught in our nation’s schools by establishing testing criteria. About 460,000 of America’s brightest high school seniors will take Advanced Placement (AP) Exams. To prepare for these tests, these honors students will take AP History, AP Calculus, and AP English among other classes that teach curriculum created by the College Board. Now, these are the kids who will grow up to be our leaders – our judges, governors, senators, teachers, doctors, etc. and this is the last history class that they will take before college. If they pass the AP exam, they are given college credit, and can the forgo general ed level class corresponding to their AP test.

The problem in this is that David Coleman, the President and CEO of the College Board, is also the man responsible for writing the standards for Common Core – a controversial set of standards that have been rejected by districts and states across the country. And not only did the Common Core standards offer “guidelines” for today’s teachers to adhere to, but 142 pages of specific items that teachers need to make sure that the students know.

So, regardless of the standards that the state of Texas (or any state for that matter) has deemed appropriate for their students, the teachers are put in the position of teaching to the standardized tests set by the College Board.

So, what does this boil down to? Well, here are some examples of what is in the new AP History exam: There are no founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, etc.); There is no Battle at Lexington, no Battle of Concord, no Battle of Saratoga, no Bunker Hill, no Yorktown; Actually, there are no battles ANYWHERE in American history; During World War II, D-Day didn’t happen, nor did Midway nor Iwo Jima; General Eisenhower, General Patton, Admiral Nimitz, General MacArthur played no role in the war… nor was there Pearl Harbor, Hitler or the Holocaust.

Overall, what is taught is that the best thing to be learned from America is that you can learn to hate it. There is nothing in the world that is bad except for what came from America. The epitome of this is that America dropped the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II, which raised questions about American values.

This is what is taught in our classrooms, in order to secure the best grades on the SAT and AP exams used to measure merit for college admissions.

What most people don’t know is the truth: During WWII, there were 60 million lives lost in battle (40 million in the European Campaign and 20 million in the Pacific Theater). So, finally, on D-Day, we invaded Europe and decided to take the continent back from Hitler and give it back to the people of the rightful nation states. As the Allied forces marched across Europe, not conquering, but giving the land back to the people, they worked their way to Berlin where the Germans and Italians capitulated. It was then that the U.S. and our Allies decided to put an end to the war on the other side of the globe.

The war strategists came up with what they called Operation Downfall. According to the experts, an Allied invasion of Japan would end up costing between 4-5 million Allied lives, 500,000 American lives and between 5-10 million Japanese lives, depending on how fiercely the Japanese resisted. That made the decision that much easier for President Truman to strategically drop two atomic bombs, which killed 300,000 people from the blasts themselves and ensuing radiation, which drove Japan to surrender.

Now, take a look at the math: The Allies originally were looking at 5-14 million casualties compared to the actual 300,000 people who died. This makes America the heel? Then, we didn’t keep the country. Instead, we rebuilt it and gave it back to the Japanese and they have one of the freest countries in the world with one of the strongest economies. But these American values aren’t taught to our students today.

So, while each state may have the ability to set their own standards for teaching our young people, the federal government, through the efforts and agenda of David Coleman, are actually setting the path of our education system by creating the tests that our kindergarteners through high school seniors have to pass and their teachers have to teach toward.

Then there’s the issue of Judicial Activism. Just recently, in Tennessee, the voters handily passed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions. But, the opposition to the measure immediately filed suit over a technicality they claim negates the vote. It reminds me of 2008 when California voters approved Prop 8, which stated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. However, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the vote, it made me pause and wonder, “Do we really want to live in a nation where a 2-1 opinion between three people could overturn the will of an entire state?”

According to David, no court should be allowed to overrule a balloted measure such as these under the rules of original intent. Going back to the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams led the charge, stating that we had two problems with British Judiciary: 1) They’re not accountable to the people; and 2) They have lifetime appointments.

Now, most people today think that judges, particularly federal judges, have lifetime appointments. Yet, if the founders heard you say that, they would slap you across the face and say, “Read the document!” Not giving judges lifetime appointments was one of the two main issues they used in framing our documents! Unfortunately, our poor educational system has again failed us and now most people in our country believe the contrary.

If you read the Article Three of the Constitution, it says that they are allowed to serve “for the duration of good behavior”. So, what does it mean to act right? Well, if you look at the first six judges that our founding fathers pulled off of the federal courts, and determine the definitions by their actions, you’ll see. They pulled one judge off of the bench for cussing in the federal courtroom. They decided that not having control over one’s tongue is not behavior fitting of a federal judge. They threw another judge off the court for getting drunk – even though it was during his private time away from the bench. They held even the judges’ private lives to a higher standard. Another judge was removed from the court for overturning an act of Congress.

Yet, here we are today, allowing our judges to do exactly the two things that our founding fathers worked so hard against!

So, if we live in a country where judges are not supposed to be able to make policy or overturn the law of the land, what are they supposed to do? Our Supreme Court is actually supposed to merely offer their opinion on the constitutionality of a bill, law or legal matter. That’s why if you look at the language of every Supreme Court decision, at the top of it reads “The Opinion of the Court”. It does not say the Law of the Land, but the Opinion. What is supposed to happen is that then the legislature is supposed to take this opinion into consideration and amend the law, or follow Thomas Jefferson’s, James Madison’s, and Andrew Jackson’s, and Abraham Lincoln’s examples and tell the Supreme Court that they are wrong. They never let the Court Justices bind them as to law – the people elected them! Now, they would consider the Court’s opinions and decisions on the procedures, practices and constitutionality of matters, but the only binding decisions came from the Legislative and Executive Branches.

You see, the founding fathers understood that most policies should be left to local jurisdictions. Even issues such as abortion would be handled locally, if the decision were left to the likes of Washington, Hamilton, or Adams, since it’s pretty obvious that San Franciscans would hold different beliefs on the matter compared to Tulsa, Oklahomans.

Now, in regards to the seventh amendment, or Common Law, there are certain moral rights and wrongs that the founding fathers in the Declaration called the “Laws of Nature”, based on the revelations of 1) what nature teaches you itself and 2) what the God of nature teaches you through the Scriptures. So, if the Bible says that abortion is wrong, then it’s wrong. Additionally, nature itself tells us that it’s wrong. There are over 10 million different species of animals across the globe, and not a single one kills its infants while they are still in the womb. Therefore, abortion is also a violation of the laws of nature. It’s these very laws of nature and laws of the God of nature that are supposed to be the compass for the court and the seventh amendment. This is why rape, burglary, and arson are crimes. All these things are addressed in either nature or in the Scriptures. Other than the things that fell under Common Law, the ninth and tenth amendments gave the authority to the local courts to decide, not the federal courts.   However these days, the federal courts behave as though they are in charge of everything, and by being in charge of everything, every decision is a “one-size-fits-all” ruling, no matter what part of the country is affected by them. This totally goes against the founding fathers’ original intentions that there would only be about a half-dozen issues that the Supreme Court would be allowed to touch, such as an agreement or dispute between another country and the USA; or an issue between a foreign ambassador and America; the federal court could rule on a dispute between two states fighting each other. Other than a short list of issues, every other national decision should be run through Congress and the President. This is guaranteed in the Exceptions Clause of Article Three, which says that Congress is allowed to take and except anything it wants from the courts. Congress could say, “We’re not going to let any federal court rule over marriage (or abortion, or any other issue that doesn’t fall under Common Law) but let the States take care of those decisions. The same could be done regarding fishing, or interstate commerce, or the amount of gluten allowed in a loaf of bread… the courts shouldn’t be able to make these decisions, yet Congress can in a heartbeat. There have actually been over 200 different instances when Congress has ruled that the Supreme Court couldn’t touch certain issues.

You see, it would be very easy for us – the people – to contain the courts if we only understood the Constitution correctly. And since our Congressmen and Congresswomen went to the same schools we did, they don’t understand it correctly, either.

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that each branch of government was given “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”. In other words, if the President started acting like the Legislature, Congress was given Constitutional ability to beat back the President; or if the Courts start acting like the Legislature, there were means given to beat them back as well. The checks and balances go across the board. However, if any of the branches refuse to pick up the “Arms of Self-Defense”, they will get run over.

Think of it along these lines: we are allowed to keep and bare arms, but if I refuse to pick up a gun when a robber breaks into my house, then he is going to have his way with me. So, what we have now are Congressmen, just like citizens, unaware of the “Constitutional Arms of Self-Defense”.

Part of the problem is today’s law schools. You see, law schools turn out attorneys and these attorneys become judges and legislators. Therefore, we’ve lost the separation of powers, because we have one body (law schools) training two branches that judges have more power and authority than they were originally intended.

It’s because of this very problem that David created Wallbuilders.

Another point that David makes is that the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights all go together. Now, there’s a movement going around today that says, “The Constitution is what we swear to uphold, not the Declaration”.

No, dummies.

Go back to the Declaration of Independence. It starts with 155 wards that set forth the six principles of American Government. It then follows with grievances, giving 27 examples of how our rights had been violated, based on those six principles. So every single thing in the Constitution goes back to those six principles of government. The Constitution was written to make sure that those six principles became governmental action. And even in Article Seven, the Declaration is directly incorporated into the Constitution. To this day, when the President signs a law, it does not say, “In the year of the Constitution”, it says “In the year of our Declaration.” The Declaration is our founding document. Every Constitutional act dates back to the Declaration. Therefore, you cannot separate the two.

Finally, David brings clarity to the “three-fifths clause”.

It’s often brought up to say, “Hey! This proves that the founding fathers were racist, because the three-fifths clause shows that they believed that black people were only worth three-fifths of an individual!”

The truth is actually exactly the opposite. The three-fifths clause was instituted by the anti-slavery founding fathers to make sure that you had full worth for every individual black person in America.

You see, the people of the South said, “Our Constitution says that for every 30,000 people, in our state, we get to have a Congressman, so we’re going to count all of our slaves. (and, by the way, in South Carolina and Georgia, there were more slaves than there were slave owners). So, under the Southern logic, these Southern slave-owning states would have twice as many Congressmen than the free Northern states, and they’d all be pro-slavery Congressmen. In response, the Northern Congressmen agreed that the black slaves should be counted as full individuals – if they were to be set free. But, so long as they were considered merely property, than the Northern citizenry should be allowed to count their property as needing Congressional representation as well – including every broom, table and chair, horse and cow – and for every 30,000 pieces of property we can count, they will elect an anti-slavery Congressman.

That’s how the compromise of the three-fifths clause came to be. This reduced pro-slavery representation in Congress by almost half. It had nothing to do with the “worth” of individuals, but everything to do with representation in Congress and trying to limit pro-slavery representation. It’s very clear in the Constitution, but we simply are taught it wrong in classrooms today.

To find out more about how to correct what’s being taught in our classrooms and to see a more accurate perspective than what is being widely reported in regards to Common Core, check out WallBuilders.com.

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In 1 Samuel 11, we see Saul being demonstrated publicly as Israel’s king by defeating the Ammonites, and then in chapter 12, Samuel offers his farewell address to the people of Israel – thus the end of the era of the judges in Israel’s history.  Yet, while he no longer stands as a judge over God’s people, he still remains a prophet, speaking on behalf of the Lord.

So, as we pick up the story in chapter 13, we see Saul beginning to set up his political and military strongholds:

Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.

Saul selected 3,000 special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. He took 2,000 of the chosen men with him to Micmash and the hill country of Bethel. The other 1,000 went with Saul’s son Jonathan to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.

Now, the fact that they have a standing army of only 3,000 is our first clue that Israel is not a very strong nation, militarily at this time.

 Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba. The news spread quickly among the Philistines. So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, “Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!”  All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever. So the entire Israelite army was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

Here, we see Saul gathering up even his “reserve soldiers” to join in what he calls a “revolt”, which offers a clue to us that Israel had been in subjugation to the Philistines at the time.  As we discussed before, the Philistines definitely had the upper hand on Israel both technologically and militarily.  We also see in these verses that it’s not Saul, but his son, Jonathan, who is victorious over the Philistines at Geba.  This will be a recurring theme throughout Saul’s reign.

The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!.

Skipping to the end of the chapter for a bit, we see in verse 19 a paragraph that sets the battle in even clearer context:

There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews.  So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles, they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith.  The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce of silver for sharpening a plowshare or a pick, and an eighth of an ounce for sharpening an ax or making the point of an ox goad.  So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan.

Did you catch that?  Not only were the Israelites vastly outnumbered, but Saul and Jonathan were the only ones wielding proper weapons!  Anyone in their right mind would have been terrified if they were Saul, but I wonder if he kept in mind a previous Judge who went up against the Philistines as a military underdog.  Sampson defeated 1,000 Philistines with nothing but the jawbone of a donkey.

So, with the battle now in context, let’s pick it back up in verse six:

The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns.  Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.

So, not only was Saul’s army inferior in regards to weapons, chariots, and numbers of soldiers, but now many of the men of his army were deserters!  Imagine Israel’s soldiers being so terrified that they were hiding in wells!

But, isn’t it true that many of us run for the hills (or the wells, as it may be) even today when we fear that our culture is on the attack?  We separate ourselves from all the “evil” around us, think that if we can just hide and stay away, we can raise our children in peace.  But, like the Israelites who hid in the wells, I just don’t think that’s possible.  I think there’s a way to affect and influence our culture without believing that we have to be in the majority.  I think that there’s a fatal flaw in the thinking that we Christians need to “retake” our nation before we can make a difference.  In fact, throughout scripture and history, we see that Christians have always been sent to influence as the world’s salt and light, but not to dominate culture.  We are to act as a prophetic voice in our culture, but never as kings in our culture.

Consider Joseph in Egypt, or Daniel in Babylon – people who had tremendous influence, and yet were not the majority or ruling party of the land.  They were, and we should be, simply Godly witnesses and influencers of a culture that was markedly different, alien, strange, and even ungodly.

I believe that if we pick up this attitude, we would be humble in our approach to those who consider themselves outside of the Church, it would cause us to be wise yet gentle, and it would cause us to see the culture around us not as enemies, but as people who simply need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Maybe this is a time for the Church in America to be humbled.  Maybe it’s a time when we need to reassess the kind of witness that we have created in our culture.  Maybe it’s time for us to rethink our strategies on how we are to influence the culture, our government, and our neighborhoods.

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We are blessed and honored to have one of my favorite people on the planet join our show:  Pastor Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church in Denton, TX (DentonBible.org).  Anyone familiar with my own story is familiar with Tommy.  The tapes that were given to me regarding the Book of Ecclesiastes that God used to pull me to His kingdom were from Tommy’s ministry.

Now, I believe that the Song of Solomon should be taught in every junior high school across our country.  Let the parents opt in or out whether or not they want their kids to hear God’s take on love, sex and marriage.  Then, the kids can go to the typical class and learn how to put a condom on a banana.  And, the best teachings that I’ve heard regarding the Song of Solomon come from Tommy.

According to Tommy, the book sets forth God’s perspective on male-female attraction, courtship, passion, honeymoons, sex, conflict, romance and fidelity to the end.  Over the course of eight chapters, the book walks you all the way through the continuity of marriage.  But it doesn’t do it via a lecture series, but rather it lets you watch the relationship between Solomon and his wife in and ideal relationship – not one built upon trade relations like so many of his wives and concubines, but the girl that he truly loved.

Over the years, though, I’ve noticed that hardly any pastors are brave enough to tackle this oh-so-important bit of scripture.  Or, as Tommy puts it, the text is often “disinfected” by making the husband Christ and the bride His Church – as is often allegorized in other parts of the Bible.  In some ways, the reason why most pastors are afraid of teaching the book literally is because it just might say what it says.  You see, we’re often afraid of dealing with things head on, but God will do just that!

Never, on Tommy’s most romantic or holy of days, he has never measured up to the Song of Solomon.  It sets such a tremendously high standard for gentleness, love, submission, purity, passion – everything that husbands and wives should strive for.  If you look at the scriptures closely, all women want a man like the one described in Song of Solomon and all men want a woman described in the book’s pages.  It just makes sense that God would have something of utmost value to say about the most important relationship on the planet earth – not to mention the most passionate drive (the sex drive) on planet earth.

And, we’re not just talking about the “be fruitful and multiply” part of the relationship between husbands and wives, but almost more importantly: the aspects of creating a home filled with peace, honor and joy.  Without the ability to conduct a home, you’ve got a whole lot of nothing, no matter what else you may have.

Now, when we look at the canonization of the Bible, it’s believed by many that Solomon actually wrote Ecclesiastes in his later years, when he as able to take a step back and observe the world; and he wrote Proverbs in the middle of his life as he was gaining wisdom; and he wrote the Song of Solomon early in life when marriage was more paramount to him.  No matter the order of when each book was penned, he knew that it was important for his nation to learn how a home should be run.  It really doesn’t matter how mighty a nation may be, if its homes are bereft of God’s will, then the nation simply won’t stand.

And speaking of standing on shaky ground, Tommy is often confronted by atheists who tend to ask the same questions:  How can a good and loving God allow evil to occur, to continue, or even originate; and what purpose does evil serve?  How can errant men write an inerrant Bible?  (The answer to this question is:  they can’t.  They must be super-intended men who were overshadowed by God’s Spirit who were then able to do what they normally could not do on their own.)  Atheists also often ask:  Why is there a hell?  Aren’t all religions the same, or why could one be mutually exclusive from the others?  (This is actually an incredibly faulty question:  Buddhism is an atheistic religion; Hinduism is a naturalistic religion where god is the creation; Zoroastrianism is a religion where good an evil are co-equal like Darth and Luke in Star Wars; Islam has one god that is not a trinity nor personal nor even knowable and man must earn or work his way toward god.  And then you have Christianity with the infinitely personal God who is Trinity and therefore eternal and personable, who provides atonement – where God, Himself, dies for the sins of the world, so that mankind can be saved by faith.

Getting back to the first question, it’s illogical to question the existence of God based on the existence of evil, because without God, there is no standard to measure evil against.  It’s like typing a thesis on why you don’t believe language.  It’s impossible because you need what you are assuming doesn’t exist.

I believe that a person’s worldview all begins at their own appointed “starting point”, because you can’t leap to asking “Why is there evil” until you establish where it all began.  For me, I view Genesis 1:1 as the starting point:  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Every bit of what I believe is true begins there.  However, atheists hold that there was no beginning, no starting point, no mind, no creator – just nothing and something came from nothing.  And then over time, plus chance, all that is around us came to be.  As I see it, this creates a very wide fork in the road, especially in regards to ethics.

I guess Tommy puts it best in describing their search for beginnings and meaning:  They’re searching for Jesus without coming through the Bible.  Even Communism was attempting to establish Christian ideas without Christ in the picture.  But the truth is that you have to have a universal and absolute point of reference (i.e., God = goodness), otherwise all other arguments are pointless.

Switching gears a bit, Tommy also did a series on Genesis.  It’s an incredible set of over 30 CD’s, but anyone seeking truth should check it out.  Just one example of the truth and wisdom that he pulls out of the Bible’s first book is the genesis of government:

In Genesis 1, you’ve got creation.  In chapter two, you’ve got man.  Then you’ve got the occurrence of evil and redemption in chapter three.  Then in chapters four and five, you’ve got the origins of civilization, along with the beginnings of art, science and agriculture.  Then, with the great flood, you’ve got the fact that God will deal with evil.  Following that, you’ve got the origins of distinct nations and races with the Tower of Babel.

But, it was after the flood, when God says, “We’re going to do something to try to restrict the evil of man.  Whoever sheds man’s blood (a murderer), by man shall his blood be shed (justice).”  And that was the origin of government.  It’s based upon the dignity of the image of God in man.  Now, flash forward thousands of years, and our own inalienable rights of life and liberty, our ability to bear arms, to make money and generate capital, to speak our minds and have freedom of press – all these ideas are simply reflections of the Bible put into pithy terms by Mr. Madison and his pals.

All this to say, you can’t have a working framework unless you have an interpersonal God who must speak – or the assumption of a God who is actually there and who has made Himself known to man.  The Bible is how God has done this, beginning with Genesis 1:1.  This says that in the beginning, there was a person, God, who made something out of nothing (created) and called it the heavens and the earth.  Without this verse, we are without the beginnings of time, space, matter, origins, and order.  You see, the Bible actually does speak of science and the beginnings of all these things.  It also speaks of morality.  The Bible states that man was created in the image of God, a design of how he is to treat others, and a basic human dignity by which he is to be treated.

This all boils down to the fact that man will know God in three ways:  his creator, his Savior and his Judge.  The first is put upon us, but we each get to make a choice of how we encounter the other two.

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