God’s First Words

Today, I listened to one of the greatest preachers in America today preach quite possibly one of his greatest sermons ever. It was Dr. James Merritt, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, delivering “The Freedom that Freedom Brings”. This thing is basically a Christian equivalent to Atlas Shrugged, and if anything I am UNDERstating its importance there. It is that good.

But something Dr. Merritt said in there came to my mind moments ago, so I decided to look it up for myself.

We know God created mankind. We know they had a very intimate relationship in the Garden of Eden, where God and man walked side by side and spoke as friends. (BTW: Ted Dekker’s Circle Series does a great job of depicting this outside the Bible.)

But wouldn’t it be appropriate to think that the Creator’s first words to the Created be of supreme importance? After all, this is monumental! At this point, God had created EVERYTHING else, and this ‘man’ thing he was just about to create was to be the FIRST with at least two qualities found NOWHERE else in all of Creation: First, man would be God’s Image Bearers. Man alone looked like God Himself! Second, man alone, in all of Creation, would have the ability to make his own choices. He alone in all of creation would have Free Will.

So for this monumental creation, this Image Bearer who would walk and talk with God as friends, what would God choose to say first?

He could have been like me on a date: “Hi, I’m Jeff.”

He could have been like the pilot on your plane: “This is your Creator speaking.”

He could have been like a President of the Universe: “My fellow beings.”

He could have been friendly: “Hi, how are ya?”

But he didn’t say any of that. The VERY FIRST words God speaks in the entire Bible are found in Genesis 2: 16-17, and in them God is not friendly, but commanding:

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

So what were the very first three words God spoke in the Bible, and to man directly?

“You are free.”

WOW. The Creator didn’t tell the Created “I created you.” He didn’t say “Bow before me.” He said “You. Are. Free.”

Do whatever you want, man! I created you, but you are absolutely free! (Oh, I know exactly what you’re about to do with that Freedom, and I’ve already got a plan ready for when you do, but we’ll get to that.)

In the next few words, God gives man his very first commandment: “See that tree right there? The ONLY thing I’m telling you not to do is that you can’t eat from THAT tree. ANYTHING else you want to do, go ahead. Just don’t eat from THAT tree. If you do, you will die. You have the ability to eat from it – it is the same as any other tree, pick off the fruit, stick it in your mouth, and chew. Not hard at all, once you’ve learned the mechanism. But I don’t want you to, because I JUST created you and I like you and I don’t want you to croak on me just yet, ok?”

And you know what? Man didn’t eat from that tree. I guess he figured “Ya know, I just got here. I don’t know what this ‘death’ thing is, but it doesn’t sound so hot. Besides, this ‘God’ guy is pretty cool. He’s set me up with this nice place to live, given me a job, given me all the recreation I can think of, I think I’ll stay around for a while.”

Now, we know the rest of the story. God sees that man is missing something – a helper. Everything else is paired off into a dude and a chick, but so far this Image Bearer dude doesn’t have an Image Bearer chick. So God puts the dude down for some surgery, takes out a rib, makes the chick, and she is NICE! Dude sees chick, sees she’s the only other thing in creation other than God that looks like him, figures she was made for him – literally.

Eventually the chick, who hasn’t had as long to get to know God as the dude has, is approached by Lucifer. “Here, eat this fruit. Nothing is going to happen.” Guess what? As far as immediate action goes, Lucifer was right. God wasn’t going to strike the chick with a lightning bolt, he wasn’t going to remove her arm, sew her mouth shut, or anything else that He could have done simply by thinking it. He didn’t cosmically appear in front of the chick and slap the fruit from her hand – even though He certainly had the power to do so.

The chick does what every single person has done ever since: She decides to test the ONE rule God had given her, through the dude. She had been told of the “Do NOT eat from that tree, or you WILL die” thing. She KNEW it. But she wanted to see what would happen. So she eats.

She then goes to the dude “Look what I ate, don’t you want some?”. The dude has a choice – he knows he will die if he eats the fruit, He knows she will die now that she has eaten the fruit. He doesn’t know what will happen if she dies and he doesn’t. Will God make him another chick to help him? Will he like this other chick? He doesn’t know – and he doesn’t risk it. He eats the fruit.

Again, God had all power to stop either one of them from eating the fruit. Two separate chances, and at that point there are only two humans in all of Creation. Surely, a being so powerful as to be able to intervene throughout time with MILLIONS more humans at any given moment can intervene when there are just two, right?? Yet He doesn’t intervene either time. He lets this “Free Will” thing work itself out,

Because He knew it would happen this way all along, and He’s already lined up the Ultimate Gift that this Greatest Gift of Free Will will ultimately require.

Both humans ate the fruit. And God remained true to His word. Both later died. We have no way of knowing how long they lived before they ate the fruit – possibly Aeons, for all we know. But we do know this: once they ate the fruit, they DID eventually die.

But before they did, they started procreating. Dude human and chick human got together and formed baby human – several times.

Dude Human 1 and Chick Human 1’s kids keep forming more baby humans, and many, many years later, God’s Ultimate Plan is revealed:

He will come into the human realm as a Son of Human, via his God the Son identity. The Son of God and the Son of Man will be the exact same being, and that being will be executed as brutally as humans can devise, to make up for Dude Human 1 eating that fruit, and for every subsequent human doing something equally against God.

The Son of Man who is the Son of God is the one we know as Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and his death for our sins became the Ultimate Gift, required by the Greatest Gift revealed in God’s First Words:

“You. Are. Free. (But I’ll never give up on you.)”

A Short Post, and the Foundation of My Entire Philosophy

This just came from a discussion on Facebook, but is a very succinct statement of the entire way I look at both God and Government, as well as their interaction:

Question: What is God’s Greatest Gift to mankind?

Answer (from other participant in convo): “God gave us free will.”

Response: You said it PRECISELY: “God gave us free will.”. And just as importantly: He NEVER infringes on that free will. Indeed, it is not God who condemns us to Hell, but our exercise of that Greatest Gift. Now then, since God gave us this Greatest Gift, that DIRECTLY resulted in the necessity of the Ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ and his brutal execution in propitiation of our sins, HOW DARE Republicans and Democrats try to use the force of Government to infringe on this Greatest Gift and thus make a MOCKERY of the Ultimate Gift???”

My Response to Dustin Townsend re: Ron Paul vs Gary Johnson

Dustin Townsend is a guy I consider a friend. We’re both officers in the Libertarian Party of Georgia, and Dustin works just as hard as I do to promote our cause. That said, as another friend of mine, Jason Pye, knows all too well, I do disagree with my friends occasionally, and typically it results in a public conversation.

This one is no exception.

Dustin just put up a post on his blog titled “Rant: Fellow Libertarians Not Supporting Ron Paul?!“, which I encourage you to take a second to go read.

As pretty much everyone should know, I myself am a strong supporter of Gary Johnson. Honestly, outside of Johnson I will more than likely wind up voting for the LP candidate simply because they are not the Democrat or Republican, if for no other reason. (I’ll wait until the results of next year’s Nominating Convention in Las Vegas – which I hope to attend – before I commit to voting for the LP candidate because they are a good candidate.)

As many people also know, Ron Paul was one of my primary driving factors in becoming a Libertarian in 2008. I had already been disillusioned with the GOP, but I saw Ron Paul as a breath of (desperately needed) fresh air. When I saw how the GOP treated him, and when I saw my former Congressman Bob Barr get the LP nomination, I became an official member of the Libertarian Party within days of the 2008 election.

So I really like Ron Paul. I really, really do. If nothing else, I owe him a debt of gratitude for helping finally direct me to my political home.

With that said, there is a FAR superior liberty-oriented GOP candidate this year in former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

and thus, the segue into my response to Dustin, which originally appeared as a comment on his blog (so if you followed the link, you’ve already seen it):

The problem with Ron Paul is simple: he doesn’t walk his talk. YES, he is by FAR better than any Republican running OTHER than Gary Johnson. But when compared to Johnson, Paul fails MISERABLY.

Ron Paul TALKS about limiting Federal spending – and then ranks near the top of the pile in amount received via earmarks.

Ron Paul TALKS about free trade – and then wants to arbitrarily limit the movement of labor, which is the foundation of trade.

Ron Paul TALKS about being free to make our own medical decisions – and then says States have the right to limit them.

If he were the only liberty-oriented candidate running, as he was in 2008, I would be behind him under the “80% friend is not 100% enemy” rule. Unfortunately for him, he is NOT the only liberty-oriented candidate running for President this year, and the other one is VASTLY superior in terms of WALKING his TALK.

Governor Johnson TALKS about limited Government – and as Governor, VETOED more bills than *EVERY OTHER GOVERNOR OF HIS ERA COMBINED*.

Governor Johnson TALKS about free trade – and as a 2 term Governor of a Border State with a 55% Hispanic population, he has learned first hand the benefits of WALKING that talk.

Governor Johnson TALKS about being able to make our own decisions in life – and then WALKS that talk by being the only Presidential candidate to admit that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.

If this were 2008, Ron Paul would have my support. Unfortunately, it is 2012 and there is a FAR superior candidate – Gary Johnson.

More Community. Less Government.

I really don’t have time to write right now, but I wanted to post a teaser about something I’ve been pondering for nearly a week and will try to put some serious thought into now that this site is once again operational.

Right now, I know it as “More Community. Less Government.”. Originally, I thought of it as simply a possible new slogan for the LP. Then, I realized that it was actually more than that – much more. It goes beyond politics and into religion, and beyond both of those into every facet of our communities – I think. All I know is that it is what is currently on my heart, and so I’ll continue to explore it.

But something that was “random”/ “coincidental” today (which in matters of God are rarely either): I’ve barely mentioned Shaunti Feldhahn or her research into how men and women think in nearly 5 years – until today, at lunch at work when I started a very – interesting – conversation where I wound up pretty well getting beat in the debate, because it has been so long since I looked at this stuff.

Anyways, that seemingly “random” conversation led me to look at her site, Shaunti.com, tonight. As I looked at her biography page where it talks about her writing her first book – a balanced, Christian perspective on the then-headline grabbing Y2K scare, she has this quote from Experiencing God:

We so often limit God, by not responding when he calls us to do something, because we look at that thing – whatever it is – and we say ‘I can’t possibly accomplish that.’ But that is the whole point! If it is really something we can’t accomplish it, only He can accomplish it, and then it becomes obvious to everyone – including us – that it was a God-sized work and was not our own doing

While I hope I can share some information that proved extremely enlightening to me, my thinking right now is that the particular conversation at lunch today was meant for me just as much as them – it was meant to lead me to that quote, in much the same way as other decisions throughout my life have ultimately led to exactly where I sit now.

Intriguing…

Our Social Studies Teachers Have Failed Us

Social Studies teachers have failed America, and parents by and large have done nothing to stop this atrocity.

We all know these famous words:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The problem is that not so many of us are as familiar with the rest of that second paragraph beyond the first sentence, where the entire case for independence from Great Britain, rather than simple autonomy within the nation, is laid out. First, we have the philosophical reasons, which are the most remarkable – and revolutionary part of the document:

— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But perhaps Social Studies teachers have failed us even moreso than simply not teaching our kids those extra few lines. Because as revolutionary as they are, as absolutely imperative as they are, they only lay out the “ivory tower” reasons for independence. They say “this is in general why the current system of government is wrong”.

The next part goes in to say in particular why the current government is wrong:

— Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Note that of the 27 or so particular reasons that the government of King George was wrong, and so wrong that the valid philosophical reasons should be invoked in the real world at the cost of blood and fortune to the very men crafting this document and thousands of their friends, families, and countrymen, I can count at LEAST 12 *DIRECT* parallels to actions of the US Government in the course of my lifetime, and possibly as many as a dozen and a half.

But the document goes on, noting the numerous attempts made to resolve the conflict peacefully and without outright separation – something the Founding Fathers clearly saw as imperative before the “ivory tower” philosophical reasons to absolve government were invoked. Finally, it notes that since EVERYTHING ELSE has been tried, they have to admit reality: there is no other option but war, but as soon as the war is won, friendship should once again reign supreme:

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

And finally, the coup de grace, the statement that marks each of these men traitors to the country they have been a part of – and Founding Fathers and Patriots to the country they are now founding:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Outside of the New Testament, this is the single most radical, most revolutionary document in history.

Yet our Social Studies teachers have failed us in not teaching us every aspect of it, and forcing it to memory as much as the opening two sentences.

Maybe if they had not failed us, maybe if our parents had not failed us in doing the same, MAYBE we would not be at a point where more and more, the specific reasons for separating from King George were becoming specific reasons that men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and the rest would also separate themselves from the current government of the very nation they founded.