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Thanksgiving Day Reflection: “I Can Get Satisfaction”

Image result for thank god Bernie Diaz, November 20, 2018

Was it no less a theologian than Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones who sang, “I can’t get no satisfaction? The Stones added, “I can’t get no satisfaction ’cause I try and I try and I try and I try I can’t get no…When I’m drivin’ in my car and that man comes on the radio he’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information supposed to fire my imagination I can’t get no…”

How true. No matter how hard we try, man cannot satisfy his insatiable appetite for material goods, peace and deep-seeded joy in and of himself and his own efforts.

In fact, the only group of people I’ve ever heard about or known who have ever experienced contentment or satisfaction in any meaningful way whatsoever are Christians – disciples of Jesus Christ like the apostle Paul, who learned contentment via the road of thanksgiving. Paul once wrote a book about joy and satisfaction while… wait for it…. chained to a guard from a prison home in Rome. That’s a big clue.

That book was a letter to a church we know as Philippians. Interestingly enough, that book of ‘joy’ was penned by a man, centuries before Americans and their forefathers expressed thanksgiving for finding a new ‘promised land.’ Paul’s old covenant people had lost their promised land (Israel) but witnessed and received God’s new covenant promises via the advent of his long-promised Messiah who brought the only immaterial resources that can produce real and lasting satisfaction.

Paul as a Jewish scholar back in the day had had it all and lost it all and considered his former life of power and prosperity as nothing more than rubbish (“dung” in a more literal translation) compared to his new riches in Christ.

What was his secret? How can we share that type of gratitude attitude with Paul above and beyond this week’s Thanksgiving Day, considering that our national holiday has been relegated culturally nowadays to being primarily about shopping- the eve of “Black Friday” rather than any acknowledgment about being thankful to God and his blessings?

Thanksgiving and Joy are Found in Christ 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need (Phil. 4:11-12, ESV).

The apostle Paul seems to be arguing from the above text of scripture that true soul-satisfying joy comes from within, not without. A Christian who is satisfied is content beyond temporal and fleeting circumstances (Ecc. 5:10).

In other words, born-again believers are not happy and thankful, just because a positive circumstance or event has come their way (i.e. a new home, car, relationship, winning lotto ticket or job). After all, the unregenerate parrot their supposed ‘thank God’ phrases in such circumstances or times of common grace.

Paul’s secret is a contentment that comes to him in whatever situation he finds himself in, whether he is near poverty and having little (“brought low”) or in plenty and having much (“abound”). There is no human circumstance that can alter Paul’s contentment – no material blessing can increase it, and no loss can decrease it. How is that possible?

Satisfaction is in Christ and from His power

 I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).

This oft-misquoted verse of scripture speaks to a power or strength that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ (“him” or “Christ” depending on your translation), and it’s not a power that allows us to do anything we like much less ‘all things’, but rather to be spiritually empowered to do and face anything God calls us to (2 Pet. 1:3), including want or need as per the context of Philippians 4.

I know Tim Tebow and many an American hero loves to sport the Phil. 4:13 icon under their eyes, or on a bumper sticker or in a social media post, but we should be reminded that God will not likely strengthen you to be ‘faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive,’ nor ‘able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.’

What Paul is saying, is that for those who are in Christ, God promises Holy Spirit empowerment and equipping to withstand any ‘thorn in the flesh’, test, trial or tribulation that comes our way.

As a result of that reality, one commentator has said, “If there is any event or circumstance apart from sin that would diminish your joy, you have SINNED!” Really? Why would dissatisfaction with our life and its circumstances be described as sin?

In short, dissatisfaction or discontentment with our lives reveals a lack of faith or trust in God and his sovereign and providential plan for, and work in us. Our complaining dissatisfaction reveals a lack of faith in the power and wisdom of God to bend his will to ours.

As opposed to being dissatisfied with God’s sovereign purposes in our lives, and being anxious or worried about his provision, we can rather appropriate the Lord’s Phil. 4:13 strength through a faith that takes peace and comfort in at least four unmistakable truths of which we can be thankful for:

  1. His Purpose. (Matt. 6:26)
  2. His Provision (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25-32)
  3. His Promises (Matt. 6:30, 33)
  4. His Presence (Psa. 107:8-9)

It is a prayerful focus or heart meditation on the above that breeds a thankful and contented heart in the Christian year-round (Pro. 30:7-9; 1 Tim. 6:6-10; Heb. 13:5).

While it is right this week to give thanks to God for our many blessings of life, relative health, peace and provision, we who are in and are strengthened by Christ may other reasons for thanksgiving:

Reasons to Pray (1 Thess. 5:16-18) with Thanksgiving:

  • For Who God is (Psa. 28:7)
  • For Christ’s Work (Ro. 3:23-26; 5:1-2).
  • For the Holy Spirit’s Ministry in You (Eph. 1:3, Ro. 14:17)
  • For Future Hope and Glory (Phil. 3:20-21)
  • For Answered Prayer (Jo. 16:23b-24) 
  • For the Bible (Psa. 19:7; 119:14). 

This Thanksgiving Day take to heart that Prayer + Supplication+ Thanksgiving in Christ = no worries, joy and the fact that yes, you ‘can get satisfaction!’   


Post Veteran’s Day Reflections: The “Great and Just War”

Image result for wwi Bernie Diaz, November 13, 2018

This past Sunday, was Veteran’s Day in the United States, which also happened to be the 100th anniversary and commemoration of Armistice Day and of the end of World War I.

That monumental day acknowledged Germany’s agreement to cease fighting against the forces of the British Empire, France, Russia, and the United States which took effect at 11 a.m. November 11, 1918, ending what would be known for decades, as the “War to end all wars,” or what other historians call, “The Great War”, which resulted in 40 million casualties (military and civilian related in famine and disease), including over 116,000 American lives.

Great atrocities were committed by the combatants including the Armenian Genocide in signaling a new, “modern” and devastating era of warfare on earth. One of the more significant lessons I take away from the observance of Armistice and Veteran’s Day is the paradoxical nature of war.

Is War Evil and Necessary?

Warfare illustrates on the one hand, the evil of our world and on the other hand, its very necessity to restrain it. I’ve come to understand that warfare and law enforcement of any kind, is a reality and outgrowth of the need to confront mankind’s sinful nature. Heads of state are often evil and therefore commit heinous and evil acts towards their own people as well as other nations.

One of our nation’s founding fathers James Madison, rightly asserting the need for government to flex its muscles as necessary in the provision of a  military defense, famously argued in The Federalist Papers:

It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Truer words have never been spoken, as we have found in our lifetime that negotiations with terrorists are virtually impossible and that warfare has become and continues to be a necessary ‘evil’ in which to combat the forces of greater evil.

Interestingly enough, secular humanists influenced by Darwinian evolution have to had to eat much crow for more than a century in arguing for absolute pacifism, having to swallow the fact that man is more violent now, in spite of his progressive and evolving ‘enlightenment,’ technological advancement and worldly wisdom, than ever before.

The 21st century seems to have picked up where the 20th left off, which was the most violent in world history, where more people were killed as the result of war and tyranny in the 20th century, than the first 19 centuries of A.D. (or C.E. if you must) history- combined.

So much for that idea about man’s evolution and upward mutation into beings of peace that would overcome the ‘evils’ of organized religion. Thank you very little Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Chavez, et. al, professing and known atheists.

Having just passed Veteran’s Day and honoring the great sacrifice so many men and women have made for our country, in our post mid-term election time of reflection on the state of our union, Christians wishing to have and hold to a biblical worldview must be able think about and communicate what God and his kingdom have to say about war.

Is God For or Against War?

Or to put in another way, is the LORD more of a “hawk” or a “dove” in the more modern military parlance, on matters of war?

The United States struggles with this question today, since she has been involved in some wars that were approved of by an overwhelming majority (even by pacifists), such as WWII. While others have been unpopular and opposed by many from the Civil War, to Korea, Vietnam and then the War in Iraq and against terror. Why? This issue points to the question of just-war theory.

For starters, the Bible is more than instructive on this issue, having much to say about war- it’s mentioned 350 times in the Old Testament alone. God actually commanded war many times in Israel’s history, so He obviously is not anti-war per se. He has often used it as part of His sovereign and permissive will, to achieve His purposes on earth.  

Some may cite the commandment “thou shall not kill” to justify pacifism, though the Hebrew word literally means the “intentional, premeditated killing of another with malice”, meaning that a better word for ‘kill’ in the English translation may be ‘murder’.

What about Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount like the ‘golden rule’ and ‘loving enemies’ and the oft-quoted, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”? (Matt. 5:39,44, ESV)

Didn’t the apostle Paul tell us to overcome evil by doing good in Romans 12? Interpretations like those probably led a national leader of the Methodist church in opposition to war, to say, “War is inherently evil and is contrary to the will of God.” Is that true?

Context is King in biblical interpretation isn’t it? Are Jesus and Paul talking about individuals or government relations in scripture? Were a coalition of nations not right to resist Hitler or Bin Laden? Should we have given them the other cheek? Remember, what God’s word says about the chief aim or duty of government. Paul in echoing Genesis 9:6 wrote:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Ro. 13:3-4).

Obviously, police officers arrest criminals and must use force on occasion and in this country there are states which still practice capital punishment. That is not turning the other cheek either. Thus, we understand that war is a form of international law enforcement and is a reality in our sin-cursed world.

God called his chosen nation on several occasions after the exodus from captivity in Egypt to conquer enemies as part of the acquisition of the promised land in fulfilling his covenant to them.

Furthermore, the early church theologian Augustine said, war is a “stern necessity; and that peace is the end sought for by war….it is therefore with the desire for peace that wars are waged.”

Joshua, one of the great men of God in scripture and successor of Moses, was a conquering warrior whose military exploits are summarized in Joshua 11. Ecclesiastes 3:8 declares, “there is…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

So, I think it’s safe to say that God permits and even uses war as a tool. Why? We may conclude that sometimes it is in order that men (the world) would bear the consequence of sin as we see time and again in Israel’s history. He also seems to permit war so we can see what sin truly is and the need for God to save us from it.

After all, God and his kingdom have been at war with Satan and his, since the fall, so warfare of some kind of another is no stranger to humanity on this side of Christian glory.

Lest anyone think that Jesus Christ- that meek and mild savior that appeared on the scene two millennia ago is a dove by nature, they should be reminded that he is a risen and coming again Lord, who will bring a glorious, awesome and even violent, final judgment at the end of this age in Revelation 19:11-21.

Until then, Christians today should pray to live “peaceful and quiet lives” and for the salvation and wisdom of our government and military leadership (1 Tim. 2:1-4), as we pray that when war must rear its ugly head again, we would be led in God’s providence to a just war.

It is widely regarded that Augustine originally formed the ‘Just War’ theory in the fourth century and that Thomas Aquinas elaborated on it in his thirteenth century, Summa Theologica. To summarize the theories highlights on war:

1)      It must be waged by constituted authority.

2)      The cause must be just (such as a defensive stance).

3)      The intention must be to establish good or rectify evil.

4)      The war must be waged by proper means.

5)      The conduct must be just (avoiding civilians).

Although we pray that our nation would carry out ‘just wars’ when and if necessary, may we who are disciples of Christ keep in mind that Jesus’ return will truly bring about the ‘war to end all wars.’

That’s not a conflict we want to be on the wrong side of, nor our loved ones. That war will be just and will right all wrongs. This war for souls is more important than any other war being waged around the globe and is even more important than the next election that comes in 2020, should Jesus tarry.

The Election Results: Everything and Nothing Changed

Image result for midterm elections 2018 Bernie Diaz, November 7, 2018

‘Wave’ or no ‘Wave: What happened in Tuesday’s night’s mid-term elections? It depends on who you ask. The big “Blue” wave hoped for by the Democratic party apparently advanced until it hit a big “Red” wall erected by Republican opposition, led largely by the influence of President Donald Trump.

Or, to put it in clearer and factual terms: Republicans gained seats in the Senate while Democrats reclaimed the House majority by at least a couple of dozen seats. From there, it is all a matter of political posturing and perception:

  • President Trump, who threw his political muscle into the campaign and changed the terms of the debate, claimed “tremendous success.”
  • Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio proclaimed the results a “#redwave.”
  • NBC News called it a “suburban takeover by the Democratic Party.”

Others classified the results coming from a near record turn-out for a mid- term election, as a “pink wave” with a record number of women on track to be elected to the House.

Indeed, overall, women voted considerably more in favor of congressional Democratic candidates — with fewer than 4 in 10 voting for Republicans, according to a nationwide survey of voters.

In suburban areas where key House races were decided, female voters voted heavily for Democrats by a near 10-point margin. Voters were on track to send at least 99 women to the House, shattering the record of 84 now. The House was also getting its first two Muslim women, Massachusetts elected its first black congresswoman, and Tennessee got its first female senator.

Even college-educated younger male adults – long considered a ‘swing vote’, skewed towards more Democratic candidates than at any time in recent history. Therefore, it may be safe to safe to say that the moral revolution under its mantra of diversity, is definitely beginning to make as much headway into the political landscape as it has in the greater culture at large. That’s something that changed.

Although objectively, neither party can claim a victory from these election results, there are interesting developments to be pondered.

Excluding three as yet undecided states, roughly 52 percent of the American population (or 172 million people) will live in a state run by a Democrat, compared to about 43 percent of the population that’ll live in a Republican-led state due to some surprising Democratic wins in gubernatorial races. In that sense, the nation may be turning a bit ‘bluer.’

In fact, it could have been a much bigger night for Democrats, who suffered stinging losses in Ohio and here in Florida, where Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis edged out Democrat Andrew Gillum and his bid to become the state’s first African-American governor.

What Does it Mean?

From a practical perspective, the election results were mixed at best. The President may have helped GOP candidates in some areas of the country (i.e. FL and Ted Cruz in Texas) and hurt in others. Donald Trump bet big on a somewhat controversial closing message, warning of an immigrant “invasion” that warned viewers of a spread in violent crime and drugs across the nation.

Several television networks, including the Fox News Channel, yanked a Trump campaign advertisement off the air on the eve of the election, determining that its portrayal of a murderous immigrant went too far.

A Rainbow Wave of Change

Voters across the country decided on issues—not just candidates on Tuesday in more than 150 statewide ballot initiatives in 37 states, including a diverse, ‘rainbow’ type wave of measures ranging from abortion and marijuana, to religious liberty, gender identity, and voting rights.

Three states considered initiatives related to abortion. In Alabama, voters thankfully approved a constitutional amendment giving unborn babies the right to life and stating nothing in its constitution protects a right to abortion or requires the government to fund them.

Additionally, Alabama voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the display of the Ten Commandments on state, public, and school grounds (see our Food for Thought link).

Elsewhere, voters in Oregon failed to pass a measure that would have banned the use of public funds for abortion- no surprise there, being they’re part of the blue’s ‘left coast.’

Also, in the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, Massachusetts voters upheld a 2016 state law extending nondiscrimination protections to people identifying as transgender. The law requires businesses open places of public accommodation segregated by sex to anyone based on his or her gender identity—anyone who denies access could face having to pay big fines or do a year in jail. A group of Massachusetts citizens led unfortunately, an unsuccessful campaign for a repeal initiative, saying the measure threatened the safety of women and children.

Here, Florida voters approved eleven out of an unbelievable 12 state amendments, including the restoration of voting rights to about 1.5 million convicted felons. Current law requires ex-felons to file a request with the governor before they can vote, but the passed constitutional amendment will now automatically give felons who have completed their sentence a right to vote with exemptions for those convicted of sex offenses and murder.

The Green Wave

Marijuana won in three states. Voters spread the green tide of pro-marijuana laws Tuesday as Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize pot, joining nine other states and the District of Columbia with legal recreational weed, something its bordering neighbors aren’t too crazy about.

Individuals age 21 and older in the state will now be able to possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused products and grow plants for personal consumption. As per common-sense backed by recent research trends among legalized states, heavy increases in pot-related accidents, injuries, costs and deaths are sure to follow.    

What Didn’t Change

Our federal government is as now divided as the rest of the nation between red and blue state lines, due to what should be the obvious and irreconcilable division of world-views present in our nation (see last week’s MCT post, A Troubled Time and What to Do About It).

It is apparent that red and blue Americans no longer share the same moral values we once did well over a generation ago, including our views of God, man and sin. Americans are as entrenched in their positions and values as ever before, making political compromise difficult at best.

The split Congress is sure to set up a host of obstacles for the Trump administration to hurdle, as the opposition-controlled House is almost certain to launch a string of investigations of the White House.

A split Congress also sets up a more challenging legislative path for Trump’s agenda. Democrats can block any major legislative initiatives such as securing funding for a border wall or repealing Obamacare, although the Republican majority in the Senate will continue to control the process of nominating and confirming federal judges, including the Supreme Court (Kavanaugh II anyone?).

Does Tuesday’s election now make governing impossible for our country? No, this has happened before. The last time Congress had a Republican majority in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House was during the Reagan administration and that turned out just fine by God’s providence.

Speaking of which, the best result of Tuesday’s mid-term election is that nothing was decided or voted upon to alter the unavoidable fact that God continues to be sovereign ‘over the affairs of men’, including every government he ordains into being (Ro. 13:1), including this nation’s newly elected congress and presidential administration. Before man elected congress, God elected man – in more ways than one.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (Pro. 21:1, ESV).

As no less a theologian than MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman asked, “What, me worry?”

Christians are not to be anxious about elections or the future of our country, being that it is all in the hands of God, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let not the rebellious exalt themselves (Psa. 66:7).

In praying as if everything depended on God – which it does, and voting as if everything depended on us, in having honored God with our vote, we rest in the comfort of knowing that our ultimate and final citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20) is unaltered by Tuesday’s election and that we are subjects in the only kingdom that matters:

“… the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Dan. 4:17)

A Troubled Time and What to Do About It

Image result for pittsburgh synagogue shooting Bernie Diaz, October 31, 2018

During a Catholic Mass at a Washington parish last Sunday, a priest asked during his sermon: “What has happened to the world?”

Questions like that are once again surfacing in America at least, in the wake of one of the more startling weeks in our nation’s more recent memory.

This past weekend, our country experienced an antisemitic mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, that killed 11, injuring several more as well as the mailing of at least a dozen pipe bombs from a deranged if not psychopathic suspect from South Florida, to Democratic and news-media critics of President Trump (including to former President Obama and former Senator/First Lady Clinton).

All of that and the emergence of a caravan of Central American refugees trying to make it to the U.S. border, calling into question the very nature of immigration policy in this nation, serves as a backdrop for the midterm elections just one week away. What an October it has been!

Due to the unfortunate frequency of such events- violent and otherwise, we won’t take too much of this post’s space – more than we already have this year documenting the true, root source of all the hate and violence Americans seem at a lost to explain, other than to remind them that it is basically the real and historic presence of E-V-I-L, evil.

Sticks, stones, nor guns, knives, fists, words and names are the issue. Mental health and dysfunction even, as large a contributing factor as it may play into some of this year’s mayhem in the U.S., should not be thought of by biblical, world-view oriented Christians at least, as the primary cause of what ails us. Rather, God and his word answers the above question, “What has happened to the world?”

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:12-18)

The “they” mentioned above and the very heart and nature that drives them, consist of unredeemed mankind. Evil and sin are moral wrongs from immoral human hearts that cause harm – inside and out, pain, suffering, disaster and death.

So, guns, sticks, stones, tweets and extreme television and internet analysis of our never-ending news cycle are mere tools more that can feed, rather than act as direct causes of man’s evil impulses to sin.

Political Solution?

Does this mean that we in America are hopeless to combat violence and injustice? Stick our heads in the cultural sand? Not entirely and no. Our upcoming election cycle reminds us that we have a privilege to cast a vote which may possibly make at least a temporal difference for good in our country.

Can the right governmental administration bring peace to our land? Interestingly, there is one Democrat already running for president who has staked his entire campaign on the proposition that people want a unifying figure (though almost no one knows this congressman from Maryland), a centrist who has pledged to bring together our divided nation.

He’s even produced a campaign book titled “The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation.” In it, he writes, “We’ve got to stop retreating to our corners and complaining about each other.”

Sounds good but the honorable congressman misses a major point as well as human nature. America is divided because she no longer shares the common values that once united this country for much of its two century plus history.

The U.S. once extolled the virtues of Biblically influenced faith, family, freedom, the rule of law, personal responsibility and a work ethic. For more than a generation now, those values have eroded to the point where the nation I studied and grew up in is virtually unrecognizable to me.

Therein lies the rub and the hub of this conflict. It has always been and is clearer then ever, that a clash of worldviews, or philosophies of life are what keep this nation divided and as irreconcilable as New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans.

For example, how can pro-abortion and pro-life advocates reconcile or compromise on whether or not a woman has a right to choose death for her unborn child in the name of sexual freedom or even under great sociological stress? The two views are at their core incompatible to one another. Thus, the choice must be to support one side or the other.

The absence of the ideal of the integrity of man as an image-bearer of God and the sanctity of human life are as apparent today as they were at the time of Jesus Christ and the Roman Empire two millennia ago.

Two Biblical Solutions:

If you’re looking to be a peace-making, Christ disciple-making and multiplying Christian in the midst of all the mayhem before us in 2018 and beyond, may I be so bold as to make two general, Biblically based suggestions in order of importance:

  1. Be Christian.

Sounds obvious right? Remember if the above is true about what truly ails America, then only a grass-roots, person to person revival of salt and light Christianity amongst the lost, can make any significant difference.

We must remind ourselves that such a difference is for Christ’s sake and his kingdom, since the reformation of America I’m sorry to say, is probably not that high on God’s list of kingdom priorities. He “seeks worshippers in spirit and truth” for his glory more than a superficially moral nation.

After all, the Lord had that in first century Israel under the leadership of the scribes and Pharisees didn’t he? More specifically, this means that ‘lighthouse’ Christians pointing to Christ should:

  • Pray

Christians are mandated to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4). “Authority” in our system is different – thankfully, than what we see in a monarchy or empire. The opening line to the preamble of the constitution is “We the people.” Authority ultimately rests in the voting population.

Therefore, we elect and submit to persons that have representative authority over us (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17), which tells us to honor those in charge and praying for them to be providentially blessed by God’s saving and common grace, in order to be saved and to lead our nation as righteously as possible.

  • Obey

Christians have a duty to obey the will and word of God in order to live lives which resemble their new life and lord, Jesus Christ. We’re to glorify him with good and godly fruit, in such a winsome way as to attract the lost to Christ in order to be found by him in faith.

We also are to obey just laws that do not contradict the explicit law or commands of God. In the gospels when Jesus was asked if it was lawful to pay taxes, he replied, “Whose image is on the coin?” When those testing him answered, “Caesar,” Jesus said, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” For, as both Paul and Peter state above, government exists as a preordained representative of God to punish evil and support good. Thus, we give appropriate support to our governments, from the local to the federal. Only then….

  1. Be Wise

The great thing in the United States, is if we don’t like a law and enough of our eighteen and older citizens don’t like a law, then we can vote for candidates who will work to change said law. But as long as it is law, it is to be obeyed.

  • Say Yay or Nay

‘How now do we vote?’ I don’t think I’m going to give you my ballot for the first Tuesday of November. However, the vote of a Christian should be one of conscience that is Biblically informed. We are to exercise sanctified wisdom in the voting booth.

“Vote the Bible.” In a way, that phrase should inform our decisions. The scriptures are pretty clear on many moral issues facing Christian voters today, from the sanctity of life to the preservation of marriage and family; but the Bible doesn’t directly speak to a variety of other policy issues, ranging from levels of national security, law enforcement and tax rates, to health care coverage or immigration details.

In these cases, one platform may not be necessarily more right or wrong than another, but most be wrestled with. Moreover, scripture also tells us that character counts (Proverbs 11:10; 14:34, 28:12). As another blogger said, “Governmental leaders of good character lead to a better nation; those of immoral character lead to ruin and disgrace.”

In the last presidential election just two years ago, American voters were faced with choosing between two major party candidates of shall we diplomatically say, poor moral character. Some of you were ‘Never____ voters, who voted “for the lesser of two evils.” Others of us voted third party as independents or wrote-in other less ethically objectionable candidates.

Remember Christian, we have a sovereign God over the affairs of men and nations, we have a conscience and even though God can use evil men for his good ends, we are not forced to vote for a Nebuchadnezzar into any office, any more than Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace.

  • Speak softly

Christian, try hard not to lose a friendship or acquaintance (like someone you’re trying to introduce to Jesus) over needless or petty political arguments, as we would be careful to avoid the same on non-essential theological issues (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Let’s not add to the coarseness and incivility of our political environment and society shall we? Let us not ring reproach on the name of Christ and be holy- different and set-apart both in and out of the voting booth in both the best of times and the worst of our times.

A Pastor Appreciation Month Wish- Stay Married!

Related image Bernie Diaz, October 23, 2018

In my apparent naivete, the most unexpected series of events imaginable took place this year at our church, the 10th anniversary of the ministry we planted by God’s grace…

A church split– a division in which a family or two divorced themselves from the “Commitment to Fellowship” they had made as members of our congregation took place, and in effect, likely influenced some others to do the same. My wife and I never saw it coming and may never be the same again, by God’s providence. Why?

Divorce is real and common place. Why would the church be any different? I suppose we overrated the ability of professing believers to keep their commitment or covenant to their local church body and behave as regenerate believers – even under duress.

While that statement may sound a bit harsh at first glance, true disciples or born-again followers of Jesus would do well to study the relationship of church and marriage.

Understanding that Jesus Christ died for and married his universal church (Eph. 5:25-27), which will be celebrated at the ‘marriage supper of the lamb’ when he returns for his bride, we long since came to the realization of this metaphorical language, that the Christian’s spiritual marriage to the Lord and its manifestation in the local church, is paralleled to the human institution of marriage.

Which means, marriage is a bilateral or two-way covenant for life unless very real and biblically justifiable circumstances would dictate otherwise – similar to an earthly marriage covenant.

Unfortunately, all too many evangelical Christians have taken to breaking their marriage vows to the church, as far too many people in and around the church have taken to breaking their own marital wedding vows.

Is Church Membership a Marriage?

J.V. Fesko in his book, A Pastor’s Reflections: Like a Marriage, wrote:  It seems like far too many people treat relationships of all sorts as being disposable. As soon as they hit a rough patch of any sort they decide to pull up stakes, move on, and find a new relationship. This is especially the case, I believe, when it comes to church membership.

Rather than viewing one’s church membership as something closer to a marriage, they treat their membership like a health club. When the church does not meet their expectations, they start looking for the door. In this vein I think many in the church look at their membership with a product consumer’s mentality. The membership is all about receiving benefits and service.

I think Dr. Fesko is on to something there. So are authors Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley, who argue in their book Church in Hard Places, that the local church, or “little communities”, really matter as being foundational to God’s plan for his people.

The local church is the way God intends to accomplish his mission in the world. “It is primarily though the local church that God wants to make himself known.” Of all the evangelism and ministry strategies in the world, none is more central to the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth than the church (Ro. 15:19-20). Simply put, the church is God’s plan, and it is his mission.

The Local Church Should Matter to Us Because it Matters to God

The church is Jesus’ body on earth (Eph. 1:22-23) and it is made up of all kinds of people from all kinds of places.  As the authors noted, “Therefore, the church is central to the purposes of God and is of benefit to the world around us—even today in our increasingly hostile culture…the church is built for Jesus, by Jesus, and on Jesus.”

The point is that it is simply unthinkable to separate Jesus and his disciples past and present from the local church (Acts 2:42-47). If the gospel matters and it serves as the primary vehicle for perpetuating its proclamation, it matters much to God and its head Jesus Christ, it needs to matter to us just as much.

The local church is where the believers are made, mature and then multiply. It is where Christians learn doctrine, receive reproof, and are trained in righteousness (Eph. 4:11-13).

As I reflect on October being Pastor Appreciation Month, I believe my biggest prayer and hope as an elder and pastor of my church in accepting appreciation for our labor as an under-shepherd in the ministry, is that of faithful marriages from church members to our community of faith.

After all, a marriage is supposed to be nearly unbreakable right? The Bible gives very few legitimate reasons for breaking a human, marital vow. I’ve categorized them before in this space and elsewhere, as: death, desertion and depravity (i.e. sexual). The words, “till death do us part,” pretty much captures the nearly unbreakable bonds of marriage.

Now, while church membership is not a literal marriage, we should nevertheless treat our vows or commitment to a fellowship like one, as we wish to imitate Christ in his commitment to his bride. In other words, just because we hit a rough patch here and there, should not mean that we immediately look for the door – front or back.

In other words, local members of a church body should not be looking to divorce themselves from their commitment over petty preferences, perceptions or personality differences and conflict, anymore than one spouse should from the other in their own marriage.

When we find ourselves in interpersonal conflicts or difficult circumstances, the first of several questions we should ask of ourselves is, “Does my church still exhibit the marks of a biblical church?”

To put it in more practical terms, is it still anchored in Bible-centered preaching, pastoring and “one-anothers” striving and loving people? I included the word “striving” in that sentence, to indicate that perfection of love from to another in the local church is our goal, as unattainable as that may be as part of our sanctification on this side of glory.

Along those lines, I can also ask, “Does my local church regularly and rightly administer the ordinances (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and perform church discipline when necessary?” If our answer is yes, then chances are we don’t have a really good reason for leaving.

Conflicts, for example, as uncomfortable as they may make us feel, are a fleshly, inexorable universal fact of the universal church, but they don’t ordinarily rise to the level of legitimate biblical grounds for leaving a church.

When conflicts come to a church between its members- and it will, there is a process of peacemaking and reconciliation which God does not suggest, but commands that take place (Matt. 5:23-24; Eph. 4:29-32; Col. 3:12-14; Matt. 18:15-17).

Therefore, rather than taking the all too common route of fleeing from or  fighting in the midst of a conflict, Christians – particularly the church-marrying kind, are to forgive one-another as married couples are commanded and expected to as well.

Church Marital Counseling

As Pastors, we do a fair share of marital counseling among couples and as per my decade plus experience in the pastoral ministry, I have found myself doing more than my fair share of ‘church marital’ counseling.

Yes, there may be a few biblically justifiable grounds for church divorce as there are among married couples. I condensed scriptures pertaining to these grounds in four alliterated and easy to remember categories:

Call – if you have been called by God to a mission and/or ministry your local church cannot or will not support.

Fall – if your pastor(s) and members have fallen in recent, and/or habitual and significant sins which have been unconfessed, unrepented of and disciplined?

Doctrineif your church’s word ministry is preaching and teaching heretical or unorthodox and unbiblical error and/or a false gospel.

Directionif your church’s ministry and mission has shifted gears to an unbiblical paradigm which upset your convictions and conscience (this should not include personal preferences over worship music styles or physical aesthetics.    

Otherwise, if you are part of a church but feeling restless, ready to move on, have attended or church “dated” another, a time or two and are finding yourself drawn to that congregation and to those people, remember that although it’s not always wrong to leave a church as per the above circumstances, , you may want to ask yourself at least three important questions as were posed by a pastor in Canada before you do:

1.Have you been praying for the people of this church? “Your love for others grows in direction proportion to your prayer for them.” As you pray for people, you find that you love them and as you pray to God seeking wisdom and his will on this very important decision, you will often find clarity.

2. Have you been serving the people of this church?“Your love for others grows hand-in-hand with your service to them.” As you do the “one-anothers” you naturally feel love toward others. Have you given of your time, talents and treasures before considering your church divorce?

3. Have you been with the people of this church?“Have you been there on Sunday morning, and if you have, have you been all-in, looking for people to speak to, new people to meet, coffee to brew, chairs to stack?”

Have you been at the prayer meetings, or the mid-week community or small groups? If everyone else in the church is getting together at least twice a week while you parachute for a quick Sunday morning fix, you will necessarily at some point, feel like an outsider looking in. Our church leaders have found that the quickest way to feeling disconnected from your church is when you decide – consciously or otherwise, to disconnect from it.

Under certain circumstances we have freedom before God to divorce ourselves and move from one church to another. In some cases this is a necessary course of action while in others it is a sinful course of action.

Just remember as Pastor Appreciation Month winds down, that we should prayerfully think more than twice before leaving a church. Instead of running for the door, we should interrogate our hearts as to our true motives for doing so, instead of taking the easier path of divorce because of difficult relationships.

In the end, our thoughts about and decisions regarding church marriage will reveal as much about our love for God and Christ, as it does to the church, which matters much to them. It did cost Christ his life.

Who Can Kill Sin and How?

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Bernie Diaz, October 17, 2018

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Ro. 6:12-13, ESV)

God doesn’t mess around with sin does he? According to Psalms 5 and 7, he actually hates unredeemed sinners, in the sense that he hates sin and that rebellion against him and his law, which cannot be separated from the sinners that commit those sins or miss the mark of righteousness he requires of people to come before his presence.

So where does that leave us, his favored creation, made in his image- warts, sins and all? My current sermon series from the book of Romans has reminded me that fortunately, disciples of Jesus Christ – God’s Lord and Savior, have had their sin nature crucified with Christ, which forgave them of their sins and the penalty of it, as well as putting to death or killing their old sin nature (Ro. 6:6-11).

Just Say No and Yes.

Part of what Christians call the “good news” that is the gospel, is that born-again believers of Jesus are given a new nature or heart when they are saved and justified by faith via God’s grace alone and yearn for righteousness rather than sin. They have been given a grace of Holy Spirit power to say no to sin and yes to the greater pleasure and treasure that is a relationship with Jesus and citizenship in his kingdom.

However, part of the ‘bad news’ that is juxtaposed with the gospel is the reality that the unredeemed – unbelievers, are spiritually, dead, deaf, dumb and blind (Ro. 8:7-8; Eph. 2:1-3) and are therefore slaves to their sin nature, which they inherited from Adam in the fall of mankind (Ro. 5:12).

So why are we so surprised and so often frustrated by our lost family, friends and co-workers that say no to the light of Jesus and love to say yes to the darkness of their sins? Wasn’t that us in our BC (Before Christ) life?

I learned myself several years ago that those that expect unbelievers to act like believers either suffer from naivete, ignorance or poor theology.

The great Puritan theologian and Pastor John Owen addresses this in his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a book that deals with the subject of mortification, of putting sin to death, and Owen dedicates one chapter to explaining why only Christians can behave like Christians.

He begins by insisting that only Christians have the ability to put much of the remaining sin in their lives to death. Unbelievers may suppress sin- say no for a while, mostly due to the moral law that God placed in their conscience (Ro. 2:12-14), but they cannot kill it.

“Unless a man be a believer—that is, one that is truly ingrafted into Christ—he can never mortify any one sin; I do not say, unless he know himself to be so, but unless indeed he be so. … There is no death of sin without the death of Christ”, writes Owen.

And again, “A man may easier see without eyes, speak without a tongue, than truly mortify one sin without the Spirit.”

Indeed, as America’s mid-term election season nears, Christians that seek a “Christian nation” too often pray for if not rely on a political revival that would transform or Christianize a nation filled with unbelievers from the outside in. If we only had the right Supreme Court. President. Congress.

Why do we seek worldly solutions to spiritual problems? Such a revival it is supposed, would begin to kill the corporate sins of abortion, the sexual revolution, violence, poverty and any number of social and moral issues that plague the U.S.

Although I would personally love to see and live in a more moral and politically conservative America, I am under no illusion that such a societal and cultural shift will happen, absent a revival in the hearts and homes of Christians across the fruited plain.

Anything less than a revival of the American church, can only bring a Phariseeical sort of renaissance that Jesus vehemently opposed in the first century AD.

The kingdom of God and heaven is more concerned about its advance than a particular nation. God according to scripture, is “seeking worshippers in spirit and truth,” more than a particular cultural revolution.

If it is, indeed, the case that unbelievers cannot put sin to death- and they can’t because they do not have the heart to do so, due to their spiritual condition, then they and evangelical Christianity must have a higher priority than superficial righteousness or piety: conversion. Owen adds:

Mortification is not the present business of unregenerate men. God calls them not to it as yet; conversion is their work—the conversion of the whole soul—not the mortification of this or that particular lust. … Let the soul be first thoroughly converted, and then, ‘looking on him whom they had pierced,’ humiliation and mortification will ensue… There is a proper order to these things. First be saved, then put sin to death.

In reality, unbelievers who attempt to put sin to death actually go deeper into their sin. “This is the usual issue with persons attempting the mortification of sin without an interest in Christ first obtained. It deludes them, hardens them—destroys them.” And again, “To kill sin is the work of living men; where men are dead (as all unbelievers, the best of them, are dead), sin is alive, and will live.”

Owen anticipates the following objection: “Shall [unregenerate men] cease striving against sin, live dissolutely, give their lusts their swing, and be as bad as the worst of men?” If unbelievers cannot put sin to death, would it be wrong of us to tell them to stop sinning or even expect them to?

He answers the objection as the apostle Paul would: “God forbid! It is to be looked on as a great issue of wisdom, goodness, and love of God, that by manifold ways and means he is pleased to restrain the sons of men from running forth into that compass of excess and riot which the depravity of their nature would carry them out unto with violence.”

God dispenses his common grace to all, and this grace keeps men and women from being as sinful as they can be. Sometimes God does convict unbelievers of sin and causes them to restrain that sin, yet without actually converting or saving them.

So, it becomes a matter of right priorities both for the person calling upon the unbelievers, and for the unbelievers themselves: “Let men know [that putting sin to death] is their duty, but in its proper place; I take not men from mortification, but put them upon conversion. He that shall call a man from mending a hole in the wall of his house, to quench a fire that is consuming the whole building, is not his enemy! Poor soul! You set yourself against a particular sin and do not consider that you are nothing but sin.”

Christians understand that the lost must be found before they can change. Don’t expect them to be the person they are not -yet. Don’t call upon unbelievers to stop sinning until you first call them to turn to God and trust in Christ with repentance and faith so that they can one day say no to sin.

Even if they do not turn to Christ they may still suppress a sin, but let’s not make it our main purpose to convince unbelievers not to sin or place their trust in other men and women; instead, let’s make it our mission to call them to believe in and give themselves to Jesus Christ.

Then we can see what God will do with our communities and country.

Kavanaugh is Confirmed- What’s Next in the Culture War?

Image result for ford and kavanaugh Bernie Diaz, October 10, 2018

Perhaps no Supreme Court Justice confirmation in American history was more contentious and controversial than the just concluded process, which saw judge Brett Kavanaugh sworn-in as the newest Associate Justice of the highest court in the land, by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat will be occupied by Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was nominated by President Trump and then confirmed by the Senate’s razor thin margin of 50-48 (the closest vote to confirm a justice since 1881) that sparked mass protests, an FBI investigation and a national reckoning over power, gender, sexual assault and the line between violence and adolescent transgression coming in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

All of this comes less than a month before the pivotal midterm elections that will determine which political party controls Congress for the next two years if not beyond. Don’t believe for a moment that this coming election will not be greatly influenced by Kavanaugh’s appointment to SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).

The accusations transformed the clash from a routine struggle over judicial ideology into an angry struggle over questions about victims’ rights and personal attacks on nominees.

Kavanaugh was sworn in last Saturday in a private ceremony as protesters chanted outside the court building as they had been all during the Senate’s Confirmation hearings.

For President Trump, he has now put his stamp on the court with his second justice in as many years, pleasing supporters and many an evangelical Christian in the process, though Kavanaugh may be joining SCOTUS under a cloud that may remain for some time to come.

This process affirms the fact that America is as divided a nation ideologically and politically between red and blue, as it is spiritually between the lost and found.

Kavanaugh was accused by Professor Christine Ford of attempted rape while in high school – yes, some 30 odd years ago.

A recent Fox News poll asked respondents whether they believed Kavanaugh or Ford. Among registered voters, 59 percent of Democrats believe Ford and 60 percent of Republicans believe Kavanaugh. Only about one in three voters answered “I don’t know” when asked whether they believe Kavanaugh or Ford, also indicating that minds were not substantially changed by the testimony of both parties in the hearings.

This proverbial and non-criminal case of “he said- she said” ultimately led to Kavanaugh’s prevailing, due to a lack of substantiating and corroborating testimony and evidence against him.

Pride and Prejudice

What this process has revealed to me is that the culture war in America is alive and well between the left (progressives or liberals) and the right (conservatives), to the extent which ironically, the very bedrock ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” in the U.S. came under some scrutiny due to partisan and political agendas.

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, a liberal Democrat from Hawaii, went as far as to suggest that Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy is evidence that he’s guilty of attempted rape.

“Doesn’t Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her in a live television interview. “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases,” Hirono answered. What?

Interestingly and hypocritically enough, the left turned the tables just about 25 years ago when they excluded President Bill Clinton from the same standard of proof they held up before Justice Kavanaugh, when they rejected the harassment and abuse claims of Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky or Kathleen Wiley.

The Kavanaugh confirmation affair has been nothing more than an exercise in necessary political partisanship, contrary to such denials, in which both parties have been or are willingly to be a part of such conduct (remember the hearings or ‘witch hunt’ trials of judges Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas over the last generation).

The real truth was confirmed by the fiery rhetoric of Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who during the hearing’s examination of Kavanaugh, laid bare the political and not so hidden agenda at the crux of the process, when he asked Kavanaugh:

Are you aware that at 9:23 on the night of July the 9th, the day you were nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump, (Democratic) Senator Schumer said 23-minutes after your nomination, “I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have, I have — and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.”

The quote directly attributed to the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, merely confirmed what had been presumed all along: the leadership of the Democratic party, representing the nation’s left-leaning political ideology, was hell-bent on destroying Kavanaugh’s nomination from the get-go, rather than focusing on any real fact finding of truth on accusations of his alleged, teenage shenanigans or crimes.

The Cultural Agenda

Why? Why have both political parties struggled tooth and nail to either confirm or deny Kavanaugh’s nomination, his acclaimed judicial experience and qualifications notwithstanding?

Unfortunately, the judicial branch of American government has far strayed from its roots and authority as per the intent of the government’s architects- the founding fathers. The unprecedented and miraculous experiment of American democracy is built upon the notion of the separation of powers.

The executive branch- the presidency, is an office of leadership (i.e. Commander in Chief). The legislative branch, made up of the Congress, is mandated to make federal law which is approved of and signed into law by the Executive.

Whereas, the judicial branch in the supposed check and balance of power, is capped off by the highest court we have (SCOTUS), to interpret and apply the constitution and the intent of its original authors to current cases of law, influenced by its Declarative principles.

Much like the issue and conflict over interpreting Christian scripture today, where liberal theologians and teachers wish to reconstruct or reinterpret and misapply the original intent of the original author (God in the case of the Bible), liberal lawyers and elected officials began in the later 19th and through the 20th century, to support and anoint liberal, activist justices who usurped the role of the legislative branch by in effect making law.

They did so with decisions on cultural and moral issues in which the founders never intended the courts to make and often at odds with the will of the people.

The reason abortion on demand and same-sex marriage is legal, is not because Congress legislated it so. In fact, DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was legislated by Congress mandating that marriage be restricted to the definition of one man and one woman during the ahem, Clinton administration.

However, like the landmark and unprecedented ruling of Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion in 1973, the left-leaning majority Supreme Court, legalized same-sex marriage by a controversial 5-4 decision in Obergfell v. Hodges in 2015, where there was no legal or logical precedent to do so.

Simply put, the majority worldview of the court, has come to influence if not directly dictate how it will decide and even make law, on the most contentious, moral issues of our time, with legal decisions impacting millions of Americans for perhaps generations to come.

The power of the high court has now become too great to ignore in the existing political environment, making each open seat of the SCOTUS bench a near political life and death battle, in what observers have referred to as the war with ‘judicial tyranny’.

The current court may once again be faced in the not too distant future with  anti-abortion legislation to rule upon (hopefully), as well as cases which will impact immigration, gun-rights and sex and family law, as the current moral revolution is sure to drive the Transgender portion of the LGBTQ agenda forward to the courts.

What is the future of SCOTUS? Let’s not be naïve and think this process is somehow morally neutral and unbiased.

As Senator Graham implied in the hearings, the court will be dominated by the worldview of whichever political party is in power by a majority, to nominate and confirm the justices it wishes.

Politicians must continue to lay in the bed they have made. They wanted partisanship in politics, they got it. The stakes are clear and the lines have been drawn if you can’t see them. The culture war will rage on and little can and should even be done without it, unless one side is willing to compromise its core values and principles which is unlikely- at least anytime soon.

The left wants virtual unlimited sexual freedoms to be legalized and legitimized, a socialist leaning economy (i.e. guaranteed and “free” health care and college for all), access to weed, soft or “dove” like isolationist foreign policy against the enemies of democracy and total control of gun ownership to name a few issues of contention.

The right is largely antithetical to all of the above, as fiscally conservative hawks, and constitutionalists who may or may not favor at least some restrictions of sexual and moral behavior. All of that emanates from one’s personal worldview or philosophy of life.

Or in other words, one’s view of God, man and sin are normally the greatest indicators of one’s political ideology and persuasion.

Most polls and surveys of public opinion confirm the common-sense notion that many if not most liberals are religious liberals, who largely reject the absolute truth of the Bible and the fundamentals of the monotheistic faiths of the world if they are religious at all- many are not.

Many political conservatives are theists, including evangelicals who find their ideology most closely aligned to the fundamental understanding of the Bible’s view on many of the issues we grapple with today. It is not a stretch to say that God is pro-life and pro-traditional family according to his word.

These views are not likely to change unless hearts do. So, Christians must be in prayer for God’s sovereign and common grace to fall upon the court and all the powers that be in Washington to at least reform its means of communication and interaction, in ways which would reflect God’s law and the dignity of fellow image bearers regardless of political persuasion.

Both sides should confess and repent and seek God’s forgiveness for the conduct unbefitting elected officials, including the President, whose rhetorical skills are his greatest weakness as a leader.  His tweets and tongue are more likely to inflame rather than tame the fire of the coarseness of our culture and the political side of the culture war we find ourselves in.

At least I am relieved or take comfort in the fact that Brett Kavanaugh will be in fact (Lord willing) a justice whose own constitutional convictions may help someday soon overturn the morally abhorrent laws which still govern abortion and marriage in our nation and that regardless my God- the Lord of all in this world, including this country and its highest court is in his hands (Psa. 2:8; 22:8, 27; Isa. 14:26).