The chronicle of a dark and dangerous journey through a world gone mad.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Five Hard Questions About Your Personal Relationship With Donald Trump

Mark FranklandAs soon as Donald Trump appeared as a viable candidate in the last presidential election I noticed some frightening trends developing.  People tended to attribute near Messianic qualities to a man who can at best be described as highly flawed.  People tended to overlook the same bad behavior and character faults in Trump that outraged them when observed in Democratic candidates.  People tended to set aside long cherished traditional moral values when discussing Trump.  And, people tended to become very tribalistic about Trump.  If you did not recognize him as the anointed one you were deemed the enemy.

So, here are five tough questions to ask yourself about your personal relationship with Donald Trump:

1.  Have I ignored bad behavior and character flaws in Donald Trump that I would have condemned if he were a Democrat?

2. Have I changed or moderated my personal values and moral code to support Donald Trump?

3. Have I lost friends over Donald Trump or changed my relationship with friends who criticize Donald Trump?

4. Have I consciously or subconsciously reduced my social circle to only people who support Donald Trump?

5.  Have I seriously considered whether or not politics in general and Donald Trump in particular have become idols in my life?

As a President, Donald Trump continues to be a mixed bag.  He has done some good things.  But, he has also proven to be the most polarizing figure in American history.  And, we ignore this new trend of Americans to embrace a "strong man" and endow him with blind, near Messianic loyalty to our peril.

Monday, November 25, 2019

What Does Moral Compromise Really Look Like?

Some of you have suggested that I might be a little obsessed with the Chik Fil A matter.  Let me share a story:

Many years ago, I was in career trouble and financial trouble.  And then, I was offered a good  job.  Soon after that, I was promoted over the heads of several more senior people to take on a truly exciting assignment.  My new job was to become the corporate liaison for a huge network of independent computer dealers over three states.  I was told to get to know the operation of every dealer intimately and get to know all of their major clients.  I was to become an integral part of their daily operations.  This fit my personal "win-win" business philosophy to a T.

A few weeks later, my boss called me in for a conference.  He told me that the company had been planning to do away with their dealer network and my job now was to "salvage" as much of that dealer business for the company as possible.  They had apparently decided that I would do a better job of that if I didn't know what was coming next.  My boss told me that if I succeeded in "converting" most of those dealer networks, I would be a wealthy man in a couple of years.  The numbers backed him up.

My first thought was pure white rage.  How dare these Ivy League educated yuppies set me up this way?  Did they really expect me to betray all of those independent dealers who were going to be financially ruined?  Did they really think I would stoop that low just because I was in career and financial trouble?

My second thought was extreme mistrust, almost paranoia.  If senior management would betray their incredibly loyal and highly profitable dealer network this way could I seriously expect them to give me any more consideration?   As soon as I completed the "conversion" of the accounts, the smell of the deal would probably be handled best by blaming me for the deception and making a show of firing me as a "bad apple."

I thought about it over the weekend.  They only benefit to me was that I would make a lot of money for a few months, maybe even a year before the axe fell.  Serious money.  But, it wasn't worth it.  The following Monday morning I went in early and laid my resignation letter on my bosses desk along with the shredded remains of my highly coveted no limit business credit card and any-time, anywhere, any class, any airline travel card.  They tried to talk me out of it.  But the trust was gone.

They followed a scorched earth policy after my resignation.   I never really worked in the corporate world again.  I was ruined.  The next ten years were incredibly tough.  I pretty well lost everything.  But, I never doubted my decision.  I already knew too many "successful" people that drove high priced European cars, wore designer suits and ties, and would do literally anything to keep the money flowing.  Some of them even called themselves Christians.  But, they were nothing but empty suits.  Their word meant nothing and their souls were barren.  After the fourth or fifth scotch, their real character often came out and it wasn't a pretty sight.  Some were miserable.  Some were vicious.  Some were just pitiful.  Some were lecherous.  Almost all were lost souls.  I watched the "progress" of many of the guys I worked with over the years.  It seemed that once they crossed that invisible line of compromise they were never the same again.  I might have been ruined in the business world but there was still something real in my soul.

Last week, Chik Fil A senior management crossed that line that I refused to cross so long ago.  They betrayed their dealer/franchisee base and betrayed their customers.  I have no pity for the people who made these decisions.  But, I have great compassion for the employees and franchisees who may now face the terrible choice that I did, financial and career ruin or absolute moral compromise.  I can only pray that they make the right decision.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What Do You PERSONALLY Believe?

Lately, I have noticed an increasing number of people searching for some personal heresy on my part when I present facts that challenge their political beliefs. Apparently, some of these folks believe that if they can prove that I am a heretic then the devastating things I am telling them about their political and moral compromises will somehow not be true.

Let me make this perfectly clear, the fact that I refuse the notion that Donald Trump is the divinely appointed political Messiah of America and the GOP is his only true church does not make me a heretic.

This goes beyond the simple ad hominem attack which is a logical sophistry and goes deep into self delusion about the nature of truth itself. The truth is the truth no matter who says it. Unwillingness to recognize the truth when it is presented is defacto self delusion.

To satisfy the accusers curiosity, I will state the following.

There is one God. The God of Israel. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He presents Himself in three unified but distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.

I believe that this God is the creator of all that exists and is sovereign over it, all nations, all peoples and all events at all times.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That He was born of a virgin, both man and God in one person, lived a perfect, sinless, fully human life, was crucified, descended into hell and rose from the dead on the third day to redeem those He chooses from their sins.

I believe that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.

I believe that the Holy Ghost is present with us today to convict individuals and the world at large of sin, righteousness and judgement.

I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of scriptures and affirm that the scriptures are the only infallible rule of governance in men's lives and institutions.

I believe that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

I believe that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell.

I will depart from the catechism here.

I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is trans temporal, trans cultural and trans national. There is one Gospel for all in every time, place and nation.

I believe that all systematic theology is an attempt by the imperfect, finite mind of man to describe the mind of a perfect, infinite God. As such, man made theology is only useful so long as it accurately describes the statements of God. Anything beyond that may or may not be useful.

I believe that men are reconciled with God (saved) when they confess with their mouth (the Greek word transliterated homologeo a legal term meaning to agree in all aspects) the Lord Jesus (the Greek world transliterated kurios a military term meaning absolute master and owner, the term a slave would use to refer to his master or a soldier would use to refer to his commander) and believe in their heart (the Greek word transliterated kardia meaning in the Konie Greek idiom both the intellect and the soul) that God hath raised Him from the dead.

I believe that our sovereign God knows the end of human affairs from their beginnings and allows man to participate in those affairs either to our benefit or to our burden. I believe that man's primary duty in these worldly affairs is to obey the precepts set down in God's word. We are not and cannot be responsible for the outcome of these affairs if God is truly sovereign. It follows then that our primary duty is to remain faithful to His precepts as we participate in the affairs of earth. That means the most practical means of achieving God's will in any earthly affair is to obey His word and then trust Him to honor our obedience.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Lessons From American Christianity

An African missionary friend was recently asked by a young black African what lessons can be learned from American Christianity.  I suspect the question may have had more than one meaning in the context but it is still a very good question.  As an American, I would answer this way.

We must always remember that Christianity is trans-national, trans-cultural and trans-temporal.  God's rules for us do not change with place, culture or time.  Just as God is the same yesterday, today and forever so are his rules.  There is not one gospel for Africa and another for America.  It is the same gospel that was preached in Galilee over two millenia ago.

The American millionaire and the barefoot Soweto prostitute must all come to God the same way.  And when they do come to God they become both brothers and sisters in the Lord and citizens of an invisible yet eternal kingdom that transcends their differences.  Their lives here on earth may be vastly different but one day soon, a snap of the finger in eternal terms, they will be equal not only in theological position before God but in every other way as well.

It naturally follows that no man made institution is Christianity.  Governments and institutions may proceed from Christianity but they are not the gospel.  Americans who confuse American nationalism with the gospel make the same mistake that third world citizens make when they embrace "Christian Marxism," liberation theology and social justice.  Just as there is only gospel for all there is also only one justice for all.  God's rules are the same for all.

American Christianity is incredibly rich by world standards.  And, it can be arrogant.  But, it is also generous, sometimes to a fault, and on the whole good hearted.  Americans love to help.  The accusations of hate, racism and bigotry that are heaped upon American Christianity are often a reflection of the evil in the hearts of their accusers.  This is not true for all American Christians any more than it is true for all African Christians.  But it is true enough to give American Christians the benefit of the doubt

If I could talk to the young man who asked that question, I would tell him that the American Church is in a bad place right now and it frankly needs the moral resolve that is coming from the Third World Church.  Because Third World Christians deal with evil on a much more direct basis every day of their lives and see its destructive effects first hand they are far less likely to accommodate it than their American or European brothers and sisters.  I would encourage that young man to hold firm in the faith and confront evil wherever he finds it because not only will he be doing the best thing for himself and his own people but he will serve as an example for American Christians who need to regain that kind of courage.

Monday, August 19, 2019

6 Non-political Ways To Serve Your Country and Your Community Volunteer at a VA Hospital or Clinic. Volunteers can do anything from push a wheelchair to man a phone line. Also, while this is not official through the VA volunteer system, some vets are forced to undergo painful outpatient minor surgical procedures WITHOUT ANESTHESIA because there is no one to drive them to and from their appointment and VA policy forbids them riding a VA provided bus after having anesthesia. You can be real friend to a vet by "unofficially" driving them to a surgical appointment.
2. Volunteer with your local Police Department or Sheriff's Dept. Many departments have
an unpaid volunteer service corps which frees up sworn officers for more important tasks. You duties may be answering a phone, sorting citations, making copies, filing or just running errands. In some cases, your duties may be more interesting depending upon your skillset and background. Some larger departments recruit people with a professional background to advise their detective and intelligence divisions in their area of expertise. Smaller departments often just keep a phone list of trustworthy experts. This work may be highly confidential but it is also highly rewarding.

3. If you are ordained, become a Police Chaplain. The requirements are pretty stiff. Mail order ordinations and informal calls won't cut it. But, if you meet the requirements, it offers an opportunity to show the love of Christ to people in really difficult situations. Among other duties, Police Chaplains often do death and serious injury notifications.

4. Volunteer at your local university. Student professional organizations are frequently looking for local professionals to advise and mentor students in their discipline. Someone with real world experience in a profession can make a lasting impact on young people just starting out.

5. Volunteer with a disaster relief organization. These organizations can use all kinds of talent and it is not all field work. They always need clerical people, skilled administrators and technical people. It takes several people in the background to put one emergency responder in the field. 

6. Volunteer at a nursing home.  It is highly likely that within a few blocks of your home, 
there are elderly, bed ridden people who never have a visitor other than their caregivers.  They have no family or their family doesn't visit.  A few hours per week chatting or reading to these folks can make a real difference in their lives.  The need for human social contact never goes away even if you are warehoused awaiting the inevitable.

These are just six of hundreds of ways a Christian can affirmatively show the love of Christ to the their community by actually doing something useful.