Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Brazen Attack upon the Constitution by the Left

Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a special meeting to question Dr. Christina Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  Dr. Ford has alleged that, while in high school some three decades ago, she was sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh.  Those whom she has recalled being present at the time of the alleged assault do not themselves recall being there.  There is no corroborative witnesses; there is no corroborative evidence.  To date Dr. Ford has not been placed under oath to share here story; that being placed under oath is to occur tomorrow.  I am grateful that Dr. Ford will have this opportunity, as will Judge Kavanaugh. 

But here is where my anger kicks in, friends.  Why is the burden of proof being placed upon Judge Kavanaugh to show his innocence?  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said, "We have a constitutional duty to get to the bottom of these allegations.  They are serious and credible.  And now, the person with the most knowledge about them, namely, Judge Brett Karanaugh, has a responsibility to come forward with evidence to rebut them."  Really!  You have to be kidding!  This is not the way our judicial system has worked so well these many years.  In American jurisprudence, a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. I have watched enough Perry Mason and Matlock shows to know that a client always enters a plea of "not guilty."  That is his/her constitutional privilege.  The burden of proof rests upon the prosecutor with the presentation of evidence to support the accusation, and only then, does the burden of proof rest upon the defense team to refute that evidence and to enter additional evidence in support of the accused.

Yet, even with the complete lack of any evidence to support her allegations, the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have fully believed her story.  The mainstream media members have trumpeted her story as if it was the only story worth knowing.  And, if polls are to be believed, a growing number of Americans have believed the mainstream media reports and believed Dr. Ford rather than Judge Kavanaugh.  The clamor is for the FBI to investigate these allegations.  But what is the FBI to investigate?  No criminal complaint was ever filed by Dr. Ford after the alleged assault.  No threats were ever lodged against Dr. Ford by Judge Kavanaugh over the years.  There is no evidence to even warrant an investigation.  The reason for the continued clamoring for an FBI investigation is simply to delay the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

What adds to my anger of what is happening is that those who want an FBI investigation are those who have already said they fully believe Dr. Ford's story and have been on public record as opposing Judge Kavanaugh's nomination since it occurred in July.  It would make no difference to them to have an investigation by the FBI and to have as its final report that Judge Kavanaugh was never involved in this alleged incident; they would not change their vote.  Yes, they have the right to vote no.  That right is accorded to them under the Constitution of the United States.  But, those who desire to vote yes also have a constitutional right to do so.  Right now, that right is being impeded. 

I have not heard Senator Feinstein request those 65 women, who have worked alongside of Judge Kavanaugh and have known him these many years, to come and testify.  Sixty-five women - that is a significant number who have knowledge of the character and conduct of Judge Kavanaugh.  But, does their testimony count for anything?  Of course not because those women's stories do not agree with the outcome Senator Feinstein and her allies desire: the derailing of this nomination.  Friends, if you are going to request testimonial evidence - which, right now, in this case, is basically hearsay evidence as there is a lack of physical evidence - then seek the complete testimonial evidence.  Yes, invite Dr. Ford and those one or two others who have allegedly come forward with accusations.  But also invite as many of those 65 other women to testify as are able to come and do so.  That is the American way of jurisprudence.  But sadly it seems to be lacking in this case. 

Ultimately, friends, this is a Constitutional matter.  On Monday night, Tucker Carlson, a Fox Channel news host, shared a monologue which appeared in written form on Tuesday.  This monologue can be found at:   This is an article that every American needs to read.  It is alarming!  Allow me to share five brief sentences from Mr. Tucker's monologue: "If the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to Brett Kavanaugh, it probably doesn't apply to you, either. ... It's not just Kavanaugh under assault.  Elected officials have announced they no longer believe in our Western understanding of justice.  There's no precedent for that.  It's stunning."

Last week, Thomas Gallatin wrote an editorial that was published by the Patriot Post.  It is found at:  This is another highly recommended article to be read.  Mr. Gallatin writes: "Democrats' calls to immediately halt the confirmation vote on Kavanaugh in order to investigate this allegation undermine the very spirit of the Constitution and the American judicial system.  The foundational concept of 'innocent until proven guilty' is what has made the U.S. justice system the envy of the world.  Democrats are pushing the dangerously flaws concept of assuming guilt based solely on the seriousness of the accusation and then demanding that the accused prove his innocence.  Make no mistake, this is an assault on the Constitution - and today is, ironically, Constitution Day."

So, what can we do as Christians?  It is time that we join hands in praying for that Senate Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow.  To pray for Senator Grassley as he chairs that committee.  For Judge Kavanaugh and his family as they endure another day of accusations.  For Judge Kavanaugh to be open and transparent with the committee members.  And that a decision will be reached, not based upon a political mindset, but upon the truth that is revealed.  I invite you to join with me in prayer tomorrow morning as these hearings begin.  God is still in control.  And I know His purposes will be accomplished.  Thanks for praying. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Whatever Happened to Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

I am leaving for a conference in Greensboro, NC tomorrow morning so decided to get my blog out early this week.  The conference several of the leaders from our church are attending is a D6 Conference.  D6 stands for Deuteronomy 6, a passage that refers to the challenge to parents to disciple their own children.  I am looking forward to going and being challenged to help do just that with many of the families within my congregation. 

I am not sure how you are responding to the events surrounding the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, but I have become angry in my spirit.  I can almost imagine what that special Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday will be like.  It will be partisan and contentious.  Angry voices will be heard.  Diatribes will be offered by senators.  Dialogue will be absent and decorum not present.  This has all the bearings of the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. 

This entire last-minute desperation act by Senator Feinstein is just that - desperation.  She has known of this story since last July.  She had numerous opportunities to address this alleged act with Judge Kavanaugh both in private conversations as well as during the public hearings.  But she said nothing until the hearings were over.  Then she brings out this alleged "smoking gun."  Why?  Because she saw that Judge Kavanaugh had conducted himself with decorum and class during the confirmation hearings.  He did not become argumentative.  He held firmly to his beliefs that a judge should not make law, only interpret law according to the dictates of the Constitution.  She and her Democratic allies had to do something to derail this man from serving on the Court. 

Here is what is so sad to me and what makes me angry in my spirit.  Judge Kavanaugh has been tried and found guilty in the eyes of many of the members of the Senate and in the eyes of the media.  To listen to the mainstream media, Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw his name from consideration, not withstanding his own assertions of innocence.  According to the Constitution, a person is presumed to be innocent until he or she is found to be guilty.  This has been the legal discourse that has made the American system of jurisprudence so special.  But that discourse does not apply in the case with Judge Kavanaugh it would seem. 

Friends, aren't you glad that somehow in the process of life we finally do grow up.  We are not what we once were.  I think of those stories of our heroes from the Bible.  Take Abraham for example.  Because of fear he placed his wife in a difficult place not once but twice.  We almost could accuse Abraham of spousal abuse today because of that.  Yet God gave some powerful promises to Abraham.  Take David as another example.  David was the king, yet he violated God's commands by having an adulterous relationship with not just another man's wife, but the wife of one of his closest advisors and friends; then having that friend put in a position within a battle where he would knowingly be killed.  Yet God gave to David the promise of an eternal throne.  Let's look at another example, this time from the New Testament.  How about Peter: impulsive, impetuous, a denier of his Lord.  Yet God uses Peter to become the leader of the Church. 

If each of these men were living today and were being considered for a leadership role each would probably be denied not because of something "allegedly" done in their past, but knowingly done.  I can hear the voices of the confirmation hearings on Abraham challenging him on why he abused his wife by putting her into harms way.  Perhaps David might be excused for his sexual indiscretions because, after all, we have had experience of Presidents doing something very similar. 

People can change and I am eternally grateful for that powerful truth.  God changes people's lives.  If one would carefully examine the life of Judge Kavanaugh with care, one will notice that he has a strong record of moral decency and community service that is impeccable.  Many are those who would come forward to substantiate his decency as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a judge.  This is who he is.  And it is upon this fact that the confirmation of this man either rises or falls. 

I will be praying that truth will be revealed at those hearings on Monday.  That there will be civility in the dialogue.  That the United States Senate will rediscover the roots that have made it the august body that it has been historically.  That at the close of those hearings there will be clarity on how to move forward.  And I know you will join me in that prayer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Of Weather, the Palestinians, and Nike

This is beginning to look like it will be a very active hurricane season for both the Atlantic and Pacific regions as well as the Caribbean coastlines.  As Hurricane Florence continues its migration toward the regions of Coastal Carolina, gaining strength with each surpassing hour, two other hurricanes are forming in the Atlantic, and a strong low-pressure system is forming in the Caribbean that might impact the Texas coast.  Meanwhile Hawaii is being threatened with its third hurricane of the season: Hector, Lane, and now Olivia.  It is almost as if the storms are lining up on both coasts just taking turns in causing devastation.

Then there are the increase in the frequency of earthquakes, such that they are hardly reported in the news any longer.  It almost takes a catastrophic quake to make the major news sources.  Then I saw a picture of giraffes standing in snow as a almost-unheard-of snowfall occurred in Africa.  It seems the weather patterns are following a path that is less than normal.  I keep returning to those words of Jesus to His disciples as they asked about the end of days.  He said that there would be earthquakes and famines in diverse places.  And I remember reading the Apostle Paul's words to the Roman believers about how creation moans awaiting its redemption (see Romans 8).  There seems to be a lot of moaning taking place right now, and it is growing in its intensity. 

There are two news stories that I want to focus upon this week.  The first is the decision that the Trump Administration made on Monday to close the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization, also known as the PLO, in Washington, DC.  Two reasons were given for its closure.  First, the failure on the part of the Palestinian Leadership to participate in meaningful negotiations with the Israelis seeking to finalize some type of two-state solution.  Second, the continued threat of the PLO to take Israel before the International Criminal Court (the ICC) and charge them with war crimes because of the actions in the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.  Neither the United States nor Israel recognize the existence of the ICC.

In addition the United States has moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognizing that city as the capital of Israel.  The United States has severely reduced its funding to UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) which has overseen the care of those Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war of independence.  This follows the drastic cuts in funding given to the Palestinian Authority itself.  That number of refugees has grown from nearly 700,000 in 1948 to over 5 million today.  And days ago the United States cut its funding for hospitals in East Jerusalem.  It is the hope that such financial cuts would bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table in good faith.  Instead the response from PLO leadership has been defiance and determination to proceed with their case against Israel in the ICC. 

I was asked recently my response to these decisions by the Trump State Department leaders.  I have applauded the move of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.  Friends, it should have been done years  before, but everyone thought that such a move might be the catalyst for World War III.  Well, now that it has been done, we are not in that type of war.  And I have applauded the drastic cuts in American taxpayer dollars going to a Palestinian leadership that rewards those who kill Israelis.  And I applaud the continued pressure - both financially and diplomatically - being placed upon Palestinian President Abbas in order for him to see the reality of the world in which he lives.  Will these actions bring the intended consequence?  I guess only time will tell.  Israel is certainly not a perfect state filled with perfect leaders, but then again neither is the United States - if the stories we hear coming out of Washington are correct.  But Israel has always been our closest and most dependable ally in that stormy region of the world.  I saw a T-shirt while in Israel this past spring that read: "Don't worry America, Israel has your back."  Do we have Israel's back?  For the present moment, I think it is safe to say that we do.

The second story is one that truly grieves me.  It is the decision that the leadership at Nike made to have Colin Kaepernick be the spokesman for their "Just Do It" campaign.  Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers a few years ago.  He had a fleeting moment of glory, then his flower began to fade.  Last year, Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee in protest as the national anthem was being played.  Soon other NFL players joined with him in this protest against cruelty by police departments across our country toward blacks.  Football fans were caught in this storm of protest.  Attendance at NFL games began to plunge.  Television ratings dropped like lead sinkers on the end of a fish line.  Talk show hosts pontificated over the merits and demerits of what these Colin Kaepernick inspired players were doing.  Many felt that such a protest against the American flag was almost a sacrilege to those who fought and died defending that flag and the nation it represented. 

In spite of these strong feelings on the part of average Americans, Nike announced that Colin Kaepernick would be the face of the new "Just Do It" campaign.  In the commercial, Mr. Kaepernick says, "Believe in something.  Even if it means sacrificing everything."  I ask myself this question: What has Mr. Kaepernick sacrificed?  He is presently unemployed, which may say more about his football skills than about his protest.  When I heard that statement, friends, I wanted to say to him, "Mr. Kaepernick, if you want to know what it means to sacrifice everything, then let me take you to any of the national cemeteries that dot the American landscape.  Let's begin at Arlington.  Mr. Kaepernick, there are rows and rows and more rows of crosses that mark the graves of those who truly sacrificed everything.  Mr. Kaepernick, let me show you those opening scenes from that incredible movie 'Saving Private Ryan' as American forces hit the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  Now that is sacrificing everything.  Mr. Kaepernick, if you feel you need to protest, then choose a different way than desecrating our nation's flag and its national anthem.  For as that national anthem so pointedly proclaims: 'This star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.'" 

The leaders at Nike have every right to select whom they desire to be their spokes person.  But I applaud those schools that have chosen to no longer use the Nike brand as the athletic wear of their choice.  And I agree with the letter from the National Association of Police Organizations and their president Michael McHale asking their members to boycott all Nike products. 

One final item worthy of news is the release of photographs and an accompanying story that trumpeted the appearance of the red-heifer in Israel.  This calf has been fully authenticated and certified by Jewish rabbis as being a fully red-heifer.  This is a major story as it relates to the last days.  According to Number 19, a red heifer was sacrificed and its ashes were mixed with water to form the agent that would purify those articles used within the tabernacle.  According to the news source, a red heifer has not been born for the past 2000 years.  If this calf truly is the red heifer, that means that the Jewish religious leaders have an animal which can be sacrificed and then burned, with those ashes being used to purify those implements for use in the third temple; which, by the way, are now completely built - I have seen them with my own eyes while in Jerusalem.  With the birth of this red heifer we are one step closer to the return of the Lord Jesus.  And I will say a full and loud "Amen!" to that. 

And to my Jewish friends I do want to wish you a "shana tova" as the new year begins. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Congressional Brawl and a Conflicted Church

Yesterday confirmation hearings for President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court began.  Even before the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, could gavel the hearing's beginning, several Democratic senators boisterously demanded that the hearings be halted because of the lack of sufficient time to read the documents representing Judge Kavanaugh's extensive judicial portfolio.  Yet more documentation has been provided about Judge Kavanaugh than any other Supreme Court appointment in American history.  And, those that requested even more information were senators who had already gone on record as opposing Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation. 

But, as I watched some of the video from that opening day, what grieved my heart was the complete lack of civility within that hearing room.  Seventy people were arrested by Capital Hill Police because of unlawful demonstrations.  The vitriol became so intense that Judge Kavanaugh's wife had to usher their two daughters from the hearing room in order to spare them from hearing what was being said about her husband and their father.  How sad that at a moment in which a family should take incredible pride, there will only be memories of slanderous words being used against those girls' father.  What an image of American democracy at work - or should I say, a failure of that democracy to work as the Founding Fathers envisioned it.

Yes, there is a need for a hearing on this appointment.  Yes, there is a strong need to have dialogue on the issues.  But, Americans today have forgotten how to have a dialogue.  But we certainly have lots of practice in having arguments complete with vicious slander and name-calling.  We have created a society where "I am right and you are wrong" becomes the dominant theme.  We no longer listen with open minds or open hearts because our minds and hearts are already cemented in what we believe to be right.  Truth is no longer applicable as there is no longer an absolute standard of truth.

We hear arguments that Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation will mean the end of Roe v. Wade.  But Judge Kavanaugh has made it abundantly clear in previous decisions that he strongly holds to legal precedent.  That means that Roe v. Wade will not suddenly disappear under the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh any more than it did under the confirmations of Judges Thomas, Roberts, and Alito.  The threat of overthrowing Roe v. Wade simply does not hold water any longer. 

Hearings continue through the remainder of this week.  One can only imagine the intense grilling this man will have to endure before he is confirmed.  After watching a portion of yesterday's Congressional brawl, I wonder who, in their right mind, would want to be a public servant?  Oh the depths to which America has plunged. 

There is a second momentous event that is shaking the foundations of American beliefs.  This concerns the continued exposure of decades of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.  I read a fascinating article in the National Review, written by David French, and published on August 27.  It is titled, "Protestants Should Care Deeply about the Catholic Catastrophe."  Allow me to quote a few paragraphs from this article:

"As I watch the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church, an analogy one of my pastors once made comes to mind.  It will likely make some of my Catholic friends uncomfortable, but it's helpful for understanding the way many Protestants view the larger body of Christ, the 'Holy Catholic Church' of the Apostles' Creed, so here goes: The Church is like a navy, a collection of ships united in purpose and in destination.  Each denomination is like a different ship in that navy, and while each crew is primarily tasked with the health and well-being of its own vessel, it's also deeply invested in the strength of the fleet.  Each vessel is more vulnerable as the fleet weakens.  Each vessel is stronger surrounded by its protective armada.

"If the analogy holds, then one of the mightiest battleships in the fleet, the Catholic Church, is taking torpedoes left and right.  It's now rocked by allegations of wrongdoing that go all the way to the Vatican, to the pope himself. .... Protestants cannot and must not view these events with a kind of detachment or distance, for numerous reasons.

"First, we cannot forget that each and every revelation of abuse is the revelation of a life-altering (and sometimes life-shattering) event for the victim and a faith-crippling moment for friends, family, and countless others.  Second, given the plethora of recent sexual scandals in Evangelical churches and seminaries, the Catholic catastrophe should remind us that perhaps only the lack of an equivalent hierarchy has spared Evangelical churches from similar, systemic sin.  'Our' scandals are more fragmented only because our churches are more fragmented.  Yet the entire church should be galvanized by what's happened and diligently consider the extent to which our own congregations are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

"Third, reputational harm to the church can sweep far and wide - well beyond the guilty parties themselves.  No one should presume that in an increasingly secular world our fellow citizens can so easily discern the good guys and the bad guys.

"Finally, and critically, there are immense theological stakes for the larger church.  While condemnation of child abuse is universal, the recent spate of claims of consensual sex between two priests or between priests and other adults is leading once again to confrontation along the old fault lines, between traditionalists and those who seek greater 'inclusion.'"

David French concludes his article with these words: "It's fashionable for modern Christians to slide past the Old Testament and linger on the New.  But as secular and religious institutions collapse around us, it's hard to escape the feeling that we live in a period of Old Testament-style rebellion against God.  Our Catholic cathedrals and suburban mega-churches alike are shot-through with the same sins that pollute the world.  None of us has the luxury of believing 'our' institutions are safe or that 'our side' of the Christian divide has adequately guarded itself against the demonic spirit that stalks the land.  Ships in the Christian armada are ablaze.  We must not simply sail on and leave them to their fate."

Friends, Jesus admonished His disciples that there were to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves."  Yet He also stated that "the gates of hell would not prevail against the church."  Jesus never promised that the Church would have an easy road.  Since its inception on that Day of Pentecost so many years ago, it has been the recipient of Satan's broadsides.  Yet we have this sure and certain promise from the Savior Himself - "in the world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."  This does not mean that we can be apathetic about what is happening around us.  Instead it means that we need to guard with more diligence and care those foundational truths that have been entrusted to us (see Jude 3).  Yes, we are in a war...but we know how the war ends!  Hallelujah for that great truth!