All posts by Chuck

Devotion on Prayer: Petitioned Power

They say that firewood is a good means of keeping you warm–once when you cut it and again when you burn it in a fireplace or wood burning furnace.  Often, in the 40 years Shirley and I have used wood to supplement our regular heating source, I’ve sweat both times.  There has even been an occasion or two when the house was so warm in winter that we needed to open windows to regulate the heat generated by the wood stove.

I’ve always thought that burning wood was, also, a good way to help with heating costs.  But not all agree.  And I guess they have a point.  By the time you purchase a good wood hauling trailer, a good truck to pull that good trailer, a good chain saw to cut the wood, a good splitter to process the wood and a good insurance policy to help with ‘accidental’ expenses, it probably doesn’t ‘pay’ to burn wood.

Once, before I learned much about ethanol additives in fuel, I was using the regular fuel blend from the car gas pumps to fuel my new chain saw.  Nothing had ever happened before, but one fall morning when I went out to cut, I fired up the chain saw and noticed a large plume of white smoke billow out of the saws exhaust.  Normally, you would see a light blue or blue gray puff of smoke as the engine fired up.  I didn’t make much of it at first, but noticed that the saw continued to smoke after it warmed up and appeared to have less power than normal.  When these symptoms continued, I wrapped up my day and stopped by the dealer where I’d purchased the saw to see if we could discover the problem.  Setting the saw up on a work table, he took off the carburetor cover and noted that the air filter was fine.  He then asked if I had used regular gas out of the gas pump the last time I purchased gas for the saw.  ‘Yes’, I sheepishly relied.  ‘Is that a problem’?  ‘Usually not’, he noted, ‘but in this case it is’.  He continued, ‘You see, the alcohol in the ethanol blend used at gas pumps will, in time, say two or three months, separate from the gas itself and it will remain suspended as straight alcohol.  In engines made for alcohol’s higher burn temperature, this isn’t a problem.  But, in chain saw engines that have a softer cylinder wall, the alcohol burn will score (cut grooves) in the engine walls that will cause the saw to reduce power and smoke because of unburned gas/oil being exhausted from the engine.  In short, you need a new engine for your chain saw’.

As I processed what he said, I wrote a mental note to self–the firewood just got significantly more expensive to burn.

By now you’re saying to yourself, alright pastor, enough of the small engine class, what does all this  have to do with prayer.  Just this…

Jesus taught us to pray…’give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who’ve sinned against us’.  And at first glance these petitions seem to be unrelated, unless we see them as a sort of ‘spiritual’ fuel we ask for from the Lord.

When our Father in heaven looks as us, He sees ‘redeemed saints’ and ‘redeeming servants’–servants with a need for physical strength and spiritual fortitude to carry out His ‘will on earth’.  Serving as Christ’s ambassadors requires both physical strength and free souls.  So, Jesus taught us to ask Him for the food necessary for proper physical strength and stamina and for the freedom necessary for proper soul strength and stamina.

Therefore, we ask Him to supply enough food for the viability of our bodies and to supply enough freedom for the vitality of our souls.  And as we ask for His supply, we welcome His grace that empowers us to be self-controlled in our bodies and we welcome His mercy that reminds us to imitate His forgiving Spirit in our souls.  Few barriers to vitality in our bodies and souls are more significant than self-indulgence in our bodies and unforgiveness in our souls.

Let’s resolve to humbly approach the throne of grace as we ask Him to ‘give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

Devotion on Prayer: Heart to Heart

Prevailing prayer is that activity during which we seek, discover and humbly participate in those concerns that are most important to the heart of God.  So, Jesus taught us to pray that ‘Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.

For me, growing up in a ‘non-instrumental’ church meant that we heard the richness of a hymn’s melody and harmony in our worship songs.  Often, a deep appreciation for the music of a hymn preceded an understanding of its message.  As a child, I often hummed a melody BEFORE I memorized the words.  Like all churches, mine had favorites that served to sooth the souls of our fellow worshippers.

One favorite church hymn from my childhood fellowship was ‘Sweet Hour of Prayer’.  To this day, when that song is played or sung, I can almost smell the musty fragrance of the old hymn books we used and hear the echos of the singing voices of saints now residents of the courts of Heaven.

When this song was sung in our fellowship, a couple of questions would linger on the outskirts of my tiny mind: 1) What would it be like to spend a WHOLE HOUR in prayer?  For me, telling God everything I was thinking about took somewhere north of two minutes.  An hour–really?  2) What were we doing telling God what ‘all our wants and wishes’ were?

Dutifully, at first, then habitually, I recited to God all the things that I wanted.  And, though, it could have been that all my thoughts were selfish, not all of them were.  I prayed for rain to help with the crops, both ours and the neighbors.  I prayed for God to spare my dog, ‘King’, when he got run over by a car.  I prayed for God to help dad when he came to me holding his stomach while telling me that he had to go see the doctor.  He was in the hospital for 30 days suffering from pancreatitis–a very tough time for the family.  Most of all I prayed for forgiveness.

Legitimate were these prayers and yet they took on a markedly shallow form, almost repetitious.  And I carried them into adulthood.  I’d pray for the things that concerned me and seemed pressing to me in ministry, but I’d rarely go deeper.  My prayers usually involved listing the ones in our fellowship that were sick or bereaved (help all the ones who are sick among us), reminding God how much month was left at the end of the money (help me be a good steward), asking Him to bless our church and pleading with Him to help me stay faithful to my call.  Not bad prayers or bad praying, just somewhat routine.

Lately, I’ve been adding a new dimension to my time in prayer.  Still beginning with praises and thanksgiving because we have such a GREAT ‘Father in Heaven Whose name is to be hallowed’, I’ve begun adding one simple request, “Father, what is on Your heart today?”  And whether thoughts begin to come quickly or I wait for several minutes, I don’t move on until He impresses my heart with the concerns of His heart.  These, then, become the topics of my petitions to the Lord and the preparations for the day’s ministry.

Growth and consistency is one of my goals in this type of praying.  Still working on that.  But one benefit has emerged: prayer time is much less routine and significantly less self-centered.

So, at the risk of offending the song’s publishers or hymn purists, I’ve added a couple of new words to that wonderful hymn.  Where it says ‘make all my wants and wishes known’ in the second line of the first verse of that hymn, I’ve substituted the words, ‘make His concerns my very own’.

A couple of cautions: simply because thoughts come to your heart after you’ve asked God to share  His concerns with you doesn’t mean that those concerns are valid and from Him.  Check EVERYTHING with scripture and accept only those that agree with scripture and that ‘hallow His name’.  Also, remember that He IS concerned about what concerns you.  See       I Peter 5:7.  So don’t be afraid to tell Him what you’re thinking about.

Now, let’s follow the encouragement of scripture: ‘Let us approach the throne of grace boldly’ …Hebrews 4:16.

Devotion on Prayer: Take Time

Prayer is more about being close to our Heavenly Father than it is about effecting change in our earthly circumstances.  After all, Jesus did teach us to pray saying, ‘Our FATHER who is in Heaven’…

Farm life for me was fun, but filled with countless hours of hard work.  It took considerable effort to find time to be a family while caring for hundreds of animals, managing the planting/harvesting schedules of multiple fields on multiple farms, and repairing fences and implements for peak performance.  But of all the competing priorities, one commitment meant more to me than any other.

During the warmer months of April-November in southern Illinois, at the end of each day, weather permitting, dad and mom would come outside after supper into the side yard on the west side of our house where we had a porch swing hanging from a catalpa tree limb.  They would gently sway back and forth on the swing while the rest of us kids would happily listen to them chat while we would mess around with ant hills, worm mounds and various other exciting ‘boy type’ of stuff.

Those down times were wonderful.  Not withstanding all the work that was yet to be prioritized, scheduled and accomplished, not withstanding all the pressures related to tilling, fertilizing and planting a field and not withstanding the begging bleats of sheep/goats, grunts of pigs, cackle of chickens and bawling of perpetually hungry calves; we would all enjoy the ‘down time’ spent being close to dad in the evening.

It was then that I learned there was a proper place to rest even though many tasks remained unchallenged and undone.  It was then that I learned some things mattered more than getting everything done.  It was then that I learned being close to dad was a much richer experience than being able to say that all tasks were completed.  There I learned that there was a time to work and that there was a time to rest, especially if that rest came at the feet of my dad and mom.

Similarly, if you are harried and hurried in life, it may be that one of your most sacred gifts would be the gift of ‘time spent at Jesus’ feet’.

As one hymn writer penned:

‘There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God; a place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God, O Jesus blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee, near to the heart of God’.

If your prayer life has become a bit routine, perhaps taking time today to simply enjoy being close to your Heavenly Father will bring about a fresh new-ness to your time in prayer.  Remember: He is our FATHER in Heaven.



So, what is happening in our country?

Few could legitimately argue that the USA has little to no religious influence in its founding.  Whether you read the ‘Mayflower Compact’, the ‘original, unmodified charters’ of Yale, Harvard or Princeton or the plethora of insightful writings of not a few founding leaders, you cannot escape the fact that our history is replete with acknowledgements of the Divine sovereignty over our Republic.  We can and should remind each other that at one time ‘THEOLOGY’ played a predominant role in American life.  And, so, we were blessed.

Yet, as is so often the case, ‘IDEOLOGY’ soon replaced theology.  Churches in the Northeast, as soon as 1649, adopted a ‘Half-way Covenant’ in which church members were no longer required to demonstrate genuine salvation as a prerequisite for church membership.  Churches became secularized and the early colleges and universities, originally chartered to produce missionary workers, followed suit by turning away from God, becoming, themselves, bastions of godlessness.  Temporal values  replaced truth and the expedient displaced the eternal.  Abandoning the pursuit of holiness, integrity, honesty and humility, many chose to declare their own ideas as truth.  Refusing to use the Bible as the measurement of truth, human ideas were dubbed ‘progressive’ and ‘enlightened’ thought.  Instead of becoming wise, America become foolish in her cultural thinking as we worshiped at the alter of ‘self’.

Soon, another exchange took place.  ‘IRRATIONALITY’ replaced ideology .  While worshiping self, many leaders and ‘progressive’ thinkers, intoxicated by their own concept of self-importance, began to pretend that their thoughts could in some way produce reality.  This condition led some leaders to say that because they were elected, we all could work together and ‘ocean levels would lower and the planet would heal’.  Such lofty ‘rhetoric’ is fanciful at best and deluded at worst.  Only God can speak and what is spoken occurs.  No mere mortal has, can or ever will be able to produce such omnipotent results.

In the end, we are left to endure a relentless barrage of claims that are so absurd that only the most devoted partisan could accept them.  How else could you explain the acceptance of the claims, ‘What difference does it make now that we have 4 dead Americans’ including a US Ambassador or ‘There has never before been such a peaceful time in our history’ than now.

How did we get here?  In a way, it’s quite simple…

People decided that it was no longer ‘…worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God…’!  Romans 1:28.  Imagine that!

Decisions, decisions…what will I ever do?

No doubt you have been asked at least once, who you were voting for in this presidential election cycle.  And no doubt you have been as troubled as everyone else over the distressing state of affairs and the disgusting lifestyles and character of the candidates that have been put forth by the various political parties–conduct and character so repugnant that we could easily be persuaded to forgo the election this year.  Believe me when I say that I have been as troubled as everyone else.

Just under 30 days out from the election, I’m increasingly incensed by the ‘corruption’ and ‘carnality’ of the two main candidates.  For me, this choice is more than a simple ‘hold your nose and pull the lever for one of them’ type selection.  The candidates are so flawed that any choice is fraught with ominous consequences.  ‘So’, you say.  ‘What are you going to do?’   And, ‘how are you going to decide?’  Well, currently, I’m considering two scriptures.

First, I’m meditating on I Timothy 2:1f, where God inspired the Apostle Paul to write this counsel:  ‘I urge you, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority (at the time it was Nero), that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’  As I consider these words, I realize that I do have a choice if I choose to vote.  I can choose the candidate that affords me the best opportunity to live in ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’ with godliness.  I do not expect my chosen candidate to model Christ’s character.  (Some days, I wrestle with that myself)  After all, our governmental system is not a ‘theocracy’.  I’m reminded that we are not choosing a church leader.  But, since we are choosing a candidate for president of the US, which one affords us the best opportunity possible to live in peace and quiet.

Next, I’m considering Nahum 1:9, which reminds me that ‘Whatever they plot against the Lord, He will bring to an end…’.  This text tells me that God does not countenance those who attempt to subvert His Sovereign, creative designs and intentions.  So, I ask, ‘Is there a candidate that supports God’s design in marriage, in issues of life, in the freedom to practice godliness and in the protection of my family?’  Honestly, no candidate, in my humble opinion, satisfactorily models God’s designs.  So, I take the next step and ask myself which, if any, party platform more nearly resembles God’s designs and intentions.  Here, we may find a significant difference, not in the candidate, but rather, in the platform on which that candidate stands.  Now, my choice may come into clearer focus because the party platforms vary widely in their affirmations and exclusions of God and His designs. It may be wise to read each platform and consider the standards upon which the candidates stand and consider the people to whom each candidate is obliged.

So, as far as I am concerned, I will be voting I Timothy 2 and Nahum 1 on election day.  And at the end of the day, my conscience will be clear.


So What’s All the Fuss About?

Sometime during my middle teen years, I became aware of groups of people who felt a need to protest.  Because we had yet to purchase a TV, I only ‘heard’ about the marches.  There were anti-war protests, P.E.T.A. protests, anti-nuclear protests, anti-global cooling protests (yes, at one time global cooling was all the rage and a ‘hot’ button issue), anti-prayer in school protests, anti-whaling protests, anti-government protests and the like.  Men ran to Canada to escape the American Army draft.  Women burned articles of clothing in protest.  Farmers poured milk down the drain in protest of poor milk prices.  It was really ‘protest ad nauseam’.

Despite the rationale given to promote each march,  all protesters had this one motive in common:  ‘an unjust circumstance existed that they intended to correct using all of their available resources’.

Much effort and expense has always been expended in order to ‘right’ perceived  ‘wrongs’.

Without appraising each march or arguing the propriety of each effort, one thought has often recurred to me:  WHY HASN’T ANYONE EVER PROTESTED THE INJUSTICE OF GOVERNMENTS PUTTING PRISONERS IN A PRISON CAMP ON THE PLANET JUPITER?

You say, ‘now wait a minute, pastor.  Have you lost your mind?  That’s a stupid thought.’  To which I say, ‘Is it?’  To which you say, ‘Of course it is’!  To which I say, ‘Ok, Ok, it is’.

So what’s the point.  Just this–NO ONE PROTESTS THAT WHICH, TO THEM, IS UNREAL.  And there’s the point.  A protester only protests that which is a real circumstance that, to them, is so important that it deserves their attention and intentions.  Only ‘real’ issues deserve the investment of time, talent, tissue and treasure.  And that’s the reason no one is protesting the use of Jupiter as a prison camp site.  It’s not real!

Now, consider this:  What’s the reason atheists protest anything God?  Why do people react so vehemently to the use of the Bible in school?  Why do people want to stop prayer in public gatherings?  Well, we know the answer–BECAUSE– God, the Bible and prayer are REAL.  And people of rebellion are extremely uncomfortable around the ‘realness’ of God, the Bible and prayer.

So, whenever you feel the pressure of opinion against your faith, even if it comes from within yourself, remember this:  people only protest what is real.  In such a case, dissenters deserve our prayers and concern and God deserves our fidelity.  Let’s faithfully and lovingly live out Romans 12:16-21 all for the glory of God.


So what do we say…Part 2

If anyone would have had a good reason to want to alter her/his genetic assignment, it would have been Jesus.  But, why didn’t He pursue that?

When we ‘look unto Jesus’, we never see any vestiges of self-interest, whether self-actualization or self-aggrandizement.  So we don’t see Him scurrying about in a restless pursuit of self-fulfillment.  Quite the contrary.  We see a ‘human being’ (though also God in the flesh) determined to make nothing of self and everything of God, the Father.  Jesus’ values and virtues were all funneled together into His relentless involvement in the things of God.  Therefore, we see Him much preoccupied with several convictions.

First, Jesus was preoccupied with an acknowledgement of the POSITION of GOD.   Jesus once said, ‘No one has ever seen God, except the One and Only Son, Who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known’.  John 1:18.  And when He talked about God, Jesus said that God is ‘Our Father Who is in Heaven.  Hallowed is Your Name’.  God exists in such a position that Jesus Himself was compelled to ‘humble Himself’ before God.  Jesus carefully lived before Him Who is ‘High and lifted up’.  There was no room for living for self.

Second, Jesus was preoccupied with the advancement of the PRINCIPLES of GOD.  Twice Jesus mentioned His preoccupation with the will of God.  He said, ‘My food is to do the will of Him (the Father) Who sent Me and to finish His work’ (John 4:34) and ‘I have come not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me’ (John 6:38).  This conviction left no room for living for self.

Third, Jesus was preoccupied with the acceptance of the PURPOSES of GOD.  On the night of His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, while wrestling with the realities of what that betrayal meant as it played out over the next 24 hours, Jesus said, ‘Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, but nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done’.  (Luke 22:42).  Jesus’ conviction concerning the purposes of God regardless of the pain associated with those purposes left no room for living for self.

In light of the example and teaching of Jesus, my thoughts about ‘transgenderism’ are these…

Perhaps those who struggle with their unique personal identity and gender assignment, who struggle with being ‘trapped’ in an assignment that they do not like or want, who long for a way of dealing with the feelings of longing for relief, could benefit from following Jesus’ example and put God above self and faith above feelings.  Perhaps this would allow them to find enough strength to exchange the effort of ‘reordering culture’ (a temporary relief at best) for the enjoyment of discovering a ‘relationship with Christ’ (a permanent freedom at the least).

As one of our beloved songs suggests ‘…reach out to Jesus, He’s reaching out to you’….

So what do we say…Part 1.

Most of us will only ever overhear conversations about or read articles addressing ‘transgender’ issues.  Rarely and probably most reluctantly would we ever be drawn into a discussion of this extremely volatile subject.  With no lack of emotions and little limit to the preponderance of opinions, it seems best to simply stay a bit in the background and quietly live out our faith unless we are asked to offer a personal assessment.  But, what if we’re asked to contribute an opinion?  What should we say?  How should we respond?  What Biblical advice/counsel would we give?  How should we feel about the feelings of others who want desperately to change who they are?  What would Jesus say?

These are questions I’ve thought about and today and tomorrow I’d like to offer a response.

As with all issues related to life and godliness, it is safest to begin at the place all substantive discussions should begin–‘looking unto Jesus’.  (Hebrews 12:2)  And as we look at Him, we see one undeniable fact that relates directly to the ‘transgender’ conundrum:  in His birth, Jesus received a ‘genetic assignment’ that affected Him far more profoundly than any female or male assignment would ever affect us.

For humans, our reality could only ever be one marked by the combination of x/y human chromosomes, resulting in an emotional affinity associated with that genetic distribution.  We would either accept or aggressively disdain our assignment.  We may ‘like’ being female or male.  Or we may not like being either.  But our feelings will only ever be about being a human male or female, no more or no less.

Jesus, on the other hand, was called upon to receive an identity completely different from Who He was–an identity that remarkably altered His existence.  God explains it like this in Philippians 2:5-8:  ‘(Jesus)…being in His very nature God, did not think that equality with God was something to be grasped.  But, He made Himself nothing, taking upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in human likeness.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’.

Think of it!  Jesus, though being God (limitless and without need), was assigned a human (limited and needy) genetic makeup.  Along with that assignment, He experienced the trauma of being mocked, misunderstood, ridiculed, challenged, falsely accused, spat upon, beaten, tried in a corrupt court, crucified and speared.  And it wasn’t as if He was undisturbed about His assignment.  Once He said that He was ‘exceedingly sorrowful to the point of death’ (Mark 14:34).  Another time He asked Father God if ‘this cup might pass from me’ (Luke 22:42).  Surely, Jesus was not without reason to not only question His assignment, but to long for its removal.  But, WHY DIDN’T HE TRY TO CHANGE HIS GENETIC ASSIGNMENT so that He could feel better about His life?  Why didn’t He use His creative and unlimited power to ‘re-assign’ for Himself a more desirable and freer makeup?  Why didn’t He just ‘re-assign’ Himself into His ‘God-hood’ and simply tell/force/require  everyone around Him to not only accept it but to champion it?  Why?


Rights… Privileges… or Both Part 2

Last time I wrote, my topic was the Syrian refugee event and the call to immigrate a large segment of that war displaced population.  Without revisiting those thoughts, I’d like to simply add just one more.

Some have chosen to argue for immigration of Syrians because …’after all, Jesus was a refugee’.  The argument goes that Jesus was displaced by violence, forced to flee hostile forces and seek safety in foreign lands.  And if Jesus was just a man being bandied about by other men, then I suppose that rationale is plausible and emotionally compelling.  But, is it true?.

When Jesus was introduced to the world, His name was ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us’.  Jesus was both God AND man with us.  And as such, He could never have been a refugee.  And here’s why.  The scripture says of Him…

‘…I (the Lord) have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.  If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.’  Psalm 50:9-12


‘…He (the Lord Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.  He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.’  John 1:10-11

That being so, then Jesus was not a refugee, because He was in the world He created and was sustaining by the power of His own word.  He wasn’t out of control, a mere pawn, before a more powerful monarch.  He wasn’t without the resources to fight back, for even a thought could have marshaled the legions of angels to destroy the world.  No, He wasn’t a refugee.  But, if we change just one letter in the word, we can then see the truth.  Let’s change the letter ‘g’ to the letter ‘s’, for the sake of clarity.  I realize that that change won’t be phonetically correct, but it will be doctrinally right.  Jesus was not a refugee.  He was a ‘refusee’, One that was rejected by all that was His own!  What a thought…Jesus, Our Creator (Colossians 1:16),  our Sustainer (Colossians 1:17), our Redeemer (Colossians 1:13) and our Comforting Hope (John 14: 1ff) coming into a hostile environment to free us from our bondage.

The issue was not that Jesus was a refugee.  It was that Jesus was a ‘…despised and rejected Savior…’  Isaiah 53.

Actually, we are the ones who are being dominated by a hostile force.  We are the ones with a great enemy that we cannot defeat on our own.  We are the ones under hostile aggression by the enemy of our souls.  And our only hope of salvation comes from the One who ‘loved us, came to us and gave Himself for us as an atonement for our sin’ in order to set us free.

If we celebrate anything related to the Syrian refugee issue, let’s not celebrate how philanthropic and benevolent we would be to welcome Syrians to America, but rather,  let us celebrate our Savior Who came to rescue and deliver those who were lost.  John 14:3.

Rights…? Privileges…? or both?

Currently, much national attention has been directed toward the world wide plight of refugees, especially those in war torn areas like Iraq or Syria.  Depending on your own personal or political persuasions, your reactions to our common conversation could be quite varied.  Certainly our hearts go out to those overwhelmed by violence, persecution and the results of aggression.  Our civil compassions tend to create in us a desire to help–and rightfully so.  Yet, one part of the refugee dilemma is not being discussed.  It is that oversight that I’d like to high-light here.

Listening to the main stream of thought, a person could be persuaded to conclude that we, America in general and Americans specifically, are somehow obligated to offer ‘carte blanche’ admission to our country and its resources to those affected by political, economic or personal trauma.  We, so goes the reasoning, the recipients of such blessings as we enjoy, must allow others with less opportunity to gain unfettered access to all that the United States has been allowed to accrue.  And though that view carries with it plausible arguments and laudable  emotional assertions, public agreement is far from unanimous.  Indeed, even in the church, many disagree with the open access precept and are often vilified for holding such a contrarian view.

To me, the discussion would be better served and more biblically advanced by asking one simple question:  ‘Is access to the United States a RIGHT or a PRIVILEGE or BOTH.’  If it is a ‘right’, then US authorities should never restrict access to our Country.  ALL must have unfettered use of the United States and its resources.  But, if access to the US is a granted ‘privilege’, then it must be asserted that no one has an inherent right to live in our country and require use of its resources.  How we answer this ‘rights vs privilege’ question will greatly affect our choices.  And how we answer should be significantly impacted by our understanding of how God functions.

As we discuss this issue, let’s ask ourselves a few questions about how God views Heaven.

Now, most of us would agree that Heaven is a marvelous place where God is Supreme, all things are good, resources are abundant beyond our imagination, trauma doesn’t exist and love and peace perpetually flourish.  As He sovereignly oversees Heaven, God decides who gains access to Heaven based on a person’s response to Jesus:  the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one gains access to Heaven except through the Lord Jesus.  Fail to fulfill the Lord’s will regarding Jesus and access will certainly be denied.  NO ONE has a right to Heaven until God grants that privileged right.  As He teaches in John 1:12, ‘AND TO ALL WHO RECEIVED HIM, TO THEM THAT BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, TO THEM HE GAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD.’  Some might argue that they have a ‘right’ to Heaven because they go to church.  Others say that they have a right to it because their name is on a church membership roll somewhere.  Many conclude that they deserve to be in Heaven because they have been morally good, philanthropic or compassionate.  But that is just not true.  None of those people, so labeled, has any right to access heaven.  That right is reserved for those who have received and faithfully acted upon God’s prescribed plan.  There will be no exceptions.

In a way, at least figuratively speaking, the US is somewhat like heaven on earth to some.  Those of the most impoverished among the world’s nations could conclude that life in the US is good almost beyond description.  And, relatively speaking, we live an almost ‘palatial’  life style here.  By comparison, even the most ‘down and out’ among us live far better than even the most prosperous in some other countries of the world.

So I ask, ‘Does any and everyone deserve the right to be in America simply because they see us as well off and see themselves as in need?  Do they deserve access because they are in need of it and want it?’  Or should access be based on someone’s willingness to adhere to a prescribed set of non-negotiable rules?  Should those rules be set and administered to the best of our ability, for the most certain security of those granting the privileged right and for the most compassionate expression of concern for those less blessed among the world’s needy?

As for me, let us offer to anyone access to America who has as a life goal to lift America up to be the best she can be for the Lord, who is willing to pay any price for that privileged right and who is fiercely passionate about protecting the genuine spiritual heritage of America, our national security and the Biblical/Godly mandate of Almighty God.   And, let all others be asked to remain away and be required to wait until they are ready to assume the responsibilities that accompany the privileged right of access to America.