Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Good That Was, That Is, Or That Will Be

I loved this essay by my friend, Daron Fraley, and I wanted to share it with my readers. I wholeheartedly agreed with him. Unfortunately, I fear I am in the minority. It seems our citizens are gravitating toward the government having more and more control of their lives--as if this will be the solution to our country's problems. Meanwhile, they are pulling further and further away from the true solution: God.
Libertas Institute | Advancing the cause of liberty in Utah

2013 ESSAY CONTEST By Daron Fraley

All that we have, all that we are, and all that we can become, comes from our benevolent Creator. These are not gifts bestowed upon us by our government. The founding fathers of this nation understood that simple principle of truth, and spoke of it with great clarity.

Miraculously protected from harm each of the four times a bullet tore through his coat, and both of the times that he had a horse shot dead under him, George Washington recognized his total dependence on Providence. He said, “That great and glorious Being is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

What greater good is there than for the children of men to be blessed with life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness? And if these blessings are among the greatest of things that are good, from whence do they come? What is our part as good stewards in the procurement and retaining of these blessings?

In the Old Testament we learn valuable principles that can be applied both to ourselves, and to the proper role of government in preserving the liberty of the people. In the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, God instructed Moses that the children of Israel were to observe the Law of Sabbaths, and the Year of Jubilee.

Just as the observance of a weekly Sabbath day had been commanded of the people, the children of Israel were instructed to treat every seventh year as a Sabbatical year. In this special Sabbath year, the land would rest. Fields would remain unplowed and without seed. Vineyards would not be pruned. A full harvest would not be gathered. The people would take from the land whatever would spring forth naturally, and would offer up their thanks to God for His bounty.

This pattern would continue, each seventh year, for seven sets of years, even until and including the forty-ninth year. And then on the fiftieth year, a Year of Jubilee would be declared with the sound of a trump on the Day of Atonement. Like the forty-ninth year, the land would rest. But this is not all . . . indentured servants were freed from their labors. Every man was able to return to his family, and to his inheritance. Debts were forgiven. Liberty was proclaimed.

“. . . ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you . . .” –Leviticus 25:10

In return for this Sabbatical observance, God promised the children of Israel His protection:

“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.” –Leviticus 25:18

The key application for us is that even if we no longer officially observe the Year of Jubilee, or the Sabbath Years that were part of what we call the Law of Moses, we still have the promise from God that if we keep His commandments and acknowledge the source of our great blessings, our families will be protected. Yes, it is God that ultimately protects us. Not our government.

It has been 237 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed. And we are far past due for a year of Jubilee . . . a time when the people of this land can experience relief from oppression. If only we would accept responsibilities to uphold principles of liberty, turn to God in thanks, and rely on His arm of protection!

Evidence that we have forgotten our roots as the God-fearing citizens of a divinely ordained republic is present in this quote from John Adams:

“Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.” –John Adams: Thoughts on Government, 1776

Several liberties and responsibilities are highlighted in this citation.

First of all, we have a right to be protected by society, or in other words by our own government, in our enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. Government is there to protect our God-given rights, especially our right of liberty. This first line of protection does not discount the aid or blessings that come from God, but rather shows that we are willing to do our part in helping ourselves to preserve our rights.

And liberty, contrary to what many people of a liberal mindset would have you believe, does not mean that we have the right to do whatever we please. God gives us liberty to responsibly take care of ourselves and our families. He does not give us liberty to abuse our neighbor, or to carry on in sinful, rebellious behavior.

Second, we have a responsibility to contribute our share to the expense of our protection. If we wish our rights to be protected, we must offer our time and our money in order to make that happen.

Third, whatever we do offer in time or money so that this government can operate and provide those services of protection, must be offered willingly. It cannot be stolen from us. We must consent to the use of our funds and offerings of service. And if we do not consent . . . if we do not feel that the government has our best interests in heart . . . the government has no right to steal our properties (tangible or intangible) from us.

Ultimately, we expect our government . . . or rather, we demand that our government . . . protect our life, our liberty, and our property in such a way that our consecrations of time and money to this representative body are made holy . . . holy like a Sabbath offering, holy like a Year of Jubilee. It is to God that we answer. He alone is the provider of our bounty. What we voluntarily offer or lend to our government is to be used to protect the bounty and the rights that God gave us.

” . . . the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” –Leviticus 25:23

Protecting and preserving our rights is government’s only significant role.

It may levy a tax so that core services are provided to protect lives and property. It may collect revenue for the building up of roads and infrastructure so that we might go about our pursuit of happiness. It may issue a bond so that a project to enrich the lives of citizens is funded.

But all of these functions of government are enabled through the vote of the people. Government cannot, in good conscience, forcibly take my property or my money without my consent. And it certainly cannot declare my inalienable rights null and void.

Regardless of what we allow the government to do for us, we have the greater responsibility: to never forget where our bounty and blessings really come from, and to never give away liberties that belong only to us as individuals.

In short, government must be restrained. Government works for us. Government is there to protect our God-given rights. Government is not the source of those rights.

Let us as Americans acknowledge once again where those rights really come from, and become good stewards of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.

This essay was submitted as part of the Second Annual Libertas Essay Contest, with cash prizes totaling $2,000! You can learn how to submit your own essay here, or view all submissions here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pioneer Trek: Our ancestors' trials vs. our current day trials

My daughter left this morning at 7 am for a four day pioneer trek. She,and a 100+ other teens will be re-enacting her pioneer ancestors' trek across the plains in search of religious freedom. They will camp out under the stars at night, and pull handcarts through the hot Wyoming wilderness during the day. I'm sure she won't even come close to the hardships her pioneer ancestors endured, but it will certainly be harder than anything physical and emotional that she's gone through before. If she can endure it, I'm sure she'll come away from the experience a better person.

The difficulty of the hardship our ancestors went through has given me some food for thought. We often look back an marvel at what men and women of the past endured and tell ourselves "I could have never survived." But dare say that if our ancestors could have looked forward, and saw what we have to endure on a day to day basis, they might likely have said, "I could never survive that."

True, we don't have to give up our homes and livelihood, place a minuscule amount of possessions--just enough to survive--upon a handcart, and walk a thousand mile to a desert wilderness to start our lives over again. But we have to endure more subtle dangers. We live in a day when the prophesies of Isaiah are coming to fruition. Everywhere we turn people are calling evil good, and good evil. Days where no one cares about marriage--unless you are gay. Days where God is a dirty word. Days where murders are set free, yet people making honest mistakes have their lives ruined. Yet we can survive, and this world can survive, if we remember two things:
1) Love the Lord with all our hearts
2) Love our neighbor as ourselves

Danielle dressed in her pioneer garb. 
(Notice the piles of unwashed dishes and groceries waiting to be put away, all neglected yesterday as I furiously sewed the entire outfit she is wearing--it doesn't pay to procrastinate).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

God's Hand in America's Freedom

This week we celebrate the independence of our great country. Truly it is a day worthy of reminding ourselves that Freedom is one of mankind's greatest possessions. I think most every sane person would concur. I also believe that most people recognize that the Continental Army of the original thirteen colonies received help from above to be able to defeat the greatest military power of the eighteenth century, which ultimately led to our freedom.(This is a choice tidbit of history to me, so much so it was woven into my last book, The Big Debate).

Why is it then, that in some of the school in this country they no longer teach kids about this amazing event in American history? I've heard of schools declaring  it's not necessary to teach about American events previous to 1900. Okay, that might just be a few schools--I don't know the numbers. But I do know that most all schools would never dream of giving credit to the biggest player in the establishment of freedom in these United States: God.

Our forefathers recognized God's hand, so much so that it's declared "In God We Trust" upon the dollar bill and the dime (and more). What has happened to our country that people want to forget this fact of history? My fear is that the day will come when the people of this country will totally forget who gave them their freedom, and that will be the day we will no longer have freedom to enjoy.