Sunday was one of those times when my sermon got turned upside down the night before. I was all set to continue preaching through the Sermon on the Mount when God spun me around. It had a lot to do with the weekend and the festivities, because God was working on my heart throughout the weekend. I will confess to getting pretty cynical lately. I have a stack of news stories that are nearly depressing that I have waited to unload in a post here, but I am going to take a different tack with this I think. It has to do with Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:16, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” This was a reminder that I sorely needed. Our physical freedom has dwindled away in this country. We have taken the privileges and gifts of freedom that were given to us by those who came before and frittered them away. But Peter wrote these words originally to people who lived under a maniacal emperor and far less physical freedom than we have today. Our freedom isn’t based on government and it isn’t dependant on government; our freedom comes in Christ alone.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to what is going on in this country and the way our freedoms are being frittered away. I think it is still important to speak up and defend the freedom that many fought so hard to give us before it is gone completely. So in that vein, with the understanding above, I submit several stories for your perusal.
1. Apparently, our Congress doesn’t need bills to vote on anymore. They just vote for vague generalities and call it a day. Really, this is the final straw for anyone who felt that we still followed the Constitution in any way, shape or form. How do you vote for a document that doesn’t technically exist? There is no possible way to know what is in it or what it will do. This is the most candid admission that Congress just does whatever it wants to do regardless of the law.
2. While this is going on, the state of Pennsylvania is editing prayers that are prayed in the state house there. Aside from the crazy notion of approving prayers ahead of time, I still can’t get used to the idea of writing out a prayer beforehand:
The policy — not yet three months old — requires guest chaplains to first submit their prayers in writing and then, if deemed necessary, agree to change their words to meet “nondenominational” guidelines established by McCall’s staff.
Seriously, I have yet to write out a prayer to be prayed in public. I always felt that prayer is heartfelt communication with God and I don’t generally write out what I am going to say to my wife after dinner either. If it were me, I guess I would submit a prayer to them, accept their edits and then say whatever came to mind anyway when the time came. What would they do? Fire me and tell me to never come back?
3. Apparently, Pennsylvania is on fire when it comes to limiting liberty these days. I am sure my brother Will knows all about this stuff from his close exposure to it. This blog post is a long one, but it is worth the read as I am sure this is the kind of thing we can come to expect if the government takes over health care and becomes more involved in keeping us healthy proactively. I really like this section from the post:
What is without question, though, is that through “food safety,” people at this Pennsylvania church are being deprived of freedom. And it is so profound a freedom, it is taken entirely for granted. It is the freedom to choose what they eat. The state of Pennsylvania is saying very clearly that they do not have that right, in pies or in milk, or in any food stuffs the state decides to declare “unsafe.”
It may or may not be unsafe food. That is not what matters.
What matters is whether this democracy allows the state or federal government to take control the public’s choice of food. That IS unsafe.
The confusion of the church people involved at St. Cecilia’s is the experience of free people running up against the insanity of totalitarian control for the first time. They try to understand, they try to comply, but when it’s clear that “normal” and “good” have become illegal, they begin seeking ways around the law to protect what matters to them. It may only be pie but it embodies everything in their culture, in their way of life, in their rights as citizens. It is the picture of normal existence being forced into a corporate box.
Safe to say, we are in trouble in terms of the freedoms we thought we had in this country to be sure.
4. If you are really dismayed at this point, go back and read about true freedom. Read 1 Peter 2 again or Galatians 5. Then, when you have regained your composure, check out this post from a fellow North Dakotan about these same issues. Her perspective comes in regard to transportation regulations and flying, but she runs the gamut a bit as well and it is well written:
Case in point: people in Washington state who have now begun smuggling dish detergent from Idaho, all due to a ban on phosphate-based dish detergent which left them with “environmentally friendly” detergents that did a lackluster job. Normally law-abiding grandmas are turned into law-breakers because they want clean dishes. Grandma becomes a kind of Palmolive Al Capone, and my friend is forced to plunge a few hours after a rough meal.
God bless America, the land of the formerly free but currently choked-on-bored-lawmaker’s-minutiae. A waste of resources all around, these stupid laws and the enforcement of them.
Currently choked on bored lawmaker’s minutiae indeed. Apparently, the laws are so pointless that even Congress can’t be bothered to read them anymore before they vote on them.
5. If you want a little encouragement after all of this, go have a listen to the message that God gave me to preach this past Sunday and hear about true freedom in Christ.