Merry Christmas 2012

On Christ the solid rock I stand...

November was not a happy time for me. Like many politically conservative folks I was hoping for change in leadership in the White House and Senate and surprised at how easily Obama won re-election. I fear the United States has taken a hard and irreversible turn to the left, at least for the rest of my lifetime. And even if it hasn't, the size of the national debt will ensure that my children and their children do not have the level of prosperity that my generation enjoyed. 4 more years of the last 4 years, and we are fiscally toast.

Two things concerned me on the political front, one being the domestic economy and the other being the rise of a nuclear Iran. I felt this was a "must win" election or that we were going to end up in a world of hurt.

To that end I put in a great deal of volunteer time during this past election cycle, making over 20,000 phone calls for our local House race and the Romney campaign. Although the outcome for President in Kentucky was never really in doubt, the House race was not certain at all. Our candidate, who had run unsuccessfully in 2010, was running for a second time in a district that had been heavily gerrymandered and re-districted into a much more Democrat stronghold. Even so, the hard work paid off and our guy won. I did get a nice shout out during the acceptance speech, for those who are curious and wonder if I really made 20,000 calls. You can fast forward to 6:22 for a reference to that effort:

Andy Barr Acceptance Speech

Never fear, I made my calls in the evening and on Saturdays and work did not suffer.

Now I fully understand that not all subscribers are conservative and yet I suspect that many are. There are very few life insurance agents who don't consider themselves small business people and entrepreneurs. Most would share the view that less government is more government and that the fewer things the government is in charge of the less that there is that they can screw up. It is also important that government stay focussed on those things it needs to take charge of and handle those things properly. Distractions are not helpful and they are really not helpful when you have a Senate that has not passed a budget in three years. How does anyone vote for people who refuse to pass a budget?

While I understand that some of our customers will be delighted by the outcome of November's elections I just can't share your happiness. I wish you all the best and hope everything still works out, but I have great doubts. I believed that Romney gave us the best chance to deal with the domestic and foreign issues and now... so it goes.

As I reflected on the disconcerting events of November, the unhappy election outcome and the general deterioration of the world around us, the words of the chorus to the hymn, "On Christ The Solid Rock" came to mind. The chorus says:

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

I remember in my first year of university (my only year) a fellow student telling me that Jesus was just a crutch for me. Of course the way he said it made it sound bad, as though there was something wrong with someone who needs a crutch. But when you reflect on what the Bible teaches about the human condition, sinners really are disabled by sin and a crutch is precisely the solution to the problem. Jesus is the only remedy.

And that's sort of what the chorus of the hymn is talking about. It's particularly necessary to have a crutch when you find yourself with a serious disability trying to make your way in a world full of anything but a smooth and solid road.

Note that in the second line of the above chorus, "All other ground is sinking sand" is actually sung twice. I thought that is quite fitting given the two forms of sinking sand with which North American Christians find themselves surrounded.

On the domestic front we face secular zealots eager to drive Christianity from the public square and hoping to usher in a world without religion. The latest example that comes to mind was a court order that disallowed a nativity scene along Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica. For over 60 years a collaboration of churches in Santa Monica had worked together and displayed the story of the birth of Jesus. Atheists decided they had had enough and undermined the effort. The courts took the atheists' side. As with Christmas' past, each year is greeted with another tail of how Christmas is being driven from the public arena.

If the elections of 2012 have been a lesson for me it is that the majority of Americans now accept these anti-religious views and are quite happy to vote for political leaders who embrace the idea of a secular, religion free United States (among other things). That's quite disconcerting for someone who believes in old fashioned religious freedom and freedom of expression, not to mention other similar things like liberty, property rights and capitalism. And yes, I believe all those old fashioned ideas are well rooted in Biblical teaching. Throw out one, and it won't be long before your throwing out the rest.

The other "sinking sand" that we face is on the foreign front where radical Islam in on the march. Radical Islam is not just a religious view, it is a religious/political ideology which is all encompassing and which has empirical objectives. It not only wants to control the country(s) it currently dominates, it wants to spread and dominate the world. And unlike Christianity, which also has a mandate to be spread, radical Islam teaches it is quite acceptable to spread the Muslim message at the point of a sword.

In countries where radical Muslims have gained control the historical clock is turned back hard and history is being re-written. Radical Muslims in Egypt are now calling for the destruction of the pyramids, labeling them as anti-Islamic idols. Of course there are the less radical elements of Islam in Egypt who do not seem to be going quietly but I am not holding out hope that the current White House will be of any real use in dealing with that crisis or any other.

But a nuclear Iran with a bomb seems to me to be the worst of all scenarios. No other country has been such a dedicated exporter of terrorism, and no other country has been as vocal in destroying Israel and the west. In my mind it is not "if" they will use a nuclear weapon should they get it, it is only a matter of where and when.

It is difficult for a Christian American, who embraces God and faith, to watch these two very opposite forces at work inside and outside the country. And what a contrast! On one hand you have the modern secularists wanting to purge religion (more specifically Christianity) from North America, and on the other hand you have the barbarian Muslims who want to purge anything non-Islam from the world and install the religion and legal system of Islam in every nation. Both seem to be squeezing in around us.

I know that many are concerned, just as I am. Which brings me back to the theme of the hymn:

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

And it is in Jesus that the Christian can take great comfort. There are Christians throughout history who have found themselves in far worse circumstances, who have been sustained by the grace of Jesus Christ. In fact history is full of examples where God's people have become complacent and apathetic and whose lives have been overtaken by circumstances hostile to their faith. In the end Christians learn that there is ONLY one rock, only one person that we can depend upon with complete certainty, and that is Jesus Christ. The hymn relates to two scriptures regarding Christ as the rock. First, Jesus said this of his teaching:

But the Bible also teaches that Jesus himself is the rock, the cornerstone of the church:

So to those who also worship the Christ of Christmas, I would encourage you during the celebration of the birth of Jesus to reflect on the fact that he is the one person that you can always depend upon no matter what your circumstances. And if you do not know the Christ of Christmas, perhaps now would be a good time to get acquainted.

God Bless You, and Merry Christmas.