Friday, June 28, 2013

Why The Court Lost Its Legitimacy

Yesterday, our Dean, Mat Staver, brought together some of the employees and students that are hovering around the law school this summer.  He wanted to share with us some of his thoughts on the Supreme Court ruling Wed.  that struck down DOMA and invalidated Prop. 8.  These are his ideas and thoughts, but I wanted to get them to some of you that may not follow the legal field and understand how far astray the Court went on Wed.  Please understand that the ruling undermined the legitimacy of the Court and showed them to be a political body that will stray from both precedent and common sense to push a political ideology.

One of the reasons that the Court lost its legitimacy was the simple reason that it refused to follow its own precedent.  In 1992, the Court had the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but Justice Kennedy switched his vote at the late hour. Justice O'Connor, in writing the majority opinion, opined that the Court's legitimacy is found in its adherence to precedent.  That was her rationale in not upsetting the abortion industry because women had been relying on having an abortion for the preceding 19 years, at that time.  So, the justification for upholding Roe was that it had been in place for 19 years and overturning it would erode people's trust in the Court. The Court chose to elevate precedent to justify that decision.

Funny, how little the Court paid any attention to thousands of years of precedent on Wed.  If the Court's legitimacy truly rests on following precedent, any legitimacy the Court had was destroyed.

It's also interesting to note that Kennedy, in writing for the Majority in Windsor, the DOMA case, paid no attention to precedent and the traditional historical tests.  The traditional test for determining a fundamental right is that the right must be: 1.enumerated in the Constitution (actually stated) or 2. "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" (Washington v. Glucksberg). Obviously, there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage. It is neither in the Constitution nor is it rooted in the history and tradition of the nation. What is deeply rooted is a union between one man and one woman. Instead, Kennedy, since he had no legal precedent to support his desire, had to weave a construct out of the air, ultimately resorting to the ever-popular tactic of name-calling against those who have legitimate legal ground.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the Supreme Court doesn't give something legitimacy just because it sanctions it.  There are a number of cases that were handed down that are thought to be reprehensible today. Take, for example, Dred Scott v. Sandford. In a 7-2 decision, the Court determined that African-Americans were not citizens and had no rights.  In Buck v. Bell, the Court, led by Oliver Wendell Holmes, voted 8-1 to allow compulsory sterilization of the the "unfit" (i.e. mentally retarded).  And in Korematsu v. United States, the court voted 6-3 to allow Japanese  Americans to be herded into internment camps.

Here's the point.  No right-thinking person would say that there was any legitimacy in those decisions simply because the highest court in the land issued that ruling. It was still wrong.  The court can't rule on marriage, because it has no jurisdiction over marriage.  Marriage predated the U.S. and predated organized religion.  I may as well try to have the law of gravity ruled unconstitutional.  It won't stop it.  I'll still fall, screaming about my "fundamental right to float" all the way down.

Be encouraged.  God still sits on His throne.  He was neither surprised nor glued to a 24 hour news network to see what the Court would do.  He has brought the Church through darker times than this and in all honesty, it's time for the Church to start impacting culture and teaching what marriage is and why it is between one man and one woman. Period. Pray that the Church will shine bright.

As I mentioned earlier, these thoughts are not original to me.  They belong to our Dean.  He just said them more eloquently and in a way that made me want to make sure that I shared them with you.  If you would like, you can check out his original statements on the rulings here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need A Little Help

This last week I was reminded that there are some times in life when you just need some help.  I undertook this move to Lynchburg and I was woefully unprepared for how much work it would  be to move myself.  The last few times I have moved, I had the help of professional movers, so I got by with way less work than this move entailed.  It was a bittersweet move, so I procrastinated as long as I could before I really started to get my tail in gear and get ready.

Here is the fun part:  There is no way that I could have pulled off this move with just my father and myself.  It was simply too much work.  God stepped in and sent two incredible sets of friends to come all the way from Atlanta to Lynchburg (16 hours round trip) to help make this move possible.  This is what that tells me:  when God calls you to do something, He WILL make it happen.  Even though I was somewhat overwhelmed by the life change that I am experiencing, God told me again that this was the next season for me.

I am not one to really expect or even always receive help from other people. I was literally overwhelmed that people would take the time and expense to follow me up here to help me.  I will be eternally grateful for that help.  I want to make them all proud that they played a small part in helping me get to the point and someday, I hope they will see the fruits of that.

Last night, we had a reception for the incoming law students (1L's).  Dean Matthew Staver spoke, covering the gamut from Paul Ryan to the American Revolution vs. the French Revolution and a number of other fascinating topics.  I loved every minute of it.  This is my kind of stuff.  But he also challenged us with not allowing ourselves to underestimate God.  He said that we tend to set our goals and they often sell God short because we are so limited in our ability to envision what God can do.  When we step out in faith (which in many ways is what this feels like to me), God will reward that ( and he already has in the VERY early stages of this season). He also stated that our ability to hear God can be hindered by not following the call God has placed on our lives.  This hit me pretty hard.  Often, when we hear a call from God, Satan will begin to bring many other things into our lives to keep us from that goal.  Often, these things can be very good or noble things, but they keep us from achieving the calling that God gave us.  We will have to wait until we have obeyed to hear from God.  I am excited to see and hear what God does now that I am beginning this stage.

I say all of that to say that God knows when we get in over our heads (or at least think we do).  He visibly showed Himself to me and confirmed my direction through the tangible love of four friends and my father as they poured themselves into helping me get settled here.  I am honored, humbled and grateful.  I do not deserve love like that,but then again, who among us does?  God loves to give it anyway.  That's the great God that we serve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Truth Is Incredibly Important

I read this great little book Sunday night.  It was succinct and only  took me about 45 minutes, but it reiterated a point that we have let slip in the last few years, not only in America, but also in our own lives.  Andrews asks a number of questions, but his main question is what allowed Hitler to kill all of the people that he did in Nazi Germany.  Why would 11 million people (not all Jews, and the number is actually higher) allow themselves to be taken away to their death?  How could a government pull a stunt that seems so incredibly horrendous to our American minds?

Simple, they lie to them.

The Jews were told by the Nazi leadership that the things that were being done to them were for their own interest and that their lives would be better.  When the Nazi party erected fences, the Jews were told it was for their protection and would not last long.  When they were put on the cattle cars, they were told that they were being taken to a place where there would be jobs for everyone. Wives could stay home with the families and the kids would be well taken care of. And people believed it.

This is not a call for the immediate distrust of anyone in power, but it does remind us that the onus is on each individual person to search for truth and know it.  Never blindly follow someone just because it's easy.  The truth will always find itself out when searched for.  No leader is ever above the truth and should always be held accountable to it.

Andrews mentions another premise that I first came across in Bob Georges's great book "Classic Christianity." One of most famous axioms on truth is Jesus's statement in John 8:32 when He says "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  That is true, so the inverse of that must be true as well. If the truth sets you free, then a lie places you in bondage. 

That's why the truth is SO important. Strive for it in every area of your life.  If not, you will live in bondage and captivity to the lie you believe.  Leaders can take us astray.  Lives can be wasted believing lies from the enemy.  You can only operate fully from a position of truth.  The search for truth will always be the right one, whether you think you want to know it or not.  Only then, can you be free.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Next Chapter

I have some big changes coming up soon.  I am getting ready to pursue a dream of mine and, while I am excited about where it may lead, I am a bit sad by the changes that are coming as a result of that decision. However, I am reminded that we serve a God that loves to do new things, and new things can never happen if you don't step out of the "normal."

For those of you that know me fairly well, you know that I have some strong opinions on the direction that we are headed as a country and how we should be living out our Christian faith in the public arena. I am discontent to simply talk about those things. I have been wanting for some time to be more active in helping Christians know how to interact with society in a way that shows the love of Christ, while upholding the standards that God expects from His people and helps to further His kingdom here on earth.

To that end, I have decided to go back to school for one more degree and a career change of sorts. I will be moving to Lynchburg, VA in August to attend Liberty University's School of Law.  Mat Staver, the dean and founder of Liberty Counsel is there and is a cultural warrior that I greatly respect.  I am really looking forward to studying with him and working with organizations like LC as they interact with society. It is my goal to work as an attorney with groups like LC, ACLJ or Alliance Defense Fund as they help protect the freedom of religion in America. I feel like I can work in an area that allows me to impact the Kingdom even though I will no longer be in vocational ministry.

As always, change has its good and bad.  I announced to my church yesterday that I will  be resigning as the worship pastor in early August. I did not do that easily.  This group of folks there have walked alongside me during the hardest thing that I have ever had to face.  They have shown me through their love and action that God's grace and mercy is always stronger than what I come up against. I will be eternally grateful for that. It is no accident that God placed me here during this time in my life and it is with sadness that I say goodbye for this season, but excitement that I turn toward a new chapter.

So, I have some big changes coming up. I am going back to school AND I am going back to school AS AN OLD MAN.   I am moving far away where I know no one yet.  But, I shouldn't really be surprised. God never seems to let me get too sedentary in one place. There is too much to do.

For those of you that I don't get to see everyday, I wanted you to know what was going on and where I am headed.  I look forward to keeping everyone up to date as this journey progresses.

For A Season

I had an epiphanal moment yesterday as I was driving.  Sort of God reminding me (once again) that what He says is ALWAYS true.  And me, being the slow one that I am, once again I agreed that yes, He is right.

You see, there is a pecan orchard that I have driven through many times over the past few years.  It is right outside of Monticello, GA and it is a beautiful place, with all the trees lined up in rows and the canopy covering the road as you pass through.  It is a part of my journey that I always look forward to when driving Highway 11.

Late last year, I was coming through this area and I was having a bad day.  I was incredibly frustrated about my place in life, recent events and even what, if anything the future held for me.  As I passed through the orchard, the trees were completely barren, the sky was overcast and generally, both of us were feeling gloomy.  I thought to myself, "This is how I feel....completely barren, empty and downcast."

Then, a thought came to mind, and I am convinced it was from the Spirit of God. The thought said "For a season."  I was almost bowled over as God reminded me that,no matter how defeated I may feel or how hopeless things may even look, they are never more than just a season.  There will be a spring, both in nature and in my spirit.  No pain is permanent.  God did not design us to live that way and more importantly, He loves us too much to leave us like that.

So yesterday, I came through the pecan orchard on my way to Macon and it looked like the picture above. The pecan trees were in full bloom. The sun was shining and I am convinced that I even heard a someone singing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah".  God said "See, I was right".  I am standing on the cusp of some exciting things in my life.  For the first time in a while, I am excited about seeing what God has in store.  I don't know what they all are yet, but I am excited and hopeful.

Here is what I want to say to you if you are in a place that seems darker than you can handle.  IT WILL NOT LAST.  For some reason, probably sin, we humans have a tendency to think that any particular place that we find ourselves is just how things will always be.  That is not true.  The enemy loves to keep us paralyzed and ineffective with those thoughts.  Here is the truth: You are not alone and things will change.  No pain is ever permanent and there will be hope again. Maybe that's all you can hold on to today.  It's enough.  Trust me.  Your season will come.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Triumphant Return

I have returned. After two and half years of "taking a break" from blogging, I decided to dust off the old blog and give it another whirl. So, here it is. I have things to share with the world and this is as good a forum as any other.

Stay tuned over the next few days as I talk about some things that have been on my mind for a while.  I have much to say.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My "Trip" to Peru

OK, I just got back yesterday from a trip to Peru with Compassion International. Compassion is beginning to team up with churches and wanted to have some ministers go and see what the programs look like on the ground in the countries where Compassion works. I was vry fortunate to go on this trip to Lima, Peru from Monday to Saturday(or in my case, Tues-Sat You will learn why in a second.) There are really two main parts of my trip that I want to blog about. I wanted to do them separately, because neither one is connected to the other. Sandwiching one of the most amazing weeks of my life was one of the most frustrating travel experiences of my life. I want to talk about the travel first, because that is simply factual and not the result of introspection. In all honestly, a trip that may be as life-changing as this one was is not ready to be constrained to words yet. My travel experience in no way affected the impact of the trip on me. I just think the story is worth telling.

I got to the ATL airport on Monday in plenty of time to make my 12:30 departure time on that morning. I knew that my turnaround in Houston was short, but I thought that I would certainly make my 3:55 flight to Peru with the rest of the team. Due to weather in both Atlanta and Houston, the flight wsa delayed by 2 1/2 hours. I knew by the time we took off that I would miss the flght, but all I could do was go on. I arrive on the ground in Houston at 4:30 CT, having missed my 3:55 flight. I went straight to the Continental desk to see what my options were. Turns out that someone in ATL had booked me on a straight flight from ATL to Lima getting there about the same time as the other flight. The problem was that no one had bothered to tell me about it. Ironically enough, the 3:55 flight was still on the runway in Houston and was an hour late leaving, so I guess we all did make it to the airport at the same time. Since there is only one fight from Houston to Peru a day, I had no choice but to get a hotel in Houston and wait until Tuesday to fly down. I missed an entire day in Peru, but I did roll in at 10:30 Tuesday to be greeted by the trip director Ronnie Brown. A local pastor has bought his van and we had to push it to get the van started. Seriously, was there no transportation on this trip I didn't an adverse effect on?

So that was my getting there story. Surely, I thought that would be the end,but it turned out to be only half the story( and even the more boring). We were scheduled to leave Peru Friday night at 11:45. I knew that the turnaround time was very short and that I had to clear customs, get my bag, recheck it, go through security, AND change concourses. That was enough in the hour and a half I had, but we didn't even leave Lima until 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I had a half an hour when we touched down in Houston. I was busting it to get through Customs, when the homeland security officer asked me to step aside after he scanned my passport. With no apparent concern for my connecting flight, I was taken to a large room full of chairs and made to sit while a HSA officer worked with my passport and case. After a while, the agent(who was very nice, but still not concerned about my connection) came out and asked me to come into the office to answer some questions. She wanted to know what my parents names were and my SS#. As frustrated as I was, I simply asked her why I was being detained and she told that they were verifying my identity. I was sent back out to the big room and every so often the officer came back out to ask me a question, such as my place of birth or marital status. After 45 minutes, they finally agreed with me that I was who I said I was and I was released. Apparently, someone else with my name is somewhat suspicious and I paid the price.

Needless to say, my connecting flight home was long gone and I was 0 for 2 on connecting flights on this trip. I retrieved my bag and headed over to have it inspected. In Continental's defense, they were aware of the situation and had already rebooked me so that they handed me a new boarding pass when I picked up the bag. I was then subjected to the most thorough baggage check that I have ever seen. Everything in my carry on and regular was examined. Following that fun, I then had to go through security again, which was incredibly redundant. I did make the next flight out of Houston, but boy did my day get extended.

So, there is my travel story. Both legs made for excitement, but I did make it home. It sure made for an adventure, but wait until I post about the time in Peru. Let me just say that I would go through what I experienced again in a heartbeat to have the time that I did in Peru. I am just not ready to try and put that part into words just yet.