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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION

Spiritual DepressionMartyn Lloyd-Jones:

The Scriptures do grant clearly by their teaching that it is possible for a Christian to be depressed. Not that they justify this, but they do recognize the fact. (Spiritual Depression – Its Causes and its Cures, 1965, p. 107)

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Religious Freedom Versus White House War Of Regulations

The church/state debate continues to heat up in spite of the recent unanimous 9-0 margin, when the Supreme Court overruled the idea that the federal government can tell a church who it must employ as a minister if the church violates anti-discrimination employment guidelines. The White House claimed that there is no special protection for clergy in our Constitution. However, the Supreme Court ruled that it “is hard to square with the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special consideration to the rights of religious organizations. We cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”

Now, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, seeks to force Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to give insurance to their employees covering contraception — even though this violates the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The policy says that Catholic hospitals can only invoke the “conscience clause” — and get an exemption on the new rules — if they turn away patients of other faiths. Catholic hospitals have never turned people away because of their religious beliefs. Instead of asking “”Are you hungry or sick?” The Church would be forced to ask “”Are you Catholic?”

Arlington (Va.) Bishop Paul Loverde called the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services order “a direct attack against religious liberty.” Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Mich., stated: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.” This is not just a Catholic issue; there is growing concern in other denominations that this is an assault on religious freedom.

Let us take a look at what the First Amendment actually says:

I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We often hear about “”a wall of separation” between church and state in America. However, this phrase cannot be found in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The phrase occurs in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to an assembly of Baptists in Connecticut. The quote is usually used out of context.

The real purpose of the “Establishment Clause was to prohibit Congress from imposing a national religion upon the people; and to prohibit Congress (and the Federal government generally) from meddling with existing church-state relations in the several States. Thus the “Establishment Clause is linked directly to the “Free Exercise Clause. It was designed to promote religious freedom by forbidding Congress to prefer one Christian denomination over another Christian denomination.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was not intended as a declaration of governmental hostility toward religion. The phrase “”prohibiting the free exercise thereof” was meant to keep Congress from ever meddling in the disputes among religious bodies or interfering with their mode of worship and seeking to regulate the many ministries of the church.

Since Thomas Jefferson quote is the source of much of the negative political view of religion as expressed by the political left in our country, we would do well to find out what else Jefferson had to say about the First Amendment Establishment Clause:

“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general [federal] government. (Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805)

“[O]ur excellent Constitution . . . has not placed our religious rights under the power of any public functionary. (Jefferson, Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1808)

“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions . . . or exercises. (Jefferson, Letter to Samuel Millar, 1808)

It is clear that Jefferson believed the First Amendment did not allow the Federal Government to limit, restrict, regulate, or interfere with public religious practices and religious institutions. The intent of the First Amendment’s “establishment” clause was, according to Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, “. . . to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects.” This is confirmed by the preliminary draft of the First Amendment proposed by James Madison to the House of Representatives in 1789:

“The Civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.

President James Madison also appointed Joseph Story (1779-1845) as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Joseph Story continued on the bench for 34 years, until his death in 1845. Joseph Story wrote tremendously influential works, including: Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833; and A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, 1840. The following are a few of Justice Story‘s quotes about the “Establishment Clause:

“Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship.

“Temporary delusions, prejudices, excitements, and objects have irresistible influence in mere questions of policy. And the policy of one age may ill suit the wishes or the policy of another. The constitution is not subject to such fluctuations. It is to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.

“It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape. . . .

But the duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to force the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshipping God in the manner, which, they believe, their accountability to him requires.

In the case of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we see clearly an attempt by Federal authorities to assault religious freedom by forcing the hospital ministry of the Catholic Church to violate it’s own moral teachings. I wonder which protestant denomination the government bureaucrats will be coming for next?

Edward T. Welch On Spirituality And Addictions

From the desk of Edward T. Welch:

If we allow the Bible to reveal the unseen spiritual realities behind addictions, we suddenly realize that addictions are more than self-destructive behaviors. They are violations of God’s laws: His laws that call us to avoid drunkenness and immoderate self-indulgence (Rom. 13:13), His law that calls us to love others (1 John 4:7), and His law that calls us to live for Him rather than ourselves (1 Cor. 10:31). This means that addiction is more about someone’s relationship with God than it is about biology. It reveals our allegiances: what we want, what we love, whom and what we serve. It brings us to that all-important question, “Will you live for the fulfillment of your desires or for God? (Blame it on the Brain? P&R Publishing, 1998, p. 193)

C. S. Lewis On Tyranny

C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis

Quoting British author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963):

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Sickness Or Sin?

There are many in the academic fields who advocate that sin does not exist and what we might call sin is predestined by our physical bodies. They view addiction as a problem of predispositioned chemicals and the architecture of the brain. Thus sin becomes treated as a sickness which an unlucky individual catches. He has no choice and is not responsible. Dr. Benjamin Wiker writes more on this subject:

Is gambling an addiction or a sinful habit? What about pornography? Overeating? Drinking? Shopping? Checking email? Texting? Watching television? Playing video games? Working? They’ve all been called addictions. Is that really what they are?

If we follow this line of reasoning out to its logical conclusion, then it would be logical to call all bad or destructive behavior, “addictive,” so that “addicts” of whatever kind are helpless victims of forces beyond their control. A woman gambles because she cannot help it. A man drinks because he cannot help it. A woman shops because she cannot help it. A man throws himself into internet pornography because he cannot help it. Addicts, helpless victims, one and all.

The obvious problem with this view is that it entirely destroys morality by denying the possibility of good, freely-chosen action. We should call them what they really are: sinful habits. Or we could use the more exact and compact word, vices. A sign of the correctness of this word is that “vice” contains the notion of addiction—a kind of helpless slavery—even while it affirms the presence of free will and moral culpability. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

Congress And Our Money

The Black Hole of Government Theft Through Taxes

The Declaration of Independence, particularly the second sentence, provides us with a sweeping statement of individual human rights:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The implication here is that God is the source of the rights of men and thus it is wrong to violate a human being’s self-ownership. This would include forcibly taking the fruits of one man’s labor to be used by another (which makes the first man a slave to the latter). Walter E. Williams explains further:

Do farmers and businessmen have a right to congressional handouts? Does a person have a right to congressional handouts for housing, food and medical care?

First, let’s ask: Where does Congress get handout money? One thing for sure, it’s not from the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus nor is it congressmen reaching into their own pockets. The only way for Congress to give one American one dollar is to first, through the tax code, take that dollar from some other American. It must forcibly use one American to serve another American. Forcibly using one person to serve another is one way to describe slavery. As such, it violates self-ownership. . . .

Some might argue that Congress forcing us to help one another and forcing us to take care of ourselves are good ideas. But my question to you is: When congressmen and presidents take their oaths of office, is that oath to uphold and defend good ideas or the U.S. Constitution?

When the principles of self-ownership are taken into account, two-thirds to three-quarters of what Congress does violate those principles to one degree or another as well as the Constitution to which they’ve sworn to uphold and defend. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, James Madison, the father of our Constitution, stood on the floor of the House to object, saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” Did James Madison miss something in the Constitution?

You might answer, “He forgot the general welfare clause.” No, he had that covered, saying, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one.”

Continue reading. . . .

The Avastin Battle

There is a drug which many people with different types of cancer have been grateful for. The drug is called Avastin. Avastin does not cure cancer. It does, however, starve tumors of nutrients and oxygen. It can slow the spread of cancer and improve the quality of a cancer victim’s life.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Avastin for colon cancer (2004), lung cancer (2006), and advanced breast cancer (2008). As usual, however, our government may soon be making a decision that hurts people with a certain type of cancer. The FDA is about to take the final step to designate the use of this drug as “off-label” for breast cancer. This means that government supported health insurance plans (such as for our military) will refuse to reimburse for this medicine because it is “off-label”. The real kicker here is that private insurance companies usually follow the lead of government insurers.

Last July, the Oncologic Committee of the FDA decided that Avastin did not represent a favorable risk/benefit analysis (FR/BA). Please understand that FR/BA has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the drug. FR/BA is all about population statistics and cost. Avastin breast cancer treatment costs as much as $88,000 annually. If the FDA designates this drug as “off-label,” most breast cancer patients will be unable to afford treatment with Avastin.

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