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1 Corinthians 7:17-23 | Use Your Freedom | Independent Baptist This video is a sermon preached from 1 Corinthians 7:17-23. The topic of the message is spiritual liberty. The premise is that we must use the freedom God has ...
Romans 8:1-2 | Glorious Liberty | Independent Baptist This message from Romans 8:1-2 deals with the freedom that belongs to the Christian. For more resources visit http://www.puyallupbaptistchurch.com.
Murmuration (Official Video) by Sophie Windsor Clive & Liberty Smith

 

Murmuration - it is something amazing to see.
 
No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, tens of thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland.
 
The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations,
 
having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter's frigid bite.
 
Scientists aren't sure how they do it, either.
 
The starlings' murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence, which in different contexts is practiced by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants.
 
As far as I am aware, even complex algorithmic models haven't yet explained the starlings' aerobatics, which rely on the tiny birds' quicksilver reaction time of fewer than 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions and predators in the giant flock.
 
Two young women were out for a late afternoon canoe ride and fortunately one of them remembered to bring her video camera. What they saw was a wonderful murmuration display, caught in this too-short video.
BR Lakin - Two White Horses (Part 3 of 3) BR Lakin - Two White Horses from the Liberty Channel "Pulpit Classic" Series.
BR Lakin - Two White Horses (Part 1 of 3) BR Lakin - Two White Horses from the Liberty Channel "Pulpit Classic" Series.
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This year, the United States Supreme Court vindicated the free exercise rights of Jack Phillips, a cake baker from Colorado, who had suffered government discrimination after he declined to bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony based on his conviction that a marriage is only between a man and a woman. Yet Jack’s ordeal wasn’t done; he was subsequently sued and has an ongoing case because he didn’t want to be forced to create a cake with a message about the transgender lifestyle he believed to be false.Melissa and Aaron Klein, bakers from Oregon and formerly of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, are now asking the Supreme Court to review their case, which arose under similar circumstances. The Supreme Court could decide any day whether to review their case. If the Court does, they may get relief. If it doesn’t, the Kleins are stuck with an oppressive and unconstitutional state court ruling against them.Their cases are not unique; attacks against traditional beliefs in marriage have been on the rise. Why is that?Several years ago, the United States Supreme Court observed that “[m]any who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.” That quotation came from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Supreme Court decision that ushered in a new era in the law surrounding religious liberty.It is important that the Supreme Court recognized the sincerity of the orthodox belief that marriage is a sacred institution only available between one man and one woman. But by making marriage between two people of the same sex a constitutional right, Obergefell made it easier for courts and legislatures around the nation to conclude that same-sex couples have rights that somehow trump those of all who disagree—and thus violate their consciences.We have seen this primarily in the wedding vendor industry, the subject of our newly updated publication released today, Religious Liberty and the “Wedding Vendor” Cases. Business owners across the country have had to face the unacceptable choice of violating their religious beliefs or losing their livelihoods—all because they will not use their skills to affirm or facilitate the celebration of a same-sex wedding.Today, we bring to your attention fifteen cases where business owners have had to collectively endure thousands of hours of litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for sticking to their beliefs in natural marriage. This is an unacceptable affront to every American’s constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and we must stand to ensure that this latest campaign against the freedom of conscience comes to an end.For more information, read our newly updated publication.
Dear Friends,At a retreat I attended some years ago, a priest said something that I will never forget. He said that whenever we are feeling spiritually dry and it seems like God is far away from us, or even when we begin to have doubts about our faith, there is one simple action we can take that can ground us again and stabilize our disillusionment. It is to simply remember those precious moments in our lives when God has shown Himself to us very clearly, filling us with unearthly gratitude and peace.As it happens, I had one of these moments a few weeks ago. While I was reading Scripture before starting work one morning, I was struck by a passage from Luke 18, when a blind man calls out to Jesus to have pity on him, and what happened next: “Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He replied, ‘Lord, please let me see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Have sight; your faith has saved you’” (Luke 18:40-42). After reading those words, tears immediately filled my eyes, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of immense comfort and peace, as if Christ was holding my shoulders, gazing into my eyes, and speaking those words directly to me: “Your faith has saved you.” In that moment, I felt as though I was being given a brand-new understanding of the enormity of the gift of faith that God had given me—“I offered you salvation, and you accepted it. See now how you flourish because of this gift! Don’t ever forget that!”For me, moments like these happen rarely and inexplicably, seemingly out of nowhere. I am truly grateful to God for them because I know what He is doing: He is giving me a taste of Heaven, a spiritual consolation and confirmation of His existence and His personal, fatherly care for my soul. When I am feeling spiritually listless, all I need to do is recall one of these moments when God broke through the earthly veil of tears and spoke directly to me. When I do this, I am reminded of the Hope that is always there, even amidst the worst crisis of faith I could ever conceivably experience.As we enter the Advent season, it can be easy to get caught up in earthly preparations and worries, and we may even find ourselves feeling a bit lethargic about the real “reason for the season.” If we do, one way we can stay grounded is to simply remember. Remember the origin story of when we were first given the gift of faith or any of those extraordinary moments when God broke into our lives with supernatural clarity. By doing this, we can remind ourselves about and reflect upon the origin story of salvation, when the Christ-child broke into history and into the soul of every person who has ever or will ever live, calling us all by name to Himself.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC Articles'Boy Erased' film misrepresents sexual orientation counseling – Peter SpriggNational Adoption Month Launches with Assault on Faith-based Adoption – Mary Beth WaddellWhat Could Have Been, and the Hope of What Is to Come – Cassidy RichTimes Op-Ed Admits Key Justifications for Gender Transition are False – Peter SpriggLet There Be (Christmas) Lights – Alexandra McPheeIn India, Twitter Gets a Taste of the True Danger of Viewpoint Suppression – Alexandra McPheeFaith-based Adoption Providers Are Answering the Pro-Life Call and Must Be Protected – Madison Ferguson Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareCalifornia Professor Fired for Challenging Student's Beliefs About Sexuality is Reinstated – Emily Jones, CBN NewsSalvation Army Warns Officers to Stop Posting About Gay Marriage – Todd Starnes.comMom Says 6-Year-Old Son Is Transgender. Dad Disagrees. Now He Might Lose His Son. – Amanda Prestigiacomo, The Daily WireAG Paxton Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Take Up Religious Liberties Case – Ken Paxton, AG of TexasSURVEY: Christian & Conservative Students Silenced, Intimidated into Keeping Views Private – Jennifer Wishon, CBN NewsEWTN wins lawsuit over HHS contraception mandate – Ed Condon, CNADC church asks to intervene in atheists’ lawsuit that seeks to force churches to file tax returns – Alliance Defending FreedomPublic School Bans All Christmas Songs That Mention Jesus – Todd Starnes.comSenators Urge IRS to Delay Taxes on Churches: 'It's Going to Cost the Non-Profit Community Up to a Billion Dollars' – Jennifer Wishon, CBN NewsCity Of Pasadena Banned A Pro-Traditional Marriage Speaker, Federal Lawsuit Claims – Alex Parker, RedStateInternational Religious FreedomThe Lessons of the Asia Bibi Case – Nina Shea, National ReviewReport: Half a Billion Christians Facing Global Persecution – Edwin Mora, BreitbartChina Demolishes Crosses, Mandates Surveillance in Churches as Religious Persecution Rises – Josh Shepherd, The StreamBishop, priest and more than 40 others killed at Central African Republic church and refugee camp – John Burger, Aleteia'A Scene From Hell': Christians Talk Being Bloodied, Pelted With Stones, Metal by Muslim Mob in Kenya – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostWoman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp – Maria Danilova, APChristian Bridal Magazine Forced Out of Business for Not Featuring Same-Sex Couples – Virginia Hale, BreitbartFreed British missionary forgives men who killed his best friend – Alex Williams, PremierFamily Forgives Tribal Members Who Allegedly Killed American ‘Missionary’ – Katherine Rodriguez, BreitbartYoung Girl Orphaned in Uganda After Father Converts to Christianity – International Christian ConcernIraqi Christians who fled IS return to find properties seized – Eno Adeogun, Premier LifeAbortionGroups Ask SCOTUS To Hear Case That Could Overturn Roe – Hank Berrien, The Daily WirePlanned Parenthood’s Share of U.S. Abortions Increased in 2015 – Alexandra DeSanctis, National ReviewPresident Trump Names Pro-Life Neurobiology Professor to National Science Board – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsTrial over controversial Kentucky abortion law now in judge's hands – Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier JournalHow a ‘scheduling error’ saved a baby with Down syndrome from abortion – Sarah Terzo, Live ActionKenya: Board orders Marie Stopes to stop offering abortion services – Angela Oketch and Soni Kanake, Daily NationAbortionist Defends Killing Babies: “A Fetus Needs Permission to Reside in a Uterus” – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsAdoptionCountering the ‘Soft Stigma’ Against Adoption – Elizabeth Kirk, Family StudiesInstant Family Offers a Funny, Yet Honest Portrayal of Foster Care and Adoption – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family Studies7 ways to support adoption – Ally Wall, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionWhen Families Un-Adopt a Child – Jenn Morson, The AtlanticBioethicsWhy Tissue From Abortions Isn’t Needed to Save Other Lives – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalHHS official vows to pursue research ‘alternatives’ to aborted fetal tissue – Dan Diamond and Adam Cancryn, PoliticoObamacare650 Obamacare State Exchange Plans Cover Abortion on Demand in 2019 – Caffeinated Thoughts FamilyMarriageA Simple Way to De-Escalate Couple Conflicts – The Family Institute at Northwestern University‘Sex Recession?’ Blame Marriage Stagnation – Charles Fain Lehman, Family StudiesModern Love. Cohabitation on Rise in U.S.: Demographic Trends – Alex Tanzi, Bloomberg QuintNo, Legislatures Cannot Abolish Marriage – Adam J. Macleod, Public DiscourseParentingNo Man in Their Corner: Why Every Son Needs a Father – Greg Morse, Desiring God4 practical ways to raise thankful kids – Chris Gaynor, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionMeasuring the Long-Term Effects of Early, Extensive Day Care – Jenet Erickson, Family StudiesEconomics/EducationWatch out: Schools don’t like the prying eyes of parents in the classroom – Jay Mathews, The Washington PostThe Fruits of College Indoctrination – Walter E. Williams, The Daily SignalWhy Christians shouldn’t abandon universities – Alex Ward, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHow Economic Inequality Drives Family Formation and Dissolution – Andrew Cherlin, Family StudiesRegent University Launches the Center for Christian Thought & ActionFaith/Character/CultureWhere Americans Find Meaning in Life – Pew Research CenterSuicide rate up 33% in less than 20 years, yet funding lags behind other top killers – Anne Godlasky and Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAYThe Tragedy of the European Family – Ted Malloch, Intellectual TakeoutGive Thanks for What Others Have That You Don’t – Megan Hill, Christianity TodayThe Great American Heartache: Why Romantic Love Collapses on Us – Jonathan Leeman, Desiring GodThe Ungrateful Nation – Ben Shapiro, TownhallTwitter Banned Me For Literally No Reason, But In The End They’ll Lose – Jesse Kelly, The FederalistAtheism as Bad Religion – Madeleine Kearns, National ReviewDutch court denies businessman's request to legally identify as 20 years younger – Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox NewsHuman SexualityWhen a Gay Activist Comes to Jesus – Andrew T. Walker, The Gospel CoalitionWhen Young People Aren’t Having Sex, Something’s Wrong – Josh Herring, Public DiscourseThe New York Times Reveals Painful Truths about Transgender Lives – Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse#MeToo reminds us that Christian ethics are timeless truths – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionMy high school's transgender bathroom policies violate the privacy of the rest of us – Alexis Lightcap, USA TODAYSchool has SEVENTEEN children changing gender as teacher says vulnerable pupils are being 'tricked' into believing they are the wrong sex – Sanchez Manning, Daily MailHuman TraffickingThe Midterm Battle Around Legalized Prostitution Nobody’s Talking About – Haley Halverson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyHow Early Porn Exposure Traumatizes Boys And Fuels Toxic Masculinity – Matt Morrissey, Fight the New DrugNew Documentary Shows Individual, Societal Threat of Pornography – Perry West, National Catholic Register
Temple Baptist Church - 11-25-2018Isaiah 9:1-7Introduction:A. Some 740 years before the birth of Christ, God allowed the prophet Isaiah to look down the telescope of time and bring a message of hope to oppressed Israel and Judah. B. Isaiah gives the prophetic hope of the birth of a Child and the giving of a Son. The long awaited “seed of the woman,” Israel's Messiah: The Anointed One, the King, the Deliverer.C. The conditions were ripe, the stage is set, the Promise to be fulfilled.D. Thanksgiving sets the tone of the Christmas Season: thankfulness to God for His many blessings.E. A time of contemplation concerning the gift of God's Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.F. The times in which the Messiah was born were dark times spiritually. The people “walked in darkness.” Thus, it is with the world today, in light of the Second Coming of Christ. The Light of God is being slowly turned off, the wicked riot in the day time now, the “god” of evolution is worshipped, and the Anointed One is coming.G. Verse 4: The Nation of Israel, God's Elect:1. They Carried the Burden of the Yoke of Sin. Yoke of His burden…A yoke was a tool that harnessed two animals together to pull a load. A description of the nation away from God. They were yoked to a burden they could not manage.2. They Bowed under the Tyranny of the Staff of the Flesh. Staff of His Shoulder…The staff was used by shepherds to keep the sheep in line. The reference here is to wrong leadership that has taken their freedom and liberty away.3. They Suffered under the Oppressive Rod of Satan. Rod of His oppressor…This instrument was used to beat animals and people that were out of line. Israel and Judah would suffer at the hands of their enemies.H. In verses 6-7, we see:1. We see the Cradle – “For unto us a Child is born.”2. We see The Cross – “A Son is given.”3. We see the Crown – “And the government shall be upon His shoulders.”I. Only Jesus can break the yoke, tyranny, and oppression of Satan.J. I want to look at that description of Christ in verse 6 for a few minutes.1. WONDERFUL – Marvelous or extraordinary – Exciting, surprising, astonishing, miraculous, powerful, incredible, exceeding, supernatural, admirable. Do you hear me tonight? That is our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ! Do you know my wonderful Lord?His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonderful,His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord;He is the mighty King, master of everything,His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.He's the great Shepherd, the Rock of all ages,Almighty God is He;Bow down before Him, love and adore Him,His name is Wonderful, Jesus, my Lord.a. He wonderfully saved my soul in 1976! What a wonderful thought that I will be in Heaven for eternity because He loves me.b. He wonderfully forgave all of my sin in 1976! Past, present, and future. I am both saved and secured through the Light of the World.c. He wonderfully changed the direction and desires of my life in 1976! What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart.d. His name became Wonderful to me! He is the sole reason of my praise!2. COUNSELOR – to give advice, to purpose, to devise or plan, to conspire, to manage causes in court.a. He counsels me when my heart is troubled.b. He counsels me when my faith is tried.c. He counsels me when my integrity is tempted.d. He has the remedy for all my problems! He knows all because He is the COUNSELOR! His advice is always good, His counsel is always right, and His path is always safe. He makes no mistake nor does He turn from His divine purpose. Ask and ye shall receive! Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not!e. Do you know my Counselor?3. THE MIGHTY GOD – strong, valiant, excelling, powerful, great, prevailing, authoritative, accomplished, extraordinary degree or quality in respect to size, character, importance, and consequences! That's my God! That's my Lord!a. He is mighty when I am weak.b. He is mighty when my enemy is strong!c. He is mighty when the winds and waves roll over my soul!d. He is mighty when the impossible becomes the probable.e. He is the Resource of my power!f. He can do anything at anytime, anywhere! When I have to “withstand in the evil day,” He stands with me. When I have done all and must continue to stand, He stands with and for me. That's my MIGHTY GOD! With Him, I can fear no evil. With Him, I can face tomorrow.g. Do you know my Mighty God?4. THE EVERLASTING FATHER – eternal in duration, never coming to an end, a begetter, a parent, the founder of a family, the head of the home, important, distinguished!a. As a Father, He loves me.b. As a Father, He has pity upon me.c. As a Father, He directs me.d. As a Father, He corrects me.e. As a Father, He protects me.f. As a Father, He provides for me.g. As a Father, He will never leave nor forsake me!h. Do you know my Father?5. THE PRINCE OF PEACE – of the highest rank, in the highest place, of the highest authority, He is the Sovereign, He is the Monarch, He is the Authority, He is the Son of a King, He is of royal blood, He is of great ancestry, there is no one like Him, He is of highest rank, He is the Head of the Church, He is preeminent, He is predominant.a. He brings stillness to my troubled soul.b. He brings rest in restlessness.c. He brings hope in hopelessness.d. He brings victory out of defeat.e. He is the Fairest of Ten Thousand to my soul!f. There were none before Him.g. There will be none after Him.h. He is the Manifestation of Peace.i. He is the Minister of Peace.j. He is the Master of Peace. k. Do you know Prince of Peace?Conclusion: He truly is indescribable! He is the “I AM THAT I AM!”TO THE ARCHITECT HE IS THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.TO THE ASTRONOMER HE IS THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR.TO THE BUTCHER HE IS THE LAMB OF GOD WHO WAS SLAIN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THIS WORLD.TO THE BAKER HE IS THE LIVING BREAD.TO THE CARPENTER HE IS THE MASTER BUILDER.TO THE DIPLOMAT HE IS THE PRINCE OF PEACE.TO THE DOCTOR HE IS THE GREAT PHYSICIAN.TO THE EDUCATOR HE IS THE MASTER TEACHER.TO THE ELECTRICIAN HE IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.TO THE FARMER HE IS THE LORD OF THE HARVEST.TO THE FLORIST HE IS THE LILY OF THE VALLEY AND THE ROSE OF SHARON.TO THE GEOLOGIST HE IS THE ROCK OF AGES.TO THE HORTICULTURIST HE IS THE TRUE VINE.TO THE JEWELER HE IS THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.TO THE JUDGE HE IS THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.TO THE LAWYER HE IS THE CHIEF ADVOCATE.TO THE PHILOSOPHER HE IS THE WISDOM OF GOD.TO THE PUBLISHER HE IS GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY.TO THE SCULPTOR HE IS THE LIVING STONE.TO THE THEOLOGIAN HE IS AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH.TO THE ZOOLOGIST HE IS THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH.IF YOU'RE HUNGRY, HE'S THE BREAD OF LIFE.IF YOU'RE THIRSTY, HE'S THE FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATER.IF YOU'RE BLIND, HE'S THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.IF YOU'RE LOST, HE'S THE WAY.IF YOU'RE CONFUSED, HE'S THE TRUTH.IF YOU'RE DYING, HE'S THE LIFE.He is WONDERFUL - He is my DELIGHTHe is THE COUNSELLOR - He is my DIRECTIONHe is THE MIGHTY GOD - He is my DEITYHe is THE EVERLASTING FATHER - He is my DEFENDERHe is THE PRINCE OF PEACE- He is my DIFFERENCE
Last Thursday, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, was accused of violating India’s blasphemy law during his recent visit to the country. A legal group filed a petition against him asking a court to determine that Dorsey violated several penal laws, including section 295A, which prohibits the “outrage [of the] religious feelings of any class.” It could become a high-profile example of the active enforcement of blasphemy laws, which exist in dozens of countries and are still enforced today.Though intended to protect “religious feelings,” blasphemy laws like India’s section 295A are used by the government and hostile private parties seeking retaliation to suppress people of minority faiths. In Pakistan, for instance, the country’s highest court overturned the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who wallowed in jail for almost ten years on death row because of a dispute that resulted in an accusation of blasphemy when she drank water from a common well used by Muslim women.Blasphemy laws also undermine speech and religious liberty by saddling convicted individuals with onerous penalties for expressing their beliefs. The law in Pakistan, which carries the death penalty, is the most extreme example. But penalties commonly include years-long imprisonment and fines. A violation of India’s section 295A, for instance, is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.While six states in America still have blasphemy laws on the books, they are unenforced and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protections would surely trump those laws if they were ever brought against someone in court. Countries like India and Pakistan also have provisions in their constitutions supposedly protecting the freedom of conscience or religious exercise, but those provisions obviously are not fully and effectively enforced.Multiple news stories reveal that Twitter actively bans or censors users for expressing views with which the organization disagrees. Turnabout is fair play, perhaps. But, hopefully, this will serve as a wakeup call to the company about the true danger of suppressing the expression of beliefs.No one should have to fear the sword of the government or blasphemy laws being used against them for expressing their beliefs. To ensure that all people can speak and worship according to their conscience, we must fight against blasphemy laws and guarantee protections for the freedom to believe.
by Hohn ChoI used to be a political activist when I was younger, an ardent hard-core Socialist in college and the beginning of law school, before settling in as a left-wing Democrat who thought Bill Clinton was a stealth conservative. I was especially active in the 2003-04 Presidential election cycle, before God radically saved me in December 2004. I may tell that story here another time, but for now I'll just say that as I learned more and more about the Word of God and began to adopt an increasingly Christian worldview, my political activism and government-centered leftism morphed as well.When one's earnest desire is to put Christ at the center of everything, other things tend to change and fall away. My politics remained quite liberal for a few years, albeit with a growing unease and discomfort and ultimately full opposition to abortion, then shifted dramatically and swiftly in 2008-09 after a fleeting interest in theonomy, before once again settling in as what I would now approximate as conservative libertarianism . . . and that's libertarian with a small "l" because I'm no longer a "party" man.In fact, as someone who was once deeply involved in political activism, I marvel at how something as temporal and transient as the biennial ritual of federal elections has so regularly become "the most important election of our lifetime" as many hype them to be. Having an eternal perspective can help keep Christians grounded when all around them are dire and even apocalyptic warnings and rhetoric about the consequences of this or that party gaining (or maintaining) power. In this regard, I believe it's extremely profitable to remember the theological fact that our sovereign God reigns, and my friend Nathan Busenitz just preached a tremendous sermon from the book of Daniel on the Sunday night before the midterms on this very subject.Regardless, there are some overly zealous Christian electioneers who at times seem to forget that theological fact, particularly when they go beyond well-meaning encouragements and exhortations to vote. Unfortunately, some go so far as to say or imply that if we don't vote, or even more, if we don't vote a specific way, we're in sin. If someone were to say that to me, I like to think I'd reply, "And what possible verse can you cite that shows I am breaking a commandment of God by spending the time and vote-resource over which God has given me stewardship in the way that I choose, rather than in the way that you prefer?"And no, general propositions such as seeking the good of the city or loving one's neighbor aren't quite the same as insisting someone else's conscience must be bound to vote—a particular act on which the Bible is silent, perhaps because we don't really see democratic systems of government during the periods of the Old and New Testament writings and their preponderance of theocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships—in an oddly specific manner. Because after all, in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:29-30, perhaps I will dare to seek the good of the city and love my neighbor in the way that I see fit, rather than the way that you think I should? Christian liberty and the freedom of conscience is an important doctrine, and R. Scott Clark has written extensively and helpfully on this topic.To dig into this a bit more, I live in the extremely liberal state of California, so the chances that my conservative vote will have any impact whatsoever on the major federal or statewide offices is pretty much zero. Now, I do take the stewardship of my vote seriously, and there were a few local races and ballot initiatives that appeared like they could be close, and so both my wife and I did in fact vote. California makes this easier by allowing permanent vote-by-mail, and so there's no need to wait in line . . . it's just the time to read and fill out the ballot, and the cost of either a stamp or the gas (which remains more expensive in light of the failure of California's ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax, I believe due to the misleading advertising and summary of the initiative by the partisan Attorney General, but I digress) to one's local polling station.But I would have no criticism for Christians who were to decide differently. Especially for states without vote-by-mail and long lines, I think I could make a strong case that the time driving to and from the polls and standing in line might be better spent evangelizing the voters, phone banking for a passionate cause, working some overtime and donating that money to missions, pleading with pregnant women at an abortion mill, or on one's knees in prayer for the nation. Frankly, to get a bit less spiritual about it, if a person were even just to spend that time joyfully with his or her own family, I would still have no criticism for that person!At the end of the day, the decision of whether and how to cast a vote, and the time required for that vote, is between a person and the Lord, and my sense of it is that most people tend to have a highly overdeveloped sense of the significance of each individual vote, especially in a nation with over 325 million people. Yes, one vote really can make the difference in an election, but the reality is that only one vote in 89,000 is expected to make such a pivotal difference in a Congressional election, and an adult would typically make only about 38 such votes over the course of his or her lifetime between the ages of 18 to 80, inclusive. Your odds are a bit better at the state legislature level, but even there, it's one vote in 15,000. Instead, the great majority of votes are actually "wasted" votes, which are votes for either losing candidates, or winning candidates in excess of the precise number needed to win.Now, obviously no one but the Lord knows how any given election will turn out in advance, and again, I take seriously the stewardship of the vote that citizens in this country receive. Generally speaking, I encourage Christians to exercise their right to vote! And I deliberately chose to wait until well after Election Day before posting this article, because I didn't want to cause any of my brothers and sisters who cared passionately about the 2018 midterms to stumble. With that said, humility is a fundamental virtue for Christians, and I think it's important to remember that each of us is merely one person in a very large nation, and that no one should expect any single vote to be either a panacea, or the property of any person or party other than the specific individual in question.Anyway, that was a lot of methodological prelude to get to what I'd originally planned as an analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. As it stands right now, the Democrats look to be gaining thirty-something seats in the House, while the Republicans seem to be adding two Senate seats. Governor races were a mixed bag, with Democrats picking up seven statehouses from the Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, but falling short in the critical 2020 states of Florida (assuming the recount doesn't overturn the current results), Iowa, and Ohio, where projections at the "gold standard" of polling analysis, fivethirtyeight.com, had showed "likely" (for Florida) or "lean" (for Iowa and Ohio) Democrat.Of course, both parties appear to be "spinning" the results for all they're worth, so much so that I felt a viewpoint from someone with a Christian (and politically, as I said, a non-Democrat, non-Republican, conservative libertarian) worldview might be interesting for some. This is already getting a bit long, so I'll focus the analysis on the House and Senate. (The governor races are interesting, and will definitely have significant local impact, particularly on the issue of gerrymandering. They may also serve as an interesting preview of how states might vote in the 2020 Presidential election, and even have a potential impact on that race as partisan governors potentially use their state-level machines to assist their chosen candidate. But I think that's enough about that.)First, the House. It has become quite standard for the party of a newly-elected President to lose seats at the first midterm election. We saw this in 1982 (when Reagan's Republicans lost 26 seats), 1990 (when George H.W. Bush's Republicans lost a modest 8 seats), 1994 (when Clinton's Democrats lost a whopping 54 seats), and 2010 (when Obama's Democrats lost an even more eye-popping 63 seats). The only exception in recent history was in 2002, when a post-9/11 George W. Bush's Republicans actually picked up 8 seats, with American troops in Afghanistan and Congress having just passed a resolution authorizing any means necessary (including war) against Iraq, and that reckoning was apparently just delayed until 2006, when GWB's Republicans lost 31 seats.By this measure, the Democrat pickups in the House this year appear to be as expected, perhaps a bit above average, and generally in line with pre-election polling and predictions, which according to fivethirtyeight.com was 36 seats at the midpoint of the estimate. And the fact that the Democrats now control the House will obviously have ramifications pertaining to both legislation (you can count on nothing conservative making it through, and a raftload of liberal proposals passing which will never make it through the Senate . . . and to the extent there is bipartisan desire and will, some possible compromise bills in areas such as infrastructure, the environment, and middle-class tax relief) and oversight (with many Democrats promising investigations of various Trump administration people and policies). Impeachment in the House has also been floated by some of the more left-leaning Democrats, but the unofficial leadership line from the Democrats is that doing so would be an unwelcome distraction at this time.Next, the Senate. As with the House, the usual pattern has been for the party of a newly-elected President to lose Senate seats at the first midterm election. The pattern is less robust, however, likely due to the smaller number of seats at issue and the nature of the particular states voting for open Senate seats in the midterm election in question. Even so, the party of a newly-elected President typically does not gain Senate seats at the first midterm election, especially when House seats are concurrently being lost. So the likely addition of two Senate seats to the existing Republican majority is significant, and although it's still within the 80% confidence range of pre-election polling and predictions, it's quite a bit more favorable to the Republicans than the projected 0.5 seat gain at the midpoint of the estimate. You can see this come out especially strongly when you compare the Senate polls for Florida (showing D+3), Indiana (D+2), Missouri (D+1), North Dakota (R+5), and Tennessee (R+5) to the actual results of Florida R+0.2 (pending recount), Indiana R+7.5, Missouri R+5, North Dakota R+11, Tennessee R+11.So the Republicans beat expectations in the Senate, and that has two major ramifications. First, for the next two years, President Trump has the continuing ability to nominate and confirm conservative judges and (potentially) Justices. More than that, with a cushion of three extra Republican Senators, the nominations can be even more conservative, as the margin allows for defections by the last two "pro-choice" GOP Senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, should the President nominate a clearly pro-life judge Amy Coney Barrett. And second, it will be easier for the Republicans to hang onto control of the Senate in 2020, which in turn would allow for continuing confirmations of conservative judges by a re-elected President Trump, or aggressive use of the Senate's advise and consent power against liberal judges by a newly-elected Democrat President. Given that the 2020 Senate map already includes a very likely pickup in Alabama and potential losses in increasingly blue Colorado and Maine (albeit in a race against a long-time survivor in the form of Collins), the battleground for control will likely be fought in (relatively) redder Arizona and Iowa, rather than, say, (relatively) bluer North Carolina and New Hampshire, depending on which party controls the tie-breaking Vice Presidential vote.So what does all of this mean from one Christian's perspective? Speaking for myself, I consider the murder of nearly a million unborn children every year to be the single most important political issue (or rather, human rights issue, as Samuel Sey has so aptly written) facing the United States. And to say it again, I actually am not a "party man" and I am not a Republican. But the reality of our two-party system is that one party has enshrined into its platform that it will "continue to oppose-and seek to overturn-federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion" while the other (at least ostensibly) affirms "that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed."Given that abortion was instituted not by legislatures but by the Supreme Court in 1973's tragic Roe v. Wade decision, and that subsequent efforts to pass laws against abortion have been similarly governed by the Supreme Court, at this point under our current system of government, it is only the Supreme Court that has the power to limit or reverse Roe. This is precisely why many conservatives have so prioritized the importance of the composition of the Supreme Court!The problem is that in our (small-r) republican form of government, things are indirect. We elect Presidents and legislators who we hope will represent our views, and sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. The Supreme Court is one additional step removed, in that they are nominated by Presidents and confirmed by the Senate, but then they have a lifetime confirmation and the nine Justices have a separate body of their own, with rules and precedents and procedures.And sometimes conservatives might elect a President who we hope and believe will appoint pro-life Justices, but then that President either doesn't follow through (e.g., Sandra Day O'Connor), or is prevented from doing so by the Senate (e.g., Robert Bork), or perhaps even believes a nominated and confirmed Justice is pro-life, but actually is not, or has a change of heart while on the bench (e.g., David Souter). Meanwhile, there is a competing ebb and flow over the years to both the Presidency and the Senate, such that Democrats are actively trying to nominate and confirm Justices who are fervently in favor of abortion.All of this has resulted in a "five steps forward, four steps back" type of situation since 1973's Roe decision, and it has been a slow and at times very painful process. In fact, I have even seen some evangelicals (many of whom lean toward the "social justice" side of the discussion, incidentally) try to use this glacial pace in the fight against abortion as an apparent justification for reducing the importance of abortion in our political calculus.From my perspective, this argument is at best nave, showing a lack of deep understanding of the political process and the uncertainties that come along with representative democracy. At times, the argument comes across as bizarrely prioritized, as efforts to stop murder of the unborn are minimized (I previously objected to one example of this I perceived in a national secular newspaper) while efforts to promote, say, mere socioeconomic improvement among certain portions of society in an already incredibly wealthy nation are maximized. And sometimes, the argument is even intellectually dishonest, attempting to pretend as if imperfectly trying to do something good is the same thing as overtly promoting something horribly sinful.Barring divine intervention, there is zero chance Democrats will move the ball on abortion in a positive direction, whereas Republicans might at least try to do so in certain (important) contexts. Despite his many faults, President Trump has at least been delivering on his promise to nominate conservative judges and Justices. And speaking as someone who didn't support him, deplores a lot of his rhetoric and some of his actions, and thinks voting is one of the least effective ways of either "doing justice" or engaging with the public sphere as a Christian, I've been pleasantly surprised to see the gradually increasing prospects of Roe being overturned. Meanwhile, unless the Lord returns first, I will continue praying fervently and supporting other active and lawful efforts to protect the lives of the unborn.This probably was not "the most important election of our lifetime." However, at some point, these elections impact the composition of the Supreme Court and thus the future of Roe. Ultimately, the question I have for professing pro-life Christians is this. If you're truly concerned about abortion, about the nearly one million unborn lives ended every year in the United States alone, how high of a priority is it for you? Is it high enough of a priority for you to at least vote against it, should you opt to exercise your stewardship of voting? And when it comes to that voting, if one party proudly proclaims to the entire world that it is adamantly and fervently supportive of that murderous practice, while the other is at least attempting (however imperfectly, especially given the indirect nature of the process) to stop it, how will you vote?I know my answer, for which I will be accountable to the Lord. And as you process through your own answer, I pray God will grant you clarity, wisdom, and the joy of a clear conscience informed by Scripture.Hohn's signature
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