Your Very Life

Living where Life is

Month: September 2016

The Mafia or Moses: you choose

imgresHere’s a rich speech from Harry S Truman addressing a conference on Law Enforcement Problems called by the Attorney General, dated February 15, 1950. The major problem they are addressing is the rise of the Mob, Organized Crime, the Underworld, as well as the danger of totalitarianism.

It’s worth the read, even making the adjustment for our days: (1) Not the Mob so much as a decline in integrity as a whole in our moral fabric; (2) Totalitarianism not meaning the USSR, but the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ (Pope Benedict) and the Politically Correct hyper-movement.

He spends a good deal of time on training up children.  He also notes the roots of the Bill of Rights & all our laws come from Mount Sinai! Would that today’s national leaders hold the same understanding.

I’ve bolded the lines I thought were most helpful.  Enjoy and Consider what he says.

 

Mr. Attorney General, and gentlemen of the Conference:
When the Attorney General told me of his plan to hold this Conference, I welcomed the idea. It seemed to me that it would be most useful for Federal, State, and local officials concerned with law enforcement problems to gather together to devise ways and means of making law enforcement better and more effective.

There has been a substantial postwar increase in crime in this country, particularly in crimes of violence. This is disturbing, but it is one of the inevitable results of war, and the dislocations that spring from war. It is one of the many reasons why we must work with other nations for a permanent peace.

I might remind you that after every war this country has ever been engaged in, we have had exactly the same problems to face. After the Revolutionary War we had almost exactly the same problems with which we are faced now, out of which came the Alien and Sedition laws, which we finally had to repeal because they did not agree with the Bill of Rights. Then, after the War Between the States, or the Civil War, we had all sorts of banditry. My State was famous for some of the great bandits of that time, if you recall. We had the same situation after World War I. We had a terrible time then with the increase in crimes of violence. We managed to handle the situation, and I am just as sure as I stand here that we will do it again.

This postwar increase in crime has been accompanied by a resurgence of underworld forces–forces which thrive on vice and greed. This underworld has used its resources to corrupt the moral fiber of some of our citizens and some of our communities. It carries a large share of the responsibility for the general increase in crime in the last few years.

This is a problem that, in one degree or another, affects every community in the country, and every level of government. Our rural areas as well as our cities are involved in this.

It is important, therefore, that we work together in combating organized crime in all its forms. We must use our courts and our law enforcement agencies, and the moral forces of our people, to put down organized crime wherever it appears.

At the same time, we must aid and encourage gentler forces to do their work of prevention and cure. These forces include education, religion, and home training, family and child guidance, and wholesome recreation.

The most important business in this Nation–or any other nation, for that matter–is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don’t think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child’s mind the moral code under which we live.

The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.

If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.

Above all, we must recognize that human misery breeds most of our crime. We must wipe out our slums, improve the health of our citizens, and eliminate the inequalities of opportunity which embitter men and women and turn them toward lawlessness. In the long run, these programs represent the greatest of all anticrime measures.

And I want to emphasize, particularly, equality of opportunity. I think every child in the Nation, regardless of his race, creed, or color, should have the right to a proper education. And when he has finished that education, he ought to have the right in industry to fair treatment in employment. If he is able and willing to do the job, he ought to be given a chance to do that job, no matter what his religious connections are, or what his color is.

I am particularly anxious that we should do everything within our power to protect the minds and hearts of our children from the moral corruption that accompanies organized crime. Our children are our greatest resource, and our greatest asset–the hope of our future, and the future of the world. We must not permit the existence of conditions which cause our children to believe that crime is inevitable and normal. We must teach idealism–honor, ethics, decency, the moral law. We must teach that we should do right because it is right, and not in the hope of any material reward. That is what our moral code is based on: do to the other fellow as you would have him do to you. If we would continue that all through our lives, we wouldn’t have organized crime–if everybody would do that.

Our local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies have a major role to play in this whole task of crime suppression.

As law enforcement officers you have great powers. At the same time you must never forget that hand in hand with those powers go great responsibilities. You must make certain that these powers are not used for personal gain, or from any personal motive. Too often organized crime is made possible by corruption of law enforcement officials.

But, far more than that, we must always remember that you are officers of the law in a great democratic nation which owes its birth to the indignation of its citizens against the encroachment of police and governmental powers against their individual freedoms.

Now there isn’t any difference, so far as I can see, in the manner in which totalitarian states treat individuals than there is in the racketeers’ handling of these lawless rackets with which we are sometimes faced. And the reason that our Government is strong, and the greatest democracy in the world, is because we have a Bill of Rights.

You should be vigilant to enforce the laws which protect our citizens from violence or intimidation in the exercise of their constitutional and legal rights. The strength of our institutions depends in large measure upon the vigorous efforts to prevent mob violence, and other forms of interference with basic rights–the right to a fair trial, the right to vote, and the right to exercise freedom of speech, assembly, and petition.

It is just as much your duty to protect the innocent as it is to prosecute the guilty. The friendless, the weak, the victims of prejudice and public excitement are entitled to the same quality of justice and fair play that the rich, the powerful, the well-connected, and the fellow with pull thinks he can get.

Moreover, the guilty as well as the innocent are entitled to due process of law. They are entitled to a fair trial. They are entitled to counsel. They are entitled to fair treatment from the police. The law enforcement officer has the same duty as the citizen-indeed, he has a higher duty–to abide by the letter and spirit of our Constitution and laws. You yourselves must be careful to obey the letter of the law. You yourselves must be intellectually honest in the enforcement of the law.

Now as President of the United States, I have the most honorable and the greatest job in the world–the greatest position that can come to any man on earth. I am invested with certain great powers by the Constitution of the United States in the operation of the Government of the United States. But I was put into this place by the people of the United States. I am the servant of the people. And in the first place, I am a citizen of this great country. And as a citizen it is my duty as President of the United States to be exceedingly careful in obedience to the Constitution and the laws of this great Nation.

I believe that as President it is necessary for me to be more careful in obeying the laws than for any other person to be careful. I never infringe a traffic rule. I never exercise the prerogatives which I sometimes have of going through red lights. I never exercise the prerogative of taking advantage of my position as President of the United States, because I believe, first, that I am a citizen, and that as a citizen I ought to obey the laws first and foremost.

And every one of you has that same responsibility. You yourselves, as I said, must be intellectually honest in the enforcement of the Constitution and the laws of the United States. And if you are not, you are not a good public official.

I know that it would be easier to catch and jail criminals if we did not have a Bill of Rights in our Federal and State constitutions. But I thank God every day that it is there, that that Bill of Rights is a fundamental law. That is what distinguishes us from the totalitarian powers. I am confident that you share these convictions with me, and that you will not lose sight of them in your efforts to wipe out organized crime and reduce lawlessness.

I know that your discussions here will be fruitful. I hope that you develop a sound plan by means of which the cooperative efforts of every American law enforcement agency will be effectively brought to bear upon organized crime.

Your task does not end with today’s meeting. It only begins with today’s meeting. The spade work must be done in the communities where you live and work. It will be your task to mobilize local opinion and resources against organized crime and the conditions which create it.

In this task I pledge my wholehearted support.
Thank you very much.

[Citation: Harry S. Truman: “Address Before the Attorney General’s Conference on Law Enforcement Problems.,” February 15, 1950. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=13707]

On Babies and Heaven

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[Originally published on October 3, 2015. I republish it because I learned of friends this week who lost their little one in the womb over the summer.]

“Will I see Joshua again?”

Joshua is my son, who died at about 20 weeks of age, inside the womb. He was perfectly formed–4 limbs, ribs, toes, fingers (with fingernails!), hairs on his back, and a beautiful little face. (Insert compelling case for protecting the lives of unborn children here…)

He died at 20 weeks simply because his umbilical cord became tangled and kinked. Our doctor was very quick to shepherd my wife: “there is nothing you did to cause this, and nothing you could have done to prevent this.” He’s right.

My question, “Will I see Joshua again?” is shared by any who have lost babies in the womb, or as newborns and infants. Even at the start of life, we’re still reminded of the brokenness of this world!

Pastor Sam Storms provides a simple case for the fact that God’s mercy extends to those, like Joshua, who die very young, before the so-called ‘age of accountability.’ Click this link for his whole blog post. The best of the reasons are:

“1. In Romans 1:20 Paul describes recipients of general revelation as being “without excuse.” They can’t blame their unbelief on a lack of evidence. There is sufficient revelation of God’s existence in the natural order to establish the moral accountability of all who witness it. Might this imply that those who are not recipients of general revelation (i.e., infants) are therefore not accountable to God or subject to wrath? In other words, wouldn’t those who die in infancy have an “excuse” in that they neither receive general revelation nor have the capacity to respond to it?

“4. There is the consistent testimony of Scripture that people are judged on the basis of sins committed voluntary and consciously in the body (see 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Rev. 20:11–12). In other words, eternal judgment is always based on conscious rejection of divine revelation (whether in creation, conscience, or Christ) and willful disobedience. Are infants capable of either? There is no explicit account in Scripture of any other judgment based on any other grounds. Thus, those dying in infancy are saved because they do not (indeed cannot) satisfy the conditions for divine judgment.

“6. We have what would appear to be clear biblical evidence that at least some infants are regenerate in the womb, such that if they died in their infancy they would be saved. This provides at least a theoretical basis for considering whether the same may be true of all who die in infancy. As Ronald Nash points out, “If this sort of thing happens even once, it can certainly happen in other cases.” Supporting texts include Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 1:15.

“8. Let me close with an argument that’s entirely subjective (and therefore of questionable evidential value). Given our understanding of God’s character as presented in Scripture, does he appear as the kind of God who would eternally condemn infants on no other ground than that of Adam’s transgression? Again, this is a subjective (and perhaps sentimental) question. But it deserves an answer, nonetheless.”  [http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/do-all-infants-go-to-heaven]

The God of Scripture is gracious and compassionate, and loves us humans dearly. He is just and kind, and will never be unjust. Scripture gives hope to parents who have suffered the death of young ones, that until they consciously choose to rebel, until they understand God’s grace and reject it, God receives them to himself at death.  I take great comfort and joy in the confidence that my son Joshua is with the Lord. Frankly it’s fun to think that my dad who died 30 years ago has gotten to meet one of his grandkids!

The Last will be first First.

arrow_circleYesterday at Grace we learned how Jesus corrects us, comforts us and warns us about (1) what God really thinks of rich people; and (2) how we as his followers make all sorts of judgment calls about how God is being generous to others.

We studied Matthew 19:23-20:16. It was convicting! And encouraging!

Take some time this week to work through this study guide. We prepare it for our housechurches to use following the sermons.  study-guide-2016-09-25

Why “authority” is not a bad word

arrow_circleToday, we jumped back into Matthew’s gospel, and did a 30,000 foot review/preview.

We considered 4 ways that Matthew highlights the authority in Jesus throughout his account. Today, we often think of “authority” as a word that puts us in a straight-jacket. Or, we think of it as corrupt, laughable, cynical.

Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is the greatest authority of all time. And for good reason. You can download the study guide to ‘take home’ what we learned this morning. Study Guide 2016.09.04

As always, leave a comment or ask a question! I’d love to be of help.

Seeing Jesus as the prime “Authentic Authority” will help us immeasurably in daily life, and in the life to come!

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