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Even a Child is Known by His Actions

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Proverbs 20:11 tells us, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”  Do we believe this?  Do we as a nation, and even more specifically as Christians, believe God’s word that even a child is known by their actions?  One would hope so, but our decisions do not seem to indicate so. 

If a person continually claims to care for the poor we might think that they actually do, but if we see them dropping off canned food items or clothing at the local homeless shelter each week we know that they do.  If a person claims to love their spouse, we may well believe them, but if we see them daily taking the time to put their spouse’s needs above their own, we know that they do.  If we hear a person say over and again how much they love their country, we could think they are just showing bravado, but if we see them give year after year in dangerous service defending their country for little pay, we know they must.  If we hear time and again how colorblind a person is, we may be suspect of their motives, but if we see them continuously reward and advance people based solely upon merit and benefit to the organization, we do not doubt that is true.  And if we hear a person talk again and again about how much they love God, we may rightly doubt their truthfulness, but if we see them again and again love their neighbor as themselves, we have a pretty good idea they must. 

So, why do we not use our observations as wisely when the outcomes are negative?  Perhaps, because they are a bit too personal, but that is no excuse.  If a person claims to care about life and the weakest and most vulnerable of our citizens, but yet votes time after time for politicians who support murdering babies, how can we possibly believe them?  If a person claims to have respect for and esteem the institution of marriage, but continually votes for persons who promote homosexual or transgender unions and actions, or themselves commits adultery again and again, why would we give any credit to their words?  If a person claims to view people only based upon their merit and abilities, yet constantly votes for people who base their support and actions on the gender or skin-color of a person, why would we believe them?  If a person claims that they have contempt for theft, yet they repeatedly vote for people who pass laws stealing from one man to give to another, why do we hesitate in saying they support thievery?  And if we hear a person talk again and again about how much they love God and Jesus Christ, however they repeatedly vote for people who support and pass laws in direct contradiction to His commandments, why in the world do we acknowledge them as Christian? 

We often see what we want to, or we choose to ignore that which we do not want to admit.  This does not fit in very well to the America ethos and particularly the Christian calling of being “the salt of the earth.”  We cannot be the “light of the world” if we are unwilling to acknowledge and call out immorality when it is shoved in front of our face.  Yes, we are told not to judge others lest we ourselves be judged.  There is, however, a significant distinction between singling out one individual to point at and judge, versus identifying and fighting against the national sanctioning of immoral actions.  One of the teachings I gleaned from the Marines was “praise in public and censor in private.”  This is perhaps not exactly the same, but in essence it applies.  We do not need to chase down every individual we know doing something immoral and wag our fingers at them.  Perhaps we need to say something to them in private.  We certainly need to acknowledge and fight back against immorality on a national scale, however.  Sometimes that fight may even come to more than words as it did for our founders based not upon our own selfish desires, but for the need to obey God’s command to “defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  For there can be little doubt that killing babies, stealing money, promoting sexual deviancy, even inviting criminals in, and preventing the acknowledgement of God’s grace and mercy on our country are everything but beneficial for the poor and needy. 

The problem here folks, is not the politicians who support these immoral actions.  The problem is the people who vote for those politicians.  And even more than that, the problem is those of us who watch and see and say and do nothing.  We leave the door open wide to a dark and sad future for our families, children, and grandchildren.  For as President Jefferson once said, “… can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!”  We cannot expect God’s blessings, grace, and mercy to continue on a national scale while we practice murder, theft, lust, greed, and selfishness in our voting lives; these represent and support lawlessness.  As Paul noted there is no law against “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  We must however have God and Jesus Christ at the center of our beloved country and we must fight against those who would destroy her through lawlessness. 

-JT Cope IV

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The Loss of Accountability

Posted on by jtcopeiv

What happens when we do not do what we gave our word we would do? 

My father-in-law has oft told me how frustrating it is in the business world to have people tell you they were going to do something only to have them not do what they said they would, repeatedly.  As he says, “just do what you say you are going too.”  I would add, that if you do not intend to, or fear you cannot do what you are promising to do, it is better to not promise to do it.  It is a sad but apparent state of affairs in America today that dependability is becoming a rare commodity.  The first example this author ran into was upon discharge from the Marines and applying for my first geologist position.  The man hiring me told me frankly on the first day of my job that the only reason he hired me was that I had the Marine Corps on my resume and that he knew if nothing else that meant I would show up on time each day and work hard.  The lamentable fact that we are hiring people today based upon the rarity of enough responsibility to “show up” each day gives us a distressing glimpse into the state of America. 

The need for reliability applies to much more than just the business world; it applies to our faith, our marriages, our families, and our politics.  In our faith, we need to display this trustworthiness for a number of reasons, of which I will list a couple.  First because God desires it of us.  Second, because we never know when we will be the only example of Jesus Christ to someone, or at the least the example of Jesus Christ in a moment of trial.  A perfect case is the spate of deplorable abortion laws being proposed and executed across the northeast part of our country at present.  There is no possible way for a Christian who believes God’s word that “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart,” to also be a proponent of poisoning and ripping apart children.  Therefore, if we do not stand up for the most innocent and vulnerable in this world, we are not doing what we said we would, we are not being followers of Christ.  How, then, can we be surprised when the world has no respect or love for Christ or his followers, for we are acting no different than anyone else?  We must show them the light in a dark world.

The need for reliability is also desperate in our marriages.  You have no further to look than at the deplorable level of divorce in our country.  If we as Christians will not focus enough on our spouse and our marriage to make them work and flourish, is it any wonder more and more of our children look cynically on the institution?  No, it cannot be surprising that more and more people are living together unmarried, or that the divorce rate amongst those that choose to get married is so high.  Not to mention the additional collateral that more and more of our children grow up missing a father or a mother or both to raise and mentor them.  If we claim that we are going to love our spouse “till death do us part” we must.  If we claim that we are going to “forsake all others” then we must.  And much like our faith in God, if we are going to agree to love another, we must give everything we have to give to them.  If we hold parts of ourselves back we cripple our marriage and are no better than those who leave a marriage.  Also we hurt our witness to other young couples looking for leadership and examples of a good marriage.  You can never win a gold medal holding back part of your efforts, and you can never have a great marriage if you only give certain parts of yourself to your spouse. 

This undependability is also crippling our families.  In addition to the problems that come from abandoning our marriages, within our families when we tell each other we are going to be somewhere or to do something and then we renege on that promise, it undermines the trust within the family unit.  Every time social media, work, play, television, or something else take precedence over loving our spouse, our children, or our parents that trust is eroded.  There are times when you need a break, me time alone, but those days must be rare indeed.  Our families need our love and dependability through actions much more than the latest Netflix show, or our Instagram or Twitter followers. 

Lastly, this responsibility is desperately needed in our politics across western culture and particularly in America.  We need men and women who say what they mean, and mean what they say.  The abortion issue again gives us a glimpse into the soul of America.  The mayors, governors, congressmen and women are merely reflections of the people who elect them.  If we truly care for the weak and vulnerable among us, where then is the outrage over abortion at or near birth, or really abortion of any kind save risk to the life of the mother, from the populous?  In a country based upon Christian ethics how is the yell for defending the weakest and most vulnerable among us not ear shattering?  And as a side note, make no mistake, America WAS founded as a Christian nation.  The words of James Wilson, one of the Supreme Court’s original members, as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, leave no doubt.  “It should always be remembered that this law, … made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine source: it is the law of God … What we do, indeed must be founded on what He has done.”  The problem is that we are not doing what we say.  We talk of protecting the poor and the innocent, the widow and the orphan, yet we vote in increasing numbers to kill babies, to rob our own citizens of jobs, land and money to give to criminal immigrants, to allow every kind of harmful and deviant sexual act, and to leave our own veterans, police, and firefighters sick and poor after years of service.  This list is incomplete even in its already damning length.  We must do better.  We must act in accordance with the words we so love to speak.  God desires it.  Our families deserve it.  Our country needs it.  And for those who have served, our Corps demands it. 

-JT Cope IV

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Our Leaders Are Not the Problem

Posted on by jtcopeiv

If a person cannot acknowledge that murder of an unborn baby is evil, can we expect to have an honest discussion with them about any other topic?  Perhaps even a more pressing question is can we share peaceful citizenship with them in America? 

Abortion may well be the litmus test for whether our beloved nation survives for centuries more or is consigned to the list of failed national experiments throughout history.  There are other moral issues concerning the country at the moment, other issues which there is no wiggle room on.  The national taxation of some of America’s citizens and not others, as well as the coerced acceptance of homosexual marriages both come to mind.  However, even with these two there are significant differences between them and abortion in so far as what is debatable and what is not.  The level of taxation, as long as it is uniformly applied, is debatable.  The ability of men to sleep with men and women with women in their own lives, even though immoral, is similar to adultery and the government’s lack of responsibility or right to police.  Abortion however is non-negotiable in either public or private life. 

The problem in our country is not the politicians who talk, advocate, and produce laws, they are merely a symptom of the disease.  The problem, which abortion so clarifies and that we seem so hesitant to identify, is the people who elect those politicians.  The problem is our fellow citizens who actually think abortion is ok; who think taking money from one man to give to another is alright; who think that a man sleeping with a man is acceptable; who think that allowing criminals to enter our country and steal from poor and homeless Americans is permissible; who think that America not only has no need of God and Jesus Christ, but that the nation is better off without them.  It is the acceptance and increase of these immoralities and the citizens who accept and promote them that is the problem. 

Much like HIV or cancer, the disease of political and civic immorality leads to many other problems.  Yes, it leads to the election of immoral politicians, but it also leads to the degradation and destruction of our families, businesses, and schools.  It is multitude who condones these immoral actions, not any particular one person or even group of politicians or national figures, which has so polarized our nation.  The reason is that if you cannot agree on the simple black and white immorality of an issue like abortion, how can a person discuss or debate with you on the lesser issues.  If you have a person that is so deranged, or misguided that they think killing a baby is a woman’s choice, how can you possible expect them to understand the way the economy works or public education or foreign policy, or at least that they would have the best interests of America and all her citizens at heart when discussing those issues? 

As the Marine Corps taught me, you never bring a problem to your Commanding Officer (CO) without at least one (better to have three) solution.  Even if it is a poor solution, it gives your CO somewhere to start.  So, what is there to do?  Well, the first step is to pray.  Pray for wisdom, guidance, and courage.  For God tells us He loves us, and that those who seek Him, find Him.  In addition to that any chance you are given to spread God’s word needs to be taken.  For as Dr. Benjamin Rush stated, “By withholding the knowledge of this doctrine [Bible] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.”  We certainly need to awaken moral sensibility in the minds of America’s children these days.  Second, we must simply get the conversation started that the cause of the problem is not representatives, senators, justices, or even the president, but rather the people that are electing them.  To quote Lucy, “Well, as they say on TV, the mere fact that you realize you need help, indicates you are not too far gone.”  As our founders eventually had to acknowledge that King George was not really a benevolent king with Parliament pulling the wool over his eyes, we too must inversely realize that a large number of our brothers and sisters are not benevolent or “low information” voters.  The next step after that becomes a bit trickier.  Perhaps one place to start is very similar to how our founders started.  In the First Continental Congress they decided to boycott items from Britain.  While we may not be able to boycott items from our brothers and sisters, we certainly can get our representatives together to halt the payment of taxes to Washington DC.  In order to do this though we must talk to our representatives and get them taking to each other across state lines.  And this may not be the best place to start or the best solution.  What solutions do you have?

We do not have to be violent or take rash steps.  We do not have to be despondent.  We must do something more than talk though.  We must first and foremost show our fellow citizens God and Jesus Christ through our actions.  We must second find a way to bring our country back from the brink as she has come back so many times before.  We must hope.  We must also be prepared for the violent and harsh response that likely will come, however.  For when you have people that want to take lives, take money, and kick out God, they are always very displeased when you try to bring back liberty, freedom, and integrity … to allow people to keep their lives, their money, and worship and serve God and Jesus Christ. 

-JT Cope IV

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What Love Isn’t.

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Love isn’t envious.  Love isn’t proud or puffed up; it does not behave rudely.  Love does not seek what is best for itself.  Love does not think evil thoughts.  Love does not rejoice in iniquity.  Love never gives up.  Love is not an emotion, it is not an idea created by Hollywood; it is a uniquely human Action built into our souls by God.

The word love is thrown around a lot in modern day America.  The term is used to describe everything from our favorite pet, to our favorite movie, to our relationship with chocolate.  And yet, the word was never really intended for such mundane uses as those.  Love in the truest sense of the word can only be used to describe the actions in our relationships with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and each other.  We hear what love is from so many corners of our culture, and so much of it is incorrect, that it seems prudent to talk about what love is not for a while. 

Perhaps the most disturbing place where “what love isn’t” is on parade are in our marriages and families across America.  Most marriage vows have somewhere in them to love and cherish until death do us part, or at least something along those lines.  And yet, is it loving to so fill your daily schedule with activities and obligations that you only see your spouse for an hour at night after you are utterly exhausted and have given your best to everyone else?  Is it loving to carve out time to spend on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, some other social media, or television shows or movies, but not have any time left to listen, talk, and do activities with our spouse?  Is it loving to spend 12-15 hours a day at work, simply to come home and go to bed with maybe a quick hug and a good night?  Is it loving to selfishly choose what you want to do, or what you are comfortable doing, instead of focusing on what your spouse needs?  And though this is a much lesser consideration, is it loving to set this kind of example for our children?  In all the conversations this author has every had over the years with married folks, there is not one single time when getting over-involved in work or extracurricular activities or hobbies was done and the person said, “it’s what’s best for my spouse.”  Of course here many will say how important pushing their kids into all sorts of activities is, and so that is why they don’t have time for their spouse, but that is laughable if the marriage is falling apart around the kids because the parents are just ships passing in the night.  These kind of decisions are self-serving, envious, and proud, they certainly aren’t loving.   

Love is also not encouraging people to break laws or to perform acts that are harmful to themselves or others.  We would never encourage a person to break into a house and steal, so why do some Americans encourage people to break into our country and steal from our citizens?  We would never encourage a person to commit adultery, so why do we encourage people to “love” others of their same sex or to physically alter their bodies to mimic the other sex?  Neither end of that spectrum is loving.  Also, we would never encourage a person to try for last place in a race, to aim for being less than they should be, so why do we insist upon measures which hold back and limit the brightest among us in education?  Helping or encouraging a person to act in ways that are degrading or damaging to them and other citizens is rude, selfish, and wicked; it is not loving. 

Again, love is not falsely accusing children of actions based upon the color of their skin or the religion they adhere to.  If you have followed the Covington High School episode over the last couple weeks, then you know that a group of high school students were accused of racism, derogatory remarks, intimidation, and instigation.  In the end it appears all they were truly guilty of was perhaps some poor judgement, being a certain color, and supporting the right of a baby to draw its first breath.  The accusatory actions of so many Americans, particularly those in the national spotlight, was much less than loving.  Many of these would show more kindness to a stray cocker spaniel roaming down the streets than they did to these children.

And as last week we saw, love is not walking into a bank and shooting five innocent individuals, regardless of the reason.  Nor is it loving to poison or rip apart over 150 babies in the same day in a different city.  The debate as to whether killing a person, baby or adult, is loving is so far-fetched, so unmoored from reality, it is difficult to grasp how to even have that conversation.  Yet, we create laws, such as gun free zones, which only endanger law abiding citizens, and the recent abortion law in New York, that allow and encourage murder of babies on demand.  It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to separate these laws, those who make them, and those who support them from evil, based upon the statement that “love thinks no evil.”

Without love our world falls apart, both on a national and personal level.  As Paul stated, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”  Love always hopes.  So we must hope, but we must also act.  We must make conscious decisions as Americans to support “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.”  Even more as spouses, parents, and friends, we must not talk of love as an emotion or some far off virtue, but act on it both to make our own lives better and to set an imitable example for those in our spheres of influence.  As C.S. Lewis put it, “love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”  We must act individually and as a nation, and we must acknowledge the ultimate source of love, Jesus Christ, or we must not be surprised when our spouse, children, friends, and nation fade away from us. 

-JT Cope IV

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How do we get back on Course?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

America is going down a path that she cannot sustain.  Yet there are ways to get her back on course.  Our Founding Fathers left us with a good idea of what must be done in order to sustain liberty and freedom, as well as what must be done when that liberty or freedom is in danger of being illicitly taken away. 

President Adams noted that should the People of America ever assume “the Language of Justice and moderation while it is practicing Iniquity and Extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming Pictures of Candour frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and Insolence: this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World.”  And what do we do?  We talk of equal justice before the law and yet children are maligned and even murdered by adults.  We speak of justice regardless of race or ethnicity or political persuasion, yet some adults are allowed to riot, destroy, and even leave our bravest brothers and sisters to die with consequences meted out only to those who try to stand against them.  And why do we have these actions and situations?  Again President Adams supplies the answer.  “Because we have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion.  Avarice, Ambition, Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”  Our laws, the very foundation of our country were fashioned only to serve a moral and virtuous people.  America cannot survive the unchecked internal attack of immorality and debauchery by her own children. 

Many other of our founders stated this in multiple ways.  George Washington noted that, “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”  Without a moral people electing their leaders in a free society, the leaders will soon reflect the immorality of the population.  One of the countries early historians, Benjamin Morris, noted that “The state must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve this basis, or itself must fall.  But the support which religion gives to the state will obviously cease the moment religion loses its hold upon the popular mind.”  In other words, as soon as the citizens of America forget that their blessings come from God, and that our bounties are only present by His grace, the freedom and liberty enjoyed by Americans will cease.  Considering that on the same day five women were shot in Florida last week, 150 plus abortions were carried out in New York, I’d say we as a country have come unmoored from Christianity in our minds. 

We do not have a lack of “stuff” problem in America, we have a lack of morality problem.  Our issues are not a lack of money to give to the poor and needy, it is a lack of giving to the poor and needy.  Our issues are not a lack of jobs or opportunity, our issues are a lack of work ethic and an overabundance of the self-serving attitude of “I deserve more.”  Our issues do not have to do with not enough public education, our issues have to do with spending money on things like diversity or inclusion training versus reducing the size of classrooms and even more so on a crumbling family unit where we have divorce and sex on demand.  And our issues do not have to do with a lack of taxation, our issues have to do with representation without taxation and legalized murder of millions of potential tax paying citizens.  Morality is not a factor in choosing which flavor ice cream is best, what color shirt is best, or even what sports team is best.  Morality is the only factor in ignoring the poor and the widow, in living off the theft of money from others, in sexual promiscuity of every stripe, and in injecting babies with poison.  On moral issues we cannot simply agree to disagree.  Silence or indecision on moral issues is the same as siding with the immoral side.

So, how do we get America back on course?  How do we encourage our brothers and sisters to see the error of their ways, or how do we separate ourselves from those who wish to enslave and persecute us?  Here again our Founders left us clues of how to do this on a strategic level at least if not a tactical one.  When oppressive taxes continued and King George and parliament ignored their pleas, the First Continental Congress decided to boycott British goods.  George Washington was convinced, “as much as I am of my existence, that there is no relief for us but in their distress.”  There will be no relief for the American citizen without some form of distress on the part of Congress and our brothers and sisters who insist upon attempting to destroy America and shackle any who stand in their way.  There are many forms that distress might take but perhaps, much like our founders, money is the first that should be tried.  This must start with our state representatives, however, and have weight behind it, not simply be the random efforts of individual citizens. 

We must take some action though, folks, or our children and grandchildren will most suffer.  As George Washington put it, “Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”  How can we stand idly by as our fellow citizens and their leaders attempt to murder, defile, steal, and shatter every institution and fabric that formed this great nation?  Most of all, how can we stand by as they attempt to sever any ties that our country has with God and Jesus Christ and make it so that morality and virtue are never part of America?  We cannot, except at our own peril.

-JT Cope IV

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A Storm Brewing

Posted on by jtcopeiv

There is a storm brewing on the horizon of America.  It has been for a while, but it is gaining strength now much like a hurricane heading toward the coast. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day passed this week across the country, but you would hardly be able to tell.  Oh, people talk a lot about it, and thousands upon thousands of his quotes are thrown up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  They mention his comments about love versus hate.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  They have specials and commentary on the man and his life and what he accomplished or what they say he didn’t accomplish.  And yet our actions as a country could not be farther away from the hopes and the dreams that Mr. King spoke so passionately of.  For you see, folks, as with so many other issues in this country today, we are only told we can look at something one way, which is true, but from the standpoint 180 degrees opposite from the founding of our country, which is not.  If we balk at that, especially if we do so because the facts and truth of the matter don’t bear out the standpoint we are told to adhere to, then we are wrong; we are bigots; we are racist.  As President Adams put it, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Words matter, folks, but actions matter so much more.  Some actions that took place over the past weekend tell us a great deal about the state of our country, the state of our enemies, and the state of those who we would consider friends. 

Over the weekend a video came out showing a group of high school boys in Washington DC.  The storyline went that the boys were taunting and verbally abusing a calm and kind older gentlemen.  The story was a lie.  Read the recent piece by Tucker Carlson.  The boys did not taunt the man.  The man was neither kind nor calm.  What the story did get right, sadly, was the race of the boys in question and the older man.  This was the least, or one of the least important pieces of information.  For what difference does it matter the race of the boys or the man?  If boys (or girls) of any race were taunting and verbally abusing an older gentleman (or lady) of any race, the action should be condemned.  Race of either party is irrelevant.  Of course that does not fit the storyline.  So, news articles were printed, television shows were recorded, and chaos ensued.  The boys, their teachers, and their parents have been subjected to everything from verbal assault to death threats from everyday citizens all the way up to national figures.  Their school even had to close due to threats against it.  As the days passed, the story cleared.  The boys were not the monsters they were accused of being.  The man was not the gentlemen he was championed as.  Yet apologies were not issued, or not as vocally as the condemnation, statements merely disappeared.  Fear still stalks the families and staff of the school.  And the nation moves on, or at least the nation is told to brush this under the rug and move on to the next story.  Nothing more to see here.  And yet … and yet.

Two passing comments on Twitter show perhaps a little bit of awakening to the crushing blue northern that is bearing down on the country.  The first was a tweet by Sohrab Ahmari on the twenty-first in response to commentary about the high school boys.  As he put it, “There is no civic friendship possible with these people.”  He’s was talking here about those defaming and attempting to crucify the high school boys and their families.  He is correct.  We cannot have national friendship with those who are trying to destroy America, and even more who are trying to prevent citizens from drawing near to God.  Why do I say destroy America?  Because America was not founded upon the basis of race or ethnicity but upon merit and character.  She cannot work without her citizens being a moral and virtuous people.  Why do I say prevent citizens from drawing near to God?  Because you cannot draw near to God if you are not allowed to exercise life and liberty, and you cannot exercise your right to life in a society where murdering is legal, nor exercise your right to liberty where God is not allowed in the public square.  For as President Jefferson put it, “The Christian religion … is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.”  And as Mr. Morris observed, “The state must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve this basis, or itself must fall.”  We cannot have liberty without Jesus Christ, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

The second comment was stated bluntly, but points to a truth we as polite and “civilized” individuals try to hide in the back of the closet and to not discuss publicly.  Mr. David French put it succinctly when identifying those who sent “serious death threats” to students, their families, and the principal.  “Evil.  This is what evil people do.”  Many people here will decry the use of the word evil as incendiary and rhetorical to describe our fellow citizens.  Fine.  Describe their actions as evil then.  No argument, not by honest or sane people at any rate, can be made that death threats to children and women are not evil.  And as the proverb says, “Even small children are known by their actions …”

So, if we cannot have a civil discourse with many of our fellow citizens, and many of their actions, if not they themselves, are evil; what are we to do?  Mr. King offers some insight here.  He says that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So we must speak out against actions that are destructive to both the individual and the nation.  He also stated that, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”  We are coming rapidly to, or are already present at, a time when conversation is no longer an option.  There must be action taken and this certainly falls into the category of “neither safe, nor politic, nor popular.”  Lastly Mr. King instructs us that, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  There may be many who disagree with the need for action at the beginning of trying times.  There certainly were voices against Independence.  There were voices which thought the South should be allowed to leave the Union.  There were also voices that thought Europe’s problems were not America’s right up to the point where bombs began falling in Pearl Harbor.   We must do everything we can to avoid conflict, everything short of giving up our freedoms and that of our children and grandchildren.  We must also acknowledge the fact that there come times when conversation and debate have run their course.  And we must hold fast to our faith in God and Jesus Christ and in the hope that our fellow citizens will come to their senses, both our enemies and our silent friends. 

If words are truly no longer enough, folks, then we need to think of actions.  Perhaps as our founders we may start with boycotts or start by withholding taxes.  We must assuredly start with influencing our Representatives though and talking to them, repetitively, or electing new ones if the current refuse to listen and act.  Perhaps that will awaken our brothers and sisters to the tyranny of the actions of Congress, the Supreme Court, and themselves. 

-JT Cope IV

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Sometimes Sorry is Not Good Enough

Posted on by jtcopeiv

You always have to deal with the consequences of your actions, even if you are sorry.  This does not mean that God does not love you.  This does not mean that Jesus is not going to walk beside you through it all.  Having consequences does not mean that you will not get to spend eternity with God, for we are told that, “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”  Consequences here in this world are proof though that often, feeling sorry just isn’t good enough.  If we really are saddened by our actions, or saddened by the situation we find ourselves in, then we change our actions or work to change our situation.  If we do not change, then we are not really sorry. 

As painful as it is to admit, all of us have made some bad decisions throughout our life.  This author can attest to quite a few, some far worse than others.  Some decisions are short lived and leave us mostly just with a sense of regret and hopefully a lesson learned.  Some, though, last for the rest of our lives and are a constant reminder of the young person in proverbs who bemoans how much he scorned instruction and ignored his teachers as a youth and “was soon in serious trouble.”  Perhaps you feel this in your life.  Perhaps you realize what a mess you have made and how mired you are in the consequences of your actions.  Or perhaps you want to blame others and maybe you can to a small extent.  In the end however, responsibility for our own actions must rest with ourselves.  For the young mother who is not married, for the man who finds himself alone after ignoring the wife of his youth for decades, for the children who find themselves estranged from the family because of poor decisions, we must look to ourselves for the person most to shoulder the consequences of our decisions.  Thankfully, we must not shoulder those consequences alone.  There is a Man who will help you carry that burden and lighten your load. 

This is not a discussion of salvation and eternal life, folks.  For that gift we can do nothing to earn and must count wholly on Jesus Christ.  But in our life, in the day to day and year to year decisions that we make, we can indeed lean on Him to help us deal with our actions.  Again, this will not take away the problems that we have created for ourselves.  Jesus will not pull you out of jail for murder.  He will not erase the baby growing inside of you (or a girlfriend) after a late night.  He will not give you a new spouse years later because you married after a week.  He will not refill your bank account with money that you frittered away.  And Jesus will not replace holidays and weekends that you spent at the office instead of with your family.  What He will do however is give you mercy, and perhaps even more important than that in this situation, grace.  He will give you the grace to acknowledge your mistakes, and to “suck it up” so to speak.  Jesus will give us the grace to serve our time, to raise a baby, to pay off debts and to earn more money, and to heal, if both sides are willing, hurt relationships.  This doesn’t mean life will turn out perfectly rosy, but it does mean it will turn out better with Him than without.  But in order for that to happen we have to do a couple things.

First, we have to repent.  This seems to be a nasty word in our culture today where we do not like to ever admit we are wrong or failed.  If we do not repent, if we are not sorry for our actions, there can be no help from God or Jesus.  If we say we are sorry but continue doing the very things we are sorry for, then (a) we are not that sorry, and (b) we cannot hope for things to get better.  We must truly be sorry for the wrong we have done in such a way as to wish we had not done the thing, not simply to get us out of our current trouble, but more to the point because we are sorry that we did something wrong.  Without acknowledgement of wrong done, we cannot hope for our situation to get better. 

Second, we have to trust God.  We have to trust that when He says he has, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” that He actually means just that.  We must trust that God wants what is best for us and that as long as we are following Him, that is what will happen.  Now, I know here the line about “bad things happening to good people” will come up.  But we have to have a little bigger picture than this.  What was “intended to harm me … God intended it for good.”  If whatever bad comes our way brings us closer to God and eternal life through his Son, that cannot possibly be bad in the end.  I know, I know, easier said than lived. 

Lastly, here, folks, this line of thinking also applies to our country.  We would be foolish in the extreme to think that America can simply ignore all the bad she has done and move on with God’s blessing.  But we should also realize that God will remain by us and walk with us as we traverse the consequences of our actions.  If we truly repent as a nation of our support of sexual deviancy, the murder of babies, of stealing from our neighbors, and of leaving the poorest and neediest out in the cold, God will be with us.  We must change our actions, however, and the place we must almost assuredly start is by changing our personal priorities and our national voting habits.  We’ll spend a little time talking about these two in the next articles.  For now, just remember, if you truly are sorry for something, you have to change your actions to have any hope of anyone believing you.

-JT Cope IV

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A Responsibility to our fellow Americans

Posted on by jtcopeiv

The refrain is loud and getting louder.  Somehow, in one of the grandest ironies in modern western civilization, if you support Christian ethics you are cold, uncaring, bigoted, sexist, xenophobic, racist, and the list goes on.  Somehow those whose Master tells them “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” are supposed to have become the uncaring scrooges who think only of themselves.  I think not.

A prime example of this delusion is the current “crisis” over funding a border wall or not.  Americans are told they are cruel for not encouraging people to come break our laws.  Christians are particularly told how mean-spirited and hypocritical they are.  Yet, no part of the Old or New Testament encourages the breaking of laws or lawlessness when it comes to national sovereignty.  Quite the opposite.  Yet, today, if you espouse the opinion that there needs to be national sovereignty and a secure border, to a large percentage of the American population that makes you cruel, -phobic, and heartless.  Christians by definition are commanded to do two things, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.  Within these fall all sorts of instructions such as care for the widow, care for the orphan, do not steal, and more and more.  The point is that all the various instructions are summed up by the greatest two commandments that Jesus named.  So if those who call themselves Christians are truly cruel and uncaring then we either are not doing a very good job of following Jesus Christ, or something is amiss. 

First off, there can be a fantastic argument made that Christians are not doing a very good job following Jesus Christ.  However, this has much more to do with not standing up against immorality than it does being dismissive and judgmental of the cares and troubles of others.  Fathers abandon their wives and children.  Mothers have babies out of wedlock.  Abortion leaves emotional, and physical scars.  Theft, both through legalized taxation and through criminal activities, takes away money from families that could have been passed on to children.  The list goes on and on.  And yet so many citizens who claim to serve Christ support and encourage either these behaviors, or they downplay and soften the detrimental impact of these behaviors.  Often the poorest, most needy communities are hit hardest by these situations.  Why is the solution put forward by so many to throw more money at them, and other people’s money at that?  The bottom line is that you cannot throw money or laws at a problem and hope that it leaves you alone.  That is like throwing food at a bear that is chasing you.  It might stop the bear for a moment or two, but eventually he is gonna come looking for more, especially if you make a habit of it.  We have to actually DO something to encourage the bear to find its own source of food. 

So, back to the second possibility that something is amiss, and the example of the current border crisis.  There is indeed a border crisis, but it isn’t over funding or not funding a wall; the funding required is less than 0.1 percent of the behemoth funding our federal government claims they require now.  It is over the deception and immorality of a large and growing number of our brothers and sisters that we must let people in who are breaking the law or we are uncaring.  As Christians we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Yes, this is true.  The poor people from South and Central America are our neighbors.  Yes, this is true.  And yet, are they are closest neighbors and even more to the point, are we actually acting loving toward them?  

What about the poor and needy here in America?  Do we have no poverty here?  Are there no widows and orphans already in need in the cities and heartland of America?  The answer of course is an obvious yes.  So why do we not have all the screaming and yelling about caring for them?  Well, I suppose we do, but it is from a very dishonest corner that is getting the most notice.  Giving the poor money, making them permanently dependent instead of temporarily in need, this is not kind.  And indeed it is, or should be criminal, when the money being given is not one’s own, but your neighbors.  And what of those coming from South and Central America again; are we really being loving?  Is it loving to tell them to come against our laws, to hide in our cities, and to take, not ask, from others what is not their own?  No, of course not.  It is never loving to teach or encourage someone to steal.

Some here who know scripture will point to the Canaanite woman and her response about eating the crumbs under the table.  Yet even Jesus here states that it is not right to take from children already members of the family to give to those not of the family.  He does indeed heal the woman’s daughter because of her faith, but His primary role was to the children of Israel.  Our primary role should be to the children of America already here, not to those who are trying to break in and steal from them. 

This does beg the question of why there are so many American citizens who want to take away from their brothers and sisters to give to those who are not.  Is it out of the goodness of their hearts?  No, if that was the case they would be offering up their own homes and their own fortunes and that of their own children to feed, clothe, and house these poor coming up from South and Central America.  So what then are their motives?  What do they get out of allowing a weakened boarder and damaging America’s sovereignty and ability to defend herself?  That, is a very good question indeed, and one which may well give us a clue as to what is coming in the future for our families and our beloved country. 

-JT Cope IV

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Either We Do … Or We Don’t

Posted on by jtcopeiv

“But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”  If food doesn’t have salt or seasoning, it turns out pretty bland, and is only good to be thrown out.  Coincidentally, a nation with little morality turns out about the same. 

In America today we often hear comments about getting along, bipartisanship, compromising, and coexisting.  We are told to be tolerant, and non-judgmental.  Ignoring the fact that these instructions are extremely one sided today, the sentiments are noble ones.  Jesus taught us not to judge others “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  And yet it is hard to ignore Jesus’ comment about the need for saltiness, the need to be bold in spreading the Word of God in this world.  The real problem becomes that we have taken being nonjudgmental and compromising to a fault in our country; or even worse we use it as an excuse not to confront immorality when it is shoved in front of our face.  Do we feel pity for and forgive the man or woman caught in adultery, absolutely, but do we help them set up secret meetings with the person not their spouse?  Do we feel sympathy and even empathy for the thief trying to feed their family, without a doubt, but do we help them accost their next victim or hold up their next store?  Do we feel sorry for the adult child who spends all of their time, money, and efforts on frivolous ventures until they are penniless and friendless, of course, but do we continue to write checks for them or aid them in their soirees?  So why then do we justify ourselves that we are only being nonjudgmental or understanding when we support politicians, organizations, or laws, not that simply allow the individual to act as they so choose on a private level, but that condone their immoral actions on a national level? 

The crux of the matter here, I believe, is that most of us do not like confrontation, and we do not like other people meddling in our affairs.  This makes absolute sense to this author.  I’m not a fan of confrontation at all, and I really just want to be left alone to live my life the way I see fit.  There are at least two problems with this approach, however.  First, we aren’t talking on an individual private level these days, we are talking on a national public level.  Secondly, and more importantly, trouble that you know exists will never stay away for long.  At some point we have to take a stand, not against the individual acting as they choose in the privacy of their own life, but against the national conscious approving of that action and sanctioning it via law.  As an eighteen-year-old Lance Corporal once asked me, “Sir, my parents say they are against the war, but that they support, me.  How can they do both?”  And of course the answer is, they can’t.  You cannot support the actions of the individual, but then not support the national approval of those actions.  Inversely, you cannot support the national approval of a certain action, but then on a private level talk about how you really don’t approve of individuals who take part in those actions.   

This indecision, or lack of acceptance of our own actions shows itself brilliantly in a couple of examples.  First off it shows itself in the Christian faith.  Paul sums up this scenario best.  “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”  Either we believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, or we don’t.  This changes everything.  But do we act like it?  Do we smile, do we trust, do we help the poor and the widow and the orphan?  As a man once told me, “if you think it is going to rain … you take an umbrella with you.”  Secondly, we see this apparent indecision in our voting actions.  Abortion is a prime example.  As a Christian, God tells us “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart …” and again “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  It seems rather hard to imagine a situation other than when the life of both mother and babe are endangered where God would approve of killing the babe.  Yet, even though we talk about loving life and serving God, we wring our hands at the thought of voting in such a way as to take away a “right” of a woman.  Does the child have no right?  Why do we not wring our hands and worry about taking away the right of the baby?  What about the argument that it is access to abortion and the freedom to choose we are protecting, and not the actual act of abortion?  Well, I suppose this argument might have some merit, for we have access to many things which can be used by one adult to murder another.  No one is arrested for buying or owning gas, cars, knives, baseball bats, candlesticks, rope, or guns (not yet anyway), but the only time there are consequences is if the action of murder is actually carried out.  If this is the argument taken however, and we are protecting the right of someone to choose to have an abortion, but not the “right” of abortion, does that not mean that there should be consequences when the act of abortion is carried out?   

Generally, we can agree to disagree.  Some people like chocolate better; I prefer Sweettarts.  Some people like summer best; fall is my favorite.  Some people like year round school; I would rather have the long summer break (especially if it was a long winter break).  On moral issues, however, we have to decide one way or the other, we cannot simply agree to disagree.  If we do not take a stand for a moral issue, it is because we are cowardly, selfish, or we really do not believe in the morality of the issue.  You cannot be for taking money on a national level from one person’s pocket to give and put in the pocket of another person, and at the same time not be for theft on a personal level.  Well you can certainly claim that, but the argument doesn’t hold much water.  You cannot claim to be against abortion or murder, and yet vote to protect the right of a mother to kill her child with no ensuing criminal penalties.  You cannot claim to believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and then vote to make lawful the union of a man and a man or woman and woman.  You cannot claim to champion national sovereignty, and then vote against those things which would reduce unfettered criminal immigration.  And lastly you cannot claim to follow Jesus Christ and not serve Him as Lord of all.  As C.S. Lewis stated about Jesus, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Americans must individually decide to follow Jesus and his teachings as Lord and God, or we must reconcile ourselves to our beloved nation being dumped upon the pile of failed human experiments throughout the course of history. 

-JT Cope IV

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Where to Begin

Posted on by jtcopeiv

“Riches do not last forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.”  Without attention and gratitude to where our blessings come from, America’s prosperity and position as a leader will fade. 

There is a very nice article by Mr. Ben Shapiro out this week entitled “America Needs Virtue before Prosperity.”  In the article Mr. Shapiro points out that “without religion and morality we could, for a time remain rich.  But we would then begin to subject our freedoms to our own tyrannical impulses.”  He quotes both Presidents George Washington and James Madison and their beliefs that liberty, happiness, and prosperity cannot continue without virtue, religion, and morality.  I would add here President John Adams’ belief that “Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul.”  Mr. Shapiro continues and deepens his argument, commenting much more eloquently than this author can on the similarities and goals of the Marxist Left and the Populist Right.  I am a simple man and my language is much cruder, but I hope I bring the same or a very similar point home, just in a simpler way.  The point is not how one political party or ideology or the other frames the question, or the answers they give to solve the problem, but their lack of morality and virtue.  For example, the problem is not whether we need a border wall or not to control criminal immigration; the problem is that we have Americans who think criminally entering the United States should be tolerated and condoned, or that we should have no say of who crosses our border at all.  The problem is not whether we ban abortion at thirty weeks or six weeks; the problem is that we have fellow citizens who think that it is morally superior to allow a woman to have a baby ripped apart than to deliver one.  The problem is not whether the government sanctions marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman; the problem is that we have Americans who believe that sexual deviancy of every kind should be accepted, and that the government’s dictates supersede God and nature’s decrees.  The problem is not whether we tax the top earners in our country at 35% or 75%; the problem is that we have brother and sister citizens who think that stealing from one man’s pockets to give to another man is acceptable.  The problem is not whether we have democrats, libertarians, or republicans running the country; the problem is that we have immoral men and women who do not believe in the Christian foundation of America leading the nation. 

The following comment/question received multiple times the last couple of weeks is, does this mean that in order to be an American a citizen must be a Christian; certainly not.  Men and women should be able to serve God or not in their personal lives as they see fit.  As President Madison wrote, “Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.  If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered.”  And yet, what happens when we find that those who do not believe verge on being the majority over those who do?  Christianity is the only system which secures liberty and freedom for all people.  As Benjamin Franklin Morris put it, “The state must rest upon the basis of religion, and it must preserve this basis, or itself must fall.”  So while being a Christian is not a requirement for citizenship, or even leadership, following the precepts and ethics as a whole society must be, or the society will fail to exist as anything other than a shade of itself or an intolerable tyrant.  John Jay stated, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”  In one of the greatest ironies in western civilization, if we do not elect leaders who follow Christ’s teachings, in their public life at least, we will cease to enjoy the freedoms which allow us to elect people who do not follow Christ’s teachings. 

The point of all of this is that we are fast coming to the point where each man and women will have to decide between one of a very few choices, most of which are summed up in either serving as a slave to the government, or fighting to take back all of the blessings bestowed upon us by the Father of all the Universe. 

-JT Cope IV

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