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The Politics of Easter

I love my country.  I consider myself a patriot.  I believe that the United States has provided more people with more freedom and more opportunity than any other nation that has ever existed.  I think the United States has been blessed by God.

Having said all that I must admit that I am only a citizen of this country in a transitory and momentary way for I am but a pilgrim here, a sojourner whose ultimate home is another city, a kingdom, and that even here my ultimate allegiance is to my King.

Over the years I have had many conversations with people regarding the ongoing Progressive degradation of this great Republic.  Often people will say, “I can’t talk about this anymore it is too depressing.”  And often people ask me, “How can you dwell on this so much and be so happy?”

I’m not really happy.  Happiness is a fleeting feeling that can be erased by not getting your pizza delivered on time.  I have joy and peace and the contentment of security.  I always answer this question with, “I spend a few hours every day immersed in the evidence of the deepening betrayal of America’s experiment in personal freedom, individual liberty, and economic opportunity, and I am never depressed.  Because my hope is in Christ and my home is in heaven.”

This is the politics of Easter:

Paul, after warning us what the so-called leaders of this world are really all about said, “There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.”  Paul also tells us, “But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.”

I am a Christian, unabashedly and unashamed.  Jesus is my king, my Lord and my God.  I look about me and I love my country and I love those about me.  However at the same time I take to heart what Peter said “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul” and I realize that as a Christian, we are visitors in this world of unbelievers.  We may be the same on the outside as everyone else, but on the inside we are different.

  1. We don’t think like them.
  2. We don’t act like them.
  3. We don’t have the same customs as they do.
  4. We don’t have the same goals and desires.
  5. When they want to go partying and getting drunk and go carousing, we don’t want to join them…
  6. They use the Lord’s name in vain, participate in the deeds of darkness and are, essentially, the walking dead.  We are not like them.
  7. They glorify themselves.  We glorify God.
  8. Some glorify false gods.  We glorify the true God.
  9. We are different inside. And it shows. Or at least it should.

If there was a trial today and we were charged with being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict?  Or are we secret agent Christians?  Instead of hiding in the shadows we should be holding aloft the light of Christ in a darkening world so that as Peter admonished us we, “Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”

This world and its politics is a soap opera. Following the ins and outs of the progression from colonies to empire to utopia keeps us occupied and obsessed.  We need to keep it all in perspective.  Yes, it is good to stand for freedom for God created us to be free so that we could freely choose Him.  Yes, it is good to stand for personal liberty and economic opportunity so that all people will have the opportunity to become all that they can be and so that they are not oppressed by the utopians in their mad drive toward a heaven on earth that will never and can never be reality.  However it is the height of folly to allow the false god of ideology to cloud our vision until we become as doctrinaire as the utopians holding aloft democracy or national prestige as goals in and of themselves.

We must keep a godly perspective striving always to remember we are sinners saved by God’s unearned grace and so avoid becoming the Pharisees who drive people away from God.  There is a band named Casting Crowns.  Their lyrics touch me in the spirit, and I believe they express the situation that we believers find ourselves in when we try to be that light instead of reveal that light:

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet.

Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness.”  He also told us to take our testimony to the world, to share with them what has happened to us.  It is as if Jesus told us to take this light (Him) to the world and we have spent two thousand years building a lamp and berating everyone who does not call the lamp the light.

Remember, we are citizens of Heaven. We are Pilgrims here, strangers in a strange land.   As Easter approaches remember “Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified freely forever, one day He’s coming oh glorious day, oh glorious day”

I pray with Casting Crowns, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers let our hearts be led by mercy help us reach with open hearts and open doors oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.”

This is the politics of Easter: vote for Jesus who has already won the war and join the winning side.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Don’t Worry Be Happy

No one gets to live in the world they grew up in, it moves too fast.

It wasn’t always like this.  My father grew up plowing with mules as had his father and his father and his father back and back into the mist of time.  Things changed slowly until the machine age.  Then with the development of the steam engine, the assembly line, and mechanization things started to speed up.  Today we are in the first throws of the Second Machine Age, and things are beginning to travel faster than we can assimilate.

The renowned futurist Alvin Toffler first called it Future Shock.  Then he called it The Third Wave.  Then came Powershift,War and Antiwar, and finally Creating a New Civilization.

What it all comes down to is technology is moving at an exponential rate.  It is accelerating faster than we can adapt to and therefore there are social and cultural dislocations on the horizon.  One good way to visualize exponential growth is to remember the story of the man who invented chess.

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago there was a King in India who loved to play games. But he had gotten bored of the games that were present at the time and wanted a new game that was much more challenging. He commissioned a poor mathematician who lived in his kingdom to come up with a new game. After months of struggling with all kinds of ideas the mathematician came up with the game of Chaturanga (Chess).

The game had two armies each lead by a King who commanded the army to defeat the other by capturing the enemy King. It was played on a simple 8×8 square board. The King loved this game so much that he offered to give the poor mathematician anything he wished for. “I would like one grain of rice for the first square of the board, two grains for the second, four grains for the third and so on doubled for each of the 64 squares of the game board” said the mathematician. “Is that all?” asked the King, “Why don’t you ask for gold or silver coins instead of rice grains.” “The rice should be sufficient for me.” replied the mathematician. The King ordered his staff to lay down the grains of rice and soon learned that all the wealth in his kingdom would not be enough to buy the amount of rice needed on the 64th square. In fact the whole kingdom’s supply of rice was exhausted before the 30th square was reached. “You have provided me with such a great game and yet I cannot fulfill your simple wish. You are indeed a genius.” said the King and offered to make the mathematician his top advisor instead.

We can see what a great example this is as a lesson in exponential growth when we reflect on the fact that the chess board has 64 squares and if you put just one grain on the first and double up on the next and so on, you will reach an enormous amount of grain.

1 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 If you work this out you get an incredible amount of grain something like this: 18.446.744.073.709.551.615 around 18.446.744 Trillions of wheat grains.

This is where Moore’s Law begins to impact our lives.  Moore’s Law is a computing term which originated around 1970 which states that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers will double every two years.  That is exponential growth.  It began very slowly with computers the size of small buildings in climate controlled rooms clean manned by teams of scientist and mathematicians.  Today five year-old children routinely play with games having more computing power that NASA had to get to the Moon.  Our cell phones were invented by Martin Cooper who was trying to bring the Star Trek communicators to life.  Today our smartphones are computers that have more power than supercomputers of just a few years ago.  It helps to remember that the Star Trek communicators were audio only.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the horizon and humanoid robots with the mental agility of Watson and memories the size of Google will soon be walking among us.  Scientists are already using Cochlear implants to bring hearing to the deaf.  Using them to increase memory, intelligenceand control machines by thoughtis just around the corner as we race to what Ray Kurzweil calls The Singularity.  This will be a time when as Kurzweil puts it, “the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.”

What does all this mean?  Do we redefine life from something like, “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” to sentient to include AI?

Do we become cyborgs as our machines become alive?  Are we close to becoming gods who create life and virtual worlds?

While all of this technology is amazing and wondering about it and its future impact is entertaining it all reminds me of the story of the scientist who told God, “You’re not so much. We have now mastered the techniques for creating life in the laboratory.”

God answered, “Isn’t that interesting.”

Feeling as if God had taken his brazen assertion lightly the scientist said, “I challenge you to a contest.  Let’s just see who can create life the fastest.”

God answered “All right let’s go.”  With that God reached down and picked up some mud and began fashioning it into a man.  The scientist filled with pride took his test tubes and started pouring his potions back and forth when God looked at him and said, “Hey!  Get your own mud!”

Man proposes and God disposes.  We think we are on the verge of taking the place of God in our own evolution.  Many live as if all of this here is all that there is anywhere.

Yet the unanswered questions outweigh the answers.  There are two things: Dark Matter and Dark Energy that scientists tell us makes up the vast majority of everything yet is un-seeable and unknowable.  The Big Bang is now accepted as fact by all scientists yet none can tell us what was before the Big bang or how the Big Bang could have banged.

Faith has the answers.  Dark Energy and Dark Matter are the power of God and the spiritual world.  One upholds us and one surrounds us.  And as far as the Big bang goes, in the beginning God said, “Let there be.”

If the mad rush towards the future leaves you shocked, if the idea of machines that are smarter than humans or of humans that are as smart as machines leaves you turned off instead of turned on don’t worry be happy.  There is joy unspeakable and a life filled with glory right at your fingertips.  Accept Jesus as your Savior, turn from the world and embrace the all-encompassing reality of a spiritual life and find the peace you have always longed for.

Even the godless Communists turned to God when they were on the ropes.Don’t wait for the bell to ring before you surrender and win.  Jesus is the Rock that doesn’t roll and the shelter in the face of the storm.

We are standing on the edge of the abyss and the bell will toll soon.  When we wonder for whom the bell tolls let’s rejoice together as children of God united in the Holy Spirit through faith in our risen Savior Jesus Christ.   For if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens