A Typical Sunday

6:00 p.m. Saturday night
Sunday’s for us typically begin Saturday night with preparations. Having three kids five and under means we have to allow plenty of time. As the end of Saturday draws near, we begin with baths for the kids, laying clothes out and packing a bag of things to color, some picture books to look at and a few small snacks. During this time, Brittany and I double team the food preparation for the Sunday lunch that will follow the worship service tomorrow. This week we are making meatloaf, salad and some sweet tea. We Southerners fear running out of sweet tea at church lunch, similar to the fears of running out of bread during the depression. One of these fears is likely irrational, but nevertheless it’s real. This meatloaf isn’t the standard ketchup topping meatloaf, so it requires a few ingredients, sitting overnight and then being taken out to cool off before being put in the oven. The salad will await its preparation until morning, but the tea will be made tonight, to ensure its even sweeter by lunch. 

6:30 p.m.
The kids are bathed and ready for bed, but they will stay up another hour or so playing, reading an whatever else they want to do that doesn’t make a mess or hurt their father too badly. If all goes well, normally one of their parents (you can guess which one), will get them a light snack before bed. 

8:00-8:30 p.m.ish
The kids are taken to bed for a time to pray for tomorrow’s Lord’s Day, read a quick story and call it a night. Brittany and I will then gather our clothes for tomorrow or do one or two other things before we call it a night. We will talk, read a book, or something else for a short bit before we go to bed around 9:30

5:00 a.m.ish Sunday morning
I get up and ready first every Sunday. After getting dressed I make a cup or two of coffee, take the meatloaf out the fridge to thaw, and sit down to review my sermon notes one last time, pray, read over the sermon passage, the morning’s reading from the worship service and sometimes a book that encourages the mood to preach.

7:30 a.m.ish
I begin my Sunday’s in the living room until Brittany and the kids wake up and then I move back. Sunday is typically the only day of the week I don’t have breakfast with the family so I can gather my thoughts and prepare my heart to lead in worship. 

8:00 am
Brittany feeds the kids, bastes the meatloaf every ten minutes until ready and throws the salad together while the kids get dressed. I will come out around 9 to load the kids, bags and food in the car before and we head out around 9:15.

9:20 a.m.
We arrive at church as everyone else starts coming. We are currently meeting at 9:30 a.m. for Equipping Hour for further teaching of a different variety than what would come from the Sunday sermons. After the crock pots are plugged in, we settle in for Equipping Hour. I enjoy this time because it starts discussions and thoughts on things we might not have considered. It’s also helpful to slow down and not get to church feeling like we spent the first half of the service recovering from the rush.

10:30 a.m.
Equipping Hour ends and others begin to come with crockpots and drinks in hand. We will spend the next 15-20 minutes catching up with others, meeting new people, getting the elements prepared for the Lord’s Supper, Placing and passing out bulletins, giving assignments for the morning prayers, readings and confession. This also begins the inner church war for control of the temperature. I fight weekly for those who want to worship free of heat and in the bliss of cool temperatures.

10:45 a.m.
After the victor in the war of the thermostat is declared, one of the men of the church will come forward and lead us in our congregational prayer. Here we pray and offer praises and thanks to our Triune God, confess our sins privately and pray for each other collectively, while also praying for two households each week. If there are urgent requests we offer those up to God as well. We also pray for those who are serving in the mission field, and near the end a prayer is offered for the worship service, and finally for our town, society and country. It should go without saying that this portion of the service is highly important. Since my family is included in the collective prayers for our church, knowing I am being interceded for by the one offering the prayer and by those who give their AMEN is a blessing. God hears our prayers because we come in the name of Jesus and ask them according to His will. This allows us now to proceed forward with prepared hearts.

11:00 a.m.
Another man comes forward and leads the congregation in our reading and recitation of our faith from the Apostles Creed. Upon preparing to enter into the worship of God, we acknowledge who we worship, trust and put all hope and faith in. Reading this together is for us to remember that we aren’t alone, but have God’s people, both in the room with us, with all those around the world and for all time who have made this same profession from the same heart, with the same hope. This time has been particularly enjoyable for me since my children have been learning the Apostle’s Creed at home and can recite much of it in corporate worship. Their presence in worship is important, but their participation is the goal.  

We give our AMEN to this confession and then hear from the reading of God’s Word from the Old Testament. The reading will connect to the sermon text for the day and allow us to hear from the works and words of God that we may again say AMEN. After this reading we sing a hymn of praise to our great God that praises Him from what this reading has revealed. After the hymn, we hear the reading of a Psalm that connects with the sermon text. This Psalm reading is followed by either a Psalm singing which we have recently begun singing, or another hymn. Lastly, we hear a reading from the New Testament, that shows the work and person of Christ as we prepare to hear from the preaching of God’s word. This reading is again followed by a hymn of praise. Once the singing is finished, we offer praises and a prayer for the sermon.

Since I am the main teaching elder, The time of readings and singing are important to me because this is where I get to sit with my family for worship.

11:30 a.m.
I come forward and read the sermon text for the day. Today’s text is from 1st Corinthians 15:1-11, a great primer on the nature, power, historical acts, objective work and nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with the resurrection being it’s foundation. While every Sunday is a day of celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, this month we are focusing on it explicitly from 1st Corinthians chapter 15. My goal is to preach a sermon, not deliver a lecture. To do this, I must show how the Christian gospel of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is central to every text, and why it is of utmost importance to this particular congregation, in this particular time and place in history.

When I finish, I try to allow some time to reflect and offer the assurance to all who have or would receive the gospel by repentance and faith that they are truly forgiven of their sins through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Upon this I offer praises to God for what has been revealed and prayers for the congregation. We then sing a hymn of praise and transition to partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

Typically, I’m simultaneously drained, emotional and excited after a sermon. I delight the pause to sing praises to God with my family for a few minutes.

12:15 p.m.ish
I and four men come to the front and I give a short talk connecting the Lord’s Supper to the sermon text and extend the offer to participate to all baptized Christians in good standing with their local church to partake of the Supper. After the elements are passed I tell of what sins from this text we have seen that Christ broke his body and spilled his blood for to provide remission of sins. We then eat and drink the Supper, knowing that God has shown us again visibly, that what this meal tells us is as real true as the elements we held in our hands to eat and drink. Finally, the church rises to hear the benediction and receive a final blessing from God and from His word. As hands are opened and hearts prepared to receive, our God blesses us and then we end with a final praise to Him by singing the Doxology. From here, we go in peace and enjoy the gift of the grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ by sitting down together and enjoying the fellowship of the saints and their gift of grace in what they brought to the meal. This will go on for at least the next two hours and often three to four. We laugh, talk, encourage one another, discuss the sermon, things from our lives and the world, get to know those better than we don’t yet know very well, and other things that pop up. During this time the kids are playing inside and outside and enjoy a full day with their friends. This is Lord’s Day, a foretaste of that Great Day when we all sit with Him and He serves us the greatest fellowship meal we will ever have.

5:00 p.m.ish
Sometimes, we stay late enough that it’s time for dinner (or supper if you’re a true Southerner), and if we are feeling up to it, a couple of families will head to a restaurant, get a table for 15-25 and cap off the day with more good food and good company, filled with laughing, talking and hearts full of gratitude. 

Late eveningish
We leave the restaurant and the kids fall asleep before we get out of the parking lot. Brittany and I talk about the day on the drive home, and what might lay ahead for the week. We get home, grab the exhausted, dead weight little bodies and put them in bed, but not before they make one last request to stay up and have a snack. After being denied this grace of God, we put the kids in bed and they are out before we can leave the room. Brittany and I get in bed, talk for a few more minutes, tell each other good night, turn the lights off and finish off a typical Sunday, grateful that in seven more days, we get to do it again. This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

The Ordinary Life In The Bible

Do you ever feel like the things you do aren’t important or are meaningless? Do you ever think you could be using your life for a better purpose and cause, beyond the things that seem to serve no good purpose? I understand how you you feel because I at times feel the same way. I’ve wonder if I should move to a place that is less evangelized or a more poverty stricken country, or something of the like. I’ve been there but the hope that I cling to is that God determines my days, years and location. In His grand plan and purposes, this is where I need to be. Maybe that’s the encouragement these verses can provide for you.

Rather than write another article or book on these type of things, I wanted to provide some help and encouragement for you to consider from the Scriptures. Below is a sampling of Bible verses regarding the ordinary tasks of life.

I hope these verse and some of the notes I’ve made will be of some help. The Scripture is a wonderful book that is the most detailed and involved piece of literature in the day to day affairs of people. It is for everyone one profits everyone in every situation. God designed it that way. Always remember that God works through normal ordinary means and fits us to do the same. 

"A Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting crosses on shoes, but by making good shoes. God cares for good craftsmanship." Martin Luther (probably)

Genesis 1:26-27: Man’s creation in God’s image is to do God-like things to learn more about God. So it’s in our being to do things like God.

Genesis Chapter 1-2: God creates the world and by working. He works hard and then rests. Our pattern of life is built and modeled after God.

Genesis Chapters 1:26-27: All the material in the world is from God and he tells you to have dominion over it. Use it make great things, not matter how big or small because you have dominion over the big and small.

Genesis 4:17-22: As mankind spread, God had them do basic things that we use today: build cities, farm and play instruments. Because they are made in God’s image, they take his materials and do good things with them.

Genesis 4:17-22: Building cities includes all the mundane things that make a city exist: roads, buildings, infrastructure, etc. All of this is part of what God created us to do. 

Genesis 5 and all genealogies: Who of them knew they would be listed in genealogies that ultimately made the way for the Messiah to come? We are placed in our families with certain people for a reason that God determines. 

Genesis 6:11-22: God tells Noah that He is going to destroy the earth and He gives Noah electing grace and salvation. What is Noah’s next task? Build a boat. For about 100 years. God gives him very specific instructions, but not to do a magic trick. He tells how to use tools. God knew in detail how to use a tool, because the idea to make tools to build culture is from God. Whatever you do in your job, the ingenuity and creativity to do that is from God. Your chicken sandwiches aren’t good because Chick-Fila made it, but because God wove into the fabric of creation how to take salt, pepper, oil, heat chicken, flour and butter and make something close to divine. As well, when you set up systems for speed, organization, etc. that achieve financial growth then you have taken principles from God and used it in your life and skill. You have taken dominion. You can see this in these passages. God knew what tools to use, what to do with them and He knew why. Now we do the same. 

Genesis 9:20: Noah becomes a man of the soil. He does like God did: He works and builds. Noah is an ordinary guy, who after being the leader of a new humanity in a sense, doesn’t set up a throne, but goes to work. 

Genesis 11:1-9: God looks in anger at man when they try to build a tower to heaven. Why was he angry? Because they believed themselves to be God because of their work, ingenuity and creativity. One of their sins wasn’t undervaluing their work, but overvaluing their work. This happens often to men in the Scripture. 

Genesis 13: Why did Abram Lot separate? To see where they would take dominion and multiply. Lot chose to do this in evil ways and with evil people. The question is: In the life decisions we make, will we choose the path that is good to eyes and stomach or to follow God, knowing that he will provide those things in His way and time. A land flowing with milk and honey was figurative for literal things. 

Genesis 20-21: Where did Abraham get all his wealth and possessions? He worked. This is the underlying part of his story. He is working and taking dominion and God is using him and his life to bring about the plan of redemption. God’s promises to Him to bring a son are special because it happens within the ordinary times of life. 

Genesis 22: Abraham take Issac to sacrifice Him to God as God commands. Issac isn’t unfamiliar with the sacrifice of worship. He even asks his father why all the elements aren’t there. What is significant to this is that Isaac is familiar with worship because his father showed him and participated in worship with him. Stay faithful worshipping with your kids. God is shaping them even when you cant see or your not aware. 

Genesis 23, 25, 27: Sarah dies and they bury her. They do so in their traditions and their tradition is there to build and sustain their culture for generations to come. See the deaths of prominent saints in other parts of the Old Testament. Godly traditions build legacies into a family. Don’t overlook the power they have to shape all of life. 

Genesis 24: Isaac, one of the patricharcs of the Scripture, is a man who works in the field. He is a normal person that God is using to do great things for generations to come. Stay faithful in what you are doing. You don’t know what legacy God is building in you. 

Genesis 30:25-33: God prospers Jacob in his vocation. 

The life of Joseph: Joseph spent much of his days working in sectors of society that were not parts of the people of God. They were in institutions that served the common good. They had a bigger purpose: Bring about the lineage of the Messiah. Joseph didn’t spare Egypt from famine by learning about agriculture and planning in a dream. He had a dream and God used his skills and abilities to save them from famine. Remember this: Joseph didn’t take all those supplies in the store houses. Normal, everyday people did. It may not seem like much, but hard work aided in people not starving for seven years. Notice as well: His skill was organization,. leadership and proper planning and frugality. He knew not to spend all the excess and to use their excess to further their wealth even more. Use your skills with money to bless and prosper your business, even when it seems you are just doing the payroll. 

Exodus 1:1-7: Israel went from 70 people to thousands upon thousands and they were known for what? Not merely their religion, but for how their God prospers and blesses them. 

Exodus 2:3: Moses’ mother made a basket for him. This is craftsmanship. 

Exodus 5: One of the punishments for Israel was hard work. Work is so valuable that Egypt thought they could destroy them by making their work hard. But they continued to prosper by God’s grace. 

Exodus 17:8-14: The people of God were skilled in the art of warfare. See also many of the battles of Joshua, Judges, Kings and Chronicles. I say art of warfare because so much of what they did was planning, strategy and use of wisdom. What does it take to run a godly business? planning, strategy and use of wisdom. Taking things God gives us and using it for his honor.

Exodus 21-30 and most of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy: Much of these are laws that are to be practiced in a godly society. This is where the vocation of lawyers comes from and our systems of fair practice.

Exodus 28:15, Exodus 35:30-36:38 and Exodus 39 See the use of the word skill and where it came from. Ordinary things given special place and use by God.

The Book of Numbers is essentially the use of mathematics

Deuteronomy 4: This tells that as you enter the land, you will prosper if you obey God and will lose prosperity if you turn to false gods. Look at the ways in which you will prosper and interpret that not just as a nation giving out resources, but the families and business that make up a nation.

Psalm 68: God’s workings in the normal life

Psalm 111:5 

Psalm 136

Matthew 13:55: Jesus born to a carpenter. 

Matthew 4: Calling of the Disciples from ordinary jobs

Paul’s journeys are often to meet up and talk with people for encouragement.

Acts 2:42-47: To meet day to day is to mean someone is cooking, cleaning, preparing etc. These meetings cant happen without those tasks being accomplished. 

Mark 1:29-31: Jesus is there for fellowship and does ministry in the ordinary. The disciples may have left all to follow Jesus, but they still had homes and families.  

Mark 2: Jesus is in mans home. Ordinary things happening. 

Romans 16:1-2: Help in any way she needs. 

Romans 16:3-5: They risked their necks by owning a home and having worship services there

Romans 16:6: Hard work. Doesn’t say how

Romans 16:7-16: The greetings there are for church members who work hard and their families. Not the popular pastors, but the members.

Romans 16:23: Normal jobs

1 Corinthians is a book about normal life and problems: greed, arrogance, disobedience, sexuality, lawsuits, marriage, children, food, humility, clothing, etc. 

1 Corinthians 16:1-4

1 Corinthians 16: 5-11: Paul talking about friendships

2 Corinthians 13:11: Work out your arguments and get along

Ephesians 4: See how normal the new life looks. No radicalness in this passage. 

Ephesians 6:22: Tychius is sent to tell others news. 

Philippians 4:2-9: Women arguing and need to get along.

Philippians 4:10-20: Thanks for the kind hospitality

Colossians 4:12: praying long and often for a single church. God cares about every fabric and church.

1 Thessalonians 5:12: show respect

1 Thessalonians 5:13: Get along with others

1 Thessalonians 5:14: Encourage others around you

Read 1 Thessalonians 5 as if it were instructions for you in your local church. Very simple stuff

1 Timothy 2:1-7: Pray for your governmental leaders

1 Timothy 5: the day to day care of church life

Philemon as a book: Forgive someone who messed up.

Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13:4: God says sexual acts are wonderful and he delights when they are within marriage.  

James is the best book for normal life

1 Peter 3: In the midst of a painful persecution, he stops to talk about husbands tone towards their wives, so much that he says it could hinder your prayers. How you talk to your wife is of equal value to being dispersed for the faith. 

2 John: Written to an individual in a small church that we never know about loving people

We Have Moved Back Home

Our family has successfully transitioned to our new home, back in our hometown and county. We closed on our house last Friday, said our goodbyes to our home that we loved for the last six years and slept as residents of Tate County for the first time in a nearly a decade. While I was prepared for an emotional goodbye to our home, it was much harder to say goodbye to our house than I thought. That home was my favorite place on this earth and it will be hard to imagine life without it. The LORD formed our family there and we are eternally grateful for it.

We are also excited to be in a new phase. While the home we are in is temporary, we already enjoy it and its coziness. The kids have taken to it and Brittany has made it a home very quickly. She is immensely gifted with an eye for beauty. 

We talked yesterday morning how overwhelmed we are by the amount of help our family and friends and church members helped us in the process. We had our things on a moving truck Friday afternoon and by Sunday night our house was painted with 95% of things unpacked and set up. This week has been getting the tedious details of moving accomplished and set up. To all everyone who helped, we are deeply grateful and thankful for all you did for us. Thank you very much. 

I wil resume writing regularly in the next week or so, once I get back into my normal routine. For now, here is a link to an article that I wrote for Highlands Ministries. Highlands is a tremendous ministry that I am honored to contribute to in any way I can. No contribution I could make to them would come close to what they have done for my family and I.

Family Meals

In all of my love for food and of the different places I enjoy eating, without a doubt my favorite place to eat is at home with my family. Our family meals are immensely valuable to us. It is here we get uninterrupted time together to talk, and enjoy the pleasure of being with one another. We get to enjoy the bounty of a wide range of meals from the detailed and tedious meals, such as glazed pork to the quick and easy meals like oatmeal. Family meals have all kinds of styles and options because family favorites are learned through years of practice and tests. Some meals didn't stay in our rotation and others were an instant success that are menu staples.

Family meals take on a routine and develop traditions because this is the normal process for human beings. No matter how much we talk about variety and diversity, we always want tradition and repetition. For some families they eat at the same place for each meal, others have certain things they do on certain nights of the week. When I was growing up my mom and I ate spaghetti every Tuesday night for years and my grandfather cooked me breakfast every Saturday morning until he wasn’t as able to do so anymore. These traditions are still current in my family. We eat spaghetti frequently and most Saturdays we have a larger breakfast. These traditions have become some of my fondest memories because they are the times that have shaped me as much as any book I’ve read or any conference I’ve attended. I can still remember the first time Reid, Grace and Sam sat in their high chairs and had adult food. They had different responses to say the least. Reid was excited to try something different. Grace, not so much. She is like her mother: she picks something she likes and will eat the same thing at a restaurant until they close down or no longer have it on the menu. Sam's first eating experience was fun because the older kids were the first to feed him. What they ate was not as important to me as much as being with them is. I see much of their personalities coming through at the dinner table. It is the place where our family identity and ethos is formed and renewed each day. 

The dinner table is also the time that I get to see up front the fruits of my wife’s labor for the day. From the time we wake up until bedtime, Brittany is on a schedule that seemingly revolves around meals. Our kids eat often, as do I. After completing a day of work, coming downstairs and having a home cooked meal ready for us is quite rewarding. Think of what it involves to pull this off: She has to know what we enjoy and don’t enjoy, how many extra meals we can eat from this and how much will it cost. She also has to know what ingredients and sides dishes go with a main dish, what seasonings to add and how much, not to mention the actual work of cooking the food, all while doing all the other tasks of managing a household. She also does this for every single meal we have at home. When we sit down for dinner, I see the reward of all her hard work: a delicious home cooked meal with all of her family with her to enjoy the blessings and provision from God of health, vocation, nourishment, taste, family and laughter. My heart breaks for those homes where there isn't laughter at the dinner table, especially with children. If watching them eat and enjoy being with their family is not enough to satisfy you, then seeing where and what they can spill food on will put you over the edge. On spaghetti nights, we accept that all their plates, shirts and most assuredly their entire face will have a reddish tent by the end of the meal. What a blessing family dinner can be.

Even though Brittany does the vast majority of the cooking, I enjoy being involved with her in the process. I try to do things that will make the process easier on her, which involves lots of stirring, smashing, peeling, rinsing and cutting. I have done this long enough that she now allows me to contribute to what ingredients should or should not go into certain dishes and what sides will go with the main dish. The kids are normally involved in the preparation by cleaning up, cracking eggs, putting seasonings in, etc. Their primary job is to taste everything we make and they are getting really good at it. They are accustomed to seeing Brittany use certain tools to cook, so if the mixer is on, they assume we are making a cake and immediately asks to lick the beater or to eat chocolate chips. Our kids believes eating is part of the process of cooking: enjoy the work as you go and have fun.

I think we can learn more things from our children in these times than we realize. It would be wise of us to step back from what we are doing in our families to see the beauty and joy that God gives us in the small things. You can either see your children as something that is annoying you while you cook, or you can see their interest in being with you as a gift of grace and their desire to participate in family life as something to be forged deeper in their souls. If we don’t believe it is important to cook at home and eat meals together at home, then what else do we not believe is important? Family meals are the times and events that are the truest strategy of God for the forging of future generations of Christianity, more so than catechism and family worship. As much as our children need family worship and catechizing, they need meals with mom, dad and their siblings even more. 

Family meals are important because they are at the heart of the battle in our culture over abortion. The battle over abortion is not merely a legal battle or a philosophical debate on when life begins, but the battle on whether or not a child will be given the opportunity to live and exist in the world so that he or she can lick the beaters while their mom bakes them a cake. It is a battle over whether or not children will get to sit by their brothers and sisters and have dinner together. This isn’t a battle over whether or not a woman has the right to keep a baby in her womb. It is about their being made in the image of God, a person He has created to be at your table and His plan is that they be in their mother’s womb for ten months at the table before they come to join us in their mother or father’s arms at the table while we eat.  

Family meals teach us many things and forge a lasting identity of who we are as a person. They shape us and our worldview. They are a gift to us from God because He wants to give us a taste and glimpse of the great feast that we will partake of when we enter into the age to come fully. It will be a feast where all of the family of God for all time is gathered at one table to eat, and fellowship together around the work of our Father to redeem us through the death and resurrection of our elder brother. It is a feast that He has prepared for us. He has done the work to bring us into the family, and is teaching us how to prepare for this great feast each and every day. The more we learn and grow, the more responsibility in His preparation He gives us. One day the meal will be ready. One day our elder brother is coming back to take us to the dinner. 

God has a grand feast prepared for us to enjoy with His Son. The feast will begin at the second coming of Christ. Are you hungry for the feast? Do you want to know what it will taste like when we sit and partake of it fully? I wish we could eat now. The meal is not fully prepared, but thankfully God has given us a sample. Each Lord’s Day that we gather with God’s people, He gives us a sample of His great feast. He speaks to us in His word. He hears our praise of His great meal when we sing. He then gives us a taste of the bread and wine from his feast he is preparing. He does not see us as annoying children interrupting His work of preparation. Our enjoyment is the goal of HIs preparation. When you sit down for dinner and partake of a great meal with your family, you will enjoy the taste of the food. But the true substance of that meal is the cook and being able to eat with the cook and those at the table. This is the Christian life. We are tasting the icing in the bowl in comparison to the feast that awaits us. And yet the icing is so wonderful that it could satisfy us for eternity. But God grants to give us more. He wants us to taste and see that He is good and family dinners are a spoonful He gives us to taste of His goodness. 

Becoming A Classical Liberal/Conservative

I was raised in a family that, (for the most part) were devoutly conservative in their politics. This is where I grew my first interest in politics because it was a normal part of my family’s life. I had an interest in elections, parties and issues, even from a young age. As the years have passed, my interest in politics and news has dropped considerably and I credit that to becoming grounded in a worldview more so than political agendas. The height of this for me was when I was in college and for a time in seminary. I had grown very frustrated with the actions of the Republican party and what was known as conservative politics. I had started to develop an understanding of the social needs that exist in the world, particularly amongst the poor and needy. The more I learned about these things, I became very dissatisfied with the Republican Conservative approach to the poor and needy and sought refuge in liberal view of social issues on basically everything except abortion.

This newfound desire for liberalism made sense to me for quite a few years, but it just couldn’t hold up for very long. However, I couldn’t return to the contemporary Republican view of the world, so I did what most did, I gave up and declared myself an independent. How brave of me, I know. It must be stated that I didn’t become an independent because I wanted to ride the middle. It was more confusion and having an understanding of the world that was undergirded by the contemporary, ever changing American political landscape. From here I began reading to understand what it meant to be a conservative, or a classical liberal in the way one looks at the world. I also wanted to understand Christian thinking, particularly historic, confessional minded Christian thinking on politics and quickly realized that I had missed the whole point. My problem with political agendas is that I saw everything through the lens of legislation and office holders and not how one understands God, the world, the purposes and limitations of the institutions God has made, and what it is that makes up a society. Secular liberalism left me nothing but a hollow empty world that misapplies its answers and solutions to problems, and does so because it has a faulty foundation. With that being said, let me give a few reasons as to why I moved away from liberalism and its secular variety.

First, secular liberalism doesn’t need God for its beliefs and applications. While it may try to make an appeal towards a higher reality, secular liberalism doesn’t see God as the ultimate higher reality. It will use God to validate its ultimate higher reality, or to validate its own claims, but never is secular liberalism based in the nature, character and existence of God. Conservatism in its truest sense is founded upon the belief that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. We must recognize that God is our highest reality and standard and thus all we do should reflect God’s nature and his desires for the good of humanity. Liberalism doesn’t make this appeal because to accomplish the liberal goal, you don’t need God. In secular liberalism, ultimate faith is in humanity. Thus the source of human flourishing is humanity’s ability, wisdom and resources to provide aid and help where needed and to remove the barriers that hinder an individual. It is easy to claim here that secular liberals and conservatives as I’m describing them want the same thing, but here is why we go in different directions: a conservative believes that God determines what barriers should and shouldn’t exist. Conservatives believe God determines what is good for a society. This is the major difference. Certainly there are those who don’t fit into this view, such as an atheistic conservative or an orthodox Christian who has secular liberal tendencies and beliefs. For this I simply appeal to the fall of humanity and remind the readers that people do weird things that seem consistent but aren’t fundamentally compatible, like putting cheese on Chinese food. It can happen, but it’s just not right.

Second, secular liberalism sees government as its highest reality. This is an overflow of a secular liberal’s deep faith in humanity as the highest reality. Government to a secular liberal is the elevated authority over the society that determines and guide where a society should be headed. Government will enforce fairness and unfairness, determine what is wealthy and what is poor and will take from where it must to ensure its determined poor have goods. It will decide what is healthy and not healthy, what is safe and not safe, who is safe and not safe, when to work, how much to work and how much a job deserves to be paid, all the while fearing Christians and conservatives and calling them oppressive haters of freedom. Secular liberalism sees government as its highest reality, which is another way to say it sees it as God. As an Orthodox, Protestant, Reformed, and Evangelical Christian, who believes every word of the Bible is true, inerrant and authoritative over every aspect of my life because it is the very words of the Triune God, I couldn’t disagree more.

Third, secular liberalism doesn’t actually believe in individual freedom: It believes in individual autonomy. A belief in individual freedom comes from our understanding of the value of human beings. Because I am a human being I am granted certain inalienable rights as a citizen in this country that the government and society can’t intrude on. These rights are granted to all human beings and are to be maintained and protected by laws and respect from other citizens. A secular liberal believes something different, called individual autonomy. As a human being I have certain inalienable rights that can’t be treaded on by anything or anyone else. It believes that humans are not only granted rights, but are granted autonomy, thus the individual human may determine what their rights are for themselves. Once an individual determines his or her own rights, other people, society at large and the government must enact laws to protect those autonomous individual rights: all 300,000,000 of us. What does this look like? abortion on demand, contraception given to those who can’t afford it, marriage extended to anyone who asks, mass amount of court cases over defamation of character, twitter and Facebook outcry of offense for anything the person claims has hurt or offended them, businesses closing because they have an autonomous right to buy a cake from you because they want to, children suing parents over disciplinary actions they didn’t approve of, sex changes for children under 8 years old, rampant pornography use that is easier access each day, Christians leaving churches over the expectation to live holy lives, Christians who stay mad and critical at churches because they don’t meet any perceived need they have, and I’m sure countless other things. I’m sure you are asking yourself, “doesn’t points two and three contradict each other?”, and my answer is yes: secular liberalism is vey confusing and faulty at its core.

Fourth, secular liberalism assesses everyone as an agenda and a target audience. I don’t mean here that I dislike the term such as African-American, Irish-American or Italian-American. I think it says more about America as a melting pot of ethnicities, which is a good thing. My criticism here is of the idea that we aren’t mere citizens: we are part of a very small target group. Human beings are much more complex and valuable than to be grouped together into a target audience. It’s much more akin to “white” and “colored” marked water fountains as a sign of power and victimhood than it is to freeing the oppressed. As long as the label sticks to you, you are a perpetual victim, which is what secular liberalism’s view of individual autonomy thrives on. This is a very vital point for me because my desire to help the poor drove me to secular liberalism, but in reality secular liberalism abuses the poor and leaves them in worse positions than before.

I could elaborate more as to why I rejected secular liberalism, such as its treatment of education as the societal sacrament, its religious zeal for individual autonomy while supporting the murder of children in the name of autonomy, its complete exploitation of the poor, its harmful efforts to raise the poor out of poverty that has perpetuated their poverty, its misuse of its own terms and beliefs, (see egalitarianism, racist, equality and many others), its changing and misuse of terms like gender, marriage and offense, its fundamental opposition to religion, aka Christianity and Judaism, its rejection of the idea of religion as the core of all cultures, its rejection of Christianity while demanding it determine and define what it is to be a faithful Christian, and I’m sure a few other things, but time doesn’t allow for that. Perhaps I can in the coming days, but for now this will suffice as to what drove me away from secular liberalism and towards a comprehensive Christian, conservative, biblical understanding of culture, government and humanity. If God is the highest reality, authority and good, then from His character and nature the world is to be built. God determines what is good. God calls the shots. We are accountable to him and are to build our societies based on what He has given us within the parameters of his natural law and biblical teachings. God gives every person value and God knows what is best for each society. We humans are the ones who rejected God and decided we would pursue our autonomy and build societies on our own terms. The problem is, we are using God’s world and must live within the parameters that God built the world. We are told to take dominion, but its dominion within God’s order. Conservatism, or as its been called classical liberalism bases its beliefs on these things, which is why so many Christians across Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, and for that matter Judaism are conservative in the political realm. Societies are built on philosophy, whether we like it or not. Ours was not built on secular liberalism, but is there now and we wonder why things are falling apart before our eyes. May God grant us a return to the Rock of our foundation and may we flee the sand of secular liberalism.