Pastor Ham

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No Good Representative Goes Unpunished

I recently read a social media post by an outraged citizen (who I do not know) decrying his local government. It seems that their crime was having the nerve to consider re-opening a matter for a second round of voting that had mustered up a 54% to 46% split it’s first time around.

Clearly, this gentleman was among the 54%, as he lambasted his representatives for their audacity in even discussing the idea further (as if a difference of 4 out of 100 people is a healthy majority to begin with….but that is a matter for another day).

Now, I happened to know absolutely nothing about the matter being voted on and therefore had no opinion on its outcome. Which is irrelevant to the case because the flaws with this gentleman’s thinking have absolutely nothing to do with which side one happened to line up on in the debate. The point is that he did not understand principled representative government, and in that, he is not alone. The vast majority of our country, including its leaders, do not understand it. And if they did most of them would hate it.

Here’s the thing: a representative is not merely a mouthpiece of the people. If he were, there would be no need for representatives at all. Think about it. In a pure brute democracy (which we are about to discover is a terrible thing), all you really need is some fast n’ ready slick n’ easy electronic votation device to tally up the votes lickety-split and let some faceless clerk in some excessively-named office know what the will of the people is (or at least 50.0001% of the ones that voted). If representatives are merely puppets of the people, there is no need for them. They are nothing more than exceedingly expensive yes-men.

At least one reason representatives exist is the assumption that they will occasionally tell the people “no.” Representatives are guardrails against mob rule.

Now, in order to do their jobs well they will first need to know more about the political and cultural topics of the day than the average Joe that they represent. They will need to be experts in many fields. And because average Joe has a real job and does not have the time to become an expert in many fields, representatives are paid to do just that.

In addition to knowing more and knowing better, they will also need the backbone to take principled stands against the will of their constituents when necessary for the good of those very constituents. It’s very like parenting. And as you know parents are quite often not the most popular folks around the house.

After a mere two qualifications you can probably see why good representatives are nearly extinct. In America, you simply can’t be a good representative and stay in office. People do not like to be told no. Do it once or twice and you’re sure to lose reelection. And since reelection is the primary goal of nearly all politicians, they simply do not operate in a world of “no’s”.

In order for this to change, citizens of good will and conservative values need to better understand good representative government and do their best to elect leaders who understand it even better than we do. We ought to be the first to applaud a representative who takes a principled stand, especially if it is an unpopular one, and maybe even if it contradicts what we wanted him to do.

A virtuous republic cannot exist without virtuous people. And while there are precious few of these left, the ones remaining would do far more for their communities and country if we encouraged good representatives rather than punishing them.

August 25, 2016 Resources: Suicide of the Republic; How We Got Our Bible; Sound Preaching

One highly misunderstood (and under-understood) area is how we got the 27 books of our New Testament. Michael Kruger, who has written what looks to be a helpful book on the topic, writes a concise article outlining the basic points.

Why in the world would I link to articles about preaching when most readers are not pastors? Because non-pastors need to know what good preaching looks like. Think about it, if you are aware of what makes sound preaching, you will know when you are being preached to well and when you are not. This can be a great encouragement to those of us in churches with good preaching. But it will also equip you to help Christian friends who are in churches where the preaching is not adequate. Or it could prepare you to guide a believer searching for a church with good, sound preaching. The Christian life is not about merely knowing the Bible well enough to help myself. I need to be grounded in the whole counsel of God, in part, so that I may help other believers. All that said, here is a good article on sound preaching.

Pat Buchanan writes an article with some compelling facts and asks an unnerving question (but one that must be asked): “How Will America Commit Suicide?”

This is not a hot-button issue in my church (thank goodness), but many of you will be familiar with the debate nonetheless. This author offers a simple, solid argument against those who would say that only the King James Version of the Bible is God’s Word.

August 13, 2016 Resources: Voting (or not); Is God Pleased With You?; The Insider’s Bible

What is a Christian to do in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election? Like most of you, I’m fairly disgusted with our options and feeling a bit disenchanted with the whole process. However, of all the viable options before us, apathy is not one of them (and by the way, I would argue that a thoughtful decision to abstain from voting is not apathy; abstention in-and-of-itself is not what I’m talking about here). We must exert the tremendous effort required to think biblically, and then act on principle. These are difficult and complex issues, and we must approach them purposing to exercise wisdom, knowledge, and discernment.

Is God “always pleased with you?” Yes and no.

Should Bible translations aim to be easily understood by the broadest possible group of people? Seems like an easy question, but this author provides a compelling case otherwise.


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