Monday, July 28, 2014

Ukraine, Moral Agents, and the Justification of United States Intervention

About 5 months ago, I wrote a post about how speculation about where the situation in Ukraine is going might be a bit premature. That is very quickly changing at the moment. As more and more developments occur, and more blood is shed, a serious discussion of what the United States should do is in order.

I think we should make one thing clear. Despite how the President misspoke last Thursday, a tragedy has occurred and is occurring in Ukraine. Forget geopolitics - there is not anything that could be said that could write off the loss of human life that has been experienced in Ukraine.

Still a tragedy is not the only necessary ingredient to justify United States involvement in an international conflict. Sure, if we were talking about people, a tragedy would instill an obligation for anyone with the capacity to help to assist in every way they can.

But government is not a person. Further, government is not accountable as a moral agent, the same way that we as human beings are. So we cannot necessarily use the same logic and moral rationale that we would for people when we are discussing government decisionmaking.

Government instead is an entity created by people of a nation for a specific purpose. Generally considered the social contract theory, the people of a nation come together to form an entity designed to protect them from natural disasters (not to help clean up the damage from a natural disaster though), external threats to national security, and internal threats to the rights of the citizens (i.e. criminals). Any action taken outside this purpose is a violation of a contract.

Consider this analogy, quoted here from my prior post "Not Yours to Give: Unconstitutionality and Injustice of Redistribution," 
"When we hire a business to put in a home security system, we would be much annoyed to say the least if we heard the company had decided instead to use our money to redecorate our house, as they considered that a wiser use of our money."

I daresay it wouldn't matter to us nary a bit if we still got our home security system if they took more money from our bank accounts to buy us new furniture or generally use for purposes other than that which we have contracted them. With that in mind, we ought to consider whether the situation in Ukraine is actually considered a part of  our contract.

I think it is not too much of a stretch to say that the situation in Ukraine is not likely to affect our national security. If the situation proves that it will escalate from a simple border conflict and actually harm United States situation, then obviously we must act.

That is actually what I believe President Obama was trying to say when he said that a "tragedy may have occurred." And I must give him credit that he understands that not every geopolitical conflict requires his involvement (I obviously don't have to give him credit for his skills in communication).

But that might raise a question in your minds. Why should it matter that the security of our nation isn't at stake? Why can't our government act in charity to assist other nations in their struggles? Is not Ukrainian life worth as much as American life?

The answer to the latter question is obviously yes. But we must once again realize that governments are not moral agents, and should never participate in charity, especially on an international level. Let me remind you of the words of Horatio Bunce summarized by Davy Crockett in his speech "Not Yours To Give," Note that while this specifically pertains to money, the same principle would refer to any type of military involvement.
"The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted [sic] to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be... So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity."

So yes, a tragedy has happened, but no, the United States government, since it is not a moral agent is under no obligation to act. Indeed, it is under a strict obligation to remain neutral in this particular affair.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Self-Evaluations do not Help You Serve the Lord

This post today was too generic for me to consider to be written before now, but it is not my place to say that there isn't somebody who needs this generic reminder - a reminder that I could use today I'm sure as well.

We as Christians go through our particular lives and try to evaluate our own behavior. Seeing as how we desire to greatly be used by God, and hope for our efforts to be pleasing to the Lord (I can hope anyway), we take time from our days to consider whether our actions have pleased the Lord. 

This is all well and good, but we must be careful in this process. You see, it is easy for us to change our motivations or to deceive ourselves into believing that we are serving the Lord more than we actually are. 

On two different occasions in the book of Proverbs, the Lord proclaims this truth, 
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes." ~Proverbs 12:15
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes." ~Proverbs 21:2

The Lord explains that men have a tendency to find their ways to be the moral and proper way. The book of Ecclesiastes explains this further in chapter 5, verse 1,
"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil." 

I think we have thus far done much to understand that we don't like to admit even to ourselves that we may have erred, and that we instead tend to make ourselves think that our lives are more holy than they actually are. Now this means that our times of evaluation can be wasted and we may not necessarily expose our faults so that we can (through the Holy Spirit) conquer them.

Know that you aren't perfect, so if when you do an evaluation, you find no flaw in yourself, you have probably done something wrong. But how do you prevent that from happening?

The real thing I find here in those two verses from Proverbs aforementioned is that we should not rely solely upon our own evaluation, but entrust the help of others. Find some brutally honest friends, and ask them to tell you what they think of how you acted. I know, it's a scary thought to have to confide in someone else about your personal life, but it can be so worthwhile in the end.

And then of course, consult the One person who truly understands you and your motivations and who knows whether you are actually pleasing Him in your actions or not. He will reveal to you what you are truly seeking, and help you to seek the right thing.

So don't rely on your own self-evaluations. They are too easy for you to manipulate without you even knowing it. Instead seek some outside sources, like your friends, and of course the Lord. As our two verses in Proverbs say,
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." ~Proverbs 12:15
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts." ~Proverbs 21:2

Monday, July 21, 2014

What does it Matter? Life's Not Fair

Trials and persecution. I wrote a series about this facet of our lives. One of the things I stressed was that it would happen to anyone whether that person lived a good life or not. Indeed we all know that life's just not fair.

But how often have we heard (at least on the television) people use that expression as an excuse to justify their injustices towards others? Apparently since life is full of suffering already, it doesn't matter if we should add more suffering into the mix.

So here's a radical life principle - just because suffering is bound to come to the believer, doesn't mean it should come from within the church. The Bible uses the imagery of a family to describe a church quite often. Now I would at least hope that within your own family, you would not be willing to add to the suffering simply because they're going to suffer anyway.

Now of course, I'm sure few Christians would either decide to intentionally hurt others in order to advance their own selfish desires or to push others down to build themselves up. But it seems all too easy from my experience to do so unintentionally. In my life, it comes as a complete desire to be right, causing me to unfortunately pummel straight through any conflicting theory and its owner.

But it can come in other ways too. You see, we can attack each other selfishly without even necessarily knowing we are doing anything wrong. Thus, we must take time to evaluate our behaviour to see how we would be feeling if we were in the opposite position.

Now of course there are situations in which we just can't help but hurt somebody else. Our obligations to ourselves, to our family, or to the Lord force us to act in a way that is sure to cause emotional agony for someone else. In these situations, the only thing you can do is try to be as direct and delicate as possible.

Hurt feelings might not seem like a significant issue, but this phenomena is not limited to hurt feelings. Indeed we are discussing a number of areas where people can so easily hurt others, but the truth is, we won't do much good fighting the enemy, if we are instead fighting each other.

We will be able to do more to protect ourselves as a unified force than every man for himself. Take for instance, during the time of Esther, when the Jews had to fight for their lives. Naturally, the Lord protected them, as He would us today. But they still had to prepare to fight.

Each man did not protect his own family of his own might either. Rather, the Jews came together to fight as a unit. Esther 9:2 proclaims,
"The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people."

Look at how effective unity can be. But then we all know that it is not easy to work with someone who manipulated his way into a position that you think you deserve (I know not really Christian behavior on either side there). Nor is it easy to work with someone that you know you have unnecessarily hurt at some point in your life.

So with that, I ask simply, let's strive to not cause suffering to other members of the family of God, but instead to do the exact opposite. As the Bible commands in Philippians 2:1-4,
"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Did Solomon Choose Wisdom?

There are few choices that stand out more in the Bible than when Solomon asked for wisdom in his life. As God himself mentions in 1 Kings 3:11, Solomon had many options available to him. He could have asked for long life, riches, vengeance on his enemies, or any other number of selfish things. But instead he asked for wisdom to be able to serve God's people more honorably.

Many Christians today wonder whether in these same circumstances, they would be able to do the same. For whom would they make request: themselves or God? 

If we examine Solomon's life before the Lord asks him this question, we'll see a few signs that indicate why he was so ready to ask for wisdom in the first place. These will by no means provide an exhaustive list, but it would be a good start to make sure these principles are true in our own lives. 

First, Solomon was already serving the Lord. He was going to great lengths to worship the Lord in the high places. Although it wasn't the best option, Solomon took advantage of the option available to him in relation to serving the Lord. In I Kings 3:3-5, we read, 
"And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee."

You see, you shouldn't plan to serve God when the time comes. It's not as if a secret button can be pressed that brings you into God's presence and suddenly you want wisdom from the Lord in order to serve Him more effectively..

Rather, when the time comes, you will need to have already been serving the Lord, already have been developing your relationship with Him. Without that, you can't expect to have such a selfless desire as this.

Second, Solomon had humility. Here's a simple thought: if you don't know that you need help, you'll never ask for it. Before he asked for wisdom, Solomon understood that he couldn't handle the tasks before him on his own intellect. Thus, it comes as no surprise when he says in 1 Kings 3:9,
"Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"

Who is able to judge this thy so great a people? Fantastic question, Solomon. In our own lives, the questions would be different, but the point is, it doesn't matter who we are.

No human being on this planet is able to judge this so great a people, or strictly speaking serve the Lord in any capacity on their own power and wisdom. But have no fear, just as Solomon was able to serve the Lord as King because the Lord granted him wisdom, we too can have from God the wisdom necessary to serve Him fully.

What do you think allowed Solomon to make the right choice? Do you think I missed anything? Let the world know in the comments section.

Monday, July 14, 2014

More than Money Transfers: How Government Subsidizes Industries and Businesses

The government will not stop picking winners and losers in the area of economics. Instead of staying with the original purpose of government, government officials decide to subsidize any and all organizations that they think (or profess to think) would be quite beneficial to the American people.

We have on this here blog already tackled the subject of subsidization in some detail. I have not come anywhere close as of yet to exhausting all possible theses for blog posts. Thus, this post is not a rehash of why subsidies are generally disadvantageous. That has already been done. This post is about describing what a subsidy is.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines subsidies as,
"A grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public"

This definition describes what most people would automatically think of when they hear the word subsidy, but I believe that this definition is just a tad incomplete. You see, the government utilizes more means to "assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public" than just direct money transfers.

Black's Law Dictionary explains,
"A grant, usually made by the government, to any enterprise whose promotion is considered to be in the public interest. -Although governments sometimes make direct payments (such as cash grants), subsidies are usually indirect. They may take the form of research-and-development support, tax breaks, provision of raw materials at below market prices, or low-interest loans or low-interest export credits guaranteed by a governmental agency." 

Looking at this definition may cause some to look at subsidies in a whole new way. Some are not going to be convinced just because this credible source says so, that this is really what subsidies are. So let's break down the various parts of this definition, so as to show that what it claims are subsidies are actually used by the government to aid the promotion of certain companies above others.

It is not difficult to see why research-and-development support should be considered a subsidy. This is a form of direct cash transfer to organizations to aid research and development.

Bear in mind that there is a difference between research and development. Research is intended to search out facts that may or may not have practical use. Development on the other hand is intended to specifically search out practical applications to facts already established. It's similar to the difference between science and applied science.

According to a 2007 study by the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government funds 50% of the research, and 17% of the development in this country. This money has been largely going to development of such items as could be essential to national security.

As far as the intention goes, this form of subsidy is actually not that heinous. It is not intended to advance one company above another in a given industry. However, it is still subsidization. In this case, the intention is to advance one industry above another.

Picking winners and losers in economics after all is not always limited to individual companies. For instance, if the government sponsors research and development on wind energy, so as to ensure lower prices in the end, it is picking wind power as a winner, and other forms of energy, like nuclear, fossil fuels, and solar power as losers.

But the more traditional picking winners and losers from individual companies does occur too. Let's take a look at tax breaks. Now I know that no one wants to pay more taxes, and thus, tax breaks are seen as advantageous. But tax breaks if not universal, have a tendency to benefit one company or industry above another.

Let's say that Sauron has placed a 20% tax on the gardening industry. This forces higher prices upon Sam's Roses and Herbs. Sam's customers are turned away to an organization with horrible customer service, and a far inferior product - Saruman's Farm Market.

Astonished, Sam investigates Saruman's Farm Market. He discovers that Saruman's Farm Market is able to provide lower prices because it only has to pay 5% in taxes. You see, Sauron and Saruman are allies, so Sauron decided to help Saruman's business with a hefty tax break.

Since Sam doesn't know the dark lord, he does not get this tax break, is suffocated by the higher rates, and ultimately goes out of business. Don't worry about him though, a miser named Frodo Baggins hires him to be his personal gardener, and the two become fast friends.

Of course, the end for a business can't always be as pleasant as this one here, but the closing of a business isn't that unlikely an event. Maybe that itself won't happen, but the higher taxes will definitely cripple the business and subsequently the business owner and the employees.

Of course, if the tax break is universal, then it will not be subsidization and we can all celebrate the benefits to the businesses and the customer.

Sometimes though, the government is just a little bit more sneaky. You see there are times when the government acts as a corporation itself. In these particular situations, it hardly ever sells its items at a  fair price. Rather, the price is far below market levels. This is precisely what Black's Law Dictionary means when it says, "Provision of raw materials at below market levels."

In this instance, since Saruman's Farm Market pays less to buy his fertilizer from the government, he doesn't have to charge as much to make a profit, as Sam's Roses and Herbs does just to make ends meet.

It's not just in Middle-Earth either. This type of experience is prevalent within our country today. The government gets involved in industries and sells the fruits of their labor to selected organizations, thus picking the winner and losers.

The last point made by Black's Law Dictionary refers to subsidies by low-interest loans. The most obvious examples of these loans are the institutions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

These institutions work to provide lower interest rates to their clients. It sounds like a phenomenal idea, but then we all know about the collapse of both of these well-known organizations quite well. According to the Cato Institute in 2007, the greatest difficulty lies with the distortion of the lending market, and the diversion of loans away from private corporations.

And if you really think it doesn't matter that banks and other lending agencies might struggle because they are tyrannical and need to be stopped anyway, I suggest you watch It's a Wonderful Life. There are good and bad companies in every industry. And the government is just not well equipped to determine which is which.

But of course they just keep trying, and with harmful consequences. Not just the giving of money to corporations, but almost any governmental policy can be twisted and abused by legislature to give support to one company above another. We must be vigilant to watch the government's legislation carefully to ensure that they do not use subsidization to control our economy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"All This Availeth Me Nothing"

Are you ready to do something scary? I want you to put yourselves in the station of Haman. Now let's not worry about the questions regarding his morals at the moment. Let's instead look solely at the privileges King Ahasuerus has given him.

You are practically second in command of the Persian Empire. The king has gone so far as to tell those in the king's gate to bow down to you when you pass by. The king has delegated his legislative powers to you with limited discretion. You carry the king's ring that seals all official documents on your own finger. On top of all that, you have been invited twice to a banquet where only the king and queen are present (remember that you know nothing of the queen's plot to expose you as the enemy of her people).

So why with so much privilege and wealth would you possibly be upset? The king subjects to all your will! What could make you say that, "All this availeth me nothing."

Well, let's find out. In Esther 5:11-13, we find our answer.
"And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."

You see, Mordecai has refused to bow to Haman. Now that this has been brought to his attention, he can't seem to be content.

This hurt pride has even caused him to seek the lives of all of Mordecai's people. But that decree is not being implemented fast enough for Haman at this point. He decided that he must hang Mordecai as soon as possible.

Now don't worry, Haman's plans to hang Mordecai are instead turned into him praising Mordecai for saving the king's life. Ultimately, Haman is even hanged upon the gallows he prepared for Mordecai. The Lord does love some poetic justice.

But today I am more interested in the desire to hang Mordecai itself rather than the way the Lord protected Mordecai in this situation.

Haman has everything that anyone could ever really ask for. He had no reason to complain about anything at all. But the simple truth is, greed is never satisfied. When our goal is our own benefit and station, no matter how many privileges we find, we will always be able to find something that is wrong in our life. There is always something that can bring you down.

In Haman's case it was his pride being insulted and his position disrespected. But what is it in our lives today?

We may even have received many blessings from the Lord and yet found one thing in our life that God has chosen for whatever reason to withhold. What is our focus then in this point? Is it on all that he has provided or is it on that which we don't have?

Typical human nature would have us focus upon that which we don't have and on the struggles in our life. But we can strive to not be like Haman in this way, and acknowledge the Lord's blessings instead.

It's as the Doctor says,
"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant."

Yes, I did just quote the Doctor to make a spiritual point. He never intended it that way, but hey, the Lord can always have greater use for such things. If you want a more spiritual admonition, look to I Thessalonians 5:18,
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Now I may not be a Bible scholar yet, but I'm pretty sure that means that in every circumstance (no matter how trying) we should be giving thanks for the Lord. And that maybe just maybe we should acknowledge what God has provided for us and thank Him for that, rather than accuse Him of being a tyrant for withholding one thing from our life.

It's an outlook change. An outlook change that is very pleasing to the Lord. Trust me, although it's easy to act like Haman, it is possible and beneficial to search for the good things in life. As a good friend of mine constantly says,
"There's always something to smile about."  

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Christianizing" Patriotism: Why it Trivializes Both

Some of you who have followed this blog for a little while may have wondered why on Friday my post didn't have to do with Independence Day. After all, I have in the past, had a Thanksgiving post, a Christmas post, a New Year's Post, a Valentine's Day Post, an Easter post, and a Memorial Day post. Obviously, Independence Day is as important and worthwhile a holiday as most of those.

So why the sudden lack of post for Independence Day? Quite frankly, it was because this holiday came on par with a devotional post. I didn't want to replace a devotional post with a political one.

One is sure to then wonder again why I didn't just write a devotional post that branched into freedom of some sort. Now it is easy to find practical lessons in the Bible about love, thanksgiving, and specific Biblical events of the life of Jesus (that last one is particularly easy).

However, I believe that working in this manner to present both Christianity and patriotism within the same blog post would trivialize one or both of the two concepts.

Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing contrary in these two concepts. Christians in my mind have a duty to be patriotic and support their nation, just as they have a duty to worship the Lord. However, combining these two duties within the same ceremony may not be the best idea in the world.

In churches across America over the prior two Sundays, church congregations have been met with special patriotic services endowed with patriotic songs, pledges to the flag, and perhaps the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Now here's my crazy, perhaps radical feeling. Church is a place where we come to worship God. We come to church to fellowship with other believers, hear from God's word, and praise Him for what He has done. We do not go to church in order to exalt our nation.

I believe that it is outside the purpose of a church service to spend all of our time focusing on what God has done for us by blessing us with living in this fine country. A patriotic song or two, maybe even a short spiel before the sermon would be entirely appropriate, since our country is a blessing from God that we can take time to thank Him for.

But that should be the end of it within the context of a church service; we must remember that our goal is to praise God and focusing solely on the patriotic spirit will cause us to lose that objective in our church service. Instead I think a church-wide picnic would be more suitable for cultivating the patriotic spirit of the church.

So even on the Sundays around patriotic holidays focus on the Lord. Within the context of the church, we must ensure that patriotism is just another way of expressing our blessings.

But outside the church service, I feel we Christians have an opposite problem. In that particular avenue, when we come together to respect our nation, we try to be sure to add God and Christianity onto our patriotic traditions. A great example of this is the Pledge to the Christian Flag.

In a given patriotic ceremony, Christians will start off by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Immediately thereafter Pledge to Christian Flag and the Pledge to the Bible will be recited. The first priority always goes to the American flag, making the Christian Flag and the Bible lower in importance than the American flag and thus nothing more than add-ons.

But the Lord should never ever be an add-on. That is degrading to the Creator of the universe. We need not take a action and force some explicit Christian teaching onto the end to make it more worthwhile. Patriotism is a duty we have as Christians, an implicit service to the Lord.

Attempting to make that service explicit indicates to all that patriotism isn't a noble enough cause to stand on its own. Thus, we unintentionally trivialize both patriotism and God within the same fell swoop.

All these actions do come from the right heart, but methinks that these traditions are just a bit degrading to the principles of God and patriotism. That is why I didn't write a post for Independence Day.

I hope that you enjoyed celebrating our Founders' rebellion against tyrannical laws by setting off some fireworks in rebellion against authoritarian laws (or maybe you might be lucky enough to live in a state where such rebellion is not necessary). Let freedom ring! "Murca!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Not for Any Wisdom that I Have

Nebuchadnezzar! A man many remember as being the heathen king that took the Lord's people captive. Nebuchadnezzar trusted in his gods and his own might to fight wars, and through that, the Lord was able to use him to punish His people.

Nebuchadnezzar of course was still ignorant about the truth of God. Indeed after the Israelites were a part of the kingdom, he kept coming to praise God, then shortly thereafter pronounce death to any who refused to worship his idol. He was a proud man, and one we probably wouldn't want to meet or serve under.

Certainly we wouldn't expect this man to be one of the first to receive a vision from God about the last days. However, that is exactly what happened.

In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar has a strange dream. It unsettles him, so he calls his magicians and wise men instructed in the worship of his false gods. Nebuchadnezzar seems a little distrusting of his wise men though. He demands that they tell him the dream, so that he "shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof."

When the wise men admit that it is not within the power of any man to do as the king has said, the wonderful King Nebuchadnezzar demands that they all be utterly destroyed. But not just the wise men who couldn't give him the answer, but all the wise men in the land!

In another part of the land, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are going about their normal business. Although they still serve the Lord, they have been promoted to the status of wise men within Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.

So when Nebuchadnezzar sends his captain Arioch to kill the wise men, he must go to Daniel and his fellows to kill them.

But Daniel asks Arioch boldly why the king is so hastily killing his subjects. When told the story of the dream, Daniel asks that Arioch would give Daniel time to learn the dream before killing the wise men.

As you would expect, Daniel begins to pray and ultimately the Lord reveals to him the dream and the interpretation thereof. Daniel 2:27-45 reveals the details of this dream. Time would not allow me to put all of that here, so instead let's look specifically to the beginning of that dialogue in verses 27-28,
"Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days."

I shared all of that just to prove that this heathen, ill-tempered king saw a vision similar to the one John received when he wrote the book of Revelation.

There was absolutely nothing special about Nebuchadnezzar that made him the prime target to be used by God in this very special way. In fact there was quite the opposite. Yet the Lord still revealed his plans to the world through him.

In addition to the obvious lesson of sovereignty that we can see here, that the Lord can use the oddest of means for His glory, we can learn that our past mistakes don't necessarily keep us from being able to serve the Lord. Perhaps someone reading this blog needed a good reminder that their fallibility won't keep them from serving God.

However, what I needed to and did learn from this story (and thus what I focus on today) was quite the opposite. I needed no reminder that my fallibility wouldn't prevent me from serving the Lord because I was becoming convinced that since the Lord could use me in some miniscule way means that I'm a pretty stellar guy.

No, I needed to be reminded that the Lord was able to use me in spite of my character and not because of it. I needed to be reminded that the Lord might choose to use the most heathen of heathens to reveal His truth, and simply because He chose me to write this small blog, or He chose me to be a pastor one day, doesn't mean that I'm anything special at all. After all, I am only what He made me.

So this account of how Nebuchadnezzar was shown prophecies of what would happen in the end days was a not so subtle reminder that I am not special because I happen to serve the Lord (most of the time...).

As if to summarize all this up, Daniel expresses in Daniel 2:30,
"But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart."