Month: September 2022

Constitution Review part 1

It’s no secret that there is a current emphasis on the Constitution in these days. For many are claiming one thing or another that the Constitution says and guarantees. So, it is vitally important to know the document itself, it’s pieces, principles, and powers. Our purpose in this 4-part review is to look at those pieces, principles and powers so that you can be refreshed in your understanding of our great document and equipped to support and defend it.

There are only 3 pieces to the Constitution.

The 1st piece is the Preamble. This is like an opening or introductary paragraph.

The 2nd piece is the Articles. There are 7 articles and each of them explicitly lays out the details of how our government is structured, who makes up each part, what their responsibilities are, and their qualifications. Additionally, these articles deal with how the nation does business and deals with other nations, and how the federal government and each state government work together.

The 3rd piece is the Amendments. These are the now 27 amendments, or changes that have been made to the Constitution since it was ratified.

As far as guiding principles found in the Constitution, we would have to mention these:

Self-givernment – the framers were firm in their resolve that America NOT be like their former homeland with a Monarch and where the people had little voice. Therefore, they chose to create a government in which the people’s voice directed the shape and direction of the leaders in government and the nation.

Liberty – Giving the people as much individual freedom as possible was a priority of the framers. That is why, in the ratification process, there were states that refused to ratify the Constitution unless and until a Bill of Rights was added that would ennumerate the freedoms provided by and protected by this new government.

Federalism – This gives certain, clearly defined and limited powers to a strong, central government but also specifically reserves the other powers to the states.

Separation of Powers – Not wanting any one person or branch to have too much power, our framers set out a structure of government that keeps three branches separate but equal. Included here comes the responsibility of those separate powers to check on the other two branches.

Let’s look now more closely at The Preamble.

WE THE PEOPLE” is the best known phrase from the Constitution and is the first three words of the Preamble. Listed in this brief, introductory paragraph are the 6 purposes of the entire document. Perhaps you had a History or Social Studies teacher who taught you the Schoolhouse Rock song? (I was that teacher… ha ha)

The 6 purposes are:

  1. to form a more perfect union – we’re making what we had even better
  2. establish justice – justice for all
  3. insure domestic tranquility – insure peace and protections for the inhabitants of the nation
  4. provide for the common defense – defend all states and the nation
  5. promote the general welfare – tend to the welfare of its citizens
  6. secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity – make the nation strong not just for us, but for the generations to come

How would you say we are doing living up to this remarkable Preamble?

In our last section for today, we will look at the first three Articles.

Article I- Congress/Legislature is the longest article & tells us about the legislative branch called Congress, and it shall consist of the Senate, elected every six years, and the House of Representatives, elected every two years. The Senate shall have 2 elected representatives from every state and representation in The House is based on each state’s population. Totaling 435 members of Congress.

The Capitol in Washington D.C. houses Congress

It’s important to note here, that “The Great Compromise” that was reached when settling this Two House government came with huge debate. The larger states and the smaller states wanted equal representation in Congress and via this compromise they got both, equal representation (in the Senate) and propotional representation (in the House).

Congress in session. (working)

Each of the 10 sections in Article 1 clearly spell out qualifications, how they are elected, duties, responsibilities, how a bill becomea a law, how Congress is run, and limits on Congressional powers. There are actually 18 listed powers that the Congress has. (see Article 1, section 8) Funding, declarations of war, and states importing and exporting with Congressional approval are some highlighted responsibilities.

Article II – The Executive/President The chief executive of the U.S. is the President, who is elected every four years, along with the Vice President. How he/she is elected, their qualifications, duties and responsibilities are listed. Additionally, how she/he shall be removed from office, what happens when the office is vacated, and how he/she is sworn in , is clearly articulated in this second article.

The White House in Washington D.C. is both the home and office of the President.

Article III – Judicial power of the U.S. is invested in one Supreme Court, and many inferior Courts. Particulars regarding trials, cases, juries, and crimes are innumerated in the 3 sections of this article. Treason is spoken of in this article, what it is and how it should be judged.

The Supreme Court in Washington D.C. is where the Justices do their business

A very signifigant point to make regarding The Supreme Court involves the issue of “Judicial Review”. This, a main responsibility of The High Court is when a law is presented to them in a case, and their task is to determine if, in fact, that law is “Constitutional”. They must determine if that state or federal law violates the constitution. If it does, (as determined by a majority vote of the 9 Judges) then it is deemed unconstitutional and reversed.

Many believe that these Judges have “legislated from the bench” (thorugh the years), thereby changing laws and resulting in a changed national outcome from what elected representatives have passed. The phrases to watch for are :

  • Strict Constitutionalist – one who believes the text of the constitution is not open for or to interpretation, it’s words are literal.
  • Judicial Activist – one who believes the Constitution is a living document and should be interpreted based on present situation.

These three Articles define what we often refer to as the Three Branches of Government, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; and they clearly tell us who they are, what they do, and what is allowed in our government.

This document, our Constitution is the supreme law of our land. All persons and politicians are bound by it and no one is above it. Therefore, we best know it. Not know of it, not believe everything we hear about it, but know it. Know the document itself.

You can easily find it online at https://constitution.congress.gov

My personal go to’s

Paperback copies of the Constitution can be purchased as well. If you visit Washington D.C. or your Senator’s local office, they often give them away as well.

Please, if you are a citizen of the United States, of if you care deeply about America, do your due diligence and be familiar with this document. It is our responsibility as citizens to vote, and uphold the laws of the land, so we should know them as outlined in the Constitution.

https://momsforamerica.us has posted a short little constitution quiz which may be fun for you to take.

Whatever you do, I hope you’ll check back next week, for part 2 of our Constitution Review.

God Bless America,

Debbie

Sources:

US Constitution for dummies, Dr. Michale Arnheim

The Constitution of the United States of America

Constitution Day

September 17, 1787

Here it was, four years after independence had been won by the colonies, (the Treaty of Paris was signed Sept. 3, 1783) when this pronouncement was made,

It appears to me then little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states… should unite in forming a system of national government…”

George Washington, delegate to the Convention in Philadelphia, September 1787

Fifty-five men, from twelve colonies, (Rhode Island did not send representatives) had just spent months of debate (May – September), in the Pennsylvania Statehouse, located in Philadelphia, during the heat of summer, to produce a federal system of government that included checks and balances. Their finished product was called the Constitution of the United States. This was the miracle to which George Washington referred.

PA Statehouse, Independence Hall
George Washington and the delegates

It was apparent in 1786, two years after the Revolutionary War ended that the Union would break apart without a fix to the standing national government called The Articles of Confederation. This document had been drafted during the War by the Continental Congress to help guide the colonies through war and provide some sort of central government. It was obvious now, something more needed to be done for the sake of the new, fledgling nation.

At the pleading of the Annapolis Convention, (5 states with Maryland) in 1786, a Convention was called for in Philadelphia, May, 1787. On May 25, 1787, what we call the Constitutional Convention met with those fifty-five delgates at the statehouse in Philadelphia. Their intended purpose was to amend The Articles of Confederation.

After some time, it was clear that amending the Articles was to be scrapped. Something new had to be created. In this closed meeting house, with windows and doors shut tight for privacy (and sweating in wool coats and vests), without AC, these partiots hammered out the structure, form, and substance of our federal government. They built consensus, offered compromise, all within secrecy and never even threw a punch! (now that’s a miracle!)

Alexander Hamiliton, one of the delegates writes,

Alexander Hamilton

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God (Luke 11:20) never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”

Alexander Hamiliton, upon the signing of the Constitution

James Madison, another delegate, writes,

James Madison

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution.”

James Madison, upon signing the Constitution

What these men came up with, our Constitution, is what governs our land now. It is what has inspired and modeled for other nations their constitution. The similiarities between ours and theirs is often identical in wording.

The U.S. Constitution

This document, the Constitution, was signed by thirty nine of the delegates on September 17, 1787, and as per the specification in the Constitution, later ratified by nine of the thirteen colonies to become effective. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it on June 21, 1788. It was agreed upon that this new government would begin March 4, 1789. (Which is why Inaguration Day was in March for so many years. In 1981 it was changed to January 20.)

Our Constitution provides for:

  • 3 Branches of government
  • Legislative/Congress – make laws, checks on other branches
  • Executive/President – manages daily operations of the government, checks on other branches, enforces the laws
  • Judicial/Federal courts, Supreme Court – courts, judges, checks on the other branches, makes sure the laws are constitutional
  • Personal freedoms as stated in the Bill of Rights/first 10 amendments
  • Ways to amend or change the Constitution
  • Separation between the federal and state powers
  • all the qualifications for elections, candidates, how laws are made, where money comes from, treaties, citizenship, emprisonment, trails, searches and seizures, how a republic is run
  • and so much more
Outline of the contents of the Constitution

This document, our Constitution, has been and continues to be the “the law of the land”. All federal employees, military personal and so many other employees, upon entering their positions take an oath “to faithfully defend the Constitution”.

It is sacred, above all other ideologies, and worth every effort of patriots to defend. It is the law of our land, not immutable however, as provisions to change it are also addressed.

What the founding fathers and the framers created is a clearly laid out form and structure for our government. It has come under much scrutiny, debate and with much compromise and it still stands today, as Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration says, ” as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of a Divine power.”

It behooves us then, We The People, to stand in the spirit of those patriots- who pledged their best hopes, strongest intellectual pursuits, and good faith in the creation of that Constitution, to do the same.

On this Constitution Day, 2022, 235 years after it’s signing, may we fully understand and promote, but also strongly defend The Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

In keeping with this challenge to understand, and leading up to the elections in 8 weeks, I will be presenting a 4 week follow-up refresher on The Constitution, walking us through the body of the Constitution, and examining the parts. They will be as follows:

  • Week 1 – The Preamble & Articles 1-3 Legislative, Executive & Judicial Branches
  • Week 2 – Articles 4-7 –
  • Week 3 – The Amendments, 1-10 The Bill of Rights
  • Week 4 – The Amendments, 11-27

You can see original copies of The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Declaration of Indepenence at The National Archives in Washington D.C.

National Archives, Documents on display

I hope you will sharpen your understanding and appreciation of this great document and our great nation and check back in to join us in that endeavor.

Debbie

God Bless America,

Sources

Britannica – The Constitutional Convention

History.com

Yahoonews.weather

National Archives – The Framers

BrainyQuotes.com

Spoiler Alert

We could be talking about the great cliffhanger spoiler alerts of the TV shows such as Dallas, Lost, Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, but not today. My favorite, however, was “Who shot JR?” from Dallas, 1980, how ’bout yours? Whether it be a sports playoff game, a reality show, or the unexpected end to a storyline, we appreciate being alerted to what is spoiling our expectations, don’t we?

Following a time of introspection and self-evaluation, I concluded that in my life I was greatly and easily distracted. It was obvious there were very few straight lines in my life, nearly everything I was doing was being infringed upon by something else. I couldn’t sit and focus without my mind jetting to another place or thing. I couldn’t read, study, or even talk with someone without some sort of mental distraction. (It’s always embarrasing to have to pull yourself back to the present when you find yourself wandering while in personal conversations. Geesh.)

How many bunny trails or peripheral issues have enticed us away from what is most important?

How many calls or appointments have we avoided because of less important distractions?

How many times have we given way to the immediate when on course for long term?

Today, I want to alert us to the spoilers in our life because I have seen them run rampant in mine.

There is a metaphor used in ancient writings that compares little foxes to the spoilers in our life. Cute, little, social, fast, and cunning foxes. Here’s the quote,

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

Song of Songs 2:15 ESV

Let’s talk about those cute, furry foxes, shall we?

Foxes are omnivores, that means that they eat up everything. They feed on anything. They have no prefered food group. They eat it all at will and with pleasure. They are also very light and fast on their feet, and as social creatures live in packs, called a leash, skulk or earth. Their eyesite is fantastic and they live a very flexible life. (LiveScience.com)

“What does the fox say?” was a popular phrase that kids sang a while ago… I’m not sure what it says, but I do know these things about about that pesky lil’ creature; they:

  • dig holes & passages that loosen the soil of the vines, thereby preventing a stable root system
  • trample vines looking for prey with no care for what they destroy while looking
  • are speedy, fast in and fast out while gaining their prey/fruit
  • are cute but not tameable
  • are little & therefore we think they are insignifigant
  • are so cunning that they often work in pairs, one to distract the other to steal

Foxes are adoreable destroyers. Cute little, seemingly insignifigant spoilers that wreck an entire vineyard or garden. Living such flexible lives, their dens/burrows have multiple exits, so they rarely leave the way they came in. These smart spoliers, having stolen the fruit, leave the roots exposed, gnawed down and severly weakened.

SPOILER ALERT! There are little foxes loose in our life!

What are they? They could be:

  • our phones, devices – notifications, social media, updates, email, texts
  • “little” habits or attitudes that we often overlook of defend
  • people or places
  • anything that is stealing your fruitfulness
  • whatever is spoiling your relationships

For you, what are they? For me, almost all of my spoiling, little foxes come from my iPhone. Like Eve, I have bitten bigtime into the “apple” and am finding myself not only deceived but overrun with distracting, annoying, rabbit holes, bunny trails, and lost fruitfulness. I am bigtime distracted by what’s in my hand.

Here’s the thing tho’, I am wise now to those sly little fox-like distractions. But being wise or aware that there are foxes/distractions ruining my fruitfulness is not enough. I have to get rid of them, because I have been chosen to bear fruit. John 15:16 He is the Vine and I am the branch, and our goal is fruitfulness. John 15:5-8

ALERT -Those spoilers have got to go.

It is interesting to note that when The Potter puts a lump of clay on His wheel to fashion it and make it, He notices that the clay is spoiled.

And the vessel He was making of clay was spoiled in the Potter’s hand and He reworked it…”

Jeremiah 18:4 ESV

Could it be that the spoilers, the distractions that we continually allow into our life affect, and or delay the working of God in our life? Could we, by our following those spoilers, be thwarting our relationship to the Vine and our ability to produce the maximum fruitfulness He has called us to?

In my life, I say a resounding, “YES!” This piece of clay has been spoiled by distractions. “Please remake me, Master Potter.”

I believe He will respond to a heart’s cry like that, don’t you?

But I also believe, He will require action on my part. So, to help me with that, I’m gonna look to Sampson.

You’ll remember, Sampson was one of the 12 Judges of Israel, before the days of having a king. In fact, he was the last Judge of Israel. He was also the strongest. Given a supernatural power from God, he was able to perform amazing physical feats. You can review them in Judges chapters 13-16.

One of those amazing feats was the catching of 300 foxes! I kid you not. He actually rounded up and caught 300 wild foxes! (Did I say supernatural power? WOW.) Then he turned each pair of foxes, tail to tail and tied a torch to the tail pair. Having their tails fired up, they were released to run free and torch all the grain fields. Judges 15:4-5

Moral – we must personally round up those (potential) threats, distractions and spoilers to our relationships. It is up to us to identify them, acknowledge each one, be truthful and catch each distraction. Then, we gotta restrict the spoilers. Put restrictions on your phone use and response times. Repent of bad habits and attitudes. Illuminate all those cute little distractions and let them go. Stop holding on to them. They are spoilers to all that is the best in you. They are spoiling your relationship and your fruitfulness.

I have work to do, how ’bout you? (I’m placing my phone on restriction!)

Your life is designed to blossom. If it is not in bloom as it should be, check for those cute little foxes that are spoiling your life, your relationships. Then, restrict them. Tie them up, cut them off. Don’t let them into your vineyard to spoil anymore.

These are real and hard words, I know. I need them. But, I trust you can appreciate being alerted to what may be spoiling your fruitful expectations. I told you this would be a spoiler alert.

Let’s go catch those foxes,

Debbie

Get Dressed for Work

On this Labor Day weekend, I am challenging you to not stop working, but actually get dressed for work. (If you are interested in the history of our National Labor Day, see my “What is Labor Day” blog from September 2021.)

I once knew a man, who each morning would prepare himself and dutifully walk out the front door of his home to work. He did this even after He was fired from his job, just to fool his wife. He was dressed for work and pretended to be going off to work, but the truth was, he was neither.

Could that be an accurate description of many believers today? Being dressed and pretending it’s for the Lord and then pretending to be doing His work?

Here’s where this challenge comes from –

But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you.”

Jeremiah 1:17 ESV

Another, translation makes it even clearer –

But you – up on your feet and get dressed for work! Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say. Don’t pull your punches or I’ll pull you out of the line up.”

Jeremiah 1:17 The Message paraphrase

The context of these Jeremiah verses is the beginning of a 50 year period in which Jeremiah spoke to Israel of their shameful and persistent sins. God had called this man, Jeremiah before he was even born, Jeremiah 1:5 to speak God’s words, even though Jeremiah claimed to not know how to speak or what to even say. Jeremiah 1:6-10

Jeremiah’s nation was headed for judgement because it had forsaken the Lord.

And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshipped the works of their own hands.”

Jeremiah 1:16 ESV

Then, turning on a dime, we find the next verse – BUT YOU – DRESS YOURSELF FOR WORK.

It is in the darkest days, the seemingly most hopeless and discouraging situations that the challenge comes – Up on your feet! Stand up and say your piece. Speak out and tell my Word. Don’t pull any punches. Tell things God’s way. Even when no one else is, or living it, or even desiring it. You, and me, are to dress ourself and get to work. He has put His Word in our heart ond on our lips.

I find it interesting that the Message paraphrase says, “don’t pull your punches”.

According to Quora, the root of this phrase comes from a boxer who pretends to punch, makes it look believable, but without full force. The boxer begins to retract his fist right before the punch has connected, therefore it looks like a punch but is severely weakened. Punching with full power begins in the feet and hips and is literally like throwing a punch.

In other words, my amplified translation would read like this,

“But you believers, stand your ground, Ephesiams 6:14, set yourself (like Daniel) and throw your punches – aka = say what I tell you, what My Word says. Do not pull back your powerful punch (Word), or withhold My Word in any given situation. Tell them everything that I tell you.”

You see, in these days, pretending to be dressed and pretending to be doing God’s work will not cut it. You might be able to fool others but you cannot fool God.

“Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Give yourselves to the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” 2 Timothy 2:15

“God will not forget your work and love you have shown Him.” Hebrews 6:10

You are the person that God wants to use!

Some of you have things, conversations or assignments that you have been putting off – not giving yourself to fully. It is time to speak out and stand up.

So, my friend, on this Labor Day 2022, in the spiritual realm, it is time to get dressed and get to work.

Go with God,

Debbie