What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Righteousness exalts a nation ...

Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. (ESV)

Let's start off by saying that I am NOT a fan of self-righteous prigs who walk around with their noses in the air thinking they are better than someone else because they do this or don't do that. I've been around too long to be fooled by that nonsense. Every last one of us has an evil nature; we are born with it, and it will be with us until the day we die. To pretend otherwise is not only self-delusional, it is extraordinarily sinful, because it calls God a liar. Jesus had harsh words for people like that (Luke 18:9-14).

With that understood, I want to take a moment and try to work out just how this applies to 21st century America.

Sexual immorality of all kinds pervades our nation. People cheat on their taxes, and don't even think of it as theft. Kids show no respect for themselves or others. Parents abandon their children, either physically, emotionally, intellectually,  or spiritually; usually some combination of the above. The foulest language imaginable is pretty much standard conversational fare nowadays. Modesty in dress and demeanor? What is that? Heroin use is at epidemic levels.

I could go on and on, but that is more than enough to give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Our nation has never been "perfect", and never will be. Of course not; it is comprised of imperfect people and always has been, always will be. But every generation seems to be worse than the last. What has happened to us? What is going to happen to us if the trend continues? What can be done about it?

Start at home. No, start with myself.  I am a Christian. As such, I have a dual nature, or perhaps dueling natures is better. I have the sinful evil nature I was born with, and I have the righteous nature of Christ that was imparted to me by the Holy Spirit at the time of my conversion. I hate the sin nature that I have, and I hate the sinful acts that I commit. But I still find myself doing them. Confess and repent. Repeat as needed. (OFTEN!) I have to constantly pluck logs out of my eye before I can even think about the speck in someone else's eye. (Matthew 7:3-4).

Before any serious attempt to "clean up" our society can be attempted, each of us needs to clean up our own lives. And I do NOT mean simply turning over a new leaf and somehow becoming morally upright citizens all of a sudden, as nice as that would be. To truly change, the change has to come from within, not imposed from without. It CANNOT be done by yourself; that evil nature will NOT be denied that easily. To begin with, you must recognize that your sin has offended the almighty God of the universe. The wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). But God loves the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, to live a sin-free life, to die a horrible death, and to be resurrected three days later. Jesus' death provides the atonement for our sin; His resurrection provides us with eternal life. There is no other way to become right with God than to cast ourselves on His mercy and accept His gift of salvation by faith in Jesus, and by doing so be made His very own child, imbued with His own nature and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. 

Once you have become a child of God, you start living like one. Slowly but surely, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit will convict you of sin and empower you to turn away from it and turn towards righteousness. (The process will continue every day of your life. I can testify that the longer I live as a Christian, the more sin I see in my life. Not that there IS more of it, just that I see it more clearly each day. Kind of like pulling a small piece of string and finding an entire sweater unraveling in your hands.) But as your life begins to "clean up", and you find more and more joy in your Christian life, you need to "share the wealth" by helping others to find what you have. Not by being a pushy preacher, but by living a life of joy and love and helping others as they go about their lives. An ancient saint, Francis of Assisi, once said that he preached the gospel every day, and sometimes even used words to do so.

Seek for ways to interact with others, to bring to them the same joy and love that you have found. Not everyone will respond favorably, maybe only a few. Maybe only one. But that's OK. The results are up to God, not you. And He can do amazing things, you know. After all, two thousand years ago He started with twelve seriously flawed men, and turned the whole world upside down with them! And he continues to do so. A single obscure man, about 150 years ago, shared the gospel with a poverty-stricken shoe-shine boy. That boy was Dwight Moody. Moody grew up to be one of the greatest evangelists in modern history, whose influence is still felt all over America.  We don't have very many shoe-shine boys anymore, but we do have plenty of kids who cut our grass and babysit our kids and stuff like that. Don't neglect them in favor of the rich and famous, for God delights in using the weak to do great things.

Seek to become active in your community's political life as well. As Christians we are ambassadors of Christ to our families and to our societies. Vote for candidates that will legislate in ways that reflect Godly principles, that will allow you to live your Christian life in peace. Pray every day for all of your elected and appointed officials, whether you like them or not, for they would not be in office if God had not allowed them to be.

It is quite possible that our nation has reached the point where God will simply turn us over to reap the results of our ever-increasing national sinfulness; some would say that it has already happened. Even so, that is NOT an excuse for me, or anyone else,  to "throw in the towel". Far from it. That adds even greater urgency to our task. Picture Noah, as he built the ark and prepared for the flood. As he pegged the last planks in place and began loading the animals, and looked up to see the storm clouds gathering, don't you think that his entreaties to his neighbors and relatives became more and more impassioned? Even so should we be more and more impassioned for our relatives and neighbors as the impending storm looms over our nation, as God prepares to unleash His holy wrath on our society.


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