Things That Matter

“Only if we put first things first, we can truly enjoy ‘second things.’”
(Things That Matter, by the faculty of the Austin Graduate School of Theology)

1. The Glory and Honor of God:

When Satan said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9), God’s honor was besmirched. He allowed Job’s loyalty and love to be put to a cosmic test because God’s honor was even more important than Job’s happiness. The most important thing to the apostle Peter was “…that in all things God may be glorified.” (1 Peter 4:11). The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it well: “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

2. Truth:

King David knew what God wants most from us: “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.” (Psalm 51:6). If we bypass truth, nothing else matters. Matthew Henry said, “Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth.”

3. Heaven:

We must not be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Heaven forbid! But to live well on earth, we need a heavenly perspective on life. C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

4. The Forgiveness of Sin:

There is no way to heaven or to moral integrity without this. Our forgiveness mattered so much to God that he came up with a glorious plan of salvation for sinners at a huge cost to His beloved Son. Sin is not a finite misstep but a falling short of the infinite glory of God, for which we were made. Jesus appeared “in order to take away sins.” (1 John 3:5).

5. Participation in God’s Love:

We cannot do this without God’s forgiveness. Once set right by God, we begin our pursuit of and participation in God’s love. Between faith, hope and love, “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). While love starts with God, it does not stop with Him. Loving the Father also means loving His children: “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).

6. The Sanctity of Human Life:

The Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5). God created man in his own image. Nations, states, cities, homes, planes, trucks, cars, and national parks all matter but they were not made in God’s image. You are!

7. The Integrity of the Family:

Everything important about culture begins with children—how we raise them, teach them, train them, challenge them and love them. Dismantle marriage, and children will suffer. So will aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, churches and nations. The definition of marriage is God-ordained (Matthew 19:4-6) and the well-being of children is realized more under God’s terms than any other alternative. The sacred and specific qualities of motherhood and fatherhood are devalued when “marriage” is redefined in a way that displaces either one.

8. The Health of the Church:

As a minister, I have devoted my life to this priority. The church is the bride of Christ and God wants her to be holy and healthy. Therefore, cultivate your spiritual gifts in the service of Jesus’ beautiful bride.

9. Your Health and Safety:

“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). That’s true of others too, so let’s take care of each other.

10. The Election:

In a nation founded upon the principle of the consent of the governed (among other noble principles), it is more than just a privilege to vote: It’s a duty. Do it! But don’t do it dumb! Understand you elective options. Freedom is precious. Good leadership is crucial. Elections matter tremendously! Just not quite as much as all of the above.


“Modern culture distracts our attention from nobler pursuits.”
(Things That Matter, by the faculty of the Austin Graduate School of Theology)


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Dan Quayle is no Jack Kennedy

(A Profile in Moral Courage)

Then Senator Dan Quayle was 41 when he ran for Vice President in 1988. So, it was legitimate to question his readiness to hold high office and it was legitimate for Quayle (in the 1988 VP debate) to confidently and correctly point out that he and Jack Kennedy (JFK) had spent the same amount of time serving in congress prior to running for high office.

Benson responded; “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

Quayle responded, “That was really uncalled for, Senator.”

Personal insults and cheap shots are as old as politics. Nevertheless, the fact that Dan Quayle was no Jack Kennedy is why I respect Quayle so highly. John F. Kennedy was, without doubt, one of the most heartless adulterers to preside in our nation’s highest office. His serial philandering included office workers, call girls, show girls, stewardesses, socialites, starlets, sex-symbols, and even his own wife’s friends and personal staff. The First Lady knew but suffered in silence. Secret Service agents could not keep up with their background checking duties but still served as ushers as JFK repeatedly exposed himself to potential blackmail and danger. His adultery included consorts of notorious mobsters like Sam Giancana. The FBI was aware of all this and J. Edgar Hoover used his incriminating files for job security. The media also knew but kept the President’s astonishing immorality under their hats, even though the public voraciously craved details about the first family.

JFK used his high office to exploit and diminish women (many of whom diminished themselves ). When he was finished with them, their dignity and their feelings were not considered. His famous affair with Marilyn Monroe took place the same year she committed suicide. She was a glamorous sex-symbol but she was also an emotionally troubled substance abuser, easy prey for an unscrupulous powerful man. She began to call the White House incessantly and Kennedy quickly cut if off. She never made it out of 1962.

Quayle sparked a feeding frenzy of criticism again in 1992 when he tied the decay of family structure with recent violence in the streets of Los Angeles. Thirty-four million Americans had recently tuned in when Murphy Brown (a TV character played by Candice Bergen) became an unmarried fictional mother. In real life, Bergen & baby soon appeared on countless women’s and news magazine covers. Publically minimizing marriage and dismissing fatherhood deserves a public challenge and Quayle had the courage to provide it:

    It doesn’t help matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.

He later added: “Hollywood thinks it’s cute to glamorize illegitimacy. Hollywood doesn’t get it.” He was relentlessly excoriated by our popular culture for caring about the message our culture sends to girls.

Twenty-five years later, over 41% of American children are being born out of wedlock. Many just get aborted. That’s a seven-fold increase since the early 60s. In his 1999 book, Worth Fighting For, Quayle wrote, “[The] rejection of traditional sexual morality that spread almost overnight in [the 60s] robbed and continues to rob an army of children of the chance to live in two parent households.”

In 2002, Quayle illustrated our poverty of values to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer thusly:

    If in fact you don’t finish high school, you get married before 20 or you have children before 20, you have an 80 percent chance of living in poverty… If you stay in school, get married, wait until you’re after 20 to start having children, you have less than a 5 percent chance of living in poverty.

Dan Quayle brought decency to his political career at every level. His compassionate call for increased fidelity in personal relationships has proven that he was and is a statesman worthy of enduring honor and respect.


Post Script: The Bush-Quayle ticket defeated Dukakis and Bentsen in the 1988 election with an electoral landslide. VP Quayle served honorably despite the dishonorable way the media and his critics treated him.


Photo Credits:

Featured image of Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle in Body


Celebrating Whateverhood?

Motherhood and apple pie have long represented the quintessential components of Americana that no one would dare diminish or disparage. That was yesterday. Today, we still love apple pie.

Tolerating Motherhood / Fatherhood

America is currently in the process of diminishing both motherhood and fatherhood and gradually replacing them with whateverhood. Advocating for same-sex marriage undermines the value we assign to motherhood and fatherhood as uniquely beneficial to children. Two or three men cannot compensate for one mom. Motherhood may still be tolerated by today’s whateverhood advocates, but as more liberal social policies take root, motherhood will be rendered less uniquely necessary in our minds.

Maryland’s Democrat-controlled General Assembly recently passed a bill that removes the words “man” and “woman” from Maryland state law defining marriage, preferring the phrase, “any two individuals.” Across the Atlantic, France is seeking to ban the words “mother” and “father” from all official documents. When we deny the unique value of either men or women, we also deny the value of fatherhood and motherhood.

The phrase, “any two individuals,” begs for the question; why stop at just “two”? Aren’t we being a bit bigoted toward romantic bisexuals, polygamists and polyamorists who are consenting adults? We are discriminating randomly over who and how we discriminate. It is time to stop letting mere politicians handle this.

Silent No Longer

Everything important about culture begins with children—how we raise them, teach them, train them, and love them. America’s culture is “progressing” in a destructive direction for children and families. Children vitally need a mother and a father (not just generic “parents”) in the home, together, married and modeling real love. The traditional model of family surpasses all other alternatives in recognizing that need as a priority. Can we still say this in public?

Many public schools expose our children to homosexual recruiting literature and indoctrination at taxpayer expense. Innocent children are being told that the traditional definition of marriage is “hateful.” Can we remain passive and silent any longer?

Diminishing Marriage

The definition of marriage is God-ordained (Matthew 19:4-6) and the well-being of children is realized more under God’s definition than any other alternative. Unavoidable tragedies can prevent children from having the ideal home (a mom and dad in the home), but that is no reason to intentionally redefine marriage so that even fewer and fewer children will have that blessing.

The sacred and specific gifts of motherhood and fatherhood are both devalued when “marriage” is redefined in a way that displaces either one. Whateverhood won’t cut it.


The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

Holiness Awareness Month?

What is it about October? So far, I have heard that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month and “Infant/Pregnancy Loss and SIDS Awareness Month!” The ribbons are out in force.

GOOD! I respect our freedom to advocate and promote causes of conviction. I say, give the people their voice and more power to them! Just keep it kind and honest, whether you agree or not.

I saw a list of commemorative causes (listed by the month in which they are celebrated) and October has more official cause designations than any other month (14). The month of May comes in second with eleven designated causes, including National Guide-Dog Month and National Bike Month. Did you know that September is National Honey Month! SWEET!

Here are the official causes of conviction for October:

  • National Book Month
  • National Work and Family Month
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Infant/Pregnancy Loss and SIDS Awareness Month
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • National Cyber-Security Awareness Month
  • Black History Month
  • Filipino American History Month
  • Polish American Heritage Month
  • LGBT History Month
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • American Pharmacist Month
  • National Physical Therapy Month
  • National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
  • Whew! Just reading the list makes me tired. Of course, not every “official” cause is worth celebrating just like not every “popular” book is worth reading. But many are and as Americans we are free to choose. Here’s my point: Make some choices and take a stand! Be less critical and more constructive; less angry and more aware; less apathetic and more active. Theodore Roosevelt, in his 1910 speech titled, “Citizenship in a Republic,” put it this way:

      The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

    Designating a month for moral conviction is a strategy to concentrate our attention and mobilize our energy. Christians designate “traditional” times of the year to celebrate Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. We call for 40-day prayer vigils, wear pins and ribbons and plan mission trips. But Christian conviction runs deeper than strategy. It is not reserved to any particular day, week, month or year. It cannot be reduced to pins, ribbons or bumper-stickers. Our entire lives must be reserved (set apart) for Christian conviction. “Set apart” is the literal definition of the word holy. Being holy means your heart and your life are reserved (set apart) fully for God—24/7.

    There is no National Holiness Month on the list. I don’t mind. There is something oxymoronic about setting apart a certain month for being “set apart” (holy) to God. Christians were not made holy just to go around saying “whatever” to the challenges of this world (or the next for that matter). So, make a choice. Forge a strategy. Take a stand! But don’t sanctify your strategy or worship your own conviction. Even noble causes can become idols if we put them above God.

    “Holiness awareness” begins with the words of Jesus at Mark 12:30:

      Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

    October is as good a month as any to begin doing that!


    Photo Credits

    Blue Ribbon

    Theodore Roosevelt


    The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

    A Christian Nation? (Part III)

      Question: Why is the First Amendment first?

      Answer: Because our Founders believed that nothing comes ahead of religious vitality and liberty in establishing and sustaining America as a nation.

    President George Washington expressed this conviction in his Farewell Address (September 17, 1796) thusly; “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

    Our first President saw no role for government in binding any particular sect or religion on anyone. Each American must be free to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. It was, however, the role of the politician (according to Washington) “to respect and to cherish” the great pillars of religion and morality.

    America’s deepest foundations were not set by brilliant statesmen, powerful armies, great speeches, a robust economy, free elections, or even well-crafted documents on parchment. They were primarily rooted in our faith in God—the “Creator”, “Supreme Judge” and “Divine Providence” as affirmed in our Declaration of Independence—a faith strong enough to nourish virtue and morality among the people. Colonial Christianity provided the wing of faith to compliment the wing of reason (the Enlightenment influence) which together got this fledgling nation off the ground. For Washington, an Episcopal vestryman, Christianity was the religion he saw as most supportive of our nation’s political health. But he insisted that faith be voluntarily embraced, not imposed by the state.

    Washington knew that government is not its own creator. It is fed by a “spring” and is unsustainable without that source. He said, “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” But virtue and morality are also not their own creators. Washington warned us not to “expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” While morality is the necessary spring for popular government, religious principle is the necessary spring for morality.

    In 1776, as a delegate from Massachusetts, John Adams wrote that “statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” Two decades later (October 11, 1798), President Adams said in an address to the military, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    Adams carried a “two wings” understanding of our founding to his later years when he wrote, in 1813, to his old enemy and current friend Thomas Jefferson, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were… the general principles of Christianity… and the general principles of English and American liberty.” In 1835, after traveling throughout the United States, Alexis de Tocqueville observed, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”


    Good government cannot create itself. Faith in God is the soil from which national morality grows and eventually becomes the “spring” from which good government can flow back to the people. Christian virtue has never found perfect expression in the humans who seek it, Jesus excepted. But the qualities of faith, courage, patience, stamina, loyalty, resilience, hard work, family fidelity and respect for life prevailed back then to a greater degree than they do today, in my opinion. That is what founded our nation, more than politics and parchments.

    Our Founders did not wear rose-colored glasses and neither do I when recalling their times. But they believed that faith in God beats faith in government every time. America was founded on two wings (faith and reason) as a Christian nation with a secular government. Today, that’s ancient history. The “spring” is too polluted for us to regard our nation as Christian in any meaningful sense and our popular government reflects that reality. Sorry.


    Photo Credits:

    George Washington

    Betsy Ross Flag


    The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.