The Tragic Consequences Of Silence

* The following article is generated out of concern for the absence of pastors and Christian laypeople in the democratic process.  At a time our Constitutional liberties are under assault by the progressive, militant left, professing Christians are MIA.  Last Wednesday evening, May 15, 2017, my wife and I spoke before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, a committee that is formed every 20 years and tasked with hearing the voice of Florida citizens concerning revisions to the Florida Constitution.  The progressive left dominated the meeting in their attendance and agenda, while the presence of conservative voices was pathetically minuscule.

Deafening silence, detachment, distance, disengagement, disorganization and moral desensitization are but a few words that come to mind when I ponder how far the average American stands from the political arena.   There is an even greater lack of participation in our democracy among those who profess to be Christians .

I have attended school board meetings, city and county commissioner meetings, and political party meetings for more than a decade, and can attest that few pastors or professing Christians in Tampa Bay engage in public forums to express opinions, concerns or outrage over laws, ordinances and public policies that not only assail biblical morality and freedoms, but left unchallenged are tools to advance the erosion of our families, communities, state and nation.

Those of us who attend and participate in the democratic process have had our eyes opened to the organized forces of liberal socialists whose ideas and politics are antithetical to America’s heritage.  Many who practice liberal politics are strongly adversarial toward traditional marriage, family, morality and decency.  Their efforts are often demonstrated in forms of mob violence, attacks on free speech on college campuses, and shutting down conservative ideas in the public forum.  School boards, city and county commissioner meetings, along with political rallies have become the staging ground for militant liberals.

The enemies of Biblical morality and conservatism have taken control of our schools and institutions of higher learning, eroding the foundations of our homes and culture.  While the moral fabric of our society hangs tattered and torn, the majority of pastors and professing Christians are dismissive of those sounding the alarm warning our families, churches, schools, and society are under attack.

Christian friend, the time for political ambivalence is passed.  If we do not awaken to the imminent threat of being silenced altogether, we will be relegated to the dismal heap of irrelevance.

It is time for all who love American freedom to awaken out of sleep!  We must become active citizens for the sake of our homes, churches, schools and our beloved nation.  It is time for pastors to assail the ideology of liberal indoctrination.   It is time for Bible believers to support pastors and churches that dare to be faithful to God’s Word and stand with them in private and public forums.

Be forewarned; history will judge us harshly for failing to be stewards of liberty and defenders of biblical morality.

  • To stay informed on issues that impact your life in Tampa Bay, subscribe to Mr. Terry Kemple’s “Community Issues Council” for Christian Citizenship in Action Tampa Bay.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Standing Up for Freedom of Religion in Hillsborough County

One would think the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution is simple enough for anyone in the United States to grasp.  It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It appears there are some employees in Hillsborough County Parks who fail to understand the fundamental right of religion because a county employee recently informed a church group they could not hold Vacation Bible School classes in a county public park unless they were willing to not use the Bible!  Fortunately, that egregious assertion that would have denied religious liberty has been addressed; however, it does not “fix” the perceived adversarial posture some employees of government have taken towards Christianity.  Because this is not the first time County Employees have taken a less than friendly position regarding religious liberties, Dr. Stacy White,  chairman of the Hillsborough County Commissioners, is proposing that Hillsborough County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty.

Today I spoke briefly before the County Commissioners in support of Chairman White’s proposal; however, I also asserted that the County Commissioners’ 2014 decision essentially mandating Christian  businesses (ex. – caterers, photographers, bakers, florists, musicians, printers, to name a few) will either serve the demands of the LGTBQ community (example, Gay Marriage) and capitulate their Christian convictions or be punished with crippling lawsuits, set in motion an adversarial tone against churches and Christians in the County.   The following is my brief exhortation to our County Commissioners:

May 17, 2017

I understand the issue before you this morning is to consider a vote on requiring Hillsborough County Park Employees to undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty. I am here to not only support those classes, but suggest the same be taught to all County Employees.

I find it appalling that anyone employed in Hillsborough County would undermine basic 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion; however, this is not the first time and the slights against Christianity in this county is growing…from County Park officials daring to tell a church they cannot hold a Vacation Bible School if they use the Bible, to a teacher in Riverview demanding students remove crosses in her classroom.

To assist you in finding the source of this adversarial attitude toward Christians and the free practice of their faith and convictions in this county, I suggest this board of County Commissioners look into your own misguided legislative decisions.

In October 2014, five of the sitting commissioners on this board took an adversarial posture against Christians in this County when you voted to appease the LGTBQ community and attack the free exercise of religion of Christian business owners and businesses. You demanded that every private, family owned business that embraces traditional moral values either cave to your ordinance or face the threat of crippling lawsuits for daring to not capitulate to the invasive demands of the LGTBQ community.

If you are going to take up the requirement that County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty, I suggest you do the same and fix your own misguided decision to demand by government fiat, that Christian businesses set aside their own religious and moral convictions.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

PRINCIPLES AND PROMISES, NOT PERSONALITY, DIRECTED MY VOTE FOR TRUMP

trump-and-hillary
The rejoicing and the uproar over Donald Trump’s election in these post-election days is both amusing and heart-breaking.
I am amused that the media and liberal Democrats express outrage that “white evangelicals” voted for the president-elect and tout his “baggage” to justify their anger and resentment for the “basket of deplorables” who cast their vote for him in record numbers.  Be assured, like most conservative Republican voters, I am under no delusion that Donald Trump is a religious messiah or America’s political savior.   The administrations that precede the Trump administration have not been models of virtue and I will not be looking to Washington, DC for moral leadership.
america-divided
It is heart-breaking that there is a great divide in our nation between those who voted for Hillary Clinton and those who voted for Donald Trump.  The liberal media and Democrats have assailed Trump voters and suggested the root cause for the divide is race, gender, education, and “white prejudice\privilege”.  I don’t pretend to speak for all Trump voters; however, none of those insinuations are on my political radar screen.  My vote was fundamentally driven by principles derived from my Christian worldview and love for this nation.
two-worldviews
Donald Trump is the president-elect, not because he is a model of spiritual or moral virtue, but because the only other viable option was Hillary Clinton whose political platform was adversarial and diametrically opposed to my worldview.  
Hillary vowed to continue progressive policies that are destroying our nation; Trump promised to uphold Constitutional freedoms and appoint Supreme Court justices who will follow the founders’ intent in our nation’s founding documents.
Hillary’s desire to continue the erosion of our nation’s sovereignty and her opposition to securing our southern border was polar opposite to Trump’s commitment to “Build the Wall”, stop the flow of illegal immigrants, and establish a system of vetting.
Hillary’s embrace of radical groups that promote lawlessness, demean law enforcement, and risk anarchy gave law-abiding, patriotic Americans who respect the rule of law no choice other than Trump.
Hillary’s affirmation of “partial-birth abortion” in the third debate horrified many Democrats, while Trump championed a pro-life stance for the unborn.make-america-great
Hillary’s diminution of American exceptionalism and her globalist view of the world at the sacrifice of hard-working Americans was an unacceptable backdrop for Trump’s commitment and invitation to “Make America Great Again”.
No, I am not a poor, deluded, hate-filled, prejudiced, white evangelical who has abandoned spiritual and moral principles.  I am a color-blind, Bible-believing Christian who loves America and longs to see the spiritual and political virtues that made her great restored as guiding principles for our homes, churches, schools, and government.  I want our federal, state, and local governments, and the bureaucracies that oppress our freedoms, to get out-of-the-way and allow individual freedoms to ring once again.  I want to see political correctness vanquished and common sense restored.  I long for an unhyphenated-America that is “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.we-the-people
I long to see America great again and pray president-elect Donald Trump will keep his promises and prove worthy of my trust.
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

“Spiritual Minutemen Revived: A Renewed Call to Action”

Eagle - Freedom Isn't FreeTwenty-one months has passed since I utilized this blog site for posting my concerns, frustrations, exhortations and aspirations for the direction of our nation.  My energy and focus has been predominately on my pulpit ministry at Hillsdale Baptist Church [www.HillsdaleBaptist.org] and the outlet of opportunity my devotional blog, [www.HeartofAShepherd.com] has given me. I have been profoundly blessed to have 53,000 readers from 164 countries that have followed my daily devotionals and editorials on www.HeartofAShepherd.com.

minutemanI do not have time or space to delineate the changes in American society that have moved me to revive www.SpiritualMinutemen.net; however, I have been convicted that I dare not be a spectator in the battle for the heart and soul of our community, city, and nation.  Whether or not my engagement with “quill and ink” will make a difference is not my concern; however, I feel my failure to exercise the freedom of speech God has given me as a citizen of this great nation is a liberty for which I will one day give account…in the spirit of the Colonial preachers of the American Revolution, I am a “Patriot Parson”.

The preachers of Colonial America, known as the “Black Robed Brigade”, were as diverse as the colonist themselves; young and old, urban and rural, eloquent orators and plain-spoken country parsons, educated and genteel…In spite of their differences, the preachers of the “Black Robed Brigade” agreed on one thing: God would have men be free from the tyranny of government that restricts individual rights and freedoms.

Colonial Americans admired the courage and independent spirit of their pastors. John Adams, 2nd president of the United States wrote concerning the pastors of colonial America:

“It is the duty of the clergy…to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted…”

19th century Evangelist Charles G. Finney rebuked America’s preachers with these words: “If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible…If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible…If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible…If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible…If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible…”

One can only imagine the diatribe Finney would express to America’s 21st century preachers.  Christianity in general, and preachers specifically, have failed America and our nation is in crisis.  We are Politically divided, Financially insolvent and our government has an insatiable appetite for controlling every aspect of our public and private lives.

Retreat is not an option!

The mission of minutemen during the American Revolution was to be ready to respond to the threat of an enemy in an instant; however, the enemy of our liberties in the 21st century bears ideas, not necessarily arms, and is increasingly intolerant of any expression of the Christian faith and moral values.  Spiritual Minutemen no longer have the luxury of disengagement or retreat; should we fail to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and boldly Declare God’s Word, the liberties we cherish will inevitably erode and we will be silenced.declaration

“WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” – The Declaration of Independence

For life and liberty,

Patriot Parson

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

2nd Amendment Right-to-Bear Arms Bill during a declared emergency

Dear fellow patriots,

FL SenateI just learned that the Florida Senate is considering a bill [HB-209] that would permit citizens to be armed in the case of a declared emergency. The Senate also has their own bill proposal [SB-296]; however, it is the House Bill, without amendments, that would be most favorable to law-abiding citizens.

 As disconcerting as it sounds, the reality is that the current law allows local officials to declare an emergency and in effect, make it illegal for citizens, even those like myself who have concealed permits, to transport and bear arms.  Of all times to be prevented from exercising the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, surely an emergency like a hurricane and forced evacuation would not be the hour citizens should be told you have no right to leave your home with a firearm.  As it currently stands, a citizen legally bearing or transporting a firearm during a declared emergency could be arrested!

Add to the above concern, the Florida Sheriffs Association is a major proponent and player in denying the rights of citizens to bear arms in a declared emergency. Please refer to this site for additional information: http://www.nraila.org/legislation/state-legislation/2014/4/florida-critical-alert-sheriffs-still-attacking-second-amendment-rights.aspxright to bear arms

Today is the day you must contact Florida Senators…HB-209 is under consideration this day, April 30.

The following is my personal letter to Florida Senators and you are welcome to use it as a pattern for your own email:

Dear Florida Senators,

The purpose of this email is to request that you and your peers would take up and pass House Bill HB-209 allowing law-abiding citizens to keep and have in their possession their personal firearms in the case of a declared emergency by local officials.

My wife and I are both concealed permit holders and I am appalled that the current status of the law is that I would be denied my 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. This is especially egregious if that Constitutional right would be denied me or my family in an emergency when law and order might be at risk and law enforcement detained by criminal activities preventing them from a timely response to pleas for help.

Please pass HB-209 with no amendments.

The following are email addresses for Florida Senators that you may copy and paste into your email:

abruzzo.joseph.web@flsenate.gov,
altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov,
bean.aaron.web@flsenate.gov,
benacquisto.lizbeth.web@flsenate.gov,
bradley.rob.web@flsenate.gov,
brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov,
detert.nancy.web@flsenate.gov,
portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov,
evers.greg.web@flsenate.gov,
flores.anitere.web@flsenate.gov,
gaetz.don.web@flsenate.gov,
galvano.bill.web@flsenate.gov,
garcia.rene.web@flsenate.gov,
gardiner.andy.web@flsenate.gov,
grimsley.denise.web@flsenate.gov,
hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov,
hukill.dorothy.web@flsenate.gov,
lee.tom.web@flsenate.gov,
legg.john.web@flsenate.gov,
negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov,
richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov,
simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov,
simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov,
stargel.kelli.web@flsenate.gov,
thrasher.john.web@flsenate.gov

With a patriot’s heart,

Travis D. Smith