Author archives: Nathan Oppman

Be Wary of Uniform Education Measurements

by Nathan Oppman

March 18, 2014

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal cited the challenge of measuring college success. As college debt increases, it will likely become more important to acquire tangible measure of collegiate success. Some members of Congress and the Department of Education have weighed in with new ways to measure college outcomes.

The problem with establishing uniform measurements is that education is multi-faceted. Getting a job is not necessarily an indication of academic success. College is not designed to be a job training center, but to give students a greater understanding of the world. Education is valuable beyond the workforce in such areas as voting, training children, and morality. If a degree does not directly lead to a job, then it is not necessarily wasted. If going to college leads to a job, it does not mean the education was exceptional.

It is important to accurately assess the many benefits that college education can provide. But we should be assessing those benefits at the local level and should seek to discourage any government imposed national measurements. From No Child Left Behind to Common Core, we have learned that we must be wary of our government’s involvement in education. Keep an eye open for national collegiate success measurements and tell the federal government to keep out of the classroom.

Renewing Love on Valentine’s Day

by Nathan Oppman

February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day is full of romance and love for many Americans and it is a beautiful thing. The thought of that special person can send sparks flying. Hearts, roses, and chocolates abound. Young love blossoms. Sadly, these scenes of romance are often a façade for a culture obsessed with an emotional high rather than a selfless love. When the day ends the beauty of the emotional romance is gone, replaced by the ugly reality of shallow relationships. Real romance is not a state of eternal bliss but a commitment to love, sacrificing for the good of the other. How can we hold onto love beyond that February 14th feeling? With so few cultural factors that encourage true romance and love it is helpful to use the Valentine’s Day holiday as a reminder of what love truly looks like. I could give a hundred reasons why marriage is good for you, but those are simply side benefits to following God’s plan for love. Here are three things every Christian husband should do this Valentine’s Day to renew a lasting love and romance:

  1. Remember that you are to love your wife like Christ loved the church. Enough to bleed for her and enough to die for her. Enough to be separated from His Heavenly Father and to become sin for her. I am to love my wife when she sins against me. I am to nurture her, cherish her, and care for her. I am to spend myself for her because I love her and because Christ showed me how.
  2. Remember that my love for her is not conditional on feelings. Feelings are fickle. They change but my love for my wife can shine brighter even when feelings wane. Choosing to love often brings feelings with it but feelings are not the gauge of love. I want my wife to know that “for better or for worse” wasn’t just a cliché phrase but a life-long promise.
  3. Remember to do her good. It can be easy to do good to your significant other while dating. But after a few years of marriage, it may require a little effort. Thinking of ways to do her good involves not just gifts but understanding her needs on both a personal and spiritual level. Bearing your spouse’s burdens can be a challenging and fulfilling task, but it is well worth the effort.

I love my wife. She loves me. I still consider myself a newlywed even though I have been married for well over two years. We still act like romantics, we still hold hands. I still kiss her every morning when I leave for work and she greets me with a kiss when I come home. But these are not the deeds that lead to love they are expressions of it. I have chosen to love my wife. Loving my wife, regardless of feelings, with a desire to do her good at all times is a difficult task. But it is a task I have been commanded to pursue and one I promised, on my wedding day, to perform until death. Along with the chocolate and the kisses, may we all renew our commitment to make the rest of “‘til death do us part” a beautiful thing.

The Malthusians Return

by Nathan Oppman

October 16, 2013

The tired old argument has returned. People are going to end the planet. The oceans will rise, the land will burn, and aliens will invade. Ok, there are no predictions of an alien invasion … yet. So what is the solution to these problems? Get rid of those pesky people. After all if there were no people, then they would not be destroying earth by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Of course, limiting the population of earth through encouraging women to have fewer kids would be devastating to economic growth and development. People have been making predictions about the end of the world for a long time. There is one factor common to all of them— they have failed to happen.

Instead of encouraging anti-human, anti-family policies, we should encourage healthy families where God is honored and lifelong marriage is the norm. While we are unlikely to be affected by global warming, we are already being affected by family breakdown. On almost every social measure the breakdown of committed marriages has devastating consequences. We should be focused on the real man-made problem of family destruction. If we don’t fix the family the future will indeed be bleak.

And one more thing, I did a quick internet search while writing this article; an alien invasion could be a result of global warming according to some!

Their Blood Cries Out

by Nathan Oppman

September 30, 2013

Washington Post opinion writer Colbert King has noted the lack of concern surrounding the heartbreaking recent attacks on Christians in Nigeria and other places in the developing world.  In the name of Islam, members of groups such as Boko Haram have mercilessly attacked innocents for the crime of following Jesus or simply not knowing the name of Mohammed’s mother.

King is no conservative, but he is a man of conscience who is disgusted by his journalist colleagues’ failure to report the massive and persistent attacks professing Christians experience in country after country. It is not in vogue to talk about Christians dying.  To the contrary, even our National Park Service has gone out of their way to note the supposedly wonderful position that Islam grants to women.

The blood of martyrs spills across the globe daily. Any kind of religious persecution, including that which is directed against Muslims (often by other Muslims).

Too often, the face of the Islamic martyr is that of a deceived young man pulling the trigger of a gun in the face of innocents at a mall. The face of the Christian martyr is that of men, women, and children fleeing a bloodthirsty hate. Suicide bombers kill so regularly across the Muslim world that it barely passes for news. Often their target is Christians. King Théoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy asked the question “What can men do against such reckless hate?”  For LOTR aficionados the reply from Aragorn is one of the epic lines in the movie “Ride out and meet them.” Aragorn quickly adds, not for death and glory, but “for your people.

Death is not something that should be lauded. Muslim “martyrs” around the world are murdering in the name of Islam. They seek death and glory. We as Christians must be aware of our “people” who are dying, advocate and pray for them and support groups ministering to them. As we face the evil of a lost world let us remember our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us stand up for them in every way possible. But let us not forget the Scriptural injunction to pray for our enemies. Pray for those who are evil, that the great Gospel of Christ may penetrate the lost souls of these ravaging lions and turn them into lambs of Christ.

Food Stamps and Stewardship

by Nathan Oppman

August 23, 2013

In a few months there will once again be the usual chatter regarding the debt ceiling, fiscal cliffs, and heightened rhetoric as interest groups vie for Federal money. The debates often center around the dollars with little to no regard for the actual problems those dollars are supposed to solve.

Consider “food stamps” which now come in the form of a debit card. If one has a debate about whether or not the hungry should be fed, virtually all of us agree that they should. We may disagree on who is actually in need and how they should best receive aid, but we agree that they should be fed. Advocates for increasing federal spending on food aid will argue that the economy has caused many more people to be without jobs and that these people need help. If a policy maker even so much as mentions cutting a dime from such programs he will be immediately vilified by many as “uncompassionate” at best, or “evil” at worst.

My own experience argues for a cautious approach, and why we need to be able to have discussions that go beyond mere rhetoric.

At a previous job, our rear parking lot was near some woods that were often filled with homeless people. They frequently came to us for water and my colleagues and I spoke with many of them on a semi-regular basis. Some of them were genuinely needy, while others stated that they liked being homeless because they were free from responsibility. Many of them had cell phones; all were well-clothed.

Over time I noticed a significant number of them asking for one of my employees. When they asked for him, they did so usually with an appearance of deep concern and seemed to want to see him immediately. I soon discovered the sad reason for their urgency. My employee would take their food stamp debit cards and exchange them at something like a 50% rate for booze. In other words for a $200 card my employee would buy roughly $100 in alcohol for the homeless and then use the card to purchase groceries for himself or others. This system was very efficient and profitable for all parties involved. The homeless were able to continue their habit using government funds and my employee was able to make a 50% return on investment for his trouble.

You may think this kind of thing is rare or hard to do. It is not. This “ring” of fraud is operated largely in the open and there was very little that could be done to stop it. If I were a legislator and suggested there is waste and fraud in the food stamp program, I would be labeled as uncaring.

For the record, I believe strongly in giving to charity and regularly give a portion of my income away. But I also believe in responsibility and stewardship. God has called us to love our neighbors and give to the needy while at the same time wisely managing what he has given us.

It is a wonderful thing that Americans care for the poor, and Christians have a special duty to help them. However, we should not allow that care to cause us to be blind to systematic abuses that actually hurt those the system is intended to help. Love demands that we provide for those around us, but wisdom demands that we not give to those who wantonly throw away what we are entrusting to them. Good stewardship requires honesty and honesty requires us to admit that good intentions are not enough.

When Victory Is Hard: Remembering D-Day

by Nathan Oppman

June 5, 2013

D-Day June 6, 1944.  The day in which the Allies entrance into France was brutal and costly.  What ended in a victory and a beachhead also marked a mass grave where many brave men gave their lives for something greater than themselves.  I can imagine that disembarking from a landing craft in the face of heavy machine gun fire and knowing the chances of death were high was not a comforting thought.  So why did those men leave the craft? The men who lay strewn on that fateful shore did not prove their courage when they took a bullet but when they left the ships.  Courage is not being a casualty but being willing to be one.  Whatever battle we engage in we must not ask ourselves the question “Will I win?” but rather “Am I willing to stand?” 

Heroes like Churchill, Patton, Eisenhower, De Gaulle, and others would not have been successful if men had not been willing to die for their cause.  It is easy to measure one’s mission in life by following the easiest path that will lead to material success.  But the great men are those who endure to the end standing for truth.  As FRC President Tony Perkins often says, “When you’ve done everything and can do no more, just keep standing.”  Standing doesn’t mean temporal success, it means being faithful.  Let us remember on this historic day that the men who taught us best how to stand were those who fell forever on that war ravaged Normandy shore.  May we stand faithfully wherever we find ourselves.

Polls: Life and the Double Standard on Inevitability

by Nathan Oppman

May 13, 2013

A recent poll released by Gallup shows a strong majority of Americans oppose all or most abortions.  It’s even more interesting that young people are more likely to oppose abortion in all cases than any other group.  Over 40% of Democrats oppose abortion most of the time and 12% oppose it entirely.  What does this suggest?  Well if we apply the same standard to abortion that applies to marriage then it would suggest that the pro-life position is becoming the position of inevitability.  It would suggest that politicians should make sure they are on the right side of history, that the Democratic party is starting to fragment, and that both parties should cater to pro-life beliefs if they want to win over young people.  But of course the same standard will not be applied. 

There is a lesson to be learned.  If one continues to speak the truth people may listen, even if it takes years and even if the media does not report it.  So let’s keep up the pro-life momentum and make the end of abortion in America a reality!

Today in History: Washington and Hitler

by Nathan Oppman

April 30, 2013

On this day in 1789, George Washington became the first president under the Constitution of the United States of America. A great man in both stature and character, who could have been king but relinquished his command to Congress. He was then elected to the nation’s highest office after the ratification of the Constitution. It reminds me of the Scriptural phrase “he who humbles himself will be exalted.” It is not a coincidence that one of our most revered national heroes gave up a chance at a great power. It is reported that King George III stated when he heard Washington would relinquish his command and return to his farm, “If he does that he will be the greatest man in the world.” High praise from the monarch of one of the world’s leading powers! Not only did Washington achieve great fame and popularity in his own day, he also set a precedent for a peaceful transition of power and for a two term limit on presidential power both of which are followed to this day. Washington’s country has endured longer under one Constitution and form of government than any other today.

Another leader cemented his place in history on this day in 1945, Adolf Hitler. In a bunker in Germany, the man who would have ruled the world and began a thousand-year Reich died in a most ignominious way—suicide. A man who exalted himself and his race above others and brutally murdered all who stood in his way was brought low. The supreme leader of one of the greatest military machines the world has ever seen lost all of his power in just a few years. It sent his country into a time of division and turmoil. The thousand-year Reich became a ruin in a few short years. What a contrast with the great George Washington.

The man who led a raggedy band of colonials against the greatest military in the world and won handed over his authority and rode home. And in that moment became one of the great men of antiquity. A man who led the mightiest military machine in the world and lifted himself up in every way was defeated and consigned the historical trash heap of world despots. The lessons to be learned from these men are many. Our politicians would be wise today to consider what a true leader does. A true leader knows when to stand and fight against all odds, like Washington at Valley Forge, and a true leader does not see himself as great but sees himself as a servant of something greater. An evil leader only sees the present and is fearful of preserving his reputation and power. In his desire to hold on, he soon finds power and fame are fleeting. Washington walked away from everything and became a legend. Hitler grabbed for everything and became a monster.

Another great man once said, “A man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” In the city that bears our first President’s namesake I hope there are some great men left.

Homeschooling and the Attack on Religious Freedom

by Nathan Oppman

March 21, 2013

There is a case that has caught the attention of homeschool advocates on an international level. The Romeike family of Germany was granted asylum by a U.S. judge due to the persecution they had experienced for homeschooling their children in Germany. This persecution included police intervention well beyond simple fines or reprimands. The family believes that the school system in Germany does not teach what they as Christians believe should be taught to their children, so they wish to teach their children in an environment where their convictions are honored – their home.

This is not merely a question of the freedom to homeschool but a question of who determines what children are taught. In other words it is a question of religious freedom. Religious faith is often passed on through the teaching that parents give to their children. The Scripture clearly states in Deut. 6:6-7 “And these words which I command thee this day, [the Law of God to Israel] shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (KJV)

Many who homeschool wish to teach their children that God is engaged in everyday life. For them, the school is an extension of the home. Schools should serve parents in the education of children. However, when state-run schools begin to serve a wholly secular agenda and deny parents the ability to train their children, they begin to do what the First Amendment says the state must never do: Establish religion.

In the landmark case Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Supreme Court asserted that children are not mere creatures of the state and that the state could not dictate where they went to school. German law is essentially asserting that the state knows more about children’s needs than parents. This is a dangerous threat to religious freedom and the Romeike family was right in seeking to teach their children the things that they believed to be true. The U.S. should be a place where those threatened because of their beliefs can come for refuge. It is sad when the ICE division of our Federal government ignores the importance of education as an expression of religious belief and works against granting families like the Romeikes asylum.

Cases like this have become more common in the current administration. The current administration sees a “freedom to worship” that is confined to the church and ends when you exit its doors. They do not recognize James’ teaching in the New Testament when he stated that a faith without works is dead. Freedom of religion has everything to do with practice. It is time our government recognized that.

I am glad my mother exercised her freedom of religion and chose to homeschool me all the way through high school. She and my father wanted me to be taught reading, writing and, arithmetic, all of which I could have received at a public school. But with those they also taught me the old fashioned, life changing, sin cleansing, grace receiving, others loving, Bible believing version of the wonderful gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the freedom to teach those wonderful truths is priceless. If freedom of religion does not include a freedom to practice then freedom of religion is dead.

Cheating Advice: Try Love!

by Nathan Oppman

March 5, 2013

I recently read a column detailing ways to protect a marriage from adultery. The article identified many problems that can lead to infidelity but the advice they gave for avoiding it was severely lacking. The article notes (as does our own MARRI team) that couples who cohabit are much more likely to be unfaithful after marriage. However, instead of advising couples that they should not live together before marriage, the article advises them to avoid using cohabitation as a test run for marriage. The article also notes that the internet makes cheating easier and encourages women to watch pornography with their husbands. Once again, instead of avoiding the cause of the problem, the article suggests participating in it together.

This is gripping, and sad: When facts are ignored in favor of what is popular, society is endangered. Couples who live together or watch pornography together have not addressed the underlying problem of each - selfishness. If we choose to love our spouses unconditionally and invest in them daily, we will have successful marriages. We can’t control our spouses or manipulate sinful behaviors for our own ends, but we can demonstrate a profound love that fosters the feelings many couples seek.

Love isn’t a feeling, it is an action. The best way to have a happy marriage is to love your spouse whether you feel like it or not. And you know what? Loving a spouse when you don’t feel like it will make your life a much more fulfilling adventure.

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