Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Dream and a Song

Saturday morning I awakened early with some anxiety. After dawn I finally got back to sleep. That is usually when I have the most vivid dreams.

Saturday I dreamed that I was back in my college town, and my parents were there to visit me. We were staying in a motel room, and my parents were young like they were when I was in college. I remember at one point in the dream realizing that my father was there (he passed away about eight years ago now), and I hugged him like I never hugged him before. I could feel his soft brown hair on the back of his neck whisking across my face. I didn't want to let go, but soon realized I was waking up and the dream was fleeting away.

There was a song drifting through my mind as I awakened, and tears in my eyes. The song stayed with me through the day, cycling over and over again. I can't remember the tune now, but if you're my age you may identify with my emotions.

I'm so very glad you're here.
I'll be so sorry when you're gone.

That's it, just those simple words. Life is so short and family is so valuable. If you still have parents in this world they're a treasure. If you have kids, let them treasure you while they can. My parents were a gift I did not deserve, but a gift I will never forget, and for which I will always be grateful.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Misconception of Mrs. Clinton

I would like to comment on a misconception regarding Hillary Clinton. The recently concluded FBI investigation found evidence that she and her colleagues "were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." Mrs. Clinton said that this was a mistake in judgment she made for the sake of convenience while running the State Department.

The misconception is that Mrs. Clinton is careless and naive concerning her handling of government secrets. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Reckless disregard for the security of the nation" might be a more accurate description of her conduct. Both she and her husband are extremely intelligent and careful people regarding legal matters, and she took extraordinary measures to keep her communications outside of government purview. Remember that she had months of stalling before turning over the servers that had "somehow been wiped" and had "hard drive failures", so basically the FBI was dealing with only the information she allowed them to see.

The Clintons are Masters of Misdirection. In this case, the misdirection was the embarrassing but not quite incriminating revelation that she compromised top-secret government communications by using personal email servers. That was an enticing bone to throw to the investigators, but it also threw them off the trail of the more important case involving the use of her position in government to solicit donations from foreign sources that would create dangerous conflicts of interest as a top-level cabinet officer and possible future president of the U.S.

Before the more important investigation could occur, the press and the public will lose interest, partly because it is a more complicated story, partly because the real cover-up has been much more effective in this case, and partly because the public and the media will simply become "fatigued" by the constant investigations.

These are the active ingredients in the slick legal coating that covers the Clinton family. Just as the salacious Lewinsky scandal misdirected the media from the story of abuse of executive power to focus on the naughty details of Bill Clinton's personal life, even so the email scandal has been used to change the narrative from corrupt and dangerous liaisons with foreign officials to a so-called careless handling of government emails.

Please understand that if elected, these donations will affect Mrs. Clinton's decisions regarding energy policy and our handling of terrorism and national defense, among a host of other important national issues. And with one pending Supreme Court appointment and possibly two others arising during the next presidential term, along with her husband's earlier federal court appointments, the Clinton family will have complete legal cover for their future actions in the White House.

This next election is NOT about whether we should have the "first female president in American history", or even about electing someone with a better presidential resume. This is about protecting the integrity of our federal government and the future of the republic for which it stands. Our children deserve to inherit a functional democracy as our founders intended, not one that is rigged and corrupted by a family of professional lawyers who know how to dance around the edges of the law.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Do I Love God - Unconditionally?

I was directed to the last chapter of the Gospel of John today by my Biblehub reading plan. I find that the more I read the Bible, the more the Word of God speaks to me.

Today Jesus asks the question of Peter - Do you love Me more than these? The word love here comes from the Greek word Agapao - in this context, Do you prefer to be with me and respect my wishes above all others, even your closest friends? I have always understood this kind of love to be unconditional, the way God loves us, putting our spiritual welfare above the cost of His very own life, even when we are in rebellion against Him. It struck me as odd today to apply that Godly love from us toward God.

Jesus asks Peter again - Do you love Me (really)? Again the Greek word for unconditional love is used, and again Peter answers the same - Yes Lord, you know that I love you (affectionately). Perhaps Peter is unwilling to commit to unconditional love, or perhaps Peter wants to emphasize that he has a special affection for the Lord.

Regardless, Jesus asks Peter a third time - Do you love me (affectionately)? This time Jesus asks Peter the same question with a different word for love (Phileo), and this time Peter is deeply grieved. He recalls that he denied the Lord three times, and this third question brings that painful memory into bold relief. Lord, you know everything; you KNOW that I love you (with all my heart).

Peter recalls how his love for Jesus was conditioned on his mistaken concept of His coming kingdom. He was probably disappointed that this man in whom he had placed his complete confidence did not establish an earthly kingdom and destroy the enemies of the Jewish people. He was disillusioned because his King had apparently been defeated and Peter was next in line to be led to the cross. Peter was ready to FIGHT, but not to lay down his life in a sacrificial act of mercy. And Peter knew that the Lord Jesus could read his mind, could understand his confusion and fear, but could also understand his sincere desire to follow Him.

Of course, the gifts and calling of the Lord are irrevocable, and as promised Jesus accepted Peter's repentance and made him the first pastor of His flock on earth.

Seeing this chapter again made me think - do I love God unconditionally? What if I feel like God has somehow let me down, or is somehow different than my expectations? Will I continue to love Him when things don't work out as I hoped and prayed? I hear people question God in the midst of personal crises, but I hope for better things in my own life. Pray with me if you wish:

I need to know you Lord, and I need to trust you enough to love you even when I don't understand. Please enlarge my faith dear Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus and for His kingdom's sake!

Friday, May 6, 2016

How Corporate Leftists Are Defeating Democracy in America

Activist corporate chiefs like Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com are using the economic power of their corporations to overrule the will of voters across America. This is a new and very dangerous trend that must be understood and resisted.



Case in point, a recent law in Georgia (HB 757) was passed by the Georgia legislature and was well on its way to becoming law, when Mr. Benioff threatened to pull his business out of the state if the governor did not veto the bill. Money talks, and the bill was vetoed. This bill would have protected religious institutions from being forced to perform ceremonies that violate their sincerely held beliefs. I read the bill closely and can say without hesitation that this bill did not discriminate against any person on the basis of their sexual orientation, nor did it allow such discrimination. The bill simply prevented the state or local governments from penalizing religious organizations for refusing to provide services that are in violation of their beliefs and teachings.

So, can you understand that pastors in America will be forced to perform gay weddings against their conscience or face penalty of law? Of course the intent of these activists is not to have these services performed by those who object, but rather to shut down the religious organizations and people of faith who stand in their way.

Is this really America the land of the free? Well it had better be the home of the brave now, because those freedoms are being taken away, not by a majority of voters, but by leftist CEOs from San Francisco, New York and Boston. Is this DEMOCRACY? It reeks of plutocracy and hypocrisy from those who profess to be advocates for democratic policies.

If you want to understand more, please please please read this Wall Street Journal article (http://www.wsj.com/articles/salesforces-marc-benioff-has-kicked-off-new-era-of-corporate-social-activism-1462201172)

My dear friends, corruption is not only coming down from Washington, but seeping into state governments from the most powerful corporations in America. Votes are important, but understanding where the influences are really coming from should help you decide how to more effectively resist these anti-democratic forces. Corporate boards are elected by shareholders, and if you are a shareholder you can speak up about this inappropriate use of company resources.

I leave you with this question: Who should control lawmakers in your state on matters of conscience, the voters of your state, or a San Francisco billionaire and his cronies?


Reference:
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts
Free Exercise Protection Act of Georgia

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dancing in the Fire

I'm wearing a pair of shoes that don't match any more. One shoe is almost new; the other is worn out and blackened, with holes in the nylon mesh and crusty shoelaces. Let me explain...

Saturday was a very windy day in Katy, and much colder than the day before. We had four grandchildren at the house along with their parents, and we had a charcoal grill ready to go. I had cleaned the grill with some paper towels soaked in cooking oil while the fire was hot, and tossed these in the trash bag in the garage. After dinner we wanted to have a fire in the fire pit and enjoy what would probably be the last cold day before summer, which starts early in this part of the world.

Hurriedly I put the grill away and got out the fire pit. In my rush I dumped the fire pit ashes in the trash bag, thinking they were cool. You can probably guess the rest of the story, or not.

About ten minutes later, while I was watching the grandkids madly running around the back yard, my younger son looked in the garage and shouted, THE GARAGE IS ON FIRE. I bolted to the garage to see a nine-foot-tall blaze reaching to the ceiling and quickly filling the garage with smoke. The fire was starting to engulf the front of my wife's car and spreading across the indoor-outdoor carpet in all directions. The only thought that crossed my mind was to keep the flames from getting under the car, and without really thinking clearly I decided to try to stomp the fire out with my right shoe. The first step or two were wildly risky, but thankfully the flames were quickly reduced to knee-high flames and my other son came to the rescue with the garden hose just in time to save me from setting my clothes on fire.

When all this commotion finally came to an end, I was a nervous wreck. It didn't take long to realize what a miracle had just occurred. That flame could have easily brought down our house if it had gone unattended for even one more minute. Only a few feet away I had a gasoline can with a gallon of fuel mix in it. When I looked around I realized that NOTHING had been damaged except about ten square feet of indoor-outdoor carpet, and one almost-new sneaker. I was deeply humiliated about my hurried decisions that led to this conflagration. I could not believe the grace of God that spared me the terrible damage it could have caused.



For just a few moments it might have looked like I was dancing in that fire. I thought about the story in the book of Daniel where the Hebrew children were walking around in the flames unharmed. I know the Son of God was with me because not a single hair on my body was singed. Yes my right shoe was partially melted, but that's just a reminder to me of God's protection and mercy that was extended to me absolutely undeserved. As King Nebuchadnezzar said,

"Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!"
Daniel 3:28

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Spectrum of Politics

This year in politics has proven my long-held theory that the political universe is not linear from left to right, but curved. In this bizarro world of politics, Bernard Sanders and Donald J. Trump live in the same neighborhood. Bernie's neighbors to the left and Donald's neighbors to the right actually live in the same house together, a crack-house whose residents feed on fear and anger caused by the desperation and delusion of a world without God.


In the spectrum of politics, where deep red and deep indigo plunge into political darkness, demagogues of the past fanned the flames of fear and anger to rise to power while the masses that followed them drank their witches brew of delusion and zeal. Look into this darkness and you will see where the generals of Saddam Hussein's left-wing Baathist party collaborated with the most right-wing zealots of Islam, a meth lab known as Camp Bucca where the evil army we now know as "ISIS" was born.

Demagogues who rise to power have a nasty habit of making themselves demigods. I say this not to suggest that our current political wannabes are of such ilk, but to state plainly that America and the western world have chosen that path by rejecting God. The path away from God leads not to freedom but to a world of hatred and tyranny, led by the prince of darkness. I can understand why those in darkness run to this destructive light, but what baffles me is how the children of God can be led in the same direction.

Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world, and the world of politics is beneath the pursuit of eternal things, but decisions we make in politics have an irreparable effect on young people growing up in the world we leave them. Let us not leave them a world of political extremism where lives are cut short by angry mobs and unnecessary wars. Let us turn back to love and the God who enables love through his unconditional offer of grace.

I John 2:8-11

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Puppet King

I will soon be helping with a children's puppet show at our church. One of the key puppet characters in the show will be the king who had Daniel thrown into the lion's den. But that's not the character I want to write about.



During the ministry of Christ on earth, Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee. Though some called him king, he was anything but sovereign. He served at the decree of Augustus emperor of Rome, as did his father Herod the Great. Thus he was in a sense a puppet of the Roman emperor. But those weren't the only people pulling his strings.

The descendants of Herod the Great were raised as Jews because of the forced Jewish conversion of Herod the Great's father Antipater, who was Idumean (Edomite) by descent. In order to rule the land of Israel, Herod and his descendants would not only collaborate with Rome, but with the Jewish religious leaders. In that line Herod Antipas, wanting to be accepted by his people, would receive the scalding preaching of John the Baptist, even when the finger of chastisement was pointed directly at him and his illegitimate wife Herodias.

Herodias wanted to execute John because of the public scorn she had to endure, until she finally found a way to pull Herod's strings. When Herodias' daughter danced at Herod's birthday party, Herod was filled with such incestuous lust that he offered her a gift of up to half the value of his kingdom. Herodias instructed her daughter to request John's head on a platter, an action which Herod reluctantly performed. It was not Herodias who pulled these strings however, but Herod's own sinful lust, probably augmented by a generous helping of alcohol and epicurean debauchery.

Jesus said "everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin". We don't see the puppet strings that control our own desires and decisions, but they are there nonetheless. We can never truly be rulers of our own destiny, but we are free to choose whom we serve. If you think you are truly free serving your own desires, look behind the curtain and see who pulls the strings. If it is not the God of Love, it is most certainly the one who seeks your destruction. Choose this day whom you will serve!