Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Past Wisdom" is Still Wisdom

I have friends who would wonder why a Christian guy would devote any real time to writing about what our President is doing. I would ask in return, "Why not?" He is after all, our elected leader and what he does--how he fulfills that role is a testimony to others within this nation and without. How he performs and how he comports himself in his role as our President is important.

The negotiations between President Obama and the GOP leadership in the matter of raising the nation's debt ceiling could be described so far as unproductive at best and vituperative at worst. Today the President left the negotiations in a bit of a tiff. He doesn't like anyone challenging his authority, but President Obama has in my mind has acted shamefully. In saying that he could not guarantee that Social Security checks would be mailed out on August 3rd if an agreement is not met, he misrepresented the situation. That's actually a false statement. He actually has the ability to make sure those checks go out. We have enough revenue this month to pay for the military, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. etc.. The problem is the President's penchant for discretionary spending.

He evidently didn't always think the way that he does now about the debt ceiling. In 2006 as "Senator" Obama, he voted against raising that limit and said the following:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

I think that was a fine statement. What's changed?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I spent a little bit of my time listening to a speech given in Iowa today by President Obama. He actually said that he believes that our country should live within its means. I snorted. I actually wondered for just an instant, "Does he really believe what he's saying?" This is a man whose policy it has actually been to spend the country out of a financial breakdown---to print up money and dole it out in the hopes that spending it will encourage the building of revenue through job creation. As if. There are only three possible answers to the question of whether or not he really believes his own statement. The first possible answer is that he actually believes something like this when he says it. The second is that he knows he's misrepresenting what he believes because to do so serves an agenda of some kind. The third possible answer is that he's deluded. A deluded person despite all evidence to the contrary, will believe something untrue because they have surrendered their mind to it.

I don't think President Obama is delusional. I think that he's serving an agenda that he deeply believes in. I think too, that he keeps that agenda to himself. I know for a fact that John P. Coale, a litigater and former campaigner for both of the Clintons stopped his support for the Obama campaign because he said that Mr. Obama is not the man that he purports himself to be. I don't find that difficult to believe. My pastor said that people shouldn't too be surprised by what President Obama has done generally in office, because he has for the most part done what he promised to do, as sad as that is.

A man I know told me once that when Bill Clinton was elected president that he and his wife hugged each other in their living room and wept together because they believed that America had tragically embraced and elected a president with an outwardly immoral agenda. He openly affirmed the practice of abortion and vowed to advance the causes of homosexual activists in the United States, promising to do away with any prohibition of gays in the military and as well to seek equal (special) rights for gays at large.

I've never asked how his wife and he reacted when President Obama was elected. I'm sure they were just as disappointed as I was. As a nation, his supporters and even those of us most opposed to his election to the office seemed to know it was coming. He had so much support from the left. The alarming thing is though, that he had so much support from conservatives who absolutely should have known better. Sure, there were the Emergent pastors who proclaimed support for him. That was no surprise. But there were also more conservative pastors and Christian writers who supported him. Those who did sounded like Robert Schuller at his rationalizing best. I hope now, that are aware of their mistake.

President Obama declared that he, like former President Clinton would support gay causes and support the rights of women to take the innocent lives of the unborn. He's only made good on those promises. Since being in office, he's said that he hopes that one day homosexual marriages would be accepted as every bit as normal and noble as heterosexual marriage. So, he's hoping for something very wrong and sinful to be seen as normal. In this part at least, he's deluded himself. Oh I'm sure that one day it will be seen as noble and acceptable by the world, but in that he believes it is not a sin, he has deluded himself, and he's seeking to deceive others in this way. Last February, he ordered the Justice Department to quit defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the nation's courtrooms. He said that he believed the law to be unconstitutional. I guess he thinks that his powers supercede those of the Supreme Court? I guess he doesn't like our nation's system of checks and balances? He swore to not only protect the United States Constitution, but to enforce the laws of this land. Evidently he has decided that he personally will determine whether or not laws are contitutional and not the Supreme Court. Should we keep the Supreme Court? If he's going to make such arbitrary decisions, what do we really need them for?

This is a man who says that he believes that Jesus Christ is his Savior. That's great, but at the same time he acts like a man wants very little to do with God, or wants God to have very little to do with this nation. Just last December, he was taken to task by fifty members of Congress for mistating our national motto last November at a university speech in Jakarta, Indonesia. He said our motto was E pluribus unum (out of many, one). The fact of the matter is that our national motto for over fifty years has been "In God We Trust". Those same fifty members also took the opportunity to point out to our President that every time he quotes a certain part of our Declaration of Independence, he does so incorrectly. I think he does this on purpose. Why? Because the part he always gets wrong is the part where it says that our Creator is supposed to be mentioned. He leaves it out. He says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and that they have certain unalienable rights..." He leaves out that they are "endowed by their Creator." Why? I guess he's either a very principled man who forgets those particular words every time, or he's a very unprincipled man who just can't bring himself to acknowledge God in even the generic way that He is in our nation's recorded documents.

On June 19th, NBC deleted the words, "under God" from the pledge of alegiance during their broadcast of the U.S. Open Golf Tournement. After a very immediate and negative audience response, they decided to make an apology for doing so. I wonder, would they have done this if we had a different leader in office, a leader who led by a different example?

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

It's a shame that Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state" reference to the Danbury Baptist Association has been so removed from its context and misapplied elsewhere. There's a type of ignorance involved here that is self-imposed, and people have been knee-jerking on this point for many decades now and it's getting worse. Our constitution says nothing whatsoever about separating church and state. What it says it this: we have freedom of religion and there shall not be a state-run church. That's pretty much it. There's no reason not to mention God at state-sponsored events. There's no reason we have to avoid saying prayers to God either. Praying God doesn't establish a church. Saying that we are one nation under God doesn't establish a church either. Referencing "our Creator" in the document that says there can't be a state-run church.....I don't think that one just got by the writers, or the signers.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I had a nice day this Mother's Day. I had to work, but I was able to take my mother out to breakfast before going there. We ate early, and had opportunity to talk over breakfast. My mother loves me. I am so grateful for that. I'm grateful because it's wonderful to be loved without fear of judgment and I only hope she knows how much I love her too.

She's a wonderful mother. She works hard enough to shame many persons who are much younger than she. She still works ten hours most days in a business she owns, heads for home and does work there too. She has a large lawn and I mow it for her, but sometimes I'll get there and she has part of it already mowed. She takes care of her yard, and even likes to cut up her own firewood. She still loves to cook. Did I mention that she's eighty-three? Yeah, and she's still as sharp as a tack with a very impressive memory.

Like my father, she's somewhat of a heroic figure to me. She was one of eight children, and she was delivered in her family's own home by her eleven year old sister. The family was poor, moving often, and she attended eleven different schools to get through twelve grades. She even attended a one-room schoolhouse that I visited with her when I was ten years old. Of course it had doubled in size by then. Two rooms.

She acquired her work ethic from a very young age, working in the fields picking everything from hops to strawberries. At one point she was a champion hops picker. I never knew there was such a thing, but I have no doubt she could achieve it. She and her brothers and sisters worked wherever they could find it, and for very little pay. It wasn't that people were cheap. Rather it was that the average person had little money to pay, as she grew up in the depression era.

She was a very young woman when WWII ended, and that's when she met my father. He was a returning veteran. They built a life together. They had two children in the years soon after they wed and my father was gone for work two weeks at a time for their first four years together. It was hard, but my father wanted to work for himself. There third child came along and they made a bold move to move to another state and begin the business which she still owns and operates to this day. I came along a couple of years after that.

I have loved and admired both of my parents, but my work ethic came directly from my mother. She is the one I spent more time with growing up. She's also the one who liked whining only marginally more than having her face scrubbed with a rock. In other words, whining is something she did not put up with from her children. Good thing too, because I could have a real tendency to whine if I went unchecked. I whined about having to get up. I whined about having to go to bed. I whined about homework. I whined about having to eat vegetables. I whined about having to do yard work. She taught me the proper perspective about such things, and sometimes that involved handing out punishments. She was very adept at that. (Laughing here) She had a skill level that allowed her to stir dinner, mop the kitchen floor and smack one of us at the same time. I'm grateful for that too.

She has always been a patient person. She has always overlooked my faults, and I have a lot of them. Most importantly, she has always loved Jesus, since before I was born. She used to tell me, "David, you should make your bed as though you thought Jesus was going to lay down on it." I must confess. I have failed to do that. You know what? She still loves me anyway.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

What Other Way Is There?

I take a literal/historical view of the Bible, and language and grammar are very important in the centrally interpretive motif of God's glory and holiness for me. I have brothers and sisters in Christ who completely disagree with me on that. I'm used to my atheist and agnostic friends expressing incredulity with me when I tell them that I believe the Genesis account in a literal way. I'm usually a little surprised when a Christian asks something like, "You mean you believe that Adam and Eve were real, historical individuals?" They usually follow that with, "Don't you know that Genesis is allegorical?" I don't know if this is because they haven't read Genesis, but have only believed what they have been taught about it from the pulpit by someone else. I don't know if that's because they have only skimmed Genesis and have never bothered to harmonize the passages there with the rest of the Scriptures.

Obviously there are plenty of church denominations which teach that much of Genesis is allegorical. The only reason that they can really come up with for doing so is that they don't trust what parts of what the Bible says there to be true. They are willing to trust it as truth illustrated by allegory, but not that those events or persons truly happened or existed. They find the notion of God creating the earth in six literal twenty-four hour days, and a man out of the dust of the earth on the sixth day, just "too far-fetched" and "silly".Though I love my friends who think that way, it always kind of gives me pause. I ask them things like, "Do you believe that God created the universe?" and they will answer unequivocally in the affirmative. I usually say, "Okay," and I move on from there with them if they're willing to talk about it, but internally I'm shaking my head. I'm doing that because I find there's a strange inconsistency in the way a person can believe that God had and has the power to create the UNIVERSE...........and yet the ability to do it as described in the initial chapters of Genesis somehow escapes Him. They hold it to be true that the God of the universe could dwell on earth as a man, suffer and die for our sins, and raise Himself from the dead....but that Garden of Eden business....tsk tsk tsk.

I'm not making fun here. I am relating accurately the attitude of some of my friends and acquaintances in the Lord. Where I work, we had an Episcopal priest who was a customer for decades. He was a lovely man. He also didn't believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. That little miracle provides the basis by which Jesus was able to be born without a sin nature, avoiding also the curse that would have prevented Him from sitting upon His future throne. All of these things are more than just a little important. They also flood over us with the importance of understanding the continuity of the wisdom and foreknowledge of Almighty God.
Jesus confirmed the Genesis record. In Mark 10:6 Jesus said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." The Lord is referencing Genesis 1:27 there, and in doing so He affirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first two human beings on the planet. He affirmed also that they were created "in the beginning", not billions or millions of years later. Someone might be asking, "Aren't those a general reference to the time---later on---when man was created?" My answer would be no. The words of Jesus Himself confirm this in Matthew 23:35-36 when He was rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He said: "34 Therefore, behold, I send prophets and wise men and scribes to you. And you will kill and crucify some of them. And some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Berachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar." Jesus was speaking literally of the blood of Abel, slain by his brother Cain, just as he referred to Zechariah as a historical person.
Jesus confirmed the existence of Noah, and the existence of the ark and by logical extension---the Noahic Flood. (Matthew 24:37) "But as the days of Noah were, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the ark." If one is a Christian, the Lord Jesus must be taken for His word on this, because He said ; "......but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." That's pretty plain, and He knew what He was talking about.

The New Testament teaches us about how sin entered into the world, and we are taught that it entered through one man, Adam. "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." (Romans 5:14) The original sin of the first man Adam and the Law which was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Death reigned from a figurative, allegorical character to Moses, a real historical man? That doesn't make any sense does it? Want another one to think about? Try 1 Timothy 2:13 "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Paul was converted from being a sin-filled man to being a born-again, Spirit-filled Scripture illuminated man after he had a rather radical encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. God inspired him and used him as an instrument to pen much of the New Testament. Paul identified Adam as the first human being to be formed by God, just as it was written in the Book of Genesis.

If one wishes to see the harmony of the Scriptures and how they confirm the historicity of the persons and the events of the Genesis record, there is more. Much more. One only has to invest the time, and trust that the Lord could do---just as He said.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Centennial Reflections

My dad would have been 100 years old yesterday. He passed away nearly twenty years ago. It's difficult and strange for me that he is no longer here, but lovely in a way. He's in heaven, and that makes me happy, but I still miss the man. I still grieve. Stranger still, at times I still 'smell' him as though he had not left us. I still 'feel' his arm around my shoulders. He would have appeared an ordinary everyday man to some, but he was my hero, and only the word 'extraordinary' applies to him for me.

My mother is now 83 and still quite active. As strong as my emotions are in this area, I can't imagine what a day like yesterday means to her. She and I went to his grave site yesterday. She brought fresh flowers. A nice surprise was that my brother and his wife were already there to greet us.

It's funny, the things one takes for granted. The gift of memory is one such thing. I don't know that I have really appreciated having a decent memory beyond the practical side of things. My memories of my dad are so fresh. I can 'hear' him saying things, and I can 'see' so many episodes of my life with him transpiring again.

What a precious gift that is from God, and oh so highly valued. Sure, we can remember the bitter with the sweet, but there is a strength that can be gained from some of those memories too. They can be painful, but they can keep us honest. The painful memories often bring to the fore our appreciation for loved ones lost, but they can also heighten our anticipation for renewal and heavenly reunion.

I miss my dad, but what wonders has he seen? One day we will know. My wife and my mother and I, and all of our brothers and sisters in Christ will step out of these bodies and into eternity to meet my dad once again, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. What a promise that is. Amazing. Just....amazing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I feel sometimes like I am living in a police state. I recently received a copy of the "American Community Survey". It's a twenty-eight page booklet that random people have the "privilege" to fill out following the recent census forms.

I sort of set it on the back burner when I got it. I find these things annoying. So....the U.S. Dept. of Commerce sent me out a second one. I found that annoying too. I was informed on the outside of the envelope that I was required by law to fill it out and return it under penalty of law. They ask questions really, which they have no constitutional right to ask, and no business knowing. They demand to know the hour and the minute at which I leave my home to head for work each morning. They demand to know how many minutes I spend driving home.

They demanded to know my exact income for the last twelve months, and my wife's income as well. Since they couldn't settle for the financial total on my last IRS return, but instead from September to September, I had to ask my boss for this information to make sure it was accurate. So not only was I affected, but my boss's time was used for this. It isn't like the government doesn't have access to this information already. They just want something from me and they have the power to threaten me. I find that really annoying, because it's a misuse of the government's power.

They want to know how many cars I have, or whether I own a truck. They asked detailed questions about my heritage, but in a way that categorizes me in a general way. It goes on. If I don't answer the questions properly, I am informed in that I will likely receive a follow-up phone call and possibly a visit to my home by a person I can only assume to be a government representative with unstated powers, since failure to return the "survey" will result in a misdemeanor charge.

Satan rose up against Israel and influenced David to take a census, and perhaps I feel that the same thing is happening here and now. I guess what annoys me beyond the unconstitutionality of forcing me to give them information they have no right to, is the fact that I know...I know that the government will somehow bend this information and use it improperly. This kind of thing is not the government's job. Their job is to insure the greater good for the country. This survey will not be used to further that end. It has already cost the taxpayers a fortune.

The final insult came on the back of the stupid thing. I am thanked---for "participating" in the survey. We're all just one big happy rainbow of a family. It wasn't exactly like my options were very flexible. I love my country. People I have known and loved have died defending it. I don't believe they sacrificed their lives in order to allow others to subvert the constitution they fought and died to protect.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I've trained in the martial arts since 1984. It has been quite a journey. There have been physical ups and downs that have taken me from the heights of enjoyment at my abilities to do certain things and which have given me to long periods of therapeutic recovery. I am emerging from one of those prolonged stages of recovery right now.

I have come through some rather lengthy knee problems which seem to be healing up nicely. Then there is the hip problem from when I was knocked off a loading ramp at work by a piece of motorized equipment. That has pretty much healed up too. I have given my self more time that was probably necessary to heal, but I know that my own impatience to return to training could betray my common sense. It can be hard to put off doing something you tend to like a great deal.

Sometimes I think that there is as much to be gained from going through the waiting periods between times of training as there is in the training times.