Category Archives: Politics

Our Words Mean Things

What do your fingers and your tongue have in common?

Rush Limbaugh once said, “words mean things” and he’s right. Hurtful and harmful words are hard to take back, and even if acknowledged and forgiven, the damage can linger for a long, long time.

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James3:9-12 NIV

People can have a mean streak. We say and do some rather shocking things with the intention of hurting one another. We sometimes justify it, “I sure put him in his place” or “that was great, she had that coming.” Or, perhaps worse, we’re just cruel for cruel’s sake.

Observing our current leading candidates for president, I am quite disturbed by what I hear: name-calling, misrepresentations, overstatements, and even some outright non-truths. I watch the so-called “news” channels and see panelists interrupting one another and talking over each other as each believes his or her message is the only message of value. Rather than reporting the news, these channels spin a yarn in support of whatever political agenda each has chosen to support. Is any of this really helpful in forwarding our nation? Will any of this make us safer or stronger? Will any of it position us as a force for good in the world?

Sadly, many of us are taking note and following their lead. As I page through Facebook and Twitter there is much vitriol to be seen, much of it posted by Christians like me. As James writes in the passage above, this cannot be. As believers, we are to share the Gospel with this lost and fallen world. Our lives are our chief witness; everything we do and say points to something. If we sing praises in church and later speak evil of others, we cannot be an effective witness. We can’t.

Indeed, in this era of modern technology and social media our fingers are an extension of the tongue. Think about it. How many times over the last week have you lashed out on social media against a person, a cause, a disagreement or something else? I’ve been making a conscious effort in this aspect of my over the past few months. A salt spring cannot produce fresh water. With vitriol we do more harm than good and our credibility as a witness for Christ is tarnished; Something for each of us to consider as we engage our world today and every day.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Complacency: A Death Trap

Complacency. A business that grows complacent loses customers. A husband who grows complacent loses his wife. A nation that grows complacent will not survive.
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Amos 6:1 NIV

As I read about Israel’s history in the Old Testament I am often amazed at the parallels I see between ancient Israel and modern America. In this chapter of Amos, the prophet describes a people who are celebrating their self-reliance and wallowing in their wealth. They perceive no need for God as they lead their increasingly decadent lives at the expense of the poorest among them. Amos goes on to describe the dire circumstances that such an existence will yield.
 
We study history for a reason. We are to learn from it and seek to avoid the mistakes that those who have gone before us have made. Amos could be describing the United States of America in 2016. While it is not a pretty picture, it is not too late to wake up. My prayer each morning is that God would lead our nation and those who seek to lead it to a realization of its sin and bring us to a place of confession, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We must rise up from our place of complacent pride and seek the face of our loving God.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!

Godless Chatter – Who, Me??

A kind person blocked me on Facebook a few months ago in response to my sharing some memes that were aggressively critical of President Obama. That got my attention. After a thorough review of my posts I realized she had a point, and since then I’ve made an effort to temper my Facebook posts to avoid mean-spirited political jabber. Instead, I try to focus more on encouragement, the Lord, and the good things of life. Each morning I scroll through my posts from the day before, pleased to some extent with the progress I see but sometimes reminded of how easy it is to be sucked into the pit that Paul calls “godless chatter”. I still post politically from time to time, as it’s important to be engaged, but hopefully with factual and thought-provoking content.

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2 Timothy 2:14-16 NIV


We Christians must be wary of being drawn in to “godless chatter”, but with the immediacy of social media, it can be easy to fall into that trap. Note Paul’s warning here: those who indulge in such chatter will become more and more ungodly. As I scroll through Facebook and Twitter I can see that. We Christians must strive to be salt and light in all aspects of our lives. We are to be Christ’s workers in the harvest field, speaking and living a life that points straight towards our Savior. When we indulge in the “godless chatter” Paul speaks of here, our witness is tarnished and we become ineffective.

Christian friends, let us seek to honor God in all that we do – and in all that we post.

The Immigration Debate: My Take & My Support for Marco Rubio

You were born in Mexico. You know that your chances of giving your family a better life than you’ve had to this date are far superior in the United States. You also know that the US government is extremely lax in enforcing their immigration laws. Knowing those things, do you stay in Mexico and begin the long and arduous process of immigrating legally? Or do you take your chances and swim the Rio Grande in search of that better life for your family?

Before you answer, consider this scenario:

You’re driving down the freeway. The speed limit is 70 miles per hour. You know that state troopers will allow 5 to 7 mph over the limit before they stop you and possibly issue a ticket. So, do you drive the speed limit or, knowing you won’t be stopped, do you drive 75? Or do you own a radar detector so that you can exceed the speed limit by an even greater margin, comfortable that the likelihood of being stopped is significantly mitigated?

If you are consistent, you would either (1) go through the legal immigration process in the first scenario and drive the speed limit in the second, or (2) disregard the law by swimming the Rio Grande in the first scenario and by exceeding the speed limit in the second.

So what’s your point, you ask? I’m betting that many of those who support a position on illegal immigration that all who entered this country illegally must be deported because they “didn’t respect our laws” are some of the same people that fly by me on the Interstate on a regular basis. I would opine that the habitual speeders, especially those who use technology to evade detection “don’t respect our laws.” Would it be unfair to call the people belonging to the “deport all illegals (because they don’t respect our laws) while I continue to speed down the freeway” group hypocrites? I don’t think so.

We have an immigration problem in the United States. The root cause of the problem is not a disrespect of our laws by some who want to live here. The root cause of the problem is a lax and negligent federal government who, for decades, has turned the other cheek as people flowed into this country illegally. Just like the state trooper who sits on the shoulder as speeders fly by is inviting the traveling public to exceed the speed limit, so also is our government’s failure to enforce our immigration laws an invitation to come on in. Yes. Our illegal immigrants were invited to be here. Many of them have had children here (legally US citizens) and raised their families here. I believe that the vast majority of them truly are here to improve their lives, not to do us harm. And now, many of my fellow Americans want to yank the rug out from under them, separate families, and build a symbolic wall to keep them out once and for all. Shame on us.

Here is what I propose:

  1. The federal government must develop and implement a plan to enforce immigration laws currently on the books to stop the flow into the country. Until this is done, the problem will not be solved.
  2. Get rid of the wall idea. Enforce the laws. Invest the money that would go towards building the wall (no way will Mexico pay for it) in enforcing the laws.
  3. People who have entered the country illegally would have a reasonable amount of time during which they would have the opportunity to identify themselves and apply for legal residency.
  4. Of those in number three above, any with felony or greater criminal convictions would be immediately deported.
  5. Any person in the country illegally that is affiliated with any gang, even if they have no criminal convictions, would be immediately deported.
  6. At the expiration of the registration period, any person in the country illegally would be subject to immediate deportation.
  7. Amend the law to provide that children born in the US to parents who are not US citizens are not granted automatic citizenship; their status would match that of their parents.

Our government created this problem. We citizens stood by and let it happen. There is a humane and reasonable way to address this issue that could benefit millions of people while showing the world that the United States is still the world’s brightest beacon of opportunity. Let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s be kind, caring, understanding, and compassionate.

I support Marco Rubio for president. His immigration views align more closely with my own than any other Republican candidate in the race. Rubio is the compassionate conservative America needs right now. He is pro life. He is a constitutionalist. He is fiscally conservative. I believe that he is best positioned and most desirous of working towards healing the divide that the current Administration has nurtured over the past 7 years.

On Donald Trump, Terrorism, Divisiveness and Change

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Photo credit: slate.com

Donald Trump sure has struck a nerve. Today I read a news article reporting that Trump now has a 20-point lead over his GOP rivals according to the latest CBS/NY Times poll. Here is a link to the story. Although I am not a Trump supporter, I get it. There is a perception by many of inaction by the current Administration. There is frustration and concern among many Americans that we have a government that is completely out of touch with mainstream America, as it appears to operate primarily for the personal benefit of those holding office. I share many of these perceptions. Donald Trump is challenging the status quo and the status quo doesn’t like it.

San Bernardino should have been a huge wake-up call to the nation, for San Bernardino proves that there are terrorists living among us. They have blended into society. They act and behave as you and I do, at least in public. They hold jobs. And they wait for their time to strike. In these trying times, Americans want strong leadership from Washington. We want a president who is clearly tuned in to what’s going on and who has a plan to address it. We want to be assured that our government has our safety and well being in front of mind. Unfortunately, many of us perceive just the opposite from President Obama. Trump’s proposals for dealing with terrorism, albeit controversial, are at least proposals of some sort of action. And, while I disagree with his proposals, I get it.

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Photo credit: foreignpolicyblogs.com

But let’s pause for a moment. Even among my doubts and concerns, I believe that our government is hard at work trying to address this problem. The United States has some of the best intelligence gathering forces in the world, and I believe our government has information that is probably quite rich. I trust that there is a plan, or at least a plan in the works. Is it realistic, or even prudent, to think that the president will call a press conference, take the lectern, and cite chapter and verse of all this work and our plans for defeating terrorism? Of course not! Setting my perceptions of governmental inaction and ineptitude aside, I really don’t believe that the president and his advisors are sitting on their hands on this issue. That just doesn’t make sense. I think it’s time for those of us who have been so critical of Mr. Obama to cut him a bit of slack. This is not an easy problem to solve.

I also think it is time for we Americans to take a collective deep breath. We are divided, and our divisiveness does not help matters; it makes them worse. My Facebook feed is replete with what I call “Facebook Pundits”: These are people who are self-declared experts on what the government should or should not do to address terrorism and other issues facing our great nation; People who refuse to listen and consider opinions and statements by those with whom they disagree; People who demonize the liberal or the conservative whose views and opinions differ from their own; People who post half truths, and even blatant lies, in sorry attempts to forward whatever agenda they’ve chosen to support. Mark my words: this divisiveness will bring down our country long before ISIS or any other enemy does. It must stop, and it must stop now.

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Credit: usvotefoundation.org

America was founded on several wonderful principles, one of them being the fact that we are not subjects of our government; our government works for us. We have a process of electing individuals to serve at our will from the President through Congress; from state governors through local town councils. Whether we voted for the individuals in office or not, we must unite around them. We must lift them in prayer. We must join together and present a united front against those who would threaten our national and personal security. When we disagree with our government or with one another, we must do so civilly and respectfully. And as we do so, we must hold those whom we have hired to represent us accountable for their actions or lack thereof by becoming informed, offering constructive feedback, and exercising our right to replace under performers via the power of our electoral process.

Which brings me full circle, back to Donald Trump. I’m glad he has the government establishment and the elitists in the mainstream media in a tizzy. I’m glad he’s calling them out and speaking his mind. But I cannot support him because Trump epitomizes the divisiveness and name-calling that I believe is very problematic for our country. I believe he could do considerable damage representing America to the world in his style and demeanor. Under the current Administration, our country has become more divided than ever. We need a leader at the helm who will set the tone I described above; one who will seek to unite our divided nation and lead us to a brighter and more prosperous future. Based on what I’ve seen from Mr. Trump to this point, he is not that man.

Right now things are looking rather grim. We need change. How about taking the lead? Let’s resolve together to be the change we seek. Let’s resolve not to continue to throw gasoline on a fire that is nearly out of control. Rather, let’s resolve to treat others – all others – with the dignity and respect each deserves as a child of our Creator. If each of us will do so, we won’t have to wait until January 2017 for change. The change can start right now.

Syrian Refugees – Where Do You Stand?

This is a tough one. On one side, we have those who believe ISIS is using the Syrian refugees as camouflage for smuggling operatives into the United States. On the other side we have those who dismiss that idea, citing similar fears in American history; think Nazi infiltrators blending with Jewish refugees and the rounding up of Japanese Americans into concentration camps to mitigate the threat that they supposedly presented – both of these during WW II and neither, as far as I know, actually posing a threat in hindsight. They also cite a lack of hard evidence that ISIS does, in fact, have operatives hiding amongst the Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Sadly, in the middle, we have thousands of people who have been displaced from their homeland through no fault of their own. These people pose no threat to anyone, yet because of a perceived threat to local and national security, many Americans including several candidates for president and 31 state governors oppose their entry into our country.

My Facebook feed is rife with strong positions on both sides of the issue. I get it. People are scared, and rightfully so given the tragic recent attacks on innocent people promulgated by ISIS. But are we too scared? Are we, in our fear, playing right into ISIS’ hands?

Personally, I don’t believe that ISIS needs the refugees to help them smuggle operatives into our country. They are already here and in touch with ISIS leadership. Don’t believe me?

Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson told CNN on February 8, 2015 that there are individuals living in the United States today who have contact with ISIS and other terrorist groups who have “a desire to conduct an attack” on U.S. soil.” http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/02/08/homeland-security-chief-terrorist-sleeper-cells-us-poised-attack

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, not normally a pundit I cite, reported on May 7, 2015 that “ISIS says it has sleeper cells in 15 states, ready to strike.”  http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/is-isis-setting-up-cells-in-america–441764419625

CNN quoted Michael Steinburg, head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division on February 3, 2015, “there are individuals that have been in communication with groups like ISIL who have a desire to conduct an attack.” He further said that those people are living in the U.S. right now, but the term “sleeper cells” is too simplistic, because the threat is much more complicated and diffuse. http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/politics/fbi-isis-counterterrorism-michael-steinbach/

Google “United States Sleeper Cell” for a plethora of additional examples.

So what’s my point? Simply this. No one can dispute the fact that thousands of innocent people have been displaced from their homeland through no fault of their own. These people need help. They need compassion. And I believe we Americans ought to offer it to them. I do not believe, based on what I have read and heard thus far, that accepting some of the refugees into our country presents a plausible threat to the point that it is reasonable to turn them away. ISIS does not need them to carry out its mission. In fact, I would venture to say that ISIS probably welcomes the distraction that this argument offers, given the news reports cited above.

As a Christian I am called to love my neighbor. When asked to define who is our neighbor, Jesus told a parable in which a Samaritan, loathed and despised by the Jews of that time, was the neighbor to the man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead alongside the road. (See Luke 10:25-37).

I choose to honor Jesus by loving those who are in need, and I trust that God will protect us as we do so. For I know that the war is already won through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Let us dispense with the fear. Let us look upon these people with the same level of compassion we would want if we were in their position. Let us be Jesus to those who need to see Him through us.

While we’re at it, let’s dispense with the personal verbal attacks on those with whom we disagree. I see both sides of this dilemma; I have chosen the side on which I stand. You are free to choose yours, too. Let’s not attack each other just because we happen to disagree. Never forget that we Americans are all in this together.

Soli Deo Gloria!

GOP Inaugural Debate: My Winners & Losers

For the first time in a long time, I woke up this morning feeling bullish on America. Last night’s inaugural GOP debate of the 2016 election season has given me great hope. Seventeen Republicans have thrown their hat into the ring as they vie for their party’s nomination for President of these United States. I remain undecided as to which candidate will garner my support in the rapidly approaching primary season. Here is my short list of winners and losers from last night:

Winners

Carly Fiorina – Pundits from both the left and the right almost universally agree that Carly carried the night. Relegated to the lower level “Happy Hour” debate, Carly offered clear and concise answers to each question she was asked. Her approach to her campaign is refreshing. She is a Washington outsider who has done her homework. Our country is ready for a female president, and Carly just might be the ideal candidate to take on Hillary Clinton. Carly’s award for the evening: Grand Champion.

Jeb Bush – Based on news reports and blogs I’ve read, Bush is the darling of Fox News and the Republican National Committee (RNC). For me, that is not a positive point. However, Jeb was articulate last night. I thought he explained his position on education, particularly common core, quite well. His plan to combat illegal immigration includes a plan to establish a means of gaining legal residency for those currently here illegally – a position with which I agree wholeheartedly. His record as governor of Florida qualifies him for the job he seeks. His biggest hurdle is his last name. Jeb’s award for the evening: Most Improved.

Marco Rubio – Ever since Marco Rubio was elected to the US Senate, I have hoped he would run for president one day. Rubio was the most likeable of the candidates last night. His grasp on foreign policy impressed me. Like Bush, he supports a pathway to citizenship for certain illegals currently in the country. Rubio’s award for the evening: Mr. Congeniality

Scott Walker – Walker is my favorite US governor. I admire the turnaround he led in his state of Wisconsin. I admire his tenacity in standing firmly on his principles against the government unions and for standing his ground as state Democrats sought his recall from office. Walker offers solid leadership with proven results. Walker’s award for the evening: Most Likely to Succeed

Ted Cruz – Senator Cruz is widely known as an expert debater. He is a bona fide Constitutional expert. I am convinced that he would respect our Constitution and govern accordingly as president. While I disagree with him on immigration reform, I believe he would be a strong and principled leader. Cruz’s award for the evening: Most Scholarly

Ben Carson – Soft spoken and quite demure, Dr. Carson is the consummate gentleman. Carson had the best line of the evening in my opinion. In his closing remarks he mentioned a few of his achievements as a neurosurgeon including, “I was the first to remove half a brain; but if you were to visit Washington these days you’d probably think somebody beat me to it.” I think I got that right. While I view Ted Cruz as most scholarly from a Constitutional standpoint, I view Dr. Carson as most wise. That said, he appeared a bit unsure in a few cases and appears to have more homework to do. Carson’s award for the evening: Most Intellectual

Losers

Donald Trump – Pundits stated ahead of the debate that Trump has hit on an anger simmering in the country today, and I agree with them. However, I have never believed him to be truly interested in the job. While his success in business and entertainment cannot be disputed, Trump lacks the self-control and worldly knowledge to serve as president. The bully pulpit will only take one so far. I believe that his showing last night was the beginning of his implosion as a bona fide candidate. Trump’s award for the evening: Class Clown

Rand Paul – Once on my short list of candidates to possibly support, Rand looked completely befuddled last night. He was neither articulate nor persuasive in explaining his position on foreign policy. I am a huge fan of his plan to eliminate income tax in favor of a consumption tax (I’ve advocated that for years) and he appeared to score a few points there. Overall, however, he did not appear comfortable nor confident. Paul’s award for the evening: Most Disappointing

It felt good to wake up this morning feeling bullish on America. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I love my country, always have, always will. But the shenanigans of the current Administration have caused me great consternation for our country’s future. Under Barack Obama, our nation is more divided than I can recall in my lifetime. Our reputation around the world is weakened, much like it was during the Carter years. Our borders are porous, our national debt continues to spiral into the stratosphere, our moral foundation is rapidly deteriorating, and our federal government continues to garner more power for itself at the expense of our liberty while neglecting to meaningfully address the issues that threaten the very existence of this great nation. When Obama first announced his candidacy for president, I said that he was unqualified and naïve of the ways of the world. He has proven me right.

Indeed, I am excited about the 2016 General Election and what it could mean for our nation. Several of the GOP candidates are beginning to emerge as superior to each of the three candidates likely making up the Democratic field: a liar, a socialist, and a buffoon. I come away from last night’s debate with a resolve to support whomever the GOP nominee turns out to be. I’m relieved, as I now know we can do better.

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