The State of the Union

Mar 28, 2016 by

state-of-the-union-historyNo, I am not the President of the United States. Nevertheless I feel compelled to present my own State of the Union, as I have never been accused of being introverted. The government has its take on the state of our country while the citizens of this great nation have their own. Seldom are the two in agreement on anything. The government seems to see things through rose colored glasses, which is what frequently happens when you are basically critiquing yourself. The citizens however, are critiquing those whom they voted as representatives for their interests. Things tend to be seen much more clearly from the perspective of the citizen as the state of the union is in reality about the state of us, the citizens.

Let me start with the 500 pound gorilla in the house, the economy. The President will present all sorts of statistics that demonstrate how well the economy is doing under his wonderful leadership. Has there ever been a President who painted himself as anything other than a genius when it comes to the economy? I am not an economist, I can’t easily counter with facts the claims made about the economy when statistics, presented as facts, are as tenuous as the wind. But I do know what I see, hear, and experience. What I see is 11 stores shuttered in the local mall I shop at. I see other upscale stores replaced with moon golf and Red Dragon martial arts venues. What I hear is the lady who rents from a friend of mine being unable to find steady work as a painter and having to move because she cannot pay the rent. What I experience is the young lady who is my Bible study class telling me she is desperate to find a job, any job, and yet is unable to do so. What I experience is the unbelievable cost to feed a family, pay the utilities, and pay my taxes. These events tell me that the economy is not in the state that the President says it is in, statistics be damned.

As bad as the economy may be, the moral state of our union is much more troubling. The rancor, divisiveness, intolerance, and apathy that is the hallmark of society today is far removed from what it was when I was a child. You can see this in the elections that are currently taking place across our country. Again, while politics has never been played out in a completely civil manner, the degree to which civility in politics has taken a nosedive is stunning. This decline in civility can be seen in every other aspect of our society. Racial tensions have never been higher, even with a black President. Religious intolerance, where religious protection laws are portrayed as anti-LGBT and businesses are being destroyed simply because the owners were exercising their religious beliefs, is rampant. LGBT rights are not greater than religious rights, both need to be respected.

Our national security is threatened at a level unseen since WWII. A weak, naive foreign policy, based on misguided beliefs and ideas, has emboldened our enemies while at the same time left our allies isolated, ignored, and betrayed. Our president just finished visits to Cuba and Argentina, neither of which has ever been an ally of ours, while completely ignoring the only democracy and ally we have in the Middle East, Israel. China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea and militarizing them, while Russia has committed aggressions against South Georgia, Ukraine, and the Crimea. We have unlocked billions in frozen assets to Iran, the worlds largest sponsor of state terrorism, while at the same time doing little to deter them from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran still threatens us and has even taken our sailors prisoner, continuing to mock us at every turn. North Korea daily threatens us with nuclear annihilation while our response is to weaken our military capabilities to almost historic lows.

Suffice it to say that I and the President do not see eye to eye on the state of the union. I know that there are many, many more citizens of this great country that feel as I do. Unfortunately I do not have much optimism that things will change for the better any time soon. Actually, I am as pessimistic about the future of our country as I have ever been in my life. The Democrats offer us Hillary or Bernie. Hillary was a disaster as Secretary of State and her reckless disregard for law, procedure, and national security in the establishing of a private email server should have every voter cringing at the thought of her becoming president. Bernie is a Socialist who is anathema to everything our Founding Fathers stood for and promoted. His grandiose plans of free everything will cripple the already overburdened taxpayer with more taxes. It will also generate an even bigger government than the already far over-sized one we have currently. The Republicans are as big a disaster as the Democrats, almost. The only reason Donald Trump is doing as well as he is with voters is due to the great level of anger and frustration that the voters feel by their betrayal by establishment politicians. He would be a disaster as a president, on a scale with either Hillary or Bernie. Ted Cruz, being a Constitutional Conservative, closely reflects my political view. But I fear even he would be just more of the same. The two parties have merged into one party, where there is no middle, only the extremes on either side.

The damage done to our country may be irreversible. This great experiment of a Republic that the Founding Fathers made for us may have run its course. And as history has shown, the downfall of most nations comes from within. The only solace I take is my faith in God. He is in control and his Will will be done. That is sufficient for me. I just wish it hadn’t happened in my lifetime.

 

 

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Progressives are ruining our country

Aug 17, 2015 by

I hate talking Politics as it makes me frustrated. Let me just say that I will be more than glad when President Obama is no longer our “lead from behind” leader. I am literally praying that the next Presidential election will bring us a President who can at least make a dent in undoing the tremendous damage Obama has done to our country and not do any additional damage. I love the breadth and diversity of the Republican Party’s candidates. Any one of them would make a good President, while a few of them would make a great President.

On the other side of the table we have the Democratic Party with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or possibly Joe Biden or God help us Al Gore. Three old white males and an old white lady. What happened to the diversity of the Democratic Party? Hillary is a pathological liar who thinks she is above the law and can do anything she wants. Bernie Sanders is an outright Socialist. Joe Biden is a pervert and just plain a creepy person. And as for Al Gore, he belongs in a mental institute.

Do I sound partisan? You bet. I have always been a right leaning conservative. But I have been almost as disappointed in the Republican Party as I am disgusted by the Democratic Party. The voters gave the Republicans decisive victories in two elections, giving them a majority in both the Senate and the House. Have things changed any for the better since then? Nope.

With Republicans like John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner having a stranglehold on Congress, there might as well not be a Republican Party. I almost wish Donald Trump would run as an independent but I am afraid it would punish the country much more than it would teach the Republican party a lesson if a Democrat won the Presidency again.

Am I hopeful for the future of our country? I have to be or I would become permanently despondent. I think Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee would make a good President. But my real hope for the future lies in my faith and the promise from God that evil will be defeated in the end. The Bible promises us that in the end, good will win out over evil, and evil will be defeated — finally and completely. It tells us that “in keeping with (God’s) promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

So I pray for our country and our leaders every day and I hope you will too.

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Finding God

May 19, 2010 by

Subject: Father John Powell

Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola  University in  Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy.

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy.  My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing  his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches  below his  shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a  boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming  into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts;  but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under “S”  for strange… very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the “atheist in residence” in my Theology of Faith course.  He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the  possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.  We lived with each other in relative peace for one  semester, although I admit he was for me at times  a serious pain in the back pew.  When he came up at the end of  the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in  a cynical tone, “Do  you think I’ll ever find God?”

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. “No!” I said very emphatically.

“Why not,” he responded, “I thought  that was the product  you were pushing.”  I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called  out, “Tommy! I don’t  think you’ll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He  will find you!” He shrugged a little and left my class. I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line – He will find you!  At least I thought it was clever.

Later, I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.  Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could  search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes were bright and his  voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

“Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often; I hear you are sick,” I blurted out. “Oh, yes,  very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It’s a  matter of weeks.”  Tommy replied.

“Can you talk about it, Tom?” I asked. “Sure, what would you like to know?” he  replied.

“What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?”

“Well, it could be worse.”

“Like what?”

“Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals,  like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life..”

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under “S” where I had filed Tommy as strange.  It seems as though everybody I try to reject by  classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.

“But what I really came to see you about,” Tommy  said,  “is something you said to me on the last day of class.”  (He remembered!)

He continued, “I asked you if you thought I would  ever find God and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me.  Then you said, ‘But He will find  you.’ I  thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My clever  line. He thought about that a lot!).

“But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and  told me that it was malignant, that’s when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy  spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you  quit….. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit.  I decided  that I didn’t really care about God, about an after life, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable.

I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: “The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.  But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling  those you loved that you had loved them.”

So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him. “Dad.” “Yes, what?” he asked without lowering the newspaper. “Dad, I would like to talk with you.”

“Well, talk.” “I mean.  It’s really important.” The newspaper came down three slow inches. “What  is it?”

“Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that.” Tommy smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him. “The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before.  He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.”

“It was easier with my mother and little brother. They  cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other.  We shared the things we had been keeping   secret for so  many years.

I was only sorry about one thing – that I had waited so  long.  Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.”  Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, “C’mon, jump through.  C’mon, I’ll give you three days,  three weeks.”

“Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there.  He found me!  You were right…..He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.”

“Tommy,” I practically gasped, “I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private  possession, a problem solver, or an instant  consolation in time of  need, but rather by opening to love.  You know, the Apostle John said that.  He said: “God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in Him.”

“Tommy, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the  same thing it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell  it.” “Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class.” “Tommy, think about it. If and when you are ready, give  me a call.”

In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of  man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time.

“I’m not going to make it to your class,” he said. “I know, Tommy.” “Will you tell them for me? Will you tell the whole world for me?” “I will, Tommy. I’ll tell them.  I’ll do  my best.” So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God’s love, thank you for listening.  And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills  of heaven – I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

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Happy Father’s Day

Jun 21, 2009 by

What Makes A Dad

fatherGod took the strength of a mountain, The majesty of a tree, The warmth of a summer sun, The calm of a quiet sea, The generous soul of nature, The comforting arm of night, The wisdom of the ages, The power of the eagle’s flight, The joy of a morning in spring, The faith of a mustard seed, The patience of eternity, The depth of a family need, Then God combined these qualities, When there was nothing more to add, He knew His masterpiece was complete, And so,

He called it Dad

(by: Anonymous)

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Eight Ways to Ruin Christmas

Dec 22, 2008 by

CNN is running a story titled “Seven Ways to Ruin Christmas” that originally appeared on MyHomeIdeas.com. The story lists some of the things that can get in the way of enjoying Christmas. The list of seven things covers budgets, busy schedules, guests, shopping for gifts, who to give gifts to and other things that can sap the joy out of the Christmas season.

I have added an eighth way to ruin your Christmas and that is forgetting what Christmas is all about. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. While Christmas is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival oftentimes even Christians sometimes overlook the real significance of the holiday.

The best expression of the true meaning of Christmas comes from an unknown author. The story tells of Santa explaining to a parent how to teach the children the old meaning of Christmas. It goes like this.

Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.

Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.

Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our lives with light.

Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases, like Gods love which has no beginning or end.

Teach the children that I, Santa Clause, symbolize the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of December.

Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him.

Santa then pulled a gift out of his bag and said. Teach the children that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. We thank God for His very special gift.

Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Baby and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.

Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a sugar cane and hung it on the tree. Teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock.

He  reached in again and pulled out an Angel. Teach the children that it was the angles that announced the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ‘Glory God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.’

Santa then pulled a tinkling bell from his bag. Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to God. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of God.

Santa then said. Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God.

So for everyone, Christian or non-Christian, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

nativity scene

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