Friday, December 31, 2010

Armed Forces Bowl 2010

Yesterday, I had the great privilege of attending the Armed Forces Bowl with my two sons and a bunch of great friends. Due to construction on the Ft Worth stadium, the bowl was held in Dallas at SMU’s Gerald Ford Stadium. It was a tremendous experience, but to full appreciate it, I must tell of a couple of incidents that happened before we got to the game.

My older son Jeff, who attends SMU, had bought 16 tickets and went early with several friends. My younger son Justin, a US Marine who recently returned from Afghanistan, woke up to find his car had been burglarized, resulting in excessive damage, so Justin, his fiancé and I stayed behind to file the police reports. I found it ironic that he had spent nine months putting his life on the line to come home to this. We found out later that six other cars were hit in the area. Fingerprints confirmed that the same person was involved and that the police had a suspect.

Just about kickoff time, we left for the game and decided to take the DART train. I hadn’t ridden the train in a couple of years, but had good service with courteous drivers when I rode it regularly in the past. The three of us got our tickets and walked toward the 11:27am train at Parker Station, along with two other parties that we did not know. We asked the driver if this train was going by SMU and she motioned for us to get on. Unfortunately, she must have been an Obama supporter because, as soon as she noticed my son’s marine shirt, she locked the door and sped off, leaving us and the other two parties standing on the platform. We weren’t too upset at first since we encounter this every now and then, but in one of the other parties, a mother and her young child had attempted to board and she had to pull her child back at the last second, thus avoiding a tragic accident. So, we all waited another twenty minutes and took the next train to the game.

We arrived just as the halftime show was beginning, and what a contrast in attitude toward our veterans than what we experienced at the hands of DART. Many veterans received free tickets to the game. Dozens upon dozens of people shook my son’s hand and thanked him for his service. A stranger behind us served in the same marine unit as Justin 30 years before.

The halftime show consisted of various honors and awards for our troops. A group of local army graduates were sworn in. Many wounded warriors were introduced to thunderous applause. As a surprise, Operation Finally Home presented a mortgage-free, custom-built home to Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez, an Army war veteran who was severely wounded while serving in Iraq. The program also pays the property taxes for the first two years. On hand was his wife Amy and their three children.

During the second half, a couple of the latest marine attack helicopters were on display, and we received satellite feeds on the big scoreboard from troops in Afghanistan wishing their families and supporters a Happy New Year. At the end of the third quarter, the troops who piloted the flyovers were introduced.

Lots of other stuff was happening, but it was too much to remember it all. Oh yeah… in the middle of all this was a good football game, in which the Army Black Knights defeated the SMU Mustangs 16-14.

His Name is Sean

As reported in the Tacoma, Washington News Tribune, the parents of Sgt Sean Collins, a Yelm, Washington soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, was very grateful for the outpouring of support from friends and strangers, but were stung by slights from two Democratic politicians.
“As a father of someone killed, it is overwhelming,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Collins (Ret.). His son, Sgt. Sean Collins, was buried Wednesday at the Tahoma National Cemetery. Among that outpouring of empathy, two politicians inadvertently stung the family.

One slight came in a letter of condolences the family received from the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. At first, the Collins family appreciated that Cantwell had taken the time to send a letter acknowledging their son’s sacrifice. But the letter misidentified the slain soldier in its last paragraph, which reads:

“Again, please accept my warmest condolences. May your memories of Bryn and the knowledge that he made a positive impact on the lives of so many serve as a source of comfort to you during this time of sorrow.”

The letter was dated Dec. 20 and delivered to Sean Collins’ mother, Linda Collins of Yelm. The error conveyed to the family that Cantwell had sent a form letter. “They couldn’t even proofread it,” she said. “I’m sure if her son had died, she would’ve at least wanted his name spelled correctly.” “That’s just sloppy staff work, that’s an embarrassment,” Patrick Collins said. He has not yet called Cantwell’s office to ask for an apology.

Cantwell’s office is on short staffing for the holiday week and has not replied to an email to its press staff. The Collins family was in touch with Cantwell’s office in the capital Thursday, and was told Cantwell’s staffers were looking into the mistake.

The other slight came when Patrick Collins called the White House and asked to have President Obama call his ex-wife, Linda, to talk about their son. He was told that Obama did not regularly make phone calls to the families of fallen soldiers.

Later, Patrick Collins read a story about Obama’s phone call to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie. Obama reportedly praised Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance to play football after serving time in prison for running a dog fighting ring.

“That burns,” Patrick Collins said Thursday. “Any soldier that gets killed in action, you’d think the president would be calling someone in the family. There’s no politics in it. His predecessor did it,” Collins said.

After the newspaper’s blog posted this story, a commenter called “First_Lefty” left several comments, giving his condolences, then proceeded to defend Mr Obama, writing “who he calls and why is his business”. He then went on to blame President Bush for Sean’s death, and decried the perceived shameful treatment given to Cindy Sheehan. The following is the reply to First_Lefty from Lt Col Collins.
First_Lefty: Well, your name kind of says it all. I'd like to set the record straight, but first I'd like to thank you for your condolences. You should be thankful. A better man than you just died defending your right to express your opinion.

There was an error in the original article, I never called the White House - I have no desire to get a call from the President. I did make a request for the President to call my ex-wife. I believe it is something that should be done. If Gen Petraeus can take time to write a personal note, if my son's Company Commander can find time to make a phone call - all while fighting a war; if the Governor of Washington can find time to send personal condolences, then yes the President should be able to find time. Ultimately, it's not even a question of time. I would understand the President saying that it is not his policy, that the Office of the President cannot get involved in every soldier's death. But that's not what was said. The response we were given was that he is too busy to fit it into his schedule. That's what makes bogus calls to the President of the Eagles so galling (incidentally, yeah, Michael Vick has had a tremendous year ... playing nothing but a game).

As far as Senator Cantwell, sending a form letter is "okay", even nice. Having such a poor quality control, especially on a letter to a Mother who has lost her son at Christmas is just pathetic.

Is this political (?), maybe in your eyes. However we actually waited because we knew someone like you would make this accusation. When we told the reporter, it was in response to a question. In fact, we purposely told him that we didn't want to make this about politics. It may come as a surprise to you, but calling the Senator's office while we were grieving the loss of our son wasn't high on our priority list. Taking care of our son's three siblings and arranging for a burial somehow rated higher in importance.

Finally, to answer your first suggestion, that we should focus our anger on those who sent him to war - that would be Mr. Obama. My son was a member of the 101st Airborne. They are in Kandahar Province as a part of the surge ordered by the President almost a year ago. Not only did I agree with that decision by the President, making it something I would never blame him for, I have no doubt that your political persuasion would have enabled you to put an equally feeble comment in response to that if I had mentioned it.

You sir are a sad excuse for a man. It almost makes me sad to think I spent 28 years, and my son sacrificed his life, defending your right to be as misguided as you are ... yet that is where we are today.

Thank you, Lt Col Collins. Our nation owes your son Sean a great debt of gratitude. God Bless your entire family.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Silent and Holy Night

In modern times, the Christmas holiday season is filled with much hustle and bustle. We’re blasted by ads urging us to save money by buying our gifts from a particular source. I haven’t checked out any of the watchdog sites who inform us as to which retailers are hostile or supportive of using the word “Christmas” in their commercials and sale ads, but at least locally, there appeared to be more mentions of Christmas instead of the generic “holidays” or “seasons” this year. I even heard Best Buy use the word “Christmas” for the first time. I did notice that many such as Walgreens, who were using “holidays” in the past, stopped using either term and just urged customers to buy gifts without mentioning any occasion at all.

Of course, the hesitation or outright refusal to use the word “Christmas” is a part of the larger culture war against Christianity and any traditional or family values. Much of this hostility is led, or at least aided and abetted by our secular media. I'm usually not shocked anymore by many of the positions taken by the opposition, but I was mildly surprised by the angry tone of the comments posted on many mainstream websites by the "tolerant" left against the pro-Christmas programming by Fox News. The attitude of the media toward Christianity was probably best summed up by NPR’s Nina Totenberg who said last week that “I was at -- forgive the expression -- a Christmas party at the Department of Justice.”

Christians also receive much opposition and antagonism from our own government, a government originally founded on Biblical principles. Many large corporations, including some non-profit charities have followed their lead. In just the past week or so, we witnessed

--The Federal Reserve forced a bank in Oklahoma to stop displaying a Bible verse of the day and crosses on the teller’s counter, and ordered the removal of buttons that said "Merry Christmas, God With Us."
--The Red Cross banned Christmas in over 400 of their fund-raising shops, ordering the removal of decorations or any other signs that might remind anyone of Christmas.
--A school in Virginia ordered student members of a "Christmas Sweater Club" into detention for singing Christmas songs, handing out candy canes and generally spreading Christmas cheer.
But before we begin to accuse the feds of being completely hostile to religion, we should point out that Mr Obama’s Justice Dept recently filed suit against a school in Illinois on behalf of a Muslim teacher who wanted to abandon her students in order to make her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca. Never mind that she could have taken the trip during summer break. The feds and ACLU are also strangely quiet when schools promote a day of tolerance, forcing students to dress in Muslim garb and adopt Muslim names. But, imagine the outcry if a school promoted a day in which students dressed as Bible characters. All involved, from the superintendent to the night janitors would be fired on the spot and possibly face civil and criminal penalties.

Yet, even with the hostilities toward Christianity, believers can peacefully rest in knowing that our sovereign God is in control. In contrast to the modern holiday chaos, we can look back at that silent and holy night when the Son of God came into the world as a little baby to continue the history of our redemption that was planned before the beginning of time. During a season of calamity and commercialization, we can joyfully sing "Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!"

We can take time to marvel, as did the shepherds as the angel accompanied by the angelic choir announced that a Savior had been born in the city of David. As they were probably too awed to speak, the only sound might have been an occasional bleating of sheep. They then followed the star on that clear night to find the Messiah in a manger. After worshiping him, they returned to their jobs, never to be the same again.

Perhaps the only time that some of us glimpse the true meaning and spirit of Christmas is at a Christmas Eve or Christmas Sunday service, but we should not limit ourselves however, to one day or week out of the year. Like the shepherds who returned to their daily lives praising God, we should attempt to glorify God with everything we do as we return to our “normal” routines for the rest of the year.

You are also welcome to read our The True Meaning of Christmas article.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas within the Big Picture

I ran across an article entitled The Big Picture in the December 2009 of Tabletalk magazine, published by Ligonier Ministries. It was written by Robert L Reymond, a Reformed theologian and Professor of Systematic Theology at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In this excellent article, Dr Reymond challenges the next generation to view the Christmas story as part of the bigger picture, in the context of redemptive history within the whole of Scripture.
Since my article is appearing in this issue of Tabletalk magazine, I have a great opportunity to tell you young folk of the next generation about a pet peeve of mine with my generation when it comes to the reason for celebrating Christmas. Many people, as you know, celebrate not much more than “roasting chestnuts by an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at their noses.” But Christians surely know enough to know that Christmas means more than that. It surely has something to do with Jesus, doesn’t it? But what?

This month a lot of sermons will be preached about Jesus’ incarnation. And taking its cue from the angel’s announcement to the shepherds on the plains of Ephrathah, my generation simply celebrates the “good news” that some two thousand years ago, in the words of the announcing angel, “unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11). My generation tends to concentrate its attention in their worship services throughout the Advent season on the fact that Christ was virginally born a babe in Bethlehem. And that is about as far as they go in their thinking as they reflect upon the momentous fact that God became man through the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

But why did Jesus do that? If I were to ask my generation why Jesus came, I would very likely get answers such as these: “He came to be my Savior,” “He came to die for me,” and “He came to pay the penalty for my sins” (you get the picture) — all answers correct in themselves, but all answers that fail to place Christ’s coming within the broader context that the Bible places it. And when one fails to place His coming in the Bible’s broader context, he fails to appreciate its full significance.

Don’t misunderstand: There is nothing wrong with Christians celebrating the birth of our Lord at Christmas time. Indeed, it is appropriate for the church universal as well as local individual congregations during the Christmas season to think about the incarnation of God the Son and the means whereby that great event was effected, namely, His conception in His mother’s virgin womb. But I submit that something larger and grander than Christ’s birth should seize our minds and set the bells of our hearts pealing with joy at Christmastime. I’ll explain.

My generation of evangelical pastors has not done a good job at teaching Christian people that the isolated events of the Christian proclamation such as Christ’s incarnation, His death, His resurrection, and so on did not occur in isolation from the “meta-narrative” of Holy Scripture (by this I simply mean the “big-picture story” that provides the redemptive-historical significance of all the “lesser stories” of Scripture). When one fails to place the gospel events within the context of the Scripture’s meta-narrative, he will miss nuances that he should not miss, and he will fail to appreciate the unity of scriptural teaching. Let me say this another way: Since the facts of Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection are what they are only within the framework of the biblical doctrines of creation, fall, redemption, and the consummation of history, we must place the message of the cross within the framework of Scripture as a whole if we would properly understand the significance of that message. And if we don’t do this, we will not understand the gospel in its fullness.

So let me ask my question again: Why did Jesus come two thousand years go? When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to be the virgin mother of the long-awaited Messiah, in her Magnificat in Luke 1:54–55, she declared among other things: “[God] has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

And when Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, prophesied about his infant son’s future ministry as the one who would go before the Lord to prepare His way, he said this: “[God] has shown] the mercy promised to our fathers [by remembering] his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:72–75).

What have we just witnessed? We’ve seen both Mary and Zechariah place the Christ event within the context of the Abrahamic covenant and extol the covenant faithfulness of God to His people in sending His Son. In their awareness of the broader significance of the incarnation and the words of praise that that awareness evoked from them we see biblical theology being beautifully honored and redemptive-history magnificently depicted. It is little wonder that God selected such a maiden as Mary to be the mother of the Christ and Zechariah to be the father of the Baptist. They were both “covenant theologians”!

So I would urge you young folk of the next generation to celebrate not only the isolated events of the Christmas miracle but also to do more than my generation has done in celebrating at Christmastime God’s covenant fidelity to us His people, for this is the “big-picture” reason for the season!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mr Obama’s Plan to Reduce Abortions

As I was reading a few recent stories from LifeNews, I couldn’t help but think back to a statement that Mr Obama used quite frequently during his campaign. He consistently stated to Christian and family groups that, although he favored the “right” of a woman to kill her baby, he was strongly committed to reducing the number of abortions. Many Obama apologists jumped on the bandwagon despite his record of being the most pro-death legislator to serve in the senate. Mr Obama consistently voted against bans on partial birth abortions, and in March of 2001, was the only Illinois senator to speak out against a bill that would have provided life-saving care to babies who survived botched abortions. Even though many anti-abortion groups were in favor of the bill, Mr Obama led the fight to defeat the bill and force physicians to allow the baby to die on the table.

So, what steps did Mr Obama take to reduce abortions? His first official act as president was to reverse Mr Bush’s executive order which prohibited federal funds from being used to fund international abortions. I’m not sure how providing federal funds for abortions would reduce the abortion rate. I’m also having trouble understanding how Mr Obama’s other positions, such as support for embryo-destruction research, revocation of religious liberty protection for pro-life doctors and other health care workers, elimination of parental notification and consent laws, and the funding of abortions through socialized healthcare would also reduce the number of abortions.

Yet, even today, Mr Obama’s political allies and his lapdogs in the media continue to parrot the line that he is committed to reduce abortions. The Obama administration has now filed a lawsuit against a pro-life counselor for offering alternatives to women seeking an abortion.

In January, David Hamilton was talking with women going into the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the only abortion business in Louisville, Kentucky. Hamilton was arrested for moving the arm of a clinic escort out of his way as he attempted to present alternatives information to one woman going towards the center entrance. Although Hamilton told the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper he did not try to hurt or intimidate anyone, he was charged with disorderly conduct as police cited him for “pushing and shoving clinic escorts.” The misdemeanor charge was dismissed in May after Hamilton completed eight hours of community service.

The Obama Administration, months later, is now charging him with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a 1994 law passed during the Clinton administration designed to take a more aggressive stance against sidewalk counselors and abortion protesters at abortion facilities. The lawsuit seeks a $15,000 penalty and $5,000 in compensatory damages. Hamilton moved to Houston, Texas in July and told the newspaper the lawsuit and its intent to deprive $20,000 from Hamilton for a dismissed misdemeanor charge, is a surprise to him. “I never touched the girl going into the clinic,” he said of what happened in January. “I didn’t come close to touching her. I said what I had to say and kept walking.”

Vincent Heuser Jr., the attorney who represented Hamilton in the January case, told the newspaper the lawsuit is “absolutely ludicrous” and he said Hamilton’s guilt in the incident was “seriously doubtful” because the officer who charged him with disorderly conduct was not in a position to see what happened. The incident was such a minor offense that Anne Ahola, the director of the abortion business, told the Louisville newspaper she doesn’t remember it and she is unfamiliar with the lawsuit.

The Obama administration’s lawsuit comes months after it partnered with leading pro-abortion organizations to host an FBI training seminar with the main focus of declaring as “violent” the free speech activities of pro-life Americans.

FBI and Obama administration officials provided participants with an 84-page document entitled “Resource Guide: Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers” that contained print copies of Power Point presentations prepared by the Justice Department and an analysis of alleged pro-life “violence” prepared by the pro-abortion groups. The so-called violence perpetrated by pro-life advocates mostly contained examples of constitutionally-protected free speech, including activities such as praying, providing women outside abortion centers with alternatives information, and peaceful protesting or picketing.

The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville is the abortion business that was caught on videotape covering up a potential case of sexual abuse of a minor.

Wow, filing lawsuits against anyone offering women alternatives should reduce the abortion rate considerably, or so these deluded individuals believe.

Not all liberal groups are publicly trumpeting Mr Obama’s claim, however. Several realize what a friend of the abortion industry they have in the white house, and are worried that his days may be numbered as more of the public begins to pay attention to his true agenda. Thus, many are acting now, before the Obama gold mine runs out.

For example, Planned Parenthood recently confirmed their plans for a nationwide expansion. A new mandate has been issued that all affiliates must operate at least one abortion center. One local chapter (Corpus Christi, TX) has resigned due to the new mandate because, according to the CEO, there was no need to duplicate the services of the abortion clinics in the area.

Lisa David, senior vice president of Health Services Support for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, confirmed the abortion expansion and the mandate — called a “new patient services initiative.” David said abortions must be offered by at least one center operated by every Planned Parenthood affiliate, except waivers would be granted in certain “unique local circumstances.”

The new mandate also calls for more emphasis on the non-abortion services of Planned Parenthood — used as method of attracting more abortion customers and painting a picture of Planned Parenthood as something other than an abortion business. David also confirmed that the national Planned Parenthood abortion business plans to expand into the territory of offering sexual assault examinations in order to boost its abortion business. The news outlet said Planned Parenthood “will expand immediate access to testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections.”

Jim Sedlack of Stop Planned Parenthood says Planned Parenthood is the last place women victimized by sexual assault or abuse should turn since the abortion business has a history of covering up such cases by doing abortions and failing to report them to authorities.

David also told the Daily Caller that every Planned Parenthood center will be required to “provide the full range of birth control method options, such as the IUD, in addition to well-woman exams including critical cancer prevention screenings.” That would have the abortion business lining up more with the Komen for the Cure Foundation, which donated $730,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2009 for cancer screenings despite the fact that abortion increases the risk a woman will contract breast cancer.

“Planned Parenthood continues its massive expansion of its abortion business while phasing out those centers that do not commit surgical or medical abortions,” Sedlack says. “Planned Parenthood leaves no stone unturned in dredging up money to build its facilities and expand its abortion business. It is time to inundate our elected representatives with the message that we must defund and repeal ObamaCare and that no government funds should ever flow to Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion chain.”

The newly-revealed abortion mandates come after Planned Parenthood released an annual report showing it received $363 million in grants and funds from federal, state and local governments, made more than $1 billion in profit, and upped its share of the national abortion business to more than 26 percent.

Meanwhile, Rep Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to de-fund Planned Parenthood after the newly elected Republican majority takes charge next month. Now, that a positive step that should aid Mr Obama in his agenda to reduce abortion. I’m sure he’ll support this effort, won’t he? Rather than to delude ourselves into believing that he will, we must continue to pray for our country, for the parents who are faced with these decisions, and especially for the helpless babies who do not have a voice in the matter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

We're back again. I reported around Thanksgiving that we appeared to be back up and running after several previous computer crashes. We had replaced internal hard drives, and added an external for backup. We also added a couple of new cards, and re-loaded software multiple times thinking the problem was fixed. I finally gave up and built a new computer from scratch last weekend, re-using only the new parts that I had added to the older one. Thanks to our backups, we lost only a small percentage of files, mostly non-critical stuff that we should have purged long ago. This process also helped us to become much better organized. I've gotten most of the software reloaded (again), so by the grace of God, we are praying for no further glitches.

So... here's a great Christmas video from Igniter Media as told across a modern social network.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Leaders Worth Following

Chuck Norris writes in his Thanksgiving article about A leader we all can follow
William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, was born in 1590 in a small farming town in England. Tragically, his father died when he was only one year old. His mother, Alice, then raised him until he was four, when she remarried and sent him to live with his grandfather. But his grandfather died when William was only six. Further tragedy hit when his mother died only one year later. So he was then sent to live with two uncles.

At 18, William fled England's religious persecution with other Separatists, arriving in Amsterdam in 1608. In 1609, he moved with his Puritan church to Holland, where he resided for the next 11 years. He was a silk weaver by trade.

In 1620, at 30 years old, William and his wife, Dorothy, sold their house and joined the Mayflower expedition and sailed for America. Tragically, after enduring the difficult crossing of the Atlantic, and while the ship was anchored at Cape Cod and the men were exploring on land, Dorothy fell overboard and drowned.

As he had done repeatedly throughout his life, William endured through the loss of his wife, only to have to face with the other pilgrims one of the harshest years of their lives, during which only half of them survived. Bradford himself got sick and wasn't expected to live, but recovered.

In 1621, Bradford was elected second governor of Plymouth, and, because of his superior leadership and ability to endure, he was re-elected nearly every year thereafter. His duties included managing the colony's finances, communicating with investors and neighbors, overseeing the courts, formulating policy and law, etc. Many of his letters, poems and writings survive to this day.

One thing that has made America great is its long lineage of valiant leaders in every generation. These are the type of men and women about whom our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, described, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

Mr Norris also gives another example of the type of leadership our country needs in Gen James Amos, the new commandant of the US Marines. He elaborates on the vast qualifications and experiences of Gen Amos, and the vetting process during his confirmation:
Amos' poise and leadership was vividly on display for the country and world to see, when he was grilled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for an hour in a hearing in which the questioning was almost exclusively about gays in the military. Sadly, Washington seems more concerned with political correctness than asking Amos about what unique contributions his leadership would bring or how he would manage Afghanistan warfare, strategies and success. Yet, all of Amos's responses were sympathetic yet solemn about military compliance, troop camaraderie and combat effectiveness.

Amos was again on the hot seat when he spoke recently with reporters during a Southern California visit to mark the Marines' 235th birthday. With American troops on the battlegrounds in Afghanistan and still deployed in Iraq, Gen. Amos said now is not the time to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from openly serving in the military.

Amos explained, "This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. … There's risk involved. I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk … laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion; it's combat effectiveness."

It takes guts, conviction, selflessness and true concern to reply like that, especially when you've been newly appointed to a position, are addressing hot bed issues and disagree with both the Defense Secretary and the commander-in-chief! Quite frankly, Amos' public dissent against the White House took Defense Secretary Gates somewhat by surprise, because he wanted to keep opposing opinions private. But when capping public dissent buries personal conviction and troop welfare, free speech is muzzled and morals are compromised. As Gates and Obama even know, one sign of good leadership is the ability to agree to disagree agreeably with your superiors (even publicly) and yet rally unity and press forward together.

I applaud Gen. Amos for being a man of integrity and conviction. He deserves the accolades of military personnel and all citizens alike. Americans should feel proud and safer to have him serving as the commandant of the Marines. If we had more leaders like him in this world, we wouldn't be in half the hurt that we are. In fact, as an Air Force vet and honorary Marine, I say with millions of others, "Ooh-rah!"

Mr Norris then concludes:
I know you'd join me in giving thanks this Thanksgiving for leaders like Gen. Amos and all the rest of our service men and women around the world. It is their service and sacrifice that allow us the freedom to enjoy the peace and prosperity of our festive turkey day.

Lastly, with gratefulness in our hearts, I'd encourage and challenge Americans everywhere to once again heed the call of William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, in 1623, who admonished: "Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."

God bless the legacy of William Bradford! God bless Gen. James Amos and all of our military leadership! God bless all of our service men and women! And God bless the United States of America!

To which, we can only add a hearty “amen”.

A Joyful Thanksgiving 2010

We appear to be back up and running after several computer glitches over the past few weeks. We had a system crash almost a month ago, so we reloaded all software. We then had a hard drive crash about two weeks ago. We now have new internal and external drives, a couple of new cards, and software re-loaded again, so we’re thankful for the end result.

We of course realize that this is just a minor inconvenience when compared to what many are going through these days, yet it was very frustrating at the time so we’re using this experience as a Thanksgiving illustration. The Apostle Paul writes that we should

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1Th 5:16-18)
Many would say that this is impossible. We might be able to give thanks for minor inconveniences, but what about major tragedies? Notice however, that these verses tell us to give thanks “in” all circumstances, not “for” all circumstances. Thus, in all circumstances, we can be thankful for God’s sovereignty and trust Him to work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

Happiness is a fleeting feeling, but joy is a state of mind based on our faith in God. So, even though we’re a few days late due to computer problems, we wish everyone a very joy filled Thanksgiving weekend.

Voter Standards: DWTS vs POTUS

The television program Dancing with the Stars has played to record audiences this season thanks to the inclusion of Bristol Palin, the daughter of the former Alaska governor. Ms Palin’s success has resulted in conspiracy theories involving the Tea Party, as well as exploding heads in the media and on the far left. A Wisconsin man even shot up his television in disgust over a performance.

I've never watched DWTS (or American Idol or any other reality show) so I can't comment on Ms Palin's dancing ability or lack of. What has interested me is the usual biased media coverage and the reaction from the “tolerant police” on the left. For example, as reported by Yahoo:

"ABC just might be on the verge of outsmarting itself; using Palin's cult of personality to juice this cycle's ratings while ensuring a result that just might give the lie to everything `Dancing With the Stars' stands for," wrote Eric Deggans, critic for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
Unlike many of the articles, Yahoo offered some non-conspiracy reasons for Ms Palin’s success:
Many of Bristol Palin's supporters readily conceded she wasn't the best dancer. But they admired her pluck and willingness to put herself on the line.

Gretchen Offord, a women's crisis counselor from Shasta Lake, Calif., said she detested the condescension that was directed Palin's way by many of the professional dancers and judges on the show. "I tend to have sympathy for people who have the odds stacked against them," she said. Offord voted for Bristol. She doesn't particularly like Sarah.

Susan Gonzalez, a 26-year-old teacher from Washington, D.C., said she and many of her friends became fans of Bristol as the season went along. "There's something about her that I think every girl in her 20s can relate to," she said. "She's very vulnerable, and watching her gain confidence over the course of the season was kind of interesting — the fact that she's not the best, and she knows she's not the best, but every week she goes on and puts on a brave face." Monday was the first night Palin looked like she was enjoying herself, Gonzalez said. "She kind of seemed relieved that it was over," she said.

In the end, Bristol finished third (of three) in the final. Jennifer Grey was the winner, but all the headlines screamed Bristol Palin comes up Last, Again, on "Dancing". Just for grins, I googled “Bristol Palin” along with the exact phrase “last place” and received 249,000 results. Several wrote “Surprising probably no one, Bristol Palin came in last once again during last night's DWTS finals” or similar words.

Many of the comments by readers of the leftist blogs can’t be printed here, but here’s one from Yahoo.

however you slice it, these retards were voting for who palin was rather than competence. Obviously they either don't think competence is important or don't even know what it is. Unfortunately there are a lot of them. They are called conservatives or in their purest form "tea party." Not good for anybody, even themselves.
So now, competence during an election has suddenly become important to those on the left. Ms Palin typically received low scores from the show’s judges, but made up the difference during the voting by the viewers. The media and the critics on the left thus claimed that the voting became a contest based on popularity and personalities rather than on qualifications.

Yet, this is the same media that deliberately played down the issues (and the candidates’ qualifications or lack of) during the last US Presidential election. Realizing that the socialistic Dems could not win on experience (competence or qualifications), or a platform of higher taxes and spending, redistribution of wealth, killing babies, record deficits, amnesty for illegals, and gutting our defense, the media purposely buried the issues and concentrated on “Barry’s” personality.

While those on the left always march in step with the media’s worship of the chosen one, most independents were so caught up in the sound bites of making history that few bothered to check his slight, but very revealing record.

Now however, when Ms Palin advanced week after week on her popularity, the left and the media cry foul. They recoil in horror at any suggestion of a literacy test for voters in a presidential election, but suggest a PHD in the Arts be required in order to vote on DWTS. They send the message that the candidate's qualifications and competence don’t need to be considered when voting for the nation’s highest office, but when voting for DWTS contestants, a much higher standard must be applied.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You Lt Robert Michael Kelly

During this Thanksgiving weekend, here’s a patriotic family the we all should be thankful for. From the Daily Mail: Hats off editorial in the Charleston WV Gazette:
LT. Gen. John Kelly, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, commanded the Multi-National Force-West in Iraq in 2008-09. He recently e-mailed family and friends:

"As I think you all know by now, our Robert was killed in action protecting our country, its people, and its values from a terrible and relentless enemy, on 9 Nov, in Sangin, Afghanistan," Kelly wrote.

"He was leading his Grunts on a dismounted patrol when he was taken. They are shaken, but will recover quickly and already back at it.

"He went quickly and thank God he did not suffer. In combat that is as good as it gets, and we are thankful. We are a broken hearted - but proud family. He was a wonderful and precious boy living a meaningful life. He was in exactly the place he wanted to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do, surrounded by the best men on this earth -- his Marines and Navy Doc."

First Lt. Robert Michael Kelly was buried at Arlington on Monday. His big brother, Capt. John Kelly, escorted his body from Dover Air Force Base.

"Many have offered prayers for us and we thank you, but his wonderful wife Heather and the rest of the clan ask that you direct the majority of your prayers to his platoon of Marines, still in contact and in 'harm's way,' and at greater risk without his steady leadership," Gen. Kelly wrote.

All American families benefit from the defense of their nation and its freedoms.

Some American families make outsized contributions to that security.

God bless the Kelly family. Our nation owes you our gratitude.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sgt Guinta Receives Medal of Honor

Last week, Army Staff Sgt Salvatore Giunta became the first living soldier awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. Seven other brave troops were awarded this top honor posthumously during these wars.

After it was announced that he would receive the award, Sgt Giunta downplayed his heroics, saying that his actions in Afghanistan were merely what every American soldier experiences day in and day out during their tours of duty in that country. In recent interviews, he declined to discuss the events which brought him the medal, citing the painfulness of recalling them. This is certainly understood by most soldiers. My son returned from a tour of duty with the US Marines in Afghanistan a few weeks ago and has great difficulty in talking about his experiences.

Thus, the details of the events on October 25, 2007 are told by a group of reporters who were embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Sgt Giunta’s unit. According to an ABC News Interview and ABC News Report

Giunta's squad of eight soldiers was ambushed during a nighttime patrol in the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan, an area so dangerous to American troops it had become known as the "Valley of Death."

An Army specialist at the time, Giunta charged headlong into a wall of bullet to rescue his squad leader, who'd been knocked down by a bullet to his helmet, and dragged him to cover. Giunta survived a bullet to the chest, but his life was saved by the protective body armor he was wearing. Under fire, Giunta immediately proceeded to recover two fellow soldiers wounded in the attack who had become separated from the main part of the squad.

It was after this that Giunta saw two Taliban fighters dragging away the body of another wounded soldier, Sgt. Josh Brennan, who was also one of his closest friends. Giunta threw grenades at the insurgents and after firing all his rounds forced them to drop Brennan to the ground. While under fire, he provided care to Brennan until medical help could arrive. Brennan did not survive his wounds nor did the squad's medic, Spec. Hugo Mendoza. Five other members of the squad also were hurt in the ambush. So fierce was the firefight that when the unit returned to base they discovered that every one of them had pieces of shrapnel or bullet holes in their gear.

At the ceremony, Sgt Giunta saluted his friends and fellow soldiers:
The Brennan and Mendoza families were in attendance at today's ceremony and received sustained applause when President Obama introduced them. Several of Giunta's squad mates also were on hand for today's ceremony and received a similar round of applause when they were introduced.

Following today's ceremony, Giunta displayed his characteristic humility when he said that though receiving the award was "an incredible experience," he added," I want to make it be known that this represents all service members from all branches that have been in Afghanistan since 2001 [and] Iraq since 2003, who were there yesterday, are there today and will go again tomorrow. I really appreciate them, because without their service I have nothing."

He called the ceremony bittersweet because days like today remind him of the night when "I lost two dear friends of mine, Spc. Hugo Mendoza and Sgt. Josh Brennan. And although this is so positive, I would give this back in a second to have my friend with me right now."

Giunta also praised the "unsung heroes of heroes of this war" who "never come back and return a handshake or give a hug or see their family. And we have to give the time to remember them. Because that is the quality of American soldiers we have willing to go to war, to fight and do whatever is necessary until the battle is done."

To Sgt Giunta, we say congratulations, and “Thank You” to you and every other brave soldier who is putting it all on the line daily for our freedoms.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Can Be a Mainstream Media Reporter

So, you say you'd like to work for CNN, MSNBC, PBS, the New York Times or any of the other self-proclaimed "mainstream" media outlets. Andrew Klavan has produced a very helpful video that will greatly aid you in achieving your goal. If your scores are high enough, you might even land a spot on The View.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mr Obama’s Veterans Day

Who says that Mr Obama doesn’t love his country and honor our veterans? Just the week, Mr Obama paid tribute to those "who have sacrificed on behalf of this great country”. Oh wait… my bad. He was actually addressing the veterans and country of Indonesia.

Per an article in the NY Post – Bam AWOL on Veterans Day:

Today is Veterans Day. Do you know where your president is?

With his feeble flame of "hope" thoroughly doused here in the United States by last week's elections, President Obama has set out around the globe in search of throngs still enthralled by his flowery rhetoric. He found them, of course, in Indonesia this week by telling them about how Americans must stop mistrusting Islam.

So that is why your president is halfway around the world instead of being here in the United States to celebrate the sacrifices American soldiers, sailors and airmen have made around the world to keep the real, still-burning flame of freedom alive.

Obama honored our veterans from afar by laying a wreath during a ceremony at an Army base in South Korea last night. That is a distance from here matched only by the chasm that has opened up between him and the voters who elected him two years ago. This aloofness of his really is becoming a problem.

Not that Obama doesn't appreciate the sacrifices of veterans. He absolutely does. Just ask the Indonesians. He was in Jakarta for their Heroes Day this week to honor their veterans "who have sacrificed on behalf of this great country."

"This great country" of course, being Indonesia. "When my stepfather was a boy, he watched his own father and older brother leave home to fight and die in the struggle for Indonesian independence," Obama told the audience. And the White House wonders why so many people think there is something foreign about this guy.

In the same speech, Obama gave voice to a harsh criticism he has heard about freely elected governments. "Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress" he said.

The shocking statement raises the question: Where has Obama heard this fatuous claim and with whom has he been talking politics? Thankfully, your president tepidly disputed this calumny against democracy, but the alarming questions remain. He went on to tell the Indonesians, "Democracy is messy".

"Not everyone likes the results of every election. You go through ups and downs," he said. At least it sounds like Obama is starting to get the message voters sent him last week.

Yet, despite the lack of support for the liberal politicians, and outright hostility from the (out of the) mainstream media, our brave veterans continue to do their job better than anywhere else in the world. And for that, we are very grateful. Please thank a veteran for your freedoms today, and any other day.

Veterans Day 2010

Once again, we’d like to wish a very Happy Veterans Day to all those who have bravely served in all branches of our military. For the history of this great day, see our Veterans Day 2009 article or the US Dept of Veteran Affairs history page. The following is the commemorative video released by the VA:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday US Marine Corps

Today is the 235th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. This is an important date at our house. Our son Justin recently returned safely from his first marine deployment in Afghanistan. In an article entitled A Legacy is Born, commemorates the founding of the corps in 1775:
During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776..

Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

Many organizations nationwide hold a traditional annual birthday cake ceremony, often accompanied by a parade, speeches and other activities, to mark this anniversary.

In the meantime, while President Obama (“Barry” to his friends and family back home) makes another tour of Muslim nations and promotes his globalist agenda at the G20 summit, our brave men and women of the US Marines continue to fight for our freedoms and sovereignty.

So, to all our past, present and future Marines, we thank you for being Semper Fi and say a heartfelt “God Bless”.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Value of Newspaper Endorsements

As if we didn’t have enough reasons for supporting Rick Perry’s re-election effort for Texas Governor, here’s one more. The AP recently reported that Mr Perry is shunning major newspaper endorsements:
Candidates for high political office usually grovel for newspaper endorsements. Not Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Breaking from a decades-old tradition, the governor isn't even bothering to meet with editorial writers, much less ask for their blessing.

The way Perry sees it, newspapers are old news and have lost much of their influence. In a rapidly changing media climate, Perry said he decided before the March primaries that seeking their endorsements was a waste of time… "The most prized resource that you have is the candidate's time, and what is the best return on your investment that you can get with a candidate's time," Perry told The Associated Press. "It was a calculated decision, but you know the world is really changing, I mean, the way people get their information, who they listen to, etc. Put it all on the balance beam and the balance was toward not doing the editorial boards."

Newspaper editorialists have responded to Perry's snub with fury, accusing him of doing a disservice to voters by refusing to submit to unscripted questioning. The staunchly conservative Tyler Morning Telegraph, which Perry once called his "favorite" paper, slapped the longest-serving Texas governor with a blistering front-page editorial on Sunday.

"Your position to not visit with the editorial boards of Texas newspapers may be astute politically, but it demonstrates a disregard for newspaper readers and voters across the state, who deserve to hear substance rather than silence," the editorial said.

Perry also drew an unusual rebuke from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which called him "disingenuous" for saying he didn't have time to take questions from its members when he spoke to their annual conference last month in Dallas. "If the governor can't take questions from the editorial board, from the press, on behalf of the public, it makes you wonder if they're fit for office," said Tom Waseleski of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former president of the conference. "To out and out refuse to meet with editorial boards is cowardly and reprehensible."

The statements from the media heads attempt to give us the impression that by avoiding the newspaper editors, Mr Perry is snubbing the people. The Tyler editorial mentions that the voters “deserve to hear substance”, but isn’t Mr Perry providing real substance by avoiding the media filter and communicating directly with the people. Therein lies the real objection to Mr Perry’s strategy. It minimizes the amount of liberal spin the media can put on his message. If Mr Perry allowed the media to deliver his message, it would be unrecognizable by the time it got to the people.

As an example of newspaper “substance”, the far-left Austin American Statesman (known as the “un-American Statesman” to many locals) featured a hit-piece on Mr Perry for renting a “mansion” at taxpayer expense while the Governor’s building is undergoing renovation. In this article, they applauded a gimmick by his opponent, former Houston mayor Bill White, who promised to move into a double-wide trailer if elected. Mr White gave no details on where this trailer was to be located, or how he would handle the required security that must be approved by Homeland Security. A friend of mine remarked that, ”if Mr White does for Texas what he did for Houston, we’ll all be living in trailers within a sanctuary state”. Also absent from the article was the fact that Mr White, a multi-millionaire portrayed as a regular guy, left a $17 billion deficit in the general fund when he left office, and the fact that Mr Perry could have already moved back into the governor’s quarters had it not been torched during the Democratic state convention.

We must disagree however, with those who say that newspaper endorsements are irrelevant. On the contrary, an endorsement by a major newspaper can be very valuable to the voter. For the voter who doesn’t have time to check out the background of all the candidates, especially since the media minimizes or downright purges the liberal candidate’s stance on the issues, its endorsement can reveal a wealth of important information. For example, we know that most major metropolitan newspapers lean to the far left (with a few exceptions such as the Washington Times), so if a candidate receives the endorsement of several major papers, we can be reasonably sure that the candidate is soft on terrorism, pro-death, favors higher taxes, and more entitlement spending. The endorsed candidate will generally have a low view of the constitution, and be either hostile toward religion or friendly to all but Christianity. They will also have voted for nationalized healthcare and bailouts or will support them if a new candidate. It is certainly no coincidence that most major newspapers endorsed Mr Obama.

So, we can see great value in a newspaper’s endorsement. If voters will simply pick up a New York Times, a Houston Chronicle, or almost any other major city newspaper and vote against all those who are endorsed, our country would see vast improvements in a very short time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bring Back the Ditch

As the November election draws nearer, most people’s top concern remains the economy. Indeed, other than the spiritual condition of our nation, its economy ranks as one of the most important problems facing our country. Our weak economy even poses a serious threat to our national security. For this reason, we’ll be posting several articles over the next couple of months pertaining to the Biblical view of economics.

In this post, I’d like to address a few myths that have been circulating the past couple of years. Let first examine the rhetoric surrounding the battle over extending the Bush tax-cuts. With unemployment continuing to climb, businesses are very hesitant to hire workers because of the huge tax increases that they will incur should the extensions fail to pass by the end of this year. Mr Obama and his liberal friends continue to oppose extending the tax cuts to those who create the most jobs, continually insisting that the “rich” need to pay their fair share. The latest data released by the IRS however, reveals that the top 1% of earners already pay 40% of all federal income taxes, and the top 5% pay 60%. Almost half of all wage earners pay no tax at all, and many receive "refunds" as earned income credit. We'll discuss the topics of redistribution of wealth and charity in an upcoming post.

A second argument is that we can’t afford to extend the tax cuts because it would drive up the deficit, citing the Bush administration as an example. This argument is also false, since tax revenues actually went up about 40% after the tax cuts were enacted. How can this be? Due to the lower tax rates, businesses hired more workers and paid out more in salaries, thus the increased workforce paid more total taxes even at the lower rates. Similarly, liberals always want to raise federal revenue by increasing taxes on large corporations, but the feds lose money because the workforce shrinks. The deficits during the Bush years were due to increased spending, not decreased taxation. Mr Bush was not exactly a fiscal conservative, although he would certainly be considered one when compared to the current administration. Mr Obama and company have incurred more debt in his brief time that all other presidents combined.

Mr Obama frequently blames the slow economy on former President Bush, and his lapdogs in the media dutifully and gladly echo these accusations. His favorite line is that the Republicans drove the economy into a ditch and he’s working hard to get it out. Never mind that many top economists have maintained that we would already be out of this crisis had the government not felt obligated to fix it. Unfortunately, socialists trust in the government rather than free enterprise to grow the economy.

Another common claim is that Mr Bush took eight years to get us into this mess, so it is argued that we should allow Mr Obama a similar amount of time to repair the damage. After all, he’s only in his second year in office. This assumes that Mr Bush actually caused the recession, and it also ignores that fact that the Democrats took control of congress in January of 2007. Thus, Mr Obama, Ms Pelosi and Mr Reid have controlled the purse strings for almost four years (only congress can pass legislation authorizing spending). Many indicators of the economic downturn can be directly traced to the takeover by the socialist Democratic Party (see the attached charts for a couple of examples).

For the sake of argument however, let’s assume that Mr Bush and the Republicans drove us into a ditch by the time that they lost control of congress (January 2007). Revisiting Mr Bush’s ditch, we find the National unemployment rate at 4.5% (December 2006), an average GDP growth of 3.4% (2006), and an average annual deficit of about $105 billion (during Republican controlled congress, 1994-2006). The DJIA was almost 13,000 and the federal debt was about 65% of the GDP.

In contrast, looking at Mr Obama’s highway, we see an unemployment rate that has more than doubled at 9.6% (~17% including those who have given up looking for work), a GDP finally inching up to 2% and an annual deficit of about $1.5 trillion. In addition, the national debt is approaching $14 trillion at a rate of about 3.5 billion dollars a day, and has now exceeded 90% of the GDP.

As if this wasn't enough, we also have the vast amount of eroding wealth under the Dem's watch. According to the Wall Street Journal, total residential real estate values lost $4 trillion from the beginning of the Dem takeover through March 2009 (WSJ-8-20-09), and net worth of US households dropped 18% or over $11 trillion in 2008 alone, the biggest loss since the Federal Reserve began tracking shortly after WWII (WSJ3-13-09). An estimated 20% (about $2 trillion) vanished from our retirement plans from August 2007 to October 2008 (WSJ 8-20-09). In 2009, the first year of Mr Obama's administration, the federal government ran a budget deficit for every month of the year, the first time this has happened in almost 30 years of record keeping. In fact, as of May 2010, the government's record deficit string had reached 19 consecutive months (Reuters 5-12-2010). We could also mention the many large institutions that failed or was "bailed out" by the government, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who contributed heavily to the Dems, most notably House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd.

Facing the facts, it’s no wonder that the Dems and their media friends are talking about everything except the issues. A study released earlier this week by the Wesleyan Media Project at Weslayan University found that both Repubs and Dems ran negative ads at about the same rate, but the majority of Republican ads focused on the issues while the majority of Democratic ads were personal attacks, often involving events or quotes (many from anonymous sources) from up to 30 years ago. It’s also worth mentioning that any ad that mentioned the facts about a Dem’s voting record is considered a negative or attack ad.

Rather than take responsibility for their failures, the liberal Democrats continue to blame everyone but themselves. The latest strategy appears to be blaming the potential voters. The American people are told that we’re just too dumb to realize and appreciate all that the Dems have done for us. According to the liberals, if we were better informed, we would realize that runaway spending and entitlements, higher taxes, government takeovers of private industry, and flushing the constitution is all done for our benefit.

Mr Obama, Mr Biden, John Kerry (D-Ma) and others have complained that the lack of their popularity is due to the fact that voters are not paying attention. While idealism can sound good for awhile, sooner or later, one must live in reality. The truth is, the inattentive voter is what got Mr Obama elected in the first place. Rather than checking his record, many were caught up in the media's worship and in “making history”. Now that Mr Obama’s disastrous policies have gotten the voter’s attention however, most folks are realizing that they were a lot better off in the Bush ditch than on the Obama superhighway. When comparing the results of Mr Obama’s socialism, many are longing to “Bring back the Ditch”.

Update: A special thank you to our friend Doug Ross for linking to this article.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Justin Back Safely from Afghanistan

We are overjoyed to relay the news that God has graciously returned our son Justin safely from the war zone in Afghanistan. He had been serving with his US Marine unit since early this year and arrived in Palm Springs, Ca about 3am Thursday morning. My wife Melody and future daughter-in-law Kayla were there to welcome him back. They are currently still visiting since he doesn't have to be back at base until Monday morning.

As only those who have fought in a war zone can fully imagine, Justin is having some minor difficulties adjusting but is certainly glad to be back in the states. Even though they were already considered engaged, Justin proposed and gave Kayla the ring at a scenic overlook yesterday. I’ll post pictures of the California trip in the next couple of weeks.

I’d like to personally thank all our readers, personal friends, and friends at work who have continually prayed for Justin while he was away. While all glory goes to God, we are especially grateful to the members of our local church, and particularly our Sunday School class, who spent time in prayer almost daily for Justin. It is popular these days to love Jesus but reject the local traditional church as irrelevant, but it’s times like these that “Internet churches”, “Relational churches”, the “Church at Starbucks” or the “Church of the Eighteenth Green” just doesn’t measure up. I have always maintained that our website ministry should always be supplemental to the local church, but never a substitute.

Although Justin is stateside for now, we ask that you continue to remember the troops (and their families) who are still bravely serving in harm’s way. Also, continue to remember the families of those who will not return safely. The first young man killed in Justin’s unit left a pregnant wife and a child he’ll never see. While we are rejoicing at Justin's safe return, there are others who are hurting, and we should mourn with them.

After his many close calls, Justin told us that he knew God was watching over him, and that he could feel the prayers of the folks back home. Therefore, to all the prayer warriors, we are forever in your debt. I think of all of you (and many who are unknown to us) every time I hear the Allen Asbury song:

Pressing over me like a big blue sky
I know someone has me on their heart tonight
That's why I know it's gonna be alright
'Cause somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through

It may be my Mother, it might be my Dad
Or an old friend I've forgot I had
But whoever it is I'm so glad that
Somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through

Through the tears, through the rain
Through the sorrow, through the pain
It keeps bringing me through
Over and over again

So when you're drowning in a sea of hurt
And it feels like life couldn't get any worse
There's a blessing waiting to push back the curse
'Cause somebody's praying you through
Somebody's praying you through

Someone got down on their knees and prayed for me
Somebody's, somebody's praying you through

Thanks again and God Bless our Troops!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chile Miners Receive Spiritual Support

Here’s a story that was virtually ignored during the massive coverage of the Chilean miners who were recently rescued after being trapped underground for more than two months. Our friends at Love Worth Finding Ministries, the ministry of the late Adrian Rogers, notified us of this inspiring development during the ordeal.

Chilean engineer Igor Bravo is the owner of the geo-technical monitoring company that helped with the rescue effort. While taking part in the operation, Mr Bravo became concerned about the spiritual needs of the trapped miners as well as their physical needs. As reported by the Baptist Press:

"I had to help in some Christian way," Bravo said. "If there is an opportunity to share the Gospel -- even if we're extremely occupied -- and to contribute to the Christian cause and evangelism, it's something that's in [my] blood."

A member of First Baptist Church of Santiago, Bravo realized that though the miners' physical needs were being met, their spiritual needs had been overlooked. He called his pastor, Luis Cortéz, for help.

Cortéz contacted Radio Harmonia, a Christian broadcasting station in Santiago, which was able to provide MP3 files of Pastor Adrian Rogers' sermons and Bible studies in Spanish along with Christian music. Rogers, the late pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN, was a former Southern Baptist Convention president, author and TV-radio speaker.

While Cortéz made contacts in Santiago, Bravo searched Copiapó, the nearest town to the mine, for other spiritual materials. He found 33 New Testaments and two entire Bibles that met the size restrictions for what could be sent down the chamber. On Sept. 17 he sent the materials to the miners via the "paloma," a device used to transport objects between the trapped miners and the surface ("Paloma" means "pigeon" or "dove" in Spanish).

Three of the 33 trapped miners were evangelical Christians when the mine collapsed. Since that time, two more of them have made professions of faith.

One of the original believers, José Henríquez, has been leading Bible studies for the miners each evening. "It [Bible study] started out 5, 10, now 20 participants," Bravo said. "[The people on the surface] have José Henríquez identified as the spiritual leader; they call him 'The Pastor.'" Bravo wrote Henríquez's name in one of the Bibles and sent it specifically to him but left the other blank. Henríquez says he intends to give the second to the Bible study's best student.

As Bravo ministered to the miners, he knew their families waiting at Camp Esperanza (Hope) needed spiritual encouragement as well. "A lot of people don't know the Lord," Bravo said. "That's when the second need surfaced."

Bravo called on the Chilean Baptist Union for help, and soon pastor Marcelo Leiva of Vallenar Baptist Church in Vallenar, Chile, was on-site comforting the miners' families. "Pastor Marcelo has been fundamental in meeting that need," Bravo said.

Amid ensuring that both the miners and their families have the spiritual support they need, Bravo continues to play a vital role in the rescue efforts. His company determined the size of the rock blocking the mine following the collapse and is currently monitoring the status of the rescue shaft. "I was very involved in the technical aspects and then later became involved in the spiritual," Bravo said. "It's been a great blessing."

We join with LWF in praying that God will continue to use those messages to provide ministry, encouragement and salvation to the miners and their families

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Third Lausanne World Evangelization Congress

Our friend Sherri, a missionary serving in the Far East, called our attention to the 3rd International Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization that begins today in Cape Town, South Africa and lasts through October 25. According to ChinaAid, the Chinese government has been harassing invited representatives from their country.
Over the past few months, the Chinese government has been suppressing the 200 house church representatives who have been invited to attend this year’s Lausanne Congress. According to information obtained by ChinaAid, all the representatives, whether Uyghur Christians from Xinjiang or Han Christians from Beijing, have been contacted by authorities for questioning. It is sad to report, but family members of the invitees have also been threatened.

Two house church Christians from Baotou City, Inner Mongolia were stopped by officials before they departed for South Africa. On October 9, one of them was placed under a 15-day detention. Five house church invitees were stopped by customs officials at the airport on October 10, and four had their passports confiscated. One was detained.

Dr. Fan Yafeng is a prominent legal scholar, leader of the Chinese Christian Legal Defense Association (defenders of religious freedom, human rights and rule of law in China for years), and winner of the 2009 John Leland Religious Liberty Award. He was harassed by Beijing police on October 12 after accepting an interview from National Public Radio pertaining to the Lausanne Congress. Twenty police officers were assigned to stop him from leaving his apartment.

Dr. Fan commented that underground Chinese Christians should not naively put hope in the Chinese Communist regime, and should place their trust in God, and continue to non-violently strive for religious freedom, human rights, rule of law and democracy in China. Dr. Fan strongly supports legal defense as a very effective tool. He also strongly criticized the persecution of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his wife by Chinese government.

It has been 21 years since the Manila gathering, and tens of millions of Christians in China are thriving in the Church of Jesus Christ, and China experiences the fastest growth of Christians. With that said, how long will we have to wait for the 200 unoccupied seats meant for representatives of China to be filled?

Article 13 of the Lausanne Covenant reads

”It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of the nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practice and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable. (1 Tim. 2:1-4; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21).”
We would like to pass on a prayer request that is being sent out to Christians around the world to intercede on behalf of the China.

As the day is quickly approaching for Lausanne III to start in Cape Town on October 17, please remember the participants from Mainland China. Participants and volunteers from Mainland China have already purchased their tickets and reserved hotel rooms in preparation to join 4,500 Christian leaders at the Congress. In addition to raising their own support, the Mainland Chinese participants have also given scholarships for 100 neighboring country participants to attend.

There is a possibility that the Chinese participants will not be able to attend.

Please intercede on behalf of the Church in China, that God would have mercy and move the hearts of those who hold the power to change the situation. We serve a God who is above all human systems, understanding and authority. May His Will be done in the Church in China, and His Power known throughout the world.

Please pray for God to change hardened hearts and for the continued faithfulness of the Chinese Christians under persecution.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Economics, Evolution and the Great Depression

At a recent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the economic recovery “is going to take an enormous amount of time.” When I read this statement, I couldn’t help but make a couple of comparisons and observations.

In 1859, English naturalist Charles Darwin claimed that something could come from nothing, life from non-life, personality from non-personality, and man from non-man. He also imagined that a series of pure random processes would result in continuously increased complexity. Now, Mr Darwin didn’t allow the fact that his theories contradicted the laws of physics, the laws of reason, and the laws of science dissuade him. He simply announced that it was possible if the process was given enough time, namely billions of years.

Likewise, the Obama administration believes that higher taxes, runaway government spending (leading to higher inflation), re-distribution of wealth, and other job-killing policies will produce economic growth if given enough time. To his credit, Mr Gibbs did not theorize that it would take billions of years, but when asked to clarify what he meant, he said, “it’s going to take several years.”

Fortunately, we can reasonably hope that, unlike macro-evolution, free enterprise can eventually overcome these devastating policies. Unfortunately, judging by past history, the more a liberal government interjects itself in an attempt to fix the problem, the longer the problem lasts. Mr Obama, Ms Pelosi, Mr Reid and associates urge us to look to the future, but their ideology is firmly rooted in the past, from the “manufactured crisis” design of German philosopher GWF Hegel (18-19th century) to the economic concepts of 19th century German philosopher Karl Marx. Even Cuban dictator Fidel Castro recently admitted that socialism is an absolute failure as an economic system. Yet Mr Obama and friends persist in pushing these disastrous policies.

Mr Obama, Ms Pelosi, and Mr Reid constantly proclaim that the stimulus and other measures have saved two, three and even five million jobs (whatever number happens to pop into their heads at the moment). While these numbers can’t be verified (a primary reason why they continually float them), we can certainly look at some historical examples.

Nationally syndicated writer Larry Elder, in his Listen, dummies: Obama's stimulus 'clearly helped' article, contrasts the approach of Ronald Reagan to that of Franklin Roosevelt:

President Reagan, in the early '80s, inherited an economy with 13.5 percent inflation, 21 percent prime interest rates, and an unemployment rate that reached 10.8 percent. He addressed this by doing the opposite of what Obama has done. Reagan sharply lowered taxes, dropping the top marginal rate from 70 percent to 28 percent. He slowed the rate of domestic spending. And he continued the deregulation policies of President Carter. Interest rates fell, inflation declined and unemployment, after nearly two years, started dropping.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the Great Depression, continued the tax-hiking policies of his predecessor. Federal spending soared. The result? Unemployment during the Depression reached 25 percent and remained stuck in the teens until World War II. The subsequent destruction of foreign economies, which America helped rebuild, sparked a domestic boom. The dismantling of ill-advised worldwide trade barriers also helped.

FDR's secretary of Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, who served from 1934 to 1945, wrote in 1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!”

We’ll have more on the Great Depression in upcoming posts, but we’ll offer one more piece of the puzzle here. FDR is widely credited with leading a government intervention that lifted the country out of this depression, but let’s look at the facts.

Even after the stock market crash of October 1929, at no time during the following twelve months did unemployment reach double digits. Two months after the crash, unemployment peaked at about 9 percent, and then began trending downward over the next six months, finally reaching 6.3 percent by June 1930. At this point, the federal government decided to step in to fix the imaginary crisis and proceeded to create a real crisis.

So, if history teaches us anything about economics, it is that the federal government should get out of the way and allow the free enterprise system to work.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Introduction to Theology Series

I'm back after being out of touch for a couple of weeks. First, I had a minor reaction to a flu shot. I had taken this shot every year for about twenty years, but then missed the last two years, so this was probably a contributing factor. Switching to some good news, we just got word that our son, serving in the marines in Afghanistan, should be on a plane out of there in the next week or so. God has graciously protected him thus far, and we greatly appreciate all who have been praying for his safe return.

I was only out of commission for three days from the shot, so during the remainder of this time, I was able to complete and upload our Introduction to Theology Series. Many Christians today question the importance of studying theology, considering it boring, irrelevant and divisive. Many argue that we should just love God and love one another. While this is very important, can we even love God and our neighbor without a certain amount of theological knowledge? We explore this question along with many others in this five-article series.

Our introductory series opens with What is Theology? which surveys the various theological disciplines. Our Why Study Theology? article discusses the importance of theology and sound doctrine, and addresses the reasons why we shouldn't just skip to the practical teachings. We've also included an article detailing the Benefits and Blessing of Studying Theology. Next, we've outlined typical Approaches, Process and Methods with helpful hints and instructions on doing theological studies. Finally, because of the importance of loving God and loving our neighbor, we've concluded the series with Theology, Doxology and Biblical Love. We pray that this series will encourage everyone to study theology and develop sound Biblical doctrine.

To read the Introduction to Theology series, just follow the link to our Theology page and look under the "General & First Principles" heading.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why Christians must be Politically Active

In the previous post about our latest struggle to find the right balance between evangelism and engaging the culture, we rejected the opinion of those who advocate that we should completely ignore cultural issues in favor of spreading the Gospel. We'll emphasize here that evangelism is of ultimate importance, since it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that our culture will be truly transformed. At the same time, as God's representatives, we must also oppose those things that He hates.

After writing this article, I ran across an article on the subject written by an author that I highly admire, Star Parker, the founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal & Education. The article called Why Christians must be Politically Active was written about 18 months ago, but remains just as relevant today, if not even more so.

Christians face an ongoing paradox regarding engagement in political life in our country. Christian Man, so to speak, sees the world through different eyes than Political Man. Christian Man sees the world through a lens of responsibility. Political Man, or if you will, Secular Man, sees the world through a lens of “rights.”

Because of these very different attitudes about how to approach life, Christians have a natural inclination to not see politics of central importance to their lives and, as result, to not be engaged. Christians see the quality of their lives as a natural outcome of their relationship with God and how they assume the responsibilities that He asks of them. This then reflects on how they manage their relationships with their families, business colleagues and customers, neighbors, and communities. Political, or Secular, Man sees the quality of life as a political outcome. They see their life and property as secure not because of admonitions to not kill and not steal, but because they believe these are rights and that government will protect them.

Over the years, political/secular consciousness has, sadly, advanced in our country and increasing numbers of Americans believe that our prosperity and our success reflect political decisions rather than religious/moral decisions.

We can see the results of this tangibly just by taking a look at the growth of government. The more materialistic Americans have become in their attitudes, the more they believe that what is most important is their rights rather than their responsibilities, the more we have turned our lives over to government control and solutions. A hundred years ago, government - federal and local - took less than ten percent of our income. Today, it is more than one third. If things continue on their current path, by mid-century it will be one half.

Why should Christians care? We need to care because the pretense that life is a political rather than a religious/moral challenge and problem amounts to a departure from the Truth. And a departure from Truth must inevitably lead to failure.

We’re already seeing it. The government programs, all designed in the last century to “solve” our problems for health care and retirement, are failing. I’m talking about Social Security and Medicare.

Our public schools that are educating the majority of America’s children have been increasingly secularized and politicized and the quality of education that these children are getting is dropping. Public education in our urban areas is in severe crisis. Children, largely black and Latino, coming from communities and families that have been broken by the welfare state, another major symptom of the secularization of the country, get little education in these schools, and at least half never graduate. The result is a growing American underclass that is becoming locked in a cycle of poverty and crime from which there is less and less hope of exit.

The paradox facing Christians that I mentioned in my opening is that, because Christians naturally relate to life through personal responsibility rather than politics, they are more inclined to not be politically active and engaged. On the other hand, secular Americans, for whom life is all politics, are more likely to be active and engaged.

The result is that secular Americans have had a disproportionate impact on our country over recent years. It is imperative that Christians look outward into our public spaces and get involved in the political process.

By this I mean more than just registering and voting. Christians must actively scrutinize public policy in the country and inject our values into what America is doing. Christians must take back America. The political greatness of our country is that it is free. But it is up to citizens to decide what to do with that freedom.

We are in a crisis because the wrong people have been making the wrong decisions for too many years. As result, the very freedom that permitted all this is being eroded, and erosion of our prosperity will soon follow. Christians need to step up and get our values for the preservation of life, for the protection of family, and for personal responsibility rather than political materialism, to define again the fabric of America.

This will restore American greatness and get us back on the path for which we are destined.

Christians and Culture - Part 463

As those who have followed our ministry from the beginning are aware, one of the most difficult issues we’ve faced is in balancing our emphasis on religious and cultural topics, that is, to what extent should Christians be involved in political and cultural matters? The more we explore this question, the more convinced I become that, while ultimate change in behavior is only brought about by changing the heart, we also have an obligation to engage the culture.

In Israel during Biblical times, there was no separation made between the sacred and secular. A person was to honor God with all one’s thoughts and actions. I believe Christians make a great mistake by treating religion, the arts, science, politics, etc as parallel streams to be studied and engaged separately with no intersections. If the Christian world view is true, it must be true for all the “spheres”. A person’s life view will determine not only how he or she views God, but everything else as well.

The prevailing liberal view is that, a Christian must put his religious views aside when discussing other topics, or must avoid becoming involved altogether, although the same restraint is not placed on the secular humanist. The only time this view is temporarily set aside is during an emergency. For example, after a flood, tornado or other disaster, very few complain that Christians are usually the first on the scene with food and shelter for the victims. After Katrina however, I do remember Diane Sawyer and other media talking heads distressing over the thought that Christian shelters might be forcing refugees to go to church or subjecting them to religious indoctrination as a condition for their food and shelter. While the media fears were unfounded, in their eyes, this would be a much more inhumane treatment than allowing the refugees to starve in the streets.

I hear people say that we should not legislate morality, but someone’s morality (or immorality) will ultimately become law. We have laws preventing immoral acts such murder and theft, while other laws allow the immoral murder of babies. Others confuse legality with morality. This is the guiding force behind such movements as the attempt to legalize gay marriage. Most homosexuals don’t really desire to get married (relatively few have done so in locations where it has been legalized), but equate legality with morality and acceptance. Many believe that if something is legal, it must also be moral. Does this mean that slavery was moral while it was legal and immoral only after it was outlawed? This belief also elevates humans rather than God as the ultimate authority over what is moral and ethical.

The Bible does not offer a lot of specific commands in the area of engaging the culture. Instead it gives us general commands such as the Cultural Mandate of “subdue the earth” (Gen 1:28) and to be “salt and light” (Mt 5:13-15). We are left therefore, to apply general Biblical principles to each situation. I’ve met many Christians with the attitude that, “the world is basically doomed so we should concentrate solely on evangelism in order to save as many people as possible”. Does this mean that we as Christians should turn our heads and ignore challenges to our laws, morals and ethics?

As Christians, we are to hate the things that God hates (see Prov 6:16-19 for one list among many). So, when crooked politicians steal money from the public, drug dealers sell dope to our children, or a new abortion clinic opens near our neighborhood, we don’t ignore the issue in the name of “tolerance” or to avoid forcing our moral views on others. As Christians, we are to transform the culture, not ignore it, and certainly not to assimilate into it.

40 Days for Life 2010

During this crucial time of Prayer for America, we should not forget about those who are them most helpless among us, the pre-born babies. We therefore urge our readers to get involved with the current 40 Days for Life campaign from September 22 to October 31. During this time, committed volunteers peacefully intercede for these little ones made in the image of God through prayer and fasting, constant vigil and pro-life community outreach.

This is the seventh 40 Days for Life campaign since 2007. During this time, participants witnessed countless blessings from God including:

Over 350,000 individuals and 11,500 church congregations have participated in the campaigns

Documented reports that 2,811 lives (plus many more un-reported) that have been spared from abortion

35 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry, and Six abortion facilities completely shut down following local campaigns

More than 850 news stories have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio shows and TV programs locally, nationally and and overseas

Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets; and many people with past abortion experiences have stepped forward to begin post-abortion healing and recovery with a new sense of hope

So far, there are 40 Days for Life campaigns planned in 238 locations in the United States and Canada, plus others in Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. Please visit the Community List Page to find a location near you. For those who can't participate in the current campaign, please pray for those involved and for those parents facing this crucial decision.