November 6, 2012
I did my civic duty of voting today. It was not thrilling or even mildly exciting, but it was important. I knew years ago who I was voting for today for the national races. The local stuff is always the ones that I have to wait until the last-minute to decide who or what to vote for. Most of the time I will just vote along the party lines, but every now and then I want to shake things up. This year I voted for the “write in” on three different races.
In SC, the national race always goes for the Republicans. My vote means very little there. But I think the real way to make a difference is on the local positions. Often one or two votes decides who will fill some of these positions. Because many of these people are locals, you can actually vote for someone who you know and not just from a campaign ad or what the media says about someone. But in three of these I did not know the person, and there was only one person in these, so I used the “write in”
I did not know the person on the ticket for one of the county council seats. I had not seen a sign nor an ad, so in this one I wrote in my youth pastor. I think that he would do a fine job. If you ask him, he would tell you that he does not have a clue about what this position does, so I figure that he is perfect for the job and will fit in nicely with the others who don’t have a clue.
I did not know the person running for the water and sewage person. I am not sure why this is an elected position and I don’t remember the actual title of the position, so I wrote in my youth pastor’s wife. She would be the first to tell you that she has to put up with a bunch of crap, so I think that she will do a fine job. Between the two of them, I am confident that my little portion of our country will rapidly start improving.
The last position that I used the “write in” for was a school board position. Again I saw no sign nor ad for the only person on the ballot so I wrote in my wife. As I have said before, she loves kids and can’t seem to get enough of them around her. She thinks that she knows everything, and she will be the first to tell you that, so a position in the education part of politics is perfect for her. I know that once these guys read this and especially if any of them get elected, that they will thank me later.
Yes, the American political system is working well in my precinct. I can’t wait to see the results of this year’s voting. I hope that my wife and my friends serve us well and if they don’t, I can’t wait until next election to vote the bums out of office!
July 5, 2012
I love our country. As yesterday celebrated the birth of our freedom, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic. I served in the US Navy for nine years and come from a family where my dad was a twenty year Navy vet. From the time I was a child, I was taught to love our country and its freedoms. Standing at a baseball game while the National Anthem played, removing my hat and placing it over my heart was a regular event in my childhood. We would go to cemeteries and place American flags on the graves of veterans for patriotic holidays like the 4th of July. In elementary school I got to be the one to raise and lower the flag and was selected because my dad had taught me the proper way to fold it.
The freedom that we have here was earned and won on the battlefields through the years. Freedom does not come without a price and that price is a high one. But men and women from the beginning of our country’s founding have thought it worth paying whatever price needed to secure it. Every generation has those who question the times and fear that freedom is fading. Our founding fathers put many layers of protection into the documents of our government to help protect what had been won and to remind each generation of the fragile nature of freedom.
Today we are experiencing many things that threaten our freedom. People who use this freedom to fight against free markets and religion don’t realize that if they are successful, they could lose the very freedom of speech that they are using to fight what they disagree about. The attack on our free market society is one that scares me. The demonizing of people who own companies that hire good, hard-working Americans is counter-productive to our freedom. The idea that if you work hard and achieve the American dream of owning a business and having it be successful is somehow made to seem wrong. Instead, we are being force-fed that our country is about fairness rather than freedom. And, somehow we are supposed to think that fairness means taking what someone worked for and giving it to someone who does not work? I am confused.
I also worry about how our schools and local government make anti-American laws and policies. I am always hearing about cities and communities who won’t allow the flag to be displayed, even on the graves of veterans. Or schools that don’t allow the pledge of allegiance or patriotic shirts because they might offend those who are here illegally. That flag represents a country that loves those who come here for help and offer opportunity for all who are willing to work hard and legally to make a better life. Our schools are a place to teach children how to read and do math and science and to grow up to be productive members of a society of free people. Nothing is offensive about that and pledging to support our country and our freedom is not a bad thing. If we quit supporting what this country stands for, we won’t have people coming here for freedom…duh!
Religion is another place that I feel our freedom is being threatened. Yes, I am a Christian. I am a pastor and I have a personal attachment to this part of freedom. I guess the two areas that I feel most threatened from freedom of religion standpoint it the way we are being told that separation of church and state is a constitutional issue. It is not. That phrase is not in the constitution; read it for yourself. This is what the constitution says about religion and government: The constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Separation of church and state was a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, talking about the intrusion of government into church business and how unconstitutional it was. Government is not to intrude in religion, not vice-versa. All legal citizens are free to participate in whatever level they chose in our government, no matter their religious beliefs.
Secondly, I feel freedom threatened by the bending over backward of our government to accommodate the Muslim religion and even to allow a perverted part of that belief, Sharia law, to override our countries laws, in some cases. Nothing against that faith, but that perversion of that faith allows for the killing of many people, including Christians. How can our government work so hard to suppress Christianity, which is responsible for more charity work all over the world than any other organization, and promote, often through silence, or making of special exceptions, a religion that kills those who don’t believe their way? I know these are isolated cases, but this is a serious issue that must be watched.
I am not in a panic mode, but I think that we should take a hard look at how some are attacking freedom. No, it is not a perfect country that we live in, but it is the best country and the most generous country in the world. I was happy to celebrate its independence yesterday and look forward to continuing the annual celebration. Freedom can only fade if we let it. Let freedom shine brightly for the world to see!
May 29, 2012
Four of us left out Saturday morning on our motorcycles for Washington DC to participate in the 25th Rolling Thunder, Memorial Day Parade of Motorcycles. This was my third time going and another guy’s 17th and the other two of them were going for the first time. It is impossible to describe what it is like to be in the Pentagon parking lot with one million motorcycles and their riders and passengers. We left out for our 410 mile ride to DC with anticipation of having some great fellowship and hopefully sharing Jesus with someone while we were there. At the end of our ride we were looking forward to a meal and a good night’s rest before the parade on Sunday.
Sunday morning we headed over to the Pentagon at 8am. When we arrived the lines of bikes stretched for what seemed like miles. We finally made it in to the parking area where over half of the parking lot was already full. It was barely 8:30am and the parade did not start until noon. So we got off our bikes and began taking pictures and talking to others who were parked beside and around us. We met people from all over the country and Canada and Australia. I don’t think the Australians rode their bikes there.
At twelve noon we hear the roar of motorcycles as the parade through the historic DC areas began. Bike after bike rolled out and the sound of the motors was like the name inferred, rolling thunder. After an hour and forty minutes of bikes leaving the parking lot, it was finally time to crank ours and head out through the parade route. Then another 20 minutes passed and the route came to an end. So we parked the bikes and did the tourist thing, looking at the different monuments and allowing the rich history of our country to sink in. After about two hours of sightseeing, the parade was about over. Motorcycles were finally ending the continuous flow from the Pentagon through the parade route. It was an incredible thing to be a part of.
All of this was incredible to see and hear and be a part of. The patriotism and fellowship with other veterans and the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom was worth it all. But that was not the most amazing thing that happened.
Out of the millions of people who were there that day, we met one fellow who seemed to be quite lonely. After an introduction and a short talk, he was asked about his thoughts on who Jesus Christ is. He did not know the answer but said he would be happy to hear anything that would offer him hope. He was told about the man who died for the freedom of humanity and the sins of the world. He appreciated the concept and related to what Jesus did. After a few more minutes of talking he asked to receive Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus was more than a one in a million. He is the only one who could do what He did on the cross. But He did it so that he could make a difference to anyone who would believe, even if you are the one in a million in the Pentagon parking lot for a parade on Memorial day.
May 9, 2012
Yesterday was crazy on Facebook with people going back and forth about the NC amendment concerning marriage. Needless to say, people are passionate about this subject. I want to address a couple of things concerning this.
First, I hate it that the church gets such a bad rap on this subject. But you can’t complain about what happens when people who are supposed to show the love of God, show the ugliness of humanity. God does not hate people. He hates sin. Sure, that means that sin must be defined and that there are people who do not agree with how it has been defined, but God is the one who calls those shots. God loves people so much that He allowed His Son, Jesus to die for those sins and receive full acceptance as His children. He made it possible for any human, no matter if you are gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, to be forgiven and receive eternal life. As His people, we are to represent Christ by showing compassion and love and not by acting as judge and jury. I believe if the church would spend a little more time cleaning up its own back yard we wouldn’t have such a hard time when we try to clean our neighbor’s.
Second, I hate it that people who don’t believe in God get so upset at people who do. They quote the Bible, and it is often quoted very much out of context, as if it should mean something because they use it and not when Christians use it. They tell Christians that we shouldn’t force our beliefs on them, yet they have no problem trying to force Christians to accept what they believe. They act as if having no God makes them better judges of humanity than those who have a God. Sadly, all we humans can do is make a decision to believe that we are special in nature and enforce some sense of morality and laws. Because we are not of the same minds on this, there will always be issues of disagreement.
I have a good friend who is a professing non believer and we are probably on as different ends of this argument as two people can get. Yet we respect each other enough not to let this disagreement hinder our friendship. I have said a few things that he probably takes offense to and he has done the same with me. But, at the end of the day, we can’t wait to play cards together each month. That is what friends are supposed to do. But I want to conclude this with something that I think we would agree on.
He serves his fellow-man very unselfishly. He holds friendship high in his beliefs of what is important. I would like to think that he would agree that I do the same. What we need to do is address the issue of can we make a difference that helps those that we feel are underprivileged. Believers and non-believers can be involved as fellow citizens to do our part to help others. I know that the church has traditionally helped those in need. Sadly it has gotten more recognition for opposing issues than solving problems. Jesus would never do anything but love people and meet their needs. He relied on His love to change people’s hearts and cause them to want to listen to His teachings.
I do not believe that the real issue is gay or not gay, married or not married. I believe that the real concern is who a politician can get to vote for him. I would like to see the people of this great country start telling politicians that we don’t need them to baby-sit us. We need them to provide a safe and productive place for all Americans to raise a family, regardless of its make up. We, the people, should take care of our fellow-man and if someone is hurting, comfort them. If someone needs help, help them. If I as a Christian help those who Jesus helped, I will be helping anyone who needs it, not telling them that they are wrong and deserve to be in the place that they are in. If All Christians will do that, maybe there won’t be a need to have people who don’t believe quote the Bible to us. And maybe more will learn the love of God instead of hearing of the wrath of God. Yes, God is a God of love and wrath, but that is for another blog.
People who get involved in others lives for the purpose of other’s well-being will be passionate. Let’s keep the real situation in the forefront. We can and should all help. And yes, there might even be a way to disagree on a definition or an issue and still help our fellow-man as believers and non believers alike . That is my intent. What is yours?
March 14, 2012
Today in my neck of the woods it is a beautiful 80 degrees and sunny. Not bad for mid March in the south. There are all kinds of things that start happening as the warm weather begins. Today I am cutting the clover and onions and the patches of grass that are sprouting up. I really don’t mind cutting grass. It is a great time to not have to answer the phone if it rings and to do some thinking and praying. Most of the prayers end up asking God to eventually kill the grass and things that grow in my yard and replace them with cement.
After the grass is cut I am going to spray the weeds that grow through the concrete and pavement, reminding me that even if God answered my prayer, I would still have to cut grass and weeds. I have places in my yard where I have planted grass seed and fertilized the soil and watered it regularly and still have no grass. But everywhere I have cement or pavement, grass grows through it. I guess that I should just enjoy the time of no phone calls.
Next I will be spreading granules that are supposed to stop fire-ants and other bugs like fleas from taking over the yard. They work to keep the bugs down, but certainly don’t keep them away for the whole season. I already have more fire ant hills than I can count, so I have to treat them too with a fast acting granule. As I walk through the yard spreading this stuff I have to dodge bees. I don’t like bees and sadly there is not a spray for them that I can use to keep them away. While I am sitting on my back porch typing out this blog, I have had 3 wasps land on my leg and 4 bumble bees break the sound barrier as they flew past my head. So far I have not seen my worst enemy, the yellow jacket. Of all the creatures that God made, I dislike them the most.
If and when I get all this done I am going to get the motorcycle out and clean it up. Riding it for the first time in a few months is always exciting. I can enjoy the breeze in my face and the pollen being forced up my nose and if I am really lucky take out a few bees with my windshield. For some reason bugs have a way of finding their way around it to hit me in the arms, legs, and face. I don’t really mind because I enjoy the ride far too much to let little things like that bother me.
Warm weather always makes me glad that I live in the south. While so much of the country can still see snow or cold, we get to say good-bye to it a few weeks earlier. That means I can work on my farmer’s tan and get the sunburn out-of-the-way. Soon the wife will be laying out in her beach attire dreaming of the ocean and the sand and I get to enjoy the view! I love warm weather!
Now back to the yard work.
February 2, 2012
I have a friend who lives in the Philippines and he is someone who starts churches and helps pastor of the churches that he starts. I talk to him regularly on Facebook and occasionally on the phone. We first met about nine years ago when he visited my church while here in the states raising funds for his work. For whatever reason God bonded us in friendship and we have stayed in touch and I feel much closer to him than the distance of being half way around the world from him should allow.
The Philippines is for the most part a poor country, and especially where he is. Many people there do not have running water or sewage. He told me the other day about a 3-year-old who died from complications caused by drinking from the river because they do not have the ability to drill deep wells for safe drinking water. His church had to get the body from the morgue for the family who could not afford it. This family of 6 live in a 3 meter by 3 meter room.
Although my friend is younger than I am, he is not in the best of health. He is a diabetic and has hepatitis. On top of that, he has bad allergies that cause frequent sinus infections. Every time I talk to him I tell him that he needs to take care of his health and he tells me that he stays busy so that he doesn’t have to think about it. The availability of medicines is not the greatest and the doctors and hospitals are nothing like what we have here in the states, so even if money were not an issue, the quality of care can be questionable at best.
This morning I got a Facebook message from his wife telling me that he is in the hospital. I have not heard what is wrong or how serious it is. There is a 13 hour time difference that makes talking a challenge, so I am waiting for a reply. I am asking those who believe in God to pray for him. He is an amazing person who cares for his people with great compassion and with very little concern for his own well-being. His wife and kids are amazing people too and they have supported him and his ministry with uncompromising dedication.
I also ask you to pray for that nation. There is a wide variety of beliefs in that country and many are in direct conflict with Christianity. Some even resort to violence against those who don’t believe as they do. There is little help from the government in the form of protection for those who are trying to start the churches. Being a nation of islands, many of the smaller or more remote ones are often ran by those who have little regard for the law. The church in the Philippines is not the powerful force of money and resources as we see in the states. It is much more like the church of the early New Testament, a group of believers who join together to help those in need. Its kind of refreshing when you think about it like that.
There is a need in my friend’s church and ministry for financial help if you were to feel led to do so. I normally would never mention something like this, but I have personal knowledge of the legitimacy of the need. If you are interested in helping out that way, you can contact me via email or message me on Facebook. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will give you a direct contact source or you can give through our church. But most of all I ask for your prayers for my friend’s health, his ministry, and his country.
Thanks for the prayers and I will update this as soon as I hear about why he is in the hospital or that he is out and all is okay.
February 1, 2012
To work or not to work? Poverty is a problem world-wide. It always has been and always will be. In Matthew’s gospel, the 26th chapter and 11th verse, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us and I believe what He says. That does not mean that we should not care about them, the question is how should we care for them? Our country has an ongoing argument about how the poor should be dealt with and I have talked about this before in a few blogs.
The best thing a poor person can do is to get a job. I am not saying that we should not provide for those who can’t work, and I am not saying that it is a simple thing to get a job. I am saying that if you can get a job it is better than living off handouts. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, he should not eat. Sadly we have developed a culture of people who believe that they deserve to have the government and anyone else who will, take care of them. I get many calls a week from people who are “professional” beggars that have developed a phone script to ask for handouts from churches. They know the agencies that I try to refer them to before I can even get the list out of my drawer. I ask them if they are willing to come do some work around the church and they almost always say no. FYI, I have never turned someone away who is in true need of food or shelter.
Many people who are poor are going through a difficult period in their life that is due to circumstances beyond their control. Sadly they often become comfortable with having the unemployment checks sent to them and begin to enjoy not having to work for their money. Soon they stop looking for work and become a burden on society. Often the excuse in the beginning is that they can’t find a job making enough money. Many times people are not willing to do a job for less than what the last one paid but are more than willing to take less for doing nothing. I have a problem with that.
Working more than one job can overcome the difference in salaries. I know of multiple places that are hiring right now if you are willing to work for minimum wage. Having two and even three jobs is not a bad thing if it pays the bills. Many of our parents and grandparents worked multiple jobs as a way of life. It is not something to be ashamed of. And before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is like to work two jobs, I do. I have done it as recently as last year. Why? Because I needed to pay my bills and I was not willing to sit around and sponge off others when I could do something to help myself.
Being on government welfare is too often the hindrance of people who would work, but don’t because of convenience. Unemployment insurance should not be extended automatically to everyone who is accepting it. The money does not come from the government, it comes from the tax payers. Sure, most pay unemployment insurance while they are working, but it is not for indefinite benefits. After the allotted time for those benefits, it becomes other people’s money that pays for it. If the checks stop, people are more likely to look harder and take whatever jobs needed to feed themselves and their families.
The bottom line is not about being compassionate or not. It is about enabling those who are fully capable of working but won’t. People who can’t work and are in need must be helped. It is the right thing to do. One of the commands of the Bible is to help those who are in need. But personal responsibility is also a command of the Bible. Laziness is a sin. Not supplying the needs of your family when you are able, is a sin. The church nor the government, should ever help someone sin. But we better be ready to help those who can’t help themselves. If we don’t, then we sin.
But when someone can work, they should. We do no favors by letting people have handouts when they could find a job. While they are in that difficult spot of in-between jobs, we need to help. We need to assist in food, housing, and the overall well-being of anyone in that position. But we must remember that old proverb that says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To work or not to work? WORK!
December 7, 2011
70 years ago today, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, drawing the USA into World War 2. For those who survived it, the memories are still crystal clear and the emotions can be triggered in a flash. Fewer and fewer of these people are alive today and there will soon be a day when the only people who remember it will be the ones who have heard about it through the stories passed down.
I had the privilege of serving in the Navy for 9 years and 4 of those were spent in Hawaii, stationed at Pearl Harbor. Every year there is a parade of the ships past the memorials of the sunken ships. The USS Arizona is the most popular of these and that ship has never been decommissioned due to the over 1000 sailors who make it their final resting place. There is a crew that raises and lowers the American flag every day, same as on any other ship. It is an amazing piece of American history.
This parade of ships is quite the spectacle. They dress out the ships with all of their flags and the crews line the rails in full dress uniform. As they pass by the Arizona, all hands come to attention and render a hand salute and a minute of silence passes before the whistle to return to parade rest. As you continue around Ford Island, which is in the middle of Pearl Harbor, you continue to pass by the other ships that were sunk on that day. After about an hour, the parade is finished and work goes about as normal. But the rest of the day is filled with talk of how special that parade was and the memories of all those who died that day.
Every year this event is marked as a national day of remembrance. It isn’t tangled in politics and it isn’t clouded with rumors of vast conspiracies. It doesn’t have dark clouds of race or ethnic hatred. Other than naming the country that attacked, it is simply a reminder of a day that will live in infamy. It is a day where most Americans reflect on the fragile state of this world and its ability to be a dangerous and violent place and the fact that when and if that ever happens, we have brave men and women in the Armed Forces, ready to defend us even before the first shot is fired.
Today, Pearl Harbor is a beautiful place where thousands of sailors and Marines serve and live. Each day, hundreds of tourists visit and see the Memorials and barely notice the ones who are serving daily, just like those who were serving there 70 years ago. They did not expect to have such an event, but when it happened they gave all. The same would be true for those who serve today, and many of them have been in battle due to the conflicts in the middle east. But none will be remembered like those who were there on Dec. 7, 1941.
If you see someone today who has served or is serving in the military, thank them for what they do. If you are fortunate enough to know someone who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago, talk to them and hear it from them and thank them. Every day the fine men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Reserves, Guards, and Coast Guard, are ready to defend and protect us from any threat the world can offer. God bless them, and God bless the United States of America!
November 9, 2011
The political season is in full swing. This is one of my least favorite times. In case you are wondering, I consider myself a fairly conservative guy. If you have decided to never read my blog again because of that statement, then you are part of the problem that bothers me. America is a great country full of sinful people who will always make a mess of things if not kept in check. Whether you are conservative or liberal in your political likings, we should all decide to make a stand on a few things.
First we should all agree that our country is a great country and that there is nothing wrong with us being great. Greatness is more than being the strongest. We help more people around the world than any other country. We defend our friends and keep our enemies at check. We do more to keep our planet clean and safe than anyone else ever has or ever will. We have freedom to speak out against the things we don’t like and to make an honest living pursuing our passions. There is plenty of room for improvement and differing opinions but nowhere else in this world can you be as free as we are. That is how I can write this blog and you can agree or disagree with it openly.
Second, I think we should all hold our media accountable for what they put out as fact. This may spark some controversy, but stick with me. Right now, Herman Cain is being accused of sexual harassment by at least four women. At first, it would be easy to say that with that many who are accusing him, he must have done something. The majority of the media is reporting this as if it were fact, yet our courts would probably not take any of them as a legal case because hearsay is not admissible in court. And, in America, we are innocent until proven guilty. Not so in the media. For those on the liberal side who may think that this is fair, I am just as upset with those who covered anyone who accused Pres. Obama of not having a birth certificate.
The media has a responsibility to report facts, not opinions, when they claim to be reporting the news. Investigative journalists should remember the journalistic code of ethics that says than you never report on a subject without verifying your sources and their credibility. But those of us who watch the news never seem to question the ethics of those reporting as long as it suits our political agenda. I believe that we should all write letters expressing our dissatisfaction with inaccurate and unfair reporting no matter which side it is on. When they see that their customers are upset, things will change. Let me state very clearly that if a candidate has done something wrong that they should be raked over the coals until they apologize or get out of the business.
I did a blog a few weeks ago about how we need to think for ourselves and to think logically. How many things have been contradicted over the past five years by so call science and or studies or the media? One minute salt is bad for you and we are taking it out of food and the next it isn’t. One minute cell phones are causing gas pumps to blow up and the next there is no evidence at all that this is true. But still today there are signs at gas stations that tell you to turn them off. Weather forecasters tell us that each hurricane season will be the worst ever and every year it doesn’t seem to happen. When are we, the common folk, going to start thinking that the problem may not be the stuff that is being reported on and start wondering if the problem is not the ones doing the reporting?
Third, and last, with this all being tied back to our politics, I think that it is time to hold the feet of those who make promises in the campaign but break them in office, to the fire. I know that there are things beyond their control once in office, but don’t promise me that you will never do this or the first thing that you will do will be that, and the opposite happens and you didn’t put up one heck of a fight. I am sick of political speeches that promise the moon for my vote and all I get for my vote is a broken promise. We should vote out every politician who only talks the talk but never walks the walk. Pretty soon liberals and conservatives alike will have the government that we really want. Of the people, by the people, for the people. We should all ask the media and ask politicians, do you really want me to listen? If so, change some stuff.