Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of the Beginning of the End

I’m not a big one for things like Christmas letters or New Year’s Resolutions or end of the year summaries.Lets clear the table of that one right up front, shall we? Good! I’m a writer, poet, photographer, chef, musician, student of the Bible, teacher, father, grandfather, husband, Christ Follower and stroke-survivor going on seven years. That last one has had a profoundly negative effect on all of the others. I’m less mobile and less motivated because I’m less mobile. I spend more time correcting typographic errors then I spend writing the original text to begin with. I’ve dropped from touch typing 72 words per minute with 96% accuracy to whatever I can hunt and peck one handed.
For the record, I’m grateful for the life I have, but I often find myself having small bouts of whining the likes of which you’ve just read because the expected physical deterioration has advanced as promised, and it’s plunked me down smack in the middle of a world that is so busy being politically correct, it’s PC-ing itself into oblivion.
I have been blessed, make no mistake. I have a wife who loves and supports me both absolutely and  unconditionally. She is not my first wife but she loves me and makes me feel loved, respected, and appreciated more than anyone with whom I have ever had any kind of romantic relationship in my life. She is not just my wife, she’s my best friend, and in return, I don’t just love and appreciate her, I like her.  I have two great children and my wife has two great children. Between us we have eight great children because we both think of step kids and in-law kids as just our kids minus the 'step' and 'in-law' labels. From them we have six grandchildren who range in age from six to seventeen; all boys but one of them.
I had two strokes. Slow-motion aneurisms. The first one was a bump in the road but the second one left me paralyzed on my left side. No movement – no feeling. I have recovered almost all of my major motor skill, which is to sat that I am fully ambulatory, although I walk with the assistance of a cane, but my fine motor skill is as good as it is going to get. What that means is that I can do limited finger things with my left hand, but that’s all. This essay, for example.  Prior to the strokes, in the time it has taken to write these four paragraphs and just under three hundred ninety words, I’d have written more like four pages and a couple thousand words.
 I have been blessed with a good education and a good mind, the latter of which was not fully understood until I took a seminar on training trainers when I was forty years old when learned why I think the way I do. Not to mention why I could get 100% on the answers to algebra questions and still fail the class in seventh and tenth grade because the grade is 50% showing the work and what I did show was Klingon to my teacher. I understand now that the culprit responsible is a geodesic pattern of reasoning in a world designed for linear thinking. I don’t give much stock to IQ scores because I know what mine is (168) and I know what it’s supposed to mean. I also know there’s no way in creation I’m that smart. As I said I have a good education, two multiple emphasis undergraduate degrees and one graduate degree. I like to refer to my education as having crammed six years of college into fourteen. I worked my way through college and apart from one Pell grant, paid my way through college, and I’m proud of that. I’m also sick and tired of apologizing for my education, my vocabulary, my work ethic and my willful determination to seek the truth. Yes, I admit to trying to be right – to an almost compulsive need to be, not right in the "oh you always wave to be the one who's right about everything" kind of way, but rather in the sense of being true to the truth.
I abhor tradition for tradition’s sake in certain circumstances. For example, I am a Christ Follower. I am NOT religious. I DO NOT belong to a denominational church. I do not believe in church practices ‘because we’ve always done it that way.’ I DO believe that the Bible is the 100% inspired Word of God and as such is the ONLY source of authority for a Christ Follower. Not the church elders, not a denominational committee. Sola Scriptura - Only the Word.! I believe Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, and that if the church is engaging in a practice that it cannot support from Scripture, then it should discontinue that practice. For example, Jesus Himself gave the church, which He identifies as the body of Christ Followers irrespective of denominational ties, two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Table or Communion. He also said that He, Jesus, is the only mediator between humankind and God, and that His believers are to address no human as ‘Father’ in the spiritual sense.  These things are spelled out clearly in the Bible. The Bible also is very clear that Jesus is the only means to gain atonement from our sins and entrance into Heaven. There are many celebrities who tell us otherwise. They are wrong. There are preachers who tells otherwise. They, too are wrong. We have a practicing Muslim President who quotes from the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an and selectively misquotes Scripture out of context from the Bible, as does his Secretary of State. They are also both wrong.  Why? Because Jesus said so. When my church declared that studying self-help books by Christian authors using or referring to Bible verses was the same thing as studying the Bible, and that music was a mediator between man and  God, elevating it to the level of a sacrament, I left that church. Why? Because they were/still are wrong because the decisions and practices they were engaging in have no Scriptural foundation. For the Christian, there can be no other source of authority but God’s Word.  He said that.
I would love to say that these are all my original ideas. They would be easier to dismiss - or defend -  that way. You could just write them off as Dave’s arrogance or Dave’s pride or Dave’s got to be right about everythingness. I know this because those are among the things of which I am regularly accused. Here’s the problem with that. I’ve already dismissed the possibility on the grounds that I’m simply not that smart. You bring that guy up and you're introducing me to a stranger!  I’m just fortunate enough to have answered the call of the Holy Spirit when He convicted me of my need for repentance and a Savior. And I have tried to spend my life learning as much about the Lord and the Bible as I can given my limited intellectual capacity. I’m not saying I’m stupid. Far from it. I’m just not the rocket scientist people think I think I am.
But I am getting tired for apologizing for being who I am – who God created me to be. Whatever IQ, smarts, intelligence, memory capacity, writing ability, desire for the truth, absolute abhorrence of everything politically correct that there is to me, I am he of whom the Bible says that before time as time as we know it was, He who spoke the universe into being already fearfully and wondrously created me in my mother’s womb. I was a known entity to the God of all eternity even then.
I entitled this The End of the Beginning of the End. Mostly, I think, because as I write it the year of 2014 is ticking slowly to a close; riding the crest of a wave that will read 2015 when it crashes along a slowly revolving elliptical beach called planet earth. When the circuit is complete, it will carry with it the completion of my sixty-second year of life, and mark the beginning of the sixty-third, and with it a new beginning of sorts. I’m not going to care about the pettiness of others. I’m not going to apologize any more for the gifts I was born with – gifts God hard wired into my DNA. What I will do is endeavor to be more of the man God wants me to be – who I can only be through the grace of God. It’s going to be a cool year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The More Things Change

This is a difficult BLOG to write because it is the precursor of radical behavioral modification on my part, and, not that I am so egotistical as to believe the readership of this missive has the kind of audience that we writers secretly hope it does but deep in the corner of our hearts where reality hides except to occasionally douse us with that sickeningly annoying dose of truth, know it doesn’t.  And to make matters worse, the aforementioned demon of reality, who doubles as a nosy, impertinent grammar Nazi informs me that the opening sortie is in actuality yet another of my trademark run on sentences, which indeed, it was. After first reminding the rude little parasitical urchin of his unwelcome intrusion, I did reward the brat with a half-hearted “well done, you. Now return to the level of hell from whence you originated”.

As Batman once told his nemesis, Two-Face, deliciously portrayed by the talented Tommy Lee Jones (SIDEBAR: I liked Batman so much better before he was even more of a psychopath than the villains he chased) “You’re of two minds about everything”, I find myself facing the same dilemma. I find myself at a crossroad where I must decide which 'me' will ‘win’, and more importantly, do so without decimating that which is good in the 'me' who loses. Bear with me, I’m going to talk to myself for a while because no one else understands my struggle with the minutiae quite as well as I do, and that makes me the expert in the field. That, plus the fact that I’ve known me longer than you have and, well, you see where I’m headed? So as I wade through a few feet of a river in Egypt, I’ll try and explain the what and maybe, if possible the where and why of it all.

My disillusion began with a win that was in many ways a loss. The year was 2000. George Herbert Walker Bush defeated Albert Gore for the office of President of Florida. The Booby Prize was the other 49 states. It was a win in that the socialist minded democrat who couldn’t keep his fly zipped and his wife who wielded far too much power for an unelected occupant taking up space in the Oval Office were gone.

Did you know Bill Clinton had an IQ of over 180?  Einstein strata!

The win that was ultimately a loss was George Herbert Walker Bush.  A decent man. A man loyal in fidelity to his wife. Not the brightest candle in the box, but a far more reasonable alternative to either the guy who both invented the internet and discovered climate change or the Viet Nam protestor from Massachusetts.

My downhill plunge began during these years because I found that I had to discover a way to remain faithful to the two greatest driving forces in my life:
1.      My Faith: I am a Christ Follower. This is NOT a religion, although during all of the years of my life as a Christ-follower leading up to and including those of the Bush presidency, I attended some flavor of Baptist church, which by definition, is a religion. However, I repeat for the record: I am a Christ-follower. This is NOT a religion.
2.       My Patriotism and loyalty to my country

Finding a happy medium for these two things that satisfies both without compromising either has become more and more difficult over the years, and in particular in the years since I started school. That really marks the time when America began her down-slide into the abyss of godless humanism and religious tolerance which is, in reality such a mishmash of religions that the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation was but a fading memory. The last six-twelve years have been the worst.

I began writing BLOGS in 2002 when I returned from a brief time in Europe. I had begun to see my nation through the eyes of a European. I began over time to wonder if my newly elected President wasn’t really just trying to prove something to his Daddy.  I began to ask why it seemed that everyone on planet earth with the exception of my president and one or two of his cabinet understood that what was happening in the Middle East was a religious civil war that was 6,000 years old and we had no business interfering in it other than to support our ally, Israel.

Then 2008 came, and came with a vengeance, but I fell back on the comforting shoulder of my faith, and the words of the author of my faith. You see, as a Christ follower, I believe every word of the Bible as it was given to the authors of the individual books as they penned the original manuscripts, is inspired by God.  The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, the aged Apostle affirms to his young protégé that he be assured that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…”. The Greek phrase translated ‘given by inspiration of God’ is ‘theopneustos’, and literally means God breathed.  This ‘God breathed’ sense of inspiration only applies to those original manuscripts, or autographs, as textual scholars refer to them, and not to subsequent translations.  There is no such thing as a God breathed translation. That said, God has kept his Word intact and pure through thousands of years.

So, facing the enigma of loyalty to faith and loyalty to ‘king and country’ without compromising either, I took refuge after the election of a marxist-socialist, practicing Muslim who went on record proclaiming that “America is no longer a Judeo-Christian Nation”. He took the lie further and proclaimed that America – MY America is “one of the largest Muslim nations in the world”.

I sought peace in the Word of God, and found it in the Book of Daniel, chapter 2, verse 20:
“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and He raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”
And I said to myself and anyone who would listen, “See!  This didn’t catch God by surprise! Barack Hussein Obama is President for the same reason Nebuchadnezzar was King – because it pleased God to put him there for His divine purpose!”

That was my fallback verse for five years, and it was enough. But the ten months of the sixth year of his disassembling of America, have tested my faith unlike any time in my life! I’ve watch the atrocities performed by this man while a nation of religionists stood back wringing their hands as his minions cheered him on. Until,just a few weeks ago,  in a Bible Study one night, our pastor teacher shared this passage of scripture with us:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever rests resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but the evil do you want to be on afraid of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their do: taxes to whom taxes are due, costumes to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”    Romans 13:1-7
So what did I get for my meddling questions? The firm reaffirmation, this time from the very Apostle who told me that ALL Scripture is God breathed, not just from an old testament dude who made friends with the hungry lions into whose den he was haphazardly tossed to be surprise catch of the day.

So you’re asking – at least I hope you are – where are you going with this, Dave?

If you’re one of my Facebook followers – or the other one – I’m not going to be spending as much FB time discussing Politics as I have been.  My views haven’t changed, but my sense of what’s important has. I’ve already filled in my vote by mail ballot for November’s election.  I vote in every election, and so should you, especially if you are a Christ follower.  And stop paying so much attention to those sensationalistic FAKE conservative news URL’s.  They’re just advertising mines and data mines looking to get your info so they can flood your inbox with junk, most of which is not verifiable anywhere on mother earth.

It really doesn’t make a lot of difference who the next POTUS is. Why? Because whoever it is, if God didn’t either put them in office or let them be put in office, they wouldn’t be there.  I remember a song written specifically for the chorale at my college.  It’s as true today as it was 40 years ago when they recorded it. JESUS IS STILL THE ANSWER, and my friend, that applies to politics now more than ever.

Do you really want to see change in America? The answer is as simple as this.  God once told Solomon, on the night before the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

The promise of God to Solomon was conditional.  It boils down to this: keep the temple pure, I will bless the land.  There are a lot of individual conditions in that promise, but that’s the gist of it.
Now fast forward to 25 October, 2014, America’s spiraling downward, we live under grace not law, and besides – there isn’t a Temple…or is there. Hear the words of Paul again one more time:

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19

Same principle. The blessing on the land is in direct proportion to the purity of the temple. Thr only difference, child of God, is that WE who are Christ  Followers ARE the Temple! You want to see Revival come to America? You want to see REAL change in Washington DC? It’s up to us, brothers and sisters in Christ. God has given us a promise with a purpose:

1.       Call on His Name
2.       Humble ourselves before Him
3.       Pray
4.       Seek His Face
5.       Turn from our wicked ways (REPENT)
1.       Hear from Heaven
2.       Forgive us
3.       Heal our Land

The first step is ours.  It’s time to clean the temples, America.  Will you join me?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Class Acts and Lame Ducks - BLOG for 5 October, 2014

Missing Kenyan Village Idiot
Please return if found

Jack Kennedy stood up to Khrushchev, told him to move his missiles off of Castro's Cuba, and the big shoe hammering ruskie flinched. Being POTUS (President of the United States of America) meant something then.  It was kind of like the old commercial, “My accountant is E. F. Hutton, and when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
Jimmy Carter was the next Democrat to put on his big boy pants and attempt a move like like that when the American Embassy was taken hostage by militants in Tehran. Good ole boy Carter, thumbs no doubt locked securely in his  blue denim Bob Evans overhauls, red kerchief and official Song of the South Issue straw farm hat, as he told the Ayatollayouso Khomeini to release the American Hostages from Tehran, or else! Khomeini stamped his angry little feet, folded his arms stuck out his bottom lip and mumbled some gibberish the spooks at the House of Babel in Langley which roughly translated meant,  "Nya, Nya, Nya, Nya, Nya! I’m not gonna do it, and you can't make me, so there. Now someone go wash up my favorite sweet little camel honey doll. All this international bullying has me in the mood"
POTUS Reagan, on the other hand just flashed that Colgate Hollywood grin of his, had Chuck Heston teach him how to say "Let my people go or your next democratic election won't be until sometime in the 123rd century, if the glow settles down some,” and suddenly Khomeini felt sufficiently enough satisfied with his superior negotiating skills, and being in no great hurry to meet his 72 virgins, saw the wisdom of Reagan’s way of thinking. Or maybe he was just out of Viagra.
Classy guy that he is, POTUS Reagan didn't mention Carter's buffoonery, double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, or worst economy since the great depression.
Ditto POTUS Billary (Bill and Hillary “We are the President) Clinton when they succeeded George Herbert Walker Bush who was a single term President, nor did George Sr.’s  son, George W. Bush, otherwise known as Dub’ya, himself, a genuinely underwhelming, but at least housebroke POTUS. Even he didn't devote spectacular amounts of time blaming his predecessor for our nation's problems or bother mentioning the notorious, if infamous dribble stain.  Dub’ya might not have been much, but at least he didn’t brag about it.
That brings us to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  I’m hesitant to apply the term POTUS in this instance because the constitution requires POTUS to be American born or nationalized.  This guy is a lost Kenyan village idiot who somehow managed to master his Phoenix online public speaking course so well that he tricked enough otherwise intelligent American voters to elect him.  Well, them, the ones he bought with the free cell phones, the dead ones, and Nancy Pelosi, who escaped from area 51 sometime in 1957.
 In contradistinction to every man to hold the office of POTUS prior to him, the first thing this illegal alien did was embark on his six and a half year long “IT’S NOT MY FAULT 2008-2014 WORLD TOUR”, bowing submissively before for Muslim Kings and offending royal houses of nations who are allies, but regrettably not Islamic. AND Barack Hussein Obama is still blaming George W. Bush 6 1/2 years into his presidency. Kind of gives a new, fresh perspective to the term LAME duck, although now I'll have to come up with another phrase for lame duck that isn’t offensive to actual physically impaired water fowl.
Now Mid-term elections are a month away, and our nation is faced with a plethora of potentially terminal problems, and the person we untrusted with the responsibility of having our backs is holding a gun to our heads!
He has opened our borders to illegal immigrants, like himself, and routed funds formerly used to provide income prepaid for decades into the social security system, to fee, house, cloth, educate and provide high level healthcare and citizenship to these individuals who entered the country by criminal means, not merely ignoring the criminality of their action, but encouraging it to the point of financial reward.  The joke that once equated illegal immigrants to unregistered democrats is now more fact than punchline. Money intended, indeed invested by taxpaying American workers is being used to support criminal immigrants while they are being told their retirement investment is in danger of default, yet somehow the charity fund established by the Kenyan Pretender is in no danger of default. And now this growing population of criminal faux citizenry comes bearing a new gift: incurable respiratory and other unknown new diseases, and finally, hitchhikers: ISIS terrorists walking freely across our southern borders with the president’s blessings and weapons POTUS provided to them before they left the middle east.
And the punch line for all this? The Mad Dog of Kenya has promised, indeed bragged, that he will sign a presidential order granting amnesty to the thousands of criminals he has welcomed through back channels into our sovereign nation.
There is a small glimmer of hope. Outsmart the missing Kenyan village idiot at the ballot box. It may be our only hope as a nation.