Friday, October 29, 2010

Two Years Later: Same Message

I've written here before about an experience I had just prior to the 2008 election. The campaign had been a tough one for me to watch, I confess to having felt quite anxious about the whole thing. As it became clearer what the likely outcome may be I remember feeling disheartened and still anxious. One day as I was fretting over what was soon to come I felt a peace wash over me from head to toe. It was God reaching out to me in one of His tenderly merciful ways just letting me know that things were going to be fine. One of the things that amazes me about a relationship with God is that it is infinite in the amount of lives that can be touched by Him, and yet at the same time intimately personal. He knew I needed that, and that peace is something that I reflect on often.

2010 has been a fascinating election year again. And though I have been quite involved in it, and will be up until the end of voting this coming Tuesday, I have not felt that same anxiousness. The message that was given to me two years ago continues today, its going to be fine no matter the outcome.

God has given us the gift of life. He has also given us the power to direct our lives, we are agents unto ourselves. That is freedom, the power to choose for our own selves what we will do. One of the consequences of that freedom is that there will be tough things happen in our lives. Those tough things are just part of mortality, they can result from our own choices, from the choices of others or just by the circumstances that occur in life. So, when we look at a voting/decision process we recognize that the choices of others might not always feel like they are the best for us. But, here is one of the most miraculous and merciful realities about God, He can take any situation, regardless of its cause and sanctify it for the benefit of those who choose to trust in Him.

God has a purpose for each one of us. Life is not so much about what we do as it is about what we become. He has the ability to make something far more out of us than we could ourselves. So, we turn to Him pleading for His help, and He is always there to offer it. That doesn't mean that life is going to be easy. What kind of person would any of us be if every step of life was a piece of cake? But, He will strengthen us and give us peace when we need it.

In order for God to sanctify our experiences for our benefit we must make the choice to allow Him to do so. That is elemental to trust. Making the choice to let Him help us means not to just say "okay God do your thing," it is to strive to be obedient to continue standing up for what is right and good and true, repenting when necessary. It means standing up for principles of freedom, that God given gift, and doing whatever we can to build up others around us.

There has been a constant in my life. Through dark times and light, through trial and triumph God has always been there for me. Throughout the history of our country He has been there, from George Washington and his faithful army, to Abraham Lincoln's fight to maintain the union. Through World Wars and terrorist attacks, He has been there sanctifying the hardships for the benefit of those who trust Him, throwing His loving arms around us. We have made that claim as a nation, that we trust in Him. Let us stand by Him at all times and all places and any circumstance we encounter, that's what He has done for us, surely we can do the same for Him.

I have made the decision that I'm in it for the long haul. Turning things back around in our country, back towards the Constitution and the principles of freedom that it was founded upon, is going to take a long-suffering effort. But, as long as our first decision is to recommit to trusting in God, in His peace and in His process of sanctification, than things are going to be fine.

God continue to bless this great nation of ours, made great because the people are good and we trust in Our Creator. Regardless of the outcomes of elections things can be even better than fine, they can be amazing. When we stand up for God and for goodness we find ourselves shoulder to shoulder with amazing people and we see miracles. May we continue to be who we are, may we continue to trust in God.

Monday, October 25, 2010

O Captain My Captain

Heads up this one is going to have religion in it.

I want to tell you about three of my favorite soldiers. First off one of my favorite people in the Old Testament is a soldier, his name is Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of a King, Saul, and by human understanding would have rightfully had claim upon the throne. But, Jonathan was a man who trusted in the Lord. He trusted in the Lord in battle and in life. 1 Samuel 14:6 Jonathan says to his armor bearer “it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.” That was the way he operated trusting that the Lord would be there to assist His people constantly even in circumstances when they were outnumbered. Jonathan is famous for his friendship with David. He understood that the Lord had anointed David to be the next king of Israel, and supported his friend and the Lord in that anointing. He is an amazing example to me of faith and friendship and loyalty.

Ask a Mormon kid, or adult for that matter, who their favorite person in The Book of Mormon is and one of the common answers you will hear is Captain Moroni. He was a captain in a time when the liberty of his people was threatened by not just an outside force but traitors from the inside. From Alma 46:12-13

12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it – In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children – and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his headplate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land –

Moroni prayed to God for His favor on their liberties and the cause of the Christians, and he then went out among the people hoisting up the title of liberty and asking who would join him. Many did, and they eventually won their war.

One more soldier to share about, Sergeant William Allen Jordan of the United States Air Force, who served our country at the Phu Cat Air Base in the Vietnam War. Just prior to going to Vietnam, during his 36 week training in Biloxi as a communications technician, Sergeant Jordan made a decision to turn his life over to The Lord, being baptized and making promises to The Lord he fully intended to keep. During his 11 months and 29 days tour in Vietnam he kept those promises even on threat of death. Such was his strength in his convictions and his promises that even while surrounded by corruption and immorality he stayed firm and true. His faith and strength has been a blessing on generations of his family. When I told him that I was going to be writing this post and asked his permission to write about him he said to me that he wasn’t a captain. I told my father that it wasn’t about him being a captain, but rather who is Captain was and is. My father is the man who has taught me the most about loving my country and loving The Lord, because that is who is Captain is.

We are living in amazing times right now. It is a time when the country and our freedoms feel very much in danger. And yet, it is a time when amazing people are stepping forward to defend what is good and right and true. When The Lord is our Captain than we need not fear, but can move forward with faith and trust. It need not be anything other than a battle of words and ideas, in fact I dearly hope it never goes beyond that. But, we can still use the principles of these three soldiers whose Captain is God. Be loyal to our loved ones at any cost. And no matter what honors or gifts we think we may be entitled to, trust that God has us and our loved ones well in hand and just move forward continuing to do that which is right. Raise the banners of liberty high and be an example of a believer. Let the principles be clear and concise and invite others to join with us. And no matter what, even on threat of death, stand by the promises you’ve made to others and especially to God.

Our Captain is The Lord, the Founders of our country knew it. Like Patrick Henry said in his famous “Liberty or Death” speech, “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

Let us move forward in faith, and hope and trusting in our Captain, in peace and commitment. Amazing times call for amazing people and I believe we are up to the task as long as we rely on Him.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to Recreate a Constitution

Justly revered as our great Constitution is, it could be stripped off and thrown aside like a garment, and the nation would still stand forth in the living vestment of flesh and sinew, warm with the heart-blood of one people, ready to recreate constitutions and laws. Woodrow Wilson

And so it begins. One of the Progressive hallmarks is the belief that the Constitution of the United States is a "living document." This means that it is supposed to change with the times. So, Progressives have been for over a 100 years now working to change the document. The early Progressive era occurred in the early 20th century up through the 1920's. Franklin D. Roosevelt's long presidency was the 2nd era of Progressive change. Lyndon B. Johnson began a 3rd era of Progressive change, one that continued until the halt that was Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately after that Progressive change has continued at an ever increasing speed. How have they done it? Well, they first started by working to change it through the Constitutions' own prescribed measures, amendments. Four amendments to the Constitution came about during the early Progressive era.

Amendment XVI- Federal Income Tax. The founding fathers would have absolutely opposed this amendment. One of the rights that the Constitution was established to protect is the right of property. Property includes income earned. Initially this amendment was proposed as a tax only on the rich. But, it opened the doors for taxing any and all people gaining an income. It has become so entrenched that we hardly notice how much money the government takes from us, and feel grateful to get a tax return back which is just a pittance of the money we put in. This was the beginning of the re-distribution of wealth in the US.

Amendment XVII-Popular Election of Senators. This one was an attempt to democratize our Republic. There was a reason that the founders had Senators appointed by the states. The founders formed the federal government to be as least powerful as possible. The states were supposed to be far more influential than they are now. Many Americans are hardly informed about the actions of the federal government. Ask yourself how aware you are of what your state government is up to. Imagine if your federal Senators were determined by your state representation. We would all be more informed and more involved, and our Senators would be more responsible to the states that sent them there.

Amendment XVIII-Prohibition. I'm no fan of alcohol, especially having worked in the addictions area of behavioral health. But, prohibition was the attempt to take away something people already had, and it was done under the guise that it was for their own benefit. It was a mandate from the government to the people. And boy did the people respond. Crime related to the illegal production and use of alcohol was rampant. Prohibition was eventually repealed. I think at that time those of the Progressive bent realized that if they wanted to reform society they needed to do it in another way, a sneakier way.

Amendment XIX-Women's Suffrage. Alright I'll give credit where it is due. The Progressives jumped on board the women's suffrage band wagon. They hoped that women, who were by and large more supportive of prohibition than men, would maintain that mandate. One of the hallmarks of the Progressives is their attempt to identify with groups, and to maintain support from those groups. That has certainly been the case for women.

So, there we have it, the first attempts to recreate the Constitution. Now days people hardly realize there was a time in America when our income wasn't taxed and when people were more involved in state politics. I do very much appreciate women's suffrage but I sometimes cringe at the reality that Progressives have used identity politics to further their own agenda and really to make women feel that if they don't support "progress" they are somehow not real women. We didn't have our rights secured only to be told what to do with those rights.

But, as I said before I think Progressives learned a valuable lesson when it came to prohibition. They learned that mandating behavioral change through the Constitution was not going to work. If they really wanted society to "progress" towards perfection they would have to go around the Constitution.

Recently Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was asked about the Constitutionality of the healthcare reform bill and had a rather telling response.

You know what Congresswomen? You make an excellent point. Where in the world does the Constitution give Congress the power to create Social Security, a banner FDR era deal, and Medicare a banner LBJ era deal? The answer is it doesn't. But, Congress believed it knew what was best for us. And since the likelihood of either of these programs passing with 2/3 majority of not just Congress but also 3/4 of all the states was not super, they went around the Constitution. I have to confess here that sometimes I get a little bit grouchy for the fact that previous political generations have saddled us with these monsters. Both Social Security and Medicare are so deep in the red, recovery is going to likely take generations.

Congress continues to do the practice of passing unpopular legislation, as evidenced by the recent passage of Obamacare. It is certainly irritating in the extreme and does not bode well for the future. What bodes even worse is the Obama era (which lets face it he is just carrying on the antics of recent presidents albeit with more rapidity and volume) tactic for implementing Progressive reform, this recreation of the Constitution.

An October 6, 2010 article from the LA Times details the Obama administrations new strategy following the November elections. White House senior advisor David Axelrod had this to say "It's fair to say that the next phase is going to be less about legislative action than it is about managing the change that we've brought" The article explains that ". . .the best arena for Obama to execute his plans may be his own branch of government. That means more executive orders, more use of the bully pulpit, and more deployment of his ample regulatory powers and the wide-ranging rulemaking authority of his Cabinet members." Ummm, I don't know what is more disconcerting, the fact that they're doing this, or the fact that they are doing it so openly. I mean don't get me wrong I don't want them to do this in secret, it just seems like the administration thinks that people are just going to go along with this lovely new approach. Are they really that arrogant?

The Washington times recently ran an article called Tyranny of the Unelected by Wayne Crews. In it Mr. Crews presents some interesting facts such as, "Congress passed and the president signed 125 bills into law in 2009. Your tireless federal regulatory agencies were even busier: They issued 3,503 rules and regulations." That's jaw dropping. Here's another fact, "The year's Federal Register - the daily depository of federal regulations - already tops 61,000 pages." Here's another, "According to research conducted for the Small Business Administration by economists Nicole V. and W. Mark Crain, annual off-budget regulatory costs exceed $1.7 trillion, an amount equivalent to more than half the level of the federal budget itself and on a par with the stratospheric annual deficit." Crews goes on to introduce a proposed legislation called the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) to try and address the beast of executive regulatory madness.

So, we've gone from amendments, to Congress passing whatever the heck bill they feel like regardless of its actual benefit or approval, to the Executive branch taking a completely unconstitutional role in regulating our affairs. For good measure let's make sure we include judicial activism, when judges rule according to what they feel is right, not what the law is. And what do we have to show for all of this? Debt well past our ears and the ears of our grandchildren, a government that feels it can do whatever the heck they want without any consequences and a Constitution sitting there just waiting to be followed. Those who want our government to address the ever-growing problem of Social Security and Medicare, or who dare to say that regulatory agencies like the EPA should have some accountability, or who have the unmitigated gall to mention that our leaders really ought to start following the Constitution are branded as extremists. What the flip is going on here?

There is a way to come back to sanity. It starts by acknowledging which principles work and which ones don't. We don't need a new Constitution, we need to follow the one we have. The Progressive changes have not worked, and no amount of money or effort is going to suddenly, magically make them start working. The Republic our founders set up was built on principles not the numbers of citizens. Those principles of freedom can work regardless of how many people are here, or how many different places we all originated from. Freedom works, it really does.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To Chile and Its Hero Miners: Thank-You

What a beautiful story. I have just been transixed the past 24 hours watching as the Chilean miners one by one were brought out of the dark and back up into the light into the waiting arms of their loved ones. I have been thoroughly impressed with the process by which the miners have been rescued, great planning, great job reaching out and accepting help.

One of the things that has been most touching for me is to hear about the amazing faith and hope of this group of men, and their families, and really the country of Chile.

“There are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down here." Jimmy Sanchez.

“I’ve been near God, but I’ve also been near the devil, God won.” Mario Sepulveda

“Thank God we’re alive, I know now why we’re alive.” Edison Peña

Simply amazing. It has been a Major Miner Miracle. The miners found light in the darkness, and found it in God and in each other, as well as their connections with their loved ones above. We all have experiences that feel like we are coming back into the light. Watching this whole event unfold, I've had a song running through my head, which I wanted to share here. I planned on doing a whole bunch of video with it. But, I think I'll just stick with one photo of light and let you just listen to the song. Let your mind and heart run your own video :)