Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Change: Can We Become Exceptional Again?

Change. It is a difficult task. Much was promised about change in 2008, with the result that the only change we really saw was the speed and volume of the direction we were already heading towards. True Change is possible but it requires an intense commitment. I have seen it in some rather dramatic ways. I have done quite a bit of counseling work with alcoholics and drug addicts for instance. I have also done work with individuals in our prison systems. Changing from those circumstances is difficult and unfortunately lasting change is the exception. But, it does happen, which always gives hope that it can happen for each individual given enough clarity and conviction.

This past election did not turn out as many, including myself, had hoped. I’m not going to dwell too much on the candidates or even the specific results. It was interesting to watch history repeat itself, I refer to an earlier post about whether or not we are elephants or squirrels (alas that was answered). I would rather focus on the general outcome and what the results will likely be. I was praying and fasting about this past election. I did not ask for a result except that the country would have clarity and wisdom. I feel like the answer to that is still forthcoming. Things are going to be quite a bit more clear and hopefully the majority at least will find some wisdom.

America is certainly on a downward turn. There is all sorts of reasons for this turn, but I think one of the big reasons is that we have forgotten who we really are. America is supposed to be an exceptional nation, but we are trying to be like everyone else. Why? It does not take much research to realize that continuing in the same fiscal and moral trajectory will just end in well an end. We are following the path of so many others before us who have faced their own ends.

It feels almost as if we need to hit a rock bottom somewhere to wake the country up out of its apathy. It also feels like we are imprisoned and addicted. We are imprisoned by our debt, and we are imprisoning future generations with mountains more. We are addicted and even dependent on social programs. Mostly we are imprisoned by arrogance, apathy and ignorance. Do we really believe we can continue on this course? Do we even know how bad it is?
So, what is it that we really need to change? Ill tell you what made the biggest difference for the people I had the blessing of working with and seeing lasting change. Moral clarity and conviction to God and family. Most individuals who are incarcerated re-offend at some point, usually fairly quickly. Most people who are attempting to overcome addiction, especially on a first attempt, turn back to it. Being clean, being innocent of crime, is an exception, they are exceptional individuals.

In order for America to become an exceptional nation again, we must do what those exceptional people who have overcome do, humbly turn to God. We must repent and make amends with those we have harmed with our lack of morals and our apathy.

I believe in miracles. I have seen many. But, in order to have the miracle of being exceptional again we must put ourselves in a position for that. Humility, openness to the hard honest brutal truth of how bad it really is.
Perhaps the clarity will come when we hit some sort of rock bottom. Perhaps wisdom will be borne of suffering. But, I know this, I will continue to speak of and write about truth. I will seek Our God, and supplicate His grace on this nation still. I know I will not be alone in that. Gather together, be His people, love our families, love each other.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Looking Beyond

The political atmosphere is irritating. I could probably just end this blog post right there, but I’ve been trying to decide why I find that to be true. I started thinking about it when I again became irritated by the Republican party’s continual disrespect and disregarding of Sarah Palin. It is no secret that I’m a support of the Governor. I find her to be one of the few politicians who is genuine and congruent with her beliefs. That does not mean I agree with every single decision she has ever made, I don’t agree with any human being 100% of the time. But, I don’t know any other politician who has put up with as much as she has, and maintained a good attitude, perspective and a willingness to continue standing up for her beliefs and what she knows are the best principles for freedom in this country.

Why is it so beyond the majority of the Republican politicians to stand by Governor Palin, to support her and to echo her principles in a way that will resonate with Americans. I think they have just become so caught up in power that they have forgotten what is most important in life, not what we have but how we live and love and serve. They abandoned an ally who fought for them and for what? Supposed vestiges of power. We are filled by love, if what we love is power we find that it passes like a sieve and the collection of it is futile. Its not so much that they lose their souls in politics it is that their souls are empty. Watching their behavior is disheartening and enlightening all at once.

There is some hope. It is interesting to watch the process of the Republican Party Platform being formed. There is a greater distinction developing between the two parties, as the platform is going more Conservative. But, I’m realizing more and more the importance of looking beyond myself and beyond mortality.

How blessed we are to know the reality, that there is more to life than life. One day we will greet eternity and realize we’ve been in it all along. In that perspective history itself will fade away and our most important memories will be of who we loved and how we loved them, God, family, fellow man.

We catch glimpses of eternity here and there, in a baby’s first smile, in a warm embrace, in feeling the tender merciful forgiveness of God and in countless other ways.

I want to leave something better behind for the next generation, that’s about loving those who follow me. I do so with the hope that they too will greet eternity with hope and joy and a knowledge that their lives, that all our lives lead to something greater, beyond mortality. In life we should learn to love and serve on this earth, we seek to live it well and in congruence with what we know to be true. May we open the windows in our lives that release eternities view. May we cherish every opportunity to love and defend freedom and that which is right.

So, we carry on, learning from the past, preparing for our future and the future of generations to come. But, mostly we live with and eternal perspective and hope that guides our lives to greater service and love. We seek out like minded people, and seek leaders who have that perspective too. Look beyond today, that today may be greater for the perspective we keep.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thoughts and Prayers and Patterns

Several weeks removed now from a horrific tragedy in Colorado and I have some thoughts that I wanted to commit to writing. When these tragedies occur there is an outpouring of questions and usually an outpouring of prayer. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by such awfulness. That is a beautiful and appropriate sentiment, one that I certainly share. I continue to keep them in my prayers that they may be comforted and blessed.

But, all to soon the sentiment seems to fade. While those directly affected will carry the scars of the incident for long term, the country at large seems to move on to a slightly different normal, but not much different. It is an all too common pattern.

They are cries for us to "do something" to prevent such things from happening again, but those cries to tend to fade until another event brings them out again and we are reminded about just how many mass murders have occurred. It seems that the knowledge that there is little we can do to prevent all crazy intent murderers from committing their crimes sinks in at least a little and the cries cease for a time.

The cries of "do something" to me seem rather arrogant. Have we become so reliant upon our government that we look only to them for answers to our problems? The government continues to prove it is incompetent at anything that is really not their responsibility. Making more laws will not prevent criminals from committing crimes, but it somehow makes some people feel better that "something" is being done.

The answer for bettering society does not lie within government. It lies within us humbly turning back to God, acknowledging our weakness and our need and committing to living His standard. This cannot be enforced upon us, it has to individually decided. Compelling does not equal conversion. But, it must be freely said that we need Him.

Every tragedy that strikes affords us the reminder to return to God, and it is done for a time. However, the pattern indicates a short return marked with a lack of true and lasting conversion.

We should well remember our Founding Fathers and Mothers whose reliance on God was paramount to their victorious revelation and then the creation of a free nation. When I think of George Washington who added into the oath of the office of presidency "so help me God" I marvel at his reliance on Divinity. The phrase "so help me God" strengthens the oath and makes a person more accountable not just to man but to Him. It also seems to be a plea, "help me God" a recognition that the task requires guidance and strength beyond human capacity.

We should also remember how a reliance on God is what brought about the end of slavery in this country and elsewhere. A true conversion to Christianity brought people to the commitment to fight to end it. I will reiterate again Abraham Lincolns quote, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

We are in the same place, we've forgotten God. Do we have national sins? To be sure. We have allowed a debt to accrue that will enslave generations. We have allowed men and women (Republican, Democrat, Independents) of deplorable character to be our representatives. As a society we continue to devolve to a place where statements supporting God and His commandments are considered hateful.

Do we recognize that the simple answers for solving so many of societies problems are found clearly and simply in His commandments?

We need a lasting conversion, a return to God. He is the true source of freedom. Without Him we will be a mass of people with little guidance searching for any leader who will be bold enough to lead in any direction he/she pleases. History has borne that out to be true.

My prayers are that we will take the opportunities presented to us, to return to Him humbly and fully and freely.

Update: At the time that I wrote this I was unaware of yet another mass shooting that occurred in Wisconsin at a place of worship. It was certainly saddening to learn of this horrific incident, and thoughts and prayers go out to those affected. As with the shooting in Colorado I hope also that people will choose to look to God and to follow His patterns in order to find healing.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dismantling the Castle

Ever since the announcement by the Supreme Court that their decision was to uphold Obamacare I had one thought that has been recurring in my mind its a simple phrase and it goes like this, " you are not the boss of me!"

For far too long we have allowed the government to act like they are the bosses of us when in fact we are the bosses of them. They work for us not the other way around. In a very real sense and in a very real way this is our fault. It's time we took the responsibility back. We the people must stand, must speak the truth and must be heard.

Not long ago I was asked by a friend of what I would do to restore principles of freedom in this country. I told her it would take a very long time. We have to be willing to stay on message and to stay on purpose for at least 100 years. That's how long the Progressives have been doing their work of fundamentally transforming this nation.

For a 100 years the Progressives have been trying to convince the citizens of this nation that we are a Democracy rather than a Republic. One of the messages that I hope people take away from the Obamacare ruling is that our government is not treating it like a Democracy. In the polling done on Obamacare there has never been one time that the majority of the population has supported this outlandish law. I would hope that the population is now disabused of the notion that we are a Democracy. I would hope that the population would realize that our government officials are treating our country as if it is an Oligarchy, and they are the privileged elite few who rule over us. We must disabuse our government officials of this notion.

So how do we do all of this? It will require patience, persistence and a continuing focus on our foundational principles and documents. As I wrote before we must be willing to work for 100 years.

A simple analogy has helped me understand how best to go about our work of restoring this country. We have a Constitution and it is firm and steady. However, the leftists Progressive have built a castle of cards over the top of our Constitution. Not only that but they have surrounded the castle with a moat, an ideology. This moat stinks like nobody's business. The Progressives have steadily worked on two things. First, building the castle. Card by card they have taken responsibilities and ownership of things that belong to the people. Second, they have tried to convince the population that the moat doesn't stink. There is another notion that we must disabuse ourselves of. It is the idea that man can perfect man. The reality is this is not possible. History teaches us this very simple lesson: Man is imperfect, we therefore are incapable of perfecting each other. That reality stares is in the face and in every country in which it has been tried it has failed. It doesn't matter what you name it, socialism, communism, progressivism etc. It always fails because man can not perfect man.

There are two things that we must do in order to restore the principles of freedom in this country. First, we must dismantle the castle. This has to be done systematically, carefully and with tremendous patience and persistence. We start at the top and we take it down card by card. Take down Obamacare, repeal and for right now forget about replace. Repealing Obamacare is an important and necessary first goal. Then we can start on the other stuff. Regulatory commissions must be pared down. It would be unwise to get rid of all of the regulatory commissions at once. I know it requires patience but it must be systematic and careful. This change is going to be painful, the citizenry has grown accustomed to the way our government operates to the regulations they have imposed upon us. I did not describe it as a house of cards because that does not generate a significant enough image. It is massive. Eventually if we are patient and persistent we will be able to take down the cards of Medicare and even Social Security. Its going to take a while and in the meantime we should be taking seriously plans like Paul Ryan's which address these issues systematically and with more immediacy.

The second thing that we must do in order to restore principles of freedom is to with constancy re-teach the citizenry that the moat does in fact stink. Our country was founded with the belief that we the people are agents unto ourselves. We are free to determine the direction of our lives and to enjoy the consequences of our own decisions. This truth must be restored to the minds of the population. It must be repeated often and loudly.

The Obamacare ruling could certainly be disheartening. However, I believe it can solidify in our minds and hearts our responsibilities as citizens of this great nation.

There is one other thing that we must do. We must put ourselves again in the position to have firm reliance on Divine Providence. Again and again God has given us the chance to return to Him. We as individuals, and I include myself, must repent of our pride and our wrongdoings. We as a nation must as Abraham Lincolns said in his time of crisis, " humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." Our crisis is great as is our need. We must recognize that our crisis is a consequence of faulty ideology, of Oligarchic tactics from our government and a steep decline in morality and in reliance on God.

We can heal. Things can be made right. But, as I wrote previously we must be patient and persistent in this important fight. The castle is going to fall, that time is fast approaching, unless with careful and steady deliberation we remove the cards one by one, remembering all the while that the ideology from which these cards sprang is faulty and historically damaging. And of course we must return to Great God Our King.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bond Part 2

I had the wonderful opportunity again to attend RAD camp which is all about helping families that are struggling with attachment begin to heal. It was a very moving experience for me as I felt I was literally watching the hand of the Lord work in these families lives. The parents are wonderfully loving and dedicated to doing anything they can to help their suffering kids.

I reflected again on the aha moment I'd had while watching Rabbi Daniel Lapin discuss the worship of ba'al. I discussed it with several other staff members at the camp and we came to the conclusion that while certainly mental/emotional aspects play a significant role in attachment issues, it actually comes down to a spiritual battle.

So, many of the kids I'm blessed to work with have had great evil perpetrated upon them at a very young age, including in utero. Is it any wonder that they struggle with the idea of trusting when that trust has been so horrifically broken in the past. As I point out in my earlier "Bond" post the conditions of these kids is remarkably similar to the conditions of the societies worshipping ba'al.

Here's a brief re-cap of some of those conditions.

-Smearing of Excrement
-Loss of honor and self-respect
-Demeaning and Destructive towards women
-Warring against faith
-Sexual Depravity/Deviancy

I list those, because I see all of them in my work. These kids are suffering. I know they go into these conditions because of dark experiences and dark feelings they have. I also know that life can get better as the learn to trust their true family, the ones who love and really take care of their needs and do all they can to help these children grow up to be amazing adults.

As I was pondering the spiritual I thought of a couple of Scriptures that refer to family. First off I think it is interesting to look at the 10 commandments given to Moses and to note that one of them has a promised blessing associated with keeping it,

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Well how about that? It seems that having an appropriate parent/child relationship will make life healthier, living longer. Of course thats not a guarentee that we all live to be 100, but I do think it makes life more fulfilling happy and yes healthier. I also believe there are eternal connotations as well, inheriting the earth and all that.

There are sometimes if we are listening that we receive spiritual instruction and the next Scripture came into my mind more like instruction then anything I could have come up with on my own.

Malachi 4:5-6 Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Elijah. This is the last verses on the Old Testament. The Old Testament is about covenant relationship between God and His people. I thought of the Scripture and I asked myself, why Elijah? and what is this turning all about?

So, I jogged my memory with a quick search about the prophet and the answer was an even bigger aha then the one I had for my first "Bond" post. Elijah is the most famous prophet to go up against the priests of ba'al. The story if found in 1 Kings 18. Elijah challenges the priest of ba'al to call down fire, all 400 of them try to do so but fail. He then has buckets and buckets of water poured over an alter and calls upon the Lord to light a fire, which He does. This proved to the people where the real power lies and the people responded.

I find it fascinating that this champion against ba'al would then be in charge of turning our hearts to each other in families. There it is, the best way to win the spiritual battle is as a family hearken to the Lord, keep His commandments, trust in His blessings, be good parents and be good kids.

This country needs God, the Founders knew it, and so many Americans know it today. We also need to make sure we are focusing our attention on the most fundemental unit of our society, the family. We cannot abdicate our roles as family members to government or teachers or whoever else. The kids are work with are extreme examples but I believe we are seeing the distrust and lack of attachment prevelant in our society as a whole. We must turn to each other and to God.

The spirit of Elijah is alive and well, we can keep it growing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I’ve long identified myself as a Conservative, but it was not until 2008 that I really solidified by political beliefs and the reasons behind those beliefs. I’ve long loved history but it was not until 2008 that I began to understand how very relevant history is to what is happening today. 2008 is the year I finally was inspired to figure it out. The Presidential election fascinated me, beginning with both the Democratic and Republican primaries. In fact I’d say the Democratic primary was the more interesting for me. I loved the back and forth between the Clinton and Obama camps. Obama in particular was intriguing, I loved the idea that our country might elect our first African-American president. It was so historical! He was also a great orator to boot. I watched debates and stump speeches and tried to weigh their statements with what I believe. I decided that I needed to go deeper into what I believe and also what the candidates believe. When I made the effort to do research I realized how very much I disagreed with then Senator Obama. I can understand why so many just think he is the bees knees. Its easier just to take what the media says and what the candidate says and just believe it. I'm grateful I woke up. When I really started to nail down what I myself believed I began to look for candidates who believed the same as I did. I looked for evidence of belief not just in words but also in actions. I became curious as to who the possible vice presidential candidates might be. I found Governor Sarah Palin and began researching anything I could find out about her. She was in line with my beliefs. I was impressed that she lived what she preached. I was impressed that she took on the Republican problems before she took on the Democrats in her state. I still admire the Governor. The 2008 election started a whole new educational process for me. I decided I wanted to learn how our country got into our current economical and moral mess. Its been a great couple of 4 years, and I really have learned a lot. It took effort, but it has been more than worth it. I knew this election cycle would be less interesting, we already knew who the Democratic candidate would be. But, 2012 has been just plain old uninspiring. I watched debates, but found they were all talking circles around each other and around issues that, although the media tried to tell us otherwise, just aren't pertinent to really putting this country back on the right track. I certainly think President Obama must not be re-elected. But, I'd hoped we would be able to be inspired. It is going to be a very long difficult haul to correct what our progressive minded government has been doing to us for so long. I wanted to start the correction off with some bold truth telling. Maybe we still can. In the meantime keep learning, sharing and standing up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I think one of my all time favorite guests that Glenn Beck has on his program is Rabbi Daniel Lapin. When Glenn was still on Fox the Rabbi and he had an amazing discussion about the Tower of Babel. Recently they had another amazing discussion about the worship of Ba’al. You can check it out here. Rabbi Lapin is such a wise and gentle soul and has such a great understanding of reality and truth. From what I understood the worship of Ba’al basically comes down to choosing the baser tendencies we have and denying ourselves of our higher divine natures. One example cited was the increasingly more deprave spiral of pornography. Our society is pretty messed up when you consider that pornography is protected against censorship but religion is considered offensive. Rabbi Lapin also discussed that one of the signs of choosing Ba’al is the inappropriate elimination of excrement. They discussed several historical examples and then recent examples such as the Occupy Wall Street people urinating in public places and pooping on police cars and such. Its pretty vile and yet its important to acknowledge that it is indeed happening. Listening to Rabbi Lapin talk I had one of those lightbulb over the head moments. Most of the children that I work with who have attachment/bonding issues have had major problems with excrement and urination. It’s one of the more unpleasant parts of trying to parent these kids. More recently I read the story discussing the way Greeks live now including how it is not uncommon to find people discreetly going through the garbage looking for food. This too was a familiar story for me. I’ve worked with kids who in survival mode would have to eat out of the garbage and even drink out of the toilet because of severe neglect from their untrustworthy parents. It dawns on me that one of the main issues in the debasement of our society in this country is indeed the lack of familial bonds.

When there is a lack of familial bond that makes it nearly impossible to have appropriate bonds with others outside of the family. These kids I work with have attachment issues because the bonds they initially formed were broken usually by someone they trusted. They then go into survival mode because forming another bond becomes a threat (because of the pain they’ve already experienced). My work is all about helping families bond. There are several key principles that help kids bond with their parents. The more I’ve learned about these principles and their effectiveness the more I’ve realized that the same principles apply in our ability to bond with God. So, here is a little bit of a rundown of what we work with to help parents and kids bond, and also how it relates to our relationship with God.

As a therapist I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of families that are struggling with issues of attachment/bond. Relationship is key to leading a happy, healthy life. We need one another. The bonds that should be most dear to us are in our families. The relationship I’ve been working most with, and learning about is between parent and child. The more I’ve learned about it the more I’ve realized that the principles that increase bond in a family relationship also works to strengthen our bond with God.

Coming in to mortality necessitated a separation from Our Heavenly Father. This was important in order for us to be tested and to grow. As God knew we needed a separation He also knew, and prepared for it, that we would need a way back to Him. The way back is called The Atonement of Jesus Christ. Our Savior made it possible to be, as the word implies, at one again with God. Our most important relationship is with God. It is essential to take the necessary steps to come unto Christ so that we can return to His presence.

An important concept and principle is that trust comes before love. Think of that parent child relationship. An infant has to implicitly trust in their parents to see to every need. If that doesn’t happen that can create problems for the rest of that individuals life if those trust issues are not resolved. Fortunately we know that God is everlastingly and in all situations trustworthy. He knows our needs and we are well in His hands, as long as we trust Him. When we learn then we learn to love. Think of those moments when an infant makes eye contact and connects with their parents and when they first genuinely smile. That’s bond, that’s love but they first had to know they could trust you to meet their needs.

So, how do we build trust between parent and child, and of course with God? Obedience is necessary in doing so. Children who learn to obey their parents, learn to trust that their parents make good decisions for them. We must learn to obey God, and as we do we find that He does indeed know our needs and will lead us to growth and happiness. Obedience to His commandments lead us to true happiness and freedom.

Consider another important aspect, what the Atonement makes possible for us. If we do it in the name of Jesus Christ, that means He made it possible. We know communication is essential to relationship. How sacred is prayer. God has blessed us with the opportunity to connect with Him. We pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. It is humbling to know we can communicate with Our Heavenly Father.

Once we demonstrate trust through obedience, we can fully commit to trust by making and keeping promises. A child shows their love to a parent by being trustworthy themselves by following through with the commitments they have made. Consider then the importance of our promises, covenants, with God and with each other. A baptismal covenant for instance is incredibly important, and bonds us with God. In my faith our baptism is followed by receiving the Gift of The Holy Ghost. We are promised the constant companionship of The Spirit as we live worthily. Keeping that promise increases our connection with God.

The crowning covenant in life we make is in marriage. In that we promise not only to God, but to another person to be faithful and trustworthy. How magnificent that is, that relationship with God and then with our spouse and the children born within that covenant are made eternal and lasting. It is again made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

There are many more ways to look at this topic but I’ll limit it to one more, the attachment and bonding that can come from pain and healing. An experience I’ve reflected on often is with my nephew Austin. He spent most of the first month of his life in the hospital. It was a scary time for our family, his parents especially. Austin, who was obviously in discomfort and pain, had his own hospital room complete with hospital bed. His parents, and then grandparents and aunts (including me) and uncles all took turns climbing onto the bed and holding that little guy. There was very little time in which someone wasn’t holding him. That was nearly 2 years ago. Austin is healthy and doing just fine. He also loves to be held. He has a strong connection with any of us that were there for him. He doesn’t remember the pain, but he does remember the bond.

So often we hear from the leftists view that we must avoid pain. The reality is that pain is a part of life. But, pain can actually serve to bring us together, it can be a catalyst for bond. We find healing in our connection. There’s a reason we hug someone who is in pain, physical and/or emotional, connecting with them helps to heal.

This is also true in our relationship with God. The Savior Jesus Christ is the Master Healer. The healing power of His Atonement is real. I have felt that in my own life. I’ve experienced being in His hands, and I’ve experienced being in His arms. I don’t remember or dwell upon the pain, but I will forever remember the bond I have with Him.

Bond with The Savior in turn bonds us to Our Heavenly Father. He has given us the gift to be in families, it is so important to bond with them. The only thing I can imagine that would be better than one day being in the presence of my Savior is being in His presence with the people that I love.

Of all the things that need to change in our country and society increasing the strength of the bonds we should hold dear and strive to build and maintain should be one of the primary steps. Seek to love those around you especially your family. Seek God and His commandments. Seek to make and keep sacred covenants. Seek to share this message with others. We need each other and the more we realize that and truly seek it the closer to healing, and the bond that comes with it, we can come.