…YOU DIRTY ROTTEN SCUMBAG

Election years are always interesting to watch, for one, the candidates we seem to select are by far the most polarizing people in politics (or in this years election…business). I guess it is because of some primordial desire to witness this constant drama played out over months…and months…and months. Like reality television only with real consequences for the viewer.

The other thing that strikes me is that in most cases (this year excluded) the candidates make some endearing gesture to keep all things fair. No negative adds; just policy. While this is a lofty goal in politics it’s certainly not unattainable. Yet, after all the  promises of positivity, they inevitably fall off the proverbial wagon that is loaded down with compliments and flatteries for their opponent and his/her positions.

The lies…the fabrications…the exaggerations, they have all come to characterize elections in a country that was founded on ideals and principles that are better than that. Interestingly enough when the negative adds finally begin to play out on national television, social media, and broadcast radio, the excuses are always the same; “My opponent hit me first and I simply had to defend myself.” Yes, that’s right, the blame game begins. Kind of like that star football player who gets busted for steroids and then begins blaming the competition…the “I had to do it to compete mentality.”  Let the mud slinging begin.

This election is quite different from past elections as it seems we have settled on at least one candidate who makes no bones about his willingness to sling mud…rocks…tire irons…or whatever else he can get a hold of. As a result, this candidate is now being called a bully. Is it not true though that we could make the same argument for every other candidate that has run for public office…especially this year. So what’s the problem? The standard rule of thumb here in American culture is that we can talk bad about someone so long as we don’t call ’em no names. Rest assured Donald Trump does not play by the typical politicians playbook, he just simply does not care who he offends. I must admit that while I do not agree with the name calling at all, it is quire refreshing to see the PC crowd in a hissy.

We seem to have no problems in our society with dragging someone’s name through the mud, so long as we aren’t calling them names in the process. Unfortunately as Christians we likewise have the same problem. First, we are told to let no unwholesome talk come from our mouths, yet we continue to slander, ridicule and blaspheme any and everybody that does not agree with our positions. We can rationalize this in our minds by convincing ourselves that its all in good fun and that we’re just pointing out the flaws in our neighbors; flaws that make them unfit for public service, and besides we didn’t curse or call names (at least in church we didn’t) so we are still in God’s good grace. But it could just as assuredly mean that we are not to talk bad about another person at all. Second, in Hebrews chapter 10 we are exhorted to obey God by repenting of sin, for by not doing so we are trampling the blood of Christ underfoot. So what am I trying to say then? Simply this, that while we focus much on the name calling itself there is still much to be said about the general disposition we have toward others. Dragging another persons name through the mud is really no different than labeling them a scumbag. To this, both parties are guilty and if the truth were told, so am I.

…With “LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all.”

It should come as no  surprise that in this election cycle the person who should be running away with the prize is now slipping into the vault of history, that place where all former contenders’ names are remembered only by those who have an interest in such affairs. Much like the losing team of Super Bowl XXVIII, or XXVIIII. This is an unthinkable tragedy for the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. In her mind if she does not win the Presidency then she will always play second fiddle to her husband. If indeed Donald Trump goes on to win in November it is very likely that if future generations remember her at all it will only be because she lost an election that was hers to win, and she lost to Donald Trump.

So where exactly did the train leave the tracks for the Democratic nominee? The answer is very simple and it can be summed up in two words: James Comey.  Yes, the FBI director that refused to indict on the basis that criminal intent could not be established. What was established was her incompetence, and that perhaps is an even more damning thing than criminal mischief. Then again there maybe something else at play here, something that has escaped even the most learned of talking heads…JUSTICE.

Having done some deeper study on the issue of justice and the desire for the human heart to not only get justice but also to give justice. Interestingly enough the Bible speaks a great deal about Justice and the desire for God to establish it. So the question is, does reality reflect the scriptures? Turns out it does and in a big way. Scientists have discovered through various tests that the sense or idea of Justice actually lights up the same part of our brains that hunger does. So could this be further proof that we are actually created in the image of God…to create us in a way that justice and food are of equal importance, at least according to our brains. Also, could this explain the downward spiral of Hillary Clinton?

Let’s hypothesize for a moment if we shall…What would have happened if Hillary Clinton would have been indicted? The case would have likely went to trial, a judge and jury provided evidence of either guilt of innocence, and finally a judgment. It is almost a certainty that if Hillary had taken this thing to trial, she would have walked away an innocent woman though a little less wealthy. However in the eyes of every reasonable voter in this country JUSTICE would have prevailed…the system worked. Although the outcome may not have been what we wanted we would have trusted that a jury of our peers had heard the evidence and found that there was nothing substantive to declare her guilty. This would have been a Grand Slam for the Clintons.

Fortunately this is not the case, she never went to trial, never stood before a judge, never addressed the jury…our people. As a result the people have judged anyway, because for us JUSTICE is that important. The judgment is…Guilty, and the guilty must pay.

Guilty of what though? Incompetence…Treason…Stupidity…Improper handling of classified information…or perhaps all of the above. You see in the eyes of the American Voter we are left only to theorize about her guilt. She would have been much better off having gone to trial and it is quite possible that James Comey knew exactly that. It is quite possible that this verdict was the nail in her coffin and the greatest gift Donald Trump has ever received.

Halfway to Dead…

I have now come to the middle point of my life. Here I find myself in a much different place than I envisioned growing up in the mountains of the pacific northwest. As a child I had always dreamed of playing professional football…I had my chance to play at the collegiate level, but instead, I chose service and sacrifice. Yes, I joined the United States Army and was shipped out to Ft. Benning, Ga  in late summer of 1997.

That experience would forever change my path and would continue to mold me into who I am today. I will always be grateful for the men that trained me, the men that didn’t just demand excellence…that wouldn’t have been enough. No, these men demanded perfection and they refused to quit nor did they allow others to quit, at least until they had gotten what the asked for. The reason is simple, they knew what I didn’t. They knew that some day we might be called upon to defend the greatest cause on earth…Freedom. They also knew that in the trenches it wasn’t freedom that drove men to perfection…it was their brothers. The lives of those men who would go to the wall with you. The thoughts of their children growing up without a father, or a wife made a widow and left to grieve and mourn the death of her beloved. These thoughts are what drive men to lay down their lives. John 15:13 tells us that greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.

While I never was called upon to fulfill this part of my oath, or to make that great a sacrifice; I know many a men that were, and some that are no more.  Now I sit here at the middle point in my life and staring down at 6 children and a wife that are living in a far different world than has ever been before…I wonder. I wonder what I can do to improve their lot. While it may be to late to improve my own I will stop at nothing to improve theirs.

The first step in this effort is to demand from them the same mentality that was demanded from me and every other infantrymen that ever stepped foot on sand hill…perfection. I am not an unrealistic person though, I know they will never reach it, but if they are ever going to succeed and excel then they must make every effort to do so. This however requires work…much work. Therefore my mindset is to teach my children to value work and to never make excuses or complain about how unfair things are.

This effort is increasingly hard to maintain in a system that teaches the opposite. There are competing ideologies in our nation today that would have my children to believe that by complaining and protesting enough about unfairness than somehow they can avoid the work and benefit just the same. I have taught my children to value freedom and to fight for it, while the system teaches to value free stuff and to likewise fight for it. The only thing free as far as my children have been taught is salvation alone…that price was already paid by a King who valued freedom more so than any freedom fighter that our world could ever produce.

My oldest daughter Isabel has a dream of one day dancing in the New York Ballet and I am determined to see her dreams come true; my oldest son Ty, (adopted from China) has a dream of one day being President of the United States…he cannot however fulfill this dream because he was not born on American soil, and unlike our current administration, my household follows the rules, so he is happy to settle with being the CEO of Coca-Cola and I am once again determined to see this all come to be; my middle son (Justin) dreams of one day becoming a Navy Seal, even now if you look for him on a Saturday afternoon and can’t find him, know that he is somewhere in the woods behind our home preparing himself for his destiny…and be thankful that boys like him still grow in freedoms soil; My youngest daughter (Sara Beth) just wants to be a princess and live at home forever. While I have no control over whom she marries much less the royal princes of the world, I do control how I treat her…and she will always think she is my princess. The others, well…they are not quite old enough to dream but when they are I will be right there beside them building castles in sky.

For now I must do everything I can to ensure that when they are old enough to pursue their dreams, they will have the freedom to do so. Therefore, when I go to the polls this November I will be voting for Donald Trump…he has for better or worse created a life that dreams are made of and all I ask is that my children have that same opportunity. While I am half dead already their lives have just begun and the America I want my children to grow up in is the same America that I knew. While I don’t agree on much of what Donald Trump has said in the past…on the issues facing this country and threatening our freedom…I do. There is no doubt in my mind that if my son were trapped in a consulate halfway around the world and staring death in the face…Donald Trump would spare no resource to get him out alive and deliver his own death blow to those that had determined to draw first blood.  God Bless America and may America Bless God.

 

Dangerously Disabled: The Cost and Consequence of CRISPR Cas9 (Gene Editing)

While driving home from work and lost in the many thoughts that flood my mind on a daily basis: Thoughts about family, work, church, ministry, friends and perhaps most common the Bible. It was in the midst of these thoughts that I mechanically tuned into NPR radio: 1) because I enjoy talk radio, and 2) because I have no other options as my middle son several years back decided my truck antenna functioned better as a weapon to fight the enemies of justice and freedom than it did as an antenna. Since then I have been enslaved to only 3 stations. Coincidentally the program that was airing dealt with a new technology called CRISPR CAS9. An extremely complex technology that has come about only in the last few years and now makes it possible for doctors and scientist to edit our genetic codes in order to create children with no genetic predispositions for certain debilitating diseases.

I must admit that at first this technology to me seemed brilliant. I mean, could you imagine for a moment a world where certain types of cancer don’t exist, a world where our genetic codes can be stripped of predisposing genes for alcoholism, dementia, Alzheimer’s. At the surface this all sounds so wonderful. Unfortunately a deeper look reveals something very sinister about us and society as a whole.

What if through this technology we are able to delete any and all genetic information that leads to other such things, things like downs syndrome (a condition my youngest daughter has). What is the effect…the cost…or the consequence that we as a society will face as a result of creating designer babies that have no genetic faults. In time we will no doubt see a decline and eventual extinction of children born with downs or any of the other conditions that may make life more difficult for us as parents. But be assured that in our effort to obtain an easier and less complicated life where our days are not filled with doctors appointments and the constant concerns about what the future holds, we lose something of the richness life once held, the goodness that once we experienced through the lives of these precious children.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t find some heartwarming article about a child with downs overcoming insurmountable odds to have a normal life, or should I say extraordinary life. You see, it is us, the normal ones, the healthy ones that have normal lives. You know…the kind of life where we experience the constant bickering, backbiting, and hate filled cynicism from a very suspicious society that must constantly asses each others motives. Yes, this is normal, what is extraordinary though is that a child with downs is able because of a simple flaw in their genetic code to rise above the fray and love unconditionally. In fact I would say this is not just an extraordinary life, it is a superior life.

God has taught me more about love and my own inability to do it well through my 5-year old daughter (Scout).  When I am impatient…she is patient, when I am angry…she is joyful, when I am sad…she comforts me, when I am ugly…she is kind, when I am ungrateful…she is thankful, when I am full of self-doubt and self pity…she is full of confidence and self-assured. What I have learned is that even through the life of a 5-year old girl with downs, a little girl who the world says is flawed…God can and will demonstrate his love for us by how they love us, when often times we are so un-loveable.

Last Easter while attending a program at Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, Ga. I remember (seated directly in front of us) was a man who in my eyes stood tall among Giants. He was a simple man and there was nothing all that spectacular about him. That is of course if you factor out the Love he had for his severely disabled daughter who was oblivious to the fact that people were actually trying to watch the Program. Yes, in the worlds eyes she was a distraction. To me she also was a distraction, but for very different reasons. You see that day I imagined myself in his shoes and what he didn’t know about me was that I was right in the midst of a hurricane fundraising season where my wife and I were desperately trying to raise the funds to adopt our downs syndrome child. That man offered me the assurance I needed when I needed it the most. I had doubts about my own ability to love a disabled child like that man had loved his own, I never voiced those doubts; I didn’t have to, God knew the whole time and on this day for this reason he seated us behind a giant of a man who stood tallest when he stooped help his disabled daughter. Unconcerned about what the world would think…he loved…and he loved well.  I have no idea where his wife was at…maybe he was widowed, maybe he was giving her a much-needed break…I just simply don’t know. What I do know is that if she had been there the experience for me would not have been the same and God knew that too.

I have said all of this to say that while this technology offers us so much in terms of health and wealth, we must also consider what it strips away and is it worth the cost. Is it worth losing the ability to witness the sacrificial love of a father unconcerned about what the world thinks as he lavishes his daughter with love like a KING. Is it worth losing the ability to witness a child love unconditionally and to know that no matter how poorly we have performed or the number of promises we have broken, they will never love us any other way. This is what it means to know the love of God and I for one am not willing to make that sacrifice in favor of a healthier and wealthier society.

If the truth were known I think what we would find is that we, the healthy and normal members of society are in fact the most severely disabled. We have lost the capacity for love that is so easlily displayed in the lives of those that are amongst the least these. We are dangerously disabled and the world is now watching and witnessing what a society looks like that has not love…and it is not a pretty picture. As for me I will go home today and watch my little Scout love the world to death as she loves like Christ, for that is exactly what he did…He loved the world to death.

COPS AND ROBBERS

The maintenance of public order-if you happen to look up the definition of police you will likely find this phrase associated with it. What is the maintenance of public order and how have we as a society grown so cold and heartless to the effort composed by good men and good women to establish and maintain public order?

There is no question as to the fact that policing today is by far a much more difficult task than it has ever been. In a society where we have taught our children that police are the bad guys and the bad guys are the good guys, it is safe to say that perhaps society at large may be responsible for the attitude being displayed towards those that desire to protect and enhance public order.

In the wake of the latest police shootings I have had to consider many things about my own attitude toward the police. Let me start by saying that I fully support the work and effort that officers put into maintaining public order, on the other hand I am extremely perturbed when I get pulled over for speeding, running a stop sign, or the many other possible traffic citations that one can get-I have probably been guilty of violating most.

This perturbed attitude bleeds over into comments made off the cuff when my children are in the vehicle. Say for instance that I have forgotten to put my seatbelt on and an officer pulls out behind me…my children would observe how quickly I remember such an oversight. The truth is I didn’t forget at all, instead I chose to break the law and if I am discovered I will pay the price. Unfortunately my children observe this as well as the attitude (or lack of concern) I have displayed in the past over breaking even the most minor of laws. This then teaches my children that laws are not important, that public order is not important. Likewise it teaches them that the ones trying to enforce it are the real bad guys. The truth is I must apologize to everyone that wears that badge for teaching my children that its more fun to be the robbers than it is to be the cops in the childhood game of cops and robbers.

I assume that I am not the only father who is guilty of using the police to my advantage in the most difficult task of life…raising my children. Yes, I have at times been guilty of threatening my children when they misbehave. Instead of handling the matter myself and resolving the issues that perhaps I have created, I have on more than one occasion told my children that if they don’t change their behavior I will take them down to the local police department and let them handle the matter. These are empty threats that only serve to cause my children to fear the thing that God has established on this earth to protect them. For that I am sorry.

Going forward I will teach my children differently, when we see a police officer out to lunch perhaps we will pay for their meal, shake their hand and tell them thank you, or pray for them and their families. but never again will I leave my children with the impression that the police are the bad guys in life. Please understand that I never did this intentionally but with the subtle things I was doing and saying this was the message they learned and they learned it from me. Police acting on part of our civil government to maintain public order have a shared responsibility to wield the sword of justice and to be a terror to bad conduct not to good. Therefore if I raise my children to seek good and not evil, then they will never have to worry about experiencing the terror that civil and godly government brings against those that would commit evil acts.