Monthly archives "July 2015"

Reagan Remembered

Back in 1968 I took a history course under a Dr. Jenkins at Colorado State University.   While I have forgotten most of what was taught in the class (including the first name of the professor), he did make a statement that has stayed with me:  “Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy is at the lowest point since he left office.  Part of that is due to Lyndon Johnson, FDR’s heir, now seen as a failed President.”   Johnson was leaving office with the cloud of Viet Nam surrounding him and some, even then, doubting the wisdom of the Great Society.

But into the 1980’s Ted Kennedy could be counted upon to praise FDR at every Democrat Convention and each gathering contained “Happy Days Are Here Again.”   Roosevelt had been a hero of Ronald Reagan’s when he was still a Democrat and Reagan would also quote FDR–much to Ted’s chagrin.

Since 1988 Republicans have had similar reverence for Ronald Reagan, the GOP champion along with Abraham Lincoln.  However, some intellectual Republicans (probably not real Reagan fans to begin with) say that it is time to get over Reagan–to move past Reagan nostalgia.  I think it is the opposite.  The current people running for the Republican nomination should follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps and seek to catch up with him.

If the failures of the Leftist ideas of Franklin Roosevelt were being exposed as early as the 1960’s, those failures are bearing poisonous fruit under Barack Obama.  Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, represents truth and truth stands the test of time even as false ideas do not.  There is much to learn from studying Ronald Reagan’s policies, successes, and yes, in some cases his failures.  These all remain relevant and important.

There is a new book just out called Reagan Remembered by former Ambassador Gilbert A. Robinson who served under Secretary of State, George Schultz.  It consists of 81 remembrances of men and women who worked with Reagan.  It is a fun and informative read and would be a good gift for young people who may not remember President Reagan–a good introduction to his Administration and to the man.

Barack Obama is a self-centered man who fancies himself an FDR and a Ronald Reagan in terms of legacy and change.  A friend told me of a study on President’s and their use of the “I” word.   It was found that Jack Kennedy employed the perpendicular pronoun fewer times than any other modern President.   Who employed it the most?–Richard Nixon and Barack Obama.   One example is Obama’s constantly saying, “I got Osama bin Laden.”   In reality it was Navy Seals employing techniques of discovery that are traced to the George W. Bush Administration.

We see other differences in Barack Obama vis-a-vis Ronald Reagan.  What was a signature of Obama’s 2012 campaign?  “You didn’t build that!”   That is an inspiring word, isn’t it?   In contrast, Ronald Reagan went to the Berlin Wall and said,  “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”  Barack Obama apologizes for our nation and is reducing the size of our military to pay for his social programs even as China and Russia expand their forces.  Ronald Reagan built our military to the point that the old Soviet Union sued for peace and the Berlin Wall came down.   Barack Obama tears at our moral fiber;  Ronald Reagan said, “No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free people.”

Barack Obama is really a rather comical figure even as he is dangerous.  It is hard to remember now that he burst upon the scene in the summer of 2004 at the Democrat Convention in Boston that nominated John Kerry for President.  He gave a rather stirring keynote address that today, if it is remembered at all, is seen as a lot of empty rhetoric.  For example, he said, “We are not Red States and Blue States but the United States.”  If anyone defies this idea of a united people and divides us into groups it is the President.

His words now bring a smile if we can keep a sense of humor in the midst of trying days.  After the 2014 elections in which his Party lost the Senate and was further reduced in the House, President Obama made the astounding claim that he could tell what the 2/3 who did not vote were saying.   What a guy!   He can tell what people are saying who did not say anything.   He seems to believe if they had voted they would be all in for him and his Party.

He also said on Election Night, “We have to get a lot of stuff done.   There is a whole bunch of stuff to do.”   He said “stuff” more than this but we get the idea.   D.C. MacAllister is a writer for The Federalist, a six day/week, on-line conservative publication.   She had a good deal of fun putting these words in the mouths of other Presidents.

Suppose Franklin Roosevelt had said in his Inaugural Address:  “The only stuff we have to fear is stuff itself;  nameless, mindless, unreasoning, unjustified stuff.”

What if Jack Kennedy had said, “Do not ask what stuff your country can do for you;   ask what stuff you can do for your country.”

And Ronald Reagan once again at the Berlin Wall:  “Mr. Gorbachev, open this stuff.  Mr. Gorbachev,  tear down this stuff.”

Friends,  “A merry heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22   Let us keep a merry heart and be inspired by a truly great President who asked if we could be renewed in 1981 (a day not unlike this one) and answered his question with:  “Of course we can.  We are Americans.”   And Ronald Reagan was a man of prayer who sensed God’s Hand upon his life.   That same Hand is upon us and our nation still.   Let us follow as He leads us out of present darkness and into His Light.   Praise be to God!

Eutychus

Rising to the Occasion

When I was in college I read Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report.   There was more of an effort to be objective among journalists then though it was clear they liked Jack Kennedy and the Kennedy style.  And the President liked them and was interested in journalism.

Robert Pierpoint of CBS News wrote a book in 1981 titled At the White House on his years covering Presidents from Eisenhower to Carter.  He openly says Jack Kennedy was his favorite as he treated the Press as human beings.  One example was the Kennedy team would bring refreshments to reporters as they were aware of the long hours and demands.   They also invited the Press in when there was inclement weather.  Meanwhile, Pierpoint said Ike treated them like a bunch of corporals, and Richard Nixon treated them like enemies and the Press reciprocated.  His paranoia was not all imagined.

But from Eisenhower to Carter to Reagan to Clinton between the Bush’s we remained a hopeful, confident nation.  The Carter years were not good but there was a Ronald Reagan in the wings.   It is different today.   There is a joke going around that for the first time in 2500 years the Persians (modern Iran) and Greece are dominating the world news.

Meanwhile we seem to be a nation in retreat.  Thinking persons (conservatives) recognize there are big issues before us as we approach 2016.  William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, writes in the July 20 issue that there are always different interpretations of Constitutional law but today we wonder about the future of Constitutional government itself.   There are always disputes over American foreign policy but today we have a President and a Party who seem content to have America in retreat around the globe.

In fairness, even Republican candidates seem not to be capturing the urgency nor matching the magnitude of the moment.  This is generally true in campaigns and we vote for the person who seems to have the best judgment to address the looming challenges.   I recall felling in the late summer of 1980 that Ronald Reagan had greatness in him and that, under his leadership, we could leave the malaise of Jimmy Carter behind.   I have heard persons from CO to FL to IL say that from the day Reagan and his team took over there was a feeling someone was in charge again.

There is something else we must also acknowledge–sometimes the public also fails the candidates and public officials.   Eric Sevareid was the great essayist of the 20th century.   When Lyndon Johnson left office Sevareid said that if LBJ was not a great President perhaps we were not the greatest people a President ever had to lead.  And he added in his essay that whatever one thought of President Johnson,  “We knew there was a man in town.”

It is my prayer that the leader and the moment come together again and the public will be prepared to be led by God’s person for this time.  We can still be inspired by Ronald Reagan, Bill Buckley, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Milton Friedman, James Q. Wilson, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and instructed by such thinkers as C.S. Lewis and Friedrich Hayek.  There is a poem by Samuel Walter Foss that inspires still though it was written in 1892:

Bring me men to match my mountains,

Bring me men to match my plains;

Men with empires in their purpose,

And new eras in their brains.

We need candidates, men and women, to match the mountains.   And we the People need match them also.  May God help us all to rise to the occasion.

Eutychus

 

 

 

 

Isaiah’s Apocalypse

I had the privilege of studying 40 years ago under Old Testament professor, Dr. John Oswalt.  He is still researching and teaching and the finest example of scholar/teacher I have ever seen.  In his 2 volume Commentary on Isaiah he writes that this may be the richest book in the Old Testament in terms of grandeur and scope and that its breadth of view of God is unmatched.  Little wonder that Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament and one of the most frequently cited of Old Testament books.

Isaiah was probably written around 700 B.C.  The first 39 chapters deal with the sins of Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations with a call to repentance.  Chapters 40-66 carry a theme of forgiveness, hope and redemption. The great empires of the time (Assyria, present day northern Iraq and later Babylon, present day southern Iraq and Persia, modern Iran) had their eye on God’s Chosen.

Isaiah 24-27 is sometimes called “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.”  Apocalyptic (from the Greek apocalypto meaning to disclose or uncover) literature tends to be rich in imagery and symbolism and to focus on end things rather than the present and the immediate future.   These four chapters speak to God’s judgment on Israel but also upon the whole world and the ultimate destruction of all evil.

Chapter 27 speaks of Leviathan, the coiling serpent, the monster of the sea which God will slay.  Leviathan is symbolic of the chaos caused by evil.  Although evil is a powerful foe, God will crush it and abolish it from the earth forever in the last days.

Leviathan is also the nickname of Washington D.C. and the snarls of government which have become chaotic and unmanageable.  They are made more so by a White House that believes government is and has the answers.  This is helped along by a lap dog press that winks at the President’s failings and the scandals his Administration has wrought from the IRS to Benghazi to the incompetence of the Veterans Administration.

There was a time when the rhetoric of a radical like Obama’s 20 year pastor, Jeremiah Wright, would have sunk a candidacy.  Instead the Press in 2008 used the occasion to marvel at Barack’s ability to give a speech and distance himself from a man of hate.   This reminded one of the Press being enamored with Bill Clinton’s gift for lying about his relationship with Monica.  They are already covering for Hillary and Benghazi by not covering this tragic lack of judgment which cost the lives of four brave Americans.

Instead the Press is all over the Confederate flag.  I have suggested the Press might want to look at all the black on black violence in Chicago which has nothing to do with the Confederate flag.  But that does not fit their narrative.  They also do not challenge President Obama when he says the Republicans are responsible for the violence in Baltimore.  The President claims the violence is the fault of the GOP as they have not passed his programs.  Nor is Press Secretary Josh Earnest challenged when he says Republicans are responsible for the violence such as we saw in San Francisco as, “They have not passed immigration reform.”   Might be a good time for the White House Press Corps to point out that Obama and his Party controlled all from 2008 to 2010 and did nothing in terms of immigration except further open our borders.  But that would not advance the cause of Barack Obama which the Press seems sworn to do.

It is easy to become discouraged in these days when 5 of the Robes on the Supreme Court seem to be as incompetent and radical as Barack Obama and as ignorant of the Constitution.  And the GOP, other than a few such as the brilliant and brave Ted Cruz in the Senate and Ken Buck in the House, seem to have succumbed to the chaos.  BUT–God is still in charge, not Leviathan.  Someone has said, “One + God =’s a majority.”  Amen!   Let us remember we are each one person and with God’s help we are part of the winning team no matter what we face.

On  Sunday June 18, 1815 Allied forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington defeated the French forces of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in what is present day Belgium.  In that day messages were sent by flag signals.  Anxious people watched the battle unfold and waited for signals from the field.   As it ended persons were crushed when they saw a message:  “WELLINGTON DEFEATED.”  Smoke from the battle then hid the flags.  But their despair turned to elation when the smoke cleared and they saw the rest of the message:  “WELLINGTON DEFEATED NAPOLEON.  BATTLE OVER.”

Right now Leviathan appears to be winning.  Chaos is reigning.  But God is not the Author of confusion.  His judgment is true and evil will be crushed and righteousness will prevail.  When the smoke clears and history is wrapped up, the message is clear:  “GOD WINS AND SO DO WE WHO FOLLOW HIM.  PRAISE BE TO GOD!”

Eutychus

 

 

Times That Try Our Souls

On December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine, educated Patriot, published a pamphlet entitled “The Crisis.”   The opening line was, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”   In a sense, in this life, the days are always trying to one extent or another.   But some decades such as the 1970’s (the Carter years) and this time (the Obama Regime) are especially so.

I dare say that in the 1980’s I spent as much time as anyone who was not living the life style in the same-sex community as I led seminars all over CO for the United Methodist Church on why this practice was unacceptable.  Many leaders in the church took a contrary view to mine even as most of the laity agreed with me and the renewal group I led.  I suggested to those who wished to condemn me as being intolerant to spend 1/10th of the time I had spent arguing my case while loving members of the same-sex community and learning from them.  Then they could bring out their long knives but until then to keep them cased.

I think I was the right one to lead this effort as I have never had a problem being with persons of same-sex persuasion.  I first came across this when I was in high school and a friend came and said he was romantically drawn to men.  I had a vague feeling this was not right but did not judge him nor move away from friendship with him.  As  I led these seminars I asked some of my pastor friends who could not deal with it to stay home and pray for us on the front lines.  I always took with me at least one man who had been in the lifestyle, got out of it and was now married with children.

When I was serving a large church in Tallahassee, FL a member asked me if God ever made a mistake.   I answered that the closest I have seen to God speaking of an error is Gen. 6:6 which reads:  “The Eternal was sorry that he ever made man on the earth;  and His heart was filled with pain.”  Pretty sad to be human, made in the image of God Almighty, and to be the source of pain to Him.   We are living in the day described in Is. 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

Herein lies the danger to our liberty.   Even before the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, there was a rush by same-sex couples to condemn and ruin bakers and florists who would not be part of such marriages due to religious convictions and moral values.  That is why conservatives and thinking persons from the Left are pushing for The First Amendment Defense Act whereby persons cannot be persecuted or prosecuted for standing for traditional marriage.  Some in the same-sex community have joined this effort saying, “We who have been persecuted in the past do want to be persecuting others now.”

As reasonable as that sounds do not expect an unreasonable White House to back such an effort–even though Candidate Barack Obama said in 2008, “I oppose gay marriage.”   His predecessor Democrat President, Bill Clinton, signed DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) in the 1990’s.   Bill’s and his wife, Hillary, are also in praise of the Court’s decision.  No one can accuse the Far Left of consistency or honor or of having a sense of shame.  They have lost their ability to blush.

We need also keep in mind that God is still in charge, come what may, and human power is transitory.   Adolph Hitler said The Third Reich would stand a thousand years.   At the time doubtless people believed it might be true but it lasted only twelve.   My late uncle, a career military officer who also fought in Korea, (and thousands of other Americans and our Allies) fought his way through France and was part of driving Hitler and his Reich back into Germany and ultimately destroying it.

The Russians drove from the East as part of taking Berlin but they were not interested in freedom and set up an Iron Curtain across Europe symbolized by the Berlin Wall.   Many thought that Wall was practically eternal but there was a man who thought we could crush the U.S.S.R. if we rebuilt our military and explored a Strategic Defense Initiative which critics derisively called “Star Wars.”  His name was Ronald Reagan.

Even Richard Nixon, who built his career as a tough anti-Communist was willing to co-exist with the Evil Empire.  Ronald Reagan was not.  He was joined in this view by a professor of mine at the University of Colorado, Dr. Edward Rozek.   Originally from Poland, he was wounded three times as he fought the Nazis in his native nation.   When the Communists took over his homeland he came to this country, learned English and gained a PhD in political science.    Another professor, Richard Pipes of Harvard, had also written that the Soviet Union would collapse if we pressed them militarily.

Both of these scholars became advisers to President Reagan and gave intellectual heft to his saying at Berlin, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”   In December 1989 the wall did come down.  A friend of mine, Richard Walker, was a pilot for Pan Am when the wall came down.  He was in Berlin that December and chipped off a piece for me.  It is one of my prize possessions.

Right now events appear to be in the saddle and evil riding high.  But like the Third Reich and the Berlin Wall they will not stand for evil tends to overplay its hand.  And persons who pushed same-sex marriage are not happy in victory for there is ultimately no fulfillment outside the will of God.

It is important for Christians to trust in God and His Word.  Psalm 37:7 reads:  “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;  do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes;”   Psalm 55:22:  “Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you;  He will never let the righteous fall.”   Joshua 1:9 and Isaiah 41:10 both call for us to be unafraid for the Lord is with us.

My favorite of all the 278 Names and Titles of our Lord in the Bible is the Name Immanuel which means, “God with us.”   We all know God is over us;  too many think He is against us.  He is not.  He is for us against our sins.  But surely the cry of the human heart is to know that God is with us as is promised in the Christmas story recorded in Matthew 1:23 which is an exact quote of Isaiah 7:14:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which means God with us.

We noted above the fall of the Berlin Wall in December of 1989.  With the collapse of Communism in the Eastern Bloc, a church in Czechoslovakia was able to put a message on their marquis for the first time in 45 years.   They prayed over what that first message should be.   This is what parishioners and passersby saw that Sunday in the Christmas season of 1989–THE LAMB WINS.  The Russian bear did not win.   Neither will the Supreme Court or the Obama White House or anyone else who stands against the Word and Will of God.  They may prevail temporarily but they are spitting into the wind.

These days are evil and our freedom is being challenged, but we are on the winning team in the Lord.    Let us not grow weary in doing good.   Let us not lose hope.  Let us be of good cheer.  Let us be of good courage as, “The Lord is my helper:  I will not be afraid.  What can men do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 Praise the Lord!  THE LAMB WINS!!

Eutychus