Monthly archives "March 2016"

The Hope of Easter

Each year we read through the Bible.  Some years it is a chronological reading as the events occurred in Scripture.  This year we are reading as the books appear in the Bible–2-3 chapters each day in the Old Testament and a partial chapter in the New.  We finished Joshua today.  He was the great general who followed Moses and led the Chosen to conquer the Promised Land over the Canaanites, Amorites and other groups there.

Like Moses in Deuteronomy, Joshua reminds the Children of Israel that they are Chosen, that God has blessed them and will continue to do so if they obey Him.  But they will be cursed if they disobey which can (and did) lead to loss of the good land God has given them.  (Joshua 23)

One of the great verses in Scripture for putting steel in the spine is Joshua 24:15. . .”Choose this day whom you will serve. . .But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  We are also a Nation that has been blessed by God to the point that I believe we are a Second Chosen race.  Unfortunately in too many cases we have, like the Hebrews, gone adrift from God.  This will be a curse to us as well.

Easter can be a time of renewal for us–a time for us to say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Easter is the greatest celebration in the Christian year as we are given the hope of life abundant and life eternal through Christ our King.   He conquered death at the Cross and through the Resurrection on the Third Day.  He offers each of us the hope of heaven Authored by the Lord.

You will recall that He spoke seven times from the Cross.  One of these was to a repentant thief who asked to be remembered and Jesus replied, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)  Paul Wellman in his book The Chain calls the Cross the 4th Temptation of Christ.  Satan says to Jesus, “Look at the jeering crowd.  They are brutes.  They are not worth your death.  I have won;  you have lost.”   At that very moment a thief in a statement that must have warmed Jesus’ aching heart asks to be remembered.  And Satan vanishes.

Martin Luther says that Christ’s Church at that moment survived in that thief, the first of millions and millions to follow.  And then he asks if the new birth ever took place in such a strange cradle–from a Cross.

Today we Christians need some of the steel in our spines that Joshua offered some 3400 years ago as Christians are under assault on two fronts.  The first comes from radical secularists in our own society who violate the First Commandment as they wish to substitute government for God.  They also want to shut down the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights–the right of free speech.  We would do well to remember the words in the second paragraph of John Kennedy’s fine Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961:  “The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Now that issue has come to roost in the hands of our own government under the Radical Left.  We saw some of this happen in the 70’s under weak Presidential leadership.  We see it compounded today by leaders who fail to honor God and the Constitution.

The second assault comes from a relentless wing of Islam which wishes to destroy the West.  They have gained a foot hold in Europe and want to do the same in the United States.  We have leadership that lacks the will or the steel to stand up to this threat.   May that change this year on November 8.

Easter is a good time to find our footing again and to remember that God wishes to bless us once more just as he did the Hebrews in the day of Joshua.  Eternal life can begin here and now as we follow Christ our King.  If you know Him as Lord, make a new commitment to follow Him even more closely in these days and to be stronger in your witness for Him.   If you do not know Him as Lord, get to know Him.   He knows you and found you worth dying for, and He wants each one of us to spend eternity with Him and His followers.

Have a blessed celebration of the Resurrection.  Happy Easter!


Trump & Clinton: The Horror

On November 15, 1864, William Sherman left Atlanta and began his march through Georgia to the sea.  Their song was “Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the jubilee!  Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free!  So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea,  While we were marching through Georgia.”  It was the sort of campaign soldiers love–minimum discipline and fighting and broiled turkey for breakfast, roast lamb for dinner, and fried chicken for supper.

For a month the North lost sight of Sherman who emerged in Savannah on December 10, 1864 to make the city a Christmas gift for Abraham Lincoln.  Meanwhile, U.S. Grant was having a harder time subduing Robert E. Lee, the South’s greatest general, but the size of his forces would overwhelm The Army of Northern Virginia and the end of the war was near.

Steven Vincent Benet would write in John Brown’s Body: “Bury the bygone South.  Bury the minstrel with the honey-mouth. . . .And with these things bury the purple dream, Of the America we have not been.”

We are in a crisis that rivals the Civil War as a threat to the nation.  We have the most radical of Presidents and one of the most incompetent in our history.  And the two leading candidates to replace him are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, has an editorial in the March 21 issue in which he looks at the 12 men nominated by the GOP since WWII beginning with Thomas Dewey who lost to Harry Truman in a major upset and ending with Mitt Romney who lost to Barack Obama.  Kristol notes that they were of varying qualities and convictions but NONE was a Donald Trump whom he calls an unprincipled demagogue.  I am not so down on Trump.  Kristol seems to think he will make us “the America we have not been.”  But I do take Bill’s point.

Then he looks at the Democrats for the same time frame and their 13 nominees beginning with Harry Truman down to Hillary Clinton–and he means literally down to Clinton as Kristol sees her as the bottom of an increasingly undistinguished barrel.  I certainly do agree with him there and without qualification.

So in the greatest crisis since the Civil War is this really what we have come down to in 2016?   Is our choice between an utterly “mediocre limousine liberal” and an utterly repellant “pseudo-conservative rabble rouser?”

Barring indictment, the Democrats will choose Hillary Clinton but Kristol believes the GOP has time to turn from Donald Trump.  After the Ides of March, about 45 percent of the delegates remain to be chosen.  That is time enough to defeat Trump.

Edmund Burke, the father of party government and of modern conservatism, wrote,  “When bad men combine, the good must associate;  else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Kristol says if Trump is not stopped many will rally behind an independent Republican candidate to save the honor of the Party of Lincoln and Reagan.  I hope that is not true as that simply hands the election to Hillary Clinton to fail us abroad (remember Benghazi?) and at home and to pack the Supreme Court for the Far Left.

Donald Trump is not my first choice either but if he wins the nomination I intend to vote for him.  We survived the great crisis of the Civil War due to the skills of Lincoln, Grant and Sherman.   It is not certain that, weakened by Barack Obama, we can survive the crisis of a Hillary Clinton Presidency.   Heaven spare us the Horror of that and if that means a Donald Trump Presidency I am willing to take the risk.  Donald may fail but Hillary already has from the Russian reset to Benghazi to an unsecure server as Secretary of State.  I will take Trump as the lesser Horror.


O Caroline, O Donald, O Ted

When states of the Old South began to secede from the Union in 1861, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. ( a man of letters and a professor medicine at Harvard) wrote a poem titled “O Caroline, Caroline,” referring to South Carolina, the first to leave.  I would share a few lines of this fine and deep verse:

She has gone, she has left us in passion and pride,  Our starry eyed sister, so long at our side!  She has torn her own star from our firmament’s glow,  And turned on her brother the face of the fore!

O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun.  There are battles with fate that can never be won!  The star-flowering banner must never be furled.  For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!

Secession followed, the most difficult and dangerous time of our Republic.  The Civil War lasted from 1861-1865 which was also the duration of our time in WWII eighty years later–1941-1945.  We are in a time of crisis now which has been authored by Barack Obama and his Democrat minions.  The Republicans once again offer the right alternative but with possibly the wrong vessel.  While Hillary Clinton is pointing her campaign at the GOP, the Party seems in a Civil War of its own.

We favored Carly Fiorina who just endorsed Ted Cruz.  Marco Rubio, out of character, calls Donald Trump a con artist who must not win the Republican nomination.  We think Senator Rubio is a bigger, better man than that.  But he is also desperate and will probably soon join Carly in dropping out.    The Governor of OH is largely an after thought, though he has run a positive campaign.  It is just not a year for the insider.

With apologies to the senior Holmes, I would offer some verse for the two remaining candidates who have the best chance at the nomination:

O Donald, Donald, child of wealth,  Might there not be place for more stealth?  Must you question Carly’s beauty rather than doing your duty?  Is Ted really a liar that you throw him in the briar?  If you acted more Presidential you would be more consequential.  The real liar is Hill, so spend more time going after her and her Bill and less time blasting Ted who is the real deal.

O Ted, Ted, the brightest light, You have the best chance to end the blight.  So go after Obama and Clinton, the real authors of the shame rather than Donald who has a better name.  Stay in your conservative lane, don’t be a bane to the Party of Reagan or you may go beggin for what might have been–a great President like him who healed a nation after Carter’s abomination.

Ted Cruz rightly sized up the mood of the country as angry at Washington and would probably be close to wrapping up the nomination if it were not for Donald Trump who is seen as even more an outsider.  Pretty hard to think of a U.S. Senator who more fits the role of anti-Establishment than Cruz who called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar from the floor of that once August Body.  In any case, I pray that the GOP can win the White House this year and hold on to the House and Senate.  I pray most urgently that the Donald will not leave and run a Third Party effort if he loses the nomination to Senator Cruz who appears to be the last man still standing in his way.

We have a choice this year of recovery or ruin.  I choose the former and trust you do as well.   As I have said before, I believe God raised up our nation as a Second Chosen People.  He is our Great Ally who promises in II Chronicles 7:14 to heal our land if we will follow Him.   Dear God, help us to do so!  Amen!




The No Fun Campaign

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates were held in seven of the nine Illinois Congressional Districts as the two men sought a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.  In each debate Douglas or Lincoln would open with an hour long address.  The other would then speak for an hour and a half.  The first then had 30 minutes of rebuttal.  The only debate site still standing is Knox College in Galesburg, IL where the two debated on October 7, 1858.  I have been to that site and stood where the two men stood.  It is a thrilling moment to be at Knox College and think of these two giants of our past and to know that, though Lincoln lost the election, his skill in debate helped lead to his election as our greatest President.  These debates were held in an election of national significance.

In 1960 the first televised Presidential debates were held between two undefeated titans.  Neither Jack Kennedy nor Richard Nixon had ever lost an election.   Radio was still prominent in that day and those who listened thought Nixon won;  those who viewed the debates thought the charismatic Kennedy won.   It is quite likely that Nixon won the election but for voter fraud in Chicago, IL and in Lyndon Johnson’s Texas.  But Jack Kennedy by a razor thin margin of 100,000 votes (about the size of a small city) went to the White House.

Presidential campaigns are never perfect but they are serious events.  This year, however, one Party is led by a liar of first magnitude who may be indicted over improper handling of the nation’s secrets and her opponent cannot promise to give things away fast enough.  The other side is a food fight between three candidates, one of whom, Marco Rubio, seems uncomfortable in the mud.   Trump and Cruz seem to thrive there.  But neither debates on the Democrat or the GOP side seem to be serious moments like Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon.

Fred Barnes writes in the 2/29/16 issue of The Weekly Standard that the 2016 race has its own set of imperfections.  He begins with the fact the Republican side attracted 17 candidates, most of whom had no shot at the nomination.  This required an undercard debate where only Carly Fiorina shone as a bright light.  The problem with too many candidates is that they clogged the process which made it more difficult for credible candidates to get their message across.

His second point is likability.  A candidate does not have to be liked to win as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proved.  But appealing personalities like that of Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton helped them enormously in their winning the White House.

But who among the 2016 candidates is likable.  Certainly not Hillary Clinton who was found believable by only 5 % of the voters in N.H., a state she lost badly.  Perhaps the now departed Ben Carson was the only really likable person on either side.  In many ways, debates are personality contests where candidates wish to persuade voters that it would be nice to sit down with a candidate and discuss issues.  Anyone want to sit down with Hillary?   It might be fun to sit down with Marco Rubio but hard to imagine Ted Cruz sitting down and relaxing.

Barnes then moves to electability which the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone says motivates the GOP having been out of the White House for the past seven years.  Yet, according to Real Clear Politics, Marco Rubio by 48-43 % has the best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton (provided she is not indicted and gets the Democrat nomination).   Ted Cruz is statistically tied with Clinton and frontrunner Donald Trump trails her 46-42 %.   According to Barone, one of the deans of Presidential and Congressional politics, Rubio runs particularly well in FL (though he trails Trump in his home state), VA, CO, PA, NH and IA.

Fourth, Fred Barnes feels there have been too many debates and too many polls.  In debates issues are reduced to sound bites rather than being fully explored.  Trump is a master at making debate points.  For example, on the wall on the southern border for which he says Mexico will pay, he evades how he will pull this off.

Polls corrupt reporting.  They tend to become the main influence on political analysis.  And polls leading up to caucuses and primaries are often mistaken and not predictive.

Barnes’ final point may be the most relevant to what is missing in 2016:  the joy deficit.  Presidential races should be serious but they can have an element of fun.  Hubert Humphrey was the happy warrior.  Ronald Reagan loved to campaign.  Gerald Ford had a loud speaker installed over his limousine and would address the occupants of other cars as he rode along the road.  He enjoyed it and so did his fellow travelers.

The book of Proverbs was written mostly by Solomon early in his reign  around 970 B.C.   Proverbs 25-29 indicate the book was put in place after  Hezekiah’s reign (715-686 B.C.).  Proverbs 17:22 reads:  “A merry heart is good medicine.”  As always the ancient Scriptures are up to date.

We are a nation in a rut with most Americans believing we are on the wrong track.   We faced similar prospects in 1980 when a man named Ronald Reagan lifted the national spirit through his campaign and his Inaugural Address in which he asked rhetorically if we could rebound and answered, “Of course we can!  We are Americans!”  A Republican candidate would be smart to stop the food fight, adopt a merry heart and say, “Of course we can!  We are Americans!”