Monthly archives "May 2016"

Be of Good Courage

One night Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786) held a banquet for his military leaders.  All appeared except General von Zieten, a devout Christian, who went to his church that evening and received Holy Communion.  The next time his staff gathered they all made sport of von Zieten, his faith and the Sacraments.

Boldly the general stood and said, “Majesty, I have pledged my life and my sword to protect you and the Kingdom.  But there is a King here greater than you.  He is King Jesus.  I will not abide His Name and His Sacraments being profaned.  I ask your leave.”

The other generals trembled for they knew Frederick could order von Zieten executed.  Instead the king placed his hand on the brave general’s arm, asked him to remain and said there would be no more making light of God and His Word.

There is a lesson here for us in our increasingly secular and vulgar society.  Let us “Not be ashamed of the Gospel:  it is the power of God for salvation.” (Romans 1:16)  And let us, “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” (Psalm 27:14)


Imitating the Lord

For the next several weeks we will be bringing devotional thoughts at this site.   There are two reasons for this.  First and foremost, I feel led of God to write in this manner right now.  Second, I am a bit pressed for time at present and these will be shorter posts.

Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States from 1923-1929.  He was a favorite of the great President Ronald Reagan who had Coolidge’s portrait brought into the Oval Office.  Ronald Reagan personally remembered the Coolidge Administration and, like the 30th President, believed in limited government.

One evening a group was dining with President Coolidge.  They were nervous and asked friends of the President what they should do to observe proper etiquette.  They were told to watch the President and do what he did.  All went well until the meal was over and the President removed his coffee cup from the saucer and filled the little dish with cream.   The guests did the same.  Then he put some sugar in the cream.  The guests did the same.  Then he stirred the mixture with his spoon.  The guests did the same.  Then the President placed the stirred cream and sugar on the floor and called his cat.

This humorous incident reminds us of the truth of Ephesians 5:1,”Be imitators of God” . . . not of man even if that man is President of the United States.




Building the GOP for the Future

As I look back on my college and graduate school years, I better remember test questions I missed than those I had correct.  This is quite natural.  Whether we be a student, a member of a team (the Denver Broncos learned from their devastating defeat at the hands of Seattle two years ago and the lessons learned led to their being World Champions as winners of Super Bowl 50), business persons or a Political Party, we learn as much from failure as success.

This is the principle the Republicans applied under their Chairman, Reince Priebus, as he launched the Republican National Committee on the Growth and Opportunity Project to study how the Party could be more competitive moving forward.  As a result of changes made the 2014 elections paid rich dividends for the Republicans.

Chairman Priebus understood that the inverse is also true–let us learn from our success as well as failure.  He asked Newt Gingrich, one of the truly brilliant men in American politics, to study the historic political realignment favoring the GOP over the past eight years.  Gingrich shared his report recently in The Washington Times.  Here are some of the findings.

According to the Gallup Poll the nation has gone from 35 clearly Democrat states in 2008 and 5 clearly Republican to 14 Democrat and 20 Republican in 2015.  This is dramatic and a strong swing to Republicans.  Even more dramatic is the historic GOP growth in State Houses in the Obama years.  In 2008 there were 3,223 Republican legislators to 4,082 Democrats; today there are 4,113 Republicans to 3,165 Democrats.  Since Obama’s first election the GOP has gained 890 State House seats.  Democrat decay under Obama at the State level is seen in that 85 of 98 legislative Bodies have become more Republican in 2008.

This realignment has brought enormous opportunities for Republicans to expand their appeal to groups that have been poorly served by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and their bureaucratic socialism and the stagnation and corruption that comes with it.  Contrary to the media propagated notion that Demographics doom Republicans, several GOP candidates in 2014 employed changing demographics in their favor without compromising their principles.

Gingrich points to two 2014 races here in CO.  Cory Gardner went from 8% support among Colorado Hispanic voters to tying incumbent Senator Udall at 48-48 by Election Day.  The future Senator worked Pueblo, a largely Latino area that had been traditionally ignored by Republicans which helped lead Gardner to victory in 2014.

Also in CO Congressman Mike Coffman, representing the Denver suburban areas that are increasingly Democrat, won a surprisingly easy victory over Democrat Andrew Romanoff.  This was despite being targeted by Democrats nationally as a vulnerable Congressman.  Coffman learned Spanish and challenged Romanoff (more fluent in the Latin language) to a debate totally in Spanish.  Hispanics gave Coffman credit for trying.  He also focused on Ethiopian Christians and was invited to address four of their churches just before the election.  Romanoff was frozen out by these Christians.

Elsewhere John Kasich of OH received 27% of the black vote in 2014 and Senator John Cornyn of TX  bested his opponent among Latinos 48-47 (this was a first in TX) and he won 54% of Hispanic men.  Cornyn also won Asians and had a website in Vietnamese and Hindi.  In VA, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock won decisively as she was helped by Pakistani, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Latino voters.  Many of these new American voters are family oriented conservatives and each of these candidates took time for them.  Leadership in the GOP can translate Demography into an Opportunity rather than into a Problem.

Republicans for every office from the State House to the White House can build upon these lessons in 2016 and beyond.  Newt Gingrich notes the right big ideas, expressed in clear and simple (but never simplistic) language with the right tone, can win campaigns.  Hillary Clinton does not wear well and she is running a simple minded campaign based upon attack on Donald Trump.  This is just one reason she cannot shake 73 year old curmudgeon Bernie Sanders.

Edward Gibbons. in his last volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, gave as the first reason for Rome’s fall “the injuries of time.”   It was completed in 1788 as the Founders debated the ratification of the Constitution.  Benjamin Franklin was asked, as he left the Constitutional Convention, what it had wrought.  He answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  America’s Founders were haunted by history’s failure of Republics. 

James Madison wrote in The Federalist no. 10 about the importance of, scarcity of, and provision for Virtue, absent which popular governments fail.   Who is taking us down this road of failure?  The Democrats of whom Hillary’s husband, Bill, who took advantage of a woman named Monica who was young enough to be his daughter, is a prime example.  With some exceptions (Newt Gingrich made some similar errors but is a new man as a Catholic Christian) the Republicans are trying to maintain some semblance of virtue.  Hopefully Donald Trump is also cleaning up his act.  Barack and Hillary and Bill are not.  Their leadership manifests “the injuries of time.”

Let us learn from the injuries of time, the loss of virtue and from Chairman Priebus and former Speaker Gingrich about building a Party and a Nation for the future.  Renew us again, O Lord, that we may be renewed.



Our Unhappy Choices

On September 30, 1938, Neville Chamberlain was in Munich, Germany still trying to appease Adolph Hitler.  On October 5, 1938 with his return to England, Winston Churchill (in my view the greatest man of the 20th Century) met him with this stinging rebuke:  “You had a choice between war and dishonor at Munich.  You have chosen dishonor and now you shall have war.” Churchill (who was half American) turned a phrase like no one else.  He described Russia on the eve of WWII as “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

It would seem today we have a Chamberlain living in the White House.  Barack Obama seeks to appease Iran even as he stiff arms Israel.   It is said an appeaser is someone who feeds a crocodile, hoping the croc will eat him last.  As we have noted before in these posts it does not pay to stand against God’s Chosen, the Hebrews.  To do so led to the destruction of old Empires such as the Assyrians, the Babylonian, the Persians, the Romans and modern powers like the Nazis and the Soviet Union.  Though we are a Second Chosen people we are not an exception when it comes to abusing the apple of God’s Eye.

We see this happening now as we are a badly divided People facing a most unusual election with both of the leading candidates finding themselves to be extremely unpopular.   Brit Hume, highly respected journalist formerly with ABC and now with FOX, says he has never seen anything like this in his long career.  Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have approval numbers that are upside down.

This came up yesterday at a birthday party for our granddaughter where a family member noted this very phenomenon. He rightly said that he thinks Trump knows how to create jobs but does he know enough foreign policy to fill the overall role of President?  On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has foreign policy experience but even ardent supporters cannot name a single accomplishment of her time as Secretary of State.  She certainly cannot claim Benghazi as anything but a failure.  As Carly Fiorina noted in her run for the White House:  “When I flew it was for a purpose.  Hillary simply flew to get to a destination.”

It is a strange year when the GOP has such a deep bench (Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and many others) that the Republicans should turn to such a political novice who is more populist than conservative.  At the same time it is also troubling that some in the conservative Establishment such as those at The Weekly Standard should echo Churchill by dishonoring the People who voted for Trump in the war for the nomination by suggesting a Third Party run by someone else.  They remind one a bit of his description of the Russians as a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma.   Why hand the Presidency to Hillary Clinton when Barack Obama has been such a failure and the Republicans have such opportunity to turn the country and shape the Supreme Court?

In 1968 I campaigned for Hubert Humphrey who would not have had to resign the Presidency as Richard Nixon did.  He had no enemies lists.  I did reluctantly vote for Nixon in 1972 as I saw George McGovern as too Far Left anticipating Bernie Sanders of today.  David Gergen worked for 5 Presidents beginning with Nixon followed by Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  For all his awkwardness Gergen says Nixon was the smartest of the bunch who understood foreign policy like no one else.  His paranoia brought him down.

I will reluctantly vote for Donald Trump as I cannot abide Hillary Clinton and hope some in the GOP will not field a Third Party candidacy as that will simply hand power to her.  Can we afford a third term of Obama?  I think not.  And as was noted yesterday at the party, perhaps The Donald can surround himself with a smart team of advisors.  I think he would be wise to name his Cabinet ahead of time with John Bolton as Secretary of Defense and Ted Cruz as Attorney General or for the Scalia seat on the Supreme Court.

What can we do as citizens given rather strange and maybe sorry circumstances?  When one reads the Old Testament we see a pattern among God’s Chosen.  They keep turning from God and He keeps sending them Prophets who call the People to do two things:  “Repent and Return to God.”   The character of God does not change.  He remains the same yesterday, today and forever.  And His  message through His Prophets remains the same to us still–Repent and Return.

We attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Denver in 1987.  Billy has preached the Gospel to more People than anyone in history.  A common theme in his messages was, “The Bible says!”  We were on the team that arranged the Colorado Crusade in 1987, and they had a three-fold message from Billy in the months before he came.  What did Dr. Graham ask of us? -pray and pray and pray for the days of the Crusade and for Billy Graham as God’s Messenger, His Prophet for our time (my description of Billy Graham).  What can we do in these trying days?-pray and pray and pray some more.  God’s Wisdom is beyond ours and He still answers our prayers.  We might yet see His renewal for America in the 21st Century.  Dear Lord, may it be so!