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.

Eutychus

 

 

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.

Eutychus

 

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!

Eutychus

Cruz & Carly

On September 2, 1864, William Sherman’s Army of the Cumberland entered Atlanta having defeated John Hood’s Army of TN.  But Hood’s Army escaped to fight another day.  As Sherman prepared his march through GA to the sea, Hood devised a last throw of the dice plan.  He would head north to TN with hope that Sherman would follow.  He would defeat the Army of the Cumberland in the TN mountains and then join Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern VA which was in a fight to the death with U.S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac.   The South could no longer win the Civil War militarily but they still hoped to stall through battle until the weary North gave up and settled with the South’s winning independence.   Having devised a bold plan that might have worked, Hood hesitated to act until it was too late.

Senator Ted Cruz has entered into a last throw the dice plan by adding the gifted Carly Fiorina to his team as his Vice President if he wins the nomination.   But like Hood he may have waited too long.   Cruz’ hope is that he can win IN now that popular Governor Pence has endorsed him and that Carly can help him win CA.  Just as the South could no longer win the Civil War in 1864, Ted Cruz can no longer win the nomination before the Cleveland Convention. His hope is that Donald Trump will be short enough delegates to win on the first ballot.  Then Cruz believes he can strip Trump of enough delegates to win on subsequent ballots.  It is a long shot but Cruz is really the last man standing in Trump’s way.

We are pleased that Cruz has chosen Carly and it will easily be the smartest team on the field.  Both are brilliant in debate, up on the issues and seldom taken by surprise.  In fact, this may be the smartest combination since 1800 when President John Adams faced Thomas Jefferson for the highest office in the land.  The two had once been friends and reconciled before they both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after they signed The Declaration of Independence. In 1800  they blasted one another as candidates do still today with Jefferson’s defeating sitting President Adams.

Carly Fiorina was our first choice for the GOP nomination but she dropped out early.  She is fearless when it comes to pointing out the many flaws of Hillary Clinton and it is hard for the Democrats to play the woman card against her.  And Donald Trump is as flawed as Hillary.  Brit Hume, long time ABC and FOX analyst says he has never seen a year when both the leading candidates for the nominations of their respective Parties are so unpopular.

How does such a blessed nation come to this point?  I would suggest it happens when we abandon our spiritual roots.  We are reading through the Bible chronologically as the books appear in the Old and New Testaments.  Right now we are in I Kings with Solomon (the last King to reign over a united Israel before the nation split into Israel in the North and Judah in the South) as he finishes building the Temple and the Royal Palace.   He and the Chosen People are honoring God and the Almighty tells them He will bless them unless they disobey.   That disobedience lies shortly ahead as Solomon abandons the wisdom God has given him for foreign women and foreign gods–a deadly combination for the Chosen of God.  By I Kings 11, Solomon is building temples to foreign gods and his nation is roiling with dissent.

I would suggest this is where our nation is now.  What are some of our false gods?  What is a most popular photo right now?–a Selfie.  Barack Obama took such a photo at the funeral for Nelson Mandela.  That is honoring the deceased is it not?   There is something in us called sin that leads to our wishing to be gods ourselves.   The Serpent told Eve in Gen. 3:5 that she not only would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit but that she would “be like God.”  That Original Sin is still in us but has been conquered by Christ at the Cross and we can turn from it as we follow Him.   Today we follow the Selfie as symbol of our wishing to be god of our own life.

A cousin of this self-promotion is pride.  All this leads to other idols such as comfort and materialism with little room for sacrifice and giving of ourselves.  We reluctantly joined Facebook to help with the political campaign of a Christian friend of ours.  Much (certainly not all) that is published there says, “Please look at me.”  What makes this all so sad is that the Lord of the Universe looks at us with Perfect Love.  He died for us and rose again and, as Augustine said, “Loves everyone of us as if we were the only one He has to Love.”  We see this lived out humanly speaking with our love for our children and grandchildren.   We have three children and seven grandchildren and love them all with all our love.  This may not work out mathematically, but it works in a loving family.

Satan is a counterfeiter who diverts people into the search for love in the wrong places and wrong ways and from finding divine love and love in the family which is part of God’s Plan.  Thus we see the break up of the home as too many seek after forbidden relationships and foreign gods.

Politically we see this in the election of a President who honors Iran more than Israel and who constantly lifts up Islam as a religion of peace while blasting Christians for the Crusades a millennia ago.  When there is a terrorist attack he in essence says, “We must get guns out of the hands of the law abiding.”  Of American achievement he says, “You didn’t build that!  Someone else did that.”

When Americans rightly ask what has happened to our country, I think the answer is found in Revelation 2:4 when the Lord says to the Church at Ephesus, “You have left your first love.”  And in Revelation 3:14-18 where the Laodicean Church is described as “neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.”  A neutral audience is the hardest to reach.  What is the antidote?  The Lord answers in Revelation 3:19 as He did through the Prophets of old:  “Be zealous and repent.”   But don’t be lukewarm.

If we are honest, our plight should not surprise us.   We are a Second Chosen People and like the First Chosen when we honor God, he blesses us.  When we turn from Him we see evil lived out in its worst forms as described in Isaiah 5:20 and God’s response in 24-25:  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. . .as the fire devours the stubble. . .the anger of the Lord is aroused against His People;  He has stretched out His Hand against them.”

But we are not without hope.  God keeps bringing forth believers to lead.  Both Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina are people of strong and open faith in Jesus Christ.   They testify to this.  If you ask Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton about their faith they will say, “I am a Presbyterian (Trump) and I am a United Methodist (Hillary).   We are United Methodists and I have nothing against Presbyterians or any other denomination but that answer is like saying “I am a member of Rotary Club.”  Certainly there are strong Christians who are members of Trump’s and Clinton’s Churches but too often they have become more social clubs who, like the Church at Ephesus, have left their first love and are like the Church at Laodicea which is lukewarm to faith.

God has again thrown us a lifeline.  From the human side, we have a “last throw of the dice.”   If we will “Be zealous and repent,” it is not too late.  But if we keep throwing the lifeline back eventually there is judgment and destruction.  “Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored.  Renew our days as of old.”  Lamentations 5:21  May it be so.

Eutychus

Ted Cruz is Alamo-Esque

Monica Crowley writes for The Washington Times, as conservative a publication in the nation’s capital as The Washington Post is Leftist.  She holds a PhD in American Studies and worked for Richard Nixon in his waning years.  She notes that Senator Ted Cruz has invoked the Alamo as the definitive symbol of his fierce independence and defiance.  Quoting a letter from fallen Alamo hero, William Barret Travis, Mr. Cruz says, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible.  Victory or death.”

Ted Cruz is the Consummate Conservative in Washington, a city where both Parties disdain his values and he who champions them.  This is a lonely place to be and Senator Cruz has stood alone as he battles Obama and Obamacare, the debt ceiling, taxes, the President’s executive orders, the gutting of the military to fund social programs, gun control and the fraud of global warming.

The Establishment resents how bad his stance has made them look and his refusal to buckle to their gangster-like threats and name calling–“Looney Tunes” being one of the milder ones.  The man who won’t go along is always dangerous to the elites and earns their deep enmity.  This has always been true.  Centuries ago a leader like this named William Wallace was betrayed and set up for murder by the nobility in his native Scotland.  Victory or death!

Donald Trump gained strength in the early primaries and is likely to do well in the upcoming contests in his native East Coast.  But Senator Cruz has won in the Midwest and here in CO as well as his native TX.  One of the challenges the Senator faces is that voters who are attracted to “outsiders” tend to lump Trump and Cruz together.  But Trump is a populist while Senator Cruz is a Principled Conservative.

Populist is a Latin term indicating “Voice of the People,” and the rights of the common person in their struggle with elites.  As good as this sounds it really puts Trump closer to Socialist Bernie Sanders and Socialist Light, Hillary Clinton.  Ted Cruz is closer to Ronald Reagan as a Conservative than anyone we have seen since “The Gipper.”  And Cruz’ principles have led to support from GOP colleagues and former candidates Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker.  Both once denounced him but now find him more appealing than a New York businessman.

Donald Trump has an advantage over Ted Cruz in that, while he is running as a Republican, he is not of the Party.  Senator Cruz is an unwavering Conservative boxed by a Party that continues to mock , dismiss and to kill the Conservative Movement Ted hopes to lead.

Dr. Crowley asked Mr. Cruz how he would wage his longstanding fight against the entrenched ruling class as President. He replied, “Leadership starts at the top.  Once we have a Commander-in-Chief who fights for the interests of the People instead of the Washington Cartel–the career politicians in both Parties, who are in cahoots with lobbyists and special interests to maintain their own power–we will finally see change in Washington.  But we will not break the Washington Cartel without a mandate from the People, and a leader willing to follow the mandate.  Once that happens, it will be more politically risky for the politicians in Washington to do the wrong thing”

There are many differences between populism and conservatism but they have in common a desire to restore America’s greatness.  The bigger foe is the Ruling Establishment that will do all it can to maintain power in the face of the threats of Trump and Cruz.  Senator Cruz is the original slayer of The Establishment and his scars manifest that.  But he has proven to be the most reliable Constitutional Conservative in the race.  With passion he speaks of creating a fairer, flatter tax code, putting an end to regulation that is stifling American ingenuity and job creation, of rebuilding the military, restoring American influence and sending power from Washington back to We the People.

In a race that began with 17 candidates, Senator Cruz is one of three left standing.  He still charges ahead with Alamo-Esque defiance.  I believe God has given us a final chance to return to Him and His Calling as a nation by raising up a Christian man of principle who knows in politics as in the battle, it is victory or it is death.   And People of the Lone Star Sate remember like no one else that the defenders at the Alamo died to the last man to establish the Republic of Texas.  Let us stand with another brave Texan to save the Republic called America.

Eutychus

 

Hillary’s Insouciance

Bill Clinton is back in the news for a new Sister Souljah moment.  During the 1992 Presidential campaign then Governor Clinton told Jesse Jackson that Souljah’s words could have been reversed and uttered by David Duke.  Born Lisa Williamson, Sister Souljah said that if there were good white people she had not met them.   Clinton said David Duke had essentially said, “If there are good black people, I have not met them.”  The man who would become President told Jesse Jackson such racist comments should not be uttered by anyone–black or white.

This past week former President Clinton took on Black Lives Matter who were protesting his 1990’s policy of 100,000 more cops on the street to help stop black on black crime.   Clinton responded to the radicals by asking them if they wanted 13 year old black children dying due to the Crack Wars of the time.  This is still happening with the death of so many black youth in Chicago.  Though the former President backed down the next day, his standing up to the radicals of Black Lives Matter is significant.

One of the reasons this stands out is that the Clintons have few such moments.  They are paranoid people who, with insouciance (casual lack of concern), lie and blame others.  We recall a taped conversation Bill had with Gennifer Flowers which was heard in 1992.  He told Flowers it would help if she could say she was approached by Republicans about their sexual activity–blame the GOP.

When faced with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hillary blamed her husband’s problems on a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”  She had to know better as she knows her husband and his wandering eye.  As the facts came out we learned that Bill and Monica began their relationship very early after their first meeting.  Monica would later testify that a month into their “friendship” and “this conduct,” she was still doubtful that the President even knew her name.  After months of lying, obfuscation and dissembling by the Clintons the truth came out.  For lying under oath, the supposed chief defender of American law lost his attorney’s license and was impeached but not convicted.

Did Hillary the insouciant learn from this experience?   She did not as she has said that the e-mail scandal is due to a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”  Even the sensible Left has said this makes no sense as it is the F.B.I. who is conducting the investigation and that F.B.I. Director James Comey is a straight arrow who has gone after the GOP as much as the Democrats.  One suspects that Hillary is not nearly as calm as her dismissive attitude would suggest.

The Democrats in general are worried about this and want it wrapped up soon in case they need turn to the fumbling. bumbling Uncle Joe Biden.  Pretty sure they won’t hand the nomination to crazy Uncle Bernie.  Even if Hillary skates though the e-mail obstacles, some of her aids may be indicted which would also be damaging.

Beyond that, Hillary Clinton is as poor a candidate as most of us have seen.  She is as awkward on the stump as Al Gore and Richard Nixon and has none of husband Bill’s charm nor Nixon’s considerable gifts.  She is cold and calculating and not at all likeable.  Columnist George Will has said he is not a man of empathy but one has to feel a bit for Hillary as she works for the nomination with no skills or aptitude for campaigning.

Young people are not so taken with her or Bill as they see them as old hat, given to conspiracy theory and that Hillary enabled Bill to abuse women like Monica Lewinsky who was young enough to be the President’s daughter.  Some of the young people wonder why the Old Line Press was so enamored of the Clintons.  That is just one of the reasons so many of them are Bernie Sanders fans.

If it were not for so much angst on the Republican side (principally authored by Donald Trump) it is likely that any number of the GOP candidates would be up in the polls over Hillary.  As it is, the Republicans may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  With so much coverage of the Donald there has not been much attention paid to the e-mail scandal by the Press.  This is not to say they would go after Hillary as they would a Republican who had a private server for national secrets.

All this makes one long for a Harry Truman or a Ronald Reagan.  Truman lived, said and believed that “The Buck Stops Here.”   With Bill and Hillary the buck stops with the vast right wing.  This is one of the reasons Hillary’s negatives are so high and why so many outside hardened Democrats do not trust her. Do we really want such people who live on the edge, sometimes go over the edge, who lie and cheat back in the White House?   I hope not.

I fear all this is another sign of the decline of the Republic.  Some of the young GOP talent such as Paul Ryan elects not to run.  And the young Marco Rubio, who may have been the most naturally gifted in the race on either side, had to drop out due to the Dumpster who won FL and called him “Little Marco.”   Part of Trump’s appeal to many is that he says publicly what most politicians only think privately.  While that can be refreshing it does not a President make.

All this makes for exciting television but will it make for a successful Presidency?  I suspect not and we cannot afford another error like Barack Obama.  When Lyndon Johnson left office in some disgrace, the great essayist Eric Sevareid noted his failures but said, “On the other hand, we were not the best people a President ever had to lead.”  We may be getting what we deserve as we turn our back on our founding principles.

There is One who remains perfectly calm in the face of these storms and that is the Almighty.  He is never taken by surprise in terms of human sin and flailing about to find someone else to blame.  In fact, His Son took all this on Himself at the Cross–“At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the Light.”  I think this is singularly comforting.

There is a story of a group of naturalists in Scotland.  They were looking for a particular flower up and down the hillsides.  Finally they see a whole cluster of the flowers, but they are growing on the side of a precipice.  It is deep and dangerous.  They as older men cannot retrieve them.

They see a little Scottish shepherd boy tending the flocks nearby.   They hit upon the idea of offering him a large sum to climb down and pick the flowers.  The naturalists would tie a rope around his waist and lower him down.  The young lad refuses but in a few moments he is back.   The men say, “Yes, are you going to do it?  Do you want more money?  We will pay it.”

The little shepherd says, “No, I will do it but only if that man can hold the rope.”  He points to a powerful man standing nearby and says, “That is my dad and he will NEVER let go of the rope.”  God is our powerful Heavenly Father who will never let go of the rope.

We do not have to trust the falsely insouciant, the buck passers, the liars, the paranoid.  They are the blind leading the blind.  We can say with confidence, “I have put my trust in the Hands of the One Who said from the Cross, ‘Father into Thy Hands I commit my Spirit.’ ”    We can and we do.  With God there are no dead ends.   Whatever the detours, dangers, delays, difficulties there are no dead ends with God.  He is never taken by surprise and He is still ultimately in charge.  Praise be to God!

Eutychus

 

 

Exploring the Promised Land

Around 1440 B.C. Moses sent 12 spies (one from each tribe) to explore Canaan, the land promised to the Hebrew People.  Ten of these men came back in fear and said, “It is a land flowing with milk and honey.  But the people there are powerful and live in large, well fortified cities.”  Numbers 13:27-28  Joshua and Caleb in essence said, “Nonsense!  We should take this land.  God will help us.”

But the Hebrews counted the majority who said it could not be done rather than the two powerful men who were not afraid and brought a good report.  God then let the Hebrews wander in the desert for nearly 40 years while the fearful generation died off.  But Joshua and Caleb lived to enter the Promised Land in approximately 1400 B.C. and to subdue the cities there for the Hebrews.

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw was one of my Old Testament professors in seminary.  He is a man of incredible spiritual depth.  In his book, This Day with the Master, he points out the names of the 10 spies who brought back a fearful report–Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, and Geuel.  No one ever names children after these men.  Few historians recognize the names.

Twelve young men stood and faced God’s future at a place called Kadesh Barnea.  Ten chose their future on the basis of their fears.   Two men chose their future on the basis of a personal knowledge of, and full commitment to God and His plans for them.   They wholly followed the Lord, and their names are still spoken thousands of years later.   We still name our children after them.

The world and our nation needs more Calebs and Joshuas.  We have such leaders among us still.  They have names like Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina and they speak with the sound of a certain trumpet.  But  when they step forward do we listen or, like the Hebrews of old, count the numbers who say, “Government is the answer;  not God.”  In many ways we have become a nation that is wandering in the desert, fearful and anxious, with the blind leading the blind.

Other than a brief eight year period under Ronald Reagan we seem to remain on a glide path on the course set by FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society.  And we appear to be running out of time to change course.  It is not easy to bring the minority report as Caleb and Joshua did.  That is one of the reasons too few do it.  But for the sake of our children and grandchildren we must speak up for God and Country.

Let us address fear here.  C.S. Lewis, great Christian apologist of the 20th century wrote in The Screwtape Letters, XXIX, “The act of cowardice is all that matters;  the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin.”  He is exactly right.  We all have fear sometimes but as Paul writes in II Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power. . . .”  And action cures fear.  Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in an essay, “Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions. . .Fear indicates great wrongs which must be righted.” We need such instruction right now.

A comfortable plane ride became very bumpy.  The plane rolled and pitched like a ship on a wind-whipped ocean.  The passengers were agitated except for one little girl who calmly read her book.  After the plane landed she was asked how she stayed so calm.  She answered, “My daddy is the pilot and he is taking me home.”  God can handle the storm.  Caleb and Joshua knew that.

Yes, the world and the nation needs more Calebs and Joshuas.  Only such persons can lead us into the future, into the Promised Land that we need and for which we long.  Will we be among them?   I hope so.

Eutychus

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!

Eutychus

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.

Eutychus

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!

Eutychus