Presidential Election . . .

The time is late February, 2016, and it is an election year. The United States is honestly in a really big mess . . . we have been on a frightening down-hill spiral . . . morally, culturally, financially, socially, militarily, and in world-standing.

For the past eight years, Barrack Obama has occupied the Oval Office and he has clearly been the laziest, most self-serving, unChristian and least effective President in history. His policies have been disastrous, his appointees to high office have been embarrassing, his lack of leadership has been troubling . . . he has left our enemies chuckling over our indecision and our allies scratching their heads about what has happened to our Nation.

Amazingly, a large group of good folks concerned about where we are—and where we are headed—at a frightening pace, and I honestly believe they, for the most part, care about our future, and have thrown their hats in the ring. Some of those people are decent, honest people with track records of public service: Gov John Kasich of Ohio, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Dr. Ben Carson, famous Neurosurgeon, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, former Pastor Mike Huckabee, and a snake-oil salesman with a really bad hair-do named Donald Trump. Trump is a flamboyant businessman/real estate developer with a confusing, checkered past. Over the years he has been unfaithful to his wives (he is now with wife #4), and he has left a wide range of damage and hurting people in his wake of business practices, including banks and investors. There are just big questions about who he is and what he really represents.

As crazy as that is, Trump has taken the Republican voters by storm and left the Republican Party standing on its ear . . . that fact has created great debate across the country . . . about the hows and whys of it all. It Seems to Me . . . the truth is actually quite clear . . . the leaders of the Republican Party have betrayed its base and have failed to stand up for true conservative values. The folks who have worked on behalf of, sent financial support in, and carried the card of the Party are just flat angry . . . and have demonstrated that anger over recent years . . . and spurred the Tea Party movement.

Those angry voters have fallen blind victims to his brash, anti-establishment rhetoric that he says what they want to hear . . . and says it in a brash manner that strikes a chord with them. It is almost unimaginable to me that he could even seriously be considered for the highest office in the land. In my humble opinion, he really stands for very little . . . he publicly holds up the Bible and declares his Faith and sickens me as I get the sense that he is trying to use God for his own purposes.

On the other side, Democratic: the candidates are Hillary Clinton, and her only Democratic opponent is a 74-year-old, self-avowed Socialist who calls for free college tuition . . . and he is giving Hillary all she can handle! Hillary is the wife of Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton and his immorality embarrassed this nation as no other President ever has . . . with one sexual scandal after another over a 30-year period! He embarrassed us with a young intern in the White House . . . he lied over and over on the charges . . . then the blue dress appeared and silenced his lies. Hillary was only concerned about their political life . . . and shrugged off his behavior. She has a long history of dishonesty in public service . . . beginning when she was fired as a young attorney during the Nixon impeachment process by Democrat leaders who said, “Because she is a liar.” She has proven that over and over through the years . . . and it is once again being cast in flashing neon signs . . . related to her service as Secretary of State. She, even in high office, simply was unable to abide by a few simple, time-honored rules of service. It is public knowledge that as she runs for the office of President, she is being investigated by the FBI.

I don’t know how this thing will play out, but an important reason I do this blog is for my family . . . and I want you to,know my thoughts and beliefs. You can read my thoughts, expectations, and then see how it all plays out and say, “He was full of prunes,” which is okay.

But I want to go on record as saying that Donald a Trump offends me . . . and I think he presents great danger to our nation. If he is successful in getting the Republican nomination, he cannot win the General Election. I promise you that if he is the Republican nominee, he will blow up in the election . . . or the Clinton machine will expose hidden things about him that will end his campaign in shame.

Last night, as I watched the CNN Debate being held in Houston, I am a supporter of Senator Ted Cruz for President. I think he has a shot. Moreover, I like Marco Rubio, but I suspect he is still a bit young and free. I think he will be a very good candidate a few years down the road.

There you have it . . . I fear that we are a culture swimming in an ocean of information, yet drowning in ignorance. God Help us!


Job . . . Lessons to be Learned . . .

It is commonly accepted that the oldest book in the Holy Bible is the Book of Job. It is a powerful, yet heart-wrenching story of how a great man . . . the wealthiest and most respected man in the region . . . a man who loved, honored, obeyed, and served God . . . actually became a pawn in a violent chess match between God and His arch-enemy Satan. Without any explanation or forewarning, God withdrew His favor and protection from Job’s life and allowed Satan to launch attack upon him as few have ever been attacked! In one day, all of his wealth was stripped away, a number of his best employees and friends were murdered on the job, and all of his children perished in a tornado. Then, Job lost his health, and his body was covered with painful boils. Word spread throughout the region and folks were curious what had happened . . . a tragic, and even morbid, thing about humans is that they tend to enjoy it when hard times come upon the rich, beautiful, and famous . . . and they do love to talk!

Of course, Job’s heart is shattered and he is mentally, physically, and emotionally overwhelmed; yet, spiritually he remains strong. His wife, in 2:9, appears and asks him, “Are you still hanging onto all of that stuff you believed about God and His blessings even after all of this? Why don’t you just curse God and die?” Job replies to her, “You speak like a silly and undisciplined woman who hangs around the gates of the city . . . don’t you understand that we are not only to love and trust God in the good times . . . but we can also trust Him when life becomes difficult.”
A brief period of time passes and word spreads across the region. The scene shifts as some of his friends show up.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come on him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

These men behaved in a respectable manner and we are told they sat with Job for seven days and nights without speaking. Surely that was comforting to Job . . . as he would doze off and then wake and see his friends sitting nearby . . . one thing is certain: it is one thing to go through something, but it is something else when we go through it with someone else! Feeling loved is critical in trying times. It seems that their intention were honorable in that they seemed to have come to mourn with him, and to comfort him – to show the appropriate sympathy of friends in a time of special calamity. They did not come with an intention to reproach him, or to charge him with being a hypocrite; yet, that is precisely what later happened! As they arrived on the scene, verse 2:12 suggests that when they looked upon Job they were heart-broken at his physical condition and were barely able to even recognize their friend. His pain, suffering, and illness had tragically altered his appearance. Have you ever known someone who went through the valley and shadow of death and it aged him or her like twenty years in a few short days?

In verse 3:2, after the seven days of Jewish mourning had passed, Job began to speak, and he lamented his very birth and existence. In verse 3:25 he declares that his greatest fear has now come upon him. It is obvious that in spite of Job’s words of confidence in God, Satan has been working on his mind and a change has come over Job. The simple truth is that even folks of the deepest faith can grow weary over time of constant pain and suffering.
Soon Job’s friends begin to chime in and offer their counsel and advise . . . and it becomes like a pack mentality. Their words are wrong, untrue, painful, and far off of the mark. Regardless, what their intentions were, their comments were troubling for Job.

Truth: Probably some of the dumbest things ever said by humans are actually said to folks they care about during periods of extreme pain and suffering. I know . . . I have been guilty of the very thing. Sandy, over the years has heard me say well-meaning comments to hurting people, such as, “The Lord will never put more on us than He puts in us.” Quietly and lovingly, she would say, “Honey, I know you mean well, but those words don’t help hurting people.” I didn’t like it, but she was certainly correct.

The truth is that when we are confused by tragedy and painful circumstances, we feel compelled to say words of comfort to people . . . and sadly, those words are actually more for our own benefit than for the person afflicted.

I want to be as kind as I can be here, but I have just experienced this very thing again . . . and I have experienced it many times over the past three years. As I have previously recorded herein, I had total knee-replacement on January 13th, and have been in physical therapy since the day following surgery. Some of that therapy has been extremely painful and difficult. I have been amazed by some of the silly, coy, and senseless comments made by people who have never spent one minute in any form of physical therapy . . . especially some of the people who are actually employed at the rehab facility. I have endured a broken neck, an injured spinal column, and a severe injury to my back – all of which required radical surgery and physical therapy! I have frankly lived in therapy and rehab for the major part of three years. I am a beast in rehab . . . the therapists are amazed at my dedication, commitment, and determination . . . when I say that it is brutal, extremely painful, and difficult, I honestly don’t need comments from those who have zero experience in rehab! Silly, well-phrased comments and clichés just don’t help motivate me . . . nor do they altar the reality!

Yesterday, it was discovered that I had signs of infection showing up in the surgical incision. Following therapy, I called my friend and primary care doctor and told his folks,what was going on. I was told to come straight over and upon arrival was sent straight back to see the doctor. His nurse, Linda, has been my sweet friend for 25 years. When I arrived in the back, she came out in the hallway, knelt down before me, and examined my leg. She paused and I knew she was silently praying for me. After a moment she raised up and hugged me with a bear hug that shouted out love, concern, and affection. This is a lady who knows how to warm one’s heart in a difficult setting. She used very softly spoken words, but her actions screamed out love and commitment.

Over the years I have developed a text system as a prayer chain with a large number of folks I love. I wrote a brief explanation of the discovery, the doc taking a culture and sending it off to the lab, and giving me a Rx for an antibiotic. I said that fear of infection had been my greatest fear with the knee replacement . . . and confessed that I felt discouraged.

I was overwhelmed with the responses I got . . . some of my friends texted me back sermons on faith (7 and 8 maxed-out texts . . . arriving in machine-gun order). Others, told me, “Don’t be silly, just trust the Lord!” Others suggested that I needed to quit being concerned over negative things, while others simply waived it away as being nothing. As I read those replies, comments, and observations, I thought, “It is certainly easier to be strong, brave, positive, and confident when the infection is in someone else’s leg!”

I want to offer a suggestion . . . from a qualified suggestion agent . . . It is simply this: When you encounter a person struggling with life, why don’t you just bite your tongue, hold your well-intentioned words and simply hug the person, say, “I love you, and call me if I can help,” pray for the person, and move on. Just consider that all of that other stuff simply heaps guilt and confusion on a hurting person . . . and the truth of the matter is you really don’t know what you are talking about!

There really is something to the old, “walk a mile in my shoes!” If you will do that, you will be a mile away before you speak . . . and that will be a good thing . . . for both you and the struggling person. I wish I had learned that much earlier in life!


Choices . . .

It is choices . . . not chance that determines our destiny.

One of mine and Sandy’s all-time favorite movie lines is from an old Danny Devito movie, Renaissance Man (1994). Devito plays Bill Rago, a down-on-his-luck divorcee, who had recently been fired from his advertising job. Desperate for a job, he lands a gig teaching English classes at a nearby Army base . . . taking on a group of low-income, underachieving students, who are apathetic about their education. Bill, himself frustrated by life, struggles with the group, but amazingly manages to turn the class around as he begins discussing Hamlet. As the story develops, one of the guys in the class is arrested by the MP, as he used an alias to join the Army and was really wanted by the law.

The students are broken-hearted over the turn of events, and look to Bill—the older, wiser adult for clarification. Bill struggles with the painful situation himself, and after deep reflection, he perfectly delivers the great line . . . “Here is what I know . . . the choices that we make dictate the life that we live!” What makes the line so great is the depth of truth it contains. One author put it this way, “We make our choices, then our choices make us,” which, of course, is true.

We, more so than any generation of people to ever live on this planet, can make choices that were just a few years back unimaginable. A few examples of our great range of choices:

Watching TV . . . we can choose between cable, satellite, or dish. We can choose between Netflix, Apple TV, and videos from Red Box. Most of us receive like 1,000 channels.

Music . . . we can listen to AM, FM, XM, Sirius, iHeart radio, Pandora, or we can simply enter the name of an Artist/song on the scroll line of our mobile devise. Most TV systems contain several dozen channels with music. We can create our own playlists and record them on our iPods. Moreover, we can play our CD’s . . . seemingly, our choices are endless.

Travel . . . most Americans can travel pretty much anywhere within reason, if they are willing to focus their attention, resources, and finances toward that objectives. I have elderly, low-income residents who manage to go on a nice cruise sometimes, and visit some interesting ports-of-call.

Purchasing . . . unlike previous generations who were limited to items available in the local marketplace, we, today, via the Internet, Amazon, etc. can purchase products from across the world and have them delivered to our doorstep if we are willing to pay for it.

Information . . . simply seems an endless supply to us and instantly so. We can Google pretty much anything. I have a personal concierge named Siri on my iPhone who can provide amazing amounts of information. This afternoon, I set my phone down and Siri said, “I am sorry, Pappy, I didn’t get that!” She is ever ready . . . just the punch of a button!

Behaviorist tells us that adults average making about 3,000 choices/decisions per day. Here is what life itself teaches us . . . If we make good choices, it pays dividends for years to come . . . bad choices do the same.

The funny thing is that some choices do not really make much difference, while other choices can affect us into eternity! Another thing that we can know . . . we will always be faced with choices. We will have to choose to either change our ways, or remain the way we are. We will need to choose to change our financial practices, or choose to limp through life struggling with uncertainties and a frightening future.

Now, here is the message . . . Life is full of choices . . . and the choices we make are clearly our responsibility . . . and we will be held accountable for them!

Perhaps, the wisest, most prudent choice I have ever known of a mortal making is found in Joshua 24:15. I encourage you to look up the choice that was made publicly by a man 106 years of age . . . and in the face of pressure, tension, challenge, confusion, and turmoil!

Aristotle once said: “What is in our power to do, it is also in our power not to do. So we can choose to do either good or bad.”

Choices matter . . . be wise . . . choose well.

It’s All in the Name . . .

Parents put some time, thought, and energy into naming their children, but when the child gets to school and several other kids show up with the same name the child’s name is revised, modified, or altered to something more manageable. Oftentimes, folks simply hang a nickname on the kid and that might last a lifetime.

There are times when one’s name is really needed and important . . . occasions when proper identification is important . . . such as when purchasing real estate, taking out a bank loan, or perhaps, buying a car. Yet, there are times when we are asked to provide our name when it simply makes no sense; I have had a few of those. Two of them I recalled today; they were:

Sandy and I were in the Padre-Staples Mall in Corpus Christi one Friday evening. She was shopping and I was following along being a good sport. In Dillard’s, we walked through the men’s department and I spied a beautiful pair of black alligator loafers like I had always wanted, just never was able to afford a pair. I excused myself from Sandy’s shopping-spree and tried on the alligator shoes; I really liked them. I asked the sales lady the price, and she told me they were $600.00. I had sold a great shotgun a couple of days before and had made a nice profit . . . and actually had a couple of thousand bucks on me, so I decided to buy the shoes. We walked to the register and the lady rang up the sale. I laid several crisp hundred-dollar-bills on the counter. She picked up the money, counted it, and asked for my driver’s license. I was dumbfounded and asked why she needed to look at my license for the purchase of a pair of shoes. She smiled and said, “Company policy on sales with larger cash payments.” I reminded her that the dollar was the established and recognized currency of the Nation, and it carried an open declaration, “This note is legal tender for all debts, both public and private.” To make a long story short, neither of us would budge an inch, and I did not purchase the shoes (and I really wanted them, too . . . they were Nunn Bush)! That just stuck in my craw . . . being required to provide proof of my identity to purchase a pair of shoes from a department store and pay cash. Call me hard-headed, but I know that was wrong.

Another time with a similar experience, I believe I handled a little better. Sandy and I were in San Antonio at the BMW dealership. She was shopping for a new car. Being a firm believer that she ought to pick out exactly the car she wants and negotiate her own deal, we split up when we arrived at the dealership. She was free to call or text if she needed/wanted my help and per an earlier agreement, I would be willing to review her deal . . . if she wished. I browsed around and kicked some tires. That is always a fun thing to do for a while. I finally found my way into the showroom where BMW always offers a refreshment center . . . with fresh fruit, juices, and light snacks. They also have a nice gift shop filled with accessories for BMW owners. I made my way to the gift shop and selected a few items for Sandy for Christmas . . . a BMW windbreaker, a key chain, a coffee mug, etc.

I made my way to the sales counter with my selections. The fellow at the counter approached the register/computer and looked at my selections and asked, “Your name, please sir?” I smiled and replied, “Cash sale.” He paused and looked at me and said, “Sir, store policy is that I must get your name.” I said, “Well, I have a difficult name to pronounce, but if you will give me a pad I can write it down for you.” He accommodated me and gave me the pen and pad. I wrote the name: U. R. Silly on the pad and handed it back to him. He looked at it briefly and smiled, then began clicking away. We concluded the transaction and he smiled and said, “Thank you, Mr. Silly!”

As I left with my goods, I thought the night auditor will likely get a chuckled over that transaction! I enjoyed the experience and have expanded it to some other applications . . . with my favorite alias in goofy situations being . . . Mr. U. R. Stuck!


Dinner Conversation . . .

We ate out this evening and had an interesting conversation. That subject was change . . . and aging. I was the oldest person at the table by a few years, so it was assumed that I knew more about the subject than my dinner campions. As we talked about it, I made a bold and accurate prediction that I believe is worthy of being recorded herein. It was along the lines of:

When we are in our teens, we think we are bullet-proof and will be around forever. A few years later in our 30’s, we begin to experience some aches and pains from bumps, bangs, and bruises we experienced in our earlier years. Then in our late 40’s and 50’s, we begin to experience the loss of cartridge in our joints, develop knee, ankle, foot, and hip pains. It is not unusual during these years for doctors to suggest various surgeries to deal with our aches and pains. My friend and Sunday school class member told me that he has had both knees replaced over riding bulls as a young guy. The doctors finally told him if he did not give up bull-riding and rodeo-ing, he would end up in a wheelchair.

Sometimes the medical issues we struggle with are related to what we did earlier in life. For some others, it is simply part of the aging process and breaking down of the body. Regardless of the reason, there are a few certain things that will occur as we exit our 50’s and move into our 60’s. They are peculiar things; a few of them are:

. . . Beautiful black hair changes to a salt-and-pepper color and begins to seriously thin;

. . . Our beautiful green eyes begin to dim, and our vision needs help;

. . . Our once amazing hearing dulls, and we need help;

. . . As crazy as it sounds, things begin to change and move around on our bodies; our chests and our tummies somehow manage to change places;

. . . Our feet begin to ache; shoe style simply becomes unimportant and gives way to comfort;

. . . Our skin tone changes in many regards: liver spots appear, dryness seems to be incurable, and what was once tight and firm loses its elasticity and begins to wrinkle;

. . . Many folks struggle with bladder problems . . . and today diapers are available for both toddlers and older folks. The diapers for babies are called Luvs, Huggies, and Pampers. Those made for older folks are called Depends. The old joke is that no matter what the toddler does, after the diaper change takes place, the adult loves on, hugs, kisses and adores the child. Yet, when the same problem occurs for an older person . . . who cares for them really “depends” on who is named in the will!

Nope, aging is not for the sissy . . . this is really pretty tough stuff. I have been in the elderly-housing business since I was 26 years of age. I have watched it play out time and time again . . . but honestly, it just never registered until it became active in my own life!

This aging thing is a great deal like gravity . . . it really doesn’t much matter what you think about it or you say about it, it just has its own reality and is always at work!



What Have You Left Unfinished ?

One day this week, before my PT, I was feeling discouraged and had a bit of time, so I read some from the Bible. Actually, I had no particular reason for doing so, but I found myself reading from the Old Testament book of Joshua, in the 13th chapter. In verse 1, God spoke to Joshua . . . basically saying to him, “You are now an old man, yet there is still much territory to be captured.” As I read on, I discovered that Joshua was 101 years of age at the time. It Seems to Me . . . that God would have said something akin to, “Joshua, you have been a very dependable servant. You led the people well and you were faithful in all things I set before you. Now, I have reserved a special place of rest from which you can watch the total conquering of the Promised Land.” But that is not what God said to him at all. He called him back to service and said, “you have unfinished work at hand!”
As I thought about the passage, I was actually wrestling with the notion of quitting my PT. It is brutally painful and I actually hate it. I literally have to force myself to go each time. I was thinking that I only have four sessions remaining, and I have been in PT non-stop from January 14 – February 17, and much of that (21 days) included three one-hour sessions per day. I had pretty much convinced myself that I have now accomplished being able to make my knee completely flat when I lie on a table, and I can bend my knee 110 degrees and that is much better than it has been over the past 30 years. Both are reasonable expectations for a knee-replacement patient.
After I read about Joshua, I knew that I had unfinished business and had to complete the therapy. As the Therapist massaged, pushed, bent, and manipulated my knee, I asked him why he wanted to get more than 110 degree bend in my knee. He smiled and replied, “Simply because I want it to be easy for you getting in and out of a car and to be able to climb stairs. Anything less than 125 will always be a problem for you.” DUH . . .
As I endure the painful therapy and driving back and forth, I thought about how much easier it is to start things than it is to finish things. I suspect that is why schools wait until a student has finished all of his classes before handing out the diploma (as opposed to giving it to a student on the day he registers for classes! Colleges do the same with degrees. Here is something to consider . . . your local high school’s senior class will be probably 25% smaller that its freshman class! Where did those kids go?
What is back there behind you that you need to address? Perhaps, it is the behavior of a child that needs to be dealt with . . . Maybe it is going out of your way to deliver a long-overdue apology . . . Possibly adopting an improved eating/exercise program . . . paying off an old debt that has been hanging for too long . . . finishing up that degree . . . finally writing that book?
It is an amazing thing about us as humans, but we all have unfinished things behind us, and in spite of our good intentions, we just don’t go back and deal with them. That was where Joshua was in Chapter 13, and God called him out on it. Joshua had seen some amazing things in his life: the parting on the Red Sea . . . the people crossing over on dry land . . . he saw fresh water gush forth from the rock . . . he had seen the quail delivered to a weary, hungry, and complaining nation . . . he saw manna fresh on the ground each morning . . . he had led many military campaigns . . . he had conquered much on the territory . . . but his task was still not finished; there was more land to be conquered. Here is an important element of this thing of dealing with unfinished business . . . the truth is that it might benefit those who come after us much more than it benefits us today! That certainly was the case with Joshua and his unfinished business. That is, perhaps, something of a new thought, but we do each have an obligation to do today what we can for those who will come behind us. In that regard, we as Americans have clearly left a mess for those who will follow us.
Of course, part of American history has long been that the Nation took on debt in each generation that would be partially assumed by the next generation, but the debt passed to us was smart debt . . . money used to develop infrastructure . . . build bridges . . . important buildings . . . military equipment . . . and technology. Tragically, today the debt we are running up and leaving for others to follow is some idiot Congressman’s salary, or a month’s worth of food stamps (and possibly for lazy people who really don’t deserve them), borrowed money to pay the operating costs for a broken and over-run prison system, or to pay for illegal alien’s children’s education.
I read an article recently about Mount Rushmore. Do you know that it is the classic example of unfinished business? On March 3, 1925, Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission. Between 1927 and 1931, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the heads of American Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The work was originally intended to display the Presidents’ heads, faces, and bust. Of course, President Washington’s carving/sculpture is by far the most complete. After Mr. Borglum’s death, his son, Lincoln, stepped forward to complete his dad’s work, but in a matter of a few months the project ran out of money and was abandoned.
In 1933 the National Park Service took over the Mount Rushmore monument and has since operated it as a national park, which attracts several million visitors each year. There it sits as an important part of American history, yet the greater truth is that it is an unfinished project . . . and it has sat there for over five decades as an unfinished project! Why do you suppose that its unfinished status doesn’t trouble us much?
Perhaps because it is reflective of our own lives?
It Seems to me . . . that I will do well to complete my brutal PT knowing that there is benefit in the pain . . . Then I need to survey the landscape of my life and begin identifying those unfinished areas of my life and systematically begin addressing them and try to bring them to closure! The truth is that I have a really terrific book (well, I think it is, anyway) about 75% complete. The book’s title is, “When the Seatbelt Light Comes on . . . in Mid-flight!” The book is about my experience of discovering that I had a broken neck, then a few short months later that I had a serious spinal cord injury, and then later a broken back!” The focus of the book is that although I endured some terribly dark and lonely days, I always knew the Lord was close by and that He was actively at work in all of it (Romans 8:28). The sad truth is I haven’t even reviewed the book in a couple of months. I think it is time for me to complete that important project . . . who knows, it might actually help someone coming along behind me?


The Passing of a Great Man . . . a Great American . . .

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative voice on the high court, was discovered dead on Saturday, February 13th, at the age of 79. The Justice had a number of passions which included his beautiful and very large family, the Constitution, music, and hunting. An avid hunter, he joined a select group of friends for a quail hunt in far West Texas, in the Marfa area. The ranch his group hunted and stayed at is a great, exclusive resort. 

His death set off an immediate debate about whether President Barack Obama should fill the seat in an election year. Obama said Saturday night that he plans to nominate a replacement, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the nomination should wait until the next president comes into office while top Democrat Harry Reid called for the seat to be filled “right away.” Make no mistake, the passing of this legal giant will develop into a political battle. Judge Scalia was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan, and he las long been the picture of a conservative. He stood strong and was a force to be reckoned with in matters of 2nd Amendment rights, abortions, and anything and everything that promoted a larger government and infringed on the rights and liberties of the individual.
Justice Scalia was a devout Catholic who had a deep and abiding faith in God. He was extremely clever and witty and speaking on this modern day desire to remove God from all things public, he wrote, “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools . . .and He has not been disappointed. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
Read more at:
The owner of the ranch where Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, was found dead Saturday shared the details of the judge’s appearance and the events surrounding his death.
John Poindexter, the owner of the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a 30,000-acre luxury ranch in the Big Bend region south of Marfa, Texas, told the San Antonio Express-News that he and a friend of Scalia’s entered the judge’s room three hours after he did not show up at a breakfast meeting at 8:30 a.m.
“We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled,” Poindexter said.
Poindexter said Scalia had retired to his room around 9 p.m. Friday night after attending a dinner party with about 40 other guests. Poindexter said that when he found Scalia Saturday morning, he was “lying very restfully,” and “looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap.”
You can be sure that America lost a champion, and that those who want a totally different kind of America will work tirelessly to secure the appointment of some super liberal leaning judge who believes the Constitution is an antiquated document that has out lived it usefulness.
The tragic truth is that the court now is sharply divided at 4 and 4. Those 8 judges are unable to agree on much of anything . . . most especially about the importance, place, and significance of the Constitution. Removing Justice Scalia from that dynamic changes things greatly . . . and certainly not for the best.
We truly have become a Nation in distress. We lost a giant! God rest his soul and comfort his family! God bless America . . . we desperately need it today!

Mrs. Cornelius . . .

I don’t have a clue why, but I woke up this morning thinking about a neighbor lady from when I was a seven- or eight-year-old boy . . . her name was Mrs. Cornelius. We lived in a small, dumpy, white house, with wood siding. It was located at 211 S. Cecil Street, Hobbs, N. M., USA 88240. If you walked out of our front door, Mrs. Cornelius’ house was on the left. We rented our house, but I would wager she owned her house, as she had it fixed up pretty nice.

There was a house full of us kids, and I am not sure why, but as I recall I was Mrs. Cornelius’ favorite. She would often see me in the yard and holler out and invite me over for a soda or a small bowl of ice cream (those items were never available out our house!)

I recall that Mrs. Cornelius was a talented lady . . . she created stuff from plaster-of-Paris, fired it in a small kiln she had in her house, painted it, and then sold it. I remember that she made me a Santa Clause mug one Christmas. She painted it beautifully . . . I was so proud of that thing! I remember taking it home and my mom and I having a debate about using it daily vs setting it up on a shelf to simply be admired as a work of art. Mama promised me that she would lay the law down that the mug was my personal property and was off limits to everyone except me! I am certain that was the first thing in my life that was ever declared as being “completely mine and off limits to everyone else.” I remember discovering the mug on the kitchen cabinet later with the little handle broken off . . . someone broke Mama’s rule. My heart was seriously hurt. I was embarrassed, but I took the cup back to Mrs. Cornelius to inquire about repair . . . but it could not be repaired. That little, handle-less mug survived several years after that, but it never had the same joy for me after it was broken.

I recall that Mrs. Cornelius always wore long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and a large black and white bonnet . . . year around. She had pretty flower beds in front of her house, and she paid me 25-cents an hour to keep the beds weeded. I am sure that was a lot of money to the dear lady, I know it was to me.

I can’t recall ever hearing her speak of any family . . . or her ever having had a visitor. I am wondering if perhaps I, as a 7- or 8-year-old boy, just might have been her best friend. She was always very kind to me, but she clearly didn’t like it when one of my pals, or brothers, wandered into her yard. She usually ran them off in short order.

As I recall, she was actually quite fond of my sweet little sister, Dorothy, who was just a toddler at the time. She liked me bringing Dorothy to her house.

That has been almost 60 years ago, and my friend, Mrs. Cornelius would surely have been in her 60’s back then, so I am certain that she would have passed away. I don’t know why on earth I woke up this morning thinking of that dear lady, but I hope that she was a Christian and I get to see her in Heaven one day.

That dear little, skinny-as-a-rail lady, sure made a poor little rag-muffin feel pretty important when there was very little in his life that offered him any sense of worth or identity.

A Rude Awakening . . .

She came into my room to introduce herself and informed me she was assigned to my rehab team for the night. I was initially a bit uncomfortable in that I was just not certain if this person was a male or female—yet the voice was very soft and tender—no clues there; it was made worse because I am hard of hearing. And that was even more problematic because she is rather tall (6’2″ or 3″) and I was lying flat of my back on a hospital gurney. In the course of idle chatter, I asked if she had gone to school locally. She replied that she had gone to school in Detroit, and had them joined the army and had been stationed in Colorado. She was tall and slender, with long straight hair, parted in the middle and hanging down on her shoulders. Her clothing was basic and gender-neutral . . . baggy hospital scrubs on bottom and a baggy hoodie on top . . . Her shoes were totally gender-neutral, dirty and worn Adidas athletic shoes . . . no clues!

After an hour of going back and forth I still did not have a clue. I asked about marriage and was promptly told, “I will never marry.” Cautiously I asked about siblings and was told, “I had one brother, who is now in prison.”

I wanted to be very sensitive in all of this and I was certain this had always been an issue for her and likely she had been teased much of her life.

She mentioned that her dad had performed contract work for Ford Motor Company and her family lived in a 28-foot trailer. She mentioned that her first car had been a Ford Maverick when she was 17—said in the context of having been the only thing her dad had ever given her. She was in and out through the night. In fact, she worked like three other nights and we developed into a very basic, casual acquaintance, of sorts.

Over that time, I settled on the notion that she was female, but I have no concrete proof. She might be a person who had a surgery like Bruce Jenner. I did on several occasions try to shift our conversation to spiritual matters, but she skillfully cut me off at the pass each time.

She was very kind, polite, and willing to assist me as I had needs, but at the same time she caused me to believe she was the most peculiar individual I have ever encountered . . . and I have encountered some mighty peculiar folks.

I don’t know where she is now . . . but I wish her well. She is actually an extremely sad human, and deserves kindness. I do appreciate the courtesies she extended to me during my hospital stay. I suspect I will spend some time thinking about her . . . and praying for her in the days to come.

Dispensationalism . . .

I am currently studying the Bible book of Genesis, the primary book of the Bible which explains, from God’s perspective, the origin of humanity and the universe. Most world systems attempt to explain man’s existence and the world in which he dwells, and most are generally in conflict with the Genesis account. However, it is only Genesis that offers a REASON for man’s existence—to live in a relationship with God. Again, it is only Genesis that documents original sin, yet 6,000+ years of human history certainly verifies that sin. I have studied and taught Genesis several times, but something which I have discovered (or that has occurred to me this time) is that even the Bible does not explain the origin of evil in the world—it just documents its presence in the record and identifies its consequences.

Another thing I am trying to grasp is the truth about dispensationalism. I know that I, along with most Bible students, accept portions of this teaching, but struggle with where they are and how many there may be. The range varies from as few as three to as many as twenty-seven.

First, what is a dispensation? It is believed to be an administration, a system, or a management. In theology, a dispensation is the divine administration of a period of time—or a divinely appointed age. Dispensationalism is a theological system that recognizes these ages ordained by God to order the affairs of the world. Dispensationalism has two primary distinctions: (1) a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy; and (2) a distinction between Israel and the church in God’s program. It is clear to me that most mainline denominations accept that there are at least two dispensations—the Old Testament and the New Testament. A simple way of explaining it is that it is an era in which God deals differently with humanity. Isn’t it obvious that God dealt with humanity differently in the Old Testament (Old Covenant) than how He deals with man today (New Testament—New Covenant)?

Most serious Dispensationalists claim that this principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation, which means giving each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Symbols, figures of speech, and types are all interpreted plainly in this method, and this is in no way contrary to literal interpretation. Even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them.

They teach that there are at least three reasons why this is the best way to view Scripture. First, philosophically, the purpose of language itself seems to require that we interpret it literally. Language was given by God for the purpose of being able to communicate with man. The second reason is biblical. Every prophecy about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament was fulfilled literally. Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ death, and Jesus’ resurrection all occurred exactly and literally as the Old Testament predicted. There is no non-literal fulfillment of these prophecies in the New Testament. This argues strongly for the literal method. If literal interpretation is not used in studying the Scriptures, there is no objective standard by which to understand the Bible. Each and every person would be able to interpret the Bible as he saw fit. Biblical interpretation would devolve into “what this passage says to me . . .” instead of “the Bible says . . .” Sadly, this is pretty much the case in where we are today.

Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by faith—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the church. They believe that the promises God made to Israel (for land, many descendants, and blessings) in the Old Testament will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in Revelation, chapter 20. Dispensationalists believe that just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (Romans 9-11).

Using this system as a basis, Dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into several dispensations. Most students accept seven, as follows: Innocence (Genesis 1:1-3; 7); conscience (Genesis 3:8 – 8:22); human government (Genesis 9:1 – 11:32); promise (Genesis 12:1 – Exodus 19:25); law (Exodus 20:1 – Acts 2:4); grace (Acts 2:4 – Revelation 20:3); and the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). Again, these dispensations are not paths to salvation, but manners in which God relates to man. Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a premillennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pre-tribulational interpretation of the rapture. To summarize, Dispensationalism is a theological system that emphasizes the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, recognizes a clear distinction between Israel and the church, and organizes the Bible into the different dispensations it presents.

I am not fully satisfied with any particular number of such periods and some of the tenants of the belief system, but I am extremely pleased and thankful that God sees me differently “in Christ” than He saw me prior to that defining point in my life. I would certainly argue that there is clearly truth in this teaching, but I struggle with many of the lines drawn therein.

It Seems to me . . . the greatest value of this teaching is to enable students to better grasp the reality that Jesus has forever changed our identity before the judgment seat of God and that His sacrifice absolutely changes how Holy God deals with sin-inclined man! I know that by the demands of Scripture that God was honor-bound to deal with me in a different fashion before than He deals with me today. Jesus is the difference; He changes everything.

This week I am looking at the era of Noah and his family exiting the ark. Certainly a new era, a fresh new start, but clearly with a new tension between man and the rest of God’s creation (I don’t believe animals feared one another or feared man – or man feared animals up to that moment in history). If that tension had existed, it would have made things quite difficult on the ark).

Where did you come from? How did you get here? I hope you know the answers to those questions. The sad truth is that many folks today do not know the answer to those questions. They have grown up in a culture that adopted the teaching that man has evolved . . . but not sure from what or even how. Basically, that he came from a bug climbing out of a slime pit . . . and he has no clue where he goes when this life on earth as we know it comes to an end.

When a culture teaches a generation that they can’t know from where they came . . . nor can they know where they are headed . . . that culture has, thus, taught that generation that not much matters about what it does during its time on earth; hence, dysfunctional families . . . abandoned children . . . drug addictions . . . prisons filled to the max . . . slothfulness and a welfare society . . . and a government out of control.