A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In

July 1, 2015

The Hyprocrisy, the Deceit, and the Absurdity

     In light of yesterday's post on "the cultural cleansing of the South", I could not resist commenting on the cowardice and deceit of one of Hollywood's most outspoken political activists, Ben Affleck.
     It seems that Affleck was a scheduled guest on the PBS show, Finding Your Roots, in which celebrities trace their ancestral heritage.  Somehow, the producers of such shows thinks it is fascinating to us "normal folks" to watch these celebrities discover the unknown facts about their six-times great grandfather.  In fact, one of the segments of Affleck's episode shows him astonished at the revelation that a distant relative fought in the Revolutionary War.  Befitting any Hollywood leading man, ol' Ben is thrilled to find that his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was a hero.
     But there was something left out of the televised version of Ben's family narrative.  Apparently, it was also revealed that several of Affleck's ancestors were slaveholders ... 14 ancestors, owning 242 slaves, to be exact (as discovered by Breitbart.com).  While none of us in the modern world would agree with our ancestors owning slaves, it was the standard IN THE WORLD at that time in history.  That's not an excuse ... it's simply the truth.  But it is what Ben did with his ancestral history regarding slavery that is so disturbing.
    He lobbied the producers of the PBS show to delete that portion of the program in order to hide this part of his family history.  First of all, I find this to be not only dishonest, but sad.  It just proves that our culture of entertainment is all about appearance, not the truth.  Ben was successful in getting his segment edited so that the footage showed him in a "heroic" light, rather than giving a historically accurate picture.  Really, Ben ... are you that insecure?
     Secondly, I am really getting weary of the tendency in our society to judge all white people in 21st century America by the standards of an institution that can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC)!  The Ancient Greeks practiced slavery of peoples of different color and ethnicities; the Roman Empire enslaved entire populations; and the Byzantine-Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the taking of large numbers of Christian slaves and using or selling them in the Islamic world.  And let's not forget the Mongols, the Vikings, the Barbary Pirates, and so many more. The fact is that slavery was not suddenly invented by Southern white plantation owners in the American South!
     And isn't it time that the slavery apologists admit and recognize that unfortunately, slavery was a regular part of the African societal experience?  Sadly, while an inherently evil practice among human beings, African tribes were exploited by their own, once Europeans realized that they could export African slaves for profit.  This fact does not excuse anyone -- and we must face the dark stain upon our national history that slavery represents.  But should we be judged today in light of our ancestor's use of a despicable institution that was common to the world?  In fact, I do not know of one person -- whether white, black, brown, yellow, blue, or orange that maintains that slavery was a noble cause.  Not one!
     So, I also take issue with Mr. Affleck's sheepish apology:  "I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth," Affleck wrote in a Facebook post. "I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery."
     See, Ben, it's what we do in the here and now that matters.  So your vehement defense of all Islam as peaceful, based on the historic definition of the faith, rather than the current actions of its radical followers, should take on a whole new significance for you.  And I disagree with your claim that "as a nation, [we are] still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery".  As I said earlier, no American wishes us to return to the institution of slavery... period!   And what exactly is that "terrible legacy"?  It seems to me, the legacy is that our historic slave past continues to be used as a divisive, and convenient, political weapon against fellow Americans.
     And I had one other silly little thought .... since our President has declared that racism is in our DNA, then does that make Ben Affleck a certifiable racist?  Do you see how absurd this line of reasoning is?
     No white person in America -- at least since their great-great-great grandfather -- has owned another human being.  And neither has any black American suffered the indignity or abuse from that despicable practice.  Is it distasteful to know that your distant relative was involved in slavery, whether white or black?  Of course it is.  But what will it take for us to quit the "blame" and "guilt" games?  What will I ever be able to do to soothe or erase those scars?  The truth is ... nothing.  While I abhor this part of our ancient history, I did not partake in it.  I do not agree with it.  And I think it is time we turn our attention from ancient history to the modern sex slave trade and human trafficking.
     We need to quit looking backwards at something we cannot change, and look towards making a real difference in the lives of real people.  It is time to address the evil practice of modern slavery, in all of its nuances, and let go of the slavery issue from our past.  Southern white slaveowners no longer exist, but there are victims in the here and now that all Americans, of every race, can help rescue.

Philemon 1:16    "No longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord."

June 30, 2015

The War Against The South

     The horror and sadness of the Charleston murders have focused our national conscience on racial tensions.  Along with all the dissection of the murderer's motives, comes the sudden decision that the Confederate flag played a major role and should essentially be outlawed.  It seems to me (in a move designed to appear sensitive to the victims' families), every politician, fake media apologist, and greedy corporate CEO has now joined in the call for banning this iconic symbol of Southern heritage.
     Perhaps I'm a little sensitive, since I live in what is considered part of the South.  In fact, I have lived here for nearly three-quarters of my life ... by choice.  I love the hospitality and friendliness of the people; I love their pride in their history; and I love the importance they place on faith.  And perhaps I'm sensitive because my father recounted his grandmother's stories of escaping rural Tennessee ahead of the Yankee army, which was burning everything in its path.  As a small child, it was my great-grandmother's job to dig up the family silverware from its hiding place in the ground, and to gather as many family mementoes as she could carry in the wagon.  Or maybe I'm proud because my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Lee, a historic and proud name in the South and because our family lineage can be traced back to Old Virginia, and a possible connection to Stonewall Jackson, a celebrated Confederate General.  And maybe I just plain don't like the one-sided picture that is being painted of the South.  They weren't all slave holders.  Like much of the South, my family were farmers.  And to many. the flag simply means pride in their roots and traditions.
     I find it disturbing that in the rush to prove that the nation has transcended its racist past and will not tolerate the likes of a crazy, white supremacist, such as the Charleston killer, there is a growing move to eradicate all Southern influences ... and the over-reaction is neither reasonable nor rational.
     For instance, the memory of Pastor Clementa Pinckney has became the rallying point for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse.  Somehow, the politicians and the PC police felt that the flag symbolized the hate that caused his murder and the deaths of eight of his parishioners.  There was an outcry that his casket was actually carried past the Confederate flag during his funeral.
     But would it surprise you to know that in 2000, during his first term in the South Carolina State Senate, Pinckney actually voted in favor of H5028, the May 2000 compromise which placed the Confederate flag at its current location?  From what we have gathered about Reverend Pinckney's character, it seems to me that he would have cautioned against such a rash decision and rush to judgment.  He would have recognized the emotional attachment that millions of Southerners have to the flag -- not that it represents slavery to them; but that it is a symbol of their unique heritage and of the approximately 600,000 who died in a war that split the nation apart.  Is it too much to consider the sentiments of one writer, who said, "I find it strange that the actions of one sociopath should mar the reputations of millions, as if the flag itself pulled the trigger?"  It is as if somehow, just being proud of being a Southerner means that you are a racist and a bigot.
     But it is not just the Confederate flag that is under attack.  There are actually those who wish to cleanse the nation of all its Southern culture; to wipe it out as if it never existed.  Corporate giants such as Wal-Mart, Amazon and Sears are now refusing to sell any Confederate products (while continuing to sell Nazi paraphernalia).  There are efforts to change the names of military installations named for Confederate generals and soldiers; among them Fort Bragg.  So far, at least, the Army is not going for it.  “Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost said in a statement. “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”
     But I'm afraid that's exactly the point that these modern-day dogmatic ideologues wish to stress.  They are not interested in reconciling or allowing the South's history to coexist with the national narrative.  In fact, they would rewrite history, if they could.
Statue of Jefferson Davis on UT campus
     A good example is the effort being made at my alma mater, the University of Texas, in which there is an actual petition to remove statues of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate army, and Albert Sidney Johnston, a Confederate general who died during the Civil War.  The petition states, “It is impossible to reach the full potential of an inclusive and progressive learning institution while putting an idol of our darkest days on a pedestal.”
     But here's where these leaders of student government fail.  They have listened to their progressive professors, who have filled their heads full of distorted truths, and the result is they also want to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, because, "Given Jefferson Davis's vehement support for the institution of slavery and white supremacy, we believe this statue is not in line with the university's core values — learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility."
     If these students had been taught any form of critical thinking, they would do their own research and find out why Jefferson Davis assumed the Confederate Presidency.  They could decide for themselves if the protection of slavery was his motivation, or if there was another more important reason, as he expressed in his own words:  "Every evil which has befallen our institutions is directly traceable to the perversion of the compact of union and the usurpation by the Federal Government of undelegated powers...My faith in that right as an inherent attribute of State sovereignty, was adopted early in life, was confirmed by study and observation of later years, and has passed, unchanged and unshaken, through the severe ordeal to which it has been subjected ... I shall die, as I have lived, firm in the State rights faith."  Furthermore, he asserted that he was loyal to his country, "by the bonds of community independence, the supremacy of law, and adherence to the Constitution as it was interpreted by those who made it."
     It saddens me that there is such an abusive and over-reaching attempt to eradicate the history, influence, and culture of the South.  Even Gone With The Wind is under attack as romanticizing the history of the Slave South.  What's next?  Will there be a book burning of To Kill A Mockingbird, The Color Purple, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and all novels by William Faulkner?
     We cannot and should not re-write our history!  But tell that to the students at the University of Texas.  Believe it or not, but according to a survey many of them would remove statues of George Washington because he owned slaves his entire life, and did not emancipate them until after his death.   And when, as part of the petition, UT students were asked if they would also support a move to wipe Washington from the pages of history?  A good portion of them answered Yes!  Several also agreed that demolishing the statues would be a fantastic way of "controlling the future by re-writing history" -- a line lifted straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.  “It’s so bad, it’s like as if you’re having a statue of maybe Hitler or someone like that,” said one trendy as he signed the petition.
     This, folks, is what our kids are learning at universities all across America.  Just the mere use of words like "racist statues" or "treason", when applied to the historical figures of the South, were enough to get the results the petitioners desired.  Let's face it. We are seeing a clear and blatant attempt at "cultural cleansing".  And just like all the "movements" of the past decade, I am astounded at the speed in which it has materialized and is advancing.  It almost feels as if we are powerless to stop the tide of change and deception that is flooding our nation and the world.  But why should I be surprised... we should recognize it.  We've seen it before in Nazi Germany, and we are well aware that the devil knows his time is short, and we know he's coming at us with all his fury.  He knows that the Civil War nearly destroyed this nation under God, so why not try that tactic again... divide and conquer.  But we must be determined that we will not allow that division to occur again, while maintaining the proud heritage of the South.  And please, Lord, help us to educate our young!  They are so easily deceived!

Thanks to writer Todd Starnes, and to the D.C. Clothesline website for their invaluable insight.

Psalm 52:2    "Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit."

June 29, 2015

Who Is Next?

     We have all been so consumed with the recent Supreme Court decisions that there's been rarely a ripple in our consciences about the deepening financial crisis in the world.  In case you haven't noticed, the banks in Greece have shut their doors for the week, after there was a run on them over the weekend.
     Perhaps we have become impervious to the doom-and-gloom of financial news.  After all, since 2008 our own economy has been on the decline --- no matter how much the White House and various news organizations would like us to believe otherwise.  And it's been a couple of years since I wrote on this blog about Greeks scavenging for food in dumpsters, and the panic that many felt about their future.  The threat of bank closures has always hung in the air; and now it is reality.
     From my limited understanding, the crisis centers around the European Central Bank (ECB) announcing that it will end liquidity funding (fancy name for a bailout) that was being used to prevent a Greek banking collapse.  Greece's European partners want it to agree to an austerity plan that is unpopular with Greece's leader and its people.  In fact, Greece’s prime minister Alexis Tsipras suddenly terminated negotiations with the European lending institutions, surprising everyone, and called for a referendum of the Greek people on July 5.
      According to a CNBC report, Greeks are expected to vote on whether to accept the bailout measures offered by international creditors, which come with strings attached; they can accept prolonged austerity measures, or reject them and potentially leave the euro zone. This has the European markets on edge, and the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers met without Greece present, to take steps for the protection of the eurozone.
     Of course, this is a risky gamble if the people of Greece vote to exit the eurozone.  What happens next?  Well, for one thing, Russia and Vladimir Putin are waiting in the wings to help Greece solve its financial crisis.  Reports on Russia Today, quote President Putin as saying that Greece has not asked for a bailout of its €316 billion debt, but Moscow could help out by buying Greek state assets in privatization sales, or in other investment projects such as Turkish Stream, the working name of the proposed natural gas pipeline from the Russian Federation to Turkey across the Black Sea. In 2015 the Greek government plans to privatize €1.5 billion worth of assets, and Russia appears ready to take advantage of that strategy.
     You will also find it of interest that Gazprom, Russia's largest oil producer, and holder of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, tried unsuccessfully to buy a controlling stake in Greece’s Public Gas Corporation [DEPA] for €900 million in 2013, when Antonis Samaras was prime minister.  But it's a new day in Greece, with a new prime minister.  Could this play be back on the table? Just think how that would upset the world's apple cart -- Russia would have a foothold in Europe, not to mention a position in the world's strategy for control of gas and oil reserves -- and the future of the world's economy could drastically change.
     But Greece isn't the only country in the world facing financial difficulties, and their situation is sure to affect the stability of the entire globe.  According to Breitbart News, China’s stock markets have been in free fall since June 12, falling almost 20 percent in a couple of weeks.  The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) made a major move, cutting interest rates sharply, to a record low, which in effect, props up the stock market, but it will have little effect on China's economic growth.
     Then there is Puerto Rico’s governor Alejandro GarcĂ­a Padilla, who has announced that the island territory will be unable to pay off its $72 billion in debts. As Breitbart's John Xenakis wrote, "Many people have invested in Puerto Rico bonds because they pay 10 percent interest (yields) and because under federal law they’re “triple-tax free,” meaning that you can earn 10 percent interest every year and not have to pay federal, state or municipal tax on the interest you collect. It’s a sweet deal, provided that Puerto Rico doesn’t go bankrupt, because if it does, then you lose most or all of your initial investment.  But the unemployment rate in Puerto Rico is 13.7 percent. Only 700,000 of the 3.5 million people, or 20 percent, work in the private sector. The other 80 percent either are on welfare, or they receive unemployment or other aid, or they work for the government."  (There is a lesson here for us, if we are smart enough to pay attention).
     Mr. Xenakis presents this very important scenario ... Today we have major financial crises in China, in Europe and in Puerto Rico. In each case, officials have made some preparations. But can the global financial system handle all three simultaneously?  Economic gurus have been pointing out that our own Wall Street stocks are in bubble territory, and dangerously close to bursting.  Will the current world economic crisis be the catalyst that causes a panic similar to our 1929 crash?  No one knows for sure.
     So, while America seems determined to ignore the global financial crisis, the reality is that the world sits on the precipice of financial disaster as the world banks struggle to solve staggering debts.  The prediction is that the Dow will react negatively to the latest news from Greece, and it will remain to be seen how the rest of the world reacts.  Could this be the beginning of a political and economic crisis that the Bible predicts?  One in which this end-times prophecy in Revelation is fulfilled? ... “ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [a brief period] as kings with the beast.”  The Bible tells us that conditions will be so desperate and dramatic that these 10 rulers will give their authority to a powerful figure who, as head of a new global superpower, will bring order out of chaos.
    We cannot know when this event will take place, but if you are a Believer, you can be assured that it will happen.  We should all be watching what happens with the Greek situation, and it is undeniable that these are interesting days in which we live....

Proverbs 22:7   "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender."


June 28, 2015

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) 
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be 
My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria 
and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.

     In the verse just prior to this one, Jesus has given a mild rebuke to the apostles for asking Him when He was going to re-establish and restore the kingdom to Israel.  His answer is summed up in this paraphrase ... It is not for you to be concerned about the times, year or seasons which the Father has fixed according to His own plan.  The Lord then goes on to give them this powerful prophecy ... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  WOW!
     We must remember that most of the apostles were simple fishermen and had never ventured much beyond their villages before they met Christ.  Imagine what they thought when, first, He appeared to them after His resurrection, and then once they are over the shock that He has risen, He is telling them to preach the Gospel in places that stunned them.  
     The Lord first mentions Jerusalem.  What do you think they thought about re-entering the city they had just escaped from?  After all, it was in the city of Jerusalem that Jesus was tried and crucified.  Neither the Jews, nor the Romans would be welcoming them back.  
     Next, Jesus tells them they will share the Gospel in Samaria.  "But wait!", they thought.  "Didn't you tell us earlier not to preach to the Gentiles?"  But here's the understanding of this change in their instructions ... when the Apostles began their mission of sharing what Jesus had taught them, they were not fit in their abilities to spread the Word.  They had not yet received the Holy Spirit, along with (as the Amplified version tells us), the ability, the efficiency, and the might (power) that would be necessary to preach effectively.  Secondly, it was part of God's plan that the Gentiles must not have the Gospel brought to them, until the Jews had refused it.  This had certainly happened by this point in the timeline.  The revelation of Jesus as the Son of God was completed, and the Jews rejected Him.  It was time to teach the rest of the world about Him.
     And that's where "all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" come in.  They would be instruments of God to spread "The Good News" to the ends of the world --- first to the world, as they knew it to exist; and then because of their work and influence, it would spread throughout the coming centuries to every corner of the earth, as God created it.
     But Jesus makes it clear that they will need the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish their task.  Just as He used His power to heal the sick, and cast out demons, in order to declare His message was from the Kingdom of God, He will enable the Holy Spirit to give them that same power to confirm that the doctrine they preached was from God.  Just as Jesus needed to distinguish Himself from the false prophets and teachers of the day, so shall they be able to separate themselves from the counterfeit teachers.  They will have the same power to do the Father's will.
     But we must be clear about what being Christ's "Witness" entails.  Yes, they would carry His literal message of redeeming love to those who would repent and have faith in Jesus as their Savior.  They would testify as to His words and His deeds, and above all as to His resurrection and ascension.  They would offer His saving grace to all who would believe in Him.  But "Witness" also means “one who bears witness by his death” … a martyr.  They would hold fast to the Truth of who Jesus was and the Truth of His message --- even unto death.  
     The Bible records this most sobering meaning of what it means to be a witness.  It is clearly spelled out in the account of Stephen's death by stoning in Acts 22, and in the recounting of Antipas, whom Jesus calls, "My witness, my faithful one, who was killed (martyred) in your midst" (Revelation 2:13).  
     So, I wish for us all to realize that when we accept Christ as our Savior and we receive the Holy Spirit, that we receive the sufficiency to preach the Gospel to a lost world, along with the powers to testify to His Kingship.  That's a serious responsibility.  And we are called to be witnesses ... in every sense of that word.  Do you take your task seriously?  Are you prepared (and willing) to carry it out to its ultimate end?  Jesus did, and He did it for us.  As co-heirs in the Kingdom of God, we should do no less.   

June 27, 2015

A Letter To My Gay Friends

In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, I would like to address my gay friends.  Yes, I have friends who are gay.  And I worded it that way because I see them as my friends first, and their lifestyle choice as second in regards to my relationship with them.  I see them as people; as individuals  whom I respect; whose company I enjoy, and whose talents and intellect I admire; and yes, as people I care deeply about.  It is true that we have a fundamental difference in how we few the institution of marriage, and I have never shied away from my position that no laws by men or for men will cause me to deny my Lord's Word.
     However, it should be our mutual desire that our differences will not cause a disruption or interruption in our friendship.  I am determined to demonstrate my God’s love while revealing His truth to the world, and without fear.  That means that I will continue to believe in "Biblical marriage" as the standard, but I recognize that this world has determined otherwise.  I will respect your right to embrace this new law, as I hope you respect mine to continue to endorse God's law.
     I would never presume to deny any person's capacity to love; after all, it is the second most important commandment in the Bible.  I simply believe that the concept of marriage is greater than any "rights" determined by man or court.  It is my understanding that the Supreme Court was deciding whether the states were denying gay couples their "civil rights" by banning gay marriage in their individual states.  It is also my understanding that "civil rights" refers to the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.  And obviously, the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage advocates are due those rights, as it pertains to the legal description.  It is now the law of the land and you have been granted those legal rights.  I understand why you would celebrate that.
     But I would like to explain that my definition of marriage goes beyond anything this world defines as political or social "rights", and it aligns with the Bible.  To me, God's laws are higher than man's laws.  It's that simple.  And because you are my friend, I am assuming that you know that God's opinion matters more to me than this culture's or the world.  That's why I take it to heart when the Word says, "Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother [the Bible's definition of a family], and shall cleave [join to] his wife; and they shall be one flesh [resulting in a child]."  It was divinely ordained by God that marriage would consist of one man and one woman, for the express purpose of continuing His creation.  I know that's not sexy or romantic, but I believe marriage to be holy and sanctified; and it should be divinely interpreted by the One who created it, not a nine-person court ruled by their political and social opinions.  
     I have no desire to legislate anyone's relationship or condemn or judge the matter of love between two people; and I can understand your resolve to establish a legal definition of your partnership.  That is understandable and reasonable.  But I would like to request that my rights to my religious freedom (including my opinion, and how I act out my faith in this world) neither be challenged, questioned, or disputed.  That, too, is the law of the land.
     As far as I am concerned, this Supreme Court ruling changes nothing as far as our friendship.  I will continue to proclaim my allegiance to God's Word in all matters, while continuing to share that my Lord died for us all.  It is my fervent prayer that we can all live in the Light, and come to fellowship with each other; that the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
     Undoubtedly, this ruling will lead to further challenges to my Christian faith, and I need you to understand that I cannot compromise my beliefs or disobey God.  I am not only a hearer of the Word, but a doer.  I do not think it too difficult to agree to mutually respect each other, and treat our differences with courtesy and civility.  There is no need for me to prolong this discussion or even make it a focus of my life.  In the end, God is my Authority, and I must rest on His Word.

James 5:16    "Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]."

June 26, 2015

One Shoe Has Dropped... Will The Other Follow?

     Be honest.  Did you really expect a different decision on the Supreme Court case regarding Obamacare subsidies?  Chief Justice Roberts had already telegraphed where his vote fell during his 2012 decision to uphold the law.
     I must admit that I am no political wonk or legal scholar.  My understanding of this law is greatly simplified.  But I'm smart enough to realize that this battle is not really about preserving health insurance for millions of Americans.  From the view of this average citizen, it is really about a battle being waged against middle class families, small business owners, and the senior citizens of this country.
     Here's how I see it ... these "subsidies", or tax breaks, or whatever disingenuous label you want to give them, are nothing more than increased taxes upon those who can least afford the extra burden of supporting those who cannot buy their own health insurance.  No matter how much high-minded discourse we hear that "everyone in America deserves to be covered by health insurance", or that "it is our duty to help those who need it most, or who can't afford it, or who have been denied access to it" ... it all comes down to this: where does everyone think that the money for these subsidies is going to come from?  Does anyone believe that the U.S. government has some secret stash of "health insurance subsidy funds" that will cover all these people?  And I'm not just talking about the millions of Americans who are on welfare and Medicaid.
     Has anyone figured out that all these illegal immigrants that are being fast-tracked to citizenship will also qualify for these subsidies?  Do you see where I'm going?  Millions of hard-working, tax-paying Americans are barely making ends meet, as they watch their own health insurance premiums sky-rocket.  Whether they pay for their health insurance directly, or they receive benefits through their companies, how long before the cost becomes just too much to pay for?
     The money has to come from somewhere to sustain the government's give-away program, and that always means higher taxes in some capacity.  If the real object of this law was to force us down the Socialist road, then the immigrant situation is playing nicely into that agenda ... more citizens who can't afford the health insurance that the law mandates they must have means more subsidies, which means more taxes and less individual freedom, as millions of Americans will be forced to abandon their small businesses and accept substandard insurance and medical care.
     Anyone who takes a serious look at these subsidies will realize that they do not accomplish what their proponents allege.  There are approximately 8.7 million Americans receiving an average of $272 subsidy a month to help pay their insurance premiums.  Anyone who has studied the costs of health insurance lately knows that this amount will likely purchase a policy with at least a $5000 deductible, depending on your age.  So what does this really accomplish, except a bill for $2,366,400,000 that must be paid for by the already burdened American taxpayer.  If a subsidized individual needs substantial medical care and cannot afford the deductible, then those costs will somehow be passed on to other insureds in the form of higher premiums.  Do you see that medical care in this country is in a costly death spiral?
     I, for one, simply cannot buy the argument that the subsidies are meant to keep enough people in the pool of insured to avoid triggering a disastrous decline in enrollment, a growing proportion of less healthy people, and premium increases by insurers.  Re-read the preceding paragraph if you are apt to fall for that false line of reasoning.  A mere $272 per month will not buy adequate health insurance, and it won't result in people getting better healthcare and remaining healthier.  And nothing is going to stop premiums from going higher.  The only thing subsidies will do is quicken the rate of the country's debt.
     Face it, folks.  The subsidies are inadequate, just as any proposed tax credits are.  This whole debate isn't really about quality healthcare for every American.  It's about breaking the backs of hard-working, self-sustaining Americans.  We knew it was coming, and the shoe has dropped.  In the next day or so, we will know how the same-sex marriage argument has been decided by the Supreme Court.  Will this be the final act that "transforms" America and rips apart the fabric of our nation?  Will it be the final act of disobedience that so offends God that He removes "the Restrainer", so that the full power of the Anti-Christ will be revealed and experienced?  It sure seems as if these days qualify for "the unrighteous deception", and "the strong delusion" that the Bible predicts.  And it certainly feels as if Evil is straining to be unleashed in all its full potential.
     Once upon a time, the Supreme Court stood as the referee in determining whether the President or Congress had strayed beyond the boundaries of the Constitution.  It now appears as if it has decided it can make up new rules, depending on the personal persuasions of the individual Justices.  But there is a Final Judgment coming, and it will be according to the One who will judge the living and the dead, and who will demand an accounting of their decisions against Him.  The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America would do well to consider that in their deliberations.

1 Timothy 5:21     "I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism."

June 25, 2015

THIS Shatters The Lies!

     I will maintain that racism is not in our DNA, nor is it the standard by which most people live their lives.  The recent events in Charleston, South Carolina have painted a false picture of who we are as a nation.  And all attempts by those in the media and political office to create a counterfeit narrative cannot erase the good that is in the hearts of most Americans.  Let the following story wash over you, and blot out all the negative impressions.  It is a story of grace, and a story of compassion and humanity.  Revel in it.

     It started with a simple act of kindness.  Charity Stewart Robinson recently attended a rodeo in Gladewater, Texas, with her children — and soon spotted her newly adopted son Lincoln latching onto a “stranger” at the end of their row.  The grateful mother posted a photo Saturday night on her Facebook page, along with this note: 

Dear stranger next to us at the rodeo,

When my son came up to you and grabbed your arm, you didn't know he used to be terrified of people. When he talked to you about the bulls, you didn't know he was diagnosed with a language disorder. When he jumped in your lap and laughed as you tickled him, you didn't know he had a sensory processing disorder. You also didn't know as his mother, I sat in my seat, with tears running down my face, sneaking this photo. When we adopted him a few short months ago, we didn't know how long it would take for him to laugh, play and engage others like this. You didn't know any of this, but you took time to connect with a child who has had to fight to learn to connect. My heart is full. Thank you.

     But that's not the end of the story.  After Charity's Facebook post went viral, she soon learned the identity of the "stranger".  He was Jason Taylor, preacher of Bar None Cowboy Church in between Henderson and Tatum, Texas.  It seems that he was recognized by others who know Jason Taylor's heart.  
     This story was carried by The Blaze website, and among the comments on the article was this testimony about Jason:  Does not surprise me, I know Jason Taylor. Great Pastor, but more than that, he is a Man that God has blessed beyond belief. You see, Jason is a giver, but God keeps out-giving Jason and Jason being a stubborn Texas Cowboy, [he] is constantly thinking of ways to out-give God. This is a Spiritual battle between God and Jason that is an absolute blessing to watch.
     If you live within in a 500 mile radius of Henderson TX and your Barn burns down, don’t be surprised if you see Jason and his Congregation pull up with lumber and manpower to rebuild it. [I've] seen it with my own eyes.
     Jason’s Church was my brother’s favorite Church, I was able to take my brother to Jason's Cowboy Church that he loved so much, just three days before my brother graduated to Heaven.
     They built a Cowboy Church in the middle of nowhere. They were told that this rectangular starter building could expand out both sides as the Church grew. Two sides were not enough for God, as within a few months God forced them to expand all four sides.
     So when I saw the photo, I knew it was not by accident that this little boy went up to Jason.  Thank you Jason for being such a wonderful, humble servant of the Lord. I hope you never learn that you can't out-give God, because it is so much fun to watch.

Lincoln and his new siblings
THIS is the America I believe in!  This is who I honestly believe we are! A little boy needed love and a family to overcome the obstacles in his life, and he has received it from Charity and her family. That same little boy approached a stranger and received a warm welcome and acceptance.  As Charity, herself, explained, "The biggest things I take away from all this are: You never know whose life you can touch through a kind word or action. Be the difference you want to see in the world. Let God’s love show through your actions. There is plenty of good still left in the world, you just have to look a little. Oh, and adoption is awesome. Everyone should do it."  
     So, the next time you hear that we must cure the deep-seated racism in America, or that we all only see the color of each other's skin, hearken back to this story of pure love and kindness.  We are not who the devil would tell us we are.  We are a blessed nation, and as another commenter posted on The Blaze, "God’s grace is infinite and all encompassing. God touches our lives everyday. Sometimes we get to know that touch."  Lincoln Robinson felt it in the touch of Jason Taylor, and that's no lie!

Luke 6:38    "Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

June 24, 2015

The Four D's Of The Enemy's Battle Plan

     There is no doubt that our culture is a battleground these days.  Pick any subject and it seems that we are at odds with each other over it.  Black versus White ... Christianity versus Islam ... Homosexual versus Heterosexual ... Rich versus Poor ... Conservative versus Liberal ... there seems to be no middle ground upon which we can agree or come to terms.  It's all or nothing, and there is no mutual respect for differences of opinion.
     As in any war, both sides want to win, and defeat is not an option. And in the case of the spiritual war in which we are engaged, all the above issues are fair game.  Our Adversary is using some very subtle tactics as he fights to gain valuable territory ... our souls.
     I wish to share with you what I call the Four D's of the devil's tactical plan to defeat us.  I cannot take credit for the categories.  They were published in a 2013 article by Monsignor Charles Pope, titled Four Common Tactics of the Devil.  However, the examples and applications I use to explain how they are being used against us in today's explosive culture are my own.  That being said, I am grateful to Msgr. Pope for his excellent and in-depth article.
     The first tactic used by our enemy is Deception.  We all know that the devil is the Father of Lies, and he is a deceiver.  Yet how easily he draws us into battles based on deception.  How many of the recent altercations and shooting between policemen and citizens have been cases of policemen doing their job?  How many of these situations have involved citizens who were not obeying the law, or who refused to recognize a law enforcement office with any show of respect?  Yet how many have been isolated and presented as the embodiment of prejudice in terms of white on black violence?
     Are these cases unfortunate?  Yes!  Is there room for discussion on police tactics and performance?  Absolutely!  But there are complexities in each of these circumstances, and the enemy seeks to confuse and deceive us by simplifying the situation to an "us" versus "them" scenario.  If we are going to win this battle, we must be a seeker of the Truth and quit listening to the lies, exaggerations and half-truths administered by the puppet master.
     The second tactic employed by our opposer is Division.  The minute that we quit seeing each other as fellow members of the human race, and start applying labels to those who are different than us, is when the enemy gains a little more ground.  And he is winning this battle today.  Not only is there division between the races and different faiths, but there is even division within each group.  The word "tolerant" has become a convenient and misused catchword; it's amazing how this one word can be both a positive and negative attribute -- what a convenient tool for the devil to cause strife and division within our ranks.
    As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor, warts and all ... to forgive their sins as we ask ours to be forgiven.  That commandment includes upholding another's right to make their own choices.  That's the understanding, forgiving, charitable application of tolerance.  Yet we are also called to stand for God's principles and not back down; we are to stand on the belief that there is an absolute Truth that cannot be compromised.  So when that Truth is hidden through deception (tactic #1) or distortion, then we cannot be tolerant of it, and the name-calling begins, and the devil begins dividing us.
     The next tactic is Diversion.  The devil is having a field day this week with this strategy!  Take for instance, the uproar over the Confederate flag controversy.  In this instance, our enemy has combined all three of the mentioned tactics in his use of this flag.  There is the Deception that it represents white supremacy to all white southerners, and is therefore a threat to the peace and safety of all black Americans.  There is the Division it is causing between the races and different population groups of our nation.  And finally it is a Diversion in that the devil is using it to force us to focus on the lesser issue of what this historical symbol means to any one person, rather than the greater issue of how we regain our moral compass, and our respect and love for each other in this nation.
     The same could be said of the renewed controversy of the use of the "N word".  What an opportunity this diversion provides the devil!  Now that the highest official in the land has used it to divide us as citizens, it has ignited an irreconcilable firestorm of bitterness and applied an unfair stereotype for every southern white citizen in what is supposed to be these "united" states.
     And that leads to the final tactic ... Discouragement.  I admit to times of battle fatigue lately.  It seems for every step we take forward, we are knocked back two spaces.  I can honestly say that I harbor no bitterness toward anyone.  I do not wish harm to anyone for their beliefs, their faith, their race, their gender, their social status or any other way in which they might be different than me.
     Do I believe there are moral absolutes and standards by which we should live our lives?  Yes, and they are determined by my faith.  But I can disagree with another's choices, and at the same time advocate their right to make that choice.  But I also see how the devil uses that against me.
     Those who do not experience faith in God cannot know how the hearts of the faithful bear witness to His love for mankind.  I know that going against the culture will give ammunition to those who wish to deceive us on a personal level, divide the masses, divert attention away from the serious matters, and discourage us from continuing the fight for the Kingdom.  I will be labeled all the things I am not -- unloving, prejudiced, selfish, hate-filled, irrational, fear-mongering, and intolerant.
     So the battle goes on ... and it is intensifying with each day.  We must stick with our battle plan to counter the tactics of our Enemy:  uphold the Truth, instead of falling for the Deception; join together in love with the community of man, instead of separating through Division and alienation; stay focused on what matters and don't be persuaded by Diversionary tactics; and renew and strengthen ourselves daily for the ongoing spiritual war -- we must not become Discouraged!  Remember, we know the outcome of this battle and we will be victorious!

Isaiah 41:12    "You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all."

June 23, 2015

I Will Hold Fast My Integrity

     It's becoming increasingly difficult to find my place in this world.  According to the President, I don't use the "N word" because I'm simply being polite.  My refusal to utter that despicable word couldn't possibly have anything to do with my respect for a fellow human being, could it?
      And then there's the Pope, who has an opinion on us Second Amendment supporters.  Apparently, I am a hypocritical Christian if I "invest" in the weapons industry.  "If you trust only men, you have lost" said the Pontiff, who seemed to imply that all people (the public included) who dealt in weapons were subject to distrust.  Supposedly, "we say one thing and do another".
     I somehow feel as if Pope Francis is accusing me of "trading in duplicity" by implying that my belief in the commandment to "love my neighbor as myself", while being a licensed, responsible firearms owner (and prepared to defend myself or family against evil) is somehow dishonest to my faith.  Did not Jesus give this instruction: let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one? The Christian who wishes to protect his life and that of his family from evil is not violating Biblical love. 
     So, speaking of hypocrisy ... In his encyclical on climate change, how does His Eminence justify his comment that he "does not mean to 'settle scientific questions', but to open debate" on the subject (in paragraph 188), with the encyclical's proposal of an international body that has the power “to impose sanctions” (paragraph 175) or “impose penalties” (paragraph 214)? Sounds like he's already decided that the climate change argument is valid and he supports punitive action.
     So between my contribution to global greenhouse gasses, my collaboration with the "violent gun culture" in this country, along with my inability to erase my racist tendencies from 200 years of slave history ... well, it's time I realized that my attitudes are wrong and I need to get with their program!  Of course, has anyone bothered to point out the hypocrisy that we can't seem to erase 200-300 years of [racist] history, but should have no problem with erasing 2000 years of traditional marriage with a stroke of a pen?
     By the way, the title of this blog post comes from the Book of Job, and it struck me that as I try to live an upright life, the world wishes to twist and turn my motives and beliefs.  Like Job, I sometimes feel as if I am being attacked on all sides, and I find myself wanting to defend my integrity and character.  But also like Job, this very stress upon my foundational belief system has strengthened my moral consistency, and I have found that is not necessary to resist the attempts of others to impugn my character.
     The world can question and challenge my opinions and actions, but I cannot change my heart and how the Bible tells me to live my life.  In other words, I cannot live a life that seems false to me, just in order to conform to the world's agenda.
     So no matter that the world thinks they know me, or that they try to define me with labels such as  racist, hypocritical, or even homophobic -- I know my heart, and all those labels are unwarranted.  But I also know that as long as I remain unchanged and uncorrupted in my moral code, and resolve to live my life righteously (according to God's standards), the world will never understand me or my motives.  
     Like Job, my integrity and my character will be discredited and maligned.  And like Job, whether my friends stand with me or attack me; whether my family understands me or not; and whether the world approves or disapproves of my positions, I will be unwavering in my determination to do right -- no matter what.  So there is no need to stand and decry the false accusations.  Indeed, it is better to pray for the scales to be lifted from their eyes, and their hearts to be softened.
     You see, I don't really care what the world thinks they see in me.  I know who I am; and more importantly, I care more about what God sees in me.  He knows my heart.  Through the work He and the Holy Spirit have done in my life, I have the integrity and the courage to hold true to my convictions to live an honest and upright life.
    So let the "kings of the world" define me as they will; their labels are false and unfounded.  For those who really care to understand me, my actions will display my character.  And I will remain committed to living a life of faith and moral character.  I will stake my reputation -- in this world, and the next -- on that steadfast integrity.

Psalm 62:1-2   "Truly my soul waits in silence for God only; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved."

June 22, 2015

The Demise Of Womankind

     I have to admit it ... my generation is largely to blame for the state of confusion among Millennials of the female gender.  We were the Baby Boomer daughters who were often among the first of our family's women to attend college.  We grew up watching women role models on TV; like Lucille Ball, Donna Reed and June Cleaver, who were probably pretty close to the images of our own mothers -- happy in their roles as child-nurturers and support systems to their husbands.  There was something comforting about the TV personas of these domestic goddesses who were queens of their castles.
     But then something happened.  Perhaps it was the seduction of being "on our own" in the world.  Suddenly, we stopped admiring the women that our mothers represented, and were lured to the celebrity of a new breed of women who told us that we shouldn't limit ourselves to the roles our mothers played.  They even called themselves by a powerful new title ... feminists.  
     In reality, they weren't the pioneers they proclaimed themselves to be.  They were actually the descendants of an earlier generation of women who focused mostly on equal voting rights and the rights to own property.  This second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 70s was actually a delayed reaction to the efforts to return women to their domestic roles after a brief release from those duties during WW II.  During the war years, women went to work in the factories to support the war effort, only to return to home-making when their husbands came home, and needed the jobs.
     The likes of Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement reawakened the cause, and broadened the debate to a wide range of issues: sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, perceived inequalities, and official legal inequalities.  Suddenly, we young women looked upon our mothers' domestic roles as too traditional and quite frankly, unfashionable.
     TV shows like Mary Tyler Moore glamorized the new "professional" woman; a woman who didn't need marriage and motherhood to fulfill her -- and didn't even need a man.  That mindset soon led to uncommitted sex and inconvenient pregnancies, which led to the "liberating" option of legal abortion.  And from those seemingly proud accomplishments, we have progressed to this moment in time and society ... we seem to have rejected our identities as women.
     I feel sorry for the young women of this Millennial generation.  Who are their role models?  Who is the media and culture touting as representing them? Increasingly, they are the misguided and sad little puppets who are the result of the women's movement run amok.  They have not only bought the lies that motherhood, marriage (especially to a man), and home-making are a waste of their time; but they have taken the "I don't need a man to support me" principle to the furthest extremes ... and if they have a weak moment and their maternal instincts kick in, they don't need a man to produce a child; medical technology has solved that issue.
     And what about love?  Well, men aren't needed in that department, either, these days.  In the 60s, Walt Disney Studios promoted a young, innocent girl named Annette Funicello, who grew into a beautiful young woman who wasn't afraid to embrace her femininity and attraction to young men.  At the turn of the century those same Walt Disney Studios were promoting the modern version of the cute, clever young girl in Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana.  But something happened to Miley on her way to womanhood.  She lost what defined her as an attractive young woman and embraced the "anything for shock value" mode of self-promotion and identification.
     And she is the icon for a whole new platform among Hollywood women -- of all ages.  They are proud to declare the "gender fluid movement".  I'm not quite sure how to define it, but by the press that young stars like Miley Cyrus and Kristen Stewart are receiving, I can guess that it probably means they follow their base instincts and are free to choose to love anyone of any gender ... or no gender at all, such as Miley's "Agender date" to a recent gala supporting AIDS research.  But then Miley is proudly exhibiting armpit hair these days, and openly calling the Bible "a fairy tale", so let's just say that what she thinks doesn't have any relevance to me.
     But that being said, I fear that she and the current movement to destroy the acceptance of the traditional man-woman relationship is gaining some steam.  It seems as if every new young starlet feels compelled to announce, as Miley did, "I never want to label myself. I am ready to love anyone that loves me for who I am. I am open."  But open to what??? To a delusion that loving a woman is the same as loving a man?  Open to some misguided belief that we must accept any and all relationships despite the fact that they are not natural?  How has loving a man suddenly become so taboo and intolerable?
     It also seems that you can't watch a TV show, or go to the movies, or listen to a song without it promoting "the freedom" of young girls to pursue female sexual love.  Let's call it what it is ... Satan's seductive instrument called ... LUST!  It is unnatural and ultimately unfulfilling.
     And how long before the young women of faith who enjoy the traditional male/female roles, and who denounce such sinful lifestyles, are ostracized and driven from the public square of debate?  The so-called "sexually enlightened" love to proclaim that "labels are outdated", and we should see each other as all equal and potential love partners.  I'm sorry, but I just can't go there!
     You see, I don't want to blur the lines between the genders.  I love what makes me different from men, and I enjoy how we compliment each other and challenge each other through our differences.  I like that my husband wants to protect me and provide for me, and I like being in charge of making a comfortable home for him.  I also like that he values my opinions and that we pull together on this journey called life.  I like the security and commitment that comes with marriage.  I like that he knows what I'm thinking, even when I haven't said a word.  I can't say it any plainer than this ... I love how he appreciates me as a woman.
     I have no desire to let my armpit hair grow, or deprive myself of his companionship and love, just to prove that I am equal and don't need him.  Does that sound rational, at all?  You see, I love the blessings that come from that label "woman".  And the fact that our society is desperately trying to eliminate all references to gender -- in effect, trying to become "genderless" -- is a sad commentary on our slide into degeneracy.
     So, I believe it is inherent for us "mature Christian women" to show our young sisters in Christ that it is not only natural to embrace their female gender and their God-ordained role as partners to men; but they need to recognize that accepting any other definition of their role is willfully sinning against their Creator.  It's true that we may have been wrongfully seduced by the promises of feminism in our youth, but let's help this generation begin a new movement ... one that returns to Biblical definitions of marriage partners; honors and embraces the unique ways God made males and females different; and restores the beauty and dignity to what it means to be a woman.

Romans 1:25-28    " Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator ... For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one ... And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome."