Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Presidential Election Summary

The election results from last night can single nothing but a rousing endorsement of Obama's policies and a democrat controlled Senate that hasn't passed a budget in 4 years.  I'm not being sarcastic in this statement.  In 2008, I felt that the nation elected Obama because they didn't know any better.  While I want to blame the media, that doesn't excuse, what I feel is a lack of responsibility of the people in understanding what Obama has done over the last 4 years and what he plans on doing over the next 4.  The fact that Obama was elected tells me that we have truly and knowingly crossed the tipping point whereby one segment of the population votes themselves a portion of wealth from another segment of the population.  This type of government has come around in the past through force and revolution, always to disastrous results.  America however, has shown its true sophistication by ushering in the same type of revolution without firing a single shot.  I always wanted to vacation in Venezuela or Cuba, but now those two countries are visiting me.

This elections is not without lessons learned.  I have now come to realize that I live in a conservative bubble with very few liberal influences.  In my bubble, liberals are all the folks in the media that sacrifice truth in reporting for party allegiance.  Surely the people see through such things.  But I was wrong.  Outside of my bubble, the people not only believed the media, they wanted to believe it.

I have also learned that the source of information for me only perpetuates the limitations of my bubble.  While I can look to foxnews, the drugereport, Limbaugh, and Hannity to report stories I will never hear in the mainstream media, the opinions they offer only reinforce my bubble.  The evidence of this is in my results prediction I offered on Monday.  I couldn’t be any more wrong.  But not only am I wrong, but all of those pundits that criticized the polls and offered predictions as lofty as mine were wrong.  The polls ended up being right.  

What I am taking away from this experience is going to be a process of change in my life.  While none of my guiding principles is changing, where I choose to expend energy will.  I am not going to engage in political debates.  I am not going to use facebook as a sounding board for my politics and criticisms of Obama.  I’m not going to use my blog as a rant against the left.  What I am going to do is try to be purposeful in filling this void and finding other areas to target this energy.  I would like to offer one final political statement.  What kind of results do Republicans expect when their candidates campaign headquarters is located in the most liberal city in one of the most liberal states for which the candidate was once Governor.   My deep sorrow is that we once again did not have a true contrast between conservative and liberal to vote on. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Presidential Election Results Prediction. Romney 52 - Obama 47

I don’t want to be timid.  I want to test my political acumen by offering a prediction on the 2012 Presidential race between Barrak Obama and Mitt Romney.  I’m going to say that tomorrow will be a landslide victory for Romney, or let me put it more accurately, a landslide victory against Obama.   I offer this opinion for posterity for my kids and for a few of my friends (Kansasbob).  Here are the reasons why

1.      Signage: I know it isn’t scientific, but there is a total lack of enthusiasm for Obama.  I don’t see many signs out at all.  Even though Missouri didn’t go for Obama in 2008, there was still enthusiasm.  That could be a sign of a lack of interest in signs altogether, but I think not.  Similarly, there is a lack of signage for Romney.  I think, as is in my case, that this is due to this election cycle being more about Obama losing than it is about Romney winning.
2.      Enthusiasm in 2010:  There was a major swing in enthusiasm against the Obama policies and a lack of enthusiasm for them.  I don’t think this has changed in 2 years.
3.      The Debates:  Every election, we see the republican candidate look like a stunned deer as a democrat suavester woo’s the media.  This time the media was shocked as their own candidate was the stunned one, and when he tried to rebound in later debates, it was too aggressive too late.   For all those sitting on the fence.  Romney needed only to ease their fears that the way the media portrayed him wasn’t accurate.  Once that was done, it didn’t matter what happened in the other two debates, the independents were flipped to Romney.
4.      You can cover up, by you can’t hide:  In 2008, few people knew who Obama really was.  They could make him whatever they wanted.  After 4 years of policy under his belt, the best efforts of the media could no longer hide who Obama really is.  Obama is an angry man that view America with contempt.  He views elections as a method of getting “revenge” on those that disagree with him.
5.      The Polls:  I just read a story about how the USS Enterprise is being retired because after 50 years of service, there just aren’t enough parts to keep her operable.  Similarly, the method of polling has now become out of date.  Fewer and fewer people have a listed, non-robo call blocked, home phone.   I am one of those people.  What demographic maintains home phones and how does that affect polling.  Additionally, the polls themselves are so controversial that their reliability is now being discounted wholesale.

This is my prediction and I stand by it.   Then again, I predicted Obama would lose in 2008, although not the day before the election, more like the year before the election.  I knew he would win come the day before.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Spiritual Quest: A Walk With Dad

As a man, I respond best by the tactile dynamic aspect of faith more than that of the passive pulpit believer.  The pulpit has its place, but for me, my spiritual journey has increased through doing.  Recently, I had the chance to journey with God through a trip my church calls quest.  But let me back up.  Like so many, I do suffer from the parent wound.  Some are more innocent and some more sinister.  The tiniest of wounds to our heart, if left untreated, can fester and spread.  Unfortunately, when you are the one with the wound, you tend to ignore it, while those around you suffer.   For years, my wife tried telling me that I had such a wound.  “Everyone has wounds like that” I told myself as a way of passing off its impact.  When you live with it your whole life, you don’t know any different.    Sometimes, it takes a heart attack for you to realize how bad your wound is, and that is exactly what I got.  
Back in August, I received a note of rebuke from my mother.  The rebuke was regarding having a conversation with an estranged Aunt for which, aside from socio-economic prejudice, I had no background on why my family did not contact her or any of my father’s siblings.  As a result of this conversation on facebook, my mother sent me a message of disownment.  She said, “I hope you burn in hell”, and “You are dead to us.”  To hear such things from the people that gave birth and raised you, no matter how healthy the relationship is, was devastating. 
A month later on my birthday, I realized that according to my parents, the summation of my 36 years of life was that they wish I had never been born.  Without Jesus in my life, and without the love of my wife, my kids, my in-laws, and my friends, I can only imagine the impact this would have had.  But I didn’t have to.  I have Abba father in my life, and my daddy loves me.   I could no longer ignore the wound to my heart.
After sharing this with some people, a special trip, intended for worship team members, was made open to me.  My wife, my calendar, and my finances were also all made open.  I decided to simply say yes to the opportunity God made for me and to say yes all along the journey. Prior to embarking on the trip, I had a vision for what the purpose of the trip would be.  I was a beaten down ship that needed some serious dry-dock time. 
For the month or so building up to Quest, I was very excited.  The only thing about Quest that I knew was that I was going to have lots of time with God free from distractions and that I didn’t have to make any logistic decisions during the trip, such as destination, lodging and food.   While some may be anxious about the loss of control, I was nothing but excited.  I trusted in God’s journey and the discernment of our leaders. 
I said goodbye to my family with a heart full of hope and began my Quest.  On the first day, we were taken to a forested area with some trails along the Sacramento river and dropped off on our own for a few hours.  I felt that to open my heart to God, I needed to deal with the shame and guilt I had built up since last dealing with God.   I prayed through these issues and resolved that when I crossed back over the bridge across the Sacramento river, I would leave the shame and guilt behind.  I crossed the bridge open to what God would work in me next.
The second day began with us being told we would only have two cliff bars and a bag of nuts to eat.  The food was provided because we would be doing some serious hiking that day and would need at least some calories.  Our hike that day was 16 miles through volcanic sand up and down elevation.  Part of this hike included a trek up a large volcanic cinder cone.  The journey up was tough.  For a fit person such as myself, I thought it would be no problem, but half way up, I found myself praying that only through God’s strength would I be able to make it up. 
I made it to the top of the cone exhausted and elated.  The view was powerful.  I walked around the top thanking God for the view and asking him what he had for me.  The center of the cone was collapsed to a concave bottom with a trail leading down.  How cool it would be to also hike to the very bottom of the center of the cone, so away I went.  Halfway down, I stopped and sat on the trail for a while.  I looked to the bottom but couldn’t proceed down.  At that moment, God spoke to me to say that I have been to the bottom before and don’t need to go there anymore.  This trip wasn’t about going to the bottom.  I looked up and saw the top of the cone and God told me that this trip was about reaching the heights.
I understood the aspects of not hitting the bottom and was all too willing to not go down, but I didn’t understand the part about reaching the heights.  I didn’t press for answers as I realized that it would be revealed in time.  We finished the long hike on our last bit of energy, but through the hunger and exhaustion, and through being in the dirt, I was open to God.
I awoke, battered but open and eager for the day to come.  We began with a visit to an area called the devastated area, so named as it was laid wasted after a volcanic eruption 100 years earlier.  Our goal was to find a rock that symbolized the devastated areas in our lives as we would be building an altar of these rocks later that day.  I prayed for guidance as I walked around the area.  There was a small speckled piece of granite in my path.  I picked that one up as my rock as it represented the devastation in my life and my parent’s family as a result of small and petty things that build up over time.  I was awestruck by the realization that this rock was blown miles away 100 years ago in a mighty explosion only for me to find it as symbolism of my own devastation.
From a distance, Pastor Jim pointed to Broke Off Mountain as our next destination.  I had never hiked a mountain and have a slight fear of unprotected heights.  Still operating on cliff bars and nuts alone, but with a heart hungry for God, I tackled the 3.1 mile hike to the peak, some 9,235 feet high.  I had never before been so in awe of a view, and am even now touched by the experience as I type these words.  I had reached the heights God had for me, and had not yet realized it.  For those of the group that made it, we spent some time enjoying the peak before Pastor Jim reminded us of what we came up to the top to do.
Jim called us together and pointed to a peak lower to ours where a flat rock jutted out from the top.  That was where he told us we would lay down our stones of devastation and build our altar.   I was very reluctant to leave the top as I felt so at peace up so high.  Several people made their way to the altar, so I decided to climb down to the lower peak.  As I was walking, with my rock in hand, I was overcome with what it was exactly I was about to do.  I was going to reject the devastation and choose life.  I was going to reject the rejection of my natural parents and choose instead to hold my Father’s hand.  Tears welled up in my eyes. Rage was in my heart.  I wanted to destroy something.  Then excitement and joy started to wash over me.  I came up to the altar and laid my rock down and I gave the devastation over to God. 
It was upon reaching the heights, the heights God told me to reach for, that I laid 36 years of wounds down.  I could move to forgiveness.  As I made room to grieve the pain, I expanded my capacity to love, and to be loved.  I found a pile of rocks and sat for a while longer.  This place and this view was special and I didn’t want to leave it.  I told Pastor Bobby he might have to pry me off of the top of the mountain, but I realized I couldn’t stay up there forever.  I started my journey down, lighter than I was during my journey up.  I bounded one step to another singing songs of praise.  I was free to love and free to hike.
After having reached the peak of Broke Off Mountain, the remainder of Quest for me was about being loved and enjoying the handiwork of my Father.  God was taking me, his son, in his hand and letting me behold his wonders of creation.  If I was a ship in dry-dock, the first several days were about repair, the next several days were about being painted and polished before I set out on the rest of my own journey.  I was elated to see that we would be staying in a nice inn with warm comfy beds, hot showers, breakfast and campfires.  I wanted to do the hard physical stuff, like kayaking and hiking through giant redwoods, but I also wanted to be rested.  It was an awesome time of being comforted and I didn’t feel guilty about it one bit.  I also got to know the awesome folks that were on Quest with me.  We had great camaraderie around the campfire and meal table.  I will never forget these folks. 
My journey began with brokenness and exhaustion.  I traveled through 16 miles of volcanic sand, received revelations from God, laid my devastation on the top of a mountain, and went on a walk with my Dad.   It was transformation, restoration, and relaxation.  Thank you Lord for your works.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Should I be Afraid? Meet Joe Black's Case for Christ

I last saw the movie, Meet Joe Black, 11 years ago.  I enjoyed the premise of the movie, death, Brad Pitt, coming into human form to experience a little bit of life as experienced through the family of a billionaire William Parrish played by Anthony Hopkins.  Death is inspired by Bill Parrishes’ words and deeds.   Death strikes a deal with Bill that so long as Bill doesn’t reveal his identity, death will allow him to live a little longer.    As death shadows Bill, it is clear that Bill is a deep and profound man.  He has money and strength.  But above all, he is loved by all those he comes across.  The movie is 3 hours long that goes into more complications around Bill’s daughter and her budding relationship with death, bill’s family, and bill’s work.  As the movie progresses, Bill comes to accept the inevitability of his death, while death finds it harder to leave the life he is now living.  In the end, they both decide to leave the earth and the ones they have come to love as part of life is being able to give the things you love up and give the things you love up because you love them.

Since watching this film, I have experienced much change in my life that allows me to relate to this movie differently.  I have gotten married and I have children.  While those alone are enough for me to be retrospective, it is actually my relationship with Christ and how I reconcile death that is the most intriguing.   You see, at the very end, Bill Parrish is walking off into the great unknown with death.   Bill stops and turns to death and asks, “should I be afraid.”  Death confidently responds to Bill and says “Not a man like you.”    At this point, the audience is supposed to be happy and inspired.  As long as you live a life like Bill, you should have nothing to fear at death.  What a profound statement one is left with in examining their own afterlife. 

If I take Christ out of the equation, I actually find the closing statement sad and frightening.   This statement by death means that an individual will be judged based on the measure of their worth as a person by some sort of unknown entity.  Judgment means that for those that are judged worthy, they will receive a benefit, while those judged unworthy will receive punishment.  Bill is afraid for good reason because apart from Christ, even if he feels worthy, he actually has no idea if  he will receive reward or punishment.  Bill’s question to Death hits at the heart of God’s perfect plan and how we are all innately created to ask if we are worthy or not.

God loves us so much in that he offers us a path through Christ’s death and resurrection that eliminates the doubt and fear we have in life and death.  As a believer in Christ, you have no cause to ask Death if you should be afraid.   Bill didn’t say whether he was or was not afraid, he wanted to know if he should be afraid.  I might be afraid of death, but my belief in Christ as my foundation tells me that I shouldn’t be.   Death told Bill that a man such as himself has no need to be afraid.  If another person was behind a bush listening to the exchange, he would be left scratching his head trying to figure out what it is that Bill did right and how could he replicate that.  With Christ, I stand before ‘death’ and say that I am a sinner as is plain to see.  I say that there are no works enough to make myself worthy to receive the reward.  It is only my belief in the works of Christ that set me free. Christ intercedes on my behalf with the Father to say that my sins have been covered by His blood.

I’m sad because so many people go through life apart from Christ asking themselves the same questions Bill did.  They are unsure and lonely.  It saddens me because the answer they seek is so close at hand and comes at no more cost than belief.  But at the same time, I have joy because the work has already been done.