Category: Leadership

If the People

Today, as we read the newspaper or tune into the news station, we are witnessing a crisis point in the history of these United States of America. We are seeing the culmination of a decades long attempt by some to transform our society. It may sound strange to some, but we live in the freest, most prosperous country in the history of the world. Consider that our country is a place where tens of thousands of people every year are willing to risk their lives traversing the desert, the vast Gulf of Mexico, walk miles through dangerous, guerrilla warfare infested lands and pay large sums of money, just to cross into the U.S. Yet, observing the current situation and behavior of people in America, one would think we live in the most oppressed country in the world.

When asked by Americans in 1787 what type of government the delegates of the Constitutional Convention were planning to form, Benjamin Franklin responded “a republic, if you can keep it.” That “if” was not just in the mind of Franklin, but all those who participated in crafting the U.S. Constitution. It was a great many “ifs” which led to the language in our founding documents.

If we want to keep it, we better start recognizing that,

…if U.S. history was taught with greater emphasis in school, Americans would understand how great this nation is and have the utmost respect for those who endured great sacrifice and struggled to establish a free nation, first as settlers and then as participants in the Revolutionary War to secure the freedoms we so greatly enjoy…


…if the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were actually read, studied and discussed in the classroom and in doing so compared to other forms of government in the world, people would realize the wisdom of our founders who were more interested in giving power to the people instead of taking it for themselves…


…if Civil War battlefields were visited and the stories of those involved were read, people would understand that there were deeper principles at stake beyond slavery and denying this would mean a great many good men died defending slaves they never even owned or intended to own…


…if monuments were actually viewed with an eye towards understanding the reason for their existence, people would realize many of them represent individuals who had the most to lose as a result of giving themselves fully towards a cause, but yet were ruled by principles and convictions, not the wavering of popular opinion…


…if parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were given the time of day at family gatherings to tell their stories of what it was like to live and serve through the Great War, the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War, they would hear first hand accounts of real sacrifice, commitment and integrity in the face of uncertainty and against all odds…


…if service in the military was the experience of most Americans, whether as a military member or military spouse, people would recognize the meaning of sacrificial commitment, of taking a lifetime oath, and would never again need to be convinced that we are the freest people in the world and that freedom requires a high cost…


…if economics was taught in school, people would recognize that throughout the history of economic trade, free market and supply side economics has always led to a prosperous nation…


…if world history and culture was taught in school, people would recognize without a doubt, that every person regardless of ethnic background is more prosperous in American than in any country around the world…


…if the pledge of allegiance was required to be recited in school each day, by every student and taken seriously by school administrators, people would learn at an early age the importance of loyalty and quickly come to an understanding about the great cost associated with flying a piece of fabric decorated with thirteen red and white stripes and fifty stars in a field of blue…


…if getting married occurred sooner in life and having children was viewed as a joy and not a burden, people would understand what it means to be responsible for another person and be less motivated to riot, loot and destroy property, recognizing it would lead to a person not having the ability to care for their family…


…if churches were no longer simply centers for community organization, but taught the importance of theology in every aspect of life and focused on teaching men how to be men of conviction and women to be women of truth, people would see true unity, not the exchange of truth for popular opinion…


…if discipline and respect were no longer viewed as antiquated principles which only applied to our “unenlightened, unscientific” forefathers, the United States of America would not be filled with people who never matured past sixteen years old and demonstrate their ignorance daily on social media…

…if morals and values were encouraged, taught and given the proper place as necessary for the existence of a civil society, people would no longer view them as optional forms of oppression which call for the dismantling of law, order and justice…

…if we recognize all of this, we can keep our country.

The democracy of our nation has been challenged numerous times in the past, but now we seem closer to the brink of losing it all than perhaps ever before in our 244 year history. Yes, there have been protests and riots in the past, but never on this scale, and never before did elected officials, sworn to protect and defend the rights and property of citizens, set aside their duties to appease a mob. If you want to keep this republic, this democratic form of government, this country, this land, these freedoms, then we must speak up to have our voices heard once again. Once again we, the people, face an incredible challenge, which will test our resilience and our resolve to keep our country, our culture and our government for this and future generations. So what are we going to do about it?

Equipping the Front Lines

Serving in the military comes with the potential of being deployed to the front lines of battle where you can expect to come face-to-face with the enemy. For this reason, the military invests billions of dollars every year into training, equipment and technology designed to adequately equip and prepare personnel for the task of executing military action whenever it becomes necessary. Military leaders recognize the need to prepare for when military force is necessary, not if it will be necessary. Equipping and training happens before engagement with the enemy, not after the first strike.

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Stop Making Women Inferior

There is an increasing trend within the evangelical community to equate the instructions set forth by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 to male chauvinism and sexism; as if to hold this position results in women being classified as inferior. It is sometimes claimed that Paul was merely attempting to remain within a culturally established boundary in order to “become all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22). Based on what we know about the Apostle Paul, it seems unlikely he would back down on this issue in the face of societal pressures, but not in other areas.

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Preacher, Don’t Leave Jesus in the Tomb on Good Friday

Since my youth, history has always been of particular interest to me. Individuals or organizations who provide a daily listing of historic events in the form of a “on this day in history” typically receive my attention. With the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France this particular week will no doubt result in 2019 being added to those future lists of historic events. Yet, from a liturgical perspective, this week on the calendar will always be one of significance, since the week prior to Easter has long been associated as a week focusing attention on the specific activities associated with each day of the week leading up to the actual death and resurrection of Christ. Many churches emphasize a sort of “on this day in history” approach to observing the events leading up Christ’s death and resurrection. Good Friday and Easter morning are filled with the gathering of the local church for corporate worship, with some churches still including a Thursday evening service, intended to focus on the upper room activities, particularly the institution of the Lord’s Table.

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When the Church is the First Man

A flurry of debate has surrounded the recent announcement by actor Ryan Gosling that a new movie portraying the Apollo 11 lunar landing would not feature the planting of the American flag on the moon. The reaction to this decision by an American filmmaker set many Americans into a righteous fit of indignation; declaring the decision as yet another example of Hollywood’s attempt to sway the culture away from the idea of American exceptionalism. In removing such an important part of one of the most historic events in modern history, “The First Man,” is now being considered persona non grata by many Americans, who perceive this as an attack on what has always been viewed as an American achievement. Adding insult to injury, Gosling stated “I think this [lunar landing] was widely regarded in the end as a human achievement [and] that’s how we chose to view it.” Such a statement has never accurately represented the public’s perception of the event and even as news of this achievement spread across the world in 1969, it was nearly always associated with the word America.

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Understanding the First Presidential Debate

With the Presidential elections just over a year away, the political landscape will soon be dominated by debates, speeches, interviews and campaign advertisements. The first of many debates occurred last night and offered much to be desired when one considers the meaning of the word debate. At best it was an exhibition of talking points and buzz word. While there is a sense of disappointment in the moderators for not creating an environment which afforded the candidates an opportunity to engage in necessary, in-depth deliberations, nonetheless it is not an event which should be completely undervalued or dismissed; especially given the extensive number of candidates now bidding for the Republican ticket. There are several noteworthy points which we should take away from this first debate.

In terms of what the debate provided us, it is probably best to identify it as merely a preview of the contending candidates which confirmed what most people likely already knew about each opponent. It provided what one might expect from a forum where candidates were limited to a one minute response. Yet, despite the limited response time we can often learn a great deal about someone when they are required to respond to potentially difficult, comprehensive questions within the constraints of short period of time. There is significance in observing the reactions of the candidates, each of whom are contending for a position which routinely encounters situations requiring immediate, decisive responses, sometimes leading to expansive ramifications for the country. This debate may not have provided us with a better understanding of how these candidates intend to fulfill their campaign commitments, but it did provide the viewer with a big picture overview of their overall demeanor and posture in a high-stakes environment.

While last night did not necessarily produce any winners or losers, it did reveal those who are able to articulate their convictions about a particular topic outside of the standard Republican Party talking points and phrases. In a party specific debate, the goal of a candidate should not be to articulate their similarities to the other candidates, but rather the distinctive marks which separate their approach to the topics. Those who were able to progress the conversation beyond the one liner phrases and buzz words which already define the Republican Party presented themselves as ones who will be worthwhile to watch in future debates, especially when provided ample time to articulate the issues in greater detail.

When we consider the overall structure of this debate itself, it is interesting to note the rationale behind the decision of Fox News to limit the debate to a two hour time block with only a one minute response time per candidate. Yet, what must be understood is that like every other cable news network, Fox News is competing for viewers, which requires a programing structure capable of accomplishing this goal. Therefore, we can only assume that the producers considered these time limits to be the breaking point for a large majority of their targeted audience. Yet, this does not represent a critique of the news networks so much as it does on the American culture and the ever shrinking attention span of Americans when it comes to significant matters such as the political scene. For many Americans the idea of watching a two hour discussion, even about issues which affect them daily, seems overly daunting especially on a Thursday evening during prime time television. It is inconceivable that anyone would think twice about watching a three hour football game, a two hour movie or an all-day marathon of Downton Abbey, but somehow spending two hours listening to a debate between people, a group from which many will one day select their next leader, seems uninteresting. The limitation of one minute responses could be associated with the goal of the moderators to cover a wide range of topics with the seventeen candidates within the short two hour window of time, but it could also be the result of a culture which seems disinterested in topics which cannot be reduced to a 144 character Twitter feed.

The Christian worldview understands that each person will one day give an account for how we spend our time, our resources and even how we voted in an election. We realize in voting for candidates that there will never be the perfect candidate, nor do we expect that the best candidate will be an individual who holds completely to our own worldview, but what is important is that we make the best choice based on our knowledge of the individual. A decision which comes not based on what anyone or any group would have us to believe is the best candidate, but rather one which is based on our own evaluation and assessment of the facts. To do this means that we must spend time to understand these issues which will be at the forefront of the campaigns and make an informed decision to vote for the person most capable of leading America in the right direction.