Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bomb bomb Iran

This is a sort of follow-up and expansion post to two previous posts on GET REAL. They are "Unintended Consequences" and "On non-interventionism..."
I hear the rhetoric of so many calling for more intervention in the middle East. So many of my fellow Americans seem to think that Iran is going to nuke Israel and the United States. I urge you to read through the other two posts I made related to this subject, and to watch the following powerful video:



I had a brief conversation with an Air Force General once (during a question and answer session) regarding radical Islam. I asked why he thought radical Muslims hate America. I mentioned that it can't be a tenet of Islam, since Islam has been around a lot longer than the United States. It isn't because of our freedom and prosperity, since we are their number one target, and countries such as Switzerland are not as targeted as we are. He admitted that it was due to our history of intervention in what they consider to be Muslim Holy Lands. It was a refreshing moment of candor, and I had several other officers approach me after the General was finished with his briefing, and thank me for asking the questions I did. The CIA, the 9/11 Commission, and many others also agree with this assessment.

I am a believer in the idea that you can only solve a problem if you understand what caused it in the first place. This is why I think our economy is in the state it is in, and why we continue to try to fight endless wars throughout the world. I believe that total peace will never be possible until Christ returns, but I also believe that a humble foreign policy will take America a long way. See the following video for a good explanation, by former President George W. Bush.



It appears that many "conservatives" now view this as an "insane" or "dangerous" foreign policy. Going to war, in order to prevent war, is a terrible idea. How far we have fallen in such a short time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And The Field Narrows

As of today, one month remains until Iowa kicks off their Presidential caucuses, helping to determine the course of the Presidential nomination. And as of today, the GOP field is a little smaller. Herman Cain announced he is suspending his campaign, I can only assume because of the previous post I wrote, On Herman Cain. Or maybe it had something to do with allegations that have been leveled against him. Whichever it really is, he is blaming the media. Mr. Cain has declared he will be endorsing a candidate in the near future, and I have a prediction on that front. I believe it will be one of the following three candidates:

Mitt Romney: Because he has business experience, has the best chance of beating President Obama (according to the conventional wisdom, anyway), but mostly because he endorsed Governor Romney back in 2008.

Newt Gingrich: There seems to be some mutual love between the fellow Georgians. They had a friendly, "Lincoln-Douglas" style debate where they were in agreement on most of the issues.

Michele Bachmann: This is the wildcard out there. The Bachmann campaign is the only one to let it be known that the Cain campaign contacted them today, prior to Cain's announcement. Trying to help a woman seems to be Cain's weakness, and I imagine he thinks it could help him with his image with women. Also, she has a perception of being an "Washington outsider." And lastly, the Bachmann campaign posted a very nice message about Cain's suspension of his campaign on Facebook immediately following his announcement.


Later today, the Des Moines Register will be releasing the results of new poll numbers in Iowa. The Des Moines Register is a newspaper in Des Moines, Iowa which has a reputation for having their finger on the pulse of Iowa voters most accurately. They have already released Herman Cain's numbers (8%).

Here are where the remaining candidates stand in Iowa, not including the numbers that will be released in several hours. This ranking is based on the RealClearPolitics.com average found here.

Gingrich
Romney
Paul
Bachmann
Perry
Santorum
Huntsman


In the next few weeks, I plan to break down each candidate and how I believe Iowans should vote. I leave you with the following quote from John Quincy Adams:
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On Herman Cain...

Back in March, I posted a blog post entitled "What I dislike."
At the time, I did not include Herman Cain in my thoughts. I knew he was running for President (in fact, his Presidential Exploratory Committee was formed in January!), but he was not registering very high in the polls. Well, recently, he has shot up in the polls, and is considered to be a "top-tier candidate." As such, I have now deemed him worthy of his own post.
First, a bit about Herman Cain. He has a decent resume and record of accomplishment. He has a bachelor's in mathematics, and a master's in computer science. In the 1970's he worked as a civilian ballistics analyst for the Department of the Navy, developing fire control systems for ships and fighter planes. He then left the DoN to work for Coca-Cola, and then Pillsbury. Under Pillsbury, he worked for Burger King and Godfather's Pizza. As President and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, he cut costs by going from 911 stores to 420 stores, in just over a year. Later, Cain and a group of investors bought Godfather's Pizza from Pillsbury. In 1996, Cain resigned as CEO of Godfather's, and became the CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
From 1992 to 1996, Herman Cain worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, including being the Chairman of the board of directors.
He resigned his position at the Fed to become more involved in national politics in 1996.
In 1993/1994, as the President-elect of the National Restaurant Association, he publicly opposed the Clinton health care plan.
In 1996, Herman Cain became a senior economic adviser to the Dole/Kemp presidential campaign.
In 2000, Herman Cain ran for President of the United States. He ended up dropping out and endorsing Steve Forbes over front-runner George W. Bush.
In 2004, Cain lost another race, this for the Senate seat vacated by Zell Miller.

Here are my problems with Herman Cain:
1. In 2008, Cain endorsed Mitt Romney for President.
2. Herman Cain has said he doesn't believe we need to audit the Federal Reserve, much less end it.
3. Cain's supporters like to tout the idea that he "isn't a politician, but a businessman." However, he has been involved in politics nearly two decades. This is his second run for the Presidency. He is a politician, just not a successful one.
4. Herman Cain doesn't seem to have a good grasp on the Constitution, as this article shows.
5. He has yet to clarify his positions on foreign policy, saying he won't know what to do until he is elected.
6. His 9-9-9 plan sounds good, and may, in fact, be better than the current system. However, it would be levying a national sales tax on the American taxpayer, on top of a national income tax. I am okay with they idea of a sales tax, but only one that replaces the income tax. I would prefer a 0-0 tax plan. 0% income tax, 0% sales tax. But I realize that is idealistic. Economists say that the 9-9-9 plan "would cause largest deficits since WWII, while increasing taxes for most Americans."
7. I don't know what he stands for. Like Mitt Romney, he seems to "adjust" his political positions for political expediency. He was for affirmative action, now he is against it. He was against Auditing the Fed, now he is for it. He was opposed to the Federal Government targeting US citizens for assassination without trial, now he is for it.
8. Herman Cain doesn't understand what caused the economic mess we are in. He claimed there was no housing bubble, and supported the TARP bailouts.

Another issue is race. Some conservatives seem to be under the impression that in an election between Barack Obama and Herman Cain, Cain would take a large chunk of the black vote from the President, thus securing a win for the GOP. However polling shows that to not be the case. In fact, Bachmann, Romney, Pawlenty, and Palin all secured a larger percentage of the black vote in a hypothetical matchup with President Obama than Herman Cain received. Some voters think that black voters overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama because he is black. In reality, black voters overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama because he is a Democrat. President Obama captured a similar amount of the black voter as John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton before him.

In conclusion, there are a lot of issues with a Herman Cain nomination. If you like his business background, Mitt Romney has a similar, and more successful one. If you like his support of the FairTax, I suggest you look toward Gary Johnson, Michele Bachmann, or Ron Paul, each of who support the FairTax at least as much as Herman Cain does. If you like the fact that he loses elections, I suggest you look toward Rick Santorum, who lost reelection to the Senate in 2006 by 18 percentage points, the largest margin against an incumbent senator since 1980.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Unintended Consequences

Many people in the Middle East equate the American government with Christianity. When they see Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other prominent American Christians speak out against Islam, they do not separate that from any official positions of the US government. Keep in mind that in many countries in the Middle East, the church and state are not separate as they are in the US. And when the US military occupies Muslim homelands, Muslims in the Middle East will naturally equate that with Christianity.

Why do Islamic extremists target America? It is not for who we are, but for what we do. It is not a tenet of Islam to hate America. Keep in mind that Islam has been around a lot longer than the United States. It is not because we are free, and allow women to drive, and vote. It is not that our culture is immoral and we allow teenagers to talk back to their parents, and girls to dress immodestly. Yes, these things are opposed by many strict Muslims, but that is not why they attack us. Switzerland has all these same issues, yet are not being attacked by the Islamic terrorists. No, it is our foreign policy and our continued meddling in the Middle East that causes the radicals to hate and attack us. People like Osama bin Laden have used this sentiment, and tied it together with religion, to sway the public against us.

When the President of the United States refers to the War on Terror as a "crusade," as President George W. Bush did on September 11th, 2001, the Muslim world sees that as an extension of the long, violent history between Christianity and Islam.

Our history of interference in the Middle East comes from well before September 11th, 2001, and even prior to the first Gulf War. In 1953, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by US and British intelligence agencies. In 1979, Americans began working with anti-communist rebels in Afghanistan in their conflict with the Soviet Union. These same rebels used our training and weapons years later against us. It has been argued that our drone strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia have inadvertently killed more civilians than the terrorists we are targeting.

The unintended consequences of our interventionist American foreign policy, is that millions upon millions of Arab and Persian Muslims have a negative view of Christianity. It is very difficult to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who believe that Christians want to invade and occupy Muslim homelands and kill Muslims. It has been claimed that Islam is the fasting growing religion in the world. Depending on how you define that, and how you look at the statistics, it could very well be true. As a Christian, I want more people to come to Christ, including Muslims.

Some interesting facts.
1. Christianity is legal in Iran, and in fact there is a requirement that Christians have representation in the Iranian Parliament.
2. Arabic speaking Christians use the word "Allah" for God.
3. Apostasy is illegal in many Muslim countries. It is illegal for a Christian in these countries to convert to Islam, and vice versa.

I ask you to pray for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Muslim people. I ask that you support politicians and candidates who will help change our destructive foreign policy which makes the spread of the Gospel that much more difficult to achieve. And give thanks to God, that even though we continue to sabotage ourselves in this manner, that He is powerful and loving and wise. He will continue to change people's hearts and bring them to Him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The convergence of J. I. Packer and Aaron Sorkin... Knowing God in The West Wing

In our Monday night men's Bible study group, we have recently started going through the book Knowing God, by J. I. Packer. It is an excellent book so far, and we just did the third chapter this week. A particular passage stood out to me while I read it:

Imagine, now, that we are going to be introduced to someone whom we feel to be "above" us-whether in rank, or intellectual distinction, or professional skill, or personal sanctity, or in some other respect. The more conscious we are of our own inferiority, the more we shall feel that our part is simply to attend to this person respectfully and let him take the initiative in the conversation. (Think of meeting the queen of England, or the president of the United States.) We would like to get to know this exalted person, but we fully realize that this is a matter for him to decide, not us. If he confines himself to courteous formalities with us, we may be disappointed, but we do not feel able to complain; after all, we had no claim on his friendship.

But if instead he starts at once to take us into his confidence, and tells us frankly what is in his mind on matters of common concern, and if he goes on to invite us to join him in particular undertakings he has planned, and asks us to make ourselves permanently available for this kind of collaboration whenever he needs us, then we shall feel enormously privileged, and it will make a world of difference to our general outlook. If life seemed unimportant and dreary hitherto, it will not seem so any more, now that the great man has enrolled us among his personal assistants. Here is something to write home about-and something to live up to!

It reminded me of a recent episode that I had seen of The West Wing. I am currently enjoying this show for the first time, and am only in the second season thus far.

There is a character named Ainsley Hayes, who is a political analyst and lawyer. Sounds like she would fit right in with the West Wing crew? Perhaps, except one thing. She is a Republican. And the current occupant of said West Wing is a Democrat, and not a moderate one. She is completely opposed to the President's policies. However, because she is intelligent, President Bartlett offered her a job in the White House Counsel's office. She wasn't going to take it at first, but then realized something. The President of the United States of America was asking her, personally, to put aside whatever she wanted, and serve her country. So, she agreed to do her civic duty. She became a valuable part of that team.

The parallels between what I had recently watched and what I was reading hit me very profoundly. God, much like Jed Bartlett, chooses who He wants to be on His team. We, like Ainsley Hayes, must agree to do so, since it is our duty. In the television show, the two characters don't see eye to eye on most issues. Contrast that to us and God. Our hearts should be tuned to His, along with our will. We should desire the same things our He desires. How much more enthusiastically will we work for God? Just something to think about.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Great Speech about Faith & Freedom

I am working on a longer blog post about how libertarianism and Christianity are not at odds with each other, as many seem to think. In the meantime, a small taste of that topic is in the following video. Dr. Ron Paul spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition 2011 conference this past week. Please watch and let me know what you think.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On tipping...

I try to defy stereotypes. I believe there is a stereotype that younger people don't tip well. So. here is my personal philosophy on tipping.

1. 15% is a bare minimum. If I tip 15% I probably am talking to your manager or sending a complaint letter or email to your corporate office.
2. Normal, non-bad service will get between 18%-22%.
3. Normal, good service usually between 25-30% tip.
4. Amazing service, never having to ask for refills, everything is prompt, polite, and friendly? Especially if you are very busy? 33%-35% is not unheard of.
5. But, if you decide to charge a gratuity of 15% or 18% or whatever...that is all you will get. Especially if it is optional.

The thing is, I realize the following:
1. Servers are human, and have good days and bad days too.
2. Sometimes, servers are new at their job.
3. Often, servers have to payout their hostesses and bartenders in their tip totals.
4. Servers make WAY less than minimum wage.
5. When my wife was a server, she would have to put that she got at least a 10% tip into the register...even if the guest completely stiffed her.
6. If I become a regular customer, perhaps the server would recognize us, realize we tip well, and give us even better service in the future.
7. A lot of people think 15% is a maximum, and go down from there...
8. A tip is expected, and should be included when you budget for your meal. If you can't afford the tip, you shouldn't be eating out.

How do you choose to tip? Why?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On non-interventionism...

In the 2000 Presidential race, George W. Bush espoused a non-interventionist foreign policy. A couple weeks ago, Sarah Palin got rid of her neo-conservative advisors and gave a speech in Colorado where she laid out her own non-interventionist foreign policy. Ron Paul has been a non-interventionist for YEARS, (you know, kind of like many of our Founders), yet the media continues to refer to him as an "isolationist." This is simply not accurate. I urge everyone to watch this video to get a simplified overview of a non-interventionist foreign policy. It also delves a little bit into the Federal Reserve. I have not and will not endorse a candidate for any partisan office, but I do want people to understand the facts and choose to support the candidate of their choice. I urge you to read some of Michael Schuerer's books about the "War on Terror" if you want to get a little deeper into that topic. He was a CIA analyst for 22 years and was on the Osama bin Laden task force for that organization. He also makes frequent appearances on the Fox News Channel. Oh yeah, and he was one of Ron Paul's foreign policy advisers in his 2008 campaign.



Make sure to leave some comments on this blog!

A boring President?

A well written opinion piece from Andrew Canfield entitled We Need a Boring President Again

Sometimes it is preferable to be boring. After the roller coaster ride of current events that have unfolded both domestically and abroad over the previous decade, many of us might yearn for some boring times for a change. Massive ups and downs in the economic sphere have only been matched by equal turmoil in the political one: it seems the House and presidency are switching hands more than homes at the height of the real estate bubble.

This is true in our personal lives as well, as most of us value steadiness and seek to steer clear of massive peaks and valleys in our personal relationships and family lives. So if we place such a premium on the times marked by a lack of upheaval, why do we not look back fondly on those who presided over such times while in the Oval Office? Our presidents who reigned during times of war or massive government intervention are constantly glorified and placed on a pedestal, while the ones who presided during times of peace and economic expansion are rarely even brought up.

Praise is ceaselessly heaped on the Wilsons, FDRs, Trumans, Lincolns, and Johnsons of our past. Not to say these men did not do some good things during their terms, but is it unrealistic to expect the same sort of folk tales to be told about the presidents who avoided war, saving us from untold carnage by their diplomacy? What about the ones who stuck to laissez faire principles, the men who kept the budget balanced, currency strong, and the government off the backs of the American people? These names are only brought up as historical footnotes, chalked up as too “boring” for in depth discussion. Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge come to mind; but I would wager most Americans have been taught little about the presidencies of these two men. I know I was not.
We need to teach the next generation about the men who placed peaceful international relations and a trust in market mechanisms at the forefront of their agenda, not necessarily the ones who, in the words of John Quincy Adams, sought to go overseas seeking “monsters to destroy.” Considering this sort of leader has been more the exception than the rule, learning about their administrations is valuable for those who want to curtail the massive apparatus that has emerged over the preceding decades.

While a holistic reading of our history is vitally important, we should not overlook the presidents who maintained a restrained view of presidential powers. In fact, America could use a boring president once again; after all, running the world and managing the economy is not exactly part of their job description. Our presidents need to be defined by what they don’t do, not just what they do. The urge to constantly be responding to this problem or that, intervening in this crisis or the next, has left us saddled with massive commitments we have no way of following through on. As the Republican presidential primary season gets underway in earnest over the next few months, perhaps we can look past the glamor and navel gazing, opting instead for the most boring of the bunch. Now that would be change we could all believe in.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On homeschooling...

So, my wife and I have decided that we are going to attempt homeschooling our oldest daughter, who turns 5 years old in a week. This decision has come after much prayer and discussion. We will try for her Kindergarten year and reevaluate after that.

Now, you may not realize this, but there are several different types of home-educating. Some parents choose to do "school-at-home," some do unschooling, some use Charlotte Mason, some use Unit Studies, some use an online school. Some use a Waldorf method, some Montessori, some eclectic homeschooling, or some use the Thomas Jefferson method. Some explanations can be found here and here.

On top of the different philosophies for homeschooling, there are a plethora of curricula to choose from. You could choose an all-in-one boxed set, such as Horizons, or PACE, or Bob Jones, or A Beka. You could use a company that compiles the different books for you, such as Tapestry of Grace, or Sonlight. Or you could create your own. This would probably be the case if you chose to use a living books method of educating.

After doing much online and library research (which I LOVE to do) I became a fan of the Classical method as explained in the book The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. The thing about that is she doesn't really recommend starting formal education until the child is in First Grade or so. Until then, the important things are developing a love for learning and learning to read. Lucky, our almost-five-year old loves to learn.

She loves to watch movies and TV shows. We have Netflix Instant, and my two girls like to watch the normal kid shows that are on there, such as Dora the Explorer, and Diego. They often default to Spanish (well, Spanglish, really)when they are very tired or needing help. ¡Ayúdame! is often heard when one sister is squishing the other one, or if they are stuck. Recently we have discovered a show called WordWorld. The girls LOVE this show. Ever since they started watching it, our oldest has been blending letters and reading and writing all kinds of words. So, I know she learns auditory/visually, at least.

We have decided to create our own curriculum instead of using a boxed set, or an expensive program that packages all the "best" books for each subject together. I don't think one size fits all when it comes to educating children. We wanted stuff that was fairly easy to teach, in order to ease all of us into it. Something "scripted" sounded good to us! We also wanted something academically challenging, while allowing us to have realistic expectations of what she will be able to learn. We also sought curriculum that would be interesting for my daughter. The following is a list of what we have decided on.

Phonics/Reading - The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching is written by the co-author of The Well-Trained Mind, Jessie Wise. According to my research, it is usually effective, and generally easy to teach. It is very scripted. It includes a little more than 200 lessons that should take 10-15 minutes to teach. The first 26 or so go over the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they each make, so we will most likely skip those lessons since dd already knows those very well. By the time all the lessons are complete, she should be reading at about a fourth-grade reading level or so. She also has the first set of BOB Books. She can read the first seven or eight of these easy reader books by herself. As she progresses, we will probably purchase the second and third set of BOB Books as well. And I imagine she will continue to watch WordWorld.

Writing - A Reason for Handwriting: Manuscript A. This is actually the second level (so, first grade) for this writing course. Our younger daughter is going to work on the K book. The oldest can write her letters pretty well, but has trouble neatly combining them into words and the words into sentences. The K level just focuses on individual letter formation. The A level does a review of all the letters, then starts into words and sentences.

Math - Math Mammoth Grade 1-A. The two basic types of math curriculum are mastery based, and spiral based. Math Mammoth is mastery-based, and gets rave reviews from other homeschoolers. It has been favorably compared to Singapore Math, while being easier to teach. It is a worktext, which means she will work the problems on the same pages that she will learn it from. Also, we got it as a download. Whenever our youngest is ready for school, we can just print out the pages again! We decided on the first grade level, since she already could do everything Math Mammoth expects a Kindergarten graduate to know. She has been doing this for a few days now and LOVES to do math!

Science - Magic School Bus DVDs. I felt science and history, while important, are not crucial for her to learn quite yet. However, with these DVDs, my wife will get a much needed break during the day, either for herself or to spend some time with the newborn. At the same time, I hope the seeds of a love for science may be planted within the girls. Science is a subject I struggled with at times in school, and I know learning something you enjoy is generally easier. There are pre-built science kits that correspond to the DVDs that we will probably purchase if there is a science subject she particularly enjoys learning about, such as space, or sound, or water, or bugs.

Bible - Big Truths for Little Kids. Big Truths for Little Kids goes through a children's catechism via stories to help teach solid theology at a level even 3-5 year olds can understand. The only concern that we do have is that it does have one lesson that teaches infant baptism. We are creedobaptists as opposed to paedobaptists, so we will either skip that particular lesson, or use it as an opportunity to teach the girls about Believer's Baptism. Otherwise, every lesson includes the catechism questions, questions about the story that was read, a Bible verse, and prayer suggestions. We will combine this with regular readings from The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as continuing in AWANA for Scripture memorization.

We are all excited for this upcoming school year! We received our shipment from Amazon today, and we have looked through the books we ordered. We will be starting our oldest daughter's formal education very soon, and then we will probably take a bit of a break while my wife is settling back in after the birth of our third daughter in July. Please keep us in your prayers. We need continued peace, encouragement, patience, and joy. For both the teacher/parents and the little students.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What do you think of...

What do you think of when you hear/see the following terms:

conservative
Democrat
liberal
libertarian
moderate
progressive
Republican

? How would you define these terms? What type of people do you correlate with these terms?
This will be followed up on in a later blog post. Please post a comment! Thanks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What I dislike

I wanted to share the main concerns I have about each of the top potential Republican Presidential candidates. I presume that President Obama will be the nominee for the Democratic party. These are all of the candidates who are polling an average above 1%, according to the folks over at RealClearPolitics.com. They are listed in order from the current highest average to lowest. Keep in mind these are just one man's opinions.

I would love to get feedback on this. If you have a horse in the race yet, tell me who and why. Some of the concerns I have may not even matter to you at all. This is a wide-open race, with no clear front-runner. It will be interesting (to me, at least) to see how the race develops over this year. If you want sources for any of the quotes, just let me know.

Huckabee – I like Mike Huckabee as a person. I dislike him as a candidate, other than his support of the FairTax. He seems to be the anti-Reagan in the following quote.
“The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it's this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it's a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says "look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don't get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it." Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it's not an American message. ...”

Romney– Mitt Romney comes across to me as a political opportunist, switching sides back and forth based on the political winds. I actually don’t have a big issue with “RomneyCare” because it was only state-wide, not nationwide. I don’t have a problem with individual states enacting whatever kind of health care they want (state’s rights at play here.) It is hard to pin down a policy position to oppose or support, because his positions on the various issues seem so fluid.

Palin – Oh, where to start? I actually really liked Sarah Palin at first. I still don’t take much issue with most of her positions. I do think she handles criticism extremely poorly, and I can’t stand that she has yet to be able to complete a full term in office. She seems somewhat vain, and somewhat vindictive. She also has the problem of the perception of her as not too bright. I said after the election in 2008 that if she took some time out of the spotlight and did a couple years of brushing up on her reading and gaining some knowledge, her next time out may go well for her. She hasn’t appeared to do that.

Gingrich – Newt Gingrich
"...believes that what he says in public and how he lives don't have to be connected,"
according to his 2nd wife. I can’t support that in a President. Honestly I don't know much about his issue positions.

Paul – I voted for Ron Paul in the GOP primaries in 2008, despite his foreign policy stances. Over the last couple years, I have come to agree with him on that more and more. I do have a big problem with his defense of the whole Wikileaks situation. Other than that, Paul is good to go for me.

Pawlenty - Tim Pawlenty has lobbied the Governors' Ethanol Coalition to mandate higher ethanol use nationwide. While most people are looking for cuts in the Federal budget amid a growing defecit, Pawlenty wants to actually grow the defense budget. And in 2006 he said:
"The era of small government is over . . . government has to be more proactive, more aggressive."
Next.

Daniels – Mitch Daniels sounds good, a “fiscal conservative” who has asked for a “truce” on social issues. A couple minor negatives against him are that he isn’t opposed to raising taxes in order to balance the budget, and he is apparently a supporter of the War on Drugs. I doubt he ends up running though; he probably will stay in Indiana for a while longer.

Barbour – I like what he said recently about the need to cut defense spending. However, he also supports farm subsidies, corporate welfare, and eminent domain abuse.

Santorum – Rick Santorum has
acknowledged his quarrel with "what I refer to as more of a libertarianish Right" and "this whole idea of personal autonomy." In his book he comments, seemingly with a shrug, "Some will reject what I have to say as a kind of 'Big Government' conservatism."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A conversation with my four year old daughter

I want to go to school with my prince.

Who?

My prince. He has orange hair and orange dots on his face.

Is he pretend or real?


Real.

Where do you know him from?

From the [old Cubbies]

Has your prince kissed you?

No, not yet. He hasn't danced with me yet, either.

Well, that's good. What is his name?


Ummm, I don't know.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Are you going to waste your life?

This speaks for itself I think.



"Reach Records presents the offical Don't Waste Your Life music video ft. Cam singing on the hook.

Be sure to check the DWYL Tour website to see when were coming to your city! http://www.reachrecords.com/dwyl

Special thanks to the video team at Desiring God (http://www.desiringgod.org) for their production and editing of this project."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lessons from a cough drop

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a cough drop. I started untwisting the ends and opening up the little paper that encase my lozenge like a little cocoon. And then the unthinkable happened.
Some of the paper stuck to the cough drop, and tore. This left little strips of paper behind, impossible to peel off.
"That sucks."
I suppose sitting in my car in the heat or in my pocket had caused the cough drop to slightly melt, then re-harden. I wondered if Hall's couldn't be bothered to use a paper wrapper with a wax interior, or something similar to avoid this all-too-common predicament.
Cough drop ruined, frustrated thoughts coursing through my brain, a sigh escaping my lips...and then, a bemused thought came to my head.
"It could be worse."
In fact, it is worse. I envy those who have to contend with a ruined cough drop as their largest concern.

For some unknown reason, I can not be content with the status quo. I want to change the world in some little way. If I learn something, I want to share it. More often than not, no one cares about the same things I do.
I think that is why religion and politics are the two biggest things I write about here. They are also the two biggest things that I post about on Facebook. I find myself sharing videos, articles, and links that I am certain most of you never take the time to read. They are the two biggest things I think about. This is because the topics of religion and politics, to me, are extremely important. My children's futures are at stake. I want to do everything I can to make the world a better place for them.

Maybe starting a dialogue about the deeper meat of my faith can help even one other person understand it better. Maybe it will help me understand it better. Things like penal substitutionary atonement, verbal plenary inspiration, soteriology...these types of things are important to me. It breaks my heart that others do not find them to be so important.
When people sit idly by and watch their country go a direction they don't like and do nothing about it, I get frustrated. Why don't people care if their liberties are being undermined, if our elected officials view the document that they (and I) swore an oath to defend as a mere piece of paper, that innocent unborn children are being murdered daily? Doesn't it concern people that our nation is heading toward bankruptcy? Doesn't it matter that most of this can be prevented? Why do I feel like I am the only one that either a. cares, or b. hasn't given up yet?

I don't know why I have the weight of the world on my shoulders like this. I don't know what makes one person care about the little things so much, and another care about bigger things. The things I think about sometimes keep me up at night (well, actually, it's daytime.) when I try to sleep. By little things, I mean those that don't matter in the long run for us as a country, or as humans and our eternal souls. Often, I wish I could just put these things out of my mind, and live in the moment more.

This isn't to put down those whose chief concerns involve how to get the attention of that girl or guy in your class, or at whose house you are going to watch the big fight, or trying to increase your 1 - rep max on the bench, or learning how to play a new musical instrument. These things are important to you, and at some point or another these things were or will be important to me.

I just wish I could understand why I am motivated to think this way...
Is it something genetic? Something to do with how I was raised? Maybe just a combination of both plus my life experiences? I will probably never know.
These are things that weigh upon my mind, heart, and soul. Sorry if they bore you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Part 1



Perfect timing for this movie. I hope it turns out to be well made and have good acting.

On the PATRIOT Act...

As you hopefully know, this past week the US House of Representatives voted on whether or not to extend three controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The vote failed due to some legislative maneuvering that required a 2/3rds majority for passage.

Here is some information for those of you who want to know more about the PATRIOT Act.

First, we have Wikipedia.

Next, a 3 part article written in October 2009. Some of the info is a little outdated, but most of it is still relevant.

And here is a video from Senator Rand Paul regarding the PATRIOT Act. It expresses the feelings of many people in the most eloquent way I have seen thus far. Please take a few minutes to watch it.



The act extending the provisions is expected to go through legislative channels and be voted on again. This time, it will only require a simple majority to pass. If you do not want your liberties and 4th Amendment rights threatened, I urge you to call your Congressperson. They need to know how you feel, and how you would like them to vote.

Please ask your representative to vote "NO" on H.R. 514

Perhaps we can get enough reps to listen to their constituents and not allow this bill to pass.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Abortion update: Thornberry responds.

Back in January I posted about abortion. I was greatly concerned that my elected representative, Mac Thornberry, had not cosponsored H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
I posted on Mr. Thornberry's Facebook page regarding this, and I am excited to report that I eventually got a response!
Me: Congressman Thornberry, why have you not co-sponsored H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act?
Mac Thornberry: I co-sponsored this bill in the last Congress, and have signed on to do so again this session. Since I came to Congress , I have consistently voted to oppose funding abortion and will continue to support such efforts.

So, I double checked, and sure enough, on February 8, 2011, my Congressperson became a co-sponsor of the bill. There are now 200 co-sponsors to this important piece of legislation.

I hope those of you who read this blog consider contacting your Congressional Representatives when you would like them to vote a certain way on an item of legislation. Remember, you have to make your voice heard!

Left or right?

It seems to me that a lot of people tend to think that the American political spectrum is a simple left to right line. On the left are the liberals, or Democrats (evil, immoral people!); on the right are conservatives, or Republicans (stupid, racist people!). In the middle are the moderates or centrists (wishy-washy compromising people!).

I have found a better way of describing yourself involves a 2-dimensional graph, with one axis representing economic issues, and another representing personal issues. Some examples follow.

World's Smallest Political Quiz

Political Compass

Politopia

Political Spectrum Quiz

The Enhanced Precision Political Quiz...in 2D

Political Quiz.net


Some of these quizzes are shorter, some are longer. Some appear to be more biased in the way they word the questions. Some give demographic information, some give you reading recommendations. That is why I have listed several, in order to give you a more balanced view of where you stand.

I personally tend to end up on the extreme end of the economic scale, and moderate, but slightly conservative on the personal issues scale. Here is an example:




MY PERSONAL VIEWS AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN


I want the Federal government to stay out of the economy as much as possible. I support a flat tax or a consumption tax (such as the Fair Tax), but I would prefer no national income tax at all. For this to work, government needs to spend as little as possible. No subsidies or bailouts. Get back to sound money and get rid of the Federal Reserve.

I believe that the 2nd Amendment is in place to allow the citizenry to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Therefore, the only limits on how many and what kind of weapons I can own should be based on what I can afford.

I believe the role of the US Armed Services should be national defense, not nation building and empire sustaining. The best way to spread our views of proper government are by example, not through force. We need to declare victory in Afghanistan and Iraq and bring the troops home. We also need to close most of our military bases that are outside the US.

I believe doing drugs is stupid, but I believe that the government doesn't have the right to tell you what to do with your own body. I also oppose laws against prostitution, and laws mandating the wear of seat belts and motorcycle helmets for adults for the same reason. Ending the "War on Drugs" should be a priority to help our families, our overcrowded justice system, our national security, and our economy.

I believe abortion isn't something a woman does to her own body, but to a separate, living human that is inside her. Your right to do what you want ends when it interferes with somebody else's right to do as they choose. This goes both ways. If a mother's life is in danger, she has the absolute right to defend herself, even against an unborn child.

I believe our national borders should be secured, and everyone who is here illegally should be deported. The process to enter the country legally and to become a citizen should be made easier. (ie. tall fence, wide gate.)

I believe the education of our children is done best at the local level. Get rid of the Department of Education.

There are many, many more views that I have, but here are some of them. Please, share yours in the comments! I realize that most people do not agree with my views, and I think open and honest discussion is the best thing for all sides!

Monday, January 24, 2011

On music...and old folks.

From generation to generation, our musical styles differ. Our parents don't fully appreciate the music to which my generation listens, as their parents did not fully appreciate the music to which our parents listened. I don't fully appreciate much of the new music out there, and feel the quality has dropped in a short time, even over the last five to ten years.
Over at the Challies.com blog, Tim notes "The Strange Phenomenon of White Middle-Aged Pastors Listening to Rap Music".
He lists several factors for this, but the one that seems the best to me is what he calls, The Depth Factor
I remember an old friend who used to tease me about the rock music I listened to, saying that every song is the same: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, done One thing we find in rap music is that the word count tends to be much, much higher than in the average pop or rock or country song. Many of these rap songs have word counts in the hundreds. That kind of word count allows a kind of theological depth and engagement that simply cannot be squeezed into two verses a chorus and a bridge. And in this way a lot of these rappers are leading their listeners into deep theological waters.

I think it is a very encouraging trend. Also, I wanted to share this video.

On Calvinism

So, I have been exploring theology lately, in no small part thanks to John Piper. I am not ready 100% to say I am a Calvinist, but I do admit I am leaning that direction. I stole this from his blog, since it explains it better than I can without all the baggage of saying you are a Calvinist.

We are Christians. Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.

In other words, we are Calvinists. But that label is not nearly as useful as telling people what you actually believe! So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)


Call it what you will, this is my life. I believe it because I see it in the Bible. And because I have experienced it. Everlasting praise to the greatness of the glory of the grace of God!

I prefer to use the term "Reformed," which, if my understanding is correct, is essentially the same thing. When I hear "Calvinist" it makes me think of following the doctrines of a man, rather than of Jesus.
The original Christians were Catholics, but I believe the Catholic faith got very corrupted between Peter and the Protestant Reformation. It has since gotten better, but since I do not believe that the Eucharist is the actual physical body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation), I am a Protestant.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On abortion

abor·tion (ə-bôr'shən) noun
The termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus; especially: the medical procedure of inducing expulsion of a human fetus to terminate a pregnancy.(Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.)

This is the 38th anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then, there has been a holocaust of approximately 50 million unborn babies legally killed.

Recently, Rick Santorum made headlines with his statements relating this genocide to the civil rights movement. He followed up with the following:
"For decades, certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution. Today, other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the Constitution."

I believe this is a tragedy. The only valid reason I see for voluntarily ending a pregnancy is if the mother's life is in danger. All people have a right to self-defense.

Here are some abortion related websites you should check out.

ABORT 73


CareNet


Something else you can do is urge your Congressional representative to support and co-sponsor H.R. 3
More info, including current co-sponsors, can be found here
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

I am sad to say that I do not see my Congressional rep listed here. Mac Thornberry, please co-sponsor the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act !

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Genius Business Idea?

A few seemingly unrelated facts:

1. Our family is a big fan of Netflix. If, for some reason, you don't know what it is, I will explain:
You pay a monthly subscription fee (between 8-30 dollars, depending) and they mail you DVDs. You get one, two, three, etc; based on the plan you choose. You can keep the movie as long as you want, with no late fees. When you want a new movie, you mail that one back in. Pretty simple, right? Now of course, also available is Netflix Instant (which is movies and TV shows streamed from the Internet, no limits), and Blu-Ray discs, but neither are not relevant to this post.

2. The number one item sold on Amazon.com is the Kindle. I got one for Christmas - my wife was tired of me constantly buying books that clutter up our house!

3. More ebooks have been sold on Amazon than physical books. Wow!

So, here is my idea: Netflix for ebooks! Of course, it would be called something different. But basically, you would pay a monthly subscription fee, and you get an ebook for your Kindle or Nook, or whatever ebook reader you prefer. You can keep it on there as long as you like, and when you are done with it, you electronically swap it out for another ebook.

Thoughts? Would you be interested in something like this?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

President Obama - Muslim, Communist, Nazi, AND Hippie?



Get real, folks.
A lot of people, myself included, have legitimate issues with the policies, leadership, experience, or judgment of our President...this happens with every President. I would like people to focus on those things. If you don't like a decision the President makes, or a position he takes, that is fine. Counter those things. Making ad hominem attacks, that are misinformed at best, or downright lies at worst, is not going to win you any points.
I am one of the more opinionated people I know, and of course I would like to convince everyone to believe the same way I do and have my worldview. That won't happen by criticizing every decision the President makes just because he is the one making that decision. Criticize it because it is a bad choice. On the other hand, make sure to give him credit when he does something you agree with.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mark Driscoll on biblical manhood



Long, but worth it.

Wild at Heart book review


This post originally appeared on my wife's blog on August 15, 2010 as a guest post by me. We signed up at BookSneeze to get free books sent to us, and then we have to put a review of the book online.

Wild at Heart is the author’s attempt to define, create, and inspire a new generation of “Real Men™.” At the beginning of Wild at Heart, John Eldredge declares that “in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” This is the central theme of this over-200 page book. I believe that almost everyone should read this book. It is definitely geared toward men, but I think women would gain an important understanding of men from it as well. Eldredge does a good job referencing movies, poetry, songs, and books to draw his portrait of an ideal man. This turns out to be the main flaw in the book. Eldredge, rightly or wrongly, seems to be projecting his personal concepts of masculinity onto God. He refers to the Scriptures, but as maybe only 40% of his examples of true masculinity. This is fine with me, as long as people are not reading Wild at Heart expecting a theological masterpiece. John Eldredge is no Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or C.S. Lewis. This is a self-help/motivational book at its core, painted with rather broad brush strokes. Read it, learn from it, but don’t take it as the Gospel truth. I suggest also reading Eric Ludy’s “God’s Gift to Women” as a companion to Wild at Heart.
Disclaimer: I received Wild at Heart – Revised and Expanded for free from the publisher for the purposes of writing a review.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Covenant

Definition of COVENANT

1 : a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement :

Instead  of a New Year's Resolution, this year I am doing a New Year's Covenant. It is to work on becoming the man described below...


If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:6-9 ESV

…Be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive
1 Timothy 3:2-4 ESV

Feel free to hold me to this, if you see me not holding up my end of it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!