Jul 262017

When we read the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:5-13, the only seemingly material request we are instructed to pray is for is God to give us our daily bread. But should this be taken as literal bread to eat?


10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread,  12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

– Matthew 6:10-13 ESV




Just a few verses later, in Matthew 6:25, Jesus tells us, “…do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink…” Is this a contradiction? Absolutely not!

The bible uses bread to mean “that which is taken into the body to provide sustenance and nourishment”. And there are two types of bread talked about: leavened and unleavened. Leavening in the bible consistently symbolizes the corruption of sin (for instance, I Corinthians 5:8, “the leaven of malice and wickedness” ).

A Christian may choose what spiritual nourishment to take in: sinless, healthy bread; or sinful corrupted bread.

Jesus proclaims himself to be the Bread of Life.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. – John 6:35 ESV

Jesus is instructing us to pray for good and holy spiritual nourishment from Him each day. Why do we ask daily? Because God had given us free will to choose what we consume. He will not force a relationship uninvited. He seeks us to invite Him daily.

Lord, I ask you to give me today and each day your Bread of Life which nourishes me beyond all else. I love you, Lord. And I need you. Abide with me always. I submit my life to You, and may Your will be accomplished in my life in all things. Amen.

What bread will you eat today?

 Posted by at 9:02 am
Jul 182017

Man in Shower

I shower daily. Most days twice. And although I may have occasionally missed a day now and then, I’ve balanced it out by some days even showering thrice.

Though it’s never been mentioned, people around me probably appreciate my effort, since without daily showers the accumulated sweat and grime tends to make me more than a bit stinky. And it’s not enough to just stand under the water and let it run over me. I have to use deodorant soap vigorously applied with one of those poofy-netty-fluffy-scrubby things they’ve been selling for the past decade to wash away the unwanted build-up, plus a generous working of shampoo into the hair to keep it clean and free from excess oil as well. Greasy hair was completely over by the 60s.

If you were to peer at me in the shower — but PLEASE don’t — you’d often find me on my knees. You see, it’s not only my body that needs cleansing. But much more importantly, my spirit.

Jesus did his work on the cross and became the atoning sacrifice for ALL our sins — past, present, and future — but as Christians we are instructed to confess our sins and repent, to turn away from all wickedness and ungodliness.

Some Christians believe that forgiveness is a “one-shot” deal and once we utter the sinners prayer that all wrongs are eternally obliterated. (Quick side-note: we’ll discuss that whole sinner’s prayer thing another time.) And it’s certainly true that God has forgiven us and separated us from our sins forevermore, but let’s consider the words of Jesus.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Notice that Jesus said, “When you pray…”, and according to scripture we know Jesus prayed often. Every day and every night. Likely without ceasing. And he taught us to ask to be forgiven of our sins when we pray. Daily. Just as important as asking for our daily bread.

We are instructed throughout the Bible to repent of our sins. Many think that to repent means to feel remorse and sorrow for the things we have done, and by so limiting their definition they fall upon “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV) and take the stance that to have sadness about past sin is to allow the enemy to place us in bondage from our past.

However, while sadness for transgressions is indeed part of the meaning of the English word remorse, it’s not the best translation of the original Greek word used many times in the New Testament. In fact, the word choice was so erroneous that Merriam-Webster includes the original Greek word “metanoia” that was used and is defined as “a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion”.

We can be sorry for the things we’ve done for many reasons, and many of those reasons can even be selfish. For example, if I had stolen something I could simply be sorry that I got caught. Entirely selfish. I could also be sorry that I took something that didn’t belong to me. Semi-selfish, because it tarnishes my self-image. Or I could be sorry because the person I took it from no longer has it and that to have stolen it was morally wrong.

While the last reason is better than the first two, it overlooks that I grieved God. And THAT is where my heart should be positioned. While sin hurts both others and myself, the most important element is to realize that it hurts God. For that I should indeed feel sorrow, but more importantly repentance means that I have undergone a change of heart and that sin now repulses me and must be turned away from, and I have within my spirit a genuine desire to humble myself before God and serve him according to His will.

Perhaps the most wonderful and worshipful thing we can do is to simply with all our heart, soul, and strength ask God, “What do You want me to do?”

This was the question asked by Paul after his conversion from Saul in Acts 9:6. The New King James says, “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’”

This is the heart of repentance — Lord, what do you want me to do? This is the teachable heart, the servant’s heart, the heart being changed from what it once was into what it will become. A heart that is reborn, the heart of a new creature being renewed, being perfected. Yet only reaching perfection when Jesus returns.
David was described as a man after God’s own heart. David cried out to God,

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
(Psalm 51:1-4)

Since we realize all sin is against God, should we therefore not also like David cry out to God to wash us and cleanse us from our sin?

And that scrubbing needs to be done daily with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who died that we may be made spotless.

To twist the phrase from the old deodorant soap commercial, “Aren’t you glad you have Jesus? Don’t you wish everybody did?”

 Posted by at 3:34 pm
Dec 212016

As a small child, Christmas held a special magic I’ve often wished I could experience once again. Mesmerized by the tinseled tree whose outstretched arms protected rewards for a good little boy’s year-long behavior, I anticipated for two weeks what marvelous treasures lay concealed by colored wrapping paper bound with glittering ribbons and bows. I imagined the most wonderful toys the Sears catalog depicted and described!

As I grew, I recognized those gifts for what they truly were – not toys, but sacrifices. I came from a poor family and gradually realized how much they gave up to demonstrate their love for me, doing without things they needed and wanted, preferring to shower me with happiness.

Their example of loving and caring and giving was the greatest gift they could have possibly provided, one that has lasted a lifetime. Do I long to feel that magic I felt as a child again? Yes. Every Christmas. Would I trade it for the feeling of now seeing my loved ones enjoy what I give to them? Never.

Giving is what Christmas is truly about, imitating the greatest gift and sacrifice ever made. The physical gifts we exchange merely symbolize that. My Christmas wish for you, then, is to be part of the ongoing magic, giving and receiving, providing and being provided for, sacrificing and, most of all, loving one another completely.    –RG


Nov 292016

World PeaceLast night I was given the honor of being asked to speak at the Porterville Peace Rally. These were my comments.

Good evening. My name is Rick Groves. Most of you don’t know me, and all of us are far too complex to nail down in a few words. So, by way of personal introduction, I’ll just say I’ve been known to teach a little and to preach a little. But mostly to just love people around me. And I love to tell stories. Time permitting, I hope to share one or two with you here tonight.

I want to thank the organizers of this Peace Rally for this lovely chance to share some words. I received a call from Kayleen Murello last Tuesday inviting me, and I was extremely surprised and quite honored she had taken the time to run me down. I cannot begin to express what a blessing it is to be included and awarded this wonderful opportunity.

Tonight, my friends, we’re having a Peace Rally. Peace is the freedom from disturbance. It is quiet and tranquility. It is harmony.

We all desire these things.

To say the world does not contain evil would be a false statement or hopelessly naïve. But to realize the world is comprised of a greater and far more powerful good is not simply reassurance. It is reality.

Good does not always triumph, but the lessons of history are that evil wins for only a short season. The undefeatable spirit of humanity always rises up and retakes the victory. And we will have victory.

To achieve victory takes two things: The brave action of a group coming together to stand and fight for what’s right, and the brave action of an individual standing alone to fight for what’s right.

Nothing worth accomplishing has ever been achieved without both. It takes cooperation and it takes leadership.

It’s been said the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. If we hold this as true, then its corollary is also true. Good people doing something are the only thing necessary for triumph over evil.

And so we come together tonight as good people taking action for a cause that is right.

And make no mistake, this involves all of us together. You cannot say this doesn’t affect you.

I promised a story, so here’s one of my favorites. You may have heard it before. If so, you’re about to hear it again.

There once was a mouse…

The mouse peeked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. “What wonderful food might this contain?” the mouse wondered as his little nose sniffed the air. He was terrified to see it was a mousetrap!

Scurrying to the barnyard, seeing the chicken, the mouse screamed his warning, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head, and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can see this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I just cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse ran to the pig and told him, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse dashed to the cow and said, “There’s a mousetrap in the house! There’s a mousetrap in the house!”

The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m really sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So the mouse, head down, feeling dejected, returned to the house to face the farmer’s mousetrap….alone.

That very night, a sound echoed through the house – the single abrupt snap of a mousetrap capturing its prey.

The farmer’s wife, awakened by the noise, rushed through the darkness to see what was caught. In the deep shadows, she didn’t see the poisonous snake whose tail was wedged in the trap.

With a ferocious strike, the snake’s fangs injected venom into the soft flesh of the farmer’s wife’s leg. Awakened by her scream, the farmer rushed to her and killed the snake with a butcher knife. He called the doctor, who came right away and removed as much poison as he could and gave her medicine, but her fever would not go down.

Everyone knows that chicken soup is the best treatment for a fever, so the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard to collect the main ingredient.

But the poison continued to do its deadly work, and her sickness continued. Friends and neighbors sat with her round the clock and, to feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

Alas, the farmer’s wife did not recover – and on the third day, she died.

She was well-loved by all and her funeral drew so many people that the farmer slaughtered the cow to provide enough meat to feed them.

Meanwhile, the mouse with great sadness stared out from his crack in the wall. He had tried to warn them…

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem, and you don’t think it concerns you, remember this little story. When one of us is threatened, we’re all at risk. Together, we are all in this journey called life.

So keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to give support and encouragement. Never forget that each and every one of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry – our lives are woven together tightly for a reason.

You know, when I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.

I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation – and I could indeed have changed the world.

We change others only by changing ourselves and then demonstrating that change to inspire others. And when they are inspired, they become that group that stands together to change the world.

Aesop tells the fable of an old man on his deathbed summoning his children around him to give them some parting advice. He asked his oldest son to bring a bundle of sticks that were tied together.

“Break it,” he said.

The oldest son, also the strongest, strained and strained, but with his greatest effort couldn’t break the bundle.

The other sons also tried, but none of them could break it.

“Untie the sticks,” said the father, “and each of you take a single stick.”

When they had done so, he called out to them, “Now, break them!”

Each stick was easily broken.

“You see my meaning?” said their father. “Apart, you are fragile. But stand together, and you cannot be broken.”

We’ve hopefully enough time for one last story.

A squirrel perched on a branch talking to a dove that had landed there. “Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” he asked the bird.

“Why, nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the squirrel said.

“I once sat on the branch of a fir tree, close to its trunk, when it began to snow – not heavy, not a raging blizzard – no, just like a dream, without a sound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch – nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off under the weight of the snow.”

Having said that, the squirrel flitted away.

The dove thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”

An old Texas Baptist minister from way back in the day named Joseph Fort Newton said, “Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” I’m going to challenge you here tonight to figure out how you can build a bridge and by so doing tear down a few walls. This refers back to my earlier comment about standing alone as a leader.

Are there any leaders in this group tonight?

If so, start leading.

Because, after all, like the little mouse tried to warn us, we’re all in this together.

And like Aesop’s tale of the dying father, together we are invincible.

And like the squirrel showed us, it may be your voice that makes a difference in this world.

So I encourage you tonight, stand together and love one another. Teach others around you by your demonstration how to love.

I have experienced personally what it feels like to be mistreated and to be on the receiving end of unfair discrimination. Long ago decided I will not tolerate intolerance, will speak and act against it.
I will stand with you and will not abide that others treat anyone with hatred or violence.

I know many in this community and this country who will pledge the same.

May I leave you with some wise words uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Thank you.

Nov 052016

freedomFull Speed Ahead

While historically I haven’t gotten too excited about politics, I find myself rather obsessed as of late. Try as I might, I just can’t help being drawn back into a very opinionated position. Here’s why.

I care about my planet, my country, and even more about the people around me. I don’t want to see harm come to any. But I see its inevitability if we don’t alter our course quickly. The Titanic is about to hit the iceberg.


Divided We Stand

We’re at a pivotal moment in our country’s history. Yes, all moments are pivotal. But this are more the most in this generation. We are choosing a path affecting not only our own generation but subsequent generations as well. We are making choices for our children, and our children’s children, including those yet unborn. Even deciding whether some children will be born at all.

There is a biblical passage spoken by Jesus quoted by Abraham Lincoln in a speech given June 16, 1858 at what was the Illinois State Capital in Springfield. I’ve had the honor of standing where that speech was given.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

We are a nation divided. Divided by ideologies. Divided by politics, aspirations, motivations, convictions, religions, and morals. We are divided by our words, unable to agree even on the meaning of many, or whether some are even tolerable and allowable. Freedom of speech has become even more precious as many seek to stifle it. It is precious because words convey ideas and concepts. If you control the words you also control the thoughts, leading people into mental slavery. Assimilating them into a fabricated society created by forces seeking to dominate for their own selfish ends. Freedom morphs into servitude. Liberty erodes into bondage. The three-class system becomes a class of only two — master and slave.

Do you want to be free? Or do you want to serve masters who will devalue then cast you aside in pursuit of their own greed and lust for power?

What do you desire for our country? Of the inevitable one thing or the other Mr. Lincoln so eloquently spoke of — slave or free — which do we become?

It’s your choice.


It’s My Party and I’ll Cry Out If I Want To

I’m a registered Independent, so I can praise or bash any party or candidate without remorse or responsibility to my professed political alignment. I can pick and choose what I consider the best choices across party lines. Although committed to many things, corrupted politicians are not included. If I were aligned to any particular parties, it would be to Common Sense and What Works factions, unfortunately, non-existent groups.

Historically, there have certainly been elections with poor candidates. But in the almost six decades of my life, I’ve never personally witnessed such a miserable selection. Still, we must decide. However, many in their ongoing rhetoric have urged others to make quite foolish choices.

Today’s political arena allows for multiple parties, but only two matter. If you are Libertarian, Green, Independent, or otherwise apart from Democrat or Republican you’ve the chance of a snowball in Satan’s hand of procuring the presidency. As appealing as it may be to consider these alternatives, it simply will not happen. At least not yet. Things will certainly change in the future. But for now, it’s status quo and these are the powers that be.

So the foolishness of the intelligent falls into two strategies: voting for a third party candidate, or voting for no one at all. Both actions throw away a perfectly good vote for no positive reason other than potential self-satisfaction by making a positional statement no one will hear or care about. It would be nice if the political elite would hear the voice of a nation fed up with crony-ism. But the quest for authority far outweighs the morality of serving the public good. The ears that should hear are deafened with wads of money and promises of power. If the voice of a disheartened people if heard for even a moment, the lure of corruption quells it to quick silence.

So vote for a presidential candidate other than Democrat or Republican if you want. But it will make no positive difference.

However, in some instances, I agree casting no vote indeed makes perfect sense. Voting is an American right, not a responsibility, and an uninformed voter knowing little about current issues, candidate positions, global realities, and historical perspectives is a quite dangerous thing. To be blunt, ignorant people should decline to vote because they risk the country’s future based upon media sway rather than informed opinion. Before the haters strike, every properly registered adult citizen certainly has the right to cast their ballot. But similar to one not exercising their driving privilege while drunk, please don’t exercise your voting right when you are intellectually incapable of making a knowledgeable decision. Just sayin’.

For the intelligently informed, come noon on January 20th, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will sit at the big desk in the Oval Office. Your third party or null vote will not change that. So voting for one or the other is the only effective strategy. You’ll have to decide which one. The presidential election is not like foregoing a night at the local movie theater because you don’t like what’s playing. One will definitely hit the big screen, and you’ll be in the audience whether you like it or not. (Unless, of course, you leave the country as many have sworn to do. And with some of those who have professed this, for the betterment of society, they hopefully make good on their threat.)


The Enemy of My Enemy

There is an axiom dating to the fourth century that can be summed as “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” suggesting that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. In this case, the advance of liberal immorality, unworkable economics, control of the masses, and the destruction of capitalism are enemies against which many of us fight. Not to mention corruption to the greatest degree. Unfortunately, there is a majority faction fighting for, rather than against, this as well.

While an enemy of your enemy is not necessarily the best of friends (or even a good one), a strategic alliance at least temporarily can potentially benefit both participants. When faced with the undeniable presence of a singular of two evils, the only possibility is to choose the least until conditions change and a better choice is presented. We saw this on a global scale in World War II as countries divided between Allies and Axis to bolster the military positions of each side. The world would be considerably different today if unity during that time had not taken place. Arguably, without our allegiance with Russia who by far suffered the most casualties in the effort, we would be speaking German today rather than English. And living under a Fascist regime rather than in a Democratic Republic.


Who Fights Against Us?

This enemy today in my estimation is the Democratic Left. While some of their ideas are palatable and workable, many are not. For example, the creation of a welfare state ruled by an ever-strengthening and ever-expanding controlling government is an antithesis to our country’s founding philosophy and is a stepping stone on the path to socialism and communism. While potentially good-intentioned, the Left’s errant agenda is paving the path to hell so well-described in the old and oft-quoted saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” And Ronald Reagan once quipped, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

The liberal Democratic Left is majorly comprised of self-labeled Progressives. A term I consider to be a self-contained oxymoron since much of the change they urge is far from progress. At its core, it is simply Socialism, something the world has tried and failed to make work repeatedly, albeit now re-branded and preceded with the word Democratic. But it’s far from new and improved.

Democratic Socialism is still Socialism. Having democratically voted for it does not change what it is. I can go out with a group of friends and either vote we grab a pizza or be dragged along to the parlor. The round dough covered with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on the table is still pizza. Socialism is Socialism regardless.

And the current advance of it in America is by no means new. It’s been pushed for since the 1800’s but is now once again touted as revolutionary in an attempt to present it as a new way of thinking to those ignorant of history and its lessons. Thankfully, so far it is a revolution fought by words and not by violence. But this is unfortunate as well. Violence would be quelled. This revolution is fought under the guise of cloaked intellectualism. And the ideas are indeed theoretically intelligent. But theoretical and applicable are not the same thing. And in many cases even when applicable still remains highly undesirable.

Consider that intelligent application of science led to the creation of atomic weapons which have the potential for destroying a significant percentage of our population and our planet’s ecosystem in minutes. Can you argue this is a good thing?

All change is not progress.

Intelligence not guided by wisdom is an incredibly dangerous thing.

So we must look not only toward what would be desired in perfection, but we must also consider what is reasonable and right. To do this we must examine moral imperatives and psychological realities. To attempt a perfect solution for imperfect people, although it would be wonderful if it were otherwise, will invariably fail.

People have the potential for doing extreme good. There is in the human heart the God-given ability for love, sacrifice, bravery, charity, and honor.

However, there is an enemy of our fallen souls giving the potential for evil. In that same heart resides the capacity for hatred, greed, cowardice, theft, and deception.

Only the naive and foolish believe otherwise.

But the Left does not recognize this and seeks to enslave the people under a controlling government there to give them sustenance, protection, and rights, all for their own good no doubt. The Left seems of the mindset that people cannot be self-directing without the guidance and support of strong rulers injected into their lived daily. This is perhaps no better illustrated than Hillary Clinton’s assertion that to raise a child requires a village.

This mindset carries the implication that while they espouse belief in the inherent human good, they really believe more strongly in inherent human evil and must, therefore, control the people as one would control sheep with a shepherd. The “sheeple” are unable to fend for themselves.

This is in effect slavery of the very worse kind. It is enslaving people while giving the illusion of freedom. It is convincing people they are free by camouflaging the very chains that shackle them as ropes they can use to pull themselves up.


I Went to the Enemy’s Camp

Democratic liberals seem to enjoy hurling explosive descriptions such as racist, bigot, sexist, anarchist, terrorist, and other epithets and pejoratives toward others who do not see the world as they do. I find it rather ironic that those who claim to be enemies of hate speech use such hateful speech against others. But, apparently, it becomes hate speech only when someone besides them is spewing it.

Why is it the party describing itself as champions of the people fighting against evil and corrupt Right-Wing Conservatives pit one group against the other instead of drawing them closer together? Why is it in their eyes gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, black vs. white? These divisions enslave us all, creating factions that will each fight for dominant identity — and will eventually lead to a showdown.

History is not simple cause and effect, but a complex hybrid organism involving many components. Any seeking to simplify this will be spouting nonsense. But to aid in understanding we humans tend to categorize and organize events into a fathomable discourse. Pair with this humanity’s complexities in self-awareness, self-description, self-denial, and self-delusion, and we must conclude we are a race based as much on falsehood as on truth.

That stated, this is a blog post, not a research document. It’s by nature an opinion-editorial. Therefore, by necessity, much more is left out than what can be included. I would challenge you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. But let’s examine a few slivers of history.

Note: This next section will be a bit lengthy, even in it’s abbreviated form. Feel free to jump past it if you just want the conclusions of the article without supporting historical events.


In the Beginning

With roots going back to the Democratic-Republican Party formed in the 1790s by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in opposition to the Federalist Party, many have forgotten or never knew the modern Democratic Party began with the election of President Andrew Jackson in 1828. Perhaps Jackson’s greatest contributions to American history were the owning of hundreds of mistreated black slaves at his Hermitage Plantation in Nashville (I’ve visited this location and while he lived quite well, his slaves lived only slightly better than animals), and his signing of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 to steal Native American ancestral homelands from southern tribes (Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations) and relocate them to western reservations in Oklahoma so the land could be grabbed by the states. Despite strong arguments against this, including protests by Davy Crockett, who was a National Republican, greed won out and Jackson’s quick signing of the act led to the Trail of Tears, a forced Native American relocation during which thousands perished due to exposure, starvation, and disease.

Racial inequality was a founding mindset of the Democratic party. They hated the fact that Lincoln’s Republican party had not only emancipated the slaves but even allowed them to be elected to public office.

Google the following names: Hiram Rhodes Revels (America’s first black senator), Benjamin Turner, Robert DeLarge, Josiah Walls, Jefferson Long, Joseph Hayne Rainey, and Robert Brown Elliot. I think you’ll be amazed and appalled at their stories of struggle, success, and oppression. These were all black men who rose above their shackles due to the liberation by the Republican party but were condemned by the Democrats.

By 1875, Republicans, black and white working together, had passed over two dozen civil rights bills. But their momentum screeched to a halt in 1876 when Democrats took control of Congress. Determined to prevent blacks from voting, Southern Democrats devised legal roadblocks like requiring literacy tests, misleading election procedures, redrawing election lines, changing polling locations, creating white-only primaries, and even rewriting state constitutions.

How do you think they gained Congressional control?

By the mid-1860s, the Republican Party’s alliance with blacks had caused a noticeable strain on the Democrats’ struggle for electoral significance in the post-Civil War era. This prompted development in 1866 of a new pseudo-secret political action group whose sole purpose was to help gain control of the electorate. This new group was known simply by their initials KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and worked as the strong arm of the party using acts of terrorism including murder, lynching, arson, rape, and bombing to oppose grant of civil rights to any who were not white, racially-pure, native-born, Protestant U.S. citizens. They wore white hooded costumes to represent the ghosts of Confederate dead to conceal their identities and to frighten their victims.

Though some historians disagree, most concur that Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader, Confederate general, and pledged delegate from Tennessee to the New York Democratic National Convention of July 4, 1868 was chosen as the first Grand Wizard and assumed control of the organization, turning it from a social group into a militaristic, hierarchical entity. One of Forrest’s most controversial actions as a field commander during the Civil War was the ruthless massacre of over 200 Union soldiers — many were formerly black slaves — after Fort Pillow had been captured in April 1864.

In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated the Klan’s primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republican state governments, people such as Tennessee governor William Gannaway Brownlow and other “carpetbaggers” (Northerners who move to the South after the Civil War) and “scalawags” (southern whites who supported the Reconstruction and the Republican Party).

Historian Eric Foner wrote, “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”

Forrest’s grandson wrote in the September 1928 issue of the Klan’s Kourier Magazine, “I have never voted for any man who was not a regular Democrat. My father … never voted for any man who was not a Democrat. My grandfather was…the head of the Ku Klux Klan in reconstruction days…. My great-grandfather was a life-long Democrat…. My great-great-grandfather was…one of the founders of the Democratic party.”

Under Forrest, the Klan’s violence grew almost uncontrollable. PBS’ American Experience reports, “In the time leading up to the 1868 presidential election, the Klan’s activities picked up in speed and brutality. The election, which pitted Republican Ulysses S. Grant against Democrat Horatio Seymour, was crucial. Republicans would continue programs that prevented Southern whites from gaining political control in their states. Klan members knew that given the chance, the blacks in their communities would vote Republican.

“Across the South, the Klan and other terrorist groups used brutal violence to intimidate Republican voters. In Kansas, over 2,000 murders were committed in connection with the election. In Georgia, the number of threats and beatings was even higher. And in Louisiana, 1000 blacks were killed as the election neared. In those three states, Democrats won decisive victories at the polls.”

According to the Archives at Tuskegee Institute (reported by the University of Missouri – Kansas City) 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States between 1882-1968, brutally taking the lives of 1,297 whites and 3,446 blacks.

If you’d like to learn more about the Democratic/KKK alliance, you can peruse the thirteen-volume set of Congressional investigations dating from 1872. The official documents, titled Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire Into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, proves beyond doubt the KKK’s prominent role in the Democratic Party.

Report of the Joint Select Committee


But the Republicans and Democrats Switched Sides

Many decry the fact that Republicans and Democrats swapped parties, but an effective study of circumstances lead to this being an unsupported conclusion. Quite the opposite actually. The more true statement may be that as society and circumstances changed they swapped strategies and people changed their minds. The Democratic Party was more conservative and agrarian from the onset and have evolved to become extremely liberal. The Republicans who were pro-business have become less classically liberal (a different stance from modern liberalism) and more conservative. But neither party swayed from their platforms. Republicans still fight against slavery to this days, seeking freedom for capitalistic ventures. Democrats still fight in favor of it with big government intervening in everyday life. The definitions merely changed.

The Republicans lost its ruling majorities during the Great Depression of 1929-1940 when Democrats formed the “New Deal” coalition under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Arguably this strategy was a power play to garner support of labor unions, liberals, religious, ethnic and racial minorities (Catholics, Jews, and Blacks), Southern whites, poor people and those on relief during a time in which economic factors focused on housing and hunger were used to gain political support. For good or for ill, this marked the beginning of America’s movement into a welfare state. And certainly many positive strides were made by the Democrats during that times (don’t mistake me as thinking they’re entirely bad), such as the creation of the National Labor Relations Board and implementation of the Social Security Act. Recovery was admittedly steady and strong until 1937 when generous policies fueled by rampant spending evidently caught up with themselves. Unemployment jumped from 14.3% in 1937 to 19% in 1938.

Sadly, entry into World War II in December 1941 allowed the U.S. to regain full employment. War mobilization and massive war spending doubled the GNP (Gross National Product). Military Keynesianism (increasing military spending to increase economic growth) brought full employment. Federal contracts were cost-plus. Instead of competitive bidding to get lower prices, the government gave out contracts that promised to pay all the expenses plus a good profit. (Democrats love high taxes and government overspending of money we don’t have.) Factories hired everyone they could find regardless of skills, simplifying work tasks and training the workers. And the Democratic federal government paid all the costs. Millions of farmers left the farms, students quit school, and housewives joined the labor force.

The emphasis was for war supplies as soon as possible, regardless of cost and inefficiencies. Industries quickly absorbed the slack in the labor force, and the tables turned such that employers needed to actively and aggressively recruit workers. As the military grew, new labor sources were needed to replace the 12 million men serving in the military. Propaganda campaigns pleaded for people to work in the war factories. The barriers for married women, the old, the unskilled — and (in the North and West) the barriers for racial minorities — were lowered.

Democrats leveled the playing field with munitions that leveled the battlefield. However, the National Dept skyrocketed, reaching almost 119% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1946. One must rightly question whether it would be different under Republican guidance. But unfortunately, when you strip away the cloak many are using to hide and finger-point current numbers, we are approaching that kind of number again under Democratic control with 104.17% being reported by trendingeconomics.com as of this writing. They try to lay blame to the Bush Administration. But much of this rise is reported during Obama’s second term.

But back to the slavery discussion. So how it re-defined? If you cannot subjugate by force, then subjugate by reliance. Democrats spearheading social reform and social justice urged impoverished Americans to rally behind them. However, the odd part was that for all this social sabre-rattling, the New Deal programs were racially segregated. The largest relief program, the WPA (Works Progress Administration), had 10,000 supervisors in the South. However, only 11 were black.

Thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s (National Recovery Administrations) wage minimums because some white employers thought the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes,” causing many blacks by 1933 to refer to the NRA as the “Negro Removal Act.” A study found this put 500,000 African Americans out of work.

But since blacks felt the sting of the Depression so severely, even more so than whites, they welcomed any help because they had no other choice. By 1936, nearly all African Americans (and many whites) shifted from the “Party of Lincoln” to the Democratic Party because of economic necessity — a sharp realignment from 1932, when most African Americans voted Republican. New Deal policies helped establish a political alliance between blacks and the Democratic Party that survives into the 21st century.

This strategy can be no better summed up than by the unproven quote by President Lyndon B. Johnson credited by Ronald Kessler’s in his book Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution as remarking, “I’ll have them n*ggers voting Democratic for two hundred years.” Do I know whether he said it? No. Is it possible considering another one of JBJ’s racist quotes we know as factual? Yes.

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days, and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before: the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this — we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

Oh, those white liberals looking out for minorities’ best interests… Wee bit pesky, aren’t they? In my estimation, evidence supports continued racist and other sub-group agendas used for personal and political gain as evidenced by the many remarks we’ve seen in Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks.

Let’s consider the Civil Right Act of 1964, something modern Democrats are quite eager to brag about. This was after the alleged Democratic reversal and the Republicans had already become the bad guys, correct? Well, maybe we should first consider this bill came about from the work of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower? Let’s also consider that Democrats filibustered the bill’s passage for 57 days. Leading the Democrats in their opposition to civil rights for African-Americans was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Byrd, the longest-seated Senator in Congress (who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan) spoke against the bill for fourteen straight hours. Democrats called Robert Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.”

But what does the voting record for this bill show? A substantially greater proportion of “racist” Republicans supported it than did Democrats.

The original House version:

– Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)

– Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)

Cloture in the Senate:

– Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)

– Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version:

– Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)

– Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:

– Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)

– Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

While Democrats fight tooth and nail to spin it otherwise, if one really wants to judge the liberal Democratic mindset based upon factual support, let’s consider this. If Republicans have become so racist in modern times, why do they still outvote them for equal rights under the law? And why do Democrats still vote in favor to such a lesser degree? So many more voting records reveal this same pattern. I’ll not take the time to discuss, but it will make terrifically valuable education if you’d care to do a bit of research.


The Modern Chant and Rant

The current Democratic Party has vocally sought to overturn, re-interpret, and re-write portions of our Constitution and to make enemies of those who would stand in their way, such as the National Rifle Associate (NRA) and Citizen’s United. Hillary Clinton has vowed to bolster the Supreme Court with those who will overturn, re-interpret, and advance the political agenda the Democrats desire, effectively removing one leg of the three power balances our founding fathers outlined in our establishing documents to keep government in check. If allowed to happen, it will at minimum unbalance our government for decades and perhaps at worst be a deciding factor in its fall.

An agenda of discrimination and hatred disguised as its opposite is being advanced. To hold one accountable for crimes neither committed nor condoned merely because of skin color is racism and vilification every bit as evil as that which liberals claim to war against. Yet they do not connect this in their thoughts clouded by emotion. They do not see this results in stirring up greater strife rather than alleviating it. They see this incorrectly instead as uniting our country rather than the truth that they are dividing it.

For example, even though I am a white man I have never owned a slave, nor would I. To do so would be one of the worst sins I can imagine. Conversely, there are very few if any blacks who had ever been enslaved in our country. Yet I am persecuted because of this. Blacks also carry the stigma of now centuries ago slavery of which they are constantly reminded of by liberals who continue the oppression. Is there racial inequality? Absolutely. Some minorities have been denied opportunities because of ethnicity. But also Affirmative Action has meant that many could not achieve things for which they were better qualified because the opportunity by law had to be given to one less qualified due to the amount of pigment in one’s skin. Both positions are racist and an unfair and unworkable solution.

The solution lies not in unfair advantage or disadvantage, but in equal opportunity for success while realizing the past is exactly what it is. The past. It cannot be changed. But it can be overcome. But not by reminding and dwelling upon it and hating others for what they did not do.

Let’s actually make the playing field level. Regardless of color, ethnicity, creed, or religion, each individual has been given by God (and is recognized in our Declaration of Independence) the right to the pursuit of happiness. Whether we attain it is up to us, not to some government entitlement program.

What liberals seem unwilling to admit is the natural human predilection of self this pursuit describes. If one is denied that of which they are deserving, frustration develops. And this frustration often reveals itself in violent anger. And oddly enough there is also a natural aversion to receiving things of which we are undeserving. When we are given that which we are not due we often feel offended and catered to. This is condescension, and we do not like it. The self is undermined and made to feel less than a real person. Again, frustration, anger and violence are often the results. Such is the Democratic way.


Who You Gonna Call?

Are Republicans any better? Not much, but a bit. Their support for Capitalism also breeds corruption and greed. But, until societal evolution allows a better choice, consider Democrats represent the pulling of limited resources into a pool of society that produces little in return. Republicans represent putting resources into a pool of society that can, in turn, become self-sufficient producers to give back.

The difference may be summed up as having an ear of corn. I can eat the corn as a meal and have nothing left after having eaten for a day. Or I can plant the corn and raise a crop over time to feed not only myself but also my neighbors.

I am not espousing enthusiasm for Trump. Far from it. I personally do not feel he will make a great president. His character flaws will prevent that. However, he is the most appropriate choice based upon my moral inability to allow the other choice to claim the most powerful position on the planet.

Remember we are not electing a personality, or even really a person for that matter. We are filling a position. While it’s great to work with nice people, even jerks can do a great job. And conversely, the nicest can fail when they don’t have the appropriate skillset. Or the appropriate convictions and motivations. We need to separate the question of who we would like to spend time with apart from who can do the best job. And who will pave the path toward the best future?

Another question when casting your ballot in November is not even really about who you want for president. The president is limited to two terms — eight years maximum. But the president sitting in office will appoint three or four people who will be there for potentially decades and set the course for generations. Do not think about this as merely electing a president, consider who are you “electing” to the Supreme Court. Do we ant to lose freedom? Do we murder those who would otherwise become part of our next generation? Do we lose our religious freedom and have it replaced by government sanctioned beliefs?

Yes, the pro-business stance of the Republican Party ensures they will steal from us. They want our money. But at least they are honest about it. Hundreds of times a day I’m assured of that by myriad advertisements declaring such. The Democratic agenda is much more insidious, declaring one thing in words and quite another in actions.

I will give this to the Democrats. Their desire for enslavement one limited to only blacks is not inclusive regardless of color, ethnicity, social class, economic class, sex, or gender. They now desire equal opportunity enslavement of all, with an elite ruling class overseeing all who knows so much more what is better for the individual that the individual ever could. In that, they have certainly changed from hating and enslaving a certain group.

Yes, we are choosing between two evils. One wants to steal your money and is in the open about it. The other wants to steal your very soul and assimilate you into their collective.

If I’m wrong, God forgive me and help me. If I’m right and, as a nation we vote wrong, may God forgive us and help us all.

Yes. Both candidates stink. But hold your nose and cast your vote. Which do you deem the lesser evil?


Jul 302013

dirty_dishesI hate washing dishes. Probably because I still associate it with punishment. When I was a kid growing up in Grandma’s house if I did something wrong, that was my penance — get my rebellious little behind into the kitchen, stand in front of the sink, and scrub. Somehow still today I think I must have committed some grievous sin every time I put a dish in the water.

Since it’s something I really don’t like (but because I really do enjoy cooking for my family, and cleaning simply goes with the territory) I’ve developed a system. I wash every dish, utensil, pot, and pan as I go. That way when I finish cooking and eating there’s not a single item left to clean. I seem better able to withstand the ordeal if I don’t have to suffer the punishment all at once.

You, however, may love to washes dishes. Some folks really enjoy it, so you may not relate to the dish washing thing. But I’ll assert there’s something in your life that you really don’t like doing. And I’ll also assert that you’ve done something wrong you’re being chastised for. That is, unless, unlike me, and instead like Jesus, you walk on water.

No one enjoys correction, but I realize now that when Grandma corrected me as a kid it was really for my own good, and she did it only because she loved me and wanted what was best for me. For example, playing with matches and lawnmower gas and nearly burning down the garage when I was eight was definitely not something to go unchallenged (a story for another time…).

And I also now see a connection that I never made. Washing was a shadow of what was really taking place in my life — we’re all dirty dishes, but when we accept Christ He washes us to make us clean.

If we are born-again Christians and truly children of God we will go through times of washing and correction — and we will go through them often. The Holy Spirit is helping us take off the old ways and put on the new ones. The flesh dies hard, but we should actually welcome God’s discipline showing us the errors we are making.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
– Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
– Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV

The problem comes in when we rebel against this and still want to do things our own way instead of dealing with reality. The devil will try to use this tactic against us when possible. He tells us that it’s okay, it’s not that bad, and that our dishes really aren’t that dirty.

But they’re filthy compared to God’s standard of perfection. Our dishes always need washing. But thankfully the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ washes the dish of our spirit, and that precious gift of grace has cleansed us and continues to clean us in wonderful ways the devil is powerless to soil.

However, although we are forgiven in spirit when we accept Jesus, our flesh must still be trained to submit to holiness. Justification happens in an instant, but sanctification is a work that continues, just like keeping the dishes clean, for the rest of our lives.

If we’re not careful, and we ignore the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and instead heed the shouts of our flesh and of the enemy, sin can stack up in our lives just the same as dirty dishes can fill the sink and counter.

And then we have a mess on our hands.

If you don’t see the dirty dishes in your own life, ask the Holy Spirit to remove the scales and open your spiritual eyes because I assure you they are there for each of us. Just like the dishes in the sink, you and I can either wash them (or more correctly submit to allowing Jesus to wash them) or ignore them. But pretending they’re not there doesn’t make them go away.

Sins, like dirty dishes, are much easier to deal with one at a time. And like dirty dishes, they tend to stack up and overrun your life if you don’t keep on top of them by confessing and repenting every day, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, convict us, correct us, and shape us into the destined image of Christ we are to become.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, Jesus and I have some dishes to wash….


May 102013
Percy when still a puppy in the backyard on 8/31/2010.

Percy when still a puppy in the backyard on 8/31/2010.

I killed my dog today.

You can sugarcoat the words by saying he was put to sleep, euthanized, or that his suffering was ended mercifully, but it doesn’t change that even if not by my hand that by my decision a life given by God to one of His creatures ended away today at 12:10 PM, and the responsibility is 100% mine.

The sorrow rips through my soul like a dull knife tearing through my flesh. I’ve cried and cried and cried until I thought I could cry no more, and then yet more tears flowed.

Sir Percival — Percy — as we called him, was a worthless little mutt. At least that’s what I thought at first. He was a Maltese/Shihtzu cross, not even a purebred. And I told my wife Sylvia on many occasions she didn’t pick the sharpest puppy in the pack. He wasn’t overly smart, usually wouldn’t come when you called, didn’t like being held, wasn’t very affectionate, and his only real trick was to stand on his hind legs to beg a morsel of food. I often asked him if he was looking for another handout, and he always was.

But he did get pretty good at obeying simple commands. It didn’t take long for him to know the drill about “go to the grass” at potty time and “go to your room” at night-time. I guess he was smarter than I gave him credit for.

I grew up with animals. Cows, pigs, chickens, horses, dogs, and cats were a natural part of life. But they all served some purpose, whether for transportation, security, pest control, or food source. Animals were a commodity used for some practical result or sold for gain. So I really didn’t get the “purpose” of Percy. Way too small for security and since he barked at everything he could see out the front window or hear with his admittedly sharp ears you never knew whether it was something important or not. Since he did nothing of value, I considered him pretty worthless, other than the fact that Sylvia loved him.

But he kinda grew on me after a while.

Trying to untie his rope on 1/29/2012.

Trying to untie his rope on 1/29/2012.

I started coming up with nicknames for him. Names such as “Perc” — like the woman’s handbag — or “Perc-Perc”. Whenever my wife would ask if I’d seen her purse, I’d point to the dog. This expanded into “Percy McPupper”, Percy Pup”, “Puppers”, and “Doggers”. And he would often roll around on the carpet, laying on his back with his toys between his paws like an infant, chewing them and pulling the stuffing out that he would then leave trailed across the house. He had a habit of pulling his blankets out of his night-time kennel and dragging them into the living room to roll around on until he swaddled himself inside. His value was beginning to increase slightly. At least he was entertaining.

Percy and Kitty 8-31-2010

Percy and Kitty 8-31-2010

His best friend was a silver tabby cat, and they got along great. They would wrestle playfully in the family room, Percy circling and barking at her, both enjoying the romp and sharing the house well together.

We discovered he was a darn good little travel mutt when we took him on his first of many trips. Actually, that’s where he shined best. He became affectionate and even wanted us to hold him when he was in the car. Whenever my wife would pull out his fleece harness and retractable leash, he became so excited, standing on his hind legs just the same as when he was begging for food. In the car during city travel he would thrust his snout into the wind, sniffing and taking the world in through his nose and big brown eyes. On the freeway, he would be either on my wife’s lap or perched on my left leg, looking through the window, making the rounds back and forth many times throughout the journey.

Mom's furry boy looking out the window at Cayucos on 7/21/2011

Mom’s furry boy looking out the window at Cayucos on 7/21/2011

He enjoyed going everywhere, but he was a beach dog at heart. Since his first trip on September 4, 2010, the soft sand at Cayucos or Morro Bay was among his favorite things in life. My wife and I would stroll along the beach and Percy would be at the full extension of his leash, arcing back and forth from left to right, exploring the white to brown terrain as we moved along, checking out the sea gulls, pelicans, people, and especially the other dogs (since his “sister” was a cat and he didn’t see many other dogs). He enjoyed the water so long as it wasn’t too deep or too cold, and when the waves would wash against his feet he would wind up covered in sand, looking kind of soggy, and stare up at you with eyes that would melt your heart.

He was also a great conversation starter. Since he was actually rather cute, adults and children would always comment and want to pet him. We met and talked to many interesting people with which there would have been no opportunity if it hadn’t been for this little furball on the end of the leash.

Soggy Doggy at the beach 9/4/2010

Soggy Doggy at the beach 9/4/2010

I felt really bad for him a couple of years back when he started having trouble walking. You could tell his hips bothered him so we took him to the vet. The prognosis was that he probably dislocated his hip while bouncing around or up-and-down from the couch. The vet prescribed some pain medicine and in a few days he seemed in pretty good shape.

There was a time back in January of 2011 that Sylvia and I were having marital problems. Actually, she was the one with the problem — and his name was Rick. I wasn’t being a very good husband and she felt the need to move out of the house for a while. I’ve hopefully grown since then, and things are better now. We have a strong, loving, and committed marriage. But while she was gone, the house seemed awfully large and lonely.

Women, I’ve learned, have a way different way of communicating than men. As we were working toward resolving our differences, she asked if I would take care of Percy and move him back in. At first I was rather hesitant, still hurting and looking with male eyes at the fact here was a woman who ran out on me now wanting me to take care of her dog. Although I wasn’t really too keen on the idea, thankfully I did it anyway. But, yeah, now I get it.

Getting warm and dry in mommy's arms 9/4/2010

Getting warm and dry in mommy’s arms 9/4/2010

So it was Percy and me (plus the cat when she wasn’t roaming outside). And we got to know each other pretty well. He started sticking pretty close. And although still not really what you would call affectionate, he was there, an ever-present companion. If I was in the living room, he was there. If I went to the bedroom, he was patiently waiting outside the door. If I went into my office, he was about a foot away from my chair, flopped on the floor in a furry ivory semi-circle.

Even though I’d grown to kinda already like him, we became pretty close during that time. I still thought he was worthless, but in a good way.

Sylvia and I worked out our differences (meaning I wised up a tad) and the household became one again. Since the kids are mostly grown and doing their own thing, and the cat is — well, a cat and you know how they are — Percy became like the little furry kid running around the house.

Percy at Bass lake on 5/5/2012 embracing his inner wolf.

Percy at Bass lake on 5/5/2012 embracing his inner wolf.

One time my wife was at a woman’s church conference in a city a few hours away, so the day belonged to Percy and me. We decided to have a guy’s day out. I took him on a road trip through Coursegold and Oakhurst, up to Bass Lake, and just to the outskirts of Yosemite. I thought it would be a great place for a mountain dog like Percy to embrace his inner wolf. And it was. He loved the pines and the rocks, sniffing and enjoying everything we did. He was a great companion that day and we talked about a lot of stuff. He was a good listener, never interrupted, and I swear he agreed with everything I said. We became pretty good buddies.

He had another bout with his hip one weekend, and since we still had some of his medicine, we gave it to him and were planning to see the vet again if necessary the following Monday when they re-opened. It was clear he was uncomfortable, but by Sunday evening seemed his normal self.

As time went on, he engrained himself more and more into my life. I found out that he loved canned vienna sausages and hot dogs. and you wouldn’t believe how he would circle-dance for a piece of cheese, earning him yet another nickname of “Cheese Hound”. I started loving him as much as he loved the cheese.

Percy and Sylvia checking out Yosemite Valley 6/2/2012

Percy and Sylvia checking out Yosemite Valley 6/2/2012

I was also learning something from this dog. He had no practical value as I had always measured it, but I was loving him more all the time, and he loved us back in his own doggie way. I think he was likely abused or hurt before we got him and that was why he was a bit distant much of the time. I told Sylvia on several occasions that I thought he had “issues” and would probably benefit from “Puppy Prozac”. Guess that was just one more thing he and I had in common.

I determined that I was going to try to help nurture him back to emotional health. I made it a point to speak to him softly and handle him gently, paying close attention to his reactions and would always stroke him lovingly with kind words to try to soothe and comfort him. It worked to a great degree. He got where he would actually come when called and would jump on the recliner with me and sit in my lap wanting his petting more nights than not. His personality changed and he seemed to smile more. Yes, dogs do indeed smile if you’ve never noticed.

God taught me so much through this little animal. He gave me a glimpse through His eyes of how He must see us. We cannot possibly have any real practical value to God, yet He loves us regardless and unconditionally.

I learned that I was loving this little guy more and more even though I could see no practical reason. I just did because he was lovable, and I loved him so very much. It had nothing to do with what he could do. It was only about who he was. He was our dog, a part of our family, and an important part of our lives.

Three days ago, he started having trouble walking again. From the several bouts he’d had before we thought he’d bounce back by the next morning. But by the next morning he was still hurting and had lost the use of his back legs. He was moving only by dragging his hind-quarters with his front legs. He looked like a little white seal moving along and it broke my heart to see him that way. We knew something was seriously wrong this time.

Sylvia cared for him and coddled him as best she could and I could see the pain and the tears in her eyes.

I knew he loved vienna sausages, so I opened a can and broke them into very small pieces and put them in a small paper bowl. There were a couple of leftover barbecued hotdogs in the fridge, so I gave them a quick zap in the microwave to take the chill off and broke them as well. I sat on the kitchen floor and held the bowl near his mouth so he could eat. He sniffed a bit, not really interested, then gingerly started with one small bite and wound up eating nearly all of it. I then filled another bowl with a little water and held it for him to drink.

When he had his fill, he used his front paws to move himself toward my lap. It was obvious where he wanted, so I held him gently and cuddled with him, trying to comfort him and feeling completely helplessness. I prayed for that dog the first of many times, knowing that God loves all His creation and asking Him for mercy and healing of this dearly loved small creature. I cried the first of many times for Percy.

Finding a veterinarian in Porterville the week before the fair, since we are a very agricultural community, is much harder than I would have ever thought. Explaining the situation call after call, we heard the same thing. No available slots until after the fair and in most cases the doctor would not even be in the office. Finally we reached a caring person in a city 45 minutes away that unfortunately could not see us now but could work us in the following day.

It was so hard to see him in this condition. I took him to the back yard so he could relieve himself, but he had no control. I cleaned him up, being reminded of the experiences changing my daughter Amy’s diaper when she was a baby. Percy was my furry baby now. He had many accidents, and Sylvia and I cleaned them up.

Placing him on the floor in the living room, he still tried to get around as best he could. I would carry him and gently sit him in his favorite spots and it was obvious his pain and discomfort had grown worse. His small body quivered and he whimpered with every touch and move. He was in agony. I wish now I had held him up to the window, which he loved to see out of. But I just didn’t think of it at the time.

I was learning yet another lesson. With the pain that he endured, he still smiled while looking at me lovingly, and he licked my arm gently with his soft pink tongue. I must admit that I never usually let him do that, but this time seemed different. I had a sinking, gnawing, tightening feeling in my gut that he would not have many more opportunities to express affection. His attitude was the greatest I’ve ever seen. He endured, yet he loved. I could not help but wonder how much even the more that Jesus must have shown this type of strength on His way to the cross. It was yet another small glimpse the Holy Spirit has given me through this small dog.

I was planning for the future that night. I didn’t think I would ever see Percy walk again and went online to look at little doggie wheel chairs and figuring out which would likely be best for his needs. I mused that maybe his next nickname would be “Wheels”. I was thinking ahead about how we would best care for him.

Sylvia took time off from her job to take Percy to the vet, since it’s very hard for me to get time off. That morning I sat on the entryway landing with Percy on the carpet in front of me and talked to him before going to work. It’s amazing how much I’ve grown to love that little worthless dog. And now I also feel terrible, knowing how much he loved car rides, that I wasn’t with him for the last one he ever experienced.

As I sat in my work office, the clock moved slowly. I was anxious, yet also dreading the time to pass. I hoped so much that the answer from the doctor would be that he was going to be fine and that my prayers for him would be fully answered. But God’s plan isn’t always what we want, and when I received the call from Sylvia she was crying.

The doctor explained that Percy had a completely collapsed disc that had damaged his spinal column, that the other incidents leading up to it were just precursors and there was nothing that would have likely prevented it other than a very expensive surgery with slim chances of success. There was no feeling in his legs and there was no effective treatment that he would likely respond to. My heart sank. Percy would be paralyzed in his hindquarters, in constant pain in the rest of his body, and have no control over urination or bowel movement for the rest of his life.

Percy on the examination table his last day with us 5/10/2013

Percy on the examination table his last day with us 5/10/2013

That’s not much of a life…

Some may hate me for the decision that I made. And it was a struggle between head and heart. My head kept arguing that all life is precious and worthy of prolonging at any cost. But my heart said that sometimes death is a form of mercy. I decided I could not bear to see him in pain that would never end. Agony is not a good life.

Sylvia needed me there, and I wanted to be there also since it was my decision and my responsibility. I left work and took the agonizingly long drive, second-guessing and arguing my decision many times along the way while praying for strength and wisdom..

When I arrived, Sylvia was standing outside the office with Percy wrapped in a towel he’d had a few accidents in. He recognized me immediately and I could see the expectant smile on his face and the happiness in eyes. I took him gently in my arms and guilt flooded my mind. How could I do this to someone I love? This is not mercy, it’s murder….

I held him close, putting my cheek on his small head and talked to him, telling him how sorry I was and that I so very much wanted things to be different.

The time came so much quicker than I wanted, and I remembered a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth who said, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.” He was also planning a murder when he spoke these ominous words. My heart was very heavy.

An assistanct led us into a nicely appointed examining room with a soft brown mat on the table and asked that we let Percy lay down there. The doctor came in, told me I had made the right decision and explained the procedure. He asked if I needed a few moments and I said yes.

Sylvia was in so much emotional pain, but I cannot relate what was in her heart, only what was in mine.

I hugged Percy and told him I knew he could not understand my words or what was happening, but I hoped that God would allow his animal spirit to understand what my spirit was saying. I told him again how sorry I was and how much I wanted something different. I wanted to simply wake from a bad dream and see him healthy and bouncing around again. I asked God to please forgive me if I made the wrong choice.

Percy at his favorite place 3/30/2013I broke down, sobbing and telling Percy how much I loved him and that I didn’t know if his spirit would live beyond his body as our soul lives beyond ours, but that I hoped with all my heart that it did and in few moments he would have a new body without pain and be running on warm glistening sand with radiant seagulls soaring overhead and cool sapphire waves lapping at his feet as he runs and plays on a heavenly beach for eternity. I told him I hope to join him there someday. I asked him to please forgive me and to know forever how much I love him.

The doctor returned to the room and when I looked around I did not see a doctor’s office, but an execution chamber. Although part of me understands, there is another part of me that wonders how it is that a person can deal with being a professional executioner, stealing the lives of other living things, even part of the time and under the guise of mercy.

The syringe filled with Pentobarbital would anesthetize Percy so he would not feel any pain. Then as he was in a drug-induced sleep his heart would stop. I hugged him close as the doctor gave guidance and the technician found a vein in his hind leg since it was already numb from the spinal damage. She inserted the needle and I watched horrified as the violet solution entered his body. Part of me wanted to cry out “NO!” but I remained silent, knowing in my heart that easing his suffering was the merciful thing to do.

But I was still killing someone I loved very dearly and it hurt.

Eternally sleeping 5/10/2013 @ 12:10PM. He who was alive now breathes no more. May you suffer no longer, my good and very loved friend...

Eternally sleeping 5/10/2013 @ 12:10PM. He who was alive now breathes no more. May you suffer no longer, my good and very loved friend…

I watched his body relax and his eyes droop. He was feeling the first effects and his pain was easing. The tension flowed from his body and he went limp – a third the syringe was injected. His eyes closed almost but not quite fully. He looked like he was going into a peaceful sleep. A quick check with the stethoscope revealed to the doctor that his heart was still beating, so the technician injected the rest of the drug and it was done. Percy, my beloved little dog, was dead because of my choice.

Sylvia and I both cried over him and the doctor and technician stepped out to give us a bit of privacy. Tears flowed and I lost count of how many tissues we used.

In a few moments, the technician returned and gave Sylvia a hug, touched me on the shoulder, and gave us both words of comfort and encouragement.

Now we wait to get the ashes of our loving companion in a wooden box with his name on a gold plate. But for now there’s now an empty kennel in the corner and an emptier hole in my heart.

As I write this, I keep looking down to the left of my office chair hoping to see him plopped down in the furry little circle where he would usually be. But he’s not there. And he never will be.

Percy was my friend, my travel buddy, my family member, and most importantly my mentor. He taught me so much. I miss him immensely, beyond words’ ability to describe. I want so much to feel his warm, furry body enveloped in my arms again, to see the happiness in his fuzzy face as he looks at me with large round eyes with his cute pink tongue sticking out. I would love to see his fluffy little tail wagging.

But never will that happen again in this lifetime.

I was so very wrong. Percy was not worthless at all. He was priceless.

My last moments with a priceless friend and mentor I will never forget.
Sir Percival (Percy)
Beloved Pet and Family Member
4/2010 – 5/10/2013


Apr 242013

candleMy Grandpa and Grandma who raised me picked me up after the last day of eighth grade in 1973 to leave on a two-week vacation to Oklahoma and Arkansas to visit relatives I’d never met but heard a lot of stories about. The polar white ’66 Mercury Colony Park station wagon was loaded for an exciting road trip, and I couldn’t wait for the adventure to begin. They had promised to stop at a lot of really neat places along the way, and I was anxious to see the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Giant Meteor Crater (I was a NASA nut), Carlsbad Caverns, and Fort Courage (the “home” of F Troop, one of my favorite TV shows at the time). Armed with my black & white Polaroid Swinger instant print camera and three packs of film plus a box of AG-1 flash bulbs I had purchased by saving up my $5 a week allowance, I was ready to travel and document the journey with self-developing pictures.

As we traversed mile after mile of the seemingly unending now-historical Route 66 (which wasn’t nearly as much fun as anticipated in my imagination) I started seeing signs for a cavern I’d never heard of. It didn’t take much convincing to get Grandpa to take the detour to Peach Springs, Arizona, since Grandma was a real travel-bug and always open for unanticipated amusement. Plus they spoiled me a lot.

But rather than the grand entrance to a colossal cave I had expected from the name, we paid the admission and along with the rest of a small group of tourists squeezed into a slightly larger than normal elevator inside a visitor’s center. Two hundred and ten feet below the surface the doors opened into the world-famous — at least according to the signs — Grand Canyon Caverns. After a short walk along a roped-off walkway though a smaller cave we entered a large cavern about the size of two football fields. It was incredible to see such a huge expanse so far underground.

And there were interesting things there. For one, I had never seen so much food. Barrels and boxes were stacked three and four layers high in 1963 during the Cuban Missile Crisis by our US government with the thought that the cavern would be a perfect fallout shelter. There was enough food, water, and toilet paper to sustain 2,000 people for two weeks. It’s still in good shape and is still stored there today. Further ahead on the trail was a mummified bobcat, allegedly dying there in 1850. Still in pretty good shape, considering….but definitely not the most attractive feature of the cavern.

…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5 ESV

You may have experienced physical darkness. But my hunch is most of you haven’t. You may believe you have, but I’ll contend you’ve probably only experienced dimness. It’s not really dark when you close your eyes. A room with the lamps turned off isn’t dark. A moonless midnight with a clouded sky covering all the stars a hundred miles from the nearest house is not dark — it’s merely dim.

If you want to know what darkness really is, descend twenty-one stories under the earth where sunlight cannot penetrate and have the tour guide extinguish all artificial sources of luminescence for a full minute.

When the lights went out, the people around me giggled nervously and made joking comments to lighten their discomfort. This was not the natural surrounding for humans, and their uneasiness was clear. We were created to live under the sun, and I certainly shared in their distress.

At first your eyes still perceive the light within, and colored blotches swirl in your line of sight. But it quickly fades into deepening shades of gray, becoming darkness, and then descending into blackness. Pitch blackness. A blackness that feels like it’s not only enveloping you, but consuming you. A blackness that pushes against you, attempting to move you, yet you stay frozen in place, afraid, unable to see any part of your body, unable to navigate except by touch, so you remain still, knowing in such a strange place you would be immediately lost.

This is darkness. Utter darkness.

It is not a thing in itself. No more than a hole dug in the earth is a thing in itself. Just as the hole is the absence of soil, so is darkness the absence of light. Evil is not a thing in itself, it is the absence of good.

There are those who question how a God who is good, who created all things, could have created evil? The answer is that everything God created was indeed all good (Genesis 1:31). God is not the creator or originator of evil, but God did give us each a choice. Otherwise, humanity and angels would be forced into predefined roles and would not be the free-willed beings God intended. We can choose the light of His goodness, or we can choose the absence of His goodness and thus fall into an evil darkness — the darkness of being removed from the light. This is what Satan and his fallen angels chose. It is what we can also choose by rejecting God.

The guide lit a single candle.

It hurt my eyes for an instant because is was so bright. The entire cavern was illuminated by this single point of light, and I could see relief move across the faces around me. All shared in the splendor of this so small a light that completely banished the darkness. While darkness tried to hide and lurk in the corners, behind stalagmites and stalactites, when the light touched it, darkness was immediately and completely removed.

I was touched deeply by this moment. Even though I did not yet grasp its spiritual significance, I wanted to record and never forget it. I lifted my camera, which had been readied for immediate use.


Needless to say, it got everyone’s attention.

It was brighter than a lighting strike in the cavern, filling every shadow, every crevice, every crack for an instant. Then darkness tried to creep back in.

But the light of the single candle remained and commanded the darkness.

Today, God spoke to me from the past, in the light of His goodness and wisdom and love.

Like the tour guide did with the candle, when we simply choose to let God’s light into our lives His goodness floods forth, commanding and banishing the darkness, replacing evil with warmth, love, kindness, blessing, and salvation. Darkness tries to hide, but indeed trembles at His voice.

God lives beyond time. It’s incomplete to say that He knows the future. Instead, He lives in the past, present, and future all at once, unbound by the flow of moments as we are. “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) was the name to be given when Moses asked. And consider, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). He is ever-present at all times, in addition to being all-knowing and all-powerful.

Today I remembered this when He spoke to me through a demonstration that was given to me four decades ago in a vast underground cavern that was appropriately named Chapel of the Ages.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5 ESV

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 ESV

Apr 192013

broken_leg_kittenAt the Stanford Eye Clinic in Palo Alto, CA on August 29, 2011, a sight I will likely never forget passed through my eyes and into my heart.

A lovely Asian family – father, mother, and daughter – slowly crossed the waiting room floor, the aged father maneuvering one small, weak step at a time, his quivering hand gripping a cane for support while his daughter steadied his other arm. The mother, herself old and worn, shuffled alongside.

What touched me was the young woman had a cast on her left foot wrapped with a black support brace. It was clear she was also having a great deal of trouble walking, and her expression revealed it was quite painful. But she could still walk better than her father and was noticeably stronger, so as a loving daughter she supported him regardless of her personal difficulty and discomfort.

What a perfect model of Christian service…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)

As mentioned in my last post, I struggle with those inner voices saying I’m not good enough to serve, that I still have too many fleshly weaknesses to help others around me in their Christian walk, and that for such an imperfect person to speak of a perfect god God is the height of hypocrisy. But I’m discovering more each day the truth of how very weak we all really are when compared to the absolute strength of Christ that we are being perfected into and will attain not in this life but in the next life only. It is through our mortal weakness that God’s strength most fully manifests.

So rather than bemoaning our own shortcomings we should instead use the strength we are given to do the best we can wherever we are now. While we are not strong to the best degree, we have strength to some degree. The young woman could not lift her father and carry him across the floor, but she could certainly support him along the way.

Focusing on our weaknesses and comparing ourselves against others only further debilitates us. We then imagine what we cannot do and do not see what we can do.

Should I not swim since I’m not Michael Phelps? Should I not cook since I’m not Bobby Flay? Should I not invest for retirement since I’m not Warren Buffett?

Should I not sing praises to the Lord since I’m not TobyMac? Should I not evangelize since I’m not Billy Graham? Should I not give service since I’m not Mother Teresa?

None of us are truly strong. Yet none of us are truly weak. We are all somewhere in the middle and we are all a work in progress. And the wonderful reality is that when we admit and embrace our own frailty and instead focus on God’s strength He does amazing things through us. It is not our strength he requires. He provides that. It’s our obedience to His will and the love in our heart for Him and for His children that is important to God.

“…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:44-45 ESV)

It is to the servant’s heart that God supplies strength. When we cast aside selfishness and replace it with selflessness we become that light on the hill through which glory shines. He then smiles and says this is my child in whom I am well-pleased. Through our weakness He makes us strong.

You do not have to be rich to help the poor. You do not have to be mighty to lend a helping hand. You do not have to be eloquent to say a kind word.

There are always those less fortunate than us, whether physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually. When we become that servant who does not see himself or herself, but instead sees Christ living inside, the power of God is instantly there to do things we could never do on our own.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (Hebrews 11:32-34 ESV)

What do all of these have in common? They took action not for themselves, but for the glory of God and for the benefit of others.

Like the loving daughter did for her father, in the strength of your own weakness whose arm can you support today to help them through this journey of life?