Dec 312016
 

Traditionally, New Year’s Day is the time we make resolutions only to rapidly break them. So I’ve long considered them of little value. But there are indeed specific actions we should take.

  1. Reflect on the past year. What went well? What went poorly? What was satisfying? What left you feeling disappointed? What was aligned with your life goals? What wasn’t aligned?
  2. What are your priorities for next year in the areas of health, family, relationships, and career? (In that order – one builds on the other just like a house must be built on a solid foundation.
  3. Identify WHY these are priorities. A strong WHY motivates you to do them.
  4. Turn these priorities into specific actionable goals with deadlines. Goals should be uncomfortable, but not unrealistic. Set only 3-7 goals in each area, since it’s better to achieve fewer than to fail at several more.
  5. WRITE THEM DOWN, and look at them daily! Critical!
  6. Do NOT over-plan. Over-planning is simply a way to rationalize procrastination.
  7. Identify the next step and take it. The next step is always the most important and helps create momentum.

Now work toward them daily and incessantly.     –RG

 

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 132016
 

coke_machineI craved a milkshake thanks to a post shared by my friend Dana Phillips on how chocolate improves your intelligence. So I went to Jack-in-the-Box to seek out a higher IQ. And I found it.

A friendly and sweet chunky Latina lady waited on me as we engaged in pleasant conversation about the Chicken Fajita Pita with Apple Slices countering the large chocolate intellectual stimulator. There was another Hispanic young man working behind the counter who smiled as he handed over the munchies.

My wife and I sat down and, gazing around, I see a Mexican family sitting and enjoying lunch with their kids. A mother and daughter sat across from me sharing an enjoyable moment in their afternoon while alternately grabbing jalapeno poppers. The young lady had the most beautiful sandy and wavy hair framing her sapphire eyes.

A grizzled man appearing to be a farmer perhaps of Armenian descent nodded to me as he made his way to toss garbage into the trash to clean up after himself. An aged man wearing slacks and a white shirt matching his skin tone hobbled by with a cane. A woman speaking only Spanish held her baby while the son, about eight years old from appearance, struggled to transport a high-chair in which to sit his small sister.

And there I sat, across from my own beautiful wife whose skin remains tanned far beyond what mine will ever be. And I see something.

And also I see the absence of something.

Two employees walk by — a chubby white male teenager and a skinny Mexican girl I estimate in her early 20s with both arms tattooed, four swords decorating her inner right forearm, both delivering food to patrons with a smile returned to each.

What I noticed was the absence of hatred. What I saw was each person there engaged in a ritual of life and enjoying a simple moment.

What I saw was people engaging with one another for a common albeit quite mundane cause. And simply being happy.

In this room diversity and peace gathered.

The tattooed girl delivered a bag of food to the old man who thanked her with a smile and a surprise that service had been so fast. As he stood and shuffled gingerly toward the door, he stopped to smile at the daughter in the high chair, talking to her in English, telling her what a beautiful baby she was and congratulating the mother and smiling at the son. She appeared to speak or comprehend not a word of English, replying to him in Spanish. Did the language barrier matter? No barrier existed since they both spoke the language of acceptance and affection.

I watch people line up at the soda machine, one of the new ones dispensing dozens of different combinations. Regular, Diet, Coke, Sprite, Barq’s, Dr Pepper, Fanta, Cherry, Vanilla, and a lot more to make whatever combined concoction you prefer or simply want to try.

Kinda like people in our United States. So many colors and combinations pour out of that single dispenser. Varied ethnicities, religions, genders, professions. All are present and while some flavors may not be your preferred choice, we certainly do not bear hatred for those who prefer something different. While I may be a Diet Coke kind of guy, perhaps you’re a Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper kind of girl. It’s all good.

Can we not be as a country a bit more like this scene in Jack-in-the-Box and simply and peacefully enjoy the diversity around us? The menu on the board offers a lot of choices because choice and diversity are good.

And consider that no politicians were present either serving the meal or enjoying it with us. It was simply by mutual consensus of all who were there. And, my friends, that’s all it takes.

Nov 092016
 

Two AmericasTo my Liberal Friends after the Election (and yes, you are my Friends)…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Thus begins A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And today we have the tale of two Americas, a dark day for some, a new day for others. Surprisingly, even after the election results, I awoke this morning to the sun still rising in the east, its light spreading forth across the world. Birds still sang happily. The cat woke me with her habitual morning kiss, desiring good-morning strokes. The dogs anxiously bolted from their nighttime kennel, escaping to the backyard so they could bark at the neighbor’s dogs before settling in for breakfast and a fresh drink of water. The coffee from the Keurig still tasted fine, and my wife was still the loveliest woman on the planet in my admittedly biased eyes.

In short, life continued.

Yet, in the eyes of some it did not. Hate speech overflows the Internet and social media. Fear and loathing fills parts of America as Liberals and Social Justice Warriors bemoan the downfall of civilization not only in America but throughout the entire world.

Protestors gathered in the streets by the thousands decrying their hatred of our president-elect.

Articles describing how bad the country is going to be such as “Trump voters will not like what happens next”, “If Donald Trump wins, it’ll be a new age of darkness”, and “An American Tragedy” are posted and shared by those I know to be intelligent.

Comments such as, “I am also completely embarrassed to be an American. I have never felt so ashamed for the human race. I never thought we would have white supremacist with their hands in America, but, I guess that is what the uneducated white men and women in this country want. I never knew we had sooo many uneducated people in the USA…wow!! How could I have so completely misjudged the depths of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, bigotry and just plain hate that a majority of my countrymen / women have sunk to. I no longer love this country. I am sickened by the people in this country who are so cruel, selfish, arrogant, racist, sexist, and just plain mean that they believe that orange-faced buffoon is actually a good thing. I will never like or respect this country again. Ever. There is nothing to proud of here. That rapist, pedophile, sexual predator, narcissistic, demagogue will never, ever be my president. I am simply terrified. Dark and unpredictable times ahead. I am scared for my children and grandchildren in a way I have never before experienced. Also scared for the planet. The KKK is already rejoicing.” And many others with language I will not quote show a despondency hard to overlook.

And I understand and empathize to a point. It’s hard to lose what you believe in. I get that. And I get it’s not about politics, but about a worldview. You see the causes you championed falling away. You see the clock turning backward to a time from which you struggled to escape. But it’s not so. It’s an illusion turned delusion.

A particular post catching my attention read, “America has spoken. I do not matter. Minorities do not matter. Women do not matter. Immigrants do not matter. Gay people do not matter. Teachers do not matter. Education does not matter. Diplomacy does not matter. Love does not matter. Truth does not matter. Integrity does not matter. The American ‘experiment’ is, in all likelihood, over and done with.”

This from an individual who is a church leader and had previously taken several opportunities to “chastise” me personally for expressing viewpoints that differ from his, or perhaps were simply stated in ways he finds uncomfortable (although there are many rather unfriendly posts targeting conservatives on his own timeline).

My point: Really? Sorry. But you’re completely wrong. All those things still matter.

I can understand pathetic pathos emanating from the world, but from those who profess God in their lives? Seriously? How do you honestly join that Christ died for you and God loves you with the concept that you do not matter? I point toward this not to single out or pick on this particular individual who hopefully remains anonymous. But only to use it as an example replicated throughout society.

My question: Why are you victimizing yourself? Why are you separating what you profess to join together? Why do you despise the results of Democracy you support as a tool to gain your own ends?

Perhaps therein lies the answer – Your own selfish ends. The original sin of Satan’s downfall.

Democracy is wonderful when it supports your own selfish desires. But it suddenly becomes the tool of evil racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, and bigots when it does not. I particularly like the term “obstructionists” used to describe politicians with opposing viewpoints representing the interests of the constituents they are actually supposed to serve.

Let that sink in.

Why the hate? Isn’t that what you speak so vehemently against, yet spew forth in dragon’s breath against those who oppose you? Why do you use words describing fear and evil? Simply because they are inflammatory? Or are you simply too afraid of your unsubstantiated positions to actually speak truth about others?

This election was not about Trump being a good or even desired candidate for the highest position in the land. It was a response to your own racist bigotry you are blind to.

Here’s why.

Let’s use South Africa as an example. Apartheid was horribly wrong, and Nelson Mandela will be enshrined in history for his untiring devotion to its abolishment. With its meaning of “separateness,” it segregated people into classes and put ruling power over a majority into the hands of a minority. Both parts of this equation were wrong. Thanks be to God that Mandela was outraged enough to act and sacrifice to overthrow this tyranny.

Can you see any semblance here? American Apartheid in recent years was not overtly horrific as in the case of South Africa, but it shared a similar spirit of division and overrule by a minority of people. This never works. This is subjugation not liberation, domination not freedom.

The Left has sought to segregate people into groups of Black, White, Latino, Native American, Asian, Straight, Gay, Transgender, etc. And also into groups of groups, such as “People of color” and “LGBT”. Whenever you group people, the natural psychology of the human brain seeks to define them by differences. What makes red different than blue? What makes hot different than cold? What makes good different than evil? That’s the way our mental storage boxes into which we drop concepts are created. It is called surprisingly enough “differentiation”.

Another aspect of human psychology is that we adhere to those who are similar and shun those who are different. This is not hatred or discrimination (at least not in the social warrior sense), it is merely a fact that is in part a survival mechanism. We are social creatures and there must be a commonality that brings us together as a family, a team, a community, or a nation. Stressing differences by grouping and categorizing people alienates us from one another.

Instead, we should be looking for sameness that will unify. Yet you choose tactics to divide? Stressing differences strengthens the “us vs. them” mentality that has been the source of conflict between individuals, families, factions, societies, and nations for millennia.

Stop it.

America spoke this election by saying she was simply fed up with your crap. And that’s exactly what it is. Crap. Lots of it. Deep. Smelly, Squishy. Crap.

You scream against angry old white men being the enemy. Let me remind you it was exactly that group who wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words are foundational to why you can scream against those who gave you the right. Rather ironic.

If it is racist to discriminate and hate a person for being black or brown, it is just as racist to hate someone for being white. Being a misogynist who hates women because of their female genitals is equally as wrong as being a misandrist hating men because of their male genitals.

Xenophobia implies the fear of those foreign to us. There was nothing in the political rhetoric I heard to substantiate that conclusion in any way. What was said was that if undesirable and destructive foreign elements are entering the country illegally – as opposed to legally – they should be prevented from entering. That’s not fear of foreigners, nor is it global to all foreigners, it’s simply common sense to protect our citizens from such occurrences as 9/11 and illegal drug and human trafficking. If you really believe otherwise then I challenge you to leave your doors and windows unlocked and open when you are home, away, and asleep at night. And do not lock your car doors or roll up your windows when parked in your driveway or at the supermarket or at the shopping mall or stopped in traffic traveling through a bad part of the city. Show a little trust, please. Open your own borders.

Homophobia is much the same. There is no fear of someone with a different gender preference. Admittedly, there is disdain perhaps, but not fear. Disdain because, in the minds of many, there is a moral issue in addition to a psychological or biological one. All three major world religions consider it a sin. Islam punishes it by death. Christianity simply doesn’t like it. But is it a sin? Does it really matter from a social perspective? Not really. Many choose to sin and have free will to do so. So who am I to judge the actions of another? I’ll not be accountable for it and have plenty of my own sins to worry about. Let them do what they like regardless of how I feel about it. I think it really boils down to the re-defining of a word considered sacred by many. Marriage. This word denotes a special bond between a man and a woman that is holy and not to be defiled. Is it defiled? Yes, and quite often. But that’s not a valid argument to change the definition. And it’s not even about the right for same-sex partners to “marry”. It’s about calling the joining together a “marriage” when by definition (according to people of faith) it cannot be such. So let people join together and have all the legal rights of a marital union. Just call it something different and do not force those who morally object to perform the ceremony.

Also, do not try to force people to like what they morally object to. Tolerance is about recognizing something exists and not making an issue about it. Like marriage, Social Justice Warriors demand we change the meaning of tolerance from recognition to embracing and supporting an idea. We don’t. And we won’t. You’re wasting your time and becoming quite irritating in the process. The more you push it on us, the more we will resist. Leave us alone, and just let everyone get along fine. We accept it, but we don’t like it. That should be good enough since it’s the best you’re going to get.

Remember, we have religious freedom in this country. I cannot tell you who or what to worship or not worship nor vice-versa. Freedom works both ways. But you seek in your intolerant quest for tolerance to not tolerate or allow religious viewpoints with which you do not agree.

I saved the best for last. Bigot. A person who is intolerant of those holding different opinions. Wow. If you are hurtling hate speech against those who disagree, let me assure you the evil you see before you is, in reality, the devil inside you. Please hold up a mirror and gaze deeply. Think about how you feel about those who disagree with you. Then say…

Mirror, mirror, before my face

As a member of the human race,

I ask you help me empathize

To see the world through other’s eyes.

That I would not deny their view

Nor by my words seek to outdo,

But let me see that we’re akin

So as we join we both may win.

God loves you, whether you believe in Him or not. And I will pray for you whether you want me to or not, although you’ll probably never know. And this could easily and hopefully be a prayer instead of a poem. So it is my earnest prayer that you consider your methods and try to find ways in which we can join together. Both sides – liberal and conservative – are right and wrong. Both viewpoints contain good from which each side can learn. But fighting for dominance is not the answer. And believe me, all the discussion here points fingers back at me as well. I have to do this just like I’m urging you.

But we must neither be victims if we are to be victors. We must not be bullies if we are to lift others up. We must not be harmful if we wish to be healers.

So please let us abandon the two Americas for but one. Let us seek not to divide, but to join. Let’s see not our differences, but our similarities. Let’s become not the Disjointed States, but the United States.

Quit your sniveling, be part of the country, and help make it a better place. Start by making yourself a better person. As it stands neither of us are the solution we think we are.

But together we can be.

–RG

 

 

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?

 

Sep 262016
 
Human Connection

Human Connection

Whether in life or in business, we share the planet with others. And it’s only through successful personal interaction that we achieve our goals.

And the way to successfully interact with others so that we succeed is quite simple:
Help THEM to succeed.

This approach works in all aspects of life, and it will bolster everything you do. But here’s the secret – it must be genuine. When you esteem others greater than yourself, amazing things begin to happen.

And this is how we should always view our customers. Place their needs above our own. Be a resource they can count on. After all, aren’t they coming to you because of your expertise in solving a problem they need help with?

Provide that assistance kindly and patiently. Make sure they know how important they are to you. Consider them as more than simply a “customer” (i.e. a means to a profit), but consider them as another person of colossal importance. Everyone you come into contact with should be deemed a VIP. For indeed, they are.

Respect and honor never go out of style. And they will foster a connection with people who then want to do business with you. Because these attributes, like common sense, are quite remarkable these days. –RG

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.

FLASH!!!

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 142013
 

There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 14:12 ESV

pathI have always interpreted this to mean that when we ignore God’s ways and instead cling to our own that the results are personal and tragic loss, generally in the form of moral wickedness, sickness, financial ruin, psychological problems, and eventually physical and spiritual death. I still think this is the core meaning, but like most passages of scripture, there is layer upon layer of wisdom as we dig deeper. It seems no matter how often I return to a passage thinking I have already mined every precious nugget from those golden words, there is a new vein from which to extract some further insight from the Holy Spirit for application in my life.

So it is with these words as well – and at the moment they are very convicting to me, actually causing tears of repentance to flow as I begin to understand what I am risking, not only in my life but in the lives of others.

I share this because I wonder how many people are struggling with the same self-doubts and fears? How many know in their heart what they should do, yet there are crippling thoughts which cause them to remain silent and still? How many of us still adhere to our own ways that seem so right, and not God’s ways which are absolutely right because we are not trusting completely in His guidance?

I wish with all my heart that I could write inspired and anointed words declaring the righteousness and holiness I have attained in my walk with Christ, but the truth is I have very little of either. I am striving but far from arriving. So all I can write about with a clear spirit is the ongoing war between the light of Jesus and the inherent darkness which seeks to retain possession of my body and soul.

For reasons far beyond what I can cover in this single blog post (but will delve into more deeply in future writings) I have always struggled against my calling, giving far too much heed to every word of the enemy and to every imagining of my mind, easily finding a multitude of reasons why I cannot and should not bring the Word of the Lord to those around me. What credentials would allow me to speak on such things? I have never attended seminary. What church has appointed me a minister? What proof do I have of the revelations and insights I have been given? Who really cares about what I’m saying anyway?

Intellectually, I realize the most holy of men to ever walk this earth, except our Saviour, were far from worthy of their calling. But for such a thought to travel from the brain to the heart to become wisdom is often a long and arduous journey. In my mind, I know that God has always called the unqualified, esteeming their obedience more valuable than their talents. Yet my heart still struggles with understanding whether this is true in my life as well. Doesn’t this apply only to other “special” people?

Or does it indeed apply to me as well? And to every other person called as a child of God?

So what is the destruction that ends those things which seem right to us? Is it only our own personal destruction? Or when we have been disobedient to our calling do we perhaps also risk destroying others? Sins of omission exist in addition to those of commission (James 4:17). So is personal unworthiness an excuse for inaction that I can bring before the throne of grace on judgement day when asked, “Did you do what I called you to do?”

I have struggled often with whether others (plural) would heed the words I speak or write, and whether I was a proper vessel to bring these words forth. But the Holy Spirit asked me today just how many must heed? Did not Jesus teach us that although He has a hundred sheep if but one (singular, not plural) is lost He will leave the ninety-nine to retrieve the one who is lost (Matthew 18:12-14)? It is the same with my words. If they reach but one person and bring that person to Christ it is worthwhile and helps fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15) that Jesus proclaimed to us as He ascended back into heaven to prepare a place for us when He returns.

And so, with the realization I am not, nor could ever be, qualified or worthy of bringing His Word to anyone, I must nonetheless respond in obedience to the calling to speak those things the Holy Spirit places upon my heart. I lovingly hope that those who hear and read these mortal words will not see me – but will instead see the glorious light of the message inside the filthy and unqualified messenger. Let me become nothing, for He is everything.

The way that seems right to this man, the self-justification of avoiding doing this very thing I am now doing, if I continue upon that path, leads not only to my destruction, but perhaps unwittingly prevents another soul from being saved that could otherwise gain heaven by accepting the precious gospel message. For that reason I must speak, even as an unworthy messenger.

I cannot allow such blood on my hands.

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. – Exodus 4:10-12 ESV

Blessings and wisdom to you…

Aug 292012
 

Prophesy is one of the spiritual gifts of the new covenant church, and one that is perhaps not practiced as often as it should be. However, it must be done with proper guidance and caution. The prophesy of the New Testament is NOT the “Thus sayeth the Lord” of the prophets of old, but we’ll discuss that in-depth in a different post. For that reason, I seldom publicly share personal prophecies I receive, but after some things that happened yesterday this is the word I received after prayer this morning. Since God is no respecter of persons, I feel an urgency to share this one because there is perhaps something contained within that may edify, strengthen, and confirm promises to others at a time they really need this. May you be blessed… 

open-armsBe of good heart because I love you and I receive you as My own, yet you feel you are not good enough to be acceptable to Me. But I tell you that in you I am well-pleased. None are perfect in the Earth, but I have not called my children to be perfect – only to be perfected. And you, My son, are being perfected, and I love you.

You fall down often, yet you repent quickly. This is the true mark of My sons and daughters. Do not hold onto the sin, for this will only isolate you from Me. Not because I reject you, but because you reject yourself and then you pull away from Me in shame. Yet I am always willing to draw you near. You think that by repenting many times a week or even many times a day for your failings that it weighs heavy on me, and that I will soon tire of your failures. But this is not so. My holy scriptures say to forgive one another seven times seventy times each day. My beloved, if I can command My people to forgive, how much more can I forgive you? I see your failures and I forgive them as soon as you ask, never thinking of them again, but I see all the more your successes. When you fall am I not always there lifting you back up, setting you upright, and bringing you further up the slope of my holy mountain? Do I not with my own hand dress your mind with the armor and place within your heart the weapon you need for the battles you face? Have I not always been there to guide and protect you in even your most difficult trials?

You have sought My truth and I bless that. So many seek My hand and the promises of what I can do for them. But you have sought My face and have asked earnestly for My truth to be revealed to you, not for what it will gain you in this present world, but because it is indeed truth. You have sought relationship with Me rather than simply My blessings. You have asked to see My people as I see them, to look upon them with My eyes of grace, to hear them with My ears of understanding, and to accept them with My heart of love. Since you have sought My face and My truth, I will also extend my hand to you and grant what you ask and then multiply it exceedingly.

Your gifts will become stronger. You will prophesy My Word to many and will speak with the boldness of a lion, yet with the gentleness of My love. For My truth is sharper than the sharpest sword, and it will cut the sin from any who perceive it, leaving intact the good creature I originally created them to be. You will speak My words of knowledge and My words of wisdom that I place within you with holy authority, for I remember My promise that I will reveal to you the deeper mysteries. You will teach others and through your obedience they will receive My grace and the blessings I have for them. You will speak in yet other tongues, uttering the new words I place in your spirit, and you will know their meaning for you and for My people. It is from these new words that prophecies will arise as you build yourself up in stronger faith. For you have also prayed that your faith will increase greatly, and this thing I will do for you.

You will be witness to miracles that cannot be explained other than by the presence of My hand, and when you speak and touch people they will be healed in mind and in body according to their needs. And when this happens I will heal their spirit and draw them closer to Me. You will be My witness, and your hand will be My hands, and your voice will be My voice.

My son, you have long wandered in the wilderness, but I am now leading you into the land I have promised. To a place of abundance where you will drink the milk of My truth and eat the sweet honey of My blessing and healing. Doors that were shut are now opened and once you pass through the way back to your past is sealed. On the other side new adversaries await from which you have been protected until you have been strengthened to face them. But fear not, mighty man of valor, for I am forever with you, even unto the end of this age and beyond, and never will I leave you nor forsake you. These enemies will be slain by My hand as you face them in My name. These agents of the enemy are defeated by your standing boldly in the knowledge of I AM within you.

Arise, my son, and go forth in the promise that I give to you. Climb up My holy mountain and marvel at the things I am bringing forth in your life.

I love you forever, my son. In you I am well-pleased, and forever you will be in My presence. Your sins are forgiven. And forgotten.