As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recklessly, in violation of government rules and reasonable common sense, used an unsecured private server for email communications, which endangered national security by exposing sensitive classified information to our enemies. She failed to preserve all those emails as required but instead destroyed them, and to cap it off, repeatedly lied about this to the public. Now, she thinks she deserves a promotion?! (This doesn’t even factor in the debacle in Benghazi for which she was also investigated and proven a liar, and wherein her incompetence is at least in part responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans).
Well, that’s Hillary/Obama logic. American logic ought to say in response:
“Mrs. Hilton, you’re out of order. A person who fails in lesser duties to do that required of them, and exposes America to serious harm, and expresses no regret but rather refuses to be accountable for their actions, does not deserve a promotion to higher duties! You have escaped justice for the moment, using your powerful White House connections. But at the ballot box, God willing, the American people will execute their own justice and you will be sent home. And if there is any justice left in this world, the next President will re-open this case and correct this travesty of justice today, and you will indeed face the proper consequences for your actions.”
OK, so Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has now been charged with battery against Michelle Fields, a reporter he claims he never touched or met! Look, the police are not going to charge someone without any evidence. But they do have evidence of an eyewitness (Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who has stood by his account that he saw Lewandowski grab Ms. Fields), as well as surveillance video of the alleged incident.
I have watched various videos of the incident many times–in them one sees Ms Fields is trying to get close to Donald Trump to ask him a question and one can clearly see Mr. Lewandowski reaching out from behind Fields with his left arm, grabbing Mrs. Field’s left arm, and yanking her back towards him & away from Trump. He then continues forward, moving past Ms Fields and following after Trump.
On the day of the incident, sources to the Daily Beast even reported that “Mr. Lewandowski acknowledged to Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, that he did manhandle Fields. Lewandowski’s explanation to Boyle, said these sources, was that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.”‘ (As if his actions would be OK if it was a hostile reporter).
He later would deny he had even touched Fields, and then the Trump folks escalated into full-scale attack mode– casting Fields as an attention seeker and calling her delusional while saying she probably made up the story..
Now the woman was not badly hurt nor was she thrown to the ground– but she never said she was. All she has said was that someone grabbed her arm forcefully, almost knocking her off-balance, and that she spoke to a fellow reporter who witnessed the incident and told her the person who grabbed her was Mr. Lewandowski. Watching the video, it sure does appear it’s Lewandowski who is grabbing her from behind, and after puling her backwards immediately moves past her, which would explain why she didn’t really see who grabbed her.
Anyway my point in bringing up all of this is that once again, Mr. Trump acts reprehensibly. Instead of instructing his overzealous campaign manager to immediately issue an apology to this reporter (wouldn’t a decent person do this?) he essentially calls her a liar and allows his campaign staff to publicly malign the woman’s character, adding insult to injury. Had they apologized by acknowledging the campaign manager overstepped his bounds in his efforts to shield Mr. Trump, my guess is the reporter probably would have let it go. After all, she did not look or sound like she’d been badly hurt, just a little shaken at being manhandled. By instead attacking her character and motives they practically guaranteed she would press charges. Apologies are not Mr. Trump’s style– which should give pause to all –because it reveals that he continues the pattern of attacking people he perceives as enemies and justifying plainly wrong acts by claiming others started it/deserve it. These are the actions of a childish bully.
“I like the mandate…I don’t want people dying in the streets.”
Well, to borrow his phrase, “excuse me” Mr. Trump, but what is wrong with Obamacare above all else is its central mandate- that one must buy healthcare from the government or be taxed/fined. This mandate is unconstitutional, un-American, and anti-liberty. The Supreme Court decision that made this possible was unprecedented, and flat-out wrong. Other Presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio understand this, in contrast to Mr. Trump. How is Trump going to “repeal and replace” Obamacare when he currently (not 10 years ago) believes its central unconstitutional (and unconservative) principle- the mandate- must continue and defends it using a liberal talking point? Answer: Obamacare will not be repealed or replaced properly by someone who holds such a view.
In the last GOP debate Trump accused the last Republican President and leadership of being liars who launched the US into the Iraq War under false pretenses. Wow. For a so-called Republican to make this charge against a former President, with millions watching, and again, using the Democrats’ own playbook– is a disgrace. And now when challenged, Mr. Trump seems to want us to forget that he called the Bush administration liars a few days before. Whatever one thinks of the Bush administration’s decision to enter the Iraq War, it is irresponsible and unseemly for the currently leading Republican candidate to make such accusations about a Republican President. This manner of attacking others has been a consistent pattern for Mr. Trump. But being brash, bold, politically incorrect, un-beholden to special interests, or whatever, does not justify or excuse the boorish, reckless words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
Being brash, bold, politically incorrect, un-beholden to special interests, etc., does not justify or excuse the boorish, reckless words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
The President’s most important task is to protect the security of America as Commander-in-Chief of the world’s most powerful army. This demands a person of mature character, not only strong and resolute, but also cool in judgment, certainly, not a hothead. Judging by his behavior merely throughout the course of his presidential campaign, the egotistical, thin-skinned Trump woefully fails to meet this standard. From the beginning of his campaign Trump has uttered rash and even crude words; and has engaged in juvenile, petty fights with anyone he perceives as the slightest threat to his election chances. Baseless ad hominem attacks against others has been his modus operandi. We need a Commander-in-Chief made of better stuff than this. As I have said before, the fact that the President is not our Pastor-in-Chief doesn’t mean he ought not to be a man of principle, nobility and wise words.
The fact that the President is not our Pastor-in-Chief doesn’t mean he ought not to be a man of principle, nobility and wise words.
Character counts– it reveals the kind of person someone is– what governs them as human beings, and helps us predict what they would do under challenging circumstances. Of course according to Scripture all human beings are sinful, and therefore all sin and make mistakes. We ought to be gracious towards the sins and mistakes of others, recognizing we ourselves are deeply flawed. Nevertheless, in everyday life we still hold people accountable for their actions and evaluate character based on fruit (actions). For example, when hiring someone for a job, we look for evidence (their past record) that they not only have the skills necessary to perform the sought after job with excellence, but also the maturity to perform the work ethically and responsibly. Presidential candidates are seeking perhaps the most important job in the world -President of the United States- one that involves more grave and sobering responsibilities than most. We as voters also have a serious task before us, and must exercise great wisdom and responsibility ourselves, as we choose our next President. Many conservative voters, motivated by justifiable anger and frustration with the status quo, have been aligning behind Mr.Trump, who on the surface promises to break through political correctness and empty promises to get things done. I share the frustration of many. Nevertheless, it is my view that Mr. Trump has neither by actions or words, demonstrated the consistency of principle, the depth of character, the nuance and clarity of position, or the maturity that would make him the best qualified person to become President of the United States.
Molestation of children is certainly a deadly serious sin, and it is also a crime. Therefore it must not be treated casually or dismissed lightly. Yet I think some perspective is needed when looking at the Josh Duggar case. From what is being reported, Josh Duggar was only a boy of 14 when over a period of a year or so he inappropriately touched five different girls as they slept (sometimes they were not asleep). The victims including some of his own sisters. His young age doesn’t excuse these terrible acts, but perhaps such acts may be understood as a boy not knowing how to deal with awakening sexual feelings and acting upon them in a highly inappropriate manner. But Josh recognized what he had done was wrong. He confessed his actions to his parents and before his church, and subsequently received help. The authorities were eventually also contacted and made aware of the situation. It doesn’t seem any formal charges were ever made by authorities against the boy or his parents. It might be argued that more severe action should have been taken by the Duggars to deal with their son, in light of the very serious nature of their son’s actions. Josh Duggar apparently underwent 3 months of Christian counseling, which included hard physical labor. Was such adequate for him to have overcome the pattern? I don’t know.
But the thing is, it does seem Mr. Duggar changed. He did not continue in the sinful and destructive pattern– but rather, it seems he made a complete about-face. Apparently he went on to become a very different person, eventually maturing into a decent husband and now, a father. And now, twelve years later, when confronted again with his past (which I am sure he wants desperately to put behind him) he does not cover up his guilt, but owns up to his wicked past acts (publicly confessing, apologizing, not excusing his actions; quitting his position with the Family Research Council).
I think there is a big difference between an unrepentant adult pedophile, and a young teenager of 14 who acted inappropriately but then confessed and actually changed his life. Perhaps if Mr. Duggar had NOT confessed his actions and reached out for help he might have continued his sinful pattern and become irrevocably hardened in it. But apparently he genuinely overcame his pattern and has left it far behind. Of course, he will have to live with remorse and with the consequences of what he did, knowing he caused great harm through his sins. It is to be greatly hoped that his victims have also received the help they need to cope with how they were violated, and are finding healing too.
But in a world where few ever even admit they did something wrong, let alone take responsibility for their bad actions, it is commendable that this young man, with God’s help, seems to have turned his life entirely around as he admitted his guilt, and found forgiveness of his sins and power to change through Jesus Christ. Even if one cynically dismisses the idea that he has really changed, it should still command respect that Mr. Duggar did not continue the pattern of wrong behavior, but owned up to it and changed it. For those of us who believe God is in the business of changing lives supernaturally, through the precious gospel of forgiveness through Christ and by the work of His Spirit in sinful hearts, the story of Josh Duggar offers hope and encouragement. It shows God can really change a person who is willing to confess and repent and ask for help. Let us hope and pray that Mr. Duggar’s repentance was indeed fully genuine, that good fruit continues, and especially that the victims in this case, who have not really been heard from, are finding restoration and healing too.
We must remember that the gospel is about how the Jesus’ death on a cross is a substitute for what we as wrongdoers deserve (Is 53:4-5; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 3:23-25). We deserve to be punished, but He– though innocent– takes our sin and our guilt and our shame on His own shoulders. By His blood shed on the cross, He washes sinners clean from the very worst of sins– there is no sin, in fact, beyond God’s redemptive reach (1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph 2:3-6). The depth of the love, grace and mercy of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ is simply unfathomable. God not only forgives through Jesus but then by His Spirit begins a powerful process of changing people from the inside out. He takes murderers, adulterers– the vilest, most wicked and most depraved sinners– and washes them clean, changing the trajectory of their lives by renewing their minds and giving them new hearts (1 Cor 6:9-111; Rom 12:2). He is cleansing and transforming lowly, wicked sinners into His own perfect and spotless image (1 John 3:2-3). It is a supernatural, lifelong process that won’t be completed in the believer’s lifetime. But this is the redemptive work God is doing (Heb 10:14; Rom 8:18; 1 Tim 2:12-13).
In light of this, is Josh Duggar beyond redemption? Did he commit the “unpardonable” sin? No. The only sin that puts people out of reach of this marvelous redemption is the sin of continued unbelief (John 3:18). There is no sin so wicked that God cannot forgive it; no life so shameful and vile that God cannot turn it around(1 John 1:9). But if we reject so great a salvation as is available through Jesus Christ, we shut the door upon our only hope as sinners (Heb 2:3). Josh Duggar is a wicked sinner. So am I. So is every one of us. Therefore let us put down the stones of condemnation, turn to Jesus and find in Him grace to walk as forgiven but transformed sinners, who look ahead to the day when sin will be fully eradicated from our hearts, and we will live together with God in a new and perfect world that shines brightly, lit solely by the holy glory of God.
A friend from Facebook posted the NYT opinion piece “Of Bikers and Thugs” by Charles M. Blow. I find the article both flawed and annoying. In fact, more than that, the article made me angry– I feel it is trying to accuse folks of universal prejudice based on very flimsy evidence. And I don’t want the guilt. I have enough personal sins to deal with, thank you very much. I don’t deny racial prejudice exists, and that some are perhaps guilty of it on an unconscious level. But I think it is a huge leap to locate unmistakable evidence of universal and deep racial hatred towards blacks simply because the term “thugs” was used in describing events in Baltimore, but not applied to the recent biker riots. The author argues this is not semantics. I say that it is exactly what it is.
The author himself unwittingly provides a good example of how this is semantics when he notes that the President of the United States and the Mayor of Baltimore (both whom happen to be black) used the term “thugs” in describing the riots happening in Baltimore. Is he suggesting the President and this Mayor are both motivated by deep or even unconscious racial animus towards blacks by using this term? Is anyone who uses the term “thugs”, white or black, guilty of prejudice and perpetuating stereotypes against the black community? Well, I don’t think so. The President used the word “thugs” because it was appropriate– the rioters were acting like thugs (i.e., “brutal ruffians”)– which has no connotation of anything racial, sorry. One does not hesitate to use this word of whites. Or at least I never received the memo that this word when applied to blacks signifies that you are a racist.
If you read economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell on these issues (he also happens to be a black man), he regularly notes that breakdown of the family, not only for blacks but also for whites, is a factor contributing to increased violence and crime, in both black and white communities. But he finds much statistical evidence that this breakdown of the family with its negative effects has been much more common in recent decades (from the 1960s forward) following the embracing and implementation of liberal policies. Prior to this, blacks were rioting less and were more likely to have two-parent households. Sowell makes the case that liberal policies have not been helping blacks or whites. For an example of Sowell’s work, check out his recent article titled, The Inconvenient Truth about Ghetto Communities’ Social Breakdown.
I fully agree with Mr. Blow when he writes that under certain conditions all human beings are “capable of primal, animalistic violence.” As a Christian, I recognize the fact of universal sin. This means Christians should especially be willing to examine their own hearts, to see if prejudice or other sin lurks there. But I’m not sure this means one should rummage around for evidence of sin within where it does not seem to exist. Such as simply using the word “thugs.” What a sin!
Net neutrality supporters argue that net neutrality will ensure that free and unfettered access continues, by making sure Internet access providers don’t control who gets to access certain websites. President Obama implies that big Internet providers currently wield too much power over access to content, and that they are somehow stifling free access. He claims principles of “net neutrality” have always been part of the Internet from its beginnings, but must be preserved by these new rules so that the Internet remains “free”. Let’s take a closer look at the definition of net neutrality.
Some say net neutrality, the idea that Internet access providers must treat all content equally, is
… similar to the engineering concept known as the “end-to-end principle,” which dates to the early days of the Internet. This concept holds that “intelligence” (i.e., processing of information) should be confined to the two ends of the network: the origination of content and receipt by the end user, or consumer. In between, the pipes connecting these pockets of intelligence should be “dumb,” i.e., confined to simply transporting content without modifying it.
Another factor that enters into this discussion is, of course, the free market. In a free marketplace there are always consumers willing to pay more for premium access. This is an essential aspect of a free market, not a threat to the Internet as we know it, as the President grandiosely and falsely claims.
Yet another factor involved in varying prioritization of data is technical. Different types of data require higher or lower levels of bandwidth and speed. For example, the data transfers involved in reading a blog or a website are slower and smaller that that required for viewing a video or for conducting a phone or webcam conversation. This kind of traffic requires regulation if the Internet is to run smoothly and effectively.
Finally, here’s what I view as the truly Orwellian aspect of this. President Obama says unless we act now and impose these brand new, unprecedented rules, we will lose the Internet as we now know it– because the big bad ISPs are actively suppressing people’s access to the Internet and websites. Where is the evidence for this? In any case the rules he is proposing grant huge power to a Federal government agency (FCC) to oversee and regulate how the Internet works. Introducing new levels of bureaucracy into a system that has been working well ( precisely due to light regulation and free market principles) is a sure path to higher costs and ultimately, less neutrality. If the Internet becomes a “public utility”, it can be taxed. And once the government controls costs, how soon is it until they will also be in a position to regulate content? Judge Napolitano sums it up well in this video, arguing that the Internet was created by a free market, and that these new FCC rules introduce unnecessary bureaucracy into the system making it less free, more expensive, and in danger of government censorship and control.
At the beginning of the a new year, many Christians will want to challenge themselves to read through the Bible. Why? Because we understand that regular intake of God’s word is critical to developing our relationship with God, and to our daily vitality as believers. Through the Bible, God speaks His truth to us by His Spirit. We come to know who God (Jesus) is more and more, and this strengthens our faith in Him, which helps us believe and act upon the truth that living for Him brings us into an abundant life full of purpose, meaning and blessing. The Bible imparts supernatural wisdom, its truths challenging and correcting us, convicting and conforming our hearts and minds to His will, teaching us to think and act in accordance with God’s ways. Yet, it is a spiritual battle to read the Word and to stay in it– our natural selves resist spiritual food, and the world’s distractions and spiritual forces of darkness also conspire to keep one from reading the Word.
But we are truly blessed these days to have so many free resources and tools we can use to help us in our goal of Bible reading. At my ReformingChristianity resources site I’ve collected many different Bible reading plans, all designed to help one read through the Bible, in part or in whole, according to some kind of schedule. Using one of these plans, you might choose to read and/or listen to the Bible everyday online; or you could download and print out a plan to guide you in your daily “offline” reading. You could have the reading plan sent to you by email. Many plans may be done via your mobile phone.
Classic reading plans (e.g., “M’cheyne“) have been used successfully by many for years to read through the entire Bible, and are typically designed to have one read from different sections of Scripture each day, a few chapters a day. There are also “partial Bible” reading plans (e.g., just New Testament, or Proverbs and Psalms). There are plans to take you through the Bible in historical order, or in just 6 months, or according to different topics. There is even a site that lets you design your own customized reading plan. You’ll find all these variations and more, at my resources site.
If you’re like me, so many choices may actually be too much of a good thing– you may get paralyzed just trying to decide which plan to use! But I would suggest you not overthink the decision; simply choose a plan that is easy and practical and suits your style. If you like to read from your print Bible, print out a plan and mark readings completed as you go. If you like to read and listen on the go, download an app like YouVersion or BibleGateway for your cell phone or tablet.
Whichever plan you choose, do try to pick a plan that will help you read all of Scripture, not just your favorite parts, for we know all Scripture is inspired. All of the Bible therefore contains something of importance God wants to communicate to us. Also, I think plans which allow one to read through entire books of the Bible may be better than those which have you reading from different parts each day, because you may be able to better grasp the thought of the book you’re reading if not distracted with reading from many other books simultaneously. On the other hand, some may find it more interesting (and therefore be better able to stick with it) if they read from different books.
If you lapse in your reading and miss a day or two (or more), don’t fret too much– simply pick up where you left off. Don’t be overly perfectionistic (as I tend to be) and feel if you’ve missed a few days you have to start all over, or that you’ve failed totally. The important thing is, we’re reading so we may connect with God through His Word on a regular basis and thus deepen in love and devotion to Him. He in turn blesses us with His fellowship, His peace, His joy and His power, as we walk with Him and obey the truths we learning.
Another factor that may be helpful for consistency is accountability– tell a friend you’re reading through the Bible and ask them to pray for you, and check up on you. Many of the web-based and mobile apps include this helpful “social” component.
What Bible reading plan do you currently use? Is it online, offline, mobile? Do you have someone helping you with it? How’s it going?
May the Lord bless all those who seek to meet with Him faithfully through reading His Word.
During the Republican Debate Thursday evening, January 19, just 2 days before the South Carolina primary, the opening question from debate moderator John King is directed to candidate Newt Gingrich, and it’s a highly provocative one:
As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview at the Washington Post and this story has now gone viral on the Internet. In it she says that you came to her in 1999 at a time when you were having an affair. She says, you asked her, Sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?
While the question is being asked, Gingrich’s demeanor is calm, but his eyes cast a steely glare towards King, as if he is ready to pounce. Gingrich’s response is cool but forceful. “No… but I will.” The audience erupts in loud applause.
I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,
continued Gingrich. Suddenly the audience is on its feet, giving Gingrich a standing ovation. King asks if he is finished, but clearly Gingrich isn’t. He continues,
Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.
My two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am, frankly, astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.
It was an amazingly dramatic moment in these debates. Two days later, Gingrich went on to win a resounding 41% victory in South Carolina, besting chief rival Romney by a whopping 12 percentage points. Analysts and commentators credited this key Gingrich debate moment to his strong showing in South Carolina, as well as his continued momentum as the Republican nomination contest headed to the next state battleground in Florida.
That Gingrich’s debate “moment” generated such visceral empathy for him, with people apparently flocking to his side because of it, reminds me how certain well-made movies get audiences to root for the anti-heroes–charming guys who just happen to be bank robbers, ex-convicts, Mafia, even serial killers. These movies stir us to feel for these ethically-challenged characters by potraying them as flawed yet very human.
Perhaps the empathy for Gingrich in this case is quite understandable. Just as we mistrust government leaders, the media likewise seems untrustworthy in its biases. In our Internet age of reality shows, Twitter, Facebook and Google, it’s isn’t just public figures whose lives are continually exposed to all. The average person may also feel that their privacy is being eroded. Maybe we empathize with Gingrich because of our own growing discomfort with the overly intrusive presence of media in our own daily lives.
And yet the fact remains that Gingrich is a thrice-married man who carried on adulterous affairs during his first two marriages. Does such behavior reveal something negative about the moral character of a man and thus his ability to govern? Would it be unreasonable to surmise that Gingrich may have divorced his former wives as they became liabilities to his political ambition? Or is he a dramatically changed man, as his daughters from his first marriage have testified, one whose new religious faith has made him a very different person today than he was then?
Despite sharing the empathy many felt for Gingrich in his “moment”, I still think that the questions about character that arise from personal behavior are legitimate things to look at as we evaluate the worthiness of candidates for high office.
I’m not concluding Gingrich is one of the bad guys. He says he’s gone to God for forgiveness for his past mistakes. As a Christian, I certainly believe that the grace of God offered through Christ gives believers the chance to start fresh. Embracing Christ, we’re challenged to walk away from our past life of self-centered sin. We do so eagerly, knowing Christ died to give us this opportunity for a new life, and trusting that God will work in us to make us progressively less sinful and more like Christ. Is this what has happened in Gingrich’s life? Time will tell.
So perhaps we got behind Gingrich in his “moment” because we’re all longing for a more dignified national discourse, one where noble ideals and solutions are what is served up for discussion, rather than reality-TV trash fare. But intuitively and rightly, people still assess the moral character of a man based on behavior both public and private. If Gingrich is truly a changed man who aspires to greatness for this country and as a leader, he’ll need to acknowledge that as he moves forward.