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Trump. WMD’s. Facebook. Fake News. & Truth.

Trump. WMD’s. Facebook. Fake News. & Truth.

Trump. WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Facebook. Fake News. Truth.

You might ask what do all these disparate subjects have to do with each other. Honestly, I could have listed a host of other subjects that, at first glance, might have appeared to have had absolutely no correlation. But hang with me and hopefully I’ll tie them all together.

During the Presidential campaign in 2016, and the years leading up to it, Donald Trump, the candidate and citizen, made a number of claims that, now as he is President, appear to have been untrue… or else Trump just changed his mind.  While there are many promises one could point to, the most recent example is Trump’s views of Syria over the years. To be clear, this article is not about whether launching a strike on Syria was a good decision or not, but rather about the reality that a politician will tell you one thing when seeking your vote, but once elected, those promises are worth as much as the money the Federal Reserve prints.

So what is the truth?

A number of years ago the phrase, “Bush lied and people died” was regularly leveled at our 43rd President.  The basis for this view was the perspective that President George W. Bush lied about WMD’s as a pretense to invade Iraq.  The left, the media, and even many republicans and libertarians, asserted that there were never any WMD’s in Iraq.  While the intent of this article is not to re-litigate this decade old debate, it should be noted that there are numbers of reports that purport to validate that WMD’s were indeed in Iraq, including the notion that many of them made their way to Syria.  

So what is the truth?

Facebook touts nearly 2 billion active users.  That’s a lot of people sharing photos, personal tidbits, recipes, and untold other stories.  But Facebook has become a major purveyor of articles that are either totally false or are highly suspect.  In fact, Facebook has now set up a manner for its members to report false stories to them. So if you are suspicious, report the post to the Facebook police, and they’ll investigate the authenticity of the article you reported. Which doesn’t mean you’ll get the truth. Rather, you’ll simply get what Facebook wants you to believe is the truth.

So what is the truth?

Over this last year, a new phrase has become commonplace:  Fake News.  One news source asserts another one is false.  Websites now evaluate the claims of others and rate them with Pinocchio noses; the more noses, the greater the lie.  And even our President has become accustomed to referring to media outlets he views as his adversaries, like CNN, as “Fake News.”  

So what is the truth?

It seems that in the age of Google, Siri, instant access, and terabytes of data, man is no closer to understanding the truth of a matter, than when man was carving images on cave walls.  

And that’s the tie between all these seemingly unrelated topics.  TRUTH. 

So what is the truth?  That’s the question we should be asking ourselves over and over.  Regardless of where we read or hear a story reported, we should be skeptical, in a good way, of claims we hear in our polarized world today.  There is nigh a person, group, party, or nation, who doesn’t have an agenda to push, or a perspective that they cling to. 

We all want the truth.  But do we have it? And even more importantly, do we present the truth in what we live out everyday in our lives?  This is a question I am asking myself in my own personal life.

I’m reminded of these verses in Isaiah 59 that seemingly foretold this present age:  

We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord.  We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.
Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.

If you take the time to read the entire chapter in Isaiah, you will find a myriad of societal problems that flow from a rejection of Truth. When we reject Truth, we are in essence rejecting God.  Our problems now, as they were in Isaiah’s day, are pervasive.  No, they are not limited to Donald Trump, or WMD’s or Fake News.  If our government merely reflects its people, what does that say when our politicians routinely distort the truth? 

So is there a solution to our Truth problem in America?  Well, you and I cannot change Trump, or the Fake News sites, but we can individually commit to pursuing Truth in our own lives. As we do that, we will have taken the first step in the direction of Truth.  And as we do, the Truth will set us free.  

Will the Trump Presidency Touch Down or Crash Land?

Will the Trump Presidency Touch Down or Crash Land?

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As I peer out the window at the terrain below, jetting over the heartland of America, I cannot help but ponder the future for our nation following the unexpected and historical win by Donald Trump.  

We saw so many “firsts” during Election 2016.  The first billionaire to win the Presidency.  The first woman to ever receive the nomination for President of a major party.  The first election where both candidates’ unfavorable ratings were at historical highs.  And so many more.

Today I am indeed grateful to God that we are not referring to Hillary Clinton as President-elect.  If you believe that God is still intimately engaged in His creation, then you understand that Daniel 2:21 was once again affirmed in this election in which we were all given the privilege and responsibility to participate:  “And He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and raise up kings.” 

While I am thankful that Hillary Clinton did not prevail, admittedly I remain a skeptic as to Trump’s veracity, trustworthiness and character.  My concerns will either be affirmed or invalidated in the months and years to come.  And honestly I pray they are proven wrong.  But one thing is certain.  As Donald Trump transitions from candidate to President, some very distinct realities will set in.

If you’ve ever flown, as I am doing today, you know that there can be something magical about soaring 30,000 feet above the earth at 600+ mph, seeing the earth below you whiz by.  The details of all that lies below is indistinguishable from that altitude. Similarly though, if one is glancing up from the ground into the atmosphere, the specifics of an aircraft is also unknown.

What airline is it?  What is its tail number?  Is it a Boeing or Airbus?  Who is inside?  There’s no telling until the plane lands. 

But when that silver capsule finally touches down, the answers will become clear.  If there are defects in the plane, they will be exposed. And as the passengers disembark, their true identity will be revealed. 

Over the last year, the Trump campaign has been like the jet cruising at 30,000 feet. Its flight plan has been purposefully one of generalities with limited substance dealing in poll-tested, populist issues.  But to an angry and disgusted populace, the vague flight plan proved wildly popular, with statements like these fueling Trump’s flight:

“I will build a great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.  Mark my words!”

“Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”  (Interestingly this statement was removed from Trump’s website 11/09/16, the day after his election.  See here.)

“I’m going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“We’re going to have a special prosecutor for Hillary. If I were President, Hillary would already be in jail.”

But the Trump campaign is now descending from its year-long high altitude voyage, to the reality of a Trump administration.  As the implementation of the billionaire’s vision proceeds, which was strong on emotionally charged rhetoric but soft on specifics, any blemishes in Trump’s policies and flaws in his style and guiding philosophies will quickly be tested and revealed. 

Fortunately for Trump, he is landing his Presidency on a “Republican-friendly” runway, given the reality that our new President will be advantaged with a GOP-controlled Senate and House. And while there are many Republicans in Congress who are not fans of Donald, the way in which Trump won will give him the gravitas that many of his predecessors lacked. 

So will President-elect Donald Trump touch down in Washington, prepared to govern and deliver specific solutions that are as popular and successful as his campaign rhetoric was in its lacking of those same specifics? Can the reality TV star be accountable to voters to follow through in the drudgery of day to day governing?  Will Trump’s decisions over the next four years remain in alignment with the positions he claimed he supported during his campaign?  Or will President Trump revert back to the antithetical views and values he embraced during the many decades leading up to his Republican “conversion.” Will the dozens of campaign promises Trump made, many outrageous in nature, be fulfilled?  And if not, will his supporters even care?

The answers to these questions will determine whether President Trump’s arrival and tenure in Washington will be a successful and controlled touch down or a disastrous crash landing. For the sake of our nation, our communities and our loved ones, I pray our new President is not only wildly successful, both politically and personally, but that the man who disembarks in Washington is a man of great character and integrity. 

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”  Mark 8:36

Mark
No, Your Civil Duty is Not Complete on November 8

No, Your Civil Duty is Not Complete on November 8

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So you’ll go to the polls on November 8, (or perhaps you’ve already voted). You will reject the lesser of two evils. Or vote your principles. Or support your party. Or affirm its platform. Or vote 3rd party.

Check that off. You did or will do what every patriotic American does.  Right?

And then you can sit back down. Phew!  That’s behind you. Election 2016 will be over. 

Sure, there are real consequences to what will happen on November 8. But you will have voted. You’ll be back in four years. Or maybe even in two years if you’re a real radical.  So let’s move on.

It’s time to get on with life.  

Being a Parent

If you’re a parent you’ll recall those nine months leading up to the big day. Before ultrasounds it was kind of like an election. You know that the big day is coming. You may have your preference as to a boy or girl. But you wouldn’t know which it would be until Election Day, umm, I mean Delivery Day. Boy or girl?

But then that little girl appears. She’s been your focus for nine months.  But why worry yourself with the next years of her life?  You did your job. You played your part. You became a parent. Time to go back to your busy life. You had plenty on your plate before little Emma showed up. How could you add anything else?

Yet, you realize that being a responsible parent does not afford you the option of simply sitting back down and expecting that little Emma will be self-accountable, self-ruling, or self-sustaining. 

Rather, you know intuitively that Emma has no chance of surviving, much less flourishing, without you. Her entire being is dependent on you and the commitment you will make to her (and to be certain God’s guiding and sustaining hand).

So, why is it that you know these things about being a parent or nearly every other discipline in life?  But when it comes to sustaining one of the most precious gifts you and I have been given, our blessed America, you act as if your vote is enough?  

Voting is not Enough

Surely, deep inside, you know your vote cannot be enough. Yet on November 9th, over 100 million Americans will repeat what they’ve done for the past century or two. Like Rip Van Winkle, they will slumber for another electoral cycle, leaving the Republic in the hands of broken, self-interested and, in too many instances, corrupt people.  

America, our ship of state, owned by you and me, will be left with an unaccountable captain and crew to guide it, likely on a course you and the majority of America reject. Yet, rather than stepping up and holding the captain and crew accountable, will you wash your hands, turn on your favorite TV programs or engage in your favorite hobby, and then wonder why our future is so dire?  This is unquestionably a formula for failure.

One Reason America is Failing Politically

We know, instinctively and experientially, that people, left to their own devices, and with little to no accountability, will degenerate rapidly.  But add in the opportunity to enrich oneself, with prestige, fame and even wealth, and the likelihood of self-interest and corruption skyrockets.  Too often we elect good men and women to a political office and then walk away, assuming that they will not change.  But they do.  In overwhelmingly large numbers.  

But the fault lies at our feet.  We expect too much while inspecting too little.  If we desire to see change in Washington, our state capitol, county commission or city council, then it’s incumbent on you and me to change our course.  Voting has never been enough.  In fact, it’s almost meaningless if you are unwilling to show up the other 1459 days before the next 4 year election cycle.  

Birthing and guiding a nation, like parenting a child, is a thankless and unending job.  It requires day after day, and year after year, engagement.  Anything less will ensure that the two main options offered today, Hillary and Donald, will look like saints in four years, as a lesser of two evils philosophy will continue to degenerate further into the abyss.

Is it too late to change our nation, state or community?  Only time will tell.  But act as if November 8th completes your civic duty until the next election cycle, and I assure you, our Republic will fail to recover from our current tailspin.

So, for the sake of your family, your offspring, and your fellow citizens, step up on November 9th and commit to the battle for your nation, state and local municipalities.  Future generations will either thank or curse you based on your response.

And if you’re not quite sure what to do, then reach out and let’s talk, regardless of your political persuasion.  Together we can make a meaningful difference.

Mark
Drowning in Fear?  How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

Drowning in Fear? How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

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Has Campaign 2016 left you feeling like you are about to drown in a barrage of fear and moral corruption?  Have you experienced any of these emotions over the last few months?  Angst? Anger? Worry? Uncertainty? Nervousness? Fear?

As I’ve engaged in political discourse, I have seen these emotions permeating the discussions.  It’s clear that Americans are experiencing an extreme degree of angst.  The level of fear that is expressed by conservatives, republicans, independents, and democrats seems to be off the charts.  

Our future appears to have been boiled down to the choice that will prevail on November 8th.  While there are monumental factors at stake that are driving the choices Americans will make at the ballot box, there have been other seminal moments for our nation.

If you think back over your life, you can no doubt identify times when your future was dire and bleak.  Similarly, while our nation’s homeland has faced a relatively tranquil and prosperous series of decades, there have been periods in our history when citizens wondered if the Republic would survive.

I’m reminded of a passage in the gospels where the disciples were fearing for their lives.  The story is found in Matthew 8 and highlights one day in the life of Jesus.  Throughout that day, Jesus healed a leper, a paralytic child, a feverish lady, cast out a demon, and healed dozens of others.  At the end of this “day in the life of Jesus” where the miraculous became almost commonplace, Jesus led his disciples into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. 

Shortly after Jesus and the disciples embarked on the journey, a violent storm encompassed their boat.  The disciples, terrified by the tempest that surrounded them, and the waves that were crashing inside the boat, yelled out in utter hopelessness, to a sleeping Jesus.

“Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”

Consider exactly what the disciples were revealing with those chilling words.  First, they had completely forgotten what they had just witnessed earlier in the day, when Jesus performed miracle after miracle, reflecting His complete dominion over the physical and spiritual.  Second, consider that this supernatural Man had led them directly into the boat.  While they were unaware of what lay ahead, Jesus fully understood what that dark night held for them.  Finally, while Jesus knew there was a storm directly in their path, He also knew that the storm was not the object of that night.  Rather, a lesson that the disciples needed to experience and learn, was precisely what Jesus had in mind.

So Jesus awoke to the disciples’ screams of fear, panic, and hopelessness.  He saw it in their eyes, heard it in their voices, and fully understood their emotions.  But, He did not immediately deliver them from their greatest fears.  Rather, as the waves were swirling around their knees, Jesus questioned:

“Why are you fearful?”

Did the disciples not understand what the purpose of the last twelve hours had been?  Did they not remember that Jesus was the Son of God?  Did they fail to comprehend that He delivered dozens from physical and spiritual oppression?  Did they not realize the most obvious reality, that Jesus was in the boat with them?  Could they perish with the Son of God at their side?

Yet they so easily forgot, just as we so often do.  But notice Jesus’ next words.

“O you of little faith.”

The disciples had within minutes lost their trust in the very Creator of the universe; the God-man who had called them to follow Him, and told them things about themselves that only God could have know; the Nazarene who they were seeing live a perfect life, who had turned water into wine, healed the sick and lame, brought words to the lips of the mute, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.

Yet, fear gripped the disciples and they lost their faith.  And what was drowned out that night by the storms that swirled around them was not their physical lives, but more importantly their spiritual faith.  

But then, despite the fear and lack of faith by the disciples, we read these words:

“Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

If Jesus can halt physical storms can He not conquer the storms in your life, and our nation?  Of course He can.  And although there are clear biblical principles that instruct us to not simply sit back and do nothing, we also learn from Matthew 8 that what we are often lacking is faith.

Faith that believes. 

Faith that trusts.

And, as we learn in the book of James, faith that is revealed by our works, for we read that “faith without works is dead.”

Remember that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  The same Jesus that saved His disciples from drowning that stormy night, is the same One who is fully aware of the storms in your life, and our nation.  But will you and I acknowledge, trust, and follow Him, not just on November 8th, but more importantly on November 9th and forward?

In just a few days our nation will enter a new era.  It could be a very stormy and tumultuous period.  So we have two choices.  Will we turn to the ultimate answer for a stormy future and return to the only One who can guide us through these storms?  Or will we trudge on, in fear, disunity and hopelessness?    

Politicians, their Parties and ideological movements are not our hope.  There is only one Hope: Jesus Christ.  Let’s turn to Him as we climb into the boat that will traverse a Clinton or Trump Presidency.  It’s going to get rough, but we know that God Himself will never leave us nor forsake us.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

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