Do You Know How to Protect Yourself If…?

Do You Know How to Protect Yourself If…?

executive-operations-group

 

Do you know how to protect yourself in the event of an attack at your home or office?

Are your home and office hard or soft targets?

If an attacker grabbed you or your loved one, what is your fastest and most effective response?

If you were caught in a surprise attack at close range, are you confident that you can protect yourself and disable your attacker?

In the event of a natural disaster, how do you help yourself or those in need?

Earlier this year, my wife, Lori, and I, teamed up with Executive Operations Group, to build a private shooting range at Liberty Ridge Ranch, our 125 acre property just a few miles outside Chattanooga in Bradley County, TN (Cleveland).

Executive Operations Group (EOG) was founded by my friend Dr. Omar Hamada, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces (Airborne) who is an accomplished physician and business executive living in middle Tennessee with his wife and four children. 

special-forces-desertThe EOG instructors are world-class, combat-hardened ex-Special Forces, Delta, SEAL, and CIA veterans. They include martial artists and MMA coaches and champions. These are not your ordinary NRA-Certified Instructors or your average self-trained survival guys. These are the best in the world combat-experienced guys who have real world life and death experience. They have fought for our country and their passion continues to make our world a better and safer place. And that means getting you the training you need. Each trainer has an estimated $1 Million+ worth of training invested in them by the US government.

pistol1-1024x681EOG will be holding the following two courses at Liberty Ridge Ranch in the next few weeks:

Pistol Training Program:  October 28-29

Executive Operations Survival Training:  November 16-20

To find out more about each program, including cost, visit EOG’s website at http://executiveoperationsgroup.com/

Each class is limited to 15 students so don’t delay.  They are sure to fill up fast.  

Come with a desire to learn and the passion to make your life and the lives of those around you better and safer.

If you want Hands-on personalized training from Special Operators — the most elite warriors in the world — experienced in real world military engagements, then EOG will give you the skills necessary to protect you and your family in the event of a terrorist or criminal attack, a natural disaster, or other real life emergencies.

Don’t delay.  Be sure to check out their website and consider signing up today.  

Mark

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

reject-hillary-trump-options-final

In my post earlier this week, I attempted to make the case for what happens when one votes for the lesser evil and how that ultimately results in a continued race to the bottom of the barrel.  If this year’s election proves anything, it should affirm that truth, with a couple of candidates who may be amongst the most depraved and immoral ones in our nation’s history. 

In the same article, I also attempted to lay the groundwork for why the Bible affirms that when confronted with evil, of any kind or in any setting, the Christian is called to reject it, have no fellowship with it, and to even expose it.  I often hear the response, “well, we’re not electing a pastor in chief” to which I respond, “ok, but where in scripture does it limit our rejection of evil to simply when we are selecting a pastor?

That said, if you’re reading this post, then I assume you may either 1) be curious about more of my rants and ramblings,  2) you truly are interested in exploring your options because you find both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unfit to serve as President of the United States, or 3) you want to see just how crazy I am.

Consider these statistics about the feelings of Americans:

  • 57% of Americans believe a 3rd Party is needed (up from 46% in 2012) and 51% of Republicans agree, according to Gallup.
  • 33% of Americans believe Hillary Clinton would be a good/great President while 25% believe the same about Donald Trump.  Gallup
  • Trust in political leaders is at an all time low, with just 42% of Americans having a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust.  Gallup

Given these numbers, it’s highly likely that we will see a record number of voters either stay home, vote only the down ballot, or vote third party or independent.  

So in the chart at the bottom of this post, I have attempted to layout just a few of the other “credible” alternatives that are available for those interested.   While I started with a larger slate, as I continued my research I narrowed it greatly.  I have presented the positions on key issues from these final candidates primarily from their websites and/or platforms.  But in a case or two I have gone to the internet to quote their positions from interviews they have given.  If you want to see the more than 400 Presidential candidates, you can find them here.  

Wasting Your Vote

I am told by some that voting for a candidate other than the Republican or Democrat means you just wasted your vote.  There are several responses to that perspective but first, if you follow that logic, then voting for any loser was a wasted vote.  So if my vote for a candidate who did not win is a waste, then it must stand to reason if you vote for Trump and he loses then your vote is a waste as well.  Furthermore, under that line of reasoning, if you voted for Romney four years ago, or even your local dog catcher (if he lost), you wasted your vote as well.  That hardly makes sense. 

I would never assert your vote is a waste, regardless of who you voted for.  I may disagree, but it’s rather presumptuous of me to assert that your vote, cast from your personal values and beliefs, is a waste.  That’s the height of mocking and belittling someone’s deeply held convictions and a very arrogant attitude to assert that someone else must vote as you believe.  In fact, it may border on the kind of elections that Saddam Hussein would have expected you to participate in.  Vote as he demands or else!

But let me move to a different angle.  While as Americans we are conditioned to win, voting should not be about just winning.  Fundamentally it should be about expressing your values.  Where those values can align with a candidate and actually win, that is the best outcome for you and your values.  But when one wholeheartedly sacrifices those values, particularly when those values are deep, fundamental and non-negotiable, one’s character is diminished, and ultimately the character of the nation devolves.  Many of our founding fathers spoke about voting and I think their views are worth being reminded of.  I’ve included a few below:

Founding Fathers on Voting

Noah Webster

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate.  Look to his character. When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”

Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

John Witherspoon

Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. . . .And the people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.

James Garfield

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . If the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. .  .  That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

What’s at Stake

I am fully aware of what is at stake in this election.  As someone who has been on the front lines of the battle for our Constitutional Republic politically and culturally for the last decade, I can recite very succinctly the threats that are posed to you, me and our nation.  The loss of religious liberty.  The loss of the second amendment.  The loss of free speech.  The further encroachment on civil liberties and property rights. The increasing attack on Life and Marriage.  The further opening of our borders and national sovereignty.  Increasing terrorism.  And more and more.  

Yes, our nation hangs in the balance.  But as bad as that is, or perhaps because it is so bad, I must turn to God and His Word for instruction and direction.  And if one is willing to study, search and dig, it’s not only amazing, but encouraging to find how much is in the Word of God that speaks to the very issues we are facing.  Truthfully, doing so will give you peace in the midst of this Cat 4 storm we appear to be in.

One story in the Old Testament stands out in particular, that is no doubt familiar to you.  Recall the three Hebrew young men, millennials perhaps, living in the Babylonian empire as captives.  They were faced with a dire choice.  That choice was not on par with losing their right to bear arms, or their freedom of speech, or even simply religious liberty.  It was actually much, much worse.  They were threatened with the loss of their very lives in a fiery furnace if they refused to obey the king.  And yet, read their response:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

While these exemplary young men knew their God could save them, they also understood He might not.  But they trusted Him with their lives nonetheless.  And God delivered them.

So this is the question I ponder:  Is it to much for me to do something lesser and trust God with my nation? 

Biblical References

Let me close with some references from the ultimate source for me, God’s Word.  For right or wrong, my default is to seek God’s views on all matters of life. Given that He created it all, and we are navigating through His world, I subscribe to the notion that one should look to the owners manual for instruction.  For me, that owners manual is the Bible.  As you read the passages below, I encourage you to continue to seek God in prayer, asking Him to make your decision clear.  He promises to do so, if we will ask, and when He does, you will gain a supernatural peace.

“Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…”  Exodus 18:21

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”  Daniel 2:21

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, have a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Peter 3:1-5

“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”  I Thessalonians 5:21-22

“And why not say, Let us do evil that good may come?”  Romans 3:8

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  I Corinthians 10:31

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Proverbs 29:25

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

My Vote

I have had a number of readers ask me about who I plan to vote for so I will share that openly.  While I am in agreement with many of the positions for each of the candidates below, I have some non-negotiable values as well.  And given those non-negotiables, two of the candidates disqualified themselves for me.  So the individual I plan to cast my vote for, barring any other “new information” that might come to light, is Darrell Castle with the Constitution Party.  The Party’s website is extensive with a strong and very detailed description of their views on all of the salient issues of our day.  And while there are a couple I may not agree with wholeheartedly, on the fundamentals for me, the Constitution Party is solid.  (In Tennessee where I live I will have to write-in the name Darrell Castle as may be the case in your state as well.)

Finally, consider the down ballot as you go to the polls, regardless of your Presidential pick.  At the end of the day, the many lesser positions can have a profound impact on our lives as well, particularly in your local community.  So I encourage you to apply the same standard to those other choices as you diligently and prayerfully make your selections.

As indicated in my previous article, I welcome your thoughts, critiques, and feedback. This continues to be a learning and growth process for me so your perspective is always valued and respected.

Mark

NOTE:  Chart below works best on computer or to view on your phone click here.

Should a Christian Vote for the Lesser Evil?

Should a Christian Vote for the Lesser Evil?

christian-vote-lesser-evil

Over the course of my years of engaging in politics, I have often heard the phrase “the lesser of two evils” used about the choices offered up to voters.  But never has that phrase been used more than in the 2016 election.  One wonders if all the “lesser evil” choices of prior elections have ultimately culminated in the two worst choices of our lifetimes?  Time will certainly tell.

As I’ve witnessed the ongoing debate on the Republican side of the discussion over Donald Trump, supposedly the lesser evil, I have seen two arguments arise.  The #NeverTrump side asserts that they must follow their conscience, drawn from a biblical/absolute moral standard.  The other side argues that in doing so, one would invariably allow a greater evil, in this case Hillary Clinton, to prevail in our nation.  This second group asserts that selecting the “lesser evil,” in this case Trump, is a better choice, even a good choice, because it would lessen or slow the advance of evil.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that under a Trump administration, evil would in fact advance at a slower pace. If that were true, then is a vote for someone who has a lifetime of the behavior below someone a Christian should vote for, regardless of the evil character of the other option?

Three wives

Serial adulterer

Affiliated with Strip clubs

Rejects his need of God

Utilizes racial and misogynist slurs routinely

Acknowledged his propensity to prey on women, including those married

Routinely defrauded individuals out of monetary claims

Pride, arrogance and greed are prominent character flaws

And so much more…

To be clear, as I enumerated Donald Trump’s behavior, lifestyle and choices, I struggled doing so.  The struggle was not because I was unsure as to whether those things are morally reprehensible.  Rather, I struggled because I too am a sinner and were my life laid bare, there would no doubt be many choices of which I would be ashamed.  So I do not enumerate Trump’s choices and lifestyle to suggest I am better.  However, there is a distinct difference between Trump and someone who embraces the Christian message.  

A true Christian acknowledges his sinful choices and routinely seeks God’s forgiveness for his actions that violate God’s standard.  And because his faith rests in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, he has forgiveness from God, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.  So repentance and forgiveness are key to a Christian’s relationship with God.

When Trump was asked in 2015 about whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness, he stated the following:

“I am not sure I have.  I just go on and try to do a better job from there.  I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right.  I don’t bring God into that picture.  I don’t.”

I do not share this to condemn Trump but merely to explain the man.  With a philosophy as Donald revealed, it is no wonder that so many of his choices are immoral.  But worse, it does not appear that Trump sees any need to correct or improve on his degenerate behavior. To be fair, in the last few months, there have been unsubstantiated reports that perhaps Donald has turned to God.  I can only hope and pray that this has in fact occurred.  If so, it would be an earth shattering development that could at the very minimum eternally secure the soul of Donald Trump.  

But back to the original discussion.  Is Donald Trump someone a Christian should vote for, simply because he is the “lesser of two evils” in the minds of some?

In tandem with that question though, and perhaps of greater importance, is this question:

In a world of lesser evils, are God’s principals universal?  

We can no doubt find countless examples of choices that are both evil, but one is lesser.  So what should a Christian do in these instances?  

In America we are sheltered and removed from the reality of the rest of the world.  But for too many Christians around the world, the lesser of two evils is a dramatic reality, and results in their rejecting both options. 

Christians & The Egyptian Election

Take for instance the runoff election in 2012 in Egypt that pitted the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi against Ahmed Shafik, a holdover from the former strong-armed President Hosni Mubarak.  If one delves into the backgrounds of both of these men, and what they supported, there can be no doubt that their views, values and track records were at extreme odds with biblical values.  So in that instance, should an Egyptian Christian have selected a Muslim, tied to a former dictator, or should the Christian have chosen the second candidate, someone who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a known terrorist group?  Neither choice is a good one.  Truthfully, they are both evil.

God’s standards and principles must be universal and timeless or they are not of God. 

If one must resort to solely human logic, reasoning or even situational ethics, that should be the first clue that the conclusion one is coming to is likely not of God.  Secondly, if the conclusion one is coming to would not work in another place or in another era, then that conclusion must also be suspect.  

As Americans, and Christians specifically, have continued to chose “the lesser of two evils” over the years, we have seen the quality of the candidates continue to degenerate.  This approach has led us to the point where in 2016, the two major options presented to Americans are the two most debased and immoral options perhaps our nation has ever seen.  But rest assured, if Americans willingly, and in many cases gleefully, select one of the two options, you can be confident that the choices that will presented in 2020 and beyond will be even worse.  Contrary to the theory of evolution, things do not naturally get better.  Rather, it’s clear that the world is continuously devolving, absent God’s intervention through spiritual revivals.

Consider this truth.  If we continue to follow the path of the “lesser of two evils” where might that lead us in the future? There will always be a lesser of two evils, no matter how low on the scale the candidates descend.  We could one day be faced with voting for one candidate that believes in abortion while the other believes in euthanasia, or both could believe in such.  So it should be clear that at some point the “lesser of two evils” falls apart.

So, what should you do if you are a person that has a gnawing feeling that something is not right? Or perhaps you have a quiet voice pricking your conscience to reject both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, even though your human logic or friends suggest that Trump would be better because he will do this or do that.

If this is you, then I would encourage you to turn to God.  As a believer, every consequential decision in your life should have a foundation in and be supported by God’s Word.  If not, then question that decision.  So if you are a follower of Christ, consider these passages, pray earnestly and seek God’s direction on November 8.

“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, have a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Peter 3:1-5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

I believe that fear is one of the greatest motivators of this election.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of Hillary.  Fear of the Supreme Court.  Fear of our borders opening up further.  Fear of increased corruption.  Fear.  Fear.  Fear.  But consider this:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Do you feel powerless?  Do you feel anger and even hatred perhaps?  Is your mind clouded?  If you answered yes to any of those questions, then perhaps fear is motivating you.  Turn your attention back to God, particularly in this election cycle.  Trust Him.  Refuse to succumb to your own logic.  And God will direct you to the proper choice in just a few days.  

It may be that God is leading you to reject both candidates and to either not vote, or to select one of the 3rd party or independent candidates.  Life is not about winning, in a worldly sense, but about doing what is right from a divine perspective.  Personally I find both Trump and Clinton objectionable, one perhaps more than the other, but both a shame for a country that was founded upon biblical principles.  So I have been challenged to pray for Trump and Clinton.  That I can do.

Next Blog Post: Voting Recommendations

In my next blog post later this week, I will provide my thoughts on what to do if, like me,  you cannot vote for Trump or Hillary.  Rest assured there are other candidates that, while they will not win politically, they will provide you with the option to follow your conscience in a way that reconciles with Scripture.  And when you do this, I would suggest that you have won in a manner that trumps any American political battle.  (Here’s the post:  If You Reject Hillary & Trump, Here are Some Options)

Obviously, my thoughts  are not the “final word” on this subject matter.  I continue to seek out God and the spiritual perspectives of others.  So if you disagree with my thoughts or have some other ideas about this, please email me, or comment on social media.  I relish your input.

Mark

America: The Point of No Return?

America: The Point of No Return?

america-the-point-of-no-return

Over the last decade, I have interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow Americans, as we have shared our grave concerns over the direction of our nation.  There is no doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is on a course that threatens our future and the very survival of our nation.  So we must ask ourselves this question.

Have we reached the point of no return?

Some may brush off such concerns, believing that America is too big to fail, and asserting that as the world’s superpower, our future remains secure.  They reject the voices that continue to warn our leaders, citizens and neighbors that something is seriously wrong, and that never before has a nation ignored and rejected so many warnings and foundational principles, and survived.   

One only needs to shuffle through history to recognize that nation after nation has ultimately stumbled and fallen when it turned its back on the basic building blocks of any exceptional civilization.  Today, I would like to briefly touch on a few of the key foundation stones.

Economically

If there is one thing that dominates the hearts and minds of Americans it’s the almighty dollar.  The economy consistently scores at the top of issues that concern Americans.  In fact, the phrase, “it’s the economy stupid” became an often used slogan during the Clinton-Bush presidential campaign in 1992.  

But with our nation’s current debt at $19,500,000,000,000 (that’s trillion) and its unfunded liabilities exceeding another $100 trillion, many would say that this issue alone has already taken us past the point of no return.  Regardless of who is elected in November, both Clinton and Trump’s plans will continue to increase the national debt, at alarming rates.

However, it may surprise you to know that according to a recent study by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, our nation’s federal debt would fare far worse under Trump with the debt in 2026 soaring to $39.5 Trillion, double the current debt.  Under a Clinton administration, the national debt would rise to $29.6 Trillion.  While $10 Trillion less than Trump, both candidates’ plans would put the final nail in the fiscal coffin of our nation.

The idea that we can continue to spend into oblivion with no consequences whatsoever is one sign that a nation is on the path to ultimate collapse.

trump-clintonc-gross-debt-crfb

Politically

There have certainly been periods of political dysfunction and turmoil over our 240 year history as a nation.  And I suppose that occurs when men seek and desire power, often above all else.  But as we see the magnitude of the problems facing our nation increasing exponentially, the prolonged polarization we are experiencing represents an existential threat to America.  Good men and women can disagree, but at the end of the day, opposite sides of an issue must find some common ground if they are to solve problems in a republic, the system chosen by our founders.  Of course, this also assumes that both sides are honest players in their desire to solve our problems, which is no longer the case. 

Without our political leaders seeking the best for our nation, it’s unquestionable that the course we are on is headed for a ruinous conclusion.

Ethically

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” — the bedrock values of our nation.  In selecting these words, our founding fathers sought to affirm the fundamental rights granted to man by God.  By doing so they established the ground rules upon which we would live with each other.  These rules, or sacred rights, would be the basis for all future interactions between the hundreds of millions of Americans that would follow them.  

But in this era, no longer is Life revered and protected.  Liberty is being handcuffed and under constant assault.  And the Happiness one was once free to pursue is subject to approval, or disapproval, by the state.

As all of these founding rights have come under attack, corruption within our government and businesses has skyrocketed. Politicians use government as their own private wrecking ball in destroying those citizens, groups and states with whom they disagree.  Businessmen use their enterprises to achieve personal gain, irrespective of the customers they manipulate, prey on, or defraud.  Consequently, it’s only fitting that the two candidates for President exemplify the worst this nation has to offer, when it comes to candidates of high ethical standing.

We see then that as a nation’s ethics plummet and it removes the foundations of truth, the structure upon which it was built begins to sway and will ultimately topple.  

Morally

Morals, the system by which we determine good and bad, is absolutely crucial in directing the ultimate destination of one’s life, enterprise and even nation.  Morals are impacted and greatly influenced by the culture and society.  Yet all morals are not equal. 

Consider that under the teachings of Muhammed, the founder of Islam, it is appropriate to lie to advance the cause of Islam.  It is also valid to subjugate non-Muslims, since they are deemed to be inferior people, referred to as kafirs.  In contrast, the teachings of Jesus Christ instruct humanity to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the golden rule.  And Christ also taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Clearly, these two ideologies, Islam and Christianity, are at two extremes in defining their morals, what is good and bad.  

Over the last half century or so, our culture has radically redefined our morals.  What was good 50 years ago is now bad, and what was bad then is now good.  I could spend the next several paragraphs providing examples, but if you’re awake, you know how what was considered evil just a few decades ago, is now embraced, celebrated and promoted.

Morals, like ideas, matter.  When a nation rejects good and elevates evil, and when that same nation punishes those who embrace good, and it codifies that which is bad, there can be no doubt that such nation is on a short path to collapse.

Spiritually 

For America, perhaps this is the seminal issue upon which the ones above all rest.  A skyscraper is only as sturdy and secure as the foundation upon which it rests.  Likewise, the American experiment over these last 240 years has been an extraordinary success because of the Judeo-Christian values upon which it rested.  But as those values have not only been attacked, but ultimately replaced over the last few decades with secularism, it’s clear that the experiment has begun to falter.  And as it falters, we will have reached the point of no return.

We read in Scripture this promise, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  But we also read that “A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.”  Could there be any more fitting description of the condition of our nation today?  And if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, as He declares, then we must certainly expect the coming extreme judgment of a Holy God as He has shown in so many other examples over the millenniums.

Ronald Reagan, our 40th President, while imperfect, exemplified the values of our founders and sought to redirect the trajectory of our nation.  The course we were on was taking us to the point of no return but Reagan’s commitment to revitalize our economy, politics, ethics and morals, while elevating the spiritual, slowed our nation’s arrival at the edge of the cliff.  

In one of Reagan’s most famous speeches entitled “A Time For Choosing,” first delivered in 1964, Reagan exposed the threat to peace by the Soviet Union.  But his comments then are likewise applicable to my discussion today.  In his closing remarks, Reagan stated:

“Someday… our surrender will be voluntary because by that time, we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically… You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.  We’ll preserve for our children this the last best hope of man on earth or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”

Our rendezvous with destiny is upon us.  By our choices and priorities over these last 50 years, we have established that destiny.  And while our national destiny is perhaps past the point of no return, individually we can and must establish our own personal destiny, which does not have to mirror that of America’s.  I pray you will embark on a plan to secure your destiny, economically, morally and spiritually.

To find out how, check out this previous article I wrote providing some specific and practical steps that we can all take.

Mark

Do Your Failures Haunt You? Two Strategies to Overcome Them

Do Your Failures Haunt You? Two Strategies to Overcome Them

Do Your Failures Haunt You

If you’re alive, then you’ve failed.  And if you’re honest, you’ve failed a lot.  I know I have.  In fact, I’m confident that my failures outnumber my successes by a multiple of many.  

But the truth is that you and I are not alone.  In fact, we are in great company.  The greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, and even religious leaders will all admit, if they’re honest, that their failures are numerous.

Of course, there are many types of failures.  There are athletic failures, such as missing the winning shot in the NBA finals.  And there are business failures, such as filing bankruptcy when the entrepreneur can no longer satisfy his creditors.  There are parental failures, where we may find we have dropped the ball in the raising of our children.  And there are personal defeats, where we fail to live up to a standard we set for ourselves.  There are moral failures, where one may violate a professional or personal relationship.  And there are spiritual failures, where our behavior or choices fall short of the standard established by God Himself.

The first step in overcoming a failure is to acknowledge it, seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, and then put the mechanisms in place to avoid repeating those same failures again, and again, and again.

But when you’ve done this, it’s possible and perhaps even likely that the failures in your life occasionally or even frequently raise their ugly heads to remind you of your shortcomings.  It’s human nature for us to replay them over and over in our minds.

It hurts to fail just as it hurts to get thrown from a horse.  But if you are going to learn to ride that bucking bronco, there’s only one way to do so and that is to climb back on and try again.

In Psalm 40:12 we read this from King David, “For troubles surround me, too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.” That’s a lot of failures, and we see what happened when David was focused on his sins.  He couldn’t see his way out and he lost all courage.

Bottom line, he was remembering and rehearsing his failures and the more he did, the weaker and more discouraged he became.

We also see there were those who were more than willing to remind David of his failures in the following verse, “May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame.  May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.  Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, ‘Aha! We’ve got him now!’”

Note that if we’re not reminding ourselves of our failures, there is usually someone in our life who is more than willing to do so.  And their intent is generally malicious and destructive.

But thankfully, we also read that David found his strength in God when he said, “Please Lord, rescue me!  Come quickly, Lord, and help me.

Like David, we must recognize that when our failures seem to overwhelm us, whether business, personal, moral or spiritual, there is One to whom we can turn.  Doing so requires humility, dependence, and repentance, particularly if the failure is a violation of God’s law.  But when we humble ourselves, and seek God’s forgiveness, strength and deliverance, it is then that we can regain the courage that was lost by focusing on our failures.  

There is another step to be taken in overcoming your failures which we learn from another great historical figure, the Apostle Paul, when he shares, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…

We must bury the past and turn our focus to the future, knowing that what is done is done.  The only chapter of our lives that you and I can still affect is the one yet unwritten.  So forget those past failures and turn your focus to the future.

So if your failures have haunted you and your courage has been waning, practice the strategies that David and Paul both used: seek God’s deliverance and strength, and forget the past while focusing on the future.  Doing so will unleash a new sense of optimism and hope as you fulfill the purpose that God has for your life.

Mark

Photo Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_lassedesignen’>lassedesignen / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Are You a Sheep or a Wolf?

Are You a Sheep or a Wolf?

Are you a Sheep or Wolf-

 

“The world is full of sheep and wolves.  To protect the sheep you need to learn to fight like a wolf.”

This last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique four day survival course that my wife and I hosted at our property, Liberty Ridge Ranch.  The course was instructed by some of our military’s finest from the US Special Forces, Navy Seals, and Delta Force.  My good friend Omar Hamada, MD, a veteran Major of the US Army Special Forces, developed the unique survival course along with several other elite US military professionals. 

Having just completed the construction of our new 2A Shooting Range, designed by one of the Special Forces operators, I was personally excited to not only host the program, but to also participate in it.  Who wouldn’t enjoy a prolonged period of firing a 9mm Glock 19, learning many other basic survival skills and spending four days with our nation’s finest?  So many things stood out from the course and perhaps I’ll take some time in another post to share them, but the opening statement above made a deep impression on me.  I’ll reiterate it here again:

“The world is full of sheep and wolves.  To protect the sheep you need to learn to fight like a wolf.”

To understand this quote, it’s important to identify some of the traits of sheep:

Sheep tend to follow other sheep.
Sheep are instinctively fearful.
Sheep like the familiar and resist change.
Sheep are not very intelligent.
Sheep have no sense of direction.
Sheep are defenseless.
Sheep are weak.
Sheep walk ignorantly to their death.

While sheep certainly have some positive qualities as well, for purposes of this post I’m focused on the traits above.   

On the other hand, wolves have the following characteristics:

Wolves are swift runners, reaching speeds of up to 25 mph.
Wolves are well equipped for hunting.
Wolves have a keen sense of smell, able to track their prey up to 300 yards away.
Wolves are not intimidated by animals larger than themselves and regularly hunt and kill animals many times their size.
Wolves are well equipped for the harshest of environments.
Wolves have a good sense of direction and maintain control over their territories.

As I consider the various characteristics of both these animals, I think there is a lot we can learn from them for many different areas of our life.

Personal

I think it’s safe to say that most Americans are closer to sheep than wolves.  Many people are quite comfortable following others.  They are seldom critical thinkers and are normally unwilling to contradict the popular beliefs, attitudes or accepted norms.  Fear is a common quality amongst most people resulting in them being unwilling to speak up or stand for unpopular beliefs.  They are quite comfortable with the status quo.  And truthfully, many folks are unwilling to continue to grow intellectually.  It’s not that they are incapable.  They just settle into the rut of living and don’t seek to grow beyond that rut.  All too often people wander through life, unsure where they are going, and unwilling to set goals and strive for them.  And sadly, so many folks are unable or unwilling to defend themselves from real or potential threats, if they are confronted with them.  

While all of these traits don’t apply uniformly or completely to all, I believe that too many Americans today reflect a disproportionate number of these traits.  Because of this reality, it’s incumbent that some learn to develop the qualities of wolves, including the ability to fight as them.  Equipping ourselves for the variety of threats that could surface at any given moment is a critical trait of a wolf.  Alertness to either our present surroundings, or trends that are developing, are a way that we can detect what may be over the figurative horizon.  By doing so we will not only mitigate the threat to us personally but also to those we love and care for, who embrace sheep-like qualities.

Business

In business, we find many sheep-like folks as well.  Too often employees, managers and even owners can settle into the rut.  Their aspirations falter.  Their dreams die.  And they fear change, risk and what others might think.  As a result, what they might have achieved falls by the way side. 

Meanwhile, the wolves in business, are all too willing and eager to pursue their symbolic prey, the goals they have set for themselves, their career or their business.  They understand that the hunt will be difficult, tiring and even fraught with instances of failure.  But they continue to press on, knowing that the one who doesn’t win is the one who never starts or simply gives up.  For wolves, failure is merely one step closer to success.  And through it all, the “wolf” style business person maintains a keen sense of direction and focus.  He is not overcome by the size of the struggles but rather he rallies his “pack” to help him in defeating the struggles.   

So while the sheep are easy prey and too often lose in business, the wolf is smart, keen, strategic and unstoppable, resulting in the business success he seeks.

Preparedness

In my recent article entitled “The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: Our Response” I addressed the coming collapse and disaster that is front and center for America.  While the facts seem incontrovertible, the vast majority of Americans are behaving as sheep.  Sadly, just a few of our citizens exhibit the traits of a wolf.  If there is ever a time when America needs wolves it is now.  Yet, human nature exudes sheep-like qualities. Thus while the wolves prepare, the sheep will not. 

So when that day arrives you and your family can be prepared, to not only weather the storm, but to also reach out to the sheep in your life who were too fearful to acknowledge, too oblivious to discern, or too weak to prepare.  And in so doing, you can be a wolf that will ultimately protect those sheep around you who might have been providentially placed in your care.

So, I encourage you to regularly analyze your thoughts and behavior through the question “Are you a sheep or wolf?” and to seek to embrace the traits of a wolf, in your personal and business life.

Mark

References:
schoolworkhelper.net/wolves-habitat-characteristics-behaviors/
www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_8.htm
www.preacherscorner.org/sheep2.htm
Photo credits:
Wolf: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_erika8213′>erika8213 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Sheep: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_mihaitamasila’>mihaitamasila / 123RF Stock Photo</a>