Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times. So we must constantly be on guard against it. But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions.
In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.” It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.
TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone. Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by.
There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs. These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead. And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil.
There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right. This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party.
Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible.
There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific. There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more. To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.
So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play. Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.
In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace. They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves. In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace. What a sad reality. But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner. We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws. But we must still share truth regardless.
Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families. Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court. His Truths remain, as does His Justice.
So the good news is this. Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished. Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others. Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.
“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…” (Isaiah 51:7)
“Now Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior. He was the son of Gilead, but his mother was a prostitute.” Judges 11:1
Jephthah was an ancient warrior whose mother was a prostitute. Even though his mother was a woman of the night, Jephthah still grew up with his father and half brothers. His brothers, like so many kids, would jeer and bully Jephthah over his shameful past, eventually chasing him away from home.
Shortly after Jephthah was driven from home by his hateful brothers, he rebelled and hung out with a lot of other low-lifes. Apparently Jephthah was under the mistaken impression that because he had a shameful past, he needed to hang out with other shameful characters. But others saw something in Jephthah that he didn’t even see in himself. The elders of his community approached him about leading their army into battle against their enemies, and in exchange they would make Jephthah their ruler.
Jephthah was likely conflicted and distrusting of the very community that had caused him so many emotional wounds, but he agreed to the offer. And in spite of his shameful past, Jephthah became a national hero by defeating the enemies of Israel.
But if you read the entire story of Jephthah, you find out that there was a reason for his success. It wasn’t simply that Jephthah pulled himself up by his bootstraps, or he became a “self-made” man, or he went to classes on how to overcome low self-esteem. Rather, Jephthah was empowered by the “Spirit of the Lord” and through God’s direct intervention and guidance, Jephthah accomplished great things for God, and others were rescued and blessed. And because Jephthah turned and yielded himself to God, he overcame his shameful past.
You and I may not directly identify with Jephthah’s past, but if we’re honest, we may struggle with our own shameful pasts, some that were thrust upon us, and others that were of our own making.
Like Jephthah, too many choose a life of rebellion. They try to run from their past. They even engage in destructive behaviors, thinking that such activity will soothe or remove the shame they carry. But none of those choices will lead to freedom from the guilt that we chose to carry and embrace. Rather, only through the “Spirit of the Lord” indwelling us, as He did with Jephthah, will we ever truly be free from our guilt and our pasts.
While you and I may never be a national hero, we can chose to embrace the same God that transformed Jephthah’s life, and in so doing, we can be a blessing to others who may be struggling with their own shameful pasts.
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14
“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36
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
If you’ve ever played checkers, the card game Old Maid, baseball, or watched a sporting event, there is one basic fact that applies to all these games. In order to win, you must know the rules. If you don’t and your opponent does, you will certainly lose.
If you’re playing checkers, a loss generally means very little. But if you’re a coach in the finals of the AFC Championship, you’d better study the rules and know them well, or it could cost you a trip to the Super Bowl.
Since we were toddlers, we’ve learned that our world turns on rules. Some fair. Others not. But they are rules that must be followed.
April 15 is a day that involves rules that all Americans follow. The IRS, the agency that most Americans love to hate, has a rule book exceeding 70,000 pages long, many that reward the wealthy, special interests and lobbyists. Yet we all abide by the rules. It doesn’t matter that we don’t like them. We play by the IRS’ rules or else…
Of course, if we don’t like our nation’s tax rules, there is a process in place to change them, but complaining about them will accomplish little or nothing.
This 2016 Presidential election cycle is like everything else in life, there are rules that apply. Many of those rules have been in place for years, some even 150+ years. One such rule is the requirement that the Republican nominee must garner a majority of the states’ delegates, or 1,237 delegates.
Like many election cycles, 2016 has been contentious, to say the least. But unlike other cycles, Donald Trump, in tandem with the media, has not only hurled jabs at his opponents but he has, in the midst of the contest, begun to complain about the rules, citing that the system is rigged.
Trump has constantly complained and whined about the Republican party rules, demanding that they be ignored or revised to his benefit. But when was the last time you heard a NFL coach demanding that the rules be changed, in the middle of the Super Bowl, while the game is actually being played?
As I’ve thought about Trump’s droning on and on about the rules, how unfair they are, and his demand that they immediately be ignored or changed for his benefit, I’ve realized that Trump is displaying all of these four classic signs of a whiner:
A person often loses because he fails to prepare or develop a strategy to win. Winning consistently doesn’t just happen by accident. Rather winning is a planned event. No doubt you’ve heard that when someone fails to plan, they plan to fail. Strategy requires many components including brilliance and hard work. A team cannot simply waltz onto the gridiron, proclaim they are the champions, and then expect the trophy. Yet, apparently Trump believes that he can come up with a fancy slogan, sell baseball caps, fill stadiums, tweet 24/7, and then be crowned the Republican nominee. Sorry Donald, if you desire the most powerful position in the world, it requires more than just a glitzy PR campaign and some worn out cliches.
Even if someone were to hand a person a winning strategy, a person or team’s incompetence will lead to failure. We see people fail frequently because they simply don’t know what they are doing. There is no question that Donald Trump is a public relations expert. His ability to whip up a crowd, and play the media like a fiddle, is extraordinary. But his incompetence when it comes to understanding the rules of the game has been extraordinary. Time and time again Donald and his team have dropped the ball or have been beaten in the process of gaining delegates at conventions and caucuses. He’s like a football team who plays their heart out during the first half, runs up a lead, but then fails to show up to play in the second half. Donald’s incompetence has been shocking and reveals some insights into what a Trump Presidency would look like, and it’s not pretty.
“Pride goes before a fall.” This truth is seen over and over in life, sometimes even in our own personal experience. Sadly, arrogance is a trait that is oftentimes exhibited by individuals who have had some degree of success. And there’s no doubt that Donald Trump has experienced extraordinary success by some standards. But achieving success at one point does not automatically guarantee the next win. In fact, when arrogance enters into the equation, failure is soon to follow. And Trump’s attitude regarding the rules is pure arrogance.
Have you ever noticed that many of our nation’s elite assume that the rules don’t apply to them? Whether it’s Congress exempting themselves from laws that the rest of us have to live with or it’s Donald Trump demanding that rules that have applied to dozens of Presidential candidates over the decades be changed or ignored for him, elites believe they are exempt from rules that others must follow. While this borders with arrogance, it is worse because the elitist not only believes he is special, he believes you and I are inferior to him.
One final thought about Trump and the rules. It has been ironic that Trump has never complained about those rules that seem to benefit him such as the scenario where he only garnered 32% of the vote in South Carolina but won 100% of the delegates because of the state’s winner take all rules. Despite this reality, I have yet to hear one of the other Presidential candidates cry “foul” because Trump received three times as many delegates from a percentage standpoint as he did in the popular vote.
So at the end of the day, we see Trump whining about the rules only when his strategy fails or his incompetence shows. And it’s then that his arrogance and elitist disposition surfaces, which should be a huge sign that this man is not ready for prime time or worthy of the Oval Office.
Credit: Trump caricature courtesy of DonkeyHokey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/22868475614/
As a majority of the nation’s voters have yet to vote in the 2016 race for the Republican nomination, we have heard the cry by many that Donald Trump is inevitable, and his victory is a foregone conclusion. At the same time, many who oppose Trump’s candidacy have begun the #NeverTrump effort to announce that should Donald win, they will find another candidate to support. I too have embraced the #NeverTrump effort in affirming my commitment to certain values and principles that are non-negotiable to me. If one is honest and objective, they must also conclude that Trump’s 40+ year track record reveals he has consistently opposed and vigorously funded the defeat of constitutional conservative values.
But regardless of your views on Trump, one thing is certain, the fat lady has not yet sung.
Let’s consider these facts:
- To date only 23 states have voted and awarded delegates.
- Trump has only garnered 35% of the raw votes, which means that 65% of the voters have either rejected Donald or not affirmed their support for him.
- Out of the 1,032 delegates awarded to date, Trump has received 458, representing only 44%. Ted Cruz trails Donald by only 99 delegates with 359. And Rubio has garnered a total of 151 delegates to date. A total of 1,237 delegates are needed to win the nomination.
- In a recent scientific poll, Marco Rubio’s supporters favor Ted Cruz over Trump by a margin of 3 to 1. But consider that this poll was taken before Carson and Bush dropped out. Thus, were Rubio to drop out after a possible defeat in his home state of Florida, Cruz would be the beneficiary of the lion share of Marco’s supporters. And consider that the poll cited was taken before the continuing surge by Cruz and his solid performance last week in the FoxNews debate.
- In the contests over the last week, non-Trump voters have for the most part begun to coalesce behind Cruz. Whether this is a rejection of Rubio’s recent strategy of getting into the muck and mire with Trump or whether voters simply recognize that splitting the anti-Trump vote is a strategy that will widen His lead is uncertain. But it is clear that support for Cruz is growing and voters of all stripes are coalescing behind Ted as the only consistent constitutional conservative. In fact, RINO Senator Lindsay Graham’s recent semi-endorsement of Ted Cruz may indicate that not only has “hell frozen over” but some of Ted’s most ardent critics are now uniting behind Cruz to insure a boisterous and profane celebrity does not ascend to the highest office in the land.
- The longer Trump’s fantastic claims are made, with little to no substance to support them, the greater the likelihood is that some who have been wavering in their support will reject the Entertainer in Chief. At some point people grow weary of a brash, boastful, ego-maniac whose track record is diametrically opposed to his grandiose claims.
- It’s clear that there is a certain percentage of Trump’s supporters who will continue to support their brazen candidate, who boasted “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” But as time passes and the scrutiny of Trump intensifies, Ted Cruz’ calm, deliberate and superior campaign based on substance will no doubt continue to sway voters who are growing tired and weary of Trump’s gutter tactics and his shallow, void of substance, cliches.
It’s helpful to have facts to back up your views, but at the end of the day, in order to win a battle, a General needs not only a winning strategy, but he needs the troops to deploy that strategy. And that’s where you come in. If you care deeply about your nation; and if you believe the commitment level of our Founders, which led them to pledge their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” shouldn’t be limited to them; then, in order to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” you and I must also be prepared to do more than simply share articles on Facebook (although go ahead and share this one) and debate opinions with our friends and family. At the end of the day, Ted Cruz, the only consistent Constitutional conservative needs You to help deploy his strategy. And here’s how:
- Pray for Ted. I have encouraged others to commit to Pray for Ted everyday. Specifically pray for Ted’s health and stamina. Ask God to continue to grant him wisdom and discernment. And pray that Marco Rubio will come to his senses and coalesce behind and with Ted to stand for our Constitution and our founding principles.
- Sign up for Ted’s Phone from Home program that is one of the most user-friendly systems to enable you to talk to pre-qualified conservatives who will be going to the polls in the remaining states. Whether you call 10 voters a week or 100, each call is meaningful and require no special training. Within 5 minutes you can be making reaching voters for Ted.
- Send Ted a few dollars. Can you spare $10, $25 or $50 to help take back the ground we have lost over the last 7 years under Obama? If so, go to Ted’s website and make a one-time or recurring donation here. If it’s one-time, be sure to uncheck the box that references a recurring contribution.
Finally, will you share this post with others either via your email or on Facebook? Let’s get the word out that the fat lady has yet to sing. And if we all do our part we can in fact see the Constitution trump both Donald and the forces in both parties who have been undermining our founding principles for too many years.
Credit: Trump caricature courtesy of DonkeyHokey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/18058245844/
I find it very curious that so many folks have enthusiastically thrown their support behind Donald Trump in 2016. But I’m particularly amazed at evangelicals who have fallen head over heels for Trump, both those in the pews, as well as noted evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffress and more. As I’ve listened to these men trumpet their praise for Donald, much of their rationale is based on the billionaire’s perceived business acumen and his supposed fiscal credentials.
In his statement endorsing Donald Trump, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr, called Trump, “a successful executive and entrepreneur.” And Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of 11,000 member First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, stated on FoxNews that evangelical pragmatists say, “Let’s find the most conservative person we can. Let him concentrate on fixing the economy… pragmatists are basically going towards Donald Trump.”
The sentiments by Falwell, Jeffers and millions of other “pragmatic” evangelicals prioritizing the economy and fiscal matters is quite puzzling and got me wondering whether other values of an individual should be ignored? Do a candidate’s positions on other issues matter? What about his personal behavior and life — is that fair game? Or should we simply remain focused on fiscal issues, as if strengthening the almighty dollar should be our nation’s singular priority?
Let’s consider another businessman who, by any measure of economic standards, has achieved extraordinary business success. In 1953, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, struggling to find his place in the world, invested $600 of his limited capital to launch a monthly periodical. The first issue was an instant success, selling out all 53,991 copies at 50 cents per copy. Over the next several years, the magazine’s circulation grew to over 1 million by 1960, and it continued on a rapid upward trend, peaking at over 5 million copies monthly in 1975.
Boosted by his rapid success, the young entrepreneur ventured into a number of related business ventures, including casinos and night clubs. With his growing success, the periodical he founded attracted mainstream authors and secured interviews with noted personalities, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and even Donald Trump.
Despite falling on hard times in the 80’s, the following decade the business regrouped under the leadership of his daughter. As a result, the enterprise that began as a men’s magazine nearly 40 years earlier successfully launched a TV channel and soon after that a membership only website. Fast forward to 2015 and the founder of that first fledgling periodical in 1953 now boasts a multi-billion dollar global operation. And this entrepreneur’s own personal net worth is estimated at $50 million… which all started with a $600 investment.
Obviously, from the title of my article you can already surmise our mystery entrepreneur is none other than Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, one of the most economically successful men’s magazines of all time. Yet, by any measure of wholesome and upright values, Hugh Hefner is someone who has preyed on women and capitalized on the sexually degenerate appetites of men. Hefner is a man whose values have served to hasten our nation’s slide into the abyss of moral degradation and depravity. The door Hefner’s Playboy dared to crack open has ultimately served to proliferate an industry that has become so mainstream that many simply shrug their shoulders as it leads millions of young men down a dead end trail of remorse and regret.
Like Hugh Hefner, Donald Trump has achieved extraordinary business success and it’s this success that he touts when he claims, “I’m running for office in a country that’s essentially bankrupt, and it needs a successful businessman.” There is no doubt that America’s fiscal condition is dire with up to 40% of all federal expenditures being funded through increasing our national debt as it bursts through the $20 trillion mark. But driving this fiscal threat is our bankruptcy as a nation relative to our adherence to the Constitution and the principles of our founding fathers, including those Judeo-Christian values upon which America was founded.
Given these truths, we are faced with a chicken and egg type dilemma. Do economics drive a person’s values or do a person’s values drive their economics?
I believe all that we do flows from our core values so while evangelical leaders like Falwell and Jeffress appear to base their endorsement of Trump on his fiscal prowess, I believe one cannot and should not ignore the values behind Trump’s financial successes. So, let’s look very briefly at just a few of Trump’s “values” that would be at odds with the values many evangelicals and conservatives claim as their own:
- Trump boasts in his book “The Art of the Comeback” about his numerous extra-marital exploits: “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.“
- Trump said in 1999 “I am very pro-choice” and he would not ban partial birth abortion. He claims to have changed his views in recent years.
- Trump said he is open to the idea of continuing federal funding of Planned Parenthood for their “good aspects… and the things they do properly and good” but he would not fund the abortion part of their business.
- Trump supports ethanol subsidies.
- Trump supported President Obama’s Stimulus plan in 2009.
- Trump supported the 2005 Supreme Court Kelo vs City of London dealing with eminent domain that authorized public authorities to seize private property for economic development by investors.
- Trump supported TARP
- Trump supports a universal healthcare system similar to Canada’s government-run system and the government would foot the bill for those who could not pay.
These are just a few highlights of Trump’s views that clearly conflict with conservative values. To find out more about the issues Trump supports, that should concern conservatives, go to Conservative Review here and here. Additionally, for evangelical conservatives, these articles by CNN and The Daily Beast provide additional areas of concern.
At the end of the day, I believe that one’s core values will ultimately influence every other decision a person makes. And while our nation certainly requires some drastic fiscal reforms, there are still matters that should trump the dollar, even when it comes to Donald Trump. And finally, we should all remember the words of Jesus when He said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” At this crucial time in our nation’s history, are we more concerned in gaining the world or losing our souls?
As my fellow evangelicals head to the polls, I pray they will not only ponder their answer to this question, but I encourage them to read the Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials.