Mother’s Day – A Tradition that Affirms the Sexes

Mother’s Day – A Tradition that Affirms the Sexes

Mother’s Day.  Who doesn’t acknowledge this special occasion?  While it’s difficult these days to find much on which all Americans can agree, Mother’s Day is one exception. We all recognize this day.  And while there are likely some instances where the memory of a mom may not be favorable, for the vast majority of us, it is.  

We gladly celebrate that special lady, who is uniquely responsible for laboring to bring us into this world, and more than likely has played an overwhelmingly positive role in our lives.  I know this is the case in my life.  I am eternally grateful for my mother, her steadfast example, and prayerful support throughout my entire life.

But whether your memory of your mom is favorable or not, there is one reality that every American shares in common and on which we all agree.  We all have a mother.  And that mother was biologically a female.  And she became a mother because of her union with a biological male, known as our father.  

Now you may view all the preceding statements as not only obvious, but bordering on silly to recite.  Who would take exception with the idea that you and I have a mother, that she is a female and that she became a mother because of the reproductive act she engaged in with your father?

One of our nation’s greatest documents, the Declaration of Independence, begins with these words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” and then it goes on to identify some clear and obvious truths.  However, I’d like to recite those famous words in a slightly different context, as follows:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mothers are female and you and I are the offspring of our mothers.”

Now, that’s not really that hard to understand, if you’ve been through Biology 101.  There are certain facts that all of creation affirms and are indisputable. One such fact is the difference between the two sexes, male and female. One other “self-evident” truth is the reality that when you and I were born, our DNA and our physical bodies, attested to the fact that we were either 1) male, or 2) female.  There were no other choices or options.  

Lying in that crib for the first time, our mother had no doubt as to what she has just given birth.  As she named you, cared for your little body, cuddled you to her breasts, and as she beamed the news of your birth to family and friends, she announced “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl.”  She even likely dressed you in blue or pink, signifying the particular sex your Creator has established and she had affirmed.

But in spite of these indisputable facts, it has become politically correct, and culturally foolish, to defy “self-evident” truth.  Our “progressive” culture lives to distort, destroy and reshape truth.  But as hard as some might try, one cannot defy what is obvious.  Regardless though, truth is under a continuous and unrelenting assault and the attempt continues to turn truth upside down. Consequently, truth-deniers continue to redefine what cannot be, suggesting that a woman can become a man, a man can become a woman (as in Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner), a husband can be a woman, or a wife can be a man.

Changing a name does not change a self-evident truth, just as the tyranny of slavery did not diminish the truth that “all men are created equal.”  In God’s eyes, the man with brown skin, brought over in a slave ship from the continent of Africa, was equal in value to the ruthless master who treated his slave as less than human.  The fact that society ignored and trampled on the “self-evident” truth that both men were created equal in the eyes of their Creator, did not revise such truth. And ultimately, culture was forced to acknowledge truth, although at an immense and tragic cost.

So as we remember Mother’s day, perhaps this is one time when those who would seek to defy “self-evident” truth are in fact affirming that truth, at least for a day.  And at a time when the progressive onslaught continues to gain speed and momentum, perhaps we can relish in this one small victory, even if the other side is unaware or unwilling to acknowledge our victory.    

Husbands, Love Your Wives

Husbands, Love Your Wives

Guys, do you remember those courting days, when you and your wife-to-be couldn’t get enough time together?  Remember when saying “I love you” to your sweetheart was as normal a part of your life as waking up each morning?  Remember when she could do no wrong and everything about her was new, wonderful, and invigorating?  Remember the laughter, the fun, and even the silliness of those days when a note, a call, or a text absolutely made your day?

And do you remember that special day, when you stood before a crowd of friends and family, and made this pledge: 

“I take you to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”

Well, if you’ve been married any amount of time since those days, it’s possible, if not likely, that the routine, burdens and grind of life has served to distort and distract all those initial thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  You may have even forgotten the words you enthusiastically recited as you began your new life together. 

Lori and I have been married for nearly 37 years and, while we have had our share of disagreements, and things have not always been rosy, I thank God that our love and commitment remains strong and unwavering.  Yet, over the years, I’ve had a number of close friends confide in me that their marriages were struggling and that the “D” word was even coming up in conversations with their spouse. Many guys I’ve known have expressed their discontent, anger, frustration and second thoughts about the lady who they felt 180-degrees differently about just a few years earlier. 

So what changed? How is it that something that was so hot became so cold; something that was meant “till death do us part” could now so readily be concluded?

There are a myriad of reasons and explanations for each one of these marital challenges.  But one thing that might be missing in most, is the choice to love. And that choice to love is illustrated beautifully in these verses in Ephesians 5:25-29:

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.”

Note that inherent in Christ’s love of the church is a choice that He made: to give up His life and to care for His church.  No one could doubt Christ’s commitment to love.  But as great as that commitment was and is, what is even more astounding is the object of Christ’s love, the church.  Consider that the church is full of broken, sinful men and women, who routinely fail their Savior and turn their backs on Him. Yet, Christ’s love remains constant and immoveable, in spite of our frail and ugly selves.  

Now, using the illustration of Christ’s love for the church, we husbands are commanded to “love our wives.”  Period.  That command has no qualifier, other than we are to love her as our own bodies.  Furthermore, because of the illustration of Christ giving up His life for the church, we can also conclude that a husband should exhibit an unwavering commitment to sacrifice on behalf of his wife, even unto death if it were required.  But since it’s unlikely most of us will be called to actually die for our wife, perhaps we should just strive to love her when she might act unloveable, which might be possible.  (Of course, what’s more likely is that we husbands might be even more unloveable than her.)

Now this may be an odd sort of article coming from a guy who loves to write about politics, government, culture and philosophy.  But if you believe, as I do, that as the family goes, so goes the nation, then there is no more important topic than marriage and the family.  

My heart often grieves for the state in which we find our nation, cities and culture.  Sadly though, I believe that we are reaping the severe consequences of what we have sown via our rejection of God and His founding values upon which our nation was built.  And certainly there is no more important value than marriage.  

So if you are a guy who is struggling in your marriage, and if you seemed to have lost the love and commitment that you once had for your wife, I encourage you to reconsider, recommit and begin to evaluate the kind of love that Christ showed for you. If you will do this, and then find someone you respect to walk alongside you as you seek to restore your marriage to what it was always meant to be, then there is hope.  And where there is hope, there is potential that, with God’s help, and your willingness to follow His leading, your marriage can be healed.  

So keep keeping on. Do right until the stars fall. Love your wife. And look to the ultimate example of love.  Christ chose to love you, even while you were unloveable.

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

If you’re 50 years old or older, you might remember an era when Home Economics class was a normal part of school curriculum. While boys were attending Shop Class, the girls were busy in Home Ec, learning about sewing and cooking. It was good practical info that many girls used later in life as they began their own families.  

Today though, the term Home Economics has a very different meaning, as presented in the book,Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure by Nick Schulz.  In the book, Schulz lays out a detailed and documented analysis of the deterioration of the American family over the last five decades.  The statistics are not only alarming but undoubtedly have contributed to much of the social breakdown we have seen in our nation since 1960, as well as rising government budgets.

Consider these troubling statistics, comparing 1960 to today, which sadly, in every instance, represent human lives:

*  Fewer people are marrying.
*  Those who do marry will marry later and divorce more frequently
*  Births to unmarried mothers have climbed dramatically. In 1960 they were just 5%. Today the number exceeds 40%. And in the black community, out of wedlock births account for 70% of all newborns.
*  The percent of children raised by single parents in 1960 was 9%; today it is more than 25%.
*  Married family households earn 40% more than single parent households.
*  Only 5% of married family households are considered poor vs 30% for single parent households.
*  Poor children are two times as likely to climb the economic ladder if their parents are continuously married versus the children of broken or single parent homes.
*  According to the Brookings Institute, if young people finish high school, get a job, and marry before having children, their chance at landing in poverty is only 2%.  But if these factors are not in place, three-fourths of young people will enter poverty.

Of course, politicians, social scientists, and many media pundits can quote these statistics at length.  But the problem isn’t knowing these numbers, but rather quantifying them, and then identifying real solutions to address this undeniable national crisis.

AMERICA’S FOUNDATION

As we think about our nation’s abundance, and the extraordinary success we have had over our 200+ year history, there is little doubt that our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, extraordinary documents, contributed to our nation’s greatness. But I would suggest that they do not singularly account for our exceptionalism.  

Foundational to these two documents was our Judeo-Christian values, and in particular the Family — an institution that undergirds any thriving society.  

Recall that “In the beginning…” when God created the heavens and earth, He created man and woman, and He told them to be fruitful, multiply, and become one flesh.  And several thousand years later, Jesus, the Creator, entered our world as Jesus, the Redeemer, and He affirmed the institution of the Family when He shared these words, in Matthew 19:4-9:

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

So God established marriage and the family, consisting of one man plus one woman and their children (which sadly today we must now define what a family is).  In addition to the Family, God also ordained the Government & Church.  But the fundamental building block of any society and nation is the Family.  Because of this, we  can conclude that “as the family goes, so goes the nation,” establishing a correlation between the strength of the family and the strength of a nation’s economy.

FISCAL IMPACT

There are two numbers that create a direct correlation between the decline of the family and our nation’s fiscal woes.  They are:

$757,000,000
$112,000,000,000

These two numbers come directly from a study entitled “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” that was issued in 2008 using data from 2006.  That report, conservative in its estimates, found that the cost of family fragmentation for ONE YEAR in Tennessee was $757 million and nationally was $112 billion. Even using these 10 year old numbers, we can calculate a 10 year cost to taxpayers of over $1 trillion for family fragmentation in America.  

Are you shocked? Don’t be. Note this quote from the report that attempts to identify the far reaching impact of a broken home:

“Divorce and unwed childbearing create substantial public costs, paid by taxpayers. Higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty among both adults and children bring with them higher taxpayer costs in diverse forms: more welfare expenditure; increased remedial and special education expenses; higher day-care subsidies; additional child-support collection costs; a range of increased direct court administration costs incurred in regulating post-divorce or unwed families; higher foster care and child protection services; increased Medicaid and Medicare costs; increasingly expensive and harsh crime-control measures to compensate for formerly private regulation of adolescent and young-adult behaviors; and many other similar costs.”

As I was doing some research on this topic, I came across a statement from former Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge, the late Bob Moon (in Chattanooga, TN).  Note his highly relevant remarks from several years ago:

 Government will never solve the inner origins of crime, or gangs or reverse the complex origins of the problems. The primary source of the problems is the family and inside the homes where government cannot go or control without a search warrant or responding to a crime after the fact.  In fact, the closest that government usually gets inside of the home for assistance is a sustenance check or food stamps in the mailbox.

Government can do some things and some programs are commendable, but in the big picture, gangs and juvenile violence can only be reduced by committed and responsible parents, teachers and our community working consistently together.  

The focus should not be just on money, programs, gang czars, summits and speeches.  The focus should be the one that mothers, fathers, teachers and community leaders should be placing on themselves individually.

Marcus Aurelius succinctly stated that “All great nations fall from within before they fall from without.

FAILED PROGRAMS

In the past, our ancestors utilized various ineffective approaches to treat diseases and injuries. In particular, blood-letting used to be a common medical practice. The idea was that by cutting a patient and releasing amounts of their blood they could heal the individual, believing they were “bleeding” a person to health. But after 2,000 years, the practice of blood-letting was finally abandoned. It likely killed many more patients than it ever healed.  Yet, it was the commonly accepted practice.

Fast forward to 2017. For over 50 years now, we have seen the American family continue to decline while rates continue to skyrocket for births out of wedlock, percent of children in single homes, percent of children in poverty, divorce rates and more. Yet, bureaucrats, social scientists and entire political parties, believe government programs can fix the problem. But these programs seldom if ever focus on the root of the problem.  Instead they seek to put a bandaid on a festering wound.  

It’s time to try something new rather than continuing to bleed red ink in our state and federal budgets. Taxpayers have a right, and an obligation, to weigh in on family policies since they are footing the bill to the tune of a Trillion Dollars per decade when marriages fail.

So what should our response be? Should we only be concerned with this issue because it affects our wallet via our taxes?  Or are there bigger reasons to motivate us?  Can we reverse the dangerous and destructive trend that we are seeing as it relates to the Family in America?

SOLUTIONS

I think so and here are just a few quick ideas.  While they may seem small, remember that every structure is built upon a solid foundation that is made up of individual bricks.  And there is not one of those bricks that is not important.  So consider these ideas:

Marriage —  Is your marriage strong and will you commit to keeping it strong? When you said your vows, “in sickness or health, for better or worse, ’til death do us part” did you mean them? Will you vow to never abandon your marriage… and children?  Will you allow your marriage to demonstrate to others what the family should look like… and what Christ can do in your relationship if you are a Christian?

Encourage others in their marriages.  Come alongside other couples, particularly if they are young and struggling. Show them the way to work through the bumps that we all have along the way.

Don’t buy into the false narrative that the family doesn’t impact our economy.  The fact is, our families drive our economy. Broken families equal a broken economy. Be willing to speak out when the opportunity arises.  

Embrace programs that are really making a difference in the inner city, where the marital statistics are at a red-alert level. One such program in Chattanooga is the Y-Cap program, that my friend Joe Smith and his son Andy have given thousands of hours to.  Their inner city boxing program comes alongside the most vulnerable children and broken homes to provide tutoring, mentoring and life skills.  Additionally, they train young boys in the art of boxing.  In fact, one of their shining examples, Ryan Martin, just fought his first fight in Madison Square Gardens on HBO last week and successfully defended his WBC Continental Americas title.  And he credits Joe and Andy Smith for much of his success. This is the kind of program that truly makes a difference in the lives of boys and girls who are otherwise destined for a life of poverty and likely crime.

Be willing to educate your friends and family on the two numbers that were shared in this article, since they likely have no clue about the dramatic costs of broken families on our budgets:
     $757 million: the annual cost of family fragmentation in Tennessee
     $112 billion:  the annual cost of family fragmentation in America

Challenge your church to step up to support the family, particularly broken ones.  Too often government will assume what the church has abandoned.  And for many years, the role of the church, as pointed out in James 1:27 has been lost: “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”  We have an epidemic of orphans and widows, via our single-parent homes where daddy has gone AWOL.  Sadly the church has gone AWOL as well.  So are we surprised that big government is waiting to step in with their big government programs, that are certainly capable of running up a big tab, but are incapable of producing permanent good results?

Remember, government is seldom neutral.  If it is, it won’t be for long.  So government is fully engaged in this issue.  But do they have the solution?  My belief is they do not.  So unless you speak up, the failed solutions of the last decades will continue to be the failed ones of the future.

Ultimately, there is no political solution for a spiritual problem.  And this is at the heart of this issue.  What God created as a spiritual union, cannot be replaced with government programs.  So the only genuine solution will occur when we see hearts transformed in America.  And as they are, and they are turned back to God, only then will we see the family restored, and our nation made great again.

“If the foundations are destroyed…”

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.

Your Business and Marriage: The Urgent vs Important

Your Business and Marriage: The Urgent vs Important

Your Business & Marriage

 

Last year I wrote about the importance of marriage in “An Entrepreneur’s #1 Partnership,” emphasizing the need to prioritize your marital relationship above your business.  But it’s easy to write about doing so, and quite another thing to actually live it out on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurs and employees are often tempted to focus more of their attention and energies on their business or job than the relationship with their spouse.  As an entrepreneur, I can affirm the struggle this dilemma often presents.  And if you’ve spent any amount of time in business, you know exactly why this is. 

Our businesses present a constant set of opportunities, challenges, and other “urgent” matters, that demand our immediate attention.  If you’re like me, it’s all too easy to allow these demands to overshadow everything else in life.  Whether it’s our relationship with our spouse, our kids, our personal health, or perhaps even our spiritual walk with God, it seems that all too often, the urgency of the immediate drowns out the preeminence of the important.  

Granted, there are instances when a scenario is truly urgent in nature, requiring our immediate focus or else catastrophic consequences could ensue.  These rare instances are not what I am referring to.  Rather, the “urgent” issues I am referring to are the unlimited number of lesser demands that present themselves on an all too frequent basis.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see this reality clearly, both in our own lives and sadly in the lives of others.  But in the heat of the battle, it’s easy to ignore that internal nagging voice that continues to remind us that the urgent is once again supplanting the important.  And when it does, it can result in our cancelling that special dinner with our spouse, or missing our child’s ball game, because a last minute “deal” demands we do so.  

So how do we overcome this temptation so that we properly address the urgent without sacrificing the important?  There are at least three truths we can embrace to overcome this “urgent versus important” dilemma:

  1. Involve yourself in an accountability relationship with someone you trust implicitly, whether individually or in a small group. Be honest and transparent with this individual in a manner that allows him to provide honest feedback.  It is a rare person who can critique his own actions and choices in such a manner that he will self-correct and recalibrate his life when he veers off course.  An accountability partner will provide that much needed correction to help us bring the important back to a priority over the urgent.  The book of Proverbs affirms this truth when it reminds us that “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

  2. The urgent will always be clamoring for immediate attention.  The unexpected and unplanned seem to show up on a regular basis, and too often at the most inopportune times.  And when the urgent rears it’s head, it seems all else pales in significance.  You can likely identify this reality playing itself out over and over in your own life, if you think about it.  So it’s critical that we begin to identify when the urgent has arrived and that we be prepared to counter this temptation with a predetermined course of action.  Whether it’s one that you’ve devised on your own, with your accountability partner, or perhaps one such as the Eisenhower Decision Principle (named after President Dwight Eisenhower), have a plan ready to deploy when the urgent shows up and seeks to derail the important.

  3. As hard as we try, there will be times when we succumb to the urgent despite our best intentions.  One truth that we know about ourselves is that we often fail to live up to our own standards and expectations.  It may not be that we intended to, but old habits die hard and we frequently revert back to our old self.  But this is just another instance when we must simply acknowledge our frailty, both to ourselves and our spouse and/or family, and then recommit ourselves to steps 1 and 2 above.  Meet with your accountability partner, evaluate your actions, and then learn from your mistakes.  

I trust that you and I will continually remember these truths and we’ll take whatever steps we need to take in order to insure that we don’t wake up someday and realize that, while we were successful at accomplishing the urgent, we failed in the truly important areas of our life. including that most important relationship, our marriage.   

Mark

To Judge or Not to Judge?

To Judge or Not to Judge?

To Judge or Not to Judge

 

In this day in time, there’s hardly a week that passes where some major moral issue isn’t being debated in the court of public opinion.  Whether it’s via the courts, primetime TV or social media, it seems more and more of the values that many of us and our parents and grandparents grew up with are now on trial and under full attack.  From marriage and abortion, to homosexuality and transgender facilities, the standards that have been in place for generations are now being undermined in an ever more intense manner.

At the same time as these cultural and political battles are taking place, there is an effort by the same elite to stamp out all dissent, whether via political correctness, so-called tolerance, or even through courts, legislation and government regulation. One other popular method that those attacking our most fundamental values are fond to employ is by using the Bible itself to silence Christians.  In particular, those who frequently despise the Holy Book, are all too eager to use select passages to either advance their agenda or hush poorly informed Christians, who may not dust their Bible off that often. 

A passage that is continuously misquoted, perhaps more than any other in the Bible, is in Matthew 7 where we read, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  And so it would seem that with one short verse, the entire Christian argument on any of today’s difficult issues is silenced.  As the passage goes on to say, “why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

No one wants to be a hypocrite, even though, if we are honest with ourselves, there are areas in our lives where we all say one thing and sadly live another.  So doesn’t this passage clearly say we must remove the plank out of our eye before we can remove the speck out of someone else’s eye?  So how can we ever speak out or “judge” any matters of any importance that involve our “brothers” or even our friends or neighbors?  

The truth is that if you and I are the judge and it’s our own law, then we clearly cannot judge others.  If the standard by which we evaluate others and their actions is a subjective, personal standard, then who are we to tell someone else what is right or wrong?  In fact, if the standard is my own, and thus subjective, then you likely have your own as well.  And so then there is no objective, absolute standard, and thus no right or wrong.

But there are in fact absolutes, contrary to today’s prevailing philosophy.  We all know this both inherently and because we have experienced these absolutes.  The law and even nature are both quick to remind us of them.  Break the speed limit, and blue lights will remind you of certain absolutes.  Leave a few dollars off your tax return, and the nation’s favorite governmental agency will send you a bill with interest and penalties for forgetting that income.  Strike someone with malice, and a man in a black robe may sentence you to years behind bars.  Walk off a building, and you’ll quickly learn that nature itself attests to absolutes.  So it’s clear we live accountable to absolutes all the time, whether we like them or not.  

But back to the “judge not” passage.  The Bible is a book of history, prophecy, morality and spirituality, but it is ultimately God’s message to mankind.  The Bible instructs mankind on matters of morality and from those precepts, man is then able to discern right and wrong.  He is not the judge, as God established the law.  Man is simply one who discerns right from wrong, good from evil, based on God’s absolute standard.  So God judges.  Man discerns.

When you or I speak out on a moral issue that is delineated in Scripture, the judgment being made is not merely our own, but it is one based on a moral standard that supersedes our own.  In this case, it is God’s.  The Bible is clear in its admonition to reject evil, embrace good and expose darkness, as these passages clearly illustrate:

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

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”  Isaiah 5:20

Depart from evil and do good.”  Psalm 37:27

Putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”  Ephesians 4:25

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21

Finally, we are called in John 7:24 (just a few verses after the “judge not” passage) to actually “judge with righteous judgment.”  This passage clearly suggests that when “judging” is done righteously, meaning according to God’s perfect standard, then that judgment is not only appropriate but it is commanded.

So the next time you hear someone misquote Matthew 7:1 by telling you to stop judging, consider that they are doing so out of either ignorance, or worse, they seek to simply silence you.  But now you know better.