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Understanding Socialism

Bernie Sanders

One of the biggest mistakes of my generation was somehow allowing much of American society to degenerate from rational opposition to blind acceptance of socialism. We have sat idle while our replacement generation has lost sight of the grave dangers of this political and economic system. The best we can do now is to make a bold attempt to expose this evil for what it really is. This post is a move in that direction.

Socialism in a nutshell is giving up individual freedom and allowing the government to provide for our needs in exchange for making our decisions for us. It is an economic and political system that depends on a powerful, autocratic government. Socialism came of age with Karl Marx’s theories written as the Communist Manifesto in 1848. The socialist government can be totalitarian (a dictator), oligarchic (a powerful committee), or even democratic. Regardless of the structure, such a government determines what the people need and controls all business production and services to meet those needs. This results in an equitable distribution of wealth and material resources among all people with no competitive buying and selling in the market. Citizens are totally dependent on and subject to the government.

Prominent historical examples include the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, while current examples are China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Although some socialist governments have maintained a robust economy by controlling production, those countries’ citizens are ultimately oppressed and have little incentive to pursue a better quality of life.

In this election year, we are being told that the socialism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is not the failed socialism of the past but rather “Democratic” socialism. They point to the Scandinavian countries as examples instead of China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Sanders says he is not anti-business and declares he supports free elections. However, his proposed system of government is pure socialism. He advocates free health care, free college education, controls on income, and major government subsistence for low income earners. The astronomic costs of these government programs would be funded by huge tax increases on everyone. Oh yes, he says he will tax the rich to provide these comforts. The problem is these costs could not begin to be funded by taxing the top American earners at 100 percent. Taxes would be raised tremendously on almost everyone, which is exactly what socialism does. If the socialist government decides the people need more, it takes more from the people in the form of taxes. A democratically elected socialist government is still a socialist government that preys on its citizens.

The truth is that socialism has never worked effectively as a political and economic system…never!  Even in the Scandinavian countries, it reduces efficiency and initiative in production. It can easily take root in a poor country with a chaotic government looking for something different. When it does, it is usually the result of a revolution that leaves a trail of violence and death. But the “utopia” is short lived as the citizens figure out they are under oppression without freedom to determine their own destiny. Then it is too late. To bring socialism into a thriving economy under-girded with individual freedoms would be absolutely disastrous and absurd.

Free market capitalism has made America the richest, healthiest, most powerful, and most productive country in the history of the world. A recent study shows the poorest 20 percent of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries including western Europe. In other words, if America’s “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest. This is why we have such an immigration problem. Millions of people dream of coming to America. The greatness of America is the result of God’s blessing through two essential concepts: capitalism as the driver of our economy and individual liberty as the standard of our society. Both must exist simultaneously for the ultimate benefit of the people.

Granted, there are some downsides to capitalism. It does not ensure economic equality. Those who work hardest and are most productive will gain more wealth than others. Incentive is rewarded with better quality of life, while lethargy lessens quality of life. American capitalism, however, makes provision for the less fortunate with social programs supported by reasonable taxes of the more affluent. A cursory study of the American free market and individual freedoms proves that, despite some problems still needing to be resolved, our society is superior to any other in the world. Then why is seemingly half our population ready to trade that life for a much lesser life?

I believe the answer lies in two realities. First, the education of our youth, both parental and institutional, has largely avoided the socioeconomic truths that formed this great nation. Instead of factual studies of constitutional democracy, economic history, and comparative government, millennials and younger have been fed a scholastic diet of liberal psychology and social radicalism. They have learned the weaknesses of America but not its overriding strengths. Secondly, technology, liberal media, family breakdown, and the devaluation of discipline have produced a sense of entitlement, false security, and irresponsibility in our younger generation. Why wouldn’t they want more free stuff without regard to its source and ultimate cost to society? That is their experience, and they have not been taught the consequences. The reality that nothing is really free has been lost on most of them.

The future of America as we know it will depend on freedom-loving Americans showing up on election day to put down the revolution of socialism. We must also make every attempt to instill the truth in our children and grandchildren. We have to replace their indoctrination with factual counter positions. The future of our nation hangs in the balance.

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What President Trump’s Recent School Prayer Guidance Really Means

prayerinschool

On January 16th, President Trump unveiled the first updated White House guidance on school prayer since 2003. It was a promised follow-up to his Executive Order in 2018 putting religious groups on equal footing with other organizations competing for federal funds. There is talk across the country about what this new guidance means to Americans of faith. Let’s take a look at where the issue stood before the guidance and where it stands now.

The “restriction” regarding school prayer that most Americans have lived under their whole lives resulted from the 1962 Supreme Court case of Vitale vs. Engel. New York state had encouraged schools to begin each day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer with the words, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country. Amen.” A group of New Hyde Park school parents led by a Jewish man, Steven I. Engel, sued the school board president, William J. Vitale, Jr., challenging the constitutionality of the school policy. The case drew frenzied response dividing the nation on the issue. It ascended to the Supreme Court which held that reciting government-written prayers in public schools was unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Ever since that decision, well-meaning, but over-zealous Christians have lamented that our kids can’t pray in school anymore–that we have taken God out of the schools. Simply put, that has never been true. The Supreme Court decision and most subsequent lower court rulings prevent school policies that would allow administrators or faculty members to force or coerce students to pray. Granted, a few judicial rulings have overstepped the Supreme Court’s intention and have come down against any prayer by students. Most of those, though, have not withstood appeal.

What has hampered most student prayer has been school administration and faculty members who are paranoid about threats of parents or the ACLU. They have too often opted to create policy that actually does take away the religious rights of students.

In 2003, the federal government, responding to a groundswell of school-based religious rights violations, provided official guidance to schools regarding school prayer policy. This guidance clarified what schools could and could not do in school prayer matters. On January 16th in the Oval Office, President Trump unveiled the federal government’s first updated guidance on school prayer since 2003. It details scenarios in which school officials must permit prayer and clarifies the consequences if they don’t. Those consequences include loss of government funding for any schools violating student rights to pray. It also streamlines the complaint process for such violations.

The president signing the guidance with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students standing around him declared, “We will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all.” The students in attendance had each filed grievances over religious rights violations in school. Although this guidance made few major changes to what it replaced, it threw down the gantlet to liberal lawyers who see a lawsuit in every issue of school prayer. It also affirmed the president’s commitment to evangelical supporters.

The guidance makes it doubly clear that students have the First Amendment right to pray in school including organized group prayer. The 1962 Supreme Court decision was never about excluding that right. Challenges to that right have only come from over-reaction by lawyers and scared school officials. All American students can pray during free times at school. They can organize group prayer during free time, and even use school property for prayer meetings. Students can initiate prayer at sports events or any school event for that matter. The only restriction is that school administration or faculty members cannot initiate the prayers or in any way pressure students to pray.

The Trump administration has now put the American education system on notice to abide by the Supreme Court decision on school prayer, but to not add the tiniest restriction beyond that. Any future student complaint about violation of religious rights will be afforded the full support of the federal government.

So, let’s get over the myth that little Johnny or Suzie can’t pray in school anymore. But, let’s celebrate that our president has warned the nation’s attorneys, judges, education departments, and school officials that his administration will guard that right aggressively.

Trump May Be the Most Loving President Ever

Donald Trump

In the wake of the impeachment trial and all the accusations of hate personified in our president, the title of this post will seem preposterous to many. However, let’s zoom out from all the media and public rhetoric that constantly slam him and view what really drives him. We will see a president who loves the American people more than any of his predecessors have. Let’s take a look.

Certainly, the president does not endear himself to Americans by his over-inflated ego, his boisterous language, and his put-down of adversaries in speech and tweets. His disregard for tradition and the status quo has drawn the rabid ire of his political foes. Without a doubt, he offers a daily dish of opportunity for harsh criticism. Do we all wish he would dial it back? Absolutely. But it’s important that we see through his often impulsive and repulsive methodology and understand the underlying compassion in his purpose.

I believe evidence shows his pursuit of the presidency was not driven by ego enhancement and personal gratification as is widely believed. His concern for people’s problems and belief in his solutions were his motivation for leaving the comfortable billionaire life to lead the nation to prosperity. His three years in the White House have proven his unwavering fight for a better life for all Americans. He was convinced his business experience and economic philosophy would re-energize the nation’s economy, create jobs, and rectify the international trade imbalance. He also knew his experience would help restore our military’s credibility in defending our freedoms. He used his big-business confrontational negotiating acumen to bring China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico to the table for trade resets that benefit all Americans. His determination to drastically decrease crime and drug addiction in our country resulted in major reductions in illegal immigration. The judicial oppression and moral decay he observed in our liberal courts have been reversed by his appointments of unprecedented numbers of conservative judges. These and many more examples have convinced me that President Trump is not in this for personal gain, but for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to better the quality of life for all Americans.

If he’s so loving, why does he so often revert to words and actions that don’t fit most people’s definition of love? I have to go no further than Jesus to understand some of it. Now, don’t think I’m comparing Trump to Jesus. The president is far from divine. However, Jesus, the ultimate characterization of love for mankind, turned over tables and snapped a whip in the temple, dubbed the cultural leaders snakes, and even called his disciples fools. Yet all of Jesus’ harshness was for the ultimate loving purpose of attaining the best for all people.

I have observed 12 presidents in my lifetime and none has accomplished as much good for all Americans in his first term as President Donald Trump. This in spite of his incurring more vengeful opposition than any of the other 11. He has a rare knack for throwing off the opponents’ attacks and concentrating on the people’s needs.

President Trump’s bizarre actions and inflammatory words are sometimes attributable to his character and personality. More often, though, I believe they are theatrics and purposeful means to an end–unorthodox methods of producing the overall good for all concerned. He has never shown any tendency toward corruption but has rooted out corruption at every turn. He has never shown any desire for dictatorship but has supported freedom at every level. He has never shown any sinister motives but has outed many sinister plots of others. He has never shown any motivation but that which would elevate the standard of living for all Americans.

Unlike our view of other presidents and world leaders, our perception of this president  has to penetrate the surface to realize who he really is and what he values. His love for America and its people is clear in all he deems worth fighting for. He works feverishly to accomplish what will improve the safety and quality of life for those he loves, the American people. Isn’t that what we want in a president?

Process or Production–Which Do We Want from Washington?

committee

America’s government in Washington is broken and unresponsive. By and large, our elected officials have become so focused on the governing processes that little or nothing is getting done. Particularly, for the last three years they have been gridlocked in bureaucratic shuffling, and we have seen scant production. That is the new normal. Let me expand on this.

In government affairs, those at the very top crave resolution to problems and needs. But those responsible for generating those resolutions tend to justify their existence by meeting, debating, scheming, delaying, and making excuses. Producing results would leave them no opportunity to practice their bureaucratic expertise. It’s like a chef over-cooking a steak because he wants to keep practicing his culinary skills. I experienced this at many levels in the military.

When I was on the staff at Headquarters European Command, my ultimate on-location boss was a four-star general, the commander-in-chief of all US forces in Europe. I led a small staff responsible for preparing the four-star for Congressional Testimony several times a year. The problem was I had a two-star and a three-star between me and the four-star. I spent almost all my time forwarding paper after paper from my staff and attending meeting after meeting with my immediate bosses. My production was gummed up by the most minute and senseless tweaks to the final advice for the four-star. Yet the four-star was always asking for quicker responses and wasn’t interested in unanimity of the staff or absolute perfection. Our products were usually late and often inferior due to the process.

I see the same wasteful processes in Washington. We have a businessman for our president who is a problem solver–a results man. He was not raised in the environment of government paralysis. Unfortunately, he has to suffer a Congress, particularly the Democratic-controlled House, that glories in processes, rules, and partisan showmanship. To them, congressional process is not a means to an end but an end in itself. Legislators measure their success not in productivity but in how to work the system for partisan gain. Their objectives are to hold the hard line, over-analyze the issues, and use delay tactics to wear down the opposition.

It is amazing that the president has accomplished so much in three years regardless of the quagmire on the Hill. We will never know what advances could have been made for our nation had the legislative branch produced instead of processed.

The impeachment process in particular has completely consumed the House for over three years. From the get-go, every member of Congress knew the allegations were baseless and would result in the ultimate exoneration of the president. Yet the majority chose to disregard the obvious result and ignore the dire need for many legislative actions that would improve the lives of Americans. They opted to immerse themselves in the agonizing process of impeachment that would logjam all of Washington. In 2020, we must act on what we have experienced.

Between now and November, we must be aggressive and determined to reelect the most results-oriented president in our history. We must act similarly to fill the congressional seats with those who are committed to streamlining process in order to produce. If you agree, please like and share this post.

 

Just How Important Are You?

Thoughtful young man

As we launch into a new year, a new decade!, most of us give at least some thought to adjustments we need to make–some shedding, some pursuing. Self-examination is in order as to who we have been, who we are, and who we will be. This can lead to gut-level contemplation of our reason for existence. Just how important are you? Let’s consider that.

Since the beginning of mankind, every person in your direct ancestry bloodline through hundreds of generations had to survive and produce your subsequent ancestor in order for you to have been born. If any one of those ancestors had not produced your next ancestor, or had died childless, you would not exist. Therefore, your chances of being born were like one-in-a-million. Looking ahead, if you have children, you will likely be responsible for producing over 40 descendants in the next century–none of whom would exist without you. You will have made a major contribution in shaping their physical and spiritual character. What might some of those descendants accomplish for mankind? You are very important to God!

As in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life (you did watch it again didn’t you?), think of whose lives and what circumstances would not have had certain positive impacts had you not been a part of them? Even minor improvements you have made in the destiny of a few others will be your legacy for an inestimable number of generations. You are very important to God!

The minute you were miraculously born began a life that will never end. Your relatively momentary life on this planet will soon transition into eternal existence. I like the illustration of the line and the dot.

___________________._______________________________________________________________________

The dot is your life on earth. It seems so brief and insignificant. Yet, it is the product of your ancestry and history over time represented by the line to the left of the dot. That line actually would extend off the page and for several yards relative to the time of your dot. The line to the right of your dot is your eternal life after death. It would actually extend off the page into the next county, next state, and around the world…and it would just be beginning. It never ends. You were born to live forever! Suddenly, that seemingly insignificant dot has significance beyond our comprehension. You are very important to God!

God tells us in His Word that He knows you more intimately than anyone else. He says He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly of everything about us. He wants to give us personal peace. The God who created the universe gave us birth, knows everything about us, and still wants us to spend eternity with Him. Sadly, relatively few will have that privilege due to their own decision to disregard it. Those who do not give attention to their spiritual condition and God’s gracious invitation will still live eternally but tragically separated from Him. God is very important to you!

As you enter 2020, you could commit to nothing better than securing a personal relationship with Jesus if you haven’t settled that yet. If you are in that relationship, commit to growing in it and understanding more about just how important you are to Him. Much of your importance is in your sharing God’s love and desire for those important to you. Take time to meditate more on these truths by visiting https://terrythompson.org/eternity. This year, let’s renew our joy in how important we are to the One who created us to live for Him and how important He is to us.

Have a Happy New Year!

Now Is the Best Time to Join AMAC!

If you are a member of AARP, you may want to rethink that organization. AARP was once a respectable voice for the interests of seniors. Unfortunately, they have become an arm of the liberal movement in America and have lost touch with their mainstream members. The conservative alternative, AMAC, is worthy of your consideration. I urge you to join this worthy organization for those 50 and over.

If you fit this age category, you may have joined or have received appeals for you to join the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP. For many years, they have lobbied Congress on issues related to the 50+ demographic. They offer appealing services and discounts for such things as travel, dining, insurance, health services, etc. I paid their reasonable fee and joined the organization as soon as I crossed that half-century mark. Then, a few years ago, I began to see some things in their literature and magazine that troubled me. They led the charge in promoting Obamacare. They have maneuvered against President Trump on almost every political issue. The further I looked, more was revealed about their liberal institutional values and principles. They support abortion and LGBT initiatives. They are leftist leaning in almost every aspect of their operations. Since most of us 50+ folks are conservatives, I had to conclude that AARP, while benefiting us in some ways, is working against the majority of us on issues that really matter. Then I began hearing about the Association of Mature American Citizens, AMAC.

AMAC was founded twelve years ago by a great patriot and Christian business man, Dan Weber, and has grown to two million members. Its values and principles are conservative, and it advances both God and country. AMAC has an active operations office in Washington, D.C. and administrative offices in New York and Florida. Its lobbyists work aggressively on Capitol Hill in the interests of the 50+ population. They are working to support conservative initiatives in general. They offer essentially the same services and discounts as AARP for the same low annual fee. You will also get the great bi-monthly AMAC Magazine filled with articles and opportunities for retirees and those approaching retirement.

Now for the exciting news! During this holiday season you can get your first year membership free at conservative radio personality Ben Ferguson’s website, https://benfreeonline.com. AMAC is a major sponsor of the Ben Ferguson Show.

AMAC’s political action strategy includes a unique grass roots effort. An AMAC volunteer delegate has been appointed for each Congressional district across America. I am the delegate for Arkansas’ 4th District. Like other delegates, I am obligated to meet with my Congressman, Bruce Westerman, periodically to discuss issues of importance to seniors and to promote AMAC’s position on those issues. This helps keep our country’s Congressmen focused on their senior constituents. I am fortunate that Congressman Westerman is a strong conservative and a proud AMAC member.

AARP has been around for many years and has a large membership. Their sheer size gives them a significant advantage in Washington. Therefore, it is important that conservatives shift this lobbying power balance away from AARP and toward AMAC. So, if you are on the back side of 50, I urge you to go to AMAC’s website, https://amac.us, read all about it, and become a member. It’s an outstanding organization working on your behalf. Remember, the first year is free if you go to https://benfreeonline.com. Do it now before the promotion expires. There is nothing to lose in this one-year free trial period. Help AMAC work for you and your fellow senior adults.

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War on Christmas

Christmaswars

I know. I know. Do we have to get into this Merry Christmas issue again at every Christmas season? Well, yes, if you have any concern for the gradual chipping away at our American values, traditions and culture. Yes, if you want to protect our society from the ACLU’s obsession with political correctness and the courts’ anti-Christian over-interpretation of the First Amendment. However, we don’t have to protest and boycott to make our heart-felt point. Just bid a loving “Merry Christmas” this year to everyone, and you communicate your faith in Christ and your celebration of His birth. Here are some further thoughts.

The expression, “War on Christmas,” comes from the early 2000’s  when prominent conservatives, including Bill O’Reilly, took issue with many retail stores. The stores were mandating their internal use of “happy holidays” or other generic greeting in place of any reference to Christ in Christmas. This evolved as American culture was becoming increasingly paranoid about personal offenses and political correctness. It was also about the time Christian symbols such as nativity sets in public places were saturating the courts as opposing the First Amendments prohibition of the establishment of a national religion.

Over the following few years, almost any attempt to connect Christ with Christmas was considered by many liberal leaders and judges as illegal or as undue pressure on innocent victims. Even many conservative Christians ceased displaying Christmas symbols in public places and saying “Merry Christmas” for fear of receiving the undesired present of legal challenges at most or offending someone at least. Today, it seems that we aren’t seeing as much hateful speech or protests around this issue. There are fewer news topics about removing Christian symbols from public places. However, I’m convinced this is not because liberal sentiments have waned, but rather because conservative Christians have become more accepting of these illegitimate restrictions.

Should we conservative Christians be more resolved to counter the opposition often forced on us by those who perceive trivializing Jesus Christ is not a big thing? It’s a very big thing, and I believe He expects His followers to keep Him famous among the people. If you choose to protest in some way, that is understandable and certainly your right to do so. If you choose to wear a button that marks out “happy holidays” and adds “Merry Christmas,” that is fine, too. However for me, I choose to simply say, “Merry Christmas to everyone and often during this Advent month. Every store clerk, office assistant, and restaurant server will get my verbal “Merry Christmas.” This is a great way to share your faith with someone who may be searching for truth. If someone says “happy holidays,” I will smile and reply, “Merry Christmas as if to gently correct the error.” My emphasis will be recognized. If I am shopping in a store that has lots of holiday greetings, but no “Merry Christmas” anywhere, I will express my disappointment to the clerk and, if I feel led, will take it up politely with the manager. If you choose this approach, such respectful, but emphatic, actions will find their target without your being identified as just another one of those conservative Christian Christmas fanatics.

Merry Christmas!

 

Has Chick-fil-A Become Chicken?

chick fil a

Last Monday, conservatives almost forgot about impeachment when Chick-fil-A announced it was ending donations to Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The Salvation Army, and Paul Anderson Youth Homes. Many see this as the family-owned restaurant chain founded on Christian values kowtowing to the LGBTQ community. Let’s slice through this controversy and get to what has really happened here.

Business reporters quickly jumped on Chick-fil-A’s new policies for donations by its non-profit foundation this past week. Every year, the company’s foundation donates millions of dollars to worthy charities, mostly those that support the needy and disadvantaged. The new donation criteria for 2020 excludes certain organizations that oppose the LGBTQ/gay marriage/transgender rights agenda.

Chick-fil-A founder, Truett Cathy, declared the new corporation’s purpose 50 years ago: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” Cathy, a faithful Southern Baptist, was never shy about his belief that homosexuality, gay marriage, and transgender lifestyles were sinful. Since its inception, the company has been constantly derided by the LGBTQ community, often involving large demonstrations and boycotts.

Upon Truett Cathy’s death in 2014, his son, Dan, took the reins of the corporation as CEO. Since then, he has been virtually silent on LGBTQ positions, while continuing to donate to prominent charities that are outspoken against those positions. Even before his father death, Dan Cathy declared he would stop engaging in the national debate over marriage equality. He stated that even though his views hadn’t changed, he realized talking about them publicly was bad for business. One can only conclude that his removal of faith-based groups that support heterosexual relationships and traditional marriage from his foundation’s donation list was considered good for business.

This past week, evangelist Franklin Graham called Dan Cathy to determine his objectives in this turn-around. Graham reported that Mr. Cathy “was very clear” in saying that the company “did not bow down to anyone’s demands, including the LGBTQ community.” Cathy said his company will continue to support whomever they want to support and that they haven’t changed who they are or what they believe. Mr. Graham went on to argue that the LGBTQ community will never be satisfied with Chick-fil-A because of the founder’s strong stand for biblical traditional values and his desire to honor God.

Franklin Graham is right about the LGBTQ radicals not being satisfied. Over the last few days, social media has been filled with comments like, “A public apology is needed here, not just saying they stopped,” and “When Chick-fil-A apologizes directly to the LGBTQ community and begins to donate to pro-LGBTQ causes, then I will eat there. Not one second before.” The company can expect Dan Cathy’s initial peace gesture to the gay crowd to be incentive for them to press for more.

So, where does all this leave us who crave that delicious chicken sandwich meal, enjoy the restaurant’s wholesome Christian atmosphere, and love the positive, friendly service? As for me, I plan to continue to patronize Chick-fil-A. If I abandon a Christian family business that is stumbling over some of its biblical principles and choose to patronize its competitor with no known connection to my faith, what have I gained? However, I plan to share my concerns with the company, both locally and at corporate level, and will watch closely for any signs of its further departure from its Christian roots. Finally, I will include Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy in my prayers from time to time, particularly before enjoying my grilled chicken sandwich.

 

 

Impeachment Hearing Reality

impeachmenthearing1

I have avoided commenting on the impeachment because it has been so media saturated. However, after watching much of the first day of the televised hearing, I must make a few observations. Never in my life have I witnessed such a brazen attempt to invalidate the majority will of the people. True patriotic Americans must stand against this elitist liberal majority in Congress who are denying Democracy.

In 2016, Americans elected one of the most unusual candidates for president in our nation’s history. President Donald J. Trump won 57% to 43%. His victory so shocked most Democrats, many were talking impeachment before he even assumed office. Since his election in 2016, liberals have been obsessed with impeaching this duly elected president any way they can. When the two-year, over $25,000,000 Mueller investigation flopped, the desperate Dems had to come up with something else quickly to ensure he didn’t win a second term. The best they could do was to make something huge out of almost nothing in the president’s dealings with the president of Ukraine.

The problem Democrats and a scant few Republicans have with President Trump boils down to his unorthodox businessman approach to running this country. He is not playing by the norms of Washington and is a threat to the establishment, often called the “deep state.” America did something in 2016 that had never been done before. The majority got so fed up with Washington’s incompetence and lack of accountability, they opted for an outsider businessman who would bring fresh ideas to governing and would not be intimidated by the politically ensconced establishment.

That out-of-the-political-mainstream president America elected has produced the best economy in decades, strengthened the military, re-established our respect abroad, reassured domestic freedoms, streamlined governing processes, and refocused the nation’s priorities toward Christianity. He has without question kept his campaign promise to “make America great again.” Granted, these national advancements have come with some consternation involving many people’s concept of how the nation’s leader should behave. This is evident in the current impeachment debacle.

President Trump came to the White House as a wealthy business man, not a seasoned politician. Regarding the Ukraine issue, he stretched the political norm by engaging in personal, back-channel negotiations with another head of state in what might seem more like a business deal than a diplomatic action. Our president has acted in both domestic and international exchanges more out of business pragmatism than out of political expediency. This alternative diplomacy, celebrated by most conservatives, is being flagged by the liberals as bribery and extortion–a giant leap from reality. I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures from today’s Democrats.

The president had good reasons to pursue investigation of Ukraine’s past corrupt business dealings that have hurt the United States. The fact that his potential opponent, Vice President Biden as well as his son, were likely involved in some related shady activities added to his incentive to investigate. However, there is no law to prevent him from doing so. If anything was broken here, it was only precedent, not law. The substantive issue is whether the president withheld foreign aid approved by Congress for Ukraine in exchange for an investigation by that country–a so-called “quid pro quo.” Although, he obliquely implied to Ukraine’s president Zelensky that the aid would follow the commitment to an investigation involving the Bidens, the aid was delivered without such a commitment. The businessman Trump apparently used the aid temporarily as an incentive for Zelensky to investigate, but wisely never intended to make it a quid pro quo.

The Democrats’ problem is two-fold. First, they can’t get past the election loss that set back their liberal socialist agenda. Secondly, they just can’t stomach the undiplomatic maneuvering and the unconventional methods being used successfully by the president. Even though it is ultimately in the best interests of America, his methodology counters much of the tradition the establishment has learned to operate within. These changes in technique reduce the power of his opponents. How dare an outsider sit in the oval office and operate from a whole new paradigm! What they don’t seem to grasp is that the same majority that elected this “renegade” likes what he is doing and will vote for him again. The Democrats’ determination to take Trump down is only feeding the Republicans’ determination to give him a second term.

I predict the Democratic majority House will impeach President Trump regardless of how irrational that is. Then, the Senate impeachment trial will exonerate him leaving him in office for the rest of this term. The majority of Americans will be so disgusted with the Democrats, they will hand a landslide victory to the president next year. The Democrats’ unprecedented hatred for our president will be their demise.

The last three years of American politics have been a laughing stock for the entire world to see. Our political process resembles that of a third-world country. We should all be embarrassed. I sure am.

 

Worship Wars

worshipteam

America’s church environment and culture have changed radically in the last three decades. Some are distraught while others are elated about the changes. Probably the most controversial of church refashioning is the evolution of worship substance and style. Some have dubbed the discord “worship wars.” Although more contemporary praise and worship have become accepted in many churches, others are holding a tight grip on the traditional hymns.  Let’s look at what is really at stake here.

I’m a septuagenarian. No, that is not a church denomination. It means I have been blessed to have matured to seventy-something years of age. In my youth and early adult years, worship in church by singing was exclusively in four part harmony from a hymn book. Most of the hymns were written by centuries-old lyricists, and set to old secular melodies. Usually, the song leader would announce that we would be singing the first, second, and last verses from the hymnals stowed in the seat backs. Often, there would be a choir on the platform consisting of people who could actually sing harmony. Most Sundays, the choir or soloist would sing a “special” from the hymnal or other source.

Contrast that with today’s worship services typically consisting of four to six singers on the platform usually backed up by musicians on guitars, electric keyboards, and drums. This “praise team” leads the congregation in praise and worship songs with lyrics on a big screen rather than in a hymn book. The messages of the songs are more simple than in the past. The music is at a higher volume and at a more modern beat and style than that of days gone by.

Churches across America are presently experiencing a wide range of transition from traditional to contemporary worship. Some are hanging on in defiant deference to the old worship styles and hymnals. Others have completely welcomed the popular praise team concept. Yet many are trying to keep one foot in traditional music and one foot in contemporary by mixing hymns and praise songs sung with both a choir and a praise team. One thing is common with almost all churches moving through this generational passage: some level of internal worship wars.

Those who defend traditional worship often bemoan the loudness and what they consider a “rock and roll” style. Some disfavor the “performance-like” presentation with showy lighting and big screens. Others decry the lyrics as being too generic and simple and not doctrinally edifying. My comfort level with contemporary worship is sometimes challenged by the first two concerns. I believe churches can get a little over-the-top with amplification and showmanship that may be too man-centered and may not honor and glorify God. However, I have to challenge the idea that the lyrics and style of the old hymns were better suited for worship.

Yes, my old-school worship foundation made it somewhat difficult for me to initially warm up to singing repeated lines of lyrics that sometimes don’t even rhyme. But the more I compared the traditional with the contemporary, the more God helped me realize that the contemporary lyrics were much closer to how God instructed us to worship. For the most part, hymns are sung “about” the Lord and are mostly instructive. Contemporary songs are primarily sung “to” the Lord and are expressing our love and devotion to Him. Church congregations have many other outlets for doctrine and instruction in sermons and Bible studies. Worship is a connection to God and a musical conversation with Him. With a few exceptions, the songs in the Psalms are praises and odes to God. The Psalms were sung with various musical instruments. Note Psalm 92:

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to Your name, O Most High, to proclaim Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. For You make me glad by Your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of Your hands. How great are Your works, O Lord, how profound Your thoughts!

One final thought. I have lived through the entire worship evolution from hymns and choirs to praise and worship with praise teams. I must say I sometimes have a nostalgic yearning for the former type of worship. However, when I observe the younger generations enthusiastically worshiping with higher energy, higher volume, and higher levels of connectivity with their Creator, I am happy to support them and join them in their preferred and biblical style.

 

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