When It’s Time To Clean House

Not long ago my wife and I watched a wonderful movie called “Gifted Hands”. If you ever need to be lifted up and encouraged then this true life story of Dr Ben Carson is the perfect antidote for any form of discouragement. He overcame poverty, no father in the house, learning issues, poor education and massive anger issues to become a world renowned neurosurgeon at Johns-Hopkins.

I bring this up because  my wife and I just ran across Dr. Carson once again. He has been interviewed  by a half dozen or more national TV shows because of his strong belief that this nation can be changed and rescued from the destruction it is currently headed for. In fact he made this declaration in a beautiful speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC while President Obama and his wife looked on from the same platform.

Carson said that prior to his speech the White House actually contacted him in order to review and edit his material. Carson explained that he was going there to speak from his heart and had nothing to give them. However, they wanted to be sure this famous surgeon would not say anything that might put the President in a bad light. Obama’s massive failure in US economic policy and the catastrophic mess caused by the governments inability to run the veterans hospitals needed to be avoided. Beyond that Carson also needed to avoid any mention of Obama’s embarrassing national health care flop. In other words, the administration basically wanted to suspend Carson’s freedom of speech so the president could safe face.

True to form Carson spoke from his heart and not only addressed many of these issues, but he also provided many common sense solutions as well. The grave look on that came across both of the Obama’s was very evident. What was the end result? Not long after this speach Carson, his family members and his close friends were all targeted and audited by the IRS. The White House remained silent on the matter even after the current IRS scandal hit the news stands. Is anyone surprised by that? Not me.

Why do I mention all of this? Because it’s Spring and we all know it’s time to clean house. I am convinced we need to begin with the White House and then work our way down through the House of Representatives and finally do some housecleaning in the Senate. Elections are coming and our vote should speak loud and clear. Dirty politics and dirty politicians are no longer welcomed in this nation. Unless we become part of the solution we are all part of the problem.

I know one thing for sure, if Dr. Ben Carson runs for the presidential office, and he is being encouraged to do so right now, he has my vote! I am sick of professional politicians doing what is in their own self-interest and catering to well funded special interest groups. We need men and women of integrity who will speak the truth, walk it out and bring this country back from the deadly cliff it is headed for. We need people who are willing to clean house, serve those who elected them and actually be  the voice of the majority who love this nation. When elections come this fall my great hope is that our voices will be shouted across this nation one vote at a time and we will finally turn this thing around.

How Does Your River Run?

I was up early today and took the time to visit two of my favorite trout streams in the central Adirondack Mountains. I only fish these streams twice during trout season and by so doing I have been able to keep them alive and productive for nearly 20 years. I can always count on catching my daily limit of nice speckled trout whenever I am on either. Beyond that it’s a joy and a quiet pleasure just to walk them and smell the pine scented air.

To my great surprise, the first stop found me on the banks of “my river”, but it was in a raging flood stage. Apparently it had rained hard last night in the region just north of where I was, and all the runoff had gorged the river with more water than I have ever seen. It was a roaring, swirling mass of liquid. Some rocks had been upended, smaller logs were floating down stream and the banks, although holding their place, were clearly overwhelmed by the sheer mass of water moving by.

In spite of the adverse conditions I pulled out my ultra-light trout rod, put a night crawler on a fresh hook and dropped my line into the water. The current quickly swept it away so I knew there was no point in wasting any more time in that place. It would have to wait for another day, when things were back to normal. So, I hiked back to my Trailblazer and moved to plan “B”. I would drive another 30 miles northwest to my second secret stream.

When I finally arrived at stream number 2, I was please to see that the water level was much lower than in my previous location. However, I knew it had received the same deluge of rain and wondered what had happened because of it. Within the first 100 yards of walking up stream I discovered something even worse than I expected. The rain had hit the stream hard, runoff came quickly and in so doing, it had actually changed the “character” of the stream. I am a trained field biologist and to me that means the stream bed and banks had actually been changed over night. It was evident that for all practical purposes my beloved stream was now totally different and perhaps even dead.

The volume of water that had rushed down the valley was so great that it actually changed the course of the river. It altered the distribution of river bottom gravel and produced sand bars where none had ever been. As a result, places that had once been deep clear trout pools were now gravel filled rapids. Sharp, tree covered bends that once provided dark cover for big speckled trout had been cut off and were now part of a brand new riverbed. Logs, sand, sticks and boulders were piled in tangled heaps wherever a bank had not given way. It was both a sickening and an amazing sight to see.

Why do I bring this up? Because we are all like those riverbeds in one way or another. Most of us are fixed in place and we like to run a certain way. We know our territory, we know where we are productive and we have learned how to thrive in things the way they are. And then along comes a storm! The river level rises, the rain falls, and when it does the pressure gets turned up. How deeply our river runs will determine just how much destruction comes our way.

If we are shallow and lack true spiritual and emotional substance, like river number two, every storm that moves through has the potential to upend us in a dramatic way. The debris of life and the emotional baggage of unresolved issues quickly floats to the surface and clouds our vision. The sand, (abrasive things) rocks (hard places) and logs (stubborn selfish flesh) all  create blockages that can end up changing the entire course of where we are going. If, however, we are like stream number one, deep and well established on bedrock, the end result is much different. The same storm may fill our banks and muddy the waters, but in the end all is well and we have not lost our focus or our ability to sustain vibrant, emotional and spiritual life.

My questions for the day are: “When the storms of life come, what kind of stream are you? What kind do you want to be? Are you willing to do what it takes to make that change happen? Your life is in your own hands. As long as you are breathing there is still time to make it what you want it to be. Let me encourage you to man up, face the issues at hand and get to it! When you do it will change not only your life, but even more importantly, it will change the lives of everyone you are destined to touch. That, in the final analysis, it the real prize you are after. Now stop making excuses, get up and do it!

The Answer Is In Our Hands!

The world we now live in has begun to openly pride itself on a grand scale for being more sensitive, tolerant and seemingly open to new ideas of every kind. It views scientific advancements such as the ability to genetically modify anything, or alternative life styles such as same-sex marriage, as “proof” of this brave new world. It accepts the murder of innocent children in the womb as normal, and believes the media manipulation of “political correctness” to be the banner we should all follow into the new era, now being identified as “Obama’s America”.

The facts are very plain and quite simple. These things have indeed caused us to pass through a door and few saw it coming. We have blindly entered into a new place as a nation, and it is not what the majority of Americans expected or wanted. It is a frightening place where a very small minority can now apply unlimited pressure on governing leaders. By so doing they can legally force the majority of us to be subject to laws and ideologies that are abhorrent to society, contrary to our national heritage and clearly unbiblical in practice.

Our fore fathers would be shocked to see how far we have turned from, and even rejected, the very things they fought, bled and died for. A brief review of the letters they wrote and the statements they made in founding our laws, all clearly demonstrate the values and morals they held sacred for the continuance of this nation. Thus, the new “freedoms” we have so quickly embraced are already making us slaves to a system that silences any voice not in agreement with it’s own agenda.

Let me site two blatant examples of this that have gone nearly unreported by the liberal new media. Did you know that a federal law, signed by Obama nearly two years ago, basically permits any political candidate to have a “no free speech zone” for a block in any direction from where they might be speaking? Those who dare to voice any dissenting opinion, hold up a banner or even boo in disagreement are now subject to immediate arrest. Under this executive mandate such actions are considered a federal crime. Let me ask, where in 1945 did we see this practice before?

Secondly, have you failed to recognize that any opinion contrary to the prevailing view in the media, is no longer tolerated or even welcomed to be voiced, especially when it comes to same sex marriage or the gay lifestyle. The recent fray that happened on one daily talk show openly demonstrated the intolerance many have to any voice other than their own. Those who speak out from a biblical perspective are now branded as prejudice, divisive, intolerant and hate mongers who should be arrested and even have their children taken from them. Once again, where in history did we see this same ideology so prevalent?

We are most definitely living in a new age of tolerant intolerance. America is no longer the nation where anyone is free to express their honest opinion for fear of being branded by the media or targeted by the IRS. We can no longer identify violent religions as being violent, and we are no longer welcomed to say that unbiblical lifestyles are unbiblical. Such speech is looked down upon and quickly identified as potentially illegal and at the very least, un-American.

This house of cards is Obama’s America. It’s the one he envisioned when he was elected president, and it is the one he has carefully crafted with every stroke of his pen and phone call in issuing yet another executive order. It is echoed in the forced health care that is strangling our nation, yet is being backed by mandatory fines for non-compliance. It is seen in our current depleted military strength and our embarrassing fall from world leadership. It is reflected in the failed VA health system and the printing of 85 billion dollars monthly, that is backed by nothing, yet it is being dumped into our economy just to keep it afloat. It is identified at every federal and state level where there is massive financial waste and hidden spending to special interest groups who do not have this nation or it’s citizens best interest at heart.

With all this incompetence and mismanagement, with all the deception, cover up and lies that have poured forth from the halls of government, no one dares open their mouth. Why? Because that would be the voice of intolerance and prejudice and we wouldn’t want that! So, for the sake of tolerance we are asked to tolerate everything. For the sake of peace we are asked to accept those who have sworn to make war against us. For the sake of those who refuse to take personal responsibility for their own lives, we are asked to carry them in a massive welfare state at levels we can’t afford, even if it means the whole nation goes under.

In all of this I have but one question to ask: Who has the calm voice of reason that we so desperately need in this stormy hour? Is there not one man or woman elected to office who has the backbone, tenacity and vision to restore hope to our nation, reason to our laws, honor to or citizens and responsibility to our finances? Show me such a man or woman and I will show you multitudes who will gladly lay down their lives for them to see them elected. I believe America can once again be a light in the darkness that all can look to and desire to follow. For that to happen, we first need “one” who is willing to heroically and unselfishly lead. The question is, will we have such a person step up to the plate before it’s too late? I know that the answer is in our hands, and this time we better get it right !

When Things Go South

In the Northeast there are several unique regions, and local expressions that come from them, which I have come to understand and even appreciate. Every region of our great nation has it’s own idioms, but the Northeast seems to have more than it’s fair share. For instance, in the northern Adirondacks you will find the expression “higher than a woodpeckers nest” when it comes to the cost of expensive items or rising price of gas. In the foothills of these same mountains , where I currently live, the term “get on to it” is used when someone needs to start or complete any task.

Although there are numerous phrases I could site, the one that intrigued me the most over the years, which is well used across the entire northeast is, “gone south”. The use of this particular phrase in any conversation is never connected with a good thing. In fact when you hear it being spoken that is basically the final bell in a rather long and hard fought, but unsuccessful situation.

When a marriage has “gone south” it means the couple is headed for a divorce and the husband and wife have gone their own way. When a ball game has “gone south” for one team, it means there is no hope of them winning. If a friendship has “gone south” it speaks to the fact that it is not salvageable. If a trout stream or a lake has “gone south”, that means they are dead and there is no point in fishing them as there are no fish to be caught. In all this, what got my curiosity was where the expression came from. How did going south become a negative thing?

As I began to ask questions, none of those in my generation had a clue. However, when I began to speak to people in their 80’s and 90’s, something began to come to light. All of those who had a family history from the Northeast remembered their parents and grandparents using this phrase. However, those who had family lines that were not from the Northeast had picked it up, but didn’t remember any relative using the phrase, and that got my attention.

What I discovered was rather amazing. Those in their 80’s and 90’s had grandparents who were children during the Civil War, or they were the children of those who were children during the civil war. All of them used this phrase. This included my own father, his parents and his grandparents. In other words, those who had ancestors who were directly connected to the Civil War spoke of “going south” as a negative thing. When those dots finally connected, the proverbial light bulb went on in my head!

During the Civil War “going south” was considered an act of treason to the union of the United States. Soldiers and civilians who left the north and moved south of the Mason Dixon Line, became sworn enemies to their own families and friends. This was an irreconcilable breach of trust and all such relationships would most likely end in the shedding of blood. Thus “going south” had deadly, negative consequences that brought to an end all that was once good. Thus, this phrase was rooted in a painful historical reality that every northerner in the mid 1800’s knew oh so well.

As a minister, I have had a few relationships “go south” over the years. Those I trusted, those I believe in and those I gave a second (or third) chance to be restored, took all that was offered. They used me and the good people of our church as long as they could, and then left when they had to change, or it was no longer to their advantage to stick around. What I earned from this became vital to all I am and all I am doing today. The bottom line is simple, when things “go south”, some times it best to let them go!

Have you had a few things “go south” lately? People, jobs and friendships can all head that way in a moment, and at times this can actually be a blessing in disguise. When it’s time to move on, and we are hesitant to do so, God may often begin to move the things around us. In so doing we are forced out of our comfort zone and into a new place where we learn to depend totally on Him once again. That is, we begin to walk by faith and not by sight.

The point is, sometimes we all just need a good, hard push. If things are “going south” around you, don’t automatically assume it’s bad. Who knows, this could be your golden opportunity to step up and into a new place in life. Remember, He still causes ALL things to work together for the good, even your current place of discomfort and distress. Don’t despair. Put up your sail and let the south winds blow. You might like the port He finally brings you to!

The Greatest Gift Of All

Life can certainly get busy at times. The pace of it can pick up and run out of control in a moment and we don’t even know how it happened. The last two weeks have been a case in point for me. During this time period I have been in Albany NY, New York City, Detroit MI, Newark NJ, Minneapolis MN, Denver CO, Los Angeles CA, Valencia CA, Venice Beach CA, Malibu CA, Rapid City SD, Newunderwood SD, and finally Attitash Mountain NH for some R & R. I woke up this morning and lay in bed next to my wife trying to get my bearings. The truth is, it took me a moment to remember where in the world I was.

On our way here last night I called a very dear friend of ours since he was only a few miles from where we were passing by. He and his wife pastor a church in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and they were blessed last year to buy a well-kept 28 foot travel trailer. Because they are residents of Vermont, they were also able to secure a seasonal campsite on the waters edge of Lake Memphra Megog to put it on. This has become a quiet sanctuary for them to go to on the weekends where they can reflect and just decompress from the pressures of life. It also has become a gathering place for their family, and this has been a dream come true.

As we spoke I asked if they had opened things up for the summer season and with great joy he said he and his wife had done so this past weekend. They had pulled it on site and then spent a number of hours afterwards just sitting by a fire in the evening, looking out over the glass-still water. They had been joyously anticipating all the warm days and nights yet to come. When I heard this, something within me rang like a bell. It was as if an alarm went off and I knew that somehow, some way it was time for a change.

Life is slipping by all of us, and once it is gone we can’t get it back. Our kids and grandkids are all growing and building lives of their own. Some may be near by while others may have moved away. Things are in high gear for most of us and there is dynamic change swirling all around. This is the nature of life on planet earth. Unless we make deliberate decisions to gather in the threads of the fabric of life it will unravel before our eyes. It can quickly become nothing more than vague memories of infrequent life events tied together by threads of regret about what could have been but never was.

The decisions we have made, and the current focus of our energy and resources, produces the life we have. Good or bad, abundant or scarce, balanced or top-heavy in one direction, our life is our own creation. We built what we have and we are the only ones who can change its direction and final outcome. Do you like what you see? I for one do not! I know a change must come if I am to hold on to and build up what I cherish most in life. This includes my family, friends and faith.

How about you? Where is your life headed, and have there been any alarms going off in your head as you have spoken with others? Where does time with family fit into the life picture you are framing? What do you believe, and how important is your faith in the life song you are singing? Where do genuine friends enter into the river of life that is flowing all around you?

If you don’t like the answers to any of the above questions then be encouraged. Looking at and recognizing the need for genuine change is the first step in the right direction. Once the veil of ignorance and busy activity have lifted we can begin to evaluate life priorities and adjust the outcome. This is possible because we all have the greatest gift of all at our disposal. What gift is this? We all have the power to change! Let me suggest that you begin to use that power today so that you will be pleased with all your tomorrows. 

Things Every Kid Needs To Learn

As a parent, and now a grandparent, there are a few things I have come to realize every kid needs to know before they become an adult. I instilled these things in my kids because my parents instilled them in me. Low and behold, all three of my children are happy productive adults, raising happy productive children. So, if you want to know the common sense realities that seem to be missing in our society today, here they are. Hope you enjoy the list!

#1. The money you want is earned, not handed over because you asked for it. My kids did chores and earned their weekly allowance. If their household jobs were done right they were rewarded with the promised finances. If they were not done right they were made to go back and do them right before any money was handed over.

#2. My job as a parent is NOT to make sure you are happy. My job as a parent is to love, train and discipline you so you live a productive life and find joy in serving others rather than serving yourself. Life does not center around you. It centers around the family as we each contribute our part, and it centers around God as we love and serve Him .

#3. Everyone who plays does NOT get OR deserve a trophy. When you give your very best and go above and beyond the mediocrity of others THEN you have earned the reward. I will applaud and rejoice with you in your success and I will help you learn from those wonderful failures. I will not, however, over inflate your self image by rewarding you for what you do not deserve.

#4. Just because I have an expensive phone doesn’t mean you should have one. I am the adult and I have taken on great responsibilities and because of that I have received great privileges. The more responsible and respectful you are the more privileges you will deserve to have.

#5. There are many things you will want in life that you will not get. And,  there are many things in life you will get that you will not want. I expect you to accept both with  grace and a good attitude. This tells everyone you are an emotionally healthy person and that means you will have good success in life.

#6. To be a great leader you must first be an exceptional follower. Learn the importance of being part of a team and then do your part with excellence. What opens the door for anyone to lead is the honor given to them by those on the team.

#7. I am not your friend I am your parent. I have authority over your life that you do not have over mine. I also have wisdom and insight  that you don’t yet appreciate. Until suchh time as you are living on your own my word is final because it’s my house and I pay the bills.

#8. We are not equals in this relationship but you do have the right to disagree with me but not disrespect me.

When children learn these basics they grow up to be healthy, productive, self-motivated and respectful of others. When they are not taught these essentials they incorrectly believe that life and everyone in it is there to serve them. This entitlement mentality is at the core of the welfare state that is strangeling our nation. My question is, will your children contribute to our country or will they be among the masses that suck the life out of it? Their future is in your hands!