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September 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

The Parable of the Cookies

Once there were 5 specially decorated cookies, among many others more plain, in a beautiful, delicate cookie jar. The 5 more ornate cookies each had a unique color: blue, red, green, yellow, and one cookie with three colors – blue, red, and white. While the cookies were each fine in their own way, they each had flaws:

The blue cookie had been in the freezer for 15 years and had freezer-burn and taste. While colorful, it had been on the tray at a lot of parties. Many famous people had become familiar with the red cookie, and wanted to add it to their collection. They didn’t care about the other cookies in the wonderful cookie jar. Once they acquired the red cookie, they planned to use it as leverage to get the whole cookie jar, sell the cookies they could profit from, and throw the others away, including the jar.

The red cookie was decorated with a bold, brash style that attracted a lot of attention. But the cookie itself had an offensive odor that could be smelled when anyone got close enough to it. And the special decorations it had, tended to leech out onto other plainer cookies (ruining them), along with the odor. Much like the red cookie, the blue cookie was coveted by certain people who wanted to capture its fame and twist it to their own self-serving purposes. But one day when its colors were all leeched out, they planned to throw the blue cookie out. This is especially sad, because this cookie had often been shown off at churches, and many loved it.

The green cookie didn’t use eggs in its ingredients, so it tended to barely hold together. Because of this, it came with a special 10-sided retainer that kept other cookies from damaging it, and its baker used organic frosting to keep it from crumbling. While environmentally and PETA friendly, the baker who made the green cookie continually looked for new angles to promote it, making the green cookie lack artistic centricity.

The yellow cookie was a newer cookie made by the same baker who made the blue cookie. To make it stand out and grab attention from the other cookies, it was made with ingredients and decorations that were attractive, but were toxic. On contact, those touching the yellow cookie while admiring it would begin to exhibit reckless, endangering behaviors. Younger people who got to touch the yellow cookie liked those dangerous feelings…

The blue/red/white cookie was simply decorated, with a focus more on its use to mechanically integrate with the delicate design of the cookie jar, stabilizing and strengthening the jar’s fragile structure so it could hold up over time and transport all the cookies – colorful and plain – safely to all the cookie shows. This cookie was made using a very old recipe from the time when the jar itself was made. The ingredients were healthy and wholesome – not faddish and experimental. Likewise, the blue/red/white cookie’s baker had first-hand experience with the risks of other cookie recipes, and with great wisdom carefully crafted this one. This cookie was appreciated by all the bakers of other cookies, yet they pursued their own cookie designs, which did not strengthen the cookie jar.

One day, a big party was held – all the bakers and many guests were invited! The owner of the wonderful cookie jar brought it out with all the colorful cookies in it for his guests to admire. As the jar was passed from guest to guest, they each assessed what the grandest cookies in the jar were. Many of the guests were younger, not paying attention to the jar’s fragility, and not respecting the critical role the blue/red/white cookie had in keeping all the cookies safe in the jar. These young guests focused instead on the colorful, bold, brash, attractive feature-cookies being promoted by the loud rich bakers who promoted them. Most guests didn’t notice that the jar was about to break, and all the cookies would be harmed.

If the cookies were the candidates and party platforms up for election this voting season, which would you vote for?

November 2, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

AM I GOING TO VOTE?

Founder and President of American Pastors' Network, Sam Rorher, recently wrote, “This election is far different than any in the past.  The stakes are much higher. The nations of the world are hanging much more on this outcome than perhaps ever before. And it’s no coincidence that many are saying that this may be the last real election in the nation, as former Congresswoman Michele Bachman said on our radio program just a few weeks ago. This could be the case, particularly if patriots, evangelical Christians and other freedom-loving citizens don’t get out and cast a vote for the presidential candidate who will most likely defend freedom and justice.  There is no middle ground.  Not voting when the stakes are so high and the futures so different is to vote for the side that is given to fraud, corruption and the destruction of our constitutional republic.” 

So, for me to sit on the sidelines and refuse to vote because there is no "Purist" running for office is to abdicate my role as a Christian citizen and relinquish my right to complain, criticize, or otherwise speak against the candidates, the condition of our nation, or the outcome of the elections.

Yes, I am going to vote in spite of the fact that the truly best people for President are not in the running (by the people's choice, I might add), two of them are completely not electable, and the remaining two are morally and ethically to be found wanting.  So, WHY, then, am I going to vote? 

1.  Because I believe the Bible exhorts me to vote.  The Bible declares, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan"  (Prov. 29:2).   God is clear that rulers are to be God-fearing, moral, and ethical leaders, as the ancient prophet spoke when he said, “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God”  (II Sam. 23:3).  One of the earliest instructions for civil government, and by the way the example to which our founders turned as an example of representative government, was Jethro's admonition to Moses when he said, “Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens”   (Exod. 18:21).

The solution, then, is to be a citizen who prays for his country and for its leaders, just as Paul exhorted when he wrote to Pastor Timothy, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence"   (I Tim. 2:1-2).  Then I must put my feet to my praying by being willing to be engaged in the culture as I live out my life down in the nitty-gritty real world.  Jesus Himself put it this way —- “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”   (Matt. 5:13-14, 16). 

Jesus went on to make it clear that we are also to live out our faith even in the governmental arena, such as in the area of paying taxes.  He was asked to whom one's allegiance should be given . . . God or government, . . . and He made it clear that neither is an option, but both are necessary —- “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods”   (see Lk. 20:22-25).  Likewise, Peter indicated that we have a godly duty to participate in human ordinances, when he wrote, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lords sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good"  (see I Pet. 2:13-14, 17).

 As Christians I believe we are duty-bound to honor the Lord and represent Him well by being involved in all aspects of social order including the electoral process at whatever level is possible, and at least in voting.  How else can we every expect to see ethical, moral, and trustworthy people placed in office.  In the last election of 2012 some 25 million evangelical Christians stayed home and didn't vote . . . for a simply absurd reason that Gov. Romney is a Mormon.  And look what that got us.  Don't you think it would have been better to have had an honest, conservative, trustworthy Mormon than who we got?  It was even worse in 2008 when an estimated 45 to 50 million evangelical Christians failed to vote because McCain wasn't their "preferred choice"?

Salt left in the shaker neither seasons or preserves anything.  Light kept under a basket or never turned on in the first place enlightens and illuminates nothing.

2.  Because I love my country more than any other in the world.  Jo Ann and I have lived in countries where Socialism and Communism were tried . . . and they failed.  We have visited other countries where those ideologies are still in place . . . and the people are unhappy and living in dire straits.  When we first went to Croatia and Bosnia in the mid to late 1990's, the average income was less than $400 per month.  When we first moved to Kiev in 2003, both doctors and professors earned about $50 per month and lived in government-built, government-controlled, government-owned "cookie-cutter" apartments.  When we went to Cuba in 2012 and 2014, the average annual income was $200 PER YEAR, and they, too, lived in similar dwellings made of more inferior building material.  One of our friends, Lucy, lived in a house with wall so porous that water seeped through during blowing rains.  In our many trips to Socialist countries even in western Europe and South America, we found incredibly high taxes, fewer freedoms, and fewer comforts than what we have in America in spite of our failures, inequities, and shortcomings.

What we have seen from our own experiences lead us to conclude that Communism and Socialism dehumanize individuals, restrict creativity, inhibit personal initiative, create robotic enslavement, and strip away all forms of human dignity.  I do not want to see that happen any further than it already has here in America, and therefore, I must vote in a way that will strengthen our country and protect it from the secularistic godless principles of Socialism.  Socialism ultimately leads to some variant of Communism within just a few years.

3.  Because I love people.  Millions of people suffer and live in difficult conditions.  For example, after more than 100 years of the Democratic Party taking ownership of the African American plight, it has gotten little better; only the settings and the rhetoric has changed.  Likewise, the conditions among many Native Americans have deteriorated in similar fashion.  More people are on food stamps than ever in our history, and unemployment is still near an all time high when you look at the actual figures.  In fact, in the past eight years the intolerable conditions of many minorities and poor people have increased, primarily because of the orations coming from current leadership and the continued implementation of Saul Alinsky's "Rules For Radicals".  This bothers me greatly, and I want to see that changed, so I will vote on November 8th.  I want to see competent people excel, and I want to see truly needy people compassionately served.  Our current governmental system accomplishes neither

4.  Because there are more people being elected than just the President of the United States.  Not only are we electing a president and vice president, but we are also electing senators, representatives, governors, state legislators, county leaders, mayors, and local officials.  I know numerous godly Christian men and women who are running for those offices and, if their values and agendas are compatible with mine, I intend to vote for them.  In many ways the people we put in the U.S. Congress . . . especially the Senate for presidential appointments and the House for spending controls . . . are more important than the presidential elections.

5.  Because our country is on the verge of collapsing into a totally Socialist nation.  There has never been a time in our national history where our country has been pushed to the far left to the point we are nearing the brink of becoming a totally Socialist country.  That cannot happen.  We must not let that happen.  Because of that, I will vote on November 8th.

HOW WILL I VOTE:

Now that you know I am definitely going to vote . . . and so is Jo Ann, . . . you probably want to know just which candidate will get my vote.  Frankly, neither of the "winnable" candidates deserve my vote, and I will not waste my vote on one of the other two, or even on a write-in, though there are four or five I'd love to write in if I thought it would make a real difference and they were actually electable —- but they are not, and I will not.

Frankly, I'm so weary of hearing party and candidate names, that I can hardly bear the thought of writing them here.  Of course you're probably curious to know for "Whom" I will vote, but I'm actually not voting for a person.  Rather, I'm voting for Principles and the Platform that describes those principles and best assures me that there will be subsequent Policies that adhere to those principles.  I have been registered with a political party from the earliest years of my eligibility to vote.  However, my pattern from the beginning has been to never be bound in the general election to a specific party or personal popularity.  Over the years I've actually voted for candidates from four different parties, voting for the ones I felt best represented the issues I've listed below. 

These are the principles to which I adhere and which guide my voting decisions.  The four major and minor party platforms differ greatly in almost all of these areas, making my decision . . . once I satisfy the personality and morality issues . . . really very easy.  These two links will take you to the comparisons of the Democratic and Republican parties' platforms —-http://downloads.frcaction.org/EF/EF16I163.pdf and also  .     Because I refuse to forfeit my right and responsibility, as both citizen and Christian, to vote on November 8th, I will vote for the person whose party platform most clearly embraces these fundamental principles of life and American tradition.  Apart from dividing them between Primary and Secondary principles, they are in no particular prioritized order.

>  Primary Principles:

  1.  Sanctity of Life —- To me, all the other principles to follow rest firmly upon this simple truth based on Genesis 1:26, Genesis 2:7; Psalm 8, and Psalm 139.  Of all of God's creation, mankind is the only part of it all that was created in the image and likeness of God, to worship and honor him, and to serve Him and tend to the rest of His creation.  It is the epitome' of what makes mankind so unique —- personal relationship.  Nothing else in all of creation has, or can have, a personal relationship with the God who created it.  Only mankind has that luxury and privilege.  So, whether it is abortion, criminal acts, or euthanasia of the infirm or the old, the taking of an innocent life in any way is totally contrary to the teaching of scripture and to simple human dignity.  And if you look at the statistical data, you will find a startling correlation between the prayer/Bible removal and Roe v. Wade approval and the increase of violent crime, the increase of STD's, and the decrease in school grades and literacy.  When we began demeaning human life through abortions of any kind, we began paying an annually increasing penalty for treating such a vital treasure with such contempt.

  2.  Judeo-Christian Principles —- Time and space will not allow the opportunity to list the literally thousands of quotes and documents that prove two things —- that any nation that is built on the principles found in the Bible . . . even a secular godless nation . . . will be blessed; and second, from the earliest days in Jamestown (1607), Plymouth (1620), Providence (1636) the role of the Bible has been paramount, and remained so until the 1960's when a liberal SCOTUS began placing limits on the use of prayer and Bible reading in public schools.  I wrote an entire series on the role of the Bible in American history earlier this year. 

John Adams was correct when he said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  Other founders recognized the same thing, and until the 1960's, it was openly acknowledged by both politician and average citizen that our Judeo-Christian roots, though welcoming people of all religions or no religion, was what kept our nation together.  I know of no other major religion that can support the rights, freedoms, and laws found in our founding documents and governing institutions.  Every time we have drifted away from those principles, we have paid heavily, and we are seeing that happen again today.  God's Word stands, and even for unbelievers its principles work and they make for a better life.  For those who trust in Him through Christ, their lives are even more greatly enriched.

  3.  The Constitution —- By every standard of comparison, the U.S. Constitution remains the most profound, well-thought-out-and-debated, articulate, and life-changing document every composed by man.  Even the slightest perusal of world history reveals that it stands far above any other legal or literary document to be found in any culture or country.  The men who wrote it did so from such diverse backgrounds that it includes freedoms for every strata of society.  These men were well read, historically knowledgeable, painfully experienced with tyranny, and highly educated in law, civil issues, and Judeo-Christian values as found in the Bible.  In it are found features never before seen in past legal documents —- things like representative government, the separation of powers, the electoral will of the people through voting, equality and freedom for all citizens, and much more.  It is a document cast in stone that has endured the storms of over two centuries, and cannot be construed as being a "living" document subject to the whims and changes of a culture.  It protects us from tyranny on the one hand and anarchy on the other. 

The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America, originally comprised of seven articles.  It describes the framework for our national government while retaining power and freedom in the states and the citizens. Its first three articles establish the clear and distinct separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches —- the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, with ultimate power found in the representative legislative branch, rather than in the executive or judicial as we see being illegally played out today.   Articles Four, Five and Six establish the parameters and limits of federalism, and describe the rights and responsibilities of state governments and of the states in relationship to the federal government. Except in cases of military defense and a few other matters, the rights of states and individuals took precedent over the federal government.   Article Seven, then, established the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it.

  4.  Traditional Family —- Have you taken time to notice that so much of what is happening is actually a direct assault on the traditional family unit? —- Divorce, same sex marriage, adultery, multiple partners, feminism, cohabitation, pornography, the entertainment industry, reading material, television programs . . .   The list is endless.  It seems that the family is being assaulted from virtually every angle.  And, this should not surprise us since God originated the traditional family unit as we understand it, it is the primary way of expressing genuine love and propagating the human race, and is the primary threat to the powers of darkness that are still trying to kill off God's most prized creation, mankind.  The need to recognize the one man / one woman marriage with multiple children is imperative.  We need to honor that amazing model of human relationships, and we must vote for someone who not only believes intellectually in such a model, but will work at seeing it restored and strengthened.

  5.  Religious Freedom (First Amendment) —- Perhaps no area of American life is under more hostile fire than religious freedom.  Terminologies have been willfully misinterpreted since the 1950's when Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" was blatantly skewed to imply that the Church could not infringe on the rest of the culture when, in fact, the First Amendment clearly states that it is Congress that cannot promote any national or state religion nor prohibit in any way the free exercise of any religion of any kind.  In more recent years, particularly the last ten, old familiar terms have been twisted to mean something different.  For example, "Freedom OF religion" is now quoted as being "Freedom FROM religion"  and "Freedom of Worship".  Our Declaration of Independence is now quoted by our President, his wife, and others, as having been "endowed with certain unalienable rights" instead of correctly being stated as having been "endowed BY OUR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights."

  6.  The Supreme Court —- For the first 100 years, the U.S. Supreme Court, was a strict constitutional judiciary with the nearly unanimous agreement that the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian values and principles.  In fact, on  February 29, 1892, The Supreme Court declared (in Holy Trinity v. United States) that the historical record of America overwhelmingly demonstrated that the United States “… is a Christian nation.”     The entire statement reads, “There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning. They affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons. They are organic utterances. They speak the voice of the entire people.  This is a religious people…this is a Christian nation.”  (SCOTUS)  Historian John Fea wrote, "The idea that the United States is a ‘Christian nation,’ has always been central to American identity.” 

If you have an interest in studying further the strong Judeo-Christian founding and history of America, there are many resources.  I have written often and extensively in past letters about this.  Time and time again the Supreme Court has affirmed that stance (as illustrated in http://vftonline.org/EndTheWall/TrinityHistory.htm ), and many of our founding fathers made it clear that not only were we a religious people, but predominantly so, and that our form of government could not function apart from that foundation.  For example,

Since the death of Justice Anthony Scalia, the SCOTUS has swung far to the left thanks to Justices Ginsberg,   In a recent George Barna survey by the American Culture and Faith Institute, this has become a major issue in this election.  Barna said on the "Stand in the Gap Today" radio program broadcast on over 425 stations nationwide,  “while most Americans consider the economy to be the most important challenge facing the nation, most Christian conservatives perceive the future of the Supreme Court to be the single most compelling election issue that will influence which candidate they support for the presidency.”

  7.  Israel —- The Bible promises and history substantiates God's promise that the nation that blesses, serves, prays for, and supports the Jewish people will likewise be blessed.  It's not a political thing; it's a spiritual principle that has existed since Abraham traveled to Canaan where God promised to bless his descendants and through them all the nations of the world.  If you haven't taken time to do so, do a little research on how many Nobel recipients have been Jewish, how many great scientists and musicians have Jewish roots, and how many technological, scientific, and medical breakthroughs and inventions have been accomplished by people from the Jewish community.  It is astounding.  And, of course, the greatest blessing of all . . . one that clearly can be a blessing to the entire world, . . . is the birth of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Several years ago I did an entire series entitled, "The Ten Wonders Of Israel" in which I detailed many ways in which Israel has blessed the world, and how any nation who honors and blesses Israel is also blessed by God.  When Israel became an independent nation in May, 1947, the United States was the first nation to recognize her as an independent state, and up until the past several years, every administration has strongly supported that country and has made an undying commitment to not only her survival, but her prosperity and role of prominence in world affairs.

Secondary Principles:

  8.  Right to own and bear arms (Second Amendment) —- The Second Amendment is a real hot button in this election, primarily because liberals, progressives, and Socialists want to weaken the amendment primarily for the purpose of controlling just how much protective power the citizenry has.  Flying under the guise of reducing murder, its real purpose is to ultimately diminish any potential uprising from a discontented populace.  The Amendment reads, " A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  Its purpose is two-fold —- first to make sure that a citizen militia can be called up in cases of emergency, ans second to give its citizenry the ability to defend against assault, robbery, attempted murder, etc.  In other words, it is for both national, local, and personal protection against harm by others. 

Our very first president, George Washington, understood both the citizen's right to bear arms, and also the danger of the government to restrict or prohibit it.  He said, "When the government takes away the citizens' right to bear arms, it becomes citizens' duty to take away the governments right to govern."  Our third President, Thomas Jefferson, said, "The strong reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

In the day in which we live, that amendment is even more crucial because of the rise of anger and hatred, stoking of racial bigotry, and the threat of terrorism from within.  As things seem to keep on deteriorating, it may also be necessary in years ahead for citizens to protect themselves from their own government.  Alexander Hamilton, in The Federalist Papers #28 gave what he felt was the main reason for the Second Amendment, and it was to repel tyranny from its own government.  He wrote, "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair." 

Joseph Story, Associate Supreme Court Justice from 1811 to 1845, understood it likewise and wrote, "“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”  Even in the 20th Century, the battle to reduce private ownership of guns was a big issue.  For example, in 1941 New York Republican Representative Edwin Arthur Hall reacted to calls for gun control in the U.S. Congress by noting that tyranny in Germany began with gun control in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.  He said, "Before the advent of Hitler or Stalin, who took power from the German and Russian people, measures were thrust upon the free legislatures of those countries to deprive the people of the possession and use of firearms, so that they could not resist the encroachments of such diabolical and vitriolic state police organizations as the Gestapo, the Ogpu, and the Cheka."

Democrat Representative John W. Patman of Texas agreed, saying, "The people have a right to keep arms; therefore, if we should have some Executive who attempted to set himself up as dictator or king, the people can organize themselves together and, with the arms and ammunition they have, they can properly protect themselves. . . ."  Even Democratic President John Kennedy wrote in 1960 that "fears of governmental tyranny" served as the impetus among the founding fathers “which gave rise to the Second Amendment” to begin with.  While many people do not understand the significance of the Second Amendment, it seems apparent that the real reason to weaken it or do away with it altogether has little to do with crime reduction, though there certainly is room for finding ways to keep firearms of all kinds out of the hands of dangerous people.

  9.  National Security —- This involves security in global issues and within our own borders, thus it requires a strong and robust military as well as secure borders to protect us from those who would try to enter the U.S. illegally without due process, especially those who are committed to drug trafficking and terrorism.  Former President Gerald Ford said it well —- A strong defense is the surest way to peace. Strength makes detente attainable. Weakness invites war, as my generation knows from four very bitter experiences. Just as Americas will for peace is second to none, so will Americas strength be second to none. We cannot rely on the forbearance of others to protect this Nation. The power and diversity of the Armed Forces, active Guard and Reserve, the resolve of our fellow citizens, the flexibility in our command to navigate international waters that remain troubled are all essential to our security."   One of America's greatest football coaches, Vince Lombardi, is one of hundreds to whom the quote, "The best defense is a good offense", has been attributed.  Regardless of whoever first said it, the statement remains excellent counsel.  We need a strong national defense that provides trustworthy law enforcement, secure borders, honest and wise surveillance, and sufficiently modernized military.

10.  Global Relations —- Like it or not, the United States has always been a leader both in winning wars, keeping peace, spreading freedoms, and meeting the needs of suffering people and nations.  No nation has done more and no nation has been more generous than the United States.  I am voting on November 8th because we need leaders in Washington who still believe that America is an exceptional nation filled with generosity and courage, and has the moral fiber to once again be respected, supported, and appreciated.  We need people who no longer demean our country, apologize for it, criticize it, or bow before other heads of state.  Arrogance is not the same as being proud of one's country, and cow-towing to others and failing to keep commitments to other nations is no way to build healthy and respected global relations.  And, by all means, we need people in our capital who openly understand that the United Nations is not our master.

11.  Debt Reduction —- Scripture tells us that a debtor is the slave to the borrower (Prov 22:7).  Whether it is personal or national, the principle is the same.  Up until the early part of the 20th Century (around 1918) the United States had operated as a "cash" society, either paying for everything in cash or paying debts with equity.  However, slowly after World War I, the government began accumulating more and more debt, increasing our indebtedness to the point that today we are barely able to pay only the interest on what is now approaching $20 trillion.  In order to ease the burden, our government has "robbed from Peter to pay Paul" and has sold our debt to other countries such as China.  As the result, many of our major international political decisions are hobbled like a horse because of our obligation to other countries, our exchange of produce with other countries is limited by import/export taxes and imbalance, and the dollar has been devalued as a result of our economic policies.  We have become a debtor nation akin to Venezuela of the past, and our money and our products have dramatically lost both desire and value.  We are a nation in over our heads, and as citizens, we are footing the bill.  I will vote for those who will find a way to reverse the trend and begin the long process of getting us back on solid fiscal ground. 

12.  Lower Taxes —- When you consider all the taxes the average citizen pays, it now takes him until June just to pay for what he owes the government in some way.  This is unprecedented.  The problem is not that we don't pay enough taxes, even though half of Americans pay no federal taxes at all on their income.  The main reason they pay no taxes is because their income is so low or there are so many exemptions and loopholes that they don't legally qualify for paying taxes.  The economy will not be strengthened and will not grow by increasing taxes.  It will grow by providing greater incentive for individuality and for small business growth.  One of the most effective ways to get the budget back within reason and lower taxes at the same time is to cut the pork.  Instead of paying out ransoms and paying off hostile nations like Iran, keep the money to use it on legitimate program costs and improvement of our infrastructure.  If Huckabee can do it in Arkansas, Kasich can do it in Ohio, and Pence can do it in Indiana, then it can be done in Washington.  Both our military can be strengthened again and taxes can be minimal if we can put people in Washington who are good money managers and have their values and priorities straight.  I will vote to that end.

13.  Economy —- Interestingly, since the 1950's, the number one driving priority in America has become the economy, the argument being (like "putting the cart before the horse") that the economy is the most important thing and if you can get the economy working, then everything else will work.  One party wants to stimulate the economy by raising taxes, especially on the rich who actually help create jobs through their wealth, while the other party wants to stimulate job growth in order to increase the flow of revenue as people with jobs put more money back into the economic machinery.  Sadly, both seem to have forgotten that, "the love of money is the root [cause] of all [forms of] evil [activity]"  (I Tim 6:10).  It is for that reason that I list the economy as the least significant factor in my voting.  Morality and ethics are far more important to a society's well being than wealth will ever be.

CRITERIA FOR VOTING:

Dr. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church iin San Diego, CA, is perhaps one of the most respected and knowledgeable men in America when it comes to understanding biblical teachings regarding political, social, and moral issues America is facing in this season.  In fact, he recently published a book entitled Well Versed in which he lays out biblical truth as it relates to more than twenty different and distinct issues facing American citizens today.  I have read portions of it in my Kindle copy, and so far have found him to be "spot on" in my own personal understanding.  Last August Charisma Magazine featured an article by Dr. Garlow entitled, "If You're On the Fence About Your Vote, This Pastor Clarifies How the Very Future of America Is At Stake" in which he makes eighteen important and sometimes highly controversial statements.  While this is not in any way an endorsement of Dr. Garlow or the statements he makes, I believe it is an important article worth reading, and I urge you to do so at http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/59206-if-you-re-on-the-fence-about-your-vote-this-pastor-clarifies-how-the-very-future-of-america-is-at-stake .

So, even though I feel we have the two most flawed candidates in American history, both of whom have clearly questionable if not condemnation-worthy backgrounds and lifestyles, I will vote.  I cringe at the choices I have, but they are the only ones I have, and the victor is going to set the tone and blaze the path of America's future for the next forty to sixty years . . . well beyond my lifetime and those of my children.

Recognizing that both candidates are sinners just like we all are, and understanding that there are only two viable and electable candidates available, I will vote using the following criteria:

1.  I have both a biblical mandate and a citizen obligation to vote.

2.  I will vote as close to biblical principles as possible.

3.  I will vote according to traditional constitutional law as possible.

4.  I will vote based on platform and policy rather than on personality or party.

5.  I will vote for the most trustworthy candidates available.

6.  I will vote for what I believe is best for the people and not for the fame or agenda of the politicians.

7.  I will seek the mind of the Holy Spirit and not party loyalty or candidate popularity when voting.

In His Bond, By His Grace, and for His Kingdom,
 
Bob Tolliver — Romans 1:11
 

Life Unlimited Ministries
LUMglobal

lifeunlimited@pobox.com

Copyright September, 2016

October 31, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

Voting QUOTES FOR THE WEEK

QUOTES FOR THE WEEK:

    >  "To Refuse to Vote Will Hand Over the Republic to Those Who Refuse to Uphold Freedom and Justice." — American Pastors Network

    >  "We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . .  the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch . . . it becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures.  Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man's word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us!"John Adams, signer of Declaration of Independence, Second President of the U.S. [The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from "'U' to the Boston Gazette" written on August 29, 1763.]

    >  "We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution."Abraham Lincoln 

    >  "Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote … he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." Samuel Adams, 1722-1803 (The “Father of the American Revolution").  [The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]

    >  "When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty.  If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." Noah Webster, 1758-1843 (Author of Webster’s Dictionary)  [Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, �49.]

    >  “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.  The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressman and government officials, but the voters of this country.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Minister and American Civil Rights Activist

    >  "When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan." Prov 29:2  (William Paterson, 1745-1806,Signer of the Constitution and Supreme Court Justice)  [Reminding his fellow justices of Proverbs 29:2. United States Oracle (Portsmouth, NH), May 24, 1800.]

    >  "Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights."Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826 (Third President of the United States)  [Thomas Jefferson, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Paul Leicester Ford, ed. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), Vol. 10, p. 245.]

    >  "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."Abraham Lincoln 

    >  "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." James Garfield, 1831-1881 (Twentieth President of the United States)  [James A. Garfield, The Works of James Abram Garfield, Burke Hinsdale, editor (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), Vol. II, pp. 486, 489, "A Century of Congress," July, 1877.]

    >  "Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God … Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, He does see it, and He will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take."Charles Finney, 1792-1875 (Nineteenth Century Evangelist and Author)  [Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282.]

    >  “Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”Daniel Webster, US House Representative and Senator

    >  “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln 
                (And that explains a lot!  Want to change government, change the philosophy of our schools.
                 Today's socialistic politicians sat under the tutelage of yesterday's Communist professors.)

 

October 31, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

A comparison of Commercial Skip capability in MythTV vs Comskip

This is a very limited test of the accuracy of MythTV's (MythBuntu 14.04) commercial skip compared to Comskip 0.93i.000 (Linux), using three different Comskip profiles: ABC, Multi, and the default comskip.ini provided in the comskip source code package.

Movie Actual Commercials Default comskip.ini ABC comskip.ini Multi comskip.ini MythTV default behavior
Nutty Professor (LAFF) 7 7 7 7 6
Tribulation (TBN) 1 2 1 2 1
Omega Force (TBN) 1 2 0 1 3
The Shaggy Dog (LAFF) 8 8 9 8 8

Notes: 

  1. MythTV detected commercials in Omega Force in the middle of the movie, even though there were none in the middle.  This means the viewer would miss up to several minutes of the movie.  MythTV also failed to detect one of the commercials in Nutty Professor – this is the typical problem I find in MythTV Hallmark recordings, where commercials are missed after the first half of the movie.  This is the problem that drove me to perform this comparison.
  2. The ABC comskip profile is likewise a little loose at detection – missing one commercial, and falsely detecting one in Shaggy Dog (meaning missed movie content for the viewer).
  3. The Multi comskip profile did detect one more commercial in Tribulation than actually existed, but it was actually a portion of a larger non-movie segment TBN broadcast after Tribulation ended, so the content was validly "not part of the movie".  In the end, the Multi profile came closest to matching the actual commercial content in all movies.
October 30, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

A comparison of DVR/Media-Players w/focus on ease-of-setup and User Friendliness

  Kodi Plex Tivo Roamio OTA MythTV
Hdw cost $150 $150 $385 $150
Software Cost $0 $150 $0 $0
Commercial Skip Y N N (usually) Y
User-friendly x3 N Y Y N
Parental Controls N Y Y N
Mobile Streaming N Y N$ N
DVR N Y Y Y
Easy Series Recording setup x3 N Y Y N
Data Privacy (usage not tracked) Y N N Y
Upgrades Fully Automated x3 N N Y N
Stable operation (Windows OS not allowed) x3 N N Y N
Customize / extend / interface possible Y Y N Y
Recording filtering rules possible N Y Y Y
Remote-driven (no keyboard needed) N N Y N
Total -13@$150 +8@$300 +12@$385 -8@$150

Conclusion:  for someone driven by ease of use and maintainabiiity, the Tivo Roamio is a good choice.

October 28, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

A comparison of XMLTV sources for DVRs like MythTV

  Schedules Direct TV Guide Rovi
Quick Evaluation from actual XMLTV provided
ID Y N N
Title Y Y Y
MPAA Rating (focus on Movies) 100% 50% (many entries missing) 100%
Viewer Star Rating Y N N
Runtime Y Y Y
Year Y Y Y
Description Y Y Y
Advisories (S, L, D, V) 84% 0% 0%

Conclusion:  Schedules Direct is the best source of Program Guide data if you want to be advised of content advisories, which can make a big difference between PG and PG (SLDV) for family viewing.

October 28, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

Proverbs 16: Successful Leaders Honor God, tell the truth, and operate morally

Proverbs 16

1. Mortals make elaborate plans,
    but God has the last word.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
    God probes for what is good.

Put God in charge of your work,
    then what you’ve planned will take place.

God made everything with a place and purpose;
    even the wicked are included—but for judgment.

God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense;
    believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place.

Guilt is banished through love and truth;
    Fear-of-God deflects evil.

When God approves of your life,
    even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.

Far better to be right and poor
    than to be wrong and rich.

We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it.

10 A good leader motivates,
    doesn’t mislead, doesn’t exploit.

11 God cares about honesty in the workplace;
    your business is his business.

12 Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds;
    sound leadership has a moral foundation.

13 Good leaders cultivate honest speech;
    they love advisors who tell them the truth.

14 An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives;
    you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that.

15 Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives;
    they’re like spring rain and sunshine.

16 Get wisdom—it’s worth more than money;
    choose insight over income every time.

17 The road of right living bypasses evil;
    watch your step and save your life.

18 First pride, then the crash—
    the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

October 16, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

What is “bribery”, and how is it referenced in the United States Constitution?

Bribery is the act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the benefit/interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not alter. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

 

US Constitution, Article II Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

 

 

September 26, 2016Permalink Leave a comment

Who Is the Greatest? Castle, Clinton, Johnson, Stein, Trump, you, me?

[As they were traveling to the next city, Capernaum, Jesus] wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive."

They didn't know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, "What were you discussing on the road?"

The silence was deafening – they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

He sat down and summoned the Twelve. "So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all."

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said,

"Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me."

The Followers and the Christians

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting Followers to his right and Christians to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘Followers’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘Christians,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless Christians! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘Christians’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me — you failed to do it to me.’

“Then those ‘Christians’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘Followers’ to their eternal reward.”

 

– paraphrased from The Message