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These are days that test us, but….

I suppose it is fair to acknowledge that these are, indeed, scary days, but, your perspective in how to react is based on your worldview, and/or, your God view. 

As of the date of this writing, 13 March 2020, my wife and I had been discussing the issues over the previous few days, just as I suppose many other couples were doing as well. We despise the regular negative messaging; however, our worldview is not impacted by fears of getting sick, while being respectful and vigilant about not wanting to infect others. Do we think that the Corona Virus is real and is impacting people’s lives? Yes, of course. Are we concerned about our health? Not really. Why? Because of our God view – a view based on, and under, the New Covenant; and the fact that my wife is a health food “expert” who has been keeping our house regularly stocked with goodness for several years. A healthy diet will help your immune system; both the Bible and science tells us this. 

Though we are not concerned about our health, this does not mean that we aren’t following protocols; of course of we are. But the protocols being espoused by the “experts” are activities we have tended to do anyway; hygiene is standard for us, so our lives have not really changed. If we should happen to get sick, we know where we stand under the cross; while we don’t ignore it, we also don’t fear it. 

The other day I had posted a verse from Leviticus (Lev 15:13) about the washing of hands in order to preclude the spread of disease. This was a worldview perspective about proper hygiene and medical protocols, yet, some felt that I was neglecting a correct God view, where we acknowledge what we have because of the cross under the New Covenant. While I can see how me sharing the verse might indicate I was failing to accept and receive the healing grace of Jesus Christ, that was not my intent. While I do receive and accept the New Covenant, I do not believe this means that we should stop washing our hands and practicing safe protocols – a worldview. 

OK, so… the supply chain and economic news is “not cool”; but what can we do about it? Not much, but we can pray – fervently. Is this “chaos” cause for panic? The chaos is manmade; therefore, in our minds, no. Does this mean that we should not do some things to prepare and plan? Of course we should, and we are. But we also rely on the Lord’s grace and guidance while also operating under confident expectation with our hope placed in Him that we will be taken care of – one way or the other. 

So…sure, we agree that these might be frightening times, but your reactions to it depend on your worldview and, more importantly, your God view. Therefore, pray!

Disney has decided to close ALL theme parks around the world. The US Stock Market has suffered its worst losses since the 1980’s. Sports venues are cancelling games, tournaments, and events. Restaurants and bars are closing out of fears of adding to the spread of the virus. These are facts that even hard-core Christians cannot dispute; we are witnessing things that we have never seen before in modern times. But, does this mean that we should operate in a state of fear and panic? I don’t think so, but this is due to our God view. If you do not have a God view, then you may be operating in a state of panic because you are dominated by your world view. 

One psychologist notes, “Fear influences how we react to media coverage of health hazards. The most severe levels of contamination fear are found in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Approximately 50% of people with OCD have a fear of contamination from dirt or disease that causes them to wash and clean compulsively.” In times of anxiety, we tend to pay more attention to threat-related information, impacting our world view, which drives up our anxiety and distress. Therefore, pray!

A heightened worldview (which is prioritized over a God view), creates a “bias for threat” – meaning we expect the worse – which can actually intensify our reaction to this disease or any other disease, also leading to increased panic. Panic is “an irrational fear reaction that, by definition, your body’s reaction and adrenaline response takes over from your ability to rationally evaluate the situation.” There is an appropriate response to fear, a response that is vital not just for our psychological wellbeing but for our physical health as well. Therefore, pray!

Noted clinicians tell us that stress causes our bodies to produce greater levels of the hormone cortisol which can cause anxiety and depression, which further leads to elevated inflammation that will compromise the immune system. This leads to even more levels of exaggerated stress. Unmanaged stress decreases the body’s white blood cells that help fight infection. The lower your white blood cell (lymphocyte) level, the more you are at risk for viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The main way we relate to information about the world is through “feelings and gut intuitions”; therefore, it is vital that we maintain a positive God view (spiritual view) while simultaneously paying attention to objective medical advice and practical steps that we can take today. Pray!

And it is absolutely paramount that we turn to resources that can provide a level of peace which we cannot otherwise produce ourselves. This is available via a positive and accurate God view…and prayer. 

76 percent of doctors say they believe in God. A God view, an active Christian faith, has been proven to uniquely help in times of crisis such as the current coronavirus pandemic. Your belief system, with heart felt faith, that Jesus does answer prayers, that we ought to accept His invitation to trust Him with our fears, and that there is power that comes from submitting to the power of God, is indicative of the relevance of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ and the Christian community.

Unfortunately, there are some that believe that a God view like this is irrational, that we cannot place faith in Him and must place our faith in science. I would argue that we should choose both. It is a mistake for scientists to discount God’s wisdom, just as it is a mistake for Christians to discount scientific wisdom; God uses physicians in His continued ministry on earth. He calls physicians just as He calls ministers and pastors. He uses the expertise of both to advance His healing ministry in our broken world. Let’s pray for them, encourage them, and follow their guidance. 

He calls each of us to use our gifts, abilities, resources, and influence, in proactive ways, as he leads and empowers us. People may be more open to their need for God now than they were a month ago. They may be more aware of their mortality and limitations. They may be more willing to seek help. And they may be more open to our witness and compassion. 

The coronavirus pandemic is admittedly unique and frightening, but it also presents a unique opportunity to take Christ to a frightened culture. There is a worldview, but there is also a God view, the view of a God who wants to redeem this physical threat for eternal spiritual good.

 


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Suicidal Thoughts, The Pit of Despair and the Fear of the Lord

For some reason, this morning the Holy Spirit spoke up in me regarding men, around the world, that are living a life where they truly hate and despise the holidays. SO I am going to obedient and modify my plans for Him.

We see messages all of the time about folks that despise the Christmas Season and that we should look out for them, pray for them, and show compassion and empathy (possibly a little egg shell walking?). Please allow me to share a personal and first hand account why this is truly paramount and critical – it could save someone’s life.

After my son died in the Middle East in February 2011, I began a massive heart decline that nearly tore apart my soul. I was truly a functioning “hate-a-holic”, grasping at straws for a reason to keep moving forward. The issues revolved around what I perceived my relationship to be with my son, that whatever opportunity we had together was now gone – forever.

I told my wife later, that if I had a gun in the house, I might have shot myself. I don’t know if I would have done it, but the pain was deep enough that I considered it. Nonetheless, what I did do, was pray to God for an event, an accident, or some catastrophe that would take me out. I wanted to die.

For a little more than three years after his death, I grew despondent about life, riddled with guilt, remorse, severe depression and every other negative emotion you can probably think of. And I masked it really well. I am not sure if there is a difference between having “suicidal tendencies” or being “suicidal”, but I most definitely had suicidal tendencies.

I never spoke against God, but I sure was angry. I was mad at everything. I was mad at God but I was most angry with myself and I learned, once again, to hate myself. This “mindset” was tearing me apart. So, I self-medicated myself by pursuing a Doctorate Degree, to allow me to focus my mind on different thoughts, to keep me occupied. I was kicking the can down the road as I knew, at some point, I was going to have a collision course with this issue.

My academic pursuits worked a little bit, for a short period of time.  Did nothing for my family though, as I darn near ignored them, spending as little time with them as possible. Just enough to feel comfortable that I was doing my part as a “diligent” dad as we adapted to our new life without our son, a life where my daughter and my youngest son needed to move on without their older brother.

After three years and some poor decisions, a very tiny spirit hole that I somehow allowed to remain intact in my heart started to allow a small point of light to peak through the darkness I was in.  This small point of light eventually grew and expanded enough to allow me to make a decision that I needed to get back to His business.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “He lifted me out of the pit of despair……..”

I started to panic, a sense of fear that I had never experienced before.  I realized that I had completely removed God from my life and it scared the crap out of me.  And I knew, without a doubt, that I was in the current predicament I was in because I had severely backslidden.  Outside of clear instructions from Him telling me to “go back to His house”, I heard absolutely nothing more.

Prov 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life……..”

There was a comfort in simply going back to church, that I did not really need much more, at that point in my “comeback”. I think the family was simply happy that I was going back. Nobody questioned me, no one berated me for my three year absence, they simply acknowledged me and smiled in that knowing way. Marcus was back.

The Lord is the healer that can make all things new.  This allows us to keep Moving Forward.

Once back, the Lord and I were engaged.  And He was assisting me with my comeback.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “…….. out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

There are people struggling at this time of year and most of them are embarrassed about it. As you try to comfort them, they will have issues of trust at first, but, with the Lord involved, He can help you work through the “human” consequences both you and the struggler find themselves.

“The fear of the Lord is loving what God loves (wisdom) and hating what God hates (evil)l”. ~Pat Morley

 

Let Him be the guide and do what the Lord tells you to do, your spirit will be reconnected under the grace of our Lord Jesus. Keep the faith and remain consistent and loyal to Him – and then rest.
 

Prov 19:23 ” ………..So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”


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The US Constitution and Foreign Policy

Just in case you are averting your ears and eyes to the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, there was a lot to be said about the testimony of LTC Alexander Vindman. LTC Vindman was one of the people that was listening to the call that Trump made to the Ukrainian President on 25 July.  According to the Washington Post, a paper that does not support President Trump:
 
“[Vindman] told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy and an improper attempt to coerce a foreign government into investigating a U.S. citizen.”
 
The suggestion being made is that the President was subverting US foreign policy. What foreign policy was he exactly subverting? Can the President subvert foreign policy if he has authority over foreign policy? Can the President ask a foreign leader to help in the investigation of a US Citizen? If he doesn’t, then who does have the authority to discuss this with another foreign leader? Congress? If a President subverts foreign policy, can he subvert him or herself? What does the US Constitution have to say about Presidential powers for foreign policy?  Unfortunately, the answer is not that cut and dry.
 
  1. Article 2 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to the President.
  2. Article 1 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to Congress
  3. There is no authority granted to the Judicial Branch over foreign policy; however, the Judicial Branch does have authority to submit and provide legal decisions regarding how the executive and legislative branches conduct themselves regarding constitutional law – this includes foreign policy. Supreme Court decisions in this area were very limited for the first 200 years of this nation, but, have grown significantly over the last two decades or so.
  4. And then, there are some powers that are divided equally amongst both branches.

 

The political branches often cross swords over foreign policy, particularly when the president is of a different party than the leadership of at least one chamber of Congress.  Foreign affairs include activities such as military operations, trade and commerce, immigration, intelligence operations, foreign aid, and international agreements (i.e., treaty’s) Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the Constitution is not very specific in some of these areas, but it can be argued that the division if powers over foreign affairs is implied in almost all areas. For example: if Congress is not happy about a military action ordered by the President, Congress does control the money – they can hold off funding. A second example is the appointment of ambassadors, Congress can deny approval of an ambassador by vote. 

Nonetheless, history has shown that the party in power will use the vagueness of Foreign Powers in the Constitution to their advantage; this goes for both Republican and Democrat. Presidents have accumulated foreign policy powers at the expense of Congress in recent years, particularly since the 9/11 attacks – perhaps this is why we have experienced a dramatic increase in these types of issues going to the US Supreme Couty. The trend conforms to a historical pattern in which, during times of war or national emergency, the White House has tended to overshadow Capitol Hill. Is Russian collusion into our election considered a national emergency? I think so and, unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Congress to investigate this. 

Secondarily, we regularly hear about the President “obstructing justice”. In truth, the President has told certain high level officials that they will not testify in front of Congress and they have also stated their refusal to turn over some of the documents that Congress has requested. One may argue that the President is correct, there is such a thing as executive privilege, but, I believe that the most obvious case is that Congress is NOT following precedent in this impeachment inquiry. Yes, portions of previous impeachment inquiries into Clinton and Nixon were held in secret, but, and this is a large but, these inquiries were led by an independent council and NOT by a member of the Intelligence Committee of Congress who has an extremely obvious case of political bias. If I were Trump, I would hold as much back as possible and only release the materials once I have an opportunity to participate in the legal process.

 Back to the argument about foreign policy powers, “The Constitution, considered only for its affirmative grants of power capable of affecting the issue, is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy,” wrote constitutional scholar Edward S. Corwin in 1958. Some legal and constitutional scholars have noted that presidents have many natural advantages over lawmakers with regard to leading on foreign policy. These include the unity of office, capacity for secrecy and speed, and superior information. “The verdict of history, in short, is that the substantive content of American foreign policy is a divided power, with the lion’s share falling usually, though by no means always, to the president,” wrote Corwin.

President Trump’s foreign policy proposals may spur Congress into taking a more active role than it has in recent years, writes political science professor Stephen R. Weissman in Foreign Affairs. But, as the precedent has already been set in reference to the President and his power over foreign policy, can Congress find the President in violation of law regarding his actions?  Perhaps, at best, they can make new laws limiting the Presidents power moving forward.

For example: what law did the President break when it is said that he subverted foreign policy?  Adam Schiff, for his part, is arguing that the President abused his power in a quid pro quo by asking a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent that, some say, Trump can use in the upcoming President election.  However, as Republicans and others are arguing, the transcript provided does not show this, so again, what law did Trump break?  

The sad news for Americans is that, unless this transcript is shown to have been manipulated (which some are now saying), then the country will always remain divided over this question.  I am one that does not believe this impeachment is about preserving the argument that “nobody is above the law”, else, I believe that we would have seen many more prominent and politically elite, in prison or fined significant amounts of dollars at the least. No my brothers and sisters, all impeachment hearings are political, including the ones that came against Clinton and Nixon. 

Regardless of the outcome, whether Trump is vindicated or whether he is found guilty, this impeachment is not healthy for our country and will divide us further. If you don’t want Trump as your President, then vote him out in 2020. If you do, then vote him in. Let America speak and stop the political pandering.  Our elected officials are acting like children – all of them. One trying to outdo the other, all of them are trying to sell us on why they “are great Americans” and are about doing America’s business in the name of justice. 

Did the President break the law by subverting foreign policy? Give the American people ALL of the information and let the American people decide, because our elected representatives are failing.

 

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-official-who-heard-trumps-call-with-ukraine-leader-testified-that-he-was-told-to-keep-quiet/2019/11/01/dbed7fae-fc07-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/understanding-the-constitutions-foreign-affairs-power, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-foreign-policy-powers-congress-and-president, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.amazon.com/President-Office-Edward-S-Corwin/dp/0814713904/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487861733&sr=1-1&keywords=Edward+S.+Corwin+president+powers, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-12-12/congress-and-war, accessed 4 Nov 2019


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