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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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Our Flags Waving, Never Forget

The Bible repeatedly commands us to remember the past:

“Remember the days of old; consider the years long past.” (Deuteronomy 32:7)

“Remember the former things of old.” (Isaiah 46:9)

“But call to remembrance the former days.” (Hebrews 10:32)

Oftentimes, holidays exist to be times of remembrance—days such as Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Yet somehow in today’s heated political environment, it seems that the primary remembering being done (or at least the primary remembering that is capturing the national spotlight) is that of remembering past sins rather than our triumph over them.

Ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick made headlines…“by telling Nike to pull its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers. Nike said [Kapernick] told the company he believes the colonial flag used on the shoes is offensive, because it was flown when slavery was legal.”

If Kaepernick’s measurement of historical expungement is to be the new standard, then anything used before the Civil War must be excluded, because it was used when “slavery was legal.” This would mean that the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention, and the Emancipation Proclamation must be excluded because they were used when “slavery was legal.”

Imagine what would occur if we applied a similar standard in other areas. For example, what if we cut from the Bible the story of everyone who sinned? We would have no examples of redemption. The only Biblical account remaining would be that of Jesus’ life (minus the content of bickering disciples, plotting Pharisees, violent Romans, and betraying Judases). What is the meaning of the Cross without the understanding of our sins for which the Savior died?

Behind every truly great story or inspirational person is a background of conflict or suffering—which makes the story of the overcoming that much more worth the telling. We have to remember enough of the evil to appreciate the good.

The Home Page of our website is dominated by a waving flag. We believe in what the flag stands for – our nation and the people in it. Many seem to forget that the American flag was not the flag of slavery; it was the flag of the Union that abolished slavery. Regardless of the era in which it was flown, our flag has always represented the spirit of liberty and freedom. As acknowledged in the National Anthem:

“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto, “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Human civilization will continue to progress (or regress) depending on our attitude to history. If we ignore the past, then centuries from now even our presence today will be obliterated from the public record. After all, there are more than 40 million in slavery right now (far more than at anytime in world history). Since this is the most slavery-ridden time in world history, what if future generations use today’s standard refuse to mention anything from our generation?

As God’s children living in this country, we may look with pride on our flag, which has flown over battlefields at home and abroad as brave men and women for centuries believed our own inalienable rights, and those of others (including black Americans in slavery, for whom hundreds of thousands gave their lives) were worth dying for.

In the words of colonial flag-maker Betsy Ross,

“Our hearts aching, our prayers praying, our flags waving, never forget.”

 

References:

Gage, J. (2019, July 4). Colin Kaepernick breaks silence after igniting controversy over Nike’s Betsy Ross flag shoes. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/colin-kaepernick-breaks-silence-after-igniting-controversy-over-nikes-betsy-ross-flag-shoes

The star-spangled banner. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/fomc/learn/historyculture/the-star-spangled-banner.htm

The Editors of Peter Pauper Press. (2018). Revolutionary women: From colonists to suffragists. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=sm1oDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT13&lpg=PT13&dq=Our+hearts+aching,+our+prayers+praying,+our+flags+waving,+never+forget.”&source=bl&ots=EciDJiZR7v&sig=ACfU3U3exsv4lq-fxsPdOS-dG2N87ckAxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiH-oybj6HjAhWYGs0KHVCTD-Y4ChDoATAAegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Our%20hearts%20aching%2C%20our%20prayers%20praying%2C%20our%20flags%20waving%2C%20never%20forget.”&f=false


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