Saturday, October 25, 2008

Flashbacks From Hell

Sometimes things remind you of where you've come from and where you are.

The other night my wife Jane and our 11 yr. old son went to dinner.
They wanted Vietnamese food (the best egg rolls in the world) so we went to our favorite "Qui Viet". We've gone there for decades and the owner Neigh Liegh has seen all our children grow up. His manager was working the other night and when we went to the register to pay the bill our son Jordan was making some comment about life not being fair, as he was texting a friend on his phone. The manager, a quiet 60's ish Vietnamese man was at the register taking our bill as he's done a hundred times before. Yet for some reason he was listening to Jordan's comments and all of a sudden he stopped and stared. As in a flashback.

Are you 11? he asked Jordan. Jordan said yes sir while texting on his phone.
You know when I was your age, I wore a white shirt to school each day. We all had to.
(It was like he was lost in a vision of the past as he spoke).
We all wore white shirts and walked the dirt roads for miles to and from school.
My mother used to go out each week and turn over dead children with white shirts on that dirt road. Turning over each body and hoping it wasn't me.

He kinda snapped out of his daze.

When I was your age in the Mecong Delta, the North Vietnamese troops used to come down each day and shoot us on our ways to school and back. Our white shirts on a dirt road made us an easy target. They just loved killing us. Any age, anytime.

Without saying it, he was telling my son that he should never complain about anything!
WOW. I was silent. Jordan was silent. We all were soaking in what we had just heard.

I asked him how life was now, knowing he had been here living in the States for decades.

He looked me in the eyes and said with sad tone, "ok", and he looked away.

Without Jesus, there is no hope. It doesn't matter where you've come from or where you've been, what you've been saved from or blessed with. Without a living faith and a savior, there is no hope or peace or joy.

So I asked myself, how can I help this manager? How can I love him, show him Jesus?
How will anyone?

I suppose I can pray for him each day. Yes, that's a good idea.
I suppose I could continue to go back and maybe give him a gift? a faith neutral record or book or piece of clothing. Try to find someway to let him know I care for him. WHY? To hopefully let him find a way to trust me enough to be honest about his "life". Have you earned the right to speak into the lives of those around you who need Jesus? I've failed over and over.
Lord help me become that person who no matter where they go, they are always thinking, praying, and loving strangers as He first loved us.

Imagine the horrors people have survived around us, who won't talk about it because they don't trust us with their secrets. From the war victims, to the abused, and battered, the addicts and the forgotten. Let love open that door today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm Coming Out

Yes, I'm a registered Republican. Have been for decades. Have I voted for Democrats? Oh yea. Many times. Have I voted Independent? Oh Yes.
Have I ever second guessed my votes later? LOL

Having been self employed for over three decades, and having never had an employer to help me in health, dental or unemployment ins., you would think I'd be "all over" the government giving me insurance i didn't have, or the ability to draw money from being out of work. WOW. I can't even imagine such a thing. I see my friends over the decades collecting unemployment and kinda chilling while they look for work. Yes you or more importantly your employer pays into a fund for you to have that right, but it's success is like the insurance and banking industry, it only survives because of the people who "don't" use it or make claims on it. There's not enough money to take care of everyone. Look at Social Security. We've allowed ourselves to be duped into thinking that you can watch your employer put a dollar of your wages into a S.S. fund that is borrowing to payout out $2 for every one you put in, and somehow magically it will all be there for you when you retire in a few decades. NOT. We have to take care of ourselves. Neither Republicans or Democrats will address this problem. It's to large and there is not enough money to fix it unless like our market bailout, we just print more money and say it's there...

Where and how did we come to the place where our employers and government are our safety blanket? What do they owe us other than llatpoh: "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness". A military strong enough to protect our interests at home and abroad (so we can pursue llatpoh), a federal and state govt. system that allows us to succeed with reward based upon risk, and the ability to practice our faiths and do (for me) what Jesus commanded us to do.

If you're like me, you get unsolicited emails every day from people you know who are excited about something happening in the world around them, and they just have to tell you how they feel.

Well with the election here now, it seems like folks are getting more and more desperate in their verbage. The photo card above arrived in my email box the other day, and it was one of the cutest non damning I've received.

Yes, the world is changing.
The right wing nut case, abortion clinic bombing, gay hating, love-less, Christian preaching divisive folks are about ready to jump out the window (Maybe not such a bad idea ) if the election goes left. Yup, put a lock on your halloween candy and easter baskets folks.

The radical left, the Socialists, the Marxists, the Pacifists and those Americans who really hate what America was founded on, will be happy to re-write the constitution through the courts and thrilled to take over the POTUS and the Congress to finally make America "Fair" and "Social".
That means Govt. has to become the employer for, and hire the above "workers", because none of them have a clue as to how to start, develop, fund, and run a company, except to say their worth in a Marxist sense is being exploited into the profits of their rich employers. Those "with" money will take their businesses overseas to remain competitive. (maybe Ireland or Georgia or China), where there aren't any business taxes and the cost per worker benefits and regulations will allow business to compete in this new world economy. American business will just get more and more drained and "suddenly" the greedy companies will leave the country or go out of business and the millions left with out a job will be going to the govt. for all they were promised, to be taken care of. In a global economy you can't just say "the rest of the world exploits their workers" and then purchase EVERYTHING you drive, eat and wear from them because it's 1/4th the price of the same being "union" made. Geeze, we've gotta wake up.

Which reminds me. When the country crumbles, I wonder if the Attny's will have to begin suing the govt. to make money :) lol, or sue the next country who has cash.

Well we have no one to blame but ourselves. Not our elected leaders, Not our pastors, Not our parties. We supported and let them have the keys to the chicken coup on our behalf. All those independent party candidates have been telling us this for years, and they look pretty smart now. (after all they are just "real" republicans with a libertarian slant) ;0).

Heck, this year you don't even hear a word about the socialist workers party candidates running for president. WHY? Because we already have a pair running. LOL Sorry, I really didn't think that one out ahead of time, it just slipped while I was typing :(

Yup we get what we deserve and what we are willing to fight (love) and pray for.

We are a democracy, and if we as parents have preached and allowed schools and colleges full of new voting generations to grow up to believe in this kind of quazi-social-fairness doctrine change, and if these groups have grown enough in strength to have a shot at trying to have it their way in re-shaping our country, then we are in for some very difficult years ahead, and we've been complicit in the development of it. Lord have mercy.

Sin and greed have created this global, (not just US) financial crisis that is now is growing.
I don't blame it on a "party", I blame it on us, on me. Everyone shifts the blame on someone else. The political parties survive on spinning each conflict each day on their opponents and we just go "Yup".

Man we need to pray, we need to repent for our wasteful excess that we are told we "need". We need to be willing to stand up for our families and do what's necessary to take care of our own families and STOP asking the Govt. to take care of us and them. I suppose that means a lot of unemployed people going to churches and synagogues and back to their estranged families looking and praying for help, advice and council on how to get and start a job or business, how to reconcile with our families so we can live together in times of trouble instead of asking the Govt. to take care of your brother or mother that you don't want to live with or live with you. Ouch.

Politics? Yes as Americans we'll support, and as Christians we'll pray for whomever is elected POTUS. I was sick over Nixon,Carter,Clinton, and now sick over Bush and I still pray for him every day. They are the leaders we put in place, and it's our job to do what we can. And in this mess, prayer is about all we can do beyond taking responsibility for our families and ourselves.

Electing those who want to socialize more and more of our country, and implement the liberalization of our courts and schools (i believe) will have a terrible effect on our future as a nation where I as a Christian desire to live Free to men and Servant to Christ.


Honestly telling the American people that they are gonna have to take care of themselves and their own would be a start. Politicians are gonna have to stop binge spending to give us more and more (for votes) like they are living in a 30min sitcom where nothing is real.

Lot's of govt. jobs will be lost when agencies and programs are cut. Yup that's part of the problem. (Thanks Roosevelt, your intentions were good, but you created a life long problem for a short term crisis and now EVERYONE thinks they deserve a piece).

Thankfully our hope, strength, and joy is not found not in our country but in our Savior.

Tell me what will our country look like in a few years if we de-fund the military and it's importance, de-fund Homeland Security, Give "radical" Muslim factions free reign in our borders to begin what they've begun in Lebanon and across the EU., most likely to see attack"s" again on our soil as a result, defund the US border issues in order to appease the largest new voting block in America. Can you see any long term good in this? Golly, go read the history of Lebanon and what's happened to their democratic "open arms" policies.

If we attempt to fund socialized health care, allow the unions to watch who votes for a union and who doesn't, thereby strong arming workers into unions, which will even more than ever before make our companies less competitive and moving overseasd. Hey how bout a national union !!!.

Let's eliminate some tort reform for the Attorney lobby base, so they can get sue every company with profits for more and more. Let's begin and fund a new Roosevelt-ian public works program to get people back to work, or a Kennedy-ian peace corp, to save the planet. How do you pay for that and how does that teach anyone to take care of them selves or be responsible.. Let's extend workman comp. and unemployment benefits for everyone who "needs" them, for as long as it takes the Govt. to retrain them to another job. Let the Govt pay for everyones college Education because they deserve it. Let's cover everyones bad mortgages and just plain "take care of everyone cause it's the fair thing to do". How does anyone pay for this? You can't. It's not possible. Not possible. (OK end all wars and conflicts and that will pay for it). Nope, that won't do it and that will never happen. There will always be wars and rumors of wars so long as there is sin and greed.

So, so far we've put it on the national credit card and all the other new things that are being promised will go on some national credit card. When will it stop? How will it stop.
Well we're beginning to find out now.
Now before we even have someone willing to add another trillion in "fairness", we are collapsing because of to many entitlements, bad spending and debt.

sidenote: All credit card interest should be capped at 1%d below the bank savings rate. That would solve half our problems because banks would not be able make money on criminal rates to charge 28% to consumers and trap them in debt until they're forced into bankruptcy. Not that is regulation that makes sense. You can't blame banks for going "yee haa" over this loophole, and shareholders don't care about morality or "people", only profits.

The latest economic "rescue"? It's shameful, Socialist, and I pray reversible. It happened with a Republican President. (how ironic is that.) I know my democrat friends are cheering over this and feeling pretty good about cursing Bush even more now :) The only thing my democrat friends are thanking Bush for is that because 911 happened on His watch and the country has experienced this crisis, it all but seals the POTUS and Congress for them in this election session.

Think about this...

Can you imagine how bad Bush/Cheney must feel, as conservatives, temporarily socializing the markets to try to help solve this crisis?
At least if it had been a Democratic President during this, they would have been a bit happy at the socialization of the system and we all would have gone "SEE, I told you he was a dirty rotten Socialist". Republicans would have been lighting torches and pitchforks. At least now they know no Republican would desire to do this on purposed. In a weird way, that's probably a good thing it was a republican doing this. (although personally I'm against the Rescue package at any costs).

Hey on the other hand if a Democratic President was forced by economic conditions ; (the failing of our businesses and jobs due to CHINA'S ability to out produce us and do it cheaper) to drop all corporate taxes, and personal tax rates, privatize S.S., lower W.Comp., eliminate all worker unions to keep businesses from leaving the country and save the job base from going to developing nations, and if because he slept on our military we had to drop nuclear weapons on a rogue nation that was able to develop and to launch at will for Jihad. What would we say then?
Ahhh. If it was a Republican we'd cry "foul". Right wing, big business, war mongers....
But if it was a Democrat POTUS, we'd be saying "geeze he screwed this all up, but we wouldn't cry foul cause we know he'd be doing everything he "doesn't" believe in. d

Well with all this said, a correction in our markets, spending and lifestyles was and is due.
No matter how bad it gets, we still live better than any other nation and have a system by which we can come back faster in open markets.

Greedy people from any side, need to be regulated, not overtaxed, and not over regulated to the extent of eliminating their ability to do business here instead of moving and working their businesses off shore. I think we need to live on less and pay cash. Yup, (Thank You Dave Ramsey) that concept alone will crush our markets and take us into recession, but we're there anyway and might as well bite the bullet and get our families and priorities back on solid footings instead of "credit" at 28%..

And OIL? Forget bailing out wallstreet.... Drill Baby Drill, Dig Baby Dig, Nuclear, Hydro, build it all. IT'S JOBS and OUR FUTURE. Spend a trillion on coal, nat. gas, wind, solar, bio, and anything else we can develop HERE to create business and new jobs HERE, the old fashioned way. It will bankrupt the money pipeline to those who hate us and re-strengthen our own economies.

Who loses the most in this if we just ask for handouts and spreading the wealth? Everyone loses. And the more you love the world the more you'll be a loser. In this world you will have trouble, but He has overcome the world and He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. Pray for wisdom as you vote, and pray for mercy

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do You Love The World?

My wife was "Miss Fridley" a few years ago :) Our oldest daughter was a Fridley Princess a few years ago. There are two tieras in our china cabinet in memory of these years. The photo here is last year at the Miss Fridley Pageant. I've MC'd it for a few years now. I guess it's kind of a family deal. Marissa has played Harp at it for years as well. Jane's been on the board for decades on and off. Why do I say this?
This morning in Elk River MN I heard an evangelist from Argentina. His message was one of "love". Love for the world. Marketplace Transformation was his mission. Cities being transformed.
Ya, ok, so, what are you saying?
Well he laid out scriptures that God loved and died for "nations" and for the "world". We are included in that but in the greater picture it was for "everything". If you are a believer, you are to give grace and truth in the world. His message was multi-leveled. He said the "church" has reversed this message. It gives truth before grace. In other words, we use truth to judge the world to hell, and if it changes, we give grace. Geeze that resonated with me.
Over and over he showed the bible stories where God put men and women into the world to reconcile it to Himself. Noah, Abraham, Joeseph and Jesus to name a few.
His basic message was that we must love the world and see it as God does "a place He's made the ultimate sacrifice for". And that we should visualize the world as forgiven. Believing, loving, supporting and sacrificing for those "lost" as if they are "found". Doing what Jesus did. Loving not judging. Healing not hurting, delivering not entrapping.
Praying for change in our world by "being" the change. Getting the respect of the world by the way we love and live, so that we can earn the right to speak into the lives of those hurting around us. He said "If the grace bestowed upon you is not turned around and bestowed on others by you then you are wasting the very grace you've been given". Ouch.
Love the world that God commands us to love, that He gave His life for. Don't judge it, have grace upon it. Draw it nigh unto Him through you. Imagine a community or business or neighborhood where non believers respect and look up to believers!!!! How big of an impact would that be.
Lord forgive me for being complicit in any judgement of those I should be loving in my world. My enemies, my gay next door neighbor, the unmarried couple next door, the minister separated from his wife on my street, the old curmudgeon two doors down who absolutely hates modern worship, and tells me to my face, the Vietnam Vet who walks his dog each day and never talks to anyone. My divorced neighbor raising 5 girls, the multiple Hispanics on my block raising chickens and roosters in my suburban neighborhood. God what can I do develop relationships with these people -- so -- that when they are hurting or I want to invite them to a meeting some day, they will trust me enough to say "sure" Craig. Boy I've failed in that one so far. Forgive me Lord, they ARE the great commission. Amen.
Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give Me Your Tired & Your Poor
This morning I received an email about a claim against Senator Obama, and a comment. The above link, shows the history of this statement. It was written in a satire piece by John Seeman at Semi-News and unfortunately copied and emailed out as fact. Humans do that. They read or hear something by one person and before checking it out, claim it as fact and tell everyone it's the gospel truth. Ironically, that's kinda like sermons. Nobody wants to check out anybodies facts anymore. Unless it directly affects their job or character or party, they receive it as gospel. How many times has your pastor told you to go read his message, study it and make your own decision. How many times have we done it?

This is election season. The sins of "all of us" complicit in over spending, is being blamed on one party or another instead of "us" the potential "voter", who needs to be pacified and guaranteed free everythings. Free everythings, from tax breaks to college to homes to health care, to housing, to food, to free money, extended unemployment benefits, free job training, free immigration, and all for just being good people. All to get your vote and keep it, and followed by "the rich can pay for it all" on the left, or "Get another job and pay for it yourself" on the right.

For any public servant I vote for, I ask myself the following.

1. Who are they,
2. How's their family life,
3. What is their personal and life history,
4. Who are their friends and allies,
5. Who are their mentors,
6. Who are their hero's,
7. Are they people of faith, (and what fruit does that show)
8. What is their job history,
9. Who have they led,
10. Who and what have they managed,
11. Can they admit they are wrong,
12. Can they work with others who don't agree with them,
13. During their life, have their personal choices been about themselves or others.

Aside from "researching" (which is not reading or watching the news cycle spin) about each candidate,
each person is a different combination of liberal,independent and conservative, so each of us has political questions based upon our core values. We know that every politician plays to the base and waffles for independent votes, yet somehow we dilute ourselves into thinking they are all different.
So, I say base your opinions on the above 13 questions over the "party hard issues". that are crammed in our faces 24/7.

Leaders are not educated by schools, but by life experience and the choices made in them.
They do not do the work, but they, with wisdom and knowledge, lead their leaders, and hopefully make wise Godly decisions based upon the choices given by the team's they assemble and lead (for better for worse).
From local government to POTUS, the questions are the same. Do they have a history of looking out for their constituents and or everyone, or their personal groups. It's generally the latter for all of them cause that's how they get elected. So then how do we choose if they all are for their special groups. Well, I think again the above 13 questions deal with "pre political" life, before they were party machines and pray those qualities will help them regardless of party.

And lastly, since they live here, in this country, with all it's glory and all it's warts, do they love it.
Do they love the country that has shed it's blood for the freedoms it maintains and the freedoms of others around the world. Do they understand the price, the cost and the benefits. Would they die for the country that let's them live in it free? Then they deserve our respect whether we vote for them or not, regardless of party, or sex or race or religion. If they don't,... then they don't and would be better off living outside the U.S. and embracing another experiment in living.

As for placing the blame? Well, we are all guilty, each and every one. "Ouch"
*We elected them all, (*yes a no vote is a vote), and ate the cake they baked us cause it tasted good.
Well it looks like we all are trying to throw up our bad debt and blame it on someone else now.
There is no personal responsibility during election season.
We pay our taxes (if we make enough), so that we can wash our hands of personal responsibility.
We've let the government coax us into believing that our personal responsibilities are theirs, if we will just give them enough money. They can take care of our parents, our retirement, our health care, our children's moral and ethical values, higher learning, They, not us , will take care of the hurting, broken, disenfranchised and.....

My questions today:
Should Govt. be allowed to replace the responsibilities of the home or the church?
Can I keep feeding my luxuries and be part of change?
Will a 100 fold return on my giving solve it all?

And really, what does America owe me?

"Give me your tired and your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free."
"Sound's like something Jesus would say".

Monday, October 6, 2008


Speak to each other with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for EVERYTHING, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph. 5:19-20.

This was the sermon text yesterday morning at church. By the end of the sermon I had an idea for a praise tune based upon the principle of giving thanks in all circumstances, at all times.
Easy to do when things are "golden", but it only gets harder as life piles up the garbage.

I finished writing it this morning and recorded it today at the house. Hope it blesses you today. It a mix of a few old grooves.
Click this link. EVERYTHING

I wanna reflect You everyday
In every way I work and play
I wanna thank you thank you thank you Lord Jesus
In everything I say and do
May it edify only you, only you
Jesus, Jesus I love you Lord Jesus

God I thank you for everything
God I thank you for everything
I will praise you in everything
May your will be done, on earth as in heaven

Everything that comes my way
Whether it's good or bad I want to say
Thank you Jesus, Thank You, Thank you Lord Jesus
I have nothing left to fear
Resurrection power is here
I want to praise you, praise you, praise you Lord Jesus

Photo above was taken at a pastors retreat at Giant's Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in N.Minn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Once I was lame...

My friend Rick had his bus diesel engine run away for a while yesterday. They can blow up, and he sounded pretty scared for awhile.
FEAR. What an emotion. It can keep us alive from making stupid decisions, but it can be manufactured from past experiences that we either brought on ourselves or were thrust into.

I tried to remember a time when I was truly in fear. I could only remember being lost in a shopping mall as a kid (3 or 4), and the fear of looking around and not finding my parent. That is a feeling you don't ever forget. Funny but I can still visualize it. Then I remembered being lost in the woods (while fishing) a few times and how Fear brings Panic. It was the same feeling as the shopping mall.

When we say we have been born again. That we have a renewed mind and an enlightened spirit. When we say "all things are new" and "He set me free", does that clean up our past?

Well I found this picture the other day from 1960. It was the day I was taken out of 6 months of isolation in a hospital, and allowed to go home and spend my life in a wheel chair. I remember that day of feeling "set free". Forget a future life in a chair, I was just happy to be able to go outside, let alone go home and see my family. Well a miraculous healing 4 years later would set me free from the wheelchair for life, but I wonder at times what kind of residue those years left on my subconscious thoughts and the way I respond to life.

Our family helped raise upwards of 100 foster children over our lifetime, and I do know that i observed kid after kid with mental, physical and sexual abuse. My history pales in comparison to any of those kids who were broken and abused, and I often see their faces and think of how any of them could live a normal and healthy life or marriage with their pasts. I wonder how many entered marriages with the mountain of hidden problems unknown to their spouses.

Jesus is the only solution for mans eternal salvation. He is the only one who can heal the broken heart, mend the torn and tattered fabrics of our souls. And yet with all that God promises us, I'm broken hearted so often to see believer after believer growing older while carrying heavy baggage for their entire adult lives around on their souls. Never finding release. Born again, Spirit filled and trying their best to "not go to their pasts" but ending up returning to their past sins, addictions or letting them eat and destroy their very joy. Are you there. Still broken, Can't forgive, Can't forget?

Well you have to, if you want to move on.
Like the main character in the new book "The Shack", you come to a place where you have to forgive or you will slowly die from the inside out.

FORGIVENESS is the first step to HEALING.
Scars? Oh yea, they are there. Healing doesn't eliminate scars. Scars are a good thing.
I wrote a song years ago about a father who tells his son about a scar on his leg, and that scars are in our lives to remind us of what we've come through and do not want to repeat again.

Quiet prayer, concentrated prayer, fasting and seeking Gods face to "face" our pasts and let them go is the first step into the inner healing so many of us need. And it's an ongoing process. I believe God helps us deal with our issues a bit at a time so we don't completely freak out.

Lord today bring to mind just one of my unhealed wounds that I might take it to you finally and let it go to, begin that road to healing. Help me to be sensitive to not reproduce my faults into the lives of those I love and look after. Thy Kingom come, Thy will be done....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

That's How You Lived

The photo is here was taken in Charleston S.C. during dinner one day close to sunset at a restaurant on the harbor.

Well, Yesterday morning I was praying and reading when this worship thought dropped into my head. I demoed it this morning and here's your chance to get a first listen.
Click on this link and open your player.

Hope your week is going well. We are in the throngs, like many of you, wondering how the economy is going to make things even more difficult in the flesh. It is our only comfort and hope to know we have a different long term goal, and it's not here. So.... We'll take what the world throws us and chalk it up as lessons on the road to home. Hope the worship tune ministers to you all.

Help Me Lord Jesus
To be strong and kneel down
To pick up the weapons
of Your world -- not mine
To love those who hate me
And forgive those who hurt me
Heal the broken hearted, the forgotten and scorned

Cause that's what You did
And that's how You lived
You gave up Your life
For one such as this
And I want to live
with reckless abandon
To love without thinking
Cause that's how You lived.

Help me Lord Jesus
To stand without falling
To walk without running
through every storm.
For the courage to lay down
My life at the altar
My dreams and desires
Will all become Yours.