Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pause The Publicity - Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Well folks, it’s that time of year again! Bustling with busy buyers, Wal-Mart swarms with those hunting out the ingredients to their famous Thanksgiving dinner. Aunts, uncles, and cousins gather at Grandma’s for the first of the holiday reunions. Festively bedecked with harvest colors, everything from the trees outside to our dining room tables sings of Fall. In the midst of all the holiday hubbub, does America remember the real reason for Turkey Day? While secular education all but prevails, the true meaning of Thanksgiving is often lost amid the fads of advertisers and those who would re-write history.

We know the Pilgrims had something to do with this holiday, right? Let’s remind ourselves where the story actually begins.
Because of their faith, the Pilgrims were compelled to flee to Holland to avoid the persecution in England. Having lived in Holland for twelve years, life remained a struggle, and their values were often infringed upon. Their faith in God once more prompted them to move – not only to search for a better, freer life, but to fulfill the Great Commission. “They cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”* Prepared for a new set of challenges, the Pilgrims moved by faith yet again, this time to a land unknown and uncivilized.
Challenges came soon enough. They landed at Plymouth on December 15, 1620 after months of seasickness aboard the Mayflower. Just in time for the New World’s harsh winter, the Pilgrims scurried to build what frail shelters they could. Provisions were low. Bodies weakened. Severe conditions took their toll. “In two or three month’s time half of their company died, partly owing to the severity of the winter…partly to scurvy and other diseases.” A testament to their faith in God, the Pilgrims never succumbed to the weight of those hardships, and the few who remained unscathed by illness selflessly cared for their infirm friends. “…and all this they did willingly and cheerfully, without the least grudging, showing their love to the friends and brethren…”
Though half their number died that winter, prospects began to brighten with the arrival of spring. In 1621, the Pilgrims met a friend who would prove essential to their survival. Squanto taught them how to hunt, how to fish, and how to plant, among many other vital skills. Providentially, an abundant harvest followed a successful summer, and plentiful provisions promised security for the upcoming winter. Overflowing with gratitude, the Pilgrims hosted a celebration of thanksgiving. Invited to join the festivities, their Indian friends arrived ready to celebrate with more food and fun games. While the Pilgrims were thankful to their Indian friends for their all they had done, more than anything, they were thankful to their Heavenly Father. Without His guidance, protection, and Spirit, they never would have sailed to America, lasted the winter, or made friends with Squanto and the Indians. Many more hard times would follow for the Pilgrims, but in everything, they continued to give thanks to God. “And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.”
Many Americans have lost sight of the true spirit of “Turkey Day,” degrading it to nothing more than the celebration of a massive meal. Regrettably, the true story of the Pilgrims has been maimed. Much of the curriculum in our public school system states that the Pilgrims gave the feast in thanks to the Indians. Some even spread the outrageous lie that the Pilgrims were cruel to Squanto and his friends. However, it’s obvious from the words of the Pilgrims themselves that their devotion and gratitude was given to God alone. As you get wrapped up in the excitement of this festive holiday, don’t forget the true reason we pause once a year to give thanks.








* All quotes taken from William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Is A Good Citizen?

What is a good citizen? A common response to that question would be, “A good citizen is one who obeys the law and doesn’t cause trouble.” That may be part of what a good citizen is, but I believe it’s more than that. After all, we’re looking for the meaning of a good citizen, not a moderate one.
The dictionary describes good as being “worthy of respect or commendation,” “beneficial, honest, noble,” and “useful,” just to name a few definitions.
America wasn’t founded by moderate people on moderate principles. The road to freedom was a long, hard-fought struggle. It required faith, courage, and sacrifice to build America. Don’t you think it will take faith, courage, and sacrifice to preserve it?
Benjamin Franklin said in 1787, “[We have created] a republic, if you can keep it.” “Keeping” it will call for more than sitting apathetically on our own heap of blessings. “Keeping” it is part of being a good citizen.
Being willing to sacrifice your personal comforts and desires in freedom’s cause; that’s a good citizen.
Defending freedom today and correcting today’s problems so posterity won’t have to; that’s a good citizen.
Understanding how America was formed and why; that’s a good citizen.

Knowing and exercising your rights so the deaths that bought them won’t be in vain; that’s a good citizen.
Recognizing the sacrifice our military makes and giving them the respect they deserve; that’s a good citizen.
The list could go on and on, but the most vital thing to remember is that being a good citizen means loving your country, and love is a verb.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Let's Vote!

Four short days remain between now and November 2. Election day is fast approaching - are you ready to vote? 
Some say that our most important right as citizens is the right to vote. Instead of America being tied to the fate of one royal family or ruled by a cruel tyrant, we have the opportunity to choose our own leaders. Do we realize what a blessing that is? Don't let your right go to waste! Vote on Tuesday. It can make a difference.
However, in order to make a difference for the better, you must be an intelligent voter. Voting for a candidate just because they grab your attention or say something attractive could be a dangerous mistake. (Look where we are today!) Making sure you're voting for the right person is just as important as the decision to vote.
At our Teen TEA Party in February 2010, my friend Victoria Blessing gave a presentation called "Six Simple Steps of Being an Intelligent Voter." These steps are a great review for everyone -- whether you're a new voter or are well acquainted with the ballot.



•Standards
Set standards and know your values. Make a list of what you believe and what you stand for. Know what your stance is and where you stand on relevant issues.


•Understand
Know the democratic system. Know your constitutional rights. Know what you can and cannot do. Understand the government of which you are an integral part.


•Research
Research the election and the important issues at hand. Research the candidates running, including their voting record, what the candidates have said in the past and know their values and morals. Use websites like RocktheVote.com and votesmart.org for information.


•Compare
Get a list of standards and compare the candidates with your research. Compare which candidates have similar values to you and care about issues that are important to you.


•Choose
Choose a candidate who will uphold the values you stand for and who you feel will make the right decisions. A vital part of this step is prayer.


•Vote
This is the easy step. After following the previous five steps, you should be able to vote confidently. Don't think your vote is just one in a million and that it doesn't matter; every vote is as important as the individual behind it.


“Everyone 16 and older is eligible to vote in the next Presidential election. Start with the first five steps today. Let’s get started today, let’s become a generation of intelligent voters.” -- Victoria Blessing, February 10, 2010
 
Another AMAZING website is ontheissues.org. If you want to know how a candidate truly believes, look at their voting record. Ontheissues.org has every political leader's voting record on every issue.
The decisions made this Tuesday could determine whether America will soon be on the road to recovery, or whether we will lose more ground. I'm hoping to embark on the road to recovery.
 
Let's vote!
 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Apology

I need to apologize. A few months ago I started using Google Adsense on my blog. I went a while without regularly checking my blog, and recently, when I have checked, I have been horrified to see some really offensive ads. I attempted to contact Google Adsense and filter the ads that appeared here, but the offensive images kept popping up. So, I have deleted all ads!
I am extremely sorry if you ever saw an offensive ad on Freedom to Speak! I want my website to be family-friendly and reflective of my relationship with Christ. Again, I'm really sorry for any bad ads.
But don't worry. They won't be back.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

College Bound

I always knew this time would come, but I never anticipated it to arrive so soon.
Children often can't wait to grow up. They pine for their teenage years. Being cool. Nearly grown. Drivers License. Teens long for adulthood. College. Career. Independence! And adults are often caught wishing for their childhood. Funny how life works, isn't it?
I must be honest here - I don't fit the average mold. As a young kid, I generally liked being a young kid. Sure, there were times I looked forward to the future, but I was mainly concerned with building forts, flying my imaginary dragon, and saving the world. As a teen, I began to become wary of Time. I knew Time was out to get me. Time is like a wily fox; he draws himself out at peculiar times, pretending to amble ever so slowly. Convinced of his lethargy, you let down your guard. Then, in the blink of an eye, you look back and he has caught up with you. Before you know it, he gets ahead of you, and you're trying to catch up with him! I began to comprehend this as an adolescent, and so I guarded against it as carefully as I could. I even - prepare for a shock - put off getting my driver's permit. And though I have proudly held my permit for nearly a year now...I still don't have my license. (Admitting that kind of stings.)
I've spent a lot of time doing what many adults do - wishing to regain my childhood - before I've even spent it! It sounds rather silly now. But when childhood is all you've ever known, and when you understand that once it's gone, you can't recapture it, it is easy to be somewhat apprehensive of the future. I do not mean that I fear the future. I'm just a little loathe to let go.
Well, Time pulled his age-old stunt once again, for here I sit, a high school senior, applying to college. We're expecting a tornado in our home this week - a mayhem of applications essays, transcripts, etc., etc. But in the midst of this storm, I am happy.
Choosing the right college is crucial. Where one spends the next four or more years of their life is not a decision to be taken lightly, for college can make or break you. I don't necessarily mean academically, but spiritually, as well.
That is why I prayed so earnestly about where God wanted me to attend. My heart is full of dreams that God has given me, and since college is often the key that unlocks many dreams, I didn't want to go just anywhere. 
While in Guatemala last summer, I asked God to reveal to me where I should attend college. He answered my prayer, and Patrick Henry College is what He said.
Last week we visited Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. PHC has been my favorite college for a long time. It has been my parents' favorite for an even longer time. Academically, Patrick Henry College ranks among the highest colleges in the nation. Their core curriculum consists of 63 credits. They place a great emphasis on Constitutional freedom and political involvement. They are also ideally placed only an hour away from Washington D.C. But far, far greater than all of this, Christ is at the center of everything at Patrick Henry College. The Christian community is close. The environment is uplifting and encouraging, where iron learns to sharpen iron.
In fact, you should check it out. PHC.edu
And so, I am scrambling to get everything ready to send off; scrambling to finish all my high school preparations, so that when I do leave for college next year, hopefully to PHC, I'll be ready.
Now I find myself looking forward to college with immense excitement. Maybe I'm even looking forward to college more than I've ever looked forward to anything. However, I have to be careful. For so many years I have wanted to put the future off. Now I'm ready for it to arrive. Somewhere in between, I must learn to live in the moment. That doesn't exclude cherishing the past or preparing for the future. It simply means finding joy where I am. Right now. This moment. There is joy. Thankfully, God is teaching me this lesson, and I think I'm beginning to grasp it.

Give Me Liberty: All Life Is Precious

This, my eighth column, was published in the Gainesville Daily Register on October 1, 2010.

Think of the last baby you saw. Its skin was soft and soothing; the bright eyes curiously examined you. You were delighted at the contagious grin and toothless babble.
Now think of your grandmother. Her eyes are keen and wise. Her smile is contagious too – but it’s not the wide-eyed, inquisitive smile of the baby. The never-ending twinkle of a smile that plays on Grandma’s face seems to say, “I know something you don’t.” Years of life experience lie beneath the generous, wise, cookie-baking surface.
Grandma knows exactly how to make you feel better. She knows what snack will cheer you up. She has troves of advice. Isn’t it hard to picture Grandma as anything but what she is now?
Here’s the fact that we all know but rarely acknowledge. Grandma was once a baby. Baby will someday be a grandparent.
Baby may not only be a grandparent. Perhaps Baby will become a famous singer, a politician, a renowned doctor – Baby could even discover the cure for cancer. When you look at the adorable bundle of fresh new life, it’s hard to imagine that bundle as anything else. But the baby will grow, and will become someone important. The possibilities at the beginning of a new life are endless!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the end of life. It’s not so pleasant to think about, but it happens. We know this. However, if passing is painful, the passing of a young life is even more so. Why were their lives taken? They had so much to offer. Their journey had barely begun. They could have become a star – a hero. The possibilities for their life were innumerable. And now they are gone.
In the face of tragedies like these, we cling to the few memories they did leave us. Perhaps if they had lived longer they could have accomplished more, but their short lives brought us joy all the same. We remember the innocence of their babyhood, and their young, smiling eyes. We cherish the curious thoughts, the big dreams, and the open heart they possessed. Even though their lives were brief, they lived nonetheless. And we loved them.
Can there be anything more tragic than a young child’s last breath? It doesn’t seem like there could be. But I believe there is.
What if there is a life that is yet unseen, but undeniably present? This life has all the potential the newborn or the child had. The possibilities, the choices, and the paths that lay before this infant life are as endless as the sky! This new life has not yet had a chance to take in the world with its round, curious eyes. This life has never known what it is like to giggle or babble. The soft, delicate skin has never even been caressed. And then, suddenly, this life is over. Ended. Stopped. Not because of nature – not because its time had come. Its time had never even begun. It was because of a choice; another person chose that this life should never be given a chance. Yes, the life was at its newest, freshest, most infant level, but it was a life.
To snuff out a life before it is even given a chance sounds horrendous. But over four thousand lives just like these are ended every single day in America. These are four thousand lives that could have become people like you and me. They could have become the next great artist or the next President. They could have become Grandma. And all because of one decision, they and all their opportunities are thrown out, and they didn’t even have a chance to defend themselves.
We all agree that death is painful. But the purposeful, untimely death of thousands of new lives every day is even worse. The next time you are confronted with this difficult question of right and wrong, think of the last baby you saw. Think of its soothing skin, its curious eyes, its toothless smile. Think of all it could become. Think of your grandma.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give me Liberty: Defend the Constitution

This was published in the Gainesville Daily Register on Sunday, August 8, 2010.

After declaring independence from Great Britain, our forefathers set down the Articles of Confederation as a foundation for free government. But eleven years later, it wasn’t working. Young America was on the verge of collapsing, the thirteen states anything but united.
“Something must be done,” said George Washington, “or the fabric must fall, for it is certainly tottering.”
A convention was called in May of 1787 to solve the problem. Through the long, sweltering summer, delegates from each state struggled with each other and themselves to discover a way to rescue the drowning republic. Finally, perhaps due to divine inspiration, our founding fathers produced an ingenious document – our Constitution.
Our Constitution is the oldest operating document of its kind in the world. It has been called the greatest political document in history. But it’s much more than a historical document. It is a definition of our freedom and a guard against anything that would threaten our way of life.
The Constitution defines our freedoms in this way.
We are not ruled by any aristocracy or royalty. We elect our own leaders. We can speak our opinions publicly. We can gather in public to protest. We have the choice of who we will worship, and if we will worship. We have the opportunity to work hard and make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others. We will not be hindered by social ranks, racial inferiority, or tyranny. We are guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
However, we are not guaranteed wealth, prosperity, or happiness itself. We recognize the equality of each person in the sight of God, but not every person is guaranteed equal status.
Some people will have to overcome poverty. Some will have to fight even harder to succeed and reach their dreams. No life is perfect. But every life is free.
It is crucial that we understand the freedom our Constitution lays out for us, so we can recognize actions that might threaten our way of life. Defending our Constitution is a serious deal. The President and Congress are required to take an oath to defend it. We the people have the power to choose our own leaders and live our lives the way we please. Having that power, we should be aware of the foundations laid in our Constitution, so that we can defend it as well.
In defending the Constitution, we must realize that it is not a “living, breathing document,” contrary to what some may say. Perhaps that sounds pleasant, but something that is alive can be changed. To change our Constitution is to expose our freedoms to the threat of tyranny. Remember, the Constitution is the oldest operating document of its kind. Other nations have modeled their constitutions after ours. It has worked in preserving freedom in America for these two hundred and twenty-one years; why would we change it now?
In defending the Constitution, we must also ask ourselves questions like this.
Will handouts, like government healthcare or welfare, really produce freedom? These things may not seem dangerous at first, but to accept favors from the government is to be beholden to the government, and that produces bondage, not freedom.
Will granting amnesty to illegal immigrants produce freedom? It may seem like a nice gesture, but in the end, it will produce confusion and dissention among all residents, not freedom.
“In God We Trust” is the national motto; not “in Government We Trust.” Should we ever forget that, our nation will “totter” as it did in 1787. And then it will be our turn to say, “Something must be done.”
Will you defend your Constitution?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Give Me Liberty: The Home of the Brave

This column was published on June 25.

With Flag Day still in our rear view mirror, and Independence Day just around the bend, today is the perfect time to contemplate our wonderful nation.
Let’s start by considering the last line of the Star Spangled Banner; “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
I love that line. Pride swells as our voices soar on the final triumphant note. It’s so gallant – so inspiring. What a privilege to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
But have you ever paused to really think about that line? It seems pretty straight forward. But what if “land” and “home” mean two different things? What if the “Free” and the “Brave” are two different kinds of people?
The Brave are the people who have fought for America. They have made sacrifices. They have defended freedom regardless of the cost.
Thanks to the Brave, the rest of us are Free! We enjoy freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and more. We are free to invent, to grow, and to learn. Thanks to the Brave, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But sadly, we often forget the high price of freedom, and we end up taking ours for granted. How many times do we, the Free, actually stop to think about the Brave souls who have defended our way of life?
By the Brave, I do not mean only the men and women in uniform, who risk life and limb on foreign soil in America’s defense. Most assuredly, they are brave. But the Brave also include many others, like the pioneers who cut paths through uncharted wilderness, and by the sweat of their brow, began to build a nation. The Brave are the mothers who did not give up hope during times of hardship. The Brave are the children who missed their fathers when they were called to serve.
Yes, the Brave are people like my maternal great grandfather, Philip Hale, who flew secret missions during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. But the Brave are also people like my paternal great grandfather, Ernest Martin, who worked multiple jobs to sustain a wife and eleven children during the Great Depression.
What about the difference between “land” and “home?” Well, anyone can live in a land, but unless your heart resides there as well, it’s just another place. However, a home is something much more. Where you were raised is just part of it. It’s how you were raised – what you believe. That’s where you heart is. That’s your home. Doesn’t it make sense that for America to continue to be the land of the Free, it must continue to be the home of the Brave?
When we sing the National Anthem, those final lyrics should mean something more than just a gallant sentiment. Even though the Brave of the past were heroes, they were no different than us. They had their share of fear, but they didn’t let it overcome their beliefs.
Someday, it will be our turn to be Brave. We may not be called to go to war or face untamed lands, but eventually, each one of us is called to stand up for what we believe in.
I pray that we continue the tradition of strong conviction and bravery in America. We have come too far as a nation to lose our freedom now. Remember, as soon as America ceases to be the home of the Brave, it will cease to be the land of the Free.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Call 2 Fall

Last year the movement Call 2 Fall took place for the first time. Tomorrow, on July 4, it will happen again.
The movement is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14: "Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land."
Every single day our nation is sliding farther and farther away from what it was meant to be - not only by our founders, but by God. And no matter what policies or politicians are put into place, the only way America will be right again is if we return to our Creator, who has endowed us with the blessing of freedom.
Over 450,100 people and churches have committed to spend at least 3-5 minutes on their knees on behalf of our nation tomorrow. Will you join them?
To officially join the movement and learn more, please click here: call2fall.com
It is so encouraging to see how many people are committing to pray for America tomorrow But guess what? We must pray for America every day.
Tomorrow we celebrate our Independence. But the only way we will retain that Independence is if we recognize our dependence on God.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Give Me Liberty: Column 1

Oh dear! It looks like another month has slipped by, and once again, I haven't been on top of things - not around here anyway.
But I do have some exciting news. Recently I've been able to contribute some articles to my local newspaper, the Gainesville Daily Register.
From time to time I will post my newspaper columns here on Freedom to Speak. The title of my column in the Register is "Give Me Liberty", so whenever you see that in the blog title, you'll know it's another column from the paper.
My first article was published June 11. Here it is. Enjoy!


“Liberty!” my mother called. Calling goodbye over my shoulder, I scurried through trees that had become the bases in the neighbors’ baseball diamond. Along the way I spotted a toad eyeing me through the short blades of freshly mowed grass. Gently I scooped him up and stroked the soft, white belly before letting him escape into the flower bed.

“Wash your feet,” Mom said as I scampered through the door, my toes shod with a play day’s worth of earth. I scrubbed my feet quickly as I could, slid into my seat at the table, and drank in the aroma of the homemade hamburgers that awaited my growling stomach.
As a ten year old, there is nothing more thrilling than the beginning of summer break. It feels as if you’ve got a lifetime of freedom ahead of you. Your whole world becomes wrapped up in swimming, snow cones, sleeping in, and playing in the dark. When the school bell does finally ring again, you’ve nearly forgotten the old routine completely.
As a very little girl, I remember anticipating summer break with a foggy recollection. It had been so long since the last summer, I couldn’t remember exactly how things worked.
“Does Daddy get off work for the summer? Is Sunday School out for the summer?”
I miss my early childhood. I miss the days of backyard baseball, toad hunting, mud fights; when today is your whole life; right now is all you’ve ever known.
As a sixteen-year-old preparing to embark on my senior year of high school, summer has quite a different look.
Instead of a long, indefinite stretch of sunshine ahead of me, there is a short road. The end is clearly in sight, and the stop sign is fast approaching.
Rather than weeks and weeks of nothingness to fill up, nearly every block of the calendar is full, and I’m setting up armed guards around the few days that remain empty.
One good thing about the return of the school year is the joyous reunion between friends who have been separated all summer. Well, right now I’m still trying to recover from many of my friends’ high school graduations, and reconcile myself to the fact that when fall comes, we won’t be reunited, but separated as they pack up and head to college.
Oh, and that part about no school? Nice fantasy. There is ever so much studying to do before fall gets here, with all its SATs, ACTs, and college applications!
Are the carefree days of childhood summer lost forever? With another year of high school, four years of college, and my whole life ahead of me, I can’t see how life will ever return to the way it was when I was ten.
Well, it can’t. Yesterday is gone. It was fun while it lasted, but today is today.
However, just because yesterday is gone, yesterday’s lifestyle doesn’t have to be.
When I was a young kid with all of summer break ahead of me, I didn’t worry about the next school year, what my grades would be, and whether or not I would pass my first test. I woke up every morning enthusiastic and exhilarated, anxious to see what adventures the day would hold.
By now, I’ve learned a little more about preparation. I can’t ignore the fact that I will have to take tests and start applying to colleges in a few months, which calls for a good amount of studying throughout the summer. But I can embrace every task with the fresh outlook of my ten-year-old self. Instead of facing my summer duties with dread and chagrin, I’ll tackle each one as an adventure to overcome!
I like to pray that as I grow, I’ll gain the wisdom that comes with my years, but retain the innocence that I held as a child – including the rapture found in every single day, no matter what challenges lay ahead.
Whether you’re a lucky duck with a blank calendar ahead of you, or a busy bee like me with so much to do your head won’t stop spinning, remember what it was like to be a kid who found delight in living each moment to the fullest. Prepare for the future, but remember to stop and embrace each adventure as it comes.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

For My Brothers and Sisters

Last summer I participated on an amazing trip to Guatemala. (To read about it, visit all posts labeled Guatemala 09.)
Susie Magazine is returning to the exact same place this summer for another Never the Same experience! I prayed and prayed about going back. But right now, it's just not what God has planned for me. He made His answer clear that I wasn't supposed to go back this time, and I am at peace with that decision.
However, I do have loads and loads of friends from last year that are returning! And they leave for Miami in 22 short days! (Long days, to them, no doubt!)
These friends that are returning have a tremendously special place in my heart. In fact, they're more like brothers and sisters to me. True, they are spread all over the U.S.A. True, we only spent two weeks together. But truer still, we are bonded in Christ for eternity. Even though we were only together for a short amount of time, and despite the fact that I don't keep up with all of them as well as I'd like, the kinship I feel with them is different than even my friendships here at home.
When we came together and met, we didn't meet as individual teens, busy with our own life, coincidentally sharing the same faith. We united with the same purpose, under the same banner. We met as brothers and sisters in Christ.
On behalf of my brothers and sisters who are returning to Guatemala, I ask you to pray for this mission trip. Pray for them as you would pray for me, were I embarking on a like adventure.
The nation of Guatemala desperately needs all of our prayers at this time. About one week ago, a volcano erupted in the heart of Guatemala. Guatemala City and many of the places that Susie Mag is scheduled to go and minister were greatly affected. Severe tropical storms assaulted Guatemala for days, resulting in flooding, mudslides, injuries, death, and even a huge sink hole. Many of my friends have sponsored children in these areas.
I don't know how many times I have said, "I know God will do big things on this mission trip." Well, I didn't understand exactly how big. I still don't. But with all these natural disasters taking place in the same location that this mission trip is going to take place, one can only begin to imagine in what ways God will use the hundreds of teens who have volunteered two weeks of their summer to His service!
Last summer God did some BIG things. There were over 3,000 salvations, many miraculous healings, and even an opportunity to pray with the First Lady of Guatemala herself! Could God be planning something even BIGGER than all of that for this summer?
Even though I'm not going to Guatemala this year, I am very excited to see what God will do. I have been praying for my brothers and sisters as they prepare for a life changing experience. I will continue to pray for them during the trip, June 28-July 11. Would you please pray for them as well?
All my love to those returning to Guatemala! You will NEVER BE THE SAME!

To keep up with the mission trip, visit my friend Aubrey's blog, Never the Same 2010.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Holding High the Torch

Yesterday Summer was officially ushered in by Memorial Day! Every year we enjoy kicking off summer break with swimming, cooking out, and dressing in red, white, and blue!  
My family gathered with some friends for a traditional celebration: hamburgers, hot dogs, cupcakes, homemade ice cream, and lots of games.
What did you do for Memorial Day?
Memorial Day has become symbolic of the beginning of summer. But it means much more than that. In the midst of the summer fun and celebration, how many of us truly stop to ponder the true reason for this holiday?
Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember all those brave men and women who have fought for our freedom, and died. They deserve our attention and reminiscence, even if it's a day late.



In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


From the Patriots who fought to create a nation over two hundred years ago, to the soldiers who fight to preserve our nation today, millions of brave souls have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue to live in a free country.
These American heroes understand what freedom costs. They have witnessed life void of freedom. They have battled enemies that would rob us of our liberty, and they understand that the U.S.A. is a precious gift worth dying for.

It is because of these men and women that many Americans are oblivious to the tyranny that reigns in the rest of the world. Sometimes our troops are even ridiculed and persecuted! But they have fought - and are fighting - so that those people can continue to live in oblivion. They are defending the rights of each and every one of us to hold our own opinion.
War is an ugly, horrible business. No one wants to go to war. But our heroes have made a sacrifice. They have sacrificed time with their families. They've sacrificed a comfortable life. They have sacrificed their old way of life - for no one can go to war and return the same person. Many have sacrificed their very lives, and many more will.
But the battle doesn't end there. As it says in the poem above, they have thrown the torch to us. Our heroes have done their part. They've fought the enemy, and have died fighting. Now it's time for us to do our part. While we may not go overseas to defend our freedom, it is our responsibility to defend it right here at home.
That is one reason why I am so passionate about politics. Throughout all of our history, millions of people have died to preserve the freedom I enjoy! And there are thousands more defending it right now. Even if all I do is help organize TEA Parties and exercise my freedom to speak, I'll be helping to bear the torch that our fallen soldiers have carried so far.
What a shame it would be for all the millions of lives that have been lost in the cause of freedom to go to waste, because we, here at home, refuse to catch the torch. How awful it would be for us to lose our freedom from the inside, while our troops die for freedom all over the world.
I can't imagine what it means to fight in a war. I can't comprehend what it would be like to die for freedom. But I can understand what it means to be grateful, to remember, and to carry the torch. And I will.

And I'm proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
Next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Discipline

Discipline.
What comes to your mind when you hear that word?
Punishment? Restraint? Authority?
Well, if that's what discipline means, then what does self-discipline mean? Who really wants to restrain themselves, or self-inflict punishment? On the flip side, being one's own authority sounds mighty nice. Many people like the sound of that so much, they choose to live in a world in which they are their own master. No one tells them what to do. I make my own rules, they say. 
Is that what self-discipline really is?
If I truly made all my own rules, I wonder if I would be strong enough to follow them. Making your own rules is easy. Perhaps. But is keeping your own rules any easier than keeping the rules of another?
I like order. Schedules make my world go around.  So, in the hypothetical event that there was no higher authority in my life, I think I would still make my own set of rules follow some sort of structure.
I'd wake up at 7:00 everyday. I'd work out for an hour. I'd eat a healthy breakfast. I'd get right to my schoolwork and have it all done by noon! I'd eat a light lunch. During the afternoon I'd work on various projects. I'd then spend the rest of the day reading, writing, or doing whatever pleased my fancy, finishing the day with a nice meal and a tad of dessert.
But, in reality, human that I am, I'd hit snooze...five times. Then I would check facebook - just real quick! Thirty minutes later, I'd notice a cramp in my leg. So, "unfortunately," I'd put off exercising until tomorrow. I'd begin to work on school, but get tired of it, and take a break. By mid-afternoon, I would realize that I hadn't accomplished anything except for five algebra problems and six chapters in my favorite novel. Since the day had gone so askew anyway, I'd probably plant myself in front of the TV and chuckle at dumb jokes and crude humor until I dragged myself to bed at 10:00 or 11:00. Oh, and I wouldn't have stopped at a healthy breakfast, a light lunch, or a tad of dessert, either....
You see, even though I like structure, I still lean toward the lazy side. (I hate admitting that.) It's hard to pull myself out of bed, open the books, and study till my brain hurts. I don't always like working out or eating healthy. The piano bench doesn't look so inviting when I'd rather apply my fingers to the computer keyboard than the piano keys. Can you identify?
The apostle Paul seemed to understand our struggles. In Galatians 5:17, he writes:
"Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please."
So, what makes me rise out of bed early every morning? What makes me do my least favorite school subjects? What makes me sit here and rack my brain until I think of a blog-worthy article?
Well, for one, I have parents. But even they don't have complete control over me. There is a higher authority to which I am held accountable, and that is Jesus Christ. I know He created me. I know He loves me. I know that one day, I'll see Him face to face! This is the Bible verse that motivates me now:

"In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people." Colossians 3:23
But even Jesus doesn't demand that I give Him complete control of my life. He gave me the choice to serve Him. And each day, I am faced with more choices. But I choose to let Him control me. And that is more motivating than any earthly reward.
Something holds all of us accountable. You may think you're living for yourself. But we're not energizer bunnies. Something pulls us every day to get out of bed and get on with life. Is it your job? Your family? Your own desires?
All these things can hold us accountable for a little while. But in truth, people will disappoint us. We will disappoint ourselves! Sure, there's the temporary reward we get after going to work, exercising, or being kind to a neighbor. But at the end of life, is even that a suitable reward for all the discipline we subjected ourselves to?
Because I follow Jesus, my life will no longer be a mundane cycle of activities day after day. By living for Jesus, my life truly comes alive. Every day is new and exciting, and I have a purpose. That is a reward worth living for!
Discipline is necessary for an orderly life, and ultimately, an orderly world. But when there is no authority - no purpose - discipline is practically impossible. Some authorities and purposes are better and offer longer-lasting rewards than others. But only One authority offers a reward that is eternal. I've found Him. Have you?
My life, and my schedule, are still far from perfect. There are days where I hit snooze...five times. There are days when I don't get everything accomplished except for five algebra problems and six chapters in my favorite novel. But I'm working on it - not for me - but for Jesus. And the best part is, I don't have to depend completely on my own will-power (of which there is a constant shortage), because He helps me.


This book, Do Hard Things, contains some awesome insights concerning discipline. It was written for teenagers by Alex and Brett Harris, who were teens themselves when they wrote it.
The world expects little out of teens - little other than getting through high school and getting into trouble. But the Harris brothers have a different opinion of teens' potential and their purpose.
If you're ready for an inspiring read and a good challenge, I suggest you get this book! Also visit the website, dohardthings.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What Does God Value?

On Sunday my pastor shared some ideas that hit my conscience pretty hard. After mulling over them the last two days, I thought I'd share them with you.
What things do you value the most? Let's take a look at what many people in our culture generally deem significant.
Houses. We live in these! We want our home to be nice and attractive.
Cars. Who doesn't want a nice, comfortable vehicle? I do.
Careers. We want enough money to live comfortably - if not luxuriously.

Friendships. Many times we look to our friends for approval, self-worth, and fulfilment.
These are things that some say make up the "American dream." Nice home, cool car, good job, lots of friends. Is there anything wrong with putting value on these things? Well, God tends to look at things differently than we do. A lot differently. Let's look at these things from God's perspective.

God won't ever ask you what kind of car you drove.
He'll ask you how many you drove who needed a ride.

God won't ask what the square footage of your house was.
He'll ask how many you welcomed into your home.

God won't ask how large of a salary you earned.
He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

God won't ask what your job title was.
He'll ask if you carried out your job to the best of your ability.

God won't ask what brand of clothing you wore.
He'll ask how many you clothed.

God won't ask how many friends you had.
He'll ask how many people you befriended when they needed it.

God won't ask what neighborhood you lived in.

He will ask how you treated your neighbors.

Humans tend to value material things. God values our souls. He desires a relationship with me, you, and everyone! That's why He cares more about how many we welcome into our home than how nice our home is. Will we witness to more people by owning a large house, or by offering a place for needy people to stay?
However, we must remember that doing all these good things isn't enough to save us. If our good deeds aren't a result of a relationship with Jesus, they're nothing more than empty actions. God wants our hearts more than anything. After we've given our hearts to Him, we can use the things He has blessed us with to tell others the Good News!

It seems like I can never escape the material preferences of my human heart. So this week, I'm going to be asking God to give me His heart, so I can think like Him, live like Him, and value what He values.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Aliens in America


Immigrant: a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.

Alien: Any person who is not a citizen of the country in which he or she lives.

The USA has more freedom, more riches, more opportunities than any other place on earth. No wonder so many people from around the world want to migrate to America to start a new life. And guess what? We encourage that!
If it wasn't for immigration, none of us would be living here today. Perhaps America has the most diverse ancestry of any one nation, because people have come from all over the world to make us the nation we are. I have Scottish, Jewish, English, Cherokee, and probably more mixed into my family tree! The Scots, the Jews, the Brits, and even the Cherokees migrated here at one time or another. My family history is a story of migration.
But as a nation forms, laws are set in place for the citizens to abide by. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sinned. Therefore, we're not perfect, and so we need laws that tell us how to conduct ourselves. We need the enforcement of those laws to maintain order and harmony.
It makes sense that when one from another country wishes to become an American citizen, they should have to learn about our laws. In fact, there are a set of laws for immigrants. They include learning our language, learning our history, learning our traffic laws, etc. 
These laws are very reasonable. They are for the good of the country, and for the good of the immigrant.
But, there are those who try to sneak into America illegally. They're called aliens. In the past, the federal government would remove the illegal aliens from the country. We made it clear; you're welcome to come to America, as long as you follow our rules. It's completely fair.
But over the last several years, illegal immigration has become more and more of a problem, because it's being addressed less and less often. For a long time politicians have brushed it aside as being less important than other issues at hand.
But illegal immigration is a very crucial issue. The border states have known this for a long time.
When we stop dealing with the illegal aliens and start tolerating them, a multitude of problems arise, disrupting the harmony and the order that the laws were created to avoid. Many illegal aliens are taking advantage of our schools, our welfare, our health care, and more, but they're not even paying any taxes!
Many have received illegal drivers licences. Because they don't know our traffic laws and most of them don't know English, they are very prone to getting involved in a collision. But they don't have insurance, so the other party is responsible to pay.
Living in Texas - a border state - I know that illegal immigration is a growing problem. I have seen the difference that has taken place in our state in just ten years because of illegal aliens. More and more signs (traffic signs, store signs, etc.) and even legal forms are being duplicated in Spanish. In many schools, a teacher cannot be hired unless he or she can speak Spanish - even if they are not as highly qualified as someone else - because there are so many children who don't know English. And who pays for all those things? Us; citizens; tax-payers.
Now, let me be clear on this. I definitely do not have a problem with being bi-lingual. In fact, I wish more Americans were. I am studying Spanish now, and hope to be fluent someday. There are some schools that teach a second language to their students for the very purpose of raising bi-lingual children. I do not mind that. What I have a problem with is that immigrants are not learning English when they come, nor are they teaching their children. So public schools have to make up for it by teaching them in their own language.
Many border states have had more dangerous problems than these. There have even been documented murders along the border, committed by illegal aliens. Not every alien is dangerous. But American citizens who live along the border should feel secure from illegal aliens.
Individual states are beginning to tighten up security on their borders, since the federal government isn't doing anything about it. Arizona was the first.
Arizona recently passed a law that allows state officials to question anyone who is suspicious and request to see their proof of citizenship. I don't see anything wrong with this law. Arizona is taking the necessary measures to protect their own citizens.
This law has caused quite an uproar. People are protesting the law, saying that it is racist and unfair. It's neither of those things.
President Obama has had a lot to say against Arizona's decision.
"...Now suddenly if you don't have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you can be harassed, that's something that could potentially happen," he says.
This is an unrealistic possibility. The state officials aren't going to be harassing people - especially someone taking their "kid out to get ice cream."
Something else the President wants to do is to grant amnesty to all aliens already here. That is unfair! What about all the immigrants who worked hard to become citizens the right way? What kind of message will that send to other nations about America's standards? Though the federal government has denied it, terrorists have taken advantage of our lack of security and law enforcement along the borders. What stops them from continuing to do so?
It seems like President Obama is more concerned about the rights of these aliens than the rights of his own countrymen. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the upcoming elections. If an illegal alien is rewarded for committing a crime, who do you think he'll vote for in the next election? The one who rewarded him.
Illegal immigration is a preventable problem, and it must be stopped. It will effect all of us in the end. Aliens are filtering into our society more and more, with out becoming a part of our society. If they are hired illegally, their money isn't circulating in our economy. Most of them send their money back to their home country. Even if they don't, they're not paying taxes. We are paying for their school, their welfare, their health care, and more. We're paying them to take advantage of our country! All of this will lead to the decline of our society. And no one will profit from that - citizen or alien.
I must make this point once again. This has nothing to do with racism. My brother-in-law is black. My nieces and nephews are bi-racial. I have Hispanic friends, African friends, even Japanese friends. I don't care where a person is from or what nationality they are. And if they want to come to America through the legal procedure, I think that's wonderful. But I do not want a bunch of foreigners living in my country that don't really respect my country, or our laws. And anyone who takes advantage of a nation can't truly respect that nation.
This is my bottom line. We should encourage people from other countries to come to America and take part in the freedom we are blessed with. But immigrants should enter America through the procedure they always have - the legal procedure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quotes from the Founding Fathers

God's intentions for America are clearly seen through the words of our previous leaders. We often mention the "founding fathers" when discussing politics. But in order to truly discover what they intended for this nation, we can only turn to their own words.
You could probably search on google and find many of these quotes. But my goal is to provide quick access for anyone who wants to know what the founders had to say about something. Check back to this post often - I plan on updating it frequently. But for now, here's a good start on what some founders had to say about God and America.


John Adams said...


"We have no government armed with a power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion....Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."


"It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation's humble acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence."


"It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure value."




Samuel Adams said...


"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote...that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country."


"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."




Benjamin Franklin said...


"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who where engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor.... And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of man.' And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
"We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to the future ages...."



Thomas Jefferson said...


"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, and conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."



George Washington said...


"The federal government...can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, and oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any other despotic or oppressive form so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people.



Noah Webster said...


"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 a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect this duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted."



John Witherspoon said...


"He is the best friend of American liberty who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion and who sets Himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind...God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to support the establishment of both."



Robert Winthrop said...


"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the World of God or they the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

San Jacinto Day

Do you know who John C. Hays was? That he was a Texas Ranger? That his dying words were, "It's San Jacinto Day?"
What is San Jacinto Day? Do you know?

Most people have heard of the Alamo. They're probably all familiar with the iconic cry, "Remember the Alamo!" But they're probably less familiar with the Battle of San Jacinto, and the origin of that famous saying.
I'm Texan through and through, and I'm proud of my heritage, as every Texan should be (and probably is.) But there are gems in the many folds of our remarkable history that are easily lost and overlooked; pricless gems. I think San Jacinto is one of those.
A great friend and mentor of mine has composed an inspiring essay about the Battle of San Jacinto. This is enough to stir up pride in anyone, Texan or otherwise. This isn't just Texas' history. It's America's history too. Texas is just one of the states that makes this nation. Texas' legacy of courage and determination can and should be an inspiration to all of the U.S.A.

Today is April 21, San Jacinto Day. This date should be marked on every Texas calendar.
On this day in 1836, General Sam Houston led the outnumbered remains of the Army of Texas against the forces of Mexican Dictator Santa Anna in an all-or-nothing battle for liberty. And won.
We cannot today fully appreciate this miracle. In the two preceding months, the Texas army had suffered staggering losses: Fannin and 350 men at Goliad; Johnson and 50 men; Grant and 50 men; King and 30 men;
Ward and 150 men; and, of course, the gallant defenders of the Alamo. The provisional government had abandoned Washington on the Brazos, some returning home to defend or remove families, some joining Houston, who was desperately gathering all able-bodied men. Texian women gathered their children and their elderly and fled before Santa Anna's advancing army, slogging through mire and floodwaters to the safety of Louisiana. At the US border, General Edmond Pendleton Gaines (for whom Gainesville is named) waited with troops to defend American interests in Texas. But it was left to Houston and his men -- Texians and American inspired by freedom's call -- to wrestle liberty from the hands of the dictator.
Creed Taylor, a 16-year-old resident of the DeWitt Colony who already had taken part in the Gonzales "fracas," helped oust Cos and his army from Bexar, and ridden as a messenger for Col. Fannin of Goliad, recalled years later the origins of the famous San Jacinto battle cry:


"... The first time I remember to have heard these expressions was during Houston's short talk to the men on the eve of the battle. Of course the boys were continually talking about the butchery at the Alamo and the slaughter at Goliad: and avowing to avenge the cold-blooded murder of their countrymen. But the manner in which the expression became the battle cry at San Jacinto has never been given in a published history.
"The honor of coining the slogan belongs to William F. Young, who fought as a private in Lamar's cavalry corps; and in this way: As the Texans charged and the Mexicans fired their first and most effective volley, killing three Americans and wounding several, the undisciplined Texan force seemed to waver for a moment; and it was at this critical juncture that Private Young dashed forward, crying at the top of his voice, 'Boys, come on! Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!'
"At once the cry was taken up and spread from man to man until the whole force was crying 'Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!' and it certainly carried consternation to the ranks of the Mexicans....
"Instantly the appeal was caught up and repeated with more and more feeling. It seemed to nerve every Texan to fight with greater desperation and to fire with deadlier effect. It is little wonder that Santa Anna, attempting to excuse himself for his inglorious flight from the field, afterwards wrote: 'So sudden and fierce was the enemy's charge that the earth seemed to move and tremble.'"


Taylor went on to note that "During the progress of the struggle, many acts of individual heroism and gallantry were displayed; and for one thing, it can be said that not one gesture of cowardice was displayed by a San Jacinto man."

Remember the Alamo.
Remember Goliad.
Remember San Jacinto.
Remember price of liberty, and the debt we owe to those who went before us. And praise be to the God who raised them up.

Blessings.
Dainah

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Tea Party 2010

It's April 15 - Tax Day - TEA Party day!
Exactly one year ago began the movement that has swept America like wild fire. Besides the geographical spread of this wild fire, this wild fire is sweeping the hearts of America, igniting our spirits with patriotism and resolve.
It's the same spark that lit the hearts of the colonials when their king became a tyrant. They resolved to stand up for the country God had given their ancestors; to fight for liberty, even if it meant death.
It's the same spark that lit the hearts of the Americans in WWII, when the rulers of other nations threatened to subject the world to tyranny. They resolved to risk their own lives to help defend their allies and defend their own soil.
It's the same spark that I remember, when on September 11, 2001, terrorists killed thousands of innocent Americans in the name of their religion. Then, we weren't afraid to call the murderers what they were - Terrorists. We weren't afraid to fight terrorism. On that day, we resolved to stand up for our nation and defend it from terrorism - just another form of tyranny.
But just a few years later, it seemed as if the spark disappeared. During the Presidential Campaign of 2008, I often wondered where the patriotism in America had gone to. Where was the ignition? How can people forget their history so quickly...even the history that is a part of their own lives?
But suddenly there was a wake-up call. Things started happening to our country that we never really wanted, and we were able to recognize other things that had been happening for a long time.
Consider the Stimulus Package. The majority of Americans did not want a bill that would increase our national debt by trillions! It was supposed to stimulate the economy. But anyone in their right mind knows that you don't get out of debt by spending trillions of dollars you don't have.
Then the President proclaimed to the world that we no longer consider ourselves a Christian nation. Maybe you don't consider the U.S.A. a Christian nation anymore, Mr. President, but if you'll take a look at the people you were elected to represent, you'll see that most of us DO consider the U.S.A. to be a Christian nation still! That's how we were founded, and that's how we'll stay.
And what about the "I Pledge" video? Famous Hollywood stars actually made a video and pledged their service to Barack Obama! When have we ever pledged our service to one man in America? That is exactly what the founding fathers wanted to break free of, and they carefully sought ways to prevent one man from ruling the whole nation ever again. As for me, the only One I'll ever pledge my service to is my Savior, Jesus Christ. Then, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
As much as we'd like to, we can't forget about the recently passed Health Care Bill - that we did not want. The President and the liberals in Congress have been trying to ram this through unconstitutionally for months. Americans protested this. Many even went to the White House to protest it. Remember the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts? The most liberal state in the Union elected a Republican senator, because he opposed government run health care!
Never in America have we tolerated tyranny from without our borders. And we definitely won't tolerate it from within. That is why, on April 15, 2009, the TEA Party movement began. TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. But there are other issues - more important issues than high taxation, that are being protested and addressed at TEA Parties.
If anyone says that the TEA Parties are not making a difference, they are wrong. Many lies and rumors have been spread about "TEA Partiers," to try to convince people that those who participate in TEA Parties are dangerous, violent, extremists, and even terrorists. If they think that will stop peaceful, honest, loyal, patriotic Americans from exercising their rights, they are seriously mistaken. The TEA Party movement continues to grow!
This is truly an historic movement. We are making a difference. The very fact that the liberals are so concerned with making up lies about the TEA Parties proves that they are afraid of what will come of them!
Don't tolerate tyranny. Stand up for the nation God has gifted us with!
To find a TEA Party near you, visit The Tea Party Express (teapartyexpress.org.)

Stand fast therefore in the freedom by which Christ has made you free, and do not submit again to a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or the bayonet." - Robert Winthrop, Founding Father

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Kenyan President

Maybe this is just an unrealistic fantasy I have, but I like to imagine that when asked who the most patriotic person in the United States of America is, I would be able to respond, "The President, of course!"
Doesn't it make sense that the President ought to love the country he leads more than anyone else? Even if he's not the most patriotic man in the whole country, it would be nice if he at least acknowledged the USA as his homeland.
On Friday, April 2, Michelle Obama spoke at a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Luncheon. I have not watched the entire speech, but from what I have seen, she spoke on the progress of attaining "equality" for everyone, despite their sexual orientation or gender identity. The event itself is bad enough, but the First Lady also mentioned something else, that has probably caused even more controversy.
"Barack has led by example. When we took our trip to Africa and visited his home country in Kenya, we took a public HIV test, for the very point of showing folks in Kenya that there is nothing to be embarrassed about in getting tested."
Watch the video on Youtube here. The quote above can be found 40 seconds into the clip.
How does that make you feel, to know that the President of YOUR country considers Kenya to be HIS home country? I believe that the President of the United States should be born in the US, and raised in the US. I know there are immigrants who come to America who are very patriotic, but it's not the same as someone who was born and bred here.
Now, I know it's true that Obama did not say this himself. But I do not believe his own wife would have said that Kenya is his "home country," if those feelings did not run strongly through the Obama family. This just leads me to wonder how strong Barack Obama's patriotism can actually be, if he considers Kenya to be his home.
There are other instances that point to an apparent lack of patriotism in Barack Obama. In fact, everything he's doing as President goes against everything this country stands for!
"Discrimination has no place in a nation founded on the promise of equality," Michelle Obama said in her speech. But what she didn't mention is that America was founded on Christian morals.
I want equality in America as much as anyone. But what I don't want is the endorsement of sin. I don't want the government to support vile activities, such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and drug dealing. God tells us those things are wrong! Surely He won't continue to lavish blessings upon a nation that legalizes and endorses those things!
Since America was founded on Christian morals, the things I mentioned above are un-American.
"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams.
Clearly, President Obama does not understand what America truly is. This is proven even further by the recent words of his wife.
I would like your opinion. Are you comfortable with Michelle Obama admitting that Kenya is the President's home country?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Life

Today makes seventeen Easter Sundays for me. About fourteen Easters ago, I gave my heart to Jesus. At that moment, I became a completely new creation. Jesus gave me new life!

Three days ago, we began the Easter holiday by watching the Passion of the Christ. While watching that movie, I was able to better understand what Jesus suffered for us. And I'm not only talking about physical pain. Yes - the physical pain He suffered is too much for us to imagine. But the spiritual burden He carried was even worse.
When Jesus prayed in the garden, He asked, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup be taken from me." (Matthew 26:39). I always thought He was talking about the crucifixion. But He was speaking of the burden of all the sins in the world.

All the sins in the world.

In Guatemala, one of our mission leaders explained to us what that might have been like. Remember that guilty feeling you get when you've done something bad? You know, the empty pit in your stomach when you know you should apologize for something, or when you know you've hurt someone...or the constant gnawing at your mind when you've gone against your conscience. It's a bad feeling, isn't it?
When I was younger and I had been naughty, I would feel miserable until I confessed. Sometimes it was really scary to confess, because I knew I'd probably get a good spanking. But I'd much rather get a spanking and have my conscience cleared than carry that guilt around in secret. It's a heavy burden! Often, guilt and sins stored up inside can actually cause physical sickness.
So imagine Jesus - the only human who had never committed a single sin of His own - willingly taking on the guilt of the entire world. All the guilt from all the sins you've ever committed...all the sins I've ever committed...all the sins of the people from the beginning of the world, to sins of the people who haven't yet been born.
He carried that burden so that we wouldn't have to! And He destroyed it!
Jesus was crucified. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, He rose from the dead! He is alive today, and will live forever.
Easter is all about celebrating Jesus' new life. But Jesus died so all of us could have new life. You don't have to carry the guilt of all your sins. All you have to do is accept Jesus' gift of salvation. Believe that he carried your sins once so you wouldn't have to ever again. Believe that He died and rose from the dead, and entrust Him with your heart! Then you - and anyone - can have new life!
"If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
But according to the Bible, "new life" doesn't happen just once. It can happen everyday.
"So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new everyday." 2 Corinthians 4:16
Easter is more than going to church, eating a big dinner, and hunting eggs. It's all about new life. But as 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, our spirits are made new every day. So we can celebrate life every single day.

Thank you, Jesus, for dying for all of us. Thank you for coming back to life! I'm so glad you took all my guilt and shame so that I won't have to be burdened with it anymore. Thank you for giving me new life, and giving it to me every day. I love you Lord.

HAPPY EASTER!