Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010!
Posted on January 2nd, 2010
I always look forward to New Year’s Day. The start of a new year (and a new decade) makes me smile. There’s promise in the air, opportunities that have yet to be written, a chance to start over in some ways. Life seems full of boundless possibilities.
I usually spend the first day of January looking over the past year. I’m tend not to dwell on the past too much, but I do like to remember accomplishments, significant milestones, and other events that seem to have meaning to me. Here’s a partial list from 2009 (in no particular order):
- Seeing my elder daughter make first band both semesters of her senior year (she’s now third chair in first band!!!) and get her letter jacket
- Seeing my younger daughter make the drum line in middle school and stay first chair for most of the first semester)
- Another full year of being employed by only one company (a major achievement for those who know me well…)
- Another year of singing with the choir at Community Bible Church (one of the true blessings in my life)
- Another year of working with Puresound, our church youth choir (fantastic kids with a powerful ministry)
- Business trips to Honolulu, San Diego, New York, Baltimore, and Las Vegas
- Visiting with Tim Eagerton while in San Diego (one of the few benefits of business travel is when your trip takes you to places where your friends live)
- Visiting with Bill Van Loo of chromedecay in the Ann Arbor area (Bill is a true Renaissance man and inspires me in so many ways. Thanks for the trip to the record store, Bill! Looking forward to my next trip up!!)
- Seeing Star Trek reimagined and brought to the big screen again by J. J. Abrams (sure, not momentous for you perhaps but a huge event for this closet Trekkie)
- Finally seeing my friend Gabe Gibitz’s CD “Spirit of Elijah” released! (Sorry it took so long, Gabe, but the end result was worth the wait for me! This next project should be even better!!)
- Opening our new office in San Antonio (a big improvement over the old place) in June
- Finally getting furniture for the new office (in December!)
- Making new friends and renewing old friendships with so many people
There’s so much more I could say, so many more things that happened that are worth talking about. But I’ll close this post with the following observation:
No matter how great or poor a particular year has been, I thank God for the rich life and abundant blessings that He continues to pour down on me. I am truly a broken man but made whole through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me, a sacrifice that I will never be worthy of nor able to repay. It’s my wish for 2010 that I am able to share that salvation and redemption with others.
Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010! Nice to see you, and I’m looking forward to another full year!!
So much… So little…
Posted on October 13th, 2009
So much to write about. So little time to do it. Yet that’s a cop out, isn’t it. We all find the time to do the things we want (or need) to do.
My biggest challenge is that I find myself these days spending more time in Covey’s Q3 rather than Q2. I hate it.
My life needs a good spring cleaning. But it’s already October. What to do…
Why do you vote?
Posted on September 17th, 2008
“For many of us voting may simply be damage control. It may be a way to minimize the impact of principalities and powers and try to free up the kingdom of God to spread in this world. But it’s certainly not that we’re voting to put our hope and faith there.”
I read Claiborne’s Jesus For President earlier in the year and posted several comments. As the months have rolled by, I have to say that I’m more and more in agreement with some of Claiborne’s observations in the book (although some still irritate me). And the above quote pretty much captures what I now feel about the process.
By way of background, let me say that I have historically voted Republican. The first presidential election for which I was eligible to participate was 1980, and I was proud to cast my vote for Ronald Reagan who still ranks as the best president I have ever voted for and probably one of the better in the long line of people who have occupied the office. And I voted for him again in 1984 and Bush the Elder in 1988 and 1992 because I believed in the vision that Reagan laid out.
But in 1996, I started having issues with some of the social policies of the Republican party and was disappointed in Bob Dole the candidate. I still voted Republican because the fiscal policies won me over (largely because I have long maintained that government should concentrate more on enablement than entitlement). I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 because I believed in him and his ability to lead and then again in 2004 because I couldn’t support John Kerry.
And now we’re in 2008 with two candidates that I frankly think are not the best this country can offer up in terms of leadership. So, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and talking to others about the process and the ideals rather than about the candidates themselves. For the first time since I could vote, I didn’t watch either convention and really didn’t listen to much of the commentary about them. I have been telling others that I’ve become disillusioned with the candidates.In reality, I’ve become disillusioned with the process.
I’m tired of the rancor and the sniping and the gossipy stories. I’m weary of the media frenzy, I’m irritated with the rhetoric and bluster, and I’m fatigued by the constant parsing of every statement from the candidates like some high-brow Beavis & Butthead episode (“heh, heh, he said ‘reform’”). I’m concerned about CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the other news outlets trying to create news (or worse, be a part of it) rather than simply reporting it.But mainly I’m disappointed in myself because I realize that for the last several years I have been part of the problem and not part of the solution.
And so my resolution for this election is to remember where I put my faith and hope and vote in a way that hopefully benefits the people of our country rather than just me. I will continue to vote my wallet but will think about the way in which my wallet could be better used. I will continue to expect my government to steer clear of creating social change but will strive to vote for candidates that are interesting in enabling it. And I will continue to speak my mind on what I think the important issues are but will educate myself even more fully on those issues.
I vote because I believe it’s my duty to do so. I vote because I believe we always need change no matter who has been in charge or what has gone on during their administration. But mostly I’m going to vote this year because I think we’re at a turning point as a country, and I know I’m at a turning point as an individual.
I have to be part of that turning…
Is it really me and them?
Posted on September 2nd, 2008
Shaun Groves posts a thought-provoking discussion of Barack Obama’s “lists”, those things which government ought to do for us (ostensibly because we cannot do them ourselves) and those things we should do for ourselves (because we can). It’s a great summary of Obama’s stated position at the Democratic convention and well worth the read.
Shaun ends his post with a few questions for pondering, and I thought I would try and provide my answers here. However, before doing that, let me preface my answers with these comments.
The U.S. Constitution enumerates the various powers and responsibilities of our governmental branches much better than I could, and I encourage every citizen (and non-citizen for that matter) to read through the Constitution and be familiar with its contents. This is important because our system of government is laid out within the paragraphs of this document, and as a strict Constitutionalist I bristle at the continual growth of and encroachment by the “government” on virtually every aspect of our lives.
There’s no doubt that our country/society is markedly different than it was in 1787, and the subsequent ammendments make it clear that the founding fathers didn’t think of everything. But what they did think of was a means by which their original assumptions and conclusions could be challenged and altered if necessary. And that means of “changing our minds” should be understood by every single person who wishes to engage in the debate over what government should and shouldn’t be doing for us because it reminds us of the process by which we assign or strip away powers to our governmental entities.
Whew! Sorry for the rant, but I think that certain factions conveniently forget that we do have guiding documents which inform our thinking and debate on these matters. Now to Shaun’s questions…
1) What is it government must do because we cannot do it for ourselves?
I’ll defer to the Constitution on this one. It seems clear from the Preamble and the various enumerations of powers that the drafters of the Constitution had a fairly limited view of what government must do for us. Over the years, the phrase “promote the general Welfare” from the Preamble has been distorted and perverted to suggest everything from the actual welfare system (something clearly not intended by the language at the time) to redistribution of wealth to social engineering to any number of other perhaps well-meaning but still ill-conceived ideas.
Clearly I can’t defend the borders of the entire country, nor can I single-handedly (or even in small groups) ensure justice (even assuming we can agree on what “justice” really is). But creating jobs? Making our toys safe? That’s better left to the private sector and handled using existing laws and structures of commerce.
2) Which things on Senator Obama’s list belong and which don’t?
Here are the items that do belong (simply because it’s a shorter list):
- Protect us from harm
- Keep our water clean (see previous)
- Eliminate government programs that don’t work
- Make government programs that do work more efficient
Everything else on the list is something that can be accomplished without direct government involvement or intervention. I won’t bother to dissect the entire list, but the idea that government should “invest” in anything is preposterous. Government has no money to invest in anything other than what it takes from me through taxation or accumulates through return on those taxes.
3) Which things would you add to Obama’s list?
There’s really nothing else that needs to be added to the list. When in doubt, refer to the Constitution. I don’t remember reading that the government should guarantee a job for every person willing to work or provide affordable health care to every citizen. I realize there are some who would chalk that up to keeping us from harm or promoting the general welfare, but perhaps these aren’t rights guaranteed to us after all…
And here are Shaun’s “bonus questions”:
1) Is everything we aren’t doing for ourselves stuff we can’t and shouldn’t do for ourselves?
Probably not. We’ve abdicated our personal responsibility to our governmental entities in so many ways, from the education of our children to the management of our finances. And it only continues to worsen. With the exception of national defense and potentially the regulation of interstate activities (primarily commerce), there’s very little we can’t do for ourselves. We simply choose not to. It’s easier to let “the government” feed and clothe the poor, educate our kids, handle our savings, etc. That frees us up to watch more television, buy more stuff, and live the “good life”.
Frankly, we’ve become soft and complacent. Just as it was easier to let our parents tell us what to do and pick up our rooms for us and drive us to various places and fix our meals, etc., it’s easier for us to expect the government to do the same. But abdication means that sooner or later you don’t get to make decisions on even the things you want to because you’ll eventually give up your rights to everything.
2) Should government do the things we aren’t doing but should be doing or stick to the things we truly can’t do?
If we want the government to do something for us, then let’s ammend the Constitution and state that desire directly. Otherwise, let’s stick to the defined role of government and move on. I want my governmental entities to really do the hard stuff for me (defend the country, regulate interstate matters, etc.). I don’t want government creating jobs or directly managing health care or educating my kids. And if government would stop interfering with our ability to do these things, there’s no telling how quickly we could make demonstrative changes.
The problem is that too many Americans believe they can’t make it happen without government just as too many of our kids believe they can’t do anything without Mommy and Daddy helping out. In our house, the most vile words spoken are “I can’t…”. We should feel the same way as adults. “I can’t get a job.” Let the government give me one. “I can’t discipline my kids.” Let the government handle that. “I can’t afford gas for my car.” Heck, why can’t the government just go into the oil business?
We can do pretty much anything we set our minds to. We’ve just forgotten that less than 300 years ago, we built this country without a lot of government interference or involvement. We’ve forgotten how to be independent, in both thought and deed.
3) Is the only alternative to our individual ability the government’s collective ability? Are my only choices me and them?
No. There’s at least one other choice, and it’s “us”. “We the people” has meaning. It has meaning when thousands of people band together to help victims of natural disasters such as Katrina (yet another example where government of all parties failed us). It has meaning when neighbors patrol their streets to reduce crime. It has meaning when we donate our time, money, and other resources to help those less fortunate. And we do it every single day. We do it not because we expect to get something back but because we believe it’s the right thing to do.
Sure, there are those who will take advantage of others. But those kinds of people have been around forever and will continue to be around long after we’re gone. And some of those people are politicians who thrive on continuing to sow seeds of discontent and rancor (actually, that’s probably most politicians) so that we “need” them.
Looking back, this is one of the most rambling and disorganized posts I’ve ever written. But the ideas here are worth considering and discussing further. In the end, government is “us”, just like your high school civics teacher told you. To believe that government is anything else or that somehow government is imbued with some special powers we didn’t grant it is ludicrous on its face.
Thanks to Shaun for his original post. I’ll now be combing McCain’s statements and speeches for his list…
Posted on September 1st, 2008
Mandy Thompson is challenging everyone to “DO something”. What are you DOing?