Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I am voting for John McCain and Why You Should Too?

Many who know me, know that I have not been a huge supporter of Senator John McCain in the past. During the primaries, my support was behind Fred Thompson first, and then Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. I have heard many arguments from conservatives like me, who are thinking about sitting this election out because McCain has compromised with Democrats. The rationale for many of these conservatives has essentially been, "if John McCain is not 100% a conservative, I will not compromise my vote."

Conservatives listen to me. Ronald Reagan believed if someone agreed with him 70% of the time, that person was his friend, not his enemy. That my friends (to steal a frequently used line from John McCain) is why Senator McCain is our friend, not our enemy. Many, especially from Bible-believing churches and seminaries, come from a background and belief system where compromise is wrong. Yes, compromise is wrong when it comes to issues of biblical doctrine and with sin. You should never compromise in those important areas. In politics though, we will NEVER get someone who is in 100% agreement with us. That being said, look at the issues facing our country. John McCain is clearly the best choice for President of the United States. Why?

First of all, Barack Obama has said he wants to "fundamentally change America." I understand change is always an election buzzword (This year aren't we getting change either way? Bush isn't running is he?) but "fundamentally change America?" All you have heard Obama's quotes and beliefs, his desire to increase government, his association with terrorists who have bombed the Pentagon and other government officials, (and who have not disavowed those beliefs) and his goal of "spread[ing] the wealth around." He wants to give a tax cut to 95% of Americans, yet only 50% currently pay taxes. Since when does the government just cut a check (or a bribe) to people who are not even contributing productively? This election is a referendum on the extreme liberal beliefs of our nation's most liberal senator. He cannot be elected.

Second, our country is in the middle of a war. John McCain has always been strong on the war, to the point of disagreeing with President Bush's strategy and being a supporter from the start of the strategy that is earning us victory in Iraq. McCain has combat experience and a proven track record of supporting our military. He has command experience as a squadron leader in the U.S. Navy. What executive experience does Barack Obama have? How does being a community organizer and a senator for 150 days make you ready to be commander-in-chief in the middle of a war?

The most important issue to consider when voting is the President's role of nominating candidates to the Supreme Court. Everyone knows how a simple 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court can make can create constitutional rights where none previously existed, or for that matter were never intended to have existed (ie. the right to have an abortion.) Senator Obama has said he would like to see justices that would "do more" to change our country economically. I digress, but the role of the Court is to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, not create new ones. A President McCain will nominate justices that have a respect for the Constitution. He has proven to be pro-life in his voting record and will not seek to "fundamentally change America" in his court nominations. Currently there are five justices who are older than 70 so there is a very good chance there could be one, two, or even three nominations to the Court during the next President's term.

Do you want to "fundamentally change America?" I happen to believe we live on the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Is it perfect? No. But there is a reason thousands of people try to cross our borders and you do not hear much about people leaving here to go elsewhere. If you want to see an increase in abortion on demand, a weakened job market because the people doing the hiring have to avoid tax increases, and an overall intrusion into the lives of private citizens by a growing government, by all means, vote for Barack Obama. If you care about reduced goverment, do not think we should spread the wealth around just because people have earned more than others, and care about the Constitution, you need to vote for John McCain.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Recovering from Disasters with Different Mindsets

Last night my wife and I watched the Weather Channel's "When Weather Changed History." This particular episode focused on the Great Chicago Fire. I was struck by the mentality of the people following the disaster. Instead of wallowing, they immediately went back to work to make Chicago a better city than it was before the fire. City father, William Ogden, at the age of 67, dedicated himself to fixing the problems that fed the flames. This despite his own home and belongings being destroyed, as well as the business that earned him his wealth which was destroyed in a similar fire storm in Wisconsin. Many of the residents returned to their burned down properties to clean the debris and immediately begin rebuilding. Young architect Louis Sullivan, saw an opportunity to establish himself and came to Chicago. He ended up designing numerous famous structures and earned himself the title "Father of Modernism." Chicago ended up rising from the literal ashes, all without the help of FEMA.

Contrast this with the attitudes which came out of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The focus was not on what the people of New Orleans could do to make their city better, but on what the federal government was going to do to solve their problems. Many people who could have provided needed services were turned away because they did not have proper FEMA credentials. Many New Orleans' residents, instead of going home and beginning to rebuild, were responsible for widespread looting. Many were also provided trailers (by FEMA of course), to give them temporary shelter until their homes were rebuilt. Most of these trailers are still being used homes, now nearly three years later.

Why mention this? This presidential election campaign has brought the argument from Senator Obama that capitalism and the desire to earn profits is evil and seeks to take advantage of the needy, while the government is good and desires to help people. Louis Sullivan, instead of being hailed as a hero for helping rebuild Chicago, would be denigrated today as greedy capitalist. Further, he would have not been allowed to help today, because government "experts" would be utilized instead. Our economy is in a rough state right now. Which method of rebuilding would you want? Chicago's, where the city became bigger and better? Or New Orlean's, which continues to be dependent on the nipples of the federal government and refuses to take their city to another level? If you choose Chicago, the choice Tuesday is clear, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mid-Season BCS Bowl Projections

National Title Game - Texas vs. Penn St. (Alabama will lose at least once.)

Rose Bowl - USC vs. Alabama (Hopefully Mitch Dorger realizes the flaw in bringing the Big 10 back for more. Remember all the rumors about LSU last year before they backed into the title game, it might come true this year with Crimson Tide representing the SEC in Pasadena)

Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Boise State (Broncos earn another non-BCS conference berth)

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. West Virginia

Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Ohio State (Buckeyes return to the site of BCS championship in '02 in a scenario that won't upset fans nationwide that they are back in a BCS game.)

Of course all this gets thrown off if Oregon State wins out, and thus earns the Pac-10 automatic Rose Bowl berth. In that case, here are my predictions for that scenario, which is becoming increasingly more likely. By the way, this could be disastrous for the Rose Bowl. The good news though would be Ohio State is not invited to a BCS bowl!

NCG - Texas vs. Penn State

Rose Bowl - Oregon State vs. West Virginia (Can I start sleeping now?)

Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Boise State (Can Broncos save money by just having Florida bring both uniforms?)

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Alabama

Fiesta Bowl - USC vs. Oklahoma (in probably the best BCS bowl matchup)

Big 12 Conference: Clearly the Top Conference this Year?

The college football pundits nationwide have made a case that the Big 12 has surpassed the SEC and established itself as the top conference in the country this year. Who can argue with a conference which has at #1 Texas, #4 Oklahoma, #7 Texas Tech, #9 Oklahoma State, and #14 Missouri? (Using this week's BCS standings.) In my humble opinion, for a conference to truly establish itself, it must have a few key wins out of conference. So what are the big wins the top five teams in the Big 12 have won?

Missouri - Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, Nevada, Buffalo (none of them on the road.)
Oklahoma State - at Washington State, Houston, Missouri State, Troy
Texas Tech - Eastern Washington, at Nevada (evidently Nevada is trying to join the Big 12), Southern Methodist, Massachusetts
Oklahoma - Chattanooga, Cincinnati, at Washington, TCU

Clearly, all of these teams built their reputations on blowing out weaker opponents. Now they can go around and brag about having four teams in the top 15 because they have played no one, the strongest team on this non-conference schedule being TCU, currently BCS #13. Everyone hears about Okie State's great offense. They scored 39 on Wash St. Four Pac-10 schools have dropped 60+ on the Cougars. Texas has supposedly proven themselves by beating Oklahoma. Who cares? Oklahoma hasn't beaten a good team out of conference since George W. Bush was popular! Now obviously every conference has teams that play "gimme games." The Big 12 (and the SEC) though don't get the criticism the Pac-10 and Big-10 do for playing them.

I do not write this claiming the Big 12 is a poor conference. I believe they are a good conference, just not more elite than the others. Take the Pac-10's top four teams, and give them the OOC schedules of these four teams. Oregon State, by playing one of these schedules instead of going to Happy Valley would be a top 10 team having beaten USC. USC would have only one loss, to a top 10 team, and would be looked at as Oklahoma is now. California, instead of playing a road game that kicked off at 10:00 am Pacific time (the Maryland game), would only have a conference loss and be a top 15 team. Oregon, playing its third string quarterback would only have a loss to USC (and would not have played Boise State.) No one in Norman should be critical of that.

While the Big 12 conference games have been high scoring and entertaining, all college football fans need to evaluate those games with a grain of salt because until they step out of conference against a quality opponent, they have not proven they are better than any other conference. Recognition: Post on the Ohio State-Penn State game chosen as one of the best of the week

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ohio State vs. Penn State from the view of USC and SEC fans

Saturday marks what may turn out to be the championship game of the Big 10 this season. Looking at the upcoming schedule in the Big 10, this game may be even more important for people that do not want to see another Big 10 team in the national title game, namely SEC fans and USC fans. Look at this game from their perspectives.

For the SEC fan, they face the very real possibility that the national title game could feature an undefeated Penn State and the champion of the Big 12, thus leaving an undefeated or one-loss team from the SEC out of the title picture. It would very simple to make an argument that a one loss Florida, Georgia, or Alabama (should they lose) should go over a one loss team from any other conference. This argument can't be made though when there are undefeated teams out there. SEC fans know that if Ohio State wins Saturday, they are in a safer position of having a team in the BCS title game.

USC fans should follow this game for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is USC's 35-3 defeat of Ohio State on September 3. Should it come down to a one-loss team being chosen for the BCS title game, the fact USC convincingly handled OSU will eliminate OSU from title contention. (Of course there will be the argument about teams from other conferences but that is for a later story.) The other factor involved is Oregon State. Oregon State lost at Penn St. 45-14, but then later defeated USC in Corvallis. USC fans (of which I am one) can argue all they want about the Penn State playing a weak schedule (both in and out of conference) but no argument will get a one-loss USC in ahead of an undefeated Penn State. The cheer of every 'SC fan this weekend should be "Go Buckeye's." (The Trojans better take care of business in Tucson though or its Holiday or Sun Bowl time.)

Now that USC and the SEC are united for once in hoping for an Ohio State victory, let me tell you why I see the Buckeyes losing to the Nittany Lions. It goes back to the USC-Ohio State game. Jim Tressel knows the only argument he can make for his one-loss team to go to the national title game is to show that his team is drastically different than the one that lost in the Coliseum. How is it different? Terrelle Pryor plays every snap at quarterback and Chris Wells is back at tailback. This is similar to what Arkansas tried a couple years back with starting Mitch Mustain after their opening blowout loss to USC and went 8-0 after that loss. The rationale being that the team that lost was significantly different than the team that is now winning.

So what does that have to do with this weekend's game against Penn State? It means the quarterback with the best chance of beating Penn State, Todd Boeckman will be on the bench. Boeckman has taken OSU to a title game and has the experience and poise to win big games. Instead it will be the youthful and emotional Pryor leading the team. Many OSU fans point to Boeckman's poor showing in the USC game as the reason to play Pryor. In reality all Tressel is doing is throwing Boeckman under the bus for that game. Boeckman never got into a rhythm because Pryor got all the short throws in the USC game while Boeckman was only making mid to long throws against what is arguably the nation's best defense. Its unfair for Buckeye fans to pin that loss on Boeckman's shoulders. Its also unfair for Tressel to take his senior quarterback and bench him so he can make a case for another national title appearance. This time though I'm afraid it will hurt his team against Penn State.

So how long will this USC-SEC unity last? Not long. Both will be back at each other's throats the next week to be sure, but how is this for an interesting thought? Penn State and Texas win out and play for the national title. Oregon State wins out and represents the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. USC gets a BCS at large and goes to the Sugar Bowl and faces who? The SEC champion, whoever that may be.

USC fans and SEC fans would rather be in the BCS title game though. Go Buckeyes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Cute Carson Story

Last night, after getting home from work, Christina and I were eating dinner on the porch and listening to the start of the Dodger game on the radio. (Shocking I know!) One of the many things that entertains Carson is when I swing this mini wooden baseball bat I have and say "Bam" or "Crack" when I swing it. 

Well, during the intro to the game, there are a series of highlights of Vin Scully calling many famous plays in Dodger history. When that came on, Carson "ran" into the house, grabbed the mini-bat, and brought it to me so I could swing it for him. Then for the next few minutes he walked around with it trying to swing it himself while yelling an almost sixteen month version of "crack."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Uganda Trip - Thoughts and Questions Raised

Going to Uganda certainly caused me to think and evaluate my Christian walk at home and how I can better serve. Some of the questions I am considering are:

1. How can I be involved in vocational ministry as a police officer? The point of our conference was to communicate from the Bible how to use your career as a way of serving the Lord. Clearly as a police officer I am involved in the pursuit of justice, but how can I better use that pursuit of justice to serve Christ.

2. How can I (and my family) be involved in mercy ministry at home? America does not have the numbers of widows and orphans that Africa has, but by no means are they they only ones who are in need of mercy stateside. It is very easy to be involved in church activities, yet never actually be of service to Christ. As one member of our team said, "If hear about another Ladies' Tea I could scream!" Obviously fellowship and spending time with other believers is important, but how is our service?

3. How can our family better practice biblical hospitality? The Hurley's are tremendous example of hospitality, taking people into their home, feeding them meals, and eventually sharing the gospel with them. Its easy for me to look at our home as just that, our home. When one of our team asked Danielle Hurley how she is able to have so many people staying in and visiting the home, her reply was its easy when you look at it as God's home we are staying in, rather than our home. 

One of the lessons learned of course is to be thankful for the many blessings God has given me here, a home, health as well as good medical care, good traffic (you read that right!), as well as freedom. Of course with all of that comes a ton of responsibility. Am I properly using all these blessings to the Lord's benefit instead of mine?

Many of you who read this have gone overseas at some point (or know someone who did.) Feel free to post what your thoughts were upon returning home and what you have done to change your way of living upon coming back.

My Uganda Trip - Part 4

Sunday morning we had the opportunity to worship in the church service which takes place in the Hurley's home. Following a time of worship and taking communion, Shannon preached a message he has titled, "The Kingly Reign of God." After demonstrating from Scripture God's right to reign, he asked the question, how can God rule over our lives today? One of the key answers to this question was of course meditating on the Word of God day and night. He also made a point that reading and studying Christian books is not the same as meditating and studying the Bible. While books are a great tool for understanding the Bible and for gaining new knowledge, if we truly believe the promises of 2 Timothy 3.16-17, then our emphasis needs to be on knowing the Bible.

Monday was our final day in Uganda, waking up to an awesome thunderstorm. In the morning, we visited the International Justice Mission in Kampala. The Uganda  director, Ali McKinney, and one of their lawyers, Daniel Kajubi, had been speakers at the UCU conference. IJM is a Christian organization that advocates on behalf of widows, orphans, and other victims of injustice who either have been denied legal recourse, or are unaware of how they have been wronged. Ali shared with us that the main focus of IJM in Uganda right now is property-grabbing from widows. While property owned by a couple should go to the wife upon the death of her husband, often the husband's family or another relative will come in and make a claim on the property, including the use of forged documents, etc. IJM has a team of investigators, one of whom is a retired 17 year veteran of the Ugandan Police, who look into these crimes and then work alongside the police in helping the investigation. IJM's lawyers, all of whom are Ugandan, then assist in the court-related issues. I learned that the cooperation between IJM and the police has worked so well that many of the stations have even put in an IJM desk for the investigators when they are there working.

The day rounded out with a trip to the Bugandan Palace. Buganda is the largest of the Ugandan tribes and the king's palace is located in Kampala. On the palace grounds is a tunnel that was used by Idi Amin as a prison chamber. The tunnel had rooms off to the side and then would be filled with water once prisoners were inside. Electrical wires would then be placed in the water and should any of the prisoners try to escape, they could be electrocuted. Some of Amin's prisoners would have included Christians and potential political opposition.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Uganda Trip - Part 3

Saturday May 31st involved a drive to Jinga, Uganda. Jinga is known as the starting point of the Nile River as it begins its flow from Lake Victoria there. Our first stop was to the Amani Baby Cottage. Mark and Lisa Tatlock have adopted two kids out of there. It was both joyful and sad the hour we spent there. Needless to say the kids loved the attention our staff team and the college student team brought! One little guy, a one-year old (as of June 4) named Matthew particularly caught my attention. I was sitting and watching them eat snack and then picked him up after he was changed. After carrying him around a few minutes I went to put him down so he could crawl outside with the rest of his age group. Matthew however wanted nothing to do with it and grabbed onto me with all of his might. After a while it was time to go and when I gave him back to the orphanage "Mama" he again tried to hold on as long as he could and started crying when she finally took him. I later learned that Matthew is HIV positive as are many of the orphans in Africa. Even many of the orphans who are not HIV positive, are orphans because their parents died from HIV/AIDS. While medication for HIV is to the point that many of these children will be able to live relatively normal lives, its especially heartbreaking to see how that disease has affected so many people in Uganda and throughout Africa. What a joy it was though to see a Christian based orphanage that cares for more than just the orphans physical needs and for us to be able to bring them some joy, if only for an hour or so. As we got back onto the bus, it was gut-wrenching to see many of the kids run to the fence and wave goodbye to us.

After leaving Amani, we went to Nile Baptist Church and met Pastor Alfred Adundo. Interesting story about Alfred. When Mark Tatlock (who is a senior Vice President at TMC) was in Jinja for the adoption of his kids, he was looking for a church to worship in on a Sunday. Not knowing a thing about Nile Baptist, he walked in and heard Pastor Alfred preaching the Word. Afterward, while talking with Alfred, he saw Alfred had a MacArthur Study Bible and learned Alfred had won it an African Pastor's Conference. This led Alfred to ask Mark if he knew John MacArthur and if he was still alive! Mark of course responded that MacArthur was alive and well, and not only did he know him, he worked for him! On this visit, Mark was able to bring him a letter from MacArthur as well as a box of books from him.

Nile Baptist is a church on the receiving end of Compassion International money that sponsors individual children in Africa. If you ever worry about that money getting to the kids, no need to here. The church has meticulous records where each cent is directed. Alfred and his church have a tremendous ministry to the orphans and needy families in Jinja. Beyond the Compassion ministry though, they also started their own outreach in the slums east of Jinja, called the Macedonian Child Outreach Program. Many of the kids in these slums are refugees of the civil war in northern Uganda and their fathers are either out of the picture or unemployed. Their mothers frequently find work illegally making alcohol from the residue of sugar cane, earning the equivalent of $0.03 a day. The church has confronted this problem by starting an educational program in which the children are taught the gospel. We got to visit this slum and the kids in the program performed their songs they were learning in which they memorized significant amounts of Scripture and clearly understood the meaning of the gospel. It was an enjoyable experience to spend a couple of hours with the kids there who apart from Christ have no hope.

The slums are just one part of Nile Baptist's outreach ministry. After leaving the slums, we went to one of the main Ugandan prisons where one of Alfred's associates has begun a prison ministry. We had the opportunity to go into both the women prisoner's chapel and the main courtyard of the men's prison where Ugandan prisoners led worship and then Mark preached from Acts 16. Afterward, many of the prisoners came up to us and thanked us for coming. I have to admit, being a police officer, it was little awkward being in the middle of a prison yard and speaking freely with the prisoners. While Mark was preaching, it was exciting to see so many of the prisoners had their Bibles out and were taking notes on whatever little bit of paper they had. It was something many church going people stateside need to see.

The day in Jinja concluded with a trip to the source of the Nile. At the water's edge you can walk out on these two foot wide planks that extend out to jetties placed in the river every 15' or so. It's a little hairy because the current is pretty strong, and while swimmable, its not the most healthy water you would want to fall into. It was a beautiful sight though to be standing in the middle of one of the wonders of God's creation as the sun was emerging from behind clouds. I hope I can show many of you my pictures of this sight.

Our ride back to Mukono was tempered by the traffic accident scene we witnessed. A taxi bus, similar to the one we were in, had collided with a boda boda (a moped) and 14 had died in the collision. Police were on scene but it was more a recovery effort than a rescue effort. The scene provided a forceful reminder of the great need for salvation, both in Africa and America.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Uganda Trip - Part 2

Following the conference, which took place last Tueday and Wednesday, we took the day on Thursday to travel out to Luwero, Uganda. The Luwero District is where Shannon and Danielle Hurley, missionaries from Grace Community Church who are also supported by our church at Placerita Baptist, are going to be moving to in the next year. Shannon recently purchased property in Luwero, which is about 70 miles from where they currently based in Mukono, so they can better reach and disciple the impoverished people living in the "bush." While we were out there we saw numerous Ugandan homes which were really red brick made from the ground with thached roofs. Income there is non-existent as is education. Agriculture provides the only means to survive.

Shannon shared with us his plans for ministry in Luwero. He had George Crawford read Hebrews 11, the "Hall of Faith chapter", and described how his ministry there will truly be a ministry of faith. The Hurley's will be building a home there from the ground up, as well as a small school and a church. Shannon's plans are to help the poor Ugandans of Luwero by educating them and providing a home for the many orphans there. In turn, he will bring the Gospel to them and train up leaders who will start churches.

Following our time in Luwero we traveled to the west side of Kampala, the capital, where we toured the Watoto Village. Watoto is an orphanage started by Kampala Pentecostal Church. Instead of making the orphanage an institution, Watoto brings in widows and places them over "homes" in the village. These "homes" of course are populated with 8-10 orphans. While nothing is as good as a family setting, this model mirrors a family as close as possible for these widows and orphans. Each "home" is sponsored by a church, usually costing somewhere around $30,000 I believe, so each dorm in the village is sponsored by a church, primarily in the United States. There are also medical facilities, a school, and a church on the Watoto grounds.

While not a day spent in "active" ministry, it was a special time of seeing how the Lord is working in Uganda to bring the gospel and show mercy to widows and orphans.

Friday we spent in the places of government in Kampala. We met with a high court judge who is a believer. He explained how the justice system works in Uganda and he spoke on the types of cases he hears, specifically dealing with financial mismanagement and fraud, especially with government contracts.

We also toured the Parliament building, including the actual floor of Parliament as well as the VIP waiting chambers where visiting heads of state would come when visiting Parliament. During our visit with met with MP (member of Parliament) Otto Odonga (actually in Uganda names are written last then first so I should write MP Odonga Otto.) Otto is a member of the opposition party and is also pursuing his law degree at Uganda Christian University. During our visit he told us how he had brought forth evidence of bribery within Parliament but was forced to go to a committee to prove his allegations or be disciplined by the Parliament. The opposition parties main issue with the governing party is that the constitution keeps getting changed to allow President Museveni to remain in power. Originally it was to be only two terms, but was changed so he could run again recently. Uganda is just in the early stages of a two-party system. In fact, their constitution is only 12 years old so you can imagine the growing pains their democratic government is going through after years of harsh dictators such as Idi Amin and the overall lack of freedom.

Friday night we had the opportunity to attend the opening night of the Passion Conference Kampala. Passion is a ministry by Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin directed toward college-age students. It has been based strictly stateside before, but this year is traveling to many parts of the world. While Christina and I own some of Chris Tomlin's music, neither of us had seen him perform live or Matt Redman, who was also at Passion. Its kind of ironic the first time was in Kampala, Uganda. At the conference our team also met with Francis Chan, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, who was speaking at the conference. Though Francis is a fellow alum of Master's and pastors nearby, I had never met him. Again, kind of ironic. It made for a great night though to sing praises with Chris and Matt and hear Louie Giglio challenge the Ugandan crowd to follow God and believe in the Gospel.

Please check back later and I'll wrap up the wonderful time spent on the Uganda trip.

My Uganda Trip - Part 1

Well you can see by checking my posts that it has been a significant amount of time since I last posted. I think though the Uganda trip provides me good motivation to get back in a habit of posting.

Tuesday afternoon I returned from an eleven day trip to Uganda. The main purpose in going was to be part of a conference at Uganda Christian University which was led mainly by faculty from both UCU and The Master's College. This two-day conference was titled "God, Law, and Justice" and was directed toward law students at the university (the second largest university in Uganda) but there were also some outside attenders, including a member of the Ugandan Parliament.

Some of the speakers at the conference included Vice-Chancellor of UCU (equivalent of the President) Stephen Noll, Dr. John Stead, Dr. Mark Tatlock, Dr. George Crawford, Josh Mack, as well as members of UCU's Law and Theology Departments. Particularly powerful was UCU's Dean of Law, George Kasozi who spoke on religious persecution and the legal perspective. Kasozi speaks with authority since in the late seventies he was imprisoned by Idi Amin and was set to be executed for his faith when the Lord spared his life at that time when the man who was to oversee his execution was involved in a car accident on the way to where he was imprisoned! Overall, the purpose of the conference was to communicate ways your chosen vocation can be used for effective ministry. 

My small contribution was a seminar titled "A Biblical Perspective on Law Enforcement." While many of those attending the conference are headed into careers as lawyers, many will also be the future leaders of Uganda. The main theme I hoped to communicate was you can have the most honorable and ethical national/district government, but if your police force is dishonorable and unethical, justice is not properly meted out. Further, I hoped to communicate from God's Word the picture of a godly police officer. Following the seminars we took questions from the audience and some of the questions I dealt with included how it was possible to trust the police, was justice at the enforcement level even possible, and what do you do if your leaders give you an order that violates the law? Those issues, as well as issues of bribery and payment for services are issues that face Ugandans in their relations with their police force. 

The highlight of the conference was at the conclusion of the second day. A young man who is a fourth-year law student (final year) approached one of his professors, Daniel Kajubi, (who is also a lawyer for the International Justice Mission) and told him he was convicted of his sin from all the teaching, realized he was unsaved, and asked Daniel how he could be saved. Daniel then had the opportunity to take this young man outside and lead him to the Lord. Please pray for this young man that he will continue to grow in godliness.

The conference was a tremendous two days of teaching from God's Word. I was truly humbled speaking with such great men of the faith as Kasozi, Stead, and Tatlock. 

Tomorrow I'll attempt to update the next couple of days of our whirlwind trip to Africa.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It Must Be March

Does my wife know me or what? Last night I was working late but I was curious how the Democratic Primaries had gone. Since I could not check the radio or internet, I sent Christina a text message which said, "Who won Texas and Ohio?"

After a few minutes my wife responded with, "Texas beat Nebraska and Ohio St. also won."

It must be getting close to tournament time!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

An Interesting Note

On page 136 of Mike Huckabee's From Hope to Higher Ground, Huckabee writes the United States should "set a realistic timetable [emphasis added] for accomplishing" our goals in Iraq. Funny, I did not hear Senator McCain criticize Huckabee for saying the same thing Mitt Romney said. 

Saturday, February 2, 2008

For Those Voting for (or Considering) Mike Huckabee

Please understand that by voting for Mike Huckabee, you are splitting up the conservative vote and are giving the nomination to John McCain. I know you have your problems with Mitt Romney, namely because he is Mormon, but also because you feel he has "flip-flopped" on issues if you believe McCain. The criticism of Romney has been 1) He used to be pro-choice 2) He is a Republican from a liberal state. Please consider a past Republican candidate, who when he ran for President was also accused of "flip-flopping." This candidate...

... used to be a registered Democrat.
... was the governor of a predominantly liberal state.
... voted to raise taxes in his first year as Governor.
... signed a pro-abortion law.

Who was this flip-flopper compromiser? None other than Ronald Reagan, quite possibly the greatest pro-life President of recent history (though a good case could be made for our current President). 

Compare that to Romney. Romney has never been a Democrat, never raised taxes (only raised some outdated fees which had not been updated in years), and not only did not sign any pro-abortion laws, he vetoed four of them!

Those of you considering Huckabee are thinking of the pro-life issue only and I'm telling you, there is no difference between the two. All the President can do to affect abortion is appoint conservative judges, Romney has a record of doing so. Further, please show me how Huckabee understands the issues we face overseas in foreign affairs. I wrote more about this below in my blog artice "Mike Huckabee: True Conservative?"

Huckabee cannot win. He is only getting votes from evangelicals who will not vote for a Mormon. Get over it. American national elections are not issues of eternal salvation. We are voting for someone who will be the most qualified President, not the most qualified pastor.

Which leads me to my final point on Huckabee. Many evangelicals are voting for Huck because of his "solid Christian views." Please tell me how these following two examples are "solid Christian views."

- "I had been an admirer of [Robert Schuller] for thirty years because of the life-lifting message that he called 'possibility thinking,' a unique blend of positive thinking and traditional faith..." and "If there was any doubt of the authenticity of this man (Schuller) and his ministry, it was erased when I met his family." Also, "I realized his most significant achievement [was] a family who embodied the optimism, the kindness, and the openness of his messages." (quoted pg. 24 of From Hope to Higher Ground by Mike Huckabee, published in 2007). 

- "And I believe God put this whole creative process into motion. How he did it and the time frame [emphasis added] in which he did it, I honestly don't know."

I think I know a source I could point Huckabee to so he can learn the time frame of the "creative process."

That being said, please vote for the guy who can win, will carry on in a debate against Clinton or Obama, and has the experience necessary to be President; Mitt Romney. 

Final thought: Have you considered that Huckabee has no criticism for McCain (despite the faults I posted in my last article) yet is all over Romney? Could it be he has a VP slot saved for him in a McCain nomination? That would be a sell-out of the conservative side. I have read Mike Huckabee's book. How many of you pro-Hucksters can say that? If you read it, you will see he is not a true conservative, and will be a disappointment to the Republican party.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Review: "A Mormon in the White House?" by Hugh Hewitt

Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt is familiar to many. I listen to him locally on KRLA 870 AM (or the parts I want to on his podcast found at When it became apparent over a year ago that Massachusetts's governor, Mitt Romney was going to be a leading candidate for the Republican nomination as President, he wrote this book examining Romney's views and looking at the problems a Mormon would face running for President in the United States.

Hewitt begins the book with a look at Romney's background, including his father's run for the presidency, his life at Bain & Company and Bain Capital, the turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and his family life. The key elements of the book though are, obviously, the sections on Romney's positions, how the Mormon issue will affect Romney's candidacy, and the advantages Romney has as a candidate.

Pro-Life: Romney readily admits he came around to this position in 1994. This was at the time when he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy. Hewitt argues Romney would be for a strict interpretation of the Constitution, thus helping the pro-life movement in the courts. He also points out that Romney, as governor, vetoed four provisions that would have expanded abortion rights and that he kept his promise to not pass any new pro-abortion laws. (Something to keep in mind. If Romney had run saying he would ban abortion, he NEVER would have been elected in liberal Massachusetts. Another thing to consider is this: He took a pro-life stance/change in 1994 when it would have been advantageous to stay pro-choice.)
Traditional Marriage: Hewitt points out Romney strongly attacked the Mass. Supreme Court and their forcing of gay marriage onto the legislature. 
Governorship: Romney frequently hired people from outside of government who brought a fresh, business-like mindset to the Mass. executive office. He also was able to balance the budget within a year without raising taxes. Hewitt also went into detail on Romney's health care plan which utilized private insurance companies, expanded health care, did not raise taxes, and did not create any new government programs.

Mormon issue:
Hewitt brings up three arguments people (and other candidates) would use to argue against electing a Mormon; that Salt Lake City would be calling the shots, it would supercharge Mormon missionary work, and "it's just too weird." Hewitt argues that SLC would not call the shots anymore than the Vatican did during the Kennedy presidency (which wasn't much at all) and that if Romney were to just follow Mormon leadership, it would greatly discredit (and after four years) end his Presidency. He also points out, in regard to the supercharged missionary work, that a President has very little impact on the faith of the individuals of a nation. People come to faith based on the personal witness of individuals, not because their national leader is of that faith. For instance, could you argue that the number of evangelicals has risen in the past eight years due to President Bush? Hewitt's response to the "weird" argument should clearly dispel this point. Hewitt shows that to non-Christians, the beliefs of Christianity would seem pretty "weird" also. He makes this argument not to say Mormons are equal to Christians in saving faith, but to point out that while the argument may be used against a Mormon today, it could be used against a Christian tomorrow.

While Hewitt gave a bunch of other advantages (public persona, ability to fund a campaign, etc) the best advantage he gave Romney is that he IS NOT John McCain. While at the time of the writing of the book, Hewitt did not see Huckabee as a main player, he points out Romney's candidacy is much more appealing to a Republican base that despises McCain's numerous compromises and arrogance. He also shows Romney is much more appealing to the base when compared with Giuliani's liberal social views.

The book got off on a wrong note when it referred to the Korean War starting in 1947 (It started in 1950) and it is already slightly outdated since it does not factor in Huckabee's strong showing. While the date of the war is wrong, the point of the story fits well with the book and it can probably be attributed to editor error anyway. That being said, the book does a great job of showing who Mitt Romney is, and provides a solid argument as to why Republicans should vote for him. If you have not voted yet, I recommend you read this book.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mike Huckabee: True Conservative?

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has established himself as the leading Republican presidential candidate among "evangelical Christians." I have read some of Huckabee's material and he appears to be a genuine believer, but I believe his support among evangelicals is not so much due to his viewpoints on the issues (with the exception being his strong pro-life stance) but due to the fact he is an evangelical and he is not...

the Mormon (Romney)
the philanderer (Giuliani)
the compromiser (McCain)
or the actor (Thompson).

I have established a voting criteria I use when evaluating candidates for national office. All are consistent with a Republican conservative viewpoint on the issues. Here is my criteria using an alliteration so it can be easily remembered:

1. Strong national defense.
2. Strict constitutionalist.
3. Sealed borders.
4. Supply-side economist
5. Small-government supporter.
(Note: I am sure my fellow pro-life readers will see this and immediately be upset I have not placed "Pro-Life" in my list. In my way of thinking, someone could not be both pro-choice and a strict constitutionalist, since the pro-choice argument reads into the Constitution. I write this because this argument is the only basis for the pro-Huck argument.)

Now lets evaluate Huckabee against these common-held beliefs of conservatives.

We are at war right now. While Huckabee's website says some good things about finishing the war against terror, what has he done to prepare himself to be commander-in-chief; the most important of presidential roles? You would think he has a staff of national security advisers to keep him updated. According to Rich Lowry in his "National Review" commentary today, he claimed former UN ambassador John Bolton as his advisor, but then later had to reveal he had only emailed him once without following up. I would hope for more from a possible future leader of the world's strongest nation.

Further, Huckabee, as does many "Christian" leaders, (such as Jimmy Carter) uses biblical instruction for individuals and attempts to apply it to government. Take for instance Huckabee's quote regarding Iran;
"We haven't had diplomatic relationships with Iran in almost thirty years, most
of my entire adult life. And a lot of good it's done. Putting this in human terms, all
of us know that when we stop talking to a parent, or a sibling, or even a friend, its
impossible to resolve the differences to move that relationship forward. Well, the same
is true for countries."

No it is not true Mr. Huckabee. Do unto others as you would have done to you is a good, solid, and biblical rule for relationships with others. The government, according to Romans 13, "bears[s] the sword" so we can be free from fear of evil. Having Huckabee as President would only allow Iran to continue to build up their weapons and we know they have a leader who thinks he is supposed to bring down God's judgement on Israel and the western countries. So while Huckabee denounced President Bush for including Iran in the "Axis of Evil" speech, a good argument can (and should) be made that this put Iran on notice and has forced them to back down, at least visibly.

Another instance where Huckabee takes Scripture written to individuals and applies it to governments is his frequent and liberal use of the pardon while governor of Arkansas. He used it more than the three previous governors combined. One of those governors was BILL CLINTON! Because these convicted felons expressed remorse, Huckabee believed it was his responsibility to forgive them. Wrong! Its the responsibility of the person wronged to forgive (and ultimately God can and will forgive for true repentance) but not the government's. Again, the government's job is to protect people from evil. Here Huckabee failed miserably.

Moving onto sealed borders. (I will go back to the strict constitutionalist point). He advocated free in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants. He supported the Bush amnesty plan, which would have put illegals at the front of the line, ahead of law-abiding people who have waited for years to be citizens of this great country. Need I say more? Now Huck will say he is for building the wall, but if the gate is open wide, does the wall do much good?

Is Huckabee a supply-sider (meaning in favor of low taxes and free from government intrusion)? Huckabee raised taxes repeatedly as governor. If he did it in Arkansas, I see no reason why he will not as President, especially with the current Democrat majority who will be itching to raise taxes on the "evil rich" (meaning the people who hire other people.)

Is Huckabee for small government? He helped lead the large expansion of Arkansas' Department of Education. Now he makes the argument he was ordered to spend money by the courts. Fine. Build classrooms, buy books, and expand football stadiums (after all, this is Arkansas). Required spending of money does not mean you need to expand government. Again. If he did it in Arkansas, he will do it as President.

Finally the strict constitutionalist issue. Mike Huckabee is pro-life. I praise him for that and I believe he has taken the strongest stand in defense of the unborn. Now answer this question for me. What control does the President have over abortion? Due to liberal judges, no law can currently overturn Roe v Wade, so there is not a law he can sign.
Many in the pro-life community, MYSELF INCLUDED, support a Pro-Life Amendment to the Constitution. Someone tell me where in Article V it says the President signs this? You cannot, because the President has NO VOTE/VETO/OVERRIDE when it comes to an amendment. An amendment needs to be passed by two-thirds of Congress and then three-fourths of the States. The President can be vehemently against it and it won't matter.

Which leads me to this conclusion on the strict constitutionalist issue. Mike Huckabee will appoint judges to the appeals and/or Supreme Court in the mold of a Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts. But there are other candidates who will, and believe in a more-conservative manner the other issues I laid out. That is why my vote will not be with Mike Huckabee.

Now that I have said this, there are many in the Christian community whom I agree with 99% of the time, who run some extremely valuable ministries, and who are committed to the truth of Scripture, but support Mike Huckabee. Among these is Randy Alcorn from Eternal Perspective Ministries and Alex and Brett Harris of While I have their websites bookmarked and I frequently read them, there is some misleading information they have put out regarding Huckabee. For instance, in a letter Alex Harris wrote to Randy Alcorn (which Alcorn published on his personal blog) Harris states, "[Huckabee] has more executive experience than any candidate." True, strictly looking at the executive as being a governor, mayor, President, etc. But how can you discount the time Mitt Romney spent as head of Bain & Company as well as Bain Capital? Romney spent nearly twenty years at this company which specializes in saving failing companies and turning them around. (Keep in mind we are talking major, nationally-recognizable companies.) Or for that matter his record as executive of the 2002 Winter Olympics? When he took over, there was talk of canceling the Games. Instead, the Games were, financially speaking, the best ever.

Harris goes on to write, "The mainstream media still refuses to take Huckabee seriously." There is no factual, empirical evidence to support this statement. Every night I see Huckabee on the news and every morning I read about him in the newspaper, on the front page. If by the mainstream media Harris means the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Fox News, Meet the Press, etc. this statement is flat out wrong.

Another Harris quote tells us Huckabee won Iowa "despite a near-consensus among the media that Romney's organization would eke out a several point victory." This is just not true. Every national poll, Rasmussen, Zogby, etc had Huck winning, on the basis of the strong evangelical vote. To claim otherwise is either ignorance or misinformation.

Finally, Harris informs us "[Huckabee] was outspent almost 20-1...He was assailed relentlessly by attack ads and mailers over the past month, even though he refused to run negative ads of his own." Again, a misleading statment. How much did it cost Huckabee to go on "Meet the Press" or the "Jay Leno Show?" The correct answer is NOTHING. It was essentially free advertising. You think Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney would have like the opportunity to be on those shows recently? As for the "attack ads," being critical of one's policies are not attack ads, that is called information I need to properly vote. Did any of these "attack ads" make untrue statements about Huckabee's character, family, or positions? No. While I'm on this topic though, some thoughts on negative campaign ads. (If you have read my thoughts on this before I apologize.)

Say I am a hot young pitching prospect. Scouts come out to watch me and I am consistently throwing the ball 100 mph. The scouts talk to me and I tell them how strong my arm is so they offer me a big contract. Sounds great right? Now I get to Single-A Hicktown and have no ability to throw a curve or changeup and my location is so bad I couldn't throw it in the water standing on the pier. In hindsight, the scouts should have looked at the negative side of my pitching, not just the positive that I highlighted for them. The same is true with campaign ads. I want to know why someone is better than someone else. To do that, I NEED THEM COMPARED TO THAT OTHER PERSON. Hence the need for commercials critical of opponents. It may sound noble of Huckabee to avoid similar ads and to refuse to respond to ads from Romney or Thompson, but really all it is, is an avoidance of the issues at hand.

This blog entry has turned into a term paper so I'll leave it at this. Evaluate the candidates and don't just vote for someone because he is an "evangelical." A final question though. Which recent President was better, the Southern Baptist preacher, or the actor? I'll take actor; Ronald Reagan.

Check back soon for my endorsement of a candidate and the reasons why I will support him.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: "The Gospel and Personal Evangelism" by Mark Dever

Over our Christmas vacation and our trip to Oregon, I had the opportunity to read Mark Dever's (senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C. and book on evangelism. For me, as I'm sure it is for many of you, evangelism is lot like prayer. You know it is something you should spend much more time in. Dever's book is not only challenging in encouraging the reader to tell the lost the truth of the Gospel, it is very helpful in teaching us how to do it.

Dever begins with the premise that none of us would have a problem telling our friends about a great occurrence in our life, such as winning the lottery, etc. How true that is! I think of how easy it is to converse with people about politics or sports, but shy away from the most important truth there is.

Dever then gets into the heart of the matter, forming his chapters based on common questions regarding evangelism. Chapters include "Why Don't We Evangelize?", "What is the Gospel?", "Who Should Evangelize?", "How Do We Evangelize?", "What Isn't Evangelism?", and "Why Should We Evangelize?" Each chapter was informative and counters any argument you could possibly make to avoid evangelism.

Especially important to me, Dever emphasizes the gospel is not simply that man is neutral toward God and that "God is love", but that man is at war with God. Too often you hear people talking about coming to Jesus for their self-esteem, to have fellowship, or to have freedom from guilt. Dever's point, as the Bible clearly teaches, is that man has offended a holy God and will be punished eternally in hell as a result. Unless of course they come to Christ. This book teaches how that can happen, and how to communicate that truth to others.

Finally, Dever covers three reasons why Christians should evangelize the lost; a desire to be obedient, a love for the lost, and a love for God. I know for myself it is very easy to ask someone to church and let the pastor do the evangelism. Dever reminds us the church is for believers, its our job to tell others the gospel and bring them when they are saved.

Sharing Christ with others can be intimidating. Its amazing to think however that in America the only type of persecution we most likely will face is either some small mocking or indifference to the truth. Its almost unheard of that we face "real" persecution such as torture or execution, yet, as Dever points out, "our fear of man is greater than our fear of God."

I highly recommend this book and hope that you and I will put its wise words into practice.