America, Look Up

The importance of America returning to Christian principles and Traditional Family Values

Book Review: The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain

Mike and Jan Berenstain hit a home run with the Berenstain Bears “The Very First Christmas.”  This was the first time I chose to read and review a children’s book, but with six kids, who could ask for a better critic.

As soon as I ripped open the envelope, both of my little girls grabbed for the book.  My seven year old and 2 year old are ardent fans of the Berenstain Bears.  I happened to arrive home in time for the youngest one’s nap, so we cuddled up together and I read the book.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the book’s content.  I’ve noted in other Berenstain stories that the books teach a moral lesson, but I didn’t expect this book to be so Biblical in nature.  In a culture where some wage war on Christmas, booting nativities from the public square, “The Very First Christmas” teaches the true meaning of Christmas in a manner making any Christian parent proud to read it to their children.

I was especially impressed that the authors didn’t lump the Wisemen with the Shepherds at the manger scene.  In “The Very First Christmas” the Wisemen deliver their precious gifts to Jesus at the house where he and his family lived.

I would recommend this book to any parent wanting to share the true meaning of Christmas!

I Want to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Raphael-2012-Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-TurtlesSomething humorous happened in Children’s Church on Sunday. The lesson centered on the lives of David and Jonathan, and the meaning of being a good and trusted friend. The kids learned that a part of being a good friend involves getting to know your friend better, so we participated in a personal inventory. I asked questions like:

“What is your favorite food?”
“What is your favorite holiday?”
“What is your favorite color?”

My last question of the morning was,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?’

In our church, we combine kids aged 3 years through 4th grade. Though that may seem like a wide age disparity, children’s church usually runs fairly smoothly, with the older kids willing to help the younger. Well, when I asked the last question,

“What do you want to do when you grow up?”

I received the following answers: teacher, physician’s assistant, artist and then a three year old boy shared,

“I want to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”

I almost giggled. (On the inside I laughed)  I noticed some of the older kids smirking and whispering about his answer, but no one made fun of the little guy. He seriously wanted to be a Ninja Turtle.
Later in the day, I thought of the following verses:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” I Corinthians 13:11

The older children knew becoming a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wasn’t possible. Why? Because as they’ve gotten older, they’ve started putting childish ways behind them. Sadly, that’s often not the case for many Christians.  In the Kingdom of God, some never grow up spiritually. Many times I’ve asked young people, believers in Christ, what they want to be when they grow up. They share dreams of pursuing a medical degree, a teacher’s certificate, or becoming a lawyer. Others speculate they’ll skip college and go to work in a field where degrees are unnecessary. Seldom do I hear,

“I’m just waiting to see what God wants.”

I wonder if God ever considers our choices silly. I wonder if He ever smirks. Not because He’s poking fun, but because we’re missing out on His plan for our life. We might as well aspire to be a Ninja Turtle if we ignore the plan and path God has for us. Two of my favorite verses speak to this truth:

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We might enjoy the role of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but we will miss the blessings that God desires to bestow upon us. So let’s strip off the green cape and goggles, stow them back in the costume trunk, and focus on God’s plan for our lives. When we do, we’ll find out that His agenda trumps being a muscle bulging tortoise any day.

Book Review, Wilderness Rising by A.L. Shields

I must admit, I did something I usually frown upon…reading book two before reading book one.  That being said, I found ‘Wilderness Rising’ by A.L. Shields to be a fantastic thriller.  The story centers upon a young woman wrongly accused of murder and terrorism.  A US fugitive, Bethany flees to Europe and ends up seeking out the legendary ‘Pilate Stone.’  Other organizations seek the stone as well.

The ‘Wilderness’ a group of atheists kidnapped a friend of Bethany and are holding her friend for ransom…the ‘Stone.’ The Wilderness hopes to prove the Pilate Stone says nothing corroborating the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and proclaim to the world that Christianity is a fraud.  On the side of good, the ‘Garden’ hopes the stone is found to prove to the world that the claims of Christ can be trusted.  In both groups’ minds, Christianity’s security hinges upon the inscription supposedly penned by Pilate.

As Bethany gets closer to finding the Pilate Stone, her life is now in danger.  Will she find the stone?  Will it prove Christianity or will the stone deliver a fatal blow to believers around the world.  Well, that’s for you to discover when you read, ‘Wilderness Rising.’

By the way, I definitely plan to pick up Book One in the series, ‘Church Builder.’

When It Rains It Pours

Last night my 11 yr old son made the following observation:

“Dad, whoever said, ‘When it rains, it pours’ was wrong.  Sometimes it just drizzles.”

He asked where the familiar idiom originated.  Frankly, I didn’t know.  So, I Googled it.  According to this saying means,

“When things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time.”

But the origin?  What about the origin?  Well, believe it or not, this statement originated with the Morton Salt Company.

The Morton Salt Company was looking for a way to promote its new product, a free flowing table salt.  In 1911, the company started adding magnesium carbonate.  This compound prevented the salt from clumping, even in damp weather.

The company decided to use the famous umbrella girl as their “mascot” and then set out to create a catchy pitch line.  The original slogan was, “Even in rainy weather, it flows freely.” The team scrapped the idea because it was too long.  After tinkering with other similar submissions, the company settled upon, “When it rains, it pours.”

After thinking about Nathan’s comment, I came to the conclusion that he’s right.  Sometimes it does ‘just drizzle.’  Some days it does feel like life piles on.  The morning starts out with a frantic search for the car keys, followed by a dead battery, and then a blow-out on the way to work.  The boss writes you up for being late, and then you realize you forgot your wallet and lunch at home.  We’ve all been there…

“When it rains, it pours.”

But is life really pouring?  Maybe a bad day could be better described as ‘drizzle.’

I read reports almost daily about the persecution of Christians by ISIS.  The terrorist organization produces videos of believers being beheaded.  Others tell of young girls being sold as sex slaves, and why?  They refuse to recant their faith in Christ.  Maybe before we wallow in self-pity over a flat tire, we should count our blessings.  Although Christian Conservative values are coming under attack here in America, we still enjoy many religious freedoms Middle Eastern Christians can only dream about.

I’m not discounting the fact that occasionally tragic life events smack us from all sides.  In those instances, utilizing the idiom ‘When it rains, it pours’ is appropriate.  But how many times have we cited the quote in response to minor grievances?  The next time a day of annoyances threatens to steal our joy, let’s stop and pray for those truly suffering, whether it be Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the path of ISIS or for a loved one waging a war against a life threatening illness.

Yes, sometimes ‘When it rains, it pours,’ But keep in mind, sometimes, it’s ‘just drizzle.’

Jesus Loves Me

Every night my two year old and I enjoy a ritual.  I tuck her in, hold her hand, and tell “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”  I imagine I’ve told it sixty days in a row.  Occasionally, I add differing adjectives to describe the house or the response of the bears to their curious and impish home invader.  If for no other reason, the change helps me focus on being creative and at least helps entertain her longsuffering older sister who hears the same tale night after night.

Last evening, after the story and turning out the light, my two-year old said,

“That says ‘Jesus love me’.”

A small night light illuminated a very small portion of the room, my daughter and I sitting in darkness.  I strained to see a picture on the wall that might share those words.  I saw nothing.  Then I noticed the silhouette of her arm pointing directly at the night light.  A small gold Cross decorates the bulb.  No words.  Just the cross.

I said, “There are no words on the light Abby…” And then I stopped.

Did the night light really need the words “Jesus loves me” etched on the outer shell?  Of course not!  She was absolutely right.  The Cross loudly proclaims and reminds “Jesus Loves Me!”  I’ve decided that every time I see a cross draped around a neck or dangling from an ear, to consciously remind myself of Christ’s love.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Before I left the room, I patted Abby’s little hand and said, “You’re exactly right.  It does say ‘Jesus loves me’.”

Out of the mouth of babes..

George Washington – A Providential President

I found this historical account online and it’s too good not to share.  We need God to raise up a leader like George Washington once again.

The Bullet Proof President

From America’s Godly Heritage by David Barton

This story of George Washington once appeared in virtually every student text in America, but hasn’t been seen in the last forty years.   This story deals with George Washington when he was involved in the French and Indian War as a young man only twenty-three years of age.

The French and Indian War occurred twenty years before the American Revolution.  It was the British against the French; the Americans sided with the British; and most of the Indians sided with the French.  Both Great Britain and France disputed each others’ claims of territorial ownership along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; both of them claimed the same land.

Unable to settle the dispute diplomatically, Great Britain sent 2300 hand-picked, veteran British troops to America under General Edward Braddock to rout the French.

The British troops arrived in Virginia, where George Washington (colonel of the Virginia militia) and 100 Virginia buckskins joined General Braddock.  They divided their force; and General Braddock, George Washington, and 1300 troops marched north to expel the French from Fort Duquesne — now the city of Pittsburgh.  On July 9, 1755 — only seven miles from the fort — while marching through a wooded ravine, they walked right into an ambush; the French and Indians opened fire on them from both sides.

But these were British veterans; they knew exactly what to do.  The problem was, they were veterans of European wars.  European warfare was all in the open.  One army lined up at one end of an open field, the other army lined up at the other end, they looked at each other, took aim, and fired.  No running, no hiding, But here they were in the Pennsylvania woods with the French and Indians firing at them from the tops of trees, from behind rocks, and from under logs.

When they came under fire, the British troops did exactly what they had been taught; they lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in the bottom of that ravine — and were slaughtered. At the end of two hours, 714 of the 1300 British and American troops had been shot down; only 30 of the French and Indians had been shot.

There were 86 British and American officers involved in that battle; at the end of the battle, George Washington was the only officer who had not been shot down off his horse — he was the only officer left on horseback.

Following this resounding defeat, Washington gathered the remaining troops and retreated back to Fort Cumberland in western Maryland, arriving there on July 17, 1755.

The next day, Washington wrote a letter to his family explaining that after the battle was over, he had taken off his jacket and had found four bullet holes through it, yet not a single bullet had touched him; several horses had been shot from under him, but he had not been harmed.   He told them:

By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation.

Washington openly acknowledged that God’s hand was upon him, that God had protected him and kept him through that battle.

However, the story does not stop here.  Fifteen years later, in 1770 — now a time of peace — George Washington and a close personal friend, Dr. James Craik, returned to those same Pennsylvania woods.  An old Indian chief from far away, having heard that Washington had come back to those woods, traveled a long way just to meet with him.

He sat down with Washington, and face-to-face over a council fire, the chief told Washington that he had been a leader in that battle fifteen years earlier, and that he had instructed his braves to single out all the officers and shoot them down.  Washington had been singled out, and the chief explained that he personally had shot at Washington seventeen different times, but without effect.  Believing Washington to be under the care of the Great Spirit, the chief instructed his braves to cease firing at him.  He then told Washington:

I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle….I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.

The Bible instructs that it’s God who brings people to power.  Let’s pray God brings to power an individual who will right our Country’s sinking ship.

My Son’s Question

Last night as I watched television with my kids, a St. Jude commercial aired.  Snapshots of various children battling life threatening diseases scrolled, while a person urged viewers to make a financial contribution.  My eldest, a cancer survivor, asked the question,

“Dad, did you ever think we’d have such a personal connection to this commercial.”

I responded, “No.”

He said,

“It seems like that was so long ago.  I don’t remember parts of it.  It’s hazy.  Almost as if it was a dream.”

You know what?  He’s right.  Even though he finished up treatment a short two years ago, it does seem like a dream…A fuzzy memory that I occasionally ask myself,

“Did we really go through that?”

Because of my son’s journey, my family participates in the local St. Jude Walk.  Each year we see kids in varying stages of treatment, some beginning the perilous trek, others near completion.  It’s also common to see youngsters sporting dew rags to cover heads stripped of hair because of chemotherapy or radiation; others wearing medical masks to ward off germs.  These kids remind me of Noah’s own difficult path.  And these kids battling cancer and other life threatening diseases prompts me to thank God each day for my son’s outcome.

I’m not a doctor or nurse, but there is something I can do to minister to the needs of kids with cancer.  First, I can pray for them.  Every family stricken with this disease knows the heartache and pain of watching a child wage the fight of their young lives.  Of course the kids with cancer need prayer, but so do his closest caregivers.  Second, I can raise funds for pediatric oncology research.  On September 26th, I’ll be walking a 5K in honor of kids fighting cancer.  Would you consider being a financial sponsor?  We readily spend money for fast food, vending machines, and large flavored coffees, thinking nothing of it.  How about foregoing caffeine or a Big Mac for a week and donating money for an incredible cause?  Let’s help St. Jude researchers discover the cure for pediatric cancer once and for all.  Let’s help more children conquer an illness so they too can say,

“It seems like nothing more than a dream.”

Here’s the link to my page.  Click on donate now.  Noah’s Hope


The Wizard is Missing From Liberalism


I love “The Wizard of Oz.”

For many years I watched the family classic annually, awed by a Kansas Twister and farm girl Dorothy and her adventures traveling the Yellow Brick Road.  Along the way, strangers become companions, and Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion link arms, setting their sights on the Emerald City and its most famous citizen, the Wizard himself.  All in Oz believe the Wizard all powerful and that he can grant wishes unmet by any other means.  Dorothy desires a first class ticket to Kansas.  The Scarecrow hopes to snag a brain.  The Cowardly Lion wants courage befitting the King of the Jungle, and the Tin Man lacks a heart.  It seems that malady affects many more than whimsical rusting robots.

Yesterday, a House Committee commenced interrogating supporters of the abortion industry in an attempt to determine if Planned Parenthood should be defunded.  The Congressional Committee heard from Yale Professor Priscilla Smith.  A rabid supporter of abortion, Miss Smith was the lawyer who argued for keeping partial birth abortion legal at the Supreme Court.  Thankfully, the High Court voted to ban the gruesome abortion technique.

The Congressional Committee Chair reminded the Professor of the ruling, reading the Supreme Court’s decision on partial birth abortion.  He then directed the following question to Ms. Smith,

“Do you believe this (partial birth abortion) is a humane way to die?”

Initially, Miss Smith chased the rabbit of “viability” but eventually admitted she considered a “D & E” a human means of aborting a baby.  If uncertain about the procedure, the following steps are taken to kill the infant in the womb:

a.  The body parts are grasped at random with a long toothed clamp.

b.  The body parts are pulled from the fetal body out the vaginal canal.

c.  The remaining body parts are grasped and pulled out.

d.  The head is grasped and crushed in order to remove it from the vaginal canal.

e.  The placenta and remaining contents are suctioned from the uterus.

Miss Priscilla Smith, director of Yale Law School’s Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, defends a woman’s right to abortion and believes partial birth abortion falls under the definition of “a humane way to die.”

Maybe I’m out of touch, but I personally believe “humane” and “dismemberment” shouldn’t exist in the same sentence.  When I hear the word “dismemberment” I picture serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  It seems the only difference between Dahmer’s heinous crimes and Planned Parenthood is that Dahmer dined on his victims….Maybe that’s the red line differentiating between “humane” and “inhumane.”  Maybe Liberals balk when cannibalism is involved.

Sadly, we find America in a position where the most innocent of life discovers the womb to be one of the most dangerous locales in the United States.  It’s time for the Left to follow the same path as the Tin Man.  Without a heart, the Tin Man felt deprived of the most human of emotions.  He determined the heart the seat of compassion and sympathy, qualities missing in a man crafted from tin.  Unfortunately, compassion and sympathy appear strangely absent from flesh and blood humans advocating for the right to abort an innocent life.  Just the thought of fighting for the right to dismember a child and market his parts and tissue boggles the mind.

If Liberals truly believe ripping a baby limb from limb from the womb is humane, then Dorothy was right.

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

And it’s not a Wizard they need.  It’s God.



God Spare America


On September 11, 2001, I sat proctoring a test in a local junior high school, when a fellow teacher stepped into the room.  There to relieve me, he said, “Get to a television.”  I hurried down the hallway and stepped into the teacher’s lounge.  An aide stood in front of the television, transfixed.  I peeked over her shoulder in time to see the second plane plow into the World Trade Center.  For the next several minutes, I watched as throngs of people sprinted from the towers.  And then both buildings crumpled, leaving a smoldering pile of rubble.

For the rest of the day, the world’s eyes were glued to the television, attempting to process the information coming in.  By the end of the day, four hijacked planes delivered death and destruction, killing almost 3000 innocent people.  In one coordinated act of cowardice, radical jihadists stole America’s peace of mind and sense of invincibility.  How would America respond?

Later that day, something happened on Capitol Hill no one expected.  After Congressman Hastert addressed the nation, pledging to hold accountable those responsible for terrorism on our shores, the Congress formed an impromptu choir, gathering in a show of solidarity singing “God Bless America.”

Yes….”God Bless America.”

For the next few weeks, churches experienced a major uptick in attendance.  People scrambled to seek answers to combat fears of future attacks.  It’s true…there are no atheists in foxholes.  Sadly, the singing of “God Bless America” and the new interest in clinging to God faded as the United States settled back into the old and familiar routine of life pre-terrorist attack.  When the Congress linked arms and sang a song beseeching the Creator to bless our Country, for a fleeting a moment I wondered,

“Could this be the beginning of a much needed Spiritual Awakening?”

A few short years later, the Democratic National Convention delegates booed when asked to insert the mention of God and Israel into the Democratic Platform.

Yes.  They.  Booed.  God.

Obviously, the memory of terrorists killing a few thousand Americans was dimmed by a new push to eradicate God entirely from the public arena.

Fast forward to 2015.  It appears those opposed to anything holy and righteous have stepped on the accelerator, speeding up America’s trip to “hell in a hand basket.”  In the last few months, the Supreme Court has overstepped its bounds in legalizing gay marriage, Christians face the targeted efforts of homosexuals demanding everyone honor their unions, and a investigative journalist organization has video evidence that Planned Parenthood harvests organs of aborted babies, including those born alive.  A couple of decades ago, America surpassed all other world powers leading as Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.”  Today, it’s a sprint to the bottom to surpass the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.

And now, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis sits in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Her professed faith in Christ and belief in the teachings of the Bible dictates her decision.  Obviously, an activist judge wrongly believes the Supreme Court can create laws and finds an opportunity to teach all “bitter clingers” in America a lesson.  It’s becoming apparent the gay agenda isn’t about equality but about forcing everyone to embrace the “alternative” lifestyle.

Unless another horrific calamity strikes America, I don’t anticipate Congress singing “God Bless America” any time soon.  In fact, I’m not even sure we have that right.  We should encourage the President to utilize his “pen and phone” to change the lyrics to “God Spare America.”  That seems more apropos.

Where’s My America?


My favorite President, hands-down, is Ronald Reagan.  I remember 52 American hostages marching from a compound, released from an Iranian prison minutes after President Reagan was sworn into office.  I swelled with pride.

I remember Ronald Reagan standing at the base of the Brandenburg Gate, near the Berlin Wall delivering a hopeful speech to the people of West Berlin:

“In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: ‘We will bury you.’ But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And then the line known to the entire civilized world:

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Two years later, the people of a freed East Berlin tore down that wall.


Reagan’s determination and drive to see Communism topple, reminded all of the President’s desire for America to be a “shining city on a hill.”  I swelled with pride.

For two terms, the “Gipper’s” speeches never failed to invoke America’s greatness.  Due to the lackluster and feckless Presidency of Jimmy Carter, Reagan ushered in a new era of hope and Patriotism.

Yes, I miss the Reagan years.

Fast forward to 2001.

Though many bash George W. Bush, I appreciated his leadership in the first few hours and days after 9/11.  (I shudder to think the outcome had America been under the leadership of Al Gore.)  The President visited Ground Zero to thank the emergency personnel working to find people buried in the rubble of the Twin Towers.  At one point, he climbed atop the remains of a crumpled fire truck and spoke to the firefighters.  Someone shouted, “I can’t hear you.”  The President grabbed a bullhorn and said,

“I hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked down these buildings are going to hear from all of us soon.”

My heart broke the day jihadists turned planes into torpedoes, but something about a Texan living in the White House brought hope that America wouldn’t cower to evil, but would take the fight to our enemies’ homeland.  And that’s what happened.  I swelled with pride.

Since 2008, I can’t think of many reasons to be proud of our Country’s leadership.  Sure, Americans elected the first African American to the highest office in the Land…but that “accomplishment” rested solely in the hands of the voters.  From personal conversations, I have discovered many voted for Barack Obama, not because of his political experience, but because of his skin tone.  Some who had never voted for a Democrat previously, jumped on the “Let’s make American History” bandwagon.  But since his election and re-election, has the President accomplished anything of merit?

In 2009, the President boasted that his Stimulus bill would create “shovel ready” jobs.  What happened?  Nothing.  While meeting with the Jobs and Competiveness Council in Durham, NC, the President chuckled as he announced,

“Shovel-ready was not as shovel ready as we expected.”

In fact, not only has job creation been stagnant, but  millions have been added to the rolls of government assistance.  This certainly doesn’t instill pride.

Our status in the eyes of the world has diminished as well.  Israel wonders if we are truly an ally.  We allow Russia to run roughshod over the Ukraine.  ISIS rampages across the Middle East, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction and bloodshed.  Our deal with the Iranians prompted celebrations in Iran.  (If Iran thinks they received a good deal, doesn’t that insure America didn’t?)

And on the American home front?  This Administration has cranked up race relations rhetoric, throwing fuel on the smoldering cities of Ferguson and Baltimore.  Now, Black Lives Matter and Louis Farakhan have challenged African Americans to wage a war on white people and our law enforcement officers.  What does our President do?  Snaps selfies by a glacier to propagate his climate change agenda.  Not much to be proud of there either.

And then there’s our President’s misguided view of heroes.  In my eyes, military personnel deserve our respect and gratitude.  Also, those who put on a uniform to keep us safe on our city streets.  Mr. Obama seldom honors men and women willing to lay down their lives for the American people, but rushes to congratulate a homosexual who decides to openly play on a professional sports team.  It’s hard to show pride in that.

Lastly, a freedom I never dreamed vulnerable is currently battling a national agenda to normalize the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender Lifestyle.  Pilgrims risked life and limb to come to shores of America to insure their freedom to worship how they pleased, when they pleased.  Today, their sacrifice seems almost futile as the Leftist agenda strives to relegate religious practice to the Church building.  However, nowhere does the Constitution demand we compromise our religious convictions once we leave the shadow of the Church steeple.  It’s impossible to take pride in diminished religious liberty.

I still love America, but maybe my adoration stems from memories past instead of a hopeful present and an anticipated bright future.  I pray our generation rises to claim this Country for God and that He rescues her from teetering on the precipice of destruction.  If we fail to turn, I tremble at the thought of America’s demise.  I hope our kids aren’t the first generation to dwell in the largest third world country in the world.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.


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