Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams, NPR, Federal Funding

Just wondering...I've read several articles and heard differing media viewpoints about NPR's firing of Juan Williams for comments he made while on a Fox News program last week. I listen to NPR on a pretty regular basis and find that their journalistic approach to reporting is pretty "middle of the road". (That means that the left finds it too conservative and the right finds it too liberal.)

One of the funniest things (funny in a weird way, not a ha-ha way) that has come about from the firing of Williams is the sudden desire to punish NPR by cutting federal funding. This move, of course, comes by conservatives in the House. I wonder...if Williams had been fired for comments that he made on Rachel Maddow's show, would House liberals be crying to slash funding to NPR?

If Congress is looking for places to cut expenditures (and they should be), then let's cut expenditures because Congress doesn't need to be in the broadcast business...not because we don't like the decisions that are being made at NPR (like firing one of our buddies). Catering to the desires of Congressmen for federal dollars is the kind of corruption that has brought us to the disastrous debt and favor currying that dominates our political landscape today.

Is Congress sending the message, "If you want our federal funding then you'll hire the reporters that we want you to hire and report the news the way we want you to report it?" or are they really trying to cut spending?

As much as I like NPR, I'd be all for cutting federal funding along with a host of other budget items that could be cut to reduce the budget. But let's face it--calling for the cuts as a punitive measure just goes to show that Congressmen are acting like bullies that abuse their power to get their own way.

For the record, I think that NPR's firing of Williams for his comments was an overreaction. Obviously, it seems there was more to the firing than his most recent comments and he would have had to make a choice sooner or later--Fox News or NPR. Like so many other employers, NPR apparently couldn't just go to him and say that you no longer fit what we are looking for in a reporter/employee. Simple honesty in relationships doesn't seem to have much of a place in the employer/employee venue these days.

So what do you think...or do you even care?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I’ve really struggled with whether or not I should write this post and have decided to go ahead with it. I’ll make the upfront disclaimer that it really isn’t meant to be offensive even though I know that because of its subject matter, it may offend some of my readers. I am just sharing some things that have been in my thoughts this month.

I’ll begin by stating several of the things that have brought this topic to mind:

*The California Federal Court ruling regarding the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy

*The Facebook status that has been appearing on numerous friends’ pages: “Please put this on your status if you know or love somebody who is gay. My wish is that people understand that being gay is not a disease nor a choice—people who are gay are not looking for a cure but acceptance and equal rights…93% of facebookers won’t copy and paste this…”

*A recent conversation with a preacher friend of mine about an incident at a funeral that involved his interaction with a couple of gay men.

*A book that I’m reading by an ultra-conservative pastor that addresses homosexuality and the stance that Christians should take on gay/lesbian rights.

*Wear purple day

First, I have to say that hatred is not an option for the Christian. On the other hand, believing that same gender sex is a sin is not hate or intolerance. Having differing beliefs is not a sign of intolerance. It means that we have different beliefs. I’m comfortable explaining why I believe what I believe. And I’m equally comfortable listening to your reasoning for why you believe what you believe.

Having said that:

I believe that everybody is entitled to certain rights as citizens of our country…not special rights, but the same rights that are afforded to other citizens. This includes the right to defend our country. I’ve always thought the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was a bunch of political mumbo jumbo that was just stupid talk designed to give somebody something they deserved but that somebody else didn’t like them having. Like I said…stupid.

As for same gender civil unions: Even if our society decides that same sex unions are legal, and even if our society changes the definition of marriage to include same sex unions, it doesn’t change the Biblical definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

So, you may ask, “John, do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?”

I have a simple way of resolving this in my simple brain.

I think that the Bible is clear that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Even if you are willing to set aside all of the texts that deal with same gender sex, you still have to understand that any sex outside of God’s idea of marriage is a sin. Yes, that includes premarital sex, extramarital sex and same gender sex (since that is always outside of God’s definition of marriage).

If a person is attracted to another member of the same sex but abstains from having sex, it really is no different than an unmarried man that is attracted to an unmarried woman that abstain from having sex. In spite of what society accepts as normal today, there are heterosexuals that remain celibate because of their beliefs that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Even though same gender couples will never have the option of celebrating sex in a Biblical union, it is still a choice…and it is still a sin.

Are they condemned because they are homosexuals? No, they are condemned because they are human. Clearly, the Bible teaches that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Not one of us is worthy of saving…and yet God chooses to save us.

I know that it is so politically incorrect (some say intolerant) to say that Jesus is the only way to reconcile our sin and gain eternal life in heaven, but I believe with all of my heart that only in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus do we have the hope of eternal salvation. The condemnation of our human state is the same for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals. The good news is that the plan of salvation is also the same for heterosexuals as it is for homosexuals.

Yes, Jesus died for their worthless souls just as he did for my worthless soul!

I didn’t wear purple today. I don’t think that I have anything purple to wear. It is tragic that any young person feel so ostracized that they would resort to suicide. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or not. Suicide for our young people (15-22) is the third leading cause of death behind accidental death and homicide. Bullying of heterosexuals as well as homosexuals should not be tolerated. The tragedy isn’t that homosexual teens are committing suicide. It is that teens from all walks of life are committing suicide in alarming numbers.

To anybody reading that might be feeling alone, afraid, depressed and considering that living life is not worth it—there is hope. Call somebody. Get help. If you feel like you have nowhere else to turn, e-mail or call me. My contact info is the right column of this blog or on the info page of my Facebook profile.

The truth of the Bible is that God loves you. He has made a way for you to meet with Him through His Son, Jesus. It would be my honor to introduce you to my Lord, my Savior and friend.

I know that many may say that my religious view point and my belief in an absolute truth just prove how intolerant Christians really are. The simple fact is that we all can’t be right. We can all be wrong…but we can’t all be right. If you are willing to say that I’m intolerant because I believe that I’m right, then you give yourself the same intolerant label.

Let’s make a truce: As we search for the truth, let’s share the information that we find. I believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth doesn’t change from person to person; it is what it is. Right and wrong are not relative things. Though society’s standards have degraded to the point that pornography, promiscuity, corruption and greed are becoming normal—these things are still wrong.

Feel free to disagree with me. I won’t think that you hate me just because we disagree. And I hope that you won’t think that I hate you. Tell what you think…and why. Together, let’s figure this truth thing out.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Practical Christianity: Learning lessons from my younger sister

Wow! It's been more than two weeks since my last post. Just when I thought I was back on the blogging track...well, that didn't last for very long.

And tonight's post isn't really my post. It's taken directly from my little sister's Facebook site. In the title I called her my younger sister, and that probably sounds better since she is married with three's just that I still think of her as my little sister. (Hope you don't mind, Mary.)

I also hope that you don't mind that I'm sharing this with my readers. It is inspiring to me and I hope that it is inspiring to others.

Here's what Mary wrote:

I have been wanting to reach out to the community in a way that is helpful and practical. It isn't always easy though.
Well, last week I asked my small group if they would like to rake leaves in the neighborhood of our church after services on Sunday. 2 of the adults were able to join me, Chris, and our kids. One of the adults brought her teen son and daughter (9 or 10).
So - come Sunday morning I still didn't have a house in mind. I left church in search of the perfect home, while the others prepared lunch. "Please, Lord, let me get the right house on the first try."
I didn't want to knock on doors. Who does? I passed several houses with yards full of leaves, then stopped in front of C's house. Again, I prayed a quick prayer and got out of the van and knocked on the door. Through the glass of the storm door, I spoke with C, a senior (she later told us she is 80), asking if my friends and I could rake her leaves later in the afternoon.
She asked "how much?" (smile)
"Oh, we don't want to be paid. We just want to help people in the neighborhood." She stepped out onto the front porch to find out more. After I explained what we were doing, She shared, "My husband died in December. He used to take care of things like that."
Yeah...I'd say God got me to the right house. She insisted I come inside to meet her visiting daughter, who was skeptical, I think. Anyway, I left C's house happy with my one stop find (thank you, Lord) and returned to the church to eat lunch and get the team together. Once back at C's we attacked the yard work quickly. As I was working I noticed that just two doors down, a lady was staring at her leaf piles, hands on hips, she wished we were helping her instead. So, Joe and I headed over, followed later by Gary and we helped her bag her leaves. As Joe and I were working I said, "it feels good to help people, doesn't it?"
He said, "Yeah. it's hard work, but it's a lot of fun, too." He's right.
It didn't take much time. 4 Adults, one teen and 4 children filled about 20 bags of leaves in ONE HOUR. We met a couple of nice women and their adult kids and learned a little about them. We had a lot of fun and we were able to share God's love in a practical way (and teach our kids how to show God's love, too). I'd say it's been a pretty good Sunday.

Yeah, that's my little sister.
I am so proud of you, Mary. Way to go!


Friday, October 01, 2010


A short time ago the calendar turned another page and we slipped from September to October. October 1st means that it is just 86 days to Christmas, 92 days until 2010 comes to an end, and 1 yr, 3 mos, 6 days until I'm eligible to retire.

I'd certainly like to retire when I'm eligible. Realistically, three years of no raises has changed what I anticipated my retirement income would be based on. And the wonderful downturn in the economy has taken its toll on the retirement account. So perhaps it's time to take another look and figure out just what that income will be and how much we will need when the time comes. When it comes right down to it, the working conditions in Springfield have never been to the point of driving people away like conditions in some facilities have been. As far as working for a living goes, this is a pretty easy gig. The schedule is the most difficult part of the job and gets more so as time passes. I've made a slight change in my days off for 2011 and will be off on Sunday/Monday instead of Saturday/Sunday. With the number of young guys that are coming on and wanting to work the midshifts, I doubt that I'll continue to work two or three each week and will probably end up with a normal (for air traffic controllers) schedule of two evenings, two days and a mid each week.

At this point, I really don't know how that will affect ministry opportunities or anything else. I'll just have to see. The change in days off will also have me working with some different people for the year. I am looking forward to working more with some of the controllers that I haven't worked with much in the past few years.

I'll let you know how it all works out.

October is also going to bring a new, short term, body/mind/spirit renewal for me.

Starting today, for the next 40 days I am going to commit to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes each day to each area: body, mind, spirit. I think that I can find the 1 1/2 hours to keep up with it.

For the body--30 minutes of exercise ... EVERY day. It can range from light--a brisk walk, to something heavier like the exercise bike, weight machine, Nordic Trac or exercise videos--as long as it's at least 30 minutes, every day. I'm also going to cut back to one main meal per day and maybe three snack sized meals--bowl of cereal, piece of fruit, salad, sandwich (not the foot long sub or Burger King Whopper size, just a normal sandwich!). It's only 40 days, right? I know that on occasion a snack might be a Jamocha shake from Arby's or a small bowl of ice cream, but all-in-all, I think that I can live with this for 40 days.

For the mind--30 minutes of non-fiction reading...EVERY day. Time wise this should be easy. I have more than enough break time at work to cover this. It will just be a matter of picking the books from a list of books that I need to read. In the past few years, my book reading has really diminished. That needs to change. Newspapers, magazines, internet news, current events--it all counts. I probably already do this most days, but I want to do it purposefully and with a plan. I'm not going to be an intellectual giant; I would just like to keep a well rounded intellect and be able to be conversant on most subjects with most people.

For the spirit--
...Wow. It's hard to put a time down when it comes to what I need for spiritual growth. Truthfully, 30 minutes every day isn't enough. The area of my spiritual life that I would really like to focus on for the next 40 days (the area that I really need to focus on) is my prayer life. Recently, I've been making notes as I read the Bible (posted some of those) and this helps me to hear God's message rather than just reading the words. I need to continue to do that but I don't want to really count that in with this 30 minutes of time for spiritual growth. I want for this 30 minutes to be time that I set aside to really focus on my God.
I want to focus on His Greatness, His Holiness, His Love. While I believe greatly in the power of intercessory prayer, I don't want this to be a time of bringing a shopping list of things that I desire for myself or for others. I want it to be a time of praise and worship. Yeah, that's it--

For the spirit--30 minutes set aside for the adoration and worship of my God...EVERY day.

Well, that's it then--forty days from now I should be a thinner, healthier, smarter person that loves and worships his God...EVERY day.