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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Published in the Des Moines Register, November 29, 2007.
I believe there are millions of Americans who know our security and prosperity are at risk if we don’t address the challenges of our time - the global threat of terrorism; taxes and spending that will bankrupt future generations; and a government that can’t get the most basic responsibilities right for its citizens.
In 1994 when I first ran for the Senate, I advocated the same common-sense conservative positions I hold today. They are based upon what I believe to be sound conservative First Principles, reflecting the nature of man and the wisdom of the ages. It is a basic recognition that our rights come from God and not from government. Essentially, it’s about freedom. A government big enough to do everything for us is powerful enough to do anything to us.
These principles lead me to believe in lower taxes, free markets, private property and fair competition. These principles made America great, and we should rededicate ourselves to them, not abandon them.
When we look to Washington, we see a bureaucratized government increasingly unable or unwilling to carry out basic governmental functions, including securing our borders against illegal immigration and enforcing our laws. A nation that can’t protect its border will no longer be a sovereign nation. We see a Congress more politicized and divided than ever and disconnected from the American people. Is this the government that some would have play an even greater role in running our lives? We must do better.
Recently, I talked to a young Marine at Walter Reed Hospital. He had lost both legs in Iraq but was looking to the future. I asked him what he planned to do, and he said he wanted to work with a nonprofit organization that was doing a lot to help people. Then he looked at me and said, “I just thought it was time I gave something back.”
That young man, who has given so much for America and yet still asks to give more, is typical of the men and women of the United States armed forces. Our country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other countries in the world combined. We are steeped in the tradition of honor and sacrifice for the greater good.
I believe that Americans are once again ready to achieve this greater good, which is nothing less than the security, prosperity and unity of our country.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
courtesy of Kevin Reeves
If Christmas Was Make Believe
courtesy of Podsafe Music Network
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Sunday, November 25, 2007
- daily prayer
- daily Bible study
- involvement in the church and community
- relationship of a spiritual nature
- regular church attendance
- tithing (giving 10% of our income back to the church
While we are both fully committed to fulfilling our obligations as described above, there's just one thing that sits in the wings right now that makes that last item all the more challenging. My wife and I have been renting our home for as long as we've shared a home. We have long wanted to become homeowners, but have struggled with how to fit it into our budget, with our credit, and all of the other issues that first time homeowners have to deal with.
As I Uttered this morning, we looked at a new home last night in Indianapolis. A beautiful home, only thirteen years old, full of almost everything we've been looking for in a home:
- four bedrooms
- two and a half baths
- a large bonus room
- a formal living room
- a family room
- a dining room
- a fireplace
- an attached two car garage
- a large walk-in closet off the master bath
- a beautiful view of a pond
- in a nice neighborhood
Enter the tithing. We worked up a budget this evening to see exactly what we could afford as a monthly mortgage payment. It sounds like the cost of the new home could be twice what we are currently paying for rent on our much smaller, much older, much less featured home 70 miles from where I work. The way the budget lays out, if we begin tithing, as planned, making this increased payment on a mortgage would be very tight. Doable, but tight.
I've heard all of my life that tithing -- giving the first ten percent of your income back to the work of God -- will pay its own rewards. I've heard numerous people share their stories of how they came into so much good fortune just by following the principles outlined in the Bible as they pertain to tithing. I've also heard that you shouldn't start tithing because you expect to receive such windfall.
It's going to be a difficult thing, I fear. My wife and I have both been feeling some very significant changes in our lives lately as they relate to our relationships with God, and how we feel about becoming more active and more involved in the church. We both feel very strongly about doing what's right, and we both feel that what's right is to tithe, no matter how difficult that might seem to be.
And we both want very badly to purchase our own home. This home. I, in fact, want this more than I have ever wanted it in the past. I don't think my wife has realized that yet, and I haven't told her. I just hope that we can work through this so that we can make this move into our own home and still hold firm to the commitments that we both feel so strongly about.
If you're reading this, and you feel comfortable doing so, please remember us in your prayers.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I've talked about my thankfulness for Faith, Family, and Freedom. But what I haven't yet mentioned in a very specific fashion is just how very thankful I am for my wonderful wife. And how much sympathy I have for everyone else because I found her before any of you did (just kidding, guys -- I have no sympathy for you -- she's mine, all mine).
While this morning is simply not the traditional Thanksgiving morning -- my wife is off at the YMCA burning off the calories she plans to consume today, I'm sitting at the kitchen table right now while my kids eat their breakfast and watch Mickey Mouse on the Disney channel -- it is still my favorite holiday of the year. Non-traditional because my wife isn't here with us right now. Non-traditional because, in all of the Thanksgiving fuss (even though we go to my wife's parents for dinner, it's still been a fuss), my wife forgot to restock on milk for the kids. So my son ate his cereal dry this morning, and my daughter had to drink apple juice instead of milk.
But I digress.
I am especially thankful for my wonderful wife, and while she is away from the family for a few hours this morning doing something that is very important to her, and I find it very easy to be grumbly about her temporary absence, and the lack of milk, etc., I must force myself to remember all of the times that work has kept me from being with the family when it was important to them. I must remember that the mutually-supportive relationship we have requires this of both of us from time to time. And I must remember how much better she feels when she sees the successful results of exercising and eating right.
And I must remember that tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday," as it's called -- the busiest, craziest, longest shopping day of the year and most hectic work day for people like myself who work in Retail Management -- is our five-year wedding anniversary. I must remember that I will be kissing my wife goodbye tomorrow morning as she sleeps at 2:30 in the morning and probably won't see her again until just before she's ready to go back to sleep at night. I must remember that it is absolutely the worst way to have to spend our five year wedding anniversary.
So, though I have already thought a time or two this morning that today has started on a course that could easily lead to the worst Thanksgiving ever (dinner with the in-laws when my mother-in-law has been holding a small grudge against my wife promises to be fun), tomorrow could very easily be the worst anniversary ever for both of us. I will make that up next week by taking my wife to a Christmas concert by her favorite artist with no kids for a couple of days, but that doesn't make tomorrow any better.
So today, on top of all else that I am extremely thankful for, I am immeasurably thankful for the most wonderful wife any man could ever ask for. For all that she does. For all that she is. For all that she helps me to be. Happy Thanksgiving, my love. And Happy Anniversary. And Thank You!
And Happy Thanksgiving, America. Be thankful, today and always.
I found this while doing some research for My NaNoWriMo Project. This is an awesome song, with an awesome message behind it, and has an interesting tie in to my story.
You can also catch the video on MySpace.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This time of the year, it can be very easy to become distracted by food, family, shopping, the start of the Christmas season, football: all of the things that we as Americans have come to enjoy, appreciate, and [yes] take for granted. I submit to you: we often fail, at this time of year, to think about the one thing that we, as Americans -- citizens of the greatest nation on Earth -- take for granted more than any other. The one thing without which we would be unable to truly enjoy all of the others.
We've all been there, we've all done that. We have all, at one time or another, become so caught up in the hectic rush of the holiday season that we forget to be thankful for why we are able to celebrate such things as just being thankful.
We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving. Pilgrims. Indians. Corn. Squanto. You know the story. The whole bountiful harvest thing. Right?
Did you know that early Thanksgiving celebrations involved not only feasts and festivals, but ships, and massacres? The first Thanksgiving proclamation, issued on December 4, 1619 at Jamestown [Virginia], read as follows:
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god."
It actually had nothing to do with food, or the harvest, or friendship between Pilgrims and Indians. That didn't come until 1621 in Massachusetts. But you didn't come here for a history lesson. You can go to Wikipedia for that.
My point is this: early settlers to America were thankful for their freedom to colonize in the New World; for their safe guidance by ship over mysterious and often unchartered waters; and yes, for bountiful harvests and friendship with the Native Americans of the time.
Tomorrow, when you sit down for your Thanksgiving dinner (which I hope you will have the good fortune to do), for what will you be thankful?
I ask you to remember one thing. It is only for the sake of freedom that you are able to sit down in such a way and enjoy such an incredible feast with loved ones gathered all around you. And freedom does not come without a price. And regardless of what your political leanings might be, or your opinion about the current Presidential administration, or our current activities in the Middle East, please take a moment to remember that the same people who fought and earned the freedom you now deserve; the same people who throughout history have fought to defend the freedom we now so easily take for granted may not be home with their loved ones on Thanksgiving day. Because, as a whole, they are so thankful for their freedom that they are willing to die for it!
You might argue that they aren't currently fighting for your freedom or their freedom, but for some other reason or cause. I have only two things to say to that mindless argument:
- They were not forced to join the uniformed services, they did voluntarily so because they love their country and what their country stands for so much that they have answered a call to go wherever, whenever, to defend both their country and that cause -- even if that defense might sometimes appear [and rightfully so] to be vengeance.
- It is inarguable that the people of Iraq under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein were never free, and any time freedom is threatened anywhere, freedom is threatened everywhere!
So, this Thanksgiving, as on every day of my life, I thank God that I have been blessed to live in the greatest, strongest, free-est country on Earth, and I thank each and every member of our uniformed services throughout history that has served to make and keep that possible.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Thanksgiving has long been my favorite of holidays. I could list hundreds of reasons, which would take me all night to write and you all night to read it, so I'll trim this to just a few.
I love turkey. Really. And one of the biggest things I look forward to as the holiday season rolls around is that awesome turkey dinner. Oh, and the mashed potatoes, and rolls, and corn, and gravy, and on and on and on.
But most importantly, I love family, and Thanksgiving in my family was always a huge event, with all of the family gathering together for food, fun, and, well, more food.
My mother and grandmother used to work their fingers to the bones every year preparing for us the best possible Thanksgiving feast that love could prepare. Turkey with all the trimmings. And as much as I think of myself as a traditionalist, frankly I don't need all the trimmings. Just the staples for me, thank you.
After slaving and slaving in a hot kitchen all morning (and now I realize that might be a bit selfish of me to enjoy a holiday that required such hard work on the parts of Mom and Gram), we'd gather around the table around 1 o'clock for the feast of the year (bigger even than Christmas). Dad would ask God's blessing over the meal and the hands that prepared it, and we'd dig in, all of us in turn giving thanks for what we felt blessed with. Then we would eat. And eat. And eat (are you noticing a pattern here?).
After dinner, everyone would just BE. Yeah, just BEing is one of my favorite things to do. You know, you sit around, talk, watch TV, play games, whatever you want to do. Some of us would even take a [tryptophan induced] nap. But we would all just BE, and would BE together.
As the day progressed, every adult member of the family would get a small slip of paper, where they would write their name and a couple of ten to twenty dollar gift suggestions. The slips would all go into a hat, and each adult family member would then draw a name for the Christmas gift exchange. This helped to defray the cost of gift-giving, as the biggest gift we could give each other come Christmas was just BEing -- together, that is.
Mom's gone now. I remember her last Thanksgiving (and her last Christmas) with very mixed emotions. Very happy because we were all together once again for my favorite holiday. Very sad because we all knew -- though no one voiced it -- that it was probably Mom's last Thanksgiving. For while we were eating turkey and all trimmings, Mom was being eaten from the inside out by cancer, and the doctors couldn't seem to find it.
That was the last year I spent Thanksgiving with my family. The family I grew up with, I mean. Because being in Retail Management makes it very hard to work late the day before Thanksgiving prepping for the big Black Friday sales, then drive eight hours round trip on Thanksgiving day, then be back at work very early on Black Friday. Because my family -- I and my wife and children -- now spend every Thanksgiving with my in-laws, who live just across town. Because Thanksgiving will just never be the same without Mom. Nothing will.
So, this Thanksgiving, as with every day of the year, I am extremely thankful for Family. For Mom and Dad, Gram and Granddad, Sisters and Brother. For Sister and Brothers by Marriage. For Niece and Nephews. For Wife, Son, and Daughter. And yes, even for my in-laws. Because there is no one more important walking the earth than your Family.
Thank you, Family, just for BEing!
Monday, November 19, 2007
First and foremost, I'm thankful that there is such a mighty and powerful God to be thankful to. A God without whom nothing matters, and with whom all things are possible.
I was raised in a family that went to church regularly. Regularly back then meant something a little different from what it means today. My family was in Sunday School early every week, followed by the morning worship service. After dinner and other Sunday activities, we returned Sunday evening for what the church referred to as Baptist Youth Fellowship, followed by the evening worship service. Many weeks, the evening worship service was followed by a youth gathering, called an Afterglow, at the home of a member of the youth group. We were then again in church every Wednesday evening for Bible Study. Throughout the rest of the week, my father and mother were engaged in various activities for the church (Men's Prayer Breakfast, Visitation, Choir Rehearsals, my mother even prepared the church bulletin every week).
All of that means nothing, really. It won't get me into Heaven, and it doesn't make me any better than the next guy. But what it did do for me was help me to establish a solidly grounded faith in God; to know what God expects of me and what I can expect of Him.
That faith took it's first deep roots when I was just twelve years old. While on a week long summer youth retreat at a Christian camp, I accepted Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as my personal Saviour. I was Baptized shortly after by the same method taught by Jesus Himself (immersion).
Faith is a powerful thing. My wife recently made a public profession of her faith in God and was Baptized while my four-year-old son looked on. The changes in our lives have been tangible ever since, and they've only just begun.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my faith. Thankful that there is a God to have faith in. Thankful that God sent his Son to pay the ultimate price for my sins: the price of substitution atonement. And immeasurably thankful that I share that faith with the woman I love.
Happy Thanksgiving! And don't give up the faith.
Average Joe Radio
Join me for a discussion with Brett Mikels, plus some great music from his album Deep Enough. Listen for your chance to enter to win a free copy of the album Deep Enough.
Whatever You Want
The One We've Become
Let It Go
courtesy of Brett Mikels
& the Podsafe Music Network
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Sunday, November 18, 2007
We are seriously considering permanent membership at church, which is a little different at our current church than I can ever remember it being in the past. At most churches, membership is something you do just to say, hey, this is the church we plan to attend on a regular basis, and we kind of want to feel at home here, and then your a member for life. It almost seems like that's the way it should be, right? I used to think so, too.
But the church we have been attending since the Sunday after the 9/11 attacks sees things just a little bit differently. Membership is not a right, it's a privilege, with responsibility. The responsibility to follow the teachings of Christ. To tithe. To be active in the church and the community. To study the Word and pray daily.
My wife and I have become increasingly convicted lately that we are being called to make just such a commitment. We have regularly commented lately to each other about ways that God has spoken to us. Just tonight, as our Pastor was teaching about giving above and beyond tithing, I felt that God was speaking to me about doing just that. I won't go into specifics here -- not yet -- but what made this even more impactful to me was that as God was speaking to me, I felt a strong sense of deja vu, as I had heard God speaking the same thing to me before. Recently. Very recently. So recently, in fact, that I can pinpoint the time, and the situation in which it occurred. And I have concluded that I cannot ignore this calling, and have already put into motion the steps necessary, I believe, to answer this calling.
It has been quite some time since I have so distinctly felt God moving in my life -- calling me in such a strong and clearly discernible way. I have to tell you, it's a pretty frightening thing. A pretty excitingly frightening feeling!
Friday, November 16, 2007
From The Fred File:
I, for one, am in complete agreement with Fred. Though I believe that handing control of the Internet over to the United Nations is even more dangerous than he seems to think. The Internet is clearly the most powerful communication tool the world has today. To turn this powerful tool over to an organization of nations that cannot seem to come to agreement easily, cannot seem to abide by their agreements when they do come to terms, and cannot seem to enforce other nations who refuse to abide by such agreements, is the first ingredient in a recipe for disaster.
Don’t Hand Over the Internet to the U.N.Posted on November 16th, 2007
By Fred Thompson
I’m no tech head, but I think I know a thing or three about the Internet and how it works. And as far as I can tell, it works pretty well.
More than 1.4 billion people around the world seem to be emailing each other a lot, and those emails get delivered a lot faster and more reliably than “snail mail.” Lots of people are innovating around the Internet – voice calling over the Internet, e-commerce, blogs, education, employment, and healthcare services, music and video streaming and downloads, and such – and lots and lots of people are profiting from those innovations and the websites and companies that operate online.
So if things are going so well, why is it that some folks are seriously thinking about taking management of the Internet away from the United States and handing control to the United Nations?
Foreign government officials from around the world meeting at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Brazil actually discussed this notion last week. It didn’t get much attention, but as we all know, that’s how bad ideas get traction.
Despite what Al Gore may think, the Internet was an invention of the U.S. government and a number of universities and other entities a couple decades ago. As the Internet became what it is today, the government created a nonprofit organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to manage what was then a growing network of networks. Today ICANN does things like manage the assignment of Web sites domain names – the .coms, .orgs, .edus – for example.
But countries like China aren’t happy about U.S. control of “the tubes.” They’d rather have the U.N. run it. I wonder how the U.N. would’ve handled the situation in Burma recently when the government cut off all Internet access to all anti-government protesters, or how it would’ve handled the imprisonment in China of dissidents and reporters who emailed news out of the country.
My hunch is that we’d see the same level of management of the Internet from the U.N. that we’ve seen when it came to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Or its management of Saddam Hussein’s “Oil for Food” program. Or its monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if when you look up “fool’s errand” in the dictionary, you find: “Role for United Nations’” as the definition.
The notion of surrendering management of the Internet – a global, strategic infrastructure for communications and commerce – to the UN is just a plain dumb idea. We shouldn’t be handing over something that works right to an institution that has difficulty doing anything right.
Second, I personally am not too certain that the United Nations doesn't have an evil agenda. I'm not even sure that it's apparent yet, but I strongly believe that the United Nations will be instrumental to ushering in the type of world government that we will certainly see at some point in the future; the kind of world government that will come about because it has been literally foretold; the type of world government that will only be opposed by a very small number of nations that, unfortunately, will be unable to prevent such a sinister government from rising to power.
No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm a realist. I believe that the consolidation of the nations of Europe into the European Union, and the adoption of the Euro as a unified currency, is nothing but a small preview of what the world has to look forward to. I applaud the United Kingdom for their resistance to comply with the rest of the European community. Taking what might seem like such a small step as giving control of the Internet to the United Nations would put us just one step closer to the type of Despotic rule that can only lead to a greater evil.
Kudos, Fred Thompson, for having the vision to see this and the courage to speak it aloud!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
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Saturday, November 10, 2007
Just a reminder that there will be no episode this week, to allow me the time to (hopefully) get caught up and back on track with the National Novel Writing Month program. A special musical treat for you, just for staying subscribed.
Lost My WayOpening background music provided by William Brooks, as Swivel Neck Jones.
courtesy of Podsafe Music Network
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