Monday, June 13, 2016

There is No Quick Fix to the Surging Violence in America

Fifty people are dead in Orlando today because an American Muslim was taught to hate homosexuals. In Afghanistan (the shooter's family's country of origin), Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen (among other Islamic nations), engaging in a homosexual act is punishable by death.  Since America won't be punishing homosexuals, American Muslims will do it themselves.

So naturally, just mere minutes after gunshots were fired, and long before anyone ever heard the name Omar Mateen, Facebook and government officials were sounding the alarm to ban assault rifles.  "When is enough, enough?" they cry.  This (and other gun regulation) is put forward as the ONLY way to fix the problem by most on the left side of the societal and political system when any and all similar terrorist acts are carried out on American soil.

Let's put aside for a moment the very sensible argument regarding criminals still easily acquiring assault rifles regardless of the law because... they're criminals.  In fact, let's set aside legally banning guns of any sort.  Such arguments go round and round, with little traction.

There is a deeper solution - one that is not "new" by any means, but certainly one that is often immediately cast off as unattainable if not unacceptable; imposing if not impossible; and much too arduous, if not much too audacious.  The solution: A return to Christian values in public schools.

I know, I know.  The main argument against is two-fold: 1) We're not a Christian nation anymore (as if that has resulted in nothing but rainbows and unicorns), and 2) Such an idea would take another 50 years for its fruit to yield.

America, we made this bed.  Since 1963 (when Bibles were banned from public schools), we began teaching our 5 year old children that God - if He even exists - isn't involved with "normal" life anymore.  His morals are simply "one way" to live - not necessarily the best way.  All religions teach the same thing.  And oh, by the way, all wars have their roots in religion.  So religion is bad.  John Lennon's "Imagine" should be your personal anthem.  Just follow your heart, and you're sure not to go wrong.  You don't need a set of "rules to live by," just do what you feel is right (insert evil laugh here).  OK, scurry along now.  And remember, what happens in kindergarten STAYS in kindergarten.  Come back tomorrow, and we'll learn how to stretch a balloon over a banana.  You'll thank me later.

When I was a youth pastor between 1994 and 2002, each year I had at least half a dozen parents of our 200-student-sized youth group come to me with a common problem:  Their 14- or 15-year-old son or daughter was rebelling.  They had "lost control" in their own home.  My specific advice always depended upon each unique family, but I often started my counsel with this question: "Do you have any younger children?"  Parents would give me "the tilt" (tilt the head, as if they couldn't find the relevance).  So I'd say, "The things I'm about to suggest to you today require immediate implementation with your younger children."  It's not that all was lost with their rebellious teens, but the road back from rebellion is a long one, and rebellion itself *can be* (not 100% of the time, perhaps) avoided with attentive, character-building-minded parents who love the Lord and model Biblical integrity in their home.

The same principle is true in society.  Genuinely reforming the character of a nation starts with our 5-year-olds.  And this approach, of course, is unacceptable.  Why?  Because it takes too long.

What an alarming statement that shines a floodlight on the collective mind of American society!  The obvious answer to seeing a long-lasting sharp decline in violence in America is rejected because it isn't QUICK?

God, have mercy on this nation.  May she see the error of her ways and return - with abandon - to You.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hey everyone! Many of you have asked if we've set up an easy way for you to donate toward Jake's medical bills (which will total an estimated $20,000 out-of-pocket). With special thanks to our friend TJ Fech, we found this website that does just that. Will you help us pass it on by sharing this link? Thank you so much!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Men Behind the "Corner"

As many of you know by now, my dad passed away of lung cancer Friday November 18 surrounded by his family as Jesus took him home.  As it is briefly mentioned in this blog that "Coffin Corner" is named after my grandpa's and my dad's sports column in the Monterey Herald that ran weekly for many decades, I am humbled to now carry it on alone.  Pretty sentimental, I know.  But the thought gives me both pause and motivation to pay a bit more attention to the blog and get back to writing weekly updates.

For now, the update is this: Thank you for your prayers for my family.  Dad's memorial service will be Monday, December 12, 7 PM at Cypress Community Church.  Also, Jake is doing extremely well after his second chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma.

We - my entire family - greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage and Taxes

I was approached yesterday by a friend who's been living with his girlfriend for 10 years.  They have two kids together, and they're finally considering marriage.  However, the only thing stopping them is... taxes.

According to my friend and the research he claims to have done, his and her tax liability will increase by over $10,000 per year if they simply tie the knot.  He is basically asking if I'll preside over a ceremony without a marriage license.  While I ponder that, I need to hear from those of you with any experience in tax law to determine the validity of my friend's fear.  Does the government truly punish marriage like this?  If so, from a financial standpoint alone, I understand why my friends want to remain as they are.

Help me out, please.  I don't know the exact annual salaries for this couple, but I'm gonna venture a guess that both individuals make around $50,000 per year each.

And as another sub-topic: To my fellow pastor friends, have you ever conducted a license-less ceremony?  My initial thought is that I wouldn't do it, but then I need to explore what the Bible has to say about licenses, and I don't believe I'll find much.  Cynically, I think, "What's the point?" But then again, one of my answers to the quip, "We don't need a piece of paper to tell us we're committed," is that it's not about the license - it's about verbally committing vows in front of God, family, and friends - with the intent to never break them.

Anyway, let's discuss this!