I miss my Friend…

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God; who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.  The Lord sets the prisoners free.

I spent today with my friend Richard.  We have been friends for almost seven years now.  The day I met Richard he was in the back of a class I was teaching.  He challenged me on several of the points I was making in class and my first impression was I was in for a challenge.  His thought provoking questions and subsequent long conversations about the nature of God, the confusion of life, and the struggle to be whole led us down the road to a genuine friendship.

Richard is serving a two year sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections in Tucson.  It has been almost three years since I last saw him.  He went back to prison last January.  When he completes this sentence in December of 2016, it will mark twenty eight years Richard has spent in custody.  He’s fifty two.  It all began when he was just nineteen.

It was good to see him come through the door.  He came across the room and we embraced like old friends do.  For the next four hours we caught up, we cried, we contemplated all the what ifs, and we laughed.  I was the first visitor Richard has had this sentence.

Some people may wonder why Richard can’t seem to get his act together. They ask me, “how many times does he have to mess up before he gets with the program?”

I hear others remark, “It’s obvious he has no understanding of personal responsibility; no desire to change his behavior; maybe prison is just where he belongs.”

Those are all pretty natural responses I suppose.  They are also pretty easy to make from where we sit.  I just know that my friend is my friend and I am proud to call him my friend.

I have a difficult time grasping twenty eight years in prison.  I really can’t understand what it must be like for Richard.  In some ways he has been institutionalized.  He knows all the ins and outs of the prison culture and how to survive it.   He sees the corruption and despair every day.  He battles the loneliness.  I don’t’ know what it’s like to see your friend walk out the door to freedom while you remain behind.  I have never experienced loneliness at that level.

The four hours went by quickly.  We talked about struggles from the past.  We laughed about things we did working together.  We discussed the future and direction for the rest of his time and beyond.  We waved good bye through the glass.

There are a whole lot of things one could think and say.  All I know tonight…is that I miss my friend.


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The Moral Law does not change.

18week 18 Week Old Baby

So now we hear that we have been selling body parts.  The video hit the airwaves and in just a few days the apologists for Planned Parenthood defended the practice by saying, “no laws were broken…there was nothing illegal done…this was a group of people with a vendetta against abortion…there’s nothing to see here”.

If the verbal gymnastics by the supporters of child murder was not so horrific it would be comical.  Will the line they have crossed this time call the supporters of life to the front line or will this go away in a couple of news cycles and life just move along unaffected?

Will moral law trump government opinions passing for laws ever re-establish itself in this country?  I have my doubts.  It is not surprising that Planned Parenthood has moved down the slippery slope to this demented level.  What is discouraging is the lack of dissent by the public in general.  There is no outrage from the news organizations, instead weak attempts to deflect the behavior by attacking the messenger.

Let’s reframe this.  Let’s suppose that the government determined that for the sake of the society at whole it would be beneficial to begin murdering two year olds in order to secure healthy body parts for research and development.  One would like to believe that there would be an outcry so loud on the part of every human that a practice of that nature would be declared absolutely and totally unacceptable.

So, in that case, moral law would trump government law.  And yet history has shown that just such behavior was legislated by authorities and the public did nothing in response.  Men performed experiments on children and adults and murdered them in the name of science.  They were not breaking any laws.  So, millions were discarded while millions did nothing. Judgment followed.

I graduated from high school in 1973 the same year that five people decided that murdering children would be the law of the land in this country.   We are forty years down the road.  We have lost over 50 million of our fellow citizens.  Now we are selling the murdered children to the highest bidders.  Where is the outrage by those that have the power to change law and practice?  Will there be any changes? The moral law has not changed. Murder will always be unacceptable.

This country is deteriorating faster than any time I have witnessed in my sixty years.  Why?  For the simple reason that we as a nation have abandoned obedience to the moral law.  For what reason?  So man can be in charge of his own life.  There is only one remedy for the downward spiral…repentance; a complete change in direction.  Murdering children for any reason must end and respect for human life restored.  Without that, there is no hope.  The crack began forty years ago. Today the foundation is collapsing quickly.  Stay in the fight, but recognize that judgment is coming…soon.

Pro-life supporters gather outside of a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis July 21. They held the demonstration after the release of two videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the method and price of providing fetal tissue obtained from abortions for medical research. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review) See ABORTION-NEWVIDEO July 22, 2015.

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Hastert, Duggars, Jenner….ancient history…

See how this works.  Less than two weeks since the headlines read, “Josh Duggar molests sisters”… “Dennis Hastert pleads not guilty in child molestation case”… “Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner”.

The entire nation is being manipulated by headlines and thirty second sound bites.  The foundation of the culture is being replaced. Incredibly, the transformation goes completely unnoticed by the masses while the few that speak out in disapproval are considered kooks and weirdo’s; dinosaurs from another age.

The media is formulating public understanding by daily massaging the narrative.  Dennis Hastert, The Duggars, and Bruce Jenner are ancient history already.  They served the purpose of indoctrinating the public to the new worldview.  No longer needed to emphasize the mission, they are discarded as old news. Today will be another story, another issue to report on for a few minutes or with a sensational headline. But, it is more than influencing “public opinion”. The foundation of stone that has been right and true for four hundred years in this county is being replaced with sand…more like water so rapidly there isn’t even time to ponder the change and develop a response.  It’s a Blitzkrieg.

It does not take much effort to live in today’s society.  One doesn’t have to spend time thinking, reading, or listening. It’s all done for us.  Entire worldviews are portrayed in moments and perceived by the culture as truth.  Acceptance by others is the absolute and membership in the status quo the objective. The consensus of popularity and the absolute of “feelings” is the standard. This new worldview foundation began over a hundred years ago in the classrooms of this nation.  It is being populated by only a few but the power of current technology disguises the numbers.  It is deception at the highest level. Just a few in positions of power and influence are now controlling the minds and hearts of millions.

BUT, life is not lived in sound bites and headlines.   Dennis Hastert, The Duggars, and Bruce Jenner have not moved onto the next headline. They are living the daily fallout of the headlines. The shame isn’t replaced over night with happy feelings.  Living the truth takes hard work.  It takes discipline.  It takes obedience to difficult standards that preserve a culture.  That foundation is gone.  The country is being herded intentionally to a place where it cannot stand.

It is up to us kooks and weirdo’s to go out today and refuse to allow the culture to eliminate our foundations.  We must go out and live the truth without fear.  It will not be with headlines or sound bites.  It will be by spending time one on one with others today and every day.   Foundations must be protected.  We will not win this battle in the media.  We will not win this with programs, the shame is too great.  We must walk, one with another.  We must know the truth.  We must think and respond to the lies with courage.  No time to rearrange the deck chairs while the ship is sinking.

The truth rests in the hands of the Wounded Healer.  He is the forever foundation.  We must shore it up

.Jesus Hands

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Josh DuggarDennis Hastert at WheatonJep RobertsonWhen these cases of sexual abuse come to light there is an underlying thread that weaves through all of the dialogue.  The word is mentioned but rarely addressed in any depth.  Without question perpetrators and survivors will go to incredible lengths and intentionally sacrifice time, relationships, money, and reputation to keep the secret.

The media races to the front and describes the perpetrators as evil, unscrupulous, manipulating, monsters.  The survivors are viewed as innocent, quiet, vulnerable, lambs.  Once the two sides in the story have been identified, the mudslinging begins and lost in all the rhetoric is the reason for the secret.  Why do men and women choose to abuse?  Why do survivors choose silence instead of speaking out?  Why do communities refuse to step into the aftermath for either party?  What is so powerful that paralyzes the entire world on this issue?  Shame.

Shame is the gut wrenching feeling of absolute helplessness and loss of hope. It is not simply the sense of guilt from wrong doing.  It is a mental, emotional and physical condition that convinces the mind that a person has no value.  It is a feeling that aches so deeply in the heart that a person weeps in a prison of solitude.  It wreaks havoc on the body while searching to find answers for the pain.

Shame is intense in perpetrators and survivors because it honestly identifies the character of evil present in this world.  Sexuality is the most powerful force in every human being as well as the most personal characteristic.   When it is exploited by any means it instantly damages the core of every human being; the person’s value.  The damage is inflicted in a moment of time and it lingers in the heart for the rest of life.  It may remain silent or dormant or unnoticed or addressed, but it is there, the seed of doubt is ever-present.

As the years pass, the lie that one has no value takes on a life of its own.  The lie is validated by failures or additional mistreatment.  The lie intensifies and the fear of what others will think, how others will respond takes over. Shame is relentless. Safety mechanisms and behaviors are put in place to keep the secret hidden.  Later after a period or lifetime of “normal” behavior the secret finds its way out.  Perpetrators and survivors run for cover. Communities respond to the horror with outrage and disgust. The power of Shame disables everything for a moment as everyone attempts to manage the feelings.  People watching from the outside, who were never victimized by someone, or never harmed anyone themself sexually ponder the stories and share the shame vicariously.  Anger rises and contempt is spread in all directions. Not long after disclosure, when the emotion settles down, and there is time for rational thought, the shame clouds roll back into the community. The fortress of silence remains until the next story comes to light.

My self-worth defines me. My desire to be accepted, loved, and noticed drives all of my thinking.  I want to be liked, valued, and accepted.  Whenever that value is questioned, and or injured I experience shame.  When the most valuable piece of my being, my sexuality is compromised the shame wins every time.

Shame leads to destructive behaviors, depression, and pain.  Sexual abuse will never go away.  Evil will not allow it.  Addressing the shame is a necessity for survival. Rebuilding value from years of suppression takes a lot of time and compassion.  Until we face the truth and act upon it, the issue will surface now and then in the public eye and then return to the darkness.  It will not be healed with programs or institutions.  It is healed when one walks with another one at a time for as long as it takes.  When value is affirmed in anyone shame and its powers are diminished.  Seek out a survivor or perpetrator and walk with them…for as long as it takes…one at a time.  Restoring value is worth it all.

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Kelly, Duggars, and Fox News answer the call…

Duggars on Fox NewsI was wrong!  Hats Off, Kudos, YaHoo, Way to Go to Megan Kelly, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and Fox News for the courage to put on prime time the truth.  I wrote just this week that these stories rarely receive any coverage other than for the political motive to smear someone or satisfy an agenda.  Well, Megan Kelly’s interview knocked it out of the park. A wise man wrote, “…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

The Duggars answered critics about the choices their children made and they answered honestly, clearly, and with reverence. They shared the caring process they painstakingly followed for both the perpetrator and the victims.  They demonstrated the success that is capable and the hope there is for healing by refusing to keep an issue silent within their family.   It was inspiring to hear.  Having been in this work and hearing this story over and over, very rarely do you hear that there is movement toward healing.  The incidents are not addressed head on and stay silent.  Silence is not an answer, an excuse, nor a strategy. It is so encouraging and refreshing to see what can be done.

This must not end here.  Speaking out more will begin to break the cycle, the bondage, and the destruction that the silence of abuse renders this country.  Thank you Duggar family and Megan Kelly.  Keep it up. If you haven’t seen the interview, I recommend you go to the following address, watch it and share it with all your friends. Megan has another interview with the Duggar girls this evening, June 5, 2015.


Holding onto Hope…

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Bruce Jenner is not following the Law

Bruce Jenner Winning DecathalonBruce Jenner Vanity FairBruce Jenner pecs

I was fortunate to witness the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games in which Bruce Jenner ran away from the field in winning the Decathlon.  In an instant he was bestowed with the moniker, “The Greatest Athlete on Earth”.  He ran along the track waving the American Flag proudly and I applauded him and at twenty one, shared in his triumph vicariously. Nearly forty years later I am faced with the question; was Bruce Jenner not a man in 1976?  If you watch the videos, scroll through the hundreds of pictures I believe Bruce Jenner was indeed a man in 1976?  And what many said, a “man’s man”.

Now Bruce says he is a woman.  I am to believe that this is now the truth and 1976 was not the truth.  I am confused.  Truth by definition is exclusive.  It operates exclusively by the law of non-contradiction.  The law contends, “If a statement is absolutely contradictory, without qualification, that statement cannot be true.”  Stated another way; “the same question, at the same time, meaning the same thing cannot elicit two absolutely opposite answers.”  The law cannot be denied, for the minute you open your mouth in response you are implementing the law.  So, is Bruce Jenner a man, or a woman?  Was he lying in 1976?  Is he lying now?  Or is it his position that he can change the truth at anytime by just proclaiming it true?  He “feels” like a woman, therefore he is a woman, and no one has a right to question his truth.

Recently, Bruce has attempted to change his physical form.  The changes require some substantial anatomical reconstruction.  It requires hormone therapy to change levels.  It requires treatments to attempt to eliminate characteristics that are inherently male.  Even if all the alterations are somewhat successful, the truth remains that Bruce is a man.  Truth is exclusive.  Bruce is not a man and a woman at the same time. Even after a time of “transitioning” the truth will not have changed.  Bruce will still be a man and will continue to be a man until he passes from this earth.

The struggle in this current culture is that disagreements are not made at the level of truth.  They are made with alternate criteria; feelings being the most prevalent.  Feelings are not exclusive; feelings are not reliable, nor always truthful.  I can feel or even desire to be green for whatever reasons I choose, but I will never be green regardless of what I think, feel, or believe and I could never be green and not green at the same time.

Further, if anyone disagrees they are expected to acquiesce exclusively or remain silent.  Disagreeing with an opinion, or idea which a person or culture finds important is labeled intolerant or kooky. Bruce Jenner’s photo in Vanity Fair is not kooky. My disagreement with his attempt to change truth is.  In Bruce’s words, “he is the new normal.”

I am comfortable being the Kooky one.  I believe the majority of people in this country agree with the truth that Bruce Jenner will always be a man.  I embrace my new labeled kookiness and will defend truth without reservation every time.  Do not fear.  The truth is exclusive.

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Dennis Hastert Disconnected from Alma Mater in a Blink…

Dennis Hastert at WheatonHere we go…a person’s lifelong body of work and accomplishment is dismissed immediately following an allegation of impropriety over forty years ago. As if everything that he has ever been done before or after is now illegitimate. His own Alma Mater abandons him in the process.

Wheaton College didn’t even let the ink dry on the indictment before stripping Dennis Hastert of all and any connection with their community.  Has any of the learning and new ideas  since the 2007 founding of the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy been beneficial for students and the college?  Will erasing Mr. Hastert’s name from the walls of the Institution then forfeit the accomplishments that have been part of the curriculum and discourse of the College? Mr. Hastert’s immediate resignation provided  a convenient  opportunity for the Institution to distance itself from Mr Hastert and allegations of sexual abuse. Removing his presence from the premises the same day placed an exclamation point on the issue for the public arena.

Once again a College misses a golden opportunity.  Once again, an institution of higher learning appears to react in order to maintain its image as opposed to using its storied resources to address the issue both short and long-term.  That is disappointing.  What if instead of rushing to judgment, schools begin working to develop responses that promote healing? What if Institutions intentionally reached out in Christian care and compassion to help restore both perpetrators and victims of sexual crimes?

If in time the allegations prove true Mr. Hastert may happily welcome friends, colleagues, and a community to come alongside him and share in the shame and healing.  If the allegations prove true, the survivors would welcome healing they may have hoped for in silence for years. Running away from both perpetrators and survivors due to fear only perpetuates this issue. How about the “Wheaton College Center for Healing from Sexual Abuse.”  How about the Penn State Foundation for research and development of Sexual Abuse Recovery?

When these incidents surface it is like turning the light on a bunch of cock-roaches; everyone runs for cover. The Institutions distance themselves as quickly and inexpensively as possible.  The perpetrator is ostracized and left to struggle alone in his or her shame. The survivor receives little hope for healing, just additional shame from exposure. Then not long after, everyone returns to the cover of darkness.

If in time the allegations prove true, perpetrators deserve punishment.  But their crimes are not against Institutions.  They should and do receive the punishment they deserve. What do Institutions provide for either perpetrators or survivors?  There is a whole lot of restoration that needs to go on in the years that follow disclosure. What a window of hope an Institution could be for both perpetrators and survivors in the darkest of all evils.

In this instance, Mr. Hastert is an alumnus of Wheaton College fifty years removed. His recent connection in 2007 was an honor bestowed on him for his years of service to the country as Representative and Speaker of the House.  He was not a staff member or employee of Wheaton College.  What if  now moving forward  revelations of current or past indiscretion surface; be it current or former staff members of Wheaton? It would be prudent to have in place a protocol for disclosure and a program for healing for both perpetrator and survivor. Instead of denying and ignoring, the people of the Institution could break down the cultural shame attached to the issue that is rampant in every institution, family, and community in this country. The Institution could be on the front line of a battle that continues to be cloaked in secrecy and be a champion for many.

What an opportunity to deal a blow to the enemy, instead of obsessing about image and acquiescing to evil.  I hope one day, one Institution somewhere will rise up and lead.

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 24: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct after testifying about the House page scandal October 24, 2006 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Rep Tom Reynolds (R-NY) has said the he warned Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) about inappropriate contact between former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) and teenage House pages in the spring. Hastert says he does not recall having a conversation with Reynolds about Foley.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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