Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Night Videos: Jesus Is Just Alright

Early in their career, back when their fan base was still mostly crowds of bikers and stoners, a band called The Doobie Brothers borrowed a gospel song and turned it into a rock and roll classic. For some reason, this morning when I woke up I was compelled to do a YouTube search for this song… perhaps it had played on the radio yesterday at work and stuck in my head. I really don’t know, but that’s not the important part… what I found fascinating is the video I found. Nearly forty years after they originally performed the song for the first time, the band sounds better than ever as they sing in beautiful harmonies and hit ever note with great precision.

I used to not know that this song was a remake of a gospel tune; I thought it was just a bunch of good ol’ boys singing about how they’re alright with Jesus. But the more I listen, the more I get it… to the writer who sang it as gospel, and to these rock and rollers who have been singing His praises for almost as long as I’ve been alive, Jesus is more than just alright.

Understanding the simplicity of this song is as wonderful as the simplicity of a solid relationship with God, when you just accept His love. It was an interesting discovery, in both respects.

As I wish you and yours Merry Christmas, I hope you all are able to enjoy the season for what is most important during our time here in this life. I am so excited to once again be travelling home to be with my family. Taking a break from my everyday routine will be a wonderful experience as it always is, I am sure… I’ve been truly blessed this year and a lot of good has come my way. I believe strongly we reap what we sow; I have been working hard to live a better life, and to do the right thing… and while I know we must never get too sure of ourselves, I have confidence the recent success I have seen is my reward for my effort to be a better man.

It took me a long time to understand, and I still question it from time to time. The God I have come to trust would want me to question his very existence, because if I am not questioning, then I am not living. So as I question, I sometimes wonder how it could be that a presence that I can’t see, or touch, or literally speak with face to face could have ever put a man on this earth; His Son, no less… and that ultimately that man, the Son of God, would sacrifice himself for the salvation of each individual who would simply accept Him as our Savior.

It is an overwhelming story to comprehend, and even more intimidating to believe… but if you just open your mind and understand that Jesus is just alright…

Friday Night Videos: 2112

"You don't get something for nothing... You can't have freedom for free."

As the Mayan calendar comes to an end and America is a nation in turmoil, these are the final words of the great "video" I offer today for your enjoyment. A combination of mystical fantasy, science fiction action-adventure, and poetic inspiration, 2112 is, in my opinion, the definitive Rush masterpiece, and if the world by chance were to end on 12/21/12, the irony of the name they gave this musical treasure would be... simply perfect.

If I was going to be stranded on a deserted island and was only able to take ten albums with me, this Rush classic is definitely right up there at the top of the list. The music of Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee is as majestic today as it was when they first shared this creation with us in 1976, with lyrics perhaps even more meaningful than they ever imagined.

If you've got about 40 minutes you can spare, I promise... this one will not disappoint.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Human Problem

George Washington once said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”

I am not a church-going person, but I am a man of Faith. I understand right from wrong, and I understand God’s law. In my youth I was taught a value system based on Judeo-Christian values; the same values our Founding Fathers (even the non-believers) all agreed were the moral foundation upon which our Constitution must be based, because laws are created in the essence of morality. The Ten Commandments have always been displayed in The United States Supreme Court, because they are moral laws that all individuals should understand as a code by which we should all live our lives.

In modern culture, Americans have allowed do-nothings such as Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, Reality TV “stars” like Honey Boo Boo and “The Real Wives” of every city, as well as pop-culture icons like Jay-Z and Beyonce (to name just a few) to become more important than our $16 trillion in national debt. Our soldiers are living in the streets, and our elderly are going hungry, but sadly many people today are more consumed with what someone posted on Facebook than how the government continues to allow itself a higher credit limit at the expense of future generations.

Meanwhile our President and other elected representatives are more concerned about being popular with the celebrity class than they are concerned about performing the duties we elected them to perform, and they’re more worried about one-upmanship and chest thumping because “I won!” than they are interested in cooperation and bi-partisanship in the interest of serving their constituents and fellow Americans.

So why, then, are we so shocked when mentally unstable individuals are not given the love, care, attention and affection every human needs and deserves, and because they feel so lost and alone their reaction is to acquire whatever weapons they can find that allow them to bring great harm quickly to as many people as possible in an act of desperation?

America is losing its morality, Christianity in America is under attack, and we are becoming less civil toward each other with each passing day. Whether it is union thugs fighting with and physically beating their political opposition in Michigan, the media making fun of concerned and patriotic Americans who wear hats with bags of tea strung from them, or politicians and politically motivated pundits insisting that their political opponents and half of all Americans make decisions based upon race and gender, it’s all the same. The Golden Rule of “Do unto others” has been lost and forgotten. In the entitlement and instant gratification society we live within today, “What’s in this for me”” has taken the place of “Ask not what your country can do for you…” Sadly but not surprisingly, evil is beginning to show itself more and more in the face of declining morality.

In learning what causes such devastating events to transpire as that which took the lives of 26 innocent individuals in Connecticut this past Friday, we must first understand that these individuals who act out in such dramatic fashion are not in their right mind, because no person in their right mind would ever do such a thing. For reasons we cannot understand, these individuals want to take out as many people as possible for whatever reason they believe is okay, and it is my opinion that nothing will stop them. If guns were not available, there would be other methods employed by these unstable individuals to carry out their task. If they couldn’t get a gun, they would drive a car through a wall, or build and set off pipe bombs or some other explosive devices, or God knows what else.

I don’t know a lot, but I know this: when a man dresses himself in the camouflage of our military, makes himself appear as one of our real heroes, and then attacks children, the firearm that man used to carry out his crime is not the problem. Guns have been a part of American culture since the founding of America, yet until recently they have never appeared to be such a problem as could be said today. It would be easy to point the finger of blame at the inanimate object, but the firearm can’t be fired without the arm of an individual reaching for the trigger. Therefore in my humble opinion, to begin a discussion about gun laws in the immediate aftermath of such a tragic loss of innocent life is to belittle the memory of the fallen. If we don't solve the human problem, then there is no point in discussing the gun problem, because in the hands of mentally stable and law abiding individuals, firearms are not a problem.

Our nation has been in moral decline for at least fifty years, although it has likely been more like one hundred years or so. Over the past century, “progressive” individuals have gained more and more powerful positions in all levels of government. Through their ongoing efforts to legislate away traditional values and implement their own sense of morality onto the masses, they have slowly chipped away at the moral fiber of America. Led by these “progressive” individuals, our government passes laws that remove God from the public forum and take away individual rights under the guise of “the greater good.” In the process of creating “change” in America, “progressives” have created a moral vacuum, and as a result of that lack of morality, America today witnesses more and more frequent occurrences of senseless acts such as the tragedy we witnessed Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

This isn’t the debate the media wants to have. Being predominately “progressive,” the media wants to make the debate about gun control, because that fits the agenda of their chosen politicians. Unfortunately there are many good Americans who, rather than looking at the bigger picture and realizing that it is the moral decline of America that is bringing this great nation to her knees, are misled by the media into believing the debate needs to be about gun control. A few mentally unstable individuals who happen to find ways to exploit weaknesses in society such as ”gun-free zones” allow fear to override all other senses, and it is when we feel fear that we allow ourselves to become weak minded and gullible.

Ben Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

These days it seems every time we turn around, we’re giving up more and more of our liberties. Be it “The Patriot Act” and “Department of Homeland Security” of the Bush administration, or now President Obama’s “health care” law and his thinly veiled promises of firearm restrictions, we are no safer, a lot less free, and sadly therefore getting exactly what we deserve.