The Mess the Next President Inherits

Our current president was supposed to be a transformational leader.  When he was first elected in 2008, he inherited a country deeply divided over the war on terror and that was headed headlong into a great recession.  He soaring rhetoric was supposed to heal us.  Our divides were supposed to be sewn back together as we gathered around hope and change.

Yet, eight years later, the wounds aren’t healed.  I won’t go as far as to say that they are as deep as they’ve been since the mid-1800s, but they are deep.  If this country is 40% red and 40% blue and 20% undecided, it’s safe to say that at least 80% of the people here in the United States despise people of the other party (at least politically speaking).  And the 80% are not easily converted.  They may switch parties based on who is running, but they aren’t necessarily transformed by the candidate for whom they vote.

Since 1988, there is exactly one winner who has received at least 53% of the popular vote — George H.W. Bush in 1988.  Since 1988, there is only one other winner who has garnered at least 52% of the popular vote — Barack H. Obama in 2008.  Since 1972, there have only been two winners to receive more than 58% of the vote — Ronald Reagan in 1984 (58.77%) and Richard Nixon in 1972 (60.67%).

Why quote all of these numbers?  To point out the obvious.  Transformational elections in the United States don’t occur very regularly and we aren’t about to have one.  Yes, some may say it will be transformational because of the damage one candidate or the other could do, and I suppose that’s within the realm of possible, but this election will not be transformational in the sense that either of these candidates heal our great divide.

The next president will inherit a job where almost half of the people can’t stand them.  How will our new president respond?

Will she try to mend fences with the deplorables?  Or will he rule by executive insult?

Will he love American enough to want a rising tide to life all boats?  Or will she continue a rigged system where only the ruling political class prosper?

I don’t know.  I’m no soothe sayer, but I have a pretty good idea how this election is going to turn out.  I feel fairly certain I will be disappointed in the results.  Either way, I hope I can be pleasantly surprised that the winner will lead us with dignity and class.


“You cannot serve God and money.”

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 ESV)

These are words from Jesus.  Let us heed them.

Sweet Wife and I are business owners.  She’s mostly a silent partner, but she provides wise counsel and leadership.  She’s there when the business needs her.  I’m the one who gets up Monday through Friday and heads off to the office.  That’s OK, of course.  We have our roles.  She could do what I do, but we have chosen for her role to be “stay at home mom” (and please don’t make us switch!).

I say all of that to say this.  Though Sweet Wife and I are partners, I’m the one who usually “carries around the weight of the world” related to the business.  I’m the one who will get there early or stay late or basically do whatever needs to be done to try to make things work.  I’m the one who sees all of the results and all of the forecasts and all of the issues and, therefore, I’m usually the one who worries the most (or maybe I’m just a worrier and that’s all an excuse).

[To be clear, Sweet Wife has a ton of things she must juggle that cause her to deal with her own “weight of the world” issues and I’m not saying she’s blind to the struggles of “me.”  She’s very caring and supportive.]

Because of my job, I wind up using my job as an excuse for a lot of stuff.  I’m in a bad mood.  Well, it’s the job.  I’m under a lot of stress.  Well, it’s the job.  I’m having a great day.  OK, just the job.  Somebody quit.  Look out, it’s the job.  There’s a load of other stuff.  Again, it’s the job.

From time to time (like now), I step back and wonder, “do I have a job or does the job have me?”  And then I read the words above from Jesus and I wonder, “which master am I serving?”  Am I serving the Master who knows that my family and I need something to eat and drink and something to wear or do I serve a master who is never satisfied and constantly wants more and more and more?  Do I serve a Master who came to seek and save me and who came to give me an abundant life, or do I serve a man-made master who leads to death?

I know that I would say that I serve the one true God who made heaven and earth, but practically speaking I’m not sure that my time spent worrying proves me right.

I know that those around me have heard that we want to run our business ventures in a Christ honoring way, but I’m not sure they’ve seen me live that out so much.

This all troubles me very much.  I can’t just cut and run.  I can’t just sell everything and move to Alaska (ahhh Alaska!).  My family is in the process of being educated (i.e. our kids are in school) and we have dozens of people that are counting on us for a jobs.  And besides, when we settled in Alaska, I’m sure there would be another master trying to get my attention up there too.  No, I think there’s a different way.  I think there is a way to manage all of the goings on of life in a way that honors Jesus Christ first.

How does that happen?  Well, that’s a good question and I don’t know if I have the exact answer.  But I have some guesses…

I think, first, there is the matter of confession and repentance in my own life.  I need to confess my sins to God and tell Him what He already knows — that I have served another master and that I’ve been entangled with the worries of this world in a way that is sinful against Him — and I need to ask for forgiveness and repentance.

Second, I need to practice a lifestyle of holiness.  As each wave of trouble arrives, I need to practice righteousness.  No, I’m talking about how the Pharisees rolled, I’m talking about how practicing it 1 John style.

Third, I need to continually look for things that need to be addressed.  This part isn’t so easy, because who likes to hear bad things about themselves, right?  But I can take baby steps in this area.  I can deal with what I already know (see above) and I can look for areas where I’m struggling within myself or with others in this battle to serve just one Master.

Fourth, I can continually pray about this.  Actually, this should cover all of the steps.

It is not always easy to hear the words of Jesus.  He speaks the truth and His words cut to the heart of the matter.  But it’s good that we can hear them.  It’s good to have our heart quickened when we read His words.  If not, it means that we are blind or deaf to Him and that’s not good.  But now that I’ve heard them, He’s calling me (and us) to respond.  How will we?  How will I?  How will you?  Let’s consider the things He’s said seriously, pray to Him for guidance and pursue His glory.

Sunday Worship: Frontiers

The words of this song, Frontiers, by the Vertical Church Band, are my prayer to the Lord God Almighty today:

I cannot feel your love so strong and still
From where I’ve hidden
I cannot hear your voice above my will
But still you listen

And all the while
You call me to your grace
All that I undid fades

Lead me to the end of myself
Take me to the edge of something greater

[This band is affiliated with Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago.]

“Sunday Worship” is a weekly series that can hopefully be used to help prepare our hearts to worship God Almighty.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

Saturday Music: William Tell Overture

If you thought today would be a good day to listen to Glen Campbell rip through William Tell Overture on his guitar, then today is your day.  Enjoy.

“Saturday Music” is a weekly blog series about the music of our lives.  Click here to read all of the posts in this series.

Friday Picture: More Guntersville

2016-10-17-13-04-38This is a view of Lake Guntersville from the balcony of the lodge at Guntersville State Park.  This is a nice picture, but doesn’t do the view justice at all.

“Friday Picture” is a weekly blog series about life…one picture at a time.  You can read all of the posts in the series by clicking here.

Defining Capitalism

In a recent opinion-piece in The Wall Street Journal, Christopher Koopman pointed out a couple of troubling statistics:

About 70 million millennials will be eligible to vote in this year’s presidential election, according to Pew Research Center. How my generation votes matters more than ever—which makes the results of an April Harvard Institute of Politics survey seem very troubling. About a third of Americans ages 18-29 support socialism, while not even half back capitalism. College graduates view capitalism more favorably, but these still don’t appear to be encouraging numbers.

Of course he notes that this is alarming, but offers this qualifier:

Does this mean millennials have come to disdain capitalism? Not exactly. We might call it “capitalism” in opinion surveys, but in reality young people are rejecting a system that they have only been led to believe is capitalism.

 And then this opinion:

For many, capitalism isn’t about free enterprise, nor is it about the startups and innovation. When they hear the term, millennials think about Wall Street bailouts, corporate greed, political scandals and tax codes riddled with loopholes for the wealthy and connected. Yet this has little to do with what equal-opportunity capitalism actually is: A system providing all Americans with a chance to use their unique skills to create a business with free access to different markets and customers.

Sadly, I think his opinion about the mindset of millenials is accurate, but I don’t he entirely captures their point of view, nor do I think semantics cure looming problems.

The problem — for millenials and many more of us — is that we’ve allowed government to overshadow almost every part of our life.  The problem — for all of us — is that we are relying on the government for everything and we are assuming that the government will fix our problems.  The problem is that we have allowed government regulation to strangle the life out of the American dream.

Belichick’s Tech Tips

Something tells me we won’t see New England Patriot head coach in any Microsoft commercials any time soon:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick has called off the fight. A little more than two weeks after he was seen slamming a tablet along the sideline during a 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills, he is going back to an old-school approach to analyze what is happening during a game.

“As you probably noticed, I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said in a lengthy answer during his Tuesday conference call. “I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well, because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets. I just can’t take it anymore.”

The tablets he’s referring to are the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets and they are just one part of a comprehensive technology package that the NFL has unleashed on its teams. 

You can’t really blame him. As he notes:

“This is all league equipment, so we don’t have it. I mean, we use it. but it isn’t like we have the equipment during the week, and we can work with it and ‘OK, this is a problem. Let’s fix this.’ That’s not how it works,” Belichick explained.

“We get the equipment the day of the game, or I’d say not the day of the game but a few hours before the game, and we test it and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Usually, by game time, it is working, but I would say not always. And then during the game, sometimes something happens and it has to be fixed. First of all, you have to figure out what the problem is. Is it a battery? Is it the helmet? Is it the coaches’ pack? Is it the battery on the coaches’ pack? 

Of course, one reason the teams don’t receive the technology until game day is because some teams would cheat if they received the equipment any sooner. But that’s another subject.