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16 posts from September 2016

LINK: Get a copy of the 2016 Republican and Democratic National platforms


Republican and Democratic national platforms
Get your own copies of the platforms for the Republican and Democratic National Committees

 There's plenty of chatter about the platforms for the national Republican and Democratic parties.  

Many point to these platforms as evidence for their arguments for or against a candidate or political party.  This is particularly the case for those who are for and against Donald Trump who point to the conservative platform as evidence of his credentials.

Democrats use the platform that they are still in the vanguard of progressive thought and leadership.

Both documents are available from Amazon.  Click here for the Republican platform and here for the Democratic platform.

What do you do when the storms and the waves threaten to suffocate you?

More and more, it seems like things are getting increasingly ugly in this country and around the world.  You don't have to look far to see the storms that are coming.

No political candidate  can solve all the problems here right now and on the horizon.  So where do you go and to whom do you turn.

This song answers that.  And there is an answer.  I put this up to remind myself and share it with others.

Are Christians selling out their faith in Jesus Christ with their support for Donald Trump?

Read today's ODB devotion.
Is God still in control if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency ?

It's hard to have a conversation in Michigan without some kind of chatter about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  People are taking up sides and it's getting nasty.

My home town, Bay City which is the gateway to the north seems to have become a hotbed of vocal Trump supporters as are many other places in the state.  Many of these are people brought up in church and who profess a strong belief in God.  They see Hillary as either a female version of the anti-Christ or the anti-Christ herself.  

These Republican friends point to the U.S. Supreme Court and how if she won, she'd appoint justices who are antithetical to everything we as Americans value.  Then they point to Trump who they say would appoint justices who have the good values.  

From what I've seen there are big negatives to both candidates.  But does Trump really share the values of evangelical Christians?  Look at how he has comported himself during the campaign.  He has ridiculed and mocked people, the disabled, women and those who disagree with him.

He has built his personal life and his professional life on taking advantage of people and thinking of only himself.  There's a body of evidence showing his deceptions.

In conversations, many of my Republican friends will retort that they could never stomach Hillary Clinton.  They point to the question marks in her character.  Okay.

What if you vote for neither and write in somebody's name, like Jack Bauer?

Are Christians making an idol out of holding power in the national government and selling out their faith in Jesus and his power and his desires for us?  Are they trying to short circuit the process like Abram in the Bible where God promised in Genesis 15 that he'd be the father of many nations.  When the promise was made, he was elderly.  So his wife told him to have a kid with her servant.  How did God react to that?

Are we doing the same thing?

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson can't name one foreign leader


Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor, is the Libertarian candidate for president this year.  Many who say they can't vote for Clinton or Trump are looking to Johnson as a viable alternative.  They look to another former governor of that state Bill Richardson who became the U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations.

Is Johnson cut from the same cloth? Listen to this exchange on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.  Johnson couldn't name one world leader.  I'm not making this up.  

Libertarians have cheapened their brand with Johnson as a candidate.

How many world leaders can you name?  I bet most can name one or two.

I was really surprised when I got a FaceTime call today from my 2-year-old grandson


My two-year-old grandson
My two-year-old grandson calls me Bubba

 It was early afternoon when I got the call from my two-year-old grandson.  He had just gotten up from a nap and was feeling out of sorts.  So, he called for Bubba.  That's me.  He handed his mom's iPhone to her and made it clear that he want to Face Time.

He started calling me Bubba this summer after spending a week at his house.  He was having trouble saying grandpa and grandma, so he said "Bubba" and "Amma."  When we left his house a couple states away and when we were saying goodbye, he made it clear he didn't want me to leave.  He clung to my shoulder and cried "Bubba, Bubba, Bubba."  

Of course my heart enlarged greatly with his affectionate sentiments.  Since then, he still uses his favorite name for me.

So, when he woke up, his mom said the first thing he cried for was "Bubba" and that's me.  My heart smiled in a way that only grandchildren can.

His picture came up on my phone after I accepted the call and the smiles showed across a few states.  I haven't seen him in a month.  I heard him use a full assortment of words that I hadn't heard from before.  He's in the almost talking stage.  It was a great visit.

Then there were pictures from our youngest grandson who had a physical today.  He's a smiler and has big eyes that shine.  

I love my grandkids and pictures, stills and video, are a good alternative when you can see them in person.


My youngest grandson is a smiler.
My youngest grandson.



Remembering my basic training days at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri


These pictures show that I wasn't born with a beard.  They were taken during training in the very early 1970s when I was at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.  It was a chaotic time to be a male in your late teens and early to mid-twenties.  Going to Vietnam hang over your head.  There was the domestic turmoil at home over the war and unknowns of going to war in Southeast Asia.

What made my active duty time more tolerable was the friendship of two guys, Chuck from Tennessee and Jan from North Dakota.  

We supported each other and helped each other transition to our military roles.  Then because we were reservists, we went back home and soon lost touch with each other until Chuck contacted me on Facebook.  Wow.  It seems like at least one lifetime ago.  I'm thankful that Chuck reached out.


One thing I've learned after being 70 years-old for almost a month

My birthday cake
The birthday cake for me at my surprise birthday party

It's been almost a month since I turned 70-years-old and my family threw me a surprise birthday party.  I've been thinking a fair amount about my past seven decades of life and what I've learned.

I've made my share of mistakes and I've tried to learn from them.  I can see clearly that learning is lifelong.  Some of that learning is about life and decisions I've made and some is more factual and about things that interest me like the carrot cake in the above picture or about drones and how they fly or about telling stories through video.  You get the drift.

In the first category, I've learned that I need to be more assertive in my prayers.  I believe in God and I believe that I have 24/7 access to him and that he listens to me.  I also believe that he has given us a book of promises and assurances that I can use to get to know him more personally.

Every Tuesday I have lunch with my friend Ken.  We are reading Philip Yancey's book Prayer which raises and answers questions about the topic.  I think it has fueled our prayer engines.  

We don't have all the answers, but we know that we have a God who listens and who wants to know all of us.  

My bucket list as a 70-year-old is being rearranged.  In the top tier, I now have prayer warrior.  What's more important to me going to the Maldive Islands or talking and listening to God?

It's clear to me.

Are city of Lansing voters tiring of incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero?

Mayor Virg Bernero
Mayor Virg Bernero


Is the city of Lansing getting tired of incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero?  He's been mayor for a decade and has been known as America's angriest mayor.  There's increasing noise coming from voters about his combative attitude towards them and issues they're concerned about.

Two items which hint at voter displeasure:

What does all this mean?  Is this evidence that voters are seriously unhappy with the Bernero administration?


Hillary Clinton kicked Donald Trumps butt during the first debate last night


Donald and Hillary
This was what we saw on our tv screen

 I was impressed by Hillary Clinton during last night's debate.  There I said it.  By any measure, she seemed to be more impressive.  Look at her knowledge of the issues.  Her experience.  Her ability to communicate.  Her ability to not let Trump bait her on sensitive questions.  Compared to Donald Trump, she seemed presidential and he seemed more like an alderman in a tumultuous city.

He added to my understanding of the verb "bloviate."  Arrogance is seldom fun to watch.  It might work with Babe Ruth pointing to the field where he was going to hit a homer, but not in politics.  

His lack of knowledge about policy is disappointing.  His lack of compassion on the race issue is hard to comprehend.  He showed no understanding of why there's turmoil on this issue.

Demeanor is another measure.  He came across as the king of prison yard bullies.  Cross him and he will make you hurt.

What about her?  Given the choice between the two, she was much more impressive.  Would I vote for her?  It's something I have to consider, I think.

Did I stay awake during the whole debate?  I did.  But the person sitting on the opposite end of the couch from me didn't.  Perhaps, she was checking her eyelids for holes.

I'm trying to digest Sunday's sermon from Colossians about serving and suffering


Jeff Manion
Ada Bible Church senior teaching pastor Jeff Manion

 At our church, Ada Bible Church, we are going through a series of sermons on the book of Colossians, a place in western Turkey where followers of Jesus grabbed onto their faith with impressive gusto.  They made a difference in their part of the world and it influenced the growth of the church around the world.

Because that church got started within a few decades of when Jesus was crucified on the cross, their faith was new and as Pastor Jeff Manion says new faith can be vulnerable to winds of change and circumstances.

The Apostle Paul wrote the book to encourage and strengthen their faith.

Pastor Manion, in this video clip, shares the scripture from which this weekend's sermon was taken.  I pray that the Heavenly Father will help me digest and implant it on my heart.

Will we get anything more than "piffle" from tonight's debate between Clinton and Trump?

My wife and I will be watching the debate tonight between Clinton and Trump and I'm not sure we will be doing it for the right reasons.

IMG_6964Tonight's broadcast reminds me of when we watched the television series "24" with great anticipation for a chance to cheer on the hero Jack Bauer.  He would take on a serious threat and never lose.  He talked tough and was tough.  With a bottle of Great Lakes Red, we would cheer his talk and his actions where the bad guys faced invincibility from one man.  I remember there was even talk about how he should be elected president.

What about tonight?

After the debate will we have a clearer understanding about the values and character of each candidate?  

If I had to guess we will get nothing more than "piffle" from both sides.  A lot of people are looking for high quality trash talking, especially from Trump.  It's kind of like watching professional wrestling where fighters would put on a show, but none of it was real.  Trump is a caricature of a leader and I'm not sure about Clinton.  

Are they going to get in each other's face?  Maybe they'll spit at their opponent?  Viewers would love it.  A lot of them would complain, while others would cheer for their person.

Will I watch another presidential debate?  Ask me tomorrow.

What happens when you marinate your soul in scripture?


Marinating my soul in Scripture
A note about "marination" in my Bible

 We had salmon today and quite often we marinate it in a special liquid mixture to give it more taste.  We let it marinate for a decent period of time.

I found the above quote in my Bible today and it caught my attention.  It's from our church--Ada Bible Church--where one of the pastors said we should marinate our souls in Holy Scripture.  What does that look like in my life?  How should it affect my attitude and outlook on day-to-day life and the future?  Can it bring me closer to Jesus?

As I move into this important period of time in my life where at age 70 I need to pick my attitudes and activities carefully, I need to stay connected to my Heavenly Father.  I think that means that I need more than a quick devotion with a Bible verse or two.

I pray for God's help to immerse myself in his Words and then with His help operationalize them in my life.

Here's a great way to keep your toddler occupied for a while on a long plane ride

A goodie bag of dollar store toys for our one-year-old grandson.
This is the goodie bag that my daughter-in-law had for our one year-old grandson on a flight to Eastern Europe.

A year ago today, my son, our daughter-in-law, our grandson, my wife and I were on a plane to Stockholm where we had a layover for a flight to Croatia.  We were traveling there to vacation with our daughter and family who lived in Eastern Europe.

The challenge was how to keep a newly-minted one-year-old entertained on a trans-Atlantic flight.  They can get cranky and sometimes real cranky.

My daughter-in-law, Lauren Thorp, is one of the more creative people I know.  She can take a handful of old treasures and turn them into something beautiful that you just want to stare at and smile.  

She did that on this flight.  During the course of the trip we passed the baby.  That's when we each got into our bag of goodies she put together.  They were little dollar store toys and little neat things, including little pieces of tape.  The idea was to have a stockpile of attention diverters for my young grandson.

Did it work?  Almost.  Close.  He was too young.  The tape was a hit.  I could put it on his foot and he would pick it off.  That lasted for a few minutes.

I just bet that with him being two, he'd stay entertained longer.

By-the way, Lauren is the founder of Umba Box, a national subscription box service for curated handmade items.  Really cool stuff.

Meet the old bat who lives on my back deck

It's a quiet, sunny and warm Monday afternoon and my wife was just casually looking through the screen door to our back deck when she saw it.  It was a bat trying to find just the right spot under the umbrella on our back deck.  My wife got nervous about opening the back door, but I did it anyway and got this video clip of the little critter with impressive little teeth.


Older baby-boomers: Go to Amazon and buy "virtual reality" goggles for a new look at the world


If you knock on my front door during this warm weather, there's a good chance you'll see me with these virtual reality goggles.  It has nothing to do with the myriad eye problems I've had over the past few years.  These goggles allow me to view hundreds of videos taken with cameras that give you a 360 degree view of whatever you're looking at.

I just got back from a virtual helicopter trip over downtown Las Vegas.  It was amazing.  It was as if I was actually taking the ride.  I could see everything and look anywhere in any direction, including up and down.  I could even feel the bumps in the ride.  I'm ready to go again.

The device allows me to adjust it to my tricky vision and to see everything with a natural sharpness.  The New York Times has a collection of 360 degree videos.  At least two will be watched before the day is over.

I'd recommend this to just about anybody.  I can't wait to show it to my six-year-old grandson and to my wife, a retired third grade teacher.

Are you familiar with Virtual Reality (VR) goggles?  Have you ever used them and what have you watched?


Should a pastor be happy that you and your wife sat on the couch for half a hour talking about their sermon?

Our church--Ada Bible Church--lives streams its services.  So my wife and I decided to attend church virtually tonight and then go in person tomorrow on Sunday.  I used my iPhone to play the service on our television where we saw and participated in the whole service, including a sermon by Pastor Aaron Buer.

He taught on Psalm 34, a reaction by David being chased by King Saul and how David deal with the intensity of the stress from that and how it applies to us.


Pastor Aaron Buer
Pastor Aaron Buer of Ada Bible Church

King Saul was jealous of David and wanted to see him dead.  David was being chased and he had to hide.  His life hung on his ability to say one step ahead of Saul.  The young shepherd and future king had a target on his back.  So how did he react?  And how does it apply to our lives?

The sermon centered around answering that question and the challenge of dealing with the unfairness of life.

He pointed to verse 4 where David said:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

Then he covered two other points in the Psalm about how we take "shelter" in the Lord and how we pursue peace and don't speak or do evil.

My notes have holes which I will fill in tomorrow.

But I asked my wife about how well the message provided and explained tools from that passage.  Did it cross the boundary from being a bromide and cliche to a real life tool that you can pick up and use?

This is not a criticism of the message or the pastor, but an anecdote about how two people listened and tried to personalize what was taught.


My sermon notes.
These are notes from today's sermon as I took them in my Bible.