Friday, April 30, 2010

Loyalty Day Prayer for our Nation

Tomorrow and Sunday the local towns of Ilwaco and Long Beach celebrate Loyalty Day. I have been asked to offer a prayer on behalf of our nation. Here is the prayer that I will share tomorrow:

Prayer for our Nation

I lift up this prayer to the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the King of kings and the sovereign ruler of all nations. We are here together on this Loyalty Day morning to affirm our loyalty to the United States of America. As good citizens we affirm that we hold our citizenship as a sacred trust between one another and with you; for you alone are the giver of life and liberty; and no pursuit of happiness will ever find success apart from an abiding faith and trust in your mercy, grace and love.

For your glory I ask that those who lead us in the courts of government might be blessed with wisdom, humility and courage to do on our behalf what is right in your eyes. You alone are the judge of history and you alone know what is good and true and right. Forgive us as individual citizens and as a nation for our frequent failure to “do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly at your side.” By the power of your Holy Spirit we ask that you would work in and through us “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Above all, we want to thank and praise you for the gifts of liberty and life that our nation was founded to protect, preserve and defend. And even as we reaffirm our loyalty to our nation we also pledge our lives and our sacred honor as tokens of our loyalty to you and your kingdom. We yearn for that day yet to come when we will declare that “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” I offer this prayer in the name of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Jesus Coming Soon"

This is a bit dated, coming from the August 1, 2009, Honolulu Advertiser, but I just saw it today and will pass it on to you without comment. I think the irony speaks for itself.

'Jesus Coming Soon' Church Marks 86 Years

The Apostolic "Jesus Coming Soon" Faith Church on lower Middle Street will mark its 86th anniversary with services at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Obama Loves the Little Children of the World . . . Mmm mmm mm!

A public school in New Jersey has produced a couple of songs about how wonderful President Barak Hussein Obama is. A video of the children singing the songs can be found on YouTube. The lyrics can be found here.

My read on the matter? Simple. Check out the lyrics and substitute the name "Richard Milhouse Nixon" or "George W. Bush" or "James Earl Carter" or "William Jefferson Clinton" and see how it sounds (maybe skipping the verse about "first black president.")

Somehow I'm reminded of the Christian song, "Jesus, There's Something About that Name" by Gloria Gaither. Yet that is a song sung by people who believe that Jesus is the incarnation of God! If you believe that then praising Jesus makes sense. I find it hard to find any sense in these songs whatsoever. Especially such politically partisan paeons of praise from a tax-funded institution that children are required to attend under penalty of law.

One particular lyric in the Obama songs has been actually swiped from a Christian song: "Red and Yellow, Black and White, all are equal (they are precious) in his sight." In the original version Jesus is being praised for being the one who "loves the little children of the world" while here the praise is taken from Jesus and given to Obama instead. How ironic that the school children are not permitted to sing the original song but are encouraged to sing the "revised version."

On the other hand, one phrase in one of the lyrics does a wonderful job of summing up the level of education that our children are receiving these days: ". . . we all doth say, Hooray!" I suppose that a Quaker, King James or William Shakespeare might have used the word "doth" but any English teacher worth a ha'penny should have red-lined the grammar and sent it back for an immediate rewrite. On the other hand the word "doth" does sound sort of biblical. Perhaps that was the whole idea in the first place.

Mmm mmm mm!

Note: In all fairness I would guess that the songs were written by (a) student(s) at the school and taught as part of a music learning experience. If so I'll not knock the author(s) but praise them for their creative efforts. I would say the same if a student had written a song about Jesus, too. But the adults who control the school and the content of the children's educational experience would not, of course, have allowed that song to be sung. And that, I think, is what children are learning in school these days: Jesus is banned (ie. "bad"). Obama, on the other hand . . .

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember, Weep & Protest

Today is the 8th anniversary of "9/11." Here are my thoughts.

Remember the day

Falling Man

Remember the fallen
Thomas Patrick Cullen
Thomas Patrick Cullen, NYFD
You can read about him here.
fireman 9/11


Note that the word protest comes from the Latin, pro testare, which means to "speak for" something. The temptation of 9/11 is to speak against everything. This has its place, of course, but redemption, hope and peace only come through proclaiming and then claiming a positive vision for the future. It is easy to speak against "radical Islamists," "terrorism" and "evil." It is harder, yet more constructive, to speak for "liberty," "freedom," "reconciliation," "hope," "peace" and "love."

I think that President Obama is on to something by designating today as a Day of National Service. Channeling all of our negative feelings into something positive and constructive would be a real "protest" demonstration! I'm not suggesting that recycling aluminum cans will enhance our national security. But smiling and being especially nice to everyone you see today will go a long way towards making our nation a happier, a more civil and, ultimately, a nicer place to live.

In the end, this is what will crush evil: Love.

"Do not be overcome by evil; but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fallout from Harvard Professor's Arrest

It was unsettling to read about the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts the other day. Conflicting stories make it difficult to determine what, exactly, took place and whether the arrest was justified or not.

What should not be in question, however, was the legitimacy of the police response to the report of a suspected break-in at Gates' home. All the complaining and finger-pointing has caused the Cambridge police to back down on pressing charges against Gates and this will inevitibly lead to an increasing reluctance for people to report or for the police to respond to suspected breaking-and-entering situations, especially if they involve African-American suspects.

As a result it seems that if you are an African-American burglar you should consider Cambridge, Massachusetts to be a great place to ply your trade right now. Just be sure to break in at the front door or through a front window of a home in full sight of neighbors. Or, better yet, be sure to choose a home owned by African-Americans. Even if a neighbor had the audacity to call the police you would most likely be able to get them to back off by refusing to show them your ID and threatening them with a law suit.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson--RIP

Along with millions of others I watched this morning's memorial service for Michael Jackson and was very surprised and very pleased to find it dignified, moving and completely non-exploitive. The Christian context for the service became apparent at the very beginning as Jackson's casket was brought on stage with a gospel choir singing, "Soon, very soon, we are going to meet the King." There was an intentional irony in this insofar as Jackson was the "King of Pop" and, in a sense, we were all meeting him today for the very last time. But the image of a greater King to whom we must all give account continued as the memorial service was introduced with words from the family pastor, who also closed the memorial event with a closing prayer (after several networks had already cut away and had begun the usual blathering commentary) that contained the words, "the King of Pop must now bow down to the King of kings," and ended the prayer "in the glorious name of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . and will those who agree, say 'Amen!'"

Although 99% of the service was a tribute to Jackson's extraordinary talents as a creative writer, producer, choreographer, singer and dancer . . . "the greatest entertainer in history" as one speaker put it . . . there were two times when his humanity showed through with great power. First, when one speaker (I cannot remember who and I cannot remember his exact words) mentioned "the difficult times" that Jackson had to go through and "the sometimes wrong? decisions" that he had made. The second moment was the closing comments made by Jackson's 11 year-old daughter. She spoke of how he had been a wonderful Daddy to her and that she loved him. It was hard to hear her sobbing these words as she spoke them in the past tense.

How sad that we all too often turn mere human beings into "idols" and "stars"--as if they were truly heavenly luminaries! Jackson, like the tragic tale of Elvis Presley who preceded him in celebrity catastrophy, was a mere mortal like the rest of us. I beleive that the world expected too much from Jackson and that he did everything that he could to live up to the world's expectations. He did well . . . but no one could have been everything that was demanded and expected of this man who was, by nature, one who needed to please others as well as to love and be loved by them.

I am quite possibly wrong in my personal opinion that Jackson was innocent of molesting anyone. Jackson was the most a-sexual person I have ever seen. His love of children was profound and he invested much of his considerable fortune in creating a world where some of them could enjoy a respite from the hardships and disappointments of troubled neighborhoods and disfunctional families. I believe that the thought of sexually abusing one of these children would have been unthinkable and perhaps even unimaginable to Jackson. I take Jackson at his word when he said that he shared a warm glass of milk, tucked children in bed and shared the bed with them in a way that, in his own words, he described as being "sweet."

This is not behavior that we should condone as appropriate but it does not necessarily follow that Jackson's motives and behavior were anything less than well-intentioned and, in his own mind, honorable.

While I have not been a big fan of Jackson I have always been in awe of his considerable talent. His career acheived most of the greatness that was celebrated at today's public memorial.

In the end, however, the "King of Pop" must indeed bow before the "King of kings." In this he is no different from you or me. Yet we made him out to be somehow different from us, perhaps even thinking of him as being immortal. His death reminds us that we were wrong. Today, as we gazed at his casket on the stage of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, we saw ourselves in the mirror.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pray for Iran

Pray for the good, nobel and honorable people of Iran. Pray that God will intervene at the right time to bring genuine peace and prosperity to that nation as it undergoes the contractions and labor pains that are about to birth its future. May that future be blessed by God and be a blessing for the world. "For with God, nothing will be impossible." Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cost-Free Money Courtesy of Obama

Yesterday I spoke with an otherwise intelligent friend of mine about the so-called "Economic Stimulus" bill currently passing through the US Congress with the support and praise of President Obama.

My friend said that when the Federal government needs more money they can always print more of it. Even if it means printing $1,000,000,000,000 (that's $1 trillion give or take).

I said, "But printing more money devalues the dollar, makes it worth less and fuels inflation."

"Not necessarily," my friend replied. "Obama has a plan . . . he has it all figured out."

I replied, "The only way that Obama could do this is if he either has a direct connection to God or has a wizard in his back pocket who can work magic."

My friend effectively ended the conversation with this reply, "Obama can do it. He will make it work. Just wait and see."

I can remember when Reagan's tax cuts were called "Voodoo Economics." But there was at least some measure of economic theory to support it. As a bonus, it worked well enough for the Bush administration to feel confident to try it again . . . albeit with mixed results. But at least there was some sense to the plan that was able to generate some reasonable debate.

The present economic "package" rolling through the Congress has little if any economic theory to support it. Even those economists who said the national economy needed a large infusion of government infusion of capital investment have now said that the about-to-be-enacted bill is a sham, putting virtually all of the money in the wrong places and at the wrong time (80% of it to be spent in 2010 and later) to be of any help to the current economy.

With my friend I witnessed an almost religious-like faith in our new President to perform miracles. Our Senators and Representatives in Congress know better, of course. But they are hoping that we don't. So far it looks like they are getting away with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Inauguration a Good Start to His Presidency

I thought that yesterday's inauguration ceremonies went wonderfully. I appreciated the opening prayer by Pastor Warren and the closing, celebratory prayer by the honorable Pastor Lowery. The music was beautiful and the Chief Justice's muff added a human touch to the oath of office. I felt that President Obama's speech was strong and projected America's strength and resolve to both our enemies and friends overseas. His words to the American people were filled with the usual themes of optimism and hope that we have come to associate with him yet tempered by the reminder that government cannot do it all; that personal responsibility is central to our happiness and success as both individuals and as a nation. The urge for unity was only slightly off-set by a few political jabs at the policies of the Bush administration but that was not inappropriate in light of the fact that Obama was, in part, elected by folks who also rejected some or many of those policies and desired a change from them.

I thought that the Obama's took the time and courtesy to escort the former President and First Lady to the helicoptor and waved to them as they left was a remarkable act of grace . . . one that I hope will become a inaugural tradition in the years to come.

There were, of course, the scattered boos for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Although inappropriate and disrespectful we are a free country where even boors are given the prividege and freedom to display their boorishness.

I honestly did not expect the Obamas to get out of their car and walk down Pennsylvania Avenue at all (because of the high security risk that it entailed) but I was glad they did. I particularly enjoyed them holding hands . . . and when Michelle would let go of Barak's hand to wave with her right hand she would cross her left hand in front of her and grab hold of his hand with a sweet awkwardness that I found almost touching.

I believe that Barak Obama did not expect to win the nomination or the presidency in this election. I do not think that he believed he was actually ready for it at this time. I think that there was even a bit of a panic when he realized that it might actually happen. These past few months have given him time to absorb this fact and to come to terms with the reality of actually bearing the responsibility of becoming the Commander In Chief and protector and defender of the Constitution.

I believe that President Obama is still a work in progress; one whose circle of friends and advisors has been woefully short of national and international leadership experience. I believe that he has done well by continuing several of the Bush administration's appointees insofar as this will buy him some time to get up to speed in these areas where he is weakest (international and defense) while focusing his own appointees in the areas related to domestic and economic policy.

I have a strong intuitive sense that, underneath all the political tap-dancing and the substance-lite rhetoric that brought him the nomination and subsequent election, Barak Obama is a man of deep and profound character. I have every reason to believe that he will be a good President for all of us. I will undoubtedly disagree with him on many, many issues but I have every reason to believe that, in spite of our profound differences, I will find good reason to respect him as a good and honest man.

May God bless President Obama. May God bless America. And, through America, may God find many, many opportunities to bless the world.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations to Senator Barak Obama

Out here in Hawaii the polls are still open for another hour and a half. But the verdict is in with the predicted results in Pennsylvania and Ohio. I must soon join John McCain and every other American in offering congratulations to Senator Barak Obama on his being elected as the next President of the United States.

Along with many others I consider Mr. Obama to be a little bit "green behind the ears" (Obama's own phrase, by the way!) . . . perhaps one of the most green and least tested Presidents in our history. May God give him the wisdom to act wisely and well on our behalf. May God surround him with wise and worthy counsellors. May God grant our nation and the world peace and reconciliation during his tenure. May God bless America so that we might be a blessing to the world.

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aloha To My Fan(s)

Gee, I'm humbled to think that some of you kept me on your "let me know what you post" page! I am well but just got distracted after over three years of daily blogging on just about everything. One would think that the Presidential and VP nominations and the national elections would stimulate me into doing or writing something! Yet I really don't have anything original to say on this subject at the moment. Let the other wags do it with their well-exercised tongues. The news is mostly good out of Iraq and neither better or worse in Afghanistan (the MSM always seems to be surprised when the Taliban thaws out each Spring and gets its act together for a few forays and assaults each Summer and Fall before going back to their deep freeze for the next five months or so. Don't they even know the cycle of the seasons???)

In any case, Mahalo and Aloha to anyone reading this and who remembers me from the dark ages of blogging. I'd love to hear from any and all of you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Waipio (Waipahu) Wins the World for Hawaii & the USA

It's been over a year since I have blogged anything at this site. But today I cannot help myself as the town next door to my own (Mililani) has won the Little League World Series . . . beating Mexico, Matamoros in the final championship game today 12 to 3. This is the second time in four years that a local team on Oahu has accomplished this amazing feat.

Many of the kids on this team have gone to the same school that some of the kids in my church attend. Hawaii is a small place and we all feel the joy when someone succeeds and we all share the disappointment together when we fall short. Today is a day for joy! Congratulations to the outstanding players, coaches and parents of our World Champion Waipio Little Leage World Champions!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Gratitude

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Dennis says it well. We remember and are grateful.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Korean Wedding In Hawaii

The Korean Presbyterian congregation that "nests" in my church celebrated a wedding yesterday. The congregation's founding pastor's youngest son and his bride flew in from New Jersey to be married in the presence of their family. I was invited and enjoyed sitting "out front" for a change.

The wedding was simple but included a few "twists" both Korean and Hawaiian.

Here is the ceremony itself.

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Immediately after the ceremony the bride and groom first bow to the bride's parents and then, as in this picture, the groom's parents.

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They then face the whole gathering of family and friends . . .

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. . . and bow to them as well. As the officiating pastor put it, "The deeper the bow the greater the sign of respect and gratitude."

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After the recessional the bride and groom returned to the front of the church and sang a nice duet for everyone.

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Then the groom's niece, who attends my congregation as well as the Korean church, danced two hulas in honor of the newly married couple.

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The groom's older brother then followed with another tradition (the Korean pastor I was sitting with said that it was a Korean "tradition") that could only be called publicly humbling the groom. Among other things the groom was required to do ten pushups in front of everyone (I had never before seen someone in a tuxedo do pushups in the front of a church before!). He then made the groom promise to his bride that he would provide "satisfaction" for her on their honeymoon night. This he did and his bride replied that she hoped that he would!

They then signed the marriage certificate and cut the cake with the usual American tradition of feeding each other a piece.

The wedding ceremony was Christian, the language, humor and etiquette were Korean, the dancing Hawaiian and the happiness was universal! The bride, the groom, their parents, siblings, extended families and friends were almost all immigrants to the United States. Those I know, one-by-one, are gaining American citizenship.

The United States is blessed to have them come on board! And, yes, the groom did kiss the bride after the "I do's!"

For those of you who like a little movement and sound here are two brief videos clips. The first shows the end of Grace's first hula. The second one shows the cutting of the cake and the "first feeding!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell -- R.I.P.

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Jerry Falwell died unexpectedly this morning while sitting at his desk in his church office. He was 73 years old.

Falwell was a pastor (of the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, a church he founded). He was a founder, President and Chancellor of a University (Liberty University). He was the founder and leader of the "Moral Majority," one of the most successful political organizations in the history of the United States, registering over 15 million voters between 1979 and the early 1980s.

Falwell was a Christian fundamentalist and proud of it. I can't say that I agreed with his theology or that I even agreed with his politics. Only the Rev. Dr. Pat Robertson made more outrageous comments or expressed more controversial opinions than Falwell (his early segregationist positions, his "Clinton Chronicles video, his opposition to sanctions against South Africa's aparthied government, post 9/11 comments, his diatribe against the Teletubbies, etc.) Unlike Robertson, however, Falwell often apologized for his statements and, over time, changed his mind in several important matters.

Above all else Falwell was a Christian. He was a disciple of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To the best of his ability he served his Lord faithfully and well. He used his many talents wisely and well and left behind a legacy of accomplishments unstained by financial or moral scandal.

Falwell was a passionate man who inflamed passion in millions of Americans who saw in him a champion of their conservative social values.

No one ever accused Jerry Falwell of being wishy-washy or being a flip-flopper in his central beliefs.

He was intelligent enough to change with the times and, when he felt that the Moral Majority had served its purpose and had begun to be a stumbling block for his Christian ministries in Lynchburg, he let it go, leaving to others the torch that he had raised and carried for so many years.

Falwell worked hard and, in the end, died quietly.

He was a phenomenon and he was a personality filled with just the sort of "sound bites" that fed the hunger of the news media.

His life on this earth has now passed away. He is at home with the Lord and, as the Lord himself says, "His works will follow him."

He leaves behind a nation divided on whether his influence on America was a good thing or a very, very bad one. History and historians are, of course, fickle and biased. So are pundits and media commentators. Each of these will have their say in the days ahead. In the end it will Jesus who will render the final judgment on Jerry Falwell.

Falwell, like myself, trusted in the mercy of Almighty God and the forgiveness of sins through the atoning death and saving resurrection of Jesus Christ. I do not believe that his faith and hope have been disappointed.