Archive for March, 2008

Straight Talk to the Candidates From the Mid-Road

March 31, 2008

   As Sen. John McCain whips around the country in his Straight Talk Express, Sen. Obama offers us change and hope, and Sen. Clinton dodges gunfire, can I, as a guy out there in the American heartland, say something to each of you? 

   I’ve watched this topsy-turvy election from the beginning. It’s got to be the wildest and craziest I’ve ever seen. I’ve listened to many of the talk radio people and read columns from the New York Times to everyone else. I think all three of you sincerely want to be President. I’m not sure of your motives yet, but who can really know them? However, here are some observations for each of you. 

   Sen. Obama, I would have left Rev. Wright in the dust long ago because being a church member I know how the talk gets around and I just don’t believe you didn’t know about all this racist ranting.   However, I do admire your loyalty to him. What’s irking me is all this blather about a nutty uncle. Tell us some things he actually did besides marry you and baptize your kids that helped you, inspired you. Yeah, we know about the whole hope thing. But what did he do for you personally? Come to visit when someone was seriously ill? Offer counsel in a time of crisis? Stand by you no matter what in tough times? Be specific. I’m willing to believe you have good reasons for sticking with this reverend whom the press has portrayed as a total nut-job. I’m sure the nut-job material isn’t what grabbed you. So what’s the deal? Who is this guy really to you? You give me something I can understand and hang onto, I might consider voting for you. Right now, though, it looks like you’re either lazy about dealing with real problems, stupid, or buying into something you can’t tell us about – but which we suspect: that you really are all about race. 

   Sen. McCain, I do like your commitment to our military and the war against jihadism. I loved the way you handled the New York Times debacle accusing you of all those dastardly deeds with that lobbyist. Good for you. Stick it to them. On the other hand, I’d like to see some of the rock-hard issues you’re committed to, platform-wise. I realize you’re the Republican “Maverick.” That’s fine and in some ways appealing. But what about abortion? Family? Rising pregnancies outside of marriage? The liberal social engineering agenda? Get specific. Don’t just make promises about getting Osama bin Laden. At this time, I don’t much care about him. I’d like to see some real details about the things that matter. Take a note from Sen. Clinton about that one. 

   Finally, Sen. Clinton. You know, I want to like you. First woman president, all that? But look, if you want my trust and my vote, simply stop lying about so many things. In just the last month there’s your contention that you were always against NAFTA, the sniper fire in Tuzla, and the Irish peace process, all of them rankly exposed as lies. Man, does God have to write it in the sky for you? For me, this lack of character and integrity is a deal-killer. All you have to do is tell the truth. Even if it’s not very savory, most Americans are highly forgiving about such things. Of course, if you do have a lot to hide, which is the way it looks, then keep lying away. I don’t think Americans will elect another liar from any party. 

   That’s where I am, people, smack in the middle of the road with, at this point, nowhere to go.  Give me something real, though, that isn’t just a huge, trillion-dollar government fix, and I’ll think about voting for you.  

 

 

Mark Littleton is a full-time writer living in Kansas City, MO. If you wish to contact him personally for any reason, please write to mlittleton@earthlink.net. Mark speaks on many issues in public forums, including politics, prayer, spirituality, marriage and family.   

Health Care for the Likes of Me

March 29, 2008

             Sen. Clinton’s newly re-minted health care plan sounded to me like the health plan salvation I’ve been looking for for years. Wow! What a savings it’ll be. I’ll be able to buy lots of stuff at Wal-Mart with the money I’ll save, you can bet on that.  I’ve been watching several things in the electronics section, know what I mean? 

            Sen. Obama’s plan and whatever Sen. McCain has going in his little political straight talk express yourself deal today are equally amazing. Whoever grabs the White House this year is going to be my best buddy. 

            The problem is I just don’t believe them. Any of them.  

            Let me tell you a little about my health care woes.

            It all came home to roast me first in 1983 when my wife and I had our first baby. I lost my health care between my marriage and the pregnancy because a new plan came along that sounded so much better. I applied and they told me I was in. So I let the original insurance lapse. But then the new plan decided, No, I was out. And by then my wife was preggers. No one would touch us. 

            When my wife went into the hospital with toxemia the last three weeks, and delivered by C-section Nicole our little preemie, we ended with more than $25,000 in hospital bills. We paid it off at $300/month for six years.  I recall that last payment. How I screamed. How I jumped for joy. How I wept and told Nicole, “You better amount to something, girl, because you cost a fortune.” 

            I made sure never to be without health insurance again, mainly by working in industry with good benefits. 

            Until 2002, I or my wife always had a regular, unfulfilling, grind-it-out job where the various companies paid for not-that-bad-but-not-great health insurance. And of course there was our “small” donation to that, too. But being writers, we wanted to write. So we went fulltime freelance. The only way we could do that and get cost-effective health insurance was by forming a “group” of two with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. It cost about $800 a month at that time. We couldn’t qualify for any cheaper “individual” plan because pre-existing conditions pre-empted us.

            Over the next few years, I developed problems with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other things. Our health insurance went up each year to what it is today, almost $1500/month. With all the accounting and tax necessities with the IRS to prove we’re truly a group, it racks up another $300 per month. In addition, my medications cost about  $150 a month even with the discounts. That’s to say nothing of the $500 deductible for going into the hospital for any reason, including visiting someone already there(well, not quite, but it seemed that way).

            Thus, we’re looking at nearly $2000 a month just to have health insurance, which is more than 30% of our income.

            But the perils of not having health care are far worse today. So we bite the bullet and die financially, but live on the happy knowledge that if at 57 years old I have a heart attack, I’m well-covered. At least, after deductibles, and writing a promissory note that I won’t have another one for sixty years. 

            Now where does that leave us with all these plans from our candidates?

            It’s rather amusing. They expect us to believe this? Especially when we all know how well the government runs things – from the motor vehicle place to my kids’ public schools to the endless regulations for everything under creation?

            So this is what I say, “Hillary, Barack, John, convince me. Dig down deep into those super-smart craniums of yours and show me as a self-employed fool with preexisting conditions that you can deliver. Otherwise, just go on blathering away like you do and win my contempt with every word you speak.” 

            

Lying In America

March 28, 2008

             Sen. Hillary Clinton’s recent lies about dodging bullets in Bosnia haven’t much surprised anybody. After all, haven’t both Clintons made quite a reputation as inveterate dissemblers, through all those White Hourse scandals to more recent attempts to “rewrite history?” 

            Then there’s Eliot Spitzer, Sen. Craig, and the now ancient expression, “Bush lied, people died.”  

            No need to go into all that. What I’d like to talk about is how lying is a universal problem in our country. Recent surveys have found that 70% of college students admit they’d lie on a resume to get a job. In a study by Bella DePaulo et al, people admit to telling at least two lies a day every day. Whence this amazing human tendency? 

            Lying has been around since the Garden of Eden, at least if you consult the Bible. There in Genesis 3, Satan lied to Adam and Eve, who in turn lied to God about their involvement with the forbidden fruit. From there, we see lying in almost every story, from Cain lying about killing Abel to Jacob deceiving his brother Esau and numerous others. In modern times, who can forget the lies of the Nazis, the Communists, Nixon, and leaders too numerous to count?

            It’s strange, but I don’t remember anyone teaching me to lie as a child. I did it naturally. When I traded my football change wallet for a keychain license plate in second grade, I immediately told my mother, “I lost it.” Unfortunately, it was soon found in the hands of the kid I had traded with. I recall the searing eyes of my teacher as she seethed, “You lied!”  

            On a trip with some friends to Ft. Lauderdale during Spring Break, we needed a place to stay one night. I mentioned my grandmother who lived nearby, but when I called her to ask if she could put us up, I forgot to ask her for directions. When the guys pressed me about it, I told them, “She doesn’t drive. She told me she doesn’t know the directions.” When we finally arrived, the first thing Grandma said to us was, “I’m surprised you could find me since you didn’t ask for directions.”

            The shame was deep, and I even tried to wriggle out of that one. 

            In the Bible, you can find interesting thoughts about lying, besides the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness.” For instance, there was Psalm 116:11 which said, “All men are liars.” Satan was the “Father of Lies,” according to Jesus in John 8:44.  A person who says he “knows God” and yet “doesn’t keep his commandments” is “a liar,” according to 1 John 2:4. Revelation 21:8 gives the final word on the issue, saying that “all liars” have “their place in the lake of fire.” 

            Regardless of the Bible, he fact is that in many cases the truth will become quite apparent. Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”  

            I have seen people use lying to build themselves up in the eyes of others, to get out of trouble, or to simply bow out of a party they’re not interested in. 

            It works, until they get caught. 

            And then they usually try to lie their way out of what they said or did the first time.

            Admitting we lied in the first place seems to be the most difficult part of the whole process. We use words like, “No, I was misquoted.” Or, “I didn’t meant that at all.”

The Bible probably has something to say about that, too. But who cares? That doesn’t make it any the less wrong, brazen, or just plain stupid. And how stupid can it be to lie about something before large audiences that was caught on videotape before the whole world? Or to believe you’ll never be nailed about it?  And when caught, to lie some more?  

The Race Discussion We Need to Have

March 25, 2008

The Race Discussion We Need to Have

by

Mark Littleton

    

   I’ve thought much about this discussion Sen. Obama thinks we need to have about race in our country. To be perfectly honest, I’ve struggled with racism for much of my life. I remember my white friends using racist words on occasion as I grew up.

   I also recall the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and how some in my high school joked about it, saying King “had gotten what he deserved.” 

   I never voiced such thoughts. Nonetheless, the n-word and a multitude of others often coursed through my mind as I saw those people in the walk of life. I didn’t understand it at all. No black person had ever done anything to me. Blacks on our high school championship football team, some of whom were the best players we’d ever had, were heroes.

   And yet, this internal bigotry persisted. If it wasn’t really pounded into me by my family, school, or culture, how was it that a few oblique and stupid references had such an impact on me? 

   In 1972 I converted to a robust faith in God and Christ. In a matter of weeks, everything changed. I saw racism as an innate part of our humanity that we had to fight tooth and nail to excise. Because of what the Bible called our “lost state” and “fallenness,” I discovered I had a natural tendency to bigotry. One person said, “If God made us all the same color, sex, and creed, within fifteen minutes we would have divided up into groups with racist words for everyone not quite like us.” 

   As a believer, I saw that every kind of evil thought inhabited my heart. One of Christ’s greatest goals was to unite Jews, some of the greatest racists of his time, and Gentiles into one church. It’s been a difficult goal to achieve. 

   As I studied the Bible I came across verses where Jesus pointed out the real problem. He said at one point, “For from within, out of the human heart, come the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness”(Mark 21-22). Why do we read about these things happening every day in our world? For a simple reason: it’s the human heart that’s the problem. 

   The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick”(Jeremiah 17:9).

   Our problem is not Rev. Wright’s bigoted words against whites, Mel Gibson’s nasty statements about Jews, or the average suicide bomber’s hatred for Americans, Jews, and just about everyone else. No, it’s the human heart. It’s desperately sick. 

   The truth is that all of us struggle with such evil internally. I think it’s time for us all – black, white, Jew, Muslim, and Christian – to admit we all experience racist thoughts and feelings. In most cases, we are appalled when they arrive. We may even cringe in frustration and anguish that they exist at all. The vast majority do not act on them, or even admit them. But they’re there. 

   That’s the discussion we ought to have about race in this country. Our hearts have serious problems, all of our hearts, from President Bush and Sens. Clinton and Obama, down to the dishwasher in the local McDonald’s. Until we can own up to this reality, we will never realistically deal with the problem of racism, or any other kind of evil in this world.  

Faith Is Believing God Really Loves You

March 10, 2008

Faith Is Discovering God Truly Loves YOU

Quote: Romans 8:16: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

            Mike F. was one of the neighbors I wanted to reach for Christ. He spent several years in prison. He abused women. He had been a street tough, a drug-user, a drunk. A big guy, six-four, two-hundred-fifty pounds, he was the kind of guy you want on your side in a fight, the kind of person you’re careful never to anger.

            We talked about Jesus for over a year. Mike’d listen, argue, admit it when I made a good point, laugh when he felt he’d cornered me. For a long time, he just couldn’t believe God could forgive him for all the sins he’d committed. “I’ve done bad things, Mark,” he told me one day.

            “Have you committed adultery?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Have you persecuted Christians?”

            “Probably.” He laughed, then shrugged. “At least I think they were Christians. But maybe they were just nice on the outside.”

            I had to laugh. “Have you ever murdered anyone?”

            “Well, no, not exactly.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “I’ve beaten people up, but I never killed any of them. They came close, but not all the way.”

            I laughed again. I told him, “Mike, read the Bible. You’ll see people in there who perpetrated all kinds of evil. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband murdered to cover it up. Abraham almost led his wife Sarah into adultery by lying that she was his sister. He did that twice. And the Apostle Paul persecuted Christians all over the Middle East. He had them thrown in jail, and was even party to the murder of some of them. As people stoned one Christian named Stephen, Paul stood by keeping watch over their clothing. Do you think any of these sinners would say God couldn’t forgive them?”

            “I don’t know, Mark,” Mike said, his face dark and confused. “I just don’t know.”

            I kept trying, but Mike seemed convinced he was the worst of the worst.

            Then one day he visited me at church. “I did it,” he said with shy enthusiasm. “I accepted Jesus.”

            Astonished, I embraced him, amazed at what God can do with even the hardest of hearts. We became fast friends.

            But even though Mike accepted Jesus, for some reason he doubted God really loved and forgave him. He kept telling me, “You just don’t know all I’ve done.”

            “God knows,” I said.

            “That’s what troubles me.”

            I – and God – couldn’t seem to break through.

            Then one day, while playing with his one-year old son, Jason, in his apartment, something happened. As Mike watched the boy, he was suddenly filled with that warm fatherly affection and pride that all fathers experience. He whisked Jason up, kissed him and told him over and over how much he loved him.

            That was when it happened. Mike said to me, “It was like God spoke right there in my heart. I could hear the words – not out loud or anything. But just inside me. He said, ‘You know how you feel about Jason, Mike? That’s how I feel about you.’”

            Mike stared at me, his pocked cheek trembling. “I broke up right there,” he said, his voice tender. “I thought of all those years I spent being a hell-raiser. Hurting people. Prison. How I hated everyone. God, too. But that’s how he feels about me, like how I feel about my son. He really loves me, and I’m really forgiven. For all of it. Past, present, and future. I know that now. It’s amazing.”

            Mike laughed, and his wide, scarred face broke into a broad smile. “No one ever loved me like that,” he said. “And now it will never end.”

            I can’t forget the look on Mike’s face that day. I saw the joy there for the first time. His burden had disappeared. He and God were now friends, real friends, forever friends. And it was all because of one little word of assurance, spoken in a tender moment, when Mike could truly understand and receive it.

 

            Great Truth: God truly loves you personally, and he will assure you of it at moments when you most need it.

            When to Use It: If you’re unsure about God’s love for you, ask him to show you – from the Bible, and in your heart.

            Application: You are much loved; don’t take it for granted, but don’t forget it either.

            Prayer: God, I praise you for loving me the way you have. Let me always remember how great your love is! Amen.

 

 

This blog is written by Mark Littleton, a Christian author with many books in print. You can find most of his books at Amazon.com under his name.

 

Mark Littleton is represented by Glass Road Public Relations.  For additional inquiries, please contact Danielle Douglas at  danielle@glassroadpr.com.

 

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